(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit, August 17, 2011)
Several great nuggets of tech news occurred over the past few weeks. Here’s a sample to help clear your palette of all the economic-political junk that seems to be everywhere.
Happy Birthday, Internet! Last week, the Internet celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication on the World Wide Web. The first web page was published on a CERN server in the Swiss Alps, and it provided technical details on how to create your own web page and how to search the Web for information (without using Google). No report was provided on whether Al Gore participated in the celebration.
Innovative Communist. North Korea appears to be raising money by unleashing an army of hackers on South Korea’s gaming community. The scheme is pretty straight forward. First, hack the servers to artificially accumulate gaming points. Second, sell the points to other gamers looking to add features to their avatars. South Korean police state that a squad of about 30 hackers made $6 million over the past two years. And just like that, we have a new group of individuals which sponsor international terrorism – Lazy gamers that don’t earn their points!
Girl Scout Android Hacking Badge. What does Little League Baseball, watching the Disney Channel, and computer hacking all have in common? These are all activities enjoyed by the current generation of pre-teens. DefCon, the annual hacker conference, added a session for 8- to 16-year olds called DefCon Kids Village. A ten-year old Girl Scout, code name CyFi, presented a zero-day smart phone exploit that allows the user to fast-forward actions in an unnamed social game. After the presentation, they all went to see the Smurfs.
Anonymous in the News. First, Anonymous attacks Syria’s Ministry of Defense website to protest human rights abuses. In response, the Syrian Electronic Army goes after Anonymous by taking down AnonPlus. Next, Anonymous threatens to destroy Facebook on November 5 for spying on users and cooperating with authoritarian governments. Not to be outdone, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cuts off cell phone service to passengers in a pre-emptive strike against protesters of a fatal police shooting last month. Of course, Anonymous hacks BART and posts BART users’ information to Twitter.
London Burning. Just like Facebook brought down Mubarak, Blackberry Messenger appears to be the communication medium of choice used by London rioters. RIM is providing support to identify and track down the rioters, and many rioters have been rounded up. (BTW – RIM’s website…yes, hacked.) In other developments, the Prime Minister is publically advocating social media bans in the interest of public safety. Scotland Yard confirms the use of facial recognition technology to identify rioters. And finally, an independent group of online vigilantes is also using facial recognition to identify looters that appear in online photos.
End of the World. Solar storms erupted this week, and officials cautioned users of electronic equipment to prepare for possible disruptions of service. This storm is the largest in over 4-years, but Earth should escape the full force of the eruption due to the position of the earth relative to the eruption. More large eruptions are expected as the sun enters the active phase of its 11-year solar cycle. Scientists say the worst storms will occur during 2013. However, since the end of the world is expect on December 21, 2012, solar events in 2013 are not anticipated to create a significantly impact.
Google vs. Apple. Google buys Motorola Mobile for $12B. It’s now Google and Apple in a battle for world domination. Stay tuned…
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