Monday, November 29, 2010

For my Computer Security students. Even when you don't know what's wrong, you can fix it – it just costs more. (Like buying a new car because you don't know the old one ran out of gas.)

Comcast: Internet service restored after regional outage

Officials at Comcast Sunday night said they did not know what caused disruptions in its Internet service to homes and businesses across the region and as far away as Boston but that service had been restored.

Interesting arguments against the inevitable. Also, notice the volume of records involved.

Texas sides with company seeking land records via USB

November 29, 2010 by admin

Jared James reports:

An attorney general ruling that the Hidalgo County Clerk’s Office must provide access to the county’s database of electronic land records using a computer’s USB port is a major open records victory for Texas, an open government advocate said.

The Texas attorney general’s ruling capped a yearlong attempt by Houston-based Integrity Title Records to receive an electronic copy of the county’s index of title records, digital copies of each record and the maps, or plats. But the clerk’s office had refused to provide access to the records using a USB port, which Integrity could use to copy the 750 gigabytes of data onto an external storage device, said Marian Cones, a vice president for the company.


But she said her office’s intent wasn’t to fight the state’s Open Records Act as much as protect the county’s database. Many of the older title records that are included in the database include social security numbers that can be used to commit fraud and identity theft, she said. Permitting complete access to the database would allow private third-parties to pay for access to personal identifying information through bulk sales.

Read more in the Houston Chronicle. If SSN are included in the database, those records are still subject to the Open Records Act even if the request was made for paper copies of copies on CDs. If the county is so concerned about ID theft, speed up the redaction process.

Is this “Automating Lawyers” or “Moving Lawyers to the Cloud?” Either way, I see it as a model for any profession.

How LawPivot Could Disrupt the Legal Field

The legal industry has been notoriously resistant to change. This, after all, is a business that still requires lawyers to track their time in six-minute increments, as if they were churning out widgets on an assembly line. But a startup in San Francisco is creating an online marketplace for legal questions that could disrupt some of the industry’s most basic business practices.

LawPivot acts as a “Quora for legal questions.” Businesses can use it to pose confidential questions to attorneys with expertise in a variety of areas. Right now the service is free to use, though CEO Jay Mandal tells Fast Company they plan to start charging next year, probably on a flat fee per question basis. Interestingly, however, the attorneys who answer the questions do so for free. And these aren’t just any old lawyers. Mandal, the former lead mergers and acquisitions attorney at Apple, said the 80 attorneys who’ve currently been approved to participate all either work at or have previous experience at the country’s top 100 law firms.

… Why the system also makes sense for attorneys--who provide their expensive advice gratis--is less apparent unless you’re one of those lawyers. As time-consuming as it is for businesses to find the right attorneys, it’s equally burdensome for lawyers to find new clients. LawPivot, then, becomes a business development tool. Yusuf Safdari, a corporate and securities attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Palo Alto, has been using the system since the spring. He told Fast Company that answering a question usually takes between five minutes (when he already knows the answer) to half an hour (if he has to do research). For his troubles, Safdari has found three new clients and several more prospects.

For my Computer Security students. How could this have been prevented or detected?

WikiLeaks files detail U.S. electronic surveillance

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered clandestine surveillance of United Nations leadership, including obtaining "security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys, and types of VPN versions used" and biometric information, according to a secret directive made public today by

That classified dispatch is part of a massive document dump, about 250,000 diplomatic cables, that began appearing on the Internet this morning. WikiLeaks provided the files in advance to news organizations including Germany's Der Spiegel and Spain's El Pais and has said it would wait before releasing the cables on its own Web site. (See related CNET articles about a reported attack on WikiLeaks and a Congressman's effort to classify WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization.)

Another disclosure from the files: China's Politburo ordered the electronic intrusions into Google's computer network that became public in January, prompting the company to rethink its Chinese operations, according to what a Chinese contact told the U.S. embassy. (China denied the charges.)

No good deed goes unpunished... If this is a good deed.

Hurt Locker Makers Sue Lawyer Who Helped ‘BitTorrent’ Defendants

November 28, 2010 by Dissent

Ernesto writes:

Graham Syfert, the lawyer who offered self-help to alleged BitTorrent downloaders of films such as Far Cry and The Hurt Locker, has been sued by the makers of the latter movie. On behalf of Voltage Pictures, the US Copyright Group (USCG) is seeking sanctions against Syfert and demand $5000 for the ‘work’ the self-help forms have caused them. in reponse, Syfert has requested sanctions against the plaintiffs because their filing is “completely insane.”

Read more of this story on Torrent Freak, where you’ll also find copies of the court filings.

I didn’t think the US Copyright Group could look worse than they already did, but they may have managed to shoot themselves in the foot with this one in terms of the even worse PR they are now getting.

That said, if you read the actual court filings and exhibits embedded in the post, Syfert doesn’t come off particularly well, either. The email exchanges seem clear that he doesn’t care about the defendants because they are not his clients and he’s just trying to make money. It looks like he was even trying to get the plaintiffs’ attorneys to hire him, and some of his response seems to be of the ”hire me or leave me the fuck alone” genre. He may be right in his response to the request for sanctions, and he may (or may not) have helped defendants who cannot afford legal representation, but before casting him as any kind of hero, read the filings.

Complete with links to examples...

Hate PowerPoint? Here are 5 REAL Alternatives

I'll try to read these, I promise.

7 Free Useful eBooks That Every Blogger Should Read

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