Archive for the ‘Humanities & Issues’ Category

Home automation, a buzz word?

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Doing my routine jobs at my workplace, I stumbled upon some articles regarding home automation. It’s an old stuff actually, but I’m sure it will be interesting to read. I’ll share it later with you guys. It’ll be a busy weekend gathering enough points for this issue. There are some criterias to be covered when talking about home automation:

  • efficient energy management
  • security and surveilance
  • news and entertainment
  • drainage and watering monitoring system
  • alternative energy

If you have any other ideas, that some stuff are related to this issue. Just tweet it to me: @diblos

Tomatoes the new biofuel?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

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This sounds like a sci-fi movie, instead – they use tomatoes other than humans! Thank god, we’re safe! We all know tomatoes pack a powerful acidic punch, but we never thought we’d see one lighting up a room! Cygalle Shapiro of Israel-based d-VISION has created an incredible LED lamp that is completely powered by real, edible tomatoes. Currently exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair, the design collects energy from a chemical reaction between tomato acids, zinc, and copper. This design doesn’t only explore advances in lighting technology – its also an art piece that sends clear and powerful social-conscience messages about where and how we receive energy.

courtesy: inhabitat

Public bus transportation notifier

Friday, April 16th, 2010

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Knuckles904 at Random Hacks of Boredom was tired of waiting for the bus. His town had installed GPS units on the buses so that riders could track their locations via the Internet so he knew there should be a way to avoid the wait while also never missing the bus. He developed a sketch for an Arduino to check the bus location and notify him when it was on its way.

This method saves him from leaving his computer running. It parses the text data from the public transportation website and updates both an LED display, as well as a Twitter feed. Now he can monitor several different bus lines via the hardware at home, or though a cell phone if he’s on the go.

This guy have done a useful tricks and provides some sources to make this project works. Well done!

Data-logging shirt for analyzing baseball biomechanics

Friday, April 16th, 2010

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The shirt was developed by Marcus Moche, Alexandra Morgan and David Schmidt as a Capstone Design Project—a senior-level team project that requires students to solve a “real-world” engineering problem or develop a viable product.

Pitchers become more susceptible to injury when they lose consistency in their mechanics—the physics of how they throw the baseball, pitch after pitch. After this, is going to be logged for analysis.

Courtesy: Northeastern

School District Halts Webcam Surveillance

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

A suburban Philadelphia school district is deactivating a webcam, theft-tracking program secretly lodged on 2,300 student laptops following allegations the device was used by administrators to spy on a boy at home.

“I think given the concerns of parents and community members, I think we have a responsibility to at least take a pause and review the policy,” Lower Merion School District spokesman Doug Young said in a telephone interview Thursday evening.

The move came a day after the 6,900-pupil district, which provides students from its two high schools free Macbooks, was sued in federal court on allegations it was undertaking a dragnet surveillance program targeting its students — an allegation the district denied. Young said the computer-tracking program was activated a “handful” of times solely to track a missing laptop.

The suit was based on a student’s claim, acknowledged by the district, that the webcam was used by school officials to chronicle “improper behavior” based on a photo the computer secretly took of the boy at home. (.pdf) in November.

The assistant principal at Harriton High informed the student “that the school district was of the belief that minor plaintiff was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in minor plaintiff’s personal laptop issued by the school district,” according to the lawsuit.

Young declined to directly say whether the program was activated in this instance to locate a missing laptop. He said the district only activates it when there is a reported missing laptop, and urged Threat Level to draw its own “inferences.”

“The only situation where the feature would have been activated is in the case of a stolen, missing or lost laptop,” Young said. “There’s never been any scenario used for any purpose other than that.”

Lawyers for the student did not return phone calls and e-mails for comment. The Associated Press reported late Friday the FBI was probing the allegations. (more…)

British police want UAVs to watch civilians during the 2012 Olympics

Friday, January 29th, 2010

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In what’s sure to be a popular idea, Britain’s Kent Police Department wants to use unmanned aerial vehicles to keep tabs on the massive crowds during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Now, before you start thinking that Ministries and doublethink are soon to follow, Olympic games mean a large influx of people to keep track of, and that means spreading security pretty thin.

Evidently UAV monitoring already has a precedent in Britain through the South Coast Partnership, which uses UAVs to patrol the country’s southern coast. UAVs aren’t yet cleared to fly the skies over London with other manned aircraft, however.

From Pop Sci:

So far, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Britain’s equivalent of the FAA, has not cleared UAVs to fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft. However, the Kent police department has petitioned the CAA to expedite the licensing processes so the police operated UAVs can take to the sky by the time the Olympics starts.

If it goes through, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s only a temporary measure for the Olympics, or if that level of surveillance remains in place in a city already dominated by CCTV security cameras.

The Guardian, via Futurismic, via Popular Science

Trucks and fuel storage tanks in depots are becoming targets for organised crime

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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Viper Guard has called for urgent Government action to control rising oil prices and is warning of a new wave of fuel theft. The warning follows predictions that speculation in the oil market will soon see diesel prices back at last summer’s high of £1.25-£1.30 litre, when both trucks and fuel storage tanks in depots became high-value targets for organised crime.

But Viper Guard General Manager Debbie Jones said things could be worse this time round thanks to the recession.

“Hard times not only tempt people into crime but also put pressure on potential purchasers not too ask too many questions,” she said. “Obviously we would urge all operators to make sure they have adequate security measures in place this summer, but we want to see Government action too.

“The Government sowed the seeds of the problem itself when the Chancellor first put 2p on a litre to offset his 2.5% VAT cut last November and then went ahead with the further 2p increase in April. These increases need to be reversed urgently both to help hauliers through the recession and to head off the expected increase in fuel theft.”

She also urged the Government to control the activities of speculators in the City. “These gamblers are threatening the health of the entire road transport sector, with inevitable knock-on effects across the economy,” she said. “But after the Government bail-outs in the banking industry last year, many of the speculators are effectively state employees.

“The lesson of the credit crunch, surely, is that it’s enormously harmful to allow bankers to pursue their own narrow agenda at the expense of the wider public interest. Yet it seems the bankers have learnt nothing and are carrying on in the same old way. The Chancellor can and must rein them in before they do more damage.”

source: Surveillance News Portal

Feds at DefCon Alarmed After RFIDs Scanned

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009



rfid_4-300x200.jpgLAS VEGAS — It’s one of the most hostile hacker environments in the country –- the DefCon hacker conference held every summer in Las Vegas.

But despite the fact that attendees know they should take precautions to protect their data, federal agents at the conference got a scare on Friday when they were told they might have been caught in the sights of an RFID reader.

The reader, connected to a web camera, sniffed data from RFID-enabled ID cards and other documents carried by attendees in pockets and backpacks as they passed a table where the equipment was stationed in full view.

It was part of a security-awareness project set up by a group of security researchers and consultants to highlight privacy issues around RFID. When the reader caught an RFID chip in its sights — embedded in a company or government agency access card, for example — it grabbed data from the card, and the camera snapped the card holder’s picture.

But the device, which had a read range of 2 to 3 feet, caught only five people carrying RFID cards before Feds attending the conference got wind of the project and were concerned they might have been scanned.

source: wired.com

Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

georeorwell.jpgAs an ex-Brit, I’m well aware of the authorities’ love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan: to install Orwell’s telescreens in 20,000 homes.

£400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes. The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families. The idea is that, if a child has a more stable home life, he or she will be less likely to stray into crime and drugs. (more…)

Earth Hour 2009!

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

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Kuala Lumpur during Earth Hour!