Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nice of them...

Verizon Offers Refunds For Fraudulent SMS Messages

"Verizon has filed a lawsuit against a group of people and related companies that it alleges duped people into signing up and getting charged for premium short message services. Because some of the short message programs the defendants set up complied with Verizon's rules, Verizon says it is unable to identify which customers didn't know about the charges for the services. As a result it has set up a Web page where customers can file a claim form and get reimbursed if they were wrongly charged for the services."

Why not? Everyone else does...

Judge uses Facebook to research litigant

March 10, 2011 by Dissent

Evan Brown notes:

We’ve all heard the stories about lawyers using social media to research jurors and to gather evidence about opponents. But here’s a new twist: even judges look to Facebook to find information about the parties appearing before them.

In Purvis v. Commissioner of Social Sec., 2011 WL 741234 (D.N.J., Feb. 23, 2011), the question before federal judge Susan Davis Wigenton was whether the plaintiff had been wrongfully denied Social Security benefits.

Read more on Internet Cases.

(Related) ...and that's not always good.

The Problems with Requesting Access to Online Communities

March 10, 2011 by Dissent

Woodrow Hartzog writes about an increasing concern: entities requesting – or worse, demanding – access to a person’s online communications as part of a hiring process or other process:

The practice of asking for access to other’s online communities is not new. City governments and high school cheerleading coaches have requested access to social media profiles. Even the Florida Bar Association has indicated that certain applicants, such as those with a history of substance abuse, might be required to provide access to their social media profiles.

The commentary on these activities has been critical. From a security angle, asking for usernames and passwords is always tricky because individuals notoriously use the same username and password for everything. Someone’s Facebook login credentials could also provide access to their online banking and e-mail account. Some critics have also noted that once someone else is in possession of an individual’s username and password,they have the ability to lock out the individual by changing the password.

Read more on CIS.

Ah, them Frenchies is strange...

Foggy thinking about the Right to Oblivion

March 9, 2011 by Dissent

Peter Fleischer, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, has a personal blog where he shares his own (not his boss’s) thoughts. He writes:

In privacy circles, everybody’s talking about the Right to be Forgotten. The European Commission has even proposed that the “right to be forgotten” should be written into the up-coming revision of the Privacy Directive. Originally, a rather curious French “universal right” that doesn’t even have a proper English-translation (right to be forgotten? right to oblivion? right to delete?), le Doit a l’Oubli, is going mainstream. But, what on earth is it? For most people, I think it’s an attempt to give people the right to wash away digital muck, or delete the embarrassing stuff, or just start fresh. But unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that.

Peter then goes on to frame the issue as a series of specific scenarios or questions.

It’s a really thoughtfully written post, and I encourage readers to read it all.

Via Kashmir Hill, who provides her own commentary on Peter’s comments.

All you have to do is risks your Fed Funds...

Ferpa Does Not Prohibit U. of Illinois From Releasing Student Records, Judge Rules

March 9, 2011 by Dissent

Elyse Ashburn reports on a federal court order that because FERPA does not prohibit the University of Illinois from disclosing educational records of students, the university must disclose them in response to a FOIA request by the Chicago Tribune. I had blogged about the case earlier today. The judge’s analysis seemed to be that because no university is required to accept federal funding, no university is required to comply with FERPA. Therefore, because no federal law explicitly prohibited the U. of Illinois from disclosing the records, they were not exempt from Illinois’s laws regulating freedom of information requests.

In her coverage of the ruling, Ashburn writes, in part:

Steven J. McDonald, an expert on Ferpa and the general counsel at the Rhode Island School of Design, says a handful of other cases have looked narrowly at the question of whether Ferpa “prohibits” public colleges from releasing records. Some courts have arrived at conclusions similar to Judge Gottschall’s, he said. But others have held that as a practical matter a college could not reject federal funds and that, therefore, Ferpa is tantamount to a prohibition on releasing educational records.

He did not know of any cases where a public college had ultimately handed over student records that forced it to forgo federal funds. “It would shut a college down.”

Read more in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Technology marches on!

Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

"Sweden and Denmark are running tests on replacing stamps with text messages. The writer sends a text message to a central server, which bills for the stamp and returns a code to be written on the letter. It's an interesting system but it better have very good security. Could this be the end of stamp collections and philately?"

For my Computer Security and Ethical Hacking students. How to be a detect a Con Man.

Book Review: Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking

"One can sum up all of Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking in two sentences from page 297, where author Christopher Hadnagy writes 'tools are an important aspect of social engineering, but they do not make the social engineer. A tool alone is useless; but the knowledge of how to leverage and utilize that tool is invaluable.' Far too many people think that information security and data protection is simply about running tools, without understanding how to use them. In this tremendous book, Hadnagy shows how crucial the human element is within information security."

Another interesting Business Model I wish I had thought of...

YC-Funded Earbits Brings A Twist To Music Startups: Online Radio That Lets Bands Pay For Playtime

Geeky stuff for my website students.

In-Depth Look At HTML5

"InfoWorld's Peter Wayner offers a four-part series devoted to the new features of HTML5. Each article examines the evolving spec in-depth, focusing on canvas, video, audio, and graphics for display options, including the and

More Geeky stuff.

RockMelt tiptoes into public beta

RockMelt boomed onto the alterna-browser landscape last November, grabbing some notable attention from social browsing competitor Flock but then fading from the limelight. After four months, RockMelt announced today that it's ready for the next step: entering into a public beta. That's right, this entire time the Marc Andreessen-backed, Chromium-based RockMelt beta (download for Windows | Mac) has been restricted to invitation-only.

A Geek can have a hobby too. But we tend to over-analyze them.

Ex-Microsoft CTO Writes $625 Cookbook

"Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's first CTO, made his mark in the tech world. Now he's cemented his place in the world of cooking and food science with the publication of a groundbreaking six-volume, 2,438-page cookbook. Some of the techniques in Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine are intimidating, to put it mildly, calling for such daunting ingredients as liquid nitrogen and equipment such as centrifuges and rotor-stator homogenizers. But Myhrvold and his co-authors insist that the majority of recipes can be made in a conventional home kitchen — with a few recommended, inexpensive extras such as a digital gram scale and water bath for sous vide cooking."

For the Toolkit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - Drag & Drop Diagram Creation

JGraph is a UK company that develops and supports graph visualization software and web services. One of the free services they offer is a diagram creation tool called offers a drag and drop interface for creating diagrams using clip art and pre-drawn shapes. Using the service does not require registration and all of your diagrams can be saved to your local computer in your choice of four formats (xml, png, jpg, or svg).

More for the toolkit. My picks...

Ten Brilliant Web Tools To Make Your Life Easier


PDF files can have restrictions that prevent you from for example copying text from them or editing, printing or merging them. PDFUnlock can remove these restrictions (a.k.a “owner password”)


ShiftEdit is an online IDE for developing PHP, Ruby, HTML, CSS and JavaScript with built-in (S)FTP.


Tired of printing web pages only to find your printout is full of ads, empty space and other junk you don’t want? PrintWhatYouLike is a free online editor that lets you format any web page for printing in seconds.

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