Friday, December 13, 2013

So it WAS more than a family spat. Uncle Song Thaek must have pushed the “advising” a bit too far.
'A very worrisome sign': North Korea executes uncle of leader Kim Jong Un
Young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's previously powerful uncle has been executed as a traitor, the country's state-run news service said Thursday.
According to KCNA, the uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was guilty of "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state."
… The official said it is tough to read the rationale behind the execution but called it more likely a "power play" or "family dispute" rather than an ideological move where one side or the other represented reformist elements.
… Alexandre Monsourav, a specialist in North Korea at the U.S.–Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, said Kim is sending a alarming message to the U.S.:
"Kim Jong Un is willing to kill his own blood. He’s showing that really he has no mercy or pity. To me it’s a very worrisome sign. You see these extremist actions, you really have to take it very seriously."
Monsourav added, "Whether it’s his young age or personal insecurity making him do this, we need to be very careful around him."

This is backwards. What are they thinking?
Change to Twitter's blocking policy has users up in arms
If you thought that blocking someone on Twitter meant that they could no longer see your tweets, think again.
While that was formerly the case, an update to the Twitter service appears to have changed the way blocking works. Now, blocking someone means that you will not see any of their activity, but they can still see everything you do. Essentially, you're just muting them.
"If your account is public," Twitter wrote in its new blocking policy, "blocking a user does not prevent that user from following you, interacting with your Tweets, or receiving your updates in their timeline."

Poor communications? Much more expensive than no insurance.
"The Washington Examiner reports, 'Oregon ... signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange. The state's exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services. The weak number of sign-ups undercuts two major defenses of Obamacare from its supporters. One defense was that state-based exchanges were performing a lot better than the federal website servicing 36 states. But Oregon's website problems have forced the state to rely on paper applications to sign up participants. Another defense of the Obama administration has attributed the troubled rollout of Obamacare to the obstruction of Republican governors who wanted to see the law fail as well as a lack of funding. But Oregon is a Democratic state that embraced Obamacare early and enthusiastically.'"

What pending law made them suddenly willing to allow unlocks?
All five major US carriers agree to let you unlock your phone anytime you want
… CTIA, the trade group that represents these companies, announced Thursday that all five major carriers—that includes AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular—have voluntarily agreed to make unlocking phones a guaranteed and more transparent process. The announcement of six principles that outline how the carriers will handle unlocking devices means consumers looking to unlock their phones and tablets should have a simpler time doing so. The only time a carrier won't unlock your phone is if it feels that the unlock request is fraudulent or that the phone has been stolen.
… Last month, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told carriers to ease up on unlocking restrictions or face the possibility of increased regulations. Apparently, the five carriers decided that volunteering to change was a better option than being ordered to do so.

Man is mortal, Internet is immortal?
Pew – What happens to your digital life after death?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 12, 2013
What happens to your digital life after you die? By Maeve Duggan - ”It’s a question not many consider given how embedded the internet is in their lives. The typical web user has 25 online accounts, ranging from email to social media profiles and bank accounts, according to a 2007 study from Microsoft. But families, companies and legislators are just starting to sort out who owns and has access to these accounts after someone has died. The issue came up recently in Virginia, when a couple, seeking answers after their son’s suicide, realized they couldn’t access his Facebook account. Now Virginia is one of a growing number of states that have passed laws governing the digital accounts of the deceased. Meanwhile, technology companies are forming their own policies regarding deceased users. While still in the early stages, the laws and policies taking shape so far indicate that designating one’s “digital assets” may soon become a critical part of estate planning. The implications are widespread, considering that today nearly all American adults are online and 72% of them, along with 81% of teenagers, use social media sites. In the digital world, posting photos, drafting emails or making purchases are activities that don’t solely belong to users. They belong, in part, to companies like Facebook and Google that store information on their servers. In order to access these convenient online tools, users enter into agreements when they click on — but often don’t read — terms-of-service agreements…”

Germany bought files from a Swiss banker to prosecute tax evaders. Does cash change the “whistle blower” equation?
A DNA match has unraveled the mystery of the stolen steroid files that Major League Baseball used to torpedo the career of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Baseball investigators purchased the stolen files from Gary Jones, a convicted bank robber, for $25,000 last March, in a secret meeting in South Florida that Jones had videotaped.
Jones, in an interview with The Miami Herald in October, admitted he worked at the Boca tanning salon where the files were stolen, but denied he had anything to do with the crime.
On Wednesday, Boca police arrested another tanning salon employee, Reginald St. Fleur, 20, on charges of armed burglary. St. Fleur said he didn’t know anything about the burglary, but couldn’t explain why his DNA matched blood found at the scene, police said.
The files were allegedly taken from a car that belonged to Porter Fischer, former marketing director of Biogenesis, the Coral Gables wellness clinic that allegedly supplied steroids to Rodriguez and a dozen other major league players.
Read more in the Miami Herald.

Victims Of Identity Theft, 2012
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 12, 2013
“An estimated 16.6 million people, representing 7 percent of all persons age 16 or older in the United States, experienced at least one incident of identity theft in 2012, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today – in Victims of Identity Theft, 2012 (NCJ 243779), written by BJS statisticians Erika Harrell and Lynn Langton. Financial losses due to personal identity theft totaled $24.7 billion, over $10 billion more than the losses attributed to all other property crimes measured in the National Crime Victimization Survey. About 14 percent of victims suffered an out-of-pocket financial loss due to the most recent incident of identity theft. Of the victims who experienced an out-of-pocket loss, about half lost $99 or less. Identity theft is the attempted or successful misuse of an existing account, such as a debit or credit card account, the misuse of personal information to open a new account, or the misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining government benefits or providing false information to police during a crime or traffic stop. In 2012, the misuse or attempted misuse of an existing account was the most common type of identity theft — experienced by 15.3 million people. An estimated 7.7 million people reported the fraudulent use of a credit card and 7.5 million reported the fraudulent use of a bank account such as a debit, checking or savings account. Another 1.1 million persons had their information misused to open a new account, and about 833,600 persons had their information misused for other fraudulent purposes. The most common way victims discovered the identity theft in 2012 was when a financial institution contacted them about suspicious activity on an account. About 2 out of 3 victims did not know how the offender obtained their information, and 9 out of 10 did not know anything about the identity of the offender. In general, victims who had personal information, such as a social security number misused, were more likely to experience financial, legal or other problems as a result of the incident than other types of identity theft victims. In addition, about 6 percent of victims who experienced the fraudulent use of personal information to create a new account reported significant problems at work or school, compared to about 1 percent of victims of credit card fraud and bank account fraud. The majority of identity theft victims spent one day or less clearing up associated problems, while about 10 percent spent more than a month. Victims who spent more time resolving associated problems were more likely to experience problems with work or personal relationships and severe emotional distress than victims who resolved the problems relatively quickly. Among identity theft victims who spent 6 months or more resolving financial and credit problems due to the theft, 47 percent experienced severe emotional distress, compared to 4 percent who spent a day or less. In 2012, about 9 percent of identity theft victims reported the incident to police. Nearly 90 percent of identity theft victims contacted a credit card company or bank to report misuse or attempted misuse of an account or personal information, 9 percent contacted a credit bureau and 6 percent contacted a credit monitoring service.”

Perspective. HAL uses the Internet more than I do...
Welcome to the Internet of Thingies: 61.5% of Web Traffic Is Not Human
It happened last year for the first time: bot traffic eclipsed human traffic, according to the bot-trackers at Incapsula.
This year, Incapsula says 61.5 percent of traffic on the web is non-human.
Now, you might think this portends the arrival of "The Internet of Things"—that ever-promised network that will connect your fridge and car to your smartphone. But it does not.
This non-human traffic is search bots, scrapers, hacking tools, and other human impersonators, little pieces of code skittering across the web. You might describe this phenomenon as The Internet of Thingies.

Another tool for my programmers.
MIT App Inventor 2 - Design Android Apps in Your Browser
This morning I went to use the MIT App Inventor for the first time in a couple of weeks and discovered that MIT App Inventor 2 is now available to anyone who has a Google Account. MIT App Inventor 2 works just like the first version except version 2 runs entirely in your browser (Chrome or Firefox, IE is not supported). I immediately went to my Chromebook just to confirm that MIT App Inventor would run correctly on it, and it does.
The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it.
… If you would like to introduce your students to programming real-world applications, the MIT App Inventor is a fantastic tool. App Inventor does not require you to have any prior coding or app development skill in order to create a working Android app. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor.

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