Posts Tagged Technology

Cool Stuff: A Swarm Of Nano Quadrotors

Now imagine each one of these quadrotors armed with a small explosive payload? Maybe even use their larger cousins that we saw being used in Libya. (imagine EFP’s mounted to the belly of a larger quadrotor?) Then use them ‘kamakazee style’ for a massive swarm attack or to support an ambush. In other words, it is research like this that is quickly making this stuff a reality. –Matt


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Technology: Miniature Aerostats-The MAKO Affordable Stationary Aerial Platform

Sofcoast is developing a revolutionary new product category called “Affordable Stationary Aerial Platforms” (ASAP). This product category is designed to be a coverage capability that represents a dramatic departure from the typical aerostat lifting systems on the market today and a product category that we believe can and will bring lightweight, affordable, rapid and mobile “on-demand” data, voice and imagery aerial coverage systems to the masses.

Now this is some interesting kit. This company called SOF Coast has created a miniature aerostat or helium filled mini-blimp equipped with a wireless camera. What is neat with this thing is that it is man portable, yet gives a small outpost the ability to have it’s own aerostat surveillance capability for night and day, and a repeater for radios. Something that large FOBs enjoy, but not so much for the smaller sites, combat outposts, and patrol bases.

The other thing that I thought that was cool, is that it is smart phone capable. Meaning you could watch the feeds through a smart phone like an iPhone. So that would give everyone of that camp, that has a link to that feed, the ability to see what the aerostat sees. My hope and concern is that this feed can be encrypted so that no one else can see what the aerostat sees. Here is a run down on what it can do:

-Portability – It is man-packable while wearing standard combat equipment.
-A high resolution image and full motion video surveillance camera for day/night operations.
-Communications repeater to increase dismounted patrol range and increase situational awareness.

Also, I guess the Army is looking at these things and will be playing around with them. That’s great and they might find some utility with such a tool. It will definitely add to the ‘Observe’ portion of their OODA. –Matt


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Technology: Hackers Can Set Your HP Printer On Fire, Researchers Demonstrate

A big thanks to Matt for sending me this one. So you are probably wondering why I am interested in this stuff?  Pretty much because if someone can create a fire remotely, that falls under the category of cyber crime and/or cyber warfare.

But it can also fall under the category of cyber assassination, which is something I have written about in the past. The ability to remotely and physically attack someone else, all online and anonymously, is quite the thing. Stuff like this could be used to start fires in homes while people are sleeping, or starting fires in office buildings. The idea being, using fire as a weapon.

It also brings up another thought. With computers and smart phones, are there hacks that could cause those devices to catch fire? Or what about electric vehicles with wireless computer capabilities, that have large amounts of lithium batteries in them? Chevy’s Volt, a battery powered electric car, recently had some issues with catching on fire. If you could remotely turn an electric car into a  fire ball, that too could be a weapon.

There is no word yet if an actual attack has ever occurred using this method, but it is something to keep an eye on. I am sure HP will come up with a counter to this hack, or try to refute what these guys did. Check it out. –Matt


Hackers Can Set Your HP Printer On Fire, Researchers Demonstrate
Nov 29, 2011
HP is investigating a claim that essentially any LaserJet the company made before 2009 — about 100 million have been sold since 1984 — could be remotely instructed to catch fire, according to a report on
Researchers at Columbia University, under a series of government and industry grants, have shown that the printers can be remotely controlled by hackers over the Internet, allowing them to not only steal information but even cause physical damage.
In one demonstration, Columbia professor Salvatore Stolfo and colleague Ang Cui showed how a hijacked system could be sent commands that would overheat the printer’s fuser, causing the paper to brown, smoke, and sometimes even catch fire.

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Technology: Palantir

These deals have turned the company into one of the quietest success stories in Silicon Valley—it’s on track to hit $250 million in sales this year—and a candidate for an initial public offering. Palantir has been used to find suspects in a case involving the murder of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, and to uncover bombing networks in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “It’s like plugging into the Matrix,” says a Special Forces member stationed in Afghanistan who requested anonymity out of security concerns. “The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.’ ”

Thanks to Paul for enlightening me about Palantir. This is some very cool technology and I thought I would share this with the rest of the readership. This thing is also drawing a lot of interest from many sectors, and not just government.

What I like about it is it’s ability to process all of this data that is floating around out there.  Or process data that groups have compiled, and help them to make sense of it all or find problems/deficiencies.

What I thought was interesting about the company itself, is it’s influences and how it innovates. The name Palantir comes from the movie Lord of the Rings, and the crystal ball used in the movie was called a Palantir. So this is a technology company with a ‘middle-earth’ theme. lol

But the other cool thing is how they find talent.  Here is a quote:

Palantir has been doubling headcount every year to keep up with business. To get a job at the company, an applicant must pass a gauntlet of brain teasers. An example: You have 25 horses and can race them in heats of 5. You know the order the horses finished in, but not their times. How many heats are necessary to find the fastest? First and second? First, second, and third? (Answers: six, seven, and seven.) If candidates are able to prove themselves as what Karp calls “a software artist,” they’re hired. The company gives new arrivals some reading material, including a guide to improvisational acting, a lecture by the entrepreneur Steve Blank on Silicon Valley’s secret history with the military, and the book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. They’re also rewarded with a low wage by Silicon Valley standards: Palantir caps salaries at $127,000.

Improvisational acting?  lol Now I am intrigued by that, and would be curious as to why this is a needed skill. Could it be that improvisational acting is a ‘building snowmobiles’ activity, where a person has to be creative on the fly?  A test of a person’s OODA and their ability to react off of another person?

Well, definitely check this one out. I also think this would be a fantastic investment if it ever became an IPO. –Matt



Palantir, the War on Terror’s Secret Weapon
November 22, 2011
A Silicon Valley startup that collates threats has quietly become indispensable to the U.S. intelligence community
By Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone
In October, a foreign national named Mike Fikri purchased a one-way plane ticket from Cairo to Miami, where he rented a condo. Over the previous few weeks, he’d made a number of large withdrawals from a Russian bank account and placed repeated calls to a few people in Syria. More recently, he rented a truck, drove to Orlando, and visited Walt Disney World by himself. As numerous security videos indicate, he did not frolic at the happiest place on earth. He spent his day taking pictures of crowded plazas and gate areas.

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Technology: The Boston Dynamics Military Robot Called PETMAN

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Africa: LRA Crisis Tracker

Excellent news, and this is great to see a resource like this.  With so much focus on the other problems of the world, these animals continue to rove the jungles of Africa and terrorize and kill. There must be a more coordinated and serious effort to kill or capture Joseph Kony and his LRA.

The other thing with this is that if you look at the concentration of incidents (heat map), you can get a basic idea where the LRA operational area is.  This is where a drone or satellite should be pointed, and a task force could be on call, just waiting to pounce on these guys as soon as movement or activity gets seen or reported.

Or how about we take every village that has ever been attacked by these scum in these areas, and do a massive lion hunt type operation?  If you can flush the LRA out of their hiding spots, and set up ambushes or blocking forces to kill them, then that might be a good use of the thousands of people who would love to see their destruction. There is strength in numbers, and something like this would empower the people.

The other thing I like about this service is that data like this will help those who want to defend against the LRA. If you can see the main group moving closer to a village, then that village could be warned and the children and women could be hidden. Every little tip and report, is a vital piece to this game. The design of the website and service also reminds me a lot of Ushahidi. Check it out. –Matt


LRA Crisis Tracker
The LRA Crisis Tracker is a real-time mapping platform and data collection system created to bring an unprecedented level of transparency to the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Using information sourced from Invisible Children’s Early Warning Radio Network, UN agencies, and local NGOs, this tool allows for better response from governments, policy-makers, and humanitarian organizations.
This joint project, developed by Invisible Children and Resolve, marks the first time data surrounding the crisis has been comprehensively aggregated and made publicly available.

Website here.


LRA Crisis Tracker Introduction from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

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