David Kirkpatrick

August 26, 2010

Makin’ phone calls with Gmail

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:58 am

Gmail gets deeper into telephony with the ability to make calls to landlines and cell phones.

From the link:

Google is shaping Gmail into the ultimate communications hub. Today, the companyannounced that United States users will be able to make and receive calls within Gmail, providing they install the company’s voice and video plug-in.

Users could already call and video chat with other Gmail users, but the new features allow them to call landlines and cellphones. Google says that calls to phones within the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year, and calls to many other countries will cost 2 cents a minute.


August 19, 2010

Thoughts on the “internet kill switch” …

from Paul Kocher, CEO of Cryptography Research.

Here’s part of the intro, hit the link for Kocher’s thoughts:

That’s what activists are saying is one potential outcome of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. The so-called “Internet Kill Switch” is not actually an outcome of that bill, by the way – some commentators have compared this meme to the “death panels” myth that almost derailed the healthcare bill.

But the fact remains that the president has broad power under the 1934 Telecommunications Act to restrict “wire communications” during a time of war – and that includes the Internet. So even under existing laws, an off switch for the United States’ most important information conduit is, in theory at least, only one over-eager lawmaker in chief away from reality.

Paul Kocher, current CEO of Cryptography Research, is a legend in the field of security – one of the engineers behind SSL 3.0 and an innovator in a host of other areas. Recently I interviewed him on the subject; here’s what he had to say about the so-called “Internet Kill Switch.”

May 22, 2009

Presentation tips

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:44 pm

Well, really these tips are all “don’ts” instead of “dos.” Good information for anyone who does presentations, expert or beginner.

From the link:

4. Read from Your Slides
“Most presenters who are just considered average or mediocre are usually caught reading the text on their slides,” Gallo says. This dreadful presentation technique ties into Gallo Rule #2. “When you place a lot of text on slides,” he says, “naturally you want to read from them, so you turn your back to audience and you read from slides on the display.”

Unfortunately, people read from their PowerPoint slides much more than they think they do, Gallo notes. “When you read from your notes or from slides,” he says, “that completely breaks the connection you have with audience.”

Gallo’s Tip: Practice your speech and know it cold, so that you can sustain eye contact with your audience while you are presenting. “Great presenters will do this: They glance at a slide just for a second to prompt them for the next piece of information,” Gallo says. “And then they turn and deliver to audience. They know what’s on the slide because they have practiced.”

Mobile phone virus research

Something to think about in terms of future threats to our increasingly electronic and computurized lives.

The release:

Viral epidemics poised to go mobile

Scientists predict mobile phone viruses will pose a serious threat

IMAGE: This image shows the different mechanisms of virus transmission between mobile phones.

Click here for more information. 

If you own a computer, chances are you have experienced the aftermath of a nasty virus at some point. In contrast, there have been no major outbreaks of mobile phone viral infection, despite the fact that over 80 percent of Americans now use these devices. A team headed by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, director of the Center for Complex Network Research at Northeastern University, set out to explain why this is true.

The researchers used calling and mobility data from over six million anonymous mobile phone users to create a comprehensive picture of the threat mobile phone viruses pose to users. The results of this study, published in the May 22 issue of Science, indicate that a highly fragmented market share has effectively hindered outbreaks thus far. Further, their work predicts that viruses will pose a serious threat once a single mobile operating system’s market share grows sufficiently large. This event may not be far off, given the 150 percent annual growth rate of smart phones.

“We haven’t had a problem so far because only phones with operating systems, so-called ‘smart phones’, are susceptible to viral infection,” explained Marta Gonzalez, one of the authors of the publication. “Once a single operating system becomes common, we could potentially see outbreaks of epidemic proportion because a mobile phone virus can spread by two mechanisms: a Bluetooth virus can infect all Bluetooth-activated phones in a 10-30 meter radius, while Multimedia Messaging System (MMS) virus, like many computer viruses, spreads using the address book of the device. Not surprisingly, hybrid viruses, which can infect via both routes, pose the most significant danger.”

This study builds upon earlier research by the same group, which used mobile phone data to create a predictive model of human mobility patterns. The current work used this model to simulate Bluetooth virus infection scenarios, finding that Bluetooth viruses will eventually infect all susceptible handsets, but the rate is slow, being limited by human behavioral patterns. This characteristic suggests there should be sufficient time to deploy countermeasures such as antiviral software to prevent major Bluetooth outbreaks. In contrast, spread of MMS viruses is not restricted by human behavioral patterns, however spread of these types of viruses are constrained because the number of susceptible devices is currently much smaller.

As our world becomes increasingly connected we face unprecedented challenges. Studies such as this one, categorized as computational social science, are necessary to understand group behavior and organization, assess potential threats, and develop solutions to the issues faced by our ever-changing society.

“This is what statistical analysis of complex systems is all about: finding patterns in nature,” said Gonzalez. “This research is vital because it puts a huge amount of data into the service of science.”



April 30, 2009

Quantum cryptography becoming practical

Looks like things are moving that direction. Very cool.

The release:

Computer hackers R.I.P. — making quantum cryptography practical

Quantum cryptography, a completely secure means of communication, is much closer to being used practically as researchers from  and Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory have now developed high speed detectors capable of receiving information with much higher key rates, thereby able to receive more information faster.

Published as part of IOP Publishing’s New Journal of Physics‘ Focus Issue on ‘Quantum Cryptography: Theory and Practice’, the journal paper, ‘Practical gigahertz quantum key distribution based on avalanche photodiodes’, details how quantum communication can be made possible without having to use cryogenic cooling and/or complicated optical setups, making it much more likely to become commercially viable soon.

One of the first practical applications to emerge from advances in the often baffling study of quantum mechanics, quantum cryptography has become the soon-to-be-reached gold standard in secure communications.

Quantum mechanics describes the fundamental nature of matter at the atomic level and offers very intriguing, often counter-intuitive, explanations to help us understand the building blocks that construct the world around us. Quantum cryptography uses the quantum mechanical behaviour of photons, the fundamental particles of light, to enable highly secure transmission of data beyond that achievable by classical encryption.

The photons themselves are used to distribute keys that enable access to encrypted information, such as a confidential video file that, say, a bank wishes to keep completely confidential, which can be sent along practical communication lines, made of fibre optics. Quantum indeterminacy, the quantum mechanics dictum which states that measuring an unknown quantum state will change it, means that the key information cannot be accessed by a third party without corrupting it beyond recovery and therefore making the act of hacking futile.

While other detectors can offer a key rate close to that reported in this journal paper, the present advance only relies on practical components for high speed photon detection, which has previously required either cryogenic cooling or highly technical optical setups, to make quantum key distribution much more user-friendly.

Using an attenuated (weakened) laser as a light source and a compact detector (semiconductor avalanche photodiodes), the researchers have introduced a decoy protocol for guarding against intruder attacks that would confuse with erroneous information all but the sophisticated, compact detector developed by the researchers.

As the researchers write, “With the present advances, we believe quantum key distribution is now practical for realising high band-width information-theoretically secure communication.”

Governments, banks and large businesses who fear the leaking of sensitive information will, no doubt, be watching closely.



February 13, 2009

Friday video fun — news online circa 1981

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:12 am

A report from some of the earliest days of consumer computer connectivity …

(Hat tip: smartsavvy)

March 20, 2008

Terahertz without a wire

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:13 pm


From KurzweilAI.net:

Terahertz video transfer is foretaste of future wireless
New Scientist news service, Mar. 19, 2008Video footage has been transmitted experimentally (22 meters) using a terahertz wireless signal for the first time, by Terahertz Communications Lab in Braunschweig, Germany.

Using terahertz bandwidth— which ranges from 300GHz to 3 terahertz (THz) — could offer a 1000 fold increase in transmission speed and should open up new frequencies for communication. The as yet untapped terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum lies between microwaves and visible light.
Read Original Article>>