Showing posts with label wifi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wifi. Show all posts

Spice Up Your Dinner Conversation With ACTUAL Conversation, Courtesy "Pepper Hacker"

Sometimes, it doesn’t take Wikileaks or the Russians to make a hack that changes everything.  Even a small-scale rerouting of the information superhighway can have an impact on everyday humans, and possibly even work in everyone’s best interests.  That was the thought behind this one unassuming new invention…

The Internet of Things?
How about the NON-Internet of Things?
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NYC, NSFW: Graffitti Artist Uses Public Wi-Fi Terminals For Publicity; Porn

New York City is a haven for artists, and not all of their mediums are conventional ones.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of "street art", the sometimes destructive but often clever ways artists make their mark on the very architecture of the city itself.  Now, with the city offering computer terminals in places where payphones once lurked, it was only a matter of time before someone put the internet's favorite pastime into the public eye...

An un-pornographied wifi portal in NYC.
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Eyes In The Sky That Pry Via Wifi: Malware-Injecting Drones Swoop In To Spy

Hackers, in an ever-escalating bid to stymie security, have teamed up with an arm of one of the world's leading aerospace companies to create computer-death from above...

As usual, we're sure this is all to "protect your freedom"...
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Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Farmers And Internet Enthusiasts Do...For Their Wi-Fi

Like it or hate it (although you probably still secretly like it, at least a little bit), the internet is a major force in modern human life.  Yet we hyper-connected humans continue to forget that there are wide swaths of this planet that slip through the net of the World Wide Web.  Some propose to remedy this with signal-beaming satellites, or even drones, but now, a new and ecologically-interesting idea has manifested: using sensors placed on animals to spread connectivity.  Can we turn a herd into a hotspot?

It's about time we replaced the old dial-up style of sheep.
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According to The Atlantic, some scientists are seriously into the idea.  Placing wi-fi sensors on animals like sheep or even reindeer could allow them to traverse rural areas (for reindeer, to venture further beyond where many humans are comfortable living) and spread the signal.  In addition to helping the information superhighway get a few more on-ramps, it could allow farmers to monitor things like pollution, flooding, or even keep tabs on the flock themselves (e-shepherding!)  This type of technological exploration could expand not only our knowledge of the natural world, but also expand all knowledge for the far-flung residents therein.

Thanks to the vastness but also relative modernity of Australia, experiments with such sensors are now being carried out there with sheep.  The small sensors, which are embedded in ear tags and are light enough not to perturb the animal, can operate independently but can also help form mesh networks.  This kind of rudimentary internet also serves to spread information (as the sensors "talk" to each other to recognize their presence and location) and can operate as a whole even if singular elements fail (because wild dogs often do some non-technological sensing of their own for a sheep-snack.)

This could be one big fuzzy mesh network.
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Greg Cronin, an Australian professor of animal welfare, explained that such attacks on sensor-bearing sheep could improve the hardships of shepherding, theorizing, “If you could pick the right sensor that identified behaviors that changed when sheep were under attack, it could trigger an alarm for the farmer.” While the technology is still undergoing trials, Cronin was enthusiastic about its eventual results. “We know we can do it but we still have to do the hard work to prove it,” he said.  According to the BBC, the idea has gained traction in rural Wales as well, including sensors that would be placed on inanimate set locations (such as rivers) to improve knowledge of overall farm conditions.

So, maybe your toaster isn't able to Tweet yet, and perhaps your pet piranha isn't getting far enough away to require a tracking device.  But for this early inception of the Internet Of Things (well, Internet Of Creatures, at least), man and beast might be able to share information in harmony.  Just don't give the sheep options to upload selfies every time they get a haircut.

"@BleatBox - Looking mad fly today.  Hit me up on Tinder."
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Wake Up And Smell The Wifi-Enabled Coffee: New Sleep-Tracking Mattress Cover Offers Sleep Stats, "Smart" Wakeups

During the hours that you're awake, it's likely that your smartphone isn't far from your reach, enabling you to control and understand various elements of your surroundings as efficiently as possible.  But what about the hours when you're asleep?  Now, a new "smart bed" is able to technologically improve your snooze time.

According to the Independent UK, the new Luna device is a cover that fits any full size, queen, king, or California King mattress.  When Luna senses that you are falling asleep, it can remotely lower the lights and warm the room temperature.  Upon sensing you stirring from sleep, Luna can raise the lights again, and, should you be the owner of a "smart" coffee pot, it can trigger the device to start brewing (a serious plus for those who can barely manage to drag themselves out of bed in the morning.)

It'll make you coffee, but you have to add the hair of the dog on your own.
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Compatible with wifi-enabled devices that operate via Nest, Philips Hue, Lockitron, Emberlight and Beep, the Luna team are happy to help integrate it with other contraptions. Perhaps it can even run you a bath, microwave some oatmeal, or warm up your car as future household smart devices become more ubiquitous.

Still, it's already quite a useful piece of upholstery.  Luna even features "dual zone temperature" - the ability to warm or cool each side of the bed to the user's preference.  No more fights over the thermostat!  Not to mention, its sleep phase and biometric sensors can monitor your heart rate, breathing and more, so that Luna knows exactly the best moment to wake you up (making your overall day more pleasant, hopefully.)  Your overall sleep data can be integrated with wellness platforms like Apple Health Kit or Google Fit.

Too cool + too hot = just right!
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Currently being promoted via an indiegogo campaign, the Luna is for sale for $199 during the fundraising phase.  It will hit the market for $249 this August.  Controlled via an iPhone or Android app, the Luna will put all of your worries about a bad night's sleep to rest.

"Hey baby, wanna come back to my place and track our sleep stats?  Or maybe our lack-of-sleep stats?"
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New York Brings Wireless To The Masses With New LinkNYC Plan

The Big Apple loves going big for its citizens, and now, it's doing so technologically.  A new initiative is set to bring NYC "the fastest and largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world."

According to, the new LinkNYC program will supplant public pay phones with wifi-enabled kiosks that operate 24/7 (because the city doesn't sleep, just like the internet.)  The extremely useful e-encampments will also provide free domestic phone calls and access to information on a host of city services (yes tourists, that includes directions.)

"GIVE ME CUPCAKES...oh wait, it's not one of those cupcake ATMs.  Well...GIVE ME DIRECTIONS TO CUPCAKES."
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Funded by ad revenue from the kiosk's lit-up sides, the machines are to operate at significant speeds using gigabit Wi-Fi, which according to planners "is more than a 100 times faster than the average public Wi-Fi and more than 20 times faster than the average home Internet service in NYC."  Yes, this probably means a lot of people will use it for naughty purposes, even (or especially) due to the public location.

Of course, this is NYC, so some will just remain dirty with no help from the internet.
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The program's intent is to have the first wave of machines operational by the second half of 2015, with 10,000 LinkNYC stations eventually accessible from all five boroughs (yeah, even you, Staten Island.)

It's not like you're going to miss these.
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Signal-Free Sipping At The Faraday Cafe

Ever wish you had a good excuse to turn off and tune out? Now, at one Canadian coffeeshop, the opportunity has presented itself through the truncation of technology. Welcome to the Faraday Cafe.

Designed by Vancouver artist Julien Thomas, the idea is a socially-minded art project that aims to see how people can allow themselves to react when unencumbered by their technological tethers. The cafe features a Faraday Cage, which blocks all cellphone and wifi signals inside its 8' by 16' perimeter.

“I’m interested in the interactions that can take place in certain scenarios,” Thomas told "There might be a sense of anxiety…but that’s not a bad thing.”

The Vancouver cafe will be open until July 16th for those who would fancy their coffee with a side of e-silence.
The effectiveness of an unrelated one-man Faraday Cage.  At Faraday Cafe, the only jolt you will get is from the caffeine.

Chicago Serves Up Deep-Dish Big Brother With New Downtown Multi-Sensors

Urban engineering requires a lot of data to help cities and their denizens improve. However, the city of Chicago may have taken it into creepy territory with their new, discreet, downtown multi-sensors.

Ostensibly created to track data on climate, pedestrian movement patterns, environmental pollutants, light intensity, sound volume, and (of course, in Chicago) wind, the sensors are an interesting idea to monitor city elements in real time. The worrisome bit is that they also record the cellphone connectivity of passersby. Advocates are quick to point out that the sensors only monitor connectivity to wireless networks, not actual device signatures, but the element of privacy invasion remains.

Computer scientist Charlie Catlett, who has led the team working on this "Array Of Things" project, told the Chicago Tribune that, "We don't collect things that can identify people. There are no cameras or recording devices...sensors will be collecting sound levels but not recording actual sound. The only imaging will be infrared."

However, Gary King, Harvard University's director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, astutely pointed out that, "If they do a good job they'll collect identifiable data. You can (gather) identifiable data with remarkably little have to be careful. Good things can produce bad things."

The data grab is being promoted in part as a means to understand urban environments more thoroughly, and to make cities run more cleanly and efficiently. Hopefully this won't include raids from the Thought Police.

Will you be e-raided by the Array?  Image courtesy the Chicago Tribune.

Harlem to Become Nation's Largest Public Wifi Zone

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the launch of a new outdoor
public WiFi network in Harlem accessible to all users at no cost. The Harlem WiFi network will extend 95 city blocks, from 110th to 138th Streets between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Madison Avenue making it the largest continuous free outdoor public wireless network in the nation. The network, which will be rolled out in three phases in coordination with the city’s Technology Development Corporation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, will increase digital access for approximately 80,000 Harlem residents, including 13,000 public housing residents, as well as businesses and visitors in the area.
The free public network will serve the community for an initial five-year term and is funded through a generous donation from the Fuhrman Family Foundation to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The first phase, extending from 110th to 120th Streets between Madison Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, is underway and the remaining phases will be complete by May 2014. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul Merchant, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City President Megan Sheekey, Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot, New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea and Harlem Children’s Zone President and Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Canada.
“Our new Harlem wireless network brings critical connectivity to residents and visitors, giving them 24/7 access to everything from education materials for kids, to information about Harlem’s rich history and attractions, to everyday needs like paying bills, checking library hours – or even just keeping tabs on the Knicks and Nets,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “In 2013 being successful requires being connected; thanks to the Fuhrman Family Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund, we are wiring nearly 100 blocks in Harlem and giving 80,000 New Yorkers another tool for success.”

Networking: 5 Wifi Securty Myths and the Crypto-Solution

PC World takes on some apparently popular wifi network security myths.  Excerpt:
Wi-Fi has evolved over the years, and so have the techniques for securing your wireless network. An Internet search could unearth information that’s outdated and no longer secure or relevant, or that’s simply a myth.

We’ll separate the signal from the noise and show you the most current and effective means of securing your Wi-Fi network . . . 

It concludes with a call for encryption:

Now that we’ve dispensed with five Wi-Fi security myths, let’s discuss the best way to secure your wireless network: encryption. Encrypting—essentially scrambling—the data traveling over your network is powerful way to prevent eavesdroppers from accessing data in a meaningful form. Though they might succeed in intercepting and capturing a copy of the data transmission, they won’t be able to read the information, capture your login passwords, or hijack your accounts unless they have the encryption key . . . 

Technologically Illiterate Court Claims Use of Open Wifi Is Wiretapping

While government agencies illegally and routinely spy on our everyday communications without repercussion, a court has ruled that sniffing open wifi signals may be considered wiretapping.  From Tech Dirt:
A couple years ago, we were disappointed to see a judge take the technologically wrong stance that data transmitted over WiFi is not a "radio communication," thereby making sniffing of unencrypted WiFi signals potentially a form of wiretapping. Indeed, based on that, the court eventually ruled that Google's infamous WiFi sniffing could be a violation of wiretap laws. This is wrong on so many levels... and tragically, an appeals court has now upheld the lower court's ruling.

There are serious problems with this. Under no reasonable view is WiFi not a radio communication first of all. That's exactly what it is. Second, sniffing unencrypted packets on an open network is a perfectly normal thing to do. The data is unencrypted and it's done on a network that is decidedly open. It's like saying it's "wiretapping" for turning on your radio and having it catch the signals your neighbor is broadcasting. That's not wiretapping. Third, even the court here admits that based on this ruling, parts of the law don't make any sense, because it renders those parts superfluous. Generally speaking, when a court ruling would render a part of a law completely superfluous, it means that the court misinterpreted the law . . . 

Public Wifi Coming to a Town Near You?

From the Washington Post:
The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.