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Christina Macfarlane of CNN trying ice dipping in Finland

Crazy winter pastime: CNN reporter tries Finnish-style ice dipping, a super shortcut to a “runner’s high”

Christina Macfarlane of CNN trying ice dipping in Finland

If you’re in some weird country with weird traditions, why not try them out? That must have been the idea of a CNN Sports anchor Christina Macfarlane…. or her producers.

Macfarlene was shooting a couple of episodes of the popular show Alpine Edge at World Cup Levi last week, far north at a ski resort in Finnish Lapland. Somehow, she ended up trying the good old dip in a lake from a hole in the ice, assisted by an experienced enthusiast.

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Meet Timo Wilderness: Finland’s favorite swamp wrestling vlogger

timo-wilderness

Recognise the face above? If you’re a Finn, with a social media account, the answer is probably a resounding yes! Timo Korpi, perhaps better known as Timo Wilderness, is one of Finland’s most popular vloggers. Browse his YouTube channel and you’ll find an eclectic mix of English-language travel diaries from around the globe, fun bits and skits, and his popular series, WTF – Welcome to Finland, which explores various aspects of Finnish life.

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Video: How Edward Snowden and The Yes Men trolled music fans at Roskilde Festival

Edward Snowden and The Yes Men at Roskilde 2016

The Danish Roskilde music festival recently got into a slight controversy over signs warning festival goers about a new policy: complete surveillance of all phone and internet traffic. But it turns out that the festival, which took place over the course of June 24 to July first this year, actually trolled its visitors, hard. With the help of none other than culture jamming and hoaxing group The Yes Men and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A feedback booth with a comedian posing as a poorly-informed PR representative of the festival was also present, to counter backlash on social media. But the actual intention of the signs and the faux policy was to lure festival goers to a certain stage at a certain time, with “anger marketing”.

What attendants got to experience was a remotely held speech by whistleblower USA Edward Snowden, an excellent speaker on topics like civil rights, privacy and mass surveillance. The massive Roskilde Festival has now released a summary of the events in a Youtube video, which also includes the confounded faces of festival goers encountering an actor who looks like Snowden.

 

It’s not about Snowden, the person

Regardless of what you think about the optics of Snowden ending up in Russia in the aftermath of his data leak in 2013 and subsequent escape from the USA, we recommend listening to what he has to say. Also worth looking into is the fact that he has no chance of a fair trial in the USA, despite his information having pushed the IT industry towards a path where privacy rights at least are a part of the conversation.

Anyone can figure out that Russian intelligence probably debriefed Snowden upon his arrival in Russia, but the former cybersecurity specialist and NSA contractor’s data leaks have indeed done a lot to raise an unprecedented awareness over information security related topics.

Most of Snowdens revelations are things that have been suspected by information security professionals for years, but were shrugged off as paranoia by the general public and decision makers in business and politics alike.

Most notably, Snowden’s leaks reveal how numerous Western countries, like the United Kingdom and Sweden collaborate with the USA to build a global mass surveillance apparatus that can harvest unfathomable amounts of information from the internet.

Slide from the PRISM presentation leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.

A slide from a presentation leaked by Edward Snowden, where the NSA brags about infiltrating US tech companies. The likely meaning of the PRISM program is the surveillance agencies being able to eavesdrop of some data inside the networks of tech giants, rather than having gained direct access to every server these enormous companies own. Some companies have taken action to prevent misuse like this.

 

How the Snowden Leaks have helped you

The Snowden leaks included information on how Western intelligence agancies collected information from large companies like Google, by eavesdropping on private fiber optic cables. Companies like Google have since actively starting encrypting more traffic, even within their own networks, making customer data more difficult to misuse. Products like Facebook-owned WhatsApp have recently implemented really good encryption for mobile messenger apps, helping to protect the contents of chat conversations between normal, law abiding citizens.

It is no news that surveillance can used to undermine democracy and processes of social progress, as is made apparent by Snowden’s mention of how of authorities hawkishly followed every move of Dr. Martin Luther King during his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.




With today’s technology, the internet’s weakness for surveillance grants private corporations and governments alike access to information about us all, to an extent that the Soviet KGB, Romanian Securitate or East-German DDR could only have dreamt about. This is not disinformation or a dishonest spin, but a crucial breach of Rechtsstaat principles that help sustain democracy. Also, mass surveillance does little to stop terrorism.

It’s true that Russia presumably is using Snowden’s exile in propaganda and information warfare to create uncertainty and distrust towards Western governments. Making the West look like hypocrites on human rights is always convenient for the Russian state and many other authoritarian regimes. It makes it easier to defend their own practices of restricting internet use and complete digital surveillance, which occurs without any of the thinning legal buffers we still can enjoy in many Western countries.

That’s a reason in itself to stop Western intelligence agencies from undermining civilization.

 

How you can help

Members of the public can help themselves and less fortunate individuals in oppressive countries to get some online privacy by using and supporting systems like The Tor Project. Albeit being far from perfect, the open source Tor software is, within its limits, the far most efficient tool to remain anonymous online, if used properly.

No commercial vendor of for example, VPN services, can obfuscate the origin of traffic like Tor can. Users need to understand the limitations of what Tor can do for them, including but not limited to sticking to the officially supported Tor Browser, keeping it updated and not revealing information related to their regular identities while using Tor.

How Tor Works

At Ink Tank Media, we have chosen to help by hosting a Tor Relay server that participates in obfuscating the origin of traffic from users of free privacy tools like the Tor Browser.

This is a confusing field to navigate for anyone in media and advertising. The online advertising many online media companies rely on, also collects a massive amount of information! We couldn’t really run this site without ads and trackers, yet, it’s plain as day to us that the world needs to find a balance in how personal data is used.

From time to time, we work with Darknet researcher Antti Järventaus, who focuses on understanding and making some sense of some of the hard questions involved with providing anonymity to anyone who needs it.

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Watch Prince’s insane cover of the guitar solo in The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

prince-while-my-guitar-gently-weeps-guitar-solo

Sadly, Prince, the musical artist, has been confirmed dead today at the age of 57. For a quick look back at the highlights of Prince’s musical career, you could do worse than to check out Pitchfork’s coverage of his death. Here at Ink Tank we like to find weird and interesting things on the web, so in honor of one of the most creative people in showbiz, we’d like to take a different approach.

Namely: check out Prince’s guitar solo in this all-star cover version of The Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, shot at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. The song starts a bit ho-hum, of as massive all-star TV jams usually do, with musicians such as Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison, all wanting a slice of the show.

Then, at 3 minutes and 25 seconds, everything changes as Prince arrives and drops a stunning, virtuoso guitar solo on top of the already catchy song. The distinctly Harrisonesque tune, from on the fab four’s unnamed ‘White Album’, is known for its crispy guitar, originally played by none other than Eric Clapton on the record.

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Sixth generation VHS copy of a 1991 Roxette music video

Fading Like a Flower: What happens if you copy a VHS tape 23 times?

Sixth generation VHS copy of a 1991 Roxette music video

Does your smartphone have a scratched camera lens or a cracked screen? Has a year or two of constantly forgetting your charger at home ruined it’s battery life? Do you feel like this limits your creativity?

If you think a half-broken smartphone sucks, let’s have a quick glance back at one of the realities of consumer video equipment from way back. Namely VHS cassettes.

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Video: Fake 80s “Computer Show” explains Reddit starring co-founder Alexis Ohanian

Reddit on Computer Show by Sandwich Video

In appropriate doses, few aesthetic styles are as funny as the awkward look of 80s video and TV production. If you agree with this premise, you simply can’t afford to miss the faux-80s “Computer Show”. The Youtube series has just gone live with two episodes, one of which features Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.

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Adam Savage is his Duck Army meme video

Watch this: “MythBusters” star, nerd icon Adam Savage discovers the joy of squeezing plastic ducks

Adam Savage is his Duck Army meme video

Adam Savage hasn’t lost his trademark ability to muster the nerdy enthusiasm some of us associated with MythBusters since an age before Twitter and Youtube. This observation is abundantly obvious if you take a look at this 40 second video of Savage squeezing multiple plastic ducks, a new move known as the “Duck Army” in the Internet’s expanding repertoire of silly self expression.

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This man’s got the world’s most impressive pointless skills. And you’ll love him for it.

pointlesskills

Most of us have got at least one impressive, if totally pointless, skill. Mine is being able to write backwards. But Joe Charman has taken impressively pointless skills to a whole new level of awesomeness. In fact, the Brit comedian and Viner has made it into something of an art form, creating numerous Vines to showcase his latest talent. Charman says it all started with Vine in May 2014 when he attempted to recreate the “pen behind the ear” trick, popularised by comedian Tim Vine. Recently, he spliced together some of his greatest useless skills into one video. The result, 12 million people loving it. To see what all the fuss is about, check out the video below. And if you want more of the same, be sure to follow him on Vine.

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10 years on: The best YouTube channels you can watch today

Watching video on the Internet used to be terrible (remember RealPlayer?). But then YouTube came along in 2005 and was quickly gobbled up by Google in 2006. As of now, ten years on, YouTube has become part of a sort of backbone of the Internet. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for cat videos.

Some of YouTube’s early existence was plagued with controversy over its use as the place to go for random uploads of Other People’s Content. But the site is obviously focused on being a publishing platform for anyone. Today we want to honor some of the most interesting, hard working video producers out there.

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