Monthly Archives: April 2012
It looks like Superman’s X-Ray vision might not just be for Superman anymore.
Thanks to new research coming out of the University of Texas at Dallas, we may be able to channel one of Clark Kent’s famed superpowers by using our cellphones to see through walls.
A team at the University of Texas at Dallas, led by Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Kenneth O, has tapped into two significant scientific advances that could open up this new technology. The first is an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum, and the second is a new kind of consumer-grade microchip.
The electromagnetic spectrum characterizes wavelengths of energy and measures all ranges of light. Dr. O’s research is using the terahertz band, which has previously been inaccessible for most consumer devices. The band lies between microwave and infrared rays and can allow devices to “penetrate” through objects in a way similar to X-rays.
When signals on the terahertz band travel from your phone, they’ll bounce back — and that’s when the microchip comes in. The chips are manufactured using CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology, which is the basis of most of the electronic devices around you. A censor in the chip will pick up terahertz signals and then images can be created.
If terahertz-band signals can create images with fewer lenses — which would be the case with this technology — that means less money for lenses and a smaller camera. By using a CMOS sensor, the cost becomes even cheaper.
“CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,” said Dr. O. “The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.”
The technology goes beyond seeing through walls or other kinds of objects. In medicine, for example, there’s potential for it to be used in place of X-Rays. Businesses could also use it to detect counterfeit money.
And just in case you’re worried about spies using their phones to see what you’re up to far away, don’t fret — the researchers are fully aware of privacy concerns. That’s why Dr. O and his team are only focused on using their technology within a distance range of four inches.
What do you think of this new technology? Would you want to use your cellphone to see through walls? Let me know.
The FBI is warning that hundreds of thousands of people could lose their Internet connections come July, unless they take steps to diagnose and disinfect their computers.
The problem is related to malware called DNSChanger that was first discovered way back in 2007 and that has infected millions of computers worldwide.
In simple terms, when you type a Web address into your browser, your computer contacts DNS (or Domain Name System) servers to find out the numerical Internet Protocol (IP) address of the site you’re trying to reach, and then it takes you there. DNSChanger fiddled with an infected machine’s settings and directed it to rogue servers set up by a crime ring — servers that handed out addresses to whatever sites the ring chose.
The DNSChanger Working Group said early this year that about 450,000 systems were still infected by the DNSChanger virus.
As noted in the FBI press release, the crooks “were international cyberbandits who hijacked millions of computers at will and rerouted them to Internet Web sites and advertisements of their own choosing — collecting millions in undeserved commissions for all the hijacked computer clicks and Internet ads they fraudulently engineered.”
Late last year, however, the FBI disrupted the ring and seized the rogue servers. And since so many infected computers relied on the servers to reach the Internet, the agency opted not to shut them down and instead converted them to legitimate DNS machines.
Running the machines costs the government money, though,so they’re being switched off in July. If your computer is infected with DNSChanger then, the Web — for you — will no longer exist after July 8th.
The DNSChanger Working Group (DCWG), the body set up to oversee the servers, has created a Web site to help you diagnose your machine and, if necessary, remove DNSChanger. You can check it out at www.dcwg.org using the link below. And it’s probably not a bad idea to do so sometime before, say, July 8th. This site is receiving massive hits from folks wanting to secure and disinfect their PC’s so if you can’t connect to their servers, you might want to follow the directions on the FBI site links at the end of this article.
Here’s how you can check and see if your system is affected/infected by this malware
For additional information visit the FBI’s webpage focused on “Operation Ghost Click”
LogMeIn Cubby is not your typical cloud-based storage service – LogMeIn Cubby cloud storage service plans to offer unlimited file transfers between peer-to-peer computers as well as 5GB of central storage
LogMeIn has released details of its cloud storage and data sharing service, Cubby. The service that’s still in beta mode and users are required to submit their email address at Cubby.com in the hope of getting an invite to test it out.
Cubby bears similarities to DropBox and other cloud-based storage solutions such as Trend Micro’s SafeSync and Bitdefender’s Safebox. Cubby will allow you to store and synchronise data from your computers to LogMeIn’s servers (up to 5GB for free) and access it from any device that’s connected to the Internet, be it a laptop or desktop PC (Windows or Mac), tablet or smartphone (iOS or Android).
The key differentiator in LogMeIn’s service is the focus on easy ways to share masses of data between devices without using up your main Cubby storage limit. Using a peer-to-peer connection between your powered-on computers, you can transfer and sync an unlimited amount of data between them. This can be handy when you want to share more than 5GB worth of data with another computer on the Internet. As long as your ‘Cubby’ is not set to be synched with the cloud, then your Cubby storage won’t be depleted.
Like the other cloud storage services, LogMeIn’s Cubby will allow any folder on your computer to be synched with the cloud and shared. Collaboration on documents is aided by the service keeping unlimited versions of files that you work on, allowing you to go back to previous versions at any time (including deleted files). Links to files in your cloud-based Cubby, or to an entire folder, can be made for the purposes of sharing your data with others.
To keep your data synched with the cloud, you’ll need to install the Cubby desktop application on all your computers and it works on both PC and Mac computers.
For more information or to sign up for a free beta account:
Check out the Cubby FAQ’s here:
Microsoft is working on a new operating system designed to manage household appliances on a single computer system – appropriately named – HomeOS
Microsoft has shed light on a new operating system it is developing that’s designed to let users control their homes systems, such as lighting, heating and door locks with the wave of the hand.
HomeOS is an attempt to create an operating system that can connect all manner of home-based appliances that can now be connected to a network in a user-friendly manner, so it can be operated by computing novices.
At its most basic, HomeOS would allow users to view feeds from home security systems on their smartphones when away from their house, but it could also be used to control heating systems and other similar systems.
Microsoft researchers said HomeOS would ensure, “all devices in the home appear as peripherals connected to a single logical PC”.
Microsoft has been running HomeOS in trials with users and programmers and has just released a research paper documenting their progress.
It recruited 12 users to live with the system and assess how easy it was to do a number of tasks, including configuring a music application, which uses motion-detectors and speakers to enable music to play continuously in different rooms as an occupant moves through the house.
Other tasks included configuring the system to allow residents to automatically unlock the front door when they arrived at the house, but to restrict the times that guests could come and go freely.
To test how easy the system was for developers, the researchers got 10 volunteers to design a pair of applications, having been given a few minutes instruction on HomeOS. One of the applications was to control the lights in the house, based on an occupant’s previously defined preferences.
The application had to be able to discover which rooms had cameras, and be able to integrate facial recognition components and dimmer controls.
HomeOS has also been given to more than 40 other developers, who’ve had free rein to play with it. One developer used it to link light controls with an Xbox console, using the Kinect system to enable users to control the lights with a wave of their hand.
However, the system still has a way to go before it is ready for mainstream use. For example, many of the devices that can be connected have limited API (application programming interfaces), restricting the extent to which they can be made to work with HomeOS.
The Microsoft researchers hope that this work spurs the research community to further explore the home as a future computing platform.
You can get additional information from the Microsoft Research site:
Here’s a link to a 10 minute video demo of HomeOS from TechFest 2011
Or if you’re really a geeky minded individual, you can read their research paper: