Monday, April 23, 2012

Only politicians can speak “as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Obama to target foreign nationals’ use of new technologies in human rights abuses
April 23, 2012 by Dissent
Scott Wilson reports:
President Obama will issue an executive order Monday that will allow U.S. officials for the first time to impose sanctions against foreign nationals found to have used new technologies, from cellphone tracking to Internet monitoring, to help carry out grave human rights abuses.
Read more on The Washington Post.
The executive order will be announced today while around the country, civil libertarians’ irony meters will be soaring as we think about domestic surveillance-related abuses. And what will Congress do about American companies that are supplying the technology to these foreign nationals and entities? Will they dare limit commerce or will lobbyists prevail again?

Because we have been unable to do it manually? Now we will auto-magically match your picture to the barcodes on your boarding pass, ensuring perfect security! No one will ever fly again!
"Last year, a Nigerian man boarded a plane from N.Y. to L.A. using an invalid ID and a boarding pass issued to another person. A week later he was caught again with 10 expired boarding passes. In response to this and similar events, the Transportation Security Administration has begun testing a new system at Washington's Dulles International Airport that verifies an air traveler's identity by matching photo IDs to boarding passes and ensures that boarding passes are authentic. The test will soon be expanded to Houston and Puerto Rico."
[From the article:
CAT/BPSS is designed to detect fake boarding passes and falsified IDs. The scanner compares machine-readable and human-readable data [If I can fake one, I can fake both Bob] from a traveler's ID with the boarding pass and verifies that neither has been altered. The system can be used with boarding passes printed on a PC or issued by the airlines, or paperless boarding passes sent to passengers' mobile devices.

I always wondered what happened to the company that advertised “X-Ray Specs!!!” on the back page of comic books. No doubt TSA will want the 'industrial strength' floor model for an extra million or so each...
Chip could let smartphones see through walls -- and clothes
… Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas have designed an imaging chip that measures invisible terahertz light waves that is small enough to fit on a smartphone and inexpensive enough that normal people could actually afford to buy one.
Terahertz waves can be detected through opaque surfaces such as paper, walls and clothing -- enabling a person with an accurate terahertz measuring device to see beyond what our visible eye can see.

Nothing to it! We just run down to Drones-R-Us and grab all the parts we need.
"Iran's military has started to build a copy of a U.S. surveillance drone captured last year after breaking the software encryption, Iranian media reported on Sunday. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, said engineers were in the final stages of decoding data from the Sentinel aircraft, which came down in December near the Afghan border, Mehr news agency reported."

Business is good!
Disappearing Net Names Hint at Amazon Data Center Expansion
Amazon may be expanding the worldwide network of data centers underpinning its massively popular cloud service, adding new facilities in Hong Kong and Sydney, according to clues hidden in a handful of obscure internet records.
… Currently, it operates computing facilities near Washington, San Francisco, Portland, San Paolo, Dublin, Singapore, and Tokyo. But it’s typically tight-lipped about where it plans to expand next.
… The Amazon subsidiary is now a billion-dollar business that plays a role in about one percent of all internet’s traffic. It’s growing at a rate of 30 percent a year, and all signs indicate that it will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

Tools for web researchers?
Hopper is a very simple website that does one thing, and it does it in the quickest, easiest way possible. Basically, it allows users to copy and paste anything into a box, and save it for later access. You can drag and drop files, or copy an image, and it will be in your Hopper when you need to come back to it.
You can try the service out without doing anything, but if you want your stuff to carry across different computers, you will need to make an account. [It's free Bob]

… The fact is that an ever increasing number of people are abandoning “traditional journalism” in favour of getting their news from online social media. The two big bad boys in this neighborhood are of course Facebook and Twitter, who have been responsible for breaking some of the biggest news stories of the past few years.

Local “global education” provider... (Boulder)
SparkFun Electronics Unveils a New Education Site
The folks over at SparkFun Electronics, one of my favorite go-to places for parts, inspiration, and cool stuff, have unveiled a new education website. The site is already stocked with a great set of materials in the curriculum area with other areas, such as tutorials and and events, marked as coming soon.
[From the Learn website:
Our goal is to create fun and hands-on ways of helping people learn skills that will last a lifetime. We love to watch people invent innovative projects and hope our site will offer some help along the way.

What would you do with a million dollars?
Kickstarting Education
… I love that anyone can come up with an idea and put up a page, explaining their project and asking for funding. Backers can pick projects based on their own merits (and personal tastes) rather than relying on what some company exec has decided people will buy. It allows people to sell to the long tail, and it helps creative folks figure out whether or not there’s actually a market for their big idea.
… Of course, Kickstarter is pretty big business these days. In 2011 nearly $100 million* was pledged, and I can imagine it’s only going to keep growing, at least in the immediate future. Musicians, filmmakers, board game designers, actors, painters, illustrators, writers … the list of folks who have benefited from Kickstarter is huge. If only we could add “teachers” to that list.

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