Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

NSA denies prior knowledge of Heartbleed vuln

NSA denies prior knowledge of Heartbleed vuln

The US National Security Agency has denied any knowledge of the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability prior to it going public, stating it is biased towards responsible disclosure.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has denied claims that it knew about the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL before it was made public, claiming that it is biased towards seeing such flaws fixed for the greater good than keeping its knowledge a secret to further its intelligence gathering programmes.

The NSA has been in the limelight of late thanks to revelations by former contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, the source of evidence showing the NSA has been overreaching its charter with massive surveillance programmes against both US and foreign nationals. Documents leaked by Snowden included claims that the NSA works closely with major companies to gain back-door access to code and data, and even works to weaken commercial security products by recommending known-weak ciphers and random number generators.

When news of the Heartbleed vulnerability in popular cryptography library OpenSSL broke last week, many wondered if the NSA was aware of the flaw. Present in the OpenSSL codebase since 2011 and in the wild since 2012, the Heartbleed vulnerability has been proven to leak private keys – allowing the decryption of encrypted traffic, something the NSA captures and stores for several years as part of its intelligence activities.

Many in the industry had wondered why the NSA captured and stored encrypted traffic with no known way to decrypt it, but the Heartbleed bug means that the NSA – or any other attacker – could easily retrieve the private keys required to unlock the encrypted traffic. Suddenly, the NSA’s trove of scrambled data made a lot of sense – leading many to claim on sites like Bloomberg that the NSA knew of Heartbleed and had been exploiting the vulnerability for years.

The NSA has, naturally, denied this. ‘Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before 2014 are wrong,‘ the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has stated. The denial has been followed by claims made to The New York Times that the NSA and other US intelligence agencies follow a process ‘biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities.

The same article, however, quotes officials as admitting that while President Barack Obama has instructed the NSA and other agencies to follow responsible disclosure practices when flaws are found, there exists a loophole which allows vulnerabilities to be withheld for future exploitation if there is a ‘clear national security or law enforcement need‘ – something critics claim could well have applied to knowledge of the Heartbleed vulnerability, given the NSA’s corpus of encrypted data.

The Heartbleed vulnerability is still being patched, with sites affected by the flaw having to upgrade to a newer release of OpenSSL and revoke and replace their certificates before users can safely change their passwords and, where available, enable two-factor authentication.

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Interview: London Evening Standard

Leto has made his entrance tonight in a black hooded coat, wielding a baseball bat; more LA drugs dealer than the politically engaged figure in an oversized bow tie he cut at the Oscars. With suitable drama, he throws off the jacket to expose the full glory of his rock Jesus look — shades, man-leggings, tunic skirt, sleeveless T-shirt — whereupon he unleashes his power-vocals on to his fans for two adrenaline-fuelled hours: jumping, grinding, sprinting and simultaneously flirting with what feels like every single member of the crowd. ‘I don’t dive into the mosh pit any more,’ he whispers to me on a break. ‘It’s the fastest way to lose your penis. And I’m proud to say mine is still intact.’

The show is part full-on rock extravaganza, part interactive Leto comedy routine. ‘Hey you,’ he cries into his mic. ‘Great mullet, man. That’s my next haircut. Business at the front. Party at the back.’ This culminates with a stage invasion and a mass selfie, his second of the week: the 42-year-old in a huddle of ecstatic Scandi teens.

It is curious, to some, that Hollywood’s man of the moment would disappear off in the vital afterglow of his Best Supporting Actor win to revel so intimately with the global masses. But then Leto doesn’t follow protocol. Six years before his return to film as Rayon, an HIV-positive, pre-operative transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club, he walked away from Hollywood to tour with his band despite consistent critical acclaim for his gritty, transformative roles. Leto has eschewed the blockbuster juggernaut to success in favour of the slow train, via occasional, challenging roles in the likes of Requiem for a DreamFight Cluband Panic Room. Plus, he has other commitments. He is not only a method actor and singer-songwriter, but a video and documentary producer-director, photographer, painter, businessman and activist. ‘I just follow my gut — as Andy Warhol said, “Labels are for cans not people,” ’ he tells me after the gig.

All this makes Leto a very busy man. After partying all night at the Oscars (‘It was pretty f***ing fantastic to see all those Hollywood dreamers letting loose with such abandon. I looked over and my mother was dancing with Madonna’), and taking a hangover hike to Malibu, he flew to Paris for meetings, the Miu Miu fashion show and more fun: his close friend the photographer Terry Richardson was in town and shot him for this magazine before Leto attended an obscure music awards in Finland, his every word and move pounced on by the global media.

Finally, at 1am, I am whisked past a line of deflated-looking groupies into his dressing room. They eye me up along the corridor, turning a pale shade of green.

‘I’m starting to come down off the week-long pink-cloud high now,’ he tells me, dishing me up some of his tomato soup and a vegetable curry (he is vegan). I can confirm that there is no beer backstage. And I’m a little disappointed that he’s come down from jacked-up flirting mode. Tonight Leto is more business at the front, party at the back.

We start sensible: he doesn’t seem the type, I say, to care about Hollywood accolades. ‘I don’t.’ He slumps down on a black leather sofa. ‘But I would never say, “I don’t give a shit about the Oscars,” because it’s not the whole truth. It’s not about the shiny, naked golden man, or the pat on the back, it’s about being able to stand on a world stage for two minutes in front of a billion people and say something that is meaningful, important to you.’ Leto name-checked his older brother, best friend and bandmate 44-year-old Shannon, his single mum, AIDS victims, outsiders in general, and those fighting for their dreams in Venezuela and Ukraine. ‘I could have really taken the piss. But I didn’t want to wing it with this one. I prepared. I wanted to keep it classy.’ By contrast, at the Independent Spirit Awards, he poked fun at the rumours that constantly trail him: by reputation he is a legendary lothario, recently linked with Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and his ex-girlfriend Scarlett Johansson. He thanked ‘all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me’ as well as his ‘future ex-wife Lupita’. He tweeted selfies of the pair together in Paris, presumably to cause a stir. It has since been confirmed that they are not, in fact, dating.

At the Golden Globes he shared with Hollywood’s finest that he had waxed his entire body to play Rayon, but stopped short of a Brazilian and had not used prosthetics. What did he do with his male appendage, I ask now — strap it back? ‘A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But, let’s just say, there are times when you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be…’ he answers cryptically, raising an eyebrow.

Leto seems to flit between composed, pale blue-eyed earnestness and cheeky provocation. ‘I thought about dragging up for the Oscars, going as Rayon, because I knew that she would have loved to be there,’ he says. ‘It’s so much work for girls to get ready. I was brought up by my mum, so I always had an appreciation of women. But now I have more respect for the process. It’s a lot, what women have to do to themselves. But in the end, when you put that final dash of lipstick on and your look all comes together, it really is a glorious reward.’

His sassy, fragile and very human portrayal of Rayon — ‘a hot mess’, as he calls her — and his thoughtful acceptance speech made Leto the true hero of Oscars night. The industry seems to have fallen for a man who, by playing the basic principles of hard-to-get, cannot be fully seduced by it. Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey all approached him with open arms on the night, Stevie Nicks gave him the necklace he is now wearing, Al Pacino has since ‘reached out’ — they are due to meet for coffee — and there have been several calls from the White House. ‘There are some exciting proposals. But I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say. I probably need to clear it with the CIA first.’ Leto is a vociferous Obama supporter and raised funds for the 2008 re-election campaign. He has protested against California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to overturn same-sex marriage, and raised money for Haitian Relief as well as human rights and environmental charities.

I wonder if he is considering another career, in politics. ‘My mum was a teenager when she had us; she used food stamps to feed us, she got helped by social services to go back to school and train as a nurse to try to give her kids some stability. So if I can help or be of service in any way…’ he says. ‘But you know what? I’m too impatient. I’d probably swear in a speech. As George Clooney says, “I’ve f***ed too many chicks and done too many drugs to be in politics.” ’

It’s hard to reconcile Leto the wild front man with the committed method actor who performs extreme feats of self-remoulding in order to morph into his dark, outsider roles. The road to this is more lonely and torturous. During filming for Dallas Buyers Club, Leto only ever appeared on set as Rayon, not ‘meeting’ his co-star Matthew McConaughey or the other actors until after they had wrapped. He even donned lipstick and a pink fluffy jumper and flirted his arse off for his first Skype meeting with director Jean-Marc Vallée. ‘Maybe if I was making romantic comedies, there’d be more immediate silliness, more hanging out in each other’s trailers,’ he tells me. ‘I’ve never really had the kind of joy I experience with the band on set, but then I’m not really looking for that.’

Leto likens his process to ‘being a sculptor’. He lost two stone, lived rough on the streets and abstained from sex with his then girlfriend Cameron Diaz to become the drug-addicted Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream in 2000. He force-fed himself into obesity, putting on five stone to accurately portray John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 in 2007, for which he eventually suffered gout and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair (take that, Shia LaBeouf). In Mr Nobody, he underwent six hours of make-up to play a decrepit 118-year-old. Like his character Angel Face in Fight Club, who is happily freed from the prison of handsomeness when he is beaten to a pulp and permanently disfigured, Leto appears to make an effort to mask the pretty-boy looks for which, in 1994, he was cast in teen series My So-Called Life. But there is more to this, I say, something self-destructive…

‘All my roles are masochistic or… sadistic.’ His eyes flash with naughtiness. ‘Is that going to be your headline? “Jared Leto: masochist or sadist? You decide.” ’ The sexual edges of this theme can be found in his music. The SM-themed video for ‘Hurricane’, which he directed in 2007, was censored by MTV, and in ‘End of All Days’, on his new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, he sings: ‘I punish you with pleasure, I pleasure you with pain…’

‘I have very strong self-control. There is something very seductive about it,’ he admits when we discuss his crash, three-stone weight loss for Rayon, during which the slight actor virtually stopped eating. (He used to go to the supermarket just to stare at the food.) ‘I got to understand the mentality of an eating disorder. There are the highs of losing more weight; there’s a rush of endorphins associated with that control. When you have made a severe commitment to losing weight, there is a lot of shame and guilt around eating again. I really suffered that, it’s not a nice feeling…’ But Leto found solace in self-exploration. ‘The process can be very monk-like — there is a history of people who have fasted to achieve enlightenment. There is something in that, getting to know who you are. It changed me.’

I ask him if it was easier to get into the feminine headspace because he was so close to his mum growing up. Was there already a dash of oestrogen in him? ‘Oestrogen?’ He laughs, a little offended. ‘I guess you haven’t heard all the rumours… No, I became a detective, I met with transgendered people, I asked questions: “What was it like to tell your parents?” “What’s it like to be judged?” ’ He experienced this when he first dragged-up and went into Whole Foods. ‘You don’t have to desire the surgery to have your penis cut off, but you do have to understand it. We all have issues with our identity, or know what it’s like not to belong.’

Leto grew up an outsider. His father left after he was born, and Leto never saw him again. (He committed suicide when Leto was eight.) Leto’s teenage mother and the boys eventually fled Louisiana, where they lived with her Cajun parents in a one-bedroom house, to join the hippie movement. They lived in communes, mixed with artists and musicians, and moved around a lot — from Wyoming to Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Brazil and Haiti — constantly having to make new friends and reinvent themselves. It’s hard to pin Leto down on all of this. He prefers to keep an air of apocryphal mystique. At one point, when we talk about his forefathers, he says that most of his family ‘were probably all in prison’.

Leto grew up wanting to be either a drugs dealer or an artist. At 16, he dropped out of school, before returning to another in Washington. The Leto boys were wild and unruly; they dabbled with drugs, broke into offices and warehouses to steal booze and motorbikes: ‘Other kids went to summer camp; we stole your car.’ Leto steered himself out of the nosedive when he got into college in Philadelphia to study art, and later on to a film course at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The creative focus was his salvation. Meanwhile, Shannon descended further into drug addiction, car-jacking and trouble with the police — the kind of downward spiral that Leto brutally documents in Requiem for a Dream.

But when he moved to LA to pursue a career in music (he says acting was merely a day job to pay the rent), Shannon joined him and they formed the band in 1998. ‘Music saved his life. It was either that or prison. It saved both of us really. Shannon started drumming on pots and pans from an early age; I played a broken, second-hand piano.’

Life on the road with his brother is, after all, what Leto grew up with; it satisfies his constant need for adventure, newness, change. (Thirty Seconds to Mars recently set a Guinness World Record for the most tour dates, 309, on one album cycle.)

Now in his forties, Leto still looks and acts at least a decade younger. There are no plans to stop touring now that, after years of graft, the band has achieved global recognition: Love Lust Faith + Dreams has sold ten million copies and their shows are mainly sold out. ‘We don’t give a shit about our ages. We’re not worrying about that. There are no rules,’ he tells me. And what if he met some girl he wanted to settle down with? ‘Then she’d better have a passport… look at the Rolling Stones, they just keep on going. Maybe me and my brother will be shaking it up there in our sixties. Who knows? Or maybe I’ll just walk away.’

He is even more freewheeling about his future film plans. He’d like to direct a long-form narrative, he says. He has already won multiple MTV awards for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ videos, and a People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival for his 2012 documentary Artifact. This charted the creation of the band’s album This is War and their battle in 2008 with their record label EMI, which sued them for $30 million following a dispute over royalties when, after a tour and successful album, the band found themselves millions of dollars in debt. (The case was eventually dropped.)

For now, however, Leto’s eye is set firmly on his tour schedule. His devotion to his band is almost religious. Next up is Russia, followed by Ukraine. ‘I read that they censored my speech in Russia. They cut what I said about Ukraine. But I’m fully intending to sing ‘This is War’ there.’ Leto usually accompanies the song’s lyrics ‘To fight, to fight, to fight!’ with rampant flag-waving and air fist-pumping. ‘Shit could go down. We’ve already heard some things on the ground that are concerning. Through the band, we are really engaged with young voices all over the world through our social network feeds. I’ve learned so much travelling the world these past six years, it’s changed me. It’s made me a better actor…’

More than anything, Leto is fighting exhaustion now. His eyes are glassy, like marbles, and slowly starting to shut. He only has a few hours to pack and get on a flight to Belarus. He reverts to his humble Academy Awards speech mode, and thanks me for the interview. ‘I’m sorry but I really need to crash,’ he croaks gently.

It looks like Jared Leto’s Oscars week has officially come to an end.

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The Web at 25: How it won the White House — and won me back

On assignment.

Johanna DeBiase)

This week I’ve been celebrating 25 years of the Web by retracing my own life, lived largely online, from the Web’s early years to the dot-com boom and bust to the slow emergence of Web 2.0, which I largely missed while in self-imposed digital exile in Alaska. In the final installment today I look at how I came back to the Web just in time for things to get really good.

Look through my author’s profile here at CNET and you might notice that I’m a bit obsessed with following the latest developments in the mobile world, from even the most hopeful iPhone rumors to torture-testing ruggedized Android phones. But back in January of 2007 when the first iPhone was introduced, arguably kicking off the global smartphone craze and eventually helping to push the mobile Web into the mainstream, I missed it completely.

I was focused on being a new father at the time, and although I was back living in the contiguous United States after a stint in a fly-in village in the Alaskan bush where even landline calls came with a 3-second satellite delay, I still had not yet fully re-immersed myself in digital life.

The events of the prior seven years — from being part of the dot-com bust to witnessing firsthand the impacts of climate change in Alaska and touring the mind-boggling nation that is modern China — had all led me to believe that my skills as a journalist might be better used covering issues like energy, the environment, and the politics that drive these for a national radio audience rather than tracking every movement of the hottest startups.

My time in the wilderness had turned me from the hardest-core digital devotee into someone more like my grandmother, a remarkably well-informed octogenarian who has still never touched a keyboard to this day, at least to my knowledge.

But here’s one of the secrets to life that I finally learned the day my now-6-year-old daughter was born: time is our only truly finite resource (although Google and people like Ray Kurzweil seem to be working to change that). Yes, I know it sounds like a ridiculous headline from Thought Catalog, but when faced with the desire to use my time more efficiently so I could spend more of it with my new family, the prospect of reporting on our highly repetitive and inefficient political processes began to feel increasingly corrosive for my soul.

Don’t get me wrong, we could probably use more people scouring the political beat, but it was during the presidential campaign in 2008 that I began to realize I was just over it. Ironically, after covering politics helped draw me away from a career on the Web, it was the unprecedented use of the Web — particularly the social Web — during that campaign that drew me back online.

Tumblr-dry my soul
It wasn’t until August 2008 that Facebook reached 100 million global users (yes, just one-twelfth of its current user count), and the Obama campaign in particular bombarded many of those users with advertising on the social network that encouraged more than 3 million to sign up as supporters of the candidate on Facebook. On election day, 5.4 million people clicked the “I Voted” button on Facebook’s Election ’08 page.

Using this social presence, combined with the campaign’s own social network and an aggressive email and texting campaign, Obama raised half a billion dollars for the campaign on the Web alone. By comparison, the amount of contributions to all candidates from all sources in the 2004 campaign was just $880 million,according to figures from the Federal Election Commission. Arguably, the Web had won the White House for the first time ever.

In 25 years the Web has gone from being ignored to practically winning the White House.



Blogs also played an unprecedented role in that campaign, both the influential partisan sites like DailyKos and HotAir, and official blogs of the candidates that encouraged participation and posting by supporters. I had kept an eye on the blogosphere over the years, even from rural Alaska, and became completely enamored with Tumblr in early 2008, finding it to be a perfect tool to let off steam with a bit of outright mockery of the political system I was becoming increasingly frustrated with covering.

After a six-year absence, I had created yet another in a long line of half-assed Web sites to my name to share my disorganized thoughts with the world. I was back, baby!

My Tumblr was tiny but grew surprisingly quickly by satirizing the hot political stories of the day, and helped bring me fully back to working on the Web with a gig as an editor at AOL in 2009. Something about working for the company that first introduced me to the Web in the mid-’90s and even helped me score my first kiss had the poetic feel of an Elton John song. But as it turns out, the AOL of this century is much different than the one that nurtured me in my youth and I only lasted there for about nine months. But no biggie, as the folks I met through AOL were and continue to be awesome, and it eventually led me here to Crave, where once again, after a nearly decade-long hiatus, I finally felt at home on the Web again.

So that’s my story of love, loss, exile, and homecoming on the Web, spanning almost its entire 25-year history — from an awkward adolescence through the bubble that burst in our faces to the epic quest for meaning amid the chaos of worlds both physical and digital that leads us to today, and a mature Web that isn’t quite perfect, but is pretty damn cool.


Johanna DeBiase)

But in wrapping this up it also seems only natural to ask what’s next for the Web. I don’t actually think my opinion on that is particularly valuable, but fortunately we did ask the guy who dreamed the whole thing up 25 years ago.

What does strike me, though, is that my first exposure to a computer came at age 8, to online services about four years later, and finally to the Web at age 15. Almost two decades after that, it is the central interface for my life, following important daily face-to-face time with the two redheads I share an abode with, of course.

The smallest of those redheads, my daughter, could perform basic operations on a
tablet at age 2, followed a few years later by surfing certain Web sites on a Netbook. Today she already does homework and pretty major science and craft projects on the Web. By the time she’s my age, with the growth of the Internet of Things and of her digital skills, I have to wonder if she might really be living life on the Web, in a more literal way.

I just hope she takes time out to see the Arctic along the way — the Northern Lights are way more spectacular in person than on YouTube.

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The 404 1,443: Where we’re taking the couch by storm (podcast)

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Obama: Would Michelle have married a nerd?

Not a nerd? No, never.

Funny Or Die screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

They say he’s a bookworm, rather than a barfly.

They say he’s more comfortable with the intricacies of policy making, rather than the crudities of glad-handing.

Such aspersions have clearly been preying on President Obama’s mind. So where better to assert his true self than on “Between Two Ferns“?

This entirely serious “Funny Or Die” talk show, presented by policy wonk Zach Galifianakis, allows guests to reveal the sides of themselves that might have been in the shade of the spotlight.

The president showed his mean, masculine side when asked: “What’s it like to be the last black president?”

His reply: “Seriously? What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a person?”

However, there was one very prickly area upon which Galifianakis trod halfway through the interview.

“You said if you had a son you would not let him play football,” began the host. “What makes you think that he would want to play football? What if he was a nerd like you?”

So there we had it, exposed for all to hear — the accusation that the president was a cliche, a Napoleon Dynamite, a nerd in a basketball uniform, unworthy of true admiration.

You might imagine that the president would have retorted with an explanation that most political power was now in the hands of West Coast nerds. You might think he would have made some highfalutin point about education.

Instead, he replied: “Do you think a woman like Michelle would marry a nerd?”

Yes, he devolved to the idea that smart, attractive women would never go for fascinating, intelligent, uncoordinated men.

Much of the interview was, of course, an advertisement for, the Web site that has been as consistent as “The Hangover” trilogy.

I fear, though, that what will be remembered most is the president’s besmirching of nerd culture.

Will someone from the government be listening in today on the nerds’ private reactions?

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Obama: We’re building Iron Man

A simple announcement to change the world.

CNN/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

The real news sometimes passes us by, as we eke out our survival and freak out at the state of our lives.

I am grateful, therefore, to have been sent this snippet that might just change the way you think and live.

For here, at a White House press conference earlier this week, is President Obama revealing a “secret project we’ve been working on for some time.”

What could this project be? A crowdsourced surveillance program? A health insurance Web site that works?

No, America is building Iron Man.

You don’t have to take my word for it.

For here the president began by saying that he would be joined by America’s finest researchers, digital cloud designers, and important people from the Pentagon.

He then uttered these words: “Basically, I’m here to announce that we’re building Iron Man.”

The journalists in the room erupted with laughter. In an attempt to quiet them, perhaps, the president then explained: “I’m going to blast off in a second.”

That didn’t work. So he had to add that this wasn’t really a secret project America’s been working on for some time. Or maybe it was.

“It’s classified,” he concluded.

This may well be, but in a world in which what is classified emerges through the recalcitrance of a 29-year-old with an old USB stick, there might be some truth in this joviality.

We really need to do something positive with our billionaire techies, whose priorities seem more skewed than a rapper’s hat.

We really ought to co-opt them into saving our culture, rather than let it disappear into the sinkhole of flappy birds and snoopy glasses.

Please imagine Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg, with iron suits and will, soaring in to save us from our enemies and our own worst excesses.

We haven’t seen all that much of these young men lately. Might they already be in training?

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Preen’s Darth Vader dresses channel your inner Sith

February 20th, 2014 No comments

Know the power of the Dark Side with Preen’s Darth Vader-inspired autumn/winter 2014 collection, which debuted at London Fashion Week.

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Stormtroopers and Sith Lords on the catwalk? At London Fashion Week, both strutted the runway in “Star Wars”-inspired clothing designed by Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi from Preen.

Backstage at Preen's London Week Fashion Show, models and stormtroopers cozy up in the name of the Empire.

Backstage at Preen’s London Week Fashion Show, models and stormtroopers cozy up in the name of the Empire.


This homage to a galaxy far, far away is beginning to look like a fashion trend. Last week, droids, Yoda, and Luke Skywalker showed up on the New York Fashion Week runway in a fun new collection of “Star Wars” dresses by Rodarte.

Known for its eclectic mix of punk and vintage fashion sense, London-based design house Preen is a hit with everyone from Scarlett Johansson to First Lady Michelle Obama.

Preen designers channeled their love for Darth Vader and all things Imperial in their autumn/winter 2014 fashion line. Stormtroopers were on hand to escort models in dresses emblazoned with images of Darth Vader’s infamous black helmet.

Even the textile pattern, which was influenced by the designers’ love of Moroccan mosaics, also subtly resembled the Imperial crest of the Galactic Empire.

Backstage, models, fashion journalists, and celebrities posed with stormtroopers. Preen even posted a sign that read “You are a hot sci-fi geek!” to encourage models to channel their inner Sith while they strutted their stuff on the runway.

Interestingly, the designers at Preen didn’t realize Rodarte would also be paying tribute to “Star Wars” in its winter fashion line.

“Obviously, we didn’t know and when we saw it was too late to change,” Preen designer Justin Thornton told Grazia. “But I do think it’s interesting they went for the good characters only and we went for the bad. Who doesn’t love a bad girl, right?”

Now that both Rodarte and Preen have revealed their geek sides, here’s hoping other fashion houses show their adoration not only for “Star Wars,” but also ofor ther sci-fi favorites such as “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who.” Here’s hoping for a Vivienne Westwood Tardis gown.

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Dear White House: Please bring back Flappy Bird

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET)

President Obama may have to contend with budget crises, economic woes, health care snafus, and international conflicts. But those are nothing compared to the greatest threat now facing the world — the demise of Flappy Bird.

The popular game met an early expiration date on Sunday when its developer pulled the plug over worries that it was too addictive. Some of those who never got a chance to flap their wings have since turned to knockoffs, but one Flappy Bird fanatic thinks the government needs to step in to solve the problem.

In a White House petition launched Thursday, a person known only as D.S. is asking the Obama administration to bring back Flappy Bird and “save the millions who have lost their game or have yet to start playing.”

The cause may be noble…or maybe not. Either way, the petition hasn’t drummed up much interest, at least not yet. Of the 100,000 signatures needed by March 15, only 11 appear so far. To become publicly searchable on, a petition has to pick up 150 signatures. And then it needs the full 100,000 to trigger a response from the White House.

Sadly, even if the petition reaches its goal, there is one snafu. The developer of Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen, lives in Vietnam. So I don’t think an edict from the White House would have much sway on him. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

As seen below, the full petition pleads the case in no uncertain terms.

Flappy Bird, also known as the devil’s game and apocalypse, suffered an untimely death. The game has been described as causing suicidal thoughts and has caused the destruction of millions of mobile devices. People have lost their wives, children, homes, and jobs.

So why bring back Flappy Bird you ask?

Because it is an addiction like no other. I am fortunate enough to still be playing Satan’s game. Every time I lose my eyes burn like a thousand suns but I’m happy that I can feel such tremendous emotion.

I want everyone to be able to experience such emotional magnitude.

Bring the power back to the people. Let them choose whether they want to spend every waking moment trying to get through those tubes of horror with this mangled and deformed bird.

No copycat can match this game.

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Snow day chant: ‘House of Cards,’ now now now!

February 14th, 2014 No comments

House of Cards

Despite an Internet outcry, the season two premiere of House of Cards proceeded according to schedule.

Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

All the snow that’s been pounding the East Coast lately is really getting to people. Take Thursday’s Internet outburst related to the hit Netflix show “House Of Cards.”

People took to the netwaves to try to bully Netflix into releasing the show a day ahead of its scheduled 3 a.m. Friday premiere time. The reason for the outcry? Apparently, viewers felt they couldn’t survive a snow day at home without having Kevin Spacey’s warm southern drawl keeping them toasty in front of their TVs.

Seems things were started by a post on Slate’s culture blog Brow Beat, written by David Haglund, in which he penned an open letter to Netflix asking for an early release of the show.

“I know you have a whole host of viewing options, but the only thing that will keep us entertained for the amount of time we have to kill is a gripping, twisty drama ‘designed to be binge-watched,’ like, say, House of Cards,” he wrote. “And not the first season. We watched that already. It was great! Now we need Season 2. Today.”

Oddly enough, the cry was picked up by Alex Conant, press secretary for Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Florida! The only state out of all 50 that’s completely snow-free according to a map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration! Conant Tweeted: “If/when DC shuts down for blizzard Thursday, @netflix would be smart to make new @HouseofCards available one day early.”

This led to a flurry of tweets and the creation of the Twitter hashtag #ReleaseHouseOfCards. A few of my favorites:

There was even a petition created by Philadelphian Kellan White on that got 109 signatures with people siting various reasons for signing. My favorite came from Ken Stachnik in Sunnyside, New York who said: “Because David Fincher is my spirit animal.” (Fincher is the show’s executive producer.) While it might have been a great PR move for Netflix to have caved and released “House of Cards” a day early, a company spokesman said, “Hunker down and re-watch season one so you are good and ready,” CNN reports.

This displeased at least one fan, who, clearly misunderstanding the meaning of “video on demand” tweeted:

If all this “House of Cards” talk has got you salivating for a peek at season two, here you go…

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White House to announce its first-ever Maker Faire

February 4th, 2014 No comments

The maker movement is officially coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today, as CNET reported first, the White House announced its first-ever official Maker Faire, bringing a celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math, not to mention the ground zero of the do-it-yourself world, to the home of the leader of the free world.

In 2012, President Obama was inspired by a visit to the White House’s East Room by then 16-year-old Joey Hudy, who wowed him by firing off a marshmallow cannon. The kid, known now as Joey “Marshmallow” Hudy, then handed the president a business card that read, “Don’t be bored, make something.”

Joey Hudy wowed President Obama with his marshmallow cannon during a visit to the White House in 2012.

White House)

Those paying attention to last week’s State of the Union address may have noticed Hudy sitting in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box — as clear a statement as any that the White House is behind the ideals of the maker movement.

But now, with the announcement of an actual White House Maker Faire, to be held sometime later this year, that message is being sent even more forcefully.

For those unfamiliar with Maker Faires, they are a series of what might be called science fairs on steroids. First held in San Mateo, Calif., in 2006, and launched by the people behind Make magazine, they are a celebration of all things scientific, creative, magical, crafty, and wonderful. In essence, Maker Faires, which are now held in more than 100 locations around the world, including a New York event that attracts 75,000 people each year, are the beating heart of the DIY movement. All told, the events have had more than 1.5 million attendees since 2006.

With the White House now planning on hosting one, it’s the clearest sign yet that this is a trend that has advanced beyond the insular world of geeks and tinkerers and has made it to the most hallowed halls on the planet.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak playing Segway polo at the first-ever Maker Faire in 2006.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The White House has yet to release specific details for its Maker Faire plans, and it’s certain it would host a much smaller version of the event than the ones that attract more than 100,000 people in San Mateo each spring. But according to text of a blog post it published Monday, the White House said that the event “will be an opportunity to highlight both the remarkable stories of Makers like Joey [Hudy] and commitments by leading organizations to help more students and entrepreneurs get involved in making things.”

The White House — which is planning a series of initiatives that encourage industry, universities, municipalities, and foundations to support the maker movement — also said that those who are interested in getting involved in the event can send photos, videos, or descriptions of their projects to, or can tweet them using the hashtag “IMadeThis.”

The White House will be hosting its first-ever Maker Faire sometime later this year.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Dale Dougherty, one of the founders of Maker Faire, told CNET that he and his fellow organizers will be involved in the production of the White House event, but that it’s very unclear what form it will take and what the logistics will be like. “We’re going to bring our electronics into the White House?” Dougherty said. “We’re going to have to figure that all out….The White House kind of has to define what this is. How much space, and who can come — whether it’s public or private.”

Still, for Dougherty, who was was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” in 2011, having the White House get on board is a big thing. “It’s pretty nice,” he admitted. “Cities want to organize Maker Faires. Countries see this tied to innovation, to creativity, and it’s really wonderful to see that connection. I think it’s a genuine thing. You come to Maker Faire and you see all this stuff happening. We want more of it, to help stimulate all this activity.”

A couple of weeks ago, Doughtery added, he was in Norway helping to launch the first Maker Faire there. He said that in Norway, he announced that this was the “year of the maker.” And now? “The White House thing would definitely help us celebrate the year of the maker.”

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