Saturday, November 23, 2013

Perhaps you should have someone from Security in those planning meetings? (Or take a :How to think like a thief” class)
Thieves Take Advantage and Deal Another Blow to JC Penney
Department-store chain JC Penney, already hurting financially from a misguided plan to end price promotions, was so plagued by shoplifters in the third quarter of this year that it lost a full percentage point of profit margin to theft, says the Wall Street Journal. When thieves learned that Penney had removed sensor security tags as part of the transition to a new type of inventory tracking, they targeted the company’s stores. At the same time, Penney stopped requiring customers to provide receipts with returned merchandise, so shoppers grabbed merchandise and “returned” it at cash registers without leaving the stores, the Journal says.

Not only the next thing, but a whole Internet of Things (IoT). Pick a small area, like household things and try not to be overwhelmed.
Richard Santalesa writes:
The Federal Trade Commission’s long awaited “Internet of Things” public workshop was held Nov. 19, 2013, and webcast live (with presentations, transcripts and videos to be archived for ready access at to explore a wide range of potential privacy and security issues associated with Internet-connected devices everywhere – at home, work and in the car.
Read more on InformationLawGroup.

(Related) I think this is partly enabled by the IoT. It could confirm that each panel exists and even report the energy generated.
Wall Street's New Cash Cow: Your Roof
SolarCity raised $54.4 million this week. It didn't do it, though, by selling a lot of solar panels or stock. Instead, the Silicon Valley company bundled up a bunch of residential leases for the photovoltaic arrays it installed on suburban rooftops—and then sold them to pension funds, hedge funds, and other high-rolling investors.

By extension, anything written, spoken or done within range of a camera is also public, unless it is encrypted – in which case it is probable cause for a warrant.
Nick Divito reports:
Since Americans expect their phone companies to keep records of their calls, they have no basis to challenge the National Security Agency’s mass collection of that data, a lawyer for the government argued Friday.
Americans have “no reasonable expectation” to privacy when it comes to the telephone calls they make, Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery said at a packed hearing in federal court.
“People assume that phone companies are recording phone numbers and how long the call lasted,” he said. “We know that because all of us get the bills with those details.”
U.S. District Judge William Pauley III is presiding over the trial stemming from the revelation of a then-classified court order that compelled Verizon to turn over domestic phone records for millions of Americans.
Read more on Courthouse News.

An example of home grown drones. NOTE: 4 cm resolution should be enough to allow you to identify individuals. (...and target them?)
Drone Imagery for OpenStreetMap
Last weekend we captured 100 acres of aerial imagery at 4cm resolution. It took less than an hour to fly, and it was easy to publish the imagery on the web using TileMill and then trace in OpenStreetMap. Autonomous flying platforms like Sensefly's eBee paired up with a nimble software stack are changing aerial mapping. Drones like the eBee can cheaply and accurately photograph medium-sized areas, and then the imagery can be made immediately available to everyone.

Interesting resource. Hundreds of “privacy debates” for example.
Canadian Parliament’s Historical Debates are now available online
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 22, 2013
The Library of Parliament, in collaboration with, is launching its Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada digital portal. The portal provides free public access to digital versions of the historical debates of the Parliament of Canada in both official languages. It includes all published debates of both the Senate and the House of Commons from Parliament 1, Session 1* until coverage on begins. This initiative significantly increases access to Parliament’s documentary history and heritage. The portal can be browsed by Chamber, Parliament, Session, and volume, and is full-text searchable with a number of search filters available. The digital page images were produced by Library and Archives Canada, and the portal developed in collaboration with, a membership alliance dedicated to building Canada’s digital preservation infrastructure and providing wide-ranging access to Canadian documentary heritage. Questions, comments and feedback can be directed to: Sonia Bebbington, Director Knowledge Management and Preservation, Information and Document Resource Service, Library of Parliament.[via Martha Foote]

Convergence and tools for teachers. (does not work on PCs without Bluetooth)
Office Remote Helps You Control Microsoft Office Docs On Your PC with A Windows Phone
… The Office Remote has been spawned from the minds of the Microsoft Research team and the Microsoft Office engineering team. Bert Van Hoof, an Office group program manager elaborated on its utility.
“With Office Remote, you can start your PowerPoint presentation, advance the slides, see your speaker notes, and control an on-screen laser pointer with a touch of your finger—all from your phone. You can also navigate between Excel worksheets and graphs, and control data slicers from the palm of your hand. And you can scroll through a Word document or quickly jump to specific sections or comments.”

Assumes you are not wandering aimlessly?
– is an automated and curated record of the best content you experience on your web browser. It replaces your history and bookmarks while maintaining a stunning summary of your insights and influences. Navigate as usual and it takes care of organizing your favorite content seamlessly. Its algorithms create collections of interesting articles, videos, images and maps based on how deeply you investigate a particular subject.

Sometimes I just amuse myself...
According to a survey undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania of students enrolled in its Coursera classes, 80% of respondents already had a 4-year degree. 44% had some graduate education. You can read the full study here.
The Texas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval this week to dropping Algebra II as a requirement for high school students in the state to graduate. [How does this improve education? Bob]
Manitoba Government’s Early Learning and Child Care fined mother Kristen Bartkiw $10 because she neglected to include a grain in her child’s lunch. She packed roast beef, potatoes, carrots, and orange and some milk. To make up for the deficiency, the school served the kid Ritz crackers.

So important it deserves a whole new word? I'm hoping it will ensmarten some of my students! They already love, and I'm hoping a few of them will learn this new language.
Stephen Wolfram ensmartens all the things
“It's hard to foresee the ultimate consequences of what we're doing. But the beginning is to provide a way to inject sophisticated computation and knowledge into everything — and to make it universally accessible to humans, programs and machines, in a way that lets all of them interact at a vastly richer and higher level than ever before."
It's a grandiose-sounding mission statement, that, like so many others that flood from the startup-scene hype factories — though with far fewer buzzwords — and therefore easy to ignore. Except for one little thing.
It was written by Stephen Wolfram.
Wolfram is the chief designer of Mathematica, a comprehensive computation platform for science, engineering, advanced mathematics and other grunty stuff, and of Wolfram Alpha, the computational knowledge engine that helps power Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Bing, amongst others.
He's also the author of A New Kind of Science, a book which some — me included — think has the potential to revolutionise scientific thinking as much as Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica of 1687 did. And just like Newton's book, it'll take a century for the implications to be understood.
… Which brings me to Wolfram's recent announcements.
That grand mission statement is from Wolfram's blog post of last week announcing the Wolfram Language, which he describes as a general-purpose knowledge-based language that covers all forms of computing in a new way.
… But wait, there's more.
On Thursday Wolfram announced that Wolfram Language and Mathematica would be bundled free with every Raspberry Pi. It's an unfinished technology preview right now, but the implications are breathtaking.

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