Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

WikiLeaks website kicked off Amazon’s servers

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

WikiLeaks website kicked off’s US servers, goes back to Sweden


Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer, On Wednesday December 1, 2010, 7:42 pm EST

NEW YORK (AP) — Inc. forced WikiLeaks to stop using the U.S. company’s computers to distribute embarrassing State Department communications and other documents, WikiLeaks said Wednesday.

The ouster came after congressional staff questioned Amazon about its relationship with WikiLeaks, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut.

WikiLeaks confirmed it hours after The Associated Press reported that Amazon’s servers had stopped hosting WikiLeaks’ site. The site was unavailable for several hours before it moved back to its previous Swedish host, Bahnhof AB.

WikiLeaks released a trove of sensitive diplomatic documents on Sunday. Just before the release, its website came under an Internet-based attack that made it unavailable for hours at a time.

WikiLeaks reacted by moving the website from computers in Sweden to those of Amazon Web Services. Amazon has vast banks of computers that can be rented on a self-service basis to meet surges in traffic.

But that move exposed WikiLeaks to legal and political pressure.

“WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free–fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe,” the organization said Wednesday in a posting on the Twitter messaging service.

“If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books,” WikiLeaks said in another tweet.

Seattle-based would not comment on its relationship with WikiLeaks.

“The company’s decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material,” Lieberman said in a statement. He added that he would have further questions for Amazon about the affair.

As an organization, WikiLeaks has no firm geographic base, but founder Julian Assange sought to establish residency in Sweden to take advantage of laws protecting those who funnel information to the media. However, authorities rejected his application for a residency permit.

Swedish police are now seeking to arrest Australian-born Assange based on allegations of sexual assault stemming from his stay in the country. Assange has denied the charges.

Swedish police issued an international arrest warrant on Wednesday, though they haven’t filed formal charges. Assange’s whereabouts are unknown.

AP Technology Writer Rachel Metz in San Francisco contributed to this report.


Categories: Technology

Is your smartphone making you sick?

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

    BlackBerry Torch

    The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is fun to play with but what are the side-effects? / AFP Source: AFP

    • iPhone can exceed exposure guidelines
    • Disturbing admissions in the fine print
    • Growing demand for info on side-effects

    KEEP your flash new mobile phone in your pocket and you risk “serious harm”, according to the maker of the BlackBerry, while Apple admits its iPhone can exceed exposure guidelines.

    There is rapidly-growing demand for information about the health effects of radio frequency energy – so much so that early next year Australia’s largest mobile retailer Telstra will publish comparison data on mobiles’ “specific absorption rate”.

    Consumers for the first time will be able to analyse phone SAR side by side. The regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), does not produce such information. In fact, phone manuals often do not even disclose the Australian standard for SAR.

    However, manuals do contain some disturbing admissions in their fine print. The user guide to the BlackBerry Torch advises using its “approved holster with an integrated belt clip or maintain a distance” of 25mm between the “BlackBerry device and your body while the BlackBerry device is transmitting”.

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    “Use of body-worn accessories, other than RIM-approved holsters with an integrated belt clip, might cause your BlackBerry device to exceed radio frequency (RF) exposure standards. The long-term effects of exceeding RF exposure standards might present a risk of serious harm.”

    And the Apple iPhone 4 guide says: “iPhone’s SAR measurement may exceed [US] . . . exposure guidelines for body-worn operation if positioned less than 15mm from the body (eg, when carrying iPhone in your pocket).”

    The BlackBerry’s maker, Research in Motion, did not respond to requests for comment. Apple would not comment on exposure levels for “body-worn operation”. But Telstra’s electromagnetic energy co-ordinator Mike Wood said: “Technically speaking, under the worst-case scenario, you might be in breach of the SAR limit.”

    Still, the phones were safe, Mr Wood said.

    ACMA said it didn’t set the exposure limits. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, which sets the limit, did not return calls. The Australian SAR limit for mobiles is 2 watts per kilogram of tissue, higher than the 1.6W/kg in the US.

    Australian Centre for RF Bioeffects Research executive director, University of Wollongong Professor Rodney Croft, said: “Even if it is over the limit there is no evidence . . . that it would cause harm unless it was at least 50 times the limit.”

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    Categories: Health, Technology

    TSA Desktop Image Makes Joke of Cavity Searching Children

    November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

    A Flickr photo shows a computer in a TSA airport office with a desktop image of a satirical book entitled “My First Cavity Search.” Our photo and Photoshop experts have examined the image and believe that it is real. is currently attempting to contact the Flickr photographer to establish if the image is real.

    TSA Desktop Image Makes Joke of Cavity Searching Children  3304306634 0a9e51503c z

    TSA Desktop Image Makes Joke of Cavity Searching Children  cavitysearch

    In January, the Guardian reported that experts determined that naked body scanner technology violates child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children. The British Department for Transport confirmed that the “child porn” problem was among the “legal and operational issues” under discussion within the government.

    Since the introduction of airport scanners, there have been countless complaints regarding privacy issues.

    Earlier this year, a TSA employee in Miami was arrested after he physically assaulted a co-worker who had joked about the size of his penis.

    In March, a TSA worker who conducted so-called patdowns was charged with multiple child sex crimes targeting an underage girl. “The bust outraged privacy and passenger advocates who say it justifies their fears about Logan International Airport’s full-body scanner,” the Boston Herald reported.

    In September, 2007, a woman died while in custody at Phoenix’s notorious Sky Harbor Airport. Carol Ann Gotbaum had argued with TSA employees prior to her death and the official explanation was that she had strangled herself “while trying to get out of her handcuffs,” according to a report posted on the Gothamist website.

    As the neocon Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in late October, the TSA considers the backscatter scanners and the “opt-out” manual search comical. Goldberg asked a TSA officer if the new Department of Homeland Security guidelines include a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?” the TSA employee responded.

    In addition, the Atlantic’s Goldberg was told by the TSA agent directly that pat downs were made increasingly invasive not for any genuine security reason, but to make the experience so uncomfortable for the traveler that they would prefer to use the body scanner, despite the fact that scientists at Columbia University and the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, along with other scientific bodies, have all warned that the devices increase the risk of developing cancer.

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    Congress may be squeamish about anal cavity searches, but if the photo below is indeed real, employees at the TSA consider this most humiliating form of molestation to be a laughing matter, especially when conducted on children.

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    FBI Asks Google, Facebook, To Aid Wiretapping

    November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

    Official portrait of the Director of the Feder...

    Official portrait of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Robert S. Mueller.

    Now that most Americans rarely ever use landlines but are instead occupied on the web and with their smartphones, the FBI is trying to step up its surveillance game to keep up with the times — to the detriment of our civil liberties.

    Last week, agency director Robert Mueller went to Sillicon Valley (much like Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network“) with a somewhat frightening proposal: Facebook and Google should build “back doors” into their systems to allow ease for spying.

    But groups like the ACLU says these physical mechanisms could be exploited by everyone from hackers to autocratic regimes cracking down on dissent.

    “It is important to realize that this proposal isn’t simply applying the same sort of wiretap system we have for phones to the Internet; it would require reconfiguring and changing the nature of the Internet,” said Laura Murphy of the ACLU in a statement.

    “We remain very concerned that this proposal is a clear recipe for abuse and will make it that much easier for the government to gain access to our most personal information. Americans should not simply surrender their privacy and other fundamental values in the name of national security.”

    Even within the Obama administration, there is some consternation that the changes sought by the FBI would inhibit innovation and aid repressive regimes.

    Read more at The New York Times and Raw Story.

    By Sarah Seltzer | Sourced from Alternet

    Posted at November 18, 2010, 7:09 am

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    Feds Admit to Storing Thousands of Images from Naked Body Scanners

    November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

    X-ray machines and metal detectors are used to...

    X-ray machines and metal detectors are used to control what is allowed to pass through an airport se...

    Full body scanners, which thwart terrorist attacks by flashing airport security your genitals and breasts, are supposed to generate images that disappear as soon as they’re viewed. At least that’s what the TSA has claimed in response to privacy concerns over the creepy technology.

    As it turns out, that’s the opposite of true: The U.S. Marshals Service admitted that just one courthouse checkpoint in Florida has stored tens of thousands of the images. And a report released last week revealed that the TSA demands all machines be equipped with the ability to record and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.”     Read more

    By Tana Ganeva | AlterNet
    Posted on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 @ 12:00 PM

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    Reiman Starts a Free Software Development Center

    November 7, 2010 1 comment

    RIA Novosti

    Image via Wikipedia

    07 November 2010

    Former presidential IT and telecommunications adviser Leonid Reiman has started a new company, ROSA, that will develop free software.

    When Reiman worked for the Kremlin, President Dmitry Medvedev often said Russia badly needed its own software for the sake of national security and cost savings.

    Reiman’s new initiative — which his representative announced last week, RIA-Novosti reported — comes as his first public move after he abruptly resigned in early September. He said at the time that he would focus on using his expertise and not take any government jobs.

    According to the ROSA web site, the company is planning to work with medium-sized to large companies “fully or partially migrating to free software use.” Its potential customers may also include original equipment manufacturers to sell them desktop and server operating systems.

    Free software, such as the popular office suite, is the opposite to proprietary software and allows for penalty-free distribution. It has come in vogue in the United States not long after it began as a movement 15 years ago.

    In Russia, which President Dmitry Medvedev hopes will soon be home to a Silicon Valley of its own, the use of free software has been a subject of controversy: Companies contracted to distribute CDs with operating systems in schools had failed to do so without errors.

    Reiman’s representative, whom RIA-Novosti didn’t identify, said ROSA would develop free software for the Russian market and then work with foreign companies, such as Mandriva, a free software distributions developer that is controlled by NGI fund. Reiman, who also served as communications minister between 1999 and 2008, is an investor of the 20 million euro ($28 million) fund, his representative said.

    Yevgeny Savin, who heads UNOVA, a web site that specializes in innovations and venture capital news, said ways of monetizing free software include advertising and creating free and proprietary versions of the program.

    “This market is growing and with telecoms, well, its boom days are gone,” Savin said, referring to Reiman’s telecoms background.

    Reiman could tap into the market for free software for mobile phones, possibly developing a project similar to Google‘s Android operating system, Savin said.

    According to National Purchase Diary’s Mobile Phone Track, Android is installed on 44 percent of all smartphones that were sold in the United States in the third quarter of 2010, up from 33 percent three months earlier.

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    Chinese Supercomputer Likely to Prompt Unease in U.S.

    October 28, 2010 1 comment

  • The Wall Street Journal

    A newly built supercomputer in China appears poised to take the world performance lead, another sign of the country’s growing technological prowess that is likely to set off alarms about U.S. competitiveness and national security.

    The system was designed by China’s National University of Defense Technology and is housed at the National Supercomputing Center in the city of Tianjin. It is part of a new breed that exploits graphics chips more commonly used in playing videogames—supplied by Nvidia Corp.—as well as standard microprocessors from Intel Corp.

    Supercomputers are massive machines that help tackle the toughest scientific problems, including simulating commercial products like new drugs as well as defense-related applications such as weapons design and breaking codes. The field has long been led by U.S. technology companies and national laboratories, which operate systems that have consistently topped lists of the fastest machines in the world.

    [cnvidia1028] NVIDIAThe Tianhe-1A Supercomputer, located at National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, China, is one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

    But Nvidia says the new system in Tianjin—which is being formally announced Thursday at an event in China—was able to reach 2.5 petaflops. That is a measure of calculating speed ordinarily translated into a thousand trillion operations per second. It is more than 40% higher than the mark set last June by a system called Jaguar at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that previously stood at No. 1 on a twice-yearly ranking of the 500 fastest supercomputers.

    “I don’t know of another system that is going to be anywhere near the performance and the power of this machine” in China, said Jack Dongarra, a supercomputer expert on the Oak Ridge research staff who is a professor at the University of Tennessee and recently inspected the system in Tianjin last week. “It is quite impressive.”

    The development was not altogether unexpected. China placed 24 systems in the so-called Top 500 supercomputer ranking last June; a system called Nebulae, for example, took second place that also used chips from Nvidia and Intel.

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    But Mr. Dongarra and other researchers said the machine should nevertheless serve as a wake-up call that China is threatening to take the lead in scientific computing—akin to a machine from Japan that took the No. 1 position early in the past decade and triggered increased U.S. investment in the field.

    “It’s definitely a game-changer in the high performance market,” said Mark Seager, chief technology officer for computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “This is a phase transition, representative of the shift of economic competitiveness from the West to the East.”

    Nearly all components of the high-profile Japanese system, called the Earth Simulator, were created in Japan. By contrast, most of the Tianjin system relies on chips from Intel and Nvidia, which are both based in Santa Clara, Calif. So U.S. customers could presumably construct a system with similar performance, noted Horst Simon, deputy lab director at Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

    But Mr. Dongarra noted that communications chips inside the machine were proprietary and designed in China, and the country is also working on its own microprocessors.

    Moreover, while the Japanese system was a single machine, Tianjin is part of a multi-year strategy by China to develop a range of machines to create a dominant position in both military and commercial applications. “In that sense, I would say this is a much more important event than the Earth Simulator,” Mr. Simon said.

    The new supercomputer will be operated as an “open access” system, available to other countries outside of China to use for large scale scientific computation, said Ujesh Desai, an Nvidia vice president of product marketing.

    It reflects a major design shift to use graphics chips to help accelerate the number-crunching functions most often carried out by so-called x86 chips, which evolved from personal computers and have long dominated supercomputing. Advanced Micro Devices, which makes both graphics chips and x86 microprocessors, is another company besides Nvidia that is promoting the technology shift.

    Write to Don Clark at

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