Monday, October 28, 2013

Your government at work.
Exclusive Documents: State Department Lacks Basic Cybersecurity
President Obama has called cybersecurity a top priority, but the State Department cable and messaging system, built and maintained — like the troubled ObamaCare system — mainly by large IT contractors, has routinely failed to meet basic security standards, according to internal documents obtained by BuzzFeed.
Emails and other documents suggest security has been a standing problem in State Department systems, handling both classified and unclassified material, since at least 2009. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed reported on the department’s systemic and severe lack of security, including unsecured servers, workstations, unencrypted transfer of secret material, and the intermixing of classified and nonclassified information.
These newly obtained documents add to the picture, revealing that the department lacks even a basic monitoring system to determine unauthorized access or modification of files. Security on the unclassified systems appears problematic, as there is potential access to classified information, even inadvertently, and back-door access to servers.

No doubt this will solve everything!
Katharine Goodloe writes:
Under a new self-regulatory code released earlier this week, brick-and-mortar retailers that track customer in-store movements using mobile phone WiFi signals must disclose the practice to customers and allow them to opt out.
The code was created by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and a group of mobile analytics companies. It was announced jointly by the FPF and by Sen. Charles Schumer, who in July called on the Federal Trade Commission to require retailers to allow customers to opt-out of the tracking. Sen. Schumer praised the code as a significant step forward, but noted there is “still much more work to be done.”
Read more on Covington & Burling Inside Privacy.

They're here. Learn to use them.
Open Access, Megajournals, and MOOCs
Open Access, Megajournals, and MOOCs – On the Political Economy of Academic Unbundling – by Richard Wellen. SAGE Open October-December 2013 vol. 3 no. 4 2158244013507271. The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/2158244013507271.
“The development of “open” academic content has been strongly embraced and promoted by many advocates, analysts, stakeholders, and reformers in the sector of higher education and academic publishing. The two most well-known developments are open access scholarly publishing and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), each of which are connected to disruptive innovations enabled by new technologies. Support for these new modes of exchanging knowledge is linked to the expectation that they will promote a number of public interest benefits, including widening the impact, productivity, and format of academic work; reforming higher education and scholarly publishing markets; and relieving some of the cost pressures in academia. This article examines the rapid emergence of policy initiatives in the United Kingdom and the United States to promote open content and to bring about a new relationship between the market and the academic commons. In doing so, I examine controversial forms of academic unbundling such as open access megajournals and MOOCs and place each in the context of the heightened emphasis on productivity and impact in new regulatory regimes in the area of higher education.”

(Related) Also cutting edge.
How to get the most out of library e-books via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on October 27, 2013
Via – Want to hear text to speech from free library books on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual app can’t do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? A new, expert and insightful report by David Rothman focuses on the new Kindle Fire HDXes. He recommends them to be among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can accept Amazon’s proprietary requirements. His article is written for both library staffers and patrons who are passionate about e-books.

I've been trying to get my students thinking about retirement. Well, “Life, the Universe and Everything,” actually...
Research Brief – Social Security’s Real Retirement Age Is 70
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on October 27, 2013
Center for Retirement Research, Boston College – IB#13-15 by Alicia H. Munnell
“The brief’s key findings are:
  • Due to increases in Social Security’s Delayed Retirement Credit, the effective retirement age is now 70, with monthly benefits reduced for earlier claiming.
  • Benefit levels at 70 appear appropriate given that rising deductions for Medicare and greater benefit taxation have reduced Social Security’s net replacement rates.
  • The shift to 70 should be feasible for many workers given increases in lifespans, health, and education.
  • But vulnerable workers forced to claim early will have low benefits and will be particularly harmed by any further cuts.
  • Policymakers need to inform those who can work that 70 is the new retirement age and devise ways to protect those who cannot work.”

A look at a bunch of books, some of which might be useful?
New York Review of Books – The fast pace of change on the information superhighway
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on October 27, 2013
Are We Puppets in a Wired World? - Sue Halpern highlights new books on a range of issues including privacy, big data, social media and predictive analysis in relationship to e-commerce.
“In the first five years of the new millennium, Internet use grew 160 percent; by 2005 there were nearly a billion people on the Internet. By 2005, too, the Internet auction site eBay was up and running, Amazon was in the black, business-to-business e-commerce accounted for $1.5 trillion, while online consumer purchases were estimated to be between $142 and $772 billion and the average Internet shopper was looking more and more like the average shopper. Meanwhile, entire libraries were digitized and made available to all comers; music was shared, not always legally; videos were made, many by amateurs, and uploaded to an upstart site (launched in 2005) called YouTube; the online, open-source encyclopedia Wikipedia had already begun to harness collective knowledge; medical researchers had used the Internet for randomized, controlled clinical trials; and people did seem to have a lot to say to each other—or at least had a lot to say. There were 14.5 million blogs in July 2005 with 1.3 billion links, double the number from March of that year. The social networking site Facebook, which came online in 2004 for Ivy Leaguers, was opened to anyone over thirteen in 2006. It now has 850 million members and is worth approximately $80 billion. The odd thing about writing even a cursory reprise of the events attendant to the birth of the Internet is that those events are so recent that most of us have lived through and with them. While familiar—who doesn’t remember their first PC? who can forget the fuzzy hiss and chime of the dial-up modem?—they are also new enough that we can remember a time before global online connectivity was ubiquitous, a time before the stunning flurry of creativity and ingenuity the Internet unleashed. Though we know better, we seem to think that the Internet arrived, quite literally, deus ex machina, and that it is, from here on out, both a permanent feature of civilization and a defining feature of human advancement.”

Worth a peek?
Bulb - Create and Share Collections of Educational Media
Bulb is a new service through which you can create, share, and browse through collections of educational materials. On Bulb you can create your own collections of text, images, and videos. You could create collections of materials about an academic topic or about a skill that you want to help others learn.
You can browse Bulb and view the collections without registering on the site. To create your own collections you will have to create an account. Once your account is created you can develop collections of materials. Each of your collections can have multiple chapters. For example, this collection of materials about digital literacy has seven chapters. As you create your collections on Bulb you can write text, upload or link to pictures, and upload or link to YouTube videos. All collections can be shared via email and through popular social networks like Twitter and Google+.
The basic idea of creating collections of educational materials could be accomplished on any number of wiki and website services. The appeal of Bulb is that you and your students wouldn't have to worry about managing layouts, controlling editor permissions, or any technical work. The other nice aspect of Bulb is that you and your students can browse through the collections created by others.

For my Ethical Hackers. When you leave no footprints, you are ready, Grasshoppers.
Mozilla Introduces Lightbeam To Help Users Visualize How They Are Tracked
Mozilla has announced a new add-on for Firefox called Lightbeam that allows users to see exactly how they are being tracked while they surf the Web. The add-on works by recording what websites you visit and what third-parties are connected to those websites, and then displaying that information in a visually appealing and digestible format.

An Infographic for my website students! (not really)
Flowchart: Executing Your Killer Idea For A Website

So my students can (remote) control the world!
Forget Phone Calls – Your Android Can Remote Control Everything

Thou shalt not “get even” with thy Professor (at least until your grades are turned in)
Here's How You Can Create Those Personalized Comic Strips That Are Popping Up All Over Facebook

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