U.S to screen Faces for “Evil Intent”

August 17, 2006

“As the man approached the airport security checkpoint here on Wednesday, he kept picking up and putting down his backpack, touching his fingers to his chin, rubbing some object in his hands and finally reaching for his pack of cigarettes, even though smoking was not allowed.” 

Two Transportation Security Officials quickly detail the suspect, and submit him to a rigourous search, it is this behaviour that specialist officers are looking for in the United States’ latest counter measure on Aviation Terrorism.

Due to its success, the United States is to start a screening program inside its major airports, currently specially trained officers are able to detect the involuntary muscle movements of individuals and if required they will search that individual, these involuntary responses are very hard to conceal from people who are looking for the signs.

Currently the SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) programme is only active in about a dozen airports, but the U.S Administration want thousands more officers trained by the end of the year, and to deploy on a massive scale across a broader range of Airports, particularly those handling International Flights from the United Kingdom and Middle East Destinations.

The Transportation Security Administration currently has 43,000 screeners and the SPOT programme is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the numbers they have trained in other fields, such as passenger searching, already however concerns have been highlighted over this new programme, some of which are very geniune, Airports are a very stressful place to be in, therefore innocent people may be pulled aside, and a real terrorist who is calculated and calm, gets through.

There are also concerns that new forms of Racial Profiling may come into effect and stereotypes will be introduced amongst individuals being searched, currently there is already mitigation in court over searches that have already been carried out using the SPOT technique, and if passengers did not co-operate they were threatened with detention.

One U.S Official described the technique as “casting a fishing net out, you catch what you catch, and hopefully someone in that net will be a terrorist”

Personally i feel its a very good idea, majority of people will have nothing to hide, and therefore will not be that aware of the officials watching them, they will probably be thinking about the first beach they are going to hit, where as a terrorist would be watching to see which officials are where, taking note of cameras, and trying to behave as normal as possible, which is a very hard thing to do when you know otherwise, and it is these involuntary muscle responses that officials hope to capitalize on.

[Full Article]


My Web 2.0 Logo

August 17, 2006

Yes i know im a “trendwhore” for doing this, and there is no such thing as a web 2.0 logo, but hey everyone else is doing it, so i figured i would get one too, and even slapped on the BETA tag.

For a bit of fun i made my alias web 2.0 and beta’d 🙂

So when i get some web hosting arranged this could possibly be the logo you all see …

Feel free to comment on the logos and which one you prefer, the generator is AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) based therefore mac users will probably have to switch from safari to camino to generate a working image, but the link is below if you want to get your very own web 2.0 logo, but i need to inform you that the website has been digg effected, therefore its slow!

[ Web 2.0 Logo Generator ]

Picasa2 – Simplicity Is Genius

August 17, 2006

Picasa2 is the latest installment of the popular Picasa photo management tool from Google, the software was purchased by the software giant and made available free of charge, since then it has been a huge hit.

I Personally have never had the real need to use any photo management software, one i dont own a camera good enough to take quality images and two im not passionate about photography, however that didnt rule me out of the Picasa loop, because i am an avid customizer of my Desktop Environment, therefore i have an absolute boat load of wallpapers that i have collected over the years.

So you see my problem here im sure, i have currently sitting on my D:\ drive, 500+ 1280×1024 and various sizes above and below variations of wallpapers, therefore if we assume i have three versions of each wallpaper at resolutions 1024×768 1280×1024 and 1600×1200 thats then 3 x 500 = 1500 images.

How in the name of god do you organize 1500 images, or find what you want effortlessly, well thats where Picasa comes in, and there was a very cool market acquisition that i assume will fit in here quite nicely.

Picasa makes organizing, finding, even viewing your images beautiful and all of this is co-ordinated in complete simplicity, the interface is intuitive, the photo display is elegant and sleek, so you can take the time out of “organizing” and spend more time “enjoying” those frozen moments in time or in my case wallpapers.

Google really have spent time designing this UI (User Interface) and it certainly shows, everything is at your fingertips, resizing images in the thumbnail view, through a slider, and you can preview any image format, even .psd (Photoshop) which is very handy.

Google also recently purchased Neven Vision, they specialize in biometrics, and there software is super cool, they have patented technology that allows facial recognition in videos, photo analysis, and also facial capture and avatar animation, the combination sounds fantastic, imagine facial recognition in Picasa 3?

It all points to a growing and healthy area where there is a desperate need for a quality product, and the signs today for Picasa fans really completed a whole new picture of where Google intend to head in the future, combined with their search quality, this really will turn into a quality product.

Apple to face the Music in Norway

August 15, 2006

Nordic consumer regulators will meet in Iceland this month to discuss possible legal action against Apple Computer if the company does not make its iTunes music store downloads compatible with players other than the iPod, the Associated Press is reporting

It would seem that Apple are about to face the rap in Norway over their iTunes software and its refusal to open it up to its competitors, to be honest I cannot really fault Apple for their stance here, its like someone asking to share your heart to pump blood around their body too.

Apple should be allowed to keep the iPod and iTunes combination exclusively, they made iTunes multi-format, both PC and Mac based I don’t really see the issue, other than corporations wanting a slice of the Apple Pie.

iTunes is a huge success, but their business model for iTunes is crucial to quite a large amount of revenue, its popularity combined with the iPod have been unmatched (were all waiting for Zune)

The AP Quotes a member of the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman as saying that the August meeting of Norwegian Legislators maybe a possible chance to discuss “legal sanctions” against Apple for their refusal to open up iTunes.

Apple, if you want my opinion, let them take a bite out of you, but make sure the inside is concrete.

Opening iTunes to competitors would just spoil the whole experience, I’m taking this stance because im very proud of what Apple did when the Record Industry got greedy and tried to force Apple to increase the price of their iTunes downloads, when Apple basically said, err no (politely) and if they didn’t like it, then there songs could be removed.

So im standing by apple, i hope Norwegian Legislators have good dentists.


Microsoft Windows Live Writer

August 14, 2006

Microsoft Windows Live Writer has just been launched as part of Microsofts efforts to consolidate itself within the Blog Space, Already they have pushed their initiative of Windows Live Spaces to the forefront of their MSN Messenger users, many of whom are now very familiar with their new digital homes.

Live Writer does a fairly good job, you can preview your posts, its a WSYIWYG based interface, which is very smooth and minimal, just the way i like it, and you can very easily add pictures, or tag MSN Virtual Earth maps into your blog, which can come in handy to show people who hate your blog, the quickest way to your house.

Ill write a full review on Live Writer when i get the chance, but for this post alone i think i will be using this for a very long time to come, Blog Publishing from the Desktop just got a new and free lease of life.

Sorry Mac Users, this is Windows Only.

Leopard is going to knock the spots off Vista

August 13, 2006

Apple are currently taunting Microsoft as they both gear up for “major” releases to their operating systems, it was clear from the WWDC 06 preview of leopard that Apple were pointing out similarities between the two operating systems, to be more than well, just coincidence, but the fact of the matter is, that no matter what features are implemented into an operating system, if they are good and are attractive to the userbase then at some point they are going to request them for their OS be it Microsoft or Apple, and they will have to listen to their customers and provide it.

For example, if we take a look at “Spotlight” this was actually unveilled by Microsoft, however Apple actually got it into an OS and to market quicker, therefore everyone believes that Windows Search is now a duplicate of Spotlight, this most of us know is untrue but then again if we look at Windows Calendar and iCal theres no excuses Microsoft even ripped the colour scheme, now that is just well humiliating. I do have one opinion though, and it is just that, my opinion so make of it what you will, Leopard from what i was gathering reading all the media hype and especially jobs sales pitches on the WWDC stage, that there would be some really innovative stuff included in Leopard, and what was unveilled, dont get me wrong, is extremely useful, and will increase productivity, and make your boss happier with the amount of productivity you now produce, it still isnt the features i would class as being tied into a “major” release of an operating system, but more service packs or upgrades, Spaces, Time Machine (very cool feature) Webclips, they are all superb features, but not “major” Spotlight is “major” Firefox 2.0 is “major” because its a milestone in the applications lifecycle that has some very “major” upgardes that distinctly differentiate it from its previous versions.

Spaces and Webclip in this context arent “major” if you see my point. I do concede however that some features of leopard are “Top Secret” as they dont want Redmonds photocopiers started again, but they are going to have to unveil something dramatic to justify the status of “major” Im not saying Leopard will be a disappointment, i just think in the scope of Vista it is not major, i realise yes i have had to wait five years for an operating system that brings me all of the features that OSX has had for years, but i can call that major because im getting something completely new, not just a cake with some new iceing on top. Still i dont want to wait another five years, and Steve Ballmer assures me i wont, but im liking Steve Jobs and thats why im off to purchase a MacBook Pro just because i do love the idea of the innovation thats coming from Apple, and long may it continue.