Hot Internet site: Intrade

Intrade, one of the Internet’s hottest sites during this political season, is akin to the New York Stock Exchange in that it gives a fairly accurate representation of where America is putting their money.

Right now, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “stock” has dropped from a high of near 98 now down to 58 following the South Carolina primary. Conversely, Newt Gingrich’s “stock” is at 44 to win the Florida Primary.

Click here to see which candidates folks are putting their money on in the cyber stock exchange played with real cash.

As cruise ship sinks, couple uses iPhone level app

A Little Rock, Ark., couple were aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship when it ran aground off the coast of Italy last week. Using their iPhone’s A-level app, they learned the ship was listing 23 degrees, giving them a clue to what was happening.

The A-Level app uses the iPhone’s tilt-sensors to emulate a spirit level, complete with a virtual bobbing bubble in a tube. To calibrate it, you place your iPhone on a surface you know to be level and press a button: A-Level calibrates itself, and can then be used as a surprisingly accurate tool.

Other apps that could come in handy in a crunch include a tape measure for long distances, a speedometer speed alert and a caliper.

This app is the be-all and end-all!

Some years ago, I knew a man who was terminally ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Knowing he would soon be leaving his family behind, he wrote a series of letters to his wife and children that he sealed and left with his wife, to be given to their young children and read at appropriate milestones in their lives: graduation, first date, marriage, etc.

Most thought it was a beautiful blessing he was leaving his children. Everything he wanted to tell them about life and faith was in those private messages. If he had known about Facebook’s “If I Die”, he might have utilized this app to post messages on Facebook for them to read after he’d passed on.

Facebook users’ reactions were mixed. Some were creeped out, while others thought it had purpose. Many began thinking about what they’d say to those they leave behind. Would you use the app? What would you write?

Congress backs off … for now

They heard you! Loudly and clearly! You, along with tech companies and other major Internet users told Congress to “back off!” and it has, at least for now.

CNN reported, “When the entire Internet gets angry, Congress takes notice. Both the House and the Senate on Friday backed away from a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills, tossing them into limbo and throwing doubt on their future viability. The Senate had been scheduled to vote next week on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) – a bill that once had widespread, bipartisan support. But on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was postponing the vote ‘in light of recent events.'”

Google gathered 7 million signatures for an anti-SOPA and PIPA petition linked on its homepage. Wikipedia and Reddit launched site blackouts on Jan.18, and protesters hit the streets in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The House of Representatives also put a hold on its version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, “until there is wider agreement on a solution,” said bill sponsor, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas.

When contacted, my House Representative Bill Posey, R-Fla., said, “I and many others have some very serious and legitimate concerns about SOPA, the way it is written and its broad implications. Intended or not, the implications of SOPA can be far beyond what they say is the intent.”

Posey said he wasn’t sure there was a way to fix the bill to allay concerns.

“SOPA needs to be subject to extensive congressional hearings so that all of its implications can be fully understood by everyone,” he said. “That currently has not been the case. This is yet another example of why legislation should not be rushed through Congress.”

SOPA was born of a concern that increasing numbers of overseas-based websites are selling or making available pirated intellectual property in violation of U.S. intellectual property laws.

Posey explained, “There are already processes in place to handle U.S.-based websites that violate intellectual property rights. But if these websites are operating overseas, U.S. individuals and companies who are having their property stolen and misused do not have judicial recourse to shut them down or force them to pay back the profits they’ve made off of the stolen property. Movies are one example of property that is often stolen and then streamed from an overseas location. I think we need to continue to look at this, but SOPA is a step too far.”

Final score in the online piracy tussle? According to The Hill, the winners were: Google; Rep. Darryl Issa, R-Calif.; Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Reddit. The losers: Rep. Lamar Smith R-Texas; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; the Motion Picture Association of America and the Chamber of Commerce.

President Barack Obama pulled his support amidst howls from his deep-pocketed Hollywood funders.

Google already using SOPA-like censorship?

At least one news website says so. Infowars claims that while Google criticizes SOPA publicly, it is already privately using SOPA-like powers to unfairly marginalize two of its legitimate webs, claiming the giant content aggregator is “blacklisting legitimate websites from its news aggregator and following government orders to remove material from its search results and YouTube.

“Google News is a content aggregator that allows users to search thousands of news sources for relevant stories. Although the aggregator includes a plethora of obscure, occasionally offensive and barely-read websites, in November 2010, Google decided to de-list and from its indexed news sources,” Infowars reported.

Kim Dotcom

Mr. Dotcom goes to jail

The international hacking group calling itself “Anonymous” (about which we’ve written several times in this column) hacked into and disrupted several federal websites last week, shutting down the U.S. Department of Justice site for several hours.

The move reportedly was in retaliation for a federal bust of Megaupload, a file-sharing site, and four of its members, one of whom is named Kim Dotcom. No, really!

“Kim Schmitz legally changed his surname to Dotcom at some point over the last decade, a homage to the technology that made him a millionaire and that has now landed him in a New Zealand jail,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Business Insider reported the “arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom apparently played out like a movie, with Dotcom retreating deeper into his enormous mansion and activating layer after layer of security.

“His defenders are saying that shutting down Megaupload for hosting some pirated content would be like shutting down YouTube for the same reasons,” the article concluded.

Anonymous released this statement on Jan. 19th: “Popular file-sharing website gets shutdown by U.S Justice/FBI and charged its founder with violating piracy laws. Four Megaupload members were also arrested. The FBI released a statement, which you [can view on its website].

“We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites. Lulz. The FBI didn’t think they would get away with this did they?” the hackers asked. “They should have expected us.”

Zappos customers get zapped by hackers

Twenty-four million Zappos customers were unpleasantly surprised last week when the Amazon-owned e-commerce firm was the target of a cyber attack that gained access to its internal network.

The company said that no complete credit card numbers were revealed but the intruders “may have accessed customers’ names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, addresses, the last four digits of their credit card numbers and encrypted passwords.”

Zappos has reset the passwords of its customers, directing them to set a new password upon visiting the site.

Middle East teens creating online havoc

A month-long war between what appears to be a handful of pro-Palestinian and Jewish hackers continued last week when a distributed denial-of-service attack targeted three Israeli banks, disrupting the websites of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and El Al Airlines.

The attacks were the latest salvo in a month-long offensive between Arab and Jewish hackers determined to give the Middle East conflict an online dimension.

Last week’s hacking incident, by a group of hackers claiming to be based in Saudi Arabia, caused the stock exchange’s website to perform slowly, while El Al’s online services were unavailable for more than an hour.

Find My iPhone app saves the day, and the loot!

What do you do when your iPhone is among a bundle of loot stolen from your home?

Here’s what one tech-savvy 14-year-old did. Using a laptop and the “Find my iPhone” app, he helped Seattle police track down the goods by pinpointing the location of his mother’s iPhone, which was taken during the burglary.

What happened to the criminal? Read the story.

Twitter-tracking politician’s popularity

Here’s what the Twitter chatter looked like on The Washington Post’s Twitter page when Rick Perry dropped out of the GOP presidential race.

Twitter/Facebook used in CNN debate

Social media is playing a rapidly growing role in presidential politics. For last week’s South Carolina debate, five postings on the main CNN Facebook fanpage generated more than 6,000 likes and comments.

According to CNN, interactions (likes/comments) for this debate’s content were up 130 percent from the New Hampshire primary and up 12 percent from the average of the three debates last year.

The CNN Breaking News account had 28 posts surrounding the debate that were retweeted 4,500 times. Retweets were up 406 percent compared to the New Hampshire primary and 258 percent from the average of the three debates last year.

The hashtag #CNNDebate was a trending topic throughout the evening, ranking as high as No. 1 worldwide throughout portions of the broadcast. John King was also a trending topic, ranking No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 4 worldwide.

Whew! That’s a relief!

A new partnership between Politico and Facebook will consist of sentiment analysis reports and voting-age user surveys and will include Facebook users’ private status messages and comments.

While that might ring alarm bells, Facebook and Politico say the entire process is automated and no Facebook employees read the posts.

Facebook and Google accused of obscenity

Earlier this month, Google and Facebook fought in the Delhi High Court against criminal charges that they are responsible for obscene online content.

The companies filed petitions asking for a stay in a lower court case brought by a local journalist against 21 Internet firms.

According to a published report, “The Indian government has given its sanction for the firms to be tried for serious crimes such as fomenting religious hatred and spreading social discord, offenses that could land company directors in prison.

“Lawyers acting for the search engine and social networking site told Delhi High Court Justice Suresh Kait that they were not responsible for material posted by users on their platforms,” the report concluded.

The Time Capsule

1945 – Auschwitz liberated

1965 – Sir Winston Churchill dies at 90

1967 – NASA’s Grissom, White and Chaffee die in accident

1968 – U.S.S. Pueblo seized by North Korea

1973 – Nixon announces “Peace with Honor” in Vietnam

1986 – Shuttle Challenger explodes, seven dead

1998 – President Clinton denies Lewinsky affair

1999 – International Olympic Committee faces bribery scandal

2005 – Johnny Carson dies at 79

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WND readers Maria Young of Klamath Falls, Ore., and Don Oliver of Seagrove, N.C., who were among the first to correctly guess actor John Hurt who portrayed Winston Smith in the 1984 movie of the same name, “1984.” The film was based on George Orwell’s novel of a totalitarian future society in which a man, whose daily work is rewriting history, tries to rebel by falling in love.

The selection was tied to last week’s item about “1984” author George Orwell, who died in 1950.

The quote was: “Look, I hate purity. Hate goodness. I don’t want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt.”

This week’s quote: “That’s what these guys do. They love you and then stop lovin’ you.”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Please be sure to add your town and state. Good luck!

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