Monday, November 26, 2012

The article mentions the Oradell Reservoir which isn't large enough to flood New York City but does provide drinking water to about 3/4 million people (two square blocks) Haven't we dismissed the “LSD in the drinking water” threats? We do test the water before sending it through the pipes, don't we?
High-tech surveillance gear raises questions in New Jersey
November 25, 2012 by Dissent
Associated Press reports:
A federal anti-terrorism program has drawn North Jersey deeper into the practice of hidden surveillance, equipping police departments with high-tech cameras, infrared technology and automatic license plate readers to keep tabs on people as they travel to local reservoirs, financial hubs and malls.
Homeland Security’s representative in New Jersey, citing national security, would not say what information is being gathered, how long it is kept, or to how it is being disseminated.
Read their report on

Since I don't have a cell phone (shocking, isn't it) I worry that I'll be accused of “destroying evidence” and strapped to a waterboard until I reveal the secret hiding place...
Courts Divided Over Searches of Cellphones
November 26, 2012 by Dissent
Somini Sengupta reports:
Judges and lawmakers across the country are wrangling over whether and when law enforcement authorities can peer into suspects’ cellphones, and the cornucopia of evidence they provide.
A Rhode Island judge threw out cellphone evidence that led to a man being charged with the murder of a 6-year-old boy, saying the police needed a search warrant. A court in Washington compared text messages to voice mail messages that can be overheard by anyone in a room and are therefore not protected by state privacy laws.
Read more on the New York Times.
Orin Kerr comments on the article:
Unfortunately, the story rather confusingly switches back and forth between considering at least three different legal questions:
  1. What privacy protections the Fourth Amendment or statutes extend to the cell-location records generated by phone companies and stored by them, if the government comes to the phone company and wants the records of where the phone was located.
    2) What privacy protections the Fourth Amendment or statutes extend to copies of text messages or e-mails that providers may have stored, if the government comes to the provider and wants to obtain copies of a suspect’s text messages or e-mails.
    3) Whether the Fourth Amendment permits a warrantless search of the cell phone — and if so, how thoroughly — incident to a valid arrest.
Read more of his commentary on The Volokh Conspiracy.

(Related) For my Statistics students. Notice anything missing from the list of cell phone activities? What have I told you about assumptions?
November 25, 2012
Pew Report - Cell Phone Activities 2012
Cell Phone Activities 2012, by Maeve Duggan, Lee Rainie, Nov 25, 2012
  • "Fully 85% of American adults own a cell phone and now use the devices to do much more than make phone calls. Cell phones have become a portal for an ever-growing list of activities. In nationally representative phone surveys in the spring and summer, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project obtained readings on some of the most popular activities. Read on to see which activities are the most popular, and who does what kind of activity."
[From the report:
Cell Phone Activities
The % of cell phone owners who use their cell phone to…
Take a picture
Send or receive text messages
Access the internet
Send or receive email
Record Video*
Download Apps*
Look for health or medical information online
Check bank account balance or do any online banking


I keep a spreadsheet to record car statistics, this could go quite a bit further
Volt owners will be able to brag about their mileage more easily now thanks to OnStar. "GM rushed work on a new API to get a popular Volt owner site back on road. You probably don't think of your car as a developer platform, but Mike Rosack did. A few days after buying his Chevy Volt, Rosack started slowly mining his driving data. But he eventually revved up his efforts and created a community platform for drivers to track their own efficiency. Today more than 1,800 Volt owners compare stats with each other, jockeying for position on Rosack's Volt Stats leader board."

(Related) Who has your data? Apparently, lots of people.
Inrix Now Collects Traffic Data From 100M Drivers, Shows Black Friday Congestion Up 32.5% Despite Ecommerce
Black Friday online shopping sales were up 26% this year, the number of people driving to brick and mortar stores increased even faster says Inrix. Congestion was up 32.5% this year according to the traffic data Inrix now pulls from over 100 million drivers. This and another report about Thanksgiving traffic show the quiet giant is intent on raising its profile before its planned 2013 IPO.
… Where’s all this data coming from? Actually, where did Inrix come from? The startup spun out of Microsoft’s automotive research lab in 2004. Since then it’s signed deal after deal to sell traffic data to practically anyone…so long as they collect that same data and send it back to Inrix.
This crowdsourced model keeps on snowballing. Now Inrix has data on 1.8 million miles of road in 35 countries. Six of the top eight automakers with built-in navigation systems and eight of the top twelve iOS map apps rely on Inrix. Beyond developers and car manufacturers, it sells data to governments, TV and radio stations for on-air traffic reports, commercial fleets like UPS, and traffic websites. It has its own navigation app, plus a clever partnership with mobile carriers that lets it use data about when phones switch from tower to tower to calculate traffic.

Did the MPAA shoot itself in the foot? Is this evidence that their best customers also pirate their movies? Will they listen?
"We've heard this one before, over and over again: pirates are the biggest spenders. It therefore shouldn't surprise too many people to learn that shutting down Megaupload earlier this year had a negative effect on box office revenues. The latest finding comes from a paper titled: 'Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload.'"

Interesting survey, but I am going to steal their graphic display techniques. Very slick.
November 25, 2012
Summary Results - 2012 Am Law Tech Survey
Highlights from the 2012 Am Law Tech Survey - Topics covered include: Money, Cloud, Social Networking, Smartphones, Tablets, Win8 Purchasing. [99% of survey respondents use iPhone iOS]

Perspective When we say “Big Data” that's exactly what we mean.
Exclusive: Inside Google Spanner, the Largest Single Database on Earth
… Spanner is something that stretches across the globe while behaving as if it’s all in one place. Unveiled this fall after years of hints and rumors, it’s the first worldwide database worthy of the name — a database designed to seamlessly operate across hundreds of data centers and millions of machines and trillions of rows of information.
… Google’s new-age database is already part of the company’s online ad system — the system that makes its millions — and it could signal where the rest of the web is going. Google caused a stir when it published a research paper detailing Spanner in mid-September, and the buzz was palpable among the hard-core computer systems engineers when Wilson Hsieh presented the paper at a conference in Hollywood, California a few weeks later.

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