Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Canadian Supreme Court rules police need wiretap authority to seize text messages

This just in from Canada's TheStar.com: “Text messaging is, in essence, an electronic conversation,” wrote Justice Rosalie Abella for her colleagues, Morris Fish and Louis LeBel. “The only practical difference between text messaging and the traditional voice communications is the transmission process.”

Click here to read the whole story.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'll be in Phoenix

I'm off to Phoenix to a little work with Amped Software's VideoScanner. Feel free to drop me a note if you want to get together for a chat, or want some quick instruction on AVID, Adobe, Amped, and etc.

:)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Demonstratives and the language of colour

The primary purpose of the tools we use everyday - AVID and PremeierPro for example, is the creation of demonstratives (or illustrative evidence) for court or our clients involved in the criminal justice system. We highlight a person, spotlight a face, obscure a face, draw an arrow towards a feature, and etc.

We've been discussing communication a lot here locally, and it occurred to me that (perhaps) we might be missing something in our decision making process - when we create our demonstratives. We might be missing the language of colour.

"If one says “Red” (the name of a color) and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different colors." Josef Albers (1975)

For example, red means danger or love in the U.S, death in Egypt, and life in India. White means purity in the U.S. but death in China and Japan. Therefore, chose your colors with your global audience in mind.

Thus it becomes important to consider colour as language - as a mode of communicating. "Color motivates, excites, draws attention and provides emphasis. It is one part of the coordinated effort to effectively communicate in information design. Color has long been thought to be only for embellishment or decoration. But if used intelligently, color can help give visual order to complex information. It can attract, enlighten and engage, and thus, add value."

Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

California Courts Recommend Fee To View Public Files, Information

This just in from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Viewing a public file at the Santa Rosa courthouse will cost $10 under a proposal from the state's judicial branch that is drawing fire from critics who say it will limit access to public information.

The new search fee is among 11 recommendations from a panel of judges, lawyers and legislators that have been sent to the governor to be added to his budget.

They were offered as a way to offset $1 billion in cuts to the superior court system over the past four years that have closed facilities, brought longer lines and postponed courthouse construction.

Combined, the recommendations are expected to raise $30 million statewide. The search fee alone would generate $6 million, said a spokesman for the Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the courts.

"It's just another way of paying for the service that is provided," Sonoma County Superior Court's presiding judge, Rene Chouteau, said Monday. Chouteau was on a working group that drafted the proposals.

But the fee is under attack from open government advocates and some journalists who say it will create a financial barrier to public documents. Peter Scheer of the San Rafael-based First Amendment Coalition criticized its inclusion in Gov. Jerry Brown's budget bill rather than in sponsored legislation as a way to limit opposition.

"This will alter and in this case diminish the scope of a personal right of citizenship," Scheer said. "It should not be done by trailer bill in the dark of night."

State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, also is opposed to the fee. Evans, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the state's courts cannot become a fee-for-service agency ..."

Click here to continue reading the story.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How we communicate

In a recent exchange of e-mail, a discussion ensued about the nature of communication and the transmission of vital information ... along the lines of how we assure that juries "hear" what we "say."

Here's an older article, but a great study on communication:

"Communication is the transmission of information, and there are many ways to implement it. You may be surprised that digital and personal communications protocols are remarkably alike. But given that communications theory is a mathematical theory, as opposed to say a physical one, it makes perfect sense."

"The transport layer allows for endpoint connection handling and reliable delivery.

“Hello, Hey!” -> TCP SYN, open a connection
Nodding, eye contact, “yeah” -> ACK, “got it”
“What? Hm? confused look” -> NACK, resend
“Ummmm” -> Buffering…
“Bye” -> FIN, close connection

Note that the protocols are optimized to reduce overhead. The bits of communication that are used simply to facilitate communication are kept to a minimum. “Hey, what, bye, thanks, yeah” are all very short, easy to say words. Also, it’s annoying to talk to someone that’s not looking at you since you don’t know if your information is getting through or not.

You’re probably also noticing how much more diverse the human counterparts are. Redundancy provides robustness at the cost of efficiency and simplicity. This is a key difference between biological and synthetic systems."

It continues ... and is quite fascinating.

Enjoy.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Infrared photography

Here's a nice introduction to Infrared Photography. Of course, one of the things not mentioned is how clothing (fabric) reflects differently than the landscape - making IR imaging perfect for counter-surveillance (those camouflage clothes don't blend so well when seen in IR).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How do you define your skill set?

Do you work with "video?" Most FVA's will say, of course. When asked if they work with "audio," many will respond that someone else handles audio. But, what about the audio track on a VHS tape, or in a DME file?

I started working on audio years ago, and I find that many of the processes - especially the frequency based processes - are transferable between my audio work and my video work. Here's an example - FFT for pattern noise removal. You can do FFT functions with Amped FIVE for images and video. But the process is the same as an audio notch filter. Gaussian functions in image editors are the same as pass filters in audio editors ... and so on.

So, don't be afraid to venture into the audio section of your multimedia book store. And ... who knows ... maybe you'll see some audio editing / clarification instruction at LEVA in the not-so-distant future (if you don't ask for it, they won't offer it - right?!).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Microcassettes and Adobe Audition

Here's an interesting question that came out from left field. I haven't had a microcassette question in years, but here it goes. It turns out, someone is still using an old tape recorder out in the field and recorded interviews at 1.2 cm/s to double the available recording time on the tape (the original standard microcassette, the MC60, gives 30 minutes recording per side at its standard speed of 2.4 cm/s, and double that duration at 1.2 cm/s). But, now, that tape's needed for court. What do you do to get rid of the "chipmunks" that have inhabited your editing bay?

I'm assuming that you can play it into Adobe Audition, and that your input/record settings are ready to go. We'll start the fixing process once the record session is complete ... what to do with the file.



The command that you're looking for is called Interpret Sample Rate, found in the Edit menu. Since there's only two settings possible on the recorder, 2.4 cm/s and 1.2 cm/s - if you've got chipmunks ... it's been recorded at the 1.2 cm/s setting. In this case, reduce your sample rate by half. I know, it seems counter intuitive, but it works (think time-lapse video).



The nice thing about this process is that if you digitize your tape at a sample rate of 44,100 Hz, reducing the sample rate to 22,050 Hz won't really affect the audible quality of the file - since we're just talking about human speech (interviews).

Try it and see for yourself.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New approach to production of forensic evidence to be rolled out in the UK

This just in from the UK's Justice Ministry: "Rollout in April 2013 of initiative to cut costs, bureaucracy and delays across England and Wales.

Guidance is now available on a new approach by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to the production of forensic evidence at court.

Streamlined Forensic Reporting (SFR) is to be rolled out across the criminal justice system to reduce costs, bureaucracy and delays.

The scheme has been led by the London Criminal Justice Partnership in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police and London CPS.

It is publicly endorsed by the Senior Presiding Judge and is being championed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

How SFR works

The idea is to avoid at an early stage the full production of unnecessary forensic evidence.
This is achieved by the early preparation of a short report specifying key pieces of forensic evidence the CPS is relying on.

This will be sufficient for charging purposes and initial hearings. But if any issues crop up about the evidence these can then be looked at during the case management process.

If early agreement isn’t reached on forensic issues, there is still the benefit of identifying the contested areas as early as possible.

Further forensic evidence will only be produced if it proves relevant to a live issue in the case ..."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fake forensic conferences?

Recently, I posted an article about the predatory publisher OMICS Group. Well, it seems that there's more news on that front.

A recent article, "OMICS Goes from “Predatory Publishing” to “Predatory Meetings” features the group's move into the forensic conference space.

"Now new evidence has surfaced revealing that OMICS, which is also in the business of organizing scientific conferences, has been 1) using the names of scientists, oftentimes without their permission, to invite participants to their meetings, 2) promoting their meetings by giving them names that are deceptively similar to other well-established meetings that have been held for years by scientific societies, and 3) refusing to refund registration fees, even if their meetings are cancelled."

"... OMICS intentionally gives its conferences names that are similar to the names of longstanding, authentic conferences held by scientific societies. For example, OMICS uses the name Entomology-2013 for one of its conferences, the same name (minus the hyphen) that the Entomological Society of America (ESA) uses for its annual meeting. Moreover, ESA plans to host the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) in 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Coincidentally (or not?), OMICS uses a very similar name, the “International Conference of Entomology,” for its meeting, also to be held in Orlando.

This has led to obvious confusion among entomologists, some of whom believe they are participating with ESA meetings after receiving solicitations from OMICS ..."

The author concludes, "I strongly recommend, in the strongest terms possible, that all scholars from all countries avoid doing business in any way with the OMICS Group. Do not submit papers. Do not agree to serve on their editorial boards. Do not register for or attend their conferences.

Also, be aware that OMICS has established a separate brand called SciTechnol that operates much the same as OMICS. OMICS may be experimenting with additional web brands designed to funnel people to the OMICS web pages."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Amped FIVE training in the mid west ... coming soon

We're putting together an Amped FIVE training session for the southern Oklahoma / north Texas area, working out the dates and location. But, enough people in the area have asked ... so it's off to the mid west this summer. If you're interested in being added to the list when the class offering goes live, send me a note @jimhoerricks.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Adobe Presenter

Some folks were asking about jazzing up their presentations, breaking out of the "death by bullet points" PowerPoint mode. My suggestion, take their presentations to a new level with Adobe Presenter.

With Adobe Presenter, you can take all of your existing presentations and add richness with video, audio narrations, and much more. And, unlike working with Microsoft's PowerPoint natively, you can pull your videos to the sidebar - like a talking head shot - so your presentation and video can run side by side ... illustrating elements of the crime, featuring your smiling face talking about what's on the slides, and etc.

It's worth a look. Best yet, you can test drive it for free. At US$499, it's a nice addition to your tool box.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Legal issues to consider with cloud computing

Here's an interesting article on legal issues to consider when contemplating moving to the cloud. And, as an example, here's an article on the City of Los Angeles' problems with Google Apps.

The biggest question in my mind, what happens to your files when your agency is late in paying the bill? Will the service block access to your important case files? Hmm

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PhotoDNA catches child porn in Verizon's cloud storage

Here's a great story about how Verizon found child porn in its cloud storage.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is Forensics Law?

The Center for Internet and Society offers an interesting article, "... Forensic science or “forensics” refers to the use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in connection with crimes or civil wrongs. It includes everything from the magnifying glass of yesteryear to today's handheld sensor that can detect whether a body is buried under the ground. Its basic mechanism is to turn the scene of a crime into a crime scene, i.e., to convert the ordinary stuff of life into clues and evidence. Like traffic light cameras, forensics makes crimes harder to get away with. But unlike standard secondary architecture, forensics does so after the fact. Sometimes long after the fact, as when brand new techniques permit investigators to reopen cold cases ..."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vibrance vs Saturation in Photoshop

Check out this outstanding illustration of the difference between Vibrance and Saturation in Photoshop by Howard Pinsky.