The way signal strength varies in a wireless network can reveal what’s going on behind closed doors.

It’s every schoolboy’s dream: an easy way of looking through walls to spy on neighbors, monitor siblings, and keep tabs on the sweet jar. And now a dream no longer…

Researchers at the University of Utah say that the way radio signals vary in a wireless network can reveal the movement of people behind closed doors. Joey Wilson and Neal Patwari have developed a technique called variance-based radio tomographic imaging that processes the signals to reveal signs of movement. They’ve even tested the idea with a 34-node wireless network using the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol, the protocol for personal area networks employed by home automation services such as ZigBee.

The basic idea is straightforward. The signal strength at any point in a network is the sum of all the paths the radio waves can take to get to the receiver. Any change in the volume of space through which the signals pass, for example caused by the movement of a person, makes the signal strength vary. So by “interrogating” this volume of space with many signals, picked up by multiple receivers, it is possible to build up a picture of the movement within it.

In tests with a 34-node network set up outside a standard living room, Wilson and Patwari say they were able to locate moving objects in the room to within a meter or so. That’s not bad, and the team says there is ample potential for improvement by increasing accuracy while reducing the number of nodes.

The advantage of this technique over others is, first, its cost. The nodes in such a network are off-the-shelf and therefore cheap. Other through-wall viewing systems cost in excess of $100,000. The second advantage is the ease with which it can be set up. Wilson and Patwari say that adding a GPS receiver to each node allows it to work out its own location, which should dramatically speed up the imaging process. Other systems have to be “trained” to recognize the environment.

Wilson and Patwari have even worked out how their system might be used:

“We envision a building imaging scenario similar to the following. Emergency responders, military forces, or police arrive at a scene where entry into a building is potentially dangerous. They deploy radio sensors around (and potentially on top of) the building area, either by throwing or launching them, or dropping them while moving around the building. The nodes immediately form a network and self-localize, perhaps using information about the size and shape of the building from a database (eg Google maps) and some known-location coordinates (eg using GPS). Then, nodes begin to transmit, making signal strength measurements on links which cross the building or area of interest. The received signal strength measurements of each link are transmitted back to a base station and used to estimate the positions of moving people and objects within the building.”

That’s ambitious, but if they do get their system to the point where it can be used like this, it raises another problem: privacy.

How might such cheap and easy-to-configure monitoring networks be used if they become widely available? What’s to stop next door’s teenage brats from monitoring your every move, or house thieves choosing their targets on the basis that nobody is inside?

Of course, in the cat-and-mouse game of surveillance, it shouldn’t be too hard to build a device that disables such a monitoring network. But only if you know it’s there in the first place.

There are fun and games galore to be had with this idea.

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This fix completely solved it!

Well, it cost me a support incident at MSFT so hopefully what I learned
will help others.

I am running Outlook 2007 as part of Office 2007 Ultimate on Windows XP
SP2.

There have been numerours threads around with people complaining that
searching in instant search in Outlook 2007 or through Windows Desktop
Search 3.0 doesn’t return any results. Some have said that PST files
work fine but results from Exchange mailboxes were missing.

The solution on my machine turned out to be related to the fact that
the Exchange 2003 system management tools were installed on my
machine.There was a problem discovered whereby the Exchange tools
replace certain MAPI DLL files used by WDS and the DLLs used by the
Exchange tools don’t support WDS. Unfortunately there isn’t any logging
that this is actually occuring so it makes it hard to figure this
problem out.

The solution to the problem is to run the fixmapi.exe tool located in
your system32 directory and then reboot. You can run fixmapi.exe from
the command line if you like. Please note that fixmapi.exe does not
write anything out to the screen so it seems like it runs for a second,
exits and has done nothing. This is normal. Just run it and reboot.

There is a KB article on this:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927676

After your computer reboots you will need to rebuild your index and
open Outlook so that indexing can begin.

That should fix it.

So, if you’ve got the Exhcange management tools installed on your
machine and are having problems with Outloook 2007 instant search not
returning any result then this should hopefully fix it for you.

Good luck.

Thanks,
Brian

(BJS)

http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.outlook/browse_thread/thread/a5cb5f6d30df747e/ca7080cef90939ec

A giant rat has been discovered in Papa New Guinea. Lock up your children!

A new species of giant rat has been discovered deep in the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

The rat, which has no fear of humans, measures 82cm long, placing it among the largest species of rat known anywhere in the world.

The creature, which has not yet been formally described, was discovered by an expedition team filming the BBC programme Lost Land of the Volcano.

It is one of a number of exotic animals found by the expedition team.

Like the other exotic species, the rat is believed to live within the Mount Bosavi crater, and nowhere else.

“This is one of the world’s largest rats. It is a true rat, the same kind you find in the city sewers,” says Dr Kristofer Helgen, a mammalogist based at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who accompanied the BBC expedition team.

Crater (BBC)
Very few people – even the Kasua tribe – venture inside the crater

Initially, the giant rat was first captured on film by an infrared camera trap, which BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan set up in the forest on the slopes of the volcano.

The expedition team from the BBC Natural History Unit recorded the rat rummaging around on the forest floor, and were awed by its size.

Immediately, they suspected it could be a species never before recorded by science, but they needed to see a live animal to be sure.

Then trackers accompanying the team managed to trap a live specimen.

“I had a cat and it was about the same size as this rat,” says Buchanan.

The trapped rat measured 82cm in length from its nose to its tail, and weighed approximately 1.5kg.

It had a silver-brown coat of thick long fur, which the scientists who examined it believe may help it survive the wet and cold conditions that can occur within the high volcano crater. The location where the rat was discovered lies at an elevation of over 1,000m.

Initial investigations suggest the rat belongs to the genus Mallomys, which contains a handful of other out-sized species.

It has provisionally been called the Bosavi woolly rat, while its scientific name has yet to be agreed.

The giant rat was first sighted using an infrared camera trap

Other rodents, the group of animals that includes rats, grow to a bigger size.

For example, the largest rodent of all is the capybara, which lives in or near freshwater in South America.

It can grow up to 130cm long and weigh up to 65kg.

The Philippines is also home to a few species of cloud rat which can reach over 2kg in weight.

Ogre-faced spider

But of the true rats, which includes urban brown and black rats that belong to the genus Rattus, few can match the new species.

In 2007, an expedition to New Guinea led by Conservation International discovered another closely related giant woolly rat, which can weigh up to 1.4kg. It also belongs within the genus Mallomys.

However, that species lives in the Foja Mountains, part of the Mamberamo Basin.

Mount Bosavi, where the new rat was found, is an extinct volcano that lies deep in the remote Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

The expedition team entered the crater to explore pristine forest, where few humans have set foot.

Even members of the Kasua tribe, who acted as trackers for the expedition, live outside the crater, which is 4km wide and has walls up to 1km high, trapping the creatures that live within.

The island which includes Papua New Guinea and New Guinea is famous for the number and diversity of the rats and mice that live there.

Over 57 species of true “Murid” rats and mice can be found on the island. The larger rats are often caught by hunters and eaten.

Broadcast of The Lost Land of the Volcano series will begin on BBC One on Tuesday 8 September at 2100 BST. The discovery of the Bosavi woolly rat is broadcast as part of the series on BBC One on Tuesday 22 September.

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Faulting application sourceserver.exe, version 10.1.0.0, faulting module kernel32.dll, version 5.2.3790.4480, fault address 0x0000bef7.

It’ll be like CCleaner for the web!

Developers of new web browsing software that flags questionable claims or outright lies on the web hope it will become a valuable tool to deal with the misinformation that litters the Internet.

But observers say Dispute Finder, an experimental browser extension developed by Intel, and the many websites that already aim to debunk online rumours and falsehoods face an enormous task. It isn’t as easy as simply telling someone they’re wrong.

Once installed, Dispute Finder highlights in red what it determines are disputed claims on websites, then offers users links to alternative points of view and evidence to back them up.

“It’s important to be aware when something you’re reading is not the only opinion, when there is another point of view worth paying attention to,” says California-based Intel researcher Rob Ennals.

“The real problem is, when you don’t realize something is disputed, you don’t realize there are other points of view and you might not be aware you’ve wandered into a dispute.”

The current version of the software relies entirely on users to identify disputed claims, provide evidence and point the software to other instances of that claim on the web, so right now there’s still not much content being highlighted.

Eventually, Ennals says users who input claims will be able to train the software to seek out examples and continue to flag new content as it’s posted. And, as the software becomes more popular, more claims will be catalogued.

He says real people are in a better position to determine whether a claim is in dispute than any computer and he brushes aside suggestions that doing so might just provide another forum for bogus assertions.

“The good thing is that if something is disputed enough that people will care, the chances are that someone is going to care enough to mark it as disputed,” says Ennals.

“I don’t think we can really be the arbiters of truth, we can’t tell you automatically what is true and what is false. All we can really hope to do is, if there’s a credible source that gives a credible point of view, let you know.”

There already are a number of websites that attempt to poke holes in fiction masquerading as fact, such as Snopes.com and FactCheck.org. Media outlets have done so-called “reality-check” stories to assess claims in the news for years.

However, Jonathan Fugelsang, an expert in cognitive psychology at the University of Waterloo, says it’s incredibly difficult to change people’s minds once they’ve decided a certain claim is a fact.

“Once you actually believe something, it takes quite a lot of data or evidence to overcome that belief and it takes a lot of attention to do that,” says Fugelsang.

“With a lot of repeat exposures, it does change.”

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Official Website

Updated A small army of security and privacy researchers has called on Google to automatically encrypt all data transmitted via its Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar services.

Google already uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https) encryption to mask login information on this trio of cloud-based web-based applications. And netizens have the option of turning on https for all transmissions. But full-fledged https protection isn’t flipped on by default.

“Google’s default settings put customers at risk unnecessarily,” reads a letter lobbed to Google CEO Eric Schmidt by 37 academics and researchers. “Google’s services protect customers’ usernames and passwords from interception and theft. However, when a user composes email, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and calendar plans, this potentially sensitive content is transferred to Google’s servers in the clear, allowing anyone with the right tools to steal that information.”

Signatories includes Harvard-based Google watcher Benjamin Edelman; Chris Hoofnagle, the director of Information Privacy Programs at Berkeley Center for Law & Technology; and Ronald L. Rivest, the R in RSA.

In the past, Google has said it doesn’t automatically enable https for performance reasons. “https can make your mail slower,” the company explained in a July 2008 blog post announcing Gmail’s https-session option. “Your computer has to do extra work to decrypt all that data, and encrypted data doesn’t travel across the internet as efficiently as unencrypted data. That’s why we leave the choice up to you.”

But 37 researchers see things a differently. “Once a user has loaded Google Mail or Docs in their browser, performance does not depend upon a low latency Internet connection,” they write. “The user’s interactions with Google’s applications typically do not depend on an immediate response from Google’s servers. This separation of the application from the Internet connection enables Google to offer ‘offline’ versions of its most popular Web applications.”

Even where low latency matters, they say, outfits such as Bank of America, American Express, and Adobe have protected their via https without a heavy performance hit. Adobe automatically encrypts Photo Express sessions.

Of course, another good example is…Google itself. The company does automatic encryption with Google Health, Google Voice, AdSense, and Adwords. “Google’s engineers have created a low-latency, enjoyable experience for users of Health, Voice, AdWords and AdSense – we are confident that these same skilled engineers can make any necessary tweaks to make Gmail, Docs, and Calendar work equally well in order to enable encryption by default,” the researchers write.

The problem, they say, is that everyday netizens don’t realize the importance of encryption – and that Google fails to properly protect them from their own ignorance. Gmail now includes a setting that lets you “always use https.” But the researchers complain that most users don’t know it’s there. And with Docs and Calendar, they point out, users can’t use session encryption unless they remember to type https into their browser address bar every time they use the services.

If Google refuses to turn on https by default, the researchers say, the company should at least make sure that users understand the risks of encryption-less transmissions. There are four things they suggest:

  • Place a link or checkbox on the login page for Gmail, Docs, and Calendar that causes that session to be conducted entirely over https. This is similar to the “remember me on this computer” option already listed on various Google login pages. As an example, the text next to the option could read “protect all my data using encryption.’
  • Increase visibility of the “always use https” configuration option in Gmail. It should not be the last option on the Settings page, and users should not need to scroll down to see it.
  • Rename this option to increase clarity, and expand the accompanying description so that its importance and functionality is understandable to the average user.
  • Make the “always use https” option universal, so that it applies to all of Google’s products. Gmail users who set this option should have their Docs and Calendar sessions equally protected.

We have asked Google for a response to the letter, and once it arrives, we’ll toss it your way. Odd are, it will be completely non-committal.

In defense of Google, the company does go farther than many other big-name web outfits. As the researchers point out in their letter, Microsoft Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, and MySpace don’t even offer an https option. But the 37 hold Google to a higher standard. “Google has made important privacy promises to users, and users naturally and reasonably expect Google to follow through on those promises.” ®

Update

Google has responded with a blog post. “Free, always-on HTTPS is pretty unusual in the email business, particularly for a free email service, but we see it as an another way to make the web safer and more useful. It’s something we’d like to see all major webmail services provide,” the company says. “In fact, we’re currently looking into whether it would make sense to turn on HTTPS as the default for all Gmail user.”

Google is planning a trial with a small number of Gmail users to test the affect of https all-the-time. “Does it load fast enough? Is it responsive enough? Are there particular regions, or networks, or computer setups that do particularly poorly on HTTPS?” the blog continues. “Unless there are negative effects on the user experience or it’s otherwise impractical, we intend to turn on HTTPS by default more broadly, hopefully for all Gmail users.”

The company is also considering how best to make automatic https work with docs and spreadsheets.

Correction

Google has also said that the researchers were in error in saying that a cookie from Docs or Calendar also gives access to Gmail without https. We have removed this error from our story as well.

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