Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Clearly, the UK finds the Ukraine situation more important than we in the US do. We can only hope our politicians won't declare, “Peace in our times.”
Ukraine crisis: pro-Russian separatists seize vehicles - live updates
12.54pm BST
A bit more from that Fogh Rasmussen press conference. It will be interesting to see how Russia will react to what it will probably see as provocation. Part of the reason Putin moved against Crimea was his belief that Nato wanted Ukraine might joint the alliance.
9.04am BST
The Guardian's Luke Harding, who is in Kramatorsk, reports that pro-Russian armed separatists have seized five armoured personal carriers and a tank from the Ukrainian army, which they then drove in a victory lap through the centre of town, where government forces are attempting to wrest back control of the city.
8.54am BST
Reuters is reporting that five or six armoured personnel carriers have entered the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk, with the lead vehicle showing the Russian flag.

A note for my Ethical Hackers. Something to emulate? At least it may get the attention of those who think this is amusing.
David Shamah reports:
Israeli hackers attacked computers belonging to Anonymous and allied hacker groups, taking pictures with exploited webcams and posting the photos online, during the organization’s OpIsrael hacking attack last week.
A hacker called Buddhax, a member of the Israeli Elite Force hacking group, posted the information on the IEF’s Facebook page Wednesday, two days after anti-Israel hackers attempted to repeat last year’s mass attacks on Israeli sites.
While Anonymous hackers were attacking Israeli sites, Buddhax traced the IP addresses of some of the attackers and broke into at least 16 computers, taking screenshots, scraping computers for logins and passwords of online accounts and using their webcams to take photos of the hackers, Buddhax said. He sent a message to each hacker reading “Next time don’t take part in OpIsrael. We know who you are. We know where you are. Long live Israel!”
Buddhax posted the Facebook pages and other personal data of most of his targets. Many of the pages and accounts listed in Buddhax’s document have been blocked or taken down.
Read more on Times of Israel. Looks like some #OpIsrael enthusiasts could use some lessons in securing their own computers – and not re-using simple passwords across services.

Is this how you convince drivers not to use their phone while driving...
Police State USA writes:
A man was startled to receive a text message from a strange number chastising him for using his cell phone while driving.
After admittedly taking a phone call during his daily commute, the driver received an unsolicited text message from a number he had never seen before. It read: “Get off the phone when you are driving!”
The sender then provided an identity of “Illinois State Police Officer Robinson #54367.”
Police State USA was alerted to this strange new enforcement technique directly from the driver, who wished to remain anonymous. After interviewing the driver and seeing the message directly on his phone, there is little to doubt about his story.
OK, that’s creepy. And how, exactly, did the state police officer obtain his cell phone number….?

Prove you are innocent? At least testing is not mandatory – yet. Volunteer or become a suspect?
Sara Miller Llana reports:
The French fiercely protect their right to privacy – so much so that the country has famously been butting heads with American Internet giants like Google to protect French users from potential intrusions into their private lives.
But when it comes to criminality, the views are much laxer. In a move that would be sure to provoke anger in the US and raise tough constitutional questions, police are asking more than 500 males at a private Roman Catholic high school to submit to DNA testing to help find a rapist.

Ah, that's okay then...
David Gilbert reports:
Google has officially changed its Terms of Service to make it quite clear that users are consenting to the search giant scanning the content of their emails in order to allow the company deliver more targeted ads and better search results.
While it may now be saying it more openly, this is not a new practice.
Google has been scanning users’ messages for many years, and the company had believed users “explicitly consented” to the practice by agreeing to various versions of the company’s terms of service since 2008.

Should I be able to use (mine and analyze) any data I can legally read? (Does using a computer make a difference?)
EU Report – Text and Data Mining
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 15, 2014
“Text and data mining (TDM) is an important technique for analysing and extracting new insights and knowledge from the exponentially increasing store of digital data (‘Big Data’). It is important to understand the extent to which the EU’s current legal framework encourages or obstructs this new form of research and to assess the scale of the economic issues at stake. TDM is useful to researchers of all kinds, from historians to medical experts, and its methods are relevant to organisations throughout the public and private sectors. Because TDM research technology is not prohibitively expensive, it is readily available to lone entrepreneurs, individual post-graduate students, start-ups and small firms. It is also amenable to playful and highly speculative uses, enabling research connections between previously unconnected fields. There is growing recognition that we are at the threshold of the mass automation of service industries (automation of thinking) comparable with the robotic automation of manufacturing production lines (automation of muscle) in an earlier era. TDM will be widely used to provide insights in the re-design of this digital services economy. When it comes to the deployment of TDM, there are worrying signs that European researchers may be falling behind, especially with regard to researchers in the United States. Researchers in Europe believe that this results, at least in part, from the nature of Europe’s laws with regard to copyright, database protection and, perhaps increasingly, data privacy. In the United States, the ‘fair use’ defence against copyright infringement appears to offer greater re-assurance to researchers than the comparable copyright framework in Europe, which relies upon a closed set of statutory exceptions. Recent court decisions, for example in the ten-year old ‘Google Books’ case, appear to confirm this. The US has no equivalent of Europe’s database protection laws. In Europe, there are signs of a response among publishers to encourage wider use of TDM. Scientific publishers have recently proposed licensing terms designed to make TDM of their own archives easier, but many researchers dismiss these efforts as insufficient, arguing that ‘the right to read is the right to mine’ and that effective research demands freedom to mine all public domain databases without restriction. These pressures from researchers have increased as a result of a growing move to ‘Open Access’ scientific publishing in Europe and elsewhere. The UK and Ireland have already committed themselves to more permissive copyright rules with regard to TDM.”

(Related) Things you can learn from Data Mining OR translating Behavioral Advertising research into “How to behave badly” users guides. (And why law enforcement might want access to this data)
The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs
One day, some drug dealer bought a particular digital scale—the AWS-100— on the retail site, And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.
Amazon's data-tracking software watched what else these people purchased, and now, if you buy the AWS-100 scale, Amazon serves up a quickstart kit for selling drugs.
Along with various scale-related paraphernalia, we find:
This is classic data mining at work. Even if each scale purchaser only made one other drug-related purchase, when you look at the clusters, the pattern becomes obvious.

...but our laws are still those written (before there was an Internet) by dead white guys...
Pew – The Next America
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 15, 2014
“Demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. America is in the midst of two right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Each of these shifts would by itself be the defining demographic story of its era. The fact that both are unfolding simultaneously has generated big generation gaps that will put stress on our politics, families, pocketbooks, entitlement programs and social cohesion The Pew Research Center tracks these transformations with public opinion surveys and demographic and economic analyses. Our new book, The Next America, draws on this research to paint a data-rich portrait of the many ways our nation is changing and the challenges we face in the decades ahead. But from 1960 to 2060, our pyramid will turn into a rectangle. We’ll have almost as many Americans over age 85 as under age 5. This is the result of longer life spans and lower birthrates. It’s uncharted territory, not just for us, but for all of humanity. And while it’s certainly good news over the long haul for the sustainability of the earth’s resources, it will create political and economic stress in the shorter term, as smaller cohorts of working age adults will be hard-pressed to finance the retirements of larger cohorts of older ones.”

Several small infographics I'll probably use in one class or another... (esp. “Statistics about statistics”)
Funny But True Facts of Life

Something I can have my Statistics students analyze?
Beta Release of Workforce Statistics Analysis Tool
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 15, 2014
“The U.S. Census Bureau is unveiling a new Web-based analysis tool that provides access to the full Quarterly Workforce Indicators dataset. The tool — named QWI Explorer — includes measures on employment, job creation and destruction, hires and wages from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program. QWI Explorer allows users to compare, rank and aggregate indicators across time, geography and/or firm and worker characteristics. Potential analyses include a look over time at wages by worker sex and age across counties, ranking job creation rates of young firms across NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) groups, and comparing hiring levels by worker race and education levels across a selection of metropolitan areas. More information about this new tool is available here and a video tutorial is available here. Visit QWI Explorer to use the tool.”

Also for my Statistics students.
Ever Notice That UPS Trucks Rarely Make Left Turns?
An estimated 90% of the turns made by UPS delivery trucks are right turns, and that’s intentional, according to the Washington Post. Left turns are seen as inefficient, because they leave trucks sitting in traffic longer. The logistics company says a policy of minimizing left turns has helped it save more than 10 million gallons of fuel over the past decade. Left turns (in countries where people drive on the right) are dangerous, too: New York City officials say left turns are 3 times more likely than right turns to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.

For all my students...
– is a site for compiling a bibliography. Ideal for students writing their dissertation, you can cite books, journal articles, newspaper articles, websites, and countless more sources. There is also a Word plugin and a Chrome plugin to make the process even easier. When it is done, you can download it or email it.

For my students who read. (More than you might think.)
FREE EBOOK: Project Gutenberg – More Than Just Free Books
If you’ve heard of Project Gutenberg, you probably know it for its vast collection of free public domain books. But do you know everything it offers and how to make the best of the site?
… This guide … will teach you:
  • about the concept of public domain works
  • how to find and use audiobooks through Librivox
  • the quickest way to self-publish your own books
  • how distributed proofreading works and how to get involved
  • some cool tools and tricks of the Project Gutenberg site
  • and will suggest some great starting points for your reading.

For my Math students.
Studygeek - A Math Glossary and a Collection of Free Math Tutorials
Studygeek is a free service offering hundreds of online mathematics tutorials. The site features a combination of written tutorials and video tutorials sourced from the web. Like similar sites, Studygeek organizes lessons according to subject and topic. For example, click on the algebra section to reveal all of the topics for which Studygeek offers tutorials.
Applications for Education
Studygeek was created for high school and undergraduate mathematics students. Those students in need of a quick refresher or a little help when they get stuck on their homework could find Studygeek to be a helpful resource. Students who don't need full tutorials may find that Studygeek's mathematics glossary provides enough help to get them on the right track to solving a problem.

For my students, how not to interview...

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