DARPA’s Shredder Challenge – almost won already?

Readers may be aware that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is sponsoring what it calls the ‘Shredder Challenge‘. Today’s troops often confiscate the remnants of destroyed documents in war zones, but reconstructing them is a daunting task. DARPA’s Shredder Challenge calls upon computer scientists, puzzle enthusiasts and anyone else who likes solving complex problems to compete for up to $50,000 by piecing together a series of shredded documents. The goal is to identify and assess potential capabilities that could be used by our warfighters operating in war zones, but might also create vulnerabilities to sensitive information that is

Continue reading

What will they think of next?

I was amazed – and impressed – to read of a novel application of CAT scan technology to the world of music. The BBC reports: Radiologist Steven Sirr first had the idea of using a CAT scanner to take images of violins in 1988. He was an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota at the time and often brought his violin to his office to practise when it was quiet. One weekend he was called to supervise the scan of a gunshot wound victim. “I put the violin of the side on a table near the scanner and then

Continue reading

Are Android smartphones subject to a massive security risk?

According to Wired online magazine, they certainly are. The Android developer who raised the ire of a mobile-phone monitoring company last week is on the attack again, producing a video of how the Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone. Though the software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut analyzed its workings, revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience — ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control.

Continue reading

How the Greek economic ‘bailout’ really works

I can’t resist re-posting this gem describing (with tongue firmly in cheek) the Greek economic bailout. I found it at Theo Spark’s place, who in turn got it from The Norfolk Diner. It’s a slow day in a little Greek Village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs

Continue reading