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Mark Ward | 11:21 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010

Needle and threadOn Tech Brief today: Printable clothes, privileged programmers and your body is a prison.

• The government is listening. But not in the ways you might think. The annual report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner has revealed that requests from official bodies to snoop on you are at an all-time high, reports ZNet:

"Sir Paul Kennedy disclosed in his annual report that in 2009, public authorities made 525,130 data requests to ISPs to view people's phone and e-mail records. That figure compares with a total of 504,073 requests in 2008. It is probable that the rise is down to the growing number of online crimes that police are having to investigate, said Kennedy in the document."

• In the future your clothes will be printed rather than woven. By future, we mean yesterday. Designer Philip Delamore from the London College of Fashion is using 3D printers to fabricate, err, fabric rather than go via the old-fashioned route of using sheep, shearers and sewing. Ecouterre reports that Mr Delamore is...

"...cranking out seamless, flexible textile structures using software that converts three-dimensional body data into skin-conforming fabric structures. The potential for bespoke clothing, tailored to the specific individual, are as abundant as the patterns that can be created, from interlocking Mobius motifs to tightly woven meshes."

Joseph Bonneau and Soren Preibusch write in the University of Cambridge computer laboratory blog Light Blue Touch Paper that they have been busy with a fascinating form of digital naturalism. The security researchers have been observing the password in all its diversity on the rolling veldts of the world's websites. The pair found huge variation in the way that passwords are treated, stored and safeguarded. They found plenty of bad news:

"On the whole though, the level of security implemented is dramatically lower than security researchers might expect."

There was also succour for those that struggle to remember all the passwords they have.

"At first the insecurity of passwords was blamed on users not behaving the way security engineers wanted them to: choosing weak passwords, forgetting them, writing them down, sharing them, and typing them in to the wrong domains. It's now generally accepted that we should design password security around users, and that users may even be wise to ignore security advice."

• More naturalism, this time of the common or garden geek. The Geek feminism blog puts forward the argument that there was nothing common about those that have been programming from the days of their youth:

"Often, computer geeks who started programming at a young age brag about it, as it is a source of geeky prestige. However, most computer geeks are oblivious to the fact that your parents being able to afford a computer back in the 1980s is a product of class privilege, not your innate geekiness. Additionally, the child's gender affects how much the parents are willing to financially invest in the child's computer education."

• Finally, an end to the dreams we all have of one day leaving behind our fleshy prisons and upload ourselves to a database in the cloud. John Pavlusat Dvice presents six reasons why you are going to be stuck inside your human host for a long time to come:

"The human brain only needs 20 watts to run the app called You, but with almost 7 billion of us and counting, we're already straining the earth's ability to host us all. Meanwhile, you know how much juice one Google data center consumes just to index the latest LOLcats (a task much, much simpler than hosting your digital consciousness)? 100 million watts. Do the math: We'd have to invent fusion reactors or build a Dyson sphere just to keep the lights on."

If you want to suggest links or stories for Tech Brief, you can send them to @bbctechbrief on Twitter, tag them bbctechbrief on Delicious or e-mail them to

Links in full

Kable | ZDNet UK | Government monitoring requests rise for phone, e-mail
Jasmin Malik Chua | Ecouterre | Are 3D-Printed Fabrics the Future of Sustainable Textiles?
Joseph Bonneau | Light Blue Touchpaper | Passwords in the wild
Restructure! | Geek Feminism | If you were hacking since age 8, it means you were privileged.
John Pavlus | Dvice | 6 reasons why you'll never upload your mind into a computer

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