Archive for August, 2009

I’m just wondering

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

What’s the usage of this stuff?

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

Logging weight changes

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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This is a classic example of a well done hack, simply for the sake of hacking. [Jorge] wanted to be able to chart his weight changes.  His solution wasn’t to simply buy a scale that could be hooked to the computer. Those are available and aren’t really that expensive. He could have even used pencil and paper to chart it in a few seconds. Instead, [Jorge] started hacking. He took apart a digital scale he already had and installed his own circuit to display weight and write the values to a CSV. The CSV resides on a removable card which can then be put in his computer to chart the data in openoffice.

source: Hack A Day

Brake assist with GPS data for new Nissan Fuga

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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Nissan has announced a new driving aid system called the Navigation-Cooperative Intelligent Pedal which basically uses data from the car’s satellite navigation system to help smoothen the drive when it comes to a curving road.

How many times have you approached a bend and then suddenly realised you’ve gone in too fast? Can you see ahead past a blind corner in a bend? Some bends can sharpen mid-way… and then you panic and have to deal with understeer or worse! If the system detects that you are about to do this, it sounds an audible warning.

If you persist, the system moves the accelerator pedal upwards to assist the driver to release it. Once the foot is lifted off, the system will smoothly reduce vehicle speed by braking. The system will debut on the new Nissan Fuga when it is unveiled in fall 2009. As it currently is, the Fuga is the Japanese name for the Infiniti M.

A similiar system was introduced earlier this year on the Toyota Crown Majesta, though it doesn’t work exactly the same. The Toyota system uses gear changes and engine braking to help slow the car down in anticipation of a corner (the car is aware of this via the in-car GPS system too) or a toll booth.

In addition to that, the Toyota system will activate a brake-assist function if it thinks the driver is too late in decelerating when approaching a stop sign or a junction.

The new BMW ActiveHybrid X6 xDrive50i: world’s most powerful hybrid!

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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The BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is truly mind-boggling. It’s an SUV, but the sloping roofline and two seats at the back kind of limit its utility and storage space. And it’s a hybrid which people usually associate with economy, yet its mated to a massive V8 twin turbocharged engine. There is not one but two electric motors, and the vehicle ends up having more torque than the BMW X6 M, a full 100Nm more to be exact.

The V8 motor puts out 407 horses, while the two electric motors make 91 horses and 86 horses respectively. All three propulsion devices running at the same time produces a peak 485 horses, with a massive peak torque of 780Nm. (more…)

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

Adaptive Cruise Control Goes Mainstream

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

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Heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Ford Motor Company engineer Jerry Engelman swings his 2010 Taurus into the left lane to pass a semi. The Taurus hesitates, slowing down, and then Engelman adjusts his heading. The car takes off. “Larry,” he calls to his colleague in the back seat, “write that down!”

Engelman is driving, but just barely. The Taurus has a radar-based adaptive cruise-control system that lets him set a top speed and then simply steer while the car adjusts its velocity according to traffic. He’s been weaving and changing lanes, doing between 45 and 70 mph—and hasn’t touched a pedal in an hour. Over the past few years, Ford engineers have driven 60,000 miles to test, tweak, and optimize this system, which also provides collision warning alerts. They’ve been focused on the future in a financially dismal present—analysts actually praised Ford for losing only $1.4 billion in the first quarter. “It’s a tough market,” says Derrick Kuzak, VP of global product development, noting that the Taurus is important for “reestablishing us in the large-sedan market.” That’s executive-speak for “This car really needs to sell.”

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…)

Lazy man’s USB RFID reader

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

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[Don] had some Serial RFID readers that he needed to work and be powered by USB. He went out and purchased a simple serial to USB converter, but was left with the problem of the operating voltage. He supplies the schematics on his site for his solution. Basically he gutted the converter and integrated it all with the appropriate voltage broken out. The final project is nice, using the serial to USB convert as the project box and even including a nice LED to show when an RFID tag has been read.

source: Hack a Day

1-Wire HVAC monitoring system

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

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The 1-Wire HVAC monitoring system is for residential Geothermal HVAC systems. This project utilizes the so called 1-wire temperature sensor. A single board computer handles the brunt of the work including web accessible trend data. With access to the underling temperatures, the over all system performance may be gauged. Earlier this year we covered a HVAC web enabled monitor that adds an element of control. As the industry adopts modern control architectures, we hope to see more HVAC hacks around.

read more: Hack a Day