According to a post on National Geographic, a rare blue Spix Macaw named Presley, who's story allegedly served as the inspiration for the 2011 animated film 'Rio' has died at the age of 40.
Presley was smuggled out of Brazil in the early 1970's, later finding a home in Denver, Colorado. In 2002, it's owner sought a local pet shop for assistance, with a skeptical staff astonished to prove the validity of the callers story. He was in bad shape, but efforts to recuperate him were successful, leading him to being returned to his native Brazil. With under 100 Spix Macaw's alive today, it was hoped that Presley could widen the genetic pool for the rare and endangered species, but sadly he died before this could be accomplished.
'Rio' and 'Rio 2' director Carlos Saldanha, who grew up in Rio de Janerio told BirdChannel in 2011 "I wanted the rarest bird, the blue macaw. I knew about the Lear's macaws, and how they've been having conservation successes in the wild. The same with the hyacinth macaws. But the Spix's macaw truly is the rarest".
In a sad coincidence, Twentieth Century Fox's 'Rio 2' hits Australian cinemas this week.
Google executives recently visited Havana, Cuba, in an effort to discuss open Internet in the still restrictive nation. A team that included Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt headed to Havana to meet with officials and dissidents, "to promote the virtues of a free and open Internet."
A report published by Freedom House in 2012 said just five percent of the citizens in Cuba have true access to the Internet, with one-fourth of the population using the state-sponsored "Intranet." The country remains one of the least connected nations in the world, with home connections still virtually non-existent - government officials, doctors, engineers, professors, and approved journalists tend to be the only ones with Internet access while in their offices.
Google has become more proactive approach to getting citizens around the world real access to the Internet. Trying to work with Cuba to open up Internet access will be a difficult process, but it's good to see the company at least trying to make strides.
The United States is the latest country to put an end to purchasing and using anti-personnel landmines, with President Barack Obama pressured by other countries to join the international ban treaty. The global treaty includes the production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines, which reportedly kills 15,000 people each year - and most casualties are civilians.
"Today at a review conference in Maputo, Mozambique, the United States took a step of declaring it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines (APL) in the future," said Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman.
However, the U.S. won't immediately get rid of all mines, but administration officials said the arsenal will be scaled down. The U.S. invests the most funds, $2.3 billion since 1993, to aid in global de-mining programs, and has shifted focus towards "smart" mines that will disable after a pre-programmed amount of time.
To celebrate this week's release of 'The Lego Movie' on home video formats, our friends at Roadshow Home Entertainment Australia have supplied us with copies of the film on Blu-ray to give away to five lucky readers.
'The Lego Movie' stormed the worldwide box office earlier this year, earning stellar reviews and nearly half a billion internationally. We took a look at the film theatrically back in April.
To go into the running to take one Blu-ray copy home, simply answer the following question in 25 words or less:
What was your favourite childhood Lego creation?
To enter, simply 'like' this post and share via Facebook or Twitter and send your answers, along with your postal address to ben at TweakTown.com before the competition closes on June 4th. The total prize pool is approximately $199.75.
'The Lego Movie' is available on Blu-ray + digital combo pack, DVD and Digital from Australian retailers on June 3rd.
Cheap mobile phones are available for sale in small shops popping up along the border between China and North Korea, as citizens begin to access cell phones for the first time. However, many North Koreans struggle to purchase the devices China, as it is expensive to register the phones and smuggle them into the country.
All phone calls and text messages are monitored by the Communications Interception Bureau of the Ministry for State Security - and the government is able to look up call and text message records whenever necessary.
Mobile phone use in North Korea is increasing in popularity, with the launch of the North Korean AS1201 Arirang smartphone. The product is state-manufactured and supports the Korean language, but phone calls can only be made using the country's Koryolink provider, so no international calls or mobile Web access is supported.
We've already reported that the upcoming DOTA 2 'The International' tournament had the biggest prize pool in eSports history with $6 million, but now it has burst through the huge ceiling that is $10 million in prize money.
The total prize pool for The International sits at $10,045,615 (at the time of writing) and will only increase until the finale. There are stretch goals that Valve has placed, with the 22nd stretch goal at $10 million now met, which will unveil a new "Victory Prediction Taunt" to players. The battle for the champion of the DOTA 2 The International will take place on July 18-21 at the KeyArena at Seattle Center, in Seattle, Washington.
If you were waiting for the next release of Gran Turismo, it looks like you'll be waiting a little while longer. Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of the franchise, has said: "We are working on the title. I don't think it'll make this year!"
But, don't fret just yet - we should see GT7 hit the PS4 in due time, with Polyphony saving time by using vehicle assets from previous GT titles, with some of these assets going back to even Gran Turismo 4 from 2004. Yamauchi added: "I doubt that we'll be throwing away the standard cars. Each car has its own fans. So I think we'll hang on to the archive. In the meanwhile, some of those cars we may be able to make into Premium cars as they become available - but basically we're more focussed [sic] on increasing the number of premium cars".
Samsung is trialing a new try-before-you-buy program in select markets in the US, where consumers can use Samsung's latest and greatest smartphones and smartwatches for 21 days before they make a final decision on whether they want to purchase them.
The offer is only valid for five of Samsung's Galaxy Studio locations, with consumers able to test out the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3 smartphones, as well as the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Fit smartwatches. Right now, we don't know if any other Samsung devices are eligible. The five Galaxy Studio locations are in:
- Dallas-Fort Worth/Frisco, TX: Stonebriar Centre Mall
- Houston/The Woodlands, TX: The Woodlands Mall
- Los Angeles/Canoga Park, CA: Westfield Topanga
- New York City: Samsung Galaxy Studio SoHo
- Santa Clara, CA Westfield Valley Fair
Epic Games has been working with Oculus VR closely on the Rift, seeing its Unreal Engine 4 as a showcase demo for its VR tech. Epic Games has now teased that it has something 'cool' for the VR community coming soon.
Nick Whiting, the Lead Engine Programmer for Epic Games has teased that the developer has some "cool surprises in the coming months in the VR scene". We don't know what it could be, but as I said above, Epic Games has been working with Oculus VR on its demos as of late, with Oculus VR's DK2 unit launching alongside Cough Knight, which is one of the more impressive demos on the DK2 unit.
I'd like to see Epic Games pledge full support of Oculus VR, and VR gaming in general, but we'll have to wait and see.
Following new technology trends, cybercriminals are always-on the lookout for new methods to launch successful attacks to compromise information. There has been an uptick in attackers hosting botnets and malware in the cloud, successfully remotely controlling criminal behaviors remotely in the cloud.
Recently, criminals were found to be using DropBox to issue command and control instructions, in an effort to get malware and botnets around firewalls deployed by corporations, according to the Trend Micro security firm.
"At the end of the day, cybercriminals are business people," said Christopher Budd, Trans Micro Global Threat Communications Manager, in a statement. "The same logic that drives business people to using cloud-based services is driving the bad guys to use the cloud too."