Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Should There Be A Ronald Reagan Pornography App?

Given that 1980s throwback themes had recently become bestsellers in the burgeoning app industry, would a “Ronald Reagan Pornography App” be the next must have retro app? 

By: Ringo Bones 

With the release of the MacGyver Deadly Descent App back in the second half of May 2014 that had taken the app world by storm – for a 1980s themed retro app that is and based on a hit 1980s TV series nonetheless – many could be asking right now if “there was a pornography detection app based on that notorious then US President Ronald Reagan and then US Attorney General Edwin Meese III’s pornography commission report?” Imagine – for possible comic effect – the app’s pornography detection criterion be based on that Ronald Reagan’s “big blue 1,960-page book on pornography that was published back in July 1986 that almost nobody reads anymore and was labeled a big waste of American taxpayers’ money back then”. Would such a 1980s themed retro app prove to be a “best-seller”? 

Given that July has become the more or less ad hoc “Ronald Reagan Pornography Month” – the release of a “Ronald Reagan Pornography” themed app this July 2014 seems apt – if you’ll excuse the pun – to try out what the hubbub is about on that notorious of American taxpayers’ money Ronald Reagan Pornography Commission Final Report was back in July 1986. Would it also necessitate the addition of a “hypocrisy chip” or “hypocrisy module” on your Android capable smartphone given how the US Republican Party tackles such problems since the days when Ronnie was still president? Or would it be like – as legend has it – act like former US First Lady Nancy Reagan when she first saw an exhibition of the paintings of Old Masters in a museum and exclaimed “pornography”? Maybe somebody is already making and/or designing a US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart Pornography App right now. 

Given the capabilities of a typical contemporary smartphone, an artificial intelligence like program that could make the Ronald Reagan Pornography app act like a typical dyed-in-the-wool US Republican Party stalwart could not only provide countless hours of hilarity for history buffs or those old enough to have been singed by “Reaganomics” this sort of “pornography app” could prove to be a best-seller in today’s overcrowded app marker. Or should it carry the proverbial “caveat emptor” warning?  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Should Public Wi-Fi Hotspot Users Be Wary Of An Evil Twin Attack?

Given that virtually all of our contemporary lives now revolve around our ability to access and transact business on the internet, should we be wary of an evil twin attack when using public Wi-Fi hotspots?

By: Ringo Bones 

Almost all aspect of our contemporary life is now defined by our ability and ease of accessing and conducting commerce and paying our bills via the internet. Sadly, cyber-criminals are now capitalizing on this and had since gave birth to the concept of the “evil twin attack” on people hooking up their smart-phones and other mobile computing device on an unsecure public Wi-Fi connection. Some cyber-criminals use “authentic looking sites” to entrap unwary users that got bamboozled into giving / surrendering their private financial information like credit card numbers, ATM PIN numbers, etc. for the financial gain of the cyber-criminal at the expense of the unwary user. But how can we all protect ourselves from an “evil twin attack”, especially those who conduct their businesses in public Wi-Fi connections whose security status they are quite unsure of? 

Due to the recent advances in mobile personal computer technology, cyber-criminals and malicious hackers no longer need a van full of electronics to build their own “evil twin” of a legitimate website in order to steal private financial information - cyber criminals can now use a sufficiently powerful laptop and the required software. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are easy targets for “evil twin” attacks since public Wi-Fi hotspots like those in posh Parisian style coffee shops have their passwords on display to their paying customers and thus are extremely vulnerable to cyber-criminals launching an “evil twin” attack to phishing private financial information. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are also ideal for cyber-criminals to employ older illicit key-logging software to steal password information. 

Evil twin Wi-Fi scams have been around for awhile ever since Wi-Fi hotspots had been around, but since the advent of advanced smart-phones, such attacks had since become more brazen. One should wait until they come home or arrive in a place whose Wi-Fi hotspot have security features specifically optimized to foil evil twin attacks whenever they access their vital online banking account information or using their credit cards in purchasing big ticket items.  In an unsecure public Wi-Fi hotspot set-up, the cyber-criminal hacker could be sitting right beside you as he or she steals your vital access codes without even you knowing it. One proven deterrent to an evil twin attack while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot is to set their inbox to the more secure “https” mode. Dynamic single-use password Wi-Fi networks like those provided in most hotels are inherently more secure but many are lured to a public Wi-Fi hotspot because they are much more convenient to use. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Google’s Driverless Cars: The Revolutionary Way to Drive?

If Google’s fleet of driverless cars works as foolproof as its iconic search engine, will it soon create a driving revolution?

By: Ringo Bones 

Set for mass trials before the end of 2014, Google’s driverless / self-drive cars could very well be representing a revolutionary way to drive if it performs as foolproof as the internet company’s iconic search engine. With its top speed limited to around 25 miles per hour – or 40 kilometers per hour – to make it as safe as possible given that it only has a start / stop button and no pedals, steering wheel and gear shift to speak of, Google’s driverless cars is said to be equipped with a camera, laser and radar based guidance system that integrates the car’s navigation with Google’s existing on-line navigation aids – as in Google Maps and Google Earth and the Global Positioning System satellite navigation. And given that the "idiosyncrasies" of most human drivers, Google's driverless cars could prove to be very good for our environment by making driving times / trips as short as possible thus lowering carbon dioxide emissions of Google's driverless cars that still burn carbon based fuels.

Though more evolutionary than revolutionary given that its proprietary autonomous self-drive and navigation system was first retrofitted to existing production cars during extensive tests and development years before, it is only recently that Google decided to design its first production autonomous driverless cars from the ground up instead of retrofitting its extensively tested autonomous driving system to off the shelf cars made by major car manufacturers like Ford or Toyota, etc. Designed as an ultra-compact two-seater to make it acceptably appealing in crowded urban environments, Google says that its 2014 era driverless cars will serve as a test-bed for more complex autonomous commercial mass transit systems like buses and passenger ferries. 

Google’s proprietary autonomous driverless and navigation system had been tested up to 100,000 miles without a single collision related mishap in its Silicon Valley headquarters for years and given their system’s exemplar safety record, Google plans to fully test their autonomous driverless system in “real world” conditions and also to test the concept of making driving much safer by removing the human error factor. The only question now is – “Where’s the stereo?” 

Google Versus Facebook: A Boon For Ordinary Africans?

With Google and Facebook in a neck-to-neck race to corner the unconnected parts of Africa be a boon for ordinary Africans? 

By: Ringo Bones

Copper cable and optical fiber internet based systems are yet too expensive and their penetration too slow for the parts of Africa not yet connected to the information superhighway via broadband but will the neck-to-neck race between Google and Facebook benefit ordinary Africans? The two internet titans differing competing methods could open up the hitherto unconnected parts of Africa.
Google’s Project Loon (named after the high-flying waterfowl?) plans to use high-altitude balloon-born internet servers hovering at 60,000 feet or higher to provide in the most economically viable way at present to provide internet coverage to areas in Africa not yet connected to the world wide web. Rich de Vaul chief architect at Google is one of the heads of Project Loon.  

While Facebook also has a similar project that use solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles carrying internet servers to provide affordable internet service to areas of Africa that are yet to be reliably connected to the internet. Providing increased connectivity for Africa is just part of a business expansion plan by Facebook to turn itself into a global utility via pilotless drones that provides internet coverage in remote areas and can stay aloft up to 5 years at a time. 

Both Google and Facebook had been eyeing to purchase Titan Aerospace – the South Korean firm that manufactures the solar-powered UAVs that carry the internet servers to 60,000 feet or higher and could continuously stay aloft for up to 5 years. Both balloons and UAVs are currently much cheaper – and hence more commercially viable – than the broadband internet via Earth orbiting telecommunication satellites.
According to leading consultancy firms, the race between Google and Facebook to corner the African internet market doesn’t just benefits the two internet superpowers. With increased internet connectivity on the African continent, up to 44 million internet-based extra jobs would suddenly become available across Africa. Increased internet connectivity could potentially translate to 450 US dollars worth of additional GDP per person across Africa. Whoever wins on this titanic commercial battle, the biggest winners could be the ordinary Africans currently denied reliable and affordable internet connectivity.