June 22, 2010

Specific Absorption Rate + Californians

Now this, I think is funny, when you consider all the time that what seems to be the majority of Californians, at least the younger set, spend babbling on their cell phones.

SAN FRANCISCO – In this city known for producing laws both path-breaking and contentious, legislators have forcefully stepped into another debate — this time over the potential danger of cell phone use.

With the 10-1 vote in favor of an ordinance Mayor Gavin Newsom has indicated he will sign, San Francisco has waded into the as-yet unresolved debate over the relationship between long-term use of cell phones and health problems such as brain tumors.

The law requires cell phone retailers to disclose the phones’ specific absorption rate, or SAR, to customers.

SAR measures the maximum amount of radiation absorbed by a person using a handset. The Federal Communications Commission limits SAR to an average of 1.6 watts per kilogram of body tissue, but information about radiation levels is not usually readily available when people purchase phones at stores.

“From our perspective, this is a very reasonable and quite modest measure that will provide greater transparency and information to consumers for whom this is an area of interest or concern,” said Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker, who noted that the mayor is an iPhone user. “We’re playing a role that we’ve often played, which is to be at the forefront of a debate.”

I took the liberty of putting in a link to the FCC’s SAR page in the text above.

Here in California, one of the hallmarks of “progressive” government is the heavy volume of “warning” signs.

For instance:

“This property uses chemicals known to the State of California to…”

They vary with the nature of the subject of the warning, but they’re all over, especially in hotel lobbies.

There are warning, rules and regs signs everywhere, which serve mainly to insult the intelligence of the smarter among us, but the lefties eat ‘em up — “Government, working for the people” or something.

Having said that, it should be interesting to see how the legions of cell phone addicts, not to mention Muslim cab drivers, react to the passing of this bill.

Then again, this is California, and brain damage already seems to have afflicted most of the population already, though the source of said brain damage is still a bit unclear.

So they pass the SAR bill, and even if a few of these wireless wonders manage to look up from their incessant conversations long enough to notice and find the time to respond in some way or other, the entire SAR debacle will remain the tip of a much larger iceberg, if these folks are correct.

by @ 8:48 pm. Filed under Just Talking, Technology

September 6, 2009

Technology To Thwart Applied Islam

Sometimes we must give proper thanks to the technology weenies, as here:

From a Silicon Valley office strewn with bean-bag chairs, a group of twenty-something software engineers is building an unlikely following of terrorist hunters at U.S. spy agencies.

One of the latest entrants into the government spy-services marketplace, Palantir Technologies has designed what many intelligence analysts say is the most effective tool to date to investigate terrorist networks. The software’s main advance is a user-friendly search tool that can scan multiple data sources at once, something previous search tools couldn’t do. That means an analyst who is following a tip about a planned terror attack, for example, can more quickly and easily unearth connections among suspects, money transfers, phone calls and previous attacks around the globe.

Palantir’s software has helped root out terrorist financing networks, revealed new trends in roadside bomb attacks, and uncovered details of Syrian suicide bombing networks in Iraq, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the events. It has also foiled a Pakistani suicide bombing plot on Western targets and discovered a spy infiltration of an allied government. It is now being used by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Yet Palantir — which takes its name from the “seeing stones” in the “Lord of the Rings” series — remains an outlier among government security contractors. It rejected advice to hire retired generals to curry favor with the agencies and hired young government analysts frustrated by working with slow-footed technology. The company’s founders knew little about intelligence gathering when they started out. Instead, they went on a fact-finding mission, working with analysts to build the product from scratch.

“We were very naive. We just thought this was a cool idea,” says Palantir’s 41-year-old chief executive Alexander Karp, whose usual dress is a track-suit jacket, blue jeans, and red leather sneakers. “I underestimated how difficult it would be.”

Technology like Palantir’s is increasingly important to spies confronting an information explosion, where terrorists can hide communications in vast data streams on the Internet. Intelligence agencies are struggling to identify and monitor such information — and quickly send relevant data to the analysts who need it. U.S. officials say the software is also crucial as the country steps up its offensive in difficult theaters like Afghanistan. There, Palantir’s software is now being used to analyze constantly shifting tribal dynamics and distinguish potential allies from enemies, according to current and former counterterrorism officials familiar with the work.

“It’s a new way of war fighting,” says former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long. While there are many good systems, Ms. Long says, with Palantir’s software “you can actually point to examples where it was pretty clear that lives were saved.”

Just thought I’d share. It’s nice to know that the Geek Squad is on the ball and pitching in where they’re needed.

The article is definitely a good read.

by @ 5:43 pm. Filed under Security, Technology

July 16, 2007

Spam Spam Spam Spam….

Although minor amounts of spam comments and trackbacks sometimes make it through, I must register my profound thanks to Akismet, which in the last few hours denied access to its 100,000th (ONE HUNDRED THOUSANDTH!) spambot attack over a period of a mere 6 1/2 months!

by @ 4:08 am. Filed under Recommended, Technology, The Internet

April 26, 2006

Cell Phones Of Today

I bought my first cell phone, a Nokia, I believe, in the mid 1990s. Since then I’ve owned about half a dozen others. At first, buying a new one was no big deal, I could figure out how to use all the functions easily, without much consultation of the manual, then suddenly — bam! — they started coming loaded with truckloads of technology that people of my generation might not, as strange as it seems, associate with a telephone.

When I opened the account I now have with Verizon, whom I incidentally find a lot easier to deal with than any of their competitors I’ve used, the phone that came with my account was a little silver colored LG camera phone, and there was so much going on in there that even with the manual, I couldn’t figure most of it out. The people who write these instruction manuals seem to believe that everybody, like them, grew up at the right time to acquire ground floor entry into what has become today’s technology, or engineers, as a technical writer aunt of mine suggests, who can’t write anything most folks can understand unless they have an armload of PhDs.

So I contented myself with using only the functions for which I had gotten the device to begin with: A telephone. I took a few pics with it when I first got it and found that the camera wasn’t all that good, which didn’t bother me in the slightest. I have a digital camera that also contains all the bells and whistles, and I use that the way people used a Kodak instamatic a few technological centuries ago, but that’s, as they say, neither here nor there, as we’re discussing cell phones.

The problem I did have with the LG, however, was the distance between the speaker and the mouthpiece. When I was having a conversation, if I didn’t hold it up high enough I couldn’t hear what the other party was saying, and if I didn’t hold it low enough, the other party couldn’t hear what I was saying. It also had this too-light, flimsy feel to it and finally, last Fall, I went to the Verizon store and bought a new one — really new, as in the model, not the item. They didn’t even have spare batteries for it in the stores. It’s a Samsung that renders the LG a mere piece of technological history, boneyard material if there ever was any, with a videocam and even more high tech marvels I’ll never be able to figure out. I actually bought the phone for the sole reasons that a) it’s bigger, heavier and fits better in the hand, and b) the speaker phone function is infinitely better than that of the smaller LG.

What got me on this topic was a seriously funny column I read by television and book writer Lloyd Garver on one of his own cell phone experiences.

Read it here.

by @ 6:45 am. Filed under Technology

August 7, 2005

Wi-Fi Country

It’s amazing how informative and interesting to read Nicholas Kristof(excuuuse me, Nicholas D. Kristof) can be when he writes about something other than politics. In his NYT column today, he writes about Hermiston, Oregon, a rural farming district that’s embraced Wi-Fi technology in a way no place else in America, except maybe Philadelphia, comes anywhere close to. The column is here .

But Hermiston is actually a global leader of our Internet future. Today, this chunk of arid farm country appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington.

Driving along the road here, I used my laptop to get e-mail and download video - and you can do that while cruising at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile after mile, at a transmission speed several times as fast as a T-1 line. (Note: it’s preferable to do this with someone else driving.)

That really makes me want to bring my Inspiron up there just for the novelty of being bombarded with one continuous, uninterrupted hotspot!

by @ 9:19 am. Filed under Technology