In a cameras-everywhere culture, everyone can watch everyone else

Science fiction writer David Brin calls it “a tsunami of lights” — a future where tiny cameras are everywhere, lighting up everything we do, and even predicting what we’ll do next.

Unlike George Orwell’s novel “1984,” where only Big Brother controlled the cameras, in 2015, cheap, mobile technology has turned everyone into a watcher.

With each technological advance, more of our lives — from the humdrum to the hyper-dramatic — is being caught on camera.

That includes the police, whose actions can be recorded by anyone with a camera phone. In South Carolina, a cellphone video released last week showed a police officer firing eight shots at a fleeing man’s back. In San Bernardino County, news choppers captured footage of deputies punching and kicking a man as he lay face-down on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Painting a picture that cameras are everywhere and anywhere is pretty provocative,” said Ryan Martin, a technology analyst at 451 Research, but it can also present opportunities to increase accountability and improve safety.

There are 245 million surveillance cameras installed worldwide, according to research firm IHS, and the number increases by 15% a year…

ParaShoot is selling a $199 HD camera that’s light enough to wear on a necklace or stick to a wall or car dashboard. “Never miss the meaningful moments again,” the company touts.

Another company, Bounce Imaging, is manufacturing a throwable camera shaped like a ball, with police departments as the target customer. The omni-directional cameras can literally take pictures on the fly and instantly transmit pictures to a smartphone.

It’s not just governments that are collecting rich stores of data. Facebook uses face-recognition technology to identify users’ friends in photos.

We expect the government, city, state or feds, to keep an eye on us. In public places, I think it can serve up as much good as opportunist evil. They didn’t expect us to start watching them on our own.

“Evolutionarily, we’re primed for it,” said Kevin Kelly, author of the book “What Technology Wants.” “For most of human history, we’ve been covering each other. It’s only in recent history we’ve developed a heightened sense of privacy.”

But, he adds, social norms guided behavior in the less-private past. Norms for the cameras-everywhere era haven’t been developed — nor are there well-thought-out legal structures that would keep inevitable abuse in check.

Meanwhile, while courts continue to uphold the rights of ordinary citizens to record police and politicians, the states run by the most repressive politicians fight back – passing new laws every year making it illegal to photograph or record the actions of officialdom even in public. Every one of those has to be challenged.

From Texas to Kansas, Arizona to Minnesota, conservative political hacks are scared crapless that someone will catch them being stupid – or criminal – and post it online. And if they’re scared, I’m impressed.

NSA has already tested tracking the GPS in your cellphone

You thought they were listening to a ballgame in there, eh?

The director of the U.S. National Security Agency has admitted the agency tracked the location of Americans’ cellphone calls as part of a pilot program.

NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said the tracking took place in 2010 and 2011 and was authorized under a portion of the Patriot Act and with the knowledge and approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Those who were tracked were not suspected of any wrongdoing or had any known connection to terrorist elements abroad, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Alexander said the program was halted because the NSA doesn’t need to collect the information itself. Instead, Alexander said, the NSA passes phone data to the Federal Bureau of Investigations where agents can determine whether there’s probable cause to seek a warrant for cellphone data tracking, including GPS information.

“This may be something that would be a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now because when we identify a number, we can give that to the FBI,” Alexander said. “When they get their probable cause, they can get the location data they need.”

Alexander knows damned well he needn’t worry about any interference with the NSA’s star chamber permit. Neither the White House nor Congress will offer significant protest.

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Misogynist of the week – Santorum’s moneyman, Foster Friess!

This whole contraception debate is just so new-fangled, says billionaire investor and mega-funder to the super PAC supporting former Senator Rick Santorum for President, Foster Friess.

In a simpler time, there were other ways to deal with female sexual desire. “Back in my day, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly,” he said Thursday on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, setting the host back for moment.

The general conversation was about Santorum’s past statements about contraception, who…said that it was “harmful to women.”

The full exchange:

Mitchell: Do you have any concerns about some of his comments on social issues, contraception, about women in combat, and whether that would hurt his general election campaign would he be the nominee?

Friess: I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s such inexpensive. Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.

Mitchell: Excuse me, I’m just trying to catch my breath from that, Mr. Friess, frankly.

Most times when someone says something this stupid, this prejudiced – I post it with just a one-liner expressing my sincere contempt. But, describing Friess, say, as Stone Age in his outlook towards women slanders the average Neanderthal.

Putting the need for contraception solely on women, putting the blame for unwanted children on women is barely up to the 20th Century in any civilized country. I keep forgetting that some of the creeps running for political office in America have learned to lie well enough they usually avoid saying things this backwards, this stupid, this offensive.

Friess is someone who obviously should leave the lying to Rick Santorum and just keep supplying him with money.

But, they fit together, they deserve each other. They both reflect as slightly different mirrors of fundamentalist religions that are in essence patriarchal, paternalist, dismissive of women.

If some journalist needs validation for this – just take a hidden camera along and drop in at the nearest K of C bar, tomorrow night, payday. Bring up this incident on Andrea Mitchell’s show and tell it like a joke – just as Friess obviously intended. He’s probably been telling this one for 50 years. And record the reaction you get from everyone else at the bar. Good luck trying to correct anyone!

Reporters to start broadcasting live using only iPhone/3G service

You might not even use all the accessories

Within the next month, the BBC is set to roll out an iOS app that will allow field reporters to broadcast live from their iPhone using nothing but the 3G service to carry the data transmission, an article from states.

The app will also allow BBC field reporters to file still photos, video and audio directly into the BBC content management system from any iPhone or iPad.

As points out, the ability to broadcast right from an iPhone would mean that reporters could no longer have to carry cumbersome satellite or codex equipment.

Martin Turner, BBC’s head of operations for newsgathering, told, “Reporters have been using smartphones for a while now, but it was never good quality. You might do it when there was a really important story. Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end, if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them. That capability is a really important one.”

Interesting as all get-out. The choice of device and carrier is up to reporter and IT department preferences. There will be alternative platforms and combinations available soon – if they aren’t already. But, this really fills a long-term demand by field reporters in broadcast journalism. Close to the ultimate in portability.

Yes, it’s pretty funny to have the Beeb quoting an article from another source – about changes at the BBC. 🙂

Wonder what’s happening in Egypt? Do what the networks do! – UPDATED

Go to AlJazeera to find out what’s really going on.

Click the link above if you’re at your desktop computer. There is an App for iPod, iPhone and iPad as well.

It’s a sad commentary on American news organizations they have so little direct coverage – especially outfits like CNN which used to field direct satellite communications back to North America from around the world. They were the inspiration for AlJazeera – which now surpasses the mediocrity that CNN has become.

If it weren’t for the Web, of course, we’d have little access to AlJazeera and their peers around the world. Broadcast television, cable and satellite broadcasters are too afraid of offending the ignorant to carry primary source media.

UPDATE: AlJazeera has been “officially” shut down; but, is continuing to broadcast live.

Guardian Unlimited is doing a superb job of live blogging everything associated with the uprising in Egypt – from around the world and on the ground in Egypt.

Image of oil spewing enthralling – for the first 2 minutes

It’s beginning to feel like this has been with us forever.

And harder for us to believe that one of these days, or months, or years, it will be gone.

It’s the live video feed from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. When BP engineers lowered those cameras in the first place, you can bet they never imagined that the resulting pictures would be watched by hundreds of millions of infuriated people around the world.

They were for in-house use — to monitor the well, a well that was intended to be an uncontroversial source of enormous profit for the oil company. The cameras were like the security cameras that most corporations install around their office buildings. Just a little something so the bosses can keep their eye on things…

The ceaseless image of the oil spewing has become like an international night light — except without the comfort. It’s always there. We can count on it, even though we’d prefer not to.

It has become the logo of the disaster. It is a ghastly portrait in perpetual motion. Every time there is a dash of hope that the oil will stop gushing, something newly bad happens. In recent days, it was the temporary removal of the containment cap deep in the Gulf. The oil surged harder. And we, in our spare moments, watched.

The television feed is like a heartbreaking mutation of those lava lamps from the 1960s and 1970s — those oddly shaped doodads with the colorful churn of liquid trapped inside, an undulating mixture hypnotic in its incessant and random kinetic swirl. The terrible difference, of course, is that the frantic churn from the oil pipe is not trapped. It is freely headed toward unwelcoming shores.

In my neck of the prairie, folks who maintain a fascination with that live feed are as demented as rubberneckers who hit their brakes and slow down to peer at carnage on the opposite side of the freeway after an accident.

But, the lazy dullards of the entertainment-as-news brigade really drive me to distraction when they stick a frame in the corner of “news” programs, hour after hour after hour showing that fracking bubbling pot at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. What are we supposed to learn from it? There’s nothing in that video as entertaining as a lava lamp is to a stoner.

About as useless as prayer groups gathering to implore some sky-dude to stop the leak.

Reality TV for truly stupid TV producers.

Xbox thief gets himself busted online

Dumb Crook of the Day?

Another video game-loving thief was caught online! Police nabbed a careless electronics thief who used a stolen Xbox for online play — allowing investigators to uncover a stockpile of pilfered goods he had allegedly stowed away in his grandmother’s house.

On the day of the burglary, the victim used another Xbox to go online and spotted his videogame console in use, according to the Post. Investigators then tracked the IP address to a Pelham home where 22-year-old Jeremiah Gilliam is accused of hiding the goods he stole from as many as 200 car break-ins and burglaries in Westchester County.

The suspect purportedly used his grandma’s residence as a stash house for dozens of video games, laptops, GPS devices, Xboxes, PlayStations and credit cards.

Guess his grandma thought he had lots of gift-giving friends, eh?

China`s maiden spacewalk to be broadcast live

Click for video of the launch

China will broadcast live the nation’s maiden spacewalk slated for 04:30 p.m. Saturday, local time. The spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity (EVA), will last about 30 minutes.

Excluding the opening and the closing of the module gate, the real spacewalk may take about 20 minutes, he said.

One of the three taikonauts aboard the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft, Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, will conduct the spacewalk…

The process of extravehicular activities cannot be simulated completely on the ground and some of the newly developed products are to be tested in flight for the first time. Thus, The capability and skills of the taikonauts and the quality of their operations directly determine the result of the mission.

If Shenzhou-7 mission is successful, China will become the third country after the United States and Russia to accomplish a spacewalk, a crucial capacity if China is to have its own permanent space station.

Good luck, guys. It’s all scary stuff – and something I would have loved to do, myself.

Hurricane Ike – live from Houston is streaming live – right-click on the link and open in a new window or a new tab – when you get to their stream page, click on the video image to start the stream.

Update: Their servers are getting heavily loaded – transmission erratic.

If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, they’re carrying KHOU live on channel 361. If it doesn’t show up, reboot your receiver and it will add the channel.