OT: The Arraignment

I would not believe this, had I not witnessed it with my own eyes. Of course, the caricatures have been changed to protect the confessed. In reality, no cartoon could do the actual characters justice. (Pardon the pun.) What it proves is that the right to remain silent is, perhaps, the greatest legal tool in the entire box.

Props to ToonDoo.com for building an online tool that even a right-brain can use.


I Know What You Did Last Winter (Snow Job)

For those who believe revenge is a dish best served cold...

Like so many around the country, David Welles has had to endure a long cold Winter this year -- only made worse by the volume of snow in front of his Chicago home, and the untimely disappearance of his snow shovel. While Welles is no better equipped to dig his way out of a snowstorm than anyone else without a shovel, he was perfectly equipped to identify the perpetrator -- or, at least her car. That's because Welles works for a security company by the name of Tunnel Vision Technology, and it appears as though he's been visiting the supply closet.

While we'll presume that David's "eagle eye" came with a receipt, the snow shovel he caught his neighbor stealing on digital video didn't. Under ordinary circumstances, one might turn the evidence over to the police. Then again, under ordinary circumstances, it's not likely there would have been any evidence. But, these are no ordinary circumstances, and these are no ordinary times.

David's shovel was probably worth less than $25, maybe ten on the street. The trail was cold before it was laid. And the "perp" wore gloves, so no fingerprints. This wasn't about money. This was about the age's-old relationship between a man and his tools. Besides, Welles had another idea. He entered an arms race, added a dose of PsyOps... and then he turned to YouTube. The result? What Welles calls, "The Quadrilogy of My Favorite Snow Shovel". See the results for yourself.

(NOTE: If you are ONLY connaisseur of revenge, skip to the mid-point.)


OT: Verizon — Oh no you di’nt!

It's rare that I clap for [watch] TV commercials. But Verizon just took AT&T to the mat -- er, map.

Technically, this is off-topic, but I think I can apply a little broad discretion when it comes to bad data -- That is, the data that every U.S. cell phone company uses to claim to be the best.

I know I spend a lot of time picking on Apple -- especially the the iPhone. But when something falls just short of great, it leaves room for criticism. That, however, doesn't describe Apple's choice of service partner. Verizon customers love their coverage. T-Mobile customers love their customer service. Sprint customers love their features (and free 3G roaming to Verizon). AT&T customers love their iPhones, and tolerate their service. Now Verizon is taking them to the map.

Watch and see what I mean.


Palm’s Pre has you covered — like an enemy of the state

VZ_Network_thumbHey, Verizon customers -- ever get tired of having "The Network" following you around everywhere you go? It's such a hassle, especially when you have to use the restroom, or spend some "alone time" with your significant other.

Well, Sprint's Palm prē has you covered. Palm's latest smart phone is so smart, the network can find YOU -- ANY TIME THEY WANT!

Palm Pre_FrontClosed-CardViewGoogleMaps-300-100

INFORMATION SENT TO PALM: { "errorCode": 0, "timestamp": 1249855555954.000000, "latitude": 36.594108, "longitude": -82.183260, "horizAccuracy": 2523, "heading": 0, "velocity": 0, "altitude": 0, "vertAccuracy": 0 }

The news was released on Joey Hess' blog. Hess, a programmer, noticed a log file on his Palm prē was being sent to http://ps.palmws.com on a daily basis. Among other things, the log file contained his GPS coordinates (in this case, his home address) in the form of longitude and latitude. This information is derived from the built in GPS common to most cellular telephones on the market today.

In addition to his location, the log file also recorded the name of every application he used, when, and for how long.

Although there has been some speculation that this information is only recorded when the device crashes, Hess has shown that, even though Palm's WebOS makes a record of device crashes, this is supplemental to the daily GPS location, and usage-tracking that is sent to Palm every day. (All of which, for now, he has disabled by hacking a file in the operating system.)

Palm's response to this shocking revelation?

RTPP: Read The Privacy Policy. In a statement released by Palm, "Our privacy policy is like many policies in the industry and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which we might use a customer's information, all toward a goal of offering a great user experience."

In preparation for this posting, I read Palm's Privacy Policy (08-13-2009). Focusing strictly on users' private location data, the only mention of  location-based information being collected and transmitted is as follows:

"When you use location based services, we will collect, transmit, maintain, process, and use your location and usage data (including both real time geographic information and information that can be used to approximate location) in order to provide location based and related services, and to enhance your device experience."

This policy specifically addresses use of this data when "provid[ing] location-based and related services". That does not explain why they are collecting and transmitting GPS data as part of a daily log.

Frankly, I have some issues with Palm's right to this data, even if it has been disclosed. Although, arguably, Sprint has to process this data through their network to provide service to it's customers, Palm sells hardware and software, not network service, or even traffic and directions. As an individual who collects and analyzes similar data for criminal cases on a daily basis, I see no justification in Palm's Policy, or in terms of the way the equipment operates, for the transmittal of location-specific data to their company.

Read more @ InformationWeek (http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/privacy/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=219300120)

{ "errorCode": 0, "timestamp": 1249855555954.000000, "latitude": 36.594108, "longitude": -82.183260, "horizAccuracy": 2523, "heading": 0, "velocity": 0, "altitude": 0, "vertAccuracy": 0 }

Opt-out — for good!

TheOnion has posted this report on what they call "Google's Op-Out Village".

Via TWiT's Leo Laporte (http://leo.tumblr.com/post/161380154/google-opt-out-feature-lets-users-protect-privacy?dsq=14729616#comment-14729616)


Can you hear me NOW? WELL!? CAN YOU?!

John Hargrave likes to make a point--LOUD and CLEAR. With a megaphone, in this case. He wants to know why ANYONE can get access to ANYONE's private cellular telephone account records. (See this Washington Post article for more information.) So, he didn't just ask anyone. He signed up for a web site offering "free cellphone records", and used the data he gathered to pay a visit to the home of Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg--with a megaphone.

Verizon, as you may recall, is the company that once offered it's customers 45 days to opt-out of "agreeing" to let them share personal account data with "affiliates, agents and parent companies".

Check it out:

Via Gizmodo and Zug.com.


Eye in the sky

I'm going to be unabashedly honest: "Eye in the Sky", by the Alan Parsons Project (1982), never made much sense to me. Sure, I understand it's an homage to George Orwell's, "1984", but the lyrics make no sense to me. You know what else makes no sense to me? Mayor R. Rex Parris' project: an "eye in the sky"--a 24/7 arial survellance system to be flown by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department 5000 feet above Lancaster, California.

Parris says, on the city's web site:

“This technology is nothing short of remarkable,” said Parris. “I entered my address, and within seconds the camera had focused so well on my property that I was able to see both of my dogs and identify which was which – all from five miles away. This type of technology has the potential to drive criminals completely out of our community.”

My guess is he'll drive some of the citizens out as well--if they don't drive him out first.


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