Archive for the news Category

Online Tracking

Posted in news, security, technology, tracking with tags , , on 2016/01/26 by CoryTek

For years, I have been an advocate for online privacy. In fact, I have known about communications being monitored since the early 1980’s – years before the World Wide Web was created.

Tracking communications is not anything new – this has been done since the pony express, telegraph and carrier pigeon.

When it comes to privacy and security when browsing the internet, you would be surprised how much tracks you when surfing the world wide web.

The analogy I use is, imagine you are walking down the street – would you constantly be yelling, “hey, I’m over here! okay, I’m over here now! hey, I’m walking into this store!” No, you would not.

Does someone walk up to you, and say, “hey, I saw you in another store four blocks ago looking at shoes. We have fabulous shoes on sale right now.”

Would someone walk up to you, and say, “hey, I saw you at the flight centre this morning. Oh boy, do I have a deal on airline tickets for you.”
Imagine a person was paid a penny each time they did that.

You walk down the street tending to your business, and expect everything else to keep out of your business. As long as you are not breaking any local laws, what you do when out in the public is no one’s business.

This is my argument then – the internet should be the same way. Where I go online, what pages I visit, is no one’s business.

So why does the internet think it is their business to track my personal online business?

On the other hand, you might say, “I have nothing to hide. I don’t care what tracks me.” Okay, sure, be comfortable with that belief. But let me put this thought out there – have you ever heard of The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It is a concept that shows we are not more than six connections separated from anyone else.

With that in mind, are you aware of all the online data that is being scooped up by the truck load. Do you think humans look at that data? No. That data is analyzed by computer algorithms.

Does an algorithm care who you are? No. But, an algorithm makes connections when analyzing data looking for a mass murderer. Remember that six degrees of separation?

Still don’t believe me?

How about this – algorithms track words. For example, you are talking with a friend, and remark that you are now the president of your local Toastmasters. Oh, and last week, your son’s baseball team bombed. Tracking algorithms are programmed to flag particular words. Even though you used ‘president’ and ‘bomb’ in two seperate sentences not connected, an algorithm does not see that. A human would know the difference. But we rely on computer programs to analyze data faster than any person can.

So guess what, you may be flagged by some computer algorithm, your friend, and maybe four other people. Oh, and you probably posted this on Facebook. Now there is a face to the name. Better yet, you have tagged your friends in your photos. Great. The biometric trackers must love you.

By the way, did you ask to tag people in your photos? Would you give out someone’s phone number without asking them? Mmhm…

You are helping the tracking algorithms make the connections.

How many million people are on Facebook now? And what about that six degrees of separation again?

In the movie Eagle Eye, a computer intelligence tracked everyone in the U.S.A., determined threat levels, and even calculated when a crime might happen and by whom. There is such a program, similar to the movie, that analyzes data, and gives each bit of data a threat point. It is called BEWARE, and was recently presented in California. Is this program new? Not at all. But what this program does is something to be very concerned about.

License plate readers track your driving route. Where is that data stored? How long is that data stored? What data can be derived from your driving habits?

The world is tracking everything about you, and computer algorithms are calculating data about you.


Tune in to Nanotube Television – Discovery News

Posted in news on 2011/05/06 by CoryTek

Tune in to Nanotube Television

April 28, 2011 12:38:00

Thin screens for televisions, computers and other big display devices may soon have brilliant, sharp pictures while consuming much less power, thanks to transistors that use carbon nanotubes to deliver current in a new way.

It will be at least a few years until the technology, described in the April 29 Science, graces your flat screen. But eventually such displays may be cheaper, last longer and use less energy than today’s finest liquid crystal displays.

The new technology employs organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, tiny thin films that create light in response to electrical current. Such displays have several advantages over traditional liquid crystal displays — they aren’t backlit, for example, so darkness isn’t created by blocking light, but by individual diodes emitting less light. That saves energy.

But making OLED displays that are much bigger than a smart phone’s has been problematic. While they consume less power overall, a serious burst of current is needed to fire up each pixel. Transistors that provide this much current are bulky and take up valuable screen space; they also require elaborate, expensive construction and yield pixels that aren’t uniform, a problem that grows with display size, says study coauthor Andrew Rinzler of the University of Florida.

To skirt these issues, Rinzler and his colleagues used a network of carbon nanotubes to drive current. The nanotube layer is porous, letting light through, so the transistor and light-emitting layers can be stacked vertically instead of sitting side-by-side, saving real estate. Without having to squeeze in transistors right next door to the OLEDs, more area is devoted to emitting light. In fact, 98 percent of the device emits light. That’s no small feat, says nanotechnologist Chongwu Zhou of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“This is a wonderful piece of work,” says Zhou. “It pulls together a bunch of innovations.”

Are We Running Out of Internet Addresses? – Discovery News

Posted in news on 2011/01/24 by CoryTek

Are We Running Out of Internet Addresses?

21 January, 2011 10:45:00

The world will run out of Internet addresses “within weeks”, according to one of the founding fathers of the web, a report said Friday.

Vint Cerf, who helped create the web by connecting computers using Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, said it was his “fault” that the 4.3 billion addresses created were running out, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3 billion would be enough to do an experiment,” Cerf, who is Google’s vice president and “Chief Internet Evangelist”, was quoted as saying in an interview. “Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?”

In 1977, Cerf created the web protocol IPv4, which connects computers globally, as part of an experiment while working with the U.S. Department of Defense. He said he never expected his experiment “wouldn’t end”.

“It doesn’t mean the network stops, it just means you can’t build it very well,” Cerf said.

IP addresses are the unique sequence of numbers assigned to each computer, website or other internet-connected devices. They are not the same as website domain names.

The overwhelming number of devices now accessing the internet means the addresses are running out fast.

To resolve the crisis, an updated protocol for the Internet, IPv6, currently being planned by the industry, will create trillions of addresses.

As Google vice president Cerf, who was in Australia to address a conference, said he thought the new chief executive of the California-based giant, Larry Page, was ready to lead the company into the future.

In a surprise move, Google announced on Thursday that co-founder Page would replace Eric Schmidt as chief executive in April.

Schmidt, 55, a former chief executive of Novell, will remain with Google as executive chairman, focusing on deals, partnerships, customers and government outreach, Google said.

He will also act as an adviser to Page, 37, who served as CEO previously, from 1998 to 2001.

Cerf said Schmidt had been chief executive for 10 years — “a nice round number” — and Page was ready to lead the company into the future.

“Larry and Sergey are 10 years older than they were when they thoughtfully hired Eric to be the CEO… so everybody’s growing up,” Cerf said.

Google has grown over the past decade from a start-up battling other Internet search engines into a technology giant with nearly 25,000 employees and annual revenue of nearly $30 billion.

The company meanwhile reported its fourth-quarter net profit increased to $2.54 billion from $1.97 billion a year ago, while revenue rose 26 percent to $8.44 billion.

Are Biometric Time Clocks Legal? – Discovery News

Posted in news on 2010/11/03 by CoryTek

Are Biometric Time Clocks Legal?

October 29, 2010 7:16:19

Cristen Conger


Employee timecards are gradually disappearing from the workplace, along with factory whistles and other relics of a bygone labor era.

Many hospitals, schools and businesses are converting from punch cards for non-salaried workers to biometric time clocks that eliminate paper trails and prevent employees from goosing their hours.

Biometric time clocks refer to computer-based systems that first capture some form of biometric data, such as iris scans, finger images and facial images. The computer system then extracts unique data points (i.e. fingerprint whirls and ridges) and formulates a biometric template used to verify and employee’s identity.

In other words, it’s similar to flashing photo IDs, except instead of visually matching an employee’s face with the picture on his or her card, a scanner digitally matches, say, an employee’s hand to his or her stored biometric data.

Not all employees are thrilled with having their private biometric data stored, though, and some have even questioned its legality.

Although federal law doesn’t prohibit workplaces from implementing biometric time and attendance systems, some states have taken legal action in order to protect employees’ privacy rights.


Texas, Illinois and Washington have passed legislation restricting biometric data storage and mandating user consent prior to collecting it. The European Union also has outlined legal protections against potential privacy issues involved with collecting, storing and disseminating biometric data.

“(Time and attendance) data can be utilized potentially by the employer for keeping track of protected legal activities or private matters involving employees,” said William A. Herbert, deputy chair of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (NY PERB) and an expert electronic workplace privacy issues. “In addition, this data may also become the subject of subpoena and discovery by investigatory agencies and during litigation.”


Streamlining employee time and attendance information with biometric time clocks can certainly benefit employers – optimistic returns on investment can be achieved in months — but businesses also run the risk of inadvertently hanging on to private information that could be illegal.

In Herbert’s opinion, not on behalf of NY PERB, these kind of biometric-related scenarios could be solved preemptively with greater collaboration between software developers and workplace interest groups, similar to how the European Union approached the matter years ago.

“The question is how to modify the technological architecture so that the tools can be utilized for only a limited and clearly defined employer purpose, which may help lower individual concerns about the privacy issues,” Herbert said.

But Brian Kesselman, chief information officer of PerfectSoftware that develops biometric time and attendance systems, argues that the privacy concerns may be overblown, considering the amount of data gathered.


In reference to fingerprint biometric time clocks, he said the systems don’t store fingerprint images but rather measurements of how the fingerprint passes over the scanner, which is the basis for the employee’s unique biometric “clock in” code.

“Once an employee understands that only a small amount of comparative data is stored and it’s stored securely, that often eliminates their fears,” Kesselman said.

But what about working from home? Interestingly, the rise of telecommuting has added a new wrinkle in the biometric time clock debate.

PerfectSoftware and other biometric companies have come out with GPS software for smart phones, IP address verification and biometric peripherals that can track workers even when they aren’t sitting in their cubicles.

More From HowStuffWorks:

The ‘Levytator:’ A New Twist on the Escalator – Discovery News

Posted in news on 2010/10/11 by CoryTek

The ‘Levytator:’ A New Twist on the Escalator

October 8, 2010 6:30:16

Clark Boyd


But there are cool ways to do that beyond just the old up-down design. For example, you could check out the “spiral” escalator. Or for more than 2,500 feet of escalating fun, have a look at Hong Kong’s Central-Mid-Levels system!

And now, a researcher in Britain has an idea for putting a new twist on the ol’ escalator, literally. Jack Levy, an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at City University in London has come up with an escalator that, well, twists and bends in just about any direction. He’s patented the idea, and called it, yep, the “Levytator.”

Unlike older designs, where the steps are rectangular and those not being used simply move underneath those in use, Levy’s design comprises a set of curved “modules” that can move in any direction, flatten and straighten out…all with people on board.

Just how bendy could it get? Well, Levy envisions that a science museum, for example, could get a Levytator done in a DNA double-helix. And for about the same cost as a regular escalator.

But enough chit-chat. Here’s a video that includes a mock-up and a working demonstration: