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When Will The Internet Get A Private Mode?

When I politely asked for a universal Internet privacy button — a button that every web app/service would (could? should?) use to indicate that whatever it is you’re doing while it’s on is not being logged or recorded in your personal history or shared with all of your friends, a la Google Chrome’s incognito mode or Spotfiy’s private listening – three apps in particular came to mind: Netflix, Rdio, and Pinterest.

While perhaps we need a new way to talk about privacy — the traditional way we think about it is perhaps less and less suited to the way we use the internet — the drive to share more and do less “alone” isn’t problematic as long as we have granular controls to manage the extent and flow of what we’re sharing, either with companies or other people. That is, as long as we have the ability to make actual choices about how and when we’re sharing things we’ve never shared before, on levels that we’ve never shared them before. The choice to not share sometimes. And those three apps, right now, don’t provide those kinds of choices. You cannot listen to an album privately with Rdio. All your Rdio friends will see it. You cannot make private pin boards in Pinterest, or even semi-private boards for a handful of people. Every board is public. And Netflix does not allow you to delete movies from your history or watch movies without being logged in your viewing history (which is slightly different but still relevant). These three companies are also poster children of the way we’re consuming more and more of our media: via the cloud, accessing the things we love not from our own hard drive, but from a server rack owned by a media company thousands of miles away.

So I asked each of those companies why things were the way they were, and if that was going to change. Pinterest was the only company that provided a really substantial answer, as it’d previously announced a change in its Terms of Service that would “pave the way for new features” like “Private Pinboards.” A spokesperson added:

We are currently working on integrating new privacy options that will give people greater control over what they choose to share publically on the site. We are exploring the possibility of offering private boards but we want to do so in a way that makes privacy terms as simple and clear as possible for our pinners.

Rdio provided a non-statement statement:

Rdio is committed to protecting the privacy of its users. This response only pertains to how listening behavior (i.e. songs played) is shared with other users both in Rdio and outside of Rdio. To read more about our complete policies please click here (

Rdio is about music discovery through people, not machines. A big reason people love Rdio is because they can see and hear what other music fans, critics, labels, artists and influencers like Team Coco or Jake Shears of Scissors Sisters are listening to.

Currently, Rdio offers users the ability to create private playlists as well as opt out of automatically sharing the music they play publicly on Facebook or You’ll continue to see more updates around privacy and your listening habits as we constantly add new features to the service in the future.

And Netflix, in its statements, essentially chose to not answer the question I was asking — why can’t you delete titles from your (viewable) history, like you can with a browser, or watch movies in a way that doesn’t show up in your viewable history? I variously was told by a spokesperson that “the only place you can go see your full viewing history is on the Web site” and “it is good feedback and I will take that to the product team for sure!”

In other words, except for maybe Pinterest, I would not really hold your breath for private modes in these apps anytime soon.

The non-answer answers are in part a function of the way tech companies are forced to talk about themselves, how they’re thinking and what they’re planning: Any substantive answers or real discussion about a product, its shortcomings or future iterations could spiral into a thousand blog posts, maybe a TechMeme headline or two. And they’d rather not be in the news cycle except when they choose to be, like when they’re launching a brand new product that needs attention. Which is unfortunate when there are real issues to talk about, like the true philosophical underpinnings of how these companies think about privacy and sharing.

The other aspect at work here, which I think Nick Bilton scratched the surface of during the uproar over Path collecting its users’ address books, is that Silicon Valley companies fundamentally do not think about privacy in the ways that the rest of us do. While Path did the right thing and deleted the data it collected, its thought process was simply that it was following the “industry best practice” — not that snagging and storing your entire address book without your explicit permission wasn’t something most people wouldn’t be comfortable with. Maybe more to the point, for all of the explicit permissions Apple built into iOS when it comes to allowing apps access to your location, it didn’t build in similar protections to protect your address book (nor has Google with Android). It simply wasn’t a thing they thought about. And it’s not even limited to Silicon Valley companies, per se — a rep for New York-based Foursquare told a crowd at SXSW, “Privacy is a modern invention.” Um, so are civil rights. What’s your point?

And as we’re marched along the road to share more and hide less, we’re also creating discrete footprints of everything we do in a way that we did not — I don’t remember when I read Huck Finn or how many times I played “The Fragile” in high school, but I can tell you how many times I’ve played Polica or exactly when I watched season 3 episode 2 of Mad Men. Perhaps some of these footprints are better left uncrecorded for posterity — we need to able to forget, to be able to make that choice. “This is a thing not worth remembering or sharing.” Because some things really aren’t.

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Sound-isolating headphones let you really hear your own voice


Image: Mashable, Pete Pachal

LAS VEGAS — Have you ever worn noise-canceling headphones and wished they were, you know, not so noise-canceling?

That’s the idea behind OnVocal Mix360, a pair of behind-the-neck headphones that let you adjust exactly what you hear.

The headphones themselves are sound-isolating, passively blocking out most ambient noise. But the magic happens when you pair your Mix360 with the accompanying app (iOS and Android), which lets you adjust the levels of the three sounds you’re experiencing: the music you’re listening to, the ambient noise and your own voice.

OnVocal Mix360 app
The Mix360 app has sliders for adjusting exactly how much ambient noise you want to hear.

Image: Mashable, Pete Pachal

You control all three inputs with sliders on the app. When you make an adjustment, the Mix360’s three microphones go to work, bringing in the sounds you want to hear — similar to Bose’s noise-canceling earbuds.

You might want to go completely music-only for the duration of a subway ride, for example, but then turn up the ambient noise when you get to where you’re going — to avoid any unfortunate collisions.

Trying out the Mix360 at CES 2105, I came away impressed with how well it did its job. It did take a second for the adjustments to kick in — but when they did, a noise-filled ballroom went from muffled to crystal clear. There is a bit of artificiality to the sound at first, but that sensation quickly goes away.

When you turn up your own voice, you’re in for a surprise. The headphones render it in the way that others hear it, not you. “Do I really sound like that?” will likely be your first question.

The Bluetooth device is rated at 9 hours of battery life for music listening. The Mix360 will be available in May, but you might not like the sound of the price tag: $299.

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10 Unconventional Uses Of Nanotechnology

It’s hard to envision the future without the presence of nanotechnologies. Manipulating matter at an atomic and sub-molecular level has paved the way for major breakthroughs in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Yet, the unfolding applications of nanotechnology are far broader and more diverse than what we’ve imagined.

10Film Making

Without the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in the 1980s, the field of nanotechnology might have remained science fiction. With its atomic precision the STM has enabled physicists to study the structure of matter in a way that was impossible with conventional microscopes.

The astonishing potential of STM was demonstrated by researchers at IBM when they created A Boy and His Atom, which was the world’s smallest animated film. It was produced by moving individual atoms on a copper surface.

The 90-second movie depicts a boy made of carbon monoxide molecules playing with a ball, dancing, and bouncing on a trampoline. Consisting of 202 frames, the animation takes action in a space as tiny as 1/1000 the size of a single human hair. To make the movie, researchers utilized a unique feature that comes with the STM: an electrically charged and extremely sharp stylus with a tip made of one atom. The stylus is capable of sensing the exact positions of the carbon molecules on the animation surface (which is the sheet of copper in this case). Therefore, it can be used to create images of the molecules as well as move them into new positions.

9Oil Recovery

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The global expenditure for oil exploration has risen exponentially during the past decade. However, efficiency in oil recovery has remained a major issue. When petroleum companies shut down an oil well, less than half of the oil in the reservoir is extracted. The rest is left behind because it is trapped in the rock where it is too expensive to recover. Luckily, with help from nanotechnology, scientists in China have discovered a way to work around this.

The solution is enhancing an existing drilling technique. The original technique involves injecting water into the rock pores where oil is located. This displaces the oil and forces it out. However, this method reveals its limitation as soon as the oil in the easily reached pores has been extracted. By then, water begins emerging from the well instead of oil.

To prevent this, Chinese researchers Peng and Ming Yuan Li have come up with the idea of infusing the water with nanoparticles that can plug the passages between the rock pores. This method is intended to make the water take narrower paths into the pores that contain oil and force the oil out. With successful field studies conducted in China, this method has proven highly efficient in recovering the 50 percent of the black gold that otherwise remains out of reach.

8High-Resolution Displays

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The images on computer screens are presented via tiny dots called pixels. Regardless of their sizes and shapes, the number of pixels on a screen has remained a determining factor of image quality. With traditional displays, however, more pixels meant larger and bulkier screens—an obvious limitation.

While companies were busy selling their colossal screens to consumers, scientists from Oxford University have discovered a way to create pixels that are just a few hundred nanometers across. This was achieved by exploiting the properties of a phase-change material called GST (a material found in thermal management products). In the experiment, the scientists used seven-nanometer-thick layers of GST sandwiched between transparent electrodes. Each layer—just 300 by 300 nanometers in size—acts as a pixel that can be electrically switched on and off. By passing electrical current through layers, the scientists were able to produce images with fair quality and contrast.

The nano-pixels will serve a variety of purposes where the conventional pixels have become impractical. For instance, their tiny size and thickness will make them a great choice for technologies such as smart glasses, foldable screens, and synthetic retinas. Another advantage of nano-pixel displays is their lower energy consumption. Unlike the existing displays that constantly refresh all pixels to form images, the GST-layer-based displays only refresh the part of the display that actually changes, saving power.

7Color-Changing Paint

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While experimenting on strings of gold nanoparticles, scientists at the University of California have stumbled upon an astonishing observation. They’ve noticed that the color of gold changes when a string of its particles is stretched or retracted, producing what one of the scientists described as a beautiful bright blue that morphs into purple and then red. The finding has inspired the scientists to create sensors out of gold nanoparticles that change colors when pressure is applied to them.

To produce the sensors, gold nanoparticles have to be added to a flexible polymer film. When the film is pressed, it stretches and causes particles to separate and the color to change. Pressing lightly turns the sensor purple while pressing harder turns it red. The scientists noticed this intriguing property not only in gold particles but also in silver where the particles change into yellow when stretched.

The sensors could serve a variety of purposes. For instance, they could be incorporated into furniture, such as couches or beds, to assess sitting or sleeping positions. Despite being made of gold, the sensor is tiny enough to overcome the cost issue.

6Phone Charging

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Whether it’s an iPhone, Samsung, or different type of phone, every smartphone that leaves the factory comes with two notorious downsides: battery life and the time it takes to recharge. While the first is still a universal problem, scientists from the city of Ramat Gan in Israel have managed to tackle the second problem by creating a battery that requires only 30 seconds to recharge.

The breakthrough was attributed to a project related to Alzheimer’s disease that was carried out by researchers from the University of Tel Aviv. The researchers discovered that the peptide molecules that shorten the brain’s neurons and cause disease have a very high capacitance (the ability to preserve electric charges). This finding has contributed to the foundation of StoreDot, a company that focuses on nanotechnologies that target consumer products. With help from researchers, StoreDot has developed NanoDots—technology that harnesses the peptides’ properties to improve the battery life of smartphones. The company demonstrated a prototype of its battery in Microsoft’s ThinkNext event. Using a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, the battery was charged from zero to full in less than a minute.

5Sophisticated Drug Delivery

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Treatments for diseases such as cancer can be prohibitively expensive and, in some cases, too late. Fortunately, several medical firms from around the world are researching cheap and effective ways of treating illnesses. Among them is Immusoft, a company that aims to revolutionize how medicines are delivered to our bodies.

Instead of spending billions of dollars on drugs and therapy programs, Immusoft believes that we can engineer our bodies to produce drugs by themselves. With help from the immune system, cells of a patient can be altered to receive new genetic information that allows them to make their own medicine. The genetic information can be delivered via nano-sized capsules injected into the body.

The new method hasn’t been tested out on a human patient yet. Nevertheless, Immusoft and other institutions have reported successful experiments conducted on mice. If proven effective on humans, the method will significantly reduce the treatment and therapy costs of cardiovascular diseases and various other illnesses.

4Molecular Communication

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There are circumstances in which electromagnetic waves, the soul of global telecommunication, become unusable. Think of an electromagnetic pulse that could render communication satellites, and every form of technology relying on them, useless. We are quite familiar with such terrifying scenarios from doomsday movies. Furthermore, this issue has been contemplated for years by researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and the York University in Canada before ultimately coming up with an unexpected solution.

The researchers observed how some animal species, particularly insects, employ pheromones to communicate across long distances. After collecting the data, they were able to develop a communication method in which messages are encoded in the molecules of evaporated alcohol. The researchers successfully demonstrated the new technique using rubbing alcohol as a signaling chemical and “O Canada” as their first message.

Two devices were employed with this method including a transmitter to encode and send the message and a receiver to decode and display it. The method works by keying in a text message on the transmitter using Arduino Uno (an open-source microcontroller) that comes with an LCD screen and buttons. The controller then converts the text input into a binary sequence which is read by an electronic sprayer containing the alcohol. Once the binary message is read, the sprayer converts it into a controlled set of sprays where “1” represents a spray and “0” equals no spray. The alcohol in the air is then detected by the receiver which consists of a chemical sensor and a microcontroller. The receiver reads and converts the binary data back to text before displaying it on a screen.

The researchers were able to send and receive the “O Canada” message across several feet of open space. As a result, a number of scientists have expressed confidence in the method. They believe it might be helpful in environments such as underground tunnels or pipelines where electromagnetic waves become useless.

3Computer Storage

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During the past few decades, computers have grown exponentially in both processing power and storage capacity. This phenomenon was accurately predicted by James Moore around 50 years ago and later became widely known as Moore’s Law. However, many scientists—including the physicist Michio Kaku—believe that Moore’s Law is falling apart. This is due to the fact that computer power cannot keep up with the exponential rise of the existing manufacturing technologies.

Though Kaku was emphasizing processing power, the same concept applies to storage capacity. Luckily, it’s not the end of the road. A team of researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne are now exploring the alternatives. Led by Dr. Sharath Sriram, the team is on the verge of developing storage devices that mimic the way the human brain stores information. The researchers took the first step and built a nano film that is chemically designed to preserve electric charges in on and off states. The film, which is 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, might become the cornerstone for developing memory devices that replicate the neural networks of the brain.

2Nano Art

2 Art
The promising development of nanotechnology has earned a great deal of admiration from the scientific community. Nevertheless, breakthroughs in nanotechnology are no longer confined to medicine, biology, and engineering. Nano art is an emerging field that allows us to view the tiny world under the microscope from an entirely new perspective.

As its name implies, nano art is a combination of art and nanoscience practiced by a small number of scientists and artists. Among them is John Hart, a mechanical engineer from the University of Michigan, who made a nano portrait of President Barack Obama. The portrait, which was named Nanobama, was created to honor the President when he was a candidate during the 2008 presidential elections. Each face in Nanobama measures just half a millimeter across and is entirely sculpted from 150 nanotubes. To produce the portraits, Hart first created a line drawing of the iconic “Hope” poster. He then printed the drawing on a glass plate coated with the nanoparticles needed to grow nanotubes. Using a high-temperature furnace, it was only a matter of time before the portrait was ready for a photo shoot.

1Record Breaking

1 Book
Humanity has always sought to build the strongest, fastest, and largest things. But, when it comes to building the smallest, nanotechnology emerges on the stage. Among the tiniest things ever created using nanotechnology is a book called Teeny Ted From Turnip which is currently regarded as the world’s smallest printed book. Produced in the Nano Imaging Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, the book measures just 70 micrometers by 100 micrometers and is made of letters carved on 30 crystalline silicon pages.

The book’s story, written by Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, features Teeny Ted and his triumph at the turnip contest at the annual county fair. Over 100 copies of the book have been published. But to buy one of them you will need a deep pocket—a single book costs over $15,000. An electron microscope will also be required to read it, adding even more to the cost.

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Top 10 Notorious Black Hat Hackers

To accompany the technological advancements of the computer world and the constant changing definition of a hacker, we thought it was time to look back at ten of the most notorious black hat hackers and the legendary hacks that earned them such a title. First, it should be known that a black hat hacker is computing slang for a person who engages in illegal or malicious hacking. A white hat hacker is a computer hacker who intends to improve internet security. It is note-worthy that many white hat hackers, such as Steve Jobs of apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and even many hackers listed below, were once black hat hackers.


The notorious ’80s black hat hacker, Kevin Poulsen, gained recognition for his hacking of the telephone lines for LA radio station KIIS-FM, securing himself a place as the 102nd caller and winning a brand new Porsche 944, among other prizes. Law enforcement dubbed Poulsen the “Hannibal Lecter of computer crime.” Poulsen went underground as a fugitive when the FBI began its search for him, but in 1991, he was finally captured.

He pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail, wire and computer fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and for obtaining information on covert businesses run by the FBI. Kevin Poulsen was sentenced to 51 months in prison (4 years and 3 months), which was the longest sentence ever given for hacking at the time. However, since serving time, Poulsen has worked as a journalist and is now a senior editor for Wired News. Poulsen’s most note-worthy article details his work on identifying 744 sex offenders with MySpace profiles.

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Cyber-criminal Albert Gonzalez has been accused of masterminding the biggest ATM and credit card theft in history; from 2005 to 2007, he and his cybergroup had allegedly sold more than 170 million card and ATM numbers. Gonzalez’s team used SQL injection techniques to create malware backdoors on several corporate systems in order to launch packet-sniffing (specifically, ARP Spoofing) attacks, allowing him to steal computer data from internal corporate networks. When he was arrested, authorities seized $1.6 million in cash including $1.1 million found in plastic bags placed in a three-foot drum which had been buried in his parents’ backyard. In 2010, Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.


It’s almost like the opening of a James Bond movie: in 1994, while working from his laptop from his Russian apartment in St. Petersburg, Vladimir Levin transferred $10 million from the accounts of Citibank clients to his own accounts around the world.

However, Levin’s career as a hacker was only short lived, with a capture, imprisonment and recovery of all but $400,000 of the original $10 million. During Levin’s 1997 trial in the United States, he was said to have coordinated the first ever internet bank raid. The truth is Levin’s ability to transfer Citibank client funds to his own accounts was possible through stolen account numbers and PINs. Levin’s scam was a simple interception of clients’ calls while recording the punched in account numbers.

Robert Tappan Morris

On November 2, 1988, Robert Morris released a worm that took down one-tenth of the Internet, crippling 6,000 plus computer systems. It didn’t take long for the police to track him down. Due in part to the need for social acceptance that seems to be common amongst many young hackers, Morris made the fault of chatting about his worm for months before its release on the Internet. Morris claimed it was just a stunt, and added that he truly regretted causing $15 million worth of damage: the estimated amount of carnage his worm left behind.

Morris was one of the first to be tried and convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act but only had community service and a fine as his penalty. The defense for such a light sentence was that Morris’ worm didn’t destroy the actual contents of affected computers. Morris now works in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


In February of 2000, Michael Calce launched a series of widely known denial-of-service attacks against large commercial websites, including Yahoo!,, Dell, eBay, and CNN. He hacked Yahoo! when it was still the web’s leading search engine and caused it to shutdown for about an hour. Like many hackers, Calce exploited websites primarily for pride and establishing dominance for himself and his cybergroup, TNT. In 2001, the Montreal Youth Court sentenced Calce to eight months of open custody, one year of probation, restricted use of the Internet, and a minimal fine.


Smith’s fame is due to being the author of the infamous e-mail virus, Melissa. Smith claims that the Melissa virus was never intended to cause harm, but its simple means of propagation (each infected computer sent out multiple infected emails) overloaded computer systems and servers around the world. Smith’s virus takes an unusual turn in that it was originally hidden in a file that contained passwords to 80 well-known pornography websites. The name Melissa was derived from a lap dancer Smith met while on a trip in Florida. Even though over 60,000 email viruses have been discovered, Smith is the only person to go to federal prison in the United States for sending one.


Nicknamed “the homeless hacker,” Adrian Lamo used coffee shops, libraries and internet cafés as his locations for hacking. Apart from being the homeless hacker, Lamo is widely-known for breaking into a series of high-profile computer networks, which include The New York Times, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and MCI WorldCom. In 2002, he added his name to the The New York Times’ internal database of expert sources and utilized LexisNexis account to conduct research on high-profile subjects. The Times filed a complaint, and a warrant for Lamo’s arrest was issued, followed by a 15-month investigation by federal prosecutors in New York.

After several days in hiding, he finally surrendered to the US Marshals, and then to the FBI. Lamo was ordered to pay approximately $65,000 in damages and was sentenced to six months house arrest at his parents’ home, with an additional two years of probation. In June 2010, Lamo disclosed the name of Bradley Manning to U.S. Army authorities as the source of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike video leak to Wikileaks. Lamo is presently working as a threat analyst and donates his time and skills to a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization.


The name of the acclaimed jailbreak artist, George Hotz, will forever be associated with the April 2011 PlayStation breach. Being one of the first hackers ever to jailbreak the Sony PlayStation 3, Hotz found himself in the midst of a very relentless, public and messy court battle with Sony – perhaps worsened by Hotz’s public release of his jail breaking methods. In a stated retaliation to Sony’s gap of the unstated rules of jail breaking – never prosecute – the hacker group Anonymous attacked Sony in what would be the dubbed as the most costly security break of all time to date.

Hackers broke into the PlayStation Network and stole personal information of some 77 million users. However, Hotz denied any responsibility for the attack, and added “Running homebrew and exploring security on your devices is cool; hacking into someone else’s server and stealing databases of user info. is not cool.”


Jonathan James, 16-year-old black hat hacker, became the first juvenile imprisoned for cybercrime in the United States. James gained his notoriety by implementing a series of successful intrusions into various systems. At an amazingly young age of 15, James specialized in hacking high-profile government systems such as NASA and the Department of Defense. He was reported to have stolen software worth over $1.7 million. He also hacked into the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and intercepted over 3,000 highly secretive messages passing to and from the DTRA employees, while collecting many usernames and passwords.

On May 18, 2008, at the age of 25, James committed suicide using a gun. The words in his suicide note provide some insight into this obviously brilliant but troubled youth who thought he would be a scapegoat and blamed for cyber crimes he did not commit: “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”


In 2002, an exceptionally odd message appeared on a US Army computer screen: “Your security system is crap,” it read. “I am Solo. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels.” It was later identified as the work of Scottish systems administrator, Gary McKinnon.

McKinnon suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which is the least severe form of autism. The symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome certainly match Gary’s actions: that is, highly intelligent with an exceptional understanding of complex systems. Though sufferers often have difficulty reading social cues and acknowledging the impact of their often-obsessive behavior, they tend to be geniuses in one particular subject. For Gary, it was computers.

Gary has been accused of executing the largest ever hack of United States government computer networks — including Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA systems. The court had recommended that McKinnon be apprehended to the United States to face charges of illegally accessing 97 computers, causing a total of $700,000 in damage. Even more interesting are McKinnon’s motives for the large scale hackings, which he claims were in search of information on UFOs. He believed the US government was hiding such information in its military computers.

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Kevin David Mitnick (born on August 6, 1963) is an American computer security consultant, author, and hacker. In the late 20th century, he was convicted of various computer- and communications-related crimes. At the time of his arrest, he was the most-wanted computer criminal in the United States. Mitnick gained unauthorized access to his first computer network in 1979, at 16, when a friend gave him the phone number for the Ark, the computer system Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) used for developing their RSTS/E operating system software. He broke into DEC’s computer network and copied their software, a crime he was charged with and convicted of in 1988.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mitnick gained unauthorized access to dozens of computer networks while he was a fugitive. He used cloned cellular phones to hide his location and, among other things, copied valuable proprietary software from some of the country’s largest cellular telephone and computer companies. Mitnick also intercepted and stole computer passwords, altered computer networks, and broke into and read private e-mail.

Due to his fame he is included as a bonus entry here.

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11 Tech and Science Breakthroughs of the 2000s

Mankind’s dependence on science is undeniable. All the civilized races today strive for scientific progress underlining man’s quest for knowledge. Even religion, ethics and culture takes a backseat in comparison to science. What better way to celebrate this progress than to commemorate some famous and some not so famous scientific inventions of the previous decade.


The first self-balancing, electric-powered transportation machine invented by Dean Kamen, known as the Segway Human Transporter was invented in 2000. Launched in the year 2001, the Segway human transporter uses dynamic stabilization to enable the transporter to balance itself with the help of tilt sensors, gyroscopes and a built-in computer. The transporter adjusts to the body movement at a rate of 100 movements per second. The first model did not consist of any brakes and traveled at a speed of 12 miles per hour, and the speed and direction could be controlled by manual mechanisms. An improvised model released in 2006 allowed users to adjust the speed and direction through computer assistance too.


Along with the famous iPod invented by Apple Inc. in the year 2001, another remarkable invention of this year was the bio-artificial liver. Dr. Kenneth Matsumura and Alin Foundation invented the artificial liver by designing a device that utilizes animal liver cells. Instead of sticking with the age-old idea of using mechanical devices used to replace organs, this breakthrough technology included a mechanical device as well as biological elements. The animal cells are trapped behind a membrane (thin parting inside) in the bio-artificial liver. Therefore, while the cells can perform all the common functions of the liver such as filtering the blood, and eliminating toxins, the cells do not merge with human blood causing no reactions or harm to the person.


The birth control patch, the Braille Glove, and the Nano-tex fabric were all scientific inventions of the year 2002. Using leather Golf gloves, Ryan Patterson, invented a device that can identify the wearer’s hand movements and transmit them wirelessly to a hand-held monitor as words. Although not very famous, the Braille Glove has enough importance in the world of impaired people. The Nano-tex fabric was another invention that went slightly unnoticed by the common people. The Nano-tex fabric goes through chemical treatment that gives them around a million tiny fibers which are one hundred thousand of an inch long, which for their basic use repel spills. The birth control patch invented by Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals known as the Ortho Eva patch was the first birth control patch that could be changed once a week and had the same effects as the contraceptive pills.


Toyota’s Hybrid Car was the invention for the year 2003. Getting its popular share of publicity the Hybrid car is known for its self parking attributes. The gas-electric powered automobile has a feature that lets it park itself! This happens with the help of a rear mounted camera, power steering and software called Intelligent Parking Assist, designed to direct the car into a parking space. The user does not even have to touch, talk or provide any input throughout the process.


The two inventions that grabbed popular attention in the year 2004 were the Sono Prep, and the Adidas 1 shoes. The Adidas 1 shoes with built-in microprocessor think for themselves, deciding what kind of foot support the wearer needs. Sono Prep invented by Robert Langer, was an advancement in the field of biotechnology that can administer medications through sound waves rather than conventional methods such as injections. The device is said to direct low frequency ultrasonic waves to the skin for 15 seconds that opens up the lipids in the skin enabling transfer of liquids. The skin returns to its original state in the following 24 hours.

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The most popular and successful invention in the year 2005 was YouTube. The website which achieved the greatest consumer response is a video-hosting website that lets users share videos across the globe. The website invented by Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley is currently one of the most famous websites in the world!

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Year 2006 was slightly slow-paced in the field of scientific inventions. Although a lot of prototypes and beta-testers were released, only a few actual products were seen in the markets. One of these products was the Loc8tor. Loc8tor attaches radio frequency emitting tags to all your small possessions that you forgetfully misplace the most. It points in the right direction, left and right, and up and down too, bringing you as close as an inch from the item. The tag does its part and beeps to pinpoint the exact location too.

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The Invention of the year 2007 was none other than Apple’s famous iPhone. When first released, the iPhone was a breakthrough in mobile technology boasting unprecedented sensor technology, a brand new operating system, which actually fits the operations of a computer inside the attractive body of a phone. iPhone as we know today has restructured the entire world of Mobile gadgets and was Apple’s ace in the world of technology.

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The scientific and medical miracle for the year 2008 was the personal retail DNA testing kit. Through a saliva test the DNA kit can estimate your genetic links to more than 90 hereditary traits ranging from baldness to chronic diseases. Although the kit was not invented in the year 2007, it was released publicly to the common consumers. Human genotyping has been available to every person rather than just the executive order thanks to the inventors 23andMe. Consider the possible benefits and consequences of such an invention that can track your chances of being in a specific state, or medical condition based on your genes and not just social, environmental and purely technological factor. Genotyping through this DNA kit can identify the chances of genetically inheriting any traits out of 6 million different traits. Another notable invention of this year was the Bionic Lens. Babak Parviz from the University of Washington invented contact lenses that use tiny LEDs powered by solar cells and use radio frequency receiver to display images, maps and other data over the wearer’s visual field.

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The Sixth Sense developed in the year 2009 by Pranav Mistry at the MIT media lab USA is a wearable gestural interface turning all actions into digital information capable of being processed in any technologically advanced device, such as a computer, mobile, etc. It has been the fundamental technology of digital effects in sci-fi movies for almost a whole decade. The Sixth Sense consists of a pocket size projector and a camera connected to a portable computing device. The camera identifies the hand gestures and movements of the user while the projector can use surfaces to display visual data and let them be used as computer interfaces. The device uses the video streaming from the camera and processes it with the software in synchronization with the visual tracking referencing sensors that the user wears at his fingertips.


Teleportation is the next big thing attracting scientific interest all over the world. Although only in its testing phases, this technology makes traveling over a distance in a blink of an eye possible. The stuff of the movies might finally come true in the near future. For now, scientists at Joint Quantum institute at the Maryland University, USA have been successfully able to ‘teleport’ information from one atom to another atom, placed in separate containers, one meter apart in distance!

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