Archive for the ‘Internet and Technology’ Category

Tevatron: Disengage

September 30, 2011

In a previous post, I referenced the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located on the French/Swiss border.

As it happens, we have (soon to be read, “had”) a collider of our own, called the “Tevatron,” operated by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. It is not as sophisticated as the LHC, which may have had something to do with the lapse of funding for the Tevatron, resulting in the shutting down of the program.  For example, the Tevatron is capable of approaching the speed of light, but not exceeding it as the LHC may have done.

The Tevatron has, however, made history in its 26 years of operation…it revealed the top quark in 1994. When CERN made a comeback with the LHC around 2009, the Tevatron team stepped it up to unlock the Higgs boson particle, also known as the “God Particle“…you know, the thing that might unlock the secrets of matter and who knows what else.

As a side note, I think it is great how CERN commented on the shutdown of the Fermilab collider–click “CERN” above (30-Sep-11).

The Tevatron is supposed to broadcast the shutdown process online at 1:45PM CST. An era is about to end.

I know…no pictures. This blog took longer than I thought, so I am forgoing the pictures until next time.

Advertisements

Iran Being Kept in Check?

December 2, 2010

Iran NuclearSo Iran is set to go nuclear in a couple months…for energy purposes.  Through the Wikileaks document dump, evidence of Iran’s long term plans has come to light.  According to this source, certain documents indicate Iran can produce a missile capable of reaching the US by 2015, given outside assistance.  The documents also indicate Arab states have secretly encouraged the US to strike by force, though the US has chosen to communicate concerns with Iran through diplomatic channels.

F-35Nations possibly in Iran’s crosshairs are not without defense.  We entered a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, including up to 85 F-15 fighter jets.  The Gulf is covered.  Israel is sitting tight, as well, with 20 F-35 Lightning II stealth bombers for $2.75 billion.  That is diplomacy.  At least Arab states will be armed to advance on Iran, themselves.  Iraq has also been armed to the tune of $13 billion, but that was bound to happen to ensure its own security.  Eventually, this is going to come back to bite us.  It happened when the US sold weapons to Iraq decades ago, and it happened when the US assisted Iran with the beginning of its nuclear program.  Iran goes nuclear, and the US seals deals for about $75 billion in a matter of months—nice chunk of change.

In case diplomacy fails, someone has undertaken other missions to slow down Iran’s nuclear development.  A very sophisticated worm, called “Stuxnet,” moved through computers until it arrived at computers within the nuclear facility.  “Shall we play a game?”  The worm did not take the facility offline; it merely slowed production to a crawl, as the worm produced inexplicable data inconsistencies through equipment malfunction for a period of months.  The software clearly targeted Iran nuclear facilities, leaving to question “whodunnit?”  It is believed a consortium of private interests from the west (a.k.a. here) carried it out, considering the many different angles the worm covered, such as apparent familiarity with the different hardware encountered in the facility.

Mossad BriefcaseOther methods include attempting to take out the scientists, themselves.  Assailants on motorcycles attached bombs to cars belonging to two scientists as they commuted to work separately.  One was killed, and the other was injured.  This resulted in Iran beefing up security for its nuclear staff.  Iran openly blamed western and Israeli forces of carrying out the attack.  Lately, a British newspaper (the Independent) ran a story indicating obvious involvement by the Mossad (Israel), MI6 (UK) and the CIA (US).  The CIA is fully capable of terrorism (Khaled al-Masri), and Israeli forces are certainly forces to be reckoned with, being no strangers to assassination.  My first thought is Ziva David from NCIS.  The Mossad’s tactics, combined with Britain’s admission of using “intelligence-led approaches,” and Arab states’ encouraging involvement of the US do make for interesting discussions.

North KoreaWith its nuclear facility fueled by Russia (and missiles supplied by North Korea using Russian technology), Iran has overcome tremendous obstacles in pursuing its nuclear goals.  This indicates halting the program will require drastic action.  Use of crippling cyber worms and the picking off of staff one-by-one or two-by-two will do nothing more than make Iran more determined to accomplish its goal, extending its hitlist in the process.

The Wiki has Leaked Again

November 30, 2010

Wikileaks LogoWikileaks has released its latest batch of files. However, these files are unlike those previously released. These files were gained from leaked internal communications regarding diplomatic relations with other countries. This means the files contain what leaders of Country A really think of Country B.  Some of these files are recent, but they are supposed to date all the way back to 1966, in some cases.  US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been running around frantic trying to sweet-talk countries whose integrity may be compromised.  Prior to the release, Wikileaks was hacked, resulting in users losing access to part of the Web site.  As a fail-safe, copies of the files were sent to several major newspapers, including the UK’s Guardian.  The New York Times was supposed to receive the files in advance, but Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, did not send the NYT copies…it had to request the files from the Guardian.

The files are out, and the collection (so far) is available for your viewing pleasure at this location.  The number of files available is, supposedly, to reach 251,287.  If the page does not appear, refresh the page until it does.

I have cruised some files to see how bad they are…how can anyone interested in conspiracy theories resist such a temptation?  And who does not want to know such priceless tidbits as the reason behind Iran’s denying the US women’s badminton team visitor visas in 2009?  By the by, Iran denied the visas because the US announced the arrival before Iran wanted them to.  Iran wanted to control the media coverage because officials did not want Iranians to show up, en masse, and display American flags and such in support of the American team…not very surprising.

Dubai Knowledge VillageAnother interesting bit is the University of Connecticut almost established a campus in Dubai in 2007.  However, plans were halted when it came about that United Arab Emirates (UAE) regulations would have prohibited entry into Dubai by citizens of Israel.  Though the University of Connecticut did not make it, the US does have representation in the Dubai Knowledge Village.

More communications from 2007 bring Israel into the mix.  Mainly, their interests in changing the regime presiding over Iran.  They planned to do this through their “Five Pillar System.”  One of these pillars is “Sanctioning.”  Israel said sanctioning was the most effective method, at the time, bringing three Iranian banks to their fiscal knees…sounds like a vaguely familiar strategy where banks are concerned.  The current President of Iran (both now and at the time of document creation) is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  He could have been voted out of office in 2009, but he won amidst claims of fixed votes.  Protests have continued, and some have ended violently thanks to the Basij, a volunteer Iranian militia.  One such case is that of Neda Agha-Soltan (NSFW, depending whether you watch the video or not).

Julian AssangeThere are supposed to be files revealing how US officials feel about other world officials, so I am going to wait until the entire collection is online before searching for those documents.  Apparently, the US says India is a “self-appointed frontrunner” for a UNSC seat…but India self-appoints itself as a lot of things, including being congruent to China on many levels (this occurred during Copenhagen Agreement talks).  US officials say they are currently looking into possible criminal charges for Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.  However, the search for a basis on which to arrest him does not look hopeful.

Facebook at Odds with the Other Book

November 17, 2010

Facebook Homepage - Getty ImagesNo one has said Facebook is against the Bible or anything…yet.  The Rev. Cedric Miller, a pastor in Neptune, New Jersey, has laid forth the claim that Facebook may guide some down an unsavory path—infidelity.

His beef stems from his experience giving marriage counseling.  Apparently, Facebook makes it easier for break-ups to reconnect…who would have thought?  This would normally lack malice, as Facebook would be bringing the two people back together.  However, the reconnection comes when at least one person has already entered a marriage with another person—not so good, under these conditions.  Miller has counseled 20 couples (of the 1,100 members) at the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church.  I can see why the good reverend is concerned.

Rev. Cedric MillerHe is going overboard.  He suggested all couples in the congregation share their Facebook passwords or delete their accounts.  This weekend, he is going to delete his account, though he uses it to communicate with his sizable family.  He is also suggesting his married staff and church leaders follow suit, deleting their accounts, or resign.  Soon, he will suggest the policy spread to all married couples.  Staff members who are not married will not be required to delete their accounts.

First, he has no place suggesting couples exchange passwords…unless the couple has a single account, in which case the password is not an issue.  Yeah, that method adds transparency to the relationship…but some of us are capable of having Facebook without cheating on a spouse.  Even crazier, some of us can have exes as friends on Facebook without forgetting the bottom line:  it did not work out before, and it most likely will not work out now.  Simple.  And I would never give anyone my password to any online account I hold…except under extreme circumstances.

ExesAs far as Miller basically ordering church leaders to delete Facebook accounts…that is none of his concern.  If the person posts content unbecoming of someone in his/her position, I could understand Miller getting upset.  However, he is punishing the many for the lack of integrity of few in a preemptive move reminiscent of pre-sixteenth century England.  Banning Facebook is not the answer.  The shift in the paradigm he sees may not be one he likes, but it is probably going to happen.  If his congregation has such an affliction with Facebook, perhaps he should scale back his suggestion to merely not adding an ex as a friend.  Clearly, the underlying factor is not Facebook, but whatever void left a member of one of the couples susceptible to fantasies of an ex creeping back.  Somebody, obviously, had not moved on.

I have an ex as a friend on my account, but I do not actively seek to rekindle anything, nor consider it a possibility.  In honesty, I accepted the friend request to avoid being rude.  I will probably delete her in the future, as I do not have much to say to her.  Nevertheless, being friends with her on Facebook is not having any effect (adverse or otherwise) on life.

iTunes Goes iBeatles

November 16, 2010

Since as far back as February of 2007, the Beatles has been negotiating with EMI to get the band’s music on Apple’s iTunes.  Finally, it has happened:  the Beatles catalog is available on iTunes.

The BeatlesThat is correct—you can now buy the Beatles tunes on iTunes.  It is great news, but not exactly day-changing.  I am not saying I do not dig the Beatles; merely that I already own the tunes that I like.  Also, I do not own an iPod, so I try to avoid using iTunes when I can.  Still, I guess it is worth the years of negotiations for iTunes users to walk in “Strawberry Fields Forever”…with their iPods in tow.

Facebook is Gaining Power

November 16, 2010

Facebook LogoFacebook is looking to unveil their newest big thing, which will hopefully make Facebook communication easier.  Maybe this will fix the FB chat system.  For me, it only works about 60 per cent of the time.  For certain friends, it seems, messages get through about 40 per cent of the time.  I know avoidance is not the case.

The new utility will serve as a communication hub for messages, chat and instant messaging services for Facebook users.  At option to the user, he or she will be able to sport an “@facebook.com” E-mail address.  People, in the know, claim this will not bring E-mail to obsolescence.  Gmail is singled out as Facebook’s competition.

E-mail vs. Social MediaHonestly, I have never had a reason to use Gmail.  I got a Hotmail Account back in the day, and it is now strictly to use Windows Live Messenger (once every other blue moon); I have a Yahoo E-mail address for use with Yahoo Messenger (just as often as Windows Live Messenger); I have my college E-mail account for official use; I also have another account for business use.  Facebook chat and messaging work great for communication with friends, as does SMS/MMS messaging via cell phone.  Utilizing Facebook E-mail would be communication overload.  I do prefer E-mail for formal communication, but I already have it covered.  The new Facebook E-mail lacks a “subject” line, likening it to an extension of instant messaging…I already have that covered, too.

Facebook practices have also created waves with Google due to a deal Facebook struck with Microsoft (Bing) while leaving Google out of the data mix.  I dislike Microsoft and its products, so I must side with Google on this one.  Google does have a valid reason to be miffed at Facebook, though.

While I dislike certain aspects of Facebook, it is a tool I have to use at this point in my life.  After college, the Facebook profile will probably be deleted or drastically Lamebook Logooverhauled.  Nevertheless, one thing that makes me feel great about Facebook is that it makes Lamebook possible.  Lamebook is a great way to pass some hours.  It is a compilation of odd (and usually hilarious) pictures, comments and situations arising on Facebook—which has threatened to sue Lamebook in the past.

The Wikileak Follow-up

November 9, 2010

Wikileaks has released the collection of secret documents from the War in Iraq.  You can browse the collection here.  The first link leads to a page linked to a Youtube video.  It is an interesting watch, featuring commentary by Daniel Ellsberg, the Vietnam whistleblower.  US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, said the information released “may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world.”

I have browsed a bit, and I have determined it is a terrible way to waste time…unless you are extremely vigilant in researching those matters.  I figure if anything of conspiracy-related interest is in the files, someone else can log the hours and get the glory for pointing it out.  There are gaps of information, which make it difficult to understand at times.  The gaps do not render descriptions illegible, but they come close in some reports.  It is interesting to read the reports of confiscated weapons and such—routine traffic stops were a bit different over there than on the latest “Cops” rerun.

Wikileaks…Double-Edged Sword

October 18, 2010

Wikileaks LogoSo wikileaks.org is about to blow the whistle on US activity overseas, once again.  The last thing I heard out of Wikileaks was the Afghan document dump.  By the by, the documents can be found here…when Wikileaks finishes its “scheduled maintenance”…or when the founder finishes his court obligations and retires.  Wikileaks was put on the map, so to speak, when the community released a leaked video from an apache helicopter showing Reuters photojournalists being gunned down.  Needless to say, the video cast unfavorable light on certain US rules of engagement.  The video is labeled, Collateral Murder.  I wrote a more detailed blog about it last semester—it can be found here.  The soldier believed to be responsible was supposedly arrested, but (as of June, 2010) has not been charged.

Pentagon Wall PlaqueThis month, Wikileaks is about to release 400,000 documents pertaining to the US involvement in Iraq.  Naturally, the Pentagon is a little edgy about the situation.  I enjoy a whistleblower as much as the next guy, but there are certain details, contained within those documents, Wikileaks should opt to leave out—such as names of informants, as the article points out.

Hopefully, the leak will serve to expose unacceptable, immoral practices (should they exist) without rendering current acceptable procedures obsolete.  Just in case, a 120-member committee has been assembled by the US military to deal with whatever may come.  I guess we will just have to see what surfaces.