Showing posts with label Intel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intel. Show all posts

August 13, 2014

Electrical Cataclysm

Warning from the former director of CIA in the Wall Street Journal...

We are grossly unprepared for an EMP attack on this country!

Dire reports from the EMP Commission from 2004 and 2008 have been "much neglected"!

The threat comes from nation states and terrorist organizations who can detonate a nuclear device above our skies by ICBM, SCUD missile (for example from a freighter near our shores), a space-launched vehicle that lifts satelittes into orbit, and even from low-yield nuclear weapons closer to home. 

Russia and China "have considered limited nuclear-attack options that...employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack."

North Korea in 2012 orbited a satellite compatible with such a small nuclear warhead "for the delviery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S."

Here's the clincher on the damage this could do to us:

"Within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease, and social breakdown."

But for roughly $2 billion dollars we could protect the national electrical grid with surge arrestors, faraday cages and more. 

However, the bills to authorize this and protect us are stalled.

This is a known threat that our enemies are preparing for and what are we doing sitting on our hands, again? 

Or as the comedian Lewis Black says, "If we're going nowhere as a country, why can't we get there faster?"  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wil C. Fry)
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June 22, 2014

Why We Expect Nothing

I took this photo of a sign at the Metro station to the Reagan National Airport by Washington, D.C. 

"Expect The Unexpected" is the warning.


Don't be complacent--anything can happen--be vigilant--is the message. 


It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry jokes about people going to the beach and hiding their wallets in their shoes.


Like, a criminal would never think to check your shoe!


Oh, push the wallet all the way down to the toes, under the tongue, that way the bad guys will never be able to get to it. 


Here, it's more a case of of why don't we expect the darn expected. 


Everybody knows that people "hide" their valuables at the beach in their shoes!


In modern times, we seem blind though to any expectations at all.


- Arab Spring and civil war spreading into Syria and Iraq--after Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and more--who would've thought?


- Russia taking over Crimea and agitating in Eastern Ukraine--after their little excursions into Georgia and Chechnya--who would expect that?  


- Financial meltdowns and major recession after the dot com and housing bubbles--even my barber was talking about retiring and buying a mansion in the Caribbean--where are these coming from?


The question then is are we really unable to see past our noses or do we just hold steadfast to principle that ignorance is bliss?


Well let's just test the "expect nothing doctrine" that we seem to all be living by these days and see how you feel about these:

  • North Korea--they would never invade the South again.
  • Iran--sure, they are going to give up their nuclear weapons and their greater Middle Eastern Caliphate ambitions. 
  • China--Yeah, we'll just pin them in the South China Sea and they'll never get out.
  • The national deficit--it's not and will never be too big for us to handle because we're rich. 
  • Terrorism in a major American city--not after 9/11 and all that Homeland Security.
  • Environmental catastrophe--we will build a big bubble over ourselves, so no problem.
  • Economic inequity--the top 1% deserves to control 43% of the Nation's wealth and everyone else just sit down and shut up.
  • The Singularity--how could a machine ever be smarter than us; we've got all the technology fully under our control. 

Well, if you are blind or dumb enough to believe these, just keep putting your money in your shoes at the beach, because there is no reason to expect that anyone would ever think to look for it there. ;-)

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June 12, 2014

Surveillance Society {Funny}

This was funny photo my wife and I took in a medical practitioner's office. 

Above the floodlights, was a picture of these staring eyes.

And it was simply thumbtacked onto the wallpaper. 

One of the receptionists asked why we were taking the photo.

We sort of giggled--uh, this was not exactly the typical surveillance scenario in the 21st century of CCTVs, drones, hidden mics, tracking devices, and big data--not even close!

But maybe it's just a reminder that someone is ALWAYS looking. ;-)
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May 10, 2014

The *S*p*y* Named Snowden

So was Edward Snowden a whistleblower (some even call him a patriot) or one of the most ruthless spies this country has ever known?

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Edward Jay Epstein makes a strong case that Snowden was a spy galore, and the whistleblowing was his cover.
  1. What he stole? - 1.7 million documents from the NSA with "only a minute fraction of them have anything to do with civil liberties or whistleblowing." Instead, the vast majority "were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques, and procedures"--otherwise known as the "keys to the kingdom." Moreover, it seems clear that a "top priority was lists of the computers of U.S. adversaries abroad that the NSA has succeeded in penetrating."
  2. When he stole them? - Snowden took the Booz Allen Hamilton job as a contractor for NSA in March 2013--this was at the "tail end of his operation." Moreover, the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) court order for Verizon to provide metadata on U.S. phone calls for 90 days had only been issued in April 2013. And Snowden told reporter James Rosen in October 2013, that his last job at NSA gave him access to every active operation against the Chinese and "that is why I accepted the position."
  3. Where did Snowden end up? - First in Hong Kong and then under the protection of the FSB (aka the old KGB) in Russia, which "effectively compromises all the sources and methods" and ties all too nicely with what he stole. A former cabinet official has indicated that the Snowden heist was either Russian espionage, Chinese espionage, or a joint operation. 
If Snowden really was a spy as indicated, then the Whistleblowing of domestic surveillance in the U.S. was a most brilliant ploy by his operators to distract our nation from the true nature of the exfiltration and the harm done to our national security. In a way, it falls right in line with Russia's creative storyline/coverup in taking Crimea in saying that they were only protecting ethnic Russians. Score 2 for Russia!

Are we so easily lied to and manipulated...is public opinion really just jello in the hands of the global spymasters.  

We've got to be smart enough (i.e. critical thinkers) to interpret the noise in the intelligence signals, political speeches, and news stories to unveil the truth of what is really going on. In advertising, when exposing the truth of products and companies, this is sometimes referred to as culture jamming. Can we apply this to the complicated intrigue of global politics and get past the storyline that is fed to us to expose truth?  

It's high time to outmaneuver those that may seek to manipulate the public (whether from outside or even sometimes from within) with some brilliance of our own--in not believing every snippet that is fed to us and instead looking at the bigger picture of political theater, special interests, and national security to see who is now zinging whom and why. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 2, 2014

Restraint or Recklessness?

Like many of you, as I watch the events unfold with the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, I am amazed at the "restraint" being shown by the West. 

But I can't help asking myself why a military invasion by the Great Bear into a sovereign nation that is leaning toward democracy is being met with restraint.

Sitting in Starbucks, I overheard one young women saying to an older gentlemen that she did not understand the reaction of the President in saying there would be "consequences" and that no one took that seriously as there was no specificity, almost as if their where no real consequences to even threaten Russia with. 

So why all the word-mincing, dancing around the subject, and restraint by the West in light of this very dangerous escalation in eastern Europe:

1) Surprise - Was the West completely taken by surprise by Russia's military intervention? Didn't something similar happen with Georgia in 2008--less than 6 years ago? Did we not foresee the possibility of Russia lashing out against Ukraine to protect its interests when Ukraine turned back toward European integration and away from the embrace of Russia that it had made only weeks earlier? After Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and with all our "Big Data," intelligence, and military planning--how did we miss this (again!)? 

2) Duped - Were we duped by the misinformation from Russia saying that the 150,000 troops they called on a "training exercise" was planned months ago and it just happened to coincide with the toppling of Ukraine's President?  Also, were we fooled when the "mysterious" soldiers showed up without national markings and Russia said they weren't their military--uh, where did they come from--did they float down from the heavens?

3) Apathetic - Are we just apathetic to Ukraine's plight? Are they just a poor country of little strategic value to us? Are we so war weary from Iraq and Afghanistan that we just want to place our heads in the sand like ostriches even when democracy and freedom is threatened in a European nation of some 45 million people?

4) Fear - Are we afraid of the military might of the nuclear-armed Russian Federation? Is America, the European Union, NATO, the United Nations all not willing to stand up and hold Russia accountable even if that means a military confrontation? Not that anyone wants World War III, but if we don't stand up and defend against wanton aggression, how can any country or anyone be safe going forward? 

5) Optionless - Are we just out of options? Russia got the upper hand on this one and they are logistically right there on the border and in the country of Ukraine now and what can we do? Despite the U.S. assertion that it can project military power anywhere around the world and a defense budget bigger than the 10 next largest combined--how can we be out of options? Are we out of options because we tacitly understand that one wrong miscalculation and we could end up with WMD on our homeland doorstep? 

6) Butter Over Guns - Have we retrenched from world affairs, downsized our military, and emphasized domestic issues over international ones? Have we forgotten the risk that comes from a world without a superpower that helps to maintain stability and peace? Are we just under so much financial duress with a growing mountain of national debt, a economic recovery still struggling, and the lowest employment participation in over 30 years that we can't even entertain spending more treasure to fight again? 

7) Leadership - Who is managing the crisis? We've seen our President speak, various other government officials from the U.S. and European Union, the Secretary General of the U.N., the Secretary General of NATO, and more?  Who is in charge--setting the tone--deciding the strategy? Who has point so that we and Russia know who to listen to and what is just background noise? 

What is so scary about this whole thing is how quickly things can escalate and seriously get out of control in this world, and this despite all the alliances, planning, and spending--at the end of the day, it looks like we are floundering and are in chaos, while Russia is advancing on multiples fronts in Ukraine and elsewhere with supporting dangerous regimes in Syria, Iran, North Korea and more. 

Whether we should or shouldn't get involved militarily, what is shocking is: 1) the very notion that there wouldn't be any good military options, and 2) that the consequences are not being spelled out with speed and clarity. 

In the streets, at the cafe, on the television, I am seeing and hearing people in shock at what is happening and what we are and are not doing about it. 

Even if we get Russia to stop advancing (yes, based on what happened with Georgia, I doubt they will actually pull back out), the question is what happens the next time there is a conflict based on how we've managed this one? 

I do want to mention one other thing, which is while I feel empathy for the plight of the Ukrainians seeking their freedom from Russia now, I also must remember the events of Babi Yar where, between 1941-1944, 900,000 Jews were murdered in the Soviet Union by Nazi genocide and Ukrainian collaborators. This is history, but not so long ago. 

All opinions my own. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Utenriksdept)
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August 17, 2013

The Keys To Good Government

Peggy Noonan hit it right on the head in today's Wall Street Journal.

The fear of giving up privacy, she said, is of a "massive surveillance state," and this is not overblown. 

The crux of this concern is that if Government (or I would add hackers) can intrude on citizen's private communications and thoughts, then eventually people will self-censor. 

No privacy does mean government control.

As Noonan makes clear, violations of citizen privacy is not just a threat to the Fourth Amendment protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, but is a bona fide danger as well to the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech. 

People should not be afraid to think critically and creatively because of what the government may do to them (and their families) for disagreeing with fraud, waste, abuse, special interests, and stupidity.

Rather, politicians should fear being criticized and not re-elected for violating the duty to rule justly and as true representatives of the people. 

However, when government and politicians can listen in, see, and know what the lawful opposition in thinking and doing, then they are given virtually absolute power.

And absolute power does corrupt absolutely.  

We should not change our underlying values of freedom and become a nation of routine digital interrogation of everyday John Doe's.

Terrorists, traitors, anarchists, and hostile nation states should be pursued and given no rest or privacy from our intelligence, law enforcement, and warfighters. 

But well-meaning citizens should be free to think, feel, and say what they believe in the best interest of the country. 

Upright citizen's should never have to fear an unjust government, but rather corrupt politicians should be concerned about violating the fundamental rights of the people. 

At least two keys to good government are privacy and free speech. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Empirical Perception)
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February 19, 2013

Emperor Titus and The Micro-Drones


The Talmud tells of how the wicked Roman Emperor Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 AD was punished with a small insect that flew into his nose and gnawed at his brain for seven years.

By the time Titus died, they opened his skull and found the insect had grown to the size of a bird--the lesson was that Titus thought that he was so powerful with his legions, but G-d showed him that even a little insect sent by G-d could defeat him. 

Now when I watch this amazing video from the Air Force about micro-drones, I see this story come to life all over again. 

With Micro Air Vehicles, little drones the size of insects can carry out missions from surveillance to lethal targeting of enemy forces. 

They can fly, hover, perch, power up, sneak up, sense, communicate, and attack. 

With these micro-drones, especially in swarms, these small packages of sensors and weapons can bring a big wallop for our warfighters. 

And like with Emperor Titus, you would not want these buzzing around and giving you big headaches--because these little buggers will be able to take down the mightiest of foes. ;-)

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February 3, 2013

A Seeing Eye


This video from NOVA is an amazing display of the surveillance capabilities we have at our disposal.

ARGUS-IS Stands for Automated Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System.

Like a "Persistent Stare," ARGUS provides continuous monitoring and tracking over a entire city, but also it has the ability to simply click on an area (or multilple areas--up to 65 at a time) to zoom in and see cars, people, and even in detail what individuals are wearing or see them even waving their arms!

Created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARGUS uses 368 imaging chips and provides a streaming video of 1.8 gigapixels (that is 1.8 billion pixels) of resolution and attaches to the belly of a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drone. 

ARGUS captures 1 million terabytes of a data a day, which is 5,000 hours of high-definition footage that can be stored and returned to as needed for searching events or people. 

The Atlantic (1 February 2013) points out how using this over an American city could on one hand, be an amazing law enforcement tool for catching criminals, but on the other hand raise serious privacy concerns like when used by government to collect data on individuals or by corporations to market and sell to consumers. 

What is amazing to me is not just the bird's eye view that this technology provides from the skies above, but that like little ants, we are all part of the mosaic of life on Earth.  We all play a part in the theater of the loving, the funny, the witty, and sometimes the insane. 

My Oma used to say in German that G-d see everything, but now people are seeing virtually everything...our actions for good or for shame are visible, archived, and searchable. ;-)

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February 2, 2013

This Tape Will Self Destruct In Five Seconds


Ever since the 1960's airing of Mission Impossible, where each episode started with the instructions for a dangerous mission on a tape recording, which ended with "This tape will self-destruct in five seconds," have we all recognized the need for self-destructing devices to safeguard information. 

This message has been honed over the last three decades with compromising security incidents:

1979: Iranian demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and according to UMBC "the incinerator broke" as personnel tried to destroy sensitive documents and they had to revert to shredding. 

2001: A Chinese J-8 fighter aircraft collided with a EP-3 U.S. Intel aircraft which according to CNN was "likely equipped with highly sensitive equipment" and landed on the Chinese island of Hainan providing China the opportunity to board, disassemble, and study the equipment before it was returned three months later. 

2011: Iran captured an RQ-170 Sentinel Drone and USA Todayreported on Iran's claims that "all files and boards of the drone were copied and used to improve Iran's unmanned aircraft." Also in 2011 in the assault on Osama Bin Laden, a secret stealth helicopter that took a hard-landing had to be destroyed before special forces pulled out--however according to the New York Times, "a surviving tail section reveal modifications to muffle noise and reduce the chances of detection by radar" was left behind providing others the opportunity to learn about our sensitive technologies.

Additionally, as ever more advanced technology continues to enter the battlefield the threat of its capture and exploitation becomes increasingly concerning. 
In this context, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the start up of a new program on 28 January 2013 called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR).

VAPR is intent on developing technologies for "transient electronics...capable of dissolving into the environment around them."

The goal is that "once triggered to dissolve, the electronics would be useless to any enemy that comes across them."

According to Armed Forces International, along with the destruction of the electronics would be "taking classified data with it." Thereby preventing the enemy from using captured information to develop countermeasures or reverse engineer their finds. 

Transient electronics are intended to be rugged on the battlefield but able to be destroyed on command, perhaps by biomedical implants that release "a few droplets of [a self-destruct] liquid" or other means. 

Whether self-destructing in five seconds or slightly more, the need to preserve our sensitive battlefield technologies and the intelligence they contain has never been more vital. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Mike Licht)

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February 25, 2012

The False Information G-d

The amount of data in the world is exploding and yet the belief in G-d is evaporating.  

A review in the Wall Street Journal (22 February 2012) of a book called "Abundance" points to the explosion of data with the prevalence of information technology. 

From the earliest civilization to 2003, all written information totaled 5 exabytes (an exabyte is a quintillion bytes or 1 followed by 18 zeros).

But this is nothing compared to the last number of years, "where the change is not just accelerating, but the rate of acceleration of change is itself accelerating."

Between 2003-2010, 5 exabytes of digital information was created every 2 days, and by next year, 5 exabytes will be produced every 10 minutes!

Similarly, Wired Magazine (March 2012) reports in an interview with George Dyson that the "Digital Universe" is growing organically and "cycling faster and faster and it's way, way, way more than doubling in scale every year. Even with the help of [tools like] Google and YouTube and Facebook, we can't consume it all."

According to ComputerWorld (13 February 2012) in Your Big Data To-Do List, with all this data being generated, there is a mistaken assumption that we have to consume it all like drinking from a firehose. The article references a McKinsey study that projects that by 2018, there will be a need for 140,000 to 190,000 additional data analysts and statistical experts to try and make sense of it all. The article suggests that instead of trying to grasp at all the data, we instead "data scoop" and "target projects that can showcase results as opposed to opting for the big-bang, big-data projects."

And tools are being developed and deployed to try to get our arms around the information rolling in around the world. For example, Bloomberg Businessweek (November 28 - December 4, 2011) describes the tool from Palantir being used by the military, Intel, and law enforcement agencies for data mining, link analysis, and even predictive analytics. 

These days, "It's like plugging into the Matrix"--in terms of the amount of data streaming in. One special forces member in Afghanistan describes it as follows: "The first time I saw it, I was like Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap." But the thinking is now-a-days that with tools like Palantir (and others), we "can turn data landfills into gold mines."

But while information is power, Harvard Business Review (September 2011) in Learning to Live With Complexity acknowledges "We are hampered by cognitive limits." And moreover, "Most executives think they can take in more information than research suggests they can." And harnessing data into information is constrained by the complexity involved--driven by the number, interconnections, and diversity of interacting elements.

The result is that while we are becoming in a sense data rich, in may ways, we are still information poor. And even with all the sensors, data, and tools available to search, access, and analyze it, we are becoming perhaps overconfident in our ability to get our arms around it all and in turn master the world we live in. 

The hubris in our abilities to use information technology is leading many to worship the proverbial information G-d, and in turn, they are forgetting the real one. According to the Pew Forum on Public and Religious Life (February 2010) as quoted in CNN, "young Americans are significantly less religious than their parents and grandparents were when they were young."  Moreover, a full one in four American millennials--those born after 1980--are not affiliated with any faith--they are agnostic or atheists.

Similarly, Mental Floss Magazine just a few months ago (November-December 2011) had various authored columns asking "Is G-d In Our Genes?" and another "Is G-d In a Pill?" questioning whether the age-old belief in G-d comes either from a genetic disposition in some to a drug-induced states in others.

While religion is a personal matter, and for a long time people have argued whether more people have died in wars over religion or money and power, as a person who believes in G-d, I find it most concerning that with the rise of information (technology) power in the last 30 years, and the exuberance and overconfidence generated from this, there is an associated decline in belief in G-d himself.  

While technology has the potential to raise our standard of living (in leaps and bounds even) and help solve many of our vexing problems, we cannot forget that technology is run by human beings who can choose to be good or evil and use information technology to either better mankind or the opposite, to destroy it. 

Ultimately, I believe that it is but G-d almighty who shapes the thoughts and destiny of mankind, so that one man sees just a string of bits and bytes--a matrix of zeros and ones--while another sees a beautiful new musical composition, the next terrorist attack, or even the amazing cure for cancer.  

(Source Photo: here)

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September 27, 2008

Intel is King of Change and Enterprise Architecture

Intel is one of the most amazing companies. They are the world’s largest semiconductor company, and the inventor of the popular x86 microprocessor series found in most PCs. Intel has around $40 billion in annual revenue, and ranked 62 in the Fortune 500 last year.

The Wall Street Journal 27-28 September 2008 has an interview with CEO of Intel, Paul Ostellini, that offers some useful lessons for enterprise architects:

  • Plan for change—“A CEO’s main job, because you have access to all of the information, is to see the need to change before anyone else does.” It’s great when the CEO has access to the information for seeing ahead and around the curves, but many do not. Information is critical and leaders need plenty of it to keep from steering the enterprise off a cliff. An important role of enterprise architects is provide business and technical information to the CEO and other executives to give them clear vision to the changes needed to grow and safeguard the business. (Perhaps better information would have prevented or reduced the damage to so many companies in dot-com bubble a few years ago and the financial crisis afflicting Wall Street today!)
  • Question repeatedly—a prior CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove, taught him “Ask why, and ask it again five more times, until all of the artifice is stripped away and you end up with the intellectually honest answer.” It easy to accept things on face value or to make snap judgments, but to really understand an issue, you need to get below the surface, and the way you do this is to question and dig deeper. I think this is critical for enterprise architects who are evaluating business and technology and providing recommendations to the business that can potentially make or break change efficacy. Architects should not just capture information to plunk into the architecture repository, but should question what they are seeing and hearing about the business, validate it, categorize it, and analyze it, to add value to it before serving that information up to decision makers.
  • Measure Performance—“we systematically measured the performance of every part of the company to determine what was world class and what wasn’t. Then as analytically as possible, --we made the cuts…and saved $3 billion in overall spending.” Measuring performance is the only way to effectively manage performance. If decisions are to be anything more than gut and intuition, they need to be based on quantifiable measures and not just subjective management whim. Enterprise architects need to be proponents for enterprise-wide performance measurement. And not just at the top level either. Performance measures need to be implemented throughout the enterprise (vertically and horizontally) and dashboard views need to be provided to executives to make the measures visible and actionable.
  • Communicate, communicate—“I made it my job to communicate, communicate, communicate the positive message. I did open forums, I did Webcasts, I told the employees to send me questions via email and I’d answer them...you have to convince them through reasoning and logic, the accuracy of your claims.” Good communication is one of those areas that are often overlooked and underappreciated. Leadership often just assumes that people will follow because they are “the leaders”. NOPE! People are not sheep. They will not follow just because. People are intelligent and want to be respected and explained to why….communication early and often is the key. The approach to architecture that I espouse, User-centric EA, focuses on the users and effectively communicating with them—each the way they need to absorb the information and at the level that is actionable to them. Making architecture information easy to understand and readily available is essential to help make it valuable and actionable to the users. User-centric EA uses principles of communication and design to do this.
Intel, in its 40 year history, has repeatedly planned for change, measured it, and managed it successfully. Intel’s CEO, Gordon Moore, is the epitome of driving change. Moore, the founder of Moore’s Law, captured the exponential change/improvement in silicon chip performance—identifying that the number of transistors packed on silicon chip would double every two years. Intel’s subsequent obsession with Moore’s Law has kept them as the dominant player in computer processors and may lead them to dominance in cell phones and other mobile devices as well.
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