33 Thomas Street (formerly the AT&T Long Lines Building) is a 550-foot-tall (170 m) skyscraper in Civic Center, Lower Manhattan, New York City. It stands on the east side of Church Street, between Thomas Street and Worth Street. The building is an example of the Brutalist architectural style. It is a telephone exchange or wire center building which contained three major 4ESS switches used for interexchange (long distance) telephony, as well as a number of other switches used for competitive local exchange carrier services. However, it is not used for incumbent local exchange carrier services, and is not a central office. The CLLI code for this facility is NYCMNYBW. The building has also been described as the likely location of a National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance hub codenamed TITANPOINTE.
- "33 Thomas Street" | 2019-11-17 | 156 Upvotes 59 Comments
Area code 710 is a special area code, reserved to the federal government of the United States in 1983. As of December 2006, it had only one working number, 710-NCS-GETS (710-627-4387), which requires a special access code to use.
See Government Emergency Telecommunications Service for more information on this service.
- "Area code 710" | 2017-06-10 | 356 Upvotes 81 Comments
The Arecibo message is a 1974 interstellar radio message carrying basic information about humanity and Earth sent to globular star cluster M13. It was meant as a demonstration of human technological achievement, rather than a real attempt to enter into a conversation with extraterrestrials.
The message was broadcast into space a single time via frequency modulated radio waves at a ceremony to mark the remodeling of the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico on 16 November 1974. The message was aimed at the current location of M13 some 25,000 light years away because M13 was a large and close collection of stars that was available in the sky at the time and place of the ceremony. The message forms the image shown here when translated into graphics, characters, and spaces.
- "Arecibo message" | 2018-05-09 | 73 Upvotes 46 Comments
Bitmessage is a decentralized, encrypted, peer-to-peer, trustless communications protocol that can be used by one person to send encrypted messages to another person, or to multiple subscribers.
In June 2013, the software experienced a surge of new adoptions after news reports of email surveillance by the US National Security Agency.
Bitmessage was conceived by software developer Jonathan Warren, who based its design on the decentralized digital currency, bitcoin. The software was released in November 2012 under the MIT license.
Bitmessage gained a reputation for being out of reach of warrantless wiretapping conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA), due to the decentralized nature of the protocol, and its encryption being difficult to crack. As a result, downloads of the Bitmessage program increased fivefold during June 2013, after news broke of classified email surveillance activities conducted by the NSA.
Bitmessage has also been mentioned as an experimental alternative to email by Popular Science and CNET.
Some ransomware programs instruct affected users to use Bitmessage to communicate with the attackers.
- "Bitmessage: a decentralized, encrypted, trustless communications protocol" | 2016-10-15 | 70 Upvotes 26 Comments
Claude Elwood Shannon (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as "the father of information theory". Shannon is noted for having founded information theory with a landmark paper, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", that he published in 1948.
He is also well known for founding digital circuit design theory in 1937, when—as a 21-year-old master's degree student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—he wrote his thesis demonstrating that electrical applications of Boolean algebra could construct any logical numerical relationship. Shannon contributed to the field of cryptanalysis for national defense during World War II, including his fundamental work on codebreaking and secure telecommunications.
- "Claude Shannon" | 2009-12-03 | 25 Upvotes 12 Comments
Comfort noise (or comfort tone) is synthetic background noise used in radio and wireless communications to fill the artificial silence in a transmission resulting from voice activity detection or from the audio clarity of modern digital lines.
Some modern telephone systems (such as wireless and VoIP) use voice activity detection (VAD), a form of squelching where low volume levels are ignored by the transmitting device. In digital audio transmissions, this saves bandwidth of the communications channel by transmitting nothing when the source volume is under a certain threshold, leaving only louder sounds (such as the speaker's voice) to be sent. However, improvements in background noise reduction technologies can occasionally result in the complete removal of all noise. Although maximizing call quality is of primary importance, exhaustive removal of noise may not properly simulate the typical behavior of terminals on the PSTN system.
The result of receiving total silence, especially for a prolonged period, has a number of unwanted effects on the listener, including the following:
- the listener may believe that the transmission has been lost, and therefore hang up prematurely.
- the speech may sound "choppy" (see noise gate) and difficult to understand.
- the sudden change in sound level can be jarring to the listener.
To counteract these effects, comfort noise is added, usually on the receiving end in wireless or VoIP systems, to fill in the silent portions of transmissions with artificial noise. The noise generated is at a low but audible volume level, and can vary based on the average volume level of received signals to minimize jarring transitions.
In many VoIP products, users may control how VAD and comfort noise are configured, or disable the feature entirely.
As part of the RTP audio video profile, RFC 3389 defines a standard for distributing comfort noise information in VoIP systems.
A similar concept is that of sidetone, the effect of sound that is picked up by a telephone's mouthpiece and introduced (at low level) into the earpiece of the same handset, acting as feedback.
During the siege of Leningrad, the beat of a metronome was used as comfort noise on the Leningrad radio network, indicating that the network was still functioning.
Many radio stations broadcast birdsong, city-traffic or other atmospheric comfort noise during periods of deliberate silence. For example, in the UK, silence is observed on Remembrance Sunday, and London's quiet city ambiance is used. This is to reassure the listener that the station is on-air, but primarily to prevent silence detection systems at transmitters from automatically starting backup tapes of music (designed to be broadcast in the case of transmission link failure).
- "Comfort Noise" | 2009-10-31 | 54 Upvotes 10 Comments
The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), also known as the "Digital Telephony Act," is a United States wiretapping law passed in 1994, during the presidency of Bill Clinton (Pub. L. No. 103-414, 108 Stat. 4279, codified at 47 USC 1001-1010).
CALEA's purpose is to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct lawful interception of communication by requiring that telecommunications carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment modify and design their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they have built-in capabilities for targeted surveillance, allowing federal agencies to selectively wiretap any telephone traffic; it has since been extended to cover broadband Internet and VoIP traffic. Some government agencies argue that it covers mass surveillance of communications rather than just tapping specific lines and that not all CALEA-based access requires a warrant.
The original reason for adopting CALEA was the Federal Bureau of Investigation's worry that increasing use of digital telephone exchange switches would make tapping phones at the phone company's central office harder and slower to execute, or in some cases impossible. Since the original requirement to add CALEA-compliant interfaces required phone companies to modify or replace hardware and software in their systems, U.S. Congress included funding for a limited time period to cover such network upgrades. CALEA was passed into law on October 25, 1994 and came into force on January 1, 1995.
In the years since CALEA was passed it has been greatly expanded to include all VoIP and broadband Internet traffic. From 2004 to 2007 there was a 62 percent growth in the number of wiretaps performed under CALEA – and more than 3,000 percent growth in interception of Internet data such as email.
By 2007, the FBI had spent $39 million on its Digital Collection System Network (DCSNet) system, which collects, stores, indexes, and analyzes communications data.
- "CALEA requires telecoms to install surveillance equipment in their datacenters" | 2013-06-11 | 39 Upvotes 7 Comments
The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act (COVFEFE Act) is a bill introduced into the United States House of Representatives in 2017 (on June 12), during the 115th United States Congress.
The bill would amend the Presidential Records Act to preserve Twitter posts and other social media interactions of the President of the United States, and to require the National Archives to store such items.
U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, introduced the legislation in the wake of Donald Trump's routine use of Twitter, stating "In order to maintain public trust in government, elected officials must answer for what they do and say; this includes 140-character tweets. If the president is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference." If enacted, the bill "would bar the prolifically tweeting president from deleting his posts, as he has sometimes done."
If the bill were enacted, it would see US law treat US presidents' personal social media accounts (such as Trump's "@realDonaldTrump" Twitter account) the same as "official" social media accounts (such as the "@POTUS" Twitter account).
In radio communications, an evolved antenna is an antenna designed fully or substantially by an automatic computer design program that uses an evolutionary algorithm that mimics Darwinian evolution. This procedure has been used in recent years to design a few antennas for mission-critical applications involving stringent, conflicting, or unusual design requirements, such as unusual radiation patterns, for which none of the many existing antenna types are adequate.
- "Evolved antenna" | 2018-11-14 | 192 Upvotes 67 Comments
The IBM Simon Personal Communicator (simply known as IBM Simon) is a handheld, touchscreen PDA designed by International Business Machines (IBM), and manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric. BellSouth Cellular Corp. distributed the Simon Personal Communicator in the United States between August 1994 and February 1995, selling 50,000 units. The Simon Personal Communicator was the first personal digital assistant or PDA to include telephony features. The battery lasted only an hour, and flip phones became increasingly slim which led to its demise.