Internet Divide And Conquer

Cut Cable

Remember in the old Western’s when the Indians were about to attack the town, and before they rode in with knives and flaming arrows–what would they do?  


The Indians would cut the telegraph lines–no calls for help out, and no communications in–the town and its people were completely cut off.


The very next scene would be the slaughter of everyone in the town including a bunch getting scalped. 


How have things changed in the 21st century?


Not so much so, as the New York Times reports today on the constant threats to our underground Internet lines being cut–with 16 cuts to the lines in the San Francisco Bay area alone in the last year. 


Similarly just a couple of weeks ago, the media was reporting about the U.S. being worried about Russian subs cutting the undersea Internet cables.


But isn’t the Internet built like a spiders’s web (i.e. the World Wide Web) with redundant routes so that it can withstand even a nuclear attack?


Apparently, if you take out key Internet Exchange Points (IXP) or major international cable lines then the Internet can be seriously disrupted. 


Similar to the impact of an EMP weapon that fries our electronic circuits…poof no more communications. 


If you can cut off our core communications ability–then it’s a simple strategy of divide and conquer.  


Divided we are weak and can’t communicate and organize ourselves to either know what’s going on or to effectively respond. 


Like sitting ducks in the Old West surrounded and cut off–it was a slaughter. 


This is why it is so critical that we not only build redundancy in the cable lines, but that we create alternatives like satellite Internet or Google’s Project Loon for balloon Internet access.


It’s not just the military, law enforcement, and emergency management not that needs to be able to communicate–we all do!


With excellent communications, we can unify ourselves and we are strong–but if we are left in the dark, then divided we fall. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Apple Watch M~A~N~I~A

Apple Watch Mania

The Apple (Smart) Watch doesn’t go on sale for another 2 weeks…


But the Apple stores are streaming with excited customers already.


There are displays lined with the watches from the sports model to the stainless steel and even the 24-karat gold ones.


Ask the Apple salesperson and they’ll set you up at the next table for an associate to help you try on the watches including the 38 cm and 42 cm displays and various fashionable bands. 


They have this cute little rag to shine up the watch displays before you try them on over these black mats, just as if you are in a fancy jewelry store sampling diamond rings or something. 


I’ll tell you, while there is plenty of well-founded skepticism about these ranging from their not being a killer app to their inherent obsolescence (the battery is like 6 quarters thick on this version), and the watches are NOT intuitive to use, people are STILL going to buy these just to be stay current with the changing technology. 


Right now, I’m pressing down on the display (in my mind) and sending my heart beats to Apple for another transformative technology move.


One of my favorites on this watch is using the voice control to send text messages…Dick Tracy eat your heart out. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Google Fiber 4 The Nation’s Capital

Google Fiber 4 The Nation's Capital

How About Google Fiber for Washington, D.C.?

– Lead, by example, the rest of the nation forward.

– Speed up the functioning of the government.

– Helpful for Emergency Management

– The Patriotic thing to do! 😉

All Opinions my own.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cameron Yee, & no idea why it’s in Spanish, but I like it!)

The Materiality of Super Strength Graphene

Scientific researchers in Britain, Norway and the U.S. are bringing us a major breakthrough in material science—by developing a “super strength” substance called graphene.

According to the Guardian (26 December 2012), graphene has “unmatched electrical and physical properties.” It’s made of an “atom-thick sheet of carbon molecules, arranged in a honeycomb lattice,” and promises to revolutionize telecommunications, electronics, energy industries, not to mention the untold applications for the military.

– Conductivity:  Transmits electricity a million times better than copper
– Strength: The strongest material known to humankind, 200 times that of steel (Sciencebuzz)
– Transparency & Flexibility:  So thin that light comes through it; more stretchable than any known conductor of electricity

Just a few of the amazing uses graphene will make possible (some of these from MarketOracle):

– Home windows that are also solar panels—clear off that roof and yard
– TV in your windows and mirrors—think you have information overload now?
– Thinner, lighter, and wrappable LED touch screens around your wrists—everyone can have Dick Tracy style
– Medical implants and organ replacements that can “last disease-free for a hundred years”—giving you that much more time to be a helicopter parent
– Vastly more powerful voice, video and data and palm-size computers—giving the average person the “power of 10,000 mainframes”
– Both larger and lighter satellites and space vehicles—imagine a skyscraper-size vehicle weighing less than your “patio barbecue grill”!
– Tougher and faster tanks and armored personnel carriers with the plus of an invisibility cloak—even “Harry Potter” would be jealous

The potential is truly amazing, so whomever thinks that the best technology is behind us, better think again. Better yet, soon they’ll be able to get a graphene brain implant to help them realize what they’ve been missing. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to University of Maryland)

The Heat Is On But Something Is Off

Mall

The Huffington Post (28 June 2012) ran an article this weekend called “Land of the Free, Home of the Unprepared.”

This at a time, when the United States East Coast is battling a heat wave with temperatures over 100 degrees for days running.

Emergencies have been declared in many states, including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, as well as in Washington, D.C.

On top of that, an early weekend storm with hurricane-force winds took out the power for millions!

Utilities described the damage to the power grid as “catastrophic” with restoration taking up to a week for some.

People were seeking refuge from the heat with no power at home for airconditioning, refrigeration, or telecommunications.

Everywhere–at Starbucks (the garbage was piled high), Barnes and Nobles, the Mall, people were sprawled out in chairs and even on the floors, and were powering up their devices wherever they could find an outlet.

Moreover, there were long lines at gas stations and supermarkets, where power was working for some.

Many street lights were out at intersections and many other stores were either closed or only taking cash.

While catastrophes do happen including natural disasters, the frequency, duration, and impact in the Washington, D.C. area–the Capital of the United States–is ridiculously high.

I could not help thinking that if something more serious struck–whether terrorism, pandemic flu, a serious earthquake, or whatever, 11 years after 9/11, we seem really ill prepared.

We need to get our game on, not only when the heat is up, but for disaster preparedness in general.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Word Indeed

The information in your smartphone and managed by your telecommunications carrier is available and accessible to others with today’s tools and following the right processes.Bloomberg BusinessWeek(29 March 2012) reports on a new tool for law enforcement that captures your data from smartphones.It is called the Cellebrite or Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED).

As the video describes it works with almost every mobile device out there–over 1,800 of them.

And when attached to a smartphone, it can extract everything from your call log, emails, texts, contact list, web history, as well as photos and videos.

The forensic tool can even retrieve deleted files from your phone.

Your smartphone is a digital treasure trove of personal information and the privacy protection afforded to it is still under debate.

The article cites varying court opinions on “whether it’s fair game to examine the contents of a mobile phone without a warrant,” since it is in the suspect’s immediate possession.

According to law enforcement sources quoted in the article, “we use it now on a daily basis.”

Aside from the contents on the phone itself, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 September 2012) earlier reported that telecommunications companies are also storing your personal data for various lengths of time.

For example, detail call records and text contacts are retained for up to 7 years and phone location information indefinitely, depending on the carrier.

This data is available too under the processes specified in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

While the technology is constantly getting better for us to electronically manage our information and communicate with each other, the reach and life cycle of digital information can certainly be far and long.

As we should all by now know, working remotely, digitally, in cyberspace, and encrypting, deleting, or even attempting to destroy data files does not ensure their ultimate privacy.

In that respect, both digital and non-digital information are the same in one very important facet and that is as we all learned early in life that “a word once said cannot be taken back.”

Undersea Internet Cables-See Them for Yourself

Gregs_cable_map

I’ve always been interested in maps, geography, and geospatial information systems (GIS). 

Coming across Greg’s Cable Map–I thought this is sort of idiosyncratic, but fascinating too. 
This is an interactive map of our global undersea telecommunications infrastructure.
If you ever wondered how you were able to connect with someone anywhere in the world in split seconds (satellites aside–since we all don’t have immediate access to that), here it is.
How it works: Either you can search the list of cables of the right, click on any one of interest and it highlights it on the map for you or vice versa click on a telecommunications link on the map and it bring up in the right-hand column the points of the cable landings and reference to more information . 
Another cool feature, is the ability to display the telecommunications infrastructure from before, during, or since any period of time–so you can get a historical perspective of what the Internet for example looked like or didn’t look like only ten or fifteen years ago. Can anyone say carrier pigeon?  🙂
There is also the ability to click on the bottom of the map on the check boxes for either or both the active or future cable links to see where we are now (“as-is”) and where we are going (“to-be”) in terms of Internet connectivity. 
Next time you read in the newspaper about a large-scale Internet outage like the multiple ones that occurred when undersea cables were cut in the Mediterranean in 2008 causing outages from the Mideast to India, you can look it up here and see for yourself how “the foot bones connected to the ankle bone.”  
Enjoy and have a good weekend!