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Goully Sandro Kopp

At some point in everyone's lives, Pooh Bear and Piglet lose their appeal and turn from adored comfort objects to raggedy reminders of childhood – something to be chucked into the back of a cupboard or shoved away in an attic. But where Sandro Kopp once asked his portrait subjects to sit for him over Skype, he's now requested their cuddly toys, which form the basis of his new work, Fiercely Loved, which opens for a private view tonight at Timothy Everest. Using oil paint, Kopp restores the solemnity and gravitas of these childhood tchotkes, seeking out the material imprints of their owner's personalities and adolescent memories – and reminding us of the toys we leave behind as we enter adulthood.

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Say you want to quickly transfer a file, like a photo or a contact entry, from your smartphone to a friend’s. Most people would email or text the file. But a number of technologies have come along to make the process quicker and simpler.

On some Android phones, you can “beam” files like photos from phone to phone by tapping one phone to another, or bringing them very close. But that requires that both phones have a special chip, called NFC, which isn’t yet universal on Android phones and doesn’t exist at all in iPhones.

Another approach is to use an app called Bump, which transfers files between iPhones and Android phones when those holding them do a sort of sideways fist bump. It works pretty well, but you have to make contact with the other person.

image

With the Xsync iPhone app, you select an audio file, photo, video, contact or calendar appointment by tapping on the simple icon that represents each one.

This week, I’ve been testing a different approach — an iPhone app called Xsync. It doesn’t require any special chip and instead uses a free app and a hardware feature almost every smartphone possesses — the camera. While it is primarily meant, like Bump, for transfers between phones in proximity, it works over long distances. I was able to almost instantly send and get photos, videos and songs using Xsync between two iPhones held up to computer webcams during a Skype video call.

The key to Xsync is the QR code, that square symbol found seemingly everywhere these days—online, in print newspapers and magazines, on posters and other places. These codes typically just contain text—often, a Web address. But Xsync, a tiny company based in Seattle, generates QR codes that initiate the transfer of whole files, or in the case of photos, even groups of files. It has a built-in QR code scanner to read these codes using the phone’s camera.

The biggest drawback to Xsync is that it is currently only available for the iPhone. An Android version is planned for sometime this quarter. Meanwhile, you can use an Android phone with any QR code reader to receive, though not send, files sent via Xsync.

The Xsync app is something of a teaser for the underlying technology, which the company calls the Optical Message Service. The company’s goal isn’t to build its own apps, but to license the technology to cellphone makers so it becomes a built-in way to transfer files.

Here’s how it works. Once you install Xsync on your iPhone, you select an audio file, photo, video, contact or calendar appointment, each of which is represented by a simple icon. The app creates a QR code representing the intended transfer of that file and temporarily sends the file to Xsync’s server. Your friend uses Xsync to scan the QR code you’ve created with his or her iPhone’s camera, and the files are sent to your friend’s iPhone.

In my tests, it was easy, quick and reliable. I successfully used Xsync to send and receive all the included types of files with an iPhone 5, an iPhone 4S and an iPad mini. I was also able to receive files on an Android phone, a Google Nexus 4, via a QR code generated by Xsync.

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The app generates QR codes that initiate the transfer of whole files, or in the case of photos, even groups of files.

You can even generate a QR code using Xsync that will allow you to transfer money from your PayPal account to another person’s, though that requires an added authentication step for security. But it worked, and would be a good way to, say, split a bill at a restaurant. (This PayPal feature of Xsync doesn’t work with Android, for now.)

The company says the file transfers are secure, for two reasons. First, they are encrypted. More important, each code is generated for a specific transfer and expires after a relatively short time. For instance, codes for photos expire after 24 hours, according to the company.

You can use Xsync to transmit certain kinds of files — including documents — you’ve stored in your Dropbox account, though, oddly, the Xsync app hides this document-transfer feature under an icon for sharing calendar appointments.

And you don’t have to be close to make the transfer. In addition to my Skype example, you can send a QR code generated by Xsync via email or text message, or even post the code to Facebook. Another person can then scan the code to get the file.

Xsync can generate codes that represent either existing files on your phone, or files you create on the spot. If you don’t want to use an existing one, the audio, photo, video and calendar icons in the app invite you to create a new file to be transferred.

On the iPhone, the receiving device displays the transferred files right within the Xsync app. If you’re using an Android phone to receive, you get a Web address that leads you to the file on Xsync’s server.

If you have an iPhone, Xsync is an effective way to transfer files like photos, songs, videos and more between phones.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.

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Syria’s Internet infrastructure remains almost entirely dark today. Almost.

The folks at Renesys, who were the first to notice that something was amiss with the telecom infrastructure of the war-torn Middle Eastern nation, have been hard at work sifting through their data — and they’ve found something interesting.

At least five networks operating outside Syria, but still operating within Syrian-registered IP address spaces, are still working, and are apparently controlled by India’s Tata Communications.

These same networks, Renesys says, have some servers running on them that were implicated in an attempt to deliver Trojans and other malware to Syrian activists. The payload was a fake “Skype Encryption Tool” — which is, on its face, kind of silly, because Skype itself is already encrypted to some degree — that was actually a spying tool. The Electronic Frontier Foundation covered the attempted cyber attack at the time.

Cloudflare has also been monitoring the situation in Syria and has made a few interesting observations.

First, pretty much all Internet access in the country is funneled through one point: The state-run, state-controlled Syrian Telecommunications Establishment. The companies that provide this capacity running into the country are PCCW and Turk Telekom as the primary providers, with Telecom Italia and Tata providing additional capacity.

There are, Cloudflare notes, four physical cables that bring Internet connectivity into Syria. Three of them are undersea cables that land in the coastal city of Tartus. A fourth comes in from Turkey to the north. Cloudflare’s Matt Prince says it’s unlikely that the cables were physically cut.

Cloudflare put together a video of what it looked like watching the changes in the routing tables happen live. It’s less than two minutes long.

For what it’s worth, Syria’s information minister is being quoted in various reports as blaming the opposition for the shutdown.

So the question is: Why now? Clearly, the Syrian regime is under more pressure than ever before. Previously, it tended to view the country’s Internet as a tool to not only get its own word out to the wider world, but also to try and spy on and monitor the activities of the rebels and activists.

With fighting intensifying in and around the capital and the commercial city of Aleppo, the decision to throw the kill switch might indicate a decision to try to disrupt enemy communications. Or it might mask a seriously aggressive military action that it wants to keep as secret as possible. We don’t know yet.

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hacker

Several international law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, held meetings with German police between 2008-12 to discuss the deployment of a monitoring software to covertly infiltrate computers, according to German government reports and reported by Ryan Gallagher at Slate.

The revelations come in response to questions by Andrej Hunko, a member of German Parliament, after a Berlin-based hacker collective called "Chaos Computer Club" exposed in October that the German police were using potentially illegal software called "Bundestrojaner” (i.e. federal Trojan horse) to spy on suspects.

The Bundestrojaner spyware can be disguised as a legitimate software update and can monitor Internet use, log messenger chats and keystrokes, record Skype calls and activate microphones or webcams to record audio or snapshots to send back to authorities.

German courts approved requests from officials to employ the programs at least 50 times and German law enforcement officials smuggled the spyware onto hard drives of suspected criminals at least 25 times.

International law enforcement agencies have taken notice.

From Slate: 

In a letter from Secretary of State Ole Schröder on March 6, which I have translated, Hunko was informed that German federal police force, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), met to discuss the use of monitoring software with counterparts from the U.S., Britain, Israel, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Austria. The meetings took place separately between Feb. 19, 2008, and Feb. 1, 2012.

The letter goes on to say that the FBI, France's secret service (i.e. DCRI) and UK's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) met with German law enforcement to discuss the basic legal requirements and the technical aspects of using the highly intrusive surveillance technology, according to Slate.

In 2011 German authorities acquired a license to test a similar Trojan technology called “FinSpy” that was reportedly used for five months by Hosni Mubarak’s Egyptian state security forces in 2010 to monitor Skype accounts and record conversations over the Internet.

The revelations are informative about the desire of governments to employ shady techniques to track citizens but, as Gallagher notes, "we are left with many more questions than answers."

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Just about four months ago I was sent to Qingdao, China to work with Kboom! Games overseas developers on our Facebook game “Sound City.” I don’t really know what else to compare the beginning of this story with,other than being shot out of cannon.

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This is the oficial video for Matta’s recent single release titled ‘Release The Freq” off the forthcoming album ‘Prototype’. Direction, Design, Cinematography, Editing, 3D & Animation by Kim Holm.

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“They say that we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of death. They say that it’s the weight of the human soul.

Well, it was Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Haverhill, Massachusetts who first attempted to weigh the human soul. In 1907, he placed 6 dying patients on a homemade scale, which also acted as a bed for the patients. More recently in Dan Brown’s novel, “the Lost Symbol”, there is a segment that explains how “The Institute of Noetic Science” uses noetics to weigh the human soul. After tests on terminally ill patients, it came across that immediately after death, a person’s weight dropped.

So, what would happen if they found a way to contain this invincible mass.. this soul.. Obviously the only reason to do this would be to put it in some kind of awesome robot.. yeah!”

Created by Andreas Wannerstedt.

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Rémy Cayuela keeps it dark, creepy, sexy and cool for WAT’s single ‘Kill Kill off of their upcoming album.

Director: Rémy Cayuela
DoP: Matt Wise
Editor: Edouard Mailaender

Label: Boxon Records
Management: Etienne Perreau
Publishing: Vitch Music Group
Co-Publishing: Humaine Box
Production company: One More Prod
Executive producers: Double Entente

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