Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daily Reports

Voice of America reports a growing concern that the nation’s Western agriculture infrastructure is vulnerable to a terrorist attack that could easily disrupt food supplies and commerce. (See item 22)

The Associated Press writes that CDC researchers, working in tandem with a lab in Gabon, Africa, have confirmed an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Congo. See item 30)

Information Technology

43. September 10, Computerworld – Offshore worker breaks into Caterpillar server in U.S, steals 4,000 documents. An IT engineer working for Caterpillar Inc.’s engineering design center in India allegedly used another employee's username and password to access and steal about 4,000 confidential documents from a company server in the U.S. The individual behind the attack was arrested by the Cyber Crime Cell of India's Criminal Investigations Department in late July. He was charged with hacking into a server and stealing confidential data under the country's Information Technology Act of 2000. A Caterpillar spokeswoman confirmed the incident and said that a former Caterpillar employee had been arrested by local authorities.


Communications Sector

44. September 11, IDG News Service – Broadcasters continue fight against wireless Net. The association of television broadcasters launched a campaign on Monday designed to persuade the Federal Communications Commission not to allow portable wireless Internet services in the so-called "white spaces" of TV spectrum. The move pits powerful broadcasters against some of the biggest names in technology. The broadcasters argue that enabling portable wireless Internet services in the white spaces will degrade TV service for consumers just as they spend billions of dollars buying new digital TV sets. “This investment should not be jeopardized by the introduction of unlicensed personal and portable devices that are sure to interfere with television reception,” said the NAB in an open letter to the FCC. The campaign comes in response to an FCC report detailing its testing of prototype devices from technology giants which are working together as the White Space Coalition. The companies had submitted prototypes of products that could operate in the portion of a spectrum band that a TV broadcaster doesn't use, known as white space. The devices were designed to look for broadcasts in the spectrum and then transmit only if the spectrum was free. But the FCC found that the devices didn't consistently detect the signals and could sometimes cause interference. The FCC has already approved transmission in the spectrum for fixed devices. The prototypes submitted by the technology companies were of portable products.


45. September 11, The Associated Press – FCC wants to guarantee smooth shift to digital-only transmission. It is a digital divide that has the cable industry up against the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. An estimated 32 million cable subscribers in the U.S. are not equipped to receive a digital TV signal. That could mean problems when broadcasters shift to digital-only transmission in 2009. The cable TV industry promises customers will still receive a picture when the change happens. But the FCC’s chairman wants rules passed that will force the industry to stick to its word. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the issue today. The greatest impact of the digital conversion will be on viewers of non-digital televisions who receive their signals over the air. Beginning in early 2009, they will be forced to buy a special converter box, subsidized by the government, to receive their channels.


46. September 10, Computerworld – Google Earth, Amazon tools aid in search for missing aviator. Tools from Google Earth and are being used in the effort to find aviator and adventurer Steve Fossett who has been missing since taking off in a private plane in Nevada last week. He has been missing since September 3, when he took off from a private airstrip 80 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada, in a small single-engine airplane. The area of Nevada where he went missing is rugged terrain, and rescuers have been unable to locate Fossett or his plane. The administrator of an unofficial Google Earth blog wrote that Amazon has set up a Web site so users can help in the search effort. New satellite imagery has been taken by GeoEye, a company that owns and operates three imaging satellites, and Inc.'s Mechanical Turk Web service has been used to produced a Web site so users can search for his plane using the satellite imagery. Mechanical Turk is a Web service that integrates information gathered by people performing a certain task. To participate, users can sign up at the site and provide their addresses. They will be shown a single satellite image and should flag any images that contain foreign objects that may resemble Fossett's airplane or parts of a plane. Users are also asked to download Google Earth. “The plane will show up as a regular object with sharp edges, white or nearly white, about 21 pixels long and 30 pixels in wingspan,” according to the Web site. “Marked images will be sent to a team of specialists who will determine if they contain information on the whereabouts of Steve Fossett.” “This is an approach to more rapidly search a large area of imagery using many eyeballs of people around the world,” said the site administrator.