DARPA Announces Winner of XC2V Future Combat Vehicles Design Competition

by WZ on March 22, 2011 3 Comments

In the first ever crowd-sourcing competition using social media to design a combat vehicle, DARPA has awarded Victor Garcia 1st place for his Flypmode design. Logic-Cool had covered this topic previously here. The winning model will actually be built as a concept model later this June. I consider the idea of this competition more exciting than any of the vehicles themselves, in essence allowing everyday people and enthusiasts to pool their knowledge and design assets far quicker than the normal bureaucratic process.

The process for creating the XC2V vehicle itself serves as a proof of concept. If it works, DARPA will refine the process of crowd-sourcing and start a series of prize challenges that will result in a true infantry fighting vehicle…It takes us 10 or 20 years to develop a complex military system like a jet or a ship or a tank. We want to reduce that by ...

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Ex-"Anonymous" Hackers Plan to Publish Members' Identities

by WZ on March 20, 2011 2 Comments

Ex-members of the hacktivist group Anonymous plan to reveal the group's identities to the public. Readers who follow tech news have probably already heard of Anonymous a few times.They're hackers that began as online pranksters, but have in recent years decided to take sides in political conflicts, being responsible for attacks on Scientology, Paypal, the Pentagon, Sarah Palin among other targets. According to the Forbes article, the ex-members don't believe the group should act as judge, jury and executioner.

A hacker named "Hubris" writes:

“They say they fight for free speech, but then they use fear and intimidation, like Scientology or Fox News,” he says. “That’s not freedom of speech, and we won’t put up with that crap.”

As their opening barrage, the split-off group has released a torrent titled "insurance" to various file-sharing sites and will soon release keys to unlock it. This ...

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European Union to Enshrine "Right to be Forgotten"

by WZ on March 17, 2011 0 Comments

The EU has issued a warning to Facebook and other social networks that they intend to pass strict privacy laws enabling individuals to withdraw consent for processing their online data. The new legislation is partially intended to prevent people from being able to jeopardize the livelihood of others due to personal information placed on the Internet.

"I want to explicitly clarify that people shall have the right – and not only the possibility – to withdraw their consent to data processing," Reding said. "The burden of proof should be on data controllers – those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need to keep the data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is not necessary."

Researchers Discover How to Hack Cars Remotely With Wireless & Bluetooth

by WZ on March 14, 2011 0 Comments

Researchers from the University of Washington and UCSD have learned how to hijack a modern car's OnStar, Sync or Bluetooth connection to control all of the car's computer functions, including the door locks and the ability to use brakes.

Led by Tadayoshi Kohno (UW) and Stefan Savage (UCSD), the team used a smartphone to hack into the cars, but each phone had to be already paired with system by the car owner or illicitly paired without his/her knowledge.

"We were surprised to find that the attack surface was so broad," Kohno says, referring to the wide variety of ways the researchers were able to gain access to the car's computer systems.

The team analyzed possible attack scenarios as well. For example, they showed that high-tech car thieves could search for desired models of cars, identify their locations, and unlock them, all without any forced entry. They ...

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Students Create Robot That Picks Locks

by WZ on March 11, 2011 0 Comments

First, GPS maps rendered most people lazy about learning how to navigate with a map. Now, students at Olin College have developed a robot, named LockCracker, that could do the same for burglars. Actually, they designed their robot to help people who have forgotten their combinations.  

But, you know...their device has tons more interesting applications.

(H/T PhysOrg)

Google Releases "Speedier, Simpler and Safe" Version of Chrome

by WZ on March 9, 2011 0 Comments

Today, Google announced a new version of Chrome available for download. I use Chrome as my primary browser. I find it way faster than Internet Explorer and slightly faster than Firefox, so I highly endorse it. This announcement from Google came right on the heels of a recent Firefox update.

Chrome boasts new sandbox security technology that will isolate malicious webpages that attempt to download viruses and other malware to your computer.

You may download Chrome here.  On a side note, why do we as Americans love hearing British accents in our tutorials?

Homeland Security Eyes the Use of Portable, Instant DNA Scanners

by WZ on March 6, 2011 3 Comments

This summer the Department of Homeland Security will receive a prototype DNA scanner from Network Biosystems, that promises to map out human DNA in one hour. The company hopes to become a leading provider of rapid DNA analysis. Once perfected, fast DNA mapping technology promises to revolutionize several law enforcement and criminal forensics fields.

Homeland Security wants to give agents these scanners to use on asylum seekers and immigrants wishing to relocate into the U.S. In the latter case, the scanners will be aimed at reducing VISA fraud by verifying genetic kinship to the immigrant's sponsor. Also, Homeland Security wants to use the devices to reduce child trafficking and illegal adoptions.

Following the public uproar over their highly invasive and demeaning airport security practices, TSA felt obligated to make a pre-emptive public announcement that they had no plans to use the DNA scanners for airport security.

Naturally, some ...

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New Forensic Technology Successfully Identifies Real Criminals From Artist Sketches

by WZ on March 4, 2011 0 Comments

Police working with the Michigan State University have developed a forensics program that matches an artist's hand-drawn facial sketch with the actual mug shot of a wanted perpetrator. The program compared over 10,000 sketches to mug shots and boasted a 45% success rate in finding the real person.

A grad student on the project Brendan Klare comments:

"We're dealing with the worst of the worst here...Police sketch artists aren't called in because someone stole a pack of gum. A lot of time is spent generating these facial sketches so it only makes sense that they are matched with the available technology to catch these criminals."

A 45% success rate is actually very huge and promises to revolutionize police work if implemented nationwide. The MSU team plans to field the system within a year.

Mugshot Artist Sketch

DHS Will Soon Place Advanced Lie Detectors in U.S. Airports

by WZ on March 3, 2011 0 Comments

University of Arizona researchers are working with the Department of Homeland Security on an Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time...which is their torturous way to use the acronym AVATAR to describe their system.  

Avatar's job will simply be to detect lies by scanning your facial features.  In particular, the machine will detect eye dilation and eye movement, two signs of lying.  A microphone will listen to what you say, but also how you say it.  The new machine currently is undergoing tests.  

We at Logic-Cool are airport security skeptics in light of the highly invasive procedures now in place. TSA has yet to announce the successful prevention of any terrorist attacks, nor have they ever arrested a single terrorist in all the years of its operation. They have reported success in finding smuggled drugs.

Ladies and gentemen, I present Avatar:

Scientists Find Positive Expectations Crucial for Pain Medication to Work

by WZ on February 19, 2011 0 Comments

British and German researchers have published their findings that positive expectations are critical for pain drugs to have effectiveness. When primed to expect failure, test subjects reported little effect for any pain medication given to them. In fact, their study found that negative expectations canceled almost all of a pain killer's benefit. 

Their experiments used the potent drug remifentanil along with MRI scans of volunteers. The researchers were able to detect patients turning on or shutting down parts of the brain purely through the mechanism of positive or negative expectation.

The full study text was published Wednesday in the Science Translational Medicine journal.

So my curious question is this: If turning on certain parts of the brain through positive expectations is mandatory for reducing pain...why do we need the drug?  Where does all the "expecting" stop?  Doctors might say, "You still need the drug" along with positive belief ...

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Russia Loses Key Military Satellite, Suspects U.S.

by WZ on February 15, 2011 0 Comments

On February 1st, Russia launched a high-tech Geo-IK 2 satellite in order to create a comprehensive 3D map of Earth's military targets. Shortly after, the Russians lost contact with their probe only to find it again, but now in an incorrect orbit that renders its mission impossible.

A member of the task force investigating the space accident stated:

"The probable cause may involve electromagnetic intrusion on the automatic controls.

...the Russian source stressed that the accident occurred between the first and second burns of the Briz-KM upper-stage booster rocket — an area in which the craft makes no contact with ground control. The official suggested that the electromagnetic pulse may have been aimed at the Russian craft "from a land, sea, air or space vehicle".

Mainstream society, both domestically and internationally, accepts the idea that the U.S. probably has military technology beyond what it publicly reveals. While not openly ...

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Google Brings Down the Hammer on JC Penny

by WZ on February 13, 2011 0 Comments

The New York Times has an excellent article about JC Penny's attempt to manipulate product searches and what Google did in response. Over the last several months, JC Penny has appeared in the top position of rankings for a wide spectrum of brands, even appearing ahead of the product manufacturers. For example, Googling "samsonite" would give you JC Penny rather than Samonite's actual webpage. 

The company's search engine manipulation proved quite successful, since they were able to remain in the top spots during the lucrative holiday months of 2010.

"The company bested millions of sites — and not just in searches for dresses, bedding and area rugs. For months, it was consistently at or near the top in searches for “skinny jeans,” “home decor,” “comforter sets,” “furniture” and dozens of other words and phrases, from the blandly generic (“tablecloths”) to the strangely specific (“grommet top curtains”). This striking ...

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1 in 3 Europeans Infected by Computer Viruses Last Year

by WZ on February 8, 2011 0 Comments

The dismal statistics were released by Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union. According to reports, one-third of European Internet users caught a computer virus that resulted in some sort of loss, despite over 8 in 10 of them using anti-virus or other protection software. Bulgaria ranked as the most dangerous country for computer users, over half of the computers there had been infected by a virus last year. Ireland and Austria ranked as the safest countries.

European Internet

Internet Creators Ask Hackers For Help

by WZ on February 7, 2011 0 Comments

The U.S. military's research arm DARPA has requested hackers help keep the Internet secure. The agency hopes to crowdsource security issues by enlisting hackers, hobbyists and startup companies in a program called "Cyber Fast Track" which will reward security research done in a short time for a small price. Participants and awardees will retain the rights to their work.

Corporations and organizations are finally awakening to the great creative resources that a dedicated community can bring to any topic. Microsoft's Kinect is a classic case in point for the benefits of crowdsourcing.


Photo by d70focus/Flickr

U.S. Government Finds Way to Slip Through China's Internet Censors

by WZ on February 5, 2011 0 Comments

Using new technology, the U.S. government has found a way to bust through China's Internet censorship to deliver unfiltered information to the local population. The technology was developed by Sho Ho, an IT specialist, and sponsored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent agency of the federal government responsible for all non-military and international broadcasts by the U.S.  Called "Feed Over E-mail", the technology compresses data below the ability of scanning software to screen out forbidden words.  

The BBG operates Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (such as Al-Hurrah).

Image by Cox & Forkum

Image by Cox & Forkum

Can the U.S. Government Shut Down Internet Here?

by WZ on February 5, 2011 0 Comments

Nope, says The Daily. According to the Apple/News Corp. brainchild, most other countries get their Internet access via their governments. Since the Internet was born in the U.S. it benefits from a decentralized structure.  No one company or organization carries the responsibility for maintaining the Internet. So, no red buttons currently exist that can give the president the power to shutdown the Internet, not unless we pass this current proposed legislation which would require some kind of logistical overhaul.

Internet Shutdown Switch

The Darker Side of Social Networking Technology

by WZ on February 4, 2011 1 Comment

I stumbled across this interesting article on DoDBuzz and Wall Street Journal about how the Egyptian government (and other authoritarian regimes) hijack the networks of communication companies in order to rally government supporters against freedom protesters. Internet shutdowns are selective, not total. The governments in question allow supporters to organize while forcing communication companies to serve as their messengers and rallying points. Like a weapon, technology is a source for good depending on who is wielding it.

Love Hormone Oxytocin Found to Be An Everything Hormone

by WZ on February 1, 2011 0 Comments

Psychologist Jennifer Bartz of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City presented new findings that the brain hormone Oxytocin increased paranoia in personalities already inclined to be suspicious. 

Currently, Oxytocin is best known for its roles in female reproduction, in particular for bonding a mother to her newborn baby.   

This new research casts some doubt in planned Oxytocin treatments for people suffering psychiatric disorders or conditions. Other researchers have previously reported that the hormone increases feelings of racism., the implication being that the hormone increases your pre-existing tendencies, not just feelings of love.

Previous studies in 2008 and earlier years found Oxytocin to be a "love" hormone. 

(h/t USA Today)

China Blocks the Word "Egypt" From Micro-Blog Searches

by WZ on January 30, 2011 0 Comments

Fearing that the intense desire for political reform in Egypt might spill over into their country, China banned the word "Egypt" from Chinese search portals Sina.com and Sohu.com...both being a Chinese version of Twitter.

The Chinese government routinely blocks social networking sites including Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

Drug Smugglers Use Catapult to Fling Shipments Over the U.S. Border

by WZ on January 27, 2011 0 Comments

I remember wanting one of those badly when I was a kid (the catapult, not the drugs). Why does the story remind me of Looney Toons?

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