Thursday, August 25, 2011

I made the front page

Lincoln Times News

Mike Vance and Judy Hoell use a mobile web device
to learn more about Tuesday afternoon's earthquake
after the Lincoln County tax office was evacuated as
a precaution.   Seth Mabry/LTN Photo
Top Stories

 Quake shakes up region

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake recorded in Virginia Tuesday afternoon forced small tremors to shake populations across eastern United States, including Lincoln County where numerous county employees evacuated downtown office buildings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.9 Earthquake hits Mineral Virginia

WOW, We really felt that one, my office on the 3rd floor of the old Nations Bank building in Lincolnton was swaying for about 30 seconds, so we decided to head outside for awhile.  Once outside some folks said they smelled gas, the fire department was called they went in and checked the building, and we were back in the office in 30 minutes.  That's the second quake I have felt in my life, both on the east coast. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hi-tech ‘tattoos’ can monitor patients’ health

Researchers at the University of Illinois are developing 'rub-on electronics'
that can be applied like a temporary tattoo and used to monitor vital signs
such as heart rate and brain activity.

The current methods for monitoring patients’ health once they leave hospital following treatment are often rather cumbersome. Current technology is mostly too bulky for the patient to carry around with them, but “rub-on electronics that stick to the skin like a temporary tattoo could revolutionise medical monitoring.”
“They took the silicon and gallium arsenide typically used to build transistors, diodes and resistors, and fashioned it into wires just a few nanometres thick, each bent into the shape of a tiny meandering river. The meanders can stretch and contract to give electronics constructed from them a degree of flexibility which matches that of skin.”
Finally they put the circuits constructed from the wires onto a thin piece of rubber and embedded it inside a protective sheet of plastic. The resulting patch has a thickness of just 0.04mm.
The patch is then put on the skin by simply rubbing it with a wet finger, just as you would with a temporary tattoo.
The patches are already able to monitor the heart, various other muscles and brain activity. According to Ali Javey of the University of California, the patches are “a beautiful example of the novel applications than can be enabled by building electronic systems on non-conventional substrates,” adding: “This is truly exciting work.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Experimental Aircraft

Experimental Aircraft to Go From Zero to 13,000 in Hypersonic Test Launch

DARPA - Falcon HTV-2 is an arrowhead-shaped aircraft that launches in a rocket, separates and then glides at hypersonic speeds of 13,000 mph through the Earth’s atmosphere.
Wednesday’s launch marks the aircraft's second flight. In April 2010, the Falcon flew for nine minutes, including 130 seconds of Mach 22 to Mach 17 flight, according to DARPA, the military's research arm.
That flight ended prematurely when the onboard computer cancelled the flight, and rolled the aircraft into the ocean.
The goal of the second flight is to "validate our assumptions and gain further insight into extremely high Mach regimes that we cannot fully replicate on the ground," Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz said in a DARPA news release.
Engineers adjusted the vehicle’s center of gravity, decreased the angle of attack flown and will use the onboard reaction control system to augment the vehicle flaps to maintain stability during flight operations, DARPA said.
The goal of the project is to eventually enable the U.S. military to strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

WiFi War Flying

Mike Tassey (l) and Rich Perkins (r) describe how they retrofitted
a U.S. Army surplus target drone.

(Credit: Declan McCullagh/CNET) LAS VEGAS--Forget Wi-Fi war driving. Now it's war flying.
A pair of security engineers showed up at the Black Hat security conference here to show off a prototype that can eavesdrop on Wi-Fi, phone, and Bluetooth signals: a retrofitted U.S. Army target drone, bristling with electronic gear and an array of antennas.
"Nobody's really looking at this from a threat perspective," said Mike Tassey, a security consultant who works for the U.S. government intelligence community. "There's some pretty evil stuff you can do from the sky."
The term war driving, meaning searching for Wi-Fi networks from a moving vehicle, was coined approximately a decade ago.. But aerial drones can gain access to places that might be off-limits to vehicles--and, in theory, can follow a moving signal surreptitiously from above.
Their prototype Wi-Fi drone, which was brought on stage yesterday but not flown, is made of reinforced foam and can carry 20 pounds. They added landing gear, a 2.5 horsepower motor powered by lithium polymer batteries, a telemetry link, an onboard computer running Ubuntu, and a payload of wireless sniffers and network-cracking tools.
"We can identify a target by his cell phone and follow him home to where enterprise security doesn't reach," Rich Perkins, a security engineer who describes his job as "supporting the U.S. government" and co-created the drone. "We can reverse engineer someone's life."
The drone--which they dubbed WASP, for Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform--can stay aloft for about an hour. While it's an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, in flight, the initial version requires manual operator control for takeoffs and landings. (It cost them between $6,000 and $7,000 to build in a garage, they said, not counting their own time.)
Their ulterior motive, however, is to do more than describe their wireless-sniffing prototype: it was to offer a warning about how terrorists and criminals can use UAVs in ways that traditional military and law enforcement may not be expecting.
"UAVs pose a couple of unique challenges to people who are responsible for protecting things," Tassey said.
Even the modest payload of UAVs could be devastating in biological or radiological attacks. Drug smugglers--or, perhaps, pharmaceutical entrepreneurs--could carry around $400,000 in heroin through one flight across a national border. And the small size of UAVs, and virtually nonexistent presence on radar, make them a challenge to detect and shoot down.
"There's no requirement for good intentions," Perkins said.

I had this same idea about 5 years ago when I started flying helicopters.  I wish I didn't have to work all the time so I could try something like this.