Friday, October 23, 2009

Modern Propaganda - Your Tax Dollars At Work

PSYOPS aka Psychological Warfare aka Information Manipulation is something that is actively being pursued by the American government, intelligence, and military institutions.  What is disturbing is not that it is being aimed at enemies.  It is that our allies are also being actively targetted.

Millions of dollars have been handed out in the form of government contracts for creating tens of thousands of websites and even cell phone edutainment games.

The real question is of course would any of this be truly effective in any way other than perhaps being construed as a spamming campaign / denial of service attack / watering-down of the accuracy of search engines and information sources?

Would this actually have any real effect beyond that which commercial enterprise has achieved so far?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Creation" doesn't fly in the USA

Apparently there was a film made about Charles Darwin in the UK called "Creation" and for a while there they were not able to find a distributor in the USA because the Theory of Evolution is considered 'too controversial' in this country...

To put the spotlight on this opinion - here is the results of a poll taken in February of this year:

What kills me about this is how easy it is to come across people who are actively spamming pseudo science and top-loading search engines to drive people to their nonsense.

Notice how this works - the movie is made and people are watching it all around the world - but someone with money and an agenda are blocking the distribution of a film in this country about the history of science.

We can have movies about zombies and vampires and killer robots and fictional para-military forces made by scientologists where guns are fired constantly but if you want to do a think-piece about a scientist whose theory is completely proven out by the subsequent discovery of DNA -- that is too "controversial"?  (And since when is controversy bad for a film?)

That same DNA evidence is submittable in court mind you.  The same courts where the Scopes trial took place.

Mind you - they did eventually find a distributor:

[From Wikipedia:]
According to Jeremy Thomas, the United States was one of the last countries to find a distributor due to the prominence of the Creation–evolution controversy.[4] On September 24, 2009,Variety reported that Newmarket Films acquired the rights to the movie and plans to release it in December in the US.[6]

Big Brother Pretty Useless

London has a lot of video cameras.  Maybe Las Vegas comes close - but the majority of those are privately owned.  London's cameras are run by the state.
So you would think that having them all be coordinated would lead to solving a lot of crime, no?

Um no.

1,000 CCTV cameras to solve just one crime, Met Police admits

Friday, October 9, 2009

Virtual Wires

The word of the day is Beamforming.

It was a new one for me this morning - and I don't like falling behind the curve on new technology - so I took a few minutes to learn something new:

Beamforming is a specialized method of antenna-based RF transmission.  Essentially is has to do with selectively using/timing different antennas or frequency bands in order to aim the transmission/reception either physically or virtually at the source/target you are most interested in.

This is different from the concept of omni-directional transmission/reception that most of us are familiar with.  You can think of it in a way as the concept of a satellite dish pointing at a fixed location instead of a pair of rabbit-ears trying to listen to everywhere at once.  Only in this case - the dish would be self-aiming.

Originally developed for sonar applications - it found another application in cellular networks and is now being introduced for wireless networking.  Expect to hear more of this buzzword in the near future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

5 Y's & 2 ToDo's

Have you ever wondered why your manager might sometimes talk to you like a little kid obsessed with the word "Why?" ...

There is a problem solving method that asks you to do just that.

Which is a pretty good idea when you think about it - as annoying as that can be when you are on the receiving end of it.  (A little humility and an open mind can go a long way in those times.)

But finding out why is worthless if you're not going to do something about it.  In fact you really need to do two things about it.

I think the true wisdom in these approaches though is the idea of solving problems iteratively.

What I mean by this is that usually when you have a Really Big ProblemTM - it is going to take a lot of time & effort to fix - usually because it took a long time to create the problem.  That is to say, that the problem itself was created iteratively - one uninformed/bad decision compounding the others growing over time.

If you have systemic problems like that - it is perhaps best to solve those problems iteratively also.  An hour's effort here and there compounded over time can achieve meaningful results without necessarily getting in the way of General ProgressTM.

It also has the effect of assigning more realistic priorities to things.  If you spend an hour working on the root cause every time that you have a recurring problem - the problems that occur most often will end up getting the most cumulative attention instead of those that perhaps are perceived as being more important.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Stuff of Snowboarder Nightmares

Avalanche Skier POV Helmet Cam Burial & Rescue in Haines, Alaska from Chappy on Vimeo.

GT-10B in Depth

I have had some time to spend with my new toy now.  

So here are a few words on the subject:

All in all it makes me wonder why I waited so long.  This is a game-changer.  The overall impact this has on how I do things now is significant.

In terms of gizmoes all strung together and glued/screwed/taped/velcroed to a piece of plexi-glass/wood/padded-custom-case & then running into the amp...  I'm done - for quite a while I think.  It pretty much has every stomp-pedal that BOSS ever made for bass in there more or less.  You can use them in whatever order/combinations you like - and SAVE those combinations.  This allows a lot more creativity in a live situation in terms of getting your effects together between/during songs.

It is also Really Easy.  That is how it was sold to me & it does not disappoint.  Neither do I find it to be as condescending as it might be.  The EZ Tone thing for creating a sound borders on that - but how often would anyone use that after getting to know how to use the thing?

In terms of sound processor though -- niice -- I plugged it into my PowerBook via the USB cable & driver software & ran it simply through Garageband as the sound input and output - and plugged my headphones into the GT-10B for the session.  WOW.  It upgraded the experience tremendously.  I even banged out a new song the first night I sat down with it.  (Just imagine when I hook it up to some real editing software)

Add that last bit to the ability to back up/restore/mix&match all of the patches that you create via that USB cable to the computer - and now you have a professional situation where you can buy a replacement on the road & get on with the show with very little effort.

And of course - The Sound ...  It is really very nice.  It is also very easy to be cheezy - particularly with the pitch-shifter - so beware.  Hard as is it to imagine - I could see potentially just running through a PA system (with the appropriate monster subwoofers) because you can make the sound exactly what you want.

No they don't come out & say it - but there is clearly modelling of Ampeg, Orange, etc. in there.  It makes a difference.