Archive for May, 2008

St. Paul Scanner Frequencies

Law enforcement across the Twin Cities metro recently “upgraded” to a new digital radio system designed to allow better inter-agency communication. Called Project 25, or just “P25”, this new system utilizes entirely new radios on an entirely new set of (trunked) frequencies than what was in use before. Apparently, it’s working pretty well so far, which is good news for law enforcement. The bad news is, if you want to listen to the radio traffic, you need to spend around $500 USD on a scanner capable of doing so. Ouch.

There is still some interesting stuff to be heard with older, non-digital, non-trunking scanners, of course. A columnist from Monitoring Times recently posted a list of some frequencies noted in use around Saint Paul; he also posted some frequencies two years ago from around the Twin Cities.

If you have a scanner, don’t get caught up in thinking the only interesting frequencies are those used by “the feds”, or law enforcement, or whatever. This weekend severe storms rolled through central Minnesota, spawning at least one tornado (and generating three-inch hail in places); the local Skywarn amateur-radio repeater nets were busy with non-stop weather reports for a couple of hours – including real-time updates from the National Weather Service. While amateur radio traffic might not normally be the most exciting thing in the world to listen to, the weather net frequencies probably deserve a place in your scanner, if you’re within the coverage area.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 27th, 2008 | Comments Off on St. Paul Scanner Frequencies

Friday Cat Blogging: Thirsty LOLCat

I’m not normally given to catblogging, on Fridays or otherwise, nor am I given to post LOLcat pictures, however funny I might find them. Happily (or alas, depending on your point of view) there’s a first time for everything…

I have a cat, who for the purposes of this blog we’ll call Bucky. Bucky is a very large (not fat, just… large) tabby, who has a very slight neurological problem: He things he’s a dog. He sneaks outside and rolls around in things, he sleeps at the foot of the bed, he plays fetch, for crying out loud. He growls at people! Well, the other day, his species identity crisis hit a new low, when he, well… see for yourself:
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 23rd, 2008 | Comments Off on Friday Cat Blogging: Thirsty LOLCat

Friday FOIA Fun

While I wait (and wait… and wait…) on certain government bodies to produce records they’ve promised me, this week’s semi-regular installment of Friday FOIA Fun will take a look at a pair of items recently made public by other fine folks using the FOIA.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on May 23rd, 2008 | Comments Off on Friday FOIA Fun

Openness and Transparency: Not Just for Governments

An article in the local free newspaper City Pages details some pretty inept attempts by the local Joint Terrorism Task Force, or JTTF, to recruit a college student into becoming a “mole” in the local activist community. I’m not sure this is really newsworthy – except inasmuch as it suggests the JTTF are desperate; assuming – as seems reasonable – that it’s RNC-related, trying to “infiltrate” a group of professional paranoids in less than four months seems a plan doomed to quick failure. That said, I think there are two interesting aspects of the whole thing that deserve examination…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on May 22nd, 2008 | Comments Off on Openness and Transparency: Not Just for Governments

ITAR: Still Hopeless

An article today at Wired’s Danger Room highlights the story of a University of Tennessee professor accused of violating International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, regulations by exposing a foreign national to unclassified technology.

The author of that story postulates that the fundamental problem is the confusing language in which the ITAR regulations are written. Personally, I think the problem is a lot more fundamental: ITAR applies to huge swathes of technology that have, despite the name, nothing to do with weapons. Plasma-actuated servos are all find and dandy (and nifty!), but there should be better ways of protecting them, under the law, than treating them as “arms”.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on May 21st, 2008 | Comments Off on ITAR: Still Hopeless