Brad Gana’s Texas Home, Destroyed By Hurricane Ike, Faces Foreclosure

The Huffington Post
Harry Bradford
First Posted: 10/31/11 07:01 PM ET
Updated: 10/31/11 11:22 PM ET

Even those that continue to make payments on a house that no longer exists aren’t immune to foreclosure.

Brad Gana, of Seabrook, Texas is being threatened with foreclosure over a home that hasn’t existed since it was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008, local Houston 2 News reports. Furthermore, after the hurricane, which cost the Texas shoreline an estimated $11 billion in damages, reduced the property to an empty slab of concrete, Gana alleges he continued to make payments.

In the meantime, Bank of America, the mortgage lender, took out a forced homeowner’s policy on the property and raised monthly payments. Gana, however, says he was never notified of the change since his mailbox was destroyed by what’s come to be known as the third-most destructive hurricane ever to hit the United States.

The story is only latest public relations mix-up for the company that recently lost its status as the largest bank in the country. It was reported earlier this month that one family, also living in the Houston area, faces foreclosure due to an untransferred title and in spite of making payments on time.

In another case, Bank of America foreclosed on an elderly couple in Pasco County, Florida, in part because they made a payment too early.

But it’s not just foreclosures that has people angry at the bank. BofA made a $6.2 billion profit last quarter, after announcing in September that it would start charging customers a $5 fee to use debit cards next year.

The consequent backlash, led in part by the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been so widespread that the bank is among those reconsidering its position on the idea, CNN Money reports.

Despite repeated stories of allegedly wrongful foreclosures, it appears not everybody is so sympathetic to the affected homeowners. A New York Times op-ed by Joe Nocera, published last week, detailed an office Halloween party from last year at a “foreclosure mill” firm in which employees mockingly dressed as foreclosure victims. A section of the office also appears decorated as a row of foreclosed homes.

As for Gana, he says he can’t understand why a bank would take out a homeowner’s policy on a house that’s no longer there, then threaten the homeowner with foreclosure.

“I was shocked when they said they were foreclosing on it,” he told Houston 2 News. “Bank of America is ruthless in their incompetency.”

via Brad Gana's Texas Home, Destroyed By Hurricane Ike, Faces Foreclosure [WATCH].

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Pilots could soon be monitored with remote ‘mind-reading’ helmets

Are you awake in there? Pilots could soon be monitored with  ‘mind-reading’ helmets to ensure they are in full control

Miniature EEG scanners now fit in helmet

Can ‘read’ electrical activity in the brain

Monitor pilots for signs of sleep – or panic

By ROB WAUGH

Last updated at 5:24 PM on 30th January 2012

Pilots’ brains will soon be remotely monitored to see if they are in control using brain scanners built into their helmets.

Military commanders will be able to see if a pilot is not responding to a warning light and take over the plane if they are about to crash.

The advanced sensors – in the pilot’s helmet – could also give an indication if they have gone unconscious and allow base control to step in.

Fighter pilot helmets could soon include miniaturised EEG brain scanners which would monitor a pilot’s state of mind while at the controls

The development has been possible thanks to a breakthrough in electroencephalographic (EEG) brain monitoring technology.

Until now the process involved test subjects wearing a heavy cap with lots of wires attached to it in order to be scanned.

Users also had to stay still as movement of parts of the face could interfere with the signal.

The new developments were lead by Scott Makeig, director of the University of California, San Diego’s Swartz Centre for Computational Neuroscience.

He said that his headset weighs around 3.5kilograms and the machinery is still quite heavy, but light enough to transport.

Now the sensors are controlled over a wireless Internet connection and are much more precise because they use better algorithms.

Livescience reported that the difference was ‘akin to listening to a single speaker’s voice in a crowded room’ as opposed to all the noises.

EEG does not read minds but instead monitors the electrical fields that are created by nerves in the brain.

It was first used to monitor brain waves in 1926 but has advanced so much it is now being used in computer games, such as a headset from San Francisco technology company Emotiv.

It is also used in the Star Wars toys Mindflex by Mattel and Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer, which let would-be Jedi practice their light sabre technique just like Luke Skywalker does in the films.

In tests, he and his team have attached it to a jogger on a treadmill and successfully scanned his brain using a wireless Internet connection.

They are still however using conductive gel on the helmet which is something that Emotiv has got around, although it uses fewer electrodes.

Makeig said that what had been developed so far is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

 

via Pilots could soon be monitored with remote ‘mind-reading’ helmets | Mail Online.

Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down

Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut.

By Patrick Miller, David Daw, PCWorld
Jan 28, 2011 5:50 pm

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi

Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you. If you’re trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can’t rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts–essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you’re in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn’t really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop.

However, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make good use of Daihinia ($25, 30-day free trial), an app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we haven’t tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring each device on the network to be within range of the original access point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.

Advanced freedom fighters can set up a portal Web page on their network that explains the way the setup works, with Daihinia instructions and a local download link so they can spread the network even further. Lastly, just add a Bonjour-compatible chat client like Pidgin or iChat, and you’ll be able to talk to your neighbors across the city without needing an Internet connection.

Back to Basics

Remember when you stashed your old modems in the closet because you thought you might need them some day? In the event of a total communications blackout–as we’re seeing in Egypt, for example–you’ll be glad you did. Older and simpler tools, like dial-up Internet or even ham radio, could still work, since these “abandoned” tech avenues aren’t being policed nearly as hard.

In order to get around the total shutdown of all of the ISPs within Egypt, several international ISPs are offering dial-up access to the Internet to get protesters online, since phone service is still operational. It’s slow, but it still works–the hard part is getting the access numbers without an Internet connection to find them.

Unfortunately, such dial-up numbers can also be fairly easily shut down by the Egyptian government, so you could also try returning to FidoNet–a distributed networking system for BBSes that was popular in the 1980s. FidoNet is limited to sending only simple text messages, and it’s slow, but it has two virtues: Users connect asynchronously, so the network traffic is harder to track, and any user can act as the server, which means that even if the government shuts down one number in the network, another one can quickly pop up to take its place.

You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create an ad-hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio, since the signals are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of these efforts are still getting off the ground, but hackers are already cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into and out of the country.

Always Be Prepared

In the land of no Internet connection, the man with dial-up is king. Here are a few gadgets that you could use to prepare for the day they cut the lines.

Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio, a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don’t try to stream any videos with this, now), but it’s exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar.

In response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated shutdown. Bre Pettis, founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor and creator of the Makerbot 3D printer, has called for “Apps for the Appocalypse,” including a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to the Internet. If his comments are any indication, Appocalypse apps may be headed your way soon.

Tons of cool tech are also just waiting to be retrofitted for these purposes. David Dart’s Pirate Box is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file sharing and local P2P purposes, but it wouldn’t take much work to adapt the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the event of an Internet shutdown.

Whether you’re in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with these apps, tools, and techniques, you won’t have to worry about anyone–even your government–keeping you from doing just that.

Patrick Miller hopes he isn’t first against the wall when the revolution comes. Find him on Twitter or Facebook–if you have a working Internet connection, anyway.

David Daw is an accidental expert in ad-hoc networks since his apartment gets no cell reception. Find him on Twitter or send him a ham radio signal.

via Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down | PCWorld.

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