Shakespeare via Text

Hamlet

Hamlet, being performed in this photo, is arguably Shakespeare’s most well-known play, and is also his longest.

No doubt we’ve all had some bad experiences with Internet sales.  Maybe it takes something too long to send over, maybe the quality is significantly lower than advertised, and maybe somebody just took the money and ran.  I recently came across an article talking about such a situation.  The UK’s Edd Joseph had ordered a PS3 online for 80 British pounds on the site Gumtree.  Everything seemed to have gone smoothly, but then the PS3 never arrived.  Since Joseph paid for the PS3 by bank transfer (which is against the terms and conditions of Gumtree), he wasn’t able to get his money back.  Enraged with this situation, Joseph discovered that you can copy and paste things from the Internet and send them as text messages.

With this knowledge, Joseph got to thinking of something really long that he could send the man who just conned him out of a gaming console.  So he texted him the entirety of Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth”.  What was just one text for Joseph was 792 texts for the receiving party.  With the success of this, Joseph thought, then he should send his seller all of Shakespeare’s works.  Because not all of Shakespeare’s plays are the same length, each one equals a different number of texts.  “Hamlet”, the longest one, amounts to 1,143 texts.  So far, Joseph has already sent 22 different plays.

According to Joseph, he got his first reply from the receiver after an hour, and after that, he’s gotten the occasional “abusive” message telling him to stop.  Although Joseph has no plans to stop.  The way he sees it, he’s sharing a little bit of culture with somebody who probably has never experienced it before.  Chances are the swindler’s phone has been ringing nonstop for hours.

Flappy Bird Discontinued

Dong's Flappy Bird

A level of the game Flappy Bird.

Over the years, different smartphone games have skyrocketed in popularity.  Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Clash of Clans, Words With Friends, the list goes on.  One of these popular games was “Flappy Bird”, a game created by Dong Nguyen.  The free game for iOS and Android was wildly popular, earning $50,000 in ad revenue every day.  Since its release in late May of 2013, Flappy Bird had been downloaded over 50 million times.  However, just recently, this game was removed from app stores, after Nguyen warned that the game’s end was near.

It is yet unclear as to why Nguyen chose to discontinue the game.  The pixelated art style of the game, as well as the game, was strongly influenced by Super Mario Bros., casing many people to beat on Nguyen for copying the classic game.  Many people began to think that the game’s discontinuation was due to legal issues.  Nguyen, however, insists that this is not the case.  On Saturday, Nguyen tweeted that the game would be discontinued in Sunday, claiming that he was overwhelmed by the game’s success.  This discontinuation of the game came as a huge shock for fans of the game, and people are already selling smartphones on ebay with Flappy Bird pre-installed on it.

Late last month, Flappy Bird secured the No. 1 spot on the App Store and Google Play Store.  Unfortunately, all of this attention seemed to put too much attention on the young Nguyen.  While Nguyen said he was done with the Flappy Bird phase of his life, he claimed that he would continue to create games.  He is reportedly working on a take of the jetpack endless runner, popularized by such classic games as Jetpack Joyride.

Changes Being Made to NSA

Earlier today, Obama announced the changes made about how the government does its anti-terror surveillance.  This comes in light of the NSA scandal this past June with Edward Snowden.  This speech explained how the government collects records on your phone calls, emails and online chats.

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, whose whistleblowing caused the NSA scandal in June of 2013.

Now, if the government wants to collect phone records, then they must ask a judge (in secret) for permission.  Obama said that he wants to open the doors of the court to advocates outside of the government who can provide an independent voice in “significant cases”.  The plan is to ensure that outside voices have a say in what happens.

Since the Snowden crisis, the NSA has been collecting details on millions of phone calls in the US.  However, they’re not recording the actual call; rather, they’re collecting information like the phone numbers and the length of time for each call.  While that won’t be ending, Obama claims that changes are coming.  Both fewer calls will be cataloged, and analysts will have to get a judge’s approval if they want to dip into records.  Eventually, the government will stop recording and storing these records, although it isn’t clear as to when this will happen.

Previously, the government would require tech companies to give them information about suspected terrorists and other “suspicious” peoples without saying anything about it.  Obama wants this to be more transparent, although the details about this remain vague.

The NSA scandal had a ripple effect, as it was leaked that the United States was also monitoring foreigners.  According to Obama, the US will now make the effort to develop some privacy safeguards for foreigners.  This could include limits on how long the government keeps information and taking steps to ensure that it’s only used in certain situations.

Many people critical of the NSA have been quick to criticize this speech.  Many of them think that it didn’t really say anything special, and amounted to little (if anything).  It’s expected Snowden, the one responsible for all of this, will speak about the changes soon.