Monday, May 02, 2011

Cloud Computing and you.

Amazon takes 5,700 words before apologizing for cloud crash

Amazon promised a detailed postmortem of its massive Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) crash from last week, and it certainly delivered today with a nearly 6,000 word breakdown of the fiasco by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team.

But despite being more open about the problem, it still took the company around 5,700 words before it finally apologized to its customers, which included major sites and services like Foursquare, Reddit, and Quora. Amazon will be offering affected users 10 days of credit, but that certainly won’t make up for the business lost from sites that depend on it.

The post is incredibly dense and technical, but there are a few compelling points to note: Amazon says that the crash event was caused by a network configuration change, and it will make sure that similar changes in the future go smoothly. The company also says that its experience with this crash will inform how it protects its cloud service in the future.

… The company says it will make it easier for customers to create fault tolerant services by more easily taking advantage of multiple Availability Zones. It will also host a series of webinars, free starting May 2, on how companies can better build their services for the cloud. Additionally, Amazon says it will “invest in increasing our visibility, control, and automation to recover volumes in an EBS cluster.”

Amazon also responded to complaints about its lack of communication during the event. The AWS group says that it felt that focusing its energy on fixing the problem at hand was initially more important than communication, though it recognizes now that it will need to step up with keeping customers in the loop. The company began to make more frequent updates towards the end of the cloud crash, and it will staff up its developer support team in the future to update customers. It’s also working on tools that will let you see if your Amazon service is being disrupted.

Only a million users? And here I thought it was serious...

Yahoo says 1M users affected by email outage

A day after Yahoo's email service suffered a partial outage, the company reported that about 1 million users were affected.

… It's not clear when Yahoo got email back up for all of its users. Yahoo also did not specify what caused the problem.

While Yahoo email users have been tweeting about being happy the service is online, many say they resent the downtime -- even if they don't have to pay for the service.

Food for debate...

Customers Stay Despite High-Profile Data Breaches

May 1, 2011 by admin

Jordan Robertson of Associated Press writes:

Week after week, thieves break into corporate computer systems to steal customer lists, email addresses and credit card numbers. Large data breaches get overshadowed by even larger ones.

Yet people are turning over personal information to online retailers, social networks and other services in growing numbers. The point at which people lose trust in the websites they deal with appears further away than ever before, if it exists at all, as shopping, socializing and gaming online becomes deeply embedded in modern life.

Read more on ABC News.

A useful guide...

May 01, 2011

CDT: "Take Back Your Privacy's" Top 5 Privacy Tips

Cyrus Nemati, CDT: "If you've been following our Take Back Your Privacy campaign, you've seen our weekly privacy tips. Each week, we offer readers a new way to protect their privacy online through plug-ins, browser tricks, programs, and general privacy best practices. While each tip has merit in its own right, there are a few tips that give you a great amount of control over your online privacy. Without further ado, here are Take Back Your Privacy's Top Five Privacy Tips."

Finally, we are becoming a Digital Nation. OR Perhaps we are over-reaching? For my Computer Security (and Ethical Hacking) students...

May 01, 2011

All Federal Benefits Will Be Paid Electronically Effective March 1, 2013

"The U.S. Department of the Treasury will pay all federal benefit and non-tax payments electronically. Benefit recipients can choose to receive their payments by direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or to a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card account. Act now to get your money safely and quickly – on time, every time!

  • If you will apply for federal benefits on or after May 1, 2011, you will need to choose your preferred electronic payment option when you enroll to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management or Department of Labor (Black Lung). Find out what you'll need on hand.

  • You will need to make the switch from paper benefit checks to electronic payments by March 1, 2013. Learn more or sign up now

(Related) Where we are today?

May 01, 2011

Study: U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2010

U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2010 - April 2011, Zeth Lietzau, Jamie Helgren. This study was funded through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) by the Colorado State Library, Colorado Department of Education.

  • "It's well known that technology is changing at an increasingly rapid pace and that many public libraries throughout the United States are attempting to adopt new technologies to better reach their patrons. In trade journals, blogs, and at library conferences, professionals in the field have continually discussed the best methods for using web technologies to enhance the success of the public library. In keeping with this discussion, in late 2007 the Library Research Service (LRS) designed the first iteration of the U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies study. In the midst of a conversation largely focused on best practices, this study was envisioned from its inception as a longitudinal study with several goals. Primarily, it attempts to record the landscape of web technology adoption by public libraries in the United States. While most of the discourse thus far has focused on what should and should not be done to better use technologies, there has not yet been much research examining how and how many libraries actually are adopting various web technologies. This study attempts to put that in perspective. Another intention of this study is to examine the characteristics of the libraries that are adopting technology in an attempt to tease out the factors that lead them to try out various tools. We are also interested in determining whether or not the adoption of specific types of technology leads to "success" as traditionally defined in public libraries. This report represents the second iteration, and refinement, of the study. It captures a changing landscape of web technology adoption by public libraries and looks further into the characteristics and successes of libraries that adopt technology."

(Related) What's in the toolkit?

May 01, 2011

Implementing Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 IT Purchasing Requirements

Implementing Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 IT Purchasing Requirements: M-1l-20 - Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies from Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, April 28, 2011

  • "Implementing Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 IT Purchasing Requirements: "On December 9,2010, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (the Act). Telework provides multiple benefits for Executive Agencies and the federal workforce. It can produce resource savings and reduce time, expenses, and greenhouse gas production associated with commuting. Telework also provides federal employees the ability to continue working during inclement weather, emergencies, or situations that may disrupt normal operations. However, telework is only as effective as the technologies used to support it, which is why it is critical for agencies to take immediate measures to ensure that their employees are properly equipped. Within 90 days of issuance of this memorandum, agency chief information officers (CIOs), in coordination with chief acquisition officers (CAOs) shall develop or update policies on purchasing computing technologies and services to enable and promotes continued adoption of telework. At the same time, purchasing policies must address the information security threats raised by use of technologies associated with telework."

Never let the fact interfere with your opinion!

European Commission Paints Itself Into ACTA Corner

"Last week, the European Commission published a rebuttal to an extensive and strongly condemning opinion document about ACTA by prominent European academics. Ante Wessels from the FFII went through the Commission's reply and discovered that after correcting the mistakes they made, they actually confirm the opinion they were trying to refute. The Commission primarily appears to suffer from a lack of reading comprehension, amnesia regarding what it said earlier, and not being fully aware of its competences." [In other words, they are politicians? Bob]

For my (one paper each week) Computer Security students. - Search For RSS Feeds

There are search engines for just anything: images, videos, PDFs... why not one for RSS feeds?

For my Statistics students (honest!)

Rock-paper-scissors: Play Rock-Paper-Scissors Against Computer

Rock-Paper-Scissors is a simple web application that plays the Rock-Paper-Scissors game with you. The algorithm used by the game predicts your moves by recording the statistical data. The game offers two modes: Novice, in which the game starts learning your selections from scratch, and Veteran, in which the game uses statistical data from over 200,000 rounds of the game.

Similar tool: Roshambo.

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