>Futuristic Technology

•February 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Here is a playlist of 47 videos, 46 of which are produced by Albert Torre. It is an ongoing series so we suggest you subscribe to this channel to get more of them as he produces them.   We post the ones done so far for your enjoyment.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/6xfsmdk.


>Wall Street 2 Money Never Sleeps 3

•January 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment


The ultimate nightmare?  Imagine someone being able to hack into the computers that perform the high frequency trading in the different stock exchanges?  Would they be able to destroy the economy of countries in minutes?

Are these banks of servers controlling our buying and selling of stocks safe from outside control or attacks?  Some do not think so and this should make us ALL pause and consider the issue very carefully.

According to an article in infoworld there is a way to influence these high frequency computers.  They would influence them by actually slowing them up.  Bill Snyder explains:

High-frequency trading networks, which complete stock market transactions in microseconds, are vulnerable to manipulation by hackers who can inject tiny amounts of latency into them. By doing so, they can subtly change the course of trading and pocket profits of millions of dollars in just a few seconds, says Rony Kay, a former IBM research fellow and founder of cPacket Networks, a Silicon Valley firm that develops chips and technologies for network monitoring and traffic analysis.

The sensor mechanisms that monitor these high frequency networks have a sensitivity only down to the milliseconds but not microseconds.  These so called “side-channel” attacks can create tiny delays in the transmission of market data and trades.  This could give the attacker an unfair trading advantage.   These attacks would be for all practical purposes be invisible to sensors.  Rony Kay CEO of cPacket Networks, has developed hardware that can track these delays in a high speed network.  This hardware was developed for other security purposes but equally applies to financial networks.  The key is to avoid delays in a financial network.  These delays are called latencies.  There are several reasons why networks can have delays.  Here is a crash course by Jim Theodora which is pretty thorough.  If you really want to know what makes a network slow then watch this.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4q2tebq.


The thing no one has spoken about is if there is a way for a hacker to circumvent the off switch for malicious purposes.  If this could be done, then world economies could be badly damaged in 15 minutes.  Of course an EMP bomb would do all these networks in by destroying the electrical grid and frying all the electronic circuits.  But we are speaking of more subtle attack on the networks themselves.  Perhaps we will investigate this for a future article.

>Facebook: Social Giant Under Attack

•January 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment


How secure is Facebook?  Security and privacy may be a fatal flaw to this social giant.

What do the President of France and the CEO of Facebook have in common?  They have both had their Facebook accounts hacked.

On or abouts January 24, 2011 President Sarkozy of France has an interesting announcement – he announced he was not running for reelection.  380,000 people “liked” this on Facebook.  There was only one problem.  He never posted this announcement.  It was posted by a hacker who broke into his account.  The French used has horribly bad in its grammar.  But the point was made.  Security is a dynamic thing.  It is ever changing.  What worked to protect you last month may not be enough this month.  This is true for people; it is true for networks.

It is not surprising that Facebook should be attacked by hackers so much.  There are 500 million people on it.  That statistical fact attracts the part of the hacking community that is particularly criminal.  If one looks at YouTube there are literally hundreds of methods demonstrated on how to hack someones Facebook account.  We will show just a couple.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4q8nrdb.


Facebook’s Reaction to Hacking Attacks
Facebook has responded with two security features it should have had a long time ago.  A secure way to log on using HTTPS and a “social authentication.”  Using HTTPS allows users to logon using what is called a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).  The advantage to this method is that it makes electronic eavesdropping much more difficult.  It uses what is called a digital certificate to authenticate the site that is being logged into.  Is this method completely secure?  No.  It can still be compromised as the article in wikipedia explains:

The point of the servers SSL certificate is to ensure that the server you are talking to is in fact the server you think you are talking to. Some certificate types have better checking of the applicants claims than others and so provide a greater confidence of this. Unfortunately this information is only of use if it’s communicated to the user which is something browsers have traditionally been bad at (though i’ve noticed firefox is now displaying company names in the address bar for some certificate types).

The other security system, social authentication that Facebook speaks about relates to the user answering questions regarding the identification of friends or personal information that Facebook has in its data banks.  This security would stop bots or amateurs, but people who are seeking identity theft would have personal information already most likely.  These features which were the result of government hacking attacks unto the entire nation of Tunisia will be implemented to all users in the next several weeks.

These security measures will NOT make Facebook invulnerable to hack attacks, but it will at least make them harder.  Facebook has serious challenges again in performing a tightrop act.  It must keep the interface simple and easy to use (which is what has encouraged so many to use it), and it must increase the sophistication of its security, as well as its features. So far, Facebook has not done well in either area.  We will see if it can.

>Facebook Phone Update

•January 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment



In an article in the Washington Post on January 27, 2011, Facebook denied it was working on a mobile phone.  It stated that the rumor in the City A.M., was wrong in that this phone would not carry the Facebook brand.  It said this was just an example of some phone manufacturers using the Facebook API in an “interesting way.”

There was however an interesting screen capture done by Engadget and others that showed a call button appearing in some Facebook pages, leading to speculation that the long awaited integration of Skype with Facebook is on its way.

click to enlarge via: Engadget

Our opinion on all of this is simple – expect a Facebook phone in the near future. Whether these two models from HTC are it or not they will come.  They MUST come if Facebook is to carry out its plans.

>Facebook, Twitter, Tunisia & Egypt 1

•January 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment


If anyone doubted the ability of the Internet to change things, they have their answer.  The Internet seems to be marking a new age of openness.

What happens when people come into contact with the Internet?  They yearn for freedom and they realize that there is strength in numbers.

We cannot ignore the world changing events that are happening in the Middle East.  We have had an ongoing series in Internet Censorship and we have already covered Egypt and Tunisia.  And because of the fast pace of technology, our articles are already dated.  So here are some updates.

The government of Tunisia has been overthrown.  Life will not go back to the usual there anymore.  Despite the governments efforts to block Facebook and Twitter, the people prevailed in their desire for communication.  We think this should serve as a warning for all countries that oppress their people to take note that by its very nature, the Internet is ALL about communication and sharing.

“I know you’re out there, I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how its going to begin. I am going to hang up this phone and then I am going to show these people what you do not want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.”
Neo, The Matrix
Joe Sullivan, Facebook

According to a story published in the Atlantic Monthly, Facebook played a major role in the overthrow of the dictator Ben Ali.  Shortly after the XMAS holiday, Facebook’s security officer Joe Sullivan noticed that many people were writing them that they could no longer get into their Facebook accounts.  They then realized that the Tunisian government was attempting to steal the passwords of every Facebook member in Tunisia.  According to John Dunn from Techworld:

Full details of the extraordinary attack by the regime on its own people are unclear but are said to have operated through Tunisian ISPs directing users to fake versions of Facebook and possibly other social media sites from where injected Javascript code was used to record the keystrokes entered during login.

Facebook rerouted all Tunisian connections through an encrypted HTTPS secure login. They also asked all Tunisian members who tried to login to identify Facebook friends.  This worked and stopped the government key logger.

The censorship that until recently had been common in Tunisia is named by the people as “Ammar 404.”  This refers to an imaginary character called Ammar who censors the Internet from sites the government did not wish for the people to see with a 404 error which is a general error which normally means that your computer could not connect with the server you were seeking.  In May of 2010, things were already heating up in Tunisia over government Internet censorship.  Watch this video on Vimeo.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4zy9hxv.

SAYEB.SALEH.S01E01.GENESIS.VO.TN from Malek404 on Vimeo.

Here is another video posted by the same blogger in Tunisia last May.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/27c55jd.

Message de Neo à AMMAR 404 from Malek404 on Vimeo.

doctored picture via: Atlantic Monthly

In Tunisia, Mark Zuckerberg has become a hero of sorts, since Facebook is viewed as a precious communication tool for activists.  Someone doctored a picture of Mr. Zuckerberg holding a protest sign with a motto.  Although Mr. Zuckerberg may be viewed this way, it still remains to be seen whether he will grow up and decide to use his site’s power for freedom and justice as opposed to making money.

>Why Facebook HAS built a Facebook Phone

•January 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment


On December 19th of 2011 we posted an article stating that Facebook would build their own phone using Android.  Surprise surprise!

We awoke this morning amidst a snow storm to learn that Facebook in alliance with HTC will come out with two phones with the Facebook brand, running Android OS.

These phones will make their first appearance at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in a month.  Although we got this rumor from Mashable.com, they in turn got it from City A.M.  According to this source they are intended to run a “tweaked” version of Android which will be customized for Facebook kind of activities.  This again is in agreement that the only reason for Facebook to build this kind of phone was to provide its members with features that it will withhold from the iPhone and other mobile devices.

click to enlarge

One of the supposed features is to be able to email or call your Facebook friends based on the information in your Facebook account.  This makes perfect sense with Facebook’s attempted conquest of the world.  With the recent announcement that Skype will be able to make video calls from 3G and 4G networks this puts the finishing touches on Facebook’s intended integration of their website with the future – the mobile world.  As you know Facebook and Skype have come to an agreement in anticipation of this feature. There is no question in our minds that Facebook will integrate this feature in their new HTC produced phones.  The goal, is to supplant the iPhone as the standard wished by Facebook users.  The goal also is to make sure Facebook members NEVER have to leave Facebook to do anything – make calls, save pictures, send emails OR even search the web.

It is quite simple, Facebook still wants to be Worldbook.  They wish to supplant Google in search, especially in relation to mobile advertising.  They wish to supplant Apple with their hardware products.  In short, they want it all.  The only problem that Facebook has is that its interface is getting slower, less dependable and complicated.  Most Facebook users do not know all the features available to them (hidden somewhere in the interface).  This problem will only grow in the future.  This is where Google and Apple especially excel.  Facebook will be a hard competitor for Apple and Google to face.  It is already entrenched with what matters the most – the have the people’s attention.  And in this age of the Internet people’s sustained attention is THE key element to victory.

>Paradigm Shifts In History & Singularity

•January 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Painted by Mike Bougher via:http://mikebougher.com/

Today I thought of asking the question. What is a paradigm and how do they happen?

First you have to agree that a paradigm is a mental construct. It is not really a feel-able, touchable smell-able entity. It is viable only in the brain. It is a kind of a mental note.

For instance if a person were to state, “This is a new paradigm!” What does that person mean? Is he referring to a product or the meaning of the product as it relates to social interaction between us, Homo sapiens? Is paradigm-shift therefore a referential construct?

On a very small-scale, there is an understanding between humans; for instance between me and you, the reader, unless you disagree, in which case you are entitled to your voice as always and carry your own paradigms in your head, but just in case you do agree, then wouldn’t you accept that individual concepts in my brain are personal and therefore differ from the concepts in your mind. So, then we have small-scale paradigms within each one of us. Large scale ones are those where several people agree to agree and small scales ones are within the confines of the invisible castles of our existences where others may agree to disagree.
The next question arguably would be what makes a large-scale paradigm happen? How do large groups of people agree to agree and therefore tenably create this phenomenon that all viewers of that phenomenon consent to force a frame shift in the concepts of belief. Let me give you an example so that we can go from the abstract to the real.
the wheel in ancient Sumeria

Imagine the building of the wheel. According to archaeologists, it was probably invented in around 8,000 B.C. in Asia. The oldest wheel known was discovered in Mesopotamia and probably dates back to 3,500 B.C. The wheelbarrow was first invented in ancient Greece. Two building material inventories for 408/407 and 407/406 B.C. from the temple of  Eleusis list suggest such timelines. This circular object made of troglodytic material used by our ancient ancestors changed the game of mobility. They were able to traverse distances in search of food and water and a better life through migration on land, move material and foodstuff and engage in trade. The spread of civilization may have been on the primitive wheels made of wood. That, you would agree would be considered a paradigm shift since it made large scale changes in human migration which then added diversity within communities as different groups with varied cultures met and got assimilated into the whole. It made for progress; there were more hands on the till as more people were involved with hunter-gatherer operations as communities to keep their home fires burning and better fed families began to emerge with more robust children.

Antique Spinning Wheel

The thrust for survival in other species made the primitive man invent weapons to protect himself and his creed from invading forces of these predatory animals. In doing so he was also able to lord over the animals for his own survival. The use of the flint for an arrowhead, spearheaded the beginnings of hunting and gathering. This ancient tool dates back to 7000 BC and might also be considered a paradigm shift on an evolutionary scale.
Flint Arrowheads (7000BC
As certainly as the growth of the human population began to excel, in its climb the ladder of the evolutionary tree, to conquer the mantle of the “intellectual-knowing species” so too did the dynamics of the littlest of creatures change. Every species wants to survive, thrive and procreate. It is within the DNA of every living organism that it must procreate and replenish. Darwin spoke about the “Survival of the fittest” and he was right as we find that 3 species go extinct every hour and the planet has been in that mode for the known history of life cycles of species as evidenced by the fossil data. Those that survive, well they have the wherewithal to counter all attacks from predatory forces and those that don’t, perish into the pages of the fossil data. The survivalist attributes must continue even to the littlest of all creatures including viruses and bacteria.
Man and his intelligence came to understand that disease at least in the earlier phases of humanity was linked to unseen critters that would invade the body and cause illness and death to the humans. The recognition of these little “critters” and then how to deal with them was, you would agree a paradigm shift. Martinus Beijerinck discovered viruses as “infectious agents” in a bacteria free culture medium in 1898 and not until 1935 did the first electron microscopic picture of the TMV (Tobacco Mosaic Virus) was seen by human eyes.
TMV (Tobacco Mosaic Virus
So as humanity would, do as it does best, instigate scientific curiosity and in doing so demand a means of circumventing the “raids” of these “little critters” on the human body. The fever previously treated with “blood-letting” had morphed into poultices and ingestible materials from the apothecaries. Given the new tools of the trade another paradigm shift was to occur shortly.
And it did. Along came the likes of Louis Pasteur who discovered the germ theory of transmission followed by Edward Jenner who discovered cowpox vaccination abolished smallpox, followed by Alexander Fleming who discovered Penicillin from a fungus for treating bacteria. These great men were pioneers for they raised the bar on human intellect and helped increase human longevity.
Louis Pasteur

As insight into the chemical structure of penicillin was discovered another shift was to become a reality. Companies starting with one or two individual members/workers grew into pharmaceutical behemoths creating the next greatest antibiotic and antiviral agent that they could devise in their labs. This was and is all for the good and preservation of humanity. And this is as it should be. But there lurks, somewhere another shift in the making that might be seismic in might and catastrophic in casualties, just beyond the horizon. We don’t see it but it is there. It might be in the form of a mutational change in the very structure of the virus or bacterium that may render us helpless, due to the promiscuous and profligate use of antibiotics, antiviral agents or, it may be another zoonotic illness that might transgress the limit of one species and jump to the humans as HIV did, or it might be a virus cultured in a laboratory mutating in a tiny Petri dish that finds its way from the sealed airtight confines and travel outside to make the human its host. We just don’t know when this might occur, but occur it will. Remember the movie “The Andromeda Strain!”

The 1918 Influenza epidemic is a perfect example of large-scale human life loss from a virulent and mutant virus that wiped out millions of its victims. We already have seen the emergence of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus), resistant TB and a killer Poliomyelitis in an Indonesian city of Cidadep. The list goes on. The shores are inviting and the uninvited guests are arriving.
Speaking of viruses they are the self-starters and very smart in their survival since they constitute the largest population on this planet. If you saw the movie “War of the Worlds” the concept of exposing an alien population to the lethal attacks of this tiny entity (flu virus) can bring down aliens and their space ships.

 It can do the same with the human race if it arrives in a different form with different “clothing” that human immune defenses cannot identify. The virus and bacteria mutate to survive just like we create newer “anti-agents” against them for our own survival. And the battle goes on. The one with the better abilities will win.
G1 flora bacteria
Another surreptitious and incipient paradigm shift that has occurred over the millennia is the cohabitation by the viruses within the humans. The bacteria do it in the human GI flora, skin and elsewhere where they provide beneficial effects for their hosts and survival for themselves. The viruses have inserted their DNA within the humans and that resides in our chromosomes as “junk-DNA” or Introns. Thus embedded within the human genome they have modulated the human history.
double helix
Viral oncogenes were first defined in RSV, (Rous Sarcoma Virus) which transforms chicken embryo fibroblasts in culture and induces large sarcomas within 1 to 2 weeks after inoculation into chickens. In 1976 Harold Varmus, J. Michael Bishop, and their colleagues,  showed that a cDNA probe for the src oncogene of RSV hybridized to closely related sequences in the DNA of normal chicken cells as the culprit for the sarcoma induction. 
RSV Transfection
Direct evidence however for the involvement of cellular oncogenes in human tumors was first obtained by gene transfer experiments in Robert Weinberg’s laboratories in 1981. 
The genomic revolution had begun. A paradigm shift in how we view disease was taking shape and treatment of disease would never be the same.
click to enlarge
The human history details shifts in human thinking and behavior. Paradigm shifts occur either at a slow steady state or as a veritable “bolt from the blue.” This bolt is placed at the doorstep of humanity by an outside-the-box-thinker. Galileo’s heliocentric view in agreement with Copernicus was one giant step. Newton’s Laws of Motion inspired physics, Edison’s electricity, Alexander Bell’s telephone, Einstein’s theory of relativity are all seismic upheavals in the understanding by us of ourselves and the planet we inhabit. These would be called in today’s lingo; “Game changers.”

Steve Jobs, CEO Apple via: slashgear

It would not be correct if I did not mention two individuals  who have transformed the recent landscape of how we interact and communicate and how we all view and relate to each other. These two have the distinction of spawning an industry that helped initiate the DARPA project precursor to the Internet boom; Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple and Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft Corporation. They wrote on their blank slates and transformed us from writing on paper to clicking keyboards and sending mail via postal service to instant gratification with written communication, to video conferencing and cloud computing.
Bill Gates (1990s)

The massive shifts that are in the making through technology will change culture, humanity and our view of the world in very short order due to the availability and thrust of the computing power. We are reaching the massive 100 trillion megabyte storage-and-use capacity (Hans Moravec) of the human brain. Moore’s Law that governs the transistor density on the silicon chip has proven to be correct with a doubling in the power of the chip
over a eighteen month period. The increase in capacity also helps when multiples of the processors are placed in parallel, the computer ability to evaluate large scale data increases by distributing the processing load over several processors simultaneously and the added Artificial Intelligence software based on logic gates helps computers in assisting humans in the decision making process. Von Nuemann’s envisioned his robots would create tinier replicates of the machine-self and that is how our DNA is envisioned to ride across galaxies via anthropomorphic adaptation.

Anthropomorphic changes is another intermediate scale shift that lurks closer around the corner. It is the incorporation of the “non-self” machine with the “self”-human. 
DARPA’s exoskeleton
This integration has been in place for a few decades now and continues to get more sophisticated. Besides bionic limbs, choclear implants for hearing and insertion of electrodes in the occipital part of the brain where visual references are interpreted, there are bilateral sub-thalamic part of the brain implants for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease and artificial patch boosters to support the heart in the patients waiting for a heart transplant. Meanwhile the military is using exo-skeletal supports for humans to make them jump higher, run longer and crush materials without the use of human muscle strain.  Brings to mind the movie “Avatar.” Soon smaller contraptions will be added to achieve similar abilities. The human and machine merger is destined to reshape humanity sooner than later.
Recorded human history is adorned with the “peaks and valleys” of human thinking. Such is the way of life. Such is the destiny of the human organism. If we don’t destroy ourselves, we will populate other celestial bodies. These are the large-scale paradigm shifts in the affairs of human beings yet to unfold.
Parvez Dara, MD FACP
Twitter: JediPD