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The Funny Side: Someone is probably filming you reading this

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By Nury Vittachi

All adults have a vital duty to tell young people about The Olden Days (a phrase which covers the period from the early Triassic era to about 2008).

“In the past, people would go a whole day without taking a single picture of anything,” I declared. My Facebooking Snapchatting children were stunned.

“So how did you have fun, dad,” one asked. “We would look at clouds and see if we could find animal shapes,” I told them. Yes, life was thrilling then. They have no idea.

But now family life is upside down! In my house, the only people who can open child-proof packaging are the children. The only people who can get past the net-nanny web filter are the children. The only people who can do online hedge-fund asset swaps that crash the Dow Jones are the children.

One friend said that this resourceful, hi-tech generation of youngsters would make great spies. No, I’ve met spies, and it’s no fun: they get swallowed up by their cover jobs. I knew one agent who played the part of a hard-drinking, grizzled journalist so well that he drank himself to death. Probably got an authenticity award from the espionage community.

What’s more, read the news: the whole hi-tech spying thing has been outsourced to wildlife. A few days ago, a pigeon was arrested and charged with espionage on the Pakistan-India border – not a joke. The bird was detained for acting suspiciously, which probably means it was wearing a false moustache and taking snaps of military facilities. Indian security officers discovered messages in a foreign language and a phone number written on its feathers, the news item said.

Now spies don’t usually share contact details, so this might just be the pigeon equivalent of when you write down your phone number on your hand because you’re getting old.

Pigeons get old too, right?

Just a week before the dramatic pigeon arrest, the Egyptian authorities detained a stork for espionage and readers may recall the still-earlier incident when the Iranian army arrested 14 squirrels for suspiciously hanging out in the woods near a nuclear enrichment facility.

Smug officials proudly said they detained the creatures “before they were able to take any action”, but did not say what the squirrels’ expected actions were. I suspect the list would include “eating nuts”, “hanging out in trees”, and “stealing food from bird feeders”, which are things we’ve all done at some time, right? Or is that just me?

The night before writing this, this writer was strolling to a meeting and looked to the skies for animal-shaped clouds. Lo and behold, there was a camera drone hovering overhead!

It stayed there for about two minutes, watching me walk and eat junk food. Either it was hungry, or (more likely) it had been sent to check up on me by my calorie-counting app. Or my kids.

But there’s one good thing about technology: If it’s time to summon people for dinner, I just turn off the Wi-Fi and watch the whole family come running. And here’s a tip to help adults use computers. Change your password to “invalid”. Every time you get it wrong, the computer will says: “Your password is invalid.”

You’re welcome. (IANS)

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

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Facebook Birthday Feature Raises Money For Charity

Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

When Behnoush Babzani turned 35, she threw a party. She also used her birthday to ask friends to donate to a cause she cares about deeply: helping people who need bone marrow transplants.

She herself received a bone marrow transplant from her brother.

“It’s not that my body was making cancerous cells, it was that my body was making no cells,” she said. “So think about the boy in the bubble. I had to be isolated. I didn’t have an immune system to protect me.”

Using a new feature on Facebook, Babzani in a few clicks posted a photo of herself in a hospital gown when she was receiving treatment and she asked her friends to help raise $350.

New way to raise money for causes

Facebook has always been a convenient way to send birthday wishes to friends. Now users have started taking advantage of a new feature introduced a year ago by the popular social networking site to turn birthday wishes into donations to help a favorite cause.

It’s turned into a huge success for charities. In its first year, Facebook’s birthday fundraiser feature raised more than $300 million for charities around the world. With a new revenue source, some charities are rethinking some of their standard fundraising activities.

The success of the Facebook birthday feature comes as social media users have begun to question how internet services connecting friends and family around the world have also become a mechanism for some to spread hate or influence foreign elections.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

Networks used to spread hate

Along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, testified in the U.S. Senate recently about steps the company has taken to identify and remove posts that violate the company’s terms of service.

“We were too slow to spot this, and too slow to act. That is on us,” Sandberg told the Senate committee.

Yet, the birthday fundraiser feature shows the power of using social media for good, says Facebook spokeswoman, Roya Winner.

“It gives people who are celebrating a birthday, a chance to turn that day into something that’s bigger than themselves,” she said.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the biggest receivers

Some of the biggest recipients have been St. Jude, the children’s hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, No Kid Hungry, which focuses on child hunger in the U.S., and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the days that followed, Behnoush surpassed her goal, raising more than $1,700. Her social network became an army pulling together to do good.

Rescuing sea lions

Two weeks before his 65th birthday, Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, where he volunteers once a week helping injured sea lions.

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He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California. Flickr

He raised $2,300.

“It surpassed my wildest dreams,” he said, and he let his friends know they made a difference.

“You’ve bought a ton of fish,” he told them. “You are feeding all the animals we have on site for several days.”

Also Read: At St. Teresa Charity Home, Out of 450 Births only 170 are in Record

His birthday is coming up again, and the sea lions are always hungry. He’s perfecting his pitch: “I know I’m special to you, but I’d like just the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Just $5. Please.” (VOA)