Breakfast Briefing: Troll prosecution guidelines, Windows Phone's new languages and rental PC snoops

In today's tech news round-up: guidelines on Twitter trolls and much more

19 Dec 2012

Good morning. Today's tech stories include clearer guidelines on Twitter trolls (more on that later), a language boost for Windows Phone 8, why Pedigree Chum might revise its TV adverts and inside a webcam snooping scandal.

DPP details Twitter troll prosecution guidelines

The Director of Public Prosecutions has given fresh guidelines about when people should be charged for offensive posts on Twitter or Facebook – with a more relaxed approach if people show remorse for errant messages.

According to the BBC, Keir Starmer explained that clamping down on web trolls without having a "chilling effect" on free speech was a delicate balance. With that in mind, Starmer says threatening posts should be investigated, but merely offensive rants are not worth following up.

There was also good news for anyone heading to the office party tonight, with the BBC reporting booze-fuelled drivel will also face less scrutiny.

"This could include posts made by drunk people who, on sobering up, take swift action to delete the communication because they are genuinely sorry for the offence or harm they caused," the BBC reports.

Microsoft adds new languages to Windows Phone 8

Microsoft says it has doubled the language support for Windows Phone 8 in response to requests from users around the world. The Windows Phone blog boast of support for 50 languages with voice recognition for 15 tongues. However, more interesting are the details on the process of adding complicated languages with complex fonts and right-to-left reading.

"If everything was mirrored, the design wouldn’t be too complicated, but in reality only certain things are," the company said. "For example, mirroring the phone dialling pad or a map would be a very bad idea. Adapting our design philosophy required us to look carefully at every screen in Windows Phone and judiciously choose which elements to mirror."

Inside the rental PC privacy scandal

Almost two years after events started to unfold, Ars Technica has an in-depth look at the shocking privacy scandal that involved a PC rental company spying on customers via their PC's webcam.

In a truly what-were-they-thinking management policy, PC Rental Agent included snooping software on customer PCs that allowed the company to track the computers it had rented out, in case of theft or renters not paying fees. Staff could also take screen grabs and snap images of whoever was using the computer. What could possibly go wrong?

Screen tech improvements turn dogs into TV viewers

The great debate over whether dogs can actually see and process what's happening on a TV screen is the subject for a fascinating read on refresh rates, and how the brain processes images. Science Nordic goes into some detail on the point at which images become smooth enough for dogs to view – around 70 frames per second. Newer screen technology means more sets now match that rate, giving new meaning to One Man and His Dog, and offering marketing opportunities for Pedigree Chum.

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