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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2005

Red light and red cap ethics

We have the technology to hack into school admission databases to find information. We have the means to bug, and mine information from sensitive gatherings like the upcoming gathering of cardinals to name a papal successor. We even have anti-technology like lo-tech sprays to confuse red-light cameras.

But should we use the edge?

Is there a price for our impatience, to get ahead, to know the score?


It will cost a mere $24.95 for the invincibility of blowing a red light without a traffic fine.

Previous generations of speed freaks used dash-mounted fuzz-busters to help "decent people" avoid the "inconvenience" of a traffic fine. But for $24.95 a red-light spray will opaque a license plate s surface to make it unreadable to traffic enforcement cameras.

The pattern of speed and other high-risk moves leads to the "inconvenience" of traffic injuries and fatalities to "decent people."

The technological goal is not to harass motorists, but to thin the 218,000 crashes, 181,000 injuries, and black hole of $14 billion in related medical and damage costs according to the World Health Organization.

Recently, business school hopefuls at several universities used a hacker s tip to view their admissions decisions before they were released. Some of the universities declared this an ethics violation and punished applicants by denying their admission.


Nope. Minor ethics violations at the very beginning of a business education set one on a very slippery slope.

Now, do we really expect religious leaders to break their oaths of secrecy at the upcoming conclave in Rome? There is tremendous temptation to do just that with handy cell phones, and personal data organizers that can be turned into eavesdropping devices. One would be hard-pressed to find a group more devoted to resisting temptation, but having the gadgets to overrule.

Yet as technology gives us more and more opportunity to take the quick and easy way we must rely on systems without any circuits or chips. Our lo-tech conscience.

As things speed up we need to pick our spots, slow down, and resist using the edge.

May 17-20.

That s the date of the E3 video game industry trade show in Los Angeles when game manufactures show off their newest stuff. Why wait until the 17th? Microsoft plans to unveil its next Xbox (including footage of new games and online play) on MTV on May 12. Elijah Wood will play host with a feature performance from The Killers.

Don t be surprised to see Sony try to steal the thunder and hold a press conference earlier in the day to tout its next-generation PlayStation.

A barrage of fraudulent e-mails linked to a bogus Web site appears timed to Microsoft s regularly scheduled security update this week.

The "trojan horse/zombie" program (Troj/DSNX-05) allows hackers to control other personal computers. Look for scam e-mail headings that come from "Urgent Windows Update," "Windows Update," "Important Windows Update," or "Update Your Windows Machine," and avoid (delete without opening).

Microsoft always cautions that they never would use e-mails with attached software, and that microsoft.com is the only place to get authentic security upgrades for Mircosoft products.

Most people realize this.

Small item from the birth of the internet September 1969. A Honeywell DDP 516 based at UCLA was turned on and hooked to circuits at two other sites in the infant four-node network of computers at UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. The group at UCLA hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and send data. They would start by typing "login."

They typed a "L" and asked on the phone for confirmation. Yes, we see the L was the response.

They typed an "O," and an "O" was confirmed.

They typed a "G," and the system crashed.


Only 66 days remaining before the June 18 Grandma s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. Training partner Lorrie has repaired, but not enough to run in Saturday s Glass City Marathon relay. The Blade s team (Dale Emch, Kim Bates, Steve Murphy, Kevin Cesarz, and Julie Weidner) ran a solid 3:47.44 into a chilly headwind on a beautiful morning. The run past the Toledo Zoo during the Glass City previewed the upcoming Dart Frog Dash 5K on April 23.

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