Muad'Dave writes: An interesting article about the prevalence of surveillance and the recent uptick in 'deja-vu' moments where devices seemingly hear your conversations and then attempt to market to you.
Muad'Dave writes: The National Reconnaissance Office is set to reveal details of two of the cold war's most capable spy satellite programs on September 17th — the GAMBIT and HEXAGON projects, aka the keyhole KH-7, -8, and -9 satellites. These bus-sized sats provided critical imagery during the height of the cold war, and were likely the inspiration for the movie "Ice Station Zebra".
The article links midway down the first page provide a fascinating look into the world of real spy-vs-spy, cloak-and-dagger intelligence gathering.
Muad'Dave writes: The US Air Force's secret X-37B orbiter landed at Vandenberg AFB early this morning. Amateur satellite watchers determined the orbit and detected several orbital maneuvers. From the press release:
30th Space Wing Public Affairs
12/3/2010 — VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The U.S. Air Force's first unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 1:16 a.m. today.
The X-37B, named Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1), conducted on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. It fired its orbital maneuver engine in low-earth orbit to perform an autonomous reentry before landing.
The X-37B is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO), the X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.
"Today's landing culminates a successful mission based on close teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, Boeing and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office," said Lt Col Troy Giese, X-37B program manager from the AFRCO. "We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission."
OTV-1's de-orbit and landing mark the transition from the on-orbit demonstration phase to a refurbishment phase for the program.
The Air Force is preparing to launch the next X-37B, OTV-2, in Spring 2011 aboard an Atlas V booster.
Muad'Dave writes: "NASA is expected to make an announcement Thursday (Dec. 2) about a new scientific finding that 'will impact the search for extraterrestrial life,' the space agency said in a statement." Has NASA found ET, or just an exoplanet that looks promising? Maybe they found a fossil on Mars...
Muad'Dave writes: This evening I picked up my regular prescriptions at my local Target pharmacy. As I was paying for them, the cashier asked to 'see my ID'. That was not typical, but I assumed she was going to verify the photo. Before I could stop her, she flipped it over without looking at the front and scanned the 2D barcode on the back. I asked her why she did that, and her answer was that the system 'required' it.
I went to the customer service desk and asked them why they thought they were entitled to scan my license. Their first answer was that it was a convenient way to validate my birthday, and that was all that was on the 2D barcode. When I mentioned that I know there's more data than that, she then said that it was a convenient way to verify that the ID was present. I mentioned that verifying the presence of an ID required more data than the DOB, and she agreed, contradicting her earlier statement that all they scanned was the DOB.
The is a Federallaw addressing who can and cannot scan licenses, but it's so full of loopholes as to be useless.