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Who is really listening?

An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
posted by T.D. Strange on Sep 22, 2014 - 13 comments

Epic Conway's Game of Life

Epic Conway's Game of Life. Sure, there's been lots of Conway's Life stuff on MeFi previously [1 2 3], but this squeezes a lot of awesome stuff into a short video.
posted by Wolfdog on Nov 5, 2013 - 27 comments

All I want is to be left alone in my average home... But why do I always feel I'm in the twilight zone?

In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed 381 requests in 32 states with local law enforcement agencies seeking to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. So how long do American cell phone carriers retain information about your calls, text messages, and data use? According to data gathered by the US Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider. (Via / More)
posted by zarq on Oct 9, 2011 - 27 comments

Life begets life

A functional self-replicator has been designed for Conway's game of life. The deceptively simple automata 'Conway's game of life' is a model system that illustrates how simple 'physics' can give rise to incredibly complex phenomena. Although a menagerie of existing patterns have been discovered/engineered that display a variety of interesting behavior (eg here), there are also many unanswered questions about what is possible within the simulation. Recently, life-enthusiast mscibing succeeded in designing a universal constructor pattern that is capable of building a functional copy of itself. Its execution can be viewed directly (though it takes a while!) using Golly, a sweet, open-source app for viewing life simulations, as well as other cellular automata.
posted by armheadarmlegleg on Jun 3, 2010 - 137 comments

Shanzhai: I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see one.

In Chinese, Shanzhai (山寨) literally means "mountain stronghold" and connotes a place with limited accessibility -- i.e. beyond the reach of authorities. In the past couple of years, it has come to refer to the manufacture of illicit tech gadgets by unauthorized factories: show us your shan zhai ji! But shanzhai can be used more broadly to describe knockoff culture, cheeky brand subversion, grassroots industrial creativity, and a certain DIY ethos. The latter may be best exemplified in these videos of a "Shanzhai Glider" in action. Apologies if the Chinese sites are slow-loading or unreachable for Western audiences. Mouse over links for descriptions, if so inclined.
posted by milquetoast on Feb 3, 2009 - 32 comments

Be fruitful and iterate.

Researchers discover gigantic "Caterpillar" spaceship that travels at (17/45)c. Just another exciting development in the Game of Life (previously).
posted by fatllama on Jan 20, 2009 - 51 comments

Tiny Concerts

Composer Max Richter's newest work, 24 Postcards in Full Colour, is a series of ringtones.
posted by 1f2frfbf on Nov 18, 2008 - 6 comments

Reception of this FPP will be better if you move closer to the window.

Cell Phone Reception and Tower Search: "...searchable databases of over 130,000 cell phone tower locations registered with the FCC, and over 43,000 cell phone carrier comments submitted voluntarily from real customers using their service all over the U.S. ...and with our graphical tower location search, users can pinpoint nearby tower locations. Even to the exact rooftop with satellite imagery and the help of Google Maps!"[e.g. Casper, Wyoming] You can also search for dead spots, and see how your neighbors really, truly feel about their reception.
posted by not_on_display on Oct 6, 2008 - 14 comments

The Androids are coming!

Google's Android goes live for demo. Lots of video and stills. Cache.
posted by loquacious on May 28, 2008 - 62 comments

Meat is Neat: Cellular biophysics video

Meat is Neat. We are but tiny machines. Remember the YouTube video of a funky animation of cellular activity? Here it is with a voice explanation of what's going on. Absolutely mindblowing. some sort of embedded video, dsl-quality with sound. see here for other forms
posted by five fresh fish on Oct 27, 2006 - 35 comments

Buh-BYE Sprint - Nextel wireless contract!

PSA: Want to get out of your Sprint - Nextel wireless contract without paying a penalty? Thanks to the fine print in their contracts, Sprint must give many that option— but only until Oct. 31st. (USAfilter)
posted by spock on Oct 10, 2006 - 16 comments

So much for #31#

$110 gets you last 100 calls made by any cellphone. Apparently it is legal.
posted by riffola on Nov 29, 2005 - 26 comments

You may have heard of Conway's Game of Life, where pixels "live" or "die" based on a few simple rules about how many neighbors they have. But did you know that in the 30 years since the game was created, Life enthusiasts have (created? discovered?) an extensive catalog of (objects? creatures?) which interact to form some amazing, nifty, grinning, sometimes beautiful, rube-goldberg, occasionally even a little scary patterns often starting from the simplest of building blocks? (Including a Turing machine!) Or that a lone pixel can exert remarkable control over its environment? Now you can see in a few seconds in a java applet, on your desktop, or even on a PalmOS handheld the outcome of simple patterns that, when first discovered, no computer could handle. A mind blowing example of the power of emergent properties.
posted by straight on May 29, 2002 - 22 comments

I should like to purchase this sexy phone,

I should like to purchase this sexy phone, but am I gonna get a brain tumor if I do?
posted by aladfar on Aug 9, 2000 - 15 comments

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