The Mary Sue


The ‘Shine’ Messenger Bot Sends Daily Affirmations to Boost Teens’ Self-Confidence

Not all Facebook Messenger bots are trying to sell you something. Shine just wants to cheer you up.

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Texting and Driving’s the New Drinking and Driving, at Least Among Teens

At this point, it really shouldn't take another study to show us that texting and driving is not safe. But another study showing that is exactly what we have this week, with a paper published today in the journal Pediatrics showing that texting and driving is now responsible for more car accidents -- and more fatalities -- among teen drivers than drunk driving. 

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Tens of Thousands of Australians Targeted by SMS “Hitman Scam”

Australian authorities began receiving notifications Monday morning that a number of citizens had received death threats via text message. Every message received was identical and was what is referred to as a "Hitman Scam." This type of scam has been seen before, but rarely on so large a scale.

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Send Analog Text Messages With This Catapult Moleskine Notebook

Once nearly extinct, the Moleskine notebooks have not only survived but thrived. In fact, the humble black notebook spawned many new species, including this little fellow that uses the iconic black elastic cord as a catapult to launch analog text messages up to 17 feet away. It's fun, functional, and delightfully anachronistic.

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Congo's Deaf Community Struggling in Wake of Government SMS Ban

The ruling government in the Congo has opted to ban SMS texting in an effort to prevent more violence in the wake of contested elections, and to prevent mass protests. Given how ubiquitous texting has become, it's no doubt a scary time for the average citizen of the Congo. Moreso if that person happens to be deaf.

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SMS Attack Reboots Windows Phone 7.5, Disables Messaging Hub

Khaled Salameh discovered a bug in Windows Phone 7.5 that reboots the devices as well as disables the messaging hub via an SMS attack. After learning of the bug, WinRumors tested the attack on a range of Windows Phones, and found that the denial-of-service vulnerability isn't device specific, but rather, seems to be how the Windows Phone messaging hub handles itself. The bug can also be triggered via a Windows Live message or a Facebook chat message.

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Android App Smozzy Lets You Surf the Web on Your Phone Sans Data Plan

Smozzy, a new Android app, provides a way for users to access websites on their phones without a data plan. No, it's not powered by black magicks as one might expect, but rather allows users to receive web content, in full, via SMS. Now before you go getting too excited, it's worth mentioning that the app only works for U.S. located T-Mobile users at the moment and you also need unlimited texting if you don't want it to cost you more than a data plan, but aside from that, it miraculously functions as advertised. It's a simple concept really, and where the app excels is in actually pulling it off. When you send a request through Smozzy, it goes out through SMS. The Smozzy servers then go out and find what you're looking for, download the website, put it in a ZIP file, encode that as a .png and send it back to you via MMS. The end result is a completely surfable page, content and links intact.

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Your Car Can Be Hacked via SMS

Scary fact of the day: Your car can get hacked. Not with an axe or something, but via SMS. Security researchers Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik at iSec Partners (lucky for all of us that this isn't a different [x]Sec) have figured out a way to hack cars with SMS by essentially sneaking into the series of communications that allow smartphone apps to unlock car doors or even start the engines. Apparently, it isn't even that hard. The pair have reported that they were able to figure out how to intercept the messages that come from a car-starter mobile app and then spoof them with a laptop in about 2 hours time. Bailey is scheduled to talk about his findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, and luckily for car owners and car companies, he's a nice enough guy not to mention the pair of products they hacked or any technical details about the process until the software makers can patch up these insecurities.

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Egypt Forced Vodafone to Send Pro-Government Text Messages During Protests

If there was any doubt that the Egyptian government treated private tech companies alarmingly during the recent protests, mobile company Vodafone says that it was forced to send waves of government-scripted propaganda text messages, the source of which was unclear to mobile customers who received them. Vodafone says that carriers Mobinil and Etisalat were also forced to send similar messages. According to Vodafone's statement, "Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable ... We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator." A few of the messages Vodafone was forced to send:

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