Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday News Roundup (12/09/05)

The bulk of these articles are taken from Gizmodo, Bruce Schneier,Warren Ellis,BoingBoing, Wired News, Future Feeder and John C. Dvorak. I may need to learn enough HTML in order to create HREF tags. I am not a coder, so this is a bit intimidating.


Tell a Doc: 24-Hour Phone Doctors 
DALLAS -- Peter Beasley is a busy man who currently has no health insurance. He's also a customer of TelaDoc Medical Services, a setup that allows him to call an unknown doctor and get medicine prescribed sight unseen.
Within an hour or so of his call to an 800 number, he gets a call from a doctor who discusses his case.
TelaDoc provides its members -- which the company estimates at 30,000 -- with access to a doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
While members like Beasley praise the service as a convenient way to address nagging medical needs at odd hours, others in the health care industry say treating patients without seeing them in person is worrisome, perhaps dangerous. California's medical board is investigating TelaDoc's activities in that state.
TelaDoc chief executive Michael Gorton said the Dallas-based company is merely providing a needed service and is not meant to replace the family physician. The company began offering its services nationwide this year after an earlier test run.
"For the vast majority of Americans, being able to talk to a doctor in an hour is next to impossible," Gorton said. "Our motto is we're there when your normal doctor is not."
TelaDoc subscribers are guaranteed to hear back from a doctor within three hours of their phone call. After paying a registration fee of $18 and completing a medical history, an individual subscriber pays $4.25 a month and a $35 fee per consultation.
Gorton said ailments range from urinary tract infections to strep throat to allergies.
But doctors' groups and medical ethics experts question the notion of putting convenience first.
"Practicing medicine without seeing the patient is still a dangerous thing," said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. "From the doctor's point of view, it's not standard of care."
Dr. Larry S. Fields, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said he doesn't see the benefit of TelaDoc.
"As much as I'd like to put a positive spin on it, most patients can get to their family physicians just as quick by telephone," he said. Establishing a doctor-patient relationship should involve an office visit with a general exam and an ongoing plan for the patient's long-term health, Fields said.
While the American Medical Association doesn't have a specific policy on such services, there are some concerns for the patient, said AMA president Dr. Edward Hill. "Nothing we think can replace the face-to-face with a doctor."
Gorton said that doctors with his network won't hesitate to send patients to an emergency room if their symptoms warrant it. And he notes that many doctors have addressed the needs of unknown patients by handling after-hours phone calls for their colleagues.
He said that there are around 160-170 different medical licenses represented in 50 states with his service, which doesn't treat children under the age of 12.
Five states -- Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi and South Carolina -- require an examination, Gorton said. In those states, he said, patients get bloodwork and have their temperature and blood pressure checked to enable them to use TelaDoc.
The Medical Board of California has opened an investigation into the company. Spokeswoman Candis Cohen said that meeting the requirement of a good faith examination in California includes an in-person visit.
Gorton says he welcomes the scrutiny.
"We expect boards of medical examiners to look into what we're doing and we expect to come out of it squeaky clean," he said.
TelaDoc does not write prescriptions for controlled substances or narcotics. And uninsured patients with chronic medical conditions are limited in their use of the service, according to Gorton.
Beasley, 47, who is starting his own software company in Dallas, has had health insurance on and off for the past two years. He's used TelaDoc for treatment of poison ivy and to get a prescription eye ointment.
"It's certainly not the answer for anything life-threatening," he said. "For people that don't have health care or are in between jobs, I think it's a great add-on."


"Um Yeah...Uh Doc. How do i treat a bullet wound? WAIT! DON"T PUT ME ON HOLD!" This is a positive boon for players of Delta Green, who can now call up a doctor and get the suspicious rash in the shape of a Yellow Sign diagnosed by a professional. Hey, if you've got a camera phone you can even share the love. (Love= San loss)

Europe Has the Hot Hand 
PONTEDERA, Italy -- The metallic fingers close around yours in near-perfect synchrony, then tighten their grip as you try to pull away. For now, it is a computer that orders Cyberhand to greet you at the robotics lab where researchers have spent the past 3 1/2 years creating the first prosthetic hand capable of eliciting natural sensory signals.
If all goes well, researchers say this bionic hand could be implanted on human arms two years from now, its wired joints discreetly covered by a synthetic glove

Cyberhand would allow the maimed to have "the feeling of touching things," says Paolo Dario, the project's coordinator at the Polo Sant'Anna Valdera institute in this central Italian town.
The hand is the fruit of cooperation between six teams working in four European countries -- Italy, Germany, Spain and Denmark. For Dario, it is also an example of Europe's enormous, but still relatively underfunded, potential in the fast-expanding field of robotics.
"We have a network, we know how to work together. We are ready to make a leap ahead," he said.
Financed with $1.8 million from a special European Union fund for emerging technologies, Cyberhand was cited as a success by European Commission officials in October when they appealed to governments and industry to give robotics more financial backing.
Increased funding is essential, they said, if Europe is to exploit robotics' vast economic potential and compete with projects in the United States, Japan, and South Korea.
Each year, the commission and EU nations combined spend $100 million on robotics research. Japan and Korea each spend about the same, while the United States spends up to $500 million -- largely because of the huge demand for military-related robotics, researchers and EU officials say.
In Dario's view, Europe's strength in robotics is in a broad approach that is also perhaps more sensitive to the social and ethical issues raised by the increasing use of robots to help humans with everyday tasks.
The Cyberhand team and other European robotics research groups have been more apprehensive than the Japanese about bringing robotic technology into everyday life, says James L. Patton, a research scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago who has closely followed the Cyberhand project.
"They've been pioneers in launching those considerations: what is an acceptable practice for robots, how do we make robots safe, are they safe, psychologically how will they influence people and their behavior?"
In contrast, several robotics experts said, Japanese projects tend to be showier in hopes of making a media impact and attracting funding.
The Cyberhand team not only has tried to develop a hand that would provide greater grip and control for an amputee, but it also has been concerned about the hand's aesthetics.
Giovanni Stellin, one of the Cyberhand researchers, said many patients were ashamed or self-conscious about using the less sophisticated, pincer-mechanism, prosthetic hands developed after World War II and still on the market.
Cyberhand would be attached to amputees below the elbow and covered by several layers of synthetic material that would seek to copy the features of a natural hand by making the prosthetic replacement soft, compliant, and flexible.
Patton says it represents "the first prosthetic hand that really is fully integrated into the nervous system." Linked to the nerves by tiny electrodes and biomimetic sensors, it would let patients sense the position and movement of the hand as well as stimuli from the outside environment.
Though researchers in the United States have covered similar ground, they have not addressed the problems of electrodes, prosthesis, sensory feedback, control, and processing of commands all together, said Silvestro Micera, a Cyberhand researcher.
That type of teamwork is more likely to flourish in Europe, where technology partners are accustomed to working in transnational consortiums, said Micera.
What remains to be seen, Patton says, is whether the materials used for Cyberhand will be compatible with the human body, how a patient's brain will adapt and how the hand can be powered.
Another project touted by European officials is HYDRA, a project coordinated from Denmark that is developing the world's first shape-shifting robot. It is made up of modules, each containing its own processors, batteries, sensors and actuators, which can attach and detach from each other so the robot can change its physical form.
Such a robot could be used, for example, in relief efforts after an earthquake, said Henrik Hautop Lund, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark and HYDRA's coordinator. Having driven to a site, the robot could transform into a crawler to climb over debris, a snake to get through a hole, or columns to hold up a collapsed building and protect a survivor.
HYDRA has developed 100 modules, and Lund is looking for industrial partners who would invest in manufacturing the robot and put it to use. The project, begun in 2001, has received $2.1 million -- about two-thirds of its total funding -- from the EU.
Like Dario, Lund argues that Europe has an advantage in its more integrated approach to robotics. But he also notes the financial constraints.
Member states have failed to agree in recent months on the EU's 2007-2013 budget, so researchers still don't know how much support they will receive, sparking concern that projects could lose momentum.
"One of the problems Europe has had in its robotics research has been getting it out to market as product," said Ken Young, chairman of the British Automation and Robotics Association.
"While we may have a good research network at (the) academic level, I don't see the big industrial players getting involved to the extent they do in Japan and Korea. Ultimately it is these people who will take it to market and make it a success.... In the EU it strikes me we develop some great technology and then leave it for the rest of the world to pick up and exploit."

So not only are we one step closer to the realm of true cybernetics, but we're angling towards a shmelding on cybernetics and shapeshifting robots. If the politics weren't so fucked up, I'd say that this an exciting time to be alive. Shapeshifting robot limbs with touch recepetors. Fuck! I'd cut off an arm if i could get a new one able to turn into a swiss army knife.


At nearly $400 a pack, these stainless steel playing cards are probably too much to actually own (let alone shuffle). Nevertheless, it gives me great comfort to know that they exist and would cause an almighty kerfuffle at a Transport Security Agency checkpoint.

Have you ever gone from a state of not knowing about a thing, to being completely in lust with it in the space of two seconds? If you loved me my minions, You would see that i get this for christmas, along with the usual whores and whisky.

Sorry. Was channeling Warren Ellis there for a minute.



Wasps Could Replace Bomb, Drug Dogs
By ELLIOTT MINOR, Associated Press WriterSat Dec 3,11:49 AM ET

Trained wasps could someday replace dogs for sniffing out drugs, bombs and bodies. No kidding.

Scientists say a species of non-stinging wasps can be trained in only five minutes and are just as sensitive to odors as man's best friend, which can require up to six months of training at a cost of about $15,000 per dog.

With the use of a handheld device that contains the wasps but allows them to do their work, researchers have been able to use the insects to detect target odors such as a toxin that grows on corn and peanuts, and a chemical used in certain explosives.

"There's a tremendous need for a very flexible and mobile chemical detector," said U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist Joe Lewis, who has been studying wasps since the 1960s. "Our best devices that we have currently are very cumbersome, expensive and highly fragile."

The "Wasp Hound" research by Lewis and University of Georgia agricultural engineer Glen Rains is part of a larger government project to determine if insects and even reptiles or crustaceans could be recruited for defense work. That project has already resulted in scientists refining the use of bees as land-mine detectors.
Through the years, Lewis and a USDA colleague, J.H. Tumlinson, discovered that a tiny, predatory wasp known as microplitis croceipes had relied on odors to locate nectar for food and hosts for its eggs — caterpillars that damage crops.

While they don't sting humans, the female wasps use their stingers to deposit eggs inside caterpillars, producing larvae that eventually kill the caterpillars.
The scientists also discovered that plants being attacked by the caterpillars give off SOS scents to attract the all-black wasps and that the quarter-inch-long insects could be trained to associate other odors with food and prey.

"They have to be good detectors because their whole survival depends on it," Lewis said.

Rains said the wasps can be trained to detect a specific odor very quickly. The researchers expose hungry wasps to the target odor, then let them feed on sugar water for 10 seconds and then give them a one-minute break. After three repetitions of sniffing and feeding, the wasps associate the odor with feeding.
Since the scientists couldn't put leashes on their trained wasps, they needed a way to contain them while monitoring their reactions to odors.

Enter the Wasp Hound — a 10-inch-long plastic cylinder made of PVC pipe with a hole in one end and a small fan on the other. Inside is a Web camera that connects to a laptop computer for monitoring the behavior of five wasps housed in a transparent, ventilated capsule.

When the wasps detect a target odor, they converge around the vent, creating a mass of dark pixels on the computer screen. Otherwise, they just hang out inside the capsule.

They can work for as long as 48 hours, then they're released to live out their remainder of their two-to three-week life span.

"What we have ... is a technology-free organism that you can quickly program and use in a highly mobile way," said Lewis, who believes the Wasp Hound could be used to search for explosives at airports, locate bodies, monitor crops for toxins and detect diseases such as cancer from the odors in a person's breath.
"They're very cheap to produce and very sensitive," Rains said of the wasps. "Dogs take months to train and they need a specific handler. Wasps can be trained on the spot."

Rains believes the Wasp Hound could be available for sale in three to five years. He and Lewis are still exploring ways to breed more wasps and to train hundreds simultaneously.

"We've done enough on it to know it's technically feasible to do that," Lewis said. "It's just a matter of completing and refining the methodology."
Lewis believes many other types of invertebrates — bees, other types of parasitic insects, even water bugs — can be trained to sniff out trouble.

"It's opened a whole new resource for invertebrates as biological sensors," he said.

Other scientists also are working to harness the sniffing power of insects.
In 2002, the Pentagon considered fitting sniffer bees with transmitters the size of a grain of salt to locate explosives and relay that information wirelessly to laptop computers.

A British firm, Inscentinel Ltd., sells trained bees and mini-hives where the insects' response to scents from natural and man-made chemicals can be monitored. The company says the system can be used to screen for explosives, drugs, chemical weapons, land mines and for food quality control.

Jerry Bromenshenk, a research professor at Montana State University, is using bees for mine detection. The bees congregate over mines or other explosives and their locations are mapped using laser-sensing technology.

"Insects and their antennae have an olfactory system that is pretty much on a par with a dog," Bromenshenk said. "They're a whole lot more plentiful and a lot less expensive to come by."

Bromenshenk said bees may be more appropriate for open areas, while the Wasp Hound may be better in buildings.

"The difference is that we let our bees free fly," he said. "That's not good in confined areas like an airport."


Weird. I can see a whole host of lawsuits springing up from this though. A police dog might bite your face off, but it won't sting you and cause you to swell up like the Michelin Man and swallow your tounge. Still, a horde of wasps could search a large number of cargo containers much faster than dogs.


Printing Organs on Demand 
Need a skin graft? A new trachea? A heart patch? Turn on your printer, and let it spit one out.
A group of researchers hope printers' whirs and buzzes will soon be saving lives.
Led by University of Missouri-Columbia biological physics professor Gabor Forgacs and aided by a $5 million National Science Foundation grant, researchers at three universities have developed bio-ink and bio-paper that could make so-called organ printing a reality.
So far, they've made tubes similar to human blood vessels and sheets of heart muscle cells, printed in three dimensions on a special printer.
"I think this is going to be a biggie," said Glenn D. Prestwich, the University of Utah professor who developed the bio-paper. "A lot of things are going to be a pain in the butt to print, but I think we can do livers and kidneys as well."
Prestwich guessed initial human organ printing may be five or 10 years away.
The work started as a way to understand biological self-assembly -- such as how an embryo develops -- in the lab, Forgacs said.
While printed DNA and RNA chips have been around for a while, they have until now been printed in two dimensions, Forgacs said. Also, organ printing scientists have figured out how to print not just molecules, but clusters of cells, he said.
Here's how it works: A customized milling machine prints a small sheet of bio-paper. This "paper" is a variable gel composed of modified gelatin and hyaluronan, a sugar-rich material. Bio-ink blots -- each a little ball of cellular material a few hundred microns in diameter -- are then printed onto the paper. The process is repeated as many times as needed, the sheets stacked on top of each other.
Once the stack is the right size -- maybe two centimeters' worth of sheets, each containing a ring of blots, for a tube resembling a blood vessel -- printing stops. The stack is incubated in a bioreactor, where cells fuse with their neighbors in all directions. The bio-paper works as a scaffold to support and nurture cells, and should be eaten away by them or naturally degrade, researchers said.
Though it can take less than two minutes to print a sheet of bio-paper with bio-ink, it can take about a week for such a tube to fuse, Forgacs said.
It's currently feasible to print tubes, Prestwich explained, because the printers output bio-paper in a sort of ever-ascending spiral, like a Slinky.
Helen Lu, director of the Biomaterials and Interface Tissue Engineering Laboratory at Columbia University, thinks organ printing could eventually work. Still, she cautioned that scientists must determine additional details such as how blood vessels are formed in skin, because simply implanting them might not be optimal.
The researchers are aware of the difficulties they face; Forgacs didn't even want to guess at the technology's possibilities.
"There are so many questions at this point to tackle, even at the simpler level, that I really don't want to break my head over what kind of organ we would build," he said.


Fuck. My printer won't even deal with 3"by 5" cards. This is so cool, i may implode. The only real problem with scientific advances like this is that they tend to be so expensive that the people who need them most can't afford them.


U.S. gets bad marks for terrorism preps
9/11 panel: Recommendations on U.S. security not being heeded
U.S. leaders did not understand the "gravity of the threat."
The United States wasn't prepared to meet al Qaeda's challenges.
Terrorism wasn't the chief security concern of the Bush or Clinton administrations.
Failures to thwart 9/11 highlight agencies' inability to adapt to new problems.
CIA effectiveness was limited by use of intermediaries to pursue Osama bin Laden.
Information and analysis wasn't shared across agencies.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The former members of the bipartisan 9/11 commission gave Congress and the president a report card Monday heavy in B's, C's and D's -- with five F's -- saying the nation was ill-prepared for another terrorist attack.
"Four years after 9/11 it is scandalous that police and firefighters in large cities still cannot communicate reliably in a major crisis," said Thomas Kean, the Republican who was chairman of the commission.
"It is scandalous that airline passengers are still not screened against all names on a terrorist watch list.
"It is scandalous that we still allocate scarce homeland security dollars on the basis of pork barrel spending, not risk."
The bipartisan panel, charged with reviewing U.S. security efforts before and after the September 11, 2001, attacks, produced its final report in July 2004, offering 41 recommendations.
The 570-page, 14-chapter report concluded that a "failure of imagination" kept U.S. officials from understanding the al Qaeda threat before the attacks.
More than a year after the report's release, response to the panel's recommendations has been inadequate, Kean and other members said.
"On 9/11 [Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda] killed nearly 3,000 of our citizens. Many of the steps we recommend would help prevent a disaster from happening again. We should not need another wake-up call."
The panel's report card gave the government 12 B's, 12 D's, nine C's, five F's, one A- and two incompletes. The A- was for tackling terrorism financing; the incompletes were for reforms under way for the CIA director and the terrorist travel strategy, due in two weeks.
F's were cited for the lack of an adequate radio band for first responders, poor airline passenger pre-screening, the "burying" of the overall intelligence budget within the defense budget, and coalition standards for terrorist detention.
The report card gave an F to Congress for allocating homeland security funds "without regard for risk, vulnerability, or the consequences for an attack."
The homeland security funds are allocated according to population, meaning that an area facing a low risk of a terror threat gets roughly the same amount of funding per capita as a high risk area, such as New York City.
As a result, funds are being misappropriated, Kean suggested, pointing to the use of funds to buy air-conditioned garbage trucks and body armor for police dogs.
White House, FBI defend progress
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush has "worked to address the recommendations of the commission" -- appointing a director of national intelligence, establishing a national counterterrorism center, tightening border security and implementing other policies.
"President Bush's top priority is the safety and security of the American people," McClellan said in a written statement. "Since September 11, President Bush has restructured and reformed the federal government to focus resources on counterterrorism and to ensure the security of our homeland."
The FBI said its progress has been "sweeping and continuous."
"The FBI has institutionalized our counterterrorism posture by making counterterrorism our overriding priority, shifting resources, and executing an intelligence-driven coordinated national strategy," it said.
It said it has more than twice as many agents, intelligence analysts and language analysts as it did on September 11, 2001, and four times as many members of Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
Long road ahead
The Bush administration has carried out one of the panel's main recommendations for overhauling the nation's intelligence system: the creation of the post of national intelligence director, charged with beefing up intelligence efforts and information-sharing among disparate agencies.
Kean and Lee Hamilton, the Democrat who was vice chairman of the commission, said the United States needs to quicken efforts to secure nuclear sites, and that only "some progress" was made on that front. The report card gave a D to what it called "maximum effort by U.S. government to secure WMD."
"We're talking about doing it in 14 years; nobody thinks we have 14 years," Kean told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. Bin Laden "has said he wants to use nuclear weapons to attack the United States. So that's got to be a much higher priority."
The report card wasn't intended to praise or criticize, Kean and Hamilton said. "Our purpose is to be constructive."
It is up to President Bush and Congress to enact the necessary reforms, both men said.
White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley acknowledged that the job of implementing the commission's recommendations is incomplete, but that nearly all have been reviewed and accepted.
"The president reviewed them. We accepted 70 of them in whole or in large measure, and that is being implemented now," he said. "Obviously, as we've said all along, we are safer, but not yet safe. There is more to do."


The Message of the Left at the last election: "Sure, our guy is a dullard but look at how they're fucking things up!"
The Message of the Right during the last election: "FEARFEARTERRORTERRORFEARTERROR...Tax cuts."
And now look at us.
If i were a member of Al-Queada (Sp?) I'd wait, and i'd plan, and I'd sneak on board a bunch of planes on the aniversary of the last attack, hijack them, and plow them into more buildings. Because it's obvious that little to nothing has been actually done to preserve the security of the union. That shit costs money. The Illusion of security is so much more useful to the creepy guys who run our country because it can be jerked away at any time. This is the kind of headlin that makes me want to go out and buy a sniper rifle.


A plan to network enable your car — As long as you don’t have to reboot just before a crash.
On November 14 Network World published an article entitled “U.S. pitches wireless highway safety plan” which discussed the US DoT plan called the VII project. The Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) prject aims to reduce highway fatilities and improve congestion problems by transmitting warnings and road condition data to drivers and automobile computer systems via a 5.9 GHz short range (984 foot) wireless connection as you pass “Roadside Units” (RSUs). Data is gathered from your onboard computer and combined with GPS data, the data collection and transmittal is to be anonymous. You can read more about the proposed system on the concept of operations page.
One week later Network World published a second article entitled “GM to roll out intelligent car alternative” discussing the GM V2V plan based on the existing GM OnStar technology in combination with 802.11a/802.11p networking technology
If you haven’t heard about 802.11p then read this.
The 802.11p protocol, which enables motor-vehicle communications, is due to come before the executive committee of the IEEE (agenda) in Portland, Ore. this week.
The IEEE 802.11p Task Group was established for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE). The Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) is a general purpose communications link between the vehicle and the roadside (or between vehicles) using the 802.11p protocol. ABI estimates that this sort of vehicular communications could see initial expenditures of $1 billion shortly. ITS America stressed the need to support the adoption of a single nationwide standard in the FCC rules
The new 802.11p protocol, just months old, improves on the range and speed of transmission on the dedicated 5.9 GHz licensed band, promising around 1,000 feet and 6 Mbit/s in average use, say reports


Yet another nail in the coffin of personal privacy. Is there anybody who believes this won't be hacked by nefarious individuals for nefarious purposes? If so, do you also believe in santa claus? I'm also of the opinion that it's just another step to law enforcement lobbies asking for the ability to code lock a vehicle via the network. In some cases, this could save lives. in other cases, it could be big trouble. Personally, I think it's about time to start making a list of devices that it's perfectly harmful to add a computer or a network connection to.



NISSAN ANNOUNCES SELF-HEALING PAINT
So you scratched your fancy paint job at the carwash, or scraped it on that limb you meant to trim in the driveway.
Someday soon, buffing out those little nicks won't be necessary.
Car paint is about to get smarter.
Nissan plans to begin offering a paint that repairs its own scratches and scrapes on some models of the X-Trail sport-utility vehicle planned for sale soon in Japan.
"The idea is nothing so new," said Kozo Saito, director of the Painting Technology Consortium in the University of Kentucky College of Engineering.
Research into a similar product, known as self-healing paint, is also under way at UK, said Saito, an endowed professor in mechanical engineering.
Minor scuffs, such as those caused by carwashes and off-road driving, disappear in about a week on cars that have Nissan's Scratch Guard Coat.
The Tokyo-based company says the coating, which contains elastic resin similar to a rubbery surface, is the first of its kind in the world. It developed the clear paint with Nippon Paint Co., company spokesman Kiyoshi Ariga said yesterday.
Car-washing machines account for most car surface scratches, according to Nissan. The Scratch Guard Coat lasts about three years, Nissan said.
Ariga said no decision has been made on whether Nissan will offer the scratch-proof paint, which costs $100 extra, on models sold outside Japan.
Saito said UK researchers will work with a paint supplier to test its self-healing material outside the laboratory setting, but that could take some time.
The Painting Technology Consortium has an annual budget of about $1.2 million and is funded by a number of private companies, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
The consortium, which Saito founded in 1993, also focuses on improving the efficiency of the painting process.
Saito said researchers are working on ways to reduce the amount of paint wasted in the spraying process.
One of his students has also developed a system that uses infrared technology -- rather than human inspectors -- to examine completed paint jobs. That system is currently in the patent process and is scheduled to be launched at Toyota Motor Manufacturing's Georgetown plant, Saito said.
Bruce Walcott, associate dean for economic development and innovations management at the UK College of Engineering, said he envisions a day when drivers will be able to press a button and change their car's color.
"Long term, paint is not going to be paint, per se," he said. "It's going to be something smart on there."


Nano-paint. I'm seeing scenes from the movie "Christine" in my head. Sign me up!

Sentencing expected today in Transylvania library thefts
A federal judge is expected to decide today how much time, if any, four Lexington men will spend in prison for the theft of rare books and manuscripts from Transylvania University's special collections library last December.
Warren C. Lipka, Spencer W. Reinhard, Charles T. Allen II and Eric Borsuk pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, conspiracy and theft of major art works earlier this year. Two of the men used a stun device on special collections librarian B.J. Gooch, tied her up, blindfolded her and then stole pencil sketches by John James Audubon, a first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and two manuscripts from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Federal prosecutors have recommended sentences of 11 to 14 years for each man. Defense lawyers argue that the men should receive much less. This morning, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman heard testimony from an electronics engineer who testified that the stun device the men claimed to have used on Gooch would not cause serious injury and was not a dangerous weapon. John Barnes, an expert hired by the defense, said he tried the stun pen on himself.
"It will make you jump," Barnes said. "It stung."
But Barnes said the only way the pen could be considered a dangerous weapon is "if you jammed it in someone's eye."
But prosecutors question whether the pen was used as claimed -- or if one of four stun guns found at the home of three of the men -- was used on Gooch. Stun guns subdue people with a jolt of electricity.
Defense lawyers say the men ditched the stun pen after the robbery.
If the Coffman finds that the stunning device is a dangerous weapon under the law, it is considered an aggravating factor under federal sentence guidelines and could add years to the men's sentences.


We have books in Kentucky? Why wasn't i told?
On a more serious note, This reads to me like the plot of Mage game. a group of people using non-lethal methods to steal rare manuscripts? Priceless! and in my own backyard no less!




The The Falkirk Wheel is a giant rotating boat lift and elevated canal developed by British Waterways to reconnect the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal, re-establishing east to west coast access for boats.

a cool new thing if you have the occasional boat chase in your game. Also, i just like the look of the installation. It looks like the sort of place where the X-men should battle the brotherhood of Evil Mutants.


Panasonic Starts 50GB Blu-ray Production
After much chatter and anticipation, Panasonic has finally started production of dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray discs. Ok, so actually, they're calling it a "pilot production"—but hell, if something gets made and they can call it rabbit hunting I'm fine as long as it's in high def. This tech miracle is taking place at the Japanese company's Torrence, CA-based factory and is really the first attempt by any manufacturer to drum up a dual-layer Blu-ray disc.


Dear Panasonic: If you know what's good for you, you'll create a backwards compatible player or you'll create a player that can easily and inexpensively transfer DVD's onto an HDVD format. I don't what you do. I AM NOT BUYING MY MOVIE COLLECTION AGAIN.

That said, 50 gigs is a LOT of space for a single disc. Think of the porn collection you could amass!


Tesco is launching what it claims is the world’s first musical sandwich.
The sandwich plays a medley of Christmas tunes when the packaging is opened. It features the same technology used in talking greetings cards.
“The concept of musical sandwiches is something we’ve been looking at for a while now and we thought Christmas would be the perfect time,” said Tesco spokesman Jonathan Church. “If they prove to be as successful as we think then we will consider a whole range of musical sandwiches. One idea already under consideration is working with record companies to launch songs by new artists on the market by way of the musical sandwich.”
Tesco’s musical sandwich is a traditional Christmas combination of turkey and cranberry sauce with pork and cranberry stuffing.


I'm pretty sure this is a sign of the apocalypse. if not the death knell of western culture as we know it.

With new legislation, Ohio Republicans plan holiday burial for American Democracy
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman    

A law that will make democracy all but moot in Ohio is about to pass the state legislature and to be signed by its Republican governor. Despite massive corruption scandals besieging the Ohio GOP, any hope that the Democratic Party could win this most crucial swing state in future presidential elections, or carry its pivotal US Senate seat in 2006, is about to end.
House Bill 3 has already passed the Ohio House of Representatives and is about to be approved by the Republican-dominated Senate, probably before the holiday recess. Republicans dominate the Ohio legislature thanks to a heavily gerrymandered crazy quilt of rigged districts, and to a moribund Ohio Democratic Party. The GOP-drafted HB3 is designed to all but obliterate any possible future Democratic revival. Opposition from the Ohio Democratic Party, where it exists at all, is diffuse and ineffectual.
HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over.
The GOP is ramming similar bills through state legislatures around the US, starting with Georgia and Indiana. The ID requirements in particular have provoked widespread opposition from newspapers such as the New York Times. The Times, among others, argues that the ID requirements and the costs associated with them, constitute an unconstitutional discriminatory poll tax.
But despite significant court challenges, the Republicans are forcing changes in long-standing election laws that have allowed citizens to vote based on their signatures alone. Across the US, GOP Jim Crow laws will eliminate millions of Democratic voters from the registration rolls. In swing states like Ohio, such ballots are almost certain to be crucial.
The proposed Ohio law will demand a valid photo ID or a utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck or a government document with a current address. Thousands of Ohio citizens who are elderly, homeless, unemployed or who do not drive will be effectively disenfranchised. Many citizens, for example, rent apartments where the utilities are paid by landlords. In such cases, the number of people living in utilities-included apartment rentals could actually determine an election.
During the 2004 presidential election, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, also issued statewide threats against ex-felons and people whose names resembled those of ex-felons. Thousands of such threats were delivered to registered voters who were never convicted of anything, or who were eligible to vote after being released from prison. In 2004 a "Mighty Texas Strike Force" came to Columbus with a specific mandate to threaten ex-felons with arrest if they dared to vote.
It is legal for ex-felons in Ohio to vote, even if they are in halfway houses or on parole. But HB3's identification requirement, combined with the confusion Blackwell has introduced into the process, will intimidate such Ohioans from voting in 2006 and beyond.
HB3 will also reduce voter rolls by ordering county boards of elections to send cards to registered voters every two years. If a card comes back as undelivered, the voter must rely on a provisional ballot. But tens of thousands of provisional ballots were arbitrarily discarded in 2004, and some 16,000 are known to remain uncounted to this day.
HB3 also imposes severe restrictions on voter registration drives. It allows the state attorney general and local prosecutors wide powers to prosecute vaguely defined charges of fraud against those working to sign up voters. The restrictions are clearly meant to chill the kind of Democratic registration drives that brought hundreds of thousands of new voters to the polls in 2004 (even though many were turned away in Democratic wards due to a lack of voting machines).
Those electronic machines will also be exempted from recounts by random sampling, even in close, disputed elections like those of 2000 and 2004.
In 2004, scores of Ohio voters reported, under oath, that they had pressed John Kerry's name on touchscreen machines, only to see George W. Bush's name light up. A board of elections technician in Mahoning County (Youngstown) has admitted that at least 18 machines there suffered such problems. Sworn testimony in Columbus indicates that votes for Kerry faded off the screen on touchscreen machines there. Other charges of misprogramming, reprogramming, recalibrating, mishandling and manipulation of electronic voting software, hardware and memory cards have since arisen throughout Ohio 2004.
For the 2005 election, some 41 additional Ohio counties (of 88) were switched to Diebold touchscreen machines. Despite polls showing overwhelming voter approval, two electoral reform issues went down in improbable defeat. Issue Two, meant to make voting easier, and Issue Three, on campaign finance reform, were shown by highly reliable Columbus Dispatch polls to be passing handily.
The Dispatch was within 0.5 percent on Issue One, a bond issue, and has rarely been significantly wrong in its many decades of Ohio polling. Even opponents of Issues Two and Three conceded that they were highly likely to pass.
On the Sunday before the Tuesday 2005 election, the Dispatch predicted Issue Two would pass by a vote of 59 percent to 33 percent, with about 8 percent undecided. But Tuesday's official vote count showed Issue Two failing with just 36.5 percent in favor and 63.5 percent opposed. For that to have happened, the Dispatch had to have been wrong on Issue Two's support by more than 20 points. Nearly half those who said they would support Issue Two would have had to vote against it, along with all the undecideds.
The numbers on Issue Three are equally startling. The Dispatch showed it winning with 61 percent, to just 25 percent opposed and some 14 percent undecided. Instead just 33 percent of the votes were counted in its favor, with 67 percent opposed, an almost inconceivable weekend turnaround.
No other numbers were comparable on November 8, 2005, or elsewhere in the recent history of Dispatch polling. The startling outcome has thus raised even more suspicion and doubt about the use of electronic voting and tabulating machines in Ohio, which account for virtually 100 percent of the state's vote count.
The federal General Accountability Office (GAO) has recently issued a major report confirming that tampering with and manipulating such machines can be easily done by a very small number of people. Charges are widespread that this is precisely what gave George W. Bush Ohio's electoral votes, and thus the presidency, in 2004, not to mention the suspicious referenda outcomes in 2005.
HB3 will make it virtually impossible for any challenge to be mounted involving any votes cast or counted on electronic machines or tabulators -- meaning virtually every vote cast in Ohio.
Indeed, HB3 will raise the cost of mounting a recount from $10 per precinct to $50 per precinct. In 2004, Secretary of State Blackwell forced citizen groups to raise private funds for a recount, which he proceeded to sabotage. The process, which became a futile electronic charade, cost donors committed to democracy more than $100,000. Three partial, meaningless faux recounts resulted. To date more than 100,000 votes cast in Ohio remain uncounted, including some 93,000 easily-read machine-rejected ballots. .
During the 2004 election process Blackwell, manipulated the number of precincts in Ohio, and issued inaccurate information about their location and boundaries, making a meaningful precise number hard to come by. But with more than 10,000 precincts still in existence, HB3 would make funding an attempt at another recount in 2006 or 2008 cost more than $500,000.
Such an effort might also result in official retaliation. In 2004, Blackwell and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro -- both of whom are now Republican candidates for governor -- tried to impose stiff financial sanctions against attorneys who filed a legal challenge to the seating of the Ohio electors who gave George W. Bush the presidency. The Ohio Supreme Court disallowed the sanctions after the challenge was withdrawn. But HB3 would make such a federal election challenge illegal altogether.
With the electoral process in Ohio all but disemboweled, those hoping for a change of party in upcoming state and national elections are probably kidding themselves.
The 2004 election in the Buckeye state was riddled with deception, fraud, intimidation, manipulation and outright theft, all of which were essential to the triumph of George W. Bush. In 2005, four electoral reform ballot initiatives were allegedly defeated despite huge poll margins showing the almost certain passage of two of them. The most credible explanation for their defeat lies in electronic manipulation of voting machines, tabulators and memory cards which the GAO confirms have no credible security safeguards.
With campaign finance, voter registration, electronic voting, public recounts, district gerrymandering and overall electoral administration now firmly in the pocket of the GOP, and with Democratic opposition that is virtually non-existent on the issue of vote fraud and election manipulation, there is little reason to believe the Republican grip on Ohio will be loosened at any point in the near future.
In traditional terms, the scandal-ridden Ohio GOP would appear to be more vulnerable than ever. Governor Robert Taft has become the only Ohio governor to be convicted of a crime while in office. With an astonishing 7 percent approval rating, he has been compared to Homer Simpson by the state's leading Republican newspaper. Republican US Senator Mike DeWine appears highly vulnerable. The GOP has never won the White House without winning the Buckeye State.
But HB3 will solidify the GOP's iron grip on the electronic voting process and all that surrounds it. Unless they break that grip, Democrats who believe they can carry any part of Ohio in 2006 or 2008 are kidding themselves.
When it comes to 2008, can you say "Jeb Bush?"


If you want to steal a country's power, you don't do it with rockets and bombs and soldiers. You do it with legislation and lawsuits and the death of a thousand cuts. I used to think this sort of thing only happened in fiction. And that's why it works. Nobody can believe that it's actually happening. That how you steal a country. you make people beleive that it's not really happening. This sort of thing makes me wish that i still ran Abberant.

E-Hijacking
Today, 08:41 AM
"E-hijacking" is the term used to describe the theft of goods in transit by altering the electronic paperwork:
He pointed to the supposed loss of 3.9-million banking records stored on computer backup tapes that were being shipped by UPS from New York-based Citigroup to an Experian credit bureau in Texas. “These tapes were not lost – they were stolen,” Spoonamore said. “Not only were they stolen, the theft occurred by altering the electronic manifest in transit so it would be delivered right to the thieves.” He added that UPS, Citigroup, and Experian spent four days blaming each other for losing the shipment before realizing it had actually been stolen.
Spoonamore, a veteran of the intelligence community, said in his analysis of this e-hijacking, upwards of 15 to 20 people needed to be involved to hack five different computer systems simultaneously to breach the electronic safeguards on the electronic manifest. The manifest was reset from “secure” to “standard” while in transit, so it could be delivered without the required three signatures, he said. Afterward the manifest was put back to “secure” and three signatures were uploaded into the system to appear as if proper procedures had been followed.
“What’s important to remember here is that there is no such thing as ‘security’ in the data world: all data systems can and will be breached,” Spoonamore said. “What you can have, however, is data custody so you know at all times who has it, if they are supposed to have it, and what they are doing with it. Custody is what begets data security.”
This is interesting. More and more, the physical movement of goods is secondary to the electronic movement of information. Oil being shipped across the Atlantic, for example, can change hands several times while it is in transit. I see a whole lot of new risks along these lines in the future.


" Hmm." Said the fellow who always likes to play the netrunner...

Sono Finito

1 Comments:

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Acid Reign said...

.....Teladoc doesn't sound so bad. The rare times I go to the doctor, I just want a written excuse so I don't get disciplined at work. Those $100 prescriptions go in the trash! I average calling in sick about once every three years. I have to weigh feeling bad at work, or sitting in a Doc-in-a-box for four hours. Work usually seems like the lesser of two evils!

.....The fee for teladoc is the intimidating factor. I'm already paying $75 a week for medical insurance. I'm figuring teladoc is another good source for the prescription drug addict!

.....For me, the last good cards I bought was a vampire tarot deck for $18.99, with artwork by Nathalie Hertz, bought from one of the ubiquitous divination vendors at Jackson Square in New Orleans.

.....I don't like wasps. I still remember the time my little brother and his friend threw rocks at a big wasp nest and I, not knowing, walked by the ordinarily peacable wasps a few minutes later. A couple of dozen wasp stings are not fun, and you're sick for days!

.....Oh, yeah! My HP 672C Deskjet can now print organs? Hmmm. It always pops up this error message saying the cartridges are installed improperly when I print. Of course, if you leave the error message alone, it prints pretty decently for a mid-90s 300 dpi printer. Click the error message, and your document goes poof!

.....I bought a gun back in the 1980s, but it wasn't because of Arab terrorists. There were four houses within a block of us getting remodeled, and I was on night shift, sleeping in the daytime. The construction crews were breaking into houses and stealing appliances, and even air-conditioning compressors. I bought one of those nice Remminton 1100 automatic 12 ga. shotguns, with the 7 round magazine that became illegal under the Assault Weapon Ban. I kept that sucker cocked, locked, and loaded with 00 magnum bucks, right by my bed. More effectively, I walked around the yard with it during construction hours, making sure the workers saw it... We didn't get robbed, of course! Since having kids, it's still by my bed, but I'd have to get up, find the trigger lock key, load it, and by then, I'd be long dead.

.....Now, of course, all the construction workers are Mexican illegals. They don't want trouble with the law, and seem to be a lot more honest and hard-working...

.....As to networked cars, it's coming. I can see a day where traffic is monitored via a master computer, and you get an automatic ticket for Hollywood stops or speeding, even if no cop is present.

.....Self-healing paint. Cool! I'm the guy who parks on the opposite end of the lot from the store, away from all the other cars. I did this out of habit, even when I was driving a 15-year-old junker Thunderbird that was rusting. My wife HATES this practice! Of course, one of the rewards is that after you've bought your groceries, you can run about 20 yards across the parking lot as fast as you can push the cart, then leap on the back and ride the cart, barrelling down the aisle like a maniac, scattering blue-haired old ladies in all directions! Parking lots that slope downhill away from the store are golden! Just try not to hit any SUVs. I did that once, and it and twenty other car alarms started bleating in unison...

.....My current leaning on video is that the best thing is a massive hard drive to store them on, that's backed up regularly to another massive hard drive. VHS fades, and if you breathe on a DVD wrong, it's toast. I'll bet you could fit a ton of those 10 second grainy porn clips on a 50 gig. disk!

.....They've been trying to pass voter-ID laws in Alabama for years, and either the State or US Supreme Court has struck every one of them down. It works like this: law gets passed, judge blocks the law with an injunction, case goes through court for three years, gets struck down. Lawyers on both sides made millions! We have almost as many dead people in Alabama who vote as live ones!

.....As to the electronic theft story... The company I work for recently went to mandatory direct deposit for all employee pay. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but let's see, they have a record of my name, social security no., parents' names, and now my bank account number. The company servers are running Microsoft IIS 3. (It Isn't Secure) If they get hacked, someone makes off with several thousand new ID fraud identities, including mine!

JH

 

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