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The Military

Mystery 'Missile' Identified As US Airways Flight 808 335

sean.peters writes "The mystery missile discussed on Slashdot Tuesday? It was US Airways 808 from Honolulu to Phoenix. An amateur sleuth checked the time against airline schedules, then the following day, checked out a webcam that was trained in the appropriate direction. He found the exact same contrail at the time AWE808 was coming over. The author deals persuasively with a number of objections to his argument."
The Military

Military Uses 'Bat-Hook' To Tap Power From Lines 282

Zothecula writes "As soldiers are fitted out with more and more electrical sytems to extend their capabilities, they become increasingly dependent on the power needed to run them. Since soldiers in the field don't always have ready access to an electrical outlet when they need to top up the batteries, the US Air Force has developed a device that taps directly into the electricity flowing through overhead power lines ... a kind of bat-hook for real-life superheroes."
Privacy

The Intimate Social Graph 21

jamie tips an article by Slashdot vet Keith Dawson about the uncertain state of privacy protection for one-to-one online communications through social sites and services. Quoting: "The privacy of these communications is protected mainly under a law — ECPA, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — dating from 1986 and crafted for then-existing email (think Compuserve and Prodigy) and emerging cellular networks. This law is an increasingly poor fit for modern and emerging communication modalities. Email stored on servers is treated differently depending on whether or not the user has read a particular message; and messages older than 6 months in storage enjoy different protection than newer messages. In attempting to apply the ECPA to social networking media, courts have interpreted users' privacy rights in a variety of ways. ... One shortcoming of the ECPA is that it does not require email, search engine, cloud computing or social networking sites to report how many requests for private data they get from authorities. Whatever the number, it almost certainly dwarfs the number of real-time online intercepts (wiretap, pen register, and trap and trace orders), for which statistics must be kept."
Input Devices

Apple Patents Directional Flash Tech For Cameras 145

tekgoblin writes "A patent application has surfaced that shows Apple's attempts at creating a new way for a flash to work on a camera. The way the new flash works is very intriguing: a user can select a dimly lit area of the photo and the camera will try to illuminate just that area with the flash. The way Apple is attempting to accomplish this is similar to the way the autofocus works on the iPhone 4 where you can touch the screen in certain areas to focus on that area. Instead you will be able to light up that area with the flash. This is accomplished by the camera flash passing through a 'redirector' so the flash can be placed other than directly centered when a photo is taken."

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