pigrabbitbear writes: In the chaos that immediately follows a terrorist attack, there may be only one certainty: the incident has been documented by dozens, if not hundreds of cameras. At a large public gathering like the Boston Marathon, there are thousands of eyes: solitary recordings from closed circuit television video, TV broadcasters, and civilian mobile devices that generate reams and reams of footage of potential suspects.
After gaining access to that data—the FBI asked anyone in the area of Monday's bombing to turn over photographs and video—it falls to weary investigators to analyze that footage, from all directions at once, in search of a common thread. Somewhere inside Boston's amateur footage and CCTV video (there are 600 CCTV cameras covering the subway system alone), the FBI managed to point at the two men now thought to be the perpetrators.
But as authorities have discovered during more than a decade of urban terrorist attacks, scouring through what is thought to be the thousands of hours of video taken in the minutes surrounding any incident is a logistical nightmare. But that could change with CoSync, a piece of software under development, it turns out, at an MIT lab not far where one of the suspects shot and killed a campus police officer Thursday night.
Now, a big question raised during the Christopher Dorner manhunt was whether or not a lethal drone strike on a US citizen on US soil would be legal. Attorney General Eric Holder has just commented on that matter, and while it would allegedly require war-like circumstances, he certainly didn't rule it out."
pigrabbitbear writes: "It's rare to see things flying outside your airplane window. A far off craft, a flock of birds — whatever else is zooming through the clouds at high speeds is going to feel a little dangerous. So when an Alitalia pilot made his final approach to New York's JFK airport on Monday afternoon, he was certainly startled to see another little plane flying near by. Here's an excerpt of the resulting talk with the air traffic controller:
JFK controller: Uh, what did you see?
Alitalia pilot: We saw a drone, a drone aircraft
JFK controller: What altitude did you see that aircraft?
Alitalia pilot: About 1,500 feet.
Within an hour, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a request for the public's help in finding the drone's operator. To the bureau's credit, they chose not to repeat the Alitalia pilot's "drone" designation, choosing instead to go with the slightly less militaristic "unmanned aircraft." Nobody called it a "model airplane."
The FBI is still looking for the miniature UFO. "The FBI is investigating the incident and looking to identify and locate the aircraft and its operator," reads a press release. "The unnamed aircraft was described as black in color and no more than three feet wide with four propellers.""
pigrabbitbear writes: "We writers and bloggers all know a little something about living “on the alms-basket of words” these days. In the quick-fire media world, where complex ideas have little time for gestation, where speed is paramount and poetry a vain and distant hope, we rely on trendy syntax and pop signifiers to communicate quickly—to signal to our audience that we’re “one of them.” It’s about being frictionless.
pigrabbitbear writes: "Areva, the French nuclear fuel company, helps supply Japan with a lot of its juice. And Areva's chief executive says that Japan is going to restart up to six reactors by the end of the year. Eventually, it's going to power up at least two thirds of them. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been a little cagey, but he recently told the press that yes, despite the upcoming March 11th anniversary of the Fukushima crisis, the nuke plants are coming back online.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that "half a dozen reactors may restart by the end of this year in addition to the two that resumed operations in 2012." Luc Oursel, the Areva CEO, said at a press conference that “I think two-thirds of reactors will restart” within several years. This is probably a good thing:
First, consider Japan's alternative: loads of coal, oil, and gas power. Japan has been importing fossil fuels to make up for the lost supply; burning all of the above pumps out climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, Japan is entertaining plans to build 12.5 gigawatts worth of coal-fired power. That would be a disaster in climate terms. Eventually, solar and wind could feasibly pick up the slack, but it takes years to build out that kind of infrastructure."
Called CleanSpace One, the monster has been dubbed the "janitor satellite." It's been designed to match a defunct satellite's orbital plane, grip it with a giant mechanical claw, and pull it back down into the Earth's atmosphere. Both satellites would then burn up upon reentry.
The Swiss scientists hope to launch CleanSpace One on its trial mission in under five years. The first target is the Swisscube, Switzerland's first working satellite, which was put into orbit in 2009, and completed its imaging mission in 2011. Even though the first CleanSpace One will disintegrate upon re-entry, the Swiss are planning a whole family of space janitors. Eventually, they may be able to dispose more than one satellite at a time."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Move over, Dr. Mario? Turns out budding surgeons are playing games to develop a steady hand. To wit: A group of post-graduate medical students in Rome who participated in a recent month-long program using the Nintendo Wii went on to earn higher scores in surgical simulators relating to laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery compared to students who did not use the Wii."
pigrabbitbear writes: "The Senate Judiciary Committee opened its doors this week for an emotional hearing about gun violence, gun control and, specifically, a ban on 157 different types of assault rifles. What exactly an assault rifle is has been a source of debate, but the proposed ban defines them as having having "military-style" features like detachable magazines, pistol grips, and even the capacity to be used as grenade or rocket launchers.
Introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein in the days after the Newtown massacre, the ban is especially controversial, because it includes America's favorite rifle: the AR-15. That's one of the guns that Adam Lanza used when he killed 20 first graders and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
According to Defense Distributed, the website is getting about 3,000 unique visitors a day. That's not exactly Facebook-sized traffic, but it is about as big as eBay India. And DEFCAD is sort of like eBay, in a way. It's one big store that lets people upload and download files for 3D printing guns. So far about a quarter of a million files have been downloaded. "Obviously, there’s an interest in what we’re doing," Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Venturebeat. "Enthusiasts want these files.""
pigrabbitbear writes: "Everywhere you look these days, there's someone taking a picture, whether it be some buffoon Instagramming the sidewalk or Google's airplanes. Plus, now we've got these newfangled drone things, which are shockingly good at capturing images from the air, and which are now well within the reach of citizens and governments alike. Neal Kurk, a Republican member of New Hampshire's House of Representatives knows that those drones present a growing privacy concern, and in response has introduced a bill that would ban all aerial photography in the state. That is, unless you're working for the government.
The bill, HB 619-FN (PDF), is blessedly short, and I suggest reading the whole thing for yourself. But here's the key opening paragraphs, courtesy PetaPixel:
IV-a. A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.
Paragraphs I [and], II and IV-a shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel, nor are [they] intended to limit employees of governmental agencies or other entities, public or private, who, in the course and scope of their employment and supported by articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Look outside of your window: if you see miles of farmland, chances are you have terrible internet service. That’s because major telecommunications companies don’t think it’s worth the investment to bring high-speed broadband to sparsely populated areas. But like most businesses, farms increasingly depend on the internet to pay bills, monitor the market and communicate with partners. In the face of a sluggish connection, what's a group of farmers to do?
That’s what the people of Lancashire, England, are doing. Last year, a coalition of local farmers and others from the northwestern British county began asking local landowners if they could use their land to begin laying a brand-new community-owned high-speed network, sparing them the expense of tearing up roads. Then, armed with shovels and backhoes, the group, called Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN (it's pronounced "barn"), began digging the first of what will be approximately 180,000 meters of trenches and filling them with fiber-optic cable, all on its own."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Would you be willing to let Google take over more of your life? Google thinks so: It's rumored to be creating a subscription-based streaming service that would undoubtedly give Spotify a run for its money. The details are sparse right now, but an anonymous source told Bloomberg that "negotiations are under way with major record labels to license their music.""