Comcast subscribers in New York shocked as hijacked HBO feed airs inoffensive content

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HBO’s Facebook page was flooded with comments from hundreds of New Yorkers shocked by what was appearing on their televisions late last night. During a Game of Thrones re-run, hackers managed to break into Comcast’s feed of the premium cable network and insert fifteen seconds of inoffensive content into the middle of the episode.

Viewers were caught off-guard by an uninterrupted quarter-minute of the kid-friendly cartoon Dora the Explorer. Tweets and comments immediately began appearing on HBO’s Twitter feed and Facebook page, as well as the official Game of Thrones social media accounts. “How dare HBO let this come into my house?” wrote one Facebook user, “I am canceling my subscription immediately. This is not what I paid for.”

Comcast confirmed that the unauthorized content originated somewhere in their network, but they have not yet tracked down the entry point or perpetrator. The company issued the following statement on Facebook and via email to affected subscribers a few hours after the interruption:

Valued Comcast Customer,

On the evening of Saturday, November 30th, a third-party maliciously gained access to Comcast’s internal network and aired fifteen seconds of unauthorized programming on HBO. It is our understanding that the content aired lacked the gratuitous nudity and profanity expected by our HBO subscribers. We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to those affected by this interruption of service.

We are working with the authorities to determine how this attack was carried out and how best to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

The hacker who pulled off the attack has already stepped forward, in a way. An anonymous Twitter account, @comcast_ny_pwn, tweeted two days before the attack: “comcast in new york is ours. #gameofpwns”. The tweet was deleted following Comcast’s statement, but not before a few Twitter users captured screenshots of the tweet.

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We reached out to @comcast_ny_pwn via Twitter, and he emailed us a very short statement on the condition of anonymity:

regarding the comcast hack i dont want to go into too much details since that could compromise my identity but i will say it was def much easier than i expected.

He later followed up with an additional note stating that the unauthorized broadcast did not last fifteen seconds, but was actually just under twenty minutes. However, because the first nineteen minutes of the broadcast consisted of nothing but porn clips he pulled from the Internet, no one actually noticed that it was not Game of Thrones until the stream switched over to Dora.

Comcast representatives declined to comment.

Here’s what I thought iOS 7 might look like before it was officially announced

 

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Back in May, when Mark Gurman published his infamous article that (accurately) described the then-upcoming design changes in iOS 7, I had an idea of what I thought iOS 7 would look like. Based on certain parts of the article, I came up with a general idea of what the operating system might look like. I was actually pretty close, but also pretty far off.

I got bored and mocked up a few of the designs tonight. The ideas are based on the following selection from the article:

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Mac users outraged as OS X Mavericks update removes the ability to set a custom homepage in Safari

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Users of Apple’s OS X operating system were in for a bit of a surprise this morning when the Cupertino-based company released an update for its latest Mac software, OS X Mavericks.

Many Mac owners installed the update believing that it would bring faster loading times and better support for new web standards, but were disappointed to learn that only a small percentage of users would see a marginal improvement in performance on a handful of websites.

One change that did affect all users, however, was the removal of the option to set a custom homepage. Instead of allowing users to pick a website to load automatically when starting the browser, all new pages load the Apple Online Store.

Since the Safari update, the Apple Online Store has seen a flood of traffic that crippled the site for hours. Eventually Apple pulled the store offline for upgrades, though Apple’s PR has been insistent that the site never “crashed.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook quickly addressed the issue on his new Twitter account, telling users that “if you like your current homepage, you can keep it. Period.”

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Cook’s tweet was met with responses from countless users who wrote that they could no longer set a new homepage through Safari’s preferences screen. Cook later responded to these messages with another tweet.

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Apple PR has informed us that there are currently no plans to reverse the decision. Instead, we were supplied with a list of reasons users will love having the Apple Online Store as their homepage. Some of these reasons include…

  • Easy access to Apple’s entire product catalog
  • No need to sift through every page on the Internet to choose the homepage that’s right for you
  • If Apple controls your homepage, they can update it to anything they want at any time

We asked a group of ten Mac users what they thought of the change. Two college students replied that they were upset with the change, but the eight other members of our group quickly spoke up in favor of it.

“I think it’s homophobic to say that Tim Cook made a bad decision,” said one student. “Yeah, you guys are just upset with his policy because he might be gay,” another chimed in. The two students who had spoken out against the decision tried to reassert their points but were shouted down by cries of “hate” and “intolerance” from the others.

“Besides,” one of the girls in the back row said, “if your homepage isn’t the Apple Store, how are you supposed to buy Apple products? If we don’t force people to use this as their homepage, those people will not buy Apple products. Everyone should have access to Apple products.”

One of the students against the change pointed out that not everyone wants to own Apple products, and that those who do are still able to buy them without using the store as their homepage. His point was quickly refuted by other members of the group who insisted that they know better than anyone else which products people should buy.

The new Quarter Pounders at McDonald’s are basically obamacare burgers

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A few months ago McDonald’s introduced a bunch of new toppings for the Quarter Pounder. They are pretty much the obamacare of burgers, and I’m pretty upset about them. Let me explain to you why these awful, horrible obamaburgers (which I will admit are actually quite delicious) are actually the most horrendous act ever perpetrated by a fast food establishment against its customers.

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This is how Twitter dies

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I used to use Facebook a lot, but over time I just got sick of it. Now I log on every once in a while from my phone or if I’m bored at my computer just to see what’s going on with a few people. If Facebook shut down tomorrow, I’d notice, but I wouldn’t care.

This isn’t the first social site that has followed this pattern. In ye olde days when forums were far more popular than they are now, I belonged to two for a few years where I made a bunch of “internet friends.” The older of the two was home to a large number of people and the second was inhabited by a small subset of these people who wanted a less strict place to share dumb jokes and such. Both sites eventually ground to a halt and were eventually shut down by their owners as people slowly lost interest and traffic dropped off significantly.

Facebook is taking a much slower path to irrelevance for me, but I can imagine that soon I won’t care what happens to it at all. At first it was a cool site to find your friends and share stuff. Then there were the annoying games, and now Facebook thinks they know what I want to see in my feed better than I do. Now Facebook constantly resets my News Feed to something called “Top Stories,” a list of items I may or may not care about that got a lot of attention from my friends according to some algorithm (such as that photo that got 1 “like” three weeks ago that somehow still gets placed above a friend announcing their engagement with 41 “likes”).

As Facebook insists more and more on telling me what content I want to see, I care less and less about being there. At the time that I was using any given social platform, I could never imagine how it would one day be replaced by something better. Now I’m on Twitter all the time. When I started using Twitter, I thought it was something cool to check every once in a while. Now it’s something I leave running all the time on my computer and in my iPhone’s dock. As I continued using the service more and more, I couldn’t imagine that one day it would be replaced by something different.

But lately I’ve started seeing Twitter follow the same pattern as those other sites, especially Facebook. It seems the company is actively attempting to make the service as unusable as possible. Consider this:

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Ben Affleck confirmed to ruin “Man of Steel” sequel

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Warner Brothers confirmed this evening that Ben Affleck has been picked up to utterly destroy any hope of a decent Superman sequel. “We’re excited to have Ben on board,” said Man of Steel director Zack Snyder. “When we first considered doing a Batman-Superman crossover film, the first thing we wondered is how we could maintain our long tradition of royally screwing up.”

The studio’s mixed results with DC Comics superheros include several horrible Batman movies in the late 80s and early 90s, as well as an unbelievably boring journey to Metropolis in Superman Returns. Warner Brothers CEO Barry Meyer expressed his dismay at the resounding success of Christian Bale’s performance as the Caped Crusader and said that he hoped future partnerships with DC Comics would result in a barrage of poor reviews. Unfortunately, Man of Steel was well-recieved by audiences, who enjoyed Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman.

“We really needed to find a way to make this bad,” Meyer said in an interview following the announcement. “We considered all of our options and we decided that we would keep with our tradition of choosing the wrong person to play Batman. After our blunders with the Dark Knight series, we realized that we had inadvertantly created characters that people liked. This is our chance to redeem ourselves by utterly destroying that trust. We really hope it will go over well.”

Affleck is known for his less-than-stellar title role in the 2003 film Daredevil based on the superhero created by DC rival Marvel Comics. That performance, says Snyder, was one of the primary reasons Warner Brothers knew they could trust him to bomb completely: “He just doesn’t do superheroes very well. We have low expectations for him in this role, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

The “Mass Effect” effect: over-complicated video game narratives are a bad idea

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Mass Effect is a franchise that prides itself on giving the player a huge amount of control over the outcome of the game. While the original Mass Effect had only two really big decisions that could impact the future of the series, the second game spawned so many possible permutations of the story that most people will never experience all of the content that BioWare created. I’m not so convinced that’s a good thing.

Warning! As is often the case with my recent posts, I’m going to be spoiling all three Mass Effect games here. If you haven’t played them and would prefer not to have everything ruined, don’t read this.

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An exclusive first look at Tweetbot Neue

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There is no Tweetbot Neue. I invented it. It is fake. I will now explain why I did it.

iOS 7 looks like crap. Any good design sense Apple previously had was kicked out of the company when Scott Forstall was fired. The new home screen icons are especially terrible, with their strict adherence to a Jony Ive-designed grid blinding the designers to the fact that they just look awful.

Many people love the design of iOS 7—or claim to, at least—and have said they couldn’t wait for their favorite apps to adopt the style. As an experiment, I gave Tweetbot fans a taste of the iOS 7 treatment to see how they’d respond. Things went exactly as expected.

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The J.J. Abrams procedural pattern

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Fox recently released a trailer for an upcoming cop show called Almost Human. The show is about a time in the future where human police officers are partnered with cyborgs. Like Will Smith’s character in the movie I, Robot, the main character of Almost Human doesn’t trust the machines and will do anything to avoid working with them. His disdain for the mandated electronic sidekicks eventually leads to his being partnered with an outdated model who was decommissioned “for a reason” and can apparently feel emotion (compare this to the story of Sonny in I, Robot).

The show was created by J.J. Abrams, the same guy who gave us Alias, Lost, Fringe, the Star Trek reboot, the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII, and a lot more. You’ve almost certainly seen something he created.

The interesting thing about Almost Human is that it’s the third procedural drama created by Abrams, and I think there’s a lot we can look at in his previous two entries into the genre that will give us some hints as to what lies in store in Almost Human.

Alias, the older of the two shows, is about a CIA agent named Sydney Bristow show learns that she has been duped. She doesn’t work for the CIA. Instead, she works for an evil organization called SD-6 that was created by rogue CIA agents. When she learns the truth about her job, she turns herself in to the CIA and offers to act as a double agent and help take down SD-6.

Fringe, which was cancelled earlier this year, is about an FBI agent named Olivia Dunham who is recruited to work for a special division of the Bureau called Fringe Division. The team uses “fringe science” techniques to solve unusual or seemingly-supernatural crimes.

Let’s examine some of the common motifs found in Alias and Fringe–two extraordinarily different shows on the surface that have more than you might realize in common.

Spoilers! If you haven’t watched these shows yet and you think you might at some point, you may not want to keep reading. Big plot points and the finales will be spoiled below.

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How Fringe’s finale screwed up time paradoxes and ruined everything

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Spoilers! If you haven’t watched the most recent (and final) season of Fringe (which ended in January), then this post is going to ruin the ending for you. Also I’m going to talk about time paradoxes and stuff, but I’ll try to make it simple.

For a show based entirely on pseudo-scientific concepts that could never actually work, Fringe did an pretty good job of making everything that happened over its five-season run sound scientifically plausible. In fact, right up to the very last episode, every imaginable anomaly on the show was explained. They even played around with time travel and multiverse theory with pretty good results.

And then they screwed it up. In the last few minutes of the show, they basically ruined five years of storytelling with one mistake. A word of warning: if you thought Fringe had a mostly-happy ending, this post is going to ruin everything for you.

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