Tech 2.0 for Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 12/24/2013 3:24 pm


Target says it has learned of some incidents of scam emails related to its recent data breach and is setting up a section of its corporate website to post copies of all official communication. The company says it is aware of "limited instances" of scam emails. Spokeswoman Molly Snyder says the company doesn't have any other specifics to provide about the fake emails. The Minneapolis retailer says it is creating a section of its website to contain copies of Target's official communication to customers so customers can be sure they are really hearing from Target when they get emails from the retailer. Target said last week that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

A New York man is the newly crowned world record holder for having the largest collection of video games. Michael Thomasson of suburban Buffalo says he began collecting soon after receiving his first game, Cosmic Avenger, as a Christmas present from his grandparents when he was 12. Thomasson had to wait until the next Christmas to play it, though, until his parents could get their hands on the hot-selling Colecovision system to play it on. Now, 31 years and roughly 11,000 games later, Thomasson is featured in the just-released "Guinness World Records 2014 Gamer's Edition." The official number of 10,607 games bests the previous record holder, Richard Lecce of Florida, who had 8,616 games in 2010.

For kids who can't wait for Santa to arrive, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has a Christmas treat. Visions of sugar plums can be augmented by a check on the fabled fat man's progress around the globe on Christmas Eve. Here are five things to know about the holiday tradition called NORAD Tracks Santa:

1. HOW DO YOU FOLLOW SANTA'S PATH?

NORAD provides updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD, an operator will give you an update. Online: http://www.noradsanta.org . Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noradsanta . Twitter: @NoradSanta. Email: noradtrackssanta@outlook.com. Smartphone apps also are available at app stores.

NORAD's Santa operations center opened at 6 a.m. EST on Dec. 24 and has received tens of thousands of calls from around the world. This year, Santa's first stop after leaving the North Pole was Novoye Chaplino, Russia, NORAD said. The Canadian naval ship Regina reported seeing Santa on its radar near the Arabian Sea. Santa usually ends his trip in North America and South America. "Santa calls the shots," NORAD says on its website. "We just track him!"

2. HOW MANY PEOPLE FOLLOW SANTA?

Last year, volunteers answered 114,000 phone calls from around the world. The website had 22.3 million unique visitors. NORAD Tracks Santa had 1.2 million followers on Facebook and 129,000 on Twitter.
Among the questions kids have had on their minds when they called in previous years:
— "Am I on the nice list or the naughty list?"
— "Can you put my brother on the naughty list?"
— "Are you an elf?"
— "How much to adopt one of Santa's reindeer?"

3. WHY DOES NORAD DO IT?

In 1955, a local newspaper advertisement invited children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline of NORAD's predecessor. Rather than disappoint the kids, commanders told them they indeed knew where Santa was. NORAD, a U.S.-Canadian operation based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., continues the tradition every Christmas Eve.

4. WHY WAS THERE CONTROVERSY THIS YEAR?

A children's advocacy group complained that an animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website injected militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa's sleigh on a 39-second video promoting the event. NORAD says the fighter escort is nothing new. NORAD began depicting jets accompanying Santa and his reindeer in the 1960s.

5. HOW DOES NORAD TRACK SANTA?

Using the same satellites it uses to track missiles, NORAD says it is able to detect heat signatures from Rudolph's nose.
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