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Monday Tech Wake-Up—2.27.2012 Edition

Monday Tech Wake-Up—2.27.2012 Edition

By Mark Devlin

February 27, 2012

Tech Materials: U.S. Army Contracts Underpants Gnomes

A soldier can be killed or lose limbs in the horrific event of nearby IED blast and could also lose, well, private parts.

Taking the lead from Brits with their Blast Boxers, the U.S. Army has developed the Pelvic Protection System, according to this Gizmag article (via U.S Army). In typical government fashion, we’re about to get into various acronyms here. The PPS consists of a Tier I protective under-garment (PUG) worn under the soldier’s uniform, a Tier II protective out-garment (POG) is worn over the soldier’s uniform.

Here’s a clip, starting off with the PUG…

It has a breathable, moisture wicking material on the outer thighs and knitted Kevlar along the inner thighs to protect the fleshy parts of the thigh and the femoral artery. Additional knitted or woven Kevlar is located over the groin. The fabric has been tested to ensure it won't melt or drip when exposed to extreme heat.

The POG is more rigid and offers more ballistic protection. While the PUG can be worn on its own, Lt. Col. Frank J. Lozano, PEO Soldier protective equipment, says the POG should always be worn with the PUG.


Remember the teachings of the Underpants Gnomes...

Phase 1. Collect Underpants
Phase 2: ? (Or, Redesign in Kevlar)
Phase 3: Profit

So far deployed to 15,000 soldiers, the typical system consists of three PUGs and one POG.

Also handy in executive meetings, the system greatly increases the chances of wounded soldiers reproducing later on.

Beware Your Toddler

According to this piece at the UK’s PC Pro (via Slashdot), some low-life types have started using kids’ games to steal their parents’ data. Don’t worry, it’s (so far?) not stuff that you would have installed. They’re Flash-based web games for young kids.


Here are a couple of seriously disturbing clips, starting off with a big “Click here for more games” on a data-thieving site, which…

…then takes the clicker to a different site, where another game pops up or downloads while at the same time a remote access trojan (RAT) capable of stealing financial data is installed. Pretty fiendish, and likely to fool a financially profitable number of parents into allowing their kids to use these games unsupervised, or fail to notice when the bad stuff was being installed.

But worse still, BitDefender even found one painting application where the very act of swiping the paintbrush over an online pet to change the colour of the virtual animal was enough to trigger redirection to an infected site.

According to BitDefender, nearly 25% of parents don’t supervise their kids’ online activity.

Speaking of Threats: Think You Need Mobile AV?

Maybe, maybe not. I’ve installed free AVG Mobilation on my Android phone, just in case. (So far, I’ve noticed no performance or usability hits.)

Is it really necessary? Perhaps not. Eugene Kaspersky, of Kaspersky Lab, says that the threat is real but small, according to this Wall Street Journal article

“In November of last year, something happened. We saw about 1,500 unique pieces of mobile malware per year up to November. Then in November we saw 1,500 in that month alone.”

By contrast the number of PC malware variants in 2011 alone was around 25 million. Kaspersky Lab finds 70,000 to 75,000 per day, an official said.


Cell phone malware, says the article, usually comes in via text messaging services.

Kaspersky also commented that Android phones are more at risk due to the platform’s open nature. Apple’s iOS is no more inherently secure than Android, he says, but Apple’s closed approach does make it safer.

Ironically, the first mobile botnet, discovered in 2009, ‘was made up of jailbroken iPhones.’


Coolest Vaporware Cell Add-On to-Date

I once had the professional pleasure of heading-up the editorial side of a food magazine. It wasn’t my thing, but part of a package with something that was. Great professionally but, psychologically, the assignment was a distinct displeasure. While some areas like GMOs were fascinating, learning about food production and pathogens would’ve been enough to make most people cut back to nothing but water and rice.

Even without that knowledge, restaurants are sometimes frightening. The kitchen? Please. We don’t want to know what’s going on back there. Plus, ‘healthy’ salad bars are often no more than colorful, lavish Petri dishes, especially after that sniffly kid who just picked her nose reaches in and pulls out a handful of lettuce. Sneeze guards? Worthless.

Until we have food irradiation equipment for safe, public use, here’s a cell phone attachment that I can get behind—a personal E. Coli scanner.


The ‘cost-effective’device would add fluorescent imaging capability to cell phones, so you can scan your food and water anytime, anywhere. Here’s a clip from UCLA (via PopSci) about the attachment, which…

…acts as a florescent microscope, quantifying the emitted light from each capillary after the specific capture of E. coli particles within a sample. By quantifying the florescent light emission from each tube, the concentration of E. coli in the sample can be determined.

Space Elevator by 2050

This one’s just too bizarre to consider: an elevator that’ll transport 30 people—travelling for a week at 200 kph—to a ‘station’ 36,000 km above the Earth. Here’s the source article (via Slashdot) if you’d like more info.

ResearchGate: No, Not Another Break-In or Scandal

The unfortunately named ResearchGate is a four-year-old social network for scientists, with 1.3 million members. Called ‘Facebook for Scientists,’ the business just raised its second round of funding, according to this piece at VentureBeat

Co-founder Dr. Ijad Madisch got the idea for ResearchGate while studying for his PhD. He wanted a way to connect with other science students to collaborate and share knowledge. Scientists can post information and reports, connect with their peers to exchange ideas, and collaborate on problems.

We need something like this for engineering, with a bit more of a project management twist.

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