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SAN FRANCISCO — You might think your password protects the confidential information stored on Web sites. But as Twitter executives discovered, that is a dangerous assumption.
The recent hacking of a Twitter employee’s personal e-mail account is raising questions about the security of storing personal information and business data on the Internet.

The Web was abuzz Wednesday after it was revealed that a hacker had exposed corporate information about Twitter after breaking into an employee’s e-mail account. The breach raised red flags for individuals as well as businesses about the passwords used to secure information they store on the Web.
hat account housed some of Twitter’s private financial documents and notes, according to Twitter’s official blog.

Some of those documents circulated the blogosphere on Wednesday, and TechCrunch, a technology blog, published a Twitter financial forecast. The hacker sent 310 documents to the tech site, according to a post by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder and co-editor.

he attack on Twitter highlights the problem. For its internal documents, the company uses the business version of Google Apps, a service that Google offers to individuals free. Google Apps provides e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets and calendars over the Web.

The content is stored on Google’s servers, which can save time and money and enable employees to work together on documents at the same time. But it also means that the security is only as good as the password. A hacker who breaks into one person’s account can access information shared by friends, family members or colleagues, which is what happened at Twitter.

The Twitter breach occurred about a month ago, Twitter said. A hacker calling himself Hacker Croll broke into an administrative employee’s e-mail account and gained access to the employee’s Google Apps account, where Twitter shares spreadsheets and documents with business ideas and financial details, said Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder.

The hacker then sent documents about company plans and finances, confidential contracts, and job applicants to two tech news blogs, TechCrunch, in Silicon Valley, and Korben, in France. There was also personal information about Twitter employees including credit card numbers.

The hacker also broke into the e-mail account of the wife of Evan Williams, Twitter’s chief executive, and from there accessed several of Mr. Williams’ personal Internet accounts, including those at Amazon and PayPal, Mr. Stone said.

TechCrunch revealed documents showing that Twitter, a private company that so far has no revenue, projected that it will reach a billion users and $1.54 billion in revenue by 2013. Michael Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder, said in an interview that the hacker had also sent him detailed strategy documents about potential business models, the competitive threat from Facebook and when the company might be acquired.

Some analysts say the breach highlights how dangerous it can be for people and companies to store confidential documents on Web servers, or “in the cloud.”

But Mr. Stone said that the attack “isn’t about any flaw in Web apps,” but rather about a bigger issue that affects individuals and businesses alike. “It speaks to the importance of following good personal security guidelines such as choosing strong passwords,” he said.

Instead of circumventing security measures, it appears that the Twitter hacker managed to correctly answer the personal questions that Gmail asks of users to reset the password.

“A lot of the Twitter users are pretty much living their lives in public,” said Chris King, director of product marketing at Palo Alto Networks, which creates firewalls. “If you broadcast all your details about what your dog’s name is and what your hometown is, it’s not that hard to figure out a password.”

Security experts advise people to use unique, complex passwords for each Web service they use and include a mix of numbers and letters. Free password management programs like KeePass and 1Password can help people juggle passwords for numerous sites.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, a network security company, suggested choosing false answers to the security questions like “What was your first phone number?” or making up obscure questions instead of using the default questions that sites provide. (Of course, that presents a new problem of remembering the false information.)

For businesses, Google allows company administrators to set up rules for password strength and add additional authentication tools like unique codes.

The Twitter hacker claims to have wanted to teach people to be more careful. In a message to Korben, the hacker wrote that his attack could make Internet users “conscious that no one is protected on the Net.”
Shaila Smith

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Unemployment in Los Angeles County is in the double digits, but prospects are looking up for 500 strippers, thanks to the reopening of a landmark nude dancing club on the Sunset Strip.

Salah Almudarris, who owns West Hollywood’s The Body Shop, says the club will reopen Thursday night, creating jobs for about 20 staff and as many as 500 of what he terms “independent contractors.”

bdshop

An electrical fire badly damaged the Sunset Boulevard venue in December.

Almudarris says about 50 women will work each night and they could earn upward of $1,000 each.

The venue dates back decades and was mentioned in the 1980s Motley Crue song, “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

Almudarris says area bars may get a boost too, as his club serves no alcohol.

Nine of 10 Canadian households now has a computer, and four of 10 have some sort of video game console, according to brand new statistics from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.

The results will be published in an annual booklet scheduled for release next month.


The new stats show that seven of 10 Canadians aged 18 to 34 say they’ve played some video game in the past month. Of them, 34 per cent say they play video games every day, for an average of 7.1 hours per week.

It all goes to show that video games have become mainstream media to most Canadians.

“What we’re seeing is growth in markets you wouldn’t have seen five years ago,” says Nicole Helsberg, a spokesperson for ESAC. “For instance, Nintendo has been actively courting the non-traditional gamer, especially women. So what they’re doing is developing product specially aimed at women, which is why we’re seeing growth in all these areas.”

The Kyoto-based Nintendo has been dominating the Canadian market with its Wii, which just hit the one million units sold mark in July. Comparatively, Canadians have bought 870,000 Xbox 360s and 520,000 PlayStation 3s.

But Canadians don’t just play games, they create them as well.

The gaming industry employs 10,000 people across the country, and that number is growing by eight per cent each year.

They’re quite good at it too — consider that of the top 100 bestselling titles of 2007, 21 were made in Canada.

“The growth of the industry in Canada has to do with the talent we have here,” Helsberg says.

“A lot of it has to do with the way developers have spawned from bigger studios. You look at a market like Vancouver, EA Games sets up shop, people go to learn the trade, and they go off and form their own development trade.

“We have great ties to the educational system in Canada, which is teaching young people the skills to thrive in this industry. Which is why the video game industry is the fastest growing entertainment industry in Canada.” Read more… source: Canada.com

There are many thousands of Chinese restaurants around in the UK and everyone has their favourite dish, but only in China itself do chefs specialise in a range of slightly more unusual delicacies.

A glass of deer penis juice amongst food on a table at the restaurant


Many of the restaurant’s guests are wealthy businessmen

The dish in front of me is grey and shiny.

“Russian dog,” says my waitress Nancy.

“Big dog,” I reply.

“Yes,” she says. “Big dog’s penis…”

We are in a cosy restaurant in a dark street in Beijing but my appetite seems to have gone for a stroll outside.

Nancy has brought out a whole selection of delicacies.

They are draped awkwardly across a huge platter, with a crocodile carved out of a carrot as the centrepiece.

Nestling beside the dog’s penis are its clammy testicles, and beside that a giant salami-shaped object.

“Donkey,” says Nancy. “Good for the skin…”

She guides me round the penis platter.

“Snake. Very potent. They have two penises each.”

I did not know that.

Deer-blood cocktail

“Sheep… horse… ox… seal – excellent for the circulation.”

She points to three dark, shrivelled lumps which look like liquorice allsorts – a special treat apparently – reindeer, from Manchuria.

The Guolizhuang restaurant claims to be China’s only speciality penis emporium, and no, it is not a joke.

The atmosphere is more exotic spa than boozy night-out.

Nancy describes herself as a nutritionist.

“We don’t call them waiters here. And we don’t serve much alcohol,” she says. “Only common people come here to get drunk and laugh.”

But she does offer me a deer-blood and vodka cocktail, which I decide to skip.

Medicinal purposes

The restaurant’s gristly menu was dreamt up by a man called Mr Guo.

Boiled ox penis


The Chinese believe that eating penis can enhance your virility

He is 81 now and retired.

After fleeing China’s civil war back in 1949, he moved to Taiwan, and then to Atlanta, Georgia, where he began to look deeper into traditional Chinese medicine, and experiment on the appendages of man’s best friend.

Apparently, they are low in cholesterol and good, not just for boosting the male sex drive, but for treating all sorts of ailments.

Laughter trickles through the walls of our dining room.

“Government officials,” says Nancy. “Two of them upstairs. They’re having the penis hotpot.”

Most of the restaurant’s guests are either wealthy businessmen or government bureaucrats who, as Nancy puts it, have been brought here by people who want their help.

What better way to secure a contract than over a steaming penis fondue.

Discretion is assured as all the tables are in private rooms.

The glitziest one has gold dishes.

“Some like their food served raw,” says Nancy, “like sushi. But we can cook it anyway you like.”

Rare order

“Not long ago, a particularly rich real estate mogul came in with four friends. All men. Women don’t come here so often, and they shouldn’t eat testicles,” says Nancy solemnly.

The men spent $5,700 (£3,000) on a particularly rare dish, something that needed to be ordered months in advance.

“Tiger penis,” says Nancy.

Bull’s perineum (Photo credit: Stefan Gates)
Bull’s perineum is also a delicacy

The illegal trade in tiger parts is a big problem in China.

Campaigners say the species is being driven towards extinction because of its popularity as a source of traditional medicine.

I mention this, delicately, to Nancy, but she insists that all her tiger supplies come from animals that have died of old age.

“Anyway, we only have one or two orders a year,” she says.

“So what does it taste like?” I ask.

“Oh, the same as all the others,” she says blithely.

And does it have any particular potency? “No. People just like to order tiger to show off how much money they have.”

Welcome to the People’s Republic of China – tigers beware.

Sliced and pickled

“Oh yes,” she adds, “the same group also ate an aborted reindeer foetus.

“That is very good for your skin. And here it is…”

Another “nutritionist” walks in bearing something small and red wrapped in cling film.

My appetite is heading for the airport.

Still, I think, it would be rude not to try something.

I am normally OK about this sort of thing. I have had fried cockroaches and sheep’s eyes, so…

There is a small bowl of sliced and pickled ox penis on the table.

I pick up a piece with my chopsticks and start to chew. It is cold and bland and rubbery.

Nancy gives me a matronly smile.

“This one,” she says, “should be eaten every day.”

Courtesy: BBC NEWS

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/5371500.stm

I have seen her for the first time… I think love at first sight!

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Always I used to be around her

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This is the point where our friendship started…

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Then after one day I proposed her

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And this is how I tried to impress her

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Finally she was impressed

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We had a very good time

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But elders came to know and they didn’t allow us to meet

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We tried to convince them

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But of no use,so we decided to go away

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And lived happily thereafter!

LAS VEGAS • Siobhan Grennan learned how to play poker to please a man. She was then just old enough to count the pennies from her paper route, and the man – her brother, three years her senior – was sufficiently bored that he was prepared to spend a few hours with his sis. But the hours added up, and by the time Siobhan was 14, her big bro figured she was ready for the big leagues: playing with his friends.

“One day, Kevin invited a bunch of guys over for a poker game and he said, ‘Hey, my little sister wants to play, do you mind?’ and they all thought, what a cute kid, sure, and so I played – and cleaned up,” recalls Grennan. “It was the first time I realized that being a girl in a guy’s game has an advantage: Men underestimate me.”

Thirtysome years later and, by most accounts, men are still underestimating female poker players, or they’re intimidated by them, distracted by them or attracted to them – take your pick. Web sites such as womenspokerclub.com and pokergoddess.com encourage women to take advantage of such advantages: “Use your feminine wiles to outwit your opponent,” says one site. “Use their insecurity,” says another.

Such sites classify men into types – for example, Chauvinist, Macho Man, Mr. Flirt and Daddykins – along with tips on how to play each. When playing Daddykins, defined as a man who wants to show off to his little girl, a woman should listen, nod and never challenge his opinion. But she should take note of what he’s revealing about his hand and style of play. When playing a guy who flirts, know that in his attempt to seduce he’ll rarely raise you even if his hand is strong. If he does raise, fold; flirty dude is sitting on a sure winner.

Although Grennan, a 47-year-old single mother and senior producer at MuchMoreMusic in Toronto, relies primarily on her poker skills to win, she admits to playing the girl card. While the genders are equal, they are different, she insists. “For example, men aren’t as good at multi-tasking. And so when I sit down at a table, I always start chatting. It throws them off their game.”

Until recently, her play has been limited to games with friends and in poker tournaments held in local pubs. But she’s always longed to go to Las Vegas to find out if she could hold her own in a “real” casino. The opportunity to do so came about this summer when her 12-year-old daughter, Kate, accepted an invitation to visit Grennan’s family in Ireland for a month. “I knew I had to take this chance to spend a few days of my freed-up time in Vegas and so I called some girlfriends and we all decided to go.”

In mid-July, giddy with the prospect of fulfilling a dream, Grennan hopped on a plane en route to the gambling mecca of North America.

I had the opportunity to shadow her.

When we first met up at the Mirage Casino on the famed Vegas Strip, her aircraft had landed but Grennan was flying. “Isn’t this wild?” she gushed, her eyes dancing like the lights of the nearby slot machines.

It was a blistering hot afternoon, but the cool interior of the vast room, with its low ceilings, dim lighting and unending flow of complementary cocktails, created an ambience of eternal evening. The place was hopping – not surprising considering Vegas’s occupancy level is 90% – and although there were plenty of women around, most were trying their luck at the slot machines, not the poker tables.

Still, casino dealer John Leake, 35, assured me that at a table of 10 players, typically one or two are women, way up from five years ago. In any tournament, it is estimated that 6% to 10% of entrants are female, and a few of them have done very well in recent years.

Last year, Winnipeg’s Cheryl Lynn Deleon placed seventh at the World Poker Tour North American Championship held at Fallsview Casino. A day before her 19th birthday, Annette Obrestad of Norway became the only woman to win the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event. She walked away more than $2-million richer.

What’s luring the ladies? Televised poker games give players such as Annie Duke, a mother who has made millions at the game, plenty of attention – thus generating female role models. Online poker sites mean women can learn the game and hone their skills before playing publicly. And because poker is no longer played in a smoke-filled back room but in a designated open area within a casino, the game is more accessible to women. Accessible, but not always welcoming.

Leake, who has dealt cards in Vegas for 15 years, has witnessed many a male with a chip on his shoulder. “Some men don’t like playing against women. I had one guy, after a female had folded, say, ‘See, this is why women shouldn’t play. They ruin the game.’ It’s even worse if they lose to them.”

Grennan took a seat at a Texas Hold ‘Em table, where the only other woman barely glanced her way. The men looked up, though.

Wearing a polka dot dress and matching hair band, Grennan was all charm. She introduced herself in such a way that you’d think she was sitting down to high tea.

I was surprised when the man sitting next to her transformed into a living, breathing stereotype. After shaking her hand, he launched into his life story – he’s from Milwaukee and sings in a barbershop quartet. Picking up on their common interest in music, Grennan chatted about her job at a television station famous for its music videos. Clearly enamoured, he folded his cards and cheered her on with a few quick tips.

The elderly gentleman to her right, annoyed by the chatter, gave Grennan a gruff look. He won the pot, however, and she rewarded him by patting his hand.

“You’re very stoic, sir,” she said lightly. “This should make you feel better.”

He couldn’t suppress a smile.

Grennan was playing the game well – in more ways than one – but after about 20 minutes, the $100 pile of chips she had started with has diminished.

Another hand was dealt. She peered at her cards and flushed. I knew she had something good because, earlier, she had told me, “I have a physical thing. When I’m excited I turn red. I’d have to wear a veil if I played poker professionally.”

As she struggled to keep her composure, her cellphone rang.

“May I take this?” she asked the table, a protocol she learned before coming here.

Undecipherable grunts and grumbles all around and so she picked up. During her brief conversation, the game went on, more cards were dealt and bets placed, and our multi-tasker stayed in the game. Within seconds of hanging up, she had won the pot.

“That was my daughter calling from Ireland,” Grennan chirped, sweeping the pile of chips toward herself. “I guess you can call this the luck of the Irish!”

The chap sitting at the other side of the table and watching his fortune being swept away looked as if he’d like to wring her neck.

Grennan’s winnings were the result of two pairs. In the next hand, she got another two pairs and once again, cleaned up.

The potential neck-wringer took a break, giving me a chance to get his take on female poker players.

“Women have a huge advantage at the table,” said Matt Mahoney, a 58-year-old father of three girls from Los Angeles. “They have incredible intuition. I can never get away with a lie to my wife or my daughters. And if a woman is playing poker and she dresses correctly, she can be so distracting. Some lean and stretch in certain ways – or maybe I’m just a letch.”

Grennan hadn’t resorted to undoing a button, but still he was wary. “I immediately put myself on guard when she sat down. I couldn’t tell if she could play well and I waited to see. I think she’s a good player. Luck of the Irish? Hey, I’m Irish, too.”

Not far away, at the nearby Rio Casino, Tiffany Michelle, a 24-year-old actor, singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, was showing the stuff she’s made of at the main event of the World Series of Poker. Like Grennan, Michelle learned the game as a kid playing with her brothers. Unlike Grennan, Michelle is a pro. In recent years, she’s been steadily moving up the ranks in professional poker circles and credits her success to pure skill. Mind you, she believes women have an edge.

“The minute a woman sits down at the table, men are automatically uncomfortable,” she told me. Clad in funky clothes and with a ball-cap pulled low over her eyes, the raven-haired beauty laughed. “I know the guys are intimidated by me and so they don’t play their usual game.”

Of the 6,844 players who entered the multi-day tournament, Michelle will go on to finish 17th, earning the coveted title Last Woman Standing. She also earns a whopping $330,000, the largest amount ever won by a female in the tournament’s history.

Grennan, meanwhile, left Vegas, $13 up.

Both were excited by their performance.

Said Michelle, “Doing well in this tournament is assisting in creating buzz for me in Hollywood. One day I hope to invest the money I make in poker in creating and producing, to get films and stories out there that I want to do. I tell women, if you enjoy poker, do it. Somebody has to win, so why not you?”

Said Grennan: “I wanted to prove to myself that I am good enough. I didn’t lose money which means I am.”

During my time in Vegas I asked various women who do well at the poker tables whether – in addition to winning – they get sweet satisfaction from beating the boys.

Some said no, but here’s the thing: They could be bluffing.   Courtesy: National Post


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