VnutZ's Articles, Page 10 of 71

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08 Apr 12

Terrafugia Flying Car

Doesn’t everybody want a flying car? A prototype from Terrafugia is getting closer than ever to releasing a model to the public. The vehicle runs on regular gas, gets 35mpg on the ground and burns 5 gallons per hour in the air at a speed of 115 mph. It’s going to run buyers more than a quarter million to own one if released next year as planned. Currently, the vehicle is undergoing safety tests for it’s road worthiness. Considering how poorly people drive already, should we really allow regular folks the ability to fly?

05 Apr 12

Google's Augmented Reality Glasses

Augmented Reality is a popular buzzword technology for many smartphone applications to incorporate as a novelty. To achieve this, you point the camera at something and internal GPS and orientation sensors “know” what you’re looking at and overlay information about the subject onto the live picture. Many people play with those features, comment how neat it is and then never use it again. That may change if Google’s recently announced augmented reality research project launches. Unlike the smartphone approach, Google wants you to wear their glasses which render floating tips, maps and other information into a small window before your eye based on whatever you’re looking at. Watch the included video from Google+ for a demonstration:

28 Mar 12

Deep Sea Challenge

It’s been a half century since humans have been to the deepest part of the planet, the Pacific Ocean’s Marianas Trench at a depth of 35,797 feet. It’s only two visitors included Jacques Piccard and Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh in the Trieste Bathyscaphe. That lonely company has increased by one with the addition of James Cameron, famous and rich for his movies such as Terminator 2, Titanic and Avatar, as part of the Deep Sea Challenge. After a 2.5 hour descent, Cameron spent a few hours in the deep exploring before ascending. The extreme pressures at the depth reach 16,000 psi and actually shrunk the diving craft by nearly three inches. Prior to his descent, Cameron commented, “Yeah, of course I’m worried. Worry is a good thing when you’re an explorer. I think when you’re cavalier, when you take risk for granted—that’s when you’re going to get bitten.” Before making the dive, he put the craft through its paces with a test at 26,000 feet (about 10,000 shallower) with former Trieste driver Walsh advising him.

28 Mar 12

Bounty Hunting on the Playing Field

In a slight deviation from the normal topics of discussion, how about a segue into sports? It’s hard to not hear about the New Orleans Saints and the bounty hunting scandal currently rocking the NFL. If you’ve been under a rock, players were essentially offered monetary bonuses for physically taking out other players. The scandal has reached such epic proportions as to have a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing called over the matter. While the ethical and sportsmanship issues are undeniable, the revelation makes one ponder what this says about America as a whole.

27 Mar 12

Really? You're Paying for AIR!!

Sometimes, I’m really impressed by how marketing gurus can completely exploit the common man’s stupidity. Have you ever seen the Hershey’s Air Delight commercials on TV? They’re the ones that show you their typical chocolate products infused with air (they call them chocolate bubbles) to make a lighter, lower calorie snack. Depending on the sales location, an aerated bar can cost 15 cents more than its non-aerated predecessor. Even cost-per-ounce comparisons show consumers spend more on the overall chocolate in aerated versions. You … Are … Paying … For … AIR!!

I see an arbitrage opportunity in buying up “stock” Hershey bars, melting them down and blasting the gooey mess with an air compressor before selling it back to gluttonous Americans everywhere.

26 Mar 12

North Korean Space Rocket

Those silly North Koreans are at it again. As per usual, the north is rattling its rhetoric sword on the heels of the annual RSO&I exercises in South Korea. This time, their stated intention to launch a space rocket is being met with the expected skepticism from the rest of the world. First of all, North Korea has demonstrated absolute ineptitude at firing long range missiles before so the ability to conduct a space launch is next to impossible. Secondly, the timing is such that as the scheduled nuclear summit is to take place in Seoul, the DPRK is more or less conducting a ballistic missile test in violation of previous agreements with the United States for aid. President Obama remarked, “There will be no rewards for provocations. Those days are over …. To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you. This is the decision that you must make. Today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea.”

24 Mar 12

Australia Bans Huawei

The Americans are not the only country concerned with Chinese electronics gaining ground in their infrastructure. Add the Australian government to the list of concerned nations beginning to be more open about their distrust by blatantly advising that Huawei devices be excluded from contract bidding. Huawei is certainly gaining ground in the worldwide market, penetrating into nearly industry and country globally. In a released statement:

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is the largest nation-building project in Australian history, and it will become the backbone of Australia’s information infrastructure. As such, and as a strategic and significant Government investment, we have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect its integrity and that of the information carried on it. This is consistent with the government’s practice for ensuring the security and resilience of Australia’s critical infrastructure more broadly.

12 Mar 12

Hypothetical Chinese Cyberattack Outlined

The Chinese are the pre-eminent adversary in the minds of most cyber threat alarmists. In the past six months, they’ve been called out for industrial espionage and accused of embedding backdoors into commercial routers. Now, in a report by Northrup Grumman (pdf) for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, several scenarios are spelled out explicitly detailing how known and suspected Chinese accesses into United States infrastructure will be used in what is called “paralysis warfare”. Looking only from a military lens, the ability to stymie logistical trains utilizing unclassified infrastructure will cripple nearly all long term military operations. The impact on non-combatants remains unclear but bleak.

09 Mar 12

Google+ Less Active than MySpace

Anybody remember MySpace? Despite the growing number of chirping crickets in MySpace’s corner of the Internet, they’re still drawing more traffic than Google+. Several months ago, Google+ had already hemorrhaged more than half of it’s userbase. Google’s executives may tout the more than 90 million registered Google+ users, but one must consider simply having a Google account can equate to having a Google+ profile. A large number of developers, to include the much hated but endlessly popular Zynga, indicate quite simply that Google+ doesn’t have the activity base to be worth their development time.

28 Feb 12

Distracted Driving

Despite each driver individually thinking they personally have it under control, distracted driving continues to be a problem. Studies have shown the awareness impact of cell phone use while driving can be as significant (and sometimes more so) than driving drunk. The NTSB has harped about the problem for years with their message culminating in a request to ban all electronic devices from cars. While the probable course of action has not gone down that route, the government is proposing the free market correct itself with voluntary measures to disable devices or advanced features within range of the driver.

27 Feb 12

Commercial Drones Coming To You

The skies over America will soon be buzzing with corporate drones. The Senate recently approved a bill pulling back FAA restrictions on commerical drones. Previously only hobbyists and law enforcement were allowed to fly the vehicles. Its easy to think of utility drone use by commercial entitites – disaster relief, emergency response, search and rescue or infrastructure monitoring. But privacy pundits are waving flags regarding the paparazzi’s use of drones or company’s tracking people for data collection purposes.

21 Feb 12

John Nash Letters Declassified

A short while ago, the National Geographic Channel aired a one hour special on the NSA, the first time cameras had been allowed into the facility since 9/11. At the end of the program, historians at the NSA’s Cryptologic Museum declassified 60 year old letters from John Nash to the agency. Average people will recognize that name as the subject of A Beautiful Mind. The letters themselves go into detail about cipher systems based on computational complexity as the key to future cryptography. His theories essentially predate most published concepts on such cryptographic systems by nearly two decades.

20 Feb 12

Violin Social Experiment

Most people seem to think of street performers as poor artists trying to eek out a living. In 2008, the Washington Post set out to prove just how little people really paid attention to public performances by enlisting the help of Joshua Bell, one of the world’s top violinists. Armed with a multi-million dollar Stradivarius from 1713, Bell performed in the L’Enfant Plaza subway station and played a variety of pieces for 43 minutes to include Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chaconne. As one of the world’s foremost musicians playing one of the most challenging pieces on a priceless instrument … he made $32.17 while passed by nearly everyone at rush hour. The experiment eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for its exposure of our collective, artistic ignorance.

16 Feb 12

Future of OSX

Apple’s next iteration of OS X is named Mountain Lion and developer releases show a convergence of the mobile iOS platform and the legacy desktop edition. As per usual, a number of APIs are added and applications updated though Mountain Lion introduces a new security tool called Gatekeeper allowing users to enforce execution rights based on an application’s origin. Additionally, Apple continued with its typical policy of abandoning older hardware where only the following platforms are expected to run Mountain Lion:

16 Feb 12

Key Generation Weakness

RSA’s public key algorithms (pdf) pretty much runs the Internet’s security and is found everywhere from SSL to SSH. The strength of the system relies upon the computational improbability of an attacker being able to factor down to two large primes. Consumer grade devices, unfortunately, lack the appropriate levels of entropy from which to seed random number generation resulting in number duplication. In a brute force study where researchers scraped literally every public IP on the Internet to grab all discoverable public keys whereupon they “manually verified that 59,000 duplicate keys were repeated due to entropy problems, representing 1% of all certificates, or 2.6% of self-signed certificates” and “also found that 585,000 certificates, or 4.6% of all devices used the default certificates pre-installed on embedded devices.” The full study itself (pdf) goes into mathematical detail on their process for analyzing weak key generation sequences and factoring predictable sequences to derive private keys.

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