Feb 20 2008

Saving People From RSI?

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 7:23 pm

I remember seeing a segment on a TV program back in the 90s that showed a Japanese research scientist playing space invaders without touching anything. He basically thought Left/Right/Fire, and a hybrid EKG machine ‘read’ his though patterns and sent the appropriate command to the computer.
It looks as though this technology has continued to mature, take a look over at this article for more details.

Thought Controlling Hardware

I imagine the price will be a little prohibitive at the beginning, but I’d really like to play with investigate such a headset. Eventually I hope we can progress beyond voice-control, dictating and generally having to insert slow mechanisms in the human computer interface. That said, unless headsets remain obvious and large, and I can see the conspiracy theorists worrying about involuntary ‘scannnig’. Don’t even get me started on the farcical situation with modern ‘secure’ passports with RFIDs in them…

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Dec 05 2007


Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 3:15 am

Just noticed that since changing ISPs, FireFox’s search bar now defaults to the Kazakh Google domain (google.kz) for searches. Any other Kazakh readers out there find this behaviour with FF?
Hmmm, nope, can’t find an online option to prevent this redirection from .com to .kz . Will see if I can hard wire it for .co.uk, and hope no re-directions come into effect that way.
Makes me wonder if Google.kz happens to return any different results from any political search terms, a la China etc. ?

OK, removing (temporarily at least), the tin foil hat. It appears that once you click on the link that forces .com to stay as .com (not certain, but I believe the URL ended in /ncr ???), searches are back to normal. Assuming .com searches are not in anyway filtered.
Anyway, how this redirection was re-activated following an ISP change, I’m not certain, perhaps a cookie expiring and/or tied in with an IP address change on our part?

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Dec 05 2007

Facebook Capitulates To Public Pressure

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 2:10 am

I have recently being using Facebook more than in the past, and noticed a few new groups that were formed to try and influence Facebook’s policies on a few matters – members’ browsing & purchasing habits being sold on to 3rd parties, and all rights§ being signed over when photos are uploaded. In the first case, there appears to have been a change of heart, at least according to the BBC article over here. I really should go through my profile sometime, to check if there is anything in there I would prefer not to be publicly viewable, or potentially sold on to marketeers, but for now, I’ll try and see if any of my ongoing scrabulous games have progressed 🙂 .

§ OK, so that is an exaggeration, but basically, photos uploaded could be used for promotional purposes without the express consent of the member. Others have already pointed out that many photos would simply not be of high enough resolution and too compressed to be of use commercially, but I can forsee a situation where a montage of members’ photos are used, without any problem quality wise.

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Nov 29 2007

France Gets Innovative

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 2:26 am

Whilst I am against the punishing of Peer To Peer users in general, it is interesting to see that France has tried a (slightly) different route in persuading people to stay legal when it comes to music, movies, games and applications. Check out the BBC’s article on it here. Monsieur Sarkozy has announced a scheme where ‘casual’ pirates will receive warnings, and eventually have their internet access removed if they continue to download copyrighted materials. The manner in which they catch these people is a little worrying though, making the ISP’s role a lot more pro-active, rather than simply serving them with requests to trace IP address and date/time combinations to customers, the companies will be expected to actively monitor what people are doing, and report the customers.
No financial or prison sentences is a move in the right direction, but the method of getting there is what worries me greatly. If ISPs accept this new policing role, who knows where it will end. Although different companies definitely have differing policies on this sort of matter, I can’t help wondering if it is the beginning of a slippery slope into an oppressive future.

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Nov 19 2007

Pssst, looking for some cholesterol?

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,PersonalChrisM @ 1:45 am

Just finished reading an interesting article over at the BBC site. It reports that Glasgow council are considering various ways to improve the health of their school’s pupils. Whilst their aims are obviously commendable, some of the options are quite laughable when you consider that it will be children who are expected to play along. ‘Locking in’ pupils at lunch time was carried out by my last school, though this just meant we had to exit the school carefully (the 18 inch gap under the school gates did little to stem the flow of smokers and fish’n’chip shop customers. Like wise, the idea of outright banning un-healthy items in kids packed lunches seems 1) unrealistic 2) a little too Big Brother to me. Contraband smuggling of Mars bars and fried food is likely to occur, and unless teachers follow these guidelines as well, children could rightly claim hypocrisy; children are very resourceful when it comes to bending rules and evading observation when they want to – perhaps time for a little realistic re-thinking?

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Sep 20 2007

Spring Clean Of Bookmarks…

OK, this is one of the last posts I will make whilst in Kazakhstan, so I intend to use it to catch up with a few articles, videos and sites I have been meaning to post about in the last few weeks. Otherwise I will return in a little under a month, and forget all about them probably…

BBC article on the growth in high tech online crime.
Article on 50 Cent’s promise to quit, which he gave prior to his album being beaten to the UK#1 spot.
Related article on fiddy postponing his European tour.
Cool article on speech to sign language translation software. Most impressive.
Another article, this time on how DNA data could be at risk if funding organizations succeed in twisting researchers’ arms.
Article on how Chernobyl is to receive a new steel cover.
Were they pushed, did they jump, or were they stage managed dives? Check out a little background info here on the continuing political family soap opera that is Kazakhstan…
Article on beloved uncle Pres Nazarbayev not being nominated for the Nobel prize. Never mind, he got a consolation prize.
From 3 weeks ago, an article on arrest warrants being issued over the Aliyev case.
Piece on two bodyguard’s return to Kazakhstan and their confession live to the media. (Related to Aliyev’s alleged criminal activities).
VOA (Voice of America?) summary of the recent elections held in this country.
Is Kazakhstan to follow Russia’s example by moving in on, or at least re-negotiating contracts with, Western oil and gas companies? The International Herald Tribune’s website has a report on the goings on.

Reports from foreign diplomats/govt workers on Astana and Almaty. I had especially wanted to give these two pages their own post. Some of the information is incorrect, some is simply out of date, though there are some gems in there for those considering moving to this country. I may remember to make a more detailed post when I get back half way through October.

Finally a couple of YouTube vids that caught my attention, both from members over at the channels.nl forum I believe. The first is on a man with a lot of vision, and quite a variant on the static art you’ll see in most galleries…

Secondly, we have a video that will have little cultural reference if you are not in the right age band, but is about who would win if all the super heros and villans had a big scrap. Hmm, not sold that too well, sorry. Unless you have tight bandwidth restrictions per month, trust me, it is worth listening to 🙂

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Sep 13 2007

No Sleep – Average Faces And Gigantic Firewalls

OK it is 6.55am over here, and I am still up, hoping to catch another WorldWide Wednesday opportunity over at PayPerPost, as I managed to last week (see the Argus post). If it does not appear soon, I shall give up and grab some sleep. The official release time for these opps is Wednesday midday until Thursday midday, EST. Here in Astana, Kazakhstan, we are 10 hours ahead of that time (no daylight saving time adjustments over here), so if I’m lucky, I may not miss the releases whilst asleep.
In the mean time, here are a couple of articles I found interesting…

Although I will not need to get a new passport for another 6 years (and therefore, unless a new law is passed, not have to have biometric information added to it with a RID chip (thats a whole other ‘Aware Or Conspiracy Nut‘ post for another day…) facial recognition is already in use at the passport control areas I usually use when flying home. Because of this, I need to remove my glasses (and also not smile, I recently discovered) to ensure that the cameras in the official’s booths can easily measure the distance between my eyes, nose, mouth size etc. and compare it to the passport photo. Although this software aids the fight against the use of false ID, it is not perfect. This BBC article explains how a researcher has discovered that by averaging different photos of a human face into one composite, both computers and humans make less mistakes comparing real life faces to the photo. This should eventually lead to a higher accuracy rate…
Lastly, we have another article, this time on how the Chinese Great Firewall is not so great when under strain. The article goes into some detail about how the Chinese authorities actually manage the flow of information on subjects they would rather their citizens did not have unfettered access to. However, I would really like to hear from anyone who has some first hand knowledge in this area (are you reading this Gavin?), as I was previously under the impression that the so called Great Firewall of China was infact NOT centrally administered or even based, and that the blocking of sites and information was the responsibility of the different ISPs that serve different areas of China. From previous blog posts I have read elsewhere, a resident of one area in China may find they are able to access sites that someone thousands of kilometres away can not. Anyone able to enlighten me?

I have just noticed this blog is #1 on Google for the term Aware Conspiracy Nut 🙂

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Sep 07 2007

Trust Us – This IS Best For You…

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 4:35 am

The technology is amazing. The possibilities can be mind blowing. There is no need to worry.
Only two of the above unfortunately apply in the real world. If we could have complete faith that there were no crooked police officers, scientists or even just lab tech, then perhaps all three would be true…

So what am I talking about? A judge has recently proclaimed that the entire population of Britain should have their DNA recorded and stored on a central database, to ensure that more crimes can be solved, ergo more dangerous criminals locked away, and hopefully rehabilitated.

Sadly, this system is not infallible, and I truly believe that if judges and juries (don’t even get me started on the moves for some cases to be tried with NO jury!) come to rely on DNA evidence as a primary indicator of guilt in more and more cases, that investigators of crimes will take the most efficient path to ensuring prosecutions. This will not mean that guilty people will go to prison, necessarily. I believe it will slowly illuminate more issues with the technology involved. In the same way that fingerprints can be relatively planted on a scene, indicating that someone was present at a crime scene, even when they were counties away, leaving DNA samples from a person is not going to be too difficult.

The principle is sound, in an ideal world. In this world we live in, I can not see this as being a sound move.

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Aug 28 2007

Beijing Promises To Crack Down On Hackers

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 1:14 am

Reading between the lines of an article, it would appear that there have been rumours of government involvement in China, with hackers’ attempts to infiltrate German Government computer networks, in a similar way to how Russia was accused over Estonian security breaches (see my post from a while back – Moscow Get Techy). Given that the article is on a Chinese web site, it would be very unlikely that any such accusation would be repeated, though I’d be interested to hear from anyone who knows a little more about the background to this story.
I can’t help feeling that this public display of reassurance may be used as a cover to further restrict the abilities of normal Chinese citizens to both obtain, and further disseminate information that is not in the “country’s interests”.

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Aug 27 2007

(Free) WordPress Blogs Are Offline In Turkey

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 2:46 am

WordPress.com has been officially blocked in Turkey! Although that does not effect this blog, anyone who uses the WordPress server to host their own free blog will find that Turkish people are unable to access their blog! There are of course ways to circumvent this issue, however for the average Turkish internet user, any friends who have a WordPress hosted blog, will no longer be contactable via their site. For some background info from the man who actually created the WordPress software, check his post here.
This blog is not affected, as I only use the WordPress software on my own server, so the IP range that has been blocked does not include me. However, if anyone tried to reach John’s Blog, they would get an error message. Which reminds me – JOHN, WRITE A POST, IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG… SO LONG IN FACT EVEN YOUR BLOG IS COMPLAINING!

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