Keep losing your iPhone? You can now dock it in your bra, toaster, kettle, prosthetic arm, or yes, under your skin.
Keep losing your iPhone? You can now dock it in your bra, toaster, kettle, prosthetic arm, or yes, under your skin.
How long before the Occupy line of cosmetics hits Bloomingdales?
This project reminds me of a Heath Bunting proposal to paint anamorphic pictures of people on the ground in front of security cameras to confuse their operators.
“A New York-based designer has created a camouflage technique that makes it much harder for computer based facial recognition. Along with the growth of closed circuit television (CCTV) , this has become quite a concern for many around the world, especially in the UK where being on camera is simply a part of city life. Being recognized automatically by computer is something that hearkens back to 1984 or A Scanner Darkly. As we move further into the 21st century, this futuristic techno-horror fiction is seeming more and more accurate. Never fear though people, CV Dazzle has some styling and makeup ideas that will make you invisible to facial recognition cameras. Why the ‘fabulous’ name? It comes from World War I warship paint that used stark geometric patterning to help break up the obvious outline of the vessel. Apparently it all began as a thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. It addressed the problems with traditional techniques of hiding the face, like masks and sunglasses and looked into more socially and legally acceptable ways of styling that could prevent a computer from recognizing your face. Fans of Assassin’s Creed might feel a bit at home with this, as it’s all about hiding in plain sight.”
Meanwhile, for those times when you want to get your face out on your terms, protestors have taken to occupying the sky.
Meet the Occu-Copter. The live-streaming media stars of the Occupy movement are using cheap technology to provide streaming coverage of protest events from the air – challenging the big budgets of mainstream TV news stations.
Europe’s largest IT company wants to replace email with IM, social networks, and face-to-face meetings. If only 11 percent of 11 to 19 year-olds use email, will it go the way of the dodo?
“Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, Europe’s Largest IT Company, wants a ‘zero email’ policy to be in place in 18 months, arguing that only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day on average turn out to be useful, and that staff spend between 5-20 hours handling emails every week. ‘The email is no longer the appropriate (communication) tool,’ says Breton. ‘The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face (in the future). It is time to think differently.’ Instead Breton wants staff at Atos to use chat-type collaborative services inspired by social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter as surveys show that the younger generation have already all but scrapped email, with only 11 per cent of 11 to 19 year-olds using it. For his part Breton hasn’t sent a work email in three years. ‘If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.’”
Even if you continue to send email, you might find that filing it is a waste of time.
“There are two types of office workers in the world — those who file their emails in folders, and those who use search. Well, it looks like the searchers are smarter. A 354-user study by IBM research found that users who just searched their inbox found emails slightly faster than users who had filed them by folder. Add the time spent filing and the searchers easily come out on top. Apparently the filers are using their inbox as a to-do list rather than wanting to categorize information to find it more easily.”
Ie email goes extinct, what’s next? Maybe files.
“Two recent papers, one from Microsoft Research and one from University of Wisconsin (PDF), are providing a refreshing take on rethinking ‘what a file is.’ This could have major implications for the next-gen file system design, and will probably cause a stir among Slashdotters, given that it will affect the programmatic interface. The first paper has some hints as to what went wrong with the previous WinFS approach. Quoting the first paper: ‘For over 40 years the notion of the file, as devised by pioneers in the field of computing, has proved robust and has remained unchallenged. Yet this concept is not a given, but serves as a boundary object between users and engineers. In the current landscape, this boundary is showing signs of slippage, and we propose the boundary object be reconstituted. New abstractions of file are needed, which reflect what users seek to do with their digital data, and which allow engineers to solve the networking, storage and data management problems that ensue when files move from the PC on to the networked world of today. We suggest that one aspect of this adaptation is to encompass metadata within a file abstraction; another has to do what such a shift would mean for enduring user actions such as “copy” and “delete” applicable to the deriving file types. We finish by arguing that there is an especial need to support the notion of “ownership” that adequately serves both users and engineers as they engage with the world of networked sociality. ‘”
Yet another reason to choose a Facebook photo that’s hotter than you really are.
With Carnegie Mellon’s cloud-centric new mobile app, the process of matching a casual snapshot with a person’s online identity takes less than a minute. Tools like PittPatt and other cloud-based facial recognition services rely on finding publicly available pictures of you online, whether it’s a profile image for social networks like Facebook and Google Plus or from something more official from a company website or a college athletic portrait. In their most recent round of facial recognition studies, researchers at Carnegie Mellon were able to not only match unidentified profile photos from a dating website (where the vast majority of users operate pseudonymously) with positively identified Facebook photos, but also match pedestrians on a North American college campus with their online identities. … ‘[C]onceptually, the goal of Experiment 3 was to show that it is possible to start from an anonymous face in the street, and end up with very sensitive information about that person, in a process of data “accretion.” In the context of our experiment, it is this blending of online and offline data — made possible by the convergence of face recognition, social networks, data mining, and cloud computing — that we refer to as augmented reality.’ http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/09/30/1422217/Cloud-Powered-Facial-Recognition-Is-Terrifying
But then again, who really pays attention to dry academic studies? The FBI, for one.
“The FBI by mid-January will activate a nationwide facial recognition service in select states that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos, bureau officials told Nextgov. The federal government is embarking on a multiyear, $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI’s existing fingerprint database to more quickly and accurately identify suspects, partly through applying other biometric markers, such as iris scans and voice recordings.” http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/07/2342240/FBI-Plans-Nationwide-Face-Recognition-Trials-In-2012
Flickr FTW; Facebook WTF.
The Flickr circles you draw on your map are refreshingly intuitive.
Flickr, the granddaddy of online photo sharing, has introduced some refreshingly simple privacy controls designed to limit who can see where your photos were taken. Facebook, please start your photocopiers.
Sadly, Facebook seems to have botched its approach to privacy yet again.
Blogger Dan Tynan was one of the recipients of the new privacy controls that Facebook promised last week. The bad news: They still don’t work, and may even be worse than before. ‘Using Facebook’s new improved privacy controls, you can tag someone else in photo and then keep them from seeing it,’ says Tynan. ‘It’s pretty simple; just change the sharing option so they don’t see what you posted. So if you want to tag a picture of some jerk with your friend’s name on it and make it Public, everyone on Facebook will be able to see it except one — the person whose name is on it.
Donkeys, solar power, and trash are the Internet Service Providers for censored Syrians, beleaguered Afghans, and others without government-sponsored Internet.
These DIY ISPs would make great solutions to the privacy concerns about social networks cited in some recent NMDnet posts–and give new meaning to the term “data mules.”
Syrians Using Donkeys Instead of DSL After Gov’t Shuts Down Internet
“Rebelling Syrians are using all possible alternate methods to pass information to the world amidst a total blackout on the internet by the Government. Believe it or not, Donkeys are a part of the revolution now. From the article: ‘To get the news out, activists have been smuggling videos to Jordan through the desert and across a nearly 80-kilometer border Jordan shares with Syria. Some risk approaching the border with Jordanian cellphones to report to the outside world and send clips. It’s a dangerous task because the Syrian and Jordanian armies traditionally have the area under heavy surveillance to prevent the smuggling of drugs and weapons into the kingdom or further to the Gulf states.’”
The US military is taking note:
Move Over, Robots: Army Prefers Flesh-and-Blood Mules
The experimental four-legged, pack-hauling robots aren’t gonna be ready for frontline duty any time soon. So the Army is considering a big step backward in frontline logistics: more mules and donkeys, with a revived “Animal Corps” to oversee the four-legged recruits.
The Afghans are at it:
Afghans Build Open Source Internet From Trash
“Residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network: an open-source system that uses common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles.”
And there’s more:
Look Ma, No Internet! Free Software Gives Text-Messaging New Reach
Frontline SMS, an open source software that turns a laptop into an internet-free communication hub has been used in more than 50 countries by thousands of organizations.
Berkeley’s working on solar-powered cell phone networks.
Low-Cost DIY Cell Network Runs On Solar
Shareable writes with word of the intriguing work of a Berkeley professor who has developed a “low-cost, low-power cell base station featuring easy, off-the grid deployment with solar or wind power; local services autonomous from national carriers; and an impressive portfolio of voice & data services (not just GSM). It’s designed to connect rural areas in the developing world, but could have wider application like disaster recovery.”
Limewire’s founder wants to distribute pedals as well as MP3s.
Peer-to-Peer Pioneer Sees New York Bicycles Pier-to-Pier
Mark Gorton founded LimeWire, but his true passion is transit — specifically, bikes — and sharply curtailing the role of cars in our cities. We sit down with him to find out why. http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/8SOZGbSiQ84/
Governments and vigilantes are using Facebook and other social media to identify and jail protesters–even if they never left their keyboards.
A Chat With Zavilia, a Tool For Identifying Rioters
“Social media isn’t just great for starting ‘social unrest,’ it’s proving to be quite helpful for quashing it too. Not long after the bricks began to fly in London’s latest kerfuffle, locals angry over raging mobs scrambled to assist the police in their attempt to identify street-fighters and free-for-all hooligans … Now with more than 1,000 people charged over the chaos, a few citizen groups continue to provide web-based rioter identification platforms, in hopes of being good subjects, maintaining the country’s pursuit of order, and keeping their neighborhoods safe.”
In Britain, a Meeting on Limiting Social Media
Government officials and representatives of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry met to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest.
UK Men Get 4 Years For Trying to Incite Riots Via Facebook
“In addition to the 12 arrests from last week, a judge has sentenced 20-year-old Jordan Blackshaw and 22-year-old Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan to four years in prison for their failed attempts to use Facebook to incite riots in the UK. The judge said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent. The two men were convicted for using Facebook to encourage violent disorder in their hometowns in northwest England.”
Slashdot / Soulskill nonprofiteer writes “A bunch of vigilantes are organizing a Google Group dedicated to using recently revealed facial recognition tools to identify looters in the London riots. While Vancouver discussed doing something similar after the Stanley Cup riots, the city never actually moved forward on it. Ring of Steel London, though, is far more likely to incorporate FRT into its investigative work.” A related article points out how development of face-recognition technology has been kept under wraps by some organizations, but we’re getting to the point where it’ll soon be ubiquitous.
When police and vigilantes fail, there’s always PayPal.
PayPal Joins London Police Effort
“PayPal has joined a music copyright association and the City of London police department’s bid to financially starve websites deemed ‘illegal.’ When presented with sufficient evidence of unlicensed downloading from a site, the United Kingdom’s PayPal branch ‘will require the retailer to submit proof of licensing for the music offered by the retailer,’ said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s latest press release.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian activists are getting in trouble for what they post on Facebook.
Egyptian Charged For Threatening Facebook Post
“The Egyptian Military Prosecution has charged 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz for allegedly defaming the country’s ruling generals and calling for armed operations against the military and the judiciary. Mahfouz, a prominent activist, was accused of using Facebook to call for the assassinations of Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) members and certain judges.”
Is it cheating to appropriate Google Street View images as photojournalism?
The Google Street View car is like the ultimate street photographer, a robo Cartier-Bresson methodically scouring the streets and documenting what it sees. But most people use GSV for practical purposes, and they view any drama or comedy captured by the roving 360-degree camera as accidents.
A few photographers are now looking for these ‘accidents’ intentionally. Instead of walking out on the street to find interesting scenes and people, they are simply curating the pre-documented streets from the comfort of their desk at home.
Michael Wolf, for example, uses a camera to photograph scenes from Google Street View open on his computer’s browser. In February, his honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category at the World Press Photo Awards for A Series of Unfortunate Events ignited a storm of debate. Some balked at the idea that Wolf’s project was photojournalism, while others embraced the decision and called for more conceptual leaps and redefinitions of photojournalism in the digital age.
Meanwhile two women in Cincinnati are testing privacy ethics by selling reproductions of 1955 police mug shots.
On another mobile front: For those who prefer their art fresh rather than refried, tablet drawing is getting more sophisticated, as on this recent release by the same company that created AutoCAD:
SketchBook Pro, essentially a digital canvas and brush set, allows you to use both your fingers and aftermarket styluses to create illustrations and designs. Included are over 60 different brush tools, the ability to create up to six different layers for one file, as well as the ability to export files to Photoshop.
The app was previously available on iPhone, iPad and Android phone devices, as well as in an expanded desktop version. This is the first version of the app that will run on Android’s tablet-optimized software, a.k.a. Honeycomb.
Of course, just because you drew it on an iPad doesn’t mean you won’t be a kitschy derivative of other works–as demonstrated by a recent exhibition that showed off the iPad’s artsy side:
What would Leonardo do?
The Pirate Party of Canada has threatened to unleash its anti-surveillance software on its own government, promising to let Canadian citizens browse safely under a Virtual Private Network.
“The Pirate Party of Canada has announced that it will extend a VPN originally set up to allow people in Tunisia to browse freely while internet censorship was imposed there. Canada may soon be added to that list since the ruling Conservative Party has vowed to introduce a bill that would provide unprecedented systematic interception and monitoring of Canadians’ personal communications. So the Pirate Party of Canada has announced it will extend that service to Canadians.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Meanwhile, back in north Africa…
“A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s cellphone network and re-establish their own communications. The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago.”
Privacy advocates Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have released a free visualization tool to demonstrate how the iPhone stores your movements in a file easily accessible by anyone with access to your phone or computer. (Shown here, my January 19th presence in the Philadelphia International Airport.)
Nothing like a good visualization of your own movements to give you the creeps.
If Big Brother comes for you, you’ve got seven minutes to make yourself scarce after tossing your cell phone in a nearby dumpster. That’s what a German politician learned when he took his telephone carrier to court to find out how often they tracked his position–and learned Deutsche Telekom tracked him 35,000 times in 6 months, even though he never explicitly chose to share his location.
The results make for a compelling interactive graphic, but also seem to vindicate free software guru Richard Stallman’s choice never to carry a cell phone.
In January Facebook staff realized that the Tunisian government had installed software that tracked its citizens in unconscionable ways. Fortunately Facebook has now repaired that glaring security hole, and returned to its usual routine of tracking its own users in unconscionable ways. Like putting your face on Starbucks ads without your permission.
Facebook quietly rolled out face recognition in its photo service earlier this year, prompting some to speculate that Facebook users might soon get ads correlated to what they look like or where their pictures appear. But Facebook may not be the only one targeting ads according to what the lens sees. Last month Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer for interactive entertainment let slip that Kinect’s camera feed offered his company “a bunch of new business opportunities.”
What sort of business opportunities? Well, once their system is trained on actual faces thanks to tags from its own users, Microsoft or Facebook could sell Haar classifiers to other companies for ad targeting (think X-box ads for acne cream) or the government for surveillance (think a “Total Information Awareness” database of every person ever caught on a security camera).
Of course, as new media artist and innovator Mark Daggett pointed out to me, this face-harvesting could have productive applications, such as an iPhone app that scans a crowd and displays each person’s Facebook profile above their heads. Then again, it could have detrimental applications, such as an iPhone app that scans a crowd and displays each person’s Facebook profile above their heads.
High-tech engineering for those who want more privacy for their privates. Will Victoria’s Secret come out with a Kevlar-lined bra in time for the holidays?
Thanks to Jeff Buske you don’t have to be embarrassed while going through the full body scanners at the airport. Buske has invented radiation shielding underwear for the shy traveler. From the article: “Jeff Buske says his invention uses a powdered metal that protects people’s privacy when undergoing medical or security screenings. Buske of Las Vegas, Nev.-Rocky Flats Gear says the underwear’s inserts are thin and conform to the body’s contours, making it difficult to hide anything beneath them. The mix of tungsten and other metals do not set off metal detectors.”
Google sent the following email (which serendipitously ended up on NMDnet automatically!) to the effect that it has quickly settled a class-action lawsuit about privacy violations. The same lawsuit targeted Facebook and Zynga.
The bottom line? The lawyers involved take home $2 million and users get nothing, except perhaps for a world in which the dominant Web service provider is a bit more conscious of privacy violations.
Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we’ve reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (http://buzz.google.com), a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.
Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.
The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.
Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at http://www.BuzzClassAction.com.
New in the “They Can Do That?” Department: Your Facebook friends can add you to groups without your approval, and the only way to make sure that never happens is to *have no friends*. Oh, and the FBI can bug your car without a warrant. While it’s in your driveway.
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/10/08/1358232/Lighthearted-Facebook-Friends-Could-Make-You-Join-NAMBLA-Group?from=rss via Byline mykos writes “The Facebook groups feature is causing bit of a stir with its users. TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington was allegedly added to a group about NAMBLA, and in turn, he added Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It’s all in good (albeit tasteless) fun, except when a harmless joke goes awry and you find yourself being detained by customs when a friend decided to drag you into a mock terrorist group. Facebook representatives are aware of the matter, but are dismissive of it. A Facebook spokeswoman said, ‘If you have a friend that is adding you to Groups you do not want to belong to, or they are behaving in a way that bothers you, you can tell them to stop doing it, block them or remove them as a friend — and they will no longer EVER have the ability to add you to any Group.’ In somewhat related news, guillotines ensure you won’t have dandruff on your shoulders anymore.”
Did I mention the guy with his car bugged was a college student? The FBI was pretty keen to get it back, too.
http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/10/08/1413240/College-Student-Finds-GPS-On-Car-FBI-Retrieve?from=rss via Byline mngdih writes with this excerpt from Wired: “A California student got a visit from the FBI this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online. The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do. It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted their expensive device back … His discovery comes in the wake of a recent ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals saying it’s legal for law enforcement to secretly place a tracking device on a suspect’s car without getting a warrant, even if the car is parked in a private driveway. … ‘We have all the information we needed,’ they told him. ‘You don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring.’”
Do RFID tags in clothes for preschoolers make them more or less safe? Check out the ACLU’s timeline of cracked RFID schemes.
“On Tuesday, preschoolers in Richmond, California showed up for school and were handed jerseys embedded with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are tiny computer chips that are frequently used to track everything from cattle to commercial products moving through warehouses. Now the school district is apparently hoping to use these chips to replace manual attendance records, track the children’s movements at school and during field trips, and collect other data like whether the child has eaten or not.
“While school officials and parents may have been sold on these tags as a “cost-saving measure,” we are concerned that the real price of insecure RFID technology is the privacy and safety of small children. RFID has been billed as a “proven technology,” but what’s actually been proven time and again (PDF) since the ACLU first looked at this issue in 2005 is just how insecure RFID chips can be:
“RFID chips in US passport cards were cracked and copied from a distance of 30-feet using $250 in parts bought from eBay (2009).
“RFID chips used in building access cards across the country were cracked and copied with a handheld device the size of a standard cell phone that was built using spare parts costing $20 (2007).
“California State Capitol RFID-based identification cards were cracked and copied and access was gained to member-only, secure entrances (2006).
“RFID chips implanted in humans were cracked and copied (PDF) (2006).
“The RFID chips used in the Dutch and British e-passport were cracked (PDF) (2006).
“Without real security, RFID chips could actually make preschoolers more vulnerable to tracking, stalking, and kidnapping….”
Another item for your checklist of what to do after graduation: change your name.
Google’s Eric Schmidt says that people’s private lives are so well documented now that the young will have to change their names when reaching adulthood to avoid their youthful indiscretions. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Schmidt says: “I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time.”
Intriguing, if disturbing, news from scientists who’ve managed to track people’s recent travel based on how water isotopes end up in their hair.
Bottled water was already suspicious, but now I’m going to assume anyone drinking Poland Spring could be the next Anna Chapman.