Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I've got this idea for a fully mobile remote nanny. She watches and listens to everything you do, scolds or praises as appropriate, rats you out to parents or spouse, even gives you a grade for “Conformity.” I figure the government will buy hundreds of them to follow sexual predators and paroled felons (maybe even congressmen!) Some interesting comments too.


George Orwell Was Right — Security Cameras Get an Upgrade

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Tuesday December 26, @12:34AM from the big-brother-would-be-proud dept.

Jamie stopped to mention that Bloomberg is reporting on a recent addition of speakers to public security cameras in Middlesbrough, England. From the article: "`People are shocked when they hear the cameras talk, but when they see everyone else looking at them, they feel a twinge of conscience and comply,' [When did “everyone else” stop voicing their disapproval? Bob] said Mike Clark, a spokesman for Middlesbrough Council who recounted the incident. The city has placed speakers in its cameras, allowing operators to chastise miscreants who drop coffee cups, ride bicycles too fast or fight outside bars."



Watch ANY Traffic Camera in New York City in Real Time!

This website lets you watch real-time streaming videos and still images of NYC whenever you want. The cams even have a great framerate.


Advanced Traveller Information System

Manhattan Information

There are 45 cameras installed in key traffic points around Manhattan accessible from either the map or the list below. 10 cameras provide both streaming video or still images, 35 cameras provide only still images.



Project aims to tag Tokyo neighborhood with RFID

Tags and transmitters to provide location-based information

By Martyn Williams, IDG News Service December 26, 2006

A location-based services trial that will see a famous Tokyo neighborhood blanketed with around 10,000 RFID (radio frequency identification) tags and other beacons got its start earlier this month.

The Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Project seeks to install RFID, infrared and wireless transmitters throughout Tokyo's Ginza area, which is the most famous shopping area in the capital. The tags and transmitters will provide location-related information to people carrying prototype readers developed for the trial, said Ken Sakamura, a professor at The University of Tokyo and the leader of the project.

The system works by matching a unique code sent out by each beacon with data stored on a server on the Internet. The data is obtained automatically by the terminal, which communicates back to the server via a wireless LAN connection and requests the data relevant to the beacon that is being picked up.

Sakamura envisages the system will be able to provide users with basic navigation and information about the shops and stores in the area in at least four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

For example, bringing the terminal close to an RFID tag on a street lamp will pinpoint the user's location and the system will be able to guide them to the nearest railway station while walking past a radio beacon in front of a shop might bring up details of current special offers or a menu for a restaurant.

... The project is supported by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MILT) and one of several that currently taking place in Japan.

In one of the trials, RFID tags have been embedded in yellow studded rubber tiles that are often put onto pavements as an aid to blind or partially sighted people. An RFID reader at the tip of a cane picks up the tags and a transmitter box mounted higher on the cane sends the tag's ID to the prototype terminal which gets relevant information from the server. In a demonstration of the system the terminal alerted the user that the pavement is coming to an end but that there's a ramp to the right and stairs to the left.

Isn't this (at least partly) to combat the lack of communication between agencies? Should we risk allowing a fleeing felon to avoid arrest because we can't get the word out? ...and since when does something change from Okay to evil because it grows larger?


Justice Dept. Database Stirs Privacy Fears

Size and Scope of the Interagency Investigative Tool Worry Civil Libertarians

By Dan Eggen Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, December 26, 2006; A07

The Justice Department is building a massive database that allows state and local police officers around the country to search millions of case files from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement agencies, according to Justice officials.

The system, known as "OneDOJ," already holds approximately 1 million case records and is projected to triple in size over the next three years, Justice officials said. The files include investigative reports, criminal-history information, details of offenses, and the names, addresses and other information of criminal suspects or targets, officials said.

The database is billed by its supporters as a much-needed step toward better information-sharing with local law enforcement agencies, which have long complained about a lack of cooperation from the federal government.

But civil-liberties and privacy advocates say the scale and contents of such a database raise immediate privacy and civil rights concerns, in part because tens of thousands of local police officers could gain access to personal details about people who have not been arrested or charged with crimes. [Like the guy who robbed the Seven-11 and killed the clerk. He hadn't been arrested or charged, we didn't even know his name... Bob]

The little-noticed program has been coming together over the past year and a half. It already is in use in pilot projects with local police in Seattle, San Diego and a handful of other areas, officials said. About 150 separate police agencies have access, officials said.

But in a memorandum sent last week to the FBI, U.S. attorneys and other senior Justice officials, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty announced that the program will be expanded immediately to 15 additional regions and that federal authorities will "accelerate . . . efforts to share information from both open and closed cases."

Eventually, the department hopes, the database will be a central mechanism for sharing federal law enforcement information with local and state investigators, who now run checks individually, and often manually, with Justice's five main law enforcement agencies: the FBI, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Within three years, officials said, about 750 law enforcement agencies nationwide will have access.

... Much information will be kept out of the system, including data about public corruption cases, classified or sensitive topics, confidential informants, administrative cases and civil rights probes involving allegations of wrongdoing by police, [In other words, it will only record information about us second class citizens... Bob] officials said.

... Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the main problem is one of "garbage in, garbage out," [Technically not a database problem Bob] because case files frequently include erroneous or unproved allegations.

"Raw police files or FBI reports can never be verified and can never be corrected," Steinhardt said.

I suspect this could be done with non-artists too. Perhaps sites by specific topics (Computer Security, Wine, competitive knitting...)


A site for student artists

December 25, 2006 5:59 AM PDT

The Saatchi Gallery in London has opened up its Web site for students and other aspiring artists to post their work and chat with peers.

The recently redesigned Web site of the famed Saatchi Gallery in London has become a social-networking outlet for aspiring young artists. A key feature launched in May is the section called Your Gallery, where artists can post their own work at no charge, sell it without a middleman and chat with peers. That section now has contributions, including video art, from more than 20,000 artists, with 800 more signing up each week, according to a story in The New York Times. Another section, called Stuart (for "student art"), launched in November and now counts 1,300 students, the Times reported.

Think what you would trust to people not under your immediate control.


December 25, 2006

Growth in Outsourced Legal Services to Companies in India Reported

Follow-up to a November 12, 2006 article on LLRX.com, Developments in Legal Outsourcing and Offshoring, Moushumi Anand, Medill News Service, posted this article that highlights the growth in contracts for outsourced legal work undertaken by several companies in India.

I've always thought charities were a rather backwards way to do “good works” For one thing, they spend everything they collect (less the 90% collector's fee) and then have to beg next year.


December 25, 2006

Consumer Reports Guide to Charitable Giving

Make sure that your donations count - Here's how to home in on charities that don’t waste--or steal--your money.

Clearly a business opportunity!


Latest Attempt To Catch Phishers May Make Life Difficult For Small Web Vendors

from the no-fun-at-all dept

It's no secret that there are a lot of scammers out there online, and trying to come up with ways to weed out who's legit and who's not has certainly been a growth industry lately. However, sometimes things get tricky. Microsoft is rolling out a new system in the latest version of Internet Explorer that aims to flag certain sites as being safe or unsafe, using much stricter verification rules that secure certificate vendors need to follow. Of course, these are also a lot more expensive, and the strict rules mean that a lot of smaller merchants may not make the cut or may not want to pay extra to get these certificates. It raises questions about whether or not it's fair for a company like Microsoft to put the burden on the sites themselves to go out and prove to a certificate vendor that they're legit (and willing to pay a lot more than a standard secure certificate) just to be considered safe. Obviously, it can help to cut out many questionable sites, but if it has plenty of false positives, harming perfectly legitimate vendors as well, that's hardly a good solution.

I'm always amused by statistics like these...


60 percent of P2P video downloads are porn

Porn and TV dominate the video content that people downlaod from P2P networks, according to a new study by the NPD Group. The market researchers estimate that 60 percent of those videos are "adult content", while 20 percent are TV shows.


This isn't really new, is it?


Paypal announces FREE 'Virtual Debit Card' - throwaway online credit cards

Those of you that are jealous of the Visa throwaway credit card that creates a new unique one-time use number for your online transactions can stop worrying, anyone can now get on the fun! Paypal will offer this service FREE to all users once it leaves beta, meaning you'll have alot less headache worrying about credit card theft and security.



10 Web Operating Systems Reviewed - Maybe You Try One

Why not try some of the WebOS applications that are already available? Believe it or not, there's already over 15 of them, and here you can find a review of the 10 most promising WebOSes.


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