Most of us should know the common saying "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound?" In the case of a recent explosion in Portland, everyone heard the sound of an explosion, but where did the sound come from? Thanks to social media, the sound was reported on Twitter and then the intensity of the sound was plotted on Google maps, thus leading to the location of the explosion.
What was amazing about this was the way the "stream" of constant tweets was used to find the location. Reid Beels, a programmer, started seeing tweets streaming in regarding a "boom" or an "explosion." Based on that he broke it down to a twitter search using those two terms and then limited the results by location. Soon the hash tag #pdxboom was starting to be used and even more tweets contained location specific data. So Beels then created a google map for people to plot their location and the intensity of the sound of the explosion. While Google maps does have limitations on the number of markers one can place on a public map, Beels and a fellow developer Audrey Eschright created a system to download and back up the data thus allowing for the collection of more locations. This back up came in handy because someone tried to vandalize the map by dragging markers way outside of town (in essence, trying to throw the "dog" off the scent).
When you think of all of the information that is now posted via mobile devices to the Internet on a daily basis, the ability to find a location in times of an emergency is amazing. Now that Twitter also has the ability to mark a location with your tweets and apps such as Foursquare, which will report your location, the ability to combine this data and use it in a time of a crisis will be vital.
Now, only if someone could design an app which combines geo-location data for the the iPad......
"There are three shows that prepare you for jury duty: Columbo, The Verdict with Paul Newman and My Cousin Vinny
(jury laughter). I'm serious! There are a lot of good things that
happen in that movie! If you've seen those three, then you've seen
everything you need to be a good juror . . . Keep an open mind." - Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Marion addressing potential jurors (Source Navel Gazing blog at the OC Weekly)
I've seen a lot of Columbo, watched The Verdict and My Cousin Vinny which may explain why I like jury duty. I'm glad Judge Marion left out the Pauly Shore "classic" Jury Duty. (The title of this post is the tag line from the movie)
I know it has been a while since I have written a long post here on the MDLU, so here it goes. The beverage on my desk is a Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon.
Tonight's topic (or morning) is Tech and Suave:
1. Google Dashboard
For those of you who rely on Google for basically everything, the Dashboard will show you almost everything that Google has for your account. If you have a Google voice number, it'll show you the number of calls you've made, if you use Google Docs it show you the most recent document and what you are sharing, if you use Google Latitude (a location aware service) it'll show the most recent location. If you're a privacy nut the amount of information that is in Google's system will make you reach for your tin-foil hat. With all of the information that is out in the "cloud" you tend to forget how much is actually out there. While the Dashboard is a start, it still does not allow you to turn off any tracking that Google may do or how it uses all of the information that is collected through the daily use of their products.
"These are not the Droids you are looking for..." If you're a Verizon subscriber, welcome to the dawn of the App Phone (hat tip to David Pogue for that description). I'll give it some credit for having a real keyboard, a higher resolution camera, and a high resolution screen, but it does lack multitouch. If the rumors hold true, Verizon may also have an iPhone by 2010. In the mean time, I'm sticking with my iPhone (it's not perfect, mainly AT&T's fault).
3. Catch Me If You Can
It seems that there is a modern Frank Abagnale, Jr. out in Los Angeles. The LA Times is reporting that a suave con man has been working his way through Staples Center, the Greek Theater, and offices and hotels in Downtown LA. Using the term "Office Creeper," the man has apparently slipped in and out of offices with laptops, including one stolen from an LAPD Detective. The con man has been using the web and social networks to track the movement of celebrities and sports teams and then his charm to gain access to their rooms.
For those of you who are interested, Chapman School of Law is hosting a symposium entitled "Lincoln's Constitutionalism in Time of War: Lessons for the Current War on Terror?"
The Symposium will have various tracks. Tracks include an analysis of the suspension of rights for public safety, WWLD (What Would Lincoln Do?) Constitutional Approaches to Wartime Finance and Economics, and Civil Liberties for Civil Rights: Justifying a decline in Civil Rights for an increase in Civil Liberties.
No mater what side of the political fence you may be on, this symposium will offer an interesting analysis of the time of Lincoln compared to our current struggles with terrorism. Attorneys, Government/Non-Government Organizations, Judges, and Students are invited to attend this highly informative and educational symposium.
The Chapman Symposium will be held at Chapman School of Law on January 30, 2009 at 8am.
Registration information and forms may be found on Chapman School of Law's website.
With all of the recent news on the Jaramillio case, I find the ability to "rent" your jail cell a prime example of what is wrong with the Criminal Justice system.
Jaramillio is going to find himself in a plush Fullerton City Jail cell with a VCR, a basketball court in the parking lot, microwaves, and visiting rights. Of course he will still have to fulfill the prison required chores and he still has to be counted as part of the jail population. But at 75$ per night, with his prison term paid in installments, Jaramillio will have it easy compared to the other inmates in the state prison system. If the DA is successful, and I hope he is, Jaramillio will not have access to a cell phone, computers, sexual contact while incarcerated, and pornography. A few less of life's "essentials" to make his eight months fly-by.
This isn't the first time a person has paid for plush prison settings. Actor Christin Slater paid for plush prison living when he had to serve jail time and in some municipalities inmates have to pay 5$ to 60$ dollars a day for each day of their prison sentence for "administrative cost." I have no problem with charging inmates for their time in incarceration, but I do have a problem with it when it creates a tied system for the privileged and the poor to serve out the same length of time.
One of the reason's why I have a subscription to Wired Magazine is that it covers interesting criminal justice stories which relate to the high-tech world that we all live in. But what really caught my attention about the story "Pinch My Ride" (Article available on line July 31st) was the fact that it opened with Emad Wassaf, a 38 year-old truck driver and reserve Los Angeles Police officer, who had his 2003 Navigator stolen from a parking lot of a Target store in Orange County, CA.
Emad saw no sign of a break-in, his car just wasn't in the lot. Doing what anyone would do, he contacted his insurance company and reported the theft to the police. Two weeks later his car was recovered near the Mexican border with the Stereo, Air Bags, DVD Player, and door panels all stripped. His Insurance company denied the clam thinking Emad was lying.
Writer Brad Stone explains how easy it is for a thief to "Jack" a car using PDA's, cloned keys, and even Social Engineering. Stone even explained what happened to his trusty car which appeared to have been taken for a joyride. Working with the San Francisco Police Department, Stone was referred to a mechanic who was able to get the secret code to jump start his car without using his keys. Using a series of pushes and pulls on the emergency break, which are randomly assigned to Honda's and pared with their VINs, Stone was able to start his car without his keys.
My car has a key-less entry system and an electronic control module which reads the transponder signal from my key in order to start the engine. This system is not immune, there is nothing stopping a person from cloning my clicker and getting into my car. If an RFID tag can be cloned (and the developers said that it was impossible) why smash a window when it can look like you own the car. One thief mentioned in the article was even bold enough to steal two Mercedes S430's from car lots in Monterey and Pleasanton. Not just one was good enough, he took two!
No matter how you slice it, this is still "B and E" (Breaking and Entering). If your doors are locked and your windows are up, the penalty goes from a misdemeanor to a felony, the same should be the case here. Hacking, cloning, and using "Contra"-Style codes to enter a vehicle is still committing a crime. Can local police departments keep up with the braniacs that seem to be always a step ahead of the law?
If you want to invest in an industry that is definitely doing gang busters (pardon the pun) then might I suggest you invest in the prison industry.
MSNBC and CNN reported that 2.2 million Americans are in the pokey. That's 1,100 new inmates put in the system each week. 33,000+ people are in local jails, the highest number since 1997 which is a 4.7% growth rate and faster then the state and federal growth rate of 1.6%
And one little fact that stood out in this report, especially when we argue that we are a nation of laws and of civil rights, a large majority of those in jails at the local level (and a place were the feds commonly hold inmates due to overcrowding) are unconvicted.
Men are 10 - 11 times more likely then women to find themselves in the big house, but women are increasing fast. And to no surprise, a racial discrepancy still exists among the incarcerated.
Researchers point the blame for the increase in jail populations on the lack of discretion given to judges due to mandatory sentencing guidelines. So if you want to know why the Grandma with the 3 ounces of pot is sitting in the county slammer, that's why.
On a Tech note: This is the second post off of my new rig. I got the black MacBook and I was amazed at how fast I took to the operating system and all of the neat tricks with OS X. Once I got my media mouse hooked up, I gained a right click button which makes it feel more like windows. I hope to get BootCamp going so I can use some of my windows programs when I need them.
If anyone knows any tricks or recommendations for a new mac (stuff like transferring music, files, and bookmarks) from a Windows based machine e-mail me or leave a comment, Thanks. -MR
If officers are conducting a search of the premises and they receive permission from one person residing at the residence, but a no from another one (this would apply to situation where there are roommates, married, etc...) the officers cannot conduct a search.
If they want to search they have to have a warrant.
What makes this case interesting is the background of it. Apparently it involved a feuding couple that was having a rocky marriage. The strain in the marriage was due to the husband's drug use causing money problems and she told officers that actual evidence of drug use is in the home. When the officers herd about the possible drug evidence they ask the wife if they can search the home, she said yes, while the husband said no. The officers entered the home anyway and discovered a straw with cocaine.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote a dissenting opinion that according to MSNBC was longer then the majority opinion. Justice Alito did not participate in the decision.
While perusing the web today I came across this interesting article on iPod forensics. It lays out the file structure of the iPod and also discusses how the media device can be used for data theft. That's why I have the black 5th gen "Pirate" model.
Buzz Lightyear saves Disney, but Pixar becomes a "Mickey Mouse" Operation. On the plus side, Steve Jobs is now the largest share holder in one of the largest media companies in existance. Can you say "more iPod content coming soon."