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Kirt's Cogitations™ #246
Nowhere to Hide

These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced (no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.

Please click here to return to the Table of Contents.

   Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted thought or
                                        reflection; meditation; contemplation.
   Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.


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Nowhere to Hide

With each new advance in communications technology, we are warned by groups of usually well-intentioned - if not a bit paranoid - people and groups of people* that the development is yet another step closer to the government wielding complete control over our movements and habits. In the days before omnipresent video surveillance cameras, RFID tags, and easily tracked cellphones, the monitoring was carried out by human agents. Electronics bugs, telephone tapping, radio signal interception, and visual observations were the tools of the day (and are still used today in conjunction with the aforementioned).

* e.g., KOOKS - Keepers Of Odd Knowledge Society, a hard-to-track-down brotherhood of conspiracy theorists who don't even have a website.

Old methods required that an agent be expecting an event worthy of his time and trouble, since it is very expensive to maintain an army of "watchers" just in case something interesting happened to occur. New methods, being comprised of full-time electronic sentries, are to human assets what robots are on the production line that have replaced human operators - they are reliable, highly repeatable, economical, can keep a record of their actions for later inquiry, and don't ask for time off. Prior to 1949 there was not a universally adopted name for an omniscient, omnipresent government presence, but thanks the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four we now have a term: Orwellian.

The latest cause célèbre for privacy-obsessed types is Google Earth's Street View feature. Google Earth and Microsoft's Virtual Earth use a combination of satellite and airplane photographs to generate its legendary maps with resolutions measuring in feet in some areas of the world. That level of detail is good for detecting whether or not a person or vehicle is in a particular photo, but it cannot discern faces or license plate numbers. Launched on May 25, 2007, Street View does that job - a bit too well for some people. In fact, lawsuits have been filed against Google for the voyeuristic nature of the method. Google argues (usually successfully) that the images they obtain can be duplicated by anybody with a camera, and it is not illegal to take pictures.

Google Earth Street View Car with Camera (copyright acknowledged - whoever owns it)Google Earth Street View Camera Head (copyright acknowledged - whoever owns it)Street View images are obtained by vehicles that are equipped with high-resolution, high-speed cameras that capture panoramic views of everything in the vehicle's path. GPS coordinates tag the images for correlation to map coordinates. Both vans and cars are used to host the special cameras. Early cameras were housed in blocky turrets, but the new generation devices remind me of a star projector head from a planetarium. After seeing its configuration, the range of perspectives available from the Street View shots is understandable. A supplement to the Google vehicle-obtained photographs are a series of images submitted by individuals of particular objects or areas. BTW, GPS-photo correlation devices are available for mortals as well - check out GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr.

Many websites exist with examples of images ranging from very funny to very intrusive. A simple search will turn up hundreds. Unfortunately, Google has edited out, blurred out, or completely replaced the most noteworthy images. In fact, a face recognition feature in their processing software now automatically blurs human faces and tag numbers for all their images. I spent probably half an hour looking through Street View images all over the world, and did not see a single non-blurry face. However, you can bet that if the need arises, as with receiving a request by law enforcement for a clear version, an un-blurring algorithm is readily applicable. We know unfuzzification can be done, because every couple weeks Charlie does something like that for the FBI on Numb3rs. Local PDs, the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other 3-letter agencies have ready access to all manner of data that it can and does use to fight crime (and probably to cover its own footprints when necessary).

Indeed, pictures obtained by the Street View cameras have caused a stir amongst even governments on more than one occasion. The latest incident was when a vehicle was allowed passage onto the grounds of Fort Sam Houston Army Base, in Texas. Shortly thereafter, all military installations were instructed to deny entry. Entire towns in Europe have banned the vehicles by an administrative fiat - they require that a permit be applied for, and then deny the permit. Try anywhere in China to find a Street View shot (Doh, poor choice of words in a sentence with China).

Even the satellite views from both Google Earth and Microsoft's Virtual Earth have been known to shock militaries worldwide. To name a few, there was the exposure of the top secret low cavitation propeller (oops, sorry, "screw") on an Ohio-class nuclear submarine in dry dock. That is the first time I had ever seen it, and can recall reading an article about the one-of-a-kind, super-sophisticated, 5-axis, CNC machine that took something like 18 months to cut it. Google Earth captured a Chinese Jin-class sub for the first time. Hmmm, maybe it is time that navies start painting the tops of their submarines to look like whales? The Indian Air Force had a fit over satellite images of its bases showing in fine detail positions of bunkers, hangers, aircraft parking, and everything else an attacker could hope for. Again, you can find umpteen hundred similar examples with an online search. Security for just about every installation on Earth has been compromised - at least in part - by the readily available images.

Like it or not, this is part of the modern world. You can be sure that if this level of surveillance technology has been "allowed" to become mainstream, then there are other methods already in operation that would scare the socks off of you. One example that comes to mind is the proliferation of Unmanned Arial Vehicles ranging from the Predator to tiny little butterfly-size machines capable of flying either by remote control or autonomously to a target of interest and beaming back intelligence. News stories report that manufacturing cannot keep up with demand from military and law enforcement agencies.

Now, since I have hopefully convinced you that your privacy has been so utterly violated that nothing I could do from my computer could possibly do any harm, let me introduce you to a bit of Google Earth detective work that I have done myself. Below are screen captures of where Google Earth believes each of my RF Cafe advertisers is located. To arrive at their locations, I simply typed in their publically available street addresses. A few locations actually had Street View images that I was able to use to capture a photo of the building - usually with a shot of the sign showing the company name. In one or two cases, the Street View image was made prior to the company having moved into the building, and the previous company's sign is shown. When a company has provided a picture of its building on its website, I included it, too (I hope they don't mind).

I was a bit surprised to discover that a few companies appear to be private residences - like with RF Cafe! Now, it could be that the official mailing address is that of a residence, while the physical location is elsewhere. That is done sometimes for small businesses where the administrative functions for the company are done at home.

Coaxial Dynamics has taken the initiative to register its location on Google Earth (and Google Maps), so that it automatically appears in the list of locations in the nearby area. I just added RF Cafe. You might want to try doing that for your company... unless you have something to hide.

PopSci Article on Google Street View Digital Mapmaking - Goes with This Cogitation


Google Earth + Street Level Views of RF Cafe Advertisers

 RF Cafe: Google Earth Locations - North America RF Cafe: Google Earth Locations - Europe RF Cafe: Google Earth Locations - Asia
RF Cafe

RF Cafe

RF Cafe
1639 Westwood Drive
Erie, PA 16506 USA

Anatech Electronics

Anatech Electronics

Anatech Electronics
70 Outwater Lane
Garfield, NJ 07026 USA
Stealth Microwave

Stealth Microwave

Stealth Microwave
1007 Whitehead Road Ext.
Trenton, NJ 08638 USA
GigaLane

GigaLane

GigaLane
8F, E-dong Digital Empire Bldg.
980-3 Yeongtong-dong, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon-si,
Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
JFW Industries

JFW Industries

JFW Industries
5134 Commerce Square Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46237 USA
Praxsym

Praxsym
120 South Third Street
Fisher, Illinois 61843 USA
Test Equipment Connection

Test Equipment Connection

Test Equipment Connection
30 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746 USA
Polyphase Microwave

Polyphase Microwave

Polyphase Microwave
1111 W. 17th Street
Bloomington, IN 47404 USA
PCB Material World

PCB Material World

PCB Material World
1601 Wilkening Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173  USA
Alliance Test Equipment

Alliance Test Equipment
35 Pearl Street
Webster, MA 01570 USA
Antenna Factor / Connector City / Linx

Antenna Factor / Connector City / Linx

Antenna Factor
Connector City
Linx
159 Ort Lane
Merlin, OR 97532 USA
Guided Wave Technology

Guided Wave Technology
Gadeledsvej 30 DK-3400
Hillerod, Denmark
Jyebao

Jyebao
9F, No. 651-7, Chung Cheng Road
Shin Juang City, Taipei Sien, Taiwan
Z-Communications

Z-Communications

Z-Communications

Z-Communications
9939 Via Pasar
San Diego, CA 92126, USA
antennas.us

antennas.us

antennas.us
Myers Engineering
5425 N.W. 24th Street, Unit 202
Margate, FL 33063 USA
Spectrum Microwave

Spectrum Microwave Palm Bay, FL Facility

Spectrum Microwave
2144 Franklin Dr. N.E.
Palm Bay, FL 32905 USA
Spectrum Microwave

Spectrum Microwave

Spectrum Microwave Philadelphia, PA Facility

Spectrum Microwave
2707 Black Lake Place
Philadelphia, PA 19154 USA
European Antennas

European Antennas
Lambda House
Cheveley, Newmarket
Suffolk CB8 9RG, United Kingdom
Applied Computational Sciences (ACS)

Applied Computational Sciences (ACS)
1061 Dragt Place
Escondido, CA 92029 USA
3Gmetalworx

3Gmetalworx
101 Planchet Road
Concord, Ontario L4K 2C6 Canada
Instruments for Industry (IFI)

Instruments for Industry (IFI)
903 South Second Street
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779 USA
Skyworks Solutions

Skyworks Solutions
20 Sylvan Road
Woburn, MA 01801 USA
Procyon PCB

Procyon PCB
2019 Jolly Road
Baltimore, MD 21209 USA
AXSEM

AXSEM
Oskar-Bider-Str. 1 8600 Dübendorf
Zürich, Switzerland
Microphase

Microphase
587 Connecticut Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06854 USA
Dow-Key Microwave

Dow-Key Microwave

Dow-Key Microwave

Dow-Key Microwave
4822 McGrath Street
Ventura, California 93003 USA
L-3 Communications

L-3 Communications

L-3 Communications
Narda Microwave - East
435 Moreland Road
Hauppauge, NY 11788 USA
RFMD

RFMD

RFMD

RFMD
7628 Thorndike Road
Greensboro, NC 27409 USA

Innovative Power Products

Innovative Power Products
1170-7 Lincoln Avenue
Holbrook, NY 11741 USA
Boonton / Noisecom

Boonton
Noisecom
25 Eastmans Road
Parsippany, NJ 07054 USA
MECA Electronics

MECA Electronics
459 East Main Street
Denville, NJ 07834 USA
Amplifier Solutions

Amplifier Solutions
2950-K Advance Lane
Colmar, PA 18915 USA
JQL Electronics

JQL Electronics

JQL Electronics
500 Lake Cook Road
Suite 350
Deerfield, IL 60015 USA

Wenteq Microwave

Wenteq Microwave

Wenteq Microwave
735 West Duarte Road
Suite 401
Arcadia, CA 91007 USA
Ho-Bid.com

Ho-Bid.com
140th Avenue North
Suite 308
Clearwater, Florida 33762 USA
Isotec

Isotec
1103 Missy 2000 Bldg. 725 Suseo-Dong, Kangnam-Ku Seoul, Korea
Amplical / Noisewave

Amplical
Noisewave Corporation
11 Melanie Lane, Unit 3
East Hanover, NJ 07936 USA
Pulsar Microwave

Pulsar Microwave Corporation
48 Industrial West
Clifton NJ, 07012 USA
RFAC Solutions

RFAC Solutions
377 Van Ness Way #1205
Torrance, CA 90501 USA
Apex Wireless

 Apex Wireless

Apex Wireless

Apex Wireless
5345 Arapahoe Ave.
Suite 5
Boulder, CO 80303 USA
RFdude.com

RFdude.com
271 Edgemoor Road
Rochester, NY 14618 USA
Empower RF

 Empower RF

Empower RF


Empower RF
316 West Florence Ave.
Inglewood, CA 90301 USA
NuWaves
NuWaves Engineering
122 Edison Drive
Middletown, OH 45044 USA
BC Systems

 BC Systems

BC Systems
200 Belle Mead Road
Setauket, NY 11733 USA
US Microwaves

 US Microwaves

US Microwaves
2968 Scott Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95054 USA
S. M. Electronics

 S. M. Electronics

S. M. Electronics
460 S. Highway 5
Fairview, TX 75069 USA
Comdel

Comdel
11 Kondelin Rd.
Gloucester, MA 01930 USA
Reactel

 Reactel Incorporated

Reactel
8031 Cessna Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD 20879 USA
vidaRF

vidaRF
71 Brian Rd
Lancaster, MA 01523 USA
Radiotronix

Radiotronix
905 Messenger Lane
Moore, OK 73160 USA
Colby Instruments

Colby Instruments
1715 114th Avenue SE
Woodridge Building
Suite 112
Bellevue, WA 98004 USA
Tharsus Engineering

Tharsus Engineering
Glen Street, Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, NE31 1NG, UK
Radio-Electronics

Radio-Electronics
Adrio Communications
17 Glebe Road
Dorking Surrey RH4 3DS UK
RFtronics
RFtronics
2621 Green River Road Suite 105
Corona, CA 92882 USA
Applied Wave Research (AWR)

 Applied Wave Research (AWR)

Applied Wave Research (AWR)
1960 E. Grand Avenue, Suite 430 El Segundo, CA 90245 USA
FotoFab

 FotoFab

FotoFab
3758 W. Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618 USA
American Standard Circuits (ASC)

 ASC HQ

American Standard Circuits (ASC)
475 Industrial Drive, West Chicago, IL 60185 USA

American Microwave Corporation (AMC)

American Microwave Corporation (AMC)
7311-G Grove Road
Frederick, MD 21704 USA
Microwave Circuits

 Microwave Circuits

Microwave Circuits
1611 Kemper Street
Lynchburg, VA 24501 USA
Coaxial Dynamics

 Coaxial Dynamics

Coaxial Dynamics Headquarters - Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Coaxial Dynamics
6800 Lake Abram Drive
Middleburg Heights, OH 44130 USA
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