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What do all these things have in common? They are the main topics of inspiration for my father’s books and short stories. He just published on Amazon Kindle his book of mystery and sci-fi short stories. Soon he will publish his books as well. If you like sci-fi, adventure, mystery, medicine, mycology and ancient Mayan culture, you better stay tuned!

Until more material is published, you can buy hard cover versions of his books (only if you are in Spain) in his Bubok website.

Note that all the books and publications are in Spanish.

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I thought it would be a good idea to share some public and openly available resources that I often use at work. They are not spectacular, but they are things than come in handy while working on LTE related stuff or data processing.

  • (LTE) frequency band calculator: In this website you can find an accurate list of all the frequency bands, with their BW, central frequency for uplink and downlink, the separation for duplexing, etc. It also details the LTE bands both for FDD and TDD. Finally, my favorite, it has an automatic translator from frequency to EARFCN. Really useful.
  • LTE PDSCH allocation calculator: Not a big deal, but it is useful when you need to make some quick math in terms of LTE allocation, number of bits you can allocate per symbol with a given configuration, etc.
  • GSM Mobile Network Codes (MNC-MCC): A comprehensive list of all (?) MNC-MCC network codes. So if you sniff traffic from a base station you can tell what provider it is from, etc. Trust me, this can be very useful. For weeks I kept getting the wrong signal (not from my lab base station) at my test UEs and I did not know where it was coming from. Now I know and I managed to cancel that interference.
  • GPS visualizer: This is very useful when you want to plot location data on Google Maps. Do you know how to do it? Me neither. So, do like me, format the data nicely in an Excel file following these instructions and, voila, your data plotted on Google Maps!

I have some other cool resources I use often, but I shared most of them in this blog in the past. My favorite by faaaaaaaaaaar is the online Latex equation editor.

Happy new year everyone!

Let’s hope 2013 will be as good or better than 2012. So far things look good. I just got back from a trip back to the most gorgeous city in the universe (Barcelona), Madrid is 16 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish League, Messi scored 91 goals in 2012 (not 90 like Marca claims… funny that their statistics decide individual trophies but differ from the official ones from LFP, UEFA or FIFA…), work is going well and I am feeling very good. Plus some very cool concerts and shows coming up in the next couple of months…

I wanted to start the year sharing some first impressions (from the media, not mine) about what 2013 might be preparing for us in terms of technology and mainly wireless:

  • Mobile industry predictions: Some late players will enter the arena releasing their very own smart-phones. Devices from Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook (partnering with HTC) are expected to be released. Amazon and Microsoft seem to be partnering with Foxconn in this new venture. Also, new gadgets and cool devices are expected to connect to cellular networks, such as watches that track fitness levels or digital cameras that can connect to the web and take a better photo than a smartphone can. Read more at CNN and Washington Post.
  • The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona rocks: The mobile technology showcase held in Barcelona every February has been, is and will remain the flagship congress for mobile technology. To the point that CTIA, its main US counterpart, will move its main event to fall 2014 and discontinue their second yearly event in an effort to get out from under the shadow of the Mobile World Congress. They better find a good location or it will be complicated… If you want to know why hundreds of thousands of people keep attending, year after year, a conference in the exact same location, go visit Barcelona. Trust me, you’ll understand. Read more about the changes in CTIA here.

Have a nice day!

2013

Working in cybersecurity is fascinating and I am very happy with my job. However, when I talk about it, people tend to picture me like an old school computer hacker from the movies, trying to get into the FBI website or the CIA. Somebody like Boris Grishenko from 007’s Goldeneye. My work, though, is a bit different and, despite it involves a rather large amount of coding in Python, Java and Matlab, does not involve hacking into computers. I am actually quite bad with Linux environments and shell programming.

My work involves identifying new security vulnerabilities in low layers of cellular networks and determine whether proof of concept threats are, indeed, a threat. Also, to keep myself distracted and working in different new things, I also work on other projects involving data analysis and Android development. You can find out a bit more about my work here.

Anyhow, I am very interested in anything that is very hands on and also anything related to security of wireless systems. And if you combine both, I am even more interested. This is why I found this article specially interesting. I was already familiar with the vulnerabilities identified in insulin pumps and pace makers, but this looks to me like the first security system aiming to secure embedded devices. Very interesting.

From IEEE The Institute:

A team of professors and graduate students from Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind., and Princeton University recently developed a prototype firewall that could go a long way in warding off attacks.

The group includes Meng Zhang, an electrical engineering graduate student at Princeton; IEEE Fellow Anand Raghunathan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue; and IEEE Fellow Niraj K. Jha, a professor of electrical engineering at Princeton.

The team was inspired to develop its prototype, Medmon, after researching the vulnerability of a variety of medical devices in 2011, including pacemakers, glucose-monitoring and insulin-delivery systems, neural implants, and so-called smart prosthetics. “Our work showed that these are surprisingly easy to hack,” Raghunathan says.

Developing Medmon was a challenge, according to the researchers. Unlike your computer, medical devices are more complicated when it comes to protection. “Unfortunately, many of the solutions that have been developed for other classes of computing platforms, such as servers, PCs, and mobile phones, cannot be used for medical devices due to the extreme computation and battery constraints,” Raghunathan says, “and because of the unique way medical appliances are used.”

Medmon works by monitoring all communications to and from wireless medical devices in its vicinity, using algorithms such as multilayered anomaly detection to spot malicious communications.

“It triggers response mechanisms that could warn the user or jam the malicious communication,” Raghunathan explains. “This is similar to how firewalls secure home or corporate computer networks, by identifying and blocking malicious traffic.”

In a test, the researchers used Medmon to protect against an attack on a diabetes patient’s system consisting of a glucose monitor and an insulin pump. Although the prototype still needs work, the team predicts several possibilities for it. Medmon could be built into a separate unit worn by a patient with a medical implant or a wearable device, Jha says, or it could be integrated into a mobile device such as a smartphone or watch. “But this will require us to significantly reduce the size of our prototype while increasing its energy efficiency,” he adds.

I have been meaning to share this with all of you who visit my blog. I personally enjoy checking my blog stats and seeing how people reach this site, what do they search or what are they interested in.

The most seen post in this blog was the one on the day of the iPhone 4S presentation. Listing the links of sites where one could follow the event live brought thousands of visitors that day. Discarding that one, though, the ranking of visited posts is unexpected – at least to me- and is mostly not purely tech-related:

  1. Building the Lego Universe (dozens of people end here when googling “legos”)
  2. Matlab R2010b (with license) for free for Columbia students (when I was a student I also wanted things for free… and Matlab for free is as yummy as a candy box in a kindergarten playground)
  3. Handover between UMTS/LTE and wLAN (well, at least some people interested in wireless comm stuff…)
  4. A hamster co-author of a research paper by the Nobel of Physics Andre Geim (my favorite non-tech post in this blog. One further, and real, example of how science is just beautiful, fun and unpredictable)
  5. The Expendables (you would never guess how many people end here when googling for Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, etc. By the way, I feel the moral obligation to state again that seeing Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis on screen at the same time in the same scene was the greatest movie moment of my whole life and should be explained in future text books. I can’t wait for The Expendables II. It seems the 3 of them are actual characters, no cameos!)

The rest of the ranking includes many tech-related posts, which makes me feel good about this site.

Finally, I wanted to add a random sample of the top search words used in Google to reach this site:

  • lombard street
  • south park awesom-0 (hell yes!)
  • sylvester stallone and arnold schwarzenegger (a knee on the floor while I type this one)
  • h.a.m.s. ter tisha (for when a movie about his/her life?)
  • nokia old school (everything is better old school…)
  • windows crash screen (I swear I never said anything that bad about windows)

That’s all for today.

This morning, at about 8.15am, there was a lot of people in the subway. As usual on weekdays at that time. Inside the car I was riding, I counted 11 people playing with their phones. From my vantage point, I could check that 5 of them were playing videogames. I was able to discern that game everyone likes where you basically just cut in half different kinds of fruit. I also spotted someone playing Angry Birds.

And then I started thinking about something. 10 years ago, if you saw a guy playing a Game Boy or a Game Gear in the subway, you would think he was a nerd. And if you were a girl, chances are you would not think “oh, how cute!”. In parallel, if you saw a girl in the subway playing videogames, you were either still asleep dreaming about girls playing videogames in the subway, or you were witnessing something that, statistically, was very rare.

Nowadays, when somebody is seen playing videogames in the subway, nobody cares. At most, people will think “oh, how cool, he has the new iPhone 4S”. Actually, tablets and cell-phones are predicted to be the main competition in the videogame industry against consoles and computer games.

That’s it. These were my subway reflections this morning on my way to work. Have a good day everyone!

WordPress just notified me that I have posted so far 199 entries and suggested me to go for the 200th. Who am I to disobey WordPress?

I’ll just comment a couple of things that happened over the last few days:


And now, in case I get lazy and do not post again before the Christmas break, Happy Holidays everyone!!!

 

Whoever designs these algorithms better start over or something. Facebook just suggested me to like Real Madrid based on the fact that I am an FC Barcelona fan. Surrealistic. And proof of such ignorance. Zuckerberg, one more like this and I cancel my account.

Ps. This entry is a bit uncorrelated with the blog, but any soccer fan will understand my big frustration…

It is Monday again, and it seems we are all here. After a crazy week with an earthquake and a hurricane, things go back to normal. Well, sort of… for some people, it is clearly not a typical Monday morning. If you don’t believe me, ask this guy who was riding his jet ski on the streets of Newark this morning:

“Disappointing” was the most used word by New Yorkers in the social networks. I agree, it was disappointing, very disappointing. But I think that it was a good idea to be very preventive – subway shut off, evacuations, etc – just in case.

All in all, it was not a bad weekend. I went for a run in – a very windy – Central Park, I saw Manchester United defeat 8-2 Arsenal – sorry guys, we needed Fabregas back in Barcelona… I can tell you miss him -, saw RCD Espanyol – my second team after FC Barcelona – loose in Mallorca, saw a couple of movies – George Romero’s Land of the Dead (disappointing), Russel Brand’s Arthur, Limitless – and saw the beginning of the storm from the bar downstairs…

Nothing interesting to write a post about today so I’ll briefly link two interesting things from last week:

  • Details on how RSA was hacked. Is it me or the phishing email seems way too simple? Who opened that? As the author argues, it is difficult to categorize the attack as an APT… the target and exploitation was advanced, but definitively not the delivery.

Soft Handover is back. I have not been publishing over the last two weeks because I drove with a friend from NYC all the way down to the southernmost point of continental USA, in Key West FL. All in all it was a great and very fun experience, but I also learned many things, some of them technology/Internet-related. I will talk about those on a series of upcoming posts. For today, I am just going to talk about the non-technology-related details.

The tour took us to Atlantic City, Philadelphia, DC, Raleigh NC, Myrtel Beach SC, Savannah GA, Cocoa Beach FL, Miami Beach and Key West FL.

My first conclusion is that there is nothing like Las Vegas. Even on a Monday in January Vegas offers a huge list of activities, shows and tons of people. Atlantic City, on the other hand, looks empty and a bit depressing on a Monday in January. However, one can still win some money or at least last for a long while without loosing much applying probabilistics to the roulette.

About Philadelphia I will just say two things. As a Rocky fan, I finally got my picture next to Rocky’s statue and a video running upstairs on the Museum of Art. Also, as part of hour Man vs Food during the road trip, we had the best Philly Cheesesteak ever at Jim’s Steaks.

In DC, after asking the Capitol guide about Dan Brown’s book The Lost Symbol, she explained me how everyone asks about it and how most of the things in the book are fake. There are no such dungeons in the Capitol or hidden rooms. Also, I was somehow disappointed to find out that Dan Brown does not describe with accracy the Apotheosis of Washington and changes some things in it. Something very unexpected considering that he claims to describe the works of art in a very accurate manner.

In North Carolina and South Carolina they have many things. My favorite? Food. Southern food is simply delicious… and very unhealthy. For the best breakfast/lunch/brunch in Raleigh – and probably in the entire state of SC – go to Big Ed’s.

Savannah was the first place that started getting warm – in the 50s to 60s -. I had heard of it from some movies I had seen – not Gone With the Wind, I haven’t seen that one and I had no idea it takes place there – but for some reason I hadn’t anticipated how beautiful it is. One of the best stops in the trip. Beautiful city with lots of people, mostly locals in January, and great bars. They even have the club that resembles the most to Barcelona clubs I have seen so far in the US – note that I lived in LA and now I live in NYC-.

Cocoa Beach was my favorite place throughout the trip. Beautiful and quiet beach town. One of the main surf spots of the East Coast with the biggest surf store in the US, Ron Jon Surf Shop. It is warm here in January and once can wear shorts and flip flops during the day. And, it is not just a beautiful, relaxing and quiet place but it is located right next to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Cannaveral. If you are ever there, you cannot miss stopping by its visitor center, a small-scale space-devoted Disneyland.

I expected Miami Beach very different. Being from Spain and having been in Lloret de Mar, Salou, Benicassim, etc, Miami does not impress me. It does have very good art exhibits and night life. I did not like that people can smoke in bars and restaurants. If you are in South Beach, I would suggest going to a restaurant on Española Way called Tapas y Tintos. Very decent tapas prepared by a very nice cook from Castellón.

What to say about Key West. The drive from Miami to there is beautiful and that place is the closest one can find to Caribbean beaches and landscapes in the US. Very nice locals. For a great local experience with great beer – ask for the home made amber – and live music, go to the famous Captain Tony’s Bar.

As I said, I will be back soon with technological-related things I learned during the trip as well as some advise. Expect tricks to find really cheap hotels downtown wherever you want, Android Apps that make a road trip more fun and how Yelp is my personal adviser now.

About me:

Born in Barcelona, moved to Los Angeles at age 24, ended in NYC, where I enjoy life, tweet about music and work as a geek in security for wireless networks.
All the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and are not related to my employer.
About me: http://rogerpiquerasjover.net/

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