Wild Snowball Attack Incites Backlash Against Oregon Football Players

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Video of a wild snowball fight devolving into unchecked aggression against an elderly motorist has incited a wave of backlash against students and football players at the University of Oregon

The YouTube clip, above, has been viewed more than 2.5 million times since Friday, and exploded over the weekend. It shows the aftermath of an organized snowball fight reportedly put together by members of the Oregon football team to mark the first substantial snowfall in the school’s hometown of Eugene

But after the voluntary college shenanigans end, things turn much darker. Students block the car of retired Oregon art-history professor Sherwin Simmons, then bombard him with snowballs from close range. One student dumps a bucket of snow on the driver’s-side windshield of his car. When Simmons gets out to protest, he’s pelted with more snowballs from point-blank range, and a bucket of snow is dumped on him Read more…

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Police Made 1.1 Million Data Requests to Cellphone Carriers in 2012

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After this summer’s string of revelations about NSA surveillance, companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have united in protest, published transparency reports and asked for permission to reveal even more information.

Cellphone companies like Verizon or AT&T have thus far remained silent when it comes to NSA. Major carriers are, however, now revealing that they received 1.1 million data requests from local law enforcement agencies in 2012, including requests for location data, text messages, browsing history and call logs.

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T-Mobile 2013: The Comeback Carrier

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What a difference a few years make. Two years ago, T-Mobile was cast adrift in the wake of its botched merger with AT&T. At the time, the wireless carrier didn’t appear to have any kind of plan B when the deal fell through, which executives confirmed.

Things didn’t look good for T-Mobile in 2011: The company had a reputation for being a value-driven carrier fueled by the easy — but fleeting — money of prepaid customers, but it was hemorrhaging subscribers. Its contracts were relatively cheap, but T-Mobile’s network didn’t match the reliability of its competitors’ offerings (it didn’t even have LTE). It also wasn’t able to sell the most popular smartphone on the planet: the iPhone. Read more…

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The Definitive Guide To The New York City Tech Scene

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The New York tech scene is booming.

RRE Ventures Principal Steve Schlafman has put together a terrific presentation that sums up the big trends and sectors coming out of New York, or “Silicon Alley,” as the locals call it.

He graciously gave Business Insider permission to publish it.

This is an extremely thorough summary of the tech and digital media community. So you can click on the links below to quickly navigate to topics of interest:

Big picture trends >>

The “core” startups in NYC >>

The money: Angels and VCs >>

The landscape: offices and hangouts >>

The government: players and policy >>

The future: education and schools >>

The helpers: service and support >>

The big boys: public companies and strategic partners >>

The pulse: information and community >>

Tips for breaking in >>

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Now You Can Enjoy The Tasty Smell Of Popcorn Through Your iPhone

Ever wished you could have the buttery scent of freshly popped popcorn at the click of a button? With what’s being called the first-ever popcorn-scented smartphone game, that dream can be made a reality via your iPhone. (Sorry, Android users.)

Created by Pop Secret in conjunction with the advertising agency Deutsch LA, the Pop Dongle app transmits the devilishly addictive scent of microwave popcorn to your nostrils through an attachment on your iPhone. But first you have to play the iPhone game Poptopia, which works with the external Pop Dongle attachment.

The game basically consists of shooting popped kernels into “The Almighty Mouth God.” The more kernels you land in the mouth, the more delicious popcorn scented spritz is emitted from your digital popcorn popper.

“It’s time you let your nose have as much fun as your eyes, ears and thumbs do when playing mobile games,” the app’s commercial boasts.

Poptopia is free to download on iTunes; however, the special-smelling olfactory bulb attachment comes at the hefty price of $150 and is currently only available on eBay until Dec. 13. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, according to the item’s description.

It pays for instant gratification, but you could just hold out and pop a real bag.

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Drawing the Line on Government Surveillance

Earlier today, eight of the country’s leading technology firms unveiled a website and released five principles for regulating online surveillance by governments worldwide. I applaud AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo for presenting their case on this very important topic.

The revelations that have come out about the National Security Agency’s PRISM program are disturbing. The scale and scope of the collection of information about electronic communications and telephone calls that originate and pass through the United States is truly astounding.

I have long been concerned that the measures put in place in the name of national security could be used to infringe on the civil rights and liberties of Americans. That is why I opposed the USA PATRIOT Act when it was first enacted, and have opposed legislation regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). It is vitally important to set reasonable limits on the information being collected to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are preserved in our national security efforts.

The principles put forth by these eight companies are important because they demonstrate that even technology experts from the private sector who have the most intimate knowledge of what is being asked for by these surveillance agencies — because they are being compelled to cooperate — have concerns about the programs. These companies have sought to be honest with their customers by providing information detailing the nature of the requests they have received from the government, but they have been prohibited from revealing this information. They have also indicated that NSA accessed data in ways of which they were not even aware.

I agree with these principles, which is why I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act, which would enact many of these principles by reining in the dragnet collection of data by the NSA, increasing transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), providing businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and creating an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.

This legislation would strengthen the prohibition on targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American. It reforms the FISC by creating an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings, which will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.

Further, the bill requires the public disclosure of all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003, that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law. Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, the number of such orders and letters complied with, and the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters. And it adopts a single standard to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection.

Regarding the free flow of information, I recently joined with my colleagues in the Congressional High-Tech Caucus in asking U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to continue to prioritize cross-border data flows as a key topic in negotiations with other nations. Some in the EU, Asia, and elsewhere have sought to use the revelations about PRISM to promote protectionist data-flow policies that would harm the development of cloud and hamper competition and access to lawfully available information.

I look forward to working with these technology leaders and my colleagues in Congress to enact legislation that reforms and brings accountability and transparency to government surveillance efforts.

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Dell Just Launched An ‘Anti-Layoff’ By Asking Employees To Quit

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Dell is using an interesting strategy to trim expenses. It’s asking its employees to quit, a Dell spokesperson confirmed.

Dell is calling this a “voluntary separation program,” the spokesperson told us, so it can’t be called a layoff, even though it has a lot of layoff-like elements: employees have to be deemed “eligible,” they have to leave their jobs, and they get a chunk of money and other services to help them until they find a new job.

But because a person has to quit, we’ve dubbed the strategy an “anti-layoff.”

Companies have done similar things for eons for long-term employees soon eligible for retirement benefits, but in this case Dell confirmed that it was not an early retirement program and was open to global employees.

Dell must be feeling pressure to trim expenses and free up cash. In October, founder Michael Dell completed a $24.9 billion buyout of Dell along with investment firm Silver Lake Partners and took the company private. As part of the go-private deal, Dell borrowed $5.5 billion, plus it took on another $2 billion loan from Microsoft.

We have to say, an anti-layoff seems more humane than a typical workforce reduction, where employees have no say in the matter.

We would love to hear from people inside Dell about how well it’s working. (Drop us a line at jbort@businessinsider.com).

Here’s the full statement that Dell sent us.

Dell has announced an optional, global and voluntary separation program for eligible team members who choose to leave the company in exchange for the offer of a separation package to support their transition. Would note that we’ve taken steps to optimize our business, streamline operations and improve efficiency over the past few years. And we been consistent in saying that a critical element of our strategy has been, and always will be, about improving our cost structure and freeing up capital to make the investments in growth areas that matter to our customers.

Like any prudent company, we’ll continue to evaluate and implement opportunities to enhance our operational effectiveness on an ongoing basis.

We won’t have additional comment about the program, the number of Dell team members taking advantage of it or the cost involved.

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