Sunday, August 31, 2014

You have got to be kidding. Where in government are you going to find a division of sarcastic people? Dim-witted, certainly. Opinionated, without doubt.
US Cyber-Warriors Battling Islamic State on Twitter
The United States has launched a social media offensive against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, setting out to win the war of ideas by ridiculing the militants with a mixture of blunt language and sarcasm.
For the past 18 months, US officials have targeted dozens of social network accounts linked to Islamic radicals, posting comments, photos and videos and often engaging in tit-fot-tat exchanges with those which challenge America. At the US State Department, employees at the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), created in 2011, manage an Arabic-language Twitter account set up in 2012, an English-language equivalent and a Facebook page, launched this week. [Just learned about that Facebook thing, huh? Bob]..

Was the idea to deploy blimps everywhere or just to protect congress? Who was it again that had cruise missiles targeting Washington?
EPIC FOIA Case – Army Blimps over Washington Loaded with Surveillance Gear, Cost $1.6 Billion
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Aug 30, 2014
EPIC has received substantial new information about the surveillance blimps, now deployed over Washington, DC. The documents were released to EPIC in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of the Army. The documents also reveal that the Army paid Raytheon $1.6 billion. EPIC will receive more documents about the controversial program In October. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. Army – Surveillance Blimps and EPIC: Freedom of Information Act Litigation.”

A generic Opt-Out form? Will that work? (Or is it merely an, “If you do this, we will sue” notice?)
Merrill Hope reports:
Breitbart Texas has learned that a new “Student Privacy Protection Request Form” has been released by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national non-profit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The “data-mining” opt-out form was designed to protect students from Big Data’s chokehold on the classroom. It was crafted with the Common Core states in mind; however, it is relevant to non-Common Core states, like Texas, who are still tied to Fed Led Ed’s reporting and database systems.
Read more on Breitbart.

On one hand, this is “public data” since anyone can read and record license plates. On the other hand, somewhere in this vast collection of data might be something that a criminal could use to violate someone's privacy. So the data is both public and private?
Cyrus Farivar reports:
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge will not force local law enforcement to release a week’s worth of all captured automated license plate reader (ALPR, also known as LPR) data to two activist groups that had sued for the release of the information, according to a decision issued on Thursday.
Read more on Ars Technica.
[From the article:
The organizations had claimed that these agencies were required to disclose the data under the California Public Records Act. In late July 2012, the ACLU and its affiliates sent requests to local police departments and state agencies across 38 states to request information on how LPRs are used.
"The [LPR] data contains hot list comparisons, [Was that requested? Bob] the disclosure of which could greatly harm a criminal investigation," Superior Court Judge James Chalfant wrote in his 18-page decision. "It also would reveal patrol patterns [Or we could follow the cars Bob] which could compromise ongoing investigations, and even fixed point data could undermine investigations. Disclosure could also be used by a criminal to find and harm a third party. [Based on where their car was two years ago? Bob] Balanced against these harms is the interest in ascertaining law enforcement abuse of the ALPR system and a general understanding of the picture law enforcement receives of an individual from the system, unsupported by any evidence as to how well the ALPR data will show this information. The balancing works in favor of non-disclosure."

We can because we say we can.
From Public Intelligence:
The following report on the FBI’s use of national security letters (NSL) from 2007-2009 was released in August by the Department of Justice.
A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of National Security Letters: Assessment of Progress in Implementing Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007 through 2009
  • 232 pages
  • August 2014

Perspective. Worth reading.
Predictive First: How A New Era Of Apps Will Change The Game
Over the past several decades, enterprise technology has consistently followed a trail that’s been blazed by top consumer tech brands. This has certainly been true of delivery models – first there were software CDs, then the cloud, and now all kinds of mobile apps. In tandem with this shift, the way we build applications has changed and we’re increasingly learning the benefits of taking a mobile-first approach to software development.
Case in point: Facebook, which of course began as a desktop app, struggled to keep up with emerging mobile-first experiences like Instagram and WhatsApp, and ended up acquiring them for billions of dollars to play catch up.
The Predictive-First Revolution
Recent events like the acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce demonstrate that we’re at the beginning of another shift toward a new age of predictive-first applications. The value of data science and predictive analytics has been proven again and again in the consumer landscape by products like Siri, Waze and Pandora.
Big consumer brands are going even deeper, investing in artificial intelligence (AI) models such as “deep learning.” Earlier this year, Google spent $400 million to snap up AI company DeepMind, and just a few weeks ago, Twitter bought another sophisticated machine-learning startup called MadBits. Even Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon, with claims that its “Project Adam” network is faster than the leading AI system, Google Brain, and that its Cortana virtual personal assistant is smarter than Apple’s Siri.

Free is good!
Millions of historic images posted to Flickr
An American academic is creating a searchable database of 12 million historic copyright-free images.
Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded 2.6 million pictures to Flickr, which are searchable thanks to tags that have been automatically added.
The photos and drawings are sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.
… To achieve his goal, Mr Leetaru wrote his own software to work around the way the books had originally been digitised.
The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into searchable text.
As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them.
Mr Leetaru's code used this information to go back to the original scans, extract the regions the OCR program had ignored, and then save each one as a separate file in the Jpeg picture format.
… He added that he also planned to offer his code to others.
"Any library could repeat this process," he explained.
"That's actually my hope, that libraries around the world run this same process of their digitised books to constantly expand this universe of images."

All I need is a cup of coffee!

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