Tuesday, May 08, 2012

No! No! And Hell no! This is wrong on so many levels.
"According to reports, which were confirmed Friday by ICS-CERT (PDF), there has been an active cyber attack campaign targeting the natural gas industry. However, it's the advice from the DHS that should raise some red flags. 'There are several intriguing and unusual aspects of the attacks and the U.S. response to them not described in Friday's public notice,' Mark Clayton wrote. 'One is the greater level of detail in these alerts than in past alerts. Another is the unusual if not unprecedented request to leave the cyber spies alone for a little while.' According to the source, the companies were 'specifically requested in a March 29 alert not to take action to remove the cyber spies if discovered on their networks, but to instead allow them to persist as long as company operations did not appear to be endangered.' While the main motive behind the request is likely to gain information on the attackers, letting them stay close to critical systems is dangerous. The problem lies in the complexities of our critical infrastructures and the many highly specialized embedded systems that comprise them."

It's a miracle! Mere months after the entire Internet became aware of this gaping hole in the “Full” body scanners, DHS wakes up.
Homeland Security Concedes Airport Body Scanner ‘Vulnerabilities’
Federal investigators “identified vulnerabilities in the screening process” at domestic airports using so-called “full body scanners,” according to a classified internal Department of Homeland Security report.
Exactly how bad the body scanners are is not being divulged publicly, but the Inspector General report made eight separate recommendations on how to improve screening.
… Meanwhile, an unclassified version of the Inspector General report, unearthed Friday by the Electronic Information Privacy Center, may give credence to a recent YouTube video allegedly showing a 27-year-old Florida man sneaking a metallic object through two different Transportation Security Administration body scanners at American airports.

A lesser miracle. “We can't handle it” is budget speak for “We'd like more money.”
Congress Funds Killer Drones the Air Force Says It Can’t Handle
… The Pentagon asked Congress for only around $4 million for the MQ-1 Predator drone and about $1.7 billion for the next-generation MQ-9 Reaper over the next year. The House Armed Services Committee, which on Tuesday finished its version of next year’s defense bill (.pdf), decided that wasn’t enough for either program. If the committee’s version of the bill makes it through the legislative process, the Air Force will get about $23 million more for the Predators, and an extra $180 million for the Reapers.

A case we all should follow. Is there justification beyond the anti-dragon argument (Since we've been doing [____] there have been no dragon attack! So it must work.”
Americans’ Challenge to No-Fly List Gets Day in Court
About a dozen U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who cannot fly from the United States because they are on the so-called “no-fly list” will finally have their case heard by a federal appeals court Friday.
The two-year-old suit claims the plaintiffs, who include two retired U.S. military veterans once stranded in Egypt and Colombia, have been unconstitutionally barred from flying without being told why or provided a meaningful chance to clear their names.
“A secret list that deprives people of the right to fly and places them into effective exile without any opportunity to object is both un-American and unconstitutional,” ACLU attorney Ben Wizner said in a statement.

The next big case?
Privacy Lawsuit Against Apple Moves Forward
May 7, 2012 by Dissent
Wendy Davis reports:
Consumers who filed a class-action privacy lawsuit against Apple can proceed with their case, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California set a trial date of Sept. 16 in the case, which was brought by iPhone and iPad users who allege their privacy was violated when their devices’ unique identifiers — 40-character strings of letters and numbers — were transmitted to app developers and their affiliates.
Read more on MediaPost.

Well, it's a start.
1 in 4 Facebook users purposely lie on profile - Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports found that one in four Facebook users lie on their profile.
The study suggests Facebook liars are just trying to protect their privacy and post false information to guard their identity.
People who lie on Facebook also use incorrect or incomplete names to hide from employers and list fake birthdates to foil potential identity thieves.

Can anyone shut down any site by “asserting” a connection to piracy? Or is that power limited to large campaign donors?
Seized Hip-Hop Site Lashes Out At Feds, RIAA
The hip-hop music site the authorities shuttered for more than a year without explanation lashed out Monday at the recording industry and the federal government, likening the taking of the site to a “digital Guantanamo.”
“Seizing a blog for linking to four songs, even allegedly infringing ones, is equivalent to seizing the printing press of The New York Times because the newspaper, in its concert calendar, refers readers to four concerts where the promoters of those concerts have failed to pay ASCAP for the performance licenses,” Andre Nasib, the site’s owner, wrote in a blog post on the popular dajaz1.com site.
Nasib had originally declined comment when Wired disclosed the backstory of the seizure on Thursday.
According to court records obtained by Wired, federal authorities seized the dajaz1.com site based on assertions from the Recording Industry Association of America that it was linking to four “pre-release” music tracks in November, 2010. The authorities gave it back nearly 13 months later without filing civil or criminal charges because of apparent recording industry delays in confirming infringement, according to the court records, which were unsealed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the First Amendment Coalition and Wired.
The records illustrated a secret government process in which a judge granted the government repeated time extensions to build a civil or criminal case against Dajaz1.com, one of about 750 domains the government has seized in the last two years in a program known as Operation in Our Sites.

Perspective The device of choice is hand-held and allows you to text or talk.
Report: Smartphones, Not Computers, Drive the Most Facebook Use
According to comScore’s new Mobile Metrix 2.0 report released Monday, Facebook’s mobile usage is on the rise. In fact, the report revealed that Facebook users spent more time accessing the social network on smartphones than on computers in March.
Facebook users spent an average of 441 minutes — or 7 hours, 21 minutes — accessing the social network via smartphones during the month. By comparison, users spent 391 minutes — or 6 hours, 31 minutes — checking out Facebook on PCs.

May 07, 2012
Pew - Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections
Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections by Lee Rainie, Susannah Fox, May 7, 2012
  • "The rapid adoption of cell phones and, especially, the spread of internet-connected smartphones are changing people’s communications with others and their relationships with information. Users’ ability to access data immediately through apps and web browsers and through contact with their social networks is creating a new culture of real-time information seekers and problem solvers. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has documented some of the ways that people perform just-in-time services with their cell phones. A new nationally representative survey by the Pew Internet Project has found additional evidence of this just-in-time phenomenon. Some 70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of smartphone owners have used their phones in the previous 30 days to perform at least one of the following activities: Coordinate a meeting or get-together; Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered; Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant; Find information to help settle an argument they were having; Look up a score of a sporting event -- 23% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days; Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere; Get help in an emergency situation."

For my Risk Management class. Both Micro and Macro considerations... (and some 'solutions' that have zero change of being adopted)
"There are good reasons to think web services like Facebook won't be around forever. If Facebook ever were to go down there would be potentially huge costs to its users. We can all take individual steps to protect our data and social network, but is there anything we can do to our economy to mitigate the costs of the failure of these services? The Red Rock looks at the role open source, open standards, consumer cooperatives, and enterprise reform can play. The author concludes that all is not lost, and that there's a lot we can do to reduce both the cost and frequency of failure."
His suggestions are pretty radical: "The first is draw up an Open Data Bill and pass it into law. This would (where applicable) mandate the use of open standards by firms, and also mandate that all data held about a user is downloadable by that user, in an open standard. ... The second is to reform the corporate structure of larger companies to include some directors elected by consumers, rather than just shareholders. Not all the directors, like in the Cooperative Group, and not even a majority, but just a small portion of the board — say one third."

Another downside of Student Loans... (The next Class Action?)
"Dave Lindorff writes in the LA Times that growing numbers of students are discovering their old school is actively blocking them from getting a job or going on to a higher degree by refusing to issue an official transcript. The schools won't send the transcripts to potential employers or graduate admissions office if students are in default on student loans, or in many cases, even if they just fall one or two months behind. It's no accident that they're doing this. It turns out the federal government 'encourages' them to use this draconian tactic, saying that the policy 'has resulted in numerous loan repayments.' It is a strange position for colleges to take, writes Lindorff, since the schools themselves are not owed any money — student loan funds come from private banks or the federal government, and in the case of so-called Stafford loans, schools are not on the hook in any way. They are simply acting as collection agencies, and in fact may get paid for their efforts at collection. 'It's worse than indentured servitude,' says NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who helped organize the Occupy Student Debt movement last fall. 'With indentured servitude, you had to pay in order to work, but then at least you got to work. When universities withhold these transcripts, students who have been indentured by loans are being denied even the ability to work or to finish their education so they can repay their indenture.'"

I'm telling you there is money to be made here. Anyone want to join me at the University of Bob?
Pathwright Launches Platform To Let Anyone Create, Sell Branded Online Courses
Online education has been around for years, but they were largely viewed as experiments. Over the last year, things have changed. Elite universities are not only taking online education seriously, they’re building it into their 10-year plans. Harvard and MIT’s EdX is one example, Coursera another, while startups like CodeAcademy, Treehouse, StraighterLine, Khan Academy, Lynda.com, Udacity, and Udemy (among others) are carrying the torch for the flipped classroom.
Interestingly, what unites these platforms, aside from the fact that that they’re all in some way educators, is that each has built their own custom software and infrastructure to deliver their content. Are any using traditional learning management systems, like Blackboard or Moodle? Nope. That’s because viable, interactive online education requires software that can meet a new generation of demands: Social, mobile, rich multimedia, flexibility, and scale.
Yet, while these well-funded startups have the resources and capital to build custom platforms, there are thousands of traditional schools, education providers, learning coaches, etc. producing stellar learning content that lack the tools necessary to share their awesome content with the masses.
That’s where Pathwright comes into play. Greenville, South Carolina-based Pathwright was founded by a team of hackers (and educators) who have set out to build a platform for “the next wave of educators” — a simple, DIY content management system that lets any and all educators create, distribute, and sell online courses under the banner of their own branded, online schools.

For Pete's sake, don't tell my wife. She already tells me I'm “warming” the house and she thinks I'm a dinosaur. God help me if she see's this connection...
Dinosaur gases 'warmed the Earth'
British scientists have calculated the methane output of sauropods, including the species known as Brontosaurus.
By scaling up the digestive wind of cows, they estimate that the population of dinosaurs - as a whole - produced 520 million tonnes of gas annually.
They suggest the gas could have been a key factor in the warm climate 150 million years ago.

Thing of this as a follow-up on one of the most amusing articles I have ever posted. I don't know how many readers went out an purchased a pair, but let this be a warning to any who did: Don't drive east of the Mississippi with them (especially if you don't have a drivers license).
'TruckNutz' lead to South Carolina driver's arrest
A South Carolina man was released from jail Monday after being held overnight for an arrest that was sparked by the fake testicles displayed on the back of his truck.
Joe Cervantes-Rodriguez, 31, was driving Sunday evening in Spartanburg when he was stopped by a sheriff's deputy who noticed an "obscene object" hanging from the truck's rear bumper.
An arrest report obtained by the website The Smoking Gun described the object as "a pair of large fleshy testicles" that were "flesh colored, anatomically correct, approximately the size of a softball, and in clear view of the public."

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