Somone Has Built A Life Size AT-ST – Cockpit And All

If you’ve ever seen Star Wars, the sight of the AT-ST (All Terrain Scout Transport) is probably a familiar one. With it famously being destroyed by the cute little Ewoks and their wooden traps, they had to do something with the spares and leftovers didn’t they? Well, it would seem someone has taken the initiative and built a life-size AT-ST.

The Imgur user who “discovered the AT-ST” calls himself the “Kuat”, a planet known for its starship creation in the Star Wars universe. With the original engineer seeming to have gone to great depths in recalling its detail you can see just from the outside image the scale and size of the model.

With so much detail going into the outside design, you can only expect the same on the inside, and that expectation is not disappointed when you explore within the head of the life-size AT-ST.

If you can’t believe your eyes then check out the video showing the AT-st with functional turrets (sorry no lasers, just moving parts) and closing “eyelids” to protect the pilots as they conquer the galaxy. Just looking at these images makes me want to pick up my lightsaber and conquer/save the galaxy, a dream that was only recently reawakened by the latest film, The Force Awakens, set for release on Blu-Ray and DVD April 18th.

EDIT: Re-added the video after it was found to be missing.

 

Child Tracking Firm uKnowKids Accuses Security Researcher of Hacking

Digital security is important in this day and age, with access from across the world to your information meaning not only you can access all that information. With big companies like TalkTalk finding out the hard way that even a single breach can cause your company untold harm to both your image and credibility. The issue is only made worse though when the information relates to the young.

VTech found out the hard way when it was revealed that their hacked data included photos and chat logs. This time up it’s the software firm known as uKnowKids. uKnowKids is a subscription-based service designed to help parents track their children’s online activity. The supposed hack is the work of none other than security researcher Chris Vickery. Vickery states that all he did was use the search engine Shodan and he managed to locate millions of text messages and images, amongst the data was around 1,700 “detailed child profiles”.

The information was apparently obtained from a database which hadn’t been password protected, meaning that it was freely accessible from the web. uKnownKids disagrees and says that the “vulnerability” was patched within 90 minutes of Vickery notifying them. The worse part is that they claim they haven’t been able to identify him as a “white hat” security researcher, someone who will identify a vulnerability and then report them and help fix the issues they find.

Steve Woda is the chief executive of uKnowKids and posted a blog stating that one of their databases “was breached by a hacker” and that “Twelve minutes after the final breach… and after taking screenshots of our intellectual property, business data, and customer data, Mr Vickery notified uKnow of his breach of our private systems”.

uKnowKids tracks youngsters online activity from text messages to social media, letting parents keep close tabs on their activity and be aware of any alerting content that could be upsetting or dangerous. It comes as no surprise then that the BBC reports that the data included a family photo, usernames and email address.

Vickery was surprised when they responded in such an aggressive way, saying that other firms would thank you for alerting them to these issues or even hire you to help fix and make sure their security was up to date.

Cybersecurity Experts Urge Parents to Boycott VTech Toys After Hack

VTech is a company which specializes in electronics devices, baby monitors, toys and other equipment aimed at children. During my youth, I remember VTech being the main source of educational laptops for children in the Argos catalogue. Since then, technology has progressed at a rapid pace, and VTech now produces a huge range of smart devices including tablets. Back in late November, the company’s Learning Lodge gateway was compromised due to poor security and almost 6.4 million children’s details were exposed by a hacker. This is a shocking revelation and exemplifies the importance of being incredibly careful with your personal information. Recently, a VTech spokeswoman made some very worrying comments which suggest the company has a fairly incompetent attitude towards user data:

“Since learning about the hack of its databases, VTech has worked hard to enhance the security of its websites and services and to safeguard customer information,”

“But no company that operates online can provide a 100% guarantee that it won’t be hacked.”

“The Learning Lodge terms and conditions, like the T&Cs for many online sites and services, simply recognise that fact by limiting the company’s liability for the acts of third parties such as hackers.”

“Such limitations are commonplace on the web.”

As you might expect, this has been heavily criticized by industry experts, and consumers requiring peace-of-mind about their personal information. The latest terms were flagged by a  blog by the Australian security specialist Troy Hunt. He lambasted the company and said:

“You acknowledge and agree that you assume full responsibility for your use of the site and any software or firmware downloaded.”

“You acknowledge and agree that any information you send or receive during your use of the site may not be secure and may be intercepted or later acquired by unauthorised parties.”

“You acknowledge and agree that your use of the site and any software or firmware downloaded there from is at your own risk.”

“If [VTech] honestly feel they’re not up to the task of protecting personal information, then perhaps put that on the box and allow consumers to consciously take their chances rather than implicitly opting into the ‘zero accountability’ clause.”

I have to echo the thoughts of Troy Hunt, and cannot believe VTech isn’t updating their security infrastructure after such a massive attack. If you value your children’s data, then it’s probably the most sensible idea to avoid using VTech’s online services.

Image courtesy of Threatpost.com

Cyber Psychologist Proclaims “‘I Wouldn’t Let Children Use The Internet as it Stands”

The internet is possibly mankind’s greatest invention in recent memory and an invaluable tool which many of us rely on. As with any technology, the internet is open to abuse, and not always suitable for adolescents. The huge amount of pornography, aggressive behavior and 24 hour news coverage isn’t an ideal situation for children. However, I strongly believe it’s far too easy to blame the open nature of the internet and parents have to take responsibility for using computers as a means to keep children occupied. Furthermore, there’s no excuse as modern versions of Windows include parental controls to restrict websites, and only grant internet access during specific times. On another note, the internet is designed to be a completely open concept and any discussion about blocking websites to protect children is dangerous and a form of censorship. It’s not a difficult concept that any internet access by a minor should be supervised. Similarly, blocking inappropriate content at an ISP level doesn’t prepare children for the tough reality of modern life.

However, this is only my viewpoint, and I’m not a medical professional. In an interview with the BBC, Cyber Psychologist Professor Mary Aiken said the internet as configured is “not fit for purpose”. Professor Aiken is director of the Cyber Psychology Research Centre at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin and advises the European policing agency, Europol as well as the United Nations. She also went onto discuss the harmful psychological effects of the internet and said:

“I wouldn’t allow children to use the internet as it stands”,  

“It’s too easy to make parents exclusively responsible for children in a cyber context – we don’t do that in the real world, we don’t expect parents to man the doors to bars […] or man the cigarette counters in newsagents”.

“it’s not a stretch to think that children won’t suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being exposed to this content”.

While I do agree that certain sections of the internet can be harmful to children, it can also be just as harmful to adults too. The aggressive and often hurtful comments made to other people just because they have an opposing viewpoint is frankly, pathetic. This isn’t the internet’s fault but a wider problem with society in general and the way in which people behave. For some bizarre reason, many human beings actually believe their opinion equals the truth when it’s really just a personal viewpoint. Without getting too sidetracked, the most important thing to remember is you cannot protect children from nasty people or dark corners of the internet forever. There is a global mental health problem and the internet is one of the factors. Despite this, it doesn’t mean the right thing to do is simply to stop internet access to minors. It’s very simple, parents need to put some effort into learning about the internet, their options and never leave their child unsupervised for a prolonged amount of time.

Modders Recreate Teletubbies Intro in GTA V

GTA V’s modding community have already created a huge array of hilarious, yet terrifying mods including Evil Mario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pokemon and a deadly UFO attack! However, in retrospect, I highly doubt any of these come close to the latest and arguably, greatest Teletubbies mod. Everyone’s favourite kids TV show, barring Arthur and Rugrats, is now available in GTA V and provides hours of entertainment! The mod’s creator captured the original show’s intro and recreated it in GTA V.

Once compared side-by-side, the end result is astonishing and Trevor certainly has the personality to play Tinky Winky. Although, after watching the video, my brain is now sozzled by the annoying TV theme tune. As an adult, I find the Teletubbies disturbing and they could easily play the lead role in a horror movie. There’s just something about their judging eyes which makes me feel uneasy. I mean who knows what really transpired behind the hidden grassy ridge.

Clearly, I’m getting distracted here but this is definitely one of my favourite GTA V mods and worth a watch. The video is hilarious, and throwback to my childhood. I cannot wait to see what the next mod project is, but it’s going to be a difficult task to beat the Teletubbies! That’s not a phrase I ever expected to use.

Who is your favourite Teletubby and why? I always had a soft spot for Po.

Windows 10 is Spying on Kids and Not Everyone is Happy About it

Windows 10 spies on its users. This is no secret. But did you know that it specifically spies on kids and sends weekly reports of children’s computer history and internet browsing details to parents in a weekly report? It’s one of the best-kept secrets contained within Microsoft’s new operating system, and that lack of disclosure alone is potentially damaging to vulnerable adolescents. In an ideal world, these weekly reports could be seen as a healthy precaution to monitor kids’ visits to potentially inappropriate sites. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We inhabit a planet in which bigots, bullies, and abusers punish children for being themselves.

Revealing the internet habits of a child to the wrong kind of parent could put that child at risk. That’s the argument put forward by members of the LGBTQ community, who are worried that confused kids looking for answers regarding their sexuality could have their support systems stripped away from them, and could be victimised if their search histories are revealed to unsympathetic parents.

The feature that sends reports on children’s computer history to parents was revealed anecdotally following reports from adult users surprised to see an itemised list of their kids’ browsing and activity.

Kirk sent the following e-mail to BoingBoing, expressing his surprise and concern over the Windows 10 spying feature:

“This weekend we upgraded my 14-year-old son’s laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 10. Today I got a creepy-ass email from Microsoft titled ‘Weekly activity report for [my kid]’, including which websites he’s visited, how many hours per day he’s used it, and how many minutes he used each of his favorite apps.

I don’t want this. I have no desire to spy on my boy. I fixed it by going into my Microsoft account’s website, hitting the “Family” section, then turning off “Email weekly reports to me” and “Activity reporting”.

OK, I admit that the timing might be coincidental but that would be one hell of a coincidence. I’ve never seen anything like this until we upgraded to Windows 10, and then I got the spy report the following business day.

A message to young readers: if you have Windows 10 now, your parents might be getting the same kind of report I did. Don’t assume your own computer has your back.”

Though Windows 8.1 has a similar feature, it is opt-in. It would be interesting to hear from Microsoft regarding its reasoning for changing permissions for Windows 10’s child monitoring feature to opt-out.

Thank you WCCF Tech for providing us with this information.

Scientists Claim the Internet Isn’t Rotting Kid’s Brains

Just like TV and video games, the internet does not “rot kid’s brains”, scientists have decided. Or, at least, there’s in no evidence that using the internet has any detrimental effect on the development of a child’s brain, according to a new editorial in the British Medical Journal.

The article, written by scientists from University College London and the University of Oxford, disputes claims by Susan Greenfield from Lincoln College Oxford that prolonged computer use can trigger “autistic-like traits” and aggression in youngsters. “Despite calls for her to publish these claims in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, where clinical researchers can check how well they are supported by evidence, this has not happened, and the claims have largely been aired in the media,” the editorial reads.

Greenfield, seemingly positioning herself as a 21st Century Mary Whitehouse, has a history of attacking internet use and social media. She holds the unsupported belief that social networks are a misnomer – much in the same way as a scientist making claims without evidence, one presumes – as they induce poor social skills, low empathy, and low personal identity in kids, while she thinks that video games cause autism, shorten attention spans, and encourage aggression.

The BMJ editorial rightly points out that Greenfield’s assertions are directly contradicted by a number of scientific studies in the field. It specifically cites research into social networking, which “has been found to enhance existing friendships and the quality of relationships, although some individuals benefit more than others.”

Science 1, unfounded personal bias 0.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Indiegogo Toy Aims to Help Teach Children How to Code

A lot of companies have been struggling to release something that will help children how to code. The use of apps and toys have been the most obvious choice for them in order to make coding a lot more fun.

The latest initiative comes from an Indiegogo startup and its Codie toy, which is a wheeled gadget that comes with an app to let the user control and program it at the same time.

Codie appears to be using a visual drag and drop blocks approach rather than having kids program by typing a bunch of lines of code. While the concept is not new, Codie’s developers state that it will stand out with the help of its programming language.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj5GKCavdeM

Codie’s programming language will not require any compiling time and will react in real-time, which means that any changes made by kids will make Codie react instantly, granting a more interactive experience.

The company looks like it is trying to raise $70,000 on Indiegogo, having it already raised half the sum. If you are interested about the project and want to learn more, or even contribute to its creation, you can visit its Indiegogo page here.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

Google Launches YouTube Kids App on Android

Google has launched a dedicated YouTube kids app for Android. The app, to be released on Monday, features specially selected TV shows and videos from kid-centric YouTube channels. The app will only be available on Android at first.

Google is set to announce the app at the Kidscreen Summit, an event with a focus on children’s television, making this a symbolic move by the company into the world of content crafted specifically for children. The app will feature a timer that is set to allow parents to limit their child’s viewing.

As you can see by the images, this app has been carefully designed for kids, with its large and colourful icons. There’s also something else quite kid-specific too – no ads. Yes, thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, barring companies from collecting data from kids under-13,  meaning YouTube can’t show up targeted ads. This has obviously raised a few questions, with many wondering how the company will make any money from the app.

Source: The Verge

NYE too Late For Your Kids? Stream New Year’s Eve Anytime With Netflix

Those of you with young children will know that it’s nice for them to experience festivals, occasions and events with the rest of their family. However, in the case of New Year’s Eve, midnight can just be a bit too out of reach for the little ones.

That’s why Netflix has created a kid friendly New Year’s Eve celebration that can be streamed anytime – just before they go to bed for instance. The three-minute New Year’s Eve countdown is hosted by King Julien from Netflix’s original kids series All Hail King Julien and a series of Madagascar characters.

“Move over, Ryan Seacrest, I’ve got my very own on-demand countdown party on Netflix,” King Julien “said” in a statement.

The clip can be streamed anytime, allowing kids to experience something they might be too tired for otherwise.

Source: CNNMoney

 

Robots Being Taught to Play Angry Birds by Kids… And Dance if They Beat the High Score!

While technology advances, we see it being used in all sorts of situations. However, researchers from Georgia Tech appear to have used the innovation in a new and unique way of helping out kids. They apparently have built a robot which kids can teach to play the popular mobile game, Angry Birds, and in the process help the kids regain muscle movement and control.

The activity is described as being fairly simple. The robot is said to sit and watch the kids play, keeping its focus on the score and even recreating when the kids do. After that, the robot is said to start and get the same score as the kids do, following their example. The robot is said to be interactive as well, having it be sad and upset when they do not beat the score, or do a little dance when they succeed in passing the high-score.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNrHwSfA_lo[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAyvBK3-lNE[/youtube]

The main value from all of this is the ability for therapists to use the robots to rain and help kids cope with their disabilities. The robots are not just some toys playing around with the kids, they are said to be able to give cues and make requests as well. It is said that the therapist can then tell the robot to ask the child to play a variety of games and watch them improve. The kids even have the possibility of taking the robots home and maintain their training out of the office. This might sound childish and useless to some, but it is said to really help kids combine fun with actual proven treatment.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Videos courtesy of TechCrunch and image courtesy of BBC

Is Nintendo Becoming Redundant For Gaming? Study Suggests Children Prefer Tablets

Nintendo haven’t exactly been going from strength to strength in recent times: sales of Nintendo games have been fairly modest in comparison to rivals, many big game developers haven’t even bothered to bring their titles to Nintendo platforms and Nintendo platforms like the Wii U and 2/3DS have dwindling sales. Apparently, this is now starting to filter through to the gaming habits of children. New information from Futuresource Consulting suggests that Nintendo is gradually being pushed out of its stronghold in the Children’s gaming market by the advent of tablets. 44% of UK children between three and twelve now own and tablet, that includes 30% of three to four year olds. The study also says that parents are more likely to buy a tablet for their children than a smartphone or portable console (like a Nintendo 3DS). The attractiveness of the tablet is quite obvious: many tablets can be had for much cheaper than Nintendo devices, many Android and iOS games are free or significantly cheaper than Nintendo games and tablets can be used for other things alongside gaming because their operating systems are much more versatile.

Do you think tablets will spell the end of Nintendo or is there space for both tablets and portable handheld consoles?

Source: MCV UK, Via: Softpedia

Image courtesy of theITechBlog

Films And Their Ratings, Do You Know How They Work?

If you watch movies you know that they have a rating system, though you probably don’t know much about the system and how it works. Television shows and movies get rated by a group called MPAA, Motion Picture Association of America. MPAA is a United States based organization.

MPAA released their current version of the rating system in 1968, though it did not have PG-13 as a rating until 1984. The current ratings are:

  • G: General Audiences – All ages admitted, Nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.

  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Parents urged to give “parental Guidance” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.

  • PG13: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.

  • R: Restricted – Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.

  • NC-17: Clearly adult. Children are not admitted.

The United Kingdom has their own rating system for films, which is similar to the American version. Their organization is known as British Board of Film Classification or BBFC. With the knowledge provided hopefully everyone will easily be able to make a decision as to what types of films that are going to watch.

Some of you might be aware of the rating system, and how it works, but to others, they might be completely oblivious. I have found over the years that some people pay little to no attention to the things around them.

If we go over each rating, we will notice that depending on your type of parenting depends on if you will allow your children to watch a film. Also, depending on your views and opinions, this could also take into account the different types of films that you may be willing to watch.

One thing to remember with any film is that unless it is a documentary (docu) it is most likely entirely false! Movies are designed as a source of entertainment, over the years I have noticed how everyone has a different view of entertainment, and movies are a great example of that.

As parents are responsible viewers, it is important that we carefully check what we allow our children to watch, or even watch ourselves. Watching a film can greatly impact our way of thinking, as well as disgust or even horrify us. Personally, there isn’t much that I will not watch, though I have seen a ton of disturbing films.

To help you make your own decisions, you can read more about film ratings at www.mpaa.org, as well as find the rating of a film on www.filmratings.com. If you’re located in The United Kingdom, you can check out this website http://www.bbfc.co.uk/ which has more information on British ratings.

I hope that this has been informative for you, and helps you to better yourself and your viewing experience. I encourage you to think for yourself and not allow others to influence your decisions on what is appropriate and not appropriate to watch. Yes, some films are disturbing, gruesome and down right WRONG! Some people are able to handle viewing them, while others might share their lunch with everyone around them. The reality of it, is it is a form of entertainment.