About a week ago I was watching "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, and all of a sudden Stephen Colbert starts talking about an extravagant SUV made by the Russian-based Dartz brand that costs roughly 1.5 million dollars and is so luxurious that its upholstery is made of genuine whale penis leather (no, I'm not making this up). While I have yet to locate video of the exact model vehicle that Stephen was talking about, I did find a clip of a similar model SUV made by Dartz in action, and since it's kinda timely, … Read more
The U.S. Department of Defense has contracted for the development of bullet resistant windows that dim instantly with a touch of a button, providing "on-demand" light control, privacy, and protection from heat, glare, and ultraviolet rays.
GKN Aerospace was awarded the $425,000 contract by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office's VIP Protection Subgroup to incorporate dimmable films with armored glass to provide a "SmartShade" that conceals the location and identity of VIPs traveling in armored vehicles.
The Redditch, U.K.-based company will wed its bullet resistant glazing expertise with a "suspended … Read more
VeriSign's VIP (VeriSign Identity Protection) Access for Mobile is a free app that lets you add an extra layer of security to your typical Web log-ins from your iPhone and iPod Touch. Popular sites such as eBay, AOL, GEICO, and PayPal all support the app, which is currently only available for the iPhone. The VIP Access application works by creating credentials that are tied to your iPhone--based on your number--and confirmed through SMS. After confirmation, the app generates a unique, six-digit token that changes every 30 seconds based on an algorithm associated with the credentials created. It's extremely … Read more
What is VIP Access for Mobile?
VIP Access for Mobile works by creating credentials tied to your iPhone. These credentials are based on your phone number and confirmed via SMS messaging. After your number is confirmed, the app generates a unique, six-digit token that changes every 30 seconds … Read more
We're huge fans of the Slingbox, which lets you access your home TV from any broadband-connected PC and many models of 3G smartphones. But the boxes have always had a fundamental problem of monopolizing the host video source (cable/satellite box or DVR); if you access your Slingbox remotely and somebody happens to be watching the home TV, both of you are forced to watch the same program.
That's just one problem that the new EchoStar SlingLoaded HD DVR 922 fixes. The "SlingLoaded" moniker basically means that it's got a Slingbox built-in. That, along with … Read more
After that second post, Steven Brill, CEO of Verified Identity Pass, Inc. (VIP runs the Clear Registered Traveler program) contacted me to dispute my conclusions. Brill was very generous with his time in helping me to understand what Clear does and is trying to do.
That was nothing unusual; I often get followup calls from the companies behind products and services I mention here.
But shortly after the first post, I got a call from Ellen Howe in the public-affairs office of the Transportation Security Administration. Apparently, government bureaucracies can be even more responsive than private companies. (I also know a smart, effective manager in the Corporate Communications division of the Department of Homeland Security, TSA's parent agency. Assuming this isn't purely a coincidence, I hope the rest of the Federal government follows DHS's lead in hiring good people for these important positions.)
Howe was correcting a factual error in my first post, but as I explained in the second entry, correcting the error only strengthened my original argument, which Howe agreed with.
Having discussed the issue at great length with the two involved organizations, I feel I'm in a better position to explain the problems I see with the Clear program. To me, there are two essential assumptions behind Brill's vision for Clear:… Read more
I received an interesting phone call this afternoon. It was from Ellen Howe of the Transportation Security Administration, regarding my blog post on Monday titled "Is Clear a present danger for football fans?"
I made that mistake based on statements on the Clear website and in local news coverage of the new Clear lanes at San Francisco 49ers games.
Howe said that as for the … Read more
Clear, a program approved by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration that lets frequent fliers bypass airport security lines, is now being used to let football fans bypass the security lines at pro football games.
Doesn't it seem like VIP is leveraging its privileged position in airport security--a position … Read more
On Wednesday, VeriSign invited companies to join their VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Network by announcing the VIP Quick Start. As encouragement, vendors who sign up between now and September 30 will receive 5,000 free tokens to distribute to their customers. The customers can then use the tokens on any of the participating VIP sites.
VIP is part of a two-factor authentication process created by VeriSign. Customers are given tokens or cards that display a digital password that's time-synced with a server on the corporate bank end. When one goes to access the site, you simply enter the digital … Read more
Upon learning what an outfit called VIP Fibers does, we weren't sure whether to laugh, cry, or get totally grossed out.
The Texas-based service will make cases for cell phones, MP3 players, and just about anything else out of--get this--your pet's fur. All you need to do is send off those hairballs you've been saving up, and VIP Fibers will knit them into a "lovely pouch," according to GeekSugar. We have nothing against pets, of course, but still find this disturbing on a number of levels.
Even though it involves living beings (we hope), this … Read more