Month: February 2014

Just Published: A Complete Photography 101 Guide

The Daily Post

Here’s another free ebook to add to your virtual bookshelf: Photography 101: The Basics of Photography and the Power of Visual Storytelling.

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NYPD Testing Google Glass

The Surge

In an ever changing technological world the police are adapting as well. They have more resources at their fingertips than ever some of which includes laptops, portable finger print scanners, and licence plate  readers just to name a few. We now know that America’s largest police force is testing a new gadget – google glass. NYPD’s deputy commissioner confirmed the rumors:

“In December of 2013 the Department obtained two pairs of Google Glass and has been evaluating these devices in an attempt to determine any possible useful applications. The devices have not been deployed in any actual field or patrol operations, but rather are being assessed as to how they may be appropriately utilized or incorporated into any existing technology-based functions.”

Two pairs is obviously a very small number for a force with some 30,000 officers and it’s unlikely we will see the entire NYPD outfitted with them anytime soon…

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Persistent Surveillance Systems’ Pre-Crime Aerial Panopticon Watches City-Wide Area, Tracking Everyone


“I want them to be worried that we’re watching. I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.” – Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl



Craig Timberg/WashingtonPost:

From 10,000 feet up, tracking an entire city at one glance: Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems is trying to convince cities across the country that its surveillance technology can help reduce crime. Its new generation of camera technology is far more powerful than the police cameras to which America has grown accustomed. But these newer cameras have sparked some privacy concerns.

As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of…

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Knightscope K5: Autonomous Data-Collecting Robocop to Predict Crimes


California-based Knightscope recently unveiled a line of K5 autonomous robots that it believes will “predict and prevent crime with an innovative combination of hardware, software and social engagement.”

Standing five feet tall — which gives the K5 its name — and weighing 300 pounds, the units have a look that resembles R2-D2 from “Star Wars,” but their casual design masks a highly advanced robot, with features including:

  • Autonomously Patrol Areas
  • GPS Locator
  • LIDAR 3D Mapping
  • Thermal Imagining Camera
  • Night Vision Camera
  • Optical Character Recognition
  • Behavioral Analysis
  • Audio Recording
  • Biological, Chemical, Radiation Detection
  • Proximity Sensors
  • License Plate Scanning (1,500/minute)
  • Top Speed of 18 mph

“Data collected through these sensors is processed through our predictive analytics engine, combined with existing business, government and crowdsourced social data sets, and subsequently assigned an alert level that determines when the community and the authorities should be notified of a concern,” the company’s website states.


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VIDEO — CrossTalk: Facebook = Spybook?


Feb 7, 2014

How has Facebook redefined what we call “community”? What role social media played in Arab Spring uprisings? What kind of relationship Facebook should have with government? And, what can we expect in the next decade? CrossTalking with Clive Thompson, Austin Petersen and Ed Krayewski.

Watch all CrossTalk shows here:… (Sep 2009 – Feb 2011)… (Mar 2011 – Jul 2012)… (Jul 2012 – current)


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Speculative Map of a City


Imagine a city only known through its security cameras. The city can be nearby, like Toronto, or elsewhere, like London; the city can be any city. Call it a CCTV map, and this map is not only all you know of the city, it is all that is known of the city. If locations are not on the map, that is, not mapped out by the camera, then those areas do not exist. If an event occurs within an area not mapped out by cameras, then that event never occurred. The architecture of the city is only that which is always being seen by a camera, its form shaped by the lens of the camera. This is different than being seen by an individual; a person blinks, turns away, is mobile. People choose where and what they would like to watch in the city, cameras do not. So there are…

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (and the NSA Was Watching)

Although I don’t particularly agree with the views of this poem, I thought the ability of the writer to convey an important message through poetry was especially powerful. Surveillance is something that has intrigued me for some time now, as I have aspirations of one day becoming a police officer, and I feel as though I’m sort of riding the fence on how to feel about privacy, surveillance, and inalienable rights. I believe that we should be subject to surveillance, for the protection of the people, but I feel like there are still some privacies that we should be granted. The NSA and metadata, however, is interesting because it brings up the idea of public and private spheres of life. I think what needs to be discussed, instead of complaining about being under surveillance, is the definition of privacy.

Here’s an excerpt from Benjamin van Loon’s piece on privacy and the NSA:

“What if we consider, for a moment, that the things to which we’re entitled to hold private are in fact only nominally private? Take phone call metadata, for instance. When the phone was an emergent technology in the early 20thcentury, it created the possibility of long-distance communication that — by virtue of the mechanisms of the technology at the time — required the use of a human mediator, or operator, on public lines (see “Speaking into the Air” by John Durham Peters). As the technology evolved and was continually altered by the relevant social groups of private commercial industry and public policy, phone conversations became increasingly private — though party lines were a common telephone subscription option until the 1950s. During and since that time, telephone companies have set the standards of privacy for telephone calls (and now, cell/mobile calling), but the point remains that privacy emerged as a convenience for telephone usage and was later why party lines were outmoded altogether. Privacy was not an a priori right for telephone usage. Instead, privacy is nominally assured, though we take this assurance for granted and thus get upset when this nominal assurance caves at the slightest breeze.”


Of course we have a right to privacy, but what should be discussed now with the progression through the information age is what information private and what information is public. Since phone info was (and essentially always has been) public, what does that say about the NSA tracking that data?



Twas the night before Christmas, and all thro’ the house

The only sound to be heard, was the click of a mouse;

The family used their digital devices with little care,

In hopes that their wants just might be satisfied there;

The children they played on their smart phones in beds,

While visions from their apps danced in their heads,

From personal computers, to tablets, there was no cap,

All were settled in for a technologically wrought nap –

But within every device there arose a silent clatter,

Yet none in the sleepy house knew what was the matter.

But whether on Apple or Windows, with every app flash,

Every detail was logged, bound tightly as if with a sash.

There had been that wise lad – named den after snow,

Who had tried to give warning of what happens below

The surface of the devices – if pulled back…

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A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings on Twitter: How a Vaccine Map Went Viral

Skeptical Software Tools

CFR vaccine preventable diseases mapIf you follow the problem of vaccine denialism (like most skeptics do) and are on social media, you probably saw a cool interactive global map of disease outbreaks this week. It was created by the Council on Foreign Relations – there’s a picture of it here and a link below the fold.  

Just in the last week it was posted by many major websites including, Mother Jones, L.A. Times, The Verge, Wired, The Atlantic Wire and even Forbes. And of course all those posts – and the direct link to the map – were being wildly passed around on social media.

Whenever I see something like this going viral, I dig a little bit before I retweet or repost it.  Sometimes there’s a better version of the post to link, or the one you saw didn’t attribute it to the original author correctly. I like to make sure…

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Photography in the Age of Snapchat and Smartphones

I think this is an interesting piece because I agree that there is a difference between traditional photography and photography as a means of communication. Snapchat is interesting, because while I don’t use it, I know my friends utilize it’s unique ability to tell a story. When you think about photos of the past, and when you’re looking at old photos, memories of the stories of those days past come to life. Snapchat takes that idea and transforms the memories and the stories to the here and now. Also, I feel like I should add in that Snapchat isn’t the “video that killed the radio star,” in that Snapchat isn’t killing off traditional photography. Snapchat is adding to the uniqueness of photography and only enhances the art form.

n j w v

Part 1: Autograph Hunting

Donell NixonDarren Lewiscaldwell

Between the ages of 10 and 16, I was an avid collector of baseball autographs. Since I was a kid without money, this meant I was actually getting the autographs from the players: doing my homework to know who might be where, being adequately prepared with the correct baseball card,* always carrying a spare ball,** learning how to recognize players without relying on the uniform, drumming up the courage to approach and ask them.

*I was good at this. Whether it was having a Mike Sadek card handy for the free Giants’ clinic at the local park, a Mario Mendoza card for when the minor league team he was managing came through San José, or a Mike Caldwell card for when his Campbell Fighting Camels got assigned to the Stanford Regional.

**Important. I obviously specialized in the more obscure players. But having a ball in…

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