Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer Project: Create A Cool Persona For MCIIS! (

Firefox has a very neat new add-on that allows you to quickly create your own "skin" for your browser. They call this feature "Personas" and your task for the summer (should you decide to accept it, Mr. Phelps...) is to create a really cool one for MCIIS.

Personas are different than "themes" with Firefox. Themes are a complete package that include customized buttons as well as backgrounds. Personas only change the background in the browser at the top and the bottom. While not as comprehensive as themes, they more than make up for it by being easy to make.

To see how this all worked, I created my own persona called "MCIIS09". You can get a sense of what it looks like in the screenshot at the top of the page and, if you want to see how it looks on your browser, you can go to the MCIIS09 page to download it.

I wanted to tap into that intel lab vibe (I know so many of you miss it already...) and I think I was successful at that. It is less successful (as you can see) with regards to functionality -- the buttons are pretty hard to make out against the rapidly alternating dark and light background image.

In short, I am sure that someone with a little more (read: any) skill in art and design can do a better job. Once you are done, send me a note and I will be happy to post a link to it on SAM!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Excellent BBC Map, Special Report On Afghan-Pakistan Border (

The BBC has put together a very useful interactive map regarding the current situation on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The picture on the left is just a thumbnail. You can get to the full map (and report) by clicking here or on the picture.

In addition to the map, the BBC has included some audio reports, related stories and even a methodology(!) section. I am not an expert in this area so I cannot vouch for the underlying accuracy of the analysis but it is an effort that is well worth checking out.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swine Flu News To Death Ratio And What It Means (YouTube via

Hans Rosling is a brilliant lecturer on global health issues and the inventor of Gapminder (purchased a year or so ago by Google and now integrated into their search results). Recently, Rosling did a very sharp video where he compared swine flu to tuberculosis:

I first saw the video on the Information Aesthetics blog which is an excellent resource for staying up on new ways to visualize data. As far as Rosling goes, if you have not seen his 2006 TED talk, you have missed one of the most interesting and enlightening 19 minute speeches ever.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Cool OSINT T-Shirt (GreyLogic)

Jeff Carr (of IntelFusion and now GreyLogic) has designed a pretty cool OSINT themed t-shirt to accompany his current Grey Goose effort. Check out the "T" here and order one for yourself here.

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