Instagram Responds to Outcry, Says Users’ Photos Won’t Appear in Ads
Popular photo-sharing site Instagram said Tuesday (December 18th) that users’ photos won’t be appearing in advertisements, speaking out in response to the outcry that arose when it released its new terms of service a day earlier, which many users believed suggested their photos could be used this way without their permission. While making that assurance, however, Instagram — which was bought by Facebook in September for $715 million — maintained that it was created to become a business and would like to experiment with different types of ads to make money. Currently, Instagram has no ads, and no way to make money, bringing in zero revenue. Of the changes announced Monday, Instagram says they were intended to help the service, quote, “function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups.”
Santa Tracking App
You kid can track Santa’s journey across the globe on Christmas Eve with a new mobile app from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD.) Stacey Knott, deputy chief at NORAD, says since 1955, the company has been telling children exactly where Santa is so that they can make sure they’re in bed on time so their gifts can be delivered. The app not only tracks Santa’s location, but also shows cameos from his route across major landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. Children can also use the app to play games and watch videos on the days leading up to Christmas Eve. The app is free and available for Windows 8, with similar versions available for iOS, Android, and web apps. NORAD also operates a hotline and e-mail account that will provide information on where Santa is on Christmas Eve. (Yahoo)
An Amazon Smartphone?
A Taiwanese tech website is reporting that Foxconn has an exclusive contract to build an Amazon-branded smartphone. Slash Gear reports that the phone is expected to run the Android operating system, and will be announced in mid to late 2013. Foxconn already manufactures Amazon’s Kindle tablet, and reportedly Amazon has ordered five-million of the smartphones to be produced. Slash Gear reports the phone is expected to be offered internationally, and retail between one-hundred and two-hundred-dollars. (United Press)
THE TOP 10 POST-APOCALYPTIC WORLDS (Live Science):
1) Planet of the Apes. A crash-landing on an alien planet gets ever more nightmarish for astronaut George Taylor in this 1968 film. Taylor soon learns that in this world, humans are mute and primitive, while apes have an advanced society, intelligence and a grasp of language. As if being captured by a bunch of armor-wearing gorillas wasn’t bad enough, Taylor eventually discovers he’s traveled not through space, but through time, and that he’s been (spoiler alert!) on Earth all along. The cause of humanity’s downfall in this ape apocalypse? In the words of Charlton Heston, playing Taylor: “You maniacs! You blew it up!”
2) Mad Max. A shortage of fossil fuels drives a breakdown of society in this 1979 dystopia set in Australia. In fact, screenwriter James McCausland wrote in the Courier Mail in 2006 that the inspiration for Mad Max’s violent chaos was the 1973 oil crisis, which led to long lines and even violent outbursts at the gas pumps (Hurricane Sandy, anyone?). Those who love their apocalypses garnished with motorcycle gangs are in luck, as a fourth installment of this post-apocalyptic universe is reportedly in production.
3) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Wish. Buffy Summers averted at least seven apocalypses in her seven-season run as a vampire slayer on Joss Whedon’s cult TV series. The ninth episode of the third season of the show gave viewers a taste of what might have happened without Buffy’s intervention. In an alternate universe where Buffy never came to the vampire-ridden town of Sunnydale, Calif., a nasty vampire called the Master has risen and is picking off citizens one-by-one – but his ultimate plan is to automate the process, building macabre factories in which to milk humans of their blood. Oh, and did we mention that Buffy’s loyal sidekicks, Willow and Xander, have become vampires, too?
4) Oryx and Crake. In Margaret Atwood’s 2003 novel, the world is plagued by climate change and consumerism. Corporate scientists live in gated, guarded communities while desperate, ordinary folk live in the “pleeblands,” leaderless cities rife with crime. Kids entertain themselves by watching porn and executions live online, and people chow down on ChickieNobs, meat sliced from grotesque transgenic chickens engineered to grow only breasts or drumsticks. And that’s before the apocalypse hits.”Oryx and Crake” and its sequel “Year of the Flood” tell the tale of the few survivors of this man-made disaster. No spoilers here, but Atwood’s tendency to exaggerate scientific experiments already being done (such as meat grown in a lab) make her post-apocalyptic world alarmingly believable
5) The Hunger Games. War leads to the fall of society as we know it in Suzanne Collins’ hit “Hunger Games” trilogy. In the North American society that has arisen from the violence, the Capitol holds 12 surrounding districts in a sort of feudal thrall. Each year, one boy and one girl from each district are chosen to take place in the Hunger Games, a brutal tournament in which only one winner survives. That is, of course, until one teenage girl turns everything around …
6) The Road. In Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel, the end of the world is a dismal gray slog. There are no flashy motorcycle gangs or volved apes here, only ash, cannibals, and a father and son on a potentially pointless journey toward the sea.The cause of McCarthy’s apocalypse is never made clear.
7) There Will Come Soft Rains. In possibly one of the most understated yet creepy portrayals of the end of the world, the Ray Bradbury short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” begins with an introduction to a technical marvel: a home that prepares its owners’ breakfasts, cleans up after them and generally meets their every need. It’s soon revealed, however, that the family is now nothing but a series of burnt silhouettes on the side of an outside wall, the implied victims of nuclear war. The house, however, keeps on with its robotic duties, continuously serving its vanished residents.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The world’s end isn’t quite so dignified in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” When protagonist Arthur Dent wakes up to learn his home has been slated for demolition to make way for a new bypass, he doesn’t realize it’s a moot point; his planet has been slated for demolition, too. Unfortunately, because humanity never made it to Earth’s local planning department in Alpha Centauri to protest the demolition orders, there’s nothing to be done to save the world.
9) 28 Days Later. What’s an apocalypse without zombies? In this 2002 horror film, a horrible virus nicknamed “rage” spreads after animal liberation activists free a batch of infected chimpanzees from a medical laboratory. The movie’s protagonist, who has been in a coma, wakes to a post-apocalyptic world where survivors hide out underground, trying to avoid the zombielike victims of infection, who kill with the ferocity of rabid animals.
10) The Bible. Christianity’s end-of-the-world predictions have been dramatized in any number of stories, with perhaps the most prominent being the 16-book “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. But it’s the original, with its poetic descriptions of the end, that gets our vote. According to the Book of Revelation, the sun will become “black as sackcloth of hair” and the moon “as blood.” The stars will fall from the sky and the heavens will fold up like a scroll. Locusts with lion teeth will swarm from a hellish pit to torment the unbelievers, and Satan will appear as a great red dragon. Whether or not this is taken literally or as a metaphor, Revelation ends with a new heaven and Earth, upon which there is no more suffering and death – perhaps revealing the desire for a clean slate motivates end-of-the-world imaginings.
Black Cat Watches School Crosswalk
A 15-year-old black cat in West Richland, Washington has been hanging out at the school cross-walk, watching students cross the street for the past year. The cat, Sable, lives at a house at the corner but when the school bell rings he heads outside to stake out his spot. A school safety patrol named Courtney explained, “It will come out. I can see it when we’re going out. It will walk out and come stand in its position.” Sable’s owner Tamara Morrison said, “He just kept going out there, and we could watch him from the window and I thought, ‘gosh, I hope he doesn’t cross.’ And he just hung out there and just couldn’t wait to be next to the kids.” (BuzzFeed)
McCain Condemns Bin Laden Hunt Film ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Says Depicts Torture as Key
Senator John McCain yesterday (December 18th) condemned the new movie Zero Dark Thirty, about the ultimately successful hunt for Osama bin Laden, charging it suggests that the CIA’s harsh interrogations techniques that critics have said amounted to torture were key to finding the al-Qaida leader. In a speech on the Senate floor, the Arizona Republican, who himself endured years of brutal treatment while a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, said the film left him sick, because that contention is wrong. McCain said he’d asked then-CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts after bin Laden was killed last year, and was told that the waterboarding of al-Qaida’s Number Three leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, didn’t provide the key information, and that Mohammed in fact provided false and misleading information. McCain has said he opposes waterboarding and any form of torture tactics, saying, “I do not believe they are necessary to our success in our war against terrorists, as the advocates of these techniques claim they are.” Other critics have raised the same issue about the movie and the suggestions it makes about the role harsh interrogation techniques played in bin Laden being found.