Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend Project: Make Your Own Parabolic Microphone (Make via Boing Boing)

Boing Boing featured an interesting project from Make on how to build a parabolic mike out of dollar store stuff.

Umbrella Parabolic Microphone - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Science Of Manipulation, Restoring Peace In Complex Emergencies And The Future Of The Internet (

Some interesting recent offerings from

Deceiving Image: The Science of Manipulation
On the 60th anniversary of Orwell's Politics and the English Language, George Orwell described political speech as consisting "largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness." Some six decades later, many symptoms of manipulation and propaganda diagnosed by Orwell persist on the American political landscape, along with new disinformation techniques enabled by modern technology.
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007

Restoring Peace in Complex Emergencies
The quality of the security environment is much affected by the nature of the regional security architecture. If Asia is not quite yet a unified security community, it is certainly a vibrant security market-place.
Date: Sun, 01 Jun 2008

Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the Future of the Internet
Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google Inc. shares insights about "The Future of the Internet: Engine for Economic Growth" at the June meeting of the Economic Club of Washington
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 00:00:00 -0700

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Factors In Food Security Price Increases, FBI Audio History And Background Briefs On Alternative Fuels (Link List via LII)

The Librarian's Internet Index highlights three sites of particular potential use to intel professionals and students this week:

Factors In Food Security Price Increases. The USDA has put together a list of their latest reports on food prices and the factors that are influencing them worldwide. Nice one-stop shopping page.

FBI Audio History. This site contains audio snippets from interviews with FBI Historian Dr. John Fox.

Alternative Fuels Background Info. PBS has an interesting site with some background data on alternative fuels. Of particular interest to teachers might be the lesson plan on car choices and alternative fuels.

Cybercrime Gets Political (ISN)

Maybe I missed it, but here is one I haven't seen much press on: Cybercriminals using their skills to influence political campaigns. Travis Senor, a Mercyhurst grad student, has just written a very interesting piece on the subject in the ISN Intel Briefs Series. Specifically, Travis estimates, "It is likely that the use of Russian and Eastern European "botnets" (large quantities of malware-infected computers) for political purposes will increase, due to their low cost, the difficulty in tracing their owners and their ability to give a voice to those with limited resources." Worth reading.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3 Download Day! (Mozilla)

Many Mercyhurst intel students use Firefox because of its ability to be easily configured to meet an individual analyst's needs. You need a currency converter or an automatic translator, it is easy to find one and add it to Firefox. Today, Mozilla, Firefox's parent organization, hopes to make that experience even better with the release of Firefox 3.

Lifehacker has a complete run down on the browser and Mozilla has put together a nifty screencast that is worth watching to get a feel for some of the new features. Every test I have seen has Firefox 3 running faster and more stable than any of its competitors (except maybe Opera 9.5).

Mozilla is also trying to beat the world record for downloads in a single day. They apparently had overload problems early in the day but I just downloaded my version in under 2 minutes. Having downloaded Firefox 3 once, I will probably wait to install it on all my computers. As a heavy add-ons user, I have had compatibility problems in the past as it takes some time for the add-on software gurus to catch up with the new version.

This just in: Portable Firefox 3 is also now available!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Automatic Text Analysis Tools (Digital Inspiration)

The blog Digital Inspiration has done some recent posts on automated text analysis tools. These tools allow the analyst to do simple word frequency counts and gather other statistics from documents. If you looked at Rachel Kesselman's thesis on word usage in historical NIEs, you know that you can get some pretty sophisticated results from these tools. Here are a couple that would be useful for some fast and simple analytic tasks.

Text Content Analysis Tool
Wordle (If you need to make the analysis visually appealling)

If I were going to use this in a classroom exercise, I would try to get two different speeches from the same person to compare. For example, I had one student use these types of tools to analyze the kinds of words Vladimir Putin used to talk about similar topics to his domestic audience and to the international community. Very interesting stuff!