An outstanding post on the EFF's Deeplinks blog by my colleague Ernesto Falcon explains the negligent chain of events that led us into the Stingray disaster, where whole cities are being blanketed in continuous location surveillance, without warrants, public consultation, or due process, thanks to the prevalence of "IMSI catchers" ("Stingrays," "Dirtboxes," "cell-site simulators," etc) that spy indiscriminately on anyone carrying a cellular phone -- something the FCC had a duty to prevent. Read the rest
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used ultrasound to transmit high-speed data through pork loin and beef liver. Why? They're developing a system for controlling wireless medical implants and also stream high-definition video from inside the body.
"You can imagine a device that is swallowed for the purposes of imaging the digestive tract but with the capability for the HD video to be continuously streamed live to an external screen and the orientation of the device controlled wirelessly and externally by the physician," says engineering professor Andrew Singer.
Singer and his colleagues posted their results on arXiv in a paper titled "Mbps Experimental Acoustic Through-Tissue Communications: MEAT-COMMS."
“To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has ever sent such high data rates through animal tissue,” Singer said. “These data rates are sufficient to allow real-time streaming of high definition video, enough to watch Netflix, for example, and to operate and control small devices within the body.”
That's a whole new spin on dinner and a movie.
If your car has a proximity-based ignition fob that lets you start the engine without inserting a key, thieves on the street in front of your house can use an amp to detect its signal from your house and relay it to the car, getting away clean. Read the rest
It's $35/month for the service, from San Francisco's coolest indie ISP (founded by Rudy Rucker's son, Rudy Jr, it was the inspiration for Pigspleen, the fictional ISP in my novel Little Brother) and if you opt to pay a little extra, they'll install a free link in a low/medium income neighborhood, too. Read the rest
Jonathan Zittrain writes, "Ad hoc mesh networking has been developed to enable free and censorship-resistant communications in places like Egypt and Syria. (The New America Foundation's Commotion project is an example of that kind of network.) Less explored has been this kind of networking for public safety purposes, such during attacks or natural disasters. In this article, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and I explain why it'd be a good idea to develop these kinds of networks, and sketch out how they might work."
The Doctor [412/724/301/703] [ZS] sez, "Project Byzantium is a working group of the HacDC hackerspace, and is a live distribution of Linux for easily and rapidly deploying ad-hoc wireless mesh networks for the purpose of emergency communications. They presented last weekend in New York City at HOPE Number Nine and announced their second major release (v0.2a) on stage. They also gave away 500 copies on CD-ROM at the conference. They held workshops all weekend on how to use and test Byzantium Linux, and now they've released the .iso image of this release to the Internet. (Thanks, The Doctor [412/724/301/703]!) Read the rest
Virgin Mobile USA, which operates as a sort of sub-brand of Sprint in the United States, today announced plans to begin selling the iPhone on June 29 with pre-paid, no-contract voice and data service starting at $30 per month.
The no-strings-attached connectivity comes at a higher hardware price: iPhone 4S at 16GB is $649, and the iPhone 4 at 8GB is $549. Plans include "Unlimited" texting and data (well, unlimited up to 2.5GB).
[Video Link] The FreedomSleeve is an iPhone sleeve that connects a 3G iPhone to a "free" 4G network. It can be used as a wifi hotspot, and has a built-in battery to extend the iPhone's internal battery an additional 6 hours. It cost $99 and you get "up to 1GB of free data every month." According to GigaOM, each additional megabyte will cost a penny. Service is expected to start this summer. I hope the service is international. Freedom Pop iPhone Sleeve Read the rest
Mathias Nitzsche had a nifty idea: using Wi-Fi network names to create a connection between the network's owner and those who spot it in their wireless networks list. His aptly named wifis.org site lets you pick a handle and advertise it through your network name, as in wifis.org/glennocschmidt. This creates an account for you on the site, and makes a Web form available at that address that sends email to your Google or Facebook email, whichever you used to create the registration. The visitor never sees your email address. (Nitzsche avoids having his own registration database, which removes some overhead and security risk associated with retaining passwords.)
I contacted Mathias to ask about privacy and security issues, as one might be concerned about email addresses being stored and the association of a Wi-Fi network name with such. He said (and his FAQ notes) that he doesn't reveal information to third parties. While he's based in Germany, his data and application is hosted in the Google App Engine in the United States.
I'd love to see a variant on this idea, in which an existing network name could be paired with a unique few letter long code that someone would then append to their network. Look up the code, and you'd get the same result. I admit Nitzsche's idea is neater, encoding the URL and the identifier all at once.
Photo: Rajeev Nair / Ill. Rob Beschizza.
Should we pity a once-popular blog when its time in the sun has come and gone? Not so much. I'm watching the sunset of a moderately high-traffic site I've run for a decade, and that seems the natural course of events. Like the hecatomb of evolution, many blogs rose and then were slaughtered in the crucible of viewer attention (and blogger interest). Those that survive are fitter—or at least live in areas with abundant page views.
A recent glance at my statistics put me in a funk, briefly, until I dashed through Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief, adapted for the fast-paced online age. Denial: The stats must be broken! Anger: This is an awesome site; everyone must be blind! Bargaining: Maybe if I do a redesign? Depression: All that effort, for naught. Acceptance: Hey, what's going on at Reddit?