Arrests made in bank fraud probe
Friday, August 14, 2009, 1:32pm MDT Modified: Friday, August 14, 2009, 4:13pm
Denver Business Journal - by Renee McGaw
Federal authorities arrested four people and searched more than a dozen locations in the Denver metro area Friday morning as part of an investigation into a criminal fraud ring that may have cost multiple banks more than $80 million.
… In a complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court, the FBI listed 16 people in the Denver metro area that it said it had probable cause to arrest, including Vishnevskaya and Nikitina.
But the investigation appeared to be much larger than that.
“To date, this investigation has identified approximately 700 straw buyers recruited by the criminal enterprise and financial losses are estimated to exceed $80 million,” according to the complaint filed in Vishnevskaya’s case
According to the complaint, the arrests stem from an FBI investigation that began in 2007 into alleged criminal rings in the United States.
No doubt Congress will want the US to “Catch up with the rest of the world”
Overseeing Surveillance - Lessons from the UK Experience?
In a previous post I pointed out the remarkable lack of transparency in the oversight of surveillance in Ireland. This has become all the more worrying since July when the remit of this oversight system was extended (by the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009) beyond telephone tapping and data retention to include also the planting of covert audio bugs, video cameras and gps trackers. In effect, the Designated Judge has now been given (by ad hoc extensions of his role) oversight of most forms of surveillance - with public accountability in respect of this oversight remaining limited to a single page annual report. [That says: “Looks Okay to me!” Bob]
Two recently published documents from the UK illustrate a better model of oversight.
Read more on IT Law in Ireland.
For all you “Ubiquitous Surveillers” Now you can run a UAV inside your own home! Check on Grandpa! Make sure the kids are studying! See what the wife's making for dinner!
Robo-copter can navigate inside your home
by Tim Hornyak August 14, 2009 1:20 PM PDT
Just when you were getting used to the idea of unmanned aerial vehicles patrolling the skies over your city, they're beginning to enter buildings.
This flying robot designed by a U.S.-German team recently won a contest in which the goal was to autonomously navigate inside a simulated nuclear power plant and find and image a control panel without the aid of a GPS.
Disclaimer! I am not recommending this hack! I merely point out that certain individuals (some of them my students) would find it quite amusing to hijack a politician's home computer (or one belonging to their children), download this collection, and then rat them out to the RIAA.
The Pirate Bay Still Hasn’t Gone Legit, Still Enjoys Poking Big Media in the Eye: The “$675,000 Mixtape”
by Peter Kafka Posted on August 14, 2009 at 6:00 AM PT
A reminder of the site’s outlaw status is splashed up on the site’s front page right now, in the form of a feature promoting “DJ Joel’s $675,000 Mixtape,” which is supposedly “Approved by the RIAA,” the U.S. lobbying/litigating arm of the big music labels.
It’s not approved by the RIAA, of course. Instead, the feature steers visitors to a page that where they can illegally download 30 songs that just cost grad student Joel Tenenbaum $675,000. That’s the amount a federal jury decided he owed the RIAA after being found guilty of copyright violations for sharing the tunes via a filesharing network.
I should have seen this coming. We could have started a “Build you own Broadband” franchise, and sold do-it-yourself kits to anyone stuck in areas monopolized by 'do nothing' providers...
Major Carriers Shun Broadband Stimulus
Posted by Soulskill on Friday August 14, @07:10PM from the why-risk-their-monopolies dept.
jmcharry sends word that as the deadline looms for requesting broadband grants from the $4.7 billion available in stimulus funding, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are conspicuously absent from the list of applicants. Quoting the Washington Post: "Their reasons are varied. All three say they are flush with cash, enough to upgrade and expand their broadband networks on their own. Some say taking money could draw unwanted scrutiny of business practices and compensation, as seen with automakers and banks that have taken government bailouts. And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule that they say would prevent them from managing traffic on their networks in the way they want. ... Yet those firms might be the best positioned to achieve the goal of spreading Internet access to underserved areas, some experts say." Reader Michael_Curator notes that while the major carriers may be holding back, there were still enough applications to slow government servers to a crawl, resulting in a deadline extension.
You know a technology has arrives when... I like it! The Old Sargents I knew were always saying “Here's how it really works...”
Army Asks Its Personnel to Wikify Field Manuals
Posted by Soulskill on Friday August 14, @08:06PM from the now-adding-wikify-to-the-spellchecker-and-sighing dept.
Hugh Pickens writes
"The NY Times reports that the Army began encouraging its personnel — from the privates to the generals — to go online and collaboratively rewrite seven of the field manuals that give instructions on all aspects of Army life, using the same software behind Wikipedia. The goal, say the officers behind the effort, is to tap more experience and advice from battle-tested soldiers rather than relying on the specialists within the Army's array of colleges and research centers, who have traditionally written the manuals. 'For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in this wiki,' said Col. Charles J. Burnett, the director of the Army's Battle Command Knowledge System. 'The only ones who could write doctrine were the select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.' Under the three-month pilot program, the current version of each guide can be edited by anyone around the world who has been issued an ID card that allows access to the Army Internet system. Reaction so far from the rank and file has been tepid, but the brass is optimistic; even in an open-source world, soldiers still know how to take an order."
What's in it for them?
Google and Microsoft: The Battle Over College E-Mail
By Jeremy Caplan Friday, Aug. 14, 2009
… Google now manages e-mail for more than 2,000 colleges and universities, enabling students to transform accounts capped at 100 mb into Google-managed inboxes that allow for 70 times as much mail. Microsoft also provides free Web-based mail for thousands of schools, including colleges in 86 countries.
Study: Twitter is 40 percent 'pointless babble'
by Caroline McCarthy August 14, 2009 12:54 PM PDT
Surprise! A full 40.5 percent of posts on Twitter--or tweets, as they're called--can be classified as "pointless babble," according to a new study from Pear Analytics. Coming in second was "conversational," which the company says makes up 37.55 of all tweets.
There's some interesting stuff in there. Despite some Twitter critics' insistence that the microblogging service is loaded with self-promoters, Pear Analytics only classified 5.85 percent of tweets as "self promotion."
The other categories were "news" (3.6 percent), "spam" (also lower than I'd expect, at 3.75 percent), and "pass-along value" (8.7 percent).
The persistence of viral videos. (Business Model: Offer a “sponsored” upload option for amateur videos so that IF your video goes viral, it is already “wrapped” in an advertising package. Give creators 90% of the profits and everyone will upload through you.)
YouTube's Back-Catalog Amateur Content KILLS Pro Content
Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week
by Simon Dumenco Published: August 14, 2009
… What's it all mean? Funny toddlers and dorky dancing couples in all their non-monetizable glory will live forever -- draining money (for server costs) from YouTube/Google's coffers until the end of time. Because people will never, ever tire of them. Ever!
What don't you like about your browser? Here's a guy who can see how to fix any shortcoming you can think of...
Netscape Founder Backs New Browser
Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Friday August 14, @05:27PM from the making-web-development-harder dept.
wirelessjb writes to share that after a resounding defeat at the hands of Microsoft in the first major browser war of the mid 1990s, Marc Andreessen is looking to have another go at the market by backing a new startup called "RockMelt."
"Mr. Andreessen suggested the new browser would be different, saying that most other browsers had not kept pace with the evolution of the Web, which had grown from an array of static Web pages into a network of complex Web sites and applications. 'There are all kinds of things that you would do differently if you are building a browser from scratch,' Mr. Andreessen said. RockMelt was co-founded by Eric Vishria and Tim Howes, both former executives at Opsware, a company that Mr. Andreessen co-founded and then sold to Hewlett-Packard in 2007 for about $1.6 billion. Mr. Howes also worked at Netscape with Mr. Andreessen."
[From the article:
After Microsoft defeated Netscape, it controlled more than 90 percent of the browser market. Interest in browsers among technology companies waned and innovation ground to a halt. But in the last 18 months, the Internet browser has become a battleground again with giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft fighting one another.
The renewed interest in browsers is partly a result of the success of Mozilla, a nonprofit. The speedier, safer and more innovative Mozilla Firefox browser, introduced in 2004, has grabbed 23 percent of the market, and Microsoft’s share has dropped to 68 percent.
… Another browser, Flock, based on Firefox, already incorporates feeds from social networking sites.
Just in time for my Advanced Algebra class! (Anything to amuse my students)
A Mathematical Model For a Spreading Zombie Infestation
Posted by Soulskill on Friday August 14, @10:04PM from the integrating-by-parts dept.
"What do you do when zombies attack? Turn to a mathematician to come up with a model for the spread of a zombie infestation, of course! Students at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have published a paper in a book titled Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress detailing how to model the spread of a zombie population and various complications in managing the spread of the infestation. They even give humans a fighting chance in some cases! The original paper (PDF) can be found at their professor's website."
[A comment points to an online zombie simulation: http://kevan.org/proce55ing/zombies/