Articles, Page 12 of 206
A new study released by the University of British Columbia’s psychology department is definitively showing a widening delta between intuitive and analytic thinkers when it comes to religious belief. Even more interesting, as highly devout subjects are pushed into analytic thinking modes, their level of belief begins to diminish noticeably. Will Gervais, the leading researcher states, “Our goal was to explore the fundamental question of why people believe in a God to different degrees.” They intend to follow-up the study with experiments to determine the lasting effects of the diminished belief or how long the mind remains in its analytic mode vice the intuitive mode. Associate Professor Ara Norenzayan adds, “Our findings suggest that activating the ‘analytic’ cognitive system in the brain can undermine the ‘intuitive’ support for religious belief, at least temporarily.” The full article was published in Science (requires subscription).
Supply chain security has been a hot topic of late, particularly with regards to America’s dependence on IT infrastructure manufactured overseas. Lately, reports haven’t pulled any punches in alluding to Chinese involvement in surreptitiously compromising equipment destined for the United States. Although the source has not been confirmed, Hewlett Packard ProCurve 5400 zl Switches have been identified as having shipped to customers with infected compact flash cards. Only particular batches of serial numbers after April 30, 2011 are amongst the infected lot. The malware does not have an impact on the switch itself but is believed to target PCs once a user removes the card from the switch and transfers it to a regular machine. The security announcement from Hewlett Packard can be viewed here.
Only a few short days ago, Iran announced its Ministry of Oil was subjected to a cyber attack and successfully repelled it. Reports vary with regard to the target, some indicate the attack seemed to center around the National Iranian Oil Company’s primary servers where it was detected and mitigated while others indicate it affected the control systems of Kharg Island where most of Iran’s oil exports are handled. Having established a Supreme Council of Cyberspace after the Stuxnet worm ravaged the Iranian nuclear program, their response team shut down external network access to the oil ministry and various refineries for a period of three days. Presently, the Iranians claim no damage was incurred and no data was exfiltrated, “This cyber attack has not damaged the main data of the oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) since the general servers are separate from the main servers, even their cables are not linked to each other and are not linked to internet service.” Another spokesman indicated that user data had been compromised but ultimately oil production was not affected. It’s no surprise the Iranians are in such a hurry to create a national Internet, severing themselves from the global Internet for both infrastructure security and population control.
So awhile back, I bought one of these LG BX580 BluRay players because I wanted to simplify my media experience with an all-in-one disc/network player. I really didn’t think anything of it since the player did exactly what it was supposed to do. But in light of recent articles bringing up the inherent security risks associated with appliances – Government Console Hacking, Firmware Attacks on Printers and Your TV Will Be Hacked – I decided to take a quick look at the device.
According to a report from Alarabiya.net, Egypt is currently debating several bills to move the country toward a more fundamentalist version of Islamic rule. One law will legalize marriage of girls starting from age 14 and another, strangely (at least to this westerner), allows a husband to engage in intercourse with his wife for up to six hours after her death (clearly a cause worth fighting for). Yet another is looking to strip women of divorce rights in the country.
An Egyptian MP, Dr. Mervat al-Talawi, head of the National Council for Women, is appealing the approval of the bills in light of “the woes of Egyptian women, especially after the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.”
The service academies are in the news again, but this time it’s not for sports rivalry or academic value. Rape is the soup du jour, with allegations and lawsuits against both West Point and the Naval Academy. It’s obvious that such allegations are of a serious nature, but it is somewhat ridiculous for the plaintiffs to hold “personally responsible” (as per the article) the former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the former superintendents of the two academies and the current secretaries of the Army and Navy. The story indicates an overly pervasive culture of alcohol pressure and a hostile chain of command to which one could report sexual misconduct.
Watching a few of those old sit coms on cable the other day I was struck by how unfunny I now regarded shows that I thought were hilarious when they were new. The canned laughter seemed to be in the wrong places, and soon became so grating that I soon had to concede that I should no longer seek entertainment in that form.
Reflecting on this in bed, I wondered whether it is my sense of humour that has changed, or is it America’s, or am I imagining this and nothing has changed? So, giving up on sleep, I turned on the TV and on came the Letterman Show. The crowd goes wild as he enters the theatre and the whistles and screams continue as he attempts to get out his opening one-liners. I pay close attention to his words and it is all I can do to find some mild irony or satire, certainly insufficient to raise a smile in me. But the signs are clearly urging the audience to applaud because Dave is getting an ovation that would do credit to an opera star. I turn off the TV and sink into a depressing reflection that I have grown into an old fart who no longer shares the mainstream sense of humour.
Music I purchased in the first quarter of 2012:
- Asking Alexandria – Reckless and Relentless
- Blackout, The – Best in Town
- Classic Crime, The – Acoustic EP: Seattle Sessions
- Day to Remember, A – What Separates Me from You
- Demon Hunter – The World Is a Thorn
- Distillers, The – Coral Feng – Not quite as much angst on this one, but still top-notch (and slightly poppy) punk.
- Four Year Strong – Enemy of the World
- Joy Formidable, The – The Big Roar
- Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
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.
@This thought came to my mind while reading an article on zdnet.com, about the best available personal cloud sources and the amount of free space each of these vendors provide customers to woo them.
Is it worth the time and effort for someone to use these free cloud storages from each vendor and accumulate quite an amount of free storage sufficient for an average user with loads of pictures and home videos? Are there already any such tools out there that can do this for a user, handling login to all of these clouds from one desktop client and managing the files across different clouds?
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: