Saturday, January 06, 2007

Friday Identity Theft notices...

Stolen laptop contains firemens' SSNs

Updated: 1/4/2007 7:04 PM By: Heather Moore

A computer was stolen that contained the personal information of Selma's volunteer firemen.

SELMA, NC -- A stolen laptop in Johnston County has firemen on alert for identity theft. The computer contained the names and social security numbers of volunteer firemen in Selma.

Earlier this week, someone stole a laptop computer from Selma’s Water Treatment Plant. The computer was only valued at about $1,000, but some of the information on it could be priceless. That's because it contained the names and social security numbers of Selma's volunteer firefighters.

It was a laptop that was kept at the water department because the fire chief is also the water superintendent, so he has his fire department stuff down there,” explained Stan Farmer, Selma’s Town Manager.

Farmer and Joe Price, Selma’s Fire Chief, say firemen aren't worried about the possible security risk associated with having their personal information stolen.

It was password protected, [Why do people continue to believe this provides protection? Bob] so it’s not like they can just boot it up and see everybody's social (security number),” Farmer said. “I don't think they'll have a lot of luck getting the information off there or anything off there because as soon as it boots up, you have to put in a password.”

But North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says the firemen -- and anyone else whose personal information is stolen -- should be concerned about identity theft.

They ought to take additional precautions to make sure their information is protected,” Cooper said. “If you aren't already monitoring your credit report, you should do that.”

The Town of Selma is also taking extra precautions to secure the area around the water treatment plant. [From the video of the plant's gate, anyone could walk in with no effort. Bob]


No need to monitor what happens on our computers...

Computer breach at UNI exposes some personal data

An outsider hid files on a server that contains rec center users' names, addresses and phone numbers.


The University of Northern Iowa is contacting students, faculty and staff who use the Wellness/Recreation Center about a security breach in a computer server that stored users' names, addresses and phone numbers.

The breach, discovered Dec. 26, occurred when someone outside UNI stored thousands of music files in a hidden folder on the server so that the music could be accessed from the Internet, said Steve Moon, acting associate vice president for information technology.

"This is a pretty typical breach," Moon said. "People are looking for places to hide large files of music or movies that they can use or sell."

An investigation revealed the music files started appearing in November, but did not reach noticeable size until late December, Moon said. [“Noticeable size?” Interesting term. Bob] An information technology employee saw that a lot of system space had been consumed and found the hidden folder, he said.

The music stored on the server took up more than 100 gigabytes of space, which can hold about 25,000 songs, computer technicians said. Moon said his technician didn't know what type of music was on the server other than that "a 40-year-old man didn't recognize any of the titles."

The computer, used for checking users into the recreation center, contained the names, addresses and phone numbers of students, faculty and staff who use the facility. There is no evidence the intruder accessed the personal information, Moon said. The database does not contain users' Social Security numbers, so there is little fear of identity theft, he said.

"Fortunately, we've moved away from the protected information like Social Security numbers," he said.

Would it have been illegal to look up the number in the phone book and add it to the customer's record?

Save Mart sued over data worries

BY RYAN SCHUSTER, Californian staff writer e-mail: Thursday, Jan 4 2007 7:35 PM Last Updated: Thursday, Jan 4 2007 7:47 PM

A class-action lawsuit filed against Save Mart Supermarkets accuses the company of failing to protect credit card customers from potential identity theft.

Modesto-based Save Mart is accused of presenting credit card customers with forms that included a line for telephone numbers, a violation of state law.

Sacramento law firm Lindsay & Stonebarger, which brought the suit, estimates as many as 300,000 customers may have had their personal information compromised during the yearlong period, between 2003 and 2004, covered in the suit.

I'll bet we could get a piece of this to create a “Privacy Best Practices” site – most areas have training objectives... (See next article)

January 05, 2007

$1.7 Billion Available for Local Homeland Security Programs

Press release: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released today fiscal year 2007 grant guidance and application kits for five grant programs that will total roughly $1.7 billion in funding for state and local counterterrorism efforts. With the fiscal year 2007 funding, the department will have invested nearly $20 billion in local planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises."

Clearly, some people need guidance...'breach%20their%20human%20rights'/

Wanted: for crimes against common sense


Escapes: 13 convicted murderers have absconded from Sudbury open jail in the past two months

A Chief constable was accused of 'madness' last night after refusing to release pictures of two escaped murderers amid fears it might breach their human rights.

Derbyshire's top policeman David Coleman claimed the killers posed 'no risk' to locals, while the force said it had to consider the Human Rights Act and data protection laws when asked to publish 'wanted' photographs of the two men.

See? Not everything started happening last year...

Gerald Ford: Privacy's Godfather

Robert Ellis Smith 01.05.07, 6:00 AM ET

Amid the obituaries of former President Gerald Ford last month, you did not read about his intense involvement in privacy-protection policy. Privacy was the issue that most involved Ford in his nine months as vice president, and he maintained his interest when he brought decency and decisiveness into the presidency.

Featured Story: 2006 Privacy Year in Review

Friday, January 05 2007 @ 08:35 PM CST - Contributed by: PrivacyNews - Other Privacy News

Congress returns to Washington this week and privacy issues are likely to get renewed attention with unresolved questions about the President's domestic surveillance program, the future of Real ID, and the growth of the data broker industry. Meanwhile courts will consider sex bloggers and the media will try to sort through the increasingly complicated world of surveillance technology.

Here are the Top Ten Privacy Stories of 2006 and Ten Privacy Issues to Watch in 2007 from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Details on San Francisco's Free Wifi

Posted by Zonk on Saturday January 06, @01:19AM from the both-the-wi-and-the-fi-are-free dept.

FrenchSilk writes to mention that the San Francisco Chronicle has more details on the previously discussed Earthlink/Google municipal wifi project. The paper confirms that access will be free to everyone, with higher bandwidth and more reliable tiers also available. The article touches on a number of related subjects, such as security, reliability, and privacy.

From the article: "Recognizing the concerns expressed by electronic privacy advocates and community members, the City has negotiated an Agreement that addresses the privacy needs of our residents, negotiating terms stronger than any other City and incorporating protections that go far beyond what federal, state or local law requires. EarthLink and the provider of the free service will be required to fully disclose their privacy policy. This ensures that all users are aware of the privacy policies." [I wonder what percentage of users read the privacy statements? Bob]


International Patchwork of Media Laws Can Be a Minefield for Online Publishing

Charles J. Glasser Jr. and James F. Haggerty The National Law Journal January 8, 2007

As sports fans around the globe became transfixed last summer by the World Cup, a U.K. libel case featuring Ashley Cole, a top British footballer, captured the attention of many of the world's media lawyers. Cole reached a settlement in a libel suit against two British publications that never actually mentioned him by name: Cole's attorneys argued that readers could easily surmise his identity from Web sites that picked up the story and provided further detail.

Virtualization... Where does “free speech” end?

The legal rights to your 'Second Life' avatar

By Daniel Terdiman Story last modified Fri Jan 05 15:33:34 PST 2007

A Second Life land developer has convinced YouTube to pull down an off-color video of her virtual self being harassed during an interview, raising novel questions about the legal rights of virtual world participants.

Last month, Anshe Chung Studios demanded that YouTube delete the recording, citing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which generally requires Web sites to remove material that infringes on copyright laws. The controversy stemmed from video taken during an interview with Anshe Chung, the virtual world's biggest land owner, conducted by CNET in its Second Life bureau last month.

During the interview--which took place in a digital theater in front of dozens of audience members' avatars--a group intent on sabotaging the event attacked it with 15 minutes of animated penises and photographs of Anshe Chung's real-life owner, Ailin Graef, digitally altered to make her look like she was holding a giant penis.

Security Bites Podcast: Beware of hostile PDF links

By CNET Staff Published: January 5, 2007 4:31 PM PST

The new year has kicked off with a dose of Web 2.0 and JavaScript insecurity thanks to a vulnerability in Adobe Systems' Acrobat Reader software. CNET's Joris Evers and CNET's Robert Vamosi explain on this week's Security Bites podcast.

Listen Now Download mp3

Another nail in the RIAA coffin?

Listening Post by Eliot Van Buskirk and Sean Michaels Friday, 5 January 2007

Ropeadope Label Goes 100% Digital

Ropeadope, a seven-year-strong record label that has released albums from DJ Logic, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Medeski, Martin, & Wood, King Britt, Jazzanova, the Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet (my guess is that their sound is "neither here nor there"), and more, has announced that it is going 100% pure digital. Every release will be available on in the MP3 format, as well as the major online music retailers.

In addition to online-only distribution, the label also plans on a simple/modernized approach to business dealings with its artists, who will retain the rights to their masters, which rules. Royalties will be based on a straight profit share, and there's no advance to recoup. The program starts in February with digital releases from seven bands (Aunt Jessica, DJ Klock, Electric City, The Frequency, Skip Heller, Larval, and Reminder/Josh Abrams) with at least 18 more to come during the remainder of 2007.

I asked Ropeadope founder Andy Hurwitz why he's taking his label digital, and what he expects the pluses and minuses to be.

He responded,

"Why digital? It's funny, I almost feel like this is what they asked Rykodisc back in the '80's when they started going exclusively with CDs over vinyl. [Digital is] not just the future, it's the present, at least amongst our fans. We've seen our traditional sales plummet and our digital sales skyrocket. But on top of a purely economic decision, it's an amazing opportunity for us to find and expose tons of great music and fantastic artists.

"Advantages? We now make money on every single project from record one. We don't have to deal with returns and reserves, we can sign and release a new band in a matter of weeks, and it helps bring traffic to our website.

"Disadvantages? I'm really searching for some here. I guess the only disadvantage is the learning curve--folks are still trying to understand why we're doing this and how it works. But once we're up and running I think it will become obvious."

Somehow, this doesn't seem right. Will I eventually need the government's “permission” to read articles criticizing Bush?

Call for State e-mails for pupils to fight online abuse Saturday, 6th January, 2007

Every school pupil in the State should be provided with a Government-supplied e-mail address as a way of verifying their age when using social networking websites such as, according to the website's chief security officer. John Downes reports.

Interesting argument. (Tell me again why I should get second or third class service?)

A Case for Non-Net-Neutrality

Posted by Zonk on Friday January 05, @04:48PM from the i-like-my-internets-biased dept. Networking The Internet writes "Network Performance Daily has an in-depth interview with Professor Christopher Yoo from Vanderbilt University Law School on his opposition to Net-Neutrality policies. While some might disagree with his opinions, he lays out the case for non-neutrality in an informed and informative manner. From the interview: 'Akamai is able to provide service with lower latency and higher quality service, because they distribute the content. This provides greater protection against DoS attacks. It's a local storage solution instead of creating additional bandwidth, and it's a really interesting solution. Here's the rub ... Akamai is a commercial service and is only available to people who are willing to pay for it. If pays for it, and does not, will get better service.'" [Isn't that how America works? Bob]

Truth is stranger than fiction...

Australian bank issues credit card to cat

Thu Jan 4, 1:53 AM ET

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian bank has blushingly admitted issuing a credit card to a cat. Messiah, a ginger tom, was given a credit limit of 4,200 (3,300 US) dollars.

Doh! I suppose it's better than waiting for the DNA tests to come back...

Jan 4, 2007 6:19 pm US/Mountain

Police: Bank Robber Leaves Behind Wallet

(CBS4) LONGMONT, Colo. Longmont police arrested a suspected bank robber who left behind the key piece of evidence at the crime scene.

Police said George Martinez, 34, left his wallet behind at a US Bank in the 400th block of Coffman St.

"When someone leaves behind their wallet, that really helps us out," Longmont police detective Stephen Desmond said. [“We figured out who he was in just a few days!” Bob]

For all you “Power-shoppers” out there...

Price Protectr - Get your money back

Price Protectr monitors prices on items you buy from stores like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and more, and emails you when the price drops so you can take advantage of their price protection policy. It's free and easy money. How often do you get that offer?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Took 'em long enough.

Los Alamos security problems spark N-weapons chief's ouster

The Associated Press Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.05.2007

WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on Thursday dismissed the chief of the country's nuclear weapons program because of security breakdowns at the Los Alamos, N.M., laboratory and other facilities.

... Brooks was reprimanded in June for failing to report to Bodman a security breach of computers at an agency facility in Albuquerque that resulted in the theft of files containing Social Security numbers and other personal data for 1,500 workers.

The theft did not become generally known, nor was Bodman made aware of it, for eight months.

Last fall, security at Los Alamos came into question anew. During a drug raid, authorities found classified nuclear-related documents at the home of a woman with top-secret clearance who worked at the lab.

That security breach was especially troubling, the department's internal watchdog said, because tens of millions had been spent to upgrade computer security at Los Alamos.

Another reason to feel warn and fuzzy (Wait! Those are symptoms!)

North Korea's Secret Biochemical Arsenal

Posted by Zonk on Thursday January 04, @05:14PM from the i'd-keep-an-eye-on-that dept. Biotech Politics

mattnyc99 writes "Popular Mechanics has an in-depth report on North Korea's biological and chemical weapons stock, which has been developed in secret and has gone largely unnoticed amidst the country's nuke threat. From the article: 'North Korea's Chemical and Bioweapons (CBW) program appears to be modeled on that of the former Soviet Union, which covertly constructed a massive biological weapons infrastructure within the shell of a civilian research organization called Biopreparat. Inside Biopreparat, the Soviets developed deadly agents that included weaponized forms of anthrax and pneumonic plague. Intelligence reports from the United States and South Korea list anthrax, smallpox, pneumonic plague, cholera and botulism toxins as leading components of North Korea's bioweapons projects.' "

Know your enemy

A Tour of the Google Blacklist

Posted by CowboyNeal on Thursday January 04, @10:27PM from the taking-down-names dept. Google The Internet Security

WienerPizza writes "Michael Sutton takes us on a tour of the Google blacklist, a list of suspected phishing sites. He finds that eBay, PayPal and Bank of America combined account for 63% of the active phishing sites. Amusingly, he also reveals that Yahoo! has a nasty habit of hosting phishing sites that harvest — you guessed it — Yahoo! credentials!"

Once again, the Striesand effect rules... Make a fuss about something you don't want disclosed, and everyone wants to see it. By the way, where is the link to this video? A search returned 128 hits (she seems to be a Brazilian Bay Watch Babe) so I'll have to sift through them carefully. (Also see next article...)

Brazil Wants Another Google Site -- YouTube -- Shut Down

from the good-luck-with-that dept

A few months ago, the Brazilian government got into a legal spat with Google after its Orkut social-networking site was being used for illegal activity. Google complied with some of the Brazilian demands, including shutting down parts of Orkut, but the government wasn't happy, and started harrassing Google's Brazilian office, which was just responsible for ad sales and had nothing to do with running Orkut. Now, a Brazilian judge has ordered that YouTube, another Google property, be shut down until it removes a celebrity sex video from its site. The video in question features a Brazilian model and her boyfriend having sex on a beach; it's been removed from YouTube several times, but users have uploaded it again and again. But don't expect your favorite source of exploding Mentos videos to disappear: just like with Orkut, the Brazilian court's going to have a hard time enforcing this order, since YouTube is based in the US, and generally subject to its laws and courts (except for local products in some cases).

Once again, the question of who has legal jurisdiction over the internet and sites on it comes into question. US courts tend to agree that online companies are bound by the laws of the country in which they're based, while there are continual efforts by groups like record companies and even some governments to assert that if an internet site can be reached from a particular place, it's subject to its laws and the jurisdiction of its courts. This leads to a problem of jurisdiction shopping, where people file lawsuits in unrelated countries to take advantage of their legal environments. Jurisdiction shopping, of course, isn't a new phenomenon, but the internet makes it a little easier. This is a sticky subject: the idea that anybody can be sued anywhere in the world for something the post online isn't a particularly appealing one, but many people don't have a problem with local laws being used to chase after criminals abroad when it comes to things like child pornography. So where is the line drawn, and who gets to determine it? While international treaties govern all sorts of things, international court systems have often been undermined by these very types of questions about jurisidiction.

It figures that the Brits would have the proper English terms for all this nonsense. Always happy to improve my vocabulary...

Brazilian court orders YouTube shutdown

By Lester Haines Published Thursday 4th January 2007 15:20 GMT

A Brazilian court has ordered the closure of YouTube following the site's failure to completely remove a video showing Ronaldo's ex-missus and her new boyf indulging in a bit of beach rumpy-pumpy, Reuters reports.

Model Daniela Cicarelli sued YouTube after the offending film proved a smash hit among Brazilian YouTubers. She and squeeze Tato Malzoni last year "filed to force YouTube to take the video down and demanded $116,000 in damages for each day the video remains up". Although YouTube did indeed remove some copies, other users reposted it and the whole sorry exposure dragged on for months.

Finally, Cicarelli and Malzoni filed another suit in December "requesting that YouTube be shut down as long as the video is available to users". A Brazilian court agreed and a judicial clerk today said that it had "ordered the popular video sharing service ... to be shut down until it removes a celebrity sex video from its site".

This is likely to prove difficult to enforce, Reuters notes, since YouTube is based the US. No-one from owner Google was available to speak to the agency today.

In the interests of investigative journalism, and to save readers the bother of going and tracking it down themselves, we selflessly viewed the footage several times and can confirm it involves some hot ice cream-sucking action followed by what appears to be a semi-subaquatic Cicarelli riding Malzoni's visibly-armed torpedo. Accordingly, we can confirm it's NSFW, should you fancy doing a bit of investigative journalism yourselves.

Expect a new type of campaigning this time...

Meeting the bloggers in New Hampshire

Posted by Robert Scoble | January 4th, 2007 8:56 pm

One of the things I was studying is how the Edwards campaign would use bloggers. Here, John Edwards meets a variety of bloggers and videobloggers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. You'll see Steve Garfield and Chuck Olsen, videobloggers, in the background (Chuck's video showed up on Rocketboom).

Click Here to Watch [09:54]

Politicians should fit right in – they are used to operating in an unreal environment. Imagine an environment where politicians can customize their message to match your views – EVERY politician could sound like your ideal candidate. Scary, isn't it.

Democrat politico ventures into 'Second Life'

By Declan McCullagh Story last modified Fri Jan 05 05:42:32 PST 2007

As jubilant Democrats in Washington celebrated their newfound control of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Rep. George Miller was doing the same thing in a more unusual place: Second Life.

Miller appears to be the first member of Congress to hold something akin to a press conference in this virtual world, which is operated by Linden Lab and boasts its own currency and a population of more than 2 million registered users.

... "It's going to develop into an important forum for members of Congress of both parties," predicted Miller, who has represented the district northeast of San Francisco since 1974.

... In a 2006 election scorecard prepared by CNET that rated technology votes, Miller received a failing grade of 42 percent. That's largely because of his votes on morality hot-buttons such as opposing Internet gambling, approving a federal investigation of Grand Theft Auto, and siding with restrictions on social-networking sites like

...and don't try to confuse us with facts! We already know everything we want to...

U.S. bars lab from testing electronic voting

By Christopher Drew Story last modified Thu Jan 04 10:53:01 PST 2007

A laboratory that has tested most of the nation's electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

The company, Ciber, of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come under fire from analysts hired by New York State over its plans to test new voting machines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million to replace its aging lever devices.

Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore longstanding worries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machine testing. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seems certain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of the devices.

The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then. [No need to alarm folks with an election pending... Bob] Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recent interviews.

... Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use.

Work expands to fill the time allotted. Storage expands as fast as hard drive capacity (Why delete it, if you're not short of space?) Should make for interesting e-discovery efforts – if there are 100,000 emails in a gigabyte, then there are 100 million emails in a terabyte.

Here comes the terabyte hard drive

By Michael Kanellos Story last modified Fri Jan 05 05:49:59 PST 2007

Last year, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies predicted hard-drive companies would announce 1 terabyte drives by the end of 2006. Hitachi was only off by a few days.

... A terabyte is a trillion bytes, or a million megabytes, or 1,000 gigabytes, as measured by the hard-drive industry. (There are actually two conventions for calculating megabytes, but this is how the drive industry counts it.) As a reference, the print collection in the Library of Congress comes to about 10 terabytes of information, according to the How Much Information study from U.C. Berkeley. The report also found that 400,000 terabytes of e-mail get produced per year. About 50,000 trees would be necessary to create enough paper to hold a terabyte of information, according to the report.

... Consumers, meanwhile, are gobbling up more drive capacity because of content like video. An hour of standard video takes up about 1GB, while an hour of high-definition video sucks up 4GB, Pickford said.

It's computerized! It can't be wrong! The computer meant to type 42 MPH!

See: Ford Motor Credit Company v. Swarens, 447 S.W.2d 53 (1969).

Going 420 mph In A 30 mph Zone?

from the you-might-want-to-slow-down-a-bit dept

It's been almost exactly three years since we wrote about a UK driver who received an automated ticket from a speeding camera, clocking his car cruising at a speedy 406 mph. The police chalked it up to a "clerical error." However, apparently those clerical errors are still happening, as a cab driver in the UK has now been issued a ticket for traveling 420 mph in a 30 mph zone. Again, the police chalk it up to "an employee processing error." Unfortunately, despite the driver's claims in the article that he's set a new land speed record, that's not even true in the world of bogus tickets. We've seen other reports clocking people at at least 480 mph. It's probably not such a big deal when the errors are so obvious [but any manager worth his pay should have eliminated this type of error by now! Bob] -- but it makes you wonder how many people get in trouble for similar errors that aren't so extreme? Unless you happen to be good enough at math to disprove a slight exaggeration in your speed, you might just be completely out of luck. You would think that systems like these would (a) not let humans adjust the recorded speed and (b) have some sort of "reality" filter to pick up these extreme errors -- but apparently neither feature is in place. Perhaps that's why we once had that story of a brick wall clocked at 58 mph.

Attention student researchers! Prove any hypothesis!

Create Fake Google Results

This is fun, and much easier than googlebombing: – that’s three “o” and an “i” in the domain – lets you create customized Google searches that don’t return any results, but a spelling correction instead. Like this one. (Let’s hope the site gets filed under “parody,” not “trademark infringement”...)

Free is good!

January 04, 2007

Free Beethoven and Mozart Recordings via Podcast

Courtesy of Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcasting service, you can fill your iPod at no cost with some exceptional classical music. We'd particularly encourage you to focus on two podcasts. First, Beethovenfest (iTunes Feed Web Site), which lets users download "Beethoven's most famous symphonies performed by excellent young orchestras." Next, Classical Masterpieces (iTunes Feed Web Site), which gives you free access to symphonies by Mozart, Strauss, Schumann, Brahms, and Bruckner, each presented by conductor Kent Nagano and the internationally known DSO Berlin. (Incidentally, a quite large collection of free classical music can also be found on Wikipedia. Thanks to one of our readers for letting us know.)

Finally, we should mention that Deutsche Welle offers a lot of other free podcasts in English. Take for example Inspired Minds (iTunes Feed Web Site), a series of podcasts exploring the world's great thinkers, or Deutsche Warum Nicht? (iTunes), a multi-part series that will teach you German from the ground up. A great trove of content that's worth your time.

Also see our larger Arts & Culture podcast collection or our larger Podcast Portal.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Makes you think...

Stolen hard drive could give patients a headache

BY KECIA BAL The Tribune-Democrat Published: January 03, 2007 11:37 pm

SOMERSET — A local doctor’s office is keeping mum on a stolen hard drive that may contain personal information on hundreds of patients who seek care there.

Yet one criminology expert said Wednesday that – depending on the hard drive’s contents – the security breach could have serious implications.

If someone was actually stealing it for the records, it could be used for identity theft, for embarrassment purposes – which could mean potential lawsuits – or for extortion,” said Dennis Giever, Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor and Criminology Department chairman.

There’s got to be something pretty serious behind it for someone to break in and steal a hard drive that might cost $30 at Staples and nothing else,” he said.

Pass this to your records retention manager...

Unshredded medical records turn up at recycling center

By Scott Smith January 04, 2007 Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON - Dozens of boxes of unshredded medical records surfaced at a Stockton recycling business Wednesday afternoon, possibly violating a state law enacted in recent years to protect patients' personal information.

Well, of course!

Firm didn't need Social Security data

Lawmakers rip agency after mailed forms bear numbers

By PATRICK MARLEY Posted: Jan. 3, 2007

Madison - The state Department of Revenue had no business reason for providing Social Security numbers to a contractor that went on to mistakenly print the numbers on the outside of 170,000 tax booklets mailed to Wisconsin residents.

The department said Wednesday that it recovered about a third of the forms - roughly 54,500 - from U.S. post offices in Madison, Portage and Oshkosh [The interrupted the mail? They must take this seriously... and the mail must be slow... Bob] in an effort to prevent the sensitive data from falling into the hands of identity thieves. That means the U.S. Postal Service delivered about 115,500 tax forms with the numbers visible.

After the Journal Sentinel reported on its Web site Wednesday that the state did not need to give the Social Security numbers to the firm, the department announced that it would scrub files in the future to make sure vendors do not get sensitive data they do not need. [Gee, we never considered this... Bob]

... "I suppose technically there would be a way to remove that information from that file and, you know, certainly in retrospect that would have prevented this particular problem," Engan said. "However, this contract is in its third year, and we have not had that problem previously with the vendor in terms of putting that information incorrectly onto the actual tax document." [Arrggh! Bob]

... He said the state bears much of the responsibility for the error because at minimum state workers should have reviewed the print job before the forms were mailed.

You know, if this keeps happening we might have to lock the doors!”

Third Case of Computer Theft at High School

Wednesday, Jan 03, 2007 - 07:02 PM Tara Lynn Reporter

North Charleston police are trying to find out who stole a laptop computer from Academic Magnet High School. That computer contains personal information about hundreds of students. This theft is actually the third time someone has stolen computers from this school. November 17th-- someone stole a desktop computer from a guidance counselor’s office. November 30th-- someone stole three monitors and two laptops from the media center. Over the holidays-- someone stole a lap top again from the same guidance counselor’s office. School officials say parents and students have nothing to worry about. ['We got ebery ting unner control...” Bob]

... Schools officials and police say someone broke into the school and stole a lap top from a guidance counselor’s office. Charleston County school representative Jerry Adams says that computer contained personal information for about 500 students who go to that school. But he says that information should be safe no matter whose hands it falls into.

Identity theft and privacy issues concern us,” said Adams. “But we don't think its an issue because the information is password protected and encrypted.”

Duplicate? Note that they had addressed this in a contract! Radical idea?§ion=business&subsection=localnews

Personal Info On Bank Customers Stolen

12/29/2006 2:21:11 PM Craig Simpson

KeyCorp has notified customers in Ohio and other states that private information about them was taken when a laptop computer was stolen from an outside vendor.

Officials say the information on 9,300 customers may include Social Security Numbers. Corporate communications for the Cleveland-based bank say affected customers were notified by mail.

Key hired the unnamed vendor to scan paper documents into a computer format for storage. Officials say the vendor violated its contract by putting the data on a laptop computer that was taken outside of its offices and failing to encrypt sensitive information. They say that vendor has since been fired.

When you quote (or hint at) a law, shouldn't your lawyer confirm that it actually exists? Shouldn't a manager at least look at mass mailings before they go out? Perhaps we should look at their academic papers for “imaginary” citations?

January 3, 2007

School Officials Promise to Destroy Ill-gotten Information

The superintendent of the West Windsor-Plainsboro school system recently sent a letter to homeschool families telling them they “must” submit certain personal information, including their children’s country of birth, language spoken at home, and race.

The letter said “the state of New Jersey” was seeking this information. There is no law that requires homeschool families to submit this information, however.

FYI (Will this be a hot topic this year?)

January 03, 2007 10:30 AM Eastern Time

ALM’s Law Journal Press Announces Publication of “Privacy Law”

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ALM’s Law Journal Press®, a leading publisher of books for legal professionals, today announced the publication of “Privacy Law,” by Charlene Brownlee and Blaze Waleski. The book is the publisher’s latest title, examining the impact of the laws, industry standards, and consumer expectations regarding personal information and information security in a variety of contexts, including healthcare, the workplace, financial services, e-commerce, international business and corporate transactions. A detailed table of contents and ordering information on this and other Law Journal Press books is available at

Worse” is a terrible goal... No catastrophe = I didn't get fired?

'It Could Have Been Worse' Hardly Seems Like A Defense Of E-Voting Technology

from the just-imagine-how-bad-it-could-have-been dept

With a new report coming out that highlights many of the problems that voters using e-voting machines faced in the last election, it's more interesting to look at the response from supporters of those machines. An article in the Houston Chronicle mentions the report and then quotes someone defending the machines by giving the "it could have been worse" defense: " Failure will happen.... Critical failures are ones in which voters are turned away. By and large, looking at the last general election, we consider it a success." Given just how many problems there were, and how widespread they were, it seems pretty ridiculous to consider "success" to be a lack of catastrophic errors (which some people might disagree with). Certainly, it could have been much worse, but with something as important as democratic voting, you would think that a higher standard would be used.

[The report:

Yes! The easiest way to make changes that impact a corporate culture is to start over at another location with an whole new staff. When they are ready to assume the workload, switch – then fire everyone at the old location. Launches New Site To Compete With... Well,

from the funny-how-that-works dept

If you read what we discuss about competition and innovation around here, it's no surprise that we believe that a company that is simply resting on its laurels is going to eventually be in trouble. That's why one of the most interesting things a company can do is cannibalize its own offerings. Intel famously does this on a regular basis. Basically, the lesson is clear: if you aren't willing to cannibalize your own offerings, someone else will do it for you. It's a lesson that plenty of big companies don't like to learn -- but they all learn it eventually when the competition eats their lunch. That's why it's always fascinating to see the ways that companies try to stave this off. One of the more interesting ideas that probably makes sense for some larger companies is to build a separate group, whose job is effectively to act as the competition. Let them develop the next great competitive advantage -- and if it destroys your existing business, better that it's done by your company than someone else's. It looks like Amazon may be practicing a bit of this concept by launching a brand new shoes and handbags store, that looks like it has nothing to do with They named it something different ( and built the site up from scratch, not relying on Amazon's e-commerce or search tools (they do use Amazon's distribution and warehouse system, however). Looking at the website, you'd have no idea it was related to Amazon at all.

Again, the comments point out many of the implications. If this is easy, the transcripts of your phone calls are already in someone's database...

Search Every Word Said on YouTube [Impressive feature]

Speech-to-text video and audio search engine Podzinger just announced this afternoon that users can now search inside YouTube videos with a tab on the front page of Podzinger. The functionality appears to have been added in late December but I haven’t seen any blog coverage of it yet.

So, what do you do when you find the video you want? (Note that it does not take hundreds of pages of program code to make this work...)

Download Youtube Videos Via Command Line (Cross Platform)

January 3rd, 2007 - By: Alex Bailey

If you don’t want to slow your browser down with Firefox extensions, or you think you’re a command line guru then check out youtube-dl. It’s an open source script written in python. It’ll work on any system capable of running python, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. There are a few handy options to name the video the name of the youtube title, simulate the download, and output no text (quite mode). It also currently supports user and passwords for videos dubbed inappropriate to users under 18 as well.

The file extension type of the downloaded video is an flv. To open it, I use the cross platform video player VLC. It’ll also open in mplayer.

There really is no install directions for this script, but there are a few commands needed to get it working. Download the script, and name the file “youtube” without the quotes.

Assume for a moment that this isn't madness. Is there a logical reason to deify a leader? (Never mind the supporting strategies like “only ignorant/isolated people will believe this nonsense...”)

N. Korea escalates 'cult of Kim' to counter West's influence

By Robert Marquand, Staff writer of The Christian Science MonitorWed Jan 3, 3:00 AM ET

North Koreans are taught to worship Kim Jong Il as a god. In a manner unique among nations, the North exerts extraordinary control through deification - a cult ideology of complete subservience - that goes beyond the "Stalinist" label often used to describe the newly nuclear North.

While outsiders can see film clips of huge festivals honoring Mr. Kim, the extraordinary degree of cult worship is not well known, nor that programs promoting the ideology of Kim are growing, according to refugees, diplomats, and others who have visited the Hermit Kingdom.

In fact, in a time of famine and poverty, government spending on Kim-family deification - now nearly 40 percent of the visible budget - is the only category in the North's budget to increase, according to a new white paper by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy in Seoul. It is rising even as defense, welfare, and bureaucracy spending has decreased. The increase pays for ideology schools, some 30,000 Kim monuments, gymnastic festivals, films and books, billboards and murals, 40,000 "research institutes," historical sites, rock carvings, circus theaters, training programs, and other worship events.

... It has long been axiomatic that the main danger to the Kim regime is internal unrest. That is, Koreans will discover the freedoms, glitter, and diversity of the modern outside world, and stop believing the story of idolatry they are awash in. "It isn't quite realized [in the West] how much a threat the penetration of ideas means. They [Kim's regime] see it as a social problem that could bring down the state," says Brian Myers, a North Korean expert at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea.

Free is good!

Telelogic Giving Away Software Modeling Tool

By Charles Babcock InformationWeekTue Jan 2, 8:52 PM ET

Telelogic, one of the few surviving high end suppliers of commercial software development tools, is offering its new modeling tool, Telelogic Modeler, for free.

... Modeler is available for download from the company Web site Telelogic will also make an upgraded version available for $100 per user, minimum quantity 100 users.

... But UML modeling allows models to be aligned with the lines of source code. If the model changes, the parts of the code that need to be changed are highlighted and changed; if the code moves from the model in the process of development, the model can be changed to reflect what the developers have done, with project manager approval.

Useful for research too?

Wikipedia Inspires Course Reading List Generator

UPI 01/03/07 12:00 PM PT

Taking cues from the structure of Wikipedia and the algorithms used by Google, Alexander Wissner-Gross, a Harvard Ph.D. candidate, has developed software to automatically create reading lists for students based on the subjects they're studying. He experimented with algorithms to find the most important pages and how they ranked for a given topic.

Free is good!

How to go to M.I.T. for free

Online 'intellectual philanthropy' attracts students from every nation on earth.

By Gregory M. Lamb Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The cost? It's all free of charge.

... The MIT site (, along with companion sites that translate the material into other languages, now average about 1.4 million visits per month from learners "in every single country on the planet," Ms. Margulies says. Those include Iraq, Darfur, "even Antarctica," she says.

Okay, it's expensive and hard to learn. Think everyone will rush to upgrade?

January 03, 2007

Review of Office 2007 Highlights Key New Features and Learning Curve

Walt Mossberg, WSJ free feature: Bold Redesign Improves Office 2007
But Learning Curve May Be Too Steep for Some Users; Ribbon Replaces Menus

Become moderately geeky... At least have some idea what can be learned about your network.

Basic Networking Commands you should know!

Describes with examples some of the basic networking commands on unix/linux based systems

Still looking for the perfect ringtone?

January 3, 2007

Library of Bird and Animal Sounds Available

Filed under: Science-Zoology

CHIRP! The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library’s Web site is now making available over 65,000 sound clips and about 18,000 video clips of birds and animals. You can get your squawk on at

You can do a simple search by keyword, or you can do an advanced search for marine vs terrestrial beings as well as searching by location and recording information (at the moment the catalog has a North American emphasis but the site promises to continue to put more clips online.)

I did a simple keyword search for hawk. I got OVER 1300 RESULTS. Results include both audio and video clips. Note that not everything you get in your search results has been digitized yet (the advanced search includes a switch that allows you to include only results with available video or audio clips.) Search results include animal name (common and scientific), date of clip (I saw clips that go back as far as 1951) and contributor, and quality of the clip (rated on a scale from one to five.) A detail page includes the location and duration of the clip.

Clicking on the “play” button (if the play button is gray, the clip is not available; look for blue play buttons) pops up a window that plays the clip with RealPlayer. There’s also a neat feature called RavenViewer that requires a download; RavenViewer allows you to get a visualization of bird calls; play the call and watch a waveform and spectrogram at the same time. (RavenViewer is not available for all the clips that I saw.)

Don’t feel like searching the clips? There’s also a browsing feature that allows you to look at several sets of “best of” — best of long-distance communications, best of territory defense, etc. Lots to browse through here!