Tag: scanner

FCC set to impose its highest fine ever

You would have thought that in its history the FCC would have dumped some heavy fines on US telcos. After all they appear, to an outsider, to be a Mexican cantina of villainy working out new ways to screw over customers without having to make much investment.

But it is shaping up that the FCC’s biggest fine is not going to be targeting one of these, but instead a Chinese importer of signal jammers.

The agency wants to fine CTS Technology US$34,912,500 for allegedly marketing 285 models of jammers over more than two years. To be fair, CTS did lie to customers and say that its jammers were approved by the FCC. These are the sorts of thing that really rattle a watchdog’s chain. Jammers are also a pain for police and emergency services.

But this proposed fine, which would be bigger than any the FCC has levied for anti-competitive behaviour, not airing children’s shows, or a wardrobe malfunction in its history. The figure was made by adding up the maximum fines for each model of jammer the company allegedly sold in the US. The agency also ordered CTS, based in Shenzhen, China, to stop marketing illegal jammers to U.S. consumers and identify the buyer of each jammer it sold in the US.

CTS has 30 days to respond to the allegations or pay the $34.9 million. In past actions against violators based overseas, the FCC has used procedures under the Hague Service Convention, a 1965 multilateral treaty so the fact that it is based in another country will not save it.

If the FCC applied the same level of zeal against things that mattered, the terrified comms companies might abandon their plans for a two tiered internet. They might also be forced to invest in fibre and stop trying to invent new charges on phone bills.

Our guess is that CTS does not have embedded former employees at the FCC which it can call on for favours, like the telcos. 

Serious fault means Xerox copiers make stuff up

Scanners in the Xerox WorkCentre line have started randomly altering numbers in the pages in which they are scanned.

The error was found by D Kriesel who wrote in his blog that this was not an OCR problem, just that the printer didn’t like the numbers it was given and put something else in.

Kriesel stopped short of blaming elves, but it was clear that was what he meant.

The scanned images look correct at first glance, even though numbers may actually be incorrect. The problem could cause incorrect invoices, dodgy construction plans, incorrect metering of medicine and tennis elbow.

The copiers in question are the common Xerox WorkCentres, and Xerox seemed to be unaware of the problem until Kriesel discovered it.

Different WorkCentre models appear to be affected although so far the problem was tested on the Xerox WorkCentre 7535 and 7556. The current software release, as installed by Xerox support, did not solve the problem and probably existed when Adam wore shorts.

Kriesel said that the error has been confirmed by a Xerox rental firm in the meantime, and Xerox is investigating.

He pointed out that anyone who has been using a Xerox work centre needs to worry about the documents they have scanned over the last years.

He said that Xerox seems eager to solve the problem, and because of the possible dangers an immediate publication of the issue is advisable.

A Xerox spokesperson says: “As I’m sure you’re aware, technically Xerox does not make photocopiers rather multifunctional devices for scanning, photocopying, printing and faxing.

“Therefore the vast majority of Xerox customers are unlikely to be affected by this issue. It will only occur if the user selects the scanning function on the user device or the user changes two separate settings on the scan ,compression level and image quality”.

Wine identifying machine wants to let liquids back on planes

The US Department of Homeland Defense Science and Technology Directorate has funded the development of technology that could finally mean passengers can bring liquids back on planes again.

Since the increasing paranoia over terrorist attacks on planes, passengers have been strictly limited in the amount of liquid that they can bring through security.

However, thanks to technology which was originally used to check the quality of bottles of plonk, a Denver based firm will begin developing a prototype machine that will be able to check bottles and cans for explosives without actually opening them.

If successful it will give TSA officials another toy to play with when they are not staring at sexy passenger outlines.

The technology used is very similar to that of an MRI scanner, employing a strong magnetic field along with radio waves to extract a signal that is able to show the chemical structure.

The prototype will be constructed in the laboratory of inventor Matthew Augustine at UC Davis using an initial allocation of $800,000.

Augustine had previously been using the technology to check for bottle’s of wine for spoilage without opening, patenting the design back in 2002.

However following a 2006 plot to blow up a plane using liquid explosives decided to see if it would be possible to use the invention for identifying other liquids.

“I’m a tinkerer, I like to build stuff,” Augustine said.

It was quickly apparent that the technology was able to determine the difference between gasoline and other potentially dangerous liquids from toothpaste or hair gel.

The challenge came in developing a machine that would be easy to use in the airport environment and able to scan liquids from a wide range of containers effectively.

This meant that a design was eventually arrived at that involved a careful trade-off between high-frequency radio waves, which give the best information about chemical structures but are blocked by metal, and lower-frequency waves that could pass through a soda can.

See here for video.

Hitachi-LG develops 1TB Blu-ray cartridge prototype

HitachiLG has developed a prototype of a 1TB Blu-ray Disc cartridge storage device.

The prototype was revealed at the CEATEC electronic trade show in Japan this week, where Hitachi-LG said it will function like a network-attached storage unit, with four HDD bays and two additional slots for cartridges, which will hold eight Blu-ray Discs.

If the Blu-ray Discs used the new BDXL format, which allows 128GB of storage per disc, then each cartridge will hold 1TB of data.

The cartridges will contain RFID chips, allowing them to be read by a handheld scanner, which means files could be found and retrieved quickly, or a list of files contained on the device can be obtained.

It will also allow the user to program automatic back-ups, an area highlighted as one of the main selling points.

The need for higher capacity storage devices is always increasing. But especially now, particularly with the advent of high definition and 3D video which take up a decent chunk of space.

While the BDXL format is a huge leap in the right direction in terms of Blu-ray Discs, Hitachi-LG is hoping its new storage device will push things further.

It is expected to be on sale some time in 2011. Pricing has yet to be decided.

Facebook directory torrent surfaces

Ron Bowes of Skull Security has created a crawler which has siphoned off all users found on Facebook’s open access directory, located at https://www.facebook.com/directory, which lists users who haven’t changed their privacy settings to make their profiles unavailable for search engines.

Bowes’ crawler creeped through the directory and created around 171 million entries, of which 100 million were unique names.

Bowes went on to create a torrent file with the full 171 million entries – after all, the information is public. The 2.8GB large torrent contains the URL of each searchable user profile, the unique and count user name, a processed list and the programs he scripted.

Any user profile and personal information can be accessed via the URL linking to his or her profile. At the least, you get a picture and the name, and in the worst case scenario, all sorts of personal information, which can include telephone numbers, address, date of birth, place of work, and so on.

What is not included in the torrent are the friends of the searchable, public users. Don’t fret though, all Ron Bowes needs is some bandwidth, “an ssh account and Nmap installed”.

Perhaps now even the most unsophisticated and technologically challenged user might feel inclined to use a tool such as the ReclaimPrivacy.org privacy scanner.

Not that it’d help too much – once a user is in a database, he or she can’t opt out by simply changing their Facebook settings. They can however appease their friends who actually use privacy settings, as their profiles can be accessed through those of searchable users by simply clicking and mining their friends.

Scareware men charged

The Untouchables have fingered the collars of three men who they claim were involved in a $100 million scam which tricked internet users into believing their computers were infected with a virus.

Bjorn Daniel Sundin, 31, a Swedish citizen believed to be in Sweden, and Shaileshkumar Jain, 40, a US citizen believed to be living in Ukraine, were each charged with 24 counts of wire fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and computer fraud.

James Reno, 26, of Amelia, Ohio, faces 12 counts of fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and computer fraud.  This is a lot of counting.

FBI special agent Robert Grant said that the three preyed on innocent computer users, exploiting their fraudulently induced fears for personal gain.

Sundin and Jain ran an outfit called Innovative Marketing located in Kiev which claimed to flog legit anti-virus and computer repair software.

They placed fake advertisements on legitimate company websites which led internet users to falsely believe that their computers had been infected with a virus.

The trick was to get them to buy “ErrorSafe” and “DriveCleaner” to fix the purported problems, paying online by credit card to bank accounts in Europe.

They could end up with 20 years porridge, unless they download the correct Judge. 

ASML takes a hit

Currently not-so popular maker of lithography systems ASML Holdings has unveiled it’s earnings for the full year 2009. The company saw net sales drop 46 percent from €2.96 billion in 2008 to €1.6 billion. Net profit turned to red ink and fell from €322.4 million to a loss of €150.93 million. The financial meltdown and generally rather poor state of the world economy thus seems to have hit ASML with a baseball bat.

Nonetheless, things aren’t all that dim. While the company’s goal of reaching net sales of €5 billion is still far off, the company has managed to garner a large order backlog for its equipment, far more so than a year earlier. ASML has orders worth €1.85 billion waiting to be rolled out, compared with merely €755 million at the end of 2008. The average selling price (ASP) per system has also risen considerably, according to the company. At the moment, the backlog amounts to 69 systems with an average selling price (ASP) of €28.9 million. End of December 2008, the total system backlog amounted to 41 systems with an ASP of €21.8 million.

ASML will set to profit from the switch to 40nm technology. Demand for ICs made in the 40 nanometre process has risen, leading to orders for older 40nm systems ASML had already written down. ASML still also has enough cash in its pocket, cash and cash equivalents amount to €1.04 billion.

ASML expects foundries and DRAM makers to start investing in new systems, with the pace picking up especially in the second quarter. For the first quarter, ASML sees net sales worth €700 million.