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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Time Warner Cable is starting it – soon other companies will follow. Charges for using the Internet do not just stop with getting connected. I recommend that you read the Businessweek article and learn more as this will be something that everyone will face with their service provider. I’m sure we will see more creative ways that charges are assessed as the years pass…

timewarnercable_logo_1Time Warner to charge for Internet usage

By Creighton Welch on Apr 01, 2009 9:39 AM

Downloading a lot of “movies” via the Internet these days? Be prepared to pay a little extra for all that high bandwidth downloading.

Businessweek reports that Time Warner Cable this summer will begin charging a premium to the heaviest broadband users in San Antonio. Austin, Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C. also are on the list. Time Warner is supposed to start collecting data on customers’ Internet usage this month.

The plan works similar to cell phone plans, where you have to pay more if you exceed your minutes. The article says customers will be charged from $29.95 to $54.90 a month, depending on what gigabyte cap level you want. For each gigabyte over that cap level, you’ll be charged $1. A download of a high-definition movie typically eats up about 8 GB.

Time Warner has been testing the program in Beaumont, the past few months and found that 14 percent of the test group busted their limit and paid an average of $19 more per month.

UPDATE:  4/13/09 ——————————————————————————————–

Time Warner delays meter program in South Texas

Officials with the cable company said Monday they are postponing implementation of a new billing format for San Antonio and Austin customers based on Internet usage until October.

A trial program intended to charge varying rates depending on usage was slated to begin this summer. The decision to delay the meter program was prompted mostly by customer reaction, said Gavino Ramos, Time Warner’s vice president of communication for South Texas.

“What happened as we’re continuing to listen was we worked in some of the comments and ideas that got sent to us,” Ramos said. “We came to the realization, let’s do this in October.”

San Antonians have plenty to say about this “stay in execution”:

Time Warner Delay Comments

UPDATE:  4/17/09______________________________________________________

Time Warner backs off tier-based billing

Amid resounding backlash from customers and lawmakers, Time Warner Cable said Thursday it will shelve a trial tier-based billing system for Internet users in four U.S. cities, including San Antonio and Austin. And while critics of broadband caps claimed victory after the announcement, the cable company gave no indication that it was permanently backing down from the bill-by-the-byte business model.

In fact, Time Warner plans to continue collecting usage data from customers and outfitting them with measurement tools intended to help them understand how much bandwidth they use. A Time Warner spokesman said no date has been set to resume the trials, and the company would reconsider implementing a test program that charges varying rates based on Internet usage after renewed efforts to educate customers.

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Interesting video. I imagine that traffic is not the only thing these little ‘dazzlers’ can be used for…

From Wired

Video: Army Lasers Zap Bikers in Afghanistan

By Sharon Weinberger

March 14, 2008 | 12:45:00 PM

Laser “dazzlers” are becoming increasingly popular as nonlethal devices. This is one of the first videos I’ve seen of the lasers actually being used. It shows a military convoy in Afghanistan zapping bicyclists and motorists as a way to clear traffic.

There’s something peculiarly video game-esque about the video, particularly when they give the score at the end.

Dazzlers are becoming big business: there are several laser manufacturers competing to sell the devices to the military. The lasers used in the video are produced by B.E. Meyers, which has fast become the main supplier to the military. Laser manufacturer L.E. Systems has been involved in a long-fought battle to demonstrate that their laser is safer and more effective than those produced by B.E. Meyers.

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From Flight Global

Video: Miami Police plans urban test of Honeywell’s micro-UAV

20/02/08

Police in Miami, Florida want to find out whether a small unmanned air vehicle able to hover and stare can help law enforcement in urban areas.

To that end, Miami-Dade Police Department plans a four- to six-month evaluation of Honeywell’s ducted-fan Micro Air Vehicle (MAV).

The gasoline-powered gMAV has just received an experimental airworthiness certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration, clearing the way for the ground-breaking experiment. Approval was granted following a demonstration flight for the FAA at a remote site in Laguna, New Mexico.

The wingless gMAV can take off and land vertically, transition to high-speed flight and hover and stare using electro-optical/infrared sensors. Miami-Dade is buying one gMAV and leasing a second for the FAA-sanctioned technology demonstration, says Vaughn Fulton, Honeywell’s small UAS programme manager.

The police department will operate the UAVs, and helicopter pilots from its aviation unit have been trained to fly the gMAV. “The demonstration will be in urban terrain, involving real tactical operations,” he says.

The 8.2kg (18lb) gMAV is Honeywell’s second version of the man-portable UAV. Compared with the original tMAV developed for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the gMAV has a larger outside diameter housing twice the fuel and providing an endurance exceeding 55min at sea level.

Military gMAVs have been used in Iraq to detect improvised explosive devices. The basic UAV has fixed sensors and Honeywell is developing a follow-on version with gimballed payload. The company is also working on diesel-powered dMAV, which it expects to fly in 2008. Another version is in development for the US Army’s Future Combat Systems programme.

Honeywell has begun low-rate initial production of MAVs on a new line in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sized to manufacture up to 100 vehicles a month. “We expect several large contracts in 2008,” says Fulton.

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As the list of potential terrorists increases, and now includes gamers and bloggers, the US Government is hot on the trail of phone tapping at any cost.

As we have been learning, one never knows what 15 year old Tommy, a gamer, may tell his 16 year old blogging buddy Sean on the phone that could help the CIA and FBI in diverting a potential terrorist plot.

Today the National Intelligence group is in a tizzy since the Protect America Act expired. Oh my! US spies don’t know how to conduct their jobs within legal bounds and are concerned that they may be losing valuable information gained by illegal means if the Protect America Act, with additional protection clauses, isn’t set back in place again soon.

Concerned over the lapse of the Protect America Act, Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell, throwing a temper tantrum in a letter to Congress, stated that the United States “is now more vulnerable to terrorist attack and other foreign threats.”

Mukasey further indicated that because the Protect America Act had lapsed valuable information was being lost.

Once again government officials were raising and throwing down the “war on terror” flag to strike fear into the hearts and minds of US citizens.

However, all is not lost!

According to National Intelligence, telecommunications companies agreed to continue to illegally wiretap and spy on US citizens without the Protect America Act.

Whew! Bet you were worried about that one!

One upstanding telecommunications company is refusing to cooperate (name not released) with the illegal action and they are denounced as potential hold-ups to providing information on new suspected terrorists.

Civil rights and privacy advocates are outraged at the continued abuses of wiretapping. “In an attempt to get sweeping powers to wiretap without warrants, Republicans are playing politics with domestic surveillance legislation,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Check out article at Los Angeles Times.

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From Wired 

By Ryan Singel

February 22, 2008 | 2:15:43 PM

Be careful who you frag. Having eliminated all terrorism in the real world, the U.S. intelligence community is working to develop software that will detect violent extremists infiltrating World of Warcraft and other massive multiplayer games, according to a data-mining report from the Director of National Intelligence.

The Reynard project will begin by profiling online gaming behavior, then potentially move on to its ultimate goal of “automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.”

  • The cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied. Therefore, Reynard will seek to identify the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments. The project would then apply the lessons learned to determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.
  • If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project.

Reynard will conduct unclassified research in a public virtual world environment. The research will use publicly available data and will begin with observational studies to establish baseline normative behaviors.

The publicly available report — which was mandated by Congress following earlier concerns over data-mining programs — also mentions several other data-mining initiatives. These include:

  • Video Analysis and Content Extraction – software to automatically identify faces, events and objects in video
  • Tangram – A system that wants to create surveillance and threat warning system that evaluates known threats and finds unknown threats to issue warnings ahead of an attack
  • Knowledge Discovery and Dissemination – This tool is reminiscent of the supposedly-defunct Total Information Awareness program. It seeks to access disparate databases to find patterns of known bad behavior. The program plans to work with domestic law enforcement and Homeland Security.

The report gives no indication why the find-a-terrorist cell in Sims project is called Reynard, though that is a traditional trickster figure in literature.

Note: This sounds like a foray into the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 a.k.a. HR1955.

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In another disguised move of needing a device for “law enforcement”, DHS (Department of Habitual Screw-ups) awarded an $800,000 contract to Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) to create a “high-powered flashlight” that will blind the target and overload the brain by emitting rapidly flashing led lights at different colors and frequencies. In addition to feeling confused and disoriented, the ‘target’ will likely get a headache and feel sick to his/her stomach.

Of course, DHS feels that this is a great innovation (and so does IOS as they are getting paid $800K) that is basically harmless but very effective in getting the job done (the task of herding resisting Americans into Halliburton camps).

A DHS spokesperson, David Throckmorton, raved about this new product:

“It really doesn’t do any damage to you (so let them do it to YOU first). For them (merc soldiers), it would be to stop a terrorist (American citizen who believes that the Constitution and democracy still exists) –or whoever (regular American citizen) –from advancing (running away)…or somebody who’s out of line on an airplane (like frightened, scared, freaked out American citizens when they realize that they can’t escape) –would be able to stop them from moving forward (running away).”

DHS is hoping to have these little babies on the street in the hands of “law enforcement” types by 2010. By then, any acts of depravity or misconduct being performed by law enforcement will be hidden away from public eye. It will then make using the devices to round up citizens, in as cruel of a manner as they want without pesky citizen intervention, a breeze.

Breyer aspirin for the headaches and a bucket for the puke will not be available. Change of clothing will be standard for all ‘terrorists’ and ‘whoevers’ caught.

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