6 Ways People Got Screwed By Websites You Use Every Day

It’s no secret that the internet is an amazing place to indulge your inner sociopath. You don’t even need a reason most of the time. But what if you did have a reason? Like acquiring riches? Could being a sociopath help with that? Yes, it can very much, as we demonstrated last year. And would you believe that in the time since, things haven’t miraculously gotten better? Consider these fresh new examples …

#6. Porn Users Are Paying for Fake Camgirls

Masturbation, much like the sea, can be tumultuous and difficult to predict. Although the basic technique (It’s friction, folks. Use friction) generally stays the same, for many of its most experienced practitioners, the visual aids they’ll find most appealing during the act can vary considerably, and can often be quite particular. Which is where camgirls come in.

To save your blushes, we’re going to explain this to you as if you don’t know.

Here’s how camgirls work. Whilst browsing the internet for porn, a customer sees an ad pop-up offering a private and personal show by an attractive person. Let’s say a girl. The customer — a man in this hypothetical situation we’re constructing — agrees, and after shelling out some money, he’s connected to a video chat room with the girl. Then, via a system of typed messages and grunts, the customer requests the camgirl do various things, which she happily agrees to.


But in some cases, this camgirl isn’t real at all, and is nothing more than a customized porn video — an archive of prerecorded ass slaps skillfully woven together by some dude sitting at a computer. Any hitches or blending problems get blamed on lag, and everyone walks away happy … except possibly the dude making it, who probably thought he’d be doing more with that cinematography diploma.

“So long as you ask no follow-up questions, my job’s going fine, Dad.”

This isn’t a well-hidden industry, either. If you know where to go, you can buy a collection of these video clips for as little as $10. We’re not going to tell you where, though, because this isn’t really a career we recommend, for a few reasons. One: These video packs are often stolen from real camgirls who went through all these motions, had them recorded without their permission, and aren’t making any money from their resale. Second: This is exactly the kind of career which could end with you becoming the sex puppeteer for one of your relatives.

“So long as you don’t ask how they got there, could you clean some viruses off my computer, son?”

#5. Google Maps Made The Hollywood Sign Disappear

The Hollywood Sign has long been a must-see attraction for tourists visiting Los Angeles. Perched in the Hollywood Hills, it looms over the city’s skyline, serving as a metaphor for how important this one place is to television, film, and popular culture in general.

It also does a pretty good job of looming over the people who live in the hills below it, drawing in hordes of tourists who jam their streets, litter, and trespass. More troublingly, these tourists can get in the way of fire trucks which need to access these highly combustible hills. In short, the proximity of the sign can be a bit of a nuisance — the kind of thing people who own knee-shakingly expensive homes don’t like dealing with.

“This place is incredible. Let’s close the fucking door.”

So the residents fought back in the most devious way possible. Most tourists were finding their way into the neighborhood by using Google Maps, and then kind of blundering their way through the streets to get as close to the sign as possible. So the local residents got Google to change the GPS co-ordinates of the sign, directing any tourists to a lookout at Griffith Observatory, miles away. Even the “walking” directions on Google Maps ignored the public hiking trails people could use to legally access the sign. You could be standing underneath the thing, and Google would still direct you on a two-hour death march to the distant observatory.

Any closer, and they would still smell the putrid stench of the poor.

On the one hand, this is slightly defensible. There were real public safety concerns which needed to be addressed, and neighborhoods around the world have implemented all sorts of measures to calm and control traffic. On the other hand, fuck these rich guys. This was clearly done mostly for selfish reasons. One of them has even threatened to sue a blogger for directing tourists along these same public roads and trails. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck them.

If you set your coordinates for Mt. Lee Drive and arrive between midnight and a minute past, they might not release the hounds.

More generally, dealing with public safety concerns is kind of the job of the government, isn’t it? Like, we’re having all these fucking elections for a reason, right? For public roads to be hidden thanks to the actions of private individuals and companies is a little bit spooky.

#4. Rogue Wikipedia Editors Are Holding Pages For Ransom

Although Wikipedia can nominally be edited by anyone, it has a core group of editors and writers who wield an unusual amount of authority over the site. This is slightly cliquish, but a core group like this does serve as an effective guard against anonymous edits from people with usernames such as *WeEdDoNg420*8====D~~~~.

“This botany article needs a section about how Hitler had some good points.”

But having a small group of people with such wide-ranging powers can lead to abuse. In an investigation code named “Orangemoody” (all of the good names were apparently taken), Wikipedia unearthed a scam wherein one of its editors would write an article about a company or band or whatever, and then hold it hostage until the target paid a small fee for its safe publication. The targets couldn’t fight back by writing or editing their own article, because the scammer could use their eldritch Wiki powers to block them. It was essentially a slightly boring combination of cyber-squatting and blackmail.

It does get worse, though. After paying the initial “fee,” these targets were presented a second offer: For the ass-clenchingly large sum of $30 a month, the scammer would then “protect” the article from vandals and deletion and things of that nature. That’s right; some underpants-wearing would-be gangster invented a fucking Wikipedia protection racket.

“Got a real nice brand here. Would be a real shame if a citation was needed for that.”

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Winter Olympics launch day: curling, figure skating and more – as it happened – The Guardian

The Guardian

Winter Olympics launch day: curling, figure skating and more – as it happened
The Guardian
… we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian's independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our

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NFL Draft prospect to know: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

NFL Draft prospect to know: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Blogging The Boys will begin taking a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys' expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some

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Social Media Isn't The Shiny New Toy Anymore – Business 2 Community

Business 2 Community

Social Media Isn't The Shiny New Toy Anymore
Business 2 Community
I started out in the blogging world 11 years ago now which also saw me take my first steps on to social media. Right at the beginning. It was all very novel and pretty much nobody I knew had a clue what I was doing. Tell someone now that you're a

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ESPN “boldly” predicts that Dez Bryant will be released this offseason – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

ESPN “boldly” predicts that Dez Bryant will be released this offseason
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Many were calling them the re-incarnated version of the franchise's famed triplets, but those fantasies faded as soon as DeMarco Murray signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015. Tony Romo would only play four more games before his time in Dallas

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Google Plans to Map the Interior World in 3-D

Google already maps the world, but the internet giant has bigger plans for its next location-based technology.

The Alphabet Inc. unit wants to digitally map the interiors of buildings in 3-D down to a resolution of a few inches, and make money in virtual reality along the way, through a project named Tango. 

The company plans a big expansion of the technology this year and ultimately wants to make it ubiquitous, according to a person familiar with the situation. Job postings and recent updates to Tangos developer software show steps toward this ambitious goal. Google will showcase progress at its I/O developer conference near its Silicon Valley headquarters May 18 to 20.

QuickTake Virtual Reality

Tango packs cameras and depth sensors along with other software into Android smartphones and tablets. Fire up the application and point the device at a space and it sucks in images and depth information to re-create the environment on the screen and locates itself within that new digital realm.

Google hopes Tango will support a system for independent developers to create new virtual reality applications and services. Video games could have characters that hide behind real-life furniture. A museum app could show 3-D animations when you walk past an exhibit. A grocery store could highlight sale items and guide shoppers to the right shelf.

Unlike most emerging virtual reality systems, Tango doesnt need external equipment to re-create the world digitally. And unlike Google Maps it can figure out the details of a space without additional data sources.

“Tango is the indoor extension of their outdoor mapping platform,” said Lex Dreitser, a virtual reality developer who builds Tango applications.

Goose Bumps

Tango started in a Google research lab more than two years ago, but the company is trying to take it mainstream this year. Its going into new smartphones from Intel Corp. and Lenovo Group Ltd. and the software has been updated to let it easily run on more devices. And there are signs Google is working on the most important challenge: Making Tango 3-D maps shareable so the company can someday patch them together into a single, detailed digital representation of many of the worlds buildings, rooms and the stuff inside them. 

Google Maps is one of Googles most successful services, used by more than a billion people every month. Its stitched into other popular Google services, like Gmail, Calendar and Photos. With more detailed maps, Google could build new advertising and location-based services into its products. It could also offer these capabilities to outside developers, letting them create more powerful applications for its Android operating system.

“If Tango could digitize every single physical commerce place, then all of a sudden Google has an exponential opportunity to place very relevant contextual physical advertising in every space,” said Nathan Pettyjohn, Chief Executive Officer of Aisle411, a mobile commerce and location company that has built applications for Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Toys R Us Inc. “It literally gives me goose bumps talking about it.”

Tango could also make Google a potent virtual reality rival to Facebook Inc.s Oculus and HTC Corp.s Vive. The Vive and the Oculus need separate sensors along with their headsets to map a room, while Tango does it with components in the phone or tablet. The closest competitor may be Microsoft Corp.s HoloLens, a headset that integrates the technology. Occipital, a startup, makes a device that can be attached to standard Apple Inc. iOS and Android devices to give them 3-D sensing capabilities. Apple may be working on VR and 3-D sensing too through PrimeSense, a company it acquired in 2013.

Gina Scigliano, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment.

In January, Google software engineer Eitan Marder-Eppstein said the technology had “a lot of potential for indoor navigation.” And back in 2014, another Google engineer, Simon Lynen, said the company was researching how to use multiple Tango devices to build large, detailed maps that could be combined and downloaded to devices giving them “a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”

Tangos Cloud

The company is hosting four I/O sessions on Tango this year, up from one in 2015.

“With I/O it feels like theyre really doubling down on it,” said Andrew Nakas, who has been building Tango applications for two years. “I can do things now I had no expectation I could do back then in 2014.”

Kris Kitchen, an inventor, built an application for the blind using Tango and a backpack-sized speaker called a SubPac. Tango maps a space and passes that data to the SubPac, which vibrates differently according to the proximity of objects. That gives blind people an additional sense — touch — alongside hearing to get around.

For Tango applications like this to reach the most people, 3-D data will need to be easily shareable among devices. That would mean one person could map a museum, and another person could build an application based on the original map, or extend it, saving effort.

Google is working on this by building a system that allows Tango devices to share maps with other devices. It may also weave all these maps together and store the information in its data centers so it can be accessed by even more devices.

Tango will “rely on cloud infrastructure to store, merge, and serve location data to specific Project Tango devices,” Google wrote in a job posting in February for a mobile software engineer to work on the project. The company asked for “experience with Google Maps and other related location products.”

A cloud service would make life easier for developers, according to Pettyjohn. “Right now you have to save these mapping files on the device,” he said. A cloud service would make it so “anytime you need it, you pull down a file on the spot.”

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Church twofer: Gun safety instruction plus Bible lesson

Roy Jones Facebook page says matter-of-factly that his concealed weapons training is not your typical gun class.

That is an understatement.

Jones, 67, has taught most of his more than 5,000 students over the last decade in churches across Oklahoma. Whats more, he weaves biblical passages into his talks about how to handle a gun, and the legal fallout that can follow discharging a weapon in self-defense.

Church values and self-defense, Jones says, are not contradictory. Jones says that being a church-goer and a person of strong spiritual values does not mean refusing to strike back when ones life is threatened.

He notes that Psalm 144 says: Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.

We will turn the other cheek, Jones told Fox News. Im the least likely guy to pull out a gun in a fight. But we will not turn the other cheek if youre going to assault my family or cut off my head in the process.

Jones certification course takes eight hours and includes lectures that cover handling a weapon, Oklahoma laws regarding gun ownership and shooting in self-defense, practice at the instructors private range and a 15-question exam.

Jones says that while people should not go looking for trouble, they should be ready when it looks for them.

He cites the case of a woman in his state who was killed by two pit bulls last month, and another woman who was fatally stabbed at a food distribution center in 2014 by a coworker who had been fired.

We will not turn the other cheek if you’re going to assault my family or cut off my head in the process.

– Roy Jones, concealed weapons instructor

If they had been armed, Jones says, they would likely be alive today.

If theyd had a legal gun and been trained to use it, Jones said, referring to the woman who was stabbed, can you imagine what went through her mind the last few minutes of her life?

His former students, who have included lawmakers, lawyers and spouses of police officers, have praised his course.

One student, Wendy Johnson, took Jones course after a friend was mugged.

One day, my co-worker did not show up for work, Johnson told WQAD. Someone had attacked her in a parking lot and had literally beaten her face. I dont want to see anyone else in the ER with a swollen face because someone hit them in the head for their purse.

Jones stresses that he is not a pastor, a misperception some have when they learn of his style of sprinkling biblical teachings in his lectures.

But some students have actually grown interested in religion after listening to the verses, he said.

One of the most important things he tries to teach his students is how to avoid being jailed after firing in self-defense.

He tells his students not to consent to a police officers request to search their property.

You show the officer respect, he said, but you never consent. You have to articulate that you were the victim, but you say, With all due respect, you will have my full cooperation after I seek my legal counsel.

Jones has his critics, to be sure. He has been accused of using the Bible to make money.

People say, Youre getting rich by using Gods name, he said. Im just one little guy. Do I make a little money? Yes. But Im not doing this to get rich.

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It's OK to indulge in your 'wants' now and then. Just don't be impulsive. – Kansas City Star

Kansas City Star

It's OK to indulge in your 'wants' now and then. Just don't be impulsive.
Kansas City Star
Money, and how you spend it, is very emotional. This exercise allows me to table those moments where I'm tempted to buy sporadically. Later on, I have more clarity and can narrow down what I'd truly love to have vs. a passing whim. Too often people let

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Do you trust that Taco Charlton can really elevate his game in his second year? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Do you trust that Taco Charlton can really elevate his game in his second year?
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Blogging The Boys Blogging The Boys, a Dallas Cowboys fan community. Log In or Sign Up · Log In · Sign Up · Fanposts · Fanshots · Sections; Library; Cowboys · Odds · Shop · About · Masthead · Community Guidelines · StubHub; More. All 319 blogs on

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SnapTravel raises $8 million for a hotel booking service that works over chat

Chatbots automated bots that let you interact with a service or brand via messaging apps or SMS havent yet become breakout hits, as a group. But that hasnt stopped investors from pouring in $8 million into a hotel booking startup called SnapTravel, which lets users find and book rooms via SMS texts and Facebook Messenger.

The $8 million Series A round was led by iNovia Capital, a backer of Luxury Retreats which just exited to Airbnb for around $200 million. The round also included participation from seed round investorsLightbank, Bee Partners, and Hedgewood, along withstrategic investor and Expedia board memberPeter Kern, among others.

iNovias Chris Arsenault is joining SnapTravels board with the close of the round.

The startup itself was founded in spring 2016 by tech entrepreneursHussein Fazal, whose prior company AdParlor grew to $100+ million in revenue, then sold to AdKnowledge back in 2011; and Henry Shi, who previously built uMentioned and worked at Google, where he helped launch YouTube Music Insights.

Unlike a number of chatbots on the market today, SnapTravel isnt a fully automated solution arguably, to its advantage. The bot part of the service aids with onboarding and can answer users simpler questions, but when things get tricky, human agents are able to step in. For example, if you booked a non-refundable hotel but your flight gets cancelled due to weather, an agent would respond to your questions and try to help, rather than leaving you to deal with an unsympathetic bot.

You can also ask the agents for help with questions bots cant handle like if the hotel is pet-friendly, or if you can get adjoining rooms, among other things.

  1. 10 – Request talking to human agent

  2. 1 – Get Started

  3. 11 – conversation special requests

  4. 11 – conversation – special requests

  5. 3 – hotel in mind

  6. 2 – city date question

  7. 5 – searching for you

  8. 4 – budget question

  9. 7 – view all deals

  10. 6 – presenting deals

  11. 8 – selecting room

  12. 9 – map view

Customers want a travel agent experience, but they didnt want to call; they didnt want to walk into a store, explains Shi. They just wanted to email us or message us, he says, of when the company began testing ideas. That led them to realize that delivering the hotel booking experience could work over chat.

SnapTravels human agents effectively operate as modern-day travel agents. Theyll call hotels for you, as needed, and even phone to confirm your check-in and attempt to negotiate a free upgrade on your behalf.

Shi says that hotels honor SnapTravel agents special requests around 70 to 80 percent of the time, and they are able to upgrade customers to better rooms around 25 percent of the time.

Though still an early stage startup, SnapTravel has made a bit of a name for itself due to its deals and its app-less business model.

The company filters through thousands of hotels from sources, then leverages machine learning algorithms to narrow those down to the top options, based on factors like price, location, quality and overall value.

As customers continue to use SnapTravel to make their bookings, the service learns more about individual preferences like if you want free Wi-Fi or free breakfast, for instance and then takes those into consideration for its future recommendations.

SnapTravel doesnt necessarily have any deals you cant find elsewhere, but it can feel like it, at times. As its own website explains, it has access to the same unsold hotel inventory that others do. The services hotel inventory comes both directly from hotels themselves, as well as via partners like Expedia,, Amadeus,, and Sabre (pending).

But while agreements between hotels and some hotel booking services disallow them from posting their super-low rates publicly, SnapTravel is able to work around that restriction because its only displaying prices through private, 1-on-1 chats not publicly on the web.

But SnapTravel is not always the place for the lowest priced deal or the most options, some reviewers have found.

However, lower cost is not SnapTravels only draw, Shi points out.

Were 100 percent free to the customerthe way we make money is the commission on the hotels, he says.But were building a relationship with the customer because were chatting with them over a channel thats very intimate, like SMS or Messenger. For us, its a conversation and that conversation doesnt stop when you make a purchase. It goes from search to purchase to upgrade to even post-checkout, Shi explains.

At Facebooks f8 developer conference earlier this year, SnapTravel announced that it had already achieved over $1 million in revenue on Facebook Messenger. It has since surpassed that, and launched its service on SMS and chat app Viber.

It eventually wants to reach users worldwide through other platforms, as well, like WeChat and Line.

SnapTravels app-less biz model

The company believes that chatbots hold potential especially in the case of Facebook Messenger, in terms of reach. (Messenger topped 1.2 billion monthly users worldwide in April, for example.) SnapTravel doesnt need to get anyone to download its app in order to work.

The team appreciates that SnapTravel can advertise to users in-app through things like Sponsored Messages, andretarget them directly in their messaging inbox when they fail to complete a transaction. In that latter case, SnapTravel says it has seen a 30 percent jump in conversions when retargeting in this way on Messenger.

Being able to re-engage customers is critical for any commerce company. Typically, with an [online travel agency] when you come to the website and bounce, they have to follow you around the internet using display ads, notes Shi. Thats a very noisy and ineffective channel, he adds.

For us, being able to use Sponsored Messages on Facebook has been super effective. Were seeing double-digit lift from these re-engagement efforts, Shi says.

With the additional funding, SnapTravel says it will invest further in itsNatural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities in order to reduce the reliance on human agents as its scales. In this envisioned future, that would mean an automated bot would be able to understand a conversational input from a user, like Im going to New York next week Wednesday for a night, and need a room at the usual spot, for example.

Without needing a human to translate that into a booking request, SnapTravel would then send the customer to the booking form for the right hotel and take their payment through Messenger.

Currently, SnapTravel is a dozen or so product engineers based in Toronto, in addition to an operations company stateside. With the new funds, the startup plans to expand to a team of 20 to 25.

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