cheeni: (cheeni in Bangalore)
Big Brother is watching you[x-posted to cyberabad]

Hyderabad gets its own version of the eye-in-the-sky, a set of 4 spy cameras, according to this Hindu article.

"The uniqueness of the system is its capability to view images during the night and the face of a person or number of a vehicle as far as six km. The cameras also help to view and record images till a distance of 15 km."

The cameras are pointed at the city from atop a building at the edge of the city and remotely controlled via an IP circuit. Fancy technology indeed, but there is no mention of accountability in all that journalistic prose. As a society we need to grow a healthy distrust of all things "big-brotherish" to remain free and democratic. The lesser we question institutional safeguards, the more the chances become that there will exist none.

The guardians of the law have a duty to keep the city safe, but there is also a question of ensuring that the technology will not be misused. How does this prevent the creation of a very powerful voyeur cam? Are we sanctioning the creation of unlimited copies of camera recordings to be collected and stored? Who will have access to these recordings? Our laws that protect your right to private phone conversations were certainly not created at a time when such fancy technology could be envisaged. Whither are the debates that should drive this decision? There are important questions to be answered before the city plonks down serious cash that could just as well be used to pave the roads on my morning commute to make it a little less worse.

[Update: Popular mechanics has a really nice story on this general phenomenon]
cheeni: (Default)

For the curious, I was searching for BootVis. The same search on Google. Chalk one down for Office humor I guess.

cheeni: (cookie)
Powerball lottery officials suspected fraud: how could 110 players in the March 30 drawing get five of the six numbers right? That made them all second-prize winners, and considering the number of tickets sold in the 29 states where the game is played, there should have been only four or five.

Answer: They all chose their numbers from fortune cookies from the same factory in Long Island City, Queens. (The unexpected payout totaled $19 million for the second-place winners.)
cheeni: (Default)
This is deeply ironical on many levels...

For most people, being swamped with information is just annoying. But for soldiers, pilots and police officers it can be a matter of life and death. So a device that prevents urgent communications from getting lost in bureaucratic babble, patented by US defence firm Honeywell, could prove invaluable.

Honeywell has been investigating ways to reduce information overload under a grant from the US government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The company's idea is for soldiers' uniforms to conceal an electrocardiogram, galvanic skin response detector, and respiration and blood pressure sensors. These instruments should be able to tell when a person is breathing hard, sweating and has a racing pulse. If so, the time is probably not right for HQ to ask them any mundane questions.

The same system should be able to sense when a person is calm and breathing easy, so ready to receive a load of information.

If all the sensors suggest that the solider is dead, the patent suggests that important messages should be relayed to another whose sensors still show signs of life.


Read the soldier sensor patent here.

[Via New Scientist]
cheeni: (Default)
Countries with highly evolved and transparent bureaucracies have difficulty managing spectrum allocation in a manner that is fair and forward looking. It doesn't help that there are greater demands on the spectrum management function in nations with ubiquitous use of wireless technologies.

India's spectrum management is in my view not efficient (read "a holy mess"). This fact has far reaching implications for the nation, and especially in the near term for companies like my employer that seek to harness the latest in wireless technology to bridge the digital divide.

Stories on spectrum management often don't reach the front page because the idea is not easily expressed in simple "newspaper man" words. This time however, there is one story1 that has bucked the trend. Sure, sure there's doubtlessly been frenetic PR lobbying, which is natural given the amount of money in play. However, I believe that this just might be an inflection point in the Indian government's sad track record of managing technology.

1 GSM providers ask for a 5:1 handicap as compared to CDMA, not 2:1, as the government proposes. CDMA providers are naturally quite upset.
cheeni: (Default)
Expectations of performance have certainly out-paced any real improvements in performance due to technology. Herman Kahn (of Hudson Institute fame) in his 1976 book "The next 200 years: A scenario for America and the world" predicted that work cultures would become more forgiving, artists and people of creative expression would see fame and fortune, yada yada yada. Interestingly some of this is true, and yet not.

Sure a famous essayist (now blogger?) or photographer (tip of the hat to Kallu [livejournal.com profile] kalyan and Jace [livejournal.com profile] jace) these days encounters fame and recognition far easier than a few years ago. This has technology written all over it of course, and so too with tele-commuting. Everyone telecommutes, at least some of the time, even if only on weekends. On weekends and nights, I still check my office email - quite unlike my dad who 20 years ago had keys to his office so he could sneak in on weekends to check telegrams and telex messages (the postal service didn't deliver on Sundays, and it was a 6 day week back then!!). He would book an international long distance call on a Friday, expecting full well to be connected only on Sunday.

The other book I'd like to leave you with is "The Working Life : The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work".

Copying off the Amazon review, "Ciulla points out, we live in a work-oriented society where, even though we have more freedom and flexibility than ever and more tools to increase convenience and efficiency, our work determines our lives. We have "gone beyond the work ethic," she states, to a point where our jobs have become our primary source of identity."


Finally, the obligatory /. reference:

Link: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/24/1324213
Posted by: Zonk, on 2006-02-24 13:53:00

  [1]Ant wrote to mention a C|Net article exploring U.S. workers'
  productivity. People say they [2]actually accomplish less now than
  they did a decade ago. Research blames technology as the culprit. From
  the article: "Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding
  everything up, it's slowed everything down, paradoxically ... We never
  concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and
  then you're on to the next thing ... It's harder to feel like you're
  accomplishing something.'"

References

  1. http://aqfl.net/
  2. http://news.com.com/Tech+makes+working+harder%2C+not+easier/2100-1022_3-6042719.html

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