Sunday, March 09, 2014

Maybe they have it right?
Ukraine: Goodbye Cold War, hello globalised economy
While most observers claim that the current conflict over Ukraine is reminiscent of the Cold War, a political economy analysis of the last three days would au contraire underline how liberal economic interdependence has modified the rules of the game.
If the sound of boots on the ground is still very real in Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict proved the incapacity of countries to engage in military conflict without being vulnerable to exogenous economic forces or having to suffer the consequences of capital flight and currency exchange rate fluctuations.
The reaction from oligarchs in Ukraine as well as the impact that the prospect of war had on both the Russian stock exchange and currency are solid proof that countries cannot operate bluntly as they did during the Cold War without closely monitoring global economic dynamics.

(Related) for my visual learning students... Note the pipeline maps.
Ukraine Crisis in Maps

Food for thought.
Jeanne Price of idRADAR interviewed a University of Maryland spokesperson about their recent breach. The interview provides a nice insider’s perspective on breach response, and you may wish to read it all here. Perhaps the most startling revelation was this one:
UMD did not have a data breach crisis plan in place before the event, which continues to be under investigation.
In this day and age, how can any university not have a data breach crisis response plan in place? How often does this happen? And what, if anything, should the U.S. Education Department do to foster better data security and planning at the post-secondary level? Have they conducted a survey that asks about security, risk assessment, and preparations for a breach? I suspect the situation is much worse on the k-12 level than on the post-secondary level, but post-secondary institutions may collect and retain significantly more individuals’ data than k-12.
For years, we’ve known that universities are targets of hackers, as university databases contain a wealth of information that can often be used for ID theft. Those suggesting that universities are a new target or the “next target” in the wake of the UMD breach and a few other recent reports simply haven’t been paying attention.
But given that we’ve known for years, when will it be time to do something?
The Federal Trade Commission currently does not have the authority to enforce data security in non-profits (which most universities are). The U.S. Education Department does not enforce. Pretty much, no one enforces.
Is it any wonder, then, that we continue to see massive breaches at the post-secondary level?

EPIC – After Weakening Privacy Law, Education Department Proposes “Best Practices” for Student Data
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 8, 2014
“The Education Department has issued recommendations for schools that transfer student records to online educational service providers. Following the Department’s changes to a federal student privacy law, private companies and government agencies have access to student records without obtaining student consent. In the recommendations, the agency explained that the current regulations do not require written agreements for schools to disclose student information to private companies. The Education Department recommended that schools establish policies for approving online educational services, create written contracts with private companies for the use of student data, and explain to parents and students how schools collect, use, and disclose student information. The agency warned that student data held by private companies may not be protected under federal privacy laws. EPIC had earlier sued the Education Department for weakening the privacy rule that prevented companies from getting access to student data. On March 13, 2014, the Education Department will hold a webinar on its student privacy best practices. For more information, see: EPIC: Student Privacy and EPIC: EPIC v. Dept. of Education.”

Not clear who provided the grant. Also, not the most objective article I've ever read.
Big Brother: Milwaukee To Give Away 2,000 Surveillance Cameras for Citywide NSA Spy Grid
The city of Milwaukee will be giving away 2,000 security cameras to south side businesses. A grant has been provided to the city and they are eager to get started.
… These cameras will come with facial recognition and subsequently will track your behaviors. They will also be able to collect meta data on your habits, cell phone conversations, what you buy and who you associate with. This information will be collaborated with your cell phone id and facial recognition software provided by these cameras to monitor your voyage around town and record your trends.
This information will be trolled by the Milwaukee Fusion spy center, used to track your internet, cell phone activity and behaviors. Stored and saved for future reference indefinitely.

For my Ethical Hackers, who love a challenge – no matter how small.
Google Says User Data Is Protected From Government
Speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Austin Texas, Google CEO Eric Schmidt assured his audience by saying he was “pretty sure,” that the company’s user data was protected from “prying eyes,” which included the U.S government. In response to the Edward Snowden incident, where large volumes of classified information were released to the public, the company has upgraded their encryption process. Without divulging too much information, especially about the specifics of these new encryption systems, Mr. Schmidt stated that the only way to protect user data was to essentially “encrypt more.” In addition to the increased encryption levels the company also claims to have upgraded many of their digital security systems.

Online CLEs?
Virtual LegalTech show
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 8, 2014
Via Wilhelmina Randtke: ”For anyone who is interested, there is a virtual tech show version next week by the hosts of Legal Tech NY back in Feb. The URL for the virtual tech show is here It’s set up in INXPO, which is OK for interaction, if you are in a session with chat enabled, and better than most online platforms that try to simulate a conference. Still pretty close to a… webinar.”

There's an App for that? (coming to KickStarter soon!)
Vineyard not required: The Miracle Machine lets you make wine on your kitchen counter
Want to be a winemaker? With the new Miracle Machine, it's easier than you think.
There's no need to buy a winery. All you need are a few ingredients, the soon-to-launch Miracle Machine smartphone app and the Miracle Machine. It's a tabletop device that turns grape concentrate, yeast and a couple other ingredients into wine.
… Using wi-fi connector Bluetooth, sync your machine to the app and the Miracle Machine's fermentation chamber gets to work making the wine. It uses electric sensors, transducers, heaters and pumps to create a controlled environment for the first and second fermentation stages.

Because I don't want my students reading their textbooks while driving to school.
Read Aloud As Google Text To Speech Gets New High Quality Voices For English
Google has just come out with Version 3 of its text-to-speech Android app. It is a significant update with a better interface, natural sounding voices in English, and support for more languages. If you like to read your eBooks aloud, then this news should be pleasant to the ears. The new version of Google Text-to-Speech is rolling out on Google Play.

I'm thinking, “Math Guy!”
5 Ideas for Teaching With Comics and 5 Free Online Tools for Creating Them

4 Powerful Tools For Making Your Own Interactive Content
Many teachers today are using infographics, both in their classrooms and for their own professional development. There are so many tools out there to make your own infographics. In the education realm, most people I chat with say that they use Piktochart because it is free and very simple to use. One of the (newer) trends we’ve been noticing lately has been that more and more infographics are interactive.
StatSilk is a company that offers several different programs to make interactive content.
ManyEyes is a free data visualization software by IBM that allows creation of different types of charts, graphs, maps, and visual text analysis.
You can use Google Public Data and either upload your own dataset and create a visualization, or explore and adapt visualizations of already collected data (such as data on world economic factors) to have them suit your needs.

Amusing. Note: Khan Academy is moving too quickly to measure?
… On stage at the College Board announcement was Sal Khan as Khan Academy will now offer free SAT test prep, arguing that this will enable a “future determined by merit, not money.” (As it currently stands, students whose parents have higher incomes score higher on the SAT.)
… The anti-plagiarism software company Turnitin has launched a new product Grade Anything. According to Campus Technology, it’s a tool “to assess ”virtually any type of assignement,“ including presentations, spreadsheets, designs and calculations, according to a company news release, and provides a grading template for assessing assignments such as performances and recitals.” I wonder if Grade Anything makes the same sweeping copyright claims to student content that the essay-checking stuff does…
… Edu wiki provider Wikispaces has been acquired by TSL Education.
Maine governor Paul LePage has vetoed a bill that would stop the creation of virtual schools in his state.
… The Kansas State Supreme Court ruled this week that the state’s funding system violated the Kansas Constitution. More on the ruling in The New York Times.
… SRI International has finally released its research on the use of Khan Academy in Schools. (And do note, it said “usage” and not “effectiveness,” which was I totally thought the research was supposed to examine. But hey.) (PDF) Research was conducted on Khan Academy implementations at 9 school sites, but as the report notes,
“During the study, Khan Academy worked with schools participating in the study to update and refine its tools and resources. Simultaneously, teachers and students were using Khan Academy tools and resources in considerably different ways across the nine study sites, and some of the sites also changed the ways they used it during the course of the two-year study. For these reasons, it was methodologically unsound to conduct a rigorous evaluation of Khan Academy’s impact on learning during the study period, including any use of randomized control trials, which would have required Khan Academy tools and resources to remain unchanged during the study and for teachers and students to use Khan Academy the same way. Moreover, at all but one of the sites, Khan Academy was principally used as a supplementary tool—not as the core primary curriculum—so the effects of Khan Academy cannot be separated from those contributed by other elements of the math curriculum.”
Khan Academy has released demographic data about students who complete its CS material. Across all of Khan Academy, users are 48% female and 52% male; but when it comes to the CS content, 34% are female and 66% are male. 86.2% of males complete the first coding challenge; 86.7% of females complete the first coding challenge.

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