Are U.S. passport cards and new state driver’s licenses with RFID truly secure? Starting this summer, Americans will need passports to travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean–unless they have passport cards or one of the enhanced driver’s licenses that the states of Washington and New York have begun to issue. Valid only for trips by land and sea, these new forms of identification are a convenient, inexpensive option for people who don’t need to travel by plane.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, January/February 2009
Going online from a personal computer to access government services has been commonplace in some countries for several years. Now, in Estonia, Singapore and many countries in between, many of those same services are available through your cellphone. In Singapore, text messages are used to pay parking tickets; in the Philippines, they are used to pay income taxes; and in part of India, people can receive a text message saying how much property tax they owe. [...] In China, cellphone users can text members of the National People’s Congress.
Source: Eric Sylvers, International Herald Tribune, December 21, 2008
If the prospect of Christmas shopping in crowded malls fills you with dread, help could soon be at hand. Researchers have developed a hand-held device that maps out the fastest route for you to get all your shopping done – and tells you where to find the best bargains. The device, developed by Javier Bajo at the University of Salamanca in Spain, has been tested in the Tormes shopping mall in Salamanca, where it received a thumbs up from shoppers and store owners alike.
Source: New Scientist magazine, Issue 2687, Page 25, December 21, 2008
The U.S. National Security Agency has patented a technique for figuring out whether someone is tampering with network communication. The NSA’s software does this by measuring the amount of time the network takes to send different types of data from one computer to another and raising a red flag if something takes too long, according to the patent filing.
Source: Robert McMillan, IDG News Service, December 21, 2008
In the lab of UCLA electrical engineering professor Aydogan Ozcan, a prototype cell phone has been constructed that is capable of monitoring the condition of HIV and malaria patients, as well as testing water quality in undeveloped areas or disaster sites. The innovative imaging technology was invented by Ozcan, a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, and has been miniaturized by researchers in his lab to the point that it can fit in standard cell phones.
Source: University of California at Los Angeles news release, December 22, 2008, 2008
The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news. Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%.
Source: Pew Research Center, December 23, 2008
In a country where an street address is key to getting a job, an Internet cafe near Tokyo is offering the unemployed and homeless more than just a virtual, email address. In addition to the usual Internet services, comic books and unlimited beverages offered by most Japanese Internet cafes, Cyber @ Cafe offers its residents long-term lodging and an official registered address. This simple service is vital for the 50 semi-permanent residents of the cafe, many of whom have taken refuge here after being laid off abruptly during the current recession.
Source: Chika Osaka, Reuters, December 25, 2008