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)
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.
SOURCE: Jump in Shoplifting Hurt Penney
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 http://www.ftc.gov/video) 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 Canadiana.org, 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 parl.gc.ca 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 Canadiana.org, 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. email@example.com“ [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 WolframAlpha.com, 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.
[Read the book online: http://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/toc.html
Friday, November 22, 2013
Why I expect my Ethical Hackers to do very, very well.
Your Job, Their Data: The Most Important Untold Story About the Future
All the drones, synthetic biologists, and self-driving cars notwithstanding, the story of how companies quantify, analyze, and try to predict your job performance may be the most important story in technology.
That is to say, when we look back in 20 years about what has changed in our lives, we will be able to find this thread of data-driven personnel decision making as the thing that's changed people's lives the most.
My colleague Don Peck has an unnerving feature in this month's magazine on precisely this issue: "They're Watching You At Work." I highly encourage you to absorb this tale's anecdotes and data.
See? It's what happens after your personal everything has been compromised that's important. Perhaps we could ask him to expand on that for the Privacy Blog?
Jim Edwards reports:
One of Google’s top futurists, Vinton Cerf, said yesterday that “privacy may be an anomaly” and “it will be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy.”
They are scary words, coming from a man whose official job title at Google is vp/chief internet evangelist. Cerf is also known as the “father of the internet,” after his role in developing ARPANET, the forerunner to the web.
Read more on Business Insider.
If being pulled over wasn't voluntary, is anything that follows?
Texas Police Set Up Checkpoints To Collect Blood And Saliva From 'Volunteers'
… Now, thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, citizens can't even travel across a single city without being routed off the road and asked (nicely) to cough up a little DNA.
The Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) installed the roadblock north of the city during daytime traffic. They flagged down some motorists at random and asked them to give breath, saliva, and blood samples. The FWPD claims the effort was "100 percent voluntary" and anonymous.
It acknowledges that most of the drivers had broken no law, but it said the effort was valuable to federal contractors working to complete a 3 year, $7.9M USD survey on behalf of the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aimed at collecting medical data for use in combating drunk driving.
The problem is, some drivers didn't get the impression this DNA sampling was voluntary.
… But Cope questioned how it could be voluntary if uniformed officers forced her off the road.
“I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking spot,” she recalled.
… Obviously, if officers are going to pay you for a blood sample or cheek swab, then the "detainment" is obviously voluntary. Cops normally don't pay citizens for DNA they collect. But Cope's experience shows that even voluntary "surveys" seem mandatory when officers make every effort to conceal the voluntary aspects of the stop until after the citizen has already complied.
… Apparently on the consent form that officers gave "voluntary" participants, fine print informed the driver that [the police had taken] "passive alcohol sensor readings before the consent process has been completed."
Should we try writing “First Amendment 2.0?”
Paper – The New Speech
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 21, 2013
The New Speech - Andrew Tutt, Yale University – Information Society Project, Yale University – Law School. July 17, 2013. 41 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 2014
“Could the government...
prevent Facebook from deleting an individual’s Facebook account without first following government-prescribed procedures?
Intervene to require Google to conduct its search engine rankings in a certain manner, or subject Google to legal liability for wrongful termination or exclusion?
Require social networks and search engines to prominently reveal the criteria by which their algorithms sort, order, rank, and delete content?
Demand that some user information or data be deleted, withheld, made inalienable, non-transferable, ungatherable or uncollectable?
Engage in detailed regulation of the intellectual property and privacy relationships that inhere between individual users and the platforms they engage?
Each of these questions implicates the First Amendment, and as each question reveals, the same stresses that strained the institution of property when Charles Reich wrote The New Property in 1964 confront digital speech in 2014. The most important “speech” of the next century will be generated, intermediated, transformed, and translated by massive computers controlled by powerful institutions: petitions in front of the shopping mall replaced with “Likes” on Facebook and “Votes” on Reddit; sports leagues replaced by leagues of Counter-Strike and Call of Duty; broadcast and cable news replaced by interactive, algorithmically-generated, computer-curated granularly distributed news memes spread via blogs and aggregators. As more of the activities that were once exclusively the province of the physical world become the province of the digital, more of the issues that once confronted the distribution and allocation of rights in property will confront the distribution and allocation of rights in speech. While the great speech debates of the twentieth century were about the content of speech — that is, what one could say — the great speech debate of the twenty-first century will be about what counts as speech and whose speech counts. Will it be that of institutions and algorithms, or individuals and organic communities? These are questions courts are already confronting and they are getting the answers wrong. In contrast to scholars who by turns either deemphasize the transformative nature of the New Speech or argue that courts will have little impact on its growth, this Article argues that potentially critical judicial missteps are already occurring. Just as the needs of modern industrial society were delayed and often stymied by the judiciary of the early twentieth century, if we fail to consider the implications of the speech decisions courts make now, the needs of the modern information society may be delayed and stymied by the judiciary of the early twenty-first.”
This Article is an effort to explore the ways in which speech platforms represent a new challenge to the First Amendment, one that will require it to bend if we are to prevent the Lochnerization of the Freedom of Speech. It ties together various threads — the power of automation, the centrality and power of Internet media platforms, the doctrines developing in the courts, the actual acts of censorship in which these platforms regularly engage, and the core purposes the First Amendment was designed to serve — to make a sustained argument that we must think seriously about restructuring and dejudicializing the First Amendment if we are to avoid seeing the First Amendment transformed into a powerful shield for the very sorts of censorship it was written to prevent.
(Related) How does Google fit into this?
I don’t know enough to assert one way or another whether the Google Books ruling is ultimately a “good” or a “bad” decision. What I do know is that it is fascinating.
US District Judge Denny Chin’s decision is, to my mind, far more interesting than a legal ruling has any right to be. I say this because at the core of the legal decision is a mind-twisting idea:
The display of snippets of text for search is similar to the display of thumbnail images of photographs for search or small images of concert posters for reference to past events, as the snippets help users locate books and determine whether they may be of interest. Google Books thus uses words for a different purpose — it uses snippets of text to act as pointers directing users to a broad selection of books.
Similarly, Google Books is also transformative in the sense that it has transformed book text into data for purposes of substantive research, including data mining and text mining in new areas, thereby opening up new fields of research. Words in books are being used in a way they have not been used before. Google Books has created something new in the use of book the frequency of words and trends in their usage provide substantive information.
Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read book. Instead, it “adds value to the original” and allows for “the creation of new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings.” Hence, the use is transformative.
(Related) kind of... Does this do anything to advance scholarship?
A Textual Analysis of The Hunger Games
It's for the children! (Typical)
CBC News reports:
When Justice Minister Peter MacKay unveiled the federal government’s proposed cyberbullying law on Wednesday, he touted it as a necessary tool to combat the often hurtful spread of intimate images. To emphasize the underlying point, he made the announcement during national Bullying Awareness Week.
But legal experts were left wondering why a piece of legislation that is meant to rein in online tormentors is also taking on terror suspects and people who steal cable TV signals.
“There is a much larger agenda at play here,” says Rob Currie, director of the Law and Technology Institute at Dalhousie University.
Read more on CBC.
I guess I'm still waiting for a better definition than, “The US shouldn't be so powerful, we should.”
The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.
I wonder if I can break a 3D printer like I do with cameras?
Shapify creates 3D-printed selfies using Kinect
If you have a current-gen Kinect, you could soon be the owner of your very own selfie statue. In concept, Shapify.me's service is similar to Germany's Twinkind, which set up a photo booth for your portrait, but Shapify's a little more DIY (and a little more lo-res).
Using Kinect for Windows or Kinect for Xbox 360, you can scan in your own image. First, you need to download and install the Shapify.me app and the Microsoft Kinect SDK.
… As you can see by the sample image above, it's not perfect, but at a flat rate of $59, a lot cheaper than Twinkind's booth, it's not a bad deal.
In A World of Digital Storage, Size Matters
Gigabytes and terabytes. In the world we live in now, storage space is everything. Megabytes no longer satisfy our relentless demands to store entire music libraries on an MP3 player. Single-digit gigabyte storages are no longer sufficient to hold our photos, videos, games and applications on smartphones. We need more!
Or do we? How long do you reckon we’ll take to make the jump from terabytes to petabytes? Will the computers of the future come with petabyte drives as standard? What’s with our incessant desire to store everything? And just how much data can there be? datascience@berkeley explains.
Oh, should I be getting Press Releases (with large bribes?) Also reads as, How to write an interesting blog...
How To Get A Technology Blog To Ignore Your Press Release
A Google map you have to be a big fan of Lord of the Rings to enjoy...
The desolation of smaug
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Mid-sized breach, but would they use the same password on other systems?
Brian Krebs reports:
An intrusion at online dating service Cupid Media earlier this year exposed more than 42 million consumer records, including names, email addresses, unencrypted passwords and birthdays, according to information obtained by KrebsOnSecurity.
The data stolen from Southport, Australia-based niche dating service Cupid Media was found on the same server where hackers had amassed tens of millions of records stolen from Adobe,PR Newswire and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), among others.
The purloined database contains more than 42 million entries in the format shown in the redacted image below. I reached out to Cupid Media on Nov. 8. Six days later, I heard back from Andrew Bolton, the company’s managing director. Bolton said the information appears to be related to a breach that occurred in January 2013.
Read more on KrebsonSecurity.com. This apparently wasn’t news to Cupid Media, who claim to have notified affected consumers at the time of discovery in January. It’s hard to believe that such a big breach flew under all the media radar – including this site. I wonder how many consumers they actually notified at the time and wonder why nothing about the breach came to the attention of those of us who generally try to keep on top of hacks and breach reports.
I'll have have my Ethical Hackers find some articles on “The strategic uses of Cyber War weapons.” Specifically, what causes you to “force” your target to realize they are under attack? Politics?
Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators' wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete.
That's because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet's smaller and simpler attack routine -- the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and "forgotten" routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy. It qualifies as a nightmare for those who understand industrial control system security. And strangely, this more sophisticated attack came first. The simpler, more familiar routine followed only years later -- and was discovered in comparatively short order.
Imagine free hardware (e.g. a 65 inch TV) that comes with surveillance tools.
Earlier this month I discovered that my new LG Smart TV was displaying ads on the Smart landing screen.
After some investigation, I found a rather creepy corporate video advertising their data collection practices to potential advertisers. It’s quite long but a sample of their claims are as follows:
LG Smart Ad analyses users favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences. For example, LG Smart Ad can feature sharp suits to men, or alluring cosmetics and fragrances to women.
Furthermore, LG Smart Ad offers useful and various advertising performance reports. That live broadcasting ads cannot. To accurately identify actual advertising effectiveness.
Read more on DoctorBeet.
LG is investigating.
For my Ethical Hackers
– gives you the ability to create a message that automatically self-destructs after reading. You can share by email, SMS, or get a link to send to someone by other means. You can never be too careful these days with online security, so instead of an email which can last forever on someone’s server, consider using this service instead
For my Statistics students: Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you die. Calculate the probability of each option.
Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 20, 2013
Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. Ying Bao, M.D., Sc.D., Jiali Han, Ph.D., Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., Edward L. Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Charles S. Fuchs, M.D., M.P.H. N Engl J Med 2013; 369:2001-2011 November 21, 2013 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1307352
“In two large prospective U.S. cohorts, we found a significant, dose-dependent inverse association between nut consumption and total mortality, after adjusting for potential confounders. As compared with participants who did not eat nuts, those who consumed nuts seven or more times per week had a 20% lower death rate. Inverse associations were observed for most major causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases. Results were similar for peanuts and tree nuts, and the inverse association persisted across all subgroups… our data are consistent with a wealth of existing observational and clinical-trial data in supporting the health benefits of nut consumption for many chronic diseases.
Moreover, recent findings from the PREDIMED trial have shown a protective effect of a Mediterranean diet against cardiovascular disease, and one component of the diet was the availability of an average of 30 g of nuts per day. In conclusion, our analysis of samples from these two prospective cohort studies showed significant inverse associations of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. Nonetheless, epidemiologic observations establish associations, not causality, and not all findings from observational studies have been confirmed in controlled, randomized clinical trials.”
Exactly the kind of thing you find at a “Technical” University.
Presentation.io - Use Your Phone to Control Presentations and Share With Your Audience
Presentation.io is a service that helps your audience follow along with your presentations. Presentation.io does this by allowing the members of your audience to see your slides on their laptops, iPads, and Android tablets and watch them change when you advance your slides. This ensures that everyone is on the same slide at the same time. This week Presentation.io added a new option that allows you to use your cell phone as a remote to control your slides.
To start using Presentation.io upload a PPT or PDF to your free Presentation.io account. Presentation.io then gives you a URL to distribute to your audience. When the members of your audience open that URL they will be able to see and follow along with your presentation. When you're done with your presentation just click "stop presenting" and the synchronization stops. To use your phone as a remote just start your presentation and Presentation.io will send you a text with a link to make your phone a remote. Simply upload your presentation, click "Settings" and then "Use mobile phone as controller."
The free version of Presentation.io keeps your presentation on file for four hours before it expires. This is adequate for most classroom presentation situations.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Harvard (Bruce) gets it.
Cryptographer and Harvard Scholar – NSA broke Internet’s security for everyone
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 19, 2013
Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica: ”To say that there are a lot of people who are angry with the National Security Agency (NSA) right now would be an understatement. But the things that are getting the most political attention right now—such as the invasion of the privacy of American citizens and spying on the leaders of American allies—are just a fraction of the problem, according to cryptographer and Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society Fellow Bruce Schneier. At a presentation in a conference room inside the US Capitol on Friday, Schneier—who has been helping The Guardian review the trove of documents provided by Snowden—said that in its haste to “weaponize” the Internet, the NSA has broken its mechanisms of security. And those breaks—including the backdoors that the NSA convinced or coerced software developers to put into the implementations of their encryption and other security products, are so severe that it is now just a matter of time before others with less-noble causes than fighting terrorism will be able to exploit the holes the NSA has created. Schneier said that the vulnerabilities inserted into security products by the NSA through its BULLRUN program could easily be exploited by criminals and other nation-states as well once they are discovered. And the other attacks and surveillance methods used by the NSA “will be tomorrow’s doctoral theses and next week’s Science Fair projects.”
Not sure the FCC Chairman gets it...
FCC chairman: US phone system needs Internet makeover
The Federal Communications Commission is getting ready to dial up an Internet update to the nation's telephone system.
New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Tuesday that the commission will begin a "diverse set of experiments" next year aimed at replacing the telephone system's traditional phone lines with networks that are based on Internet Protocol. While many consumers already make phone calls on the Internet using voice over IP, which transmits large amounts of data in packet form, much of the nation's telephone infrastructure still employs less-efficient analog technology.
Wheeler, who won Senate confirmation as the commission's chairman late last month, wrote in a blog post Tuesday that he expects the commission to vote in January on a package of recommendations to speed the initiation of experiments and analysis of their outcomes, as well as consider the associated legal, policy, and technical issues.
I hope to see more of these...
Orin Kerr writes:
Yesterday afternoon, the DNI declassified an 87-page FISC opinion authored by Judge Kollar-Kotellythat had allowed a bulk Internet metadata collection under FISA’s version of the Pen Register statute,50 U.S.C. 1842. In plain English, the government published a previously-secret opinion that had allowed for the bulk collection of non-content Internet metadata under a statute that provides very low levels of privacy protection. The program is now defunct, but the opinion gives us another chance to analyze the quality of legal analysis produced by the FISC.
I’ve read the opinion, and I find its analysis quite strange. In this post, I’ll explain why I find the opinion a head-scratcher.
Read more on Lawfare.
Keep up, this one could have consequences. Some highlights from the article...
Just to keep everyone apprised on developments in the case this month:
LabMD filed a motion to quash 35 subpoenas that had been issued on one day. And on November 12, LabMD filed its motion to dismiss the FTC complaint with prejudice and to stay administrative proceedings.
… Although much of their argument mirrors Wyndham’s argument, LabMD also adds the argument that HIPAA and HITECH control or trump any authority FTC might have to regulate:
… In addition to arguing that Congress’s clear intention was that HIPAA (and HITECH) would control for the health care sector, and not the FTC, LabMD also argues that data security is a matter for the states:
Here's something from a very smart guy,talking about a subject I teach using tools he developed. If I'm lucky, I'll have it figured out in no time.
November 13, 2013
Computational knowledge. Symbolic programming. Algorithm automation. Dynamic interactivity. Natural language. Computable documents. The cloud. Connected devices. Symbolic ontology. Algorithm discovery. These are all things we’ve been energetically working on—mostly for years—in the context of Wolfram|Alpha, Mathematica, CDF and so on.
But recently something amazing has happened. We’ve figured out how to take all these threads, and all the technology we’ve built, to create something at a whole different level. The power of what is emerging continues to surprise me. But already I think it’s clear that it’s going to be profoundly important in the technological world, and beyond.
Might be a fun writing assignment...
How To Create Your Own Parody Facebook & Twitter Conversations
We’ve all seen them on Reddit, Imgur and elsewhere. Whether it’s hilarious parodies of historical events as if they took place on Facebook — like World War II — or fictional characters taking to the social network — like the characters of Harry Potter — it’s an incredibly entertaining way to bring history and creativity to the world of Facebook or Twitter. So what if you wanted to do this yourself?
There’s quite a few tools out there for doing just this — some of which will require you to login with your Facebook account, and others that don’t require any sign up at all. To find out more about how to create parody social media conversations, check out out the list below. If you need inspiration on how you can actually put these services to good use, check out which historical events are actually playing out on Twitter already.
An example of the dying art of cursive writing.
Google displays Lincoln's handwritten Gettysburg Address
… Five known copies of the speech in Lincoln's handwriting exist, according to a Web site devoted to the 16th president. Google's new exhibit offers a look at one of those speeches, known as the Bancroft Copy.
Through Google's online exhibit, you can zoom in on every word of Lincoln's speech. The exhibit also displays the letter that the President wrote to George Bancroft, an American historian and diplomat, who had requested a copy of the speech. Documents and images about the Gettysburg Address complete the exhibit in an attempt to provide insight into one of the most celebrated speeches in American history.
(Related) Now days, it might have been a PowerPoint.
The Gettysburg Address as a Powerpoint
How the Media Would Have Covered the Gettysburg Address
For all my students.
Essential steps for securing your phone, and what else can be done to foil thieves
Did I mention that we have a 3D printer? I'm looking for a Lamborghini model...
– Meet 3D Builder, the best place to view, prepare, and print your 3D models on Windows 8.1-ready 3D printers. 3D Builder is a fun, easy to use, free app that helps you turn bits into atoms and explore the exciting world of 3D printing. It also includes a library of example 3D objects to get you started.
I read a lot of PDFs, so I need to try this.
– makes it easy to organize and manage your digital library. You’re on the move – and with PDF Stash so are your documents. Never worry about not having the document you need on your current computer. PDF Stash automatically keeps track of your place as you read and will resume where you left off. Bookmark important pages and organize your documents into folders for quick access.
(Related) A 3D marketplace?
Like, because, dude!
English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet
Let's start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism.
The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself.
I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I'm late because YouTube. You're reading this because procrastination. As the linguist Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: "'Because' has become a preposition, because grammar."
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I guess it was politically embarrassing to mention this. Bad news is better later? Let's ignore the warnings from experts and cross our fingers? Which common political strategy were they using?
White House, HHS warned about ObamaCare website in March, documents show
The Obama administration was warned as early as March about potential risks with the implementation of HealthCare.gov, according to documents released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Monday night.
Obsolete media decides to charge more – hoping that will drive off more customers? (I had to Google for this article)
The Tradeoffs in Google's New Crackdown on Child Pornography
… Today, Google and Microsoft announced they are taking technological steps to make the Internet less hospitable to child abusers. The news comes after more than 300 people were arrested worldwide last week—and 400 children rescued—in one of the largest-ever crackdowns on child pornographers. It also comes months after the U.K.’s Prime Minister David Cameron called on the search engines to do more to obstruct child pornographers.
Haulin' Data: How Trucking Became the Frontier of Work Surveillance
… Over the next few years, it will become mandatory, by law, for all American truckers to carry a tracking device, an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR), in their vehicle.
… Truckers are on the forefront of workplace surveillance. With the availability of cheap sensors and hypercompetitive companies seeking to maximize their profits, any human action done on the clock may become subject to increased scrutiny and what will probably be called optimization. If you want to see the future of work, take a look at IBM’s efforts around call center workers or the battle over electronic armbands at Tesco in Ireland. It’s not that data hasn’t always been used in corporate decisionmaking, it’s that it’s possible to capture so much more now. With more data, comes more control.
Reluctantly and with plenty of 'spin.'
Court order allowing NSA data collection program revealed
The Obama administration released a trove of newly declassified documents related to the National Security Agency's surveillance activities on Monday, including what appears to be the original secret court ruling authorizing the massive data collection program.
The ruling by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was among hundreds of documents released by released by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. The documents also reveal the NSA's violations of court-ordered limits of the program.
The 87-page opinion, signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, then the chief judge on the secret surveillance court, authorized the NSA to collect of e-mail metadata and other Internet communications. However, the section describing the metadata to be collected was blacked out.
… "With previous releases, the government has posted the documents to its Tumblr, IContheRecord, claiming that the disclosures were spurred only by President Obama's directive to declassify information and 'the interest of increased transparency.' Thus far, they've neglected to mention they were also under a court order to do so," the EFF said.
It's a start.
Google finishes 2,048-bit security upgrade for Web privacy
… The Net giant has secured all its certificates with 2,048-bit RSA encryption keys or better, Google security engineer Dan Dulay said in a blog post Monday. Certificates are used to set up encrypted communications between a Web server and Web browser.
… Google has been aggressively moving to stronger encryption because of U.S. government surveillance by the National Security Agency. [Nonsense. Think about it. Bob]
(Related) It's about time. Is this cheaper than securing the links, as Google did?
Yahoo to encrypt all users' personal data
The internet provider said it had taken this step after allegations the US government had secretly accessed users' data without the company's knowledge.
We call it Data Mining, but then we don't bill by the 30 hour day... Still, an article worth reading.
Legal Search Science
Legal Search Science is an interdisciplinary field of study and practice concerning the search, review, and classification of large collections of electronic documents to identify targeted information for use as evidence in legal proceedings. It is a subset of the field of Information Science concerned with information retrieval and the unique problems faced by lawyers in the discovery of relevant evidence. It is also a subset of the legal field of electronic discovery and engineering field of Big Data search software. As such, it is an interdisciplinary field combining law, technology, and science.
Most specialists in legal search science use a variety of search methods when searching large datasets, referred to here as a multimodal approach, but primarily rely on supervised or semi-supervised machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence (AI)) using an active learning approach. I refer to this as AI-enhanced review or AI-enhanced search. In information science it may be referred to as active machine learning, and in legal circles as Predictive Coding.
If you were going to do it anyway.
Sprint, Best Buy give students a free year of talk, text, and data
Hey students, your report card can now earn you a free cell phone plan. Best Buy and Sprint announced Monday that they've teamed up to offer free unlimited talk and text, plus 1GB of data, for one full year to students.
It works like this: Head to Best Buy between November 18 and January 4 and buy a new feature phone or smartphone at the Student Activated Price (the average phone price is $530), and activate it on a Sprint Unlimited, My Way plan. You'll need to pay for the cost of the phone, plus a $36 activation fee, taxes, and any other applicable fees.
Next, go to Sprint's student verification site within 14 days of your purchase to prove that you're a current student. One you're verified, your account will be credited for one year of unlimited talk and text, plus 1GB per month of data if you buy a smartphone, which Sprint says is a $70 per month value.
...and everything is for sale? No freebies? No Open Source? Will Google pay me to look through all the options?
– Discover, purchase, and share educational apps, books, and videos easily with Google Play for Education – a new online destination just for schools. Browse content by grade, subject, or standard including Common Core. Purchase via PO with no credit card required. Distribute apps instantly via the cloud
Monday, November 18, 2013
Is the EU leading the way? Somehow I doubt it.
National Programmes for Mass Surveillance of Personal Data in EU Member States and their Compatibility with EU Law Study
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 17, 2013
Follow up to Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – Sixth Hearing, see DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR INTERNAL POLICIES POLICY DEPARTMENT C: CITIZENS’ RIGHTS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS - NATIONAL PROGRAMMES FOR MASS SURVEILLANCE OF PERSONAL DATA IN EU MEMBER STATES AND THEIR COMPATIBILITY WITH EU LAW STUDY.
“In the wake of the disclosures surrounding PRISM and other US surveillance programmes, this study makes an assessment of the large-scale surveillance practices by a selection of EU member states: the UK, Sweden, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Given the large-scale nature of surveillance practices at stake, which represent a reconfiguration of traditional intelligence gathering, the study contends that an analysis of European surveillance programmes cannot be reduced to a question of balance between data protection versus national security, but has to be framed in terms of collective freedoms and democracy. It finds that four of the five EU member states selected for in-depth examination are engaging in some form of large-scale interception and surveillance of communication data, and identifies parallels and discrepancies between these programmes and the NSA-run operations. The study argues that these surveillance programmes do not stand outside the realm of EU intervention but can be engaged from an EU law perspective via (i) an understanding of national security in a democratic rule of law framework where fundamental human rights standards and judicial oversight constitute key standards; (ii) the risks presented to the internal security of the Union as a whole as well as the privacy of EU citizens as data owners, and (iii) the potential spillover into the activities and responsibilities of EU agencies. The study then presents a set of policy recommendations to the European Parliament.”
No more Timothy McVeigh types? We know all the bad guys because we collect all their Internet activity? “Removing” terrorist leaders reduces violence? Why does all of this sound like wishful thinking?
Hearing – The Homeland Threat Landscape and U.S. Response
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 17, 2013
Hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – The Homeland Threat Landscape and U.S. Response – November 14, 2013 - The Honorable Matthew G. Olsen Director National Counterterrorism Center.
“Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) remain the most likely global jihadist threat to the Homeland. While the threat posed by HVEs probably will broaden through at least 2015, the overall level of HVE activity is likely to remain the same: a handful of uncoordinated and unsophisticated plots emanating from a pool of up to a few hundred individuals. Lone actors or insular groups who act autonomously pose the most serious HVE threat.’ … HVEs make use of a diverse online environment that is dynamic, evolving, and self- sustaining. This online extremist environment is likely to play a critical role in the foreseeable future in radicalizing and mobilizing HVEs towards violence. Despite the removal of important terrorist leaders during the last several years, the online environment continues to reinforce an extremist identity, supplies grievances, and provide HVEs the means to connect with terrorist groups overseas.”
“We can, therefore we must!”
Apple to start following you around its stores, report says
Convergence: Using one technology to replace many. (When was the mirror invented?)
– is a site that merely shows a frame, and inside that frame is your webcam, or front facing camera (if you are on a smartphone). This makes a mirror, in which you can look to see if your hair looks OK, or if your makeup is still in place. More of a novelty site than anything else, as you can easily check your hair in the webcam without this site.
Making citation easier...
is a citation generator that allows its users to easily create bibliographies and citations in the format required for their document. Being able to instantly use the correct referencing style makes an educator’s job much easier. Not only will they create textbooks more easily, but they can also recommend this tool to their students and contribute towards more effective and easier academic writing.
A place to build my course handouts.
goal is to provide students and educators with access to high-quality, free multimedia content on various education subjects. This website has become very popular among high school and college students, because it explains the most complicated subjects in an understandable manner.
My Graphic Design students should add their works to this site or perhaps build their own?
– is a site that enables you to discover and customize contemporary art. Pick a limited edition piece from the global catalogue of artists, and customize it so that your art fits your space, mood, style or gift idea. Then it is sent to you to hang up on your wall and enjoy.
… MakerBot announced its MakerBot Academy. Its mission: “to put a MakerBot Desktop 3D Printer in every school in America.” MakerBot is working with DonorsChoose.org to help teachers fundraise for their MakerBot bundle.
… Google launched its Google Play for Education program this week: Android tablets and an app store for schools. My review is here.
… Carnegie Mellon University has created a Global Learning Council to “spearhead efforts to develop standards and promote best practices in online education.” Council members include edX's Anant Agarwal and Coursera's Daphne Koller. “Global,” but with US representatives only, seeking to identify “best practices,” because nobody out there already does that. Sigh.
… First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off her new initiative this week: college for everyone.
… Senators Dick Durbin and Al Franken have proposed the Affordable College Textbook Act that “would encourage the creation of free online textbooks by offering grants for pilot projects that produce high-quality open-access textbooks, especially for courses with large enrollments.” [I've been threatening to have my students write their own textbooks, perhaps this will be the incentive I need to make this happen. Stay tuned. Bob]