Friday, May 20, 2011

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Urges People To Prepare For Zombie Apocalypse -- And Other Disasters Too"...

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants citizens to use their brains lest they get eaten by packs of marauding zombies.

Well, sort of.

This week, the CDC launched a slick new media campaign that uses the tongue-in-cheek hypothetical scenario of a zombie apocalypse to teach the basics of emergency preparedness.

"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example," reads a note on the CDC's website. "You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."

Talking Points Memo - CDC Urges People To Prepare For Zombie Apocalypse -- And Other Disasters Too

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wired: Criminal-Profiling Trick Used to Combat Disease

"A technique that helps crime fighters zoom in on a serial killer’s whereabouts may help scientists prevent deaths of a different sort — those caused by infectious diseases.

The widely used criminology technique, called geographic profiling, helps investigators narrow a search by pinpointing high-priority targets among thousands of potential locations. In an upcoming International Journal of Health Geographics, researchers demonstrated the technique’s usefulness by identifying the sources of a recent malaria outbreak in Cairo and reconstructing an infamous cholera outbreak in Victorian London. Applying the technique to infectious diseases could help focus interventions, perhaps preventing the spread of disease while saving time and money."

"The math behind geographic profiling also incorporates the idea that all distances are not created equal — highways are easier to traverse than a congested downtown. All these measures then generate a map of places the offender is likely to live, which is overlaid on a map of a search area. Unlike geospatial techniques that designate a central point from which a search radiates equally outward, geographic profiling pinpoints highly probable locations, even if they are at opposite ends of the search area.

Le Comber and his colleagues applied geographic profiling to a recent malaria outbreak in Cairo. Of 59 water bodies where mosquito larvae were found, only eight contained those species that are the most dangerous carriers of the disease. Knowing only the locations of the outbreak’s 139 malaria cases, geographic profiling correctly put six of these eight sites in the most infectious 2 percent of the 59."

Wired - Criminal-Profiling Trick Used to Combat Disease

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This is an example of the two edged sword that is data mining. The same kinds of data mining techniques that can make Project Gaydar a threat to privacy can also help save lives in a non-intrusive way.

As a society we need to think carefully about the rules surrounding how we allow data mining and their impact on privacy and, frankly, democracy and freedom. Universities have long understood that these lines exist. That is why they have ethics committees that review the ethical practices and questions surrounding research.

Our society needs to have a larger conversation, rather than simply allowing the quest for profit and power (often the same thing) to be the guiding for in an *anything goes* world.

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Just for the record - the above excerpt about malaria might be interesting if exteded to something like mosquito control in urban areas in Canada (like Winnipeg in the summer). These techniques might allow for less use of insecticides. It might also work for controlling rat populations and allow for less poisons to be used in that exercise.

It could also be used by those in power to stamp out demonstrations and resistance. Think about the use of techniques like this if you treated demonstrations like disease and modelled them. Think about Iran and its repression. Think about the G20 summit and how these kinds of techniques could be used to stop legitimate protest. Then apply these techniques to electoral strategy - especially governments that don't care about getting a mandate in a first-past-the-post electoral system - governments that only care about eking out a plurality based victory that gives them more than half the seats in the house...

Think about it.

Zombie Proof House Designed In Poland

In keeping with my last off-topic post:

"A Polish architectural firm has designed the world’s first zombie-proof house called the “safe House”, reports said.

The house is not really inspired by the walking dead but has got plenty of interest as the world celebrates its fifth annual zombie awareness month in May.

The house features Rubik’s cube-type movable parts and folds in on itself completely at the end of the day to seal off outside dangers."

International Business Times - A zombie-proof ‘safe-house’ to survive the apocalypse

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Lots of pictures:

All That Is Interesting - The First Zombie Proof House

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Navy Times - Detailed Description Of Bin Laden Raid - New Information

"As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds"

"As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they’d just run through. Bin Laden hadn’t touched them."

Navy Times - Sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal

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Read the whole story - it is very interesting. The element that interests me the most (after the fact that Bin Laden is dead - a blessing for the world in my opinion) is the difference that a few degrees of temperature made in the outcome of the mission. That what a person would assume is a small factor loomed large over success or failure - and the lives of the soldiers who undertook the raid.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"USB stick-sized computer runs web, email, costs $25"

"David Braben, British game developer and co-founder of Frontier Developments, has created an ultra-low cost computer the size of a USB stick called Raspberry Pi. The expected price would be a measly $25 for a fully-configured system. He says he’s developed the PC in order to encourage the pursuit of computer programming in children.

But what can you expect from a system that comes for less than the cost of a video game? The tiny PC sports an HDMI port at its head and a USB port at its tail, giving it the ability to be plugged into a TV, hooked up to a USB keyboard or combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The computer packs a 700MHz ARM11 processor with 128MB of SDRAM. As far as graphics go, it runs OpenGL ES 2.0 and has 1080p output."

Yahoo News - David Braben develops $25 PC for schoolchildren

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Glad someone is doing it - i would have built it myself if i had a whack of cash

Here is an open hardware version of the same kind of computer - the ben nanonote - a class of computer also called nanonotebooks, or palmtop...



http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/Ben_NanoNote

My son has a nanonote and i am intending to buy one soon. The ben nanonote is intended entirely for hardcore nerds - it's not a fun and configurable toy like a cellphone. The website says the following:

"本: běn. The Chinese character 本 signifies an origin or the beginning place; It signifies exactly what the first version of the NanoNote is: a beginning.

The 本 version of NanoNote is an ultra small form factor computing device. The device sports a 336 MHz processor, 2GB of flash memory, microSD slot, head phone jack, USB device and 850mAh Li-ion battery. It boots Linux out of the box and also boots over USB. It’s targeted squarely at developers who see the promise of open hardware and want to roll their own end user experience. It’s the perfect companion for open content; we envision developers turning the device into a music or video player for Ogg or an offline Wikipedia or MIT OpenCourseWare appliance. Or you can simply amaze your friends by creating an ultra small handheld notebook computer. You choose the distribution. The 本 Nanonote is the first in a line of products that will see the addition of other hardware capabilities"


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Order them online. My son got his in about 2 weeks from China.

https://sharism.cc/

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

CBC: "Sony data breach update reveals 'bad practices'"

"Cybersecurity specialists are asking pointed questions about the way Sony manages customers' sensitive information, based on new details about its massive data breach.

Chester Wisniewski, a Vancouver-based senior security advisor with the computer security firm Sophos, said Wednesday that he was shocked when Sony disclosed Tuesday that an "outdated" 2007 database of credit and debit card data was among the information that may have been stolen from players of the EverQuest duology, Free Realms, and other massively multiplayer online games in the company's Sony Entertainment Online division."

CBC - Sony data breach update reveals 'bad practices'