Saturday, August 17, 2013

For my Ethical Hackers. This is one of those hacks where we want to know exactly what happened and how to avoid it in the future. Some tips: Cut the Internet connection. Remove the “open all doors” feature. Log all commands entered.
Prison Computer ‘Glitch’ Blamed for Opening Cell Doors in Maximum-Security Wing
Florida prison officials say a computer “glitch” may be to blame for opening all of the doors at a maximum security wing simultaneously, setting prisoners free and allowing gang members to pursue a rival with weapons.
But a surveillance video released this week (see above) suggests that the doors may have been opened intentionally — either by a staff member or remotely by someone else inside or outside the prison who triggered a “group release” button in the computerized system. The video raises the possibility that some prisoners knew in advance that the doors were going to open.
It’s the second time in two months that all of the doors in the wing opened at once, officials say, raising questions about whether the first incident was a trial-run to see how long it would take guards to respond.
… Miami-Dade Corrections Director Tim Ryan acknowledged to the Herald that the circumstances around the door-release were “suspicious,” and said officials were investigating whether any staff members were responsible for opening the doors or if a problem lay with the computerized system that controls the doors. The latter system is reportedly part of a $1.4 million security upgrade installed at the prison by a company in Alabama named Black Creek Integrated Systems.
The control panel for the system generally features a group-release button that allows guards in minimum-security facilities to release inmates simultaneously for a head count, the Herald reports. But it’s generally not used in maximum-security settings, since inmates are kept one-to-a-cell and aren’t allowed to interact with one another in common areas.
… But the correctional facility in Florida isn’t the only one to experience a problem with its electronic doors. Last April, just a month before the first Florida incident occurred, a correctional facility in Maryland had a similar problem when the locks on 500 cell doors disengaged simultaneously at around 12:20 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
A computer malfunction was also blamed for this failure. Officials at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility where it occurred said no inmates tried to escape, but about 20 police cars were called in to secure the perimeter of the facility during the hour it took to fix the glitch and secure the doors. Three days later, however, the locks on the cell doors disengaged again.

Just because the RIAA has kittens whenever they hear the word, does not mean BitTorrent is always used for evil. The sync tool is probably the most interesting way to use it.
File Syncing With BitTorrent Sync
BitTorrent, Inc. — the company behind BitTorrent — recently released BitTorrent Sync. BitTorrent Sync works differently from standard BitTorrent clients. it’s entirely private — you install the client, choose one or more folders to share, and then link it up with other computers. Files anyone places in their copy of the shared folder are all automatically synced with all other copies of the shared folders.
In this way, BitTorrent Sync is a lot like Dropbox. Unlike Dropbox, it doesn’t store your files in a centralized server online — it just syncs them between computers you own or computers your friends own. This means that it offers easy file sharing over the Internet and, unlike Dropbox, you can sync an unlimited number of files as long as you have the space on your computers for them.
… It’s a great way to roll your own Dropbox-like service and share files across the Internet without trusting them to a central server or being limited by the size of your cloud storage account.

Well, we're not number one, but this does suggest places where I can find out how they teach my subjects... University of Colorado at Boulder was number 33 on their list.
2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities
ARWU 2013 Press Release: ”The 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is released today by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Starting from a decade ago, ARWU has been presenting the world Top 500 universities annually based on transparent methodology and reliable data. It has been recognized as the precursor of global university rankings and the most trustworthy one.”

For my students.
10 Free Online Courses For Technology Novices

For my students. See what others think, collaborate on your own projects.
– is a web-platform for visualizing and sharing networks of thought – and opening reasoning and action to collaborative learning and iterative improvement. DebateGraph is already being used in over 100 countries and helping people reason and learn together more effectively in many different fields. DebateGraph is free to use, and there’s no limit to the number of people who can collaborate.

Something amusing every week...
Louisiana is boosting the funding for its new Course Choice program, which allows high school students to receive credits for classes taken from a variety of vendors, including for-profit companies. 4000 students have signed up so far.
South Korea is moving forward with its plans to use digital textbooks throughout the country. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the education minister says that “social studies and science textbooks are being developed for third- and fourth-year students of elementary schools and first- or second-year middle school students.”
India has launched a national repository for open educational resources.
… The Department of Education has approved a competency-based degree program at the for-profit Capella University, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. ...award degrees based on demonstrated competencies rather than credit hours. [This could be important in the “Age of MOOCs” Bob]
Pearson says that it released the wrong grades for 4000 students in Virginia. Ooops.
… Students at Chelsea High School in New York had to retake their Regents Exam as McGraw-Hill lost the original copies of the tests. They “fell off a back of a truck." Ooops.
… According to Amazon’s Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions, students who rent textbooks via its subsidiary Warehouse Deals cannot cross state borders with their books, or they face being charged the full purchase price for the book. More on this silliness via Inside Higher Ed.
Khan Academy has introduced “Learning Dashboards,” which developer Ben Kamens calls the “biggest change to Khan Academy yet.” The dashboard tracks student progress and makes recommendations about what videos/exercises to work through next.
Edublogs’ Sue Waters has released the annual “State of Educational Blogging” report, which contains loads of interesting information about the numbers and the uses of blogging in and out of the classroom.

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