Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Small but interesting.
US Postal Service Suffers Massive Data Breach, Over 800K Employees And Customers Exposed
Data on as many as 800,000 employees may have been stolen along with data on customers who called the USPS' various call centers between January and August of this year.
That's actually a little surprising, given the scope of the operations that the Post Office oversees. If you get mail -- and 99.9% of us do, even if it's junk -- the Post Office has a record of your name and address.
Getting access to this information -- as well as possibly a web of data on who sends packages to whom -- could be useful to nation-states who want to track the actions of specific targets.
There’s no word yet on who may have perpetrated the attack, or exactly what the infection vector was. Congress has requested more information from the USPS on the attack,

It's what you do after the disaster.
South Korea court jails captain of doomed ferry for 36 years
The captain of a South Korean ferry that capsized in April killing 304 passengers was jailed for 36 years on Tuesday after a court found him guilty of negligence, but was acquitted of homicide for which prosecutors had sought the death penalty.
The court convicted the ship's chief engineer of homicide for not aiding two injured fellow crew members, making him the only one of four facing homicide charges to be found guilty on that count, and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
The remaining 13 surviving crew members of the ferry Sewol were found guilty of various charges, including negligence, and handed down prison terms ranging from five to 20 years.

Using the Bully Pulpit? Is it because the elections are over, or because he's heading out of town?
Obama Calls for Strict Net Neutrality Policy
President Obama on Monday put the full weight of his administration behind an open and free Internet, calling for a strict policy of so-called net neutrality and formally opposing deals in which content providers like Netflix would pay huge sums to broadband companies for faster access to their customers.
The president’s proposal is consistent with his longstanding support for rules that seek to prevent cable and telephone companies from providing special access to some content providers. But the statement posted online Monday, as Mr. Obama traveled to Asia, is the most direct effort by the president to influence the debate about the Internet’s future.
… Mr. Obama said that new rules under consideration by the F.C.C. should adhere to several key principles:
No website or service should be blocked by an Internet service provider;
no content should be purposefully slowed down or sped up;
there should be more transparency about where traffic is routed;
and no paid deals should be made to provide a speed advantage to some providers over others in delivering content.
That last principle would directly affect some of the megadeals already being made by companies like Netflix, whose video streaming service has been gobbling up bandwidth and slowing down the Internet as millions of people attempt to watch movies and television shows on their computers and tablets.

(Related) So I don't have to keep explaining it!
6 things to know about net neutrality
If you've found most pieces on net neutrality tl;dr (that's "too long; didn't read" in Internet parlance), we're here to help.
1. What is it? Net neutrality, sometimes called "open Internet," is the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated the same way. It's the way the Internet works now.
2. Why are we talking about it now? The FCC has been debating a rule change
3.Why it's important: If net neutrality goes away, regular folks won't have to pay more directly for Internet access — but the higher access fees paid by businesses would almost certainly result in costs passed down to customers. Less-wealthy entities — think schools, nonprofits, start-ups, small businesses — would be handicapped online, unable to offer the same kind of fast access to their websites that better-funded businesses could.
4.But net neutrality sounds great. Who on Earth could possibly oppose it? … Some broadband service providers argue that because they've born the cost of building out the nation's broadband network, they should be allowed to recoup those costs.
5.About that ... : The U.S. has the 13th-fastest average broadband speeds in the world, behind Bulgaria.
6.What happens next: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a statement saying Obama's remarks will be entered into the record on this discussion (and the pushback from broadband service providers has already begun). Now, we wait.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. You need to know the “Goldilocks zone” – the “just right” amount of information to release.
Christopher Hoyme of Jackson Lewis writes:
Most employers are well aware that potential liability lurks if unauthorized information is disclosed to third parties. Obvious examples would include unauthorized employee or applicant health or financial information or personal information such as social security numbers and the like.
In an interesting twist, the Minnesota Supreme Court considered whether liability could be created when disclosure of requested information was incomplete.

Tools for privacy?
Firefox 10-Year Anniversary Release Focuses on Privacy
While performance is an important aspect when it comes to surfing the Internet, recent revelations have made many users more aware of the importance of privacy. In a survey conducted last month by Harris Poll on behalf of Mozilla, 74% of the 7,000 respondents said they felt Internet companies knew too much about them, while 54% admitted doing something online that they wanted to forget.
In response to the survey results, the new version of Firefox comes with two new important privacy features. One of them is the introduction of the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo as a pre-installed search option.
… Another privacy-oriented feature introduced in the latest version of Firefox is called "Forget." Users can rely on the "Forget" button to tell the Web browser to delete their recent activity. Users don’t have to specify what they want cleared; they only have to choose how much they want to forget.
"Once you tell Firefox you want to forget the last 5 minutes, or 2 hours, or 24 hours, it takes care of the rest.

This could make a great “case study,” since it seems to include all the major failures possible in systems development, starting with “no one in charge.” (Not a very detailed report)
Let’s compile massive databases on students where the databases are riddled with errors. It’s good preparation for when they’re adults and have credit reports.
Howard Blume reports:
The rollout of a new student records system for Los Angeles schools was problematic at just about every level, according to a consultant’s report released Thursday.
In tracing what went wrong, the report concludes that L.A. Unified didn’t properly account for the greater size and complexity of its needs compared to Fresno Unified, from which L.A. adapted the software.
The entire development process “has been mired with software bugs,” the consultants wrote. And there was a “deficiency” in available experts and insufficient involvement from people who would be using the system.
At many points, red flags indicated serious issues, “but when it came to the ‘Go/No Go’ decision,” the leadership always said “Go.”
Read more on L.A. Times.
[Here is the report:

Just in case.
A new typeface could help people with dyslexia read with ease
A Dutch designer has created Dyslexie, a typeface that he hopes will make it easier for people with dyslexia to read.
[Individuals can get it free here:

For my Geeks!
Mozilla Introduces the First Browser Built For Developers: Firefox Developer Edition
… In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Firefox, we’re excited to unveil Firefox Developer Edition, the first browser created specifically for developers.

Worth having?
First Aid Smartphone Apps Save Lives

For my spreadsheet students.
Visualize Your Data & Make Your Spreadsheets User Friendly With An Excel Dashboard
… The main function of an Excel Dashboard is to transform a great deal of information into one manageable screen. What you choose to put on that screen is up to you, but this guide will instruct you how to best draw together different types of Excel content into a single environment. From there, you might choose to implement it to keep an eye on project progress at your place of business, or you might use it at home to track your finances — the same techniques can be applied to a broad spectrum of uses.

Ideas for the Big Data class.
Hacking a Universe's Worth of Data
… this past Friday about 130 hackers gathered in the Hayden Planetarium to participate in the American Museum of Natural History’s very first hackathon.
The premise was simple: The museum handed the huge dataset they call The Digital Universe to the hackers and gave them 24 hours to make something.
Christina Wallace, head of the museum’s brand-new BridgeUp: STEM program, says that the hackathon had one other purpose, beyond exploring data: “We wanted to quietly showcase the diversity of people who go into science and tech careers. Half our participants at the hackathon are women. All four of our judges are women—that one we didn’t even plan, they were just the best.” (BridgeUp: STEM is a program for high-school girls to introduce them to computer science, and its applications in fields like genetics and archaeology and paleontology.)

For my vets.
Vets can make out with several freebies on Veterans Day

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