Saturday, June 23, 2012

A little problem with “push” updates...
Firefox Promises Privacy Patch Against Tab Spying
June 23, 2012 by Dissent
Mathew J. Schwartz reports:
When Firefox version 13 debuted earlier this month, it included a new tab-restoration feature–but at what privacy cost?
“When opening a new tab, users are now presented with their most visited pages,” according to Mozilla’s Firefox 13 release notes.
But as one Firefox user discovered, that tab-restoration feature was also “taking snapshots of the user’s HTTPS session content,” reported The Register, after one of its readers opened a new tab and was “greeted by my earlier online banking and webmail sessions complete with account numbers, balances, subject lines, etc.”
Read more on InformationWeek.

“Hey we're teachers. We don't need no stinking laws!”
NC: Clinton third-grader strip-searched after being accused of stealing
June 22, 2012 by Dissent
Okay, it’s bad enough that students get strip-searched in schools without seemingly having any right to refuse or to demand a parent or lawyer.
But for the building administrator to then issue a statement on the incident that names the student and reveals additional details about the student and his record, well, DOES ANYONE UNDERSTAND FERPA?
Yes, I’m screaming.
From a 2002 letter from the Director of the Family Policy Compliance Office:
FERPA prohibits a recipient of U.S. Department of Education funds from having a policy or practice of nonconsensually disclosing personally identifiable information derived from education records, except in certain statutorily specified circumstances. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b); 34 CFR § 99.31. While there are specific statutory exceptions to the prohibition that personally identifiable information from education records may not be released without consent, the FERPA statute does not include a general exception for the public disclosure of student disciplinary records. Accordingly, these records may not be disclosed without the prior written consent of the student or students about whom the records relate. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1) and (d). See also 34 CFR § 99.30.
Did Mrs. Cox give the District explicit consent to discuss the case in the media or for the administrator to disclose that her son had been involved in incidents of lying during the school year? If not…..

“Well yeah it's private. That's why we can sell it for so much money!”
Private Facebook Data Powering Ads Outside Of Facebook — Is The World Ready?
Because investors sure are. Facebook’s share price jumped up 3.8% to $33.05 today on news that it’s now showing its ads on in a revenue sharing partnership. Most amazingly, neither the press nor users seem to be freaking out that their private, personal data is now being used to target them with ads outside of Facebook.

Not being a lawyer, does this suggest problems for the RIAA and MPAA?
Judges tosses Apple v. Motorola
Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. District of Northern Illinois said neither Apple nor Motorola has been able to prove damages and that neither company would be permitted to refile a claim, according to All Things Digital.
… Earlier this month, Posner canceled Apple's patent infringement jury trial against Google's Motorola Mobility unit, then granted Apple's request for an injunction hearing.
On Wednesday, Posner strongly questioned Apple's bid for an injunction against Motorola smartphones, saying, according to Reuters, that a ban on sales could have "catastrophic effects" and would be "contrary to the public interest."
Apple has been waging a patent war over its iOS mobile operating system and Google's competing Android OS. Motorola sued Apple in 2010, in what some saw as a preemptive strike, but over the course of the legal proceedings, many of Motorola's claims had been tossed out, leaving the company with little ammunition.
The one claim Motorola had left was based on a patent it had agreed to let other companies use in exchange for the covered-technology becoming an industry standard (a so-called frand patent). At the time of his "catastrophic effects" comment to Apple, Posner had also told Motorola's lawyers, according to Reuters, "I don't see how you can have injunction against the use of a standard-essential patent."
… During the legal proceedings, the judge also pointed to serious problems with the U.S. patent system and questioned the worth of many software patents, saying, Reuters reported, "You can't just assume that because someone has a patent, he has some deep moral right to exclude everyone else."

Sneak peek: This is Kim Dotcom’s new Megabox service
MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom may have had most of his assets seized as part of his indictment for criminal copyright infringement in January, but that apparently hasn’t stopped him from working on his next venture. Dotcom gave a first peak at Megabox, which is supposed to become a kind of cloud music service, on Twitter Wednesday, sharing a photo of what looks like a mobile app.

For my statistics students. Match these against cost of living and average income and numbers of college graduates... Is there a correlation?

Odds & Ends...
The Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that says that students can be punished for their Facebook posts. In the unanimous decision, it said that it wasn’t saying that public universities can regulate students’ personal expression, but it found in this case that the student in question had violated “academic program rules that are narrowly tailored and directly related to established professional conduct standards.” The student in question was part of the University of Minnesota’s mortuary program and had posted to Facebook statements about her playing with cadavers. (Um, isn’t that the problem more than Facebook status updates? I’m no lawyer, but still…) The Chronicle has more details.
… In order to save money, Michigan State University will be closing thousands of alumni email accounts. The school will no longer maintain the email accounts of students who graduated over 2 years ago, which means the end to the .edu domain for about 117,000 people.
… After news that several of its teen users had been approached by child predators, sexually assaulted and raped, the flirting app Skout has shut down its teen community. Only those 18+ will be able to use the app. The Wall Street Journal takes a closer look at what happened at Skout, despite the startup having lots of precautions in place to prevent this sort of thing.
… The Pew Center has released its latest report, this one on libraries and e-books. It found, among other things, that 58% of all library card holders say they do not know if their library provides e-book lending services. There’s a lot more in this report than this one statistic, but it certainly seems to indicate that the publishers’ claims that e-book lending at libraries is going to destroy their businesses is a wee bit of an exaggeration.

This could be real handy. I've gotta play with this! Should every law school student use this?
June 21, 2012
Free Congressional Tracking Tool Launched by Sunlight Foundation
Via Daniel Schuman, The Sunlight Foundation: "SCOUT is a new free alert service that allows you search and create email or text alerts on legislation shaping issues you care about in Congress and across all fifty states. Scout also makes it easy to search federal regulations and what is actually said by lawmakers in the Congressional Record.
  • Set up alerts and subscribe to receive updates from Congress, state legislatures and more via email or SMS text.
  • Search through every bill and regulation in the federal government.
  • Be notified when Congress plans to vote on a bill.
  • Follow and search bills in all 50 states; powered by the Open States project.
  • Import an RSS feed to complement issue alerts."

I use the LightShot add-on at home, but this could be handy when you are using computers that don't have add-ons (like at school)
Windows has a built-in feature that lets you take a screenshot of your entire screen. But to take screenshots of specific portions of your screen, you need a desktop app that specializes in this. In case you do not want to install a new app for this purpose, you will find the desktop app Snaggy to be very helpful.
Snaggy is a free to use web app that lets you easily modify images. All you have to do to get started is press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. This will copy the screen’s image on the computer’s virtual clipboard. Then head on over to the Snaggy homepage and paste in the image using the CTRL+V hotkey shortcut.
Your image will be uploaded and a URL provided. You will also have the option of cropping your image, adding text to it, and adding a pencil drawing or colored rectangles to it. Changes to the image can be saved as you work on it.

After all, the Russian version of “War and Peace” runs for 8 hours...
Often while streaming videos online, you will stumble upon an interesting long video that you do not have the time to watch completely. You could return to the video but you would not have any marker of where you left off watching the video. Here to help you with that is a service called Pause for Later.
Similar site: Wacchen.

Might be useful – no examples on the home page and you need to register...
Presentista is a wonderful new tool that is easy to use and create visually strong presentations in 2D or 3D. It allows users to shape their story easily with a clear WYSIWYG interface. It is available on mobile devies and the site is web based. Creating a presentation on any computer that can be seen on any other computer. It also allows users to upload their own images and videos. A great new presentation tool.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This is better than “My dog ate my homework.” Incompetent managers now have an excuse that could work every time! “An undetectable malware program is responsible for deleting my homework. I know that is true because you can't see any evidence of it!” (Would this fly in North Korea?)
"Iran has reported that its nuclear facilities are under a sustained cyber attack which it blames on the U.S., UK and Israel. America and Israel created Stuxnet, and have been accused of starting the Flame worm."
And once a country admits that it's created such software, publicly deflecting such blame gets a lot harder.

For my Business Continuity students. Extend this to calculate a MTBU (maximum time to belly up)
Outage Hurts Twitter More Than It Hurts You
Twitter blamed its on-again, off-again outages Thursday on a “cascading bug” that left 140-character addicts in a state of painful withdrawl.
But the pain could be most acute for Twitter itself as the company seeks to ramp up its credibility as a go-to venue for advertisers.
Twitter says the service was down for about an hour and forty minutes total during two separate outages. Though exact figures on Twitter’s revenues and traffic aren’t available, a little basic math hints at the scale of the losses.
In terms of pure traffic, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said this week that the service had topped 400 million tweets per day. That’s nearly 17 million tweets per hour lost to the world on average, or up to 2.83 billion characters. The number could be much higher since the outages came during the middle of the U.S. workday.
That’s a time when ad rates are also likely at a premium. Digital marketing research firm eMarketer Inc. estimated at the beginning of 2012 that Twitter would reach nearly $260 million in revenue this year. It’s a big number but still amounts to less than $30,000 per hour on average. A more recent report from ad-buying conglomerate Group M also projects Twitter will bring in more than $300 million in 2012.
… “Twitter is a relatively small platform compared to its big competitors,” says eMarketer’s Clark Fredricksen. “When people don’t use it, that hurts.”

(Related) Literally...
When Twitter Stumbles, Sites Across the Web Go Down With It

This may seem repetitious and redundant, but perhaps it should be. For my Intro to Computer Security class.
Track the trackers with Collusion: Interview with Mozilla's Ryan Merkley
There are many flavors of privacy add-ons for different browsers, but to get the global tracking "big picture," if you haven't already then you really need to try out Collusion. The "interactive, real-time visualization of entities that track your behavior" when you are surfing says a lot.
Gary Kovacs, the CEO of Mozilla, gave a fantastic TED talk about "Tracking the trackers" and showed off Collusion to the audience.
… After you download and install Collusion in Firefox, you can "see who is tracking you across the Web and following you through the digital woods," Kovacs stated.

(Related) See? We need to open their eyes first...
June 21, 2012
Check Point Survey Reveals a Generation Gap in Computer Security
News release: "Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd...announced the results of a new ZoneAlarm report revealing differences in the use of computer security between Gen Y and Baby Boomers. The report, The Generation Gap in Computer Security, found that Gen Y is more confident in its security knowledge than Baby Boomers. However, 50 percent of Gen Y respondents have had security issues in the past two years compared to less-than-half of Baby Boomers. The broad adoption of digital media and social networking, combined with the increasing amount of sensitive data that is stored online, is making personal computer security more important than ever before. Yet the ZoneAlarm study reveals that 78 percent of Gen Y respondents do not follow security best practices while cybercriminals are launching new and more sophisticated attacks on consumers every day. In comparison, Baby Boomers are more concerned about security and privacy and twice more likely to protect their computers with additional security software."

Workplace surveillance will extend globally and become ubiquitous.
Google Maps Reinvented As Employee Tracker
Google Maps isn’t just a way to get where you’re going. It’s a way to keep an eye on your employees.
On Thursday, Google uncloaked a new service dubbed Google Maps Coordinate that lets businesses track the activities of remote workers — such as traveling sales staff and field technicians — by tapping into GPS devices on their cell phones. For instance, says Google, a cable TV company could follow the progress of their field techs as they move from home to home repairing cable connections.

I don't get it, but then I'm pretty anti-social...
June 21, 2012
Article - The Public Domain: Surveillance in Everyday Life
The Public Domain: Surveillance in Everyday Life, Alice Marwick. Surveillance & Society, Vol 9, No 4 (2012)
  • "People create profiles on social network sites and Twitter accounts against the background of an audience. This paper argues that closely examining content created by others and looking at one’s own content through other people’s eyes, a common part of social media use, should be framed as social surveillance. While social surveillance is distinguished from traditional surveillance along three axes (power, hierarchy, and reciprocity), its effects and behavior modification is common to traditional surveillance. Drawing on ethnographic studies of United States populations, I look at social surveillance, how it is practiced, and its impact on people who engage in it. I use Foucault’s concept of capillaries of power to demonstrate that social surveillance assumes the power differentials evident in everyday interactions rather than the hierarchical power relationships assumed in much of the surveillance literature. Social media involves a collapse of social contexts and social roles, complicating boundary work but facilitating social surveillance. Individuals strategically reveal, disclose and conceal personal information to create connections with others and tend social boundaries. These processes are normal parts of day-to-day life in communities that are highly connected through social media."

The law of drones. I plan to use my drone fleet to develop intelligence that will allow me to accurately predict (and sell subscriptions) the optimum viewing time for skinny dipping Bunnies at the Playboy Mansion.
No, You Can’t Use a Drone to Spy on Your Sexy Neighbor
What are the laws against drones—and their masters—behaving badly? Turns out, there are few that explicitly address a future where people, companies, and police all command tiny aircraft. But many of our anxieties about that future should be assuaged by existing regulations. We asked Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, to weigh in on some of the issues.
Can I use a drone to spy on my sexy neighbor?
Can I use a drone to deliver a cup of coffee? [Or a pizza? Bob]
Could a police drone look in my windows for drugs?
Could the police follow my car with a drone?

It is better to be the victim's lawyer than to be the victim.” Joe Obvious
Privacy Lawyers Sell Out Facebook Users for $10 Million
Facebook is agreeing to give its users the right to “limit” how the social-networking site uses their faces in ads, as a part of a way to settle a privacy lawsuit brought against the company.
The other part of the settlement is $10 million in fees to the lawyers who brought the case against Facebook’s so-called Sponsored Stories program and a $10 million donation to charity.
… The suit, filed in April 2011, claimed that the social-networking site did not adequately inform people of the feature or give them a way to opt out of the advertising program that began in January 2011.
Terms of the deal (.pdf) were unveiled Thursday and they require Facebook to let members be “capable of taking steps to limit their appearance in those ads.” Read that lawyerly phrase again — it doesn’t mean provide a way to opt out entirely.

If I video a Math lesson, tools like this one allow my students to make “audio only” versions they can play while commuting or jogging (but mainly, they can avoid looking at me)
"Two days after, a site that converts songs from music videos into MP3 files, was blocked from accessing YouTube, the RIAA has asked CNET to remove software from that performs a similar function. The RIAA focused its criticism on software found at called YouTubeDownloader. The organization also pointed out that there are many other similar applications available at the site, 'which can be used to steal content from CBS, which owns' CNET's policy is that is not in any position to determine whether a piece of software is legal or not or whether it can be used for illegal activity."
For a sufficiently broad definition of "steal," you could argue that all kinds of software (from word processors to graphics programs to security analysis tools) could be implicated.

This is just stupid... And it does nothing to protect the “good name” of the Olympics.
Online Knitting Community Receives Take Down Notice for 'Ravelympics'
The website Ravelry has gotten a take-down request from the US Olympic Committee, which says that "Ravelympic" events "denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games."

All WMDs are equivalent. Release a chemical or biological WMD, face a nuke in response.
"The second of the two controversial bird flu studies once considered too risky to publish in fears that they would trigger a potentially devastating global influenza epidemic was published Thursday. The study describes how scientists created H5N1 virus strains that could become capable of airborne transmission between mammals. Scientists said that the findings, which had been censored for half a year, could help them detect dangerous virus strains in nature."

Just saying...
"While we are importing billions of 'cheap' products labeled 'Made in China,' the fastest growing export from U.S. to China does not even need a label. Chinese parents are acutely aware that the Chinese educational system focuses too much on rote memorization, so Chinese students have flocked to overseas universities and now even secondary schools, despite the high cost of attending programs in America. Chinese enrollment in U.S. universities rose 23% to 157,558 students during the 2010-2011 academic year, making China by far the biggest foreign presence. Even the daughter of Xi Jinping, the presumed next president of China, studies as an undergraduate at Harvard. This creates opportunities for universities to bring American education directly to China. Both Duke and New York University are building campuses in the Shanghai area to offer full-time programs to students there."

(Related) How big would this be in China?
Peter Norvig: The 100,000-student classroom
In the fall of 2011 Peter Norvig taught a class with Sebastian Thrun on artificial intelligence at Stanford attended by 175 students in situ -- and over 100,000 via an interactive webcast. He shares what he learned about teaching to a global classroom.

Learn from the master...
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Daniel Russell is a Google employee who studies how people search on the Internet. He's a search anthropologist. I had the pleasure of meeting him and learning from him at the Google Teacher Academy that I attended in 2009.
On his blog Search ReSearch Daniel Russell posts search challenges for readers to try. Then a few days later he explains how to solve the challenges. The challenges are not challenges that you could solve with just a basic query or even if you used the built-in Google Advanced Search tools.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

“No hacking skills required.”
"Hacker group Rex Mundi has made good on its promise to publish thousands of loan-applicant records it swiped from AmeriCash Advance after the payday lender refused to fork over between $15,000 and $20,000 as an extortion fee — or, in Rex Mundi's terms, an 'idiot tax.' The group announced on June 15 that it was able to steal AmeriCash's customer data because the company had left a confidential page unsecured on one of its servers. 'This page allows its affiliates to see how many loan applicants they recruited and how much money they made,' according to the group's post on 'Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in their robots.txt file.'"

“If you have nothing to hide...”
“We promise not to snoop if you haven't committed a crime.”
License Plate Recognition Logs Our Lives Long Before We Sin
June 20, 2012 by Dissent
Jon Campbell of the L.A. Weekly has a chilling report in tomorrow’s edition on license plate readers used by California law enforcement and the “BOSS” database that is being developed. Here’s a snippet:
L.A. Weekly has learned that more than two dozen law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County are using hundreds of these “automatic license plate recognition” devices (LPRs) — units about the size of a paperback book, usually mounted atop police cruisers — to devour data on every car that catches their electronic eye.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department are two of the biggest gatherers of automatic license plate recognition information. Local police agencies have logged more than 160 million data points — a massive database of the movements of millions of drivers in Southern California.
Each data point represents a car and its exact whereabouts at a given time. Police have already conducted, on average, some 22 scans for every one of the 7,014,131 vehicles registered in L.A. County. Because it’s random, some cars are scanned numerous times, others never.
The use of the system has expanded significantly since its first introduction in 2005:
In 2005, when LPR made its debut here, police agencies generally threw out all of the unneeded information that wasn’t tied to a stolen or otherwise wanted vehicle.
Now there’s a lot of cheap digital storage space, so LAPD holds all of its data for five years, Long Beach for two, the Sheriff’s Department for two.
But Sgt. John Gaw, with the Sheriff’s Department, says, “I’d keep it indefinitely if I could.”
ACLU’s Bibring calls these long retention times “exceedingly troubling,” and state Sen. Joe Simitian has introduced legislation setting a 60-day retention limit, which copies the California Highway Patrol.
Police officials are quick to note that the information being gathered isn’t private. License plates are owned by the DMV and routinely recorded by police — that’s one of the main reasons they exist.
“It’s not Big Brother,” Gaw says. “It’s doing what a deputy normally does in his routine duties.”
So this is what it comes down to if there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy in public. The police can record and store millions of data points about you and figure out your location for any point in time for the last few years?
Legal, perhaps, but very very creepy.
Read more on the L.A. Weekly.

(Related) We may need a Philosophy of Privacy
Facial recognition software’s privacy concerns
June 21, 2012 by Dissent
James Temple writes that facial recognition technology has outpaced policy on its use:
There are obviously useful applications, like automatically tagging your buddies in a social-network photo or – on an entirely different scale – recognizing known terrorists at airports. But there are frightening ones as well: allowing authoritarian states to identify peaceful protesters, enabling companies to accrue ever greater insight into private lives or empowering criminals to dig up sensitive information about strangers.
“Facial recognition blows up assumptions that we don’t wear our identities on our person; it turns our faces into name tags,” said Ryan Calo, director of privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “It can be good and helpful, or it can be dangerous.”
At a minimum, the technology demands a serious policy debate over the appropriate ground rules for this tool. But, of course, government officials are still grappling with online privacy questions from a decade ago, as private industry and law enforcement happily march ahead.

I think I mentioned that I'm teaching Statistics this Quarter... (Although I'm not sure this is real) Here's another “Improbable things happen” story.
Lucky 19: Vegas Roulette Wheel Hits Same Number Seven Times in a Row
A roulette wheel in Las Vegas reportedly hit the number 19 an incredible seven times in a row Monday night. As if that wasn't astounding enough, after the streak was broken by the wheel landing on 15, it hit 19 yet again on the very next spin!
… Just how rare is this? According to the Las Vegas Sun, the odds of this happening are 3 billion to one. [This is incorrect. I'll have my students calculate 1/38 to the seventh power Bob] The Rio has yet to verify the event... in fact, until the Sun contacted the casino on Tuesday, Caesars Entertainment officials weren't even aware that this had happened. [This makes me suspect it is a fake Bob]

Just what I need for my Math students. I have found that if they work too long on Math without a break, their heads explode.
The Pomodoro technique is a very popular method for effective time management. It requires you to work on a task for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes before resuming your task. Plus, for every 2 hours you work, you take a longer break. The tool PomodoroTimer lets you do that with ease.
Just browse to the tool and click “start” to turn the timer on. Once 25 minutes are over, the tool will notify you so you can take a break. Once the break is over, you can resume your task again. The tool is very simple and doesn’t have any extensive features or functionality, and this simplicity actually helps you focus more on the task at hand.

Fortunately for me, I rarely give papers as assignments in my Math classes.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
This morning in a workshop that I facilitated with Greg Kulowiec there was a great discussion about copyright, Creative Commons, and fair use as it relates to using media in iBooks Author. During that conversation, Common Craft's explanation of Creative Commons was helpful. Later in the day I had a conversation with a couple of teachers who were also concerned about students plagiarizing work when constructing iBooks. That conversation prompted me to dig up some resources fore teaching students what plagiarism is, how to avoid it, and how to detect it.
Education is the best prevention.
These are resources that can be helpful in explaining to students what plagiarism is and how they can avoid it.
2. The Purdue OWL website 
Tools for detecting plagiarism. 
4. a quick search on Google. well as on Google Scholar.
6. Plagiarisma 
7. Paper Rater 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hey, it's lots cheaper than bombing their facilities...”
Report: US and Israel Behind Flame Espionage Tool
The United States and Israel are responsible for developing the sophisticated espionage rootkit known as Flame, according to anonymous Western sources quoted in a news report.
The malware was designed to provide intelligence about Iran’s computer networks and spy on Iranian officials through their computers as part of an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign, according to the Washington Post.
The program was a joint effort of the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, which also produced the Stuxnet worm that is believed to have sabotaged centrifuges used for Iran’s uranium enrichment program in 2009 and 2010.
This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” a former high-ranking US intelligence official told the Post. “Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”

Try your hand at intelligence? What did we know and when did we know it?
June 19, 2012
National Security Archive: Top Secret CIA Documents on Osama bin Laden Declassified
News release: "The National Security Archive today is posting over 100 recently released CIA documents relating to September 11, Osama bin Laden, and U.S. counterterrorism operations. The newly-declassified records, which the Archive obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are referred to in footnotes to the 9/11 Commission Report and present an unprecedented public resource for information about September 11. The collection includes rarely released CIA emails, raw intelligence cables, analytical summaries, high-level briefing materials, and comprehensive counterterrorism reports that are usually withheld from the public because of their sensitivity. Today's posting covers a variety of topics of major public interest, including background to al-Qaeda's planning for the attacks; the origins of the Predator program now in heavy use over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; al-Qaeda's relationship with Pakistan; CIA attempts to warn about the impending threat; and the impact of budget constraints on the U.S. government's hunt for bin Laden. Today's posting is the result of a series of FOIA requests by National Security Archive staff based on a painstaking review of references in the 9/11 Commission Report."

Busy little beavers...
June 19, 2012
Report - Applications Made to FISA Court During Calendar Year 2011
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legislative Affairs, Applications Made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court During Calendar Year 2011, submitted pursuant to sections 107 and 502 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as amended, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1801 et seq., and section 118 of USA PATRIOT Improvement Act and Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-177 (2006)

Change is the most difficult thing an organization can do.
"In his essay 'Capitalists Who Fear Change,' author Jeffrey Tucker takes on 'wimps who don't want to improve.' From DMCA take-downs on 3D printing files to the constant refrain that every new form of music recording will 'kill music,' Mr. Tucker observes, 'Through our long history of improvement, every upgrade and every shift from old to new inspired panic. The biggest panic typically comes from the producers themselves who resent the way the market process destabilizes their business model.' He analyzes how the markets move the march of technology ever forward. He takes on patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism of entrenched interests in general, with guarded optimism: 'The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way.'"

I am amused... Still, it is an interesting argument.
Free Speech for Computers?
DO machines speak? If so, do they have a constitutional right to free speech?
… In today’s world, we have delegated many of our daily decisions to computers. On the drive to work, a GPS device suggests the best route; at your desk, Microsoft Word guesses at your misspellings, and Facebook recommends new friends. In the past few years, the suggestion has been made that when computers make such choices they are “speaking,” and enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.
This is a bad idea that threatens the government’s ability to oversee companies and protect consumers.

For my Business Continuity class: Remember that “highly improbable” is not “impossible.”
Annals of bad luck: when primary, backup, and second backup power fail
A new root cause analysis describes an Amazon outage that occurred last week in Amazon's East Coast data centers. The report shows a series of problems resulted in virtual machines and storage volumes losing primary, backup, and secondary backup power. A cable fault took down the main service, a defective cooling fan messed up a backup generator, and finally an incorrectly configured circuit breaker caused secondary backup to fail.

For my Website design class. A supplement to
The project is completely web-based, and it is designed to help users with writing basic code in both HTML and CSS. Thimble is part of Mozilla’s Webmaker Project, which is designed to encourage people to create their own content on the web.

Just in time for my statistics class...
June 19, 2012
Early beta version of Zanran - search for 'semi-structured' data on the web
"Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web. This is the numerical data that people have presented as graphs and tables and charts. For example, the data could be a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a barchart shown as an image in an HTML page. This huge amount of information can be difficult to find using conventional search engines, which are focused primarily on finding text rather than graphs, tables and bar charts... Zanran doesn't work by spotting wording in the text and looking for images – it's the other way round. The system examines millions of images and decides for each one whether it's a graph, chart or table – whether it has numerical content. The core technology is patented computer vision algorithms that decide whether an image is numerical – and they're accurate (about 98%). But the huge majority of images on the internet are not graphs etc. So even though the accuracy is high, you will still get some non-numerical images. In comparison, looking for tables is relatively simple. Once we've found a table we then have to decide whether it's essentially numerical - and we have algorithms for that."

(Related) Finding those on the left of the curve (because sometimes you don't want the 'best and the brightest.'
"'Nigerian scams' (also known as '419 scams' but more accurately called 'advance fee fraud') continue to clog up inboxes with tales of fantastic wealth for the recipient. The raises the question: Do people still fall for this rubbish? The emails often outline ridiculous scenarios but promise millions if a person offers to help get money out of a country. The reason for the ridiculous scenarios seems obvious in retrospect: According to research by Cormac Herley at Microsoft, scammers are looking for the most gullible people, and their crazy emails can help weed out people who are savvy enough to know better. Contrary to what people believe, the scams aren't 'free' for the scammers (PDF): sending an email might have close to zero cost attached, but the process of getting money out of someone can be quite complicated and incurs costs (for example, recruiting other parties to participate in the scam). So at the end of the day, the scammer wants to find people who will almost certainly fall for the scam and offer a good return."

Research for free!
June 19, 2012
Beta version Directory of Open access Books
"The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Academic publishers are invited to provide metadata of their Open Access books to DOAB. [Currently there are 1098 Academic peer-reviewed books from 27 publishers.] Metadata will be harvestable in order to maximize dissemination, visibility and impact. Aggregators can integrate the records in their commercial services and libraries can integrate the directory into their online catalogues, helping scholars and students to discover the books. The directory will be open to all publishers who publish academic, peer reviewed books in Open Access and should contain as many books as possible, provided that these publications are in Open Access and meet academic standards."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Could you find better examples of doublespeak than that from government reports?
NSA: It Would Violate Your Privacy to Say if We Spied on You
The surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency as part of its sweeping new counterterrorism powers. The reason: it would violate your privacy to say so.
That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?
The query bounced around the intelligence bureaucracy until it reached I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nominal head of the 16 U.S. spy agencies. In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general “and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would further violate the privacy of U.S. persons,” McCullough wrote.
… What’s more, McCullough argued, giving such a figure of how many Americans were spied on was “beyond the capacity” of the NSA’s in-house watchdog — and to rectify it would require “imped[ing]” the very spy missions that concern Wyden and Udall. “I defer to [the NSA inspector general's] conclusion that obtaining such an estimate was beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission,” McCullough wrote.

(Related) Drones are the “not quite war” tool of choice in countries where the infrastructure does not favor CyberWar...
White House, Citing Public’s Right to Know, Stonewalls on Yemen War
The center of the US drone war has shifted to Yemen, where 23 American strikes have killed an estimated 155 people so far this year. But you wouldn’t know about it — or about the cruise missile attacks, or about the US commando teams in Yemen — by reading the report the White House sent to Congress about US military activities around the globe. Instead, there’s only the blandest acknowledgement of “direct action” in Yemen, “against a limited number of [al-Qaida] operatives and senior leaders.”
The report, issued late Friday, is the first time the United States has publicly, officially acknowledged the operations in Yemen and in nearby Somalia that anyone with internet access could’ve told you about years ago.

Looks like everyone wants to 'drone up.' One of the problems with simple, cheap and effective tools.
Iranian Missile Engineer Oversees Chavez’s Drones

Will this depend on antitrust or potential campaign contributions?
June 18, 2012
The Role of Antitrust in Protecting Competition, Innovation, and Consumers as the Digital Revolution Matures
The Role of Antitrust in Protecting Competition, Innovation, and Consumers as the Digital Revolution Matures: The Case against the Universal-EMI Merger and E-Book Price Fixing - Mark Cooper, Director of Research, Consumer Federation of America Fellow, Donald McGannon Communications Research Center, Fordham University - Jodie Griffin, Staff Attorney, Public Knowledge, June 2012
  • "This paper presents a detailed analysis of the proposed merger between Universal Music Group (UMG) and EMI by applying the standards and methods outlined in the recently revised Department of Justice/Federal Trade Commission Merger Guidelines. It shows that the UMG‐EMI merger is “an unfair method of competition” that constitutes “an unreasonable restraint of trade” because it will “substantially lessen competition” and is “likely to enhance market power.” Simply put, the postmerger firm will have a strong incentive and increased ability to exercise market power, particularly in undermining, delaying, or distorting new digital distribution business models, in a market that has been a tight oligopoly for over a decade. The merger creates a highly concentrated market by eliminating one of only four major record labels and results in an increase in concentration that is five times the level that the DOJ/FTC identify as a cause of concern. The recent history of anticompetitive, anti‐consumer conduct by this tight oligopoly and the role of EMI as a maverick in the digital era compound the anticompetitive effects of the merger and significantly increase the likelihood that the merger will not only result in higher prices but also undermine incipient competition."

I find her work interesting... And we should have been teaching classes on this years ago...
Mindmap for Studying Social Media
For the last two years, I’ve been studying social media from all angles in anticipation of teaching a full course on Social Media (which I did in the Winter 2012 semester). During that time, I tweeted all sorts of articles, videos, blog posts, and resources related to all aspects of Social Media.
Today I’m doing a 4-hour workshop on Social Media for the MCCVLCC, and in an effort to organize and make sense of two years of study, I decided to build a mindmap about Social Media from all the tweets I’ve made about this in the last year.
There are eight major branches on the mindmap:
  • Guidelines and Policies
  • The Business of Social Media
  • Studying the Social Network
  • History of Social Networks and Media
  • Social Media and Education
  • Human Relationships
  • Technology and Tools
  • Legal, Ethical, and Privacy Issues

Could fill in some gaps...
June 18, 2012
Data Citation Brochure published by UK's Economic and Social Research Council
"Just to let you all know that here at the Economic and Social Data Service in the UK we have been working with the ESRC on a brochure to encourage data citation amongst our social scientists and journal publishers. In October 2011 we minted over 5000 DOIs for our ESDS Collection with Datacite, using a methodology we developed to deal with version changes to our data. You can view our Webinar that explains how we do this. We have also spoken at various Datacite events. We are currently sending out over 1000 brochures to all the major UK and key European social science publishers and professional societies in the UK. View our brochure and feel free to borrow from it!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Local, unfortunately. And a discussion point for my Business Continuity class...
"I am the IT Manager for Shambhala Mountain Center, near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. We are in the pre-evacuation area for the High Park Fire. What is the best way to load 50+ workstations, 6 servers, IP phones, networking gear, printers and wireless equipment into a 17-foot U-Haul? We have limited packing supplies. We also need to spend as much time as possible working with the fire crew on fire risk mitigation."

The Intro to Business class should teach: “Leave no potential source of revenue unexplored.” That does not mean you should keep it secret.
By Dissent, June 17, 2012
There are so many complaints and lawsuits following breaches that I long ago gave up on mentioning them all. But Kristen Stewart of the Salt Lake Tribune reports on one complaint that I found particularly interesting:
When University of Utah health law professor Leslie Francis learned her name and Social Security number had been exposed in the state’s Medicaid breach, she decided to do what any scholar might do — investigate.
She deduced that, like the majority of breach victims, her information was sent to the Utah Department of Health by a provider inquiring whether she was covered by Medicaid.
That was a surprise, because she is insured through her employer and none of her providers had declared in privacy notices that they may bill Medicaid. What’s more, when she asked the hospital she believes is at fault to “fess up” — citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) — the hospital refused, citing the same law.
The professor went on to file complaints with HHS, OCR, and the FTC. Read more on Salt Lake Tribune.

When your programmers say, “I've got this really simple idea for a coding scheme...” BEWARE! investigates after customer discovers security breach
June 18, 2012 by admin
Dylan C. Robertson reports:
Kevin Hunt travels whenever he finds time off and a good deal. So when his credit statement listed, he went to the travel booking site to see which trip the charge was for.
The site allows people to find reservation details by searching their last name and the last four digits of their credit card. When Hunt keyed in his information, he found his hotel booking for an upcoming trip to Vermont.
But he also found bookings for people named Hunt in Oklahoma and Massachusetts, complete with their home addresses, phone numbers and emails, as well as credit card expiry dates.
Read more on The Toronto Star and see what you think of the firm’s response to the customer.
[From the article:
But he also found bookings for people named Hunt in Oklahoma and Massachusetts, complete with their home addresses, phone numbers and emails, as well as credit card expiry dates.
“It’s scary,” said Hunt, a Markham elementary school teacher. “You can see where someone lives and when they’ll be out of town. It’s like an invitation.”
He’d used an American Express credit card, which often end in numbers between 1001 and 1009. Typing those numbers alongside common names like Smith, he was able to find scores of strangers’ personal information.

Leave this to the Pros (my Ethical Hackers)
Hacked companies fight back with controversial steps
June 17, 2012 by admin
Joseph Menn of Reuters reports that some U.S. firms are fighting back against hackers in unorthodox – if not downright illegal – ways:
“Not only do we put out the fire, but we also look for the arsonist,” said Shawn Henry, the former head of cybercrime investigations at the FBI who in April joined new cyber security company CrowdStrike, which aims to provide clients with a menu of active responses.
Once a company detects a network breach, rather than expel the intruder immediately, it can waste the hacker’s time and resources by appearing to grant access to tempting material that proves impossible to extract. Companies can also allow intruders to make off with bogus files or “beacons” that reveal information about the thieves’ own machines, experts say.
Henry and CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovich do not recommend that companies try to breach their opponent’s computers, but they say the private sector does need to fight back more boldly against cyber espionage.
Read more on Reuters.
[From the article:
It is commonplace for law firms to have their emails read during negotiations for ventures in China, Alperovich told the Reuters Global Media and Technology Summit. That has given the other side tremendous leverage because they know the Western client company's strategy, including the most they would be willing to pay for a certain stake.
But if a company knows its lawyers will be hacked, it can plant false information and get the upper hand.
… Veteran government and private officials warn that much of the activity is too risky to make sense, citing the chances for escalation and collateral damage.
"There is no business case for it and no possible positive outcome," said John Pescatore, a National Security Agency and Secret Service veteran who leads research firm Gartner's Internet security practice.
… Because some national governments are suspected in attacks on private Western companies, it is natural that some of the victims want to join their own governments to fight back.
"It's time to have the debate about what the actions would be for the private sector," former NSA director Kenneth Minihan said at the RSA security conference held earlier this year in San Francisco.
In April, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the San Jose Mercury News that officials had been contemplating authorizing even "proactive" private-entity attacks, although there has been little follow-up comment.

Of course demand was up...
"Governments are sticking their noses into Google's servers more than ever before. In the second half of 2011, Google received 6,321 requests that it hand over its users' private data to U.S. government agencies including law enforcement, and complied at least partially with those requests in 93% of cases, according to the latest update to the company's bi-annual Transparency Report. That's up from 5,950 requests in the first half of 2011, and marks a 37% increase in the number of requests over the same period the year before. Compared with the second half of 2009, the first time Google released the government request numbers, the latest figures represent a 76% spike. Data demands from foreign governments have increased even more quickly than those from the U.S., up to 11,936 in the second half of 2011 compared with 9,600 in the same period the year before, though Google was much less likely to comply with those non-U.S. government requests."

We've done it before...
"The BBC reports that the UK's Draft Communications Bill includes a provision which could be used to force the Royal Mail and other mail carriers to retain data on all physical mail passing through their networks. The law could be used to force carriers to maintain a database of any data written on the outside of an envelope or package which could be accessed by government bodies at will. Such data could include sender, recipient and type of mail (and, consequentially, the entire contents of a postcard). It would provide a physical analog of the recently proposed internet surveillance laws. The Home Office claims that it has no current plans to enforce the law." [Future plans are already in place Bob]

An interesting issue...
June 17, 2012
Article - Predicting Fair Use
Sag, Matthew, Predicting Fair Use (February 25, 2012). Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 73:1 47-91 (2012); TRPC 2011; Loyola University Chicago School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-005. Available at SSRN
  • "Fair use is often criticized as unpredictable and doctrinally incoherent - a conclusion which necessarily implies that the copyright system is fundamentally broken. This article confronts that critique by systematically assessing the predictability of fair use outcomes in litigation. Concentrating on characteristics of the contested use that would be apparent to litigants pre-trial, this study tests a number of doctrinal assumptions, claims and intuitions that have not, until now, been subject to empirical scrutiny. This article presents new empirical evidence for the significance of transformative use in determining the outcomes of fair use cases. It also substantially undermines conceptions of the doctrine that are hostile to fair use claims by commercial entities and that would restrict limit the application of fair use as a subsidy or a redistributive tool favoring the politically and economically disadvantaged. Based on the available evidence, the fair use doctrine is more rational and consistent than is commonly assumed."

If not libraries, who else might jump on this business model?
June 17, 2012 - Should libraries start their own, more trustworthy Facebook?
Via Should libraries start their own, more trustworthy Facebook? - David Rothman proposes that the time may be fast upon us for libraries — perhaps allied with academic institutions, newspapers and other local media — to start their own more trustworthy Facebook. His involvement with the Digital Public Library of America provides a reference point and support for the integral role that this new model of virtual connectivity and knowledge sharing can play moving forward.

Global Warming! Global Warming! Sorry Al...
Sorry Global Warming Alarmists, The Earth Is Cooling
Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming. That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more.
That is one of the most interesting conclusions to come out of the seventh International Climate Change Conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute, held last week in Chicago.

Un-censor the Internet!
While American internet users can quite happily watch Hulu, the fact that I live in the UK means I can’t. Likewise, BBC iPlayer is free for UK citizens; but if your physical location says America then you’re out of luck buddy. It’s a frustrating state of affairs, and we won’t stand for it! Neither will a new free service that aims to remove region restrictions the world over by way of some magic DNS trickery.

As my fish monger says, “Here something just for the halibut.”
There are numerous websites that let you be creative with paper. Adding to this list is Cube Creator, a site that provides you with a printable cube template that you can customize and print.
Similar tools: Printsgram and PaperCritters.