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First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 20:41

New York, NY—August 12, 2019— With just weeks until Marvel kicks off its official birthday festivities, Marvel is excited to announce even more 80th anniversary celebrations with limited-time content with your favorite Marvel games; limited-time merchandise; and retailer events in honor of Marvel’s legacy!

 Marvel announced plans to celebrate its birthday on August 31: the day Marvel Comics #1 gave the world its first look at the Marvel Universe. To celebrate the worldwide impact that followed, there will be activations and retailer events around the globe. Events include:

  • D23 Expo (August 23-25) – Taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center, attendees can shop, snap Marvel-themed photos with friends, and discover hidden surprises around every corner in the Marvel section of the “Uptown Disney” booth on the show floor. Don’t miss Marvel’s exciting lineup of film, television, animation, and comic book guest appearances, panels, stage events, and more!
  • Marvel Comics #1000 Releases (August 28) – Soon to be available at your local comic shop, don’t miss the historic debut of this massive, oversized special-edition book featuring luminaries from both classic and current comic books (and beyond!), revealing a long-kept secret of the Marvel Universe and some startling discoveries along the way.
  • Marvel Birthday Celebration at Dragon Con (August 31) – Dragon Con and Marvel will be celebrating Marvel’s 80th anniversary this year on August 31, Marvel’s official birthday! Attendees can join the party during the annual Dragon Con Parade, on Dragon Con’s social media channels, and a cosplay meet-up complete with birthday cake provided by DecoPac and Kroger, candles, and photo opportunities!
  • Commemorative Merchandise (August – December) – Fans will be able to get their hands on limited-time Marvel 80th anniversary apparel, accessories, collectibles, books and more from Hasbro, Funko, LootCrate, Diamond Select, Mattel, DecoPac, Mad Engine, Bioworld, C-Life, Citizen, Disney store|shopDisney and many more!
  • Retail Activations for Marvel’s Birthday (August – December) – Visit retailers around the country including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Party City, Box Lunch, Hot Topic, Uniqlo, GameStop, FYE and more for in-store activations, new merchandise, special offers, and celebratory fanfare. On August 31, be sure to stop by your local participating FYE for an in-store Marvel birthday party celebration; Amazon for special items celebrating Marvel’s anniversary; participating comic shops for exclusive Marvel birthday party events and a free Marvel Universe Magazine (while supplies last); and Disney stores for in-store activities throughout the day. Disney stores will also launch a new product line this fall in stores and online at com.
  • Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes! (ongoing) – Take a tour of the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes! The exhibition, currently extending its run through September 11 at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA, showcases more than 300 artifacts from Marvel’s past and present. The exhibition will reopen on October 19 at the Telus World of Science Edmonton in Canada.
  • Global Experiences (ongoing) – Look for Marvel 80th anniversary merchandise at pop-up shops throughout China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Also, keep an eye out for special events at Disney Parks & Resorts, Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. locations and exciting displays and exhibits in Australia, Mexico and Brazil. And don’t miss the exhilarating Marvel Universe Live! show with Feld Entertainment, now touring internationally!

Throughout the month of August, Marvel fans will also be able to celebrate Marvel’s 80th anniversary through their favorite Marvel Games! Marvel will be collaborating with its partners to bring limited-time in-game activations to celebrate key characters, stories, costumes, and other extras from Marvel history in MARVEL Strike Force, MARVEL Future Fight, MARVEL Puzzle Quest, and MARVEL Contest of Champions.

Commemorative art – drawn exclusively by legendary comic book artist Adam Kubert to celebrate Marvel’s birthday – will be available as featured on select merchandise and t-shirts through the Marvel Design Vault on Amazon, shopDisney, and other retailers. Symbolizing decades of the Marvel Universe, Kubert’s art is the perfect way to celebrate the expansive roster of classic and iconic Marvel Super Heroes such as Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Thor, Shuri, Wolverine, and many more.

For fans of Marvel’s animated series and family content, visit Marvel HQ to dive into decades of Marvel content! Find your favorite episodes of Marvel Mash-Ups including redubbed moments from Marvel Super Heroes, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and more, along with more recent series like The Super Hero Squad Show, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel Rising, and Marvel Super Hero Adventures.

To learn more about Marvel’s Super Heroes and keep up with the ever-expanding Marvel Universe, pick up the new edition of DK’s best-selling Marvel Encyclopedia! And be sure to scoop up three brand new flavors from Ample Hills Creamery inspired by Black Panther, Captain America and Spider-Man – the perfect treat to celebrate this Marvel milestone and cool off this summer.

For 80 years, Marvel has reflected the world outside your window – inspiring millions of fans with iconic characters and timeless stories that brought the Marvel Universe to the forefront of pop culture today. Celebrate Marvel’s historic 80th Anniversary all year long with your favorite Marvel comics, games, shows, collectibles, fashion, and more!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Art of Dejah Thoris Vol. 2 HC preview

First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:51

Art of Dejah Thoris Vol. 2 HC

artist: Various

cover: Joe Jusko

FC  |  280 pages  |  $39.99  |   Mature

Since the first serialized adventures in 1912 of the Martian Princess Dejah Thoris and her beloved hero, John Carter, science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts have dreamed of the faraway Red Planet, its wondrous sights and monstrous perils. In this second volume of The Art of Dejah Thoris and the Worlds of Mars, the finest artists of modern fantasy have brought the dying world of Mars to life, depicting scenes of brutal conflict with alien beasts, quiet moments overlooking Martian wastes, and enticing visions of an exotic princess at her most intimate. This magnificent hardcover collection features the talents of J. Scott Campbell, Joe Jusko, Frank Cho, Lucio Parillo, Tula Lotay, Mike McKone and many more!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Vol. 1 TP preview

First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:49

Writer: David Avallone  |  Artist: Dave Acosta

Cover: Joseph Michael Linsner

104 pages | $17.99  | Teen+

The Mistress of the Dark has become unstuck in time! Elvira crashes Mary Shelley’s monster weekend, beginning an epic journey through horror history, stalked by the most terrifying nightmare to ever walk the Earth. (No spoilers!) Writer David Avallone (Bettie Page, Doc Savage, Twilight Zone) and Dave Acosta (Doc Savage) bring you the thrills, chills and double-entendres in the first chapter of this four-issue miniseries!

Played by actress-writer Cassandra Peterson, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark has carved out a niche in popular American culture that is sure to endure for decades to come. Elvira’s reign as ‘Queen of Halloween’ has now spanned thirty-five years and includes two nationally syndicated television series, two feature films (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark and Elvira’s Haunted Hills), an IMAX movie and two motion control rides. She has appeared in National ad campaigns for Pepsi and Coors, recorded five music CDs, written four books and licensed over Four Hundred products including pinball machines, action figures, guitars, three comic book series, a beer, wine, soda pop, perfume, slot machines and the best-selling female costume of all time.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

James Bond: Origin #12 preview

First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:49

James Bond: Origin #12

writer: Jeff Parker  |  artist: Ibrahim Moustafa

covers: Dan Panosian (A), Dean Kotz (B)

              Vasco Georgiev (C), Ibrahim Moustafa (D)

              Bob Q (E), Dan Panosian (RI-Virg)

FC  |  32 pages  |  Action/Adventure |  $3.99  | Teen+

“The Debt: Finale”

In 1941, Lietuenant Bond finally learns the truth of his deceased mentor, Commander Weldon. But truth comes at a cost. The conclusion of Bond’s adventures in 1941, by JEFF PARKER (Aquaman, Fantastic Four) and IBRAHIM MOUSTAFA (James Bond: Solstice, Mother Panic).

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

KISS: Blood & Stardust TP preview

First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:44

KISS: Blood & Stardust TP

writer: Bryan Hill

artist: Rodney Buchemi

cover: Stuart Sayger

FC  |  144 Pages |  Rock ‘n’ Roll  |  $19.99  |   Teen+ 

KISS returns to rock’n’roll and save the world!

An immortal cabal is taking the lives of innocents and the only ones who can stop them are KISS! The only problem…they are dead. And now they have to make a deal with a demon to save their souls and return to Earth to fight evil!

Join Bryan Edward Hill (The Wildstorm: Michael Cray, Postal) and Rodney Buchemi (Death of Hawkman, The Librarians) as they bring you the KISS series we have all been waiting for!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Pathfinder Seoni Battle Ready Statue

First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:41

Pathfinder Seoni Battle Ready Diamond Eye Statue

artist: Steve Kiwus (sculptor)

12”h x 3.75w” (base)  |  $399.99  |  Teen+ 

The world of Pathfinder comes to life in this stunning, hand-painted, collectible statue of the renown sorcerer, Seoni. Highly-detailed from head-to-toe, and standing just over 12’ tall, this quality, resin figure features intricate tattoo and clothing reproduction, dual-wielded weapons, and simulated “scars and dirt” earned in battle. The extremely limited “Diamond Eye” edition features the same great detail of the original statue, but with real diamonds added to Seoni’s pupils to make her really sparkle on the shelf!


Pathfinder Seoni Battle Ready Statue

artist: Steve Kiwus (sculptor)

12”h x 3.75w” (base)  |  $249.99  |  Teen+ 

The world of Pathfinder comes to life in this stunning, hand-painted, collectible statue of the renown sorcerer, Seoni. Highly-detailed from head-to-toe, and standing just over 12’ tall, this quality, resin figure features intricate tattoo and clothing reproduction, dual-wielded weapons, and simulated “scars and dirt” earned in battle. Fans have never been offered a Seoni like this before, and this extremely limited run means it may never be offered again!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Pathfinder Seoni Spellcasting Statue

First Comics News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:37

Pathfinder Seoni Spellcasting Statue

artist: Steve Kiwus (sculptor)

12”h x 3.75w” (base)  |  $199.99  |  Teen+ 

The world of Pathfinder comes to life in this stunning, hand-painted, collectible statue of the renown sorcerer, Seoni. Highly-detailed from head-to-toe, and

standing just over 12’ tall, this quality, resin figure features removable spell effect, and intricate tattoo and clothing reproduction. Fans have never been

offered a Seoni like this before, and this extremely limited run means it may never be offered again!


Pathfinder Seoni Spellcasting Diamond Eye Statue

artist: Steve Kiwus (sculptor)

12”h x 3.75w” (base)  |  $349.99  |  Teen+ 

The world of Pathfinder comes to life in this stunning, hand-painted, collectible statue of the renown sorcerer, Seoni. Highly-detailed from head-to-toe, and

standing just over 12’ tall, this quality, resin figure features removable spell effect, and intricate tattoo and clothing reproduction. The extremely limited “Diamond Eye” edition features the same great detail of the original statue, but with real diamonds added to Seoni’s pupils to make her really sparkle on the shelf!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Lovecraftian Connections Of The Free Issue Of Fantastic Story Quarterly 1951 Winter v02n01 To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 16:34
Its eleven thirty  in the morning & over the weekend the latest OSR stuff is now dying as people get back to work.This was one of the successor reprint pulp magazines to the original runs. There were a number of these magazines after the original pulps houses closed down or evolved into animals on the wilds of the news stands. Many of these issues had a bit of the HP Lovecraft circle of writersNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A week in security (August 5 – 11)

Malwarebytes - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:38

Last week on Malwarebytes Labs, we explained how brain-machine interface (BMI) technology could usher in a world of Internet of Thoughts, why having backdoors is problematic, and how we can improve the security of our smart homes.

To cap off Hacker Summer Camp week, the Labs team released a special ransomware edition of its quarterly cybercrime tactics and techniques report, which you can download here.

Other cybersecurity news

Stay safe, everyone!

The post A week in security (August 5 – 11) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Using Classic TSR Era D&D B/X Adventures For An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Campaign Path Plus Free OSR Adventure Resources

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:15
So I've been thinking about running PC's through some basic adventures for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea but I need some old school options to get the player's juices going. Fortunately I've got several real world friends who have run several player groups through classic TSR era adventures and modules.  I've been talking with some folks in the real world about Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gakking Goon

The Viridian Scroll - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:12
TLDR: Nate Treme wrote a neat little game, Tunnel Goons, and has invited people to hack it.

The marvelous Nate Treme recently created a rules-light role-playing game called Tunnel Goons as part of his amazing Eternal Caverns of Urk.* A few days ago he announced Goon Jam, a call for people to hack his game. To help, Nate offered up a text-only version to help people get started.

I've been "called" lately to design something fun that isn't combat or violence focused. My first response to the Goon Jam was to use this opportunity to scratch that elusive itch. So let's take a quick look at what there is to hack in Tunnel Goons and what kinds of games it might support.

Bounty from Nate's Patreon
The GameIn a nutshell, you divide three points between three classes and select three items to add to your inventory. In Tunnel Goons the classes are Brute, Skulker, and Erudite. When you try something you roll 2d6, add the points from your relevant mode and a point for each relevant item. Your inventory can get up to ten items in it before it starts imposing a penalty on your Brute and Skulker rolls. Sometimes tests are merely succeed/fail; other times you are fighting enemies and difference between the difficulty score of the enemy and your roll is the damage you do (or take). Damage reduces the enemy's difficulty, so that there is a death spiral kind of mechanic. Each hit makes the next attack easier to land and makes higher damage more likely.

So what is there to hack? Without changing the basic rules – and I think not changing those too much is in the spirit of the challenge – you have the three classes, the equipment list, and whatever flavor text you add to work with.

Classes (Modes)I'm going to rename the classes as "modes" just to shift your thinking away from any associations with traditional RPG terminology. In calling them modes, I want to highlight that they are essentially an angle through which you address any challenges. The most obvious change here is to rename the modes. For instance, you could make them Wit, Soul, and Antics to create a game about bards who use logic and riddles or heart-felt performances or humorous capering to make their way through life's minefield. You could also increase or decrease the number of modes, with corresponding shifts in the initial points a player can spend on them. Be careful to set a limit. The game is based on a 2d6 curve, so every +1 is a really big deal. Since the original game has an initial limit of 3 on any mode, I would stick with that.

EquipmentIt is a time-honored tradition in RPGs to define characters by equipment. Many look down on this because it seems a little superficial, but it doesn't have to be. The things you carry around with you say a lot about you. But more to the point, the initial list of things you offer to players when they make their characters does a lot to determine the type of game. If you want to move away from a "fighty" game, for instance, don't supply a fighty mode and certainly don't list a bunch of weapons that players can choose for their inventory. In the aforementioned bards game, I could supply all kinds of bric-a-brac, but no traditional weapons. Though I might supply a few things that could be used as a weapon – like a jester's scepter (club) or pocket knife (dagger). I think the primary goal here should be to supply interesting items that aren't necessarily useful in an obvious way, or at least not useful for doing things you want to de-emphasize in the game. If you give players a bomb, you can't complain if they go around blowing things up, right?

Is That All?Yeah, I think so. Modes and items are the core of the game. You could bolt on other stuff, but ... I guess I would caution against adding mechanics of a different kind. If you find yourself adding other kinds of dice or a roll-low mechanic, you are getting away from the heart of the original.

For my money, the equipment list is a wide-open space for tinkering. After all, who says it has to be equipment? It could be spells, stunts, assets, or just about anything you can draw on in a situation for a dice bump.

Good luck! I can't wait to see what y'all make.


* I hope I don't sound disingenuous throwing around words like "marvelous" and "amazing;" let me assure you they are well earned. Of all the Patreons I back, the ones for Nate Treme and Evlyn Moreau have been giving me the most joy – with apologies to all the other Patreons that also give me joy.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Red Heart Dreamy Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:00

Red Heart Dreamy and Dreamy Stripes are yarns with soft colors and big personalities – and I get to give away 5 skeins of it right here on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Red Heart Yarn; all opinions are my own. Both Solids and Stripes Red Heart Dreamy comes in two varieties –...

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The post Red Heart Dreamy Giveaway appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

Categories: Crochet Life

Facial recognition technology: force for good or privacy threat?

Malwarebytes - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:00

All across the world, governments and corporations are looking to invest in or develop facial recognition technology. From law enforcement to marketing campaigns, facial recognition is poised to make a splashy entrance into the mainstream. Biometrics are big business, and third party contracts generate significant profits for all. However, those profits often come at the expense of users.

There’s much to be said for ethics, privacy, and legality in facial recognition tech—unfortunately, not much of it is pretty. We thought it was high time we take a hard look at this burgeoning field to see exactly what’s going on around the world, behind the scenes and at the forefront.

As it turns out…quite a lot.

The next big thing in tech?

Wherever you look, government bodies, law enforcement, protestors, campaigners, pressure and policy groups, and even the tech developers themselves are at odds. Some want an increase in biometric surveillance, others highlight flaws due to bias in programming.

One US city has banned facial tech outright, while some nations want to embrace it fully. Airport closed-circuit TV (CCTV)? Fighting crime with shoulder-mounted cams? How about just selling products in a shopping mall using facial tracking to find interested customers? It’s a non-stop battlefield with new lines being drawn in the sand 24/7.

Setting the scene: the 1960s

Facial recognition tech is not new. It was first conceptualised and worked on seriously in the mid ’60s by pioneers such as Helen Chan Wolf and Woodroe Bledsoe. They did what they could to account for variances in imagery caused by degrees of head rotation using RAND tablets to map 20 distances based on facial coordinates. From there, a name was assigned to each image. The computer then tried to remove the effect of changing the angle of the head from the distances it had already calculated, and recognise the correct individual placed before it.

Work continued throughout the ’60s, and was by all accounts successful. The computers used consistently outperformed humans where recognition tasks were concerned.

Moving on: the 1990s

By the mid to late ’90s, airports, banks, and government buildings were making use of tech essentially built on its original premise. A new tool, ZN-face, was designed to work with less-than-ideal angles of faces. It ignored obstructions, such as beards and glasses, to accurately determine the identity of the person in the lens. Previously, this type of technology could flounder without clear, unobstructed shots, which made it difficult for software operators to determine someone’s identity. ZN-face could determine whether it had a match in 13 seconds.

You can see a good rundown of these and other notable moments in early facial recognition development on this timeline. It runs from the ’60s right up to the mid ’90s.

The here and now

Looking at the global picture for a snapshot of current facial recognition tech reveals…well, chaos to be honest. Several distinct flavours inhabit various regions. In the UK, law enforcement rallies the banners for endless automated facial recognition trials. This despite test results so bad the universal response from researchers and even Members of Parliament is essentially “please stop.”

Reception in the United States is a little frostier. Corporations jostle for contracts, and individual cities either accept or totally reject what’s on offer. As for Asia, Hong Kong experiences something akin to actual dystopian cyberpunk. Protestors not only evade facial recognition tech but attempt to turn it back on the government.

Let’s begin with British police efforts to convince everyone that seemingly faulty tech is as good as they claim.

All around the world: The UK

The UK is no stranger to biometrics controversy, having made occasional forays into breach of privacy and stolen personal information. A region averse to identity cards and national databases, it still makes use of biometrics in other ways.

Here’s an example of a small slice of everyday biometric activity in the UK. Non-European residents pay for Biometric Residence Permits every visa renewal—typically every 30 months. Those cards contain biometric information alongside a photograph, visa conditions, and other pertinent information linked to several Home Office databases.

This Freedom of Information request reveals that information on one Biometric Residence Permit card is tied to four separate databases:

  • Immigration and Asylum Biometric System (Combined fingerprint and facial image database)
  • Her Majesty’s Passport Office Passports Main Index (Facial image only database)
  • Caseworking Immigration Database Image Store (Facial image only database)
  • Biometric Residence Permit document store (Combined fingerprint and facial image database)

It’s worth noting that these are just the ones they’re able to share. On top of this, the UK’s Data Protection Act contains an exemption that prevents immigrants from accessing data, or indeed preventing others from processing it, as is their right under the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In practice, this results in a two-tier system for personal data, and it means people can’t access their own case histories when challenging what they feel to be a bad visa decision.

UK: Some very testing trials

It is against this volatile backdrop that the UK government wants to introduce facial recognition to the wider public, and residents with biometric cards would almost certainly be the first to feel any impact or fallout should a scheme get out of hand.

British law enforcement have been trialling the technology for quite some time now, but with one problem: All the independent reports claim what’s been taking place is a bit of a disaster.

Big Brother Watch has conducted extensive research into the various trials, and found that an astonishing 98 percent of automated facial recognition matches at 2018’s Notting Hill carnival were misidentified as criminals. Faring slightly (but not much) better than the Metropolitan Police were the South Wales Police, who managed to get it wrong 91 percent of the time—yet, just like other regions, continue to promote and roll out the technology. On top of that, no fewer than 2,451 people had their biometric photos taken and stored without their knowledge.

Those are some amazing numbers, and indeed the running theme here appears to be: “This doesn’t work very well and we’re not getting any better at it.”

Researchers at the Essex University of Essex Human Rights Centre essentially tore the recent trials to pieces in a comprehensive rundown of the technology’s current failings.

  • Across six trials, 42 matches were made by the Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology, but only eight of those were considered a definite match.
  • Approaching the tests as if the LFR tech was simply some sort of CCTV device didn’t account for its invasive-by-design nature, or indeed the presence of biometrics and long-term storage without clear disclosure.
  • An absence of clear guidance for the public and the general assumption of legality for this tech used by police, versus a lack of explicit legal use in current law leaves researchers thinking this would indeed be found unlawful in the courts.
  • The public might naturally be confounded, considering that if someone didn’t want to be included in the trial, law enforcement would assume that the person avoiding this technology may be suspect. There’s no better example of this than a man who was fined £90 (US$115) for avoiding the LFR cameras for “disorderly behaviour” (covering his face) because they felt he was up to no good.


A damning verdict

The UK’s Science and Technology Committee (made up of MPs and Lords) recently produced their own findings on the trials, and the results were pretty hard hitting. Some highlights from the report, somewhat boringly called “The work of the Biometrics Commissioner and the Forensic Science Regulator” (PDF):

  • Concerns were raised that UK law enforcement is either aware or “struggling to comply” with a 2012 High Court ruling that the indefinite retention of innocent people’s custody images was unlawful—yet the practise still continues. Those concerns are exacerbated when considering they’d potentially be included in image matching watchlists for any LFR technology making use of custodial images. There is, seemingly, no money available for investing in the manual review and deletion of said images. There are currently some 21 million images of faces and tattoos on record, which will make for a gargantuan task. [Page 3]
  • From page 4, probably the biggest hammer blow for the trials: “We call on the Government to issue a moratorium on the current use of facial recognition technology and no further trials should take place until a legislative framework has been introduced and guidance on trial protocols, and an oversight and evaluation system, has been established”
  • The Forensic Science Regulator isn’t on the lists it needs to be with regards to whistleblowing, so whistleblowers in (say) the LFR sector wouldn’t be as protected by legislation as they would in others. [Page 10]

There’s a lot more in there to digest but essentially, we have a situation where facial recognition technology is failing any and all available tests. We have academics, protest groups, and even MP committees opposing the trials, saying “The error rate is nearly 100 percent” and “We need to stop these trials.” We have a massive collection of images, many of which need to be purged instead of being fed into LFR testing. And to add insult to injury, there’s seemingly little scope for whistleblowers to call time on bad behaviour for technology potentially deployed to a nation’s police force by the government.

UKGOV: Keep on keeping on

This sounds like quite the recipe for disaster, yet nobody appears to be listening. Law enforcement insists human checks and balances will help address those appalling trial numbers, but so far it doesn’t appear to have helped much. The Home Office claims there is public support for the use of LFR to combat terrorism and other crimes, but will “support an open debate” on uses of the technology. What form this debate takes remains to be seen.

All around the world: the United States

The US experience with facial recognition tech is fast becoming a commercial one, as big players hope to roll out their custom-made systems to the masses. However, many of the same concerns that haunt UK operations are present here as well. Lack of oversight, ethics, failure rate of the technology, and bias against marginalised groups are all pressing concerns.

Corporate concerns

Amazon, potentially one of the biggest players in this space, has their own custom tech called Rekognition. It’s being licensed to businesses and law enforcement, and it’s entirely possible someone may have already experienced it without knowing. The American Civil Liberties Union weren’t exactly thrilled about this prospect, and said as much.

Wanting to roll out Amazon’s custom tech to law enforcement, and ICE specifically, was met with pushback from multiple groups, including their own employees. As with many objections to facial recognition technology, the issue was one focused on human rights. From the open letter:

“We refuse to build the platform that powers ICE, and we refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights. As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used.”

Even some shareholders have cold feet over the potential uses for this powerful AI-powered recognition system. However, the best response you’ll probably find to some of these concerns from Amazon is a blogpost from February called “Some thoughts on facial recognition legislation.”

And in the blue corner

Not everyone in US commercial tech is fully on board with facial technology, and it’s interesting to see some of the other tech giant responses to working in this field. In April, Microsoft revealed they’d refused to sell facial tech to Californian law enforcement. According to that article, Google flat out refused to sell it to law enforcement too, but they do have other AI-related deals that have caused backlash.

The overwhelming concerns were (again) anchored in possible civil rights abuses. Additionally, the already high error rates in LFR married to potential bias in gender and race played a part.

From city to city, the battle rages on

In a somewhat novel turn of events, San Francisco became the first US city to ban facial recognition technology entirely. Police, transport authorities, and anyone else who wishes to make use of it will need approval by city administrators. Elsewhere, Orlando passed on Amazon’s Rekognition tech after some 15 months of—you guessed it—glitches and technical problems. Apparently, things were so problematic that they never reached a point where they were able to test images.

Over in Brooklyn, NY, the pressure has started to bear down on facial tech on a much smaller, more niche level. The No Biometric Barriers to Housing act wants to:

…prohibit the use of biometric recognition technology in certain federally assisted dwelling units, and for other purposes.

This is a striking development. A growing number of landlords and building owners are inserting IoT/smart technology into people’s homes. This is happening whether they want them or not, regardless of how secure they may or may not be.

While I accept I may be sounding like a broken record, these concerns are valid. Perhaps, just perhaps, privacy isn’t quite as dead as some would like to think. Error rates, technical glitches, exploitation of certain communities and using them as guinea pigs for emerging technology are all listed as reasons for the great United States LFR pushback of 2019.

All around the world: China

China is already a place deeply wedded to multiple tracking/surveillance systems.

There are 170 million CCTV cameras currently in China, with plans to add an additional 400 million between 2018 and 2021. This system is intended to be matched with facial recognition technology tied to multiple daily activities—everything from getting toilet roll in a public restroom to opening doors. Looping it all together will be 190 million identity cards, with an intended facial recognition accuracy rate of 90 percent.


People are also attempting to use “hyper realistic face molds” to bypass biometric authentication payment systems. There’s certainly no end of innovation taking place from both government and the population at large.

Hyper-realistic face molds capable of tricking face recognition payment authentication systems. High chance of being outlawed in China I feel (subtitles mine) pic.twitter.com/7kj3AxA2XL

— Matthew Brennan (@mbrennanchina) 5 August 2019


Hong Kong

Hong Kong has already experienced a few run-ins with biometrics and facial technology, but mostly for promotional/marketing purposes. For example, in 2015, a campaign designed to raise awareness of littering across the region made use of DNA and technology produced in the US to shame litterbugs. Taking samples from rubbish found in the streets, they extracted DNA and produced facial reconstructions. Those face mockups were placed on billboards across Hong Kong in high traffic areas and places where the litter was originally recovered.

Mileage will vary drastically on how accurate these images were because, as has been noted, the “DNA alone can only produce a high probability of what someone looks like” and the idea was to generate debate, not point fingers.

All the same, wind forward a few years and the tech is being used to dispense toilet paper and shame jaywalkers. More seriously, we’re faced with daily protests in Hong Kong over the proposed extradition bill. With the ability to protest safely at the forefront of people’s minds, facial recognition technology steps up to the plate. Sadly, all it manages to achieve is to make the whole process even more fraught than it already is.

Protestors cover their faces, and phone owners disable facial recognition login technology. Police remove identification badges, so people on Telegram channels share personal information about officers and their families. Riot police carry cameras on poles because wall-mounted devices are hampered with laser pens and spray paint.

These lasers Hong Kong protesters are pointing at riot police through billowing tear gas, it’s like something out of a sci-fi movie. #AntiELAB pic.twitter.com/noTllDuc09

— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) 28 July 2019


Rules and (bending) regulations

Hong Kong itself has a strict set of rules for Automatic Facial Recognition. One protestor attempted to make a home-brew facial recognition system using online photos of police officers. The project was eventually shelved because of lack of time, but the escalation of recognition tech development by a regular resident is quite unique.

This may all sound a little bit out there or over the top. Even so, with 1,000 rounds of tear gas being fired alongside hundreds of rubber bullets, protestors aren’t taking chances. For now, we’re getting a birds-eye view of what it would look like if LFR were placed front-and-center in a battle between government oversight and civil rights. Whether it tips the balance one way or the other remains to be seen.

Watching…and waiting

Slow, relentless legal rumblings in the UK are one thing. Cities embracing or rejecting technology in the US is quite another—especially when the range of stances is from organizations and policies all the way down to the housing level. On the opposite side of the spectrum, seeing LFR in Hong Kong protests is an alarming insight into where the state of biometrics and facial recognition could lead if concerns aren’t addressed head on before implementation.

It seems technology, as it so often does, has raced far ahead of our ability to define its ethical use.

The question is: How do we catch up?

The post Facial recognition technology: force for good or privacy threat? appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Bloodshed & Conquest "Barbarian Warlords of Greyhawk" Part Nine Commentary - A2: "Secret of the Slavers Stockade" (1981), by Harold Johnson with Tom Moldvay

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 14:41
" A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade: The heroes  battle against the slavers continues! You and your fellow adventurers have defeated the slavers of Highport, but you have learned of the existence of another slaver stronghold, and you have decided to continue the attack. But beware! Only the most fearless of adventurers could challenge the slavers on their own ground, and live to tell of it!Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Sep 20-22, 2019: Shirakawa, Ryuji 6th Dan in Calgary, Canada

Aikido News - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 12:35
Sep 20-22, 2019: Shirakawa, Ryuji 6th Dan in Calgary, Canada
From: Andrew James Barron posted on 12. Aug 2019, 11:35am
URL: http://calgaryaikikai.com/shirakawa2019/

Shirakawa Ryuji Sensei was born in 1980. In 1995, at the age of 15, he commenced his Aikido training under his father Shirakawa Katsutoshi Shihan 7th Dan. Ryuji Sensei was recently awarded his 6th Dan and the title of Shihan and continues to teach full time at two principal dojos in Sendai, Myagi Prefecture as well as in a number of satellite dojos in the surrounding countryside. Ryuji can be seen demonstrating his style on YouTube in many All-Japan Aikido Demonstrations as well as representing Japan at the World Combat Games. He is known for his flowing and clean aikido style as well as being an excellent instructor.

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    The Chaos Triads

    Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:22
    By Steven Marsh Steve Jackson Games The Fantasy Trip "Starting Characters"

    A dying heir, an abandoned mine, and a closely-held secret figure into this gamemastered adventure for The Fantasy Trip, as a group of heroes set forth on a mission of mercy. But they are not the first to take on this quest, and the actions of their predecessors will bring them up against the edge of Chaos itself. Can they survive an encounter with the Chaostained?

    Hey. a bunch of Fantasy Trip aventures showed up on DriveThru! Let’s review one!

    This thirteen page adventure is a linear series of combats divided by a couple of puzzles for eleven-ish encounters total. It shows signs of life during the alloted “roleplay” sections but its clear this is a tactical minis combat game with some bits around it. And a badly formatted one at that. Surprise.

    The little prince has a poison dart in his neck, full of chaos magick, that can’t be removed. Granny wants you to get the Chaos Orb from a nearby mine; it will draw out the chaos from the dart and make it safe to remove. You’re adventuring company number three to take up the task …

    Not a bad hook. Certainly with slightly more nuance and realistic motivations than most. And that’s a theme with this adventure, it generally makes a bit of an appeal that’s just a bit more than usual. Grannys advisors privately tell you they don’t expect you to succeed, but enough of an effort must be made to make her mourning easier. The second adventuring party is a scan, taking the money, running, and turning back to their usual banditry ways. Just a little bit more makes the usual fantasy throw-away tropes just a little more interesting for the party to play with. 

    The Chaos monsters in the adventure gets some good random effects; one good and one bad each. They attract objects so missile weapons are easier to hit this one, and that one can rewind time. In addition there’s some decent examples of freaky behavior as the party gets closer to the orb, birds flying without flapping their wings and a list of other effects. This gets to the matter of making things interesting for the party and supporting the DM. Not just “weird things happen” but also a short list to use or inspire the DM to greater heights. Which is what the adventure should be doing.

    It’s also just a linear combat adventure with little thought to the DM actually running it.

    For all the world this reminds e of a 4e adventure. Or, maybe, one of those Starfleet Battles Campaigns. A bunch of tactical mini’s combat strung together with some pretext in between them. I know little of Fantast Trip, It’s clear that hex-based tactics is a big part of it. Enter room. Monster. Some other weird combat effect (ala 4e complications) and then combat.

    In between this are a couple of room that could be considered puzzles. A room fills with water, or a robot-man guardian asks a riddle. Or a LARGE number of rats run past you … not attacking. But it feels weird. It feels like “THIS. IS. THE. COMBAT. ROOM. LET. US. HAVE. COMBAT.” The puzzles, weird shit are better, but it feels obvious what;s a puzzle and whats combat. And that’s never good.

    SJ Games has done no favors in the editing department. Long sections of text rarely broken up with bullets, bolding, and other techniques to draw the eyes. The rumors section is all written in paragraph form, making glancing and absorbing difficult. And the actual encounters … Five paragraphs for some rats running past you. The second room has twelve paragraphs. This thing is bloated to all fuck, strecthing out what would normally be a quite short adventure indeed. The bloat makes it hard to find things. 

    This resembles more of a funhouse dungeon: some 4e tactics rooms spaced out by some puzzle rooms. There’s a bear in one room … because bear. 

     This is $5 at DriveThru. There is no preview. Hey! Big timey publisher! How about throwing the consumer a bone and putting in a preview so we get a chance to see a bit of what we’re buying before we throw away our money?


    Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

    Why Must Perfect Justice Wait?

    Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:00

    Of Jesus’ 37 recorded parables, more than half concern issues of final judgment and life’s two alternate destinies.

    Jesus’ stories are called parables because the lessons they teach arise out of some concrete part of our human experience to make a spiritual point, assuming that what is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world.

    Here’s one of his stories, retold from Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43.

    A farmer sowed wheat in his field and then he and his household went to bed. But while they slept an enemy crept into the field and over-seeded it with weeds.

    The next morning, the field appeared unchanged. But weeks later, when the wheat sprouted and began forming heads, the farmer’s servants noted that weeds were threatening to crowd out the wheat.

    The servants were baffled. They asked the farmer where the weeds had come from.

    The farmer’s reply was that an “enemy” had done this. No more than that is said because the Jesus’ lesson is not on the origin of evil. Rather, it is about the final accounting of good and evil.

    Although the two often appear to be intermixed in this world they will eventually be dealt with separately and with finality.

    The farmer’s servants wanted to act immediately. They offered to go out and pull up the weeds but the farmer said no, because in doing so they would pull up the wheat also.

    Let them grow together until harvest, he told them, adding, “I will then tell the harvesters to collect and tie the weeds into bundles to be burned, whereas the wheat will be gathered into my barns.” One plant would be treasured, the other destroyed.

    Later, when his disciples were alone with Jesus in the house and still baffled by his story, they asked him to explain.

    He broke the story down by telling them the sower was the Son of Man (Jesus); the field was the world; the good seed represented the people of his kingdom; the weeds were the people of the evil one; the enemy was the devil; the harvest was the end of the age; the harvesters were the angels.

    The parable helps us understand that wherever Christ’s kingdom is sown and growing in the world, the weeds of evil will be found. This may be true in a Christian youth group, a megachurch, a Christian home, or in a country like China, where the Gospel is advancing while at the same time being mercilessly resisted and persecuted by the state.

    In the eyes of the servants, an immediate clean-up appeared to be the right thing to do, but the farmer knew that the clear and complete separation of wheat from the weeds must await the day of harvest.

    Similarly, where the Gospel is operating and manifest in this life, evil often appears intermixed and deeply rooted. In such cases, we are sometimes called to be patient, being assured that evil and righteousness will be thoroughly dealt with in a final judgment.

    Deep reflection on this parable and the reality it explains helps us to bravely endure wrongdoing that we are powerless to resist or “root out.” We know that all things in this life will be put right when Christ reappears to judge the living and the dead.

    With this story before us, how can we escape the urgency of the Apostle Paul who wrote that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

    Photo credit: Sleepy Claus (via flickr.com).

    Categories: Churchie Feeds

    The Princess and the Darkness

    Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:00

    Our 5e Land of Azurth campaign continued last night, with the party climbing the stairs to the next level, despite the madness-inducing noise. (Their plan of using Silence proved to be unwieldy.) They all stuffed wax in their ears (except the frogling that has no external ears to put wax in!). Shade was the first up. She found a room full of automata pieces with a whole in the ceiling and bodies of birds beneath it. Beyond that room was an iris-type door.

    After retrieving the rest of the party (most of whom made their saves, and the one's that didn't were only minorly impaired), they opened the door. Inside they found a circular shaft with an obelisk, skirted with a platform floating inside. Leading to it was a climbing, arcing path of floating discs, each separated by about 5 feet. Interestingly, the dread noise seemed absent from the shaft--but no other spells worked, either.

    Waylon the Frogling was made for leaping, so he was chosen to jump from disk to disk to reach the obelisk and platform. There, he discovered another brass mechanical face. The face explained it was the guardian of the obelisk's treasure, which certainly got Waylon's interesting. It initially was reluctant to reveal the treasure but Kully the Bard connived the head into doing it, though he strongly warned them any attempt to tamper with it would lead to the collapse of the floating obelisk and the release of the "criminal" fire elemental, leading to everyone's death.

    Within a milky, glass sphere and festooned with wires, Waylon found a book called The Wondrous Wizard of Azurth, with a drawing of a smiling, benevolent old man on the cover. The book was dangerous, he was told, because it was an anomaly. Not heresy per se (as Dagmar though), but perhaps heresy against the nature of reality.   The book was somehow related to the Clockwork Princess' madness. It's author is listed as O. March Loam (which brought to mind Mirabilis Lum for the player's), but the guardian suggests this was the actual identity of the author who is a "thought form" of some other being, a being with name such "fragments."

    Despite Waylon's desire to look for other treasure, the party is more eager now than ever to seek out the princess. On the next level of the castle, they find her. Her face, frozen in horror or madness, is on a great tree like shape of brass and iron, gears and wires. It's wire and conduit canopy spreads out across the ceiling, and his root-like tendrils radiate out along the floor.

    There is a shadow, think as velvet, along the ceiling, that slowly brings itself together like a snake coiling for a strike. The party doesn't notice at first. When the shadow has become a whispy sphere, and triangular eyes open in its void like malevolent stars, they do take notice! It tells them it has waited so long for someone to kill so it can be released from this prison of cold light and return to the embrace of the dark void.

    Then it nearly kills half the party with a blast of necrotic damage.

    The party flees to heal and regroup. Dagmar's knowledge of the arcane suggests it's a aberration from the Outer Dark, which hates light. The party them remembers they are in possession of energy weapons they do radiant damage. Gearing out with Haste spells, Light, and of course those energy guns, they return the challenge the creature.

    Though still a fearsome foe, it is perhaps overconfident from its last victory and they catch it off guard. It doesn't long survive what is practically artillery fire of laser beams form Hasted gunmen.

    They now have the Princess to confront.


    1d6 Random Treasures & Finds Of The Ancient Lotus Table For Your Old School Campaigns

    Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 05:04
    Deep in the heart of certain Hyperborean ruins are ancient spirits of malevolent intent and dangerous aspect. These horrors are created from those who sucked down the fumes of the black lotus that grew from the corpse farms of Atlantis. These spirits are part of the family of specters created not through violence but the corpse born curse of the Black Lotus corpse flowers. They Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
    Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


    Looking For Group - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 04:00

    The post 1321 appeared first on Looking For Group.

    Categories: Web Comics


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