Monthly Archives: April 2011

NASA Satellite Show’s Tornadoes from Space

Tornado Tracks in Tuscaloosa – NASA

NASA seems to have gotten BETTER at capturing images of natural disasters from Space.  The latest images come from this last weeks Massive Tornado outbreaks in the south.  The Images show the Tornado Tracks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in very good detail.  The images were acquired by using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) from the Aqua Satellite on April 28.  In the photo you can see three very distinct tonado tracks.  The pale brown trails where green trees and plants were uprooted.  Several links to photo’s from Alabama and Georgia can be found in the  NASA Earth Observatory,  as well as more satellite data from the storms.

The tornadoes were part of a larger weather pattern that produced more than 150 tornadoes across six states, according to the National Weather Service. The death toll reached 300 on April 29, making the outbreak the deadliest in the United States since 1974.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory, International Business Times

Robot "Rollin Justin" now catches 2 Balls at a time.

Rollin’ Justin @ CeBit – Engadget

DLR’s new hit Robot Rollin’ Justin is an IMPRESSIVE new robot. His latest Trick is “Catching Flying Balls and Preparing coffee.

Hizook has covered Rolling Justin before, as he has began his evolution.  Since his debut at CeBit he seems to be learning more than just taking commands, he now can Dance, Catch 2 Flying balls thrown in his direction, and Prepare Coffee.

This Robot is showing alot of promise as it’s makers seem to be adding newer and newer features and teaching it to do more.

Here is the Original DLR Handout back in 2008 of Justin it has alot of photo’s as well as information about the Robots Footprint.

Source: Hizook, ICRA, Engadget

Number of Tornado’s this year increases, leaves Scientific Community Scratching heads.

Massive Tornado as it moves thru Tuscaloosa, Alabama

With the latest Destructive tornado’s out of the “Dixie Alley” last night, and the number of deaths on the Rise still from it.  Many are asking why are there MORE this year?  Is it the end of the world?  Global Warming?

The experts that are drawing conclusions about the true size of, or reason for, and increase in tornado activity say it’s difficult to say if we are having more now than before.  Due to to historical statistics that are unreliable due to changes in the way storms are tracked and measured.

Scientists do believe that climate change will contribute to increasing severe weather phenomena, including hurricanes and thunderstorms, but there is little consensus about how it may effect tornadoes however.  This is partly because of the lack of historical data and partly because of a tornado’s unpredictable nature.


With the start of a heavier that normal season so far in what is called the “Dixie Alley” those of us in “Tornado Alley” are certainly awaiting what normally is our tornado season in May – June.  We have seen several tornado’s already this season but the sheer number of tornado’s this year is NOT going unnoticed by researchers and folks living in other region’s frequented by those storms.

Source: The New York Times, National Severe Storms Laboratory

No Longer a Rumor: Nintendo Confirms Wii Successor in 2012

Possible Screen shot of Project Cafe

PC world is reporting this morning that Nintendo has formally “announced” their next video game console instead of pretending that they don’t care, (or that they don’t know what we are talking about) or by speaking in Vague-ties and NO Comments.

The company the the details drop on it’s 2011 financials, admitting there is indeed a new console just around the corner.  The Project Cafe, often rumored has now been confirmed and should be available in 2012, however the first look at it should be in less than 2 months at E3 2011.

So what’s still be speculated by the console?  HTDV Support, a Blu-Ray Drive, Backwards compatibility with the Wii, better motion controls than the PlayStation Move, and that it’s slight more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Ability to stream game or video anywhere and a table controller.

A rumored system name was ‘Stream’.

Source: PCWorld, AP, BBCNews

Rail Gun Round Punches thru steel plate and travels 4 miles afterwards.

‘Blitzer’ railgun projectile

General Atomics has been upping the ante on its ‘Blitzer’ Railgun, named after the most dangerous of Santa’s reindeer. GA’s got a new, super aerodynamic dart for it that can travel four miles downrange after being fired at zero elevation and blowing through a 1/8″ steel plate.

Previous tests, the railgun lobbed  projectiles shapped like bricks.  The projectiles behaved like bricks as well, tumbling out of control at Mach 6.  The new round developed with the assistance of Boeing is streamlined and looks to mean business.  If it can make it 4 miles after being launched at zero elevation.  It is an easy bet that it’s round will have an operational range of 150 kilometers or around 93 miles.

 In the video from Defencetech, you are able to see the Blitzer in action.  General Atomics along with Boeing are estimating that the could install the weapon on a DDG-51 class destroyer by the end of the decade.  Already many are suggesting that a miniaturized version could be used in a Tank and when paired with the latest laser technology we have seen.  It would give a Destroyer, BATTLESHIP like qualities.

Source: Dvice, Defensetech

New High Tech Gear aiding Police in operations.

Police from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio have been given
demonstrations of how the device works.

With the 2014 World Cup just around the corner in Brazil, the country has issued sunglasses with cameras attached that can automatically identify 400 known criminals per second from up to 12 miles away.  However most of the scans will occur at about 150 feet.  Making it much easier to ferret out known hooligans.

The glasses are wirelessly connected to a central database with the facial profiles.  Where a computer program compares each image with points on the face and will immediately signal and matches.

The glasses will be distributed to Police officials from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where the key matches of the games will take place.

Major Leandro Pavani Agostini, of Sao Paulo’s Military Police, said: “It’s something discreet because you do not question the person or ask for documents. The computer does it.

“To the naked eye two people may appear identical but with 46,000 points compared, the data will not be beaten.”

Celebrie UFED

This week Michigan State police also started using a high-tech device that connects to almost any personal cell phone – and in mere minutes downloads its entire contents, including call logs, texts, photos and web history.  In a big step that has OUTRAGED the ACLU, Michigan State Police have started scanning the cell phones of people pulled over for traffic violations.

All officiers are required to use the device is probable cause or your consent.  The real issue at hand is are people even aware that they have the Right to say NO.  Police aren’t even obligated to tell you that you have the right to refuse the cell phone scan.

Stay tuned to this story as well as others I’m sure there is much more coming on both of these devices and there are more things on the way just around the corner that will do both of these jobs better, faster and without your permission.

Scoure:, Telegraph, FoxNews, Cellebrite, Toledoonthemove

iPhone and iPad can track a user’s location history

Security researchers discover tracking files in apple devices.

Security Researchers have found hidden data files in the Apple Devices that contain details records of user whereabouts.

Privacy advocates are SCREAMING FOUL!!!

The discovery comes as many technology companies are coming under fire for the ways in which they collect, store and share personal information gleaned from consumers’ use of digital devices.

Apple, Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., they of the most popular consumer technology companies have attracted intense interest from regulators and privacy advocates as of late.

Apple raised eyebrows last year when it added a phrase to its privacy policy disclosing that it would “collect, use and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.” The company said that the data were anonymous and could not be used to identify the original user.

But Allan of Exeter University and Warden, a former Apple engineer, said the cache of location information on a user’s iPhone or iPad can be linked easily to the user and is not protected by any security.

Cellphone location data have long been collected by wireless providers to help route calls to mobile users. Law enforcement officials can get access to that data, but it generally requires a court order.

“Now this information is sitting in plain view, unprotected from the world,” Warden and Allen wrote in an online post on the O’Reilly Radar technology site. The data are “available to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer,” they said.

Also in recent days Apple has come under fire over kids’ in-app purchases.  It is facing a lawsuit from a Pennsylvania man whose 9-year old  daughter racked up $200 in charge buying “Zombie Toxin” and other game items on her iPod.

Apple did not return requests for comment.

What can you do in the meantime? Allan and Warden advise Apple users to encrypt their iTunes backups by selecting your device within iTunes, then checking “Encrypt iPhone Backup” under “Options.”

Update: 04/21/2011

Government officials want answers to secret iPhone tracking-MSNBC

While iPhone and iPad owners waffled between Skynet jokes and genuine concern over the confirmation that the devices are mapping their every move in accessible files for up to a year, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., got down to business, firing off nine pointed questions in a two-page open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Update 4/22/2011
Police use Apple iOS tracking data for investigations– DigitalTrends

According to a company called Katana Forensics, however, the unencrypted data is also used by law enforcement for their own purposes.

“The information on the phone is useful in a forensics context,” said Alex Levinson of Katana. The company’s iOS data extracting software, Lantern 2, is often used by “small-town local police all the way up to state and federal police, different agencies in the government that have forensics units.”

While the collection of cell phone data by law enforcement remains a controversial topic, the practice has so far been upheld as constitutional by the courts.

Update 08:25am 04/25/2011
Apple: We ‘must have’ comprehensive user location data on you – International Business Times
Iphone Stored Location in Test even if disabled – The Wall Street Journal

Discovery this week that it’s not just the iPhones that are keeping track of their users.  But the Mac computers running Snow Leopard and even Windows computers running Safari 5 are being watched.  The report by Internation Business Times went on to talk more about  Apple’s general counsel, answering a June 2010
congressional letter to CEO Steve Jobs inquiring about the company’s privacy policy and location-based services, wrote Apple “must have access to the comprehensive location-based information” to help it better serve customer.

In their article The Wall Street Journal ran tests on the iPhone 4 even after turning off the location services that phone still continued to collect and store data.  The locations data appeared to be collected using cellphone towers and Wi-Fi access points near the user’s phone.  In their article they also stated that not only is Apple doing this, Google is as well.  Last week the Journal reported that cellphones powered by Google Inc.’s Android software transmitted their locations back to Google as well.

Update 10:45am 04/25/2011
Apple’s Location Data Collection Probed in South Korea  – Bloomberg 
iOS location data prompts investigation of Apple in South Korea, Europe – AppleInsider
AppleInsider and Bloomberg are reporting that investigations into iOS location data are now opening up in South Korea, France, Germany and Italy.  Were privacy regulators will be determining if Apple is breaking the law.  Apple will also be required to explain why such data is saved on devices and if it’s stored on company’s servers.

Update 7:45am 04/282011
Apple Denies iPhones store user location – Bloomberg
Bloomberg reported this morning with a Statement from Apple that the information found by researchers it’s tracking information and isn’t anything that they are attempting to store.  It is the result of a bug that is causing phones to keep data longer than intended.  This is the first response from Apple to the allegations that the Phones are storing up to a year’s worth of user location data.  The log they went on to day isn’t a log of the phone’s location but a list of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers nearby.  That helps the phone figure out it’s location without having to listen for Faint GPS satellites.

Update 1:52PM 05/04/2001
iOS4.3.3 out with location tracking fixes for iPhone and iPad – Arstechnica, Appleinsider

Apple has released an expected iOS update that addresses a number of issues related to the iPhone location tracking controversy. iOS 4.3.3 is available via iTunes for the GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, all iPads, and the fourth-generation iPod touch. (Another update, iOS 4.2.8, is available for CDMA iPhone users.)

According to the release notes, iOS 4.3.3 reduces the size of the location database cache, stops backing the cache up to iTunes when you connect your device to a computer, and deletes the cache entirely when you turn Location Services off. There are no other notes attached to the update, though it’s possible (as always) that Apple may have slipped some other bug fixes into it as well. (We hear there are bug fixes for the iPod touch, but we’re not sure what those fixes are yet.)

Update 8:29am 05/11/2011
Google and Apple testify in front of congress regarding privacy and tracking data.

Source: LATimes, Bloomberg, O’Reilly Radar. MSNBC, Ars Technica, DigitalTrends,
International Business Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, AppleInsider

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Hacked in Spear-Phishing Attack

The federal facility was hacked and data was siphoned from a server on Friday, federal workers were forced to disconnect internet access.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Only a “Few megabytes” of data were stolen before the lab discovered the breach and cut net access.  Oak Ridge is located in Tennessee and conducts classified and unclassified energy and national security work.  Funded by the U.S Department of Energy it is managed by UT-Batelle, a private company.

According to Thomas Zacharia, deputy director of the lab, the attack against the lab was “sophisticated” and compared it to so-called “advanced persistent threat” attacks that hit the security firm “RSA” last month and Google last year.

The intrusion cam in the form of a spear-phishing email sent to lab employees on April 7.  The email was sent as an email from the human resources department, discussed employee benefits and included a link to a malicious web site, where the malware exploited IE vulnerability to download additional code to users’ machines.

The code that was used exploited an IE zero day vulnerability that Microsoft then patched on April 12.  The exploit was describe as a critical remote-code execution vulnerability., with allows attackers to install malware on a user’s machine if he/she visits a infected website.

About 530 employees received the email but only 57 clicked on it allowing it to hook 2 computers in the scheme.  The lab took precautions as soon as they were alerted to the issue and began blocking emails as soon as they began to come in.

On April 11, administrators discovered that a server had been breached when data began leaving he network.  As workers cleaned up the infected system, early Friday evening, “a number of other servers went active with the malware.”  The malware had laid dormant for a week before it awoke on those systems.  At that point the lab took steps and BLOCKED INTERNET access.

The LAB is still working to this date to characterized the malware so they can be certain they have completely eradicated it.

Zacharia, was unable to say what the attackers stole or where the data went.  He would also not say whether NSA encryption experts were amount those assisting in the investigation. Knoxnews confirmed through Microsofts, public relations firm that they were assisting in the probe on the attack.

This attack is the 2nd such attack since 2007 when a similar spear phising attack allowed hackers to access a non-classified data base at the lab and gain access to thousands of name, SSN records and birthdates belonging to anyone who had visted the lab between 1990 and 2004.

Source: Wired, Microsoft, Knoxnews

Navy tests laser gun by zapping motorboat off California coast

For the first time in its history, the U.S. Navy fired a laser ray gun mounted on a warship, zapping — and setting fire to — an empty motorboat as it bobbed in the Pacific Ocean.

Boat’s Motor set ablaze by Laser.

The test demonstration, which took place off the Southern California coast near San Nicholas Island, could mark a new era in Naval weaponry, officials said.

“This is very important to the Navy’s future weapon systems,” said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, chief of the Office of Naval Research. “By turning energy into a weapon, we become more efficient and more effective.”
Built by Northrop Grumman Corp. in Redondo Beach, the laser system could be used to blast apart incoming cruise missiles, zap enemy drones out of the sky or possibly even shoot down ballistic missiles one day, Carr said.

“In the distant future, I can envision a day when this technology is outfitted on cruisers and destroyers,” he said.

The success of this high-energy laser test is a credit to the collaboration, cooperation and teaming of naval labs at Dahlgren, China Lake, Port Hueneme and Point Mugu, Calif.,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr. “ONR coordinated each of their unique capabilities into one cohesive effort.”
The latest test occurred near San Nicholas Island, off the coast of Central California in the Pacific Ocean test range. The laser was mounted onto the deck of the Navy’s self-defense test ship, former USS Paul Foster (DD 964).

Carr also recognized the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s High Energy Joint Technology Office and the Army’s Joint High Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program for their work. MLD leverages the Army’s JHPSSL effort.

“This is the first time a HEL, at these power levels, has been put on a Navy ship, powered from that ship and used to defeat a target at-range in a maritime environment,” said Peter Morrison, program officer for ONR’s MLD.

In just slightly more than two-and-a-half years, the MLD has gone from contract award to demonstrating a Navy ship defensive capability, he said.

Additionally, the Navy accomplished several other benchmarks, including integrating MLD with a ship’s radar and navigation system and firing an electric laser weapon from a moving platform at-sea in a humid environment. Other tests of solid state lasers for the Navy have been conducted from land-based positions.
Having access to a HEL weapon will one day provide warfighter with options when encountering a small-boat threat, Morrison said.

But while April’s MLD test proves the ability to use a scalable laser to thwart small vessels at range, the technology will not replace traditional weapon systems, Carr added.

“From a science and technology point of view, the marriage of directed energy and kinetic energy weapon systems opens up a new level of deterrence into scalable options for the commander. This test provides an important data point as we move toward putting directed energy on warships. There is still much work to do to make sure it’s done safely and efficiently,” the admiral said.

Sources: LA Times, ONR