He Couldn’t Hack It… Facebook Hacker Faces Prison Term & $250,000 Fine

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It’s happened to everyone. You log on to your Facebook account and get a private message from someone you know, it could be an old schoolteacher, your mother, or someone pretty you met on a night out. You open the message, and all you can see is that dreaded blue hyperlink. You groan, roll your eyes and write a message informing them that they’ve been hacked…

If you can relate to this experience, then you can probably relate to the experience of actually being hacked as well. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing, invasive and extremely annoying, since you have to run all sorts of computer checks/clean-ups and change all your passwords as well.

Hacking of this kind can also be dangerous, if you click the blue link for any reason, then you’re potentially delivering yourself into a world of virtual hurt.

Now, with everyone and their tech-retarded grannies signing up to Facebook, hacking has become far more prevalent, a way of robbing people blind without even looking them in the eye while you do it.

This week, BBC News reported that a New Yorker named Eric Crocker, who used the alias Phastman to commit his virtual crimes, has admitted to hijacking more than 77,000 Facebook accounts as part of a vast network of money making schemes.

The court heard how he and his cohorts took over the accounts of unsuspecting Facebook users and used them to send junk emails to other accounts, thus hacking them as well.

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Using the Facebook Spreader tool, Crocker received $300 (£191) for every 10,000 computers he infiltrated.

Mr. Crocker was one of 70 people arrested across 20 countries, thanks to evidence gathered by the FBI’s (very coolly-named) Operation Shrouded Horizon, an initiative aimed at the prevention of virtual crime.

Crocker and the other suspects were members of an invitation only, password-protected forum called Darkode, which boasted between 250-300 members at any given time.

Hackers used the site to buy, sell or swap malware, stolen personal details, credit card information, hacked server credentials and other pieces of data and software commonly used in worldwide cyber crime.

In order to join the site, unethical hackers like Mr. Crocker had to be sponsored by an existing member, they were then heavily vetted to ensure that they were who they said they were. Finally, prospective members had to submit a resume describing their previous criminal activities, which also detailed their skills and suggested ways in which they could contribute to the illegal activities planned by the site. If selected as members, the FBI reports, these hackers would then aid other cyber criminals in their illicit endeavours.

FBI operatives, as well as their counterparts in 20 other countries, infiltrated the site “at the highest levels”, gathering enough information to aid in the arrest of Mr. Crocker and his affiliates.

Crocker eventually pleaded guilty to the charges of violating anti-spam laws and the abuse of Internet connections. He will be sentenced in November, when he will likely be facing up to three years in prison, a $250,000 (£160,000) fine, or both.

Although these arrests are proof that the governments of the world are wising up to cyber crime, please bear in mind that these people, and others like them, are still out there, skulking in the shadows of cyberspace and plotting their next attack. Be vigilant at ALL times…

Global Hearing Protection Devices Market: North America has the largest market by 2020

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Hearing protection devices (HPDs) help to reduce the amount of sound energy being transmitted into inner ear and protect ear against hazardous noise. Hearing protection device prevents people from occupational hearing loss due to operational or presence of noisy equipment such as stone saws and rock drills in the work place. It also prevents from non-occupational hearing loss due to recreational activities, loud music and fire arms. Hearing protection devices are of many types such as earplugs, earmuffs, hearing band, canal caps and uniform attenuation earmuffs. A good hearing protection device has various characteristics such as good seal, comfortable to wear and leads to effective communication. Shape and size of hearing protection device varies according to individual’s comfort, size of ear canal and environmental conditions. Hearing protection devices are used while working in industries such as gold mines, manufacturing sites, construction, forestry and pharmaceuticals. In addition, working in military can also cause hearing loss as some weapons are so loud that can cause immediate total loss of hearing. Therefore, hearing protection devices are required to protect a person from hazardous noise exposure. Hearing protection device helps to reduce tinnitus-ringing in the ears. They can also prevent person from fatigue and irritability.

North America has the largest market for hearing protection devices followed by Europe. This is due to technological advancement, increasing awareness about noise pollution hazards and high disposable income in the region. Asia is expected to show high growth rate in the hearing protection devices market in next few years due to increasing prevalence of hearing problems and rising government initiatives in this field.

Technological advancement, passing of health and safety regulations, rising noise pollution level and growing demand for user comfort devices are some of the key factors driving the growth for global hearing protection devices market. In addition, their easy use, low cost and increasing consumer health awareness about noise hazards are driving the hearing protection devices market. However, manufacturing with lesser noise and off-shore manufacturing are some of the major factors restraining the growth for global hearing protection devices market.

Ongoing innovation in hearing protection devices would develop opportunity for growth of global hearing protection device market. Rising number of mergers and acquisitions among companies and increasing focus on style, fashion and aesthetic appeal are some the major trends that have been observed in global hearing protection devices market. Some of the major companies operating in the global hearing protection devices market are Honeywell International Inc., 3M, ADCO Hearing Products, GN ReSound, Centurion Safety Products Ltd, Amplifon, Delta Plus, Elvex Corporation, Hellberg Safety AB, Moldex-Metric AG & Co. KG., Siemens Audiology Solutions and Sonomax Hearing Healthcare, Inc.

As this article shows, Hearing protection devices are an important part of a lot of peoples working lives, protecting peoples hearing is a very important part of health and safety legislation.

How to boost Two Way Radio range?

A walkie talkie is one of the most essential communication devices which we use these days and its use can be found across a wide range of industries such as construction, military and aviation. To the layman, a walkie talkie is nothing but a radio transceiver which utilizes radio wave signals to facilitate two-way communication for relatively short ranges. Hence, it is also commonly known as a two-way radio. When it comes to walkie talkies, there are several well-known brands that manufacture them. But Motorola has always outperformed its competitors and has constantly come up with start-of-the-art walkie talkie models that are embedded with the latest technologies and features. So let us look at two of its successful two way radio models and then move on to learn more about how to boost walkie talkie range in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

The Motorola DP2400 and DP4400 two-way radios

The Motorola DP2400 is the ideal choice if you are looking for a reliable yet cost effective two-way radio that discharges its duties with flair. Not only does this model offer scalable communication solutions, it also comes with a host of noteworthy features like support for both UHF and VHF, waterproof capability and intelligent announcements based on audio and voice. It comes with 3 programmable buttons and can be operated across 16 different radio channels depending on your choice.

Moving on to the Motorola DP4400, this model makes sense if you want the best and unrivaled audio quality available in modern day two-way radios. In a bit to boost its USP, this model also comes with Bluetooth and GPS capabilities. It supports both the VHF and UHF frequency bands and has five programmable buttons along with an additional button for emergency scenarios. Plus, it can work seamlessly across 32 different radio channels and is designed to withstand splashes and submersions in water.

Tips to boost walkie talkie range

Boosting the range of your walkie talkie is pretty easy if you have understanding of their basic functionality and how they actually work. In case you are not interested in knowing the specifics, you can always rely on the following tips to boost your walkie talkie range-

  • Use fresh batteries – Using fresh batteries have proven to improve the communication range of walkie talkies and make them perform at their peak. Hence, you will be at a lesser risk of experiencing signal drops and disturbances in your communication.
  • Make use of a digital repeater –If your walkie talkie is analogue interoperable like the Motorola DP2400, you can opt for a digital repeater to extend its range. The job of a repeater is to listen to communication at one frequency and then transmit the same in another frequency. So linking multiple repeaters together allows them to cover a large area and thereby boost your walkie talkie’s range significantly.
  • Communicate from higher ground – This is obviously one of the basic thumb rules of walkie talkie communication. When experiencing disturbance in your communication channel or lack of range, it is always advisable to reach for higher ground and then try communicating with your partner at the other end. Communicating from higher ground will eliminate all obstructions that prevent a radio signal from reaching its destination.
  • Take advantage of moist weather – Arid weather conditions are not at all conducive for radio communication as the signals don’t tend to travel as far as you would like to. But that is not the case during moist weather conditions. Studies have shown that radio signals tend to travel much farther when the weather is moist and humid. So always take advantage of moist weather conditions to improve the range of your walkie talkie.
  • Stay clear of large buildings and structures –Any large building or structure will surely impact the range of your walkie talkie and it is advisable to stay clear of them when communicating through it. A radio signal needs to have a clear line of sight in order to travel the farthest distance possible and this is only possible if it does not have any barriers in its path.

Environmental and physical factors are often the culprits for a drop in the range of a walkie talkie. By making use of the above mentioned tips, you can easily understand how to boost walkie talkie range and benefit from it whenever the need arises.

The Shakespeare Code: Does a 400-Year-Old Portrait Offer a New Image of The Bard?

Historian and botanist Mark Griffiths claims to have cracked a centuries old code, revealing a brand new image of William Shakespeare.

The picture appears on the title page of the 1598 volume ‘The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes’ by the horticulturist John Gerard.  Apparently, Griffiths was able to decode a Latin cipher “of the kind loved by the Elizabethan aristocracy” which then revealed the identity of the man in the picture as William Shakespeare.

If he is correct, then this picture is the only demonstrably authentic portrait of the famous playwright that exists from his lifetime. But remember, I said ‘if’ – Mr. Griffiths is by no means the first person to make such a sensational ‘discovery’.

It is a spectacular claim for sure, but one that is fast gaining currency in the international news media. The only accepted images of The Bard are the famous picture from the cover of Shakespeare’s First Folio and the effigy on his monument in Stratford-Upon-Avon, both of which were created some time after his death.

Griffiths, who is presently writing a book about Gerard, came across the picture whilst browsing a first edition copy of ‘The Herball’. The image appears to have been created by William Rogers, the first English engraver and a man of much renown in his own right. Copperplate engravings, such as the ones he made of Queen Elizabeth I, are key pieces of historical evidence for the study of England in Tudor times.

Rogers’ title page shows four male figures surrounded by flowers and symbols, so Griffiths decided to try and discern the identities of the four men.

One of the men is apparently Gerard himself, whilst the second image appears to depict the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens. The third man is assumed to be Lord Burghley, who was an adviser to the Queen and a patron of the book’s author. The three aforementioned men could be readily identified using existing portraits from the period. However, the identity of the fourth figure, clad in classical Roman garb, wearing a laurel wreath and holding a both an ear of sweetcorn and a fritillary flower, eluded him.

Griffiths began to read up on the sort of codes, ciphers and hidden messages frequently used in Tudor times and, from his research, he concluded that the identity of the fourth man had to be Shakespeare himself.

For Griffiths, there can be no doubt at all that this is the definitive image of William Shakespeare, “For me, it is not about doubt or supposition. I’m faced with a series of facts that I can’t gainsay, as much as I try. This is what these facts are, these are what the plants are, this is what they signify, this is what the symbol decodes as. All of that adds up to Shakespeare. I can’t make that – and believe me I’ve tried – add up to anybody else but Shakespeare.”

However, some of the ‘clues’ unearthed by Griffiths do seem to be somewhat strange, to say the least. For example, the image around the fourth man shows an arrowhead with an ‘E’ stuck to it, alongside a figure four. For Griffiths, this equates to the Latin word Quater, which was (apparently) a slang term for the number 4 in games of chance. Add the ‘E’ on the end of the word and it becomes quatere, which is the infinitive of the Latin verb quatior, meaning ‘ to shake’. Accordingly, Griffiths believes that the number 4 seen nearby can also be interpreted as a spear. Literally, this means ‘shake spear’.

Another ‘clue’ is the presence of the word ‘Or’. Apparently, Shakespeare’s father was presented with a golden coat of arms around the time that ‘The Herball’ was being written – and the heraldic symbol for gold is ‘Or’.

Elsewhere, he also points out references to various Shakespeare writings, particularly Venus and Adonis, in which a fritillary flower appears. He even goes as far as to suggest that the ear of sweetcorn is a reference to a single line of dialogue from Titus and Andronicus.

So, is it Shakespeare’s picture, or is Griffiths simply getting carried away looking for clues as to the identity of a so-far-unknown man who lived 400 years ago? Opinion is so far divided and, given the age of the text and the many-fold interpretations offered by the image, it seems doubtful that anybody will be able to either conclusively prove, or disprove, Griffith’s theory.

Professor Michael Dobson, Director of The Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham said that, “I can’t imagine any reason why Shakespeare would be in a botany textbook. It’s a lovely picture. Everybody is very fond of it. But that doesn’t mean that he had anything to do with it apart from the fact that he read it. (…) It’s a man in a toga, holding a little bit of a corn on the cob in one hand and a fritillary in the other.”

In his defense, Mr. Griffiths has posited that Shakespeare may have been patronized by Burghley and that he could potentially have worked with Gerard on the book, hence his appearance on the cover, but critics of the theory find this hard to swallow, especially due to the lack of any hard historical evidence to back it up.

World-renowned Shakespeare expert Stanley Wells took his disdain to Twitter, saying (slightly flippantly) “So apparently Shakespeare went around in fancy dress holding a fritillary in one hand and a cob of corn in the other.” Of course, the ‘fancy dress’ could be symbolic of the man’s connection to the theatre, but equally, it could be a romanticized portrait of a nature spirit.

As reported by The Guardian, Griffiths hit back at his critics, saying, “What we have here is a series of incontrovertible facts. I dare say people will think: ‘Oh no. It’s not him.’ But there is no other construction that can be placed on these facts. It is not an assumption that he is Shakespeare, it is algebra … it is an equation.”

Erm…No it isn’t. It is a series of educated guesses, aided and abetted by what seems to be more than a little wishful thinking.

The image and indeed the story as a whole, may put science fiction fans in mind of the 2007 ‘Doctor Who’ adventure ‘The Shakespeare Code’, in which a young and handsome Shakespeare portrayed by Dean Lennox Kelly (and eerily similar to the man pictured in ‘The Herball’) aids The Doctor and his companion Martha Jones in expelling Carrionite witches from The Globe Theatre. Indeed, Griffiths himself compared the image of a young, good-looking Shakespeare to the appearance of a contemporary film star.

So, when we gaze upon this Elizabethan image, are we looking at the only authentic picture of William Shakespeare? Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t, however the fact that Mr. Griffiths is now claiming to have uncovered a new play by Shakespeare does suggest, that, whether he manages to convince us or not, we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.