Privacy Issues Surrounding Biometric Technology

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have provoked in-depth discussion and study of existing security measures, their deficiencies, and how to enhance security to prevent similar terrorist attacks from occurring in the future. Biometric technology has risen to the top of the list as a possible solution. The government is not the only entity exploring biometric security systems. The financial services industry see biometrics as a way to curb identity theft. Biometrics are intrinsic physical characteristics used to identify individuals. The most commonly used biometric is fingerprints but others include, handprints, facial features, iris & retinal scans, and voice recognition.

Soon after 9/11 there were calls for the issuance of national ID cards containing biometric information on an RFID chip implanted on the card. The argument is that national ID cards will increase security by identifying individuals with their unique fingerprints which are much more difficult to counterfeit than standard photo ID cards. There is also a movement toward biometric passports. It looks like biometric passports are coming soon. National ID cards may follow.

Biometric identification is nothing new. Humans have been identifying other humans biometrically since the beginning of time. You recognize people you know by their facial features, their voice, and other biometric features. What’s new is introducing technology into the mix that compares a given biometric with a stored database of biometrics to verify the identity of an individual. An individual place their finger on a fingerprint scanner and the image is compared with the database to verify the person’s identity. Promising as it is, biometric technology has not been without hiccups but biometrics are advancing quickly and becoming more and more prevalent in security systems.

Fingerprints are the most commonly used biometric identifiers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a study that showed single fingerprint biometric systems had a 98.6 percent accuracy rate. The accuracy rate rose to 99.6 percent when 2 fingerprints were used and an almost perfect 99.9 percent when 4 or more fingerprints were used. The study results show that biometric identification is nearly perfect which is not surprising given the uniqueness of human fingerprints.

The US-VISIT program, which is an acronym for United States Visitor & Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, currently requires foreign visitors to the US to present a biometric passport containing 2 fingerprints and a digital photo for identification purposes before being granted admission to the U.S. Of course the biometrics are compared against a vast network of government databases full of known and suspected terrorists and other criminals.

On the surface biometric technology may sound like a panacea but it’s use has raised significant privacy concerns that need to be addressed. Here are six major privacy concerns: storage, vulnerability, confidence, authenticity, linking, and ubiquity.

Critics wonder how the data will be stored and how vulnerable it will be to theft or abuse. Confidence issues center around the implications of false positives and false negatives. Can the biometric data be used to link to other information about the individual such as marital status, religion, employment status, etc.? And finally ubiquity. What are the implications of leaving electronic “bread crumbs” to mark a trail detailing every movement an individual makes?

Until these issues are addressed, privacy advocates will lead a charge to resist biometric technology claiming it as a way for the government to assume a “Big Brother” type of rule as described in George Orwell’s novel 1984. But protest as they may, it’s likely national security concerns and the ability of biometric systems to enhance the security of US border and possibly prevent another major terrorist attack will win out over privacy concerns.

Cooking – Liver

All liver is a great source of iron and B vitamins and should be a regular part of a healthy diet and if cooked correctly liver can be delicious. Although liver does have bad press and many people will not even consider trying it. Sometimes it calls for the cook to be somewhat inventive to get people to try liver. There are many recipes to choose from and it is worth the experimentation.

The best liver is the liver from young animals as it is mildest and tenderest. Calf’s liver is delicate and delicious but fairly expensive. Real calf’s liver is paler in color than the redder more mature baby beef liver. For a mild flavored liver choose the palest that you can find. The darker the color the stronger the flavor.

Take care when choosing liver as sometimes baby beef liver is labeled calf’s liver in the supermarket or grocery store. To ensure purchasing true calf’s liver buy from a butchers or a reputable gourmet supermarket.

Baby beef liver is stronger in flavor than calf’s liver but is very good and preferable to actual beef liver. Liver from beef is dark red and the color corresponds to the strength of flavor. Beef liver is readily available but many believe it is too strong for simple preparations.

Some cooks after buying beef liver soak it in milk or a flavorful spicy marinade such as a white wine marinade before cooking to soften the intense flavor. After marinating throw the liquid away and pat the liver dry before cooking.

A lovely tender well-flavored liver is lamb liver but this is generally quite difficult to find.

Also hard to find is pigs liver, which is strong in, taste but extremely tender. Again for pig’s liver it can be soaked or marinated like the beef liver.

When choosing liver it should be impeccably fresh with no slimy or dry patches and should have a clear scent.

Should you find yourself preparing a whole liver first wipe it with a damp cloth, then with a sharp knife remove any exposed veins, ducts or connective tissue. With your fingers peel away the thin outer membrane without tearing into the liver itself. You then just slice on the diagonal to the desired thickness your recipe calls for.

Of course presliced liver can be purchased and is actually more commonly available than whole livers. If the butcher has not done so remove the outer membrane on the slices.

Before cooking make 1/8th inch cuts at 1-inch intervals around the outside of the liver slice. The reason for this is because liver has a tendency to shrink and curl when it is cooked and these cuts will help to prevent that from happening.

The liver is now ready for cooking. Liver should be cooked until it is pink but firm in the center. If liver is overcooked or cooked on excessively high heat it will toughen.

Liver is a lot richer in flavor than many other types of meat so a 4-ounce serving should be ample as a main course for most appetites.

Dallas Commercial Real Estate Market Does A Rebound

Dallas City in Texas continues to experience steady growth in its real estate industry notably on the commercial side. This is not really a wonder as Dallas is a large city which accommodates several huge industries consisting of the petroleum, transportation, banking, information technology and telecommunications sectors. But despite the growing economy, Dallas remains to be among the most affordable cities in the U.S., according to Forbes.

The Dallas Texas real estate industry has also maintained its momentum since it began experiencing its booming days back in the 1980s. The Dallas commercial real estate including the big buildings and skyscrapers was a major growth factor. In addition, the Dallas metroplex accommodates numerous high-end shopping centers more than that of any other city or state in the U.S.

Experts reveal that the commercial real estate market in Dallas is in great condition compared to the residential properties. In terms of foreclosure, the percentage of Dallas office space, apartment, industrial and retail buildings is very small. This is due to the fact that commercial companies almost always have the financial resources to carry out their expansion and construction projects.

Dallas is seen to continue being a commercial real estate hub in the many years to come. Currently, new construction projects of condos and townhouses are widespread around this booming city. The other good news is that many of the office spaces previously available in Dallas have already been occupied or pre-leased. The central business district of the city has reduced its office vacancy rate to 24 percent as of end of September 2007.

The year 2007 has proved to be favorable for the Dallas commercial real estate sector. Latest reports from Cushman & Wakefield say office tenants that have been expanding and relocating have leased 1.5 million square feet more of office space in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the first half of the year. The third quarter net leasing has also soared nearly 90 percent from totals in mid-2007. A recent report by Delta Associates showed that Dallas-Fort Worth is seen to accommodate an average of 4.8 million square feet of office space each year until 2010.

As for construction, an estimated 6.9 million square feet of office space is now being built in Dallas-Fort Worth as of the middle of 2007 and this is bigger than in 2006. Of the estimated office space being constructed, more than 40 percent is already pre-leased. Rents have also risen to seven percent from the 2006 rates. Third quarter figures show that office rents averaged $19.42 per square foot while rents for medical office space rose 12 percent to $24.4 percent.

With all these positive developments going on, the future of Dallas commercial real estate is indeed looking bright. Many real estate investment firms are seeing a low vacancy rate and substantial rent gains this 2007. Developers are also projected to provide 2.6 million square feet of office space by the end of the year while building owners are expected to ask for higher rents as a result of lower vacancy. The reduction in vacancies is being attributed to the surge in employment by 3.2 percent covering more than 900,000 jobs by year end.

Affiliate Commissions

Affiliate marketers participating in affiliate programs earn their keep through transactions. Commissions vary from program to program depending on the salability of the product. Some programs give as much as 45% to their affiliates while some affiliate programs give a mere 10%. So small compared to the effort an affiliate marketer puts into his task just to generate a sale.

So what do you do to increase your commission earnings? Do not join affiliate programs which commission rates are only 10%. Investigate the type of products or services that the affiliate programs are promoting to find out if the commission rate of 10% is justified. Beside, an affiliate marketer getting only a 10% commission rate needs to have an extremely large customer base to be able to earn a reasonable amount of money.

Consider this scenario: Suppose you were selling a product that costs about $ 100. To be able to earn enough money from this product you will need at least about 250 visitors to your website. If 60 customers out of the 3,000 visitors bought a product from the website that would give you a commission of $ 6000 a year.

Compare it with this scenario: You are selling a product that gives you $ 1 commission per affiliate program. You would need to sell at least 500 items per month to be able to earn a $ 6000 commission a year! A sales ratio of 2% would mean that your website would have to generate 300,000 visitors a year or 25,000 visitors a month.

Based on the two scenarios, I believe it would be more practical to sell a product of high value. As difficult as it is to attract visitors to a website, it is more difficult to make a sale. Selling a product of higher value would mean generating less traffic to the website but would still earn the affiliate marketer a reasonable amount of money.

And ask yourself this; is the product manufacturer serious with his affiliate marketing program? A manufacturer who is serious in promoting his products would not give a meager 10% commission to his marketing affiliates. You see, to be able to attract effective marketing affiliates the manufacturer would have to use generous commission as bait. So if a marketing program offers you a 10% commission, think about it overnight. You might find out that the effort you placed into selling the product can not be compensated with a 10% commission.

I know of an affiliate program that pays 45% commission to their top affiliate marketers. Second tier affiliate marketers of their program are given 10% commission. The affiliate program is giving away a generous 55% to their affiliate marketers and only keeps 45%! In my opinion, this is a smart marketing strategy. By paying high commissions to their affiliates, they are actually appealing more affiliates to their program. This means that the products they are promoting are moving at a higher volume. This means higher earnings for the manufacturer with no extra effort since the affiliates of his marketing program are doing all the work. This is like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey in order to make the donkey move! In order to make higher volume sales, a generous commission must be dangled in front of affiliate marketers!