Articles by HAL9000

Funny, how the mainstream media isn’t all over this one, given Anonymous has been a great punching bag for them. Think they are still upset about the Stock Exchange? … Sara Yin…




Siri Is Watching

Tim Stevens on Endgadget said this was happening back in ’09. For all those who rushed out to get the new iPhone, if you are using Siri, you are giving a hell lot of personal info to Apple:

Microsoft’s little Clippy, the uppity paperclip who just wanted to help, never got a lick of respect in the ten years he graced the Office suite.

He’s long-since gone, but his legacy lives on through a DARPA project called CALO: the Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes. It’s intended for use to streamline tedious activities by military personnel, like scheduling meetings and prioritizing e-mails, but there are a few non-com spin-offs intended as well, like an iPhone app called Siri due to hit the App Store sometime this year. Siri will have more of a consumer angle, helping to find product reviews and make reservations, but we’re hoping a taste of its military upbringing shines through.


The U.S. government considers anyone who travels 264,000 feet above the ground as an astronaut. So, this rocket did pretty good. The video is more telling, quite the backyard project:

Led by Derek Deville, the rocketeers launched their custom-built 26 ft. (8 meter) Qu8k (pronounced “Quake”) rocket on September 30, 2011 from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It reached an altitude of 121,000 feet (36,880 meter) in 92 seconds, at speeds of 2,185 mph (3,516 km/h).


Amazing story broken by Noah Shachtman on WIRED’s Danger Room: A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions…



Space JunkVia the BBC:

Scientists in the US have warned NASA that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point. A report by the National Research Council says the debris could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites.

It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas. The debris includes clouds of minuscule fragments, old boosters and satellites.

Some computer models show the amount of orbital rubbish “has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures,” the research council said in a statement on Thursday.




Reports the AFP via Google News: LONDON — The family of a budding computer programmer have on Saturday launched a campaign to raise awareness about the health risks of playing online computer…


Michael Reilly reports in the New Scientist: An asteroid 300 metres in diameter is stalking the Earth. Hiding in the pre-dawn twilight, it has marched in lockstep with our planet for years,…



Radio BroadcastsLook for the tiny blue dot for our impact. Adam Grossman writes about “The Tiny Humanity Bubble” on jackadamblog:

Mankind has been broadcasting radio waves into deep space for about a hundred years now — since the days of Marconi.

That, of course, means there is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way. This bubble is astronomically large (literally), and currently spans approximately 200 light years across.

But how big is this, really, compared to the size of the Galaxy in which we live (which is, itself, just one of countless billions of galaxies in the observable universe)?







FurbyA blast from the past. CNN reported back in 1999…

Can the cute, popular toy Furby be a threat to national security? The government thinks so, and has banned it from National Security Agency premises in Maryland.

Furby is embedded with a computer chip that allows it to record words. Because of that ability, NSA officials were worried “that people would take them home and they’d start talking classified,” one Capitol Hill source told The Washington Post.

In a warning to employees, the NSA said, “Personally owned photographic, video and audio recording equipment are prohibited items. This includes toys, such as ‘Furbys,’ with built-in recorders that repeat the audio with synthesized sound to mimic the original signal.”

“We are prohibited from introducing these items into NSA spaces. Those who have should contact their Staff Security Office for guidance,” a memo said.




NSADan Nosowitz writes on Popular Science:

The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense–though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress.

That data includes transcripts of phone calls and in-house discussions, video and audio surveillance, and a massive amount of photography. “The volume of data they’re pulling in is huge,” said John V. Parachini, director of the Intelligence Policy Center at RAND. “One criticism we might make of our [intelligence] community is that we’re collection-obsessed — we pull in everything — and we don’t spend enough time or money to try and understand what do we have and how can we act upon it.”


Google Self Driving CarJohn Markoff writes in the NY Times:

Google, a pioneer of self-driving cars, is quietly lobbying for legislation that would make Nevada the first state where they could be legally operated on public roads.

The cars, hybrids, have a laser range finder on the roof, as well as radar and camera sensors and more equipment in the trunk.

And yes, the proposed legislation would include an exemption from the ban on distracted driving to allow occupants to send text messages while sitting behind the wheel.

The two bills, which have received little attention outside Nevada’s Capitol, are being introduced less than a year after the giant search engine company acknowledged that it was developing cars that could be safely driven without human intervention.


Plane Hit By LightningNatalie Wolchover writes on Life’s Little Mysteries via MSNBC:

When an Airbus 380 from Dubai came in for landing at Heathrow Airport on a recent stormy night in London, it was struck by a giant bolt of lightning. The event was caught on camera, giving the world a rare glimpse of what’s actually a common occurrence.

“In the video, this is without a doubt a triggered flash,” Mazur told Life’s Little Mysteries. “You can see it’s a dark sky, so you have rain and other evidence of a recent thunderstorm. Natural lightning had most likely ended already, but in decaying storms you have a very high electric field. It’s enough to support the development of lightning, but there is no natural mechanism for initiating lightning discharge. When an airplane comes in, it acts as an artificial trigger.”