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June 16, 2013

Digital Cloaking: Invisible electronic communications are here — talk about timely


Below, excerpts from Daniel Akst's story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:


For now at least, Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility remains a fantasy. But scientists have been working for several years on ways of rendering objects invisible.

Now researchers at Purdue University have come up with a way to do much the same for electronic communications. They have been using a technique known as "temporal cloaking," which they have made so much more effective that commercial applications begin to seem plausible.

These days, communications are heavily dependent on fiber-optic lines, which transmit messages as pulses of light. Relying on equipment already in common use, the Purdue scientists modulated the timing of light pulses to cover them up. At the receiving end, additional modulators uncloak the pulses by filling the light back in, effectively deciphering them.

It's called temporal cloaking because it occurs over time. That compares with "spatial" cloaking, which relies on special materials to render objects—so far, only very tiny ones—invisible. Earlier efforts cloaked far less than 1% of the transmission time for optical communications. The Purdue scientists have bumped that up to 46%, and report that 90% should be possible.

The technique ought to apply to any communication sent over a fiber optic line, since voice, video and Internet data are all reduced to pulses of light for efficient transmission. Theoretically, temporal cloaking is better than even the strongest encryption because it can render the very existence of a communication undetectable.

Given recent revelations that the National Security Agency is collecting data on telephone calls and monitoring the Internet communications of foreign targets, temporal cloaking raises some provocative questions. If it reaches commercialization, for example, who will be allowed to use it?

Temporal cloaking looks to be a significant technological move in the never-ending chess game between the forces of privacy and those of surveillance. Neither side is likely to achieve checkmate anytime soon.


Below, the Nature abstract of the paper cited above.

A temporal cloak at telecommunication data rate

Through advances in metamaterials — artificially engineered media with exotic properties, including negative refractive index — the once fanciful invisibility cloak has now assumed a prominent place in scientific research. By extending these concepts to the temporal domain, investigators have recently described a cloak which hides events in time by creating a temporal gap in a probe beam that is subsequently closed up; any interaction which takes place during this hole in time is not detected. However, these results are limited to isolated events that fill a tiny portion of the temporal period, giving a fractional cloaking window of only about 10−4 per cent at a repetition rate of 41 kilohertz — which is much too low for applications such as optical communications. Here we demonstrate another technique for temporal cloaking, which operates at telecommunication data rates and, by exploiting temporal self-imaging through the Talbot effect, hides optical data from a receiver. We succeed in cloaking 46 per cent of the entire time axis and conceal pseudorandom digital data at a rate of 12.7 gigabits per second. This potential to cloak real-world messages introduces temporal cloaking into the sphere of practical application, with immediate ramifications in secure communications.

June 16, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Watch


Yes, it's been discontinued by Garmin.

Yes, it's far more expensive than more recent and advanced Garmin GPS watches.

Yes, it's much bulkier and uglier than the newer Garmin GPS offerings.

So why did I happily drop $329.89 on this obsolete product:


replacing my years-old version whose battery finally refused to stay charged longer than 30 minutes, when there are far cheaper, sleeker, and more technologically up-to-date Garmins available?

Because it works.

Unlike all its successors, whose reviews are replete with tales of misery and woe, mostly centered on "Can't find satellite" but often featuring pained laments about charging failure.

The 305 is a tried-and-true, tested product.

Its bulkiness conceals a really good satellite locating receiver in the watch's body, below the buttons on the face.

The display is big and easy to read and simple to operate and features real-time overall elapsed time in big block digits on the top half, with pace in min/mile and elapsed distance below.

nuf sed

Think like an anesthesiologist.

June 16, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Red Ferret's 101 Groovy & Cool Gadget Sites


Long story short: He's been at it way longer than me (inception date for boj was 2004 vs. Red Ferret's 2000).

I'm pleased as punch to still make the cut.

"Smooth, deft and full of great stuff" — I can feature that.

And I just did.

My blog, my rules.


June 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Neat freak iPhone dock


Michael Hsu's admiring June 14 Wall Street Journal review follows.



To many neat freaks, there is no greater blight on the organized desktop than an abandoned charging cable. We've tested a number of products that attempt to mitigate the problem, but the W+W Stationery Series Pen Holder, which comes out July 1 from the Osaka, Japan-based company ideaco, is our favorite to date. Made of solid beech wood, it has a groove underneath for neatly running a cord from the back of the tray out to the side, as well as holes on top for tucking in the end of an Apple Lightning or 30-pin cable. This last feature is especially welcome: Finally, unmoored cables have a home.


A wide slot in the tray holds any model iPhone (or device of similar size), and there's a slot in the back that holds a small board (we added a clip to make it a mini clipboard). For smaller office supplies, there's a slim porcelain cup. Rarely has order been restored so simply.




Fair warning: this will almost certainly sell out, probably very quickly.

Don't sleep on it.

June 16, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Odd Traffic Signs







[via the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Urban Transportation Studies and inspired by Jane Friedman's tweet yesterday of this sign which she apparently saw in Toronto:


She asked, "What does this sign mean? Don't eat from open cans?"

Droll as ever, Jane.]

June 16, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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