Category: Geek

14-year-old shows up auto industry security

image

A 14-year-old boy may have forever changed the way the auto industry views cyber security.

He was part of a group of high-school and college students that joined professional engineers, policy-makers and white-hat security experts for a five-day camp last July that addressed car-hacking threats…

With some help from the assembled experts, he was supposed to attempt a remote infiltration of a car, a process that some of the nation’s top security experts say can take weeks or months of intricate planning. The student, though, eschewed any guidance. One night, he went to Radio Shack, spent $14 on parts and stayed up late into the night building his own circuit board.

The next morning, he used his homemade device to hack into the car of a major automaker. Camp leaders and automaker representatives were dumbfounded. “They said, ‘There’s no way he should be able to do that,'” Brown said Tuesday, recounting the previously undisclosed incident at a seminar on the industry’s readiness to handle cyber threats. “It was mind-blowing.”

Windshield wipers turned on and off. Doors locked and unlocked. The remote start feature engaged. The student even got the car’s lights to flash on and off, set to the beat from songs on his iPhone. Though they wouldn’t divulge the student’s name or the brand of the affected car, representatives from both Delphi and Battelle, the nonprofit that ran the CyberAuto Challenge event, confirmed the details…

It was a pivot moment,” said Dr. Anuja Sonalker, lead scientist and program manager at Battelle. “For the automakers participating, they realized, ‘Huh, the barrier to entry was far lower than we thought.’ You don’t have to be an engineer. You can be a kid with $14.”

She described the breach as more of a nuisance attack, and emphasized that, in this case, no critical safety functions, like steering, braking or acceleration, were compromised. But the incident underscored just how vulnerable cars have become.

None of this is geek news. Nor is is there any surprise to this display of auto industry leaders’ ignorance of the vulnerability of their tech, the sophisticated toolkits of hardware and software available to even kid-level hackers.

European manufacturers experienced something similar a few years back and revised their engineering designs to match reality. Some more successfully than others, some less so. Why American corporate leaders didn’t pay attention and learn speaks to how parochial, insular, most Americans are. Another part of that corporate [and political] personality is native to imperial populations. If you have the most power you think you must also know best how to do anything.

In fact, reality, especially when much of your culture is well past its peak, contradicts that belief.

Are doctors ready for body cams?


Google Glass makes it into the surveillance society

Maybe you remember the famous video by Simons and Chabris. Two groups of students, one in white shirts and the other in black shirts, are passing a basketball around. You are asked to watch the video and count the number of passes made by one of the teams. You proudly count 13 (the actual number is 18). But what you didn’t notice, during all of your counting, was that midway through the video, a gorilla walked straight through the middle of the scene. Indeed about half of individuals tested in the original study missed the gorilla.

A red trauma victim is brought into the ED trauma bay by EMS. The lead paramedic provides details about the crash scene, the patient’s health status, and gives a point-by-point report about the prehospital care. Too bad that only 36% of the key information was accurately remembered by the receiving ED group.

What’s happening here?

These two examples highlight how medical care can be perceived differently, and maybe even contradicted, by doctors and patients. We aren’t aware of something we have missed — like the gorilla. You only see things you are focusing attention on. Have you ever had a patient complain “the doctor didn’t even examine my stomach” when you have performed, and documented, several serial exams? How many times have you been asked by a patient “When am I going to see the doctor?” when you’ve already had several conversations and introduced yourself as THE DOCTOR. Or, are perplexed by a family display of great disbelief when informed that their loved one is sliding towards the end of life.

We think we perceive and remember more of the world than we actually do, and different people experience the same inputs differently. We don’t see, hear, and remember alike. Hearing is passive, but listening requires concentration and focus to understand the meaning of another’s words.

Jeremy Brown has identified lots of examples where a med-cam can provide an objective view of medical reality — a sort of enhanced photojournalism — where the picture tells the truth. But we need to be ready to have our own behaviors and communications on display. After all, what’s good for the patient should be good for the doctor, too.

Questions of what’s private and what isn’t used to be decided essentially by what’s public and what isn’t. Starting with the obvious – like body cams for coppers – I can see where record-keeping is going. Not only for accurate answers to recurrent questions in an ER; but, the lawyers on retainer for the hospital are going to want this kind of recorded observation to keep a handle on liability.

The feeling changes. Your relationship with your employer changes. Doctors especially feel they’re part of the management team – even in large-economy-size urban hospital complexes. That feeling will change under observation. As much as useful qualities like those described in this article may be – in our society it’s easy to worry about office politics, petty jealousy becoming equally important to some administrator you consider to be an ignorant ass.

Dumb crook of the day


Police photo in the State Patrol parking lot — click for video

A man faces auto theft charges after he drove a stolen car right to the Washington State Patrol district office parking lot in Bellevue…

An alert driver recognized the stolen vehicle from a post on a european motorist club Facebook post and spotted it in the Issaquah area, troopers said. The witness captured video of Micah Hatcher, 36, behind the wheel of the car and used his cell phone to report it, troopers said. The witness followed the car along Interstate 90 between Issaquah and Bellevue. Hatcher got off the freeway and drove the stolen car into the WSP district office parking lot, where he was arrested by troopers….

Detectives said it was the easiest auto theft arrest they’d ever had.

Hatcher had been arrested several days prior on outstanding warrants and drug charges, troopers said. He was contacting troopers to try to retrieve some belongings that were taken during his initial arrest, they added. Hatcher was arrested – again – and booked into the King County Jail.

I’ve added the video taken by the witness who spotted Hatcher and the stolen car.

Today is Pi Day – and you just missed the Pi Instant!

Today is the most magical day of the year: Pi Day.

It’s also the most magical year of the century: Pi Year.

That is, today’s date is 3/14/15 (at least in the US and a few other countries that write dates the same way), which matches up nicely with the first five digits of pi, the ratio of every circle’s circumference to its diameter: 3.1415.

What’s more, at precisely 9:26:53 am, we’ll have Pi Second: an even more magical time at which the date and time match up with the first 10 digits of pi, 3.141592653.

But it doesn’t stop there. As University of Toronto statistician Jeffrey S. Rosenthal has pointed out, at an infinitesimally brief moment just after 9:26:53.58979 am but slightly before 9:26:53.5898 am, we’ll have Pi Instant.

At this impossibly short moment, our particular civilization’s way of marking the amount of time elapsed since an arbitrary date in history will match perfectly with every single digit of pi, an irrational number that literally never ends (when expressed in a base 10 numbering system, or any system that uses a natural number as its base).

Pi will ring throughout the land. It will extend to infinity. For the briefest of moments, pi will fill the gap in your soul.

Savor this moment. Appreciate it. Think of circles…It won’t happen again until 2115, when you’ll probably be dead.

And you just missed it.

Apple’s ResearchKit signed up thousands in one day

myheart counts

Stanford University researchers were stunned when they awoke Tuesday to find that 11,000 people had signed up for a cardiovascular study using Apple’s ResearchKit, less than 24 hours after the iPhone tool was introduced.

“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country,” said Alan Yeung, medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health. “That’s the power of the phone.”

With ResearchKit, Apple has created a pool of hundreds of millions of iPhone owners worldwide, letting doctors find trial participants at unprecedented rates. Already five academic centers have developed apps that use the iPhone’s accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS sensors to track the progression of chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease and asthma…

Bloomberg – of course – has to lurch off topic to ring up someone, anyone, who might try to cast FUD on the process.

For starters, the average iPhone user is more likely to have graduate and doctoral degrees than the average Android user, and has a higher income as well…Those sort of demographic differences could skew the findings from a study.

And Apple is making ResearchKit open source; so, in fact, there will be Android users.

Misleading data can also come from a user accidentally hitting a button or giving her phone to someone else, said C. Michael Gibson, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an interventional cardiologist…

Yet the iPhone also helps address a problem that standard trials often encounter: People enrolled in studies often falsely report their activity to researchers. By using its internal components or secondary devices connected wirelessly via Bluetooth, the iPhone can silently measure users’ behavior, without relying on them to keep track or be honest about what they’re doing…

Stanford researchers are using their ResearchKit app to study ways to encourage people to modify their behavior to improve heart health. Their app aims to automate as much data collection as possible, Yeung said. Participants will be asked to keep their phone on them as much as possible for a week, letting the GPS and accelerometer track their activity…

Other researchers are also looking for ways to use the iPhone to more accurately track behavior. A team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, working with digital health company LifeMap Solutions Inc., is studying whether having an iPhone app that educates asthma patients and reminds them to use their inhaler can improve symptoms and reduce doctor visits…

As of Tuesday morning, more than 2,500 people had enrolled and consented to participate in the asthma study, according to LifeMap…

The Parkinson’s app had 5,589 consenting users by Tuesday morning, according to Sage Bionetworks. Todd Sherer said he didn’t know the cost of developing the app, but the foundation’s biomarker study, a traditional trial with almost 800 participants over five years, has cost about $60 million…

Dunno if editors or reporters at Bloomberg get credit for looking everywhere but up their own arse to ask silly questions…but, many are not only irrelevant, but, ridiculous. We’re supposed to believe that every aspect of scientific methodology will suddenly disappear because a qualitatively larger pool of test subjects are now possible. Feels more like CNN.

My favorite football analogy fits perfectly:

A truly lame sports reporter was quizzing Ruud Gullet about Fulham’s potential problems with circumstances that didn’t exist – but could. But hadn’t.

Gullet finally blew up, saying, “What if, what if, what if? If my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle.”

Prototype “pee power” toilet gets test in University

A prototype toilet has been launched on a UK university campus to prove that urine can generate electricity, and show its potential for helping to light cubicles in international refugee camps.

Students and staff at the Bristol-based University of the West of England are being asked to use the working urinal to feed microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks that generate electricity to power indoor lighting.

The project is the result of a partnership between researchers at the university and Oxfam, who hope the technology can be developed by aid agencies on a larger scale to bring light to refugee camp toilets in disaster zones…

The technology uses microbes which feed on urine for their own growth and maintenance…The urinal – conveniently located near the Student Union bar – resembles toilets used in refugee camps to make the trial as realistic as possible. The equipment that converts the urine into power sits underneath the urinal and can be viewed through a clear screen…

An estimated 6.4 trillion litres of urine is produced by humans across the globe every year, so researchers believe it has great potential as a cheap and readily available source of energy. Ieropoulos said the unit installed at the university would cost around £600 to set up.

There is a seemingly endless number of sources of so-called waste our culture of capitalist profit, first and foremost – ignores.

Pic of the Day


Aluminum robocops

In the teeming capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, where drivers often flout traffic rules, five chunky, arm-waving robots equipped with cameras and lights have been set up to watch over the roads.

The solar-powered aluminium robots are huge, towering over the jammed streets of Kinshasa, as cars and motorcyles jostle for road room, their horns blasting.

Each hand on the odd-looking machines – built to withstand the year-round hot climate – is fitted with green and red lights that regulate the flow of traffic in the sprawling city of nine million.

The robots are also equipped with rotating chests and surveillance cameras that record the flow of traffic and send real-time images to the police station.

Don’t mess with these coppers!

Shot on iPhone 6 – Around the world

People take incredible photos and videos on iPhone 6 every day. And here are some of our favorites. Explore the gallery, learn a few tips, and see what’s possible with the world’s most popular camera.

Star Valley Ranch, Cole R
Click to enlarge

I’ve been a photographer since single-digit years. Apple put this collection up to illustrate what folks have been doing with the camera in their iPhones in recent days and months.

I’m suitably impressed. I don’t own a smartphone; but, even the few snaps I’ve taken with my iPad came out of the ether as viewable and editable into something useful. The point is, however, you can get to being a decent photographer as long as the hardware is designed around a good lens – and helpful software comes with it.

Click here to get to the beginning of the gallery.

Geeks + Democrats = Net Neutrality


Yes – there’s still the risk of Big Money court battles ahead

Senior Republicans have conceded…that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.

And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality…

The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission. But for now, Congress’s hands appear to be tied.

The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.

In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks…

“We’ve been outspent, outlobbied. We were going up against the second-biggest corporate lobby in D.C., and it looks like we’ve won,” said Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox, a popular Web browser, referring to the cable companies. “A year ago today, we did not think we would be in this spot.”

The net neutrality movement pitted new media against old and may well have revolutionized notions of corporate social responsibility and activism. Top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements were upended by the mobilization of Internet customers and users.

Our beneficent Telecom rulers and their Republican flunkies will not stop pimping their case, of course. The lies they constructed as part of their agitprop during the campaign to influence the FCC will become a plank in the Republican campaign for the White House in 2016.

Should they win full control of the United States government – those of us who stay behind in the GOUSA to fight a rear-guard action against the building of a Brave New World of Corporatism [Mussolini felt that sounds better than fascism] will no doubt be relegated by law to dial-up, standard def and B&W TV. And flip phones.

John Podesta still wants to reveal the truth about UFOs – whatever that means

John Podesta, former senior advisor to Barack Obama, former Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, and future chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is offering some reflections on his most recent stint in the White House.

Number one on the list — aliens.

Podesta was out of the big-time politics game briefly early in the Bush years, and lent his considerable prestige to a coalition pushing the oddball cause of greater disclosure of federal information about UFOs.

Soon afterwards, he founded the Center for American Progress which quickly emerged as a key pillar of center-left infrastructure in Washington. I worked for a while at CAP, and can testify that while there were a lot of in-house jokes about Podesta and UFOs (including an alien-themed holiday party one December) there was approximately zero institutional effort expended on the cause.

But in a personal capacity, Podesta continued to lend a hand. He participated in a couple of UFO-themed TV shows and wrote the forward to a book about UFOs that was published in 2010.

Then he went back to the White House where, once again, there was no progress on the UFO disclosure front. It’s genuinely too bad. As a former Chief of Staff, Podesta presumably has had access to highly classified information and knows what he’s talking about when he says the public deserves to know what’s in these files. I hope — though I don’t actually expect — that he’ll use his influence in the emerging Clinton campaign to push this in a more serious way.

I wouldn’t expect that either. There are more relevant questions to consider for a presidential election.

There have been a few straight-arrow pilots, military and otherwise, in my life’s experience who share Podesta’s views about UFOs. I have no reason to doubt them. But, current science is all I have to go on – and the Fermi Paradox among others convinces me these folks bumped into something other than extra-terrestrial intelligence.