Monday, March 31, 2014

So the lesson to be learned is, “complain that your privacy is worth more than the initial offer?”
Grimsby Telegraph has an update to a breach previously noted on this blog:
Barclays Bank has come under fire after offering just £250 in compensation to customers whose confidential files were stolen and sold to rogue City traders.
At least 2,000 of the bank’s customers were affected by the theft, which included details of their earnings, savings, health issues and insurance policies.
Read more on Grimsby Telegraph.
[From the article:
Barclays says it has contacted all customers affected and provided compensation for “distress and inconvenience.”
However, one customer described the compensation as “chicken feed”.
According to national media, a number of customers have been given higher sums after complaining about the amount initially awarded.

For your IT Managers.
IT Directors: Keep an eye on those iPads with Office
Office for iPad is a great solution for those wanting to do real work on the tablet. Microsoft has done a great job making Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for the iPad. That's a good thing, but IT directors better think long and hard about the implications.
The Office apps are being downloaded in great numbers by iPad owners. They are free so why not? Some of those downloaders, perhaps a lot of them, are buying that $99.99 Office 365 subscription to fully unlock the editing features of the apps. Perhaps they want to allow their kids to use the apps to do homework, or maybe they want to do home projects. That's well and good, but if they bring their iPads to work in a bring your own device (BYOD) program, better make sure it's not used for work.
The subscription that's being pitched with Office for iPad to unlock all the features is the Office 365 Home Premium subscription for $99.99. That's a reasonably priced option to use Microsoft Office, including the iPad apps. What corporate managers should remember is the subscription that workers may be paying for with the iPad apps prohibits commercial use. Microsoft's warning is quite clear about such use.

If they vacated the injunction, was that an admission of error?
If you’re interested in the issue of the public being able to videotape police officers in the performance of their duties and to disseminate the video, you should read this post by Eugene Volokh about a Missouri case, Klaffer v. Bledsoe. The ACLU of Missouri is representing Klaffer in the matter.
[From the article:
[Jordan] Klaffer is a gun owner who frequently fires his gun at objects on private property. On May 1, 2013, Jerry Bledsoe, a police officer, confronted Klaffer while responding to a noise complaint. Klaffer videotaped the interaction, where Bledsoe issued an ultimatum to Klaffer to surrender his guns or be arrested. Klaffer refused to give up his guns and was arrested for disturbing the peace.
To express his opinion that Officer Bledsoe was using his position to harass him for exercising his Second Amendment rights, Klaffer posted recordings of the May 1 encounter on YouTube and Facebook. And, on Instagram, he posted a picture of Bledsoe alongside a photo of Saddam Hussein, with the caption “Striking Resemblance.”
… You can read the ACLU complaint, the protection order — which was in effect for 12 days before being vacated — and Officer Bledsoe’s petition; you can also see the video embedded below.

Interesting that companies see profit in providing Internet access where governments are too slow or unable to provide it for their citizens. What will those governments do if their citizens opt for “government by corporations?” “Corporate Spring?”
Forget Google balloons: Facebook says drones are key to global Internet access
While Google is looking to use balloons to bring Internet to certain parts of the world, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is placing his faith in drones while mocking Google in the process.
While Zuckerberg did not mention Google Loon by name, the Facebook CEO did touch on why drones are better than balloons in providing Internet for those who are not fortunate enough to have it.

Is the US concerned that Bitcoins may replace the US Dollar? Perhaps they don't like the “anonymous” aspect? Either way, we're way out in front on this. (More likely, we made a wrong turn somewhere and are completely lost.)
New IRS rules make using Bitcoins a fiasco
The Internal Revenue Service's notice last week will force the average Bitcoin user to keep a strict record of every purchase made all year long -- then perform difficult calculations to account for the changing value of a bitcoin.
It's meant to extract taxes from any gains in Bitcoin's value, and the rule applies to everything bought with electronic money, from coffee to cars.
That's problematic for two reasons. The going rate for a bitcoin fluctuates wildly -- easily by more than $10 a day. And no one diligently records the price of a bitcoin at every purchase.
… The complicated rules kick in, because the IRS deemed Bitcoin a property. If it were labeled a currency, users would be able to treat purchases like worry-free transactions made in euros or yen while traveling abroad. That's why the Tax Foundation says the IRS got it wrong, calling the compliance requirements "inappropriate."
The United States isn't alone in this approach. Finland applies capital gains taxes on Bitcoin gains, and Ireland is considering something similar.

Perspective. Perhaps companies who live by ad impressions will upgrade your computer for free?
Facebook dumped its Newsfeed redesign because its users have old computers.
Dustin Curtis, an entrepreneur who also writes a very popular blog, says he’s heard from Facebook employees the reason is that the beautiful, big-picture design was so popular with users that they weren’t using other parts of the site, and that this was driving ad impressions down.
In her own blog post, Facebook product designer Julie Zhuo says Curtis has it wrong.
She says the reason Facebook went with the older-looking design is that, unlike Facebook employees, Curtis, and the kinds of people who read blog posts about design, most Facebook users still have older computers with crappy monitors.”

How do we stop this? Void their insurance?
One in four car accidents caused by cell phone use while driving... but only five per cent blamed on texting
A recent study from the National Safety Council found that 26 per cent of all car accidents were caused by a driver using a cell phone, but remarkably attributed only five per cent to texting while driving.
… The number works out to about 1.3million total accidents, a one per cent rise from last year’s NSC report, but continues a growing trend.
… Experts say that laws prohibiting cell phone use behind the wheel aren’t providing much of a deterrent.

How can this not attract disruptive competition?
Commentary – How Copyright Laws Keep E-Books Locked Up
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 30, 2014
“…In many cases, it is the readers themselves who, through their taxes, pay the university authors whose studies they are then unable to access. It is also likely that many professors themselves cannot even afford a subscription to the journal in which their work is published. Subscription rates of up to €15,000 ($20,633) per year are hardly a rarity. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, for example, comes with a price tag of more than €20,000 annually. Authors who publish their works in such a journal usually don’t see a single cent for their labors. Publishing companies such as Reed Elsevier, by contrast, regularly achieve pre-tax profit margins of over 25 percent. ”Publishers of scientific journals make so much money because they collect their product for free from taxpayers and then sell it back at inflated prices,” says Günter M. Ziegler, a distinguished mathematician at Berlin’s Free University. Until two years ago, Ziegler was the co-publisher of two mathematics journals at Reed Elsevier. Then he joined a boycott that has since attracted the support of 14,000 others. He is now working for an academic journal that is available to everyone on the Internet according to open access principles. Elsevier says that the conflict has more to do with a misunderstanding than a conflict of interests.”

(Related) For all you IP lawyers...
IP in a World Without Scarcity
Mark A. Lemley Stanford Law School March 24, 2014
Things are valuable because they are scarce. The more abundant they become, they cheaper they become. But a series of technological changes is underway that promises to end scarcity as we know it for a wide variety of goods. The Internet is the most obvious example, because the change there is furthest along. The Internet has reduced the cost of production and distribution of informational content effectively to zero. In many cases it has also dramatically reduced the cost of producing that content. And it has changed the way in which information is distributed, separating the creators of content from the distributors.

Great news for my students who will write the systems that replace these workers! (And an indication that I have some serious job security!)
The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 29, 2014
The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, September 17, 2013
“Nearly half of US jobs could be susceptible to computerisation over the next two decades, a study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology suggests. The study, a collaboration between Dr Carl Benedikt Frey (Oxford Martin School) and Dr Michael A. Osborne (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford), found that jobs in transportation, logistics, as well as office and administrative support, are at “high risk” of automation. More surprisingly, occupations within the service industry are also highly susceptible, despite recent job growth in this sector. “We identified several key bottlenecks currently preventing occupations being automated,” says Dr. Osborne. “As big data helps to overcome these obstacles, a great number of jobs will be put at risk.” The study examined over 700 detailed occupation types, noting the types of tasks workers perform and the skills required. By weighting these factors, as well as the engineering obstacles currently preventing computerisation, the researchers assessed the degree to which these occupations may be automated in the coming decades. “Our findings imply that as technology races ahead, low-skilled workers will move to tasks that are not susceptible to computerisation — i.e., tasks that required creative and social intelligence,” the paper states. “For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.” Dr Frey said the United Kingdom is expected to face a similar challenge to the US. “While our analysis was based on detailed datasets relating to US occupations, the implications are likely to extend to employment in the UK and other developed countries,” he said.”

For my students.
Four Sources of Print-on-demand Graph Paper
Every mathematics teacher I know needs graph paper. If you're a mathematics teacher and find yourself running short on graph paper or you need a graph paper that is different from what your school purchases, try one of these four places for printing graph paper.
Incompetech offers more than forty different graph and lined paper templates. The offerings from Incompetech even includes sheet music ledger.
Print Free Graph Paper offers eight graph paper formats.  Print Free Graph Paper allows you to customize the size of the graph before printing.
Math Drills hosts fourteen templates for printing your own graph paper. The templates are in metric and imperial measurements.
Gridzzly is a free tool for designing lined, grid, and graph paper. Simply open the site, select the format for your paper (dots, lines, squares, or hexagons) then choose the spacing for the paper and print it. A ruler at the top of the page indicates the spacing of the dots, lines, squares, or hexagons on your page.

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