News You Can Use

Russian Mafia Hackers

Russian Mafia groups are hacking into U.S. and other countries computers to gain illegal profits. Hackers have planted viruses, denial-of-service attacks, downloaded trade secrets and company data bases and are becoming more sophisticated in computer crimes. Hackers are hired by the Russian Mafia to break into e-commerce sites and steal credit card and bank account numbers. Although Russian laws make hacking illegal, few cases are actually prosecuted. Security holes are found in Microsoft Windows NT operating systems. Microsoft has posted patches to fix them on their web site, but many companies have not taken the time to install the fixes.

Warrant Required for Infrared Searches

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment covers the use of Infrared devices used in the surveillance of private dwellings. The court found that it enables the user to be aware of the events going on in a space that is expected to be private.

Law Enforcement professionals will now need to obtain a warrant to conduct thermal surveillance of a private residence.

I see You!

Infrared cameras have improved quite a bit lately. The resolution is much better and able to spot a human sized figure, where before they were not much use for anything but a novelty item.

However, improvements can still be made. During a recent discussion it was noted that the large, bright logos that manufacturers place on the front of their equipment reflect the moonlight providing a real nice target for the bad guys!


Another First for Crime Case Investigators

Not everything that appears clean is clean. The majority of hotels change their bedsheets with every guest. Not so with bedspreads. They can go for weeks or months between changes. During a Des Moines crime case, investigators analyzed a popular hotel's bedspread and found 106 stains with 38 of them being semen.


Police Car of the Future?

Hardly. This "flying car" is here, now!

In a joint program by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, guidelines for certifying flying cars with the needed technologies and regulations are being formed as you read this.

The M400 Skycar
Private industry, however, is quite a bit ahead of government dreams. Moller International, of Davis, California, plans to begin test flights of their M400 Skycar this year. Company founder Paul Moller is convinced his Skycar will become part of the military within three years and private transportation before the end of this decade.

Most of these vehicles are likely to be unpiloted air taxis, once people gain the confidence in a vehicle that does not have a human "driver".

The M400 is a "powered lift" vehicle. Moveable vanes mounted behind the engines allow for vertical takeoff. They can then be moved quickly to provide horizontal thrust once it is airborne.

How safe is it? It will be able to maintain cruising speeds below altitudes of 10,000 feet using only four of its eight engines, greatly reducing the possibility of a crash due to engine failure. It will also be equipped with two ballistic parachutes on the airframe enabling it to make and emergency "soft" landing in an open area.

Ford Motor Company is leading the pack in looking at alternatives such as the Skycar, with 10 vehicles planned for production in 2002 at a cost of $995,000 each. Eventually, the cars will fall to a range of $50,000 to $100,000 as mass production comes into play.

Vital Statistics

Passengers: 4
Cruise speed/ top speed: 350/390 mph
Maximum rate of climb: 7800 fpm
Maximum range: 900 miles
Payload with max fuel: 740 lbs
Fuel consumption: 15 mpg
Operational ceiling: 30,000 ft.
Gross weight: 2400 lbs
Engine power (8x120 hp): 960 hp
Dimensions (LxWxH): 18' x 9' x 6'
Takeoff and landing area: 35 ft. dia
Noise level at 500 ft.: 65 dba
Fuel: automotive gasoline


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