If I were a terrorist…

…I’d launch an attack on undersea cables around the world.

On Wednesday, two such cables near Egypt were cut resulting in a major disruption of Internet access in south Asia and the Middle East. Today, another cable was cut near Dubai. In both cases the cause remains unknown, but ship anchors seem likely.

Why bother with bombing train stations when you can disrupt global communications, apparently by dropping a few anchors? Maybe it’s sick that I thought about terrorism when reading the news, but seriously, it seems to me that this could be a real threat. And I haven’t heard anything about preparing for it.

The image above gives you a good overview, but this very detailed, up-to-date map of the globe’s undersea cabling is better (and much bigger).

Signs the world is small

Post ImageYou know how people say things like “it’s such a small world”? Well, it’s true. As a few of you noticed, I was quoted in the National Post today in a story on Suresh Sriskandarajah, a University of Waterloo graduate who has been arrested and faces charges related to an FBI probe of the Tamil Tigers. Turns out he was one of the Microsoft student representatives in 2004 (as was I), and we both attended the same training weekend in Toronto. I ended up taking a group photo at the time, which reporters from the National Post found yesterday and asked permission to use. I sent the photos I had in higher quality, and they used one of them for the front page of today’s paper. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo credit, as I didn’t reply to their email asking if they should use my name or not until after the paper had gone to press. The photo will also be used in tomorrow’s Ottawa Citizen.

I can’t say that I know Suresh, other than meeting him that weekend back in September 2004. My quote is pretty spot on:

“He seemed like a normal guy,” said Mr. Male, who kept a souvenir group photo of the occasion. “We had a lot of fun together that weekend…. Nobody really stood out.”

I don’t know what is going to happen to him.

The whole experience just shows what a small world it really is, thanks in large part to the Internet. In a matter of hours, a simple photo I had posted from an event almost two years ago made it to the front page of a national newspaper. The other thing is – do I really know someone who could be a terrorist? I don’t know if the FBI are right or not about Suresh, but if they are, that’s a scary thought isn’t it?

Made me stop and think for a moment – who else do I know that might be a terrorist? I quickly caught myself, and metaphorically slapped myself in the face. If I lived my life wondering who could be a terrorist, I’d only be making Bush’s campaign of fear successful. There’s no harm in being cautious, about anyone, but I think if people become paranoid we’re going to have problems.

[Oddly enough, the story in the physical paper I picked up about an hour ago is different than the one online. In the physical paper, on page A3, the part with my quote has been replaced with more about Suresh’s work abroad.]

Read: National Post

Revealing The Hidden Terror: Snakes on a Plane!

Post ImageIf you haven’t had the pleasure of talking to me in person for a while, you might not know just how excited I am for the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane, which opens Friday (though I have tickets for the Thursday screening). I mean there’s snakes, a plane, fear-stricken passengers, and one extremely badass FBI agent, better know as Samuel L. Jackson. Just check out the summary:

On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who’s a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes.

And with much cussing and violence, I fully expect Samuel L. Jackson to save the day. You just can’t go wrong with a title like Snakes on a Plane!

Another interesting aspect of the movie is the huge community of fans who have created “fan media” for the movie – fake trailers, posters, websites, fake scripts, etc. There’s really an amazing amount of stuff available. You can find links to some of it as well as some good background on the movie and the community at Wikipedia.

Which brings me to the point of this post – to show you fan media created by myself and Andrew! We went to the Edmonton International Airport yesterday, to interview people about the hidden terror; the terror the media doesn’t want you to know about. Snakes on a Plane. What we found was shocking – no one was aware of this growing terror! Among those we talked to were a security screener and a baggage person, and it was clear from our conversations that there is no plan in place to fight the snakes. The ban on liquids is good, but what we really need is a ban on snakes!

Watch the video at YouTube!

The video turned out to be a little longer than I had hoped it would at seventeen minutes, but I wasn’t sure what else to cut. It has its funny moments, especially in the latter half, so if you have some time to spare, check it out! We find out if people are afraid of snakes, if they trust Samuel L. Jackson, and if they are planning to see the movie. It was fun to make!

Read: YouTube

This and That for Thursday

Today is the first time in weeks that I can go to Yahoo! News and not see something about the Israel-Lebanon conflict as the top story. Of course, as the fighting continues, that also means something bad has happened, or almost happened. As you’ve undoubtedly heard, British police foiled a plot to once again turn airplanes into missiles. If you’re travelling anywhere today, I definitely feel sorry for you. While I think it’s good they stopped these madmen, I have to echo Darren’s sentiments – when will it end? Will the world ever be devoid of terrorists?

Dickson leaves for vacation today – have a good time man! We’ve been working really hard lately to get Podcast Spot ready for testing and, ultimately, for launch, so I am sure Dickson will enjoy the break. His departure means that I am holding down the fort until he gets back at the end of the month, so let’s hope I don’t break anything!

For the record, it appears you can spell illegible with either one or two l’s. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists the word as ‘ilegible’, and the American Heritage Dictionary lists it as ‘illegible’. I like the second way, though I am not sure which is more commonly used. I find I like the American way of spelling lots of things – it’s ‘color’ not ‘colour’!

Despite being a self-described “Intel guy”, we purchased a dual-core AMD processor the other day for a new machine we were building here at Paramagnus. So far the performance is right on par with my dual-core Intel. The one advantage the AMD seems to have is that it uses far less power. That advantage disappears when compared to the new Core 2 Duo chips, however, which we intend to purchase as soon as the price is a little more reasonable (and availability is better).

I had a lunch meeting today at The King and I (a Thai restaurant here in Edmonton), which I had only been to once before (for dinner). They have great food, and I have to say, lunchtime is definitely the time to go. Their portions are almost as big as the dinner portions, yet they are about five dollars cheaper.

We're Not Afraid!

Post ImageVia Darren, I came across We’re Not Afraid. While I think the site is borderline profiting from the misery of others, the message is still good:

Show the world that we’re not afraid of what happened in London, and that the world is a better place without fear.

There are hundreds of user-submitted photos, many with people holding up signs proclaiming their lack of fear. If the site is slow, it’s because they have been getting a lot of press recently and as a result tons of traffic, so be patient. There’s also a “We’re not afraid!” group setup on Flickr.

Read: We’re Not Afraid

New York shuts off cell service in tunnels

Post ImageA quick scan of the headlines and you’ll see that we’re once again in that “what now” period that tends to follow a world event like the bombings in London last week. One that caught my eye today was “Cell phone service disabled in New York tunnels“:

Cell phone service was disabled inside the four tunnels leading into Manhattan after the terrorist bombings in London, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg questioned Monday whether the move “makes the most sense.”

The Department of Homeland Security said the decision in New York to cut off cellular service was made without any recommendation by the federal government’s National Communications System, which ensures communications are available during national emergencies.

I don’t agree with the decision at all. At least they re-enabled cellular service in train tunnels today. No cell phones means no ability to call 911 in case there is an emergency. I think it’s incredibly difficult to try and prevent something like the disasters in London, Madrid and New York, but it’s entirely possible to save lives by having a connection to 911.

I can’t help but think that the terrorists are succeeding when we place our fears of future acts of terror above our ability to call for help when we really need to.

Read: CNN

Terror in London

Post ImageBy now you’ve heard about the terrible bombings that rocked London earlier today. Instead of recount again what happened, I figured it would be more useful to share some of the interesting images, perspectives and links I have found.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and at times like this, it’s easy to see why. As you might expect, the most popular tags in Flickr for the last 24 hours are blasts, bombings, londonbombblasts, terrorism, and many others, all similar. Here are some of the pictures I found most interesting, scary, and real:

Obviously, there are lots of people blogging about the attacks too. Via Scoble, I came across memeorandum, a site that “presents an automated hourly synopsis of the latest online news and opinion, combining weblog commentary with traditional news reports.” Very interesting to read. The top searches in Technorati all have to do with the London attacks, and as a result they have setup a special site featuring posts and information related to the bombings. BoingBoing has an extensive post covering the attacks, with images and reader comments. Here’s a first-hand account:

A funny thing happened to me on the way to work this morning. My tube blew up. So forgive me if the following isn’t as witty, perspicacious, or just plain hilarious as my usual posts, but I just want to write down what happened as I remember it; partly to get my own head round it, and partly because I think it’s got the makings of an anecdote to rival the time I had sex twice once. So erm, yeah, try to bear with me through the boring bits – you’ll eventually get to a Hollywood-style explosion with a hint of post-apocalyptic fallout.

The BBC is featuring Reporters’ Log, written by their correspondents on the ground, as well as a “Have Your Say” page with tons of comment. WikiNews has some excellent coverage. Across the Atlantic is one of many blogs updating as the news happens.

I have tagged everything with london77 in delicious, and I’ll add new stuff there as I come across it.

Read: BBC News In Depth