IDENTIFY THEFT AND FRAUD

August 1, 2015


I recently completed writing a training module for PDHonline.org.  PDH publishes documents allowing engineers and architects to satisfy their annual requirements for continuing education units (CEUs).  There are thirty-six (36) states requiring CEUs for continued listing as a professional engineer or professional architect.  My newest module is “BIOMETRICS”.   Biometric technology is one possible method for eliminating or lessening theft and fraud.  I was absolutely amazed at the level of fraud each year in our country.

When we consider the number of identity theft and fraud cases each year, we see the following picture.  Add to the numbers below the instances of money laundering and you get a difficult situation hard to believe.  Let’s take a look.

  • Approximately  fifteen (15)  million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year, with financial losses totaling upwards of fifty billion ($50 B).  I have personally been the victim three times relative to identity theft.  Not stolen cards, but someone “lifting” my numbers, recreating the card and charging at will.
  • On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately seven percent (7%) of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
  • Close to one hundred (100) million additional Americans have their personal identifying information placed at risk of identity theft each year when records maintained in government and corporate databases are lost or stolen.  We have just seen this recently with Federal employees.
  • On average, banks charge nineteen percent (19%) for a returned check and fiver dollars ($5.00) to the depositor. Assuming a combined revenue stream to banks of twenty-four dollars ($24.00) for returning a check, with 300 million returned checks, the annual revenue from returned checks is seven billion dollars ($7billion).  Some banks, generally the larger nation-wide banks, charge upwards to $50.00 for a returned check.
  • Ernst & Young reports that more than five hundred (500) million checks are forged annually.   The American Banker, an industry magazine, predicts that there will be a twenty-five percent (25%) increase in check fraud in the 2016 year.
  • Money laundering has increased over the last ten years. As a result, global efforts to combat this crime have increased. While it is extremely difficult to estimate the amount of worldwide money laundering, one model estimated that in 1998 it was near $2.85 trillion.
  • According to Meridian Research, estimated fraud loss for the credit card industry amounts to $1.5 billion annually, of which $230 million is estimated to result from online transactions. MasterCard reported a 33.7% increase in worldwide fraud from 1998 to 1999. During the first quarter of 2000, fraud losses increased 35.3% over the last quarter in 1999. VISA reports similar trends. It is estimated that fraud losses for online transactions may exceed $500 million in 2000. Fraudulent credit card activities include the use of counterfeit, stolen, and never received cards, as well as account takeover, mail order and Internet card-not present transactions.
  • The FBI estimates losses from check fraud total $18.7 billion annually in our country alone.
  • Health care fraud costs the United States tens of billions of dollars a year. It’s a rising threat, with national health care expenditures estimated to exceed $3 trillion in 2014 and spending continuing to outpace inflation. Recent cases also show that medical professionals continue, and may be more willing, to risk patient harm in furtherance of their schemes.  Medicare has no official estimate of the amount of money lost to fraud each year, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation refers to estimates of three to ten percent of all health care billings. In 2011, Medicare expenditures totaled approximately $565 billion. If the FBI percentages are applied to this amount, the cost of Medicare fraud for the 2011 fiscal year was anywhere from $17-57 billion.
  • According to an FBI report on insurance fraud, published on its web site under “The Economic Crimes Unit” section, total insurance industry fraud is $27.6 billion annually. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud breaks the total down across the insurance industry as follows:
    • Auto $12.3 billion ·
    • Homeowners $1.8 billion ·
    •  Business/Commercial $12 billion ·
    • Life/Disability $1.5 billion

Economic crimes in this area include those committed both internally and externally. Internal fraud can manifest itself in bribery of company officials, misrepresentation of company information for personal gain, and the like.

  • In his testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary on March 21, 2000, Chairman Arthur Levitt stated that Internet securities fraud is on the rise. He stated that there will be over 5.5 million online brokerage accounts by year end. The SEC has seen a rapid rise in Internet fraud in this area, with most of it occurring between 1998 and 1999. One recent pyramid scheme raised more than $150 million from over 155,000 investors before it was shut down. Securities fraud takes the form of stock manipulation, fraudulent offerings, and illegal touts conducted through newspapers, meetings, and cold calling, among others. These same scams have been conducted electronically, but are now joined by some newer, more sophisticated fraudulent activity. These include momentum-trading web sites, scalping recommendations, message boards posted by imposters, web sites for day trading recommendations, and misdirected messages. Investors are suffering large losses due to these cyber crimes.
  • The U.S. Secret Service estimates that telecommunication fraud losses exceed $1 billion annually.  Other estimates range from three ($3) billion to twelve ($12) billion.  Subscription or identity fraud involves using false or stolen IDs or credit cards to gain free service and anonymity. It has tripled since 1997, says Rick Kemper, Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association’s (CTIA) director of wireless technology and security, a trend he attributes to criminals favoring subscription fraud over cloning, plus increased industry competition to reach a broader and riskier market. The International Data Corporation (IDC: Framingham, MA) stated that, “Fraud remains endemic to the wireless industry, with estimated loses expected to reach a staggering $677 million by 2002…”   One of the key reasons is the dramatic increase of subscription fraud which IDC estimates will reach $473 million by 2002.17 Telemarketing fraud resulted in losses to victims of over $40 billion in 1998.   In 1996, the FBI estimated that there were over 14,000 telemarketing firms that were involved in fraudulent acts, the majority of which victimized the elderly.
  • Intellectual property theft – in the form of trademark infringement, cyber squatters, typo squatters, trade-secret theft, and copyright infringement – has increased as Internet use and misuse has risen. It occurs across the seven industries detailed here, as well as most other businesses. “According to the American Society for Industrial Security, American businesses have been losing $250 billion a year from intellectual property theft since the mid-1990’s.

These alarming statistics demonstrate identity theft and fraud may be the most frequent, costly and pervasive crime in the United States and on a global basis.  There is also a growing belief that biometrics may be able to lessen to a very great degree identity theft.   Let’s take a look at the “BIOMETRIC SUITE”:

Biometric Suite

The methods used, relative to allowing access to information and location, must be determined by careful consideration of 1.) Cost, 2.) Interface with existing computer equipment and computer code, 3.) Level of social intrusion tolerated, 4.) Ease in maintenance of equipment and 5.) Level of security required by the facility.  You would expect entry into a nuclear facility to be more difficult that entry into an NFL locker room. You get the point.  All of these factors must be considered with converting from existing systems to biometric technology.

I do NOT think anyone would disagree that something MUST be done to lessen identity theft and fraudulent activity.  The FED won’t really do this.  They are much too busy getting reelected, establishing their “brand”, satisfying their “base and securing their “legacy”.  Change must occur through the private sector.

As always, I welcome your comments.

BIOMETRICS

July 30, 2015


INTRODUCTION:

Biometrics may be a fairly new term to some individuals so it is entirely appropriate at this time to define the technology.  This will lay the groundwork for the discussion to follow.  According to the International Biometric Society:

“Biometrics is used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition.”

The terms “Biometrics” and “Biometry” have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.

From the Free Dictionary we see the following definition:

  • The statistical study of biological phenomena.
  • The measurement of physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, or retinal patterns for use in verifying the identity of individuals.
  • Biometrics refers to metrics related to human characteristics. Biometrics authentication (or realistic authentication) is used in computer science as a form of identification and access control. It is also used to identify individuals in groups that are under surveillance.

Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Biometric identifiers are often categorized as physiological versus behavioral characteristics. Physiological characteristics are related to the shape of the body.  Examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, palm veins and odor/scent.  Behavioral characteristics are related to the pattern of behavior of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait, and voice.  Some researchers have coined the term behaviometrics to describe the latter class of biometrics.

More traditional means of access control include token-based identification systems, such as a driver’s license or passport, and knowledge-based identification systems, such as a password or personal identification number.  Since biometric identifiers are unique to individuals, they are more reliable in verifying identity than token and knowledge-based methods; however, the collection of biometric identifiers raises privacy concerns about the ultimate use of this information.

The oldest biometric identifier is facial recognition. The dimensions, proportions and physical attributes of a person’s face are unique and occur very early in infants.   A child will (obviously) recognize a parent, a brother or sister.  It is only since the advent of computers and accompanying software that the ability to quantify facial features has become possible.

The FBI has long been a leader in biometrics and has used various forms of biometric identification since the very earliest day.  This Federal institution assumes responsibility for managing the national fingerprint collection in 1924.  As you know, fingerprints vary from person to person (even identical twins have different prints) and don’t change over time. As a result, they are an effective way of identifying fugitives and helping to prove both guilt and innocence.

We will discuss fingerprints, as well as other modes of identification, later on in this course.

BIOMETRIC APPLICATIONS:

In the last several years, improvements in the technology have greatly increased application.  It is expected that in the near future, we will use biometry many times in our daily activities such as getting in the car, opening the door of our house, accessing our bank account, shopping by internet, accessing our PDA, mobile phone, laptops, etc. Depending on where biometric systems are deployed, the applications can be categorized in the following five main groups:  1.) Forensic, 2.) Government, 3.) Commercial, 4.) Health-care, and 5.) Traveling and immigration. However, some applications are common to these groups such as physical access, PC/network access, time and attendance, etc.

Forensic:

The use of biometric technology in law enforcement and forensic analysis applied to law enforcement, has been known and used for quite some time.  That technology is used mainly for identification of criminals. In particular, the AFIS (automatic fingerprint identification system) has been used for this purpose.  Recently, facial-scan technology or mug shots are being used for the identification of suspects. Another possible application is the verification of individuals considered for arrest as suspects in home and auto break-ins.  The typical applications are:

  • Identification of criminals- Collecting evidence, such as fingerprints, at the scene of a crime makes it possible to compare information relative to an existing database.  You often hear in the movies of investigating officers “dusting for fingerprints”. This has been and is common practice.
  • Surveillance –-Using cameras, one can monitor very busy areas such as stadiums, airports, meeting rooms, etc. to determine the presence of criminal suspects or when suspected criminal activity could be a possibility.   Based on the face recognition biometric, using images (e.g., mug shots), database files of wanted persons or criminals may be integrated to verify their presence. Since the events of September 11, 2001, the interest in biometric surveillance has increased dramatically, especially for air travel. There are many cameras monitoring crowds at airports for detecting wanted terrorists.
  • Corrections –This refers to the treatment of offenders (criminals) through a system of penal incarceration, rehabilitation, probation, and parole, or the administrative system by which these are effectuated. In this cases a biometric system can avoid the possibility of accidentally releasing the wrong prisoner, or to ensure that people leaving the facilities are really visitors and not inmates.
  • Probation and home arrest – Biometrics can also be used for post-release programs (conditional release) to ensure the fulfillment of the probation, parole and home detention terms.

Government:

There are many application of biometric technology used and operating in the government sector. An AFIS or Automatic Fingerprint Identification System is the primary means for locating duplicate entities enrolled in benefits systems, electronic voting for local or national elections, issuance of driver’s license emission, etc. The typical application is:

  • National Identification Cards – The idea is to include digital biometric information in the national identification card. This is the most ambitious biometric program, since the identification must be performed in a large-scale database, containing hundreds of millions of samples, corresponding to the whole population of one country. These cards can be used for multiple purposes such as controlling the collection of benefits, avoiding duplicates of voter registration and drivers license usage.    These applications are primarily based on finger-scan and AFIS technology; however it is possible that facial-scan and iris-scan technology could be used in the future.
  • Voter ID and Elections – While the biometric national identification (ID) card is still an ongoing project in the United States, many countries already use this mode of biometry to control  voting and voter registration.  These ID cards are used for national and/or regional elections. During the registration of voters, biometric data is captured and embedded in the card with matching data in a stored database for the later use. The purpose is to prevent duplicate registration and voting.
  • Driver’s licenses – In many countries a valid driver license is used as an identification document; therefore it is important to prevent duplication and use under a different name. Biometrics can eliminate this problem.  However, it is important that the data is shared between states, because in the United States, the license is controlled at the state level as opposed to the federal level.
  • Benefits Distribution (social service) – The use of biometry in benefits distribution prevents fraud and abuse within government benefits programs.  This can ensure that legitimate recipients have quick and convenient access to benefits such as unemployment, health care and social security.
  • Employee authentication – The government use of biometric data for PC, network, and data access is critical for securing buildings and thereby protection of confidential information.
  • Military programs – The military has long been interested in biometric technology and many of the advancements have come from R&D efforts financed by the government.  With this being the case, the technology has enjoyed extensive support from the national security community.

Commercial:

Banking and financial services represent enormous growth areas for biometric technology.   Many developments are currently in place with pilot projects initiated frequently. Several applications within the banking sector are:

  • Account access –Access to a specific personal or commercial account using Biometrics allows the financial institution to keep definitive records of account access by employees and customers. Using biometry, customers can access accounts and employees can log from their workstations or in person.
  • ATMs –Biometrics allowing ATM access, provides for more secure banking transactions. This access would probably be by virtue of fingerprint, retina or iris scans.
  • Expanded Service Kiosks –A more receptive market for biometrics may be special purpose kiosks, using biometric verification to allow a greater variety of financial transaction than are currently available through standard ATMs.
  • Online banking –Internet-based account access is already widely used in many places.  The inclusion of biometric technology will bring about much greater security for these transactions from home.  Currently, there are many pilot programs using biometrics in home banking.
  • Telephone transaction – Voice-scan biometric can be used to secure telephone-based banking transactions. In this application, when the consumer calls to execute a transaction, a biometric system will authenticate the customer’s identity based on his or her voice. There will be no need for any additional device.
  • PC/Network access –The use of biometric login to local PCs or remotely through networks increases the security of the overall system.  This definitely insures greater protection  of valuable information.
  • Physical access –Biometric technology is widely used for controlling the access to buildings or restricted areas.  This is very common right now.
  • E-commerce – Biometric e-commerce is the use of any biometric mode to verify the identity of individuals wishing to gain remote access for transaction involving goods or services.
  • Time and attendance monitoring –Biometrics can be used for controlling the presence of individuals in a given area. For example, for controlling time sheets of employees or the presence of students in a classroom.  Hand and palm readers are very prevalent in manufacturing locations for use in clocking in and clocking out.

Health Care:

Applications for this sector include identification or verification of individuals interacting with a health-care entity or acting in the capacity of health-care employees or other professionals. The main purpose being prevention of fraud, protecting patient information, and the control of pharmaceutical products. Typical application are:

  • PC/Network Access –To control the activity of employees needing to gain access to hospital networks.  Used primarily to protect patient information from unauthorized personnel.
  • Access of personal information – Patient information could possibly be stored on smart cards or secure networks allowing access for patients relative to their personal information.
  • Patient identification -In cases of emergency and when a patient does not have identification documentation, biometric identification may be a good alternative.   The DoD is experimenting with DNA samples carried by the uniformed soldier allowing doctors in emergency situations to access the patient’s records.

Travel and Immigration

The application in this sector includes the use of biometrics technology to identify or verify the identity of individuals interacting with systems during the course of travel.  This, of course, includes immigration entity or acting in the capacity of an immigration employee. Typical applications are:

  • Air travel –Many airports are already using a biometric system in to reduce inspection processing times for authorized travelers.
  • Border crossing –The use of biometrics to control the travelers crossing the national or state border is increasing, especially in regions with high volume of travelers or illegal immigrants.
  • Employee access –Several airports use biometrics to control the physical access of employees to secure areas.
  • Passports –Some countries already issues passports with biometric information on a barcode or smart chips. The use of biometrics prevents use of multiple passports for the same person and facilitates the identification at the airports and border controls.

As you can see, biometric technology may be one possibility for limiting or eliminating fraud and identity theft.  The technology is still developing and will provide many of the answers needed in years to come.

As always, I welcome your comments.

 

SOLAR IMPULSE

July 18, 2015


Several photographs for this post originate from The Daily Mail.com.  This is a publication from the UK.

There are several stories each year that really excite our imagination. One is the Solar Impulse and the travels that craft has accomplished over the past few months.  Even though the news releases are recent, the actual engineering and fabrication took years to accomplish.

THE CRAFT:

SOLAR IMAGE

Someone once said, “If it looks like it will fly—it will fly”.  I’m not too sure that can be deduced from the configuration above.  The next digital will give you a much better picture as to the overall structure.

FLIGHT (2)

CONFIGURATION:

Solar Impulse 2 is powered by 17,000 solar cells and on-board rechargeable lithium batteries, allowing it to fly through the night. Its wingspan is longer than a jumbo jet but its light construction keeps its weight to about as much as a car.  The Solar Impulse 2 relies on getting enough solar power during the day to survive the night. It is also extremely light – about the weight of a car – and yet as wide as a passenger jet. Both of these combined facts make it extremely susceptible to the weather. In high winds or turbulent circumstances it can struggle to stay aloft at the altitudes necessary to gather sunlight.

Its maximum altitude is 27,900ft (8,500m), before dropping to 3,280ft (1,000m).  This allows the pilot is able to take short 20-minute catnaps. One huge issue with the aircraft is pilot fatigue.  Solar Impulse 2 and its pilots André Borschberg and Betrand Piccard set off from Abu Dhabi in March with the hope of returning within five or six months. It was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Nagoya in Japan after bad weather stopped it taking off on its Pacific leg, but it successfully touched down in Hawaii on 3 July after 118 hours.

Bertrand Piccard initiated the Solar Impulse project in November 2003 after undertaking a feasibility study in partnership with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. By 2009, he had assembled a multi-disciplinary team of 50 engineers and technical specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers and 80 technological partners.  The project is financed by a number of private companies and individuals, as well as receiving around CHF 6 million (US$6.4 million) in funding from the Swiss government.

The first company to officially support the project was Semper Gestion, after its co-founder Eric Freymond was convinced of the future success of Piccard.  The project’s primary partners are Omega SASolvaySchindler and ABB.  Other partners and supporters of the project include Bayer MaterialScienceAltranSwisscomSwiss Re (Corporate Solutions),ClarinsToyotaBKW FMB Energie and Symphony Technology Group. The EPFL, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Dassault have provided additional technical expertise, while SunPower provided the aircraft’s photovoltaic cells. In October 2013, Solar Impulse announced that Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation, had become a supporter of the project after meeting with Solar Impulse officials during Google‘s 2013 Zeitgeist event.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Crew:1
  • Length:85 m (71.7 ft)
  • Wingspan:4 m (208 ft)
  • Height:40 m (21.0 ft)
  • Wing area:11,628 photovoltaic cells rated at 45 kW peak: 200 m2 (2,200 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio:7
  • Loaded weight:1,600 kg (3,500 lb)
  • takeoff weight:2,000 kg (4,400 lb)
  • Powerplant:4 × electric motors, 4 x 21 kWh lithium-ion batteries (450 kg), providing 7.5 kW (10 HP) each
  • Propeller diameter:5 m at 200 to 400 rpm (11 ft)
  • Take-off speed:35 kilometers per hour (22 mph)

Performance

 

TIMELINE FOR SUCCESS:

If we look at the timeline, we see the following:

  • 2003: Feasibility study at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • 2004–2005: Development of the concept
  • 2006: Simulation of long-haul flights
  • 2006–09: Construction of first prototype (HB-SIA; Solar Impulse 1)
  • 2009: First flight of Solar Impulse 1
  • 2009–11: Manned test flights
  • 2011–12: Further test flights through Europe and North Africa
  • 2011–13: Construction of second prototype (HB-SIB; Solar Impulse 2)
  • 2013: Continental flight across the US by Solar Impulse 1 (Mission Across America)
  • 2014: First flight of Solar Impulse 2
  • 2015: Circumnavigation by Solar Impulse 2, conducted in twelve stages over five months

ROUTE:

I think the route is extremely difficult.  Only the very best calculations minimizing the risks involved would allow for such an adventure.  Please keep in mind, this legs were all accomplished on solar energy—solar energy alone.

ROUTE

COMMENTS:

I think this is an amazing engineering feat—absolutely amazing. I’m not sure at all if it proves solar energy is a viable alternative for air travel, especially when you consider modern-day air travel.  Think of all the critical systems on a modern airliner.  Many of those systems have redundentcy that allows for failure with almost instantaneous backup to eliminate cessation of operation.  I can’t imagine this level of development if we are considering solar power for commercial air travel.  I think this is a very bold engineering attempt and one that will probably, in the long run, provide other uses for solar energy.


The United States has longed for energy independence for years now.  The need to lessen or eliminate reliance on foreign sources for petroleum products by developing alternate fuels is now coming to fruition.  The question is: Will compressed natural gas be a future source of energy for the internal combustion engine?  Resources Magazine thinks so.  Let’s take a quick look at the assessment from Alan J. Krupnick, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, RFF’s Center for Energy and Climate Economics.

“Natural gas holds the promise of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on oil. But until recently, it was an also-ran in the sweepstakes for transforming fuel costs and transportation in the United States. The new abundance of domestically available shale gas and continuingly high gasoline and diesel prices could change that. Will these developments be enough to extend the reach of natural gas vehicles beyond buses, garbage trucks, and delivery trucks?”

I feel his conclusions indicate CNG is a very viable alternative for local delivery vans and trucks as well as “the big rigs”.  Other information substantiates his conclusion.  From this, we can see the following.

Industry Analysis

The CNG market has grown at the rate of 3.7% since 2000. The market for these products has experienced slow growth to due to: 1.) availability of the products, 2.) heat build-up during the compression process, 3.) time delays in the refilling process and 4.) the expense of locating CNG at the market locations. The areas of greatest growth in the CNG market are in the area of transporters that possess fleets (Tractor Trailers), Straight Trucks, and Public Transportation such as school and/or city buses. California and Texas lead the way with CNG fueling stations on a national level. There are approximately 1,300 CNG fueling stations in the US today; however, 730 are public stations with the remainder private fleet stations. There are currently less than 10 public CNG filling stations within the Tri-State area of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Southeast Tennessee currently has no CNG fueling stations. The industry is rapidly changing as the 2014 EPA NHTSA Heavy Duty Truck Program has been put in place by president Obama. This legislation has forced fleet and fuel managers to reduce emissions as well as increase fuel efficiency. Small savings have been made by reducing drag, adequate tire pressure, and reduced idling practices. CNG is a “game changing” modification that addresses the new standards that are currently in place as well as future reductions that are scheduled for 2018. We will adopt a customer centric approach that addresses the needs of the immediate market based on available original equipment and after market manufacturers. Some industry pundits have estimated CNG will realize 25% annual growth for the next 5 to 10 years on a conservative level.

Market Segment

Key points in defining the market segment for CNG are existing markets and projected future markets. Electric power and industrial markets make up almost 60% of the current consumer market. Existing markets include the fields of Agriculture, Industrial, and Motor Fuel in a static environment. Projected markets include opportunities in a more mobile environment. Transportation appears to be the most likely segment to grow as it makes up less than 1% of total natural gas used. Currently, the market is distributed with limited, if any, diversity of participants. Trending for share gains and losses typically represents large potential for gains across the entire industry. Share losses are predominantly absorbed by the diesel fuel and propane distributors, as recent supply shortages have clearly proven in the motor fuel and poultry industries. Market share will be lost by the above mentioned industries due to loss of confidence by the respective customer bases. The current and projected trends in the motor fuel industry are now driven by the Tier II Fuel Initiative causing off road diesel fuel to be banned in the near future. The result of the ban will continue to be increases in motor fuel pricing. As motor fuel costs increase, CNG becomes not only the clean alternative fuel replacement, but also the affordable alternative. CNG cuts the cost of a diesel equivalent gallon by as much as 50% based on the volatile and often fluctuating diesel market. Also, CNG is a much more effective fuel in cold weather areas as opposed to diesel and the multiple problems which exist.

The implied trends in the propane and agricultural industries currently indicate an extended, long-term propane supply shortage. The result is that CNG becomes the efficient, clean energy solution by cutting propane costs by 25 to 50%. Users of CNG are looking for quality and productivity improvements. The history of CNG development has resulted in the need for creative technology solutions that enable the full application of the CNG Natural Gas Industry. Recent patenting and innovation that Cielo has identified allows CAF to operate more efficiently than diesel or propane. The stability of this market segment is solid, based on CNG product category performance over the past two years. The forecasters predict an exponential growth over the next two years.

CNG STATION:

With this in mind, Cielo Technologies, LLC has entered into a partnership to “sink” one CNG station in the Chattanooga area.  Land has been purchased, layouts determined, zoning completed, and site preparation underway.  Right now, the area selected does not look like much.  The following JPEGs will illustrate that fact.  I intend to give you progress reports as we erect the facility and hopefully in five months, show you the completed and operating compound.  Let’s take a very quick look at the site itself.

ENTERANCE DRIVE

The first digital shows the proposed entry to the station itself.  As I mentioned, not much to look at and definitely needs considerable attention—that attention is on the way.

EXIT DRIVE

This is the proposed exit from the facility.  We feel less confusion will be the order of the day if we have one way in and one way out.

GROUND SITE

There will be three (3) pumping stations installed on a concrete island located left to right on the JPEG above.  Room enough for three “18 wheelers”.

LOCATION OF PUMPING STATION(2)

Another look at the pumping station locations.  The CNG compressors and storage will be to the right of the pumping stations.  All piping will be underground and unexposed to the elements.  We opted to go hard-wire instead of Wi-Fi due to possible interruption of service.


It’s really been a very very tough two months.  Let’s take a look.

  • BEACH MASSACRESEIFEDDINE REZGUI, has been identified as the man who, armed with a Kalashnikov, killed 38 beachgoers as he reportedly instructed fellow Tunisians to flee as he opened fire on his victims, pursuing them from the beach and into a nearby hotel before being killed.
  • CHARLESTON SHOOTING— June 17, 2015, a mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States. Nine people were shot and killed, including the senior pastor.
  • ISIL— ISIL on 24-hour ‘killing rampage’ in Syria’s Kobane.  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has killed more than 100 civilians in a 24-hour rampage through the Kurdish town of Kobane in what a monitor group described as one of the group’s “worst massacres” in Syria.
  • In France, an attacker rammed a vehicle into a gas factory near Lyon that is owned by a US-based company, causing an explosion. A man—identified by French media as the manager of a local transport company making a delivery—was found decapitated nearby. The body and two flags at the scene were covered in Arabic inscriptions, according to Reuters.
  • Kuwait Shia mosque blast death toll ‘rises to 27′–The death toll from a suicide attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in the Kuwaiti capital has risen to at least 27, the interior ministry says. Another 227 people were wounded, it added. Images circulating online show bodies on the mosque floor amid debris.
  • CHARLIE HEBDO–The magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks in 2011 and 2015. Both were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons it published. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including Charbonnier and several contributors.
  •  NEW YORK— New York escapee Richard Matt killed; David Sweat still on the run.

I could really go on and on but you get the picture.

The cost of security is tremendous these days for both commercial and residential concerns, not to mention disruption of services to customers and clients.   We know the cost to the state of New York is approximately $900,000 per day to find Matt and Sweat.  Sweat is still on the “lam”. The company EQUILAR has published a great report entitled, “Executive Prerequisites Analysis”, 3 December 2014.  In this report they list costs for executive security.  Let’s take a look at the top thirty (30).

EXECUTIVE SECURITY

As you can see, the costs are absolutely HUGE and this is only a partial list of the individual corporate costs.

The Institute for Economics and Peace recently published their 2015 Global Pease Index document.  This publication indicates the most and least peaceful countries—definitely worth taking a look at. This is the ninth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks the nations of the world according to their level of peacefulness. The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and ranks 162 independent states, covering 99.6 per cent of the world’s population. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarization.  One AMAZING statistic—violence accounts for and costs the world 13.4% of the world’s GDP.  The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2014 was substantial and is estimated at US $14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world GDP. This is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Since 2008, the total economic impact on global GDP has increased by 15.3 per cent, from US $12.4 trillion to US $14.3 trillion. Large increases in costs are due to the increases in deaths from internal conflict, increases for IDP and refugee support, and GDP losses from conflict, with the latter accounting for 38 per cent of the increase since 2008. The major expenditure categories are military spending at 43 per cent, homicide and violent crime at 27 per cent and internal security officers, including police, at 18 per cent. While the cost of UN peacekeeping has more than doubled since 2008, it still only accounts for less than 0.17 per cent of violence containment expenditure.  Let’s now take a look at the most peaceful and the least peaceful.  We will do so using the following color code:

STATE OF PEACE

Most Peaceful

LEAST PEACEFUL

UNITED STATES

It should be extremely embarrassing that the United States is ninety-fourth on the list—behind Armenia, Guyana, and Peru relative to peaceful environments.  Logic would tell us that one way to end world hunger and improve the standing of most individuals is to eliminate war and strife.  Think of the many ways that $14.3 trillion could be used to benefit mankind.

DARK NET

June 25, 2015


Most of the individuals who read my posting are very well-informed and know that Tim Berners-Lee “invented” the internet.  In my opinion, the Internet is a resounding technological improvement in communication.  It has been a game-changer in the truest since of the word.  I think there are legitimate uses which save tremendous time.  There are also illegitimate uses as we shall see.

A JPEG of Mr. Berners-Lee is shown below:

Tim B-L

BIOGRAPHY:

In 1989, while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, Tim Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier “Enquire” work, his efforts were designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents.  Sir Tim wrote the first World Wide Web server, “httpd“, and the first client, “WorldWideWeb” a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work began in October 1990.k   The program “WorldWideWeb” was first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.

Through 1991 and 1993, Tim continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.

Tim Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen’s College at Oxford University, England, in 1976. While there he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television.

He spent two years with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd (Poole, Dorset, UK) a major UK Telecom equipment manufacturer, working on distributed transaction systems, message relays, and bar code technology.

In 1978 Tim left Plessey to join D.G Nash Ltd (Ferndown, Dorset, UK), where he wrote, among other things, typesetting software for intelligent printers and a multitasking operating system.

His year and one-half spent as an independent consultant included a six-month stint (Jun-Dec 1980) as consultant software engineer at CERN. While there, he wrote for his own private use his first program for storing information including using random associations. Named “Enquire” and never published, this program formed the conceptual basis for the future development of the World Wide Web.

From 1981 until 1984, Tim worked at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems Ltd, with technical design responsibility. Work here included real time control firmware, graphics and communications software, and a generic macro language. In 1984, he took up a fellowship at CERN, to work on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. Among other things, he worked on FASTBUS system software and designed a heterogeneous remote procedure call system.

In 1994, Tim founded the World Wide Web Consortium at the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS). This lab later merged with the Artificial Intelligence Lab in 2003 to become the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since that time he has served as the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a Web standards organization which develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. The Consortium has host sites located at MIT, at ERCIM in Europe, and at Keio University in Japan as well as offices around the world.

In 1999, he became the first holder of 3Com Founders chair at MIT. In 2008 he was named 3COM Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSAIL where he also heads the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). In December 2004 he was also named a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK. From 2006 to 2011 he was co-Director of the Web Science Trust, launched as the Web Science Research Initiative, to help create the first multidisciplinary research body to examine the Web.

In 2008 he founded and became Director of the World Wide Web Foundation.  The Web Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to achieving a world in which all people can use the Web to communicate, collaborate and innovate freely.  The Web Foundation works to fund and coordinate efforts to defend the Open Web and further its potential to benefit humanity.

In June 2009 then Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that he would work with the UK Government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force. Sir Tim was a member of The Public Sector Transparency Board tasked to drive forward the UK Government’s transparency agenda.  He has promoted open government data globally, is a member of the UK’s Transparency Board.

In 2011 he was named to the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation, a globally oriented private foundation with the mission of advancing human welfare. He is President of the UK’s Open Data Institute which was formed in 2012 to catalyze open data for economic, environmental, and social value.

He is the author, with Mark Fischetti, of the book “Weaving the Web” on the past, present and future of the Web.

On March 18 2013, Sir Tim, along with Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreesen, was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for “ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity.”

It should be very obvious from this rather short biography that Sir Tim is definitely a “heavy hitter”.

DARK WEB:

I honestly don’t think Sir Tim realized the full gravity of his work and certainly never dreamed there might develop a “dark web”.

The Dark Web is the public World Wide Web content existing on dark nets or networks which overlay the public Internet.  These networks require specific software, configurations or authorization to access. They are NOT open forums as we know the web to be at this time.  The dark web forms part of the Deep Web which is not indexed by search engines such as GOOGLE, BING, Yahoo, Ask.com, AOL, Blekko.com,  Wolframalpha, DuckDuckGo, Waybackmachine, or ChaCha.com.  The dark nets which constitute the Dark Web include small, friend-to-friend peer-to-peer networks, as well as large, popular networks like FreenetI2P, and Tor, operated by public organizations and individuals. Users of the Dark Web refer to the regular web as the Clearnet due to its unencrypted nature.

A December 2014 study by Gareth Owen from the University of Portsmouth found the most commonly requested type of content on Tor was child pornography, followed by black markets, while the individual sites with the highest traffic were dedicated to botnet operations.  Botnet is defined as follows:

“a network of computers created by malware andcontrolled remotely, without the knowledge of the users of those computers: The botnet was usedprimarily to send spam emails.”

Hackers built the botnet to carry out DDoS attacks.

Many whistle-blowing sites maintain a presence as well as political discussion forums.  Cloned websites and other scam sites are numerous.   Many hackers sell their services individually or as a part of groups. There are reports of crowd-funded assassinations and hit men for hire.   Sites associated with Bitcoinfraud related services and mail order services are some of the most prolific.

Commercial dark net markets, which mediate transactions for illegal drugs and other goods, attracted significant media coverage starting with the popularity of Silk Road and its subsequent seizure by legal authorities. Other markets sells software exploits and weapons.  A very brief look at the table below will indicate activity commonly found on the dark net.

ACTIVITY

As you can see, the uses for the dark net are quite lovely, lovely indeed.  As with any great development such as the Internet, nefarious uses can and do present themselves.  I would stay away from the dark net.  Just don’t go there.  Hope you enjoy this one and please send me your comments.

 

TOP 25 WEB SITES

June 8, 2015


Have you ever wondered just how many web sites there are?  Here are several very interesting statistics from http://www.internetlive.com.

  • At the time of this post—4 June 2015, 0820 hours, there were 952,158,972 active web sites.
  • There were over one billion web sites as of September 2014
  • Approximately 75% of registered web sites are dormant. These are called “parked” web sites.
  • The world-wide web was invented in March of 1989 by Mr. Tim Bernes-Lee for the purpose if disseminating information through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
  • The first website was info.cern.ch. This site was published 6 August 1991 by Tim Bernes-Lee

With so many options, how does one pick and chose so wasting time and energy does not become an every-day occurrence?  The website stumbleuponit.com has published a list of what they feel to be the very best sites for information and the “how-to” experience.  I definitely agree with their assessment.  Let’s take a look.

  • www.duolingo.com– This website very similar to Rosetta Stone.  It is a free language-learning and crowd-sourced text translation platform. As of 28 May 2015, Duolingo offers Latin American,SpanishFrenchGermanBrazilian,PortugueseItalianDutchIrishDanish,SwedishTurkishNorwegian (Bokmål)Ukrainian, and Esperanto courses for English speakers.  Also offered is American English for Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Hungarian, Romanian, Japanese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Czech speakers.  Many other combinations of languages. It is available on the Web, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.1 platforms.  As of January 2014, Duolingo has 60 million users, out of which about 20 million are active. (NOTE: I use Duolingo to brush up on my Spanish.  I can definitely recommend this site to you if you are trying to master a language or refresh your memory for a language in which you are a little rusty.)
  • www.kahnacademy.org– Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. They address subjects such as math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more.   Their math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. They have also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.
  • http://www.justinguitar.com–There are many hundreds of free guitar lessons offered with this site. As you can imagine it’s taken quite a lot of work and over ten (10) years to put it all together. The individual who constructed the site says, “It’s important to help everyone that wants to learn to play the guitar, not just those with money for tuition, so I run it on an honor system.
  • http://www.cookingforengineers.com–; This web site was started in June 2004 by Michael Chu as a place for him to store and share the recipes that he likes to use as well as kitchen notes.  He comments, “Basically, I started the site as a place to store all the food related stuff that I didn’t want to have to carry around in my brain, but I would want to reference later. Sometimes people ask me (or quiz me) about cooking and there’s a tendency for me to smile and respond with, ‘I wrote it down so I wouldn’t have to remember!'” – Michael Chu.  (I can definitely recommend this site to you.)
  • www.thedatingspecialists.com– According to their “home” page:  “We are a growing team of experienced daters, who have the knowledge and expertise to help you attract those who pique your interest. Whether you’ve been out of dating for awhile, or would just like to improve your skills, we are here to help! Whether you’re looking for a one time tune-up of your dating life, or ongoing assistance we can work out a strategy tailored to you to meet your specific goals. We will not only help you on your path to get more dates, but will help you grow into an attractive, confident person that others will be drawn to. Successful dating is not only about finding the right match; it’s about being the right match.  (Can’t tell you much about this one.  I’ve been married almost fifty years.  Will stay away from this site.)
  • www.nerdfitness.com– I love this one.  I workout six (6) times per week and I can personally attest to the fact—this is a great site.   A guy named Steve is the author of this site and says;
    “Maybe you’re here because you’re overweight and frustrated because you haven’t found success quite yet. Maybe you’re here because your doctor told you that you’re in danger of some serious health issues if you don’t make changes.  Maybe you’re here because you just had a kid, and the reality that you being unhealthy could make THEIR lives more difficult just hit you like a ton of bricks. Maybe you just want to wake up, look in the mirror, and feel better about yourself.”
  • http://www.mitopencourseware.com— “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering. (I definitely recommend this site to you.  It is extremely well done and very complete relative to the courses offered. )
  • www.investopedia.com– This is GREAT and tells you everything you need to know about investing. It also has a remarkably complete dictionary for reference and a wide range of subjects you can exploreThis one is a “must-see”.
  •  www.quora.com– Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.  Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users’ answers.
  • www.informationisbeautiful.net– David McCandless is the webmaster for this site.  The mission is stated thusly, “Myself, and the rest of the crack team here at Information is Beautiful, are dedicated to distilling the world’s data, information and knowledge into beautiful, interesting and, above all, useful visualizations, infographics and diagrams.” This site is entirely funded by sales of images, posters and books.
  • www.spreeder.com– Spreeder.com is a free online speed reading software designed to improve your reading speed and comprehension.  It is a free service provided by 7-Speed-ReadingTM.  If you are a slow reader, as I am, with limited comprehension, this is the site that can make a difference.  Give this one a try.
  • www.projectgutenberg.com– Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks“. It was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. The project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of April 2015, Project Gutenberg has over 49,100 items in its collection.
  • www.codeacademy.com– Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in eight (8) different programming languages including PythonPHPjQuery, JavaScriptAngularJS, and Ruby, as well as markup languages HTML and CSS.As of January 2014, the site had over 24 million users who had completed over 100 million exercises. The site has received positive reviews from many blogs and websites, including TheTechCrunch. (Excellent site if you wish to learn programming.)
  • www.geographyiq.com– Planning a trip? Preparing a school homework assignment? Perhaps you’re interested in current events or are just curious about exploring the world around you. Welcome to GeographyIQ.com. GeographyIQ is an online world atlas packed with geographic, economic, political, historical and cultural information. In addition, GeographyIQ brings together a number of other resources including maps, flags, currency conversion as well as climate and time zone information.
  • http://www.ankisrs.net— Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it’s much more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.  Anyone who needs to remember things in their daily life can benefit from Anki. Since it is content-agnostic and supports images, audio, videos and scientific markup (via LaTeX), the possibilities are endless.
  • www.lumosity.com– Lumosity is a leader in the science of brain training.  There are “brain games” designed by neurologists to heighten cerebral activity and improve memory and cognitive ability.
  • www.cliffsnotes.com– OK, who has not heard of Cliffs Notes?  You know what they are.  It’s the last day of summer and you are about half way through your reading assignment—bookstore and Cliffs Notes.  With this web site, the notes are digital.  ‘Nough” said.
  • www.ted.com– This is definitely one of the most useful and informative websites on the Internet.  TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences run by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event; the annual conference series began in 1990. TED’s early emphasis was technology and design, consistent with its Silicon Valley origins, but it has since broadened its focus to include talks on many scientific, cultural and academic topics. (Great site!!!!!)
  • www.pinfruit.com– pinfruit is for memorizing long numbers, such as credit card numbers and bank identifiers. It automates the laborious part of mnemonic major system, an old mnemonic technique. It all works on the principle that it is easier to remember words than numbers. (Don’t use this one much personally but there are individuals who swear by the results of its use.)
  • www.mindtools.com– Wonderful web site dedicated towards management and management techniques. Mind Tools was founded by James Manktelow, who is now the CEO. James has written seven books on leadership, team management and personal productivity: WorkLife: Manage Your TimeWorkLife: Manage Stress;Mind ToolsStress ToolsMake Time for Success! (Written with Namita Anand); How to Lead: Discover the Leader Within You; and Team Tools: Build and Lead an Excellent Team (written with Felix Brodbeck and Namita Anand).
  • www.howstuffworks.com– One of the best websites on the Internet.  The entire site is dedicated to explaining how things work.  I use this one every day and can certainly recommend it to you.
  • www.onelook.com–  This site is a dictionary search site. There are 19,633,003 words in 1061 dictionaries indexed in this site.  It is a phenomenal find. Use it.
  • www.ciafactbook.com– The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities. Our Reference tab includes: maps of the major world regions, as well as Flags of the World, a Physical Map of the World, a Political Map of the World, a World Oceans map, and a Standard Time Zones of the World map.  (A great planning guide if you are a traveler.)
  • www.couchsurfing.com– Couchsurfing International Inc. is a hospitality exchange and social networking website. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event.  Couchsurfing International Inc refers to two separate legal entities. The first was founded in 2003 as a non-profit organization, and was liquidated in 2011. Its assets were sold to the private for-profit corporation Better World Through Travel, later renamed Couchsurfing International, Inc., which defines itself as “a mission-driven for-profit corporation”. As of August 2012, the company has raised $22.6 million in investment capital.

SUMMARY:  This is one of my longer posts but I certainly hope you can enjoy the list AND take a look at those sites you feel will be helpful to you. You will be pleasantly surprised as to the frequency of your visits.

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