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Current Affairs Posts - Page 3

British woman called Skywalker refused a UK passport due to copyright

A British woman who added "Skywalker" to her name has been refused a passport application and told her name now infringes upon a trademark.

 

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The woman, Laura Elizabeth Skywalker Matthews, from Southend, 29, said she'd never had a problem before - and that the name had been accepted for bank cards and her driving licence. But the passport office outright rejected it, and said she may have to use an old signature on a new form. Skywalker said she'd officially changed her name several years ago as a joke.

 

Britain's Home Office asserted that it refuses to accept name changes that are subject to copyright or trademark. "We have a duty to ensure the reputation of the UK passport is not called into question or disrepute," a spokesperson told the BBC.

Wales, UK tackles skills shortage with software dedicated university

Businesses that are worried about a software skills shortage are setting up the first university in Wales, UK to be dedicated to the subject.

 

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However, there will be no dedicated campus for this University - instead it will offer a mixture of online and applied learning with complementary work experience, or internship, schemes. It is being set up either to be paid for privately, through a charity, or publicly. However it comes to be, the degree courses will be real and last for two years, and accredited by another university.

 

One of the people behind the plan, Simon Gibson, suggested there's an upcoming crisis regarding the lack of young people with qualified software skills. "It's not just software engineers writing things for mobile phones now," he said, speaking with the BBC. "Software engineers are needed in the insurance business, finance, bioscience, anything that involves economic development requires good software skills." The plans are said to be "well advanced" but further details are not clear quite yet.

Lego pieces still washing up on English coast after 90s shipwreck

The tides on a British coast keep washing in the remnants of a 1997 shipwreck that was carrying a cargo load of Lego.

 

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Lego pieces keep emerging on the shores of Cornwall, England, and there have been hundreds spotted since the ship, the Tokio Express, was pulled under a freak wave, losing just under 5 million pieces of Lego in the process. Some of the Lego pieces include, ironically, plastic spear guns and scuba gear.

 

Tracey Williams, who runs the Lego Lost at Sea page, which is dedicated to the strange phenomena, was interviewed by the Bristol Post newspaper. "I've collected between 500 and 600 pieces over the years," she said. "Collectively we've found thousands and thousands between us - but there's still so many more to find." An oceanographer, Curtis Ebbesmeyer, told the paper that the mystery is in where most of the pieces have ended up, as they have only been reported definitively just off the coast of Cornwall. "The most profound lesson I've learned from the Lego story is that things that go to the bottom of the sea don't always stay there," Ebbesmeyer added.

Google to donate hundreds of thousands to 10 British charities

Google is planning on giving 200,000 pounds sterling - nearly 350,000 US dollars - to ten shortlisted British charities it believes can advance the world for the better using technology.

 

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The grants are part of the company's Impact Challenge, which originated in the UK, and has since traveled the world before its return. Of the ten shortlisted projects, four will be given an additional 500,000 pounds, which is over 800,000 dollars. Three will be decided by a panel of experts including Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales and Helen Goulden of Nesta's Innovation Lab, while the remaining project will be put to a public vote. Among the proposals are initiatives to assist the vision of the blind and partially sighted with technology from the Royal National Institute of Blind People, a project that aims to aid encourage mental health well-being through gaming called We Are What We Do, and Centrepoint augmenting its work in tackling youth homelessness with big data.

 

Entrepreneur and British TV celebrity from Dragons Den, Peter Jones, is on the panel. "After an inspiring process, we've unearthed ten exceptional projects from ten exceptional charities," he said, according to the Telegraph. "Google's Impact Challenge shows that innovation is crucial to success. You can't stand still."

British teen saved from drowning by posting emergency SOS to Facebook

A teenager's life seems to have been saved by posting an emergency SOS status update to Facebook as his boat capsized off the British coast.

 

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An unnamed 18-year-old man sent an update to Facebook as he was stranded just off Cornwall last Thursday. His mother saw the post and immediately alerted the authorities, when the Brixham Coastguard began their search. "This young man was extremely lucky to be found when he was," coastguard watch manager Andy Huber said. "He told lifeboat crews he had been in the water for two hours."

 

Apparently the teenager was trying to swim back to shore without the aid of any buoyancy equipment or a lifejacket. The coastguard warned that anyone heading into water should carry a specialist radio, a charged mobile phone, an emergency beacon and distress flares.

North Korea makes the World Cup final, kinda

For those who have been watching every match of the World Cup, you might not know who made the final... well, North Korea did. Yes, North Korea has made the final of the World Cup, according to the country, which has told its citizens over a newscast that the country has been kicking some serious ass at the event.

 

 

An unverified video was posted to YouTube channel Korea News Backup, which has other state-run media posted to it, showing a newscaster reporting that North Korea has been very successful at the World Cup. The newscast says that the country led by its Dear Leader has won its match against Japan 7-0, won the US with 4-0 and China too with 2-0. Even though none of these countries made any of the final matches.

 

So while this might be news for you, don't be thinking its Germany vs. Argentina, because that's hogwash. North Korea are playing in that match, but probably only because they have the smarts to land a man on the Sun.

Continue reading 'North Korea makes the World Cup final, kinda' (full post)

Celebrity houses have just been scrubbed from Google Street View

A smattering of household name celebs, like Iraq war mastermind Tony Blair and a man from Wings called Paul McCartney, have had their houses removed from Google's Street View.

 

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Prospective criminals scouting street view for potential targets will now know for certain if they've stumbled on a property of interest because it'll be blurred or digitally altered in a similar way that licence plates and faces already are on the service. One public figure who's had his house altered is Fred Goodwin, the former chief of failed banking group RBS, which had to be nationalized after an enormous crisis.

 

At the moment it's unclear whether or not the alterations have been made at the request of the celebrities. However it comes shortly after the implementation of a controversial EU ruling - the right to be forgotten - which has already led to censorship of reputable international news sites like the BBC and the Guardian, as well as the Mail Online. Barbara Streisand famously tried to force images of her property from the internet, resulting in the naming of a new phenomena - the Streisand Effect - which sees attempts at censorship leading to the exact opposite.

Google's EU right to be forgotten starts censoring UK news

When Europe ruled Google had to enforce the "right to be forgotten" it wasn't entirely clear what that meant, but the first indicators have started. The search giant has been bogged down with search removal requests, and now articles from respected international newspapers are being removed.

 

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The Daily Mail, the BBC, and the Guardian have all received notice of removal emails from Google, which asserted that some articles would no longer be listed through search. In these cases, according to the Age, the rulings seem to be siding with a disgraced football referee, Dougie McDonald, and an investment banker, Stan O'Neal, who was involved in the global financial crisis. Guardian media columnist Roy Greenslade has also had some of his articles removed from the listings.

 

Britain's Daily Mail has published a scathing critique of Google's actions, comparing the moves as being similar to "burning books in a library". "These examples show what a nonsense the right to be forgotten is, it is the equivalent of going into libraries and burning books you don't like," MailOnline's publisher Martin Clarke said. "MailOnline intends to regularly publish lists of articles deleted from Google's European search results so people can keep track of what has been deleted. There is no suggestion any of these articles are inaccurate."

Iraq lifts 17 day ban on social media but stays quiet on why

Iraq has lifted a 17 day ban on social media, which was put in place amid a crisis that saw armed militants seize key territories in the country.

 

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The ban was in response to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant - ISIL - which declared a caliphate over the weekend. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has reportedly been utilizing social media to push out its message.

 

State telecoms company ITPC and the Ministry of Communications are staying quiet on the reasons for lifting the social media ban. But access to some websites are still blocked, including Al Jazeera and Saudi Arabia's TV station, Al Arabiya. Additionally, the Iraq is now also allowing renewed access to VPNs, and mobile data can be used again outside conflict areas, according to Reuters.

Continue reading 'Iraq lifts 17 day ban on social media but stays quiet on why' (full post)

UK privacy chief warns wearables must comply with data law

Britain's privacy regulator has warned that wearable tech must comply with existing privacy laws, in the wake of a Google Glass soft launch in the UK.

 

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Andrew Paterson, senior officer at the Information Commissioner's Office, said in a blog post that there's a danger wearable tech could intrude on the privacy rights of everyday citizens. He asserted that there's a debate to be had surrounding how comfortable the public feels with pervasive wearable devices that are always connected and capable of filming at any time.

 

"If you are using a wearable technology for your own use then you are unlikely to be breaching the [UK Data Protection] Act," Paterson wrote. "This is because the Act includes an exemption for the collection of personal information for domestic purposes. But if you were to one day decide that you'd like to start using this information for other purposes, for example to support a local campaign, then this exemption would no longer apply."

Continue reading 'UK privacy chief warns wearables must comply with data law' (full post)

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