VnutZ's Articles, Page 11 of 72
Don’t pay her! If only it were that funny. In advance of the President’s intended trip to Columbia for the Summit of the Americas, Secret Service agents were conducting routine security surveys. This time around, that routine included soliciting a number of Columbian prostitutes (legal there) and then deciding not to pay them. The party included a slew of agents ranging from junior to senior ranks and allegedly military members as well. They likely would have been able to party hard without notice until one prostitute refused to leave the hotel claiming she was owed money causing the hotel manager to contact the police.
Only a few short days ago, Microsoft received some heat over hacker claims that user credit card information could be gleaned from old XBox systems. The concern is that hard drive based consoles are not designed with security in mind and have numerous files and locations where cached data may still contain personal, private and financial information. It has recently come to light the US Navy has contracted out a requirement to obtain similar information from used consoles (foreign of course) in order to collect potential intelligence from targets playing video games. After all, the gaming systems provide an excellent platform for communicating with cohorts across vast distances and logs may contain those details. The actual SOW can be viewed if desired.
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton recently made a statement about on-line comment sections, “The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership — that’s a joke.” In his speech at SXSW, Denton discussed the failures of the Internet to achieve the Utopia of collective, constructive commenting to the point that most people simply ignore them altogether. While smaller sites are able to thematically maintain a semblance of comment quality, observation on blogs hosted by Gawker provided evidence that with growth comes riff-raff that requires attentive moderation to control. In the case of mainstream media, spam reduction and anti-trolling are too time consuming to be worth the effort considering the limited value add from the accepted comments.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.