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In Romania, 2 Canadians become First people to Survive a Night at Dracula’s Castle in 70 Years

The pair outdid 88,000 people who entered a competition hosted by Airbnb to get the chance to dine and sleep at the castle in Romania

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Tami Varma (R) and her brother Robin, grandchildren of an expert in vampire lore, pose in coffins at Dracula's Castle, in Bran, Romania, Oct. 31, 2016. The pair bested 88,000 people in a competition to win the chance of a night at the famed landmark. VOA
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Romania, November 2, 2016: All night long, a cold wind howled around the gothic castle that inspired the Dracula legend, as a Canadian brother and sister became the first people to pass the night there in 70 years.

But it wasn’t the wind that kept Robin Varma, a PhD student in political science, awake at Bran Castle in Transylvania. Rather it was the incessant chattering of his sister.

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“He put the lid on his coffin so he could sleep…. He was sick of hearing me talk,” Tami Varma, an events manager from Ottawa, told The Associated Press Tuesday.

The pair outdid 88,000 people who entered a competition hosted by Airbnb to get the chance to dine and sleep at the castle in Romania, by describing how their grandfather – Devendra P. Varma, a scholar of English gothic tales and an expert in vampire lore – had visited the medieval fortress in 1971.

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They arrived at dusk Monday in a stagecoach, and were welcomed by Dacre Stoker the great-nephew of Bram Stoker who wrote the 1897 horror novel. They later dined on chicken paprikash and red wine, serenaded by a string quartet, before curling up for the night in red-velvet-lined coffins – but sleep eluded them.

It wasn’t just the talking, or the wind howling, though. Another mysterious sound spooked the pair.

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“We have a strong feeling there were invisible guests walking along the castle corridors last night,” Tami Varma said, hinting that Count Dracula may have paid a fleeting visit. “But we did live to see sunrise.” (VOA)

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  • Shivani Vohra

    Thtat’s such an adventurous way to spend the night.

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons
Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?