September 13th, 2008


Wired on the tech behind NIN's spectacular stage show.

With the song "Only," for instance, the front, convex screen starts out as solid static. On Reznor's side of the display, a laser above him detects whenever he crosses a vertical plane paralleling the screen. On the floor, a piece of tape and two tiny LED lights let him know exactly where that plane is.

As Reznor intersects that plane with his hand or body, the laser tracks his X and Y coordinates. The "brain" box then tells the particles to spread out to a predetermined dispersal pattern. Reznor says: "Then it follows me around. If I leave the plane, it fills back in. If I push through, it comes back out."

The band uses the same tech for another song later in the show called "Echoplex," from The Slip album. Like many other NIN songs, it's based around a drum machine beat. After rehearsing live a few times with real drums, Reznor realized it sounded better with a machine. "We recreated a grid drum sequencer," he says. "[Drummer Josh Freese] is actually touching and turning them on and off. But he's not really touching the screen. He's crossing the same laser on the back screen, which gets calibrated at sound check."

The end effect is so seamless, most people assume the band is simply pantomiming to a pre-rendered video, or has actually somehow installed a gigantic touchscreen sequencer on a backstage wall. "We went through so much effort to make this stuff interactive and people still think it's all staged," jokes Sheridan.

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Trajedy... for YOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!

Seven years - and still Bush FAILS to catch the people who did 9/11.

Seven years after Sept. 11, 2001, in spite of President Bush's vows, the mastermind of the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil, Osama bin Laden, is still at large and leading a resurgent al Qaeda.

Since that day, al Qaeda has struck in Madrid, London, Bali, and Casablanca, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar. The group has claimed more than a dozen terror attacks around the world and many hundreds more in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving thousands of dead and wounded. "These attacks are stark reminders that the threat of terrorism is real and still a danger to the entire world," said Maj. Gen. Robert Cone, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.

Thursday morning at Camp Eggers, near Kabul, Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers closest to the hunt for bin Laden remembered the people killed seven years ago in Washington and New York. The last time the U.S. knew for certain bin Laden's whereabouts, he was leading the battle at Tora Bora. He slipped away, into the mountains along the border shared by Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Anyone who believes that Dubya's war in Iraq is making us safer is an idiot. The REAL villain is somewhere along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border - or at least that's our best guess. To be honest, the Bush administration is so fucking incompetent that they don't even know where Osama Bin Laden is!

Is this what you want (at least) four more years of, America? The man who planned 9/11 continues to walk free, while your troops are getting blown up by IEDs in a country where we know Osama ain't?

Then go ahead and vote for McCain.

First good news on cell phone tracking I've heard in years.

It just got a bit harder for law enforcement agencies to turn your cell phone into a personal homing beacon: A federal court has slapped down the Justice Department's appeal of a February ruling that required investigators to seek a probable cause warrant before acquiring historical records of a cell phone users physical movements.

The government cited precedent suggesting that the use of tracking technology did not amount to a Fourth Amendment search when it disclosed no more than could be gleaned from physical surveillance of a target in public places—as when a tracking beacon is attached to an automobile on public highways. Because cell tower data provides only a very approximate location, they contended, it did not permit the sort of detailed tracking that would permit authorities to follow targets' movements in protected private spaces. Moreover, Justice Department attorneys argued, the Supreme Court has ruled that information voluntarily disclosed to third parties—as when customers provide the phone company with a dialed number—falls outside the ambit of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, according to the government, the court should refrain from imposing a standard higher than specified by statute.

The court, however, appears to have been more persuaded by EFF and amici, who distinguished cell location data from automobile beacons, noting that it would permit law enforcement agencies to make inferences about the movements of persons — as well as about who was in possession of the phone at any given time — whether in public or private spaces. Moreover, they argued, a lax standard for seeking location data "enables dragnet surveillance" by permitting the government to acquire location records in bulk, then hunt for a particular pattern of movements. Though amici conceded that the government hadn't attempted such dragnet surveillance in the instant case, they warned that cell phone tracking is "ripe for such use."

I'm impressed that Digg had this and Reddit didn't. Guess all the holier-than-thou "cognoscenti" on Reddit won't stoop to reading Ars Technica, eh?