Friday, January 04, 2013

Evidence (like we needed it) that the state didn't have a clue...
Jeffrey Collins of Associated Press reports:
The Department of Revenue was more concerned with keeping employees from accessing news, sports and social media websites on their work computers than protecting taxpayer data like Social Security numbers, a former computer security chief at the agency said Thursday.
Read more on Aiken Standard.
Tim Smith of Greenville Online and LaDonna Beeker of WISTV also cover Scott Shealy’s testimony at a state House of Representatives hearing on the breach that affected 3.8 million individuals almost 700,000 businesses.
Shealy testified that the state did not even look for a replacement for him for months after he resigned in September 2011, and while he was there, he claims he was unable to convince his bosses that they needed to pay more attention to security:
Until the breach, the agency declined free network monitoring of its servers, did not encrypt all its sensitive data and did not use multi-password systems to access the data, all defenses experts have said could have thrwarted the hacker.

...but the government wants to share everyone's records with every Doc, right?
By Dissent, January 3, 2013 2:08 pm
Bernie Monegain reports:
Medical centers that elect to keep psychiatric files private and separate from the rest of a person’s medical record may be doing their patients a disservice, a Johns Hopkins study concludes.
In a survey of psychiatry departments at 18 of the top American hospitals as ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals in 2007, a Johns Hopkins team learned that fewer than half of the hospitals had all inpatient psychiatric records in their electronic medical record (EMR) systems and that fewer than 25 percent gave non-psychiatrists full access to those records.
Researchers say, psychiatric patients were 40 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within the first month after discharge in institutions that provided full access to those medical records.
Read more on Healthcare IT News.

A hot new industry....
The Booming Business of Drones
Drones are everywhere.
Less than a decade ago, the Pentagon had about fifty unmanned combat air vehicles (known as drones or UAV — unmanned aerial vehicles). It is estimated that they currently have about seven thousand of them (and Congress asked for about $5 billion worth of more drones in 2012).
… The International Institute for Strategic Studies has identified fifty six different types of drones being used in over ten countries (and this data does not include places like China, Turkey and Russia).
Now, drones are moving from the battlefield to your neighborhood, and it's about to create a brand new industry right along with it.

“We're not guilty of doing that and we promise not to do it any more.”
January 03, 2013
Google Agrees to Change Its Business Practices to Resolve FTC Competition Concerns
News release: "Google Inc. has agreed to change some of its business practices to resolve Federal Trade Commission concerns that those practices could stifle competition in the markets for popular devices such as smart phones, tablets and gaming consoles, as well as the market for online search advertising. Under a settlement reached with the FTC, Google will meet its prior commitments to allow competitors access – on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms – to patents on critical standardized technologies needed to make popular devices such as smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles. In a separate letter of commitment to the Commission, Google has agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms; and to refrain from misappropriating online content from so-called “vertical” websites that focus on specific categories such as shopping or travel for use in its own vertical offerings."

(Related) Apparently, they settled something with China too. I wonder what they got in return?
Google Quietly Removes Censorship Warning Feature For Search Users In China
Google has quietly disabled a feature that notified users of its search service in China when a keyword had been censored by the Chinese government’s internet controls, according to censorship monitoring blog The blog reports that the change was made sometime between December 5 and December 8, 2012, with no official statement from Google to announce or explain its removal.

As I understand it, this wouldn't rise to the level of “probable cause” but a tip is a tip – it did merit a look at the car (not in the garage?) and proceeded from there?
Teen Brags On Facebook About Drunk Driving, Gets Arrested
Police made an example out of a teenager from Oregon who boasted about driving drunk on Facebook. “Drivin drunk… classic but whoever’s vehicle i hit i am sorry. ,” wrote the clueless 18-year-old. According to local news channel KGW, two people tipped the officers via Facebook about the post. After inspecting the most-likely-profusely-sweating/hungover teen’s car, the damage on his vehicle matched that of two other vehicles hit earlier that New Year’s morning.
And, with their powers of deduction…bam! Handcuffs. The suspect was charged with two counts of “failing to perform the duties of a driver,” but not drunk driving, because a Facebook post is apparently not sufficient evidence of intoxication, according to KGW’s report from Deputy Chief Brad Johnston.

They really don't want to sell you the game, but they don't want to call it “leasing” or “renting” either.
silentbrad writes in with a story about a Sony patent that would block the playing of second-hand games.
"... the patent application was filed on 9 December 2012 by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and will work by linking individual game discs to a user's account without requiring a network connection meaning any future attempt to use this disc on another user's console won't work. The patent explains that games will come with contactless tags [RFID or NFC? Bob] that will be read by your console in much the same way as modern bank cards. When a disc is first used, the disc ID and player ID will be stored on the tag. Every time the disc is used in future, the tag will check if the two ID's match up and, if not, then the disc won't work. The document goes on to explain that such a device is part of Sony's ongoing efforts to deter second-hand games sales, and is a far simpler solution than always-on DRM or passwords. It's worth noting that Sony has not confirmed the existence of the device, and the patent doesn't state what machine it will be used in, with later paragraphs also mentioning accessories and peripherals. ... There's also the issue of what happens should your console break and need replacing, or if you have more than one console. Will the games be linked to your PSN account, meaning they can still be used, or the console, meaning an entire new library of titles would need to be purchased?"

Arthur C. Clarke was right:
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
First time accepted submitter mromanuk writes in with a story about scientists at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich who have created an atomic gas that goes below absolute zero.
"It may sound less likely than hell freezing over, but physicists have created an atomic gas with a sub-absolute-zero temperature for the first time. Their technique opens the door to generating negative-Kelvin materials and new quantum devices, and it could even help to solve a cosmological mystery."

For the toolkit
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Clean Print Helps You Save Ink and Paper
Clean Print is a free browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari (including Safari on the iPad). The purpose of Clean Print is to help you save ink and paper when printing articles from the Internet. Clean Print allows you to remove images and advertisements from pages before printing an article. Clean Print also gives you the option to increase or decrease font size before printing an article. Learn more about Clean Print in the video below.
… If Clean Print isn't for you, give one of these other ink saving tools a try.

Inevitable, but there should be some competition, even in “Free” resources. Anyone want to be a Math star?
"Education officials with Northwest Nazarene University and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation say they are arranging to have Khan Academy classes tested in about two dozen public schools next fall in Idaho, where state law now requires high school students to take online courses for two of their 47 graduation credits. 'This is the first time Khan Academy is partnering to tackle the math education of an entire state,' said Khan Academy's Maureen Suhendra. Alas, the Idaho Press-Tribune reports (alas, behind a paywall) that next fall would be too late for film director and producer Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman, An Inconvenient Truth), who will be in Idaho in January filming The Great Teacher Project, a documentary which will highlight positives of education, like the Khan Academy pilot in Idaho. Not to worry. For the film, a few teachers will implement Khan Academy in day-to-day teaching starting in January, before the entire pilot program launches in fall 2013."

(Related) Online classes (MOOCs) mean you can take classes from the best teachers in the world for FREE. What is missing is that piece of paper that says you learned something...
"Results from the early application rounds at the nation's best technical colleges indicate that it will be another excruciatingly difficult year for high school seniors to get accepted into top-notch undergraduate computer science and engineering programs. Leading tech colleges reported a sharp rise in early applications, prompting them to be more selective in choosing prospective freshmen for the Class of 2017. Many colleges are reporting lower acceptance rates for their binding early decision and non-binding early action admissions programs than in previous years. Here's a roundup of stats from MIT, Stanford and others."

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