Saturday, November 03, 2012

I don't hold out much hope...
Feds Ordered to Disclose Data About Wiretap Backdoors
A federal judge is ordering the Justice Department to disclose more information about its so-called “Going Dark” program, an initiative to extend its ability to wiretap virtually all forms of electronic communications.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of San Francisco concerns the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. Passed in 1994, the law initially ordered phone companies to make their systems conform to a wiretap standard for real-time surveillance. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2005 to apply to broadband providers like ISPs and colleges, but services like Google Talk, Skype or Facebook and encrypted enterprise Blackberry communications are not covered.
The FBI has long clamored that these other communication services would become havens for criminals and that the feds would be left unable to surveil them, even though documents acquired by Wired shows that the FBI’s wiretapping system is robust and advanced.
Little is known about the “Going Dark” program, though the FBI’s 2011 proposal to require backdoors in encryption found no backers in the White House. The FBI has never publicly reported a single instance in the last five years where encryption has prevented them from getting at the plaintext of messages.

Interesting. What else could we crowdsource? Perhaps how to make voting machines tamper proof? (But not until after my election) What would Judges like to know more about?
EFF: Calling All Geeks – Help Explain To Judges Hearing Oracle v. Google Appeal Why Copyrighting APIs Is Such A Bad Idea
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking for help in explaining to the federal circuit why copyrighting APIs is such a bad idea.
The EFF’s request comes after a victory earlier this year when U.S.District Court Judge William Alsup ruled in the Oracle v. Google case that an API cannot be copyrighted. The ruling drew a sigh of relief from the tech community, but the victory was short-lived. Oracle has since appealed and now a three-judge panel will decide if Alsup’s ruling should stand.
Alsup was that rare judge who actually learned how to do computer programming. It’s doubtful that the three judges will share such a deep knowledge of how applications work and integrate with APIs.

Internet Economics... How would you stucture these payments? So much per “click through?”
The Skirmish That Could Threaten Google News
What if Google had to start paying for each link that shows up when you do a search? It would totally wreck the company's business model, right? And maybe change the nature of search engines too?
An insurrection may be coming, and it is starting with Google News. Here's the timeline. A couple of weeks ago, a group of 154 Brazilian news websites comprising 90% of the country's market share made a pact to jump out of Google News. The websites, which are part of Brazil's National Association of Newspapers (Associação Nacional do Jornais, or ANJ), had been negotiating with the search engine. They wanted it to pay a fee for linking to their content.
… So far, maybe not a big deal. Brazil is an important emerging market, but it's only one country. Here's what's really a problem for Google: This week, it has been reported that news sites in France, Germany, and Italy are close to pulling the plug on Google News too. They're asking for the same kind of "Google tax," and -- like their Brazilian counterparts -- threatening to ban Google News if the search giant won't comply. The latest reports come after a tense-sounding meeting between French prime minister Francois Hollande and Google executive Eric Schmidt. Google has denied reports that the French government also slapped it with a one billion dollar tax claim.
… The consequence: If enough countries' media opt out of Google News, they will either destroy the service or leave the search giant with no choice but to acquiesce to their demands for a "Google tax." In other words, this time, it looks like it could be serious.

To my Ethical Hackers. Something in Facebook worth hacking at last? Of course we will never use our own names. I know a Professor at the DU Law School whose name I already use for other loyalty programs...
Why Facebook Might Get Into the Free Wi-Fi Racket
For all its success as a broad-based social network, Facebook has struggled to get mobile users to register their locations, as tens of millions of people gleefully do throughout the day on rival Foursquare. Now Facebook is testing a new incentive: Free Wi-Fi for users who “check in” with their location.
Facebook confirms it is running a test in which it supplies free Wi-Fi routers to local businesses and the businesses, in turn, offer their customers free wireless internet to users who check in on Facebook from the business location. After checking in, the user is shown the business’ Facebook page. (Business owners also have the option of giving passcodes to certain customers who they want to exempt from the Facebook check-in requirement, according to Inside Facebook.)

Do I read this correctly?
As of today, new Facebook members will now be offered a virtual privacy education tour, which offers step-by-step instructions on Facebook’s various security settings and tools. This move comes after a variety of criticism over Facebook’s constantly changing settings, some of which are difficult to locate. Also contributing was an audit by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office.

I'm sure there will be problems going both ways, but as Napoleon said, "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence"
More Electronic Voting Machines Changing Romney Votes to Obama: We Looked Into It and Here’s What a Vendor Told Us
Last week, TheBlaze brought you a story from a North Carolina voting precinct using electronic voting machines that was already experiencing issues where votes for GOP candidate Mitt Romney were being changed to Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Now, it’s allegedly happening again, this time in both Kansas and Ohio — and we talked to a vendor supporting the machines about the issue.
… Nancy explained that while her husband was casting a vote for Romney, the touchscreen highlighted Obama.
“He played around with the field a little and realized that in order to vote for Romney, his finger had to be exactly on the mark,” Nancy wrote in an email. She said “the invisible Obama field came down about 1/4 [of an inch]” into what should technically have been the Romney area. In a phone interview with TheBlaze, she explained further that her husband said he felt the area on the touchscreen that could be pushed to vote for Obama was larger than that for Romney.

Could be an interesting resource...
November 02, 2012
EFF Launches New Transparency Project
News release: "From cell phone location tracking to the use of surveillance drones, from secret interpretations of electronic surveillance law to the expanding use of biometrics, EFF has long been at the forefront of the push for greater transparency on the government’s increasingly secretive use of new technologies. With the launch of our new Transparency Project, we’ve made the information we’ve received easier to access and added new tools to help you learn about the government and file your own requests for information. The new name—Transparency Project—reflects the fact that EFF’s work has expanded far beyond filing and litigating federal Freedom of Information Act requests. While that work still makes up a solid core of what our Transparency Team does, we also seek information from state and local governments, regularly report on transparency issue more broadly, and provide tools to help you find out more about our government and what it’s up to."

Now I have a new fear. It's not bad enough that I fear people texting while driving, now I have to worry about texting while orbiting!
When the International Space Station Passes Over Your House, NASA Will Send You a Text Message

I teach all my classes in “computer labs” (classrooms with a computer on every desktop) This article should allow students to find software that works for them...
Have you ever just wanted to jot something down real quick, but couldn’t find a pen? Or maybe you could, but later lost the note with a bunch of other notes which were used for the same purpose. It would be nice to just quickly get something from your head to a place in front of your eyes without a whole lot of effort.
I want to emphasize the word quickly. There are a lot of excellent note-taking applications out there, many of them mentioned on here on MakeUseOf as being “quick” to use. And I use many of them such as Evernote and Google Docs (Drive). However, there is something to be said for being able to use a note-taking service, without signing in (or up), having to learn how the service works or needing or install a browser extension. That, to me, is quick note-taking.

For my Math students...
Friday, November 2, 2012
Useful New Features Added to Desmos Online Graphing Calculator
Desmos, the free online graphing calculator, recently announced some useful new features that mathematics teachers will like. Under the surface Desmos updated their infrastructure to make the calculator run up to fifteen times faster than before. On the exterior Desmos now has a share button that allows you to email your graphs and or embed them into blog posts. Desmos has added a textbox option in your graphs to help you explain what is happening in your graph. Learn more about the Desmos updates in the video below.
Applications for Education
The option to embed your graphs into a blog post could be useful when you're writing explanatory blog posts for your class. The sharing option could be used by students to send homework responses to their teachers. Students could also use the share option to ask for help from teachers, tutors, and peers when they get stuck on a problem.

Free and paid (cheap) Apps and websites
Friday, November 2, 2012
Surfing for Substance - 50 No-nonsense Tools for Teachers
Later this month I am running a public webinar (registration details coming next week) with Marygrove College. One of the things that we'll be discussing during the webinar is sourcing and evaluating apps and websites for classroom use. As a something of a primer on that topic Marygrove College has published Surfing for Substance.
Surfing for Substance is a free PDF that provides an overview of fifty apps and websites for teachers. The overview includes some tools for the logistical aspects of teaching (they recommend Fax Zero for faxing without a fax machine) as well as for instructional purposes. You can download the guide here or here (this link will start a PDF download).

Videos worth stealing sharing with students...
Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) videos are being increasingly shared online as friends share their positive messages with one another. Here to help download the TED videos directly to your hard drive is a desktop application called The TEDinator.

You know, I think I'm beginning to consider teaching a professions rather than a hobby...
Coursera and Antioch University have struck a deal — the first of its kind, says Inside Higher Ed — in which the university would license courses from Coursera and offer them for credit. “Antioch will pay Coursera an undisclosed amount for permission to use several courses, including ones from Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania. The company will share that revenue with the universities, which own intellectual property rights for their courses as part of their contracts with Coursera.” [The “money” waits for anyone who can grant real college credit for online courses... Bob]
Fast Company’s Anya Kamenetz reports on a study by researchers at the University of Toronto and Yale that found that Internet-based sex education was effective for teens in Colombia. “While the lack of personal contact is often seen as a drawback in online education,” writes Kamenetz “in the case of awkward topics like sex ed, it could actually be a benefit. The researchers noted teens can experience the computer as an anonymous, private, and nonjudgmental place to get information.”
… According to Business Insider, Google’s biggest advertiser is the University of Phoenix, which spent $155,000 a day on ads in the third quarter of 2012. Wow, the Web is totally revolutionizing education, huh. [You have to find “customers” if you are a “for profit” Bob]

Friday, November 02, 2012

How to you avoid (not evade) taxes in France? Apparently, Googling that question isn't the best way to find out...
Google France Faces Fine Of $1.3 Billion For Tax Noncompliance. Google Denies The Accusation.
Google France could be ordered to pay $1.3 billion to France’s equivalent of the IRS (Direction générale des finances) due to tax noncompliance in 2011. The agency has been investigating Google’s revenue in France for months. With only 138 million euros of revenue in France in 2011, the company has used tax-optimization strategies, but has always stated that they comply with the law. It denies the accusation.

A new record? Perhaps because there was actual evidence?
A federal court in Illinois has handed down the largest fine ever levied against a file sharer in a BitTorrent piracy case. The judgment was placed against defendant Kywan Fisher and orders the man to pay $1.5 million to an adult film company called Flava Works. The man was found guilty of sharing 10 of the company’s films via BitTorrent.
The massive fine was reached through a penalty of $150,000 per movie, which is the maximum amount of damages possible under current US copyright law. Movie studios are expected to use this case as the stick to coax other alleged file sharers to settle out-of-court. Fisher and several other defendants were sued by Flava Works for sharing the company’s films.
All defendants in the case had paid accounts with the Flava Works website. The movie company was able to prove that the people shared movies from their accounts because each film the defendants viewed and shared was tagged with a specific piece of code linking the movie to their account. Flava Works was able to prove that movies directly downloaded and shared by Fisher were shared thousands of times.

“We don't need no stinking Privacy Lawyers!”
… TermsFeed is extremely simple to you. All you have to do is enter your site’s name, your company’s name, and your email address. You are then shown an HTML template of the policy you chose. This template has self-explanatory fields that you can easily modify to fit your website. When you are done editing, you can copy the HTML and embed it on your site to share the policies with your site visitors.

If you gave (money or time) once, you'll probably do it again and we will spend a billion dollars this year alone...
"Stanford privacy researcher Jonathan Mayer has published new research showing that websites of both the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns, which are used to communicate with and coordinate their volunteers, leak large amounts of private information to third-party online tracking firms. The Obama campaign site leaked names, usernames, zip codes and street addresses to up to ten companies. The Romney campaign site leaked names, zip codes and partial email addresses to up to thirteen firms."

In your face, privacy lovers!
"People seem to be okay with constant corporate or government video surveillance in public. Let a lone individual point a video camera their way, however, and tempers flare. GeekWire takes a look at the antics and videos of Seattle's mysterious Surveillance Camera Man, who walks up to people and records them for no apparent reason other than to make a point: How is what he's doing different than those stationary surveillance cameras tucked away in buildings and public places?"
At least with Surveillance Camera Man, you specifically know that he's watching you — not always the case. (Not even when there's no warrant, on private property in the U.S.)

For my Disaster Recovery students... If your generators are on the 18th floor, and the elevators aren't working...
"Who knew that the most critical element of operating a data center in New York City was ensuring a steady supply of diesel fuel? In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the challenges facing data center operators in the affected zones include pumping water from basements, waiting for utility power to be restored, and managing fuel-truck deliveries. And it's become increasingly clear which companies had the resources and foresight to plan for a disaster like Sandy, and which are simply reacting. Here's the latest on providers around the New York area."
And remember, having fuel for machines sometimes only means it's time to start the manual labor.

Entirely too logical.
"Voting machine designs and data formats are a free-for-all. The result is poor validation and hence opportunity for fraud. An IEEE standards group wants all election computer systems to speak the same language. From the article:'IEEE Standards Project 1622 is working on electronic data interchange for voting systems. The plan is to create a common format, based on the Election Markup Language (EML) already recommended for use in Europe. This is a subset of the popular XML (eXtensible Markup Language) that specifies particular fields and data structures for use in voting.'"

Perspective? Are there similar rules for Privacy?
Why We Freak Out About Some Technologies but Not Others
As anyone who reads the news knows, there’s often a side effect to new technologies: moral panic. Facebook causes narcissism! Texting is making us illiterate! But the funny thing is, other technologies don’t provoke such alarm. Take Square, a tool that lets everyday folks accept credit card payments. It’s tipping into mainstream usage, changing how small businesses operate and how friends split a bar bill, but it hasn’t provoked any doomsaying.
What’s the difference? Why do we freak out at some technologies and shrug at others?
Genevieve Bell believes she’s cracked this puzzle. Bell, director of interaction and experience research at Intel, has long studied how everyday people incorporate new tech into their lives. In a 2011 interview with The Wall Street Journal‘s Tech Europe blog, she outlined an interesting argument: To provoke moral panic, a technology must satisfy three rules.
First, it has to change our relationship to time. Then it has to change our relationship to space. And, crucially, it has to change our relationship to one another. Individually, each of these transformations can be unsettling, but if you hit all three? Panic!
… This cycle is very old. Indeed, it probably began almost 2,500 years ago, when the written word was on its way to unmooring knowledge from space and time and letting new combinations of people “speak” to one another. This satisfied all three rules—and it panicked Socrates, who warned that writing would destroy human memory and destroy the art of argument.

Or you could wait for me to do it...
PlagTracker is a web tool designed to help people run plagiarism checks on their academic papers and other types of texts. While it may not be the first such web service, PlagTracker is convenient to use with its quick and simple checking process

We need to get the word out...
Thursday, November 1, 2012
College Students Can Learn to Code for Free
Treehouse is a service that offers online service that offers web design and coding lessons on a subscription basis. Right now they're accepting applications from college students for free lessons. Treehouse plans to give away subscriptions to 5,000 randomly selected college students. To enter to win a subscription students do need to complete the short form at the end of Treehouse's announcement. Entries are being accepted through November 9, 2012.

I wonder if the vets in my Computer Security program know about this?
"Just three weeks after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told an audience at the Sea, Air and Space Museum that the U.S. is on the brink of a 'cyber Pearl Harbor,' the government has decided it needs to beef up the ranks of its digital defenses. It's assembling a league of extraordinary computer geeks for what will be known as the 'Cyber Reserve.'" [...and every member gets a secret decoder ring! Bob]

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Is this a real threat or a “Give me a bigger budget to waste” plea? Since she compares hurricane Sandy to terrorsts, I strogly suspect the latter...
Homeland Security chief: Banks 'under attack' by hackers
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today that hackers are "actively" attacking some of the country's largest financial institutions.
According to a report in The Hill, America's top security official issued the warning at a Washington Post event today, but didn't specify the nature of the attacks.
"Right now, financial institutions are actively under attack," The Hill quoted Napolitano as saying. "We know that. I'm not giving you any classified information... I will say this has involved some of our nation's largest institutions. We've also had our stock exchanges attacked over the last [few] years, so we know... there are vulnerabilities."
Napolitano also said that the hackers have been successfully pilfering funds from the banks, but wouldn't elaborate.

For the “How NOT to do it” folder: “We don't need no stinking (secure) logs! If we have logs then we have detailed records of what happened.”
"The final report that was handed to the Dutch government today indicates that all 8 certificate servers of the Dutch company DigiNotar were fully hacked. (Report PDF in English.) Because the access log files were stored on the same servers, they cannot be used to find any evidence for or against intrusion. In fact, blatant falsification has been found in those log files. A series of so-far unused certificates has also been found. It is unknown if and where these certificates have been used."

For the “How NOT to do it” folder: ToS shouldn't be an after-thought.
"In January, hackers got hold of 24 million Zappos customers' email addresses and other personal information. Some of those customers have been suing Zappos, an online shoes and clothing retailer that's owned by Zappos wants the matter to go into arbitration, citing its terms of service. The problem: A federal court just ruled that agreement completely invalid. So Zappos will have to go to court—or more likely settle to avoid those legal costs. Here's how Zappos screwed up, according to Eric Goldman, a law professor and director of Santa Clara University's High Tech Law Institute: It put a link to its terms of service on its website, but didn't force customers to click through to it."

For the April First folder: “Hello, I'm Mitt Romney and my cellphone was just stolen. Would you please cancel ###”
"U.S. cellphone carriers took a major step on Wednesday toward curbing the rising number of smartphone thefts with the introduction of databases that will block stolen phones from being used on domestic networks. The initiative got its start earlier this year when the FCC and police chiefs from major cities asked the cellular carriers for assistance in battling the surging number of smartphone thefts. In New York, more than 40 percent of all robberies involve cellphones and in Washington, D.C., cellphone thefts accounted for 38 percent of all robberies in 2011."

If it's this easy, why don't we do it in the US? Encrypt the files by default and you have full (not just plausible) deniability?
MegaUpload will be reborn as in January
Kim DotCom is once again making news and thumbing his nose at authorities.
DotCom told Reuters today that he will launch Mega, the son of MegaUpload, near the first anniversary of the police raid on his home and the shutting shut down of MegaUpload, a storage service accused of hosting millions of pirated movies, music and other digital media.
… The new cloud storage service will differ from MegaUpload in an important ways, according to DotCom. First, instead of using the .Com domain name, it will operate on the Gabon-based domain
The service will also not make use of any U.S. hosting companies. will also enable copyright owners will be able to get "direct delete access" of pirated content provided they agree not to hold's operators responsible for the infringement, DotCom told Reuters.

The future of education? Somehow, I doubt it.
Not content with being the young upstart in the LMS industry taking on the aging giants of Blackboard and Desire2Learn, Instructure has now decided to enter another market and take on some of the upstarts there, namely Coursera and edX. That is, tonight it launches the Canvas Network, which in the words of CEO Josh Coates, is “our answer to the whole MOOC hype.”
It’s an answer that Instructure’s current clients have helped devise, too, Coates says, noting that many of the schools that run its LMS Canvas are pondering that hype and weighing whether they should join the Coursera or edX platform (or fear being left out of the MOOC race entirely). In many cases, these schools already offer online classes to their own students, but simply don’t have the reach — the marketing reach or the instructional reach — that the xMOOCs promise.
The Canvas Network
So with the new Canvas Network, Instructure has compiled a catalog of free, open online classes run on the Canvas LMS by Canvas customers. The network launches with participation from a dozen institutions, including Brown, the University of Washington, and the University of Central Florida. There are 2 dozen courses, including “Introduction to Openness in Education” taught by BYU’s David Wiley and “Gender Through Comic Books” with lectures voiced by Stan Lee. (Yes, that Stan Lee.)
Registration opens now, with the first classes beginning in January.
… But Instructure does have some experience on the MOOC front, having been the platform used for the MOOC MOOC run by the Hybrid Pedagogy folks back in August. Coates said that the company was able to learn a lot during this week-long MOOC about how it would have to tweak the LMS features to account for open participation at a massive scale.
[For me to “borrow” ideas from?

For my lawyer friends who are planning that 6,000 square foot wine cellar...
There are a lot of CAD applications we’ve covered here at MUO, including Angela’s review of LibreCAD, which I used for a little bit of interior design as well. Then, in Directory we’ve covered apps like BabyCAD and DesignYourRoom. However, I think the absolute best application to “sketch up” a room design like this is obviously SketchUp!

A couple of FONT tools for my website class...
WhatFont is a simple tool that you can use to find out what a type of font is.
The most direct way to acquire it is through the website, especially for the bookmarklet. I would also recommend this method for downloading the Safari extension. For Chrome, you can head right to the Chrome Web Store and get it that way.

(Related) Now that you have a few thousand favorite fonts, you need to organize them.
NexusFont gives Windows users the ability to effectively organize and manage the fonts installed on their computers. Once installed and started, NexusFont runs a scan and locates all the fonts installed on your computer system. The software allows you to view each font as a sample text, giving you a clearer idea of what your text will look like.
The sample text used can be modified by the users. You can then easily browse through these fonts and select the one you want to use.

How Teens Do Research in the Digital World
… According to this survey of teachers, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the College Board and the National Writing Project, the internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up:
  • Virtually all (99%) AP and NWP teachers in this study agree with the notion that “the internet enables students to access a wider range of resources than would otherwise be available,” and 65% agree that “the internet makes today’s students more self-sufficient researchers.”
  • At the same time, 76% of teachers surveyed “strongly agree” with the assertion that internet search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily.
Read Full Report

Tools for geeks...
Get Windows 8 for Dummies: Pocket Edition e-book for free

Tools for literate geeks... Not free, but perhaps my students would program a free App for that...
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Relax Romeo. Tis but my iPad, glowing as I read.
Shakespeare has been brought kicking and screaming up into the iPad generation, with the launch of a new set of apps intended to leverage the tablet’s multimedia flexibility with a splash of Leonardo DiCaprio. The Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth apps, the handiwork of developers Agant and Cambridge University Press, match the classic texts with audio recordings featuring actors such as Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale, interactive timelines showing key themes, and glossaries to better understand arcane English.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What type/target/'volume of hacking rises to this level?
"In one of the photos, the dark-haired, bearded hacker is peering into his computer's screen, perhaps puzzled at what's happening. Minutes later, he cuts his computer's connection, realizing he has been discovered. In an unprecedented move, the country of Georgia — irritated by persistent cyber-spying attacks — has published two photos of a Russia-based hacker who, the Georgians allege, waged a persistent, months-long campaign that stole confidential information from Georgian government ministries, parliament, banks and NGOs."

For my Disaster Recovery students. This isn't a bad weather issue, this is a bad design issue! (Were you planning to rely on your cell phone in the next emergency?
Telecom companies have reported that 25% of cell towers have been knocked out in 10 states in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In addition, 25% of cable services have also been lost in those states, although landline outages are reported to be “far fewer.” Emergency calls are currently being rerouted to different call centers, according to the FCC.

In an increasingly connected world, laws have an increasing global impact? If I offer a free “Guide to Tokyo” App on a Tokyo website, I'm still subject to California laws because someone in Ferndale downloaded the App? Perhaps I should make it free except in California, where it is $2500?
The state of California has warned OpenTable, United Continental, and Delta Air Lines over their inaccessible privacy policies for mobile users, according to a source familiar with the issue. Reportedly, the companies were notified via a letter from the California Attorney General that they have 30 days to make their privacy policies “readily accessible.” The source declined being named because the happenings aren’t public.
… According to Conley, California is the only state that requires privacy policies for apps in addition to websites. Failure to adhere to the privacy policy laws could result in a $2,500 fine per app download.

...and when Lawyers enter the Bar, they must pass beneath this inscription: "Abandon all logic, ye who enter here" At least, that's how it appears to this non-lawyer.
MPAA: Don't let MegaUpload users access their data
Hollywood's lobbyists are a bit alarmed at the possibility that MegaUpload users may be getting their data back.
The Motion Picture Association of America told a federal judge in Virginia today that any decision to allow users of the embattled file locker to access their own files could "compound the massive infringing conduct already at issue in this criminal litigation." MegaUpload's servers with approximately 25 petabytes of data are currently unplugged, offline, and in storage at Dulles, Va.-based Carpathia Hosting.
When an FBI raid took down MegaUpload's U.S.-based servers early this year, federal agents also seized electronic property belonging to Americans who used the file locker to store perfectly legal backups of their own data. One user, Kyle Goodwin, an Ohio-based sports videographer, has been trying since May to get his copyrighted video files back, and to allow other users in the same predicament to do the same.
… CNET previously reported that the U.S. Department of Justice is opposing Goodwin's request to access his own files, saying it would mean "releasing assets of the defendants which are subject to mandatory forfeiture." [Except he's not a defendant – or am I missing something? Bob]

More “my brain hurts” articles about patents...
Let’s Go Back to Patenting the ‘Solution,’ Not the ‘Problem’
We already know the patent system is broken. And it desperately needs to be fixed: Patents affect and will continue to affect nearly every technology business or product we use. So for the next few weeks, Wired is running a special series of expert opinions – representing perspectives from academia to corporations to other organizations — proposing specific solutions to the patent problem.

Interesting. Not only shows me where I can vote early, it lists all 16 candidates for president (alphabetically by first name)
October 30, 2012
Google Launches new Voter Information Tool
Google Official Blog: "Every four years in the United States, people prepare to head to the polls and increasingly search for information about how to register to vote, where to vote and who is on their ballot. Even though it is 2012, important voting information is disorganized and hard to find on the Internet. To help voters research candidates and successfully cast their ballot on Election Day, we’ve launched our new Voter Information Tool. You can enter your address to find information on your polling place, early vote locations, ballot information with links to candidates’ social media sites and voting rules and requirements."

Pimp your mouse! (For people who actually do stuff with their computer...)
The Windows right-click menu is a feature that we may often take for granted, but it can really make our lives easier. Advanced users probably don’t use it that much, having learned all the necessary keyboard shortcuts to do whatever they want in the blink of an eye, but what if you could spice up that right-click menu? What if it could do a bunch of awesome tasks that you couldn’t replicate with the keyboard?
That’s one of the drawbacks to the menu, I think. A lot of the menu options are either rarely used so we don’t remember to use them, or they’re easily replaced by a simple key combination like in the case of copy-pasting. But thanks to a few awesome programmers, we can boost the usefulness of our right-click menus by adding more features to it.

Limited free diagrams, but then why buy Visio if you don't need it?
A Platform Play – Gliffy Moves Its Online Diagram Service To HTML 5 And Says Goodbye To Flash
Gliffy is moving to an all HTML 5 platform, showing the change in developer and business users needs to collaborate online across any platform and within third-party application environments.

Maybe you can't just copy everything...
Step by Step Guide to Upgrading to Windows 8
Microsoft Windows 8 is finally out and can now be upgraded to or downloaded. Windows 7, XP and Vista users can simply upgrade to Windows 8 for only $39.99. But this is a limited time offer, from October 26th to Jan 31st 2013.
If you wish to upgrade to Windows 8 and want to know how you can do it, then you are at the right place as today we are presenting a step by step guide to upgrading to Windows 8. So check these easy steps out and start with the upgrading procedure!
1. Download Windows Upgrade Assistant from HERE. After you are done downloading, launch it from your existing Windows install.
… Windows 7 users are provided with the option to keep files and apps, but unfortunately XP and Vista users do not have any such option.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apparently, someone told them that it is possible for terrorists to be behind a hack.
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is finally stepping up its game when it comes to hackers. Maybe it was Anonymous that did it or maybe it was statements from the US Secretary of Defense two weeks ago, but either way, the FBI is now hunting hackers 24/7."
I'm happy that the FBI no longer has an investigation schedule when it comes to online crime, but I have to think that I'm not the only one who assumed they were doing this before.
[From the article:
The division’s main focus is now cyber intrusions, working closely with the Bureau’s Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence divisions. More importantly, the FBI-led “National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force” (NCIJTF), as it’s being called, will share information with partner intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency.

Not exactly the “prisoner's dilemma” or is it?
Argument recap: Sensitive to lawyers’ dilemma
The Supreme Court showed Monday that it is genuinely troubled that the govenment, carrying on a sweeping program of wiretaps seeking to track terrorism activity, may be putting lawyers in a serious professional and ethical bind as they represent individuals potentially caught up in that eavesdropping. It was not immediately clear, though, whether that worry was deep enough to lead the Court to give those attorneys a right to sue to challenge the constitutionality of the global surveillance that seems to be tracking Americans’ conversations, too.
Although the government’s top lawyer in the Court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., argued that no one should be allowed in court to contest this program unless they can show that the government’s potential overhearing of sensitive legal conversations is close to a certainty, several of the Justices seemed wary of making it that difficult to bring a challenge when it is entirely likely that such monitoring has occurred, or will occur.
… The Solicitor General did not appear to have scored a hit when he argued that, if lawyers were cutting back on how they dealt with their clients, they were doing so because of ethical restraints, not because of the government’s surveillance. Justice Elena Kagan, in particuarly, seemed offended by that point.
… Verrilli’s strongest point, though, was that the Justices could trust a specialized federal court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates entirely in secrecy, to act as a sufficient check on excessive use of foreign intelligence wiretapping. Justice Antonin Scalia, in particular, was a strong defender of indulging in just that kind of trust. If there are constitutional violations, Scalia said, that court will ferret them out.
… And, Kennedy added, a lawyer who was representing an individual who might be targeted as a potential terrorist would actually “engage in malpractice” if that attorney did not take steps to protect conversations with the client or with the client’s family members from being monitored. Picking up on Justice Kagan’s repeated comments about lawyers’ ethical obligations to their clients, Kennedy appeared tempted to conclude that lawyers had, in fact, already suffered professional harm that might be sufficient to give them “standing” to sue to challenge the program.

(Related) But everyone is doing it! (We can, therefore we must!)
UK: Kent Police investigated in private data scandal
October 29, 2012 by Dissent
Just because you have the technology, it doesn’t mean you should use it.
Kent Police is under investigation over claims it is storing personal information on everyone arrested, even if no charges are brought.
The force is said to be one of six in England and Wales that uses special software to “interrogate” private mobile phones belonging to members of the public.
Details harvested can include calls and messages sent and received, internet activity, photographs and personal memos.

Sometimes, I don't want to know that “There's an App for that.” Note that it does take some interesting programming to separate skin from cloth...
The iPhone app that sucks out Facebook bikini pics
One should always appreciate those who truly understand the human psyche.
One should also always appreciate humanists who embrace the concept of honesty. They are so few.
Stunningly, there is now an iPhone app that manages to do both. It's called, with all due subtlety, Badabing.

A very similar reaction from my Statistics students...
By Dissent, October 29, 2012
Here’s a useful example of why my eyes glaze over at times when trying to make sense of breach statistics. Tim Smith of the Greenville News recently reported:
South Carolina state agencies and businesses over a three-year period reported dozens of computer security breaches that potentially could affect at least 410,000 people, a report obtained by shows.
Much of that, according to a report by the state Department Consumer Affairs, came from healthcare organizations last year, which reported breaches affecting a possible 325,000 people.
The report does not include the most recent fiscal year, or the database theft earlier this year of almost 230,000 records from the Department of Health and Human Services, said Juliana Harris, spokeswoman for the agency.
So my first impression was that healthcare sector clearly accounts for the greatest percentage of records/individuals affected by reported breaches in South Carolina for the past three years. But does it also represent the largest percentage of breaches? So I read on:
Of the 56 disclosures, the healthcare industry, such as hospitals, submitted nine notices affecting 340,000 residents. Government agencies submitted six breaches affecting 35,000 residents; financial organizations turned in 12 breach notices affecting almost 19,000 consumers; and other industries submitted 29 notices affecting about 17,000 residents, according to the data from Consumer Affairs.
Healthcare organizations alone reported 325,000 people impacted from three security breaches in 2011, according to the data.
Using the three-year timeframe, 9 out of 56 = 16% of reported breaches were from the healthcare sector, a statistic that is considerably higher than the 7% statistic reported in Verizon’s 2012 breach report. Verizon, however, notes that their cases from this sector may be under-represented as many healthcare sector entities would not turn to Verizon to investigate a breach. SC’s 16% statistic is consistent, however, with the 15% all-time statistic for the healthcare sector from
For 2011, however, healthcare sector breaches constituted 50% of all reported SC breaches (3 out of 6), while for, healthcare sector breaches constituted 18% of all 2011 breaches in that database. Frankly, I’m surprised South Carolina only got six breach reports in 2011 considering it was somewhat a “banner year” for breaches. Even though South Carolina does not require reporting to the state for breaches affecting fewer than 1,000, their report still seems surprisingly low to me.
But as importantly, we can’t really interpret SC’s statistics without knowing what percent of all entities the healthcare sector represents in South Carolina. If they represent 10% of all entities that might have to report breaches, then the 16% might indicate unusual trouble in the healthcare sector with respect to breaches. If, on the other hand, they represent 25% of all entities, then a 16% statistic reflects favorably on the sector.
Without additional information or context, interpreting statistics is often a puzzlement and is definitely not a task for the faint-hearted.
What seems clear, though, is that a lot of South Carolina consumers had their personal and/or health information compromised or put at risk over the past three years and that healthcare entities that maintain huge databases may make desirable targets for corrupt insiders or hackers. Verizon offers some suggestions for the healthcare sector. Their advice strikes me as sound.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put a cool towel over my eyes and forehead until the urge to make sense of statistics passes – for now, anyway.

Perspective It works, but you shouldn't count on it working? Should we fix this?
FDNY to NYC: Please don't tweet for help
With New York City inundated by Hurricane Sandy-driven storm surge, heavy winds, and emergencies throughout town, the FDNY is pleading with people not to use Twitter to call for help.
… It's not that the fire department categorically won't respond to calls for assistance on Twitter, however. It just doesn't want New Yorkers thinking they can depend on the microblogging service for help from the FDNY.

If this actually surprises anyone, we need to talk...
"A month before the controversial 'six strikes' anti-piracy plan goes live in the U.S., the responsible Center of Copyright Information (CCI) is dealing with a small crisis. As it turns out the RIAA failed to mention to its partners that the 'impartial and independent' technology expert they retained previously lobbied for the music industry group. In a response to the controversy, CCI is now considering whether it should hire another expert to evaluate the anti-piracy monitoring technology."

Includes info on at least 3 UAV (drone) systems...
October 29, 2012
2013 Army Weapon Systems Handbook
Via Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News: "The U.S. Army has just published the 2013 edition of its annual Weapon Systems Handbook, which is filled with updated information on dozens of weapon systems, the military contractors who produce them, and the foreign countries that purchase them... An appendix provides an informative breakdown of military industry contractors by weapon system and by the state where the contractor is located."

(Related) We have lots of drones, but the CIA isn't interested in killing a mere hurricane...
NASA Preps Drone Hurricane Hunters, But Misses Sandy

Too cool to ignore!
Shakespeare: Globe to Globe took place this summer and featured 37 plays being performed in 37 different languages in the rebuilt Shakespeare Globe theatre in London, England. Put on as a celebration of the impact that the playwright has had around the world, live audiences watched performers deliver famous lines in their mother tongues in the playwright’s spiritual home.
Nothing quite compares to the emotion, crowd and weather involved in watching a play performed in an open theatre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the theatre at home. Luckily the whole season of unforgettable performances are available for viewing via The Space, a hub that provides free access to various artforms on the Internet and mobile devices.
[Jump directly to the plays:

Free stuff for my Geeks?
"This election year, CodeWeavers is repeating its 'Great American Lame Duck Presidential Challenge' from 2008, and will be giving away free one-year subscriptions to Crossover Linux and Mac. 'On Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, beginning at 00:00 Central Time (+6 GMT), anyone visiting CodeWeavers’ Flock The Vote promotional web site ( will be able to download a free, fully functional copy of either CrossOver Mac or CrossOver Linux. Each copy comes complete with 12 months of support and product upgrades. The offer will continue for 24 hours, from 00:00 to 23:59, Oct. 31, 2012. ... The company had recently launched its 'Flock the Vote' challenge – a voter turnout initiative in which CodeWeavers promised free software for 24 hours if 100,000 people pledged to vote in the 2012 Presidential election.'"

Something for PowerPoint haters...
PowerPoint Killer Prezi Launches New Interface
Prezi, a popular alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation applications, launched a new version of its interface today.
… For those not familiar, Prezi uses a map-like metaphor for creating presentations instead of a slideshow metaphor. This makes it possible to create non-linear presentations, or presentations that use spatial metaphors for organizing ideas, like mind maps.
The web version of Prezi is free, but if you want the desktop version or certain other features you’ll have to shell out for the Pro account, which costs $159 a year. But even free users can use the offline presentation viewers, so you never have to worry about shoddy conference wifi when giving a presentation. You can also use it for giving online presentations, bypassing the need to use WebEx.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sometimes it is what you get, rather than how much you get, that determines the value of a hack.
Experian Customers Unsafe as Hackers Steal Credit Report Data
October 29, 2012 by admin
Jordan Robertson reports:
When hackers broke into computers at Abilene Telco Federal Credit Union last year, they gained access to sensitive financial information on people from far beyond the bank’s home in west-central Texas.
The cyberthieves broke into an employee’s computer in September 2011 and stole the password for the bank’s online account with Experian Plc, the credit reporting agency with data on more than 740 million consumers. The intruders then downloaded credit reports on 847 people, said Dana Pardee, a branch manager at the bank. They took Social Security numbers, birthdates and detailed financial data on people across the country who had never done business with Abilene Telco, which has two locations and serves a city of 117,000.
The incident is one of 86 data breaches since 2006 that expose flaws in the way credit-reporting agencies protect their databases.
Read more on Bloomberg. Jordan’s report was inspired by data compiled on, some of which we obtained under Freedom of Information requests. He also cites a complaint I filed with the FTC in April about all the Experian-related incidents, a complaint I have not discussed previously on this blog. I’ll issue my own statement on his report and my complaint in a separate blog post.

“Yeah, but don't worry about it. We never do.”
NZ: Inland Revenue Department has had 32 privacy breaches in the past year.
October 28, 2012 by admin
ONE News in New Zealand reveals a government department has had a series of privacy breaches. Following soon after the breach involving the Ministry of Social Development, reports of inadequate data protection involving the Inland Revenue Department are just what the government doesn’t need. Even worse, the department is getting a black eye in the press for not informing those affected. ONE News reports:
ONE News viewers Ross Muir and his wife recently received a nasty shock in the mail – a letter from IRD with confidential tax details in unsealed envelopes – and contacted ONE News worried about their privacy.
Ross said he was “quite upset” by the discovery.
“It’s not the sort of information you would like shown to anybody else,” he said.
On further investigation ONE News reporter Georgina Ball discovered that in the past year, the IRD has breached the privacy of almost 6400 New Zealanders, in 32 separate incidents.
For 638 people the breach was so serious that IRD was forced to put security measures in place to protect them from identity theft.
However, the department failed to tell the 5741 others that they were victims, because it did not consider the breaches serious enough.
Read more on ONE News. The IRD’s statement is somewhat puzzling, as it refers to them improving their e-mail security. How many of the 32 breaches involved e-mail? How many involved postal mail? Hacks? A breakdown of the 32 breaches would be helpful.

I suppose the alternative would have been to fly a drone off the wing tip of his plane...
"According to reports, Imran Khan was detained yesterday by US officials for questioning on his views on United States drone strikes in Pakistan. Glenn Greenwald writing for the guardian: 'On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, U.S. immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was "interrogated on [his] views on drones" and then added: "My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop." He then defiantly noted: "Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance."'"

(Related) ...and he could watch us watching him.
Most U.S. Drones Openly Broadcast Secret Video Feeds
Four years after discovering that militants were tapping into drone video feeds, the U.S. military still hasn’t secured the transmissions of more than half of its fleet of Predator and Reaper drones, Danger Room has learned. The majority of the aircraft still broadcast their classified video streams “in the clear” — without encryption. With a minimal amount of equipment and know-how, militants can see what America’s drones see.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have become the single most important weapon in America’s far-flung pursuit of violent extremists. Hundreds of American Predators and Reapers fly above Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan — watching suspected enemies, and striking them when necessary. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in the decade-long drone campaign.

How do you know the storm is unprecedented?
New York Times, Wall Street Journal shed paywalls for Hurricane Sandy
Two major publications have stripped away their paywalls to give consumers unfettered access to up-to-date information on the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
The New York Times removed its usual paywall on Sunday evening for both its Web site and its apps. Spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Poynter:
The New York Times is not the only media outlet that considers the category 1 hurricane severe enough to lower its paywall temporarily. Raju Narisetti, an editor stationed at the Wall Street Journal, tweeted that the whole site will be available free from today.
Meanwhile, other Web sites are also stepping up their Hurricane Sandy coverage. Google has launched an interactive map tracking Sandy's progress across the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast. There is also a map which details the storm's effects on New York City, which is expected to be an area hard-hit by the impending storm.
Hurricane Sandy has already hit one news outlet hard -- albeit online. has reported 960 million pageviews in the last three days -- an increase of around one-third on its normal traffic -- as the U.S. public scrabbles to stay informed.