Info Tech

GPS World reports:

Russia gave the GNSS industry three gifts this Christmas, particularly in its home country.

On Tuesday the Russian Federal Space Agency successfully launched a Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass satellites on board from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The launch will bring the Glonass satellite constellation total to 18 satellites, enough to provide navigation services to all of Russia, assuming all three can be put into service. By 2010, Russia plans to have a fully operating constellation of 24 Glonass satellites—enough to provide positioning service over the entire globe, complementing the U.S. GPS constellation.

Six Glonass satellites are scheduled for launch in 2008, and the first two improved Glonass-K satellites are scheduled for launch the following year, according to RIA Novosti reports.

In related news, a number of news agencies quoted Vladimir Putin on Monday as asking about the availability of Glonass-enabled tracking hardware for his dog, a black lab. The question reportedly came after Putin was briefed about the launch scheduled for the next day and the status of the Glonass system.

John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine, writes:

Does anyone but me see the OLPC XO-1 as an insulting “let them eat cake” sort of message to the world’s poor?

Hands Across America, Live AID, the Concert for Bangladesh, and so on. The American (and world) public has witnessed one feel-good event (and the ensuing scandals) after another. Each one manages to assuage our guilt about the world’s problems, at least a little. Now these folks think that any sort of participation in these events, or even their good thoughts about world poverty and starvation, actually help. Now they can sleep at night. It doesn’t matter that nothing has really changed.

This is how I view the cute, little One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO-1 computer, technology designed for the impoverished children of Africa and Alabama. This machine, which is the brainchild of onetime MIT media lab honcho Nick Negroponte, will save the world. His vision is to supply every child with what amounts to an advertising delivery mechanism. Hence the boys at Google are big investors.


Cool apps that surprise and delight mobile users, built by developers like you, will be a huge part of the Android vision. To support you in your efforts, Google has launched the , which will provide $10 million in awards — no strings attached — for great mobile apps built on the Android platform.

Don Woolford (AAP), via Slashdot, reports:

KIM Beazley has told how Australia cracked top-secret American combat aircraft codes while he was defence minister in the 1980s.

“We spied on them and we extracted the codes,” Mr Beazley told Parliament during his valedictory speech today.

Los Angeles Air Force Base repoors:

The Air Force completed a four-phase transition of the Global Positioning System ground segment to the new Architecture Evolution Plan on Sept. 14. AEP was delivered by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Wing to the 50th Space Wing to replace the legacy 1970s-era mainframe computer at Schriever AFB, Colo.

SMC managed the development, integration and test with the Boeing Company, who led a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin contractor team, to design and build the new system. The transition was executed by the 2nd Space Operations Squadron from the 50th Space Wing and the 19th Space Operations Squadron from the 310th Space Group.

The ground segment provides command and control of the satellites and generates the navigation message for satellites to broadcast to users so they can determine their position on the earth. The new control segment is a critical part of an overall modernization plan to improve operations, sustainment, and overall GPS service.

PETER B. de SELDING, Space News Staff Writer, reports:

‘If we have not published it in our catalogue, then it does not exist.’

BROYE-LES-PESMES, France - A French space-surveillance radar has detected 20-30 satellites in low Earth orbit that do not figure in the U.S. Defense Department’s published catalogue, a discovery that French officials say they will use to pressure U.S. authorities to stop publishing the whereabouts of French reconnaissance and military communications satellites.

GPS World reports:

The current GPS constellation — its health and viability — continues in question and under scrutiny, despite reassurances from the Air Force.

Last month’s GPS World Survey & Construction e-newsletter relayed user plaints that there aren’t enough healthy GPS satellites. Surveyors say they can’t use RTK a full day with the current constellation even with every satellite healthy — and that recently there have been more satellite outages than ever before. They’ve resorted to filling GPS gaps with GLONASS.

The online story drew immediate affirmation. “While most of the time we get good coverage, for the last couple months we have had a 4 to 6-hour gap where we ‘float’ a lot and our precision goes down. Unfortunately this gap is usually between 10 am and 2 pm, which creates some interesting scheduling problems.”

On Slashdot, alien88 writes:

“Late last week, the Washtenaw County Board approved Wireless Washtenaw Advisory Board’s recommendation of 20/20 Communications to cover the entire county with wireless by the end of 2007. This includes Ann Arbor, the home of University of Michigan and future home of Google’s Adwords division. The wireless network will be free for speeds up to 85kbps and $35/month for 500kbps. 20/20 Communications estimates it will take around 6,000 radios to cover the county.

This initiative is being funded without taxpayer dollars and is one of the most ambitious wireless deployments in the US. Will it succeed or will it fail? Check out the county’s wireless website for updates on the project.” Of course, the real reason this is worth posting is it’s because this is the county where Rob, myself and a number of the others live in.

Photo: BiQuad Antenna

Graeme writes:

I just got a Nokia E61 on T-Mobile. When I signed up, I knew that the signal was really weak in the back of our house - the building forms a large square, and my bedroom faces into the centre of the square. I could get a signal in the living room (just), but wouldn’t it be great, I thought, not to have to go through there every time the phone rings. Although outside my house full-strength UMTS signals are readily available, the building’s construction prevents them diffracting into the internal ‘courtyard’.

The Associated Press reports:

NEW YORK (AP) — A mysterious blackout during the hottest week of the year left tens of thousands of New Yorkers without power for a fifth day Friday as residents sweltered, businesses idled and city officials seethed after the power company revealed the outages were 10 times larger than previously reported.

“It’s a total catastrophe. We’ve been throwing things out for four days,” restaurant owner Louis Panazakos lamented as workers threw out garbage bags full of fresh pasta and sauces.

Power company Con Edison initially said fewer than 2,500 customers were affected, but it increased that number tenfold Friday morning to 25,000 customers. By 9 p.m., the number of customers without power had dropped to 23,950, the utility said.

Dark Reading reports:

JULY 19, 2006 | 9:32 AM — For years, the “card key” has been considered a reliable means of securing the enterprise from unauthorized visitors. In some cases, these cards also serve as identification, and when combined with smartcard technology, a form of network authentication. But if these cards are misconfigured or managed, they can be rendered useless — as my penetration testing company recently proved.

Abstract from the United States Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences’
“Cooperative Interface Agents for Networked Command, Control, and Communications: Phase II Final Report”:

Report developed under a Small Business Innovation Research Program 2000.2 contract for topic A02-024. This Phase II research advanced the Phase I approach to enable improved human-system interaction of mixed human and robotic elements for a company-sized unit. The research reported here explored the utility of intelligent user interfaces for command and control tasks. A system prototype was developed using a virtual simulation environment, Soar-based intelligent agents, and a standards-based communications infrastructure. The prototype was evaluated by active duty Army officers using think aloud and situational awareness protocols conducted during a simulated urban mission. Results from the evaluation indicate that cooperative interface agents may be a practical technique for reducing command and control complexity, especially when manned and unmanned forces are integrated. Although this technique was demonstrated in a relatively simple simulation environment, further research is warranted to assess scalability and usability when applied to more knowledge-rich, real-world environments.

Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2006 01:53:33 -0700
From: ‘BlueHost Support’ ()

Dear Bluehost Customer,

This evening (July 14th) from about 5:25pm-6:55pm many of our servers
were offline causing significant downtime for many of our users. The
outage was due to a severe power outage in the north end of Orem, Utah
where our servers are located. We do have UPS backup as well as diesel
generators, but at about 5:30 they finally gave out. The power outage
was for much longer than that period of time, but the reserve power
was eventually consumed in its entirety. When it rains it pours.

Cornell University, via /., reports:

Newswise — Members of Cornell’s Global Positioning System (GPS) Laboratory have cracked the so-called pseudo random number (PRN) codes of Europe’s first global navigation satellite, despite efforts to keep the codes secret. That means free access for consumers who use navigation devices — including handheld receivers and systems installed in vehicles — that need PRNs to listen to satellites.

The codes and the methods used to extract them were published in the June issue of GPS World.

On /., LackThereof writes:

“An IT consultant for the FBI, hired to work on their new ‘Trilogy’ computer system, apparently got hold of the username and password hash databases for the FBI’s network. He then used a common dictionary attack to get usable passwords out of the hashes, including that of FBI director Robert Muller, making him able to access virtually any data stored electronically at the FBI, including Witness Protection program records. The consultant, Joseph Thomas Colon, claims he used the passwords to avoid bureaucratic obstacles, and that his actions were condoned by the FBI agents he was working with at the agency.”

“He has pleaded guilty to 4 counts of ‘intentionally accessing a computer while exceeding authorized access and obtaining information from any department of the United States.’ He initally gained access to the hash database by borrowing an agent’s username and password; he then re-downloaded and re-cracked it three more times to keep up with the FBI’s 90-day password expiration policy. Lesson: Your users are your biggest security hole. Don’t trust your users, especially if they’re government agents.”

On #pfsense (FreeNode)

5:05 PM
MxxCon: what about elacoya
ttub: your isps using it?
MxxCon: don't know
MxxCon: they are fucking around w/ bittorent traffic
ttub: well that stuff is killing things for us good citizens

What is Elacoya?

Thomas Mennecke,, reports:

On May 31, 2006, BitTorrent as many people know it came to a grinding halt. The Swedish National Criminal Police raided Rex|Port80, the home of The Pirate Bay and at least 200 other domains. The raid disrupted The Pirate Bay, throwing much of the BitTorrent community into chaos.

However, this bewilderment would prove temporary as The Pirate Bay is once again online. True to its defiant nature, The Pirate Bay is again indexing many of the same .torrent files that made it wildly popular.

News of The Pirate Bay’s resurrection comes as little surprise. The Pirate Bay spokesperson “brokep” promised the site would resolve under a different country’s flag if an immediate resolution could not be reached in Sweden.

“We are not sure when it will return, but we are moving it to another country if necessary,” brokep told

It appears The Pirate Bay has made good on its promise, as it has reestablished itself in the Netherlands. Currently, its indexing capabilities are somewhat reduced from its former self, however should improve once news spreads of its resurrection.

Slyck reports:

In their native Sweden, enjoyed a level of immunity from copyright prosecution rarely seen in the file-sharing world. Often defiant in the face of those wishing to enforce their intellectual property rights, would go on to become one of the premier BitTorrent indexing and tracking sites.

As one of the largest trackers, largely replaced the search engine met its demise in late 2004, when it was under pressure from the entertainment industry to shut it operation down. Conversely, such pressure has been ineffective against

When such political pressure fails, the use of force is typically the next course of action. In a move that many thought would never come, learned this morning that was raided by Swedish police.

“…The police right now is taking all of our servers, to check if there is a crime there or not (they are actually not sure),” spokesperson “brokep” told

The seizure of’s entire server farm will guarantee this BitTorrent tracker will remain offline until the police complete their investigation. The uncertainty on the part of the police may stem from the fact’s servers only host .torrent files, not actual copyrighted material. As a tracker,’s function is to index .torrent files and to direct BitTorrent traffic and maintain the swarm (uploads and downloads.) The downloaded .torrent file contains all the necessary information to locate and download the queried file. The legality of indirectly linking to copyrighted material has yet to be tested by Swedish courts.

Whether this will keep offline indefinitely is another matter.

“We are not sure when it will return, but we are moving it to another country if necessary,” brokep said.

Colin Barker and Jonathan Bennett, Special to CNET

Oracle’s security chief says the software industry is so riddled with buggy product makers that “you wouldn’t get on a plane built by software developers.”

Chief Security Officer Mary Ann Davidson has hit out at an industry in which “most software people are not trained to think in terms of safety, security and reliability.” Instead, they are wedded to a culture of “patch, patch, patch,” at a cost to businesses of $59 billion, she said.

“What if civil engineers built bridges the way developers write code?” she asked. “What would happen is that you would get the blue bridge of death appearing on your highway in the morning.”

GeekZone (NZ), via /., reports:

Microsoft Corp. is announcing a flexible business model for emerging markets powered by Microsoft FlexGo technology.

The pay-as-you-go computing model enabled by Microsoft’s FlexGo technology allows customers to have a fully featured PC at home by paying only for the time as they use it through the purchase of prepaid activation cards or tokens. Microsoft has been running trials of the program in Brazil for more than a year and will soon be expanding to select markets in India, Russia, China and Mexico.

Photo: Road Sign
With only a few minutes of road sign hacking, I had programmed an homage to the 1951 sci-fi film The Day The Earth Stood Still, the phrase that was used to stop Gort, the robot in the film, from taking over the world., via BoingBoing, reports:

Electronic road signs are annoying. I don’t have a problem with these signs warning me about road construction, except when they’re left up — flashing their stupid warnings — well after the work is completed. Recently a construction company left a pair of these signs in my neighborhood, blasting out their pointless messages. Being a creative tinkerer, I decided to do something about it.

This was the first time I had attempted a prank like this, so I expected the control box to be locked, and the programming functions password-protected. I was wrong. First of all, the control cabinet had no lock. Swinging open its door, I found a deliciously inviting handheld keypad, then took a wild guess and pushed a button labeled STOP. The display on the control box flashed ENTER PASSWORD. I was about to give up in disgust when I noticed that someone had written the password in large Sharpie lettering above the box.

Annalee Newitz, WIRED, reports:

James Van Bokkelen is about to be robbed. A wealthy software entrepreneur, Van Bokkelen will be the latest victim of some punk with a laptop. But this won’t be an email scam or bank account hack. A skinny 23-year-old named Jonathan Westhues plans to use a cheap, homemade USB device to swipe the office key out of Van Bokkelen’s back pocket.

“I just need to bump into James and get my hand within a few inches of him,” Westhues says. We’re shivering in the early spring air outside the offices of Sandstorm, the Internet security company Van Bokkelen runs north of Boston. As Van Bokkelen approaches from the parking lot, Westhues brushes past him. A coil of copper wire flashes briefly in Westhues’ palm, then disappears.

Van Bokkelen enters the building, and Westhues returns to me. “Let’s see if I’ve got his keys,” he says, meaning the signal from Van Bokkelen’s smartcard badge. The card contains an RFID sensor chip, which emits a short burst of radio waves when activated by the reader next to Sandstorm’s door. If the signal translates into an authorized ID number, the door unlocks.

The coil in Westhues’ hand is the antenna for the wallet-sized device he calls a cloner, which is currently shoved up his sleeve. The cloner can elicit, record, and mimic signals from smartcard RFID chips. Westhues takes out the device and, using a USB cable, connects it to his laptop and downloads the data from Van Bokkelen’s card for processing. Then, satisfied that he has retrieved the code, Westhues switches the cloner from Record mode to Emit. We head to the locked door.

“Want me to let you in?” Westhues asks. I nod.

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 10:10:02 -0400
From: BroadVoice
Subject: Service Notification

Dear Valued Customer,

BroadVoice has been notified by one of our underlying carriers that there is a possibility of losing inbound service to your BroadVoice number today (April 25, 2006). One of our underlying carriers has been in an ongoing dispute with Verizon. Verizon has notified the carrier that they will terminate service in Massachusetts, anytime after noon today. Unfortunately BroadVoice can not avert the underlying carrier’s potential service termination but we will be working very closely with all parties to ensure that if a service interruption occurs, the impact will be minimized. Please note that BroadVoice is not in dispute with any carrier. This will only affect your inbound service. Your ability to dial out using your BroadVoice service will not be affected.

BroadVoice apologies in advance for any inconvenience that this MAY cause.



Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 12:02:29 -0500
From: “NuFone Operations”
Subject: NuFone Update: Number Outage Update

We realize many people rely on the telephone numbers that we provide, but unfortunately the situation is currently out of our control. We are currently working to resolve the issues with our provider and hope to have service restored soon. NuFone is committed to keeping our customers in the loop during this outage and we will provide daily updates with our progress at

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult time.

The NuFone Network

Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 11:56:37 -0500
From: “NuFone Operations”
Subject: NuFone Update: DID Outage

Telesthetic has chosen to terminate our DID services before allowing us
to properly migrate the network elements to our new carrier.

A solution is in progress, but due to Telesthetic’s lack of cooperation
in this situation, your Toll-Free and Michigan DID services have been effected.
Outbound calling has not been effected by this situation whatsoever.

Unless Telesthetic elects to do the right thing and restore our services,
your Toll-Free numbers will be down for a few hours if not most of the day
although we hope it will be much shorter.

As for Michigan DIDs, we currently have no other carrier that is capable
of porting those numbers and Telesthetic has been completely uncooperative
with providing us with recommendations on who we could turn to. If anyone
has any suggestions, we more than welcome them.

We will post updates on our website as we have more information to provide.

Thank you for your continued support.

The NuFone Network

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