The FBI sure likes to get their hands involved in a lot of different projects. From
raiding accounts of to WOW players seizing your smartphone, they seem to do just about everything. Now, the FBI will make you think twice before ever using your laser pointer for something other than a presentation. The FBI has created a National Anti-Laser Attack Task Force and its purpose is to find, deter and defeat those who like to point their pointers high into the sky from their lawnchair on a random Thursday night.
The FBI says that laser attacks in the United States are actually on the rise and are expected to reach 3,700 cases by the end of the year, compared to only 283 back in 2005, when they first started keeping track of the offenses. Doing some math with those numbers means that the attacks have risen more than 1,100 percent in seven years, and that's for the attacks that are reported only. We know that people getting bored with PowerPoint and buying ridiculously high-powered handheld lasers just to try and blind pilots isn't a new thing, however, the problem is getting so out of hand, that the Bureau has said it has reached "epidemic levels" and must be stopped with this Task Force.
Back in 2008, a Laser Strike Working Group was based in the FBI's Sacramento office, but the FBI has now brought the Task Force to a national level. The good news is that the $250,000 fine and 20 year jail time has been revamped as part of this. Now, idiots pointing these things toward the sky from outside their homes will only receive $11,000 fines and up to five years in prison. The difference is that now more people will be watching. George Johnson, a federal air marshal and liaison with the FBI said,
Use a laser pointer for what it's made for. Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is dangerous and reckless. Just don't do it.
Letting go of the almost perfect environment that must be in place for most lasers to actually blind aviation pilots, this means that ten people are being reported of doing something dumb like this each and every night of the year. You'd think there would be hundreds of other dumb things people could do when they're bored with their friends, but I guess not. What should you do if you witness something being overly bored? First, show them the thing called the Interwebz. Then, the FBI says to call 911, email the FAA or contact your local FBI office. Until then, I expect the sales report to be ready by our 5PM meeting tonight, laser pointer in-hand.
File this one under "nifty gifties" for sure. Hitachi is working with both the University of Yamanashi and the Nippon Signal Company to work on improving security in airports and other venues. The good news here is that it's going to be in one of those less invasive, more efficient, doesn't make you feel like a felon when you paid $400 for a flight kind of way. Instead, Hitachi has created a prototype that builds explosives-detection equipment right into a boarding gate that you would pass through before heading down the ramp to your awaiting plane. The companies say that the process will actually not slow down boarding at all, giving accurate detection readings within two seconds per passenger with the ability to read 1,200 passengers in an hour. The gate will also be able to read a passenger's boarding ticket at the same time.
I know, this is going to add an extra hoop for us to jump through but I'm seeing a positive light in all of this. With as creepy as the TSA agents can sometimes be, along with the differentiating policies from airport to airport and the ability for guns to sometimes not be detected in the naked scanners, removing the human aspect of an added level of security could prove extremely beneficial for the passenger. If the success and efficiency rates soar, perhaps we'll see a more streamlined process on the initial security scanning, you know, without having to remove air tubes from the elderly.
Putting the risk of false positives and other factors aside because this is a prototype, Hitachi and the collective have boasted how portable this system can actually be. The group says that the system is completely mobile and can be set up at sports stadiums, concert halls and other venues around the world. Again, this would remove the human element from the scanning process and save costs on not only payroll, but on overall security costs for the venue.
Check out the source link below for the complete press release and the scientific details on how this whole thing works. I just am pleased to see an attempt at more standard security procedures. We can be sure of one thing on all of this: there would be a lot less "missing" iPads and smartphones if more automated practices are put into place.
NBC executives are either schizophrenic or there are two very different teams deciding what does and does not make it to air. For example, they recently turned rookie series
Go On and The New Normal, both very funny and unique sitcoms, into full season buys, while simultaneously airing Animal Practice and Guys With Kids, both uninspired "I want to be on television" sitcoms. Clearly these decisions cannot be made by the same group of people, unless we have returned to the 80s where TV execs are all doing cocaine.
When these two worlds collide, terribly odd things happen. That is what happened this week when NBC announced they had canceled one of their upcoming mid-season replacements,
Next Caller. The series was ordered as a 6-episode buy, which is perfect for filler when the eventually cancel Jimmy Fallon's latest disaster ( Guys With Kids). The problem: the series stars Dane Cook, which should have been a red flag right from the beginning. I assume someone was trying to regain the honor of making Seinfeld into a hit show without knowing that, while Jerry Seinfeld isn't funny, Larry David was.
Even without Cook, the premise should have been enough to know the series wouldn't stand a chance. Cook played a Howard Stern-type character who is forced to share his show with an NPR feminist host. This is shoe-horning conflict in, with the hope of people feeling awkward and sticking around. The difference between this and, say
Seinfeld or The Office is that their conflict comes from unexpected and understood places. The same is true for Go On, where the comedy comes from the awkwardness of a guy being forced into group therapy after losing his wife. There is no way the average person could relate to having to share a radio show with a lunatic, though I can.
It would appear that I am their ideal target audience and even I can't see where the true comedy is. So, the incredibly inept team who brought us
Animal Practice also tried to bring Dane Cook to television, and we were saved by the guys who added episodes for Go On. I think this is what the founding fathers meant by checks and balances.
When the Federal Trade Commission started its
antitrust investigation into Google, I don't think there was anyone in the industry that didn't make the immediate decision that the case was inevitable. If they did, they are not aware of the general policies of Google and their tendency to steal others' content and brand it as their own and to promote their own services through their search engine despite relevance.
As an example, Google search shows results on the right column from Google+, whereas Bing shows results from other social networks like Facebook, as well as
relevant journalists, not just results from their so.cl service.
All of that being said, the FTC has started to answer the unasked question by circulating a memo throughout the organization. It turns out the FTC investigators are recommending a lawsuit to their commissioners against Google for exactly those reasons. In fact, Yelp representatives have testified to the FTC over these issues as their content was one of the first major issues raised that is bringing this case to a head. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said last year,
We believe Google has acted anti-competitively in at least two key ways: by misusing Yelp review content in their competing Places product and by favoring their own competing Places product in search results.
Apparently the FTC agrees with you, Jeremy, and we can likely see a case filed against the company within the next few months. So far Google's interactions with the FTC have not worked out for Google, with a
$25,000 StreetView fine, as well as a $22.5 million fine for circumventing Safari's privacy settings. If you are a fan of Google, you will probably hope this case goes differently for them. If you dislike Google, you will probably enjoy the beat-down that I predict the FTC will be dishing out in the next 12-16 months.
It is official - the three major media partners are the only remaining owners of media service Hulu. Providence Equity Partners, an early investor in the Netflix-competitor, has sold its 10 percent share in the company to remaining owners, News Corp. (FOX), Comcast (NBC Universal) and Disney (ABC). The initial investment was for $100 million in 2007 and the sale this week was for a whopping $200 million. As an investment firm, a 100% increase in value is not a bad investment at all.
The sale not only puts the content creators in complete charge of the company, it also forces a valuation of the company. With ten percent of the company selling for $200 million, that officially values the company as a whole at $2 billion. Through its more than 2 million paid subscriptions, Hulu earned $420 million in revenue in 2011, meaning it earns almost 25 percent of its value per year. While not the best revenue in the world, it's nothing to be ashamed of.
What does this sale mean for the longevity of Hulu? Hit the break for our analysis.
Since T-Mobile announced intentions to
purchase MetroPCS, Sprint has been considering outbidding the company for the 5th largest US wireless carrier after initially bailing on the idea. The big question everyone asked was where would Sprint get the cash? They have dumped millions into troubled partner Clearwire on several occasions.
This week, Sprint answered that question without mentioning the question. Sprint has confirmed that they are in talks with Softbank for a possible cash infusion. No information is available on the details of the talks, but two things are pretty clear: if Softbank invests, it will change the management scheme of Sprint and the only reason they would be considering it is because they want to throw a large sum of cash at a project. According to Sprint,
Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.
Either they are superstitious about talking details ahead of time or they do not want the general population to know what they are planning. If I had to guess, I would put my money on the latter. It looks like a Sprint purchase of MetroPCS will end up being a much larger change for the industry that previously anticipated, considering it would probably involve a change in control over Sprint. Only time will tell.
So, do you think it would be better for Sprint to change partial ownership and buy Metro, making a third major player in the 4G market, or is it better for T-Mobile to sweep in and put more pressure on the prepaid market? Let us know in the comments.