“War-Driving” and “War-Kittehs”

As you know, on the Internet cats are lauded and there are tons of videos, photos, etc. of cats. In Internet lingo “kittehs” (sic). By the way, for those of you from Rio Linda, “sic” means I MEANT to type it that way! Anyway, then there is also the ancient computer hacker pastime of “War Driving,” that is, driving through a community with equipment to find open WiFi signals, and soundly mocking the idiots that have open WiFi (or, other more nefarious pastimes, once they are found… but I digress!

Anyway, combine the two, and you have a “War-Kitteh!” this was one of the many reports on the “War-Kitteh” this week:

Coco the cat can hack your WiFi network with his WarKitteh collar

Geek – By: Lee Matthews “Your cat probably does some pretty awesome, YouTube-worthy tricks. Chances are, however, that your cat isn’t quite the geeky little feline that Coco is. Coco, you see, can hack WiFi networks.

Not on his own, mind you. Coco’s got a special collar that was whipped up by security researcher Gene Bransfield. Now, most professionals who want to “research” the security of the WiFi connections in their neighborhoods will do a bit of wardriving or rig up a drone to do a little sniffing around. Bransfield thought that enlisting the aid of a cat would be both hilarious and fun.

Coco the War-KittehHe spent hours upon hours creating WarKitteh, a fur-wrapped collar that’s wired for WiFi reconnaissance. It’s not a clunky, cat-strangling hack either. Bransfield’s contraption is a little thick due to the electronics and battery, but only about as wide and long as an ordinary cat collar. It’s built around a GPS-enabled pet collar like the GeoDog and equipped with the Arduino-firendly Spark WiFi module.
While Bransfield has all the electronic and coding skills required to whip up WarKitteh himself, he needed a bit of help from a kindly neighbor lady to finish the collar off. Once the leopard print sleeve was sewn, he was ready to slip it on to a cat and see just how secure his neighbor’s WiFi networks really were.

His first feline operative, Skitzy, turned out to be a little too laid back to be of much use. Bransfield called for back-up, and Coco answered. On his first tour of the area, Coco and WarKitteh sniffed out 23 WiFi networks. Amazingly, a third of them were using horribly outdated, insecure WEP encryption.War-Kitteh protects your data!

Bransfield is hopeful that his project will increase awareness and convince people that it’s time to pay more attention to the security of their home networks. Sadly, I’m inclined to think that the vast majority of Internet users would be far more interested in the bouncing cat icon on his WarKitteh map than the fact that someone figured out how to turn a cat with a collar into a network hacker’s tool.”

Tiger, the


Bill Gates Gets Iced (In the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!)

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Bill Gates and I are almost exactly the same age, well, within a month. He was born on October 28, 1955, I was born November 30, 1955. And yes, he is richer than me. [by a lot!] But, it was really nice to see him get “iced” for charity! Hee-hee!

According to the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $9.5 million dollars for ALS research.


Harvard’s 1,024 Robot Swarm!

Imagine 1,024 tiny robots moving on their own accord, working together to build pre-programmed shapes. Very cool!

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CW Leaks Flash TV Pilot?

The FlashWell, it hit the InterWebs anyway. We do not condone pirating here at Dr. Bill.TV, but it MAY be that the CW intentionally leaked the pilot of their new Flash TV show just to create a “buzz” in the Geek Community! So, torrent at your own risk… but it DOES seem to be out there. Hummmmm… best publicity stunt ever, or just somebody nicked it? Who knows!?!?

One things for sure, as big of a Flash fan as I have always been, I will DEFINITELY be watching the CW this Fall! Dewd! Please, please, please let them do a really good job with it! also, I love the cross-over value with “Arrow,” which I also never miss! Just sayin’!


Geek Culture: Steampunk Cat!

Steampunk Cat!Because… why not!? You can’t get any more Geek Culture than a Steampunk Cat! Dewd!

It looks a bit like my cat, Tiger, but she’s really NOT into steampunk. Just sayin’!


An Apparel Company Has an Advertising Fail Moment!

The Challenger ExplosionWhoa! This was so embarrassing! A big time fail! A company posted an image of the Challenger Shuttle explosion as a fireworks display!

American Apparel sorry for using Challenger disaster photo

“American Apparel issued a public apology Thursday after the company posted a stylized picture to its Tumblr page of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

It is unclear if the image was mistaken for fireworks or clouds.

The company was immediately hammered with negative feedback.

In its apology, the company said it was an honest mistake by the social media manager, who was born after the 1986 explosion that killed all seven crew members, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

‘We sincerely regret the insensitivity of that selection and the post has been deleted,’ the company said.

American Apparel has been the focus of media attention in recent weeks after the board voted to replace Dov Charney as chairman and announced its intention to remove him as president and chief executive ‘for cause,’ according to the company. Charney has been dogged by lawsuits and allegations of misconduct for years.”


NASA’s “Real Life” Warp Drive Ship Design

NASA FTL ShipSo, NASA showed us, this week, what a REAL Warp Drive FTL ship might look like, if they ever make one. The result, Geek Culture coolness!

NASA’S Latest Warp Drive Design Looks Very Familiar

From Star Trek – “Have you ever wondered what a real-life ship designed for faster-than-light travel might look like? Matthew Jefferies, legendary designer of Star Trek’s Enterprise, took a pre-Enterprise stab at it in 1965, but NASA engineer/physicist Dr. Harold ‘Sonny’ White recently joined forces with artist Mark Rademaker and longtime Star Trek graphic designer Michael Okuda to create a model — using genuine mathematics — of an updated version of such a ship. Oh, and guess what they called it?”

Yep… the Enterprise!


Harley Announced It’s Electric Motorcycle Today!

Harley LivewireOK, I REALLY need one of these! Man! This is just so awesome! I am a big fan of both Harley’s and electric vehicles… yes, please! It is only “experimental” but I could help them with the experiment, just sayin’!

Harley-Davidson’s First Electric Motorcycle Surprisingly Doesn’t Suck

Wired – By: Alex Davies – Harley-Davidson is more than a motorcycle, or even a brand. It is an icon, one that brings to mind big, loud bikes ridden by burly men with tattoos and beards. The company has long been known for rumbling V-twin engines and the open road. All of which makes the idea of an electric Harley seem downright absurd.

It’s actually pretty cool.

The LiveWire is the first electric two-wheeler out of Milwaukee. We spent an afternoon riding one amongst the weeds and broken glass of an abandoned Marine Corps runway outside Los Angeles last week and came away impressed. The Hell’s Angels aren’t going to be riding them anytime soon, but the bike offers an entertaining blend of power and comfort. It doesn’t sound anything at all like a proper Harley—or a ‘fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier’ as Harley brass say—but it’s got a futuristic sound that brings to mind an airliner taking to the air.

The LiveWire may not rumble like the Harleys everyone knows, and it doesn’t perform like them. But it’ll hit 60 mph in under four seconds and it’s got more style than other electrics we’ve ridden. Now Harley has to find out if anyone actually wants the thing.

Cutting weight and potatoes

If Harley-Davidson isn’t the world’s most famous motorcycle, it’s close. The company has been building motorcycles since 1903, and typically subscribes to the bigger-is-better school of engineering. But even Harley-Davidson knows the times are changing, and it recognizes the need to diversify a customer base dominated by middle-aged white guys. Upstarts like Zero Motorcycles and Brammo have proven one way to attract younger, urban riders is selling small, compact bikes powered by batteries. Even major players like Yamaha are giving electrics a go. So Harley is trying it out, too.

‘Any business has always got to look ahead to see where customers are interested in going, and see where society might be going,’ says Mark-Hans Richer, Harley’s top marketing guy.

That said, this isn’t a production model. Not yet, anyway. Harley is taking a few dozen LiveWires on a tour, dubbed Project LiveWire, of the United States and Europe. It will invite people in each city to check out the bike and provide feedback. The tour starts Monday in New York.

The key challenge in building the LiveWire was the shift from building a bike around an engine to building one around a battery. A battery is heavy—Harley wouldn’t say what the pack weighs, but one EV expert told us something with the range and recharge time Harley claims would be around 250 pounds—so engineers had to cut weight elsewhere. The cast aluminum perimeter frame wrapped around the battery box weighs just 14 pounds, which makes it a full eight pounds lighter than the Zero’s frame. The wheels have hollow spokes, and Harley claims they’re among the lightest aluminum wheels it’s ever produced. There’s no need for an exhaust system, which not only saves weight but gives the bike a sleeker look. The result is a clean, tightly packaged bike without frivolous details.

Harley did most of the chassis work—it’s been building bikes since the dawn of internal combustion, so it’s got that down pat—but brought in experts like Mission Motors for help with things like the motor controller.

Speaking of the motor, the LiveWire marks quite a departure from Harley’s signature sound. You don’t get the syncopated ‘potato, potato, potato’ that is synonymous with a 60-degree V-twin engine. But even though it’s electric, and therefore has no engine, the LiveWire had to live up to Harley’s ‘look, sound, and feel’ mantra. That took a lot of work, but company president and COO Matt Levatich insists the result is ‘not contrived.’

The high-pitched whir of the longitudinally-mounted, three-phase AC induction motor reverberates through the chassis, amplifying the sound. It starts off quietly, then builds in pitch and volume as the bike gains speed. It’s louder than you’d think, and though it’s not going to set off any car alarms, it’ll definitely make you smile.

What customers want

The LiveWire offers 74 horsepower, 52 foot-pounds of torque and a (governed) top speed of 92 mph. It’s more powerful and quicker off the line than the $13,000 Zero DS, but it’s got less torque and range. That said, it’s got more torque and power than Harley’s Iron 883.

Still, Harley execs and engineers don’t like talking about specs. They don’t want potential customers making judgments based on what the LiveWire offers right now. The LiveWire is a work in progress, based on ‘what we think our customers are looking for,’ Richer says. The company hopes to glean more info during the LiveWire tour, and iterate accordingly to suit consumer tastes. Think of this as LiveWire v1.0.

Harley isn’t saying much about the drivetrain beyond saying the bike uses a lithium-ion battery with a range of 53 miles. It charges in 3.5 hours at 220 volts. Assuming the bike has a 3.3 kw charging system like other electric motorcycles, some back-of-the-envelope math suggests the LiveWire uses a 10 kilowatt-hour pack. Twist the throttle and the bike leaps forward with authority. Roll off the throttle and the regenerative braking kicks in, bringing the bike down from speed with due efficiency.

Harley emphasizes its excitement over the LiveWire, but downplays its importance. An electric bike is just an idea, something that could draw younger, urban buyers to the brand. Companies like Zero have had some success with that strategy, and even convinced a few police departments to add electrics to their fleets. ‘This is just part of us understanding where the world might want to go,’ Richer says. The upside of so cautious an approach, of course, is there’s less fallout if the bike is a flop.

New direction

That’s not out of the question. Harley’s past forays into the potentially lucrative market for smaller, city-focused bikes have ended poorly. That hasn’t kept it from trying again this year with the launch of the Street, a simpler, cheaper, bike made for city riding. The LiveWire is another step in that direction.

‘Why can’t Harley do some of these other cool things, too, and see where it takes us?’ Levatich says.”


Happy Pi Day!

No, not “pie,” but “pi” – that mathematical symbol we all know and love! March 14th is “Pi Day!” (Get it? 3/14? Yeah.) So, celebrate by watching “Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind!” A classic weird scfi parody of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” You’ll see why! Never seen it? Then I have a treat for you! Watch it HERE:

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Be patient and watch the WHOLE thing! (It is under 13 minutes, you can do it!) It is HIGHLY silly! (Can’t stand it? Skip ahead to 7:50 to get the joke!)

And, just for good measure, and for no particular reason, here’s Ernie Fosselius’ other grand master stroke of a movie, the great “HARDWARE WARS!” (“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss three bucks goodbye! Get in line now!”)

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This the Special Edition, with enhanced special defects!


NC City Councilman Pens Resignation Letter in Klingon

Klingon KouncilmanUh huh. A Klingon City Councilman… hummmm… I think we need more, not less!

NC City councilman pens resignation letter in Klingon

Cnet – “It takes a special kind of politician to end his term by signing a resignation letter ‘chaq DaHjaj QaQ jaj paj.’ That’s ‘maybe today is a good day (to) resign.’ In Klingon.

David Waddell, a city councilman for Indian Trail, N.C., decided to send his resignation letter to Mayor Michael Alvarez written in Klingon as an inside joke. ‘Folks don’t know what to think of me half the time,’ Waddell told The Charlotte Observer. ‘So I might as well have one last laugh.’

The politician used the Klingon translator on in case the mayor wasn’t fluent in the well-known ‘Star Trek’ language. In fact, Waddell didn’t just write his resignation using standard Klingon, he chose the beautiful, pointy-looking written Klingon language of Kronos.

As a ‘Star Trek’ fan, Waddell must have known that Klingons are more about action and less about talk. So it makes sense that he’d resign from a position that undoubtedly required having to endure endless council meetings. After all, SuvmeH ‘ej charghmeH bogh tlhInganpu — ‘Klingons are born to fight and conquer,’ not debate.

Waddell is resigning from his first term on the board as of January 31. Originally, his four-year seat would have expired in December 2015. According to The Charlotte Observer, Waddell left his post early because he was frustrated with how citizens’ requests for public information were addressed.”

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