Not Again! Now a Car GPS with a Virus – Right Out of the Box!
tom tom gpsPersonal navigation manufacturer TomTom confirmed this past week that some of its GPS devices were manufactured containing two pieces of malicious code.

“small, isolated number of TomTom GO 910′s” manufactured during the fourth quarter of 2006 “may be infected by a virus,” TomTom said in a statement.

TomTom calls the malicious code a low risk and are telling people to update their PC’s antivirus scanning software and if you don’t have an antivirus software, to install one and scan your PC. One malicious code is a Trojan named “Small.apl” which not only installs the second malicious code, “Perlovga.a” – virus but also adds a back door to the compromised PC.

“Even though it is a back door with limited functionality, [its] very presence changes the situation,” said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior research engineer with Kaspersky, in an e-mail Monday.

“There are a number of postings on the Internet from TomTom purchasers asking for advice about the viruses, going back as far as September 2006,” said Graham Cluley, a Sophos senior technology consultant, in another statement. “But they are the lucky ones who were running an antivirus product and caught the infection before it could cause too much harm. What’s more worrying is how many innocent consumers may be out there who don’t know they might have passed an infection onto their Windows PCs.”

Family Theft Affair
According to Suffolk County police in Lindenhurst, NY, 14 GPS devices were stolen from the city’s snowplows, dump trucks, street sweepers and other vehicles. Unfortunate for the thieves, they thought they had stolen cell phones and planned to sell them. The thieves, a father and son duo along with another person were caught when the Town of Babylon Public Works activated the GPS devices and found that one of the devices was in a home. The police went to the address and found the dad with the device in his hands. So what does this say about role models?

A Portable Generator that turns Trash into Electricity?
Mosier BiorefineryScientist from Purdue University along with Bowen Engineering of Indianapolis, Hutson Electric of Lafayette, Ind. And Community Power Corp. of Littleton, CO have developed a small van sized portable generator that converts food, paper and plastic trash into electricity. The generator was designed for the U.S. military to provide electricity for soldiers in the field.

“This is a very promising technology,” said Michael Ladisch, the professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University who leads the project. “In a very short time it should be ready for use in the military, and I think it could be used outside the military shortly thereafter.”

The ‘tactical biorefinery” separates organic material from residual trash and sends the food waste to the bioreactor where industrial yeast ferments it into ethanol. Residual material is sent to a gasifier where it’s heated under low-oxygen condition and converts into low-grade propane and methane gas.

“At any place with a fair amount of food and scrap waste the biorefinery could help reduce electricity costs, and you might even be able to produce some surplus energy to put back on the electrical grid,” Michael Ladisch said.

The biorefinery produces a very small amount of non-hazardous or benign waste in the form of ash and after two to three days of conversion, there’s enough ash waste to fill a regular sized trash bag.

Library of Congress to Digitize Books
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundations has awarded a grant of $2 million to the Library of Congress for a program to digitize thousands of works, with a major focus on brittle books.

Private companies such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have begun efforts to digitize large volumes of books and the Sloan Foundation will supplement the efforts made.

“It is inspiring to think that one of these books, many of which are in physical jeopardy, might spark the creativity of a future scholar or ordinary citizen who otherwise might not have had access to this wealth of human understanding,” said James H. Billington librarian at the Library of Congress.

Scanning is expected to begin within the next few months and the project will also digitize the American history volumes, genealogy and regimental histories and six collections of rare books including the Benjamin Franklin Collection.