Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Willie Sutton robbed banks because “That's where the money's at.” Would any government ignore the wealth of data Google holds?
Governments Requesting More Private Data From Google
Governments around the world, especially the U.S. government, are continuing to request more private data from Google. The search giant released a fresh transparency report this morning, revealing that the U.S. leads the world in information requests about users (8,438 requests for information from about 14,868 users). Google isn’t a fan of how governments force them to hand over data and freak out privacy-happy users, so the regular transparency report has been their (very) clever way of heightening public pressure on issues of government surveillance. [But if not one reads the report, can it have any impact? Bob]

Remember, your MAC (Media Access Control) address is unique to your phone.
"Call it Google Analytics for physical storefronts: if you've got a phone with wi-fi, stores can detect your MAC address and track your comings and goings, determining which aisles you go to and whether you're a repeat customer. The creator of one of the most popular tracking software packages says that the addresses are hashed and not personally identifiable, but it might make you think twice about leaving your phone on when you head to the mall."

Perspective (several versions) I have not heard “better smartphones look more and more like desktop computers” before. Somehow I'm not convinced.
Google Ad Bleeding Slows as Larry Page Dismisses Mobile Fears
Investors like what they’re hearing from Google, despite a sickly-sounding Larry Page. The Google CEO argued on Tuesday’s earnings call that mobile won’t hinder his company’s core ad business because distinctions between devices are becoming moot.
… Money poured into Google’s core advertising business as holiday shoppers hunted for gifts. Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora said Google’s top 25 advertisers are spending an average of $150 million per year. Election spending on Google quintupled in 2012 compared to four years earlier, Arora said during the call, adding that in 9 of 11 “top Senate races … the candidate who spent more with Google was elected.” [How to control congress: “Discounts for Democrats” and “Rebates for Rebublicans” Bob] He also said that Psy, whose “Gagnam Style” video topped 1 billion views on YouTube, made $8 million on YouTube advertising alone.
… Analysts have blamed the steep plunge in the value of Google’s ads, paradoxically, on the company’s success at driving the smartphone revolution. Mobile ads simply aren’t worth as much on smartphones, since users just don’t respond to them as much. Android, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, puts Google’s ad-supported ecosystem into more hands, but at the same time that spread is diluting those ads’ value.
… As for Page, he said he believes that dollars for mobile ads could as likely as not top the spending on desktop. He pointed to handsets like Google’s own Nexus 4 and other “modern” smartphones that he said render the distinctions among platforms and form factors irrelevant.

This one really twists my brain. Some day I'm sure one of my lawyers friends will show me the logic of this ruling... Maybe.
An individual who inadvertently exposes the contents of his computer over an unsecured wireless network still has a reasonable expectation of privacy against a search of those contents by the police, a federal judge in Oregon ruled last week.
The ruling involves John Henry Ahrndt, a previously convicted sex offender who was sentenced to 120 months in prison for possession of child pornography on his computer.
Read more on Computerworld.
[From the article:
In analyzing the case, Judge King noted that there was nothing to show that Ahrndt was using or had intended to use iTunes or other file-sharing software to share the files in question, with others. "The invasive action at review here is a remote search of computer data transmitted on an unsecured wireless network," he noted.
King conceded that the deputy did not violate Ahrndt's Fourth Amendment protections by merely looking at the list of files on his computer because the list had had already been pulled up by JH. [If she had already pulled up images, would they also be admissible? Bob]
However, the deputy's subsequent action in asking JH to open one of the files did violate reasonable expectations of privacy, particularly since Ahrndt had not intended for the contents of his PC to be shared.
King rejected the government's argument that the highly suggestive file names alone were enough reason for probable cause. In his ruling, the judge said it was unlikely the government could have obtained a search warrant based purely on the deputy's recollection of the file names on Ahrndt's collection. In fact, if the deputy had not seen the image, there would have been no probable cause to ask for a search warrant against Ahrndt, he said.
"The mere act of accessing a network does not in itself extinguish privacy expectations, nor does the fact that others may have occasional access to the computer," the judge said, quoting from a previous case involving a similar issue.

Interesting concept.
Newest Forum for Military’s Ethics Debate: Twitter
There are two major venues for an uncomfortable internal debate about professional ethics currently roiling the U.S. military. One is the Pentagon, where the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is reviewing leadership training after a spate of embarrassing incidents suggested the military’s moral fibers have frayed. The other is Twitter.
While Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor at the Marine Corps University’s Command and Staff College, prepared to teach her ethics elective to a group of mid-career Marine officers, she decided she’d like to get all of Twitter involved. So she put together a syllabus corresponding to the one she teaches Marines, blogged about it, and started the hashtag #METC — for Military Ethics Twitter Course — for anyone who wants to discuss thorny questions of military ethics for the next five weeks. Essentially, Twitter users are auditing Johnson’s course.

Perspective Another industry or two done in by the digital age?
Keep your Blu-rays and DVDs, Hollywood -- I've gone digital
Buying physical copies of movies seems to make little sense these days, even if they provide digital versions with the purchase, given the frustration involved.

This should keep me busy for several days!
Freebook Sifter finds Kindle freebies
This handy site catalogs some 35,000 free e-books for your Kindle app or e-reader.
E-books are all kinds of awesome. E-book prices? Not so much.
That's why I'm always on the lookout for freebies, relying on sites like Hundred Zeros to help me find gratis reading for my Kindle.
Lately I've been exploring another source: Freebook Sifter, a new site that lists over 35,000 no-cost books available from Amazon. It's not the prettiest site I've ever seen -- all links and text, no cover art or images -- but it definitely delivers on its promise.

Perspective Maybe I should video and then compile some of the answers my studnts give me...
I’m sure a lot of people out there have YouTube accounts, but a lot of people may not realize that if your channel generates enough page views YouTube will often allow you to monetize your videos. The video monetization typically has to do with placing a commercial in front of the video you want to watch that you have to view for at least a few seconds before you can skip it. If you listen to a radio station that plays any popular music, you’ve undoubtedly heard Psy belt out his barely understandable song Gangnam Style.
… The video is the most watched ever to hit YouTube with more than 1 billion views. That 1 billion views has earned $8 million revenue on YouTube alone.

My students will read if their life depends on it... Only 18 textbooks so far, but the idea is interesting and risky (lawsuits)
Free, Open-Source Digital Textbook Provider, Boundless, Releases Its Content Under Creative Commons
Since first emerging early last year, Boston-based startup Boundless has been on a mission to give students a free alternative to the financial and physical costs of bulky backpacks brimming with pricey hard-copy textbooks.
… Boundless has been fighting the Powers That Be by offering a free, digital alternative culled from existing, open educational resources.
Boundless offers an entire section on its website devoted to explaining how it uses open educational resources and describes best practices for users, but users of its free textbooks will find that, at the end of each chapter, sources are cited as a list of links where students can locate the original material.
… To monetize, Boundless will likely turn this into a freemium model, adding optional preemium features on its own platform and in its textbooks, which will help students study more effectively (get smarter, etc etc.) and will be available for a cost.
Diaz also says that the company will now offer additional features (as seen above), like flashcards, quizzes and study guides, for example, that will include Creative Commons-licensed material and will be available within its textbooks. In this way, Boundless wants to go beyond what the traditional textbook offers, pushing the space ahead, along with startups like Inkling and Kno.
To take advantage of those, students will have to create a user account, however, access to its textbooks will remain free, Diaz says.
You can check out a few examples of Boundless textbooks here and here.

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