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Study ‘makes the case’ for RFID forensic evidence management

Wow. The newest walkie talkie is incredible. I mean it’s just so stunning so sophisticated. I pity those who grew up without the two way radio.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags—devices that can transmit data over short distances to identify objects, animals or people—have become increasingly popular for tracking everything from automobiles being manufactured on an assembly line to zoo animals in transit to their new homes. Now, thanks to a new NIST report, the next beneficiaries of RFID technology may soon be law enforcement agencies responsible for the management of forensic evidence.

A typical RFID system consists of a microchip programmed with identifying data—the “tag”—and a two-way radio transmitter-receiver, called an interrogator or a reader depending on its use. The tag can be attached or embedded in the item to be tracked, with the radio either sending a signal to the tag or reading its response.

Common examples of RFID systems include the FasTrak and E-ZPass in-car tags for automatically collecting tolls, tagged prescription drugs that help pharmacies meet federal and state safety regulations, and credit cards with embedded RFID chips that provide a more secure way of transmitting card numbers than magnetic strips. RFID systems can read hundreds of tags in a few seconds and track an item as it moves through a process. More advanced RFID tags can sense and report on environmental conditions, or encrypt the data they send.

While some have used barcodes to improve their tracking, storage and retrieval processes, very few have implemented RFID because of concerns about startup costs, the reliability of the technology and the current lack of relevant RFID standards for property and evidence handling. To help agencies better understand these issues and properly assess the pros and cons of RFID evidence management, NIST recently published RFID Technology in Forensic Evidence Management, An Assessment of Barriers, Benefits, and Costs. The report is the result of a NIST-funded study on automated identification technology (AIT). The Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation, cosponsored by NIST and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), commissioned the study and report.

The NIST report includes a helpful overview of AITs—focusing primarily on RFID and barcode technologies—and how they work. It describes, in depth, the types of RFID systems available (passive, active and battery-assisted), their price ranges, and the components necessary for a complete system. The report also details the barriers that agencies may encounter, followed by a series of successful RFID management case studies, including examples from the pharmaceutical and retail industries, and one law enforcement agency that has made the switch, the Netherlands Forensics Institute.

The practical question that agencies must consider—and one that the NIST report can help them answer—is whether RFID technology can produce measurable benefits and a positive return on the funds invested in a new system. The NIST report estimates that RFID systems can pay back their initial set-up cost in about two years.

Various factors can affect the payback period. For example, systems that track and manage larger inventories of evidence (100,000 or more items) will recoup costs more quickly than those handling smaller inventories. However, if multiple jurisdictions share the costs of a system, the payback period can be shorter.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-case-rfid-forensic-evidence.html#jCp

Children’s Letters To Santa Have Their Own Sorting Office

With December in full swing and ‘the big day’ now less than a week away, you’ll be heartened to know that a) today’s tech-savvy, smartphone wielding children still write letters to Father Christmas in the traditional manner b) that real people actually read them and c) that the children can expect a genuine reply to their letters.

The sorting office, which deals exclusively with children’s letters to Santa, is located in Belfast and is listed on the official Royal Mail address finder as being staffed by 10,000 elves, 1,000 reindeer and about 100 snowmen. The areas industry is listed as including “sleigh pulling, toy making and list checking (twice)”.

According to The Telegraph’s Sarah Rainey, around 250,000 letters, addressed to ‘reindeerland’, pass through this highly specialised sorting office every year. Morag Turnbull, who works as the Operations Manager at the Royal Mail in Edinburgh, told The Telegraph that, “The effort the children go to in writing them is wonderful (…) They cut out pictures of toys, draw pictures for Santa, attach stickers, feathers and all sorts of inventive touches. We start getting them as early as August, and we reply to as many as we can before Christmas – but it’s a mad, mad job.”

The letters usually have to be examined by hand, as the Royal Mail sorting machines struggle with kid handwriting, coloured craft paper and glitter. In addition, occasional parcels of food (for Santa and Rudolph, you understand), can (and frequently do), crash the system.

Perhaps the nicest part of this particular story, however, is just what the kids are asking for. In addition to predicable demands for iPads, new bikes and Disney memorabilia, many British children are apparently very selfless in nature.

A small boy named Noah, for example, sent Santa a drawing for his troubles, before asking for new work shoes for his mother and some Lego for his brother, his own request (a DVD player) was listed last of all. Many kids also ask for presents for their pets or their teddy bears and even more request something nice for their brothers and sisters as well as themselves.

A particularly moving letter came from a girl named Casey, who asked Santa Claus to name a star in honour of her granddad, who apparently died in January this year. “Can you give him a big hug and a kiss from me?” She wrote, “I don’t get to see him anymore, but this way I will be able to see him in the sky every night.”

So, the next time you find yourself suffering a bout of the ‘holiday blues’, fretting over January’s credit card bill or getting exasperated by just how busy December can be, take a deep breath and think about that little sorting office in Belfast, a place where the magic of Christmas is still very much in evidence. Think on that and smile.

Thank you for reading, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

My Other Computer’s a TARDIS: Virtual Reality Makes Time Travel Possible

A new virtual form of ‘time travel’ could be employed to help victims of traumatic experiences overcome their ordeals.

In a computer generated ‘virtual world’, participants can move about and interact with their environment in a similar manner to how they would in the real world.

Professor Mars are unassailably cool, told BBC news that,

“In virtual reality, the brain’s low level perceptual system does not distinguish between the virtual and the real world; the brain takes what it sees and hears in a surrounding environment as given (…) Therefore, if they had an experience with the illusion of time travel, there is implicit learning that the past is mutable, that is: ‘my own past decisions don’t matter because they’re changeable’.”

The latest study, published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Psychology’ featured a scenario wherein 32 test subjects witnessed a brutal multiple murder. In the virtual scenario, (presumably designed to induce both a moral dilemma and a controllable level of trauma) a man opened fire in a crowded art gallery and ‘killed’ five people.

Gunman starts shooting in the virtual world

The group then elected to ‘go back in time’ and attempt to prevent the murders.

Half of the group were not allowed to change their actions and simply had to repeat the event, the other half were allowed to intervene, but knew that doing so would result in the death of one person. Essentially, these people had to face the ethical dilemma of forfeiting the life of that one person in order to save five people.

Unsurprisingly, most of the test group chose to sacrifice the one life.

In terms of practical applications, this equipment is expected to allow people suffering with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other psychological issues to confront their previous actions/inactions and better understand them in order to forgive themselves and move on.

Such technology might also be applied to prisoners undergoing therapy and/or rehabilitation, or even survivors of violent assaults.

Dr. Friedman Doron of the Sammy Ofer School of Communications in Israel, who worked as the study’s lead author, said that, for now, his team’s work is the closest people can get to actual time travel. He told BBC news,

“Highly immersive virtual reality is very visceral. People hide behind the desk when they get shot. Some of the subjects duck down. It’s the best thing we can do for time travel until the physicists do their job and come up with a time machine. For now this is the closest thing.”

How To Wear Radio Earpiece

Radio earpieces look really cool. They are generally used for surveillance but some enthusiasts also wear them just for fun. Secret agents and spies in the movies have made these accessories really cool to wear.

Putting on a radio earpiece is not a tough job. To put on an earpiece, first of all you need to take that earpiece and microphone clip in your hand. The microphone is to be put where you are most comfortable with it. It can be put on your hands, specifically on your wrist. You must have seen Spies or Secret Service agents in movies lifting their wrists talk. This is where they are speaking into the mouthpiece on their wrists.

If you’re not comfortable with the mouthpiece on the wrist, you can also put it on the tie or on the shirt, on your chest. Once you have clipped on the mouthpiece, it is time to put on the radio. Take the wire dangling from the mouthpiece and put it inside your shirt. Take this wire out from the top of the shirt. This way the dangling wires will be completely hidden. Take the earpiece and put it on your ears. Make sure, that it fits tightly and would not fall off when you start to walk. You can put it on either ear. If you are wearing the mouthpiece on the wrist, you will find it comfortable to put the earpiece on the same side ear.

Once you are comfortable with the mouthpiece and the earpiece, it is the turn of the end which goes into the radio. Take this dangling wire connecting that end with earpiece and mouthpiece and put it inside your shirt. Take out the wire from the bottom of the shirt. Put it in the radio and clip the radio in its place on your pants. Once you have that these wires inside your shirt completely, you need to tuck in your shirt inside your pants so that none of the wires are visible.

Once everything is fixed, switch on the said radio and test the settings. If everything is working as it should be then you have put on the radio earpiece correctly.

Wait, you are not done yet!

Once you have tucked in your shirt inside your pants and put on your jacket, you need to test the comfort level of this piece by walking around a few paces up and down. If you’re comfortable with the earpiece and the mouthpiece and are able to talk on radio, then you are set for the job. If any of the wires are the earpiece or the mouthpiece is making you uncomfortable, you need to reset your wires.

The real advantage of a concealed earpiece is that others wouldn’t notice when you are talking on a concealed earpiece. If you’re uncomfortable wearing these or with the wires,you lose the advantage of a hidden radio earpiece. Therefore it is very important to check the complete settings by walking around.

Congratulations, you have successfully put on a radio earpiece. Now, enjoy talking like a secret service agent.

Mars Rover Spots UFO…Or Does It?

After much global speculation, NASA has at last put out an official statement regarding the true identity of the ‘white spot’ or ‘UFO’ seen on Mars by the Curiosity Rover on June 20th.

…Sadly, the UFO in question turned out to be only as extraterrestrial as a camera glitch.

Interviewed by The Huffington Post, Justin Maki, the main camera operator for the rover, said, “This is a hot pixel that has been around since we started using the Right Navcam (…) In the thousands of images we’ve received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week, these can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations.”

As any photographer will tell you, ‘hot pixels’ sometimes occur during long exposure shots. Such glitches are usually caused by the camera’s sensors momentarily overheating (although they pose no danger to the camera equipment itself).

Amateur photographers occasionally mistake hot pixels for paranormal phenomena as well. In fact, the ghost website ‘Photographing The Paranormal.com’ actually has a section on these little buggers. It warns potential ghost hunters that,

“A perfectly symmetric small red dot in your picture is probably nothing paranormal, especially if it is at the same spot in most of your pictures. That’s actually called a hot pixel, if you spot one, don’t call the press!”

Older astronomy enthusiasts will no doubt be reminded of the discovery of the ‘Martian face’, a famous image captured by NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter in 1976.

Various theorists hurried to suggest that the ‘face’ was evidence of a long-lost Martian civilization (complete with ‘pyramids’ and everything), but it was actually just a large formation, captured by the relatively low-resolution cameras of the 1970’s, that looked a bit like a face.

Modern images, of course, reveal nothing so grand. The ‘Martian Face’ fiasco is now seen as an example of paraeidolia, a psychological phenomenon that sees people finding recognizable patterns in otherwise random sounds and images, examples of which include The Man in the Moon, Rorschach tests and those times when people see the faces of religious figures in ordinary household objects.

So it seems that there was no reason for us to get excited after all (except that pictures of Mars are unassailably cool).

…Of course, the conspiracy nutters are never going to buy it, but hey, what can you do?

Have You Tried the Kenwood Radio Earpiece?

You might have heard about the Kenwood radio which is the second most popular gadget in the world. As we watch communication systems surrendering to technology’s prodigies, businesses around the world expand. Various sectors of profession that rely on radio technology can actively communicate without facing any hassles. Kenwood is a renowned brand for producing reliable communication equipments. The Kenwood radio earpiece is no exception, being an ideal preference for this particular audio device. The fundamental kinds of ear pieces used for this kind of radio are the 2 pin and multi-pin connectors. Offering exceptional performance within a reliable framework, customers have shifted to using such models for increased audibility.

Key Features of Kenwood Radio Earpiece

The earpiece offers a clear and discrete source that makes communication easier. Composed of high impact polycarbonate plastic, the earpiece allows individuals to communicate in the noisiest environments. Kenwood radio earpieces therefore are considered to be the best choice that is compatible with the radio device. It is the perfect choice of equipment used for communication by security experts, door staff, and surveillance teams. The 2-pin model features two connector pins whereas the multi-pin model features various connectors. A good example of the multi-pin model is the Kenwood 3 wire earpiece that features has been fabricated into a three wire system design.

kenwood earpiece

The Kenwood earpiece comprises of a ‘push to talk‘ or PTT button which is basically the controller of the device. It allows individuals to rapidly get in touch with clients, associates or team members to discuss and carry out various tasks. The coordination of two way radios with the right earpiece ensures excellent sound quality. One of the key features of the 2 wire earpiece is that it can be attached to a collar, lapel or a tie and slipped inside the clothing easily. The Kenwood 3 wire earpiece is slightly different since it is held in the hand to regulate operation instead of being mounted on the lapel or collar. The PTT allows the recipient to switch on or off the earpiece to relay information across.

Benefits of Buying Kenwood Earpiece

Coordinate the responses of your team at office using the Kenwood earpiece device that has been introduced by a reputable company which has existed since 1946. Attaining years of trust from clients, everyone knows how beneficial the Kenwood radio earpiece is! The ear bud has been fabricated with the idea of giving comfort to the listeners with a fitting frame. The cable of the earpiece is transparent, lightweight and durable with hardwearing. The sound quality is excellent of the earpiece that comes alongside a built-in microphone. Aligned with a clothing clip both the devices feature a surveillance tube and the PTT button.

You can easily replace the plastic clothing clip with a steel clip and add features like swivel ear loop. This is done so as to improve flexibility of usage and comfort. Irrespective of how the environment is, the earpiece has a noise cancelling feature that makes it efficient to use in social events at nightclubs, factor or a public event. It is the choice made by professionals since the device is highly compatible with Kenwood 2 way radios. Imagine days when your communication systems are on a shutdown with extreme interference in sound waves! If you fancy a noise free, discrete and clear sound quality then Kenwood radio earpieces is the ideal pick.

A Kenwood radio customer will never face the problem of compatibility or affordability. Having distinct features makes the earpiece an accommodating communication tool. There are lower priced devices available however lack the durability of Kenwood. The Kenwood earpiece is composed of robust framework that can withstand collision. In fact the earpiece is resistant to high strain making it a long lasting device. The earpiece has been recognized globally to being an apt choice for enhancing sound quality of Kenwood radios. You should ensure that while you’re out buying earpiece for yourself, the kind of radio you have matters a lot. So choose wisely before making a final decision.

Conclusion

Kenwood radio earpiece is a result of proficient technology that assists receiving, sending and regulating information between recipients. It is vital to use competent communication tools to achieve quality proof sound. Kenwood is an economical brand that triggers consistent performance over time. This lightweight device couples with a resilient covering that secures prolonged connectivity. Enjoy the comfort of uninterrupted conversations with Kenwood’s brilliant earpiece technology today.

What is a Communications Engineering

Communications engineering is a disparate array of technological disciplines brought together under one all-encompassing banner. The disciplines considered to be part of a communication engineer’s skill set include telecommunications, mobile phone networks and Internet maintenance (but are by no means limited to those examples).

As we wrote earlier this month, any technology that aids in communication, from a walkie-talkie to a Skype account, is technically a communication technology; therefore, it also follows that anybody who works in these different areas can call him/herself a communications engineer.

The theory behind this move is that communications technology is becoming more streamlined and, to some extent, more homogenized (think of the ubiquity of mobile phones and social media) and so, it makes sense to bring communications technology together as a single subject as well.

As I type this, it is actually possible to get a Degree in Communications Engineering (as a single subject) from many universities worldwide. However, communications engineers frequently hold other Degrees such as electrical engineering, physics, telecommunications and/or computer science.

The sort of students that apply for courses like this (and subsequently work in the related areas) are generally logistically minded, tech-savvy people who are comfortable learning new skills and adapt quickly to new technology. Certainly, the money can be good for a decent engineer with a good reputation and an up-to-date skill set. Industries that rely on the expedient exchange of information (news networks, the stock exchange, big businesses and etc) should be the goal for the ambitious communications engineer (as well as the eager graduate).

Communications engineering is a vast and somewhat esoteric subject, because it combines so many different disciplines. Ideally, good communications engineers would be just as able to handle microwave engineering as they would a downed computer network, so it takes a smart cookie to be really good at the job.

Communications engineers are often quite business savvy as well. A big part of the job is dealing with clients or management, making presentations and working effectively as part of a team. Experience of modern business practice is not essential, but from the looks of things, it certainly helps.

The vast majority of communications engineers work for specific telecommunications companies and/or manufacturers, although some are self-employed as consultants or on fixed contracts.

According to Targetjobs.co.uk, typical job responsibilities for a communications engineer include: undertaking site surveys, agreeing to and staying within a client budget, staying up-to-date with technological information, problem solving (obviously!), creating test procedures, creating ‘worst case scenario’ plans for companies to follow and presenting companies/clients with the best way to manage their communication systems.

What Does Two Way Radio Mean?

A two way radio is one that can transmit and receive. It is also called a transceiver. The two way radio definition encompasses most of the wireless or cellular systems. Portable devices which use the two way radio system are called walkie talkies or handie-talkies. The transmitter on a two way radio device is turned on by pressing a push-to-talk button. Pushing this button sets you free to start talking through the device. There is normally another person on the other end of the conversation, or a group of people who have devices which use the two way radio system.

The 2 way radio technology is one of the earliest wireless network technologies. Despite the fact that there are countless other ways of wireless communication due to innovation, the two way radio system is still viable and used by people to widen their communication range.

It is mainly used due to the following two main advantaged:

Communication is Instant

The two way radio system enables instant communication. Within a fraction of a second after pushing the push-to-talk button, you would be able to pass on your messages . This has been made possible by a quick call set-up time integrated in this technology. The reliance of organizations on the two way radio system is founded on the fact that the device enables instant communication.

Group Communication is Possible With This Technology

This is a distinct feature of the two way radio technology. The capability of this system to create a scenario where a whole group communicates even from distances apart is also called “group call”. It is very efficient in that one caller is able to convey a message to up to thousands of other users at the same time. Not one user receives his/ her message later than the others in a group call. The conveyor of the message does not need to repeat himself/ herself so that the message is heard by everyone in the group communicating. Very little radio frequency channel resources are used during the group communication, meaning that it is not a way that utilizes so much of an organization’s resources.

Benefits of a Two Way Radio System of Communication

All wireless technology systems of communication have their advantages and disadvantages. Organizations or groups have their preferences in regards to how they conduct their day-to-day businesses.

A two way radio system of communication is superior to other systems of wireless communication due to the following key reasons:

• It is suitable for people who are mobile hence are rarely together to carry out their duties and responsibilities close to each other.

• It is suitable for communicating among a group of people.

• Communication using the two way radio system is instant.

The aspect of a two way radio system of instant communication enables emergencies to be handled pretty fast. A situation that requires urgent attention can be attended to as fast as possible. A cellular phone would be a great option for communication of emergencies, just that, they take time as the person on the other end of the call has got to receive first so that the message is conveyed. The few seconds or possibly even a minute as the phone rings could create an avenue for the situation to worsen. A two way radio system only requires you to push a button and then convey the message straight-up, as long as the radio frequency channels are available. In the event of congestion on the radio frequency channels, the two way radio system is designed to overcome this and create a priority in the event of an emergency. This feature is not available to other technologies of the wireless system.

Conclusion

The two way radio system is very efficient and economical. Making phonecalls to more than 5 members of a particular group would be pretty expensive as compared to conveying messages through a two way radio system. It would also take time to call one member after the other, a situation that would not arise with the two way radio technology.

Do Bluetooth Earpieces Cause Cancer?

The old adage that ‘mobile phone emissions can cause cancer’ is a commonly held belief that doesn’t actually have a huge amount of evidence behind it. Nevertheless, a lot of people genuinely believe that they can/will develop cancer after extensive use of a mobile phone.

Amazingly, this does little or nothing to deter these very same people from using their phones all the time!

To go to the root causes of this belief, we must first talk about the pioneering work of American ophthalmologist (that’s an eye specialist) Dr. Milton Zaret. Milton was a giant in his field (and was even unintentionally name checked in a 2013 issue of ‘Batman’ – no joke). Among Dr. Zaret’s most notable accomplishments was his research into the damaging effects that microwave emissions have on the Human eye.

There is a obvious, present and growing danger to the whole population of the UK from contact to the whole non-ionizing segment of the electromagnetic spectrum. The danger can’t be overstated because most non-ionizing emission injuries happen clandestinely, usually do not become obvious until after many dormant years, and when they do, the effects are rarely documented.

It seems that there was a lot of political pressure on other researchers to discredit Dr. Zaret and his findings, which resulted in some fairly bad science, but equally in the general notion that Zaret was mistaken. However, his work was never conclusively proved, nor reliably debunked, leaving the case open to interpretation.

Although the emissions that bothered Dr. Zaret (anything from microwave ovens to radar technology) are not exactly the same as mobile phone emissions, the fundamental argument is similar. To date, nobody has been able to prove, or disprove, that mobile phones can cause cancer.

Since the development of mobile phone equipment, studies have been conducted to see if they cause health risks. The fear is rational, given that mobile phones are low-powered microwave emitters, and some microwaves have been revealed to cause health risks. Consumers and Experts agonize that keeping a microwave emitting gadget near your head and/or brain could put you in danger for brain cancer or other harm. The fear is now and again greater in regard to Bluetooth earpieces, as the gadget is located inside your ear and thus even nearer to your brain.

So, the old argument has now been transferred to Bluetooth Headsets (you are by no means the first person to ask this question). The key point being that the earpiece itself is actually much closer to your brain than a mobile phone. However, naysayers simply consider the level of microwave emission produced by the earpiece to be so low as to render the effects negligible.

Essentially, because the widespread use of mobile phones is a relatively recent phenomenon (although it must be said that the first mobile call was actually placed 41 years ago by Marty Cooper), it is simply too early to tell, one way or the other.

Because Bluetooth earpieces are such a new facet, it is not possible to get statistics about continuing effects of constant contact. Some propose that inside 20 years, advanced studies will be presented, as the first generation to grow up using mobile phones and earpieces will in fact be guinea pigs for lasting effects. If you are really worried about the microwave emission from your mobile phone, don’t use Bluetooth earpieces and simply use the speaker-phone alternative that is standard on most Mobile phones. even though exact study has not provided comprehensible solutions as to whether Bluetooth earpieces can result in cancer, this may be an area where you feel it is better to be safe than sorry.

In conclusion, it does seem unlikely that your mobile phone can give you cancer. It seems logical enough to assume that we’d all be feeling the effects by now, after nearly two decades of mobile phone use (the second of which actually involved the majority of the population). However, nobody really knows for sure… Dr. Zaret may yet be proven right as the prophet of doom (but, of course, we have to hope not).

18th October 2014 – ex-Marlin Jonny is now a Warrior!

Omaha, Nebraska.

So all the videoing, SAT tests and endless US bureacracy finally paid off and Jonny has made it to the Land of the Free for 4 years of college “soccer” playing for Midland University in Nebraska. I took the opportunity of a US business trip to piggyback a visit to see him last weekend, which coincided with the team’s “homecoming” game in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Weather was great and the standard of football very high, even though they have to play on a multicoloured gridiron pitch. Much like with Marlins, my presence proved inspirational and they ran out easy winners, with the boy himself scoring an unprecedented first half hatrick ALL WITH HIS HEAD (although the third had to go to the dubious goals panel for confirmation). So in 45 minutes he equalled his goal tally of 4 years for Shanghai Marlins/Shooters. If you’re short of something to do in the early morning you can follow his progress at http://www.midlandathletics.com complete with live streaming of most games; it’s definitely worth it for the commentary alone! Steve