Saturday, April 19, 2014

Does this suggest that Putin has no control, or that he is in control?
Pentagon weighs deploying troops to Poland as militants snub Ukraine pact
The Pentagon is exploring options for deploying U.S. troops to Poland to expand NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe because of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, as pro-Russian militants defiantly refused Friday to leave government buildings in eastern Ukraine despite a diplomatic accord reached in Geneva.

How Ukraine crisis could pull U.S. to war
Despite the ray of good news in Thursday's Geneva agreement on steps to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, President Obama was right to sound a note of caution, observing that "I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point."
The deal, reached by Russia, Ukraine and the West, called for, among other things, disarming illegally armed pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine, and the surrender of the government buildings they have seized.
These are good and essential first steps, but unless they can now be implemented as a basis on which the parties can move to further, bolder steps to reverse underlying trends, Ukraine could still slide into civil war. If this happened, how would it affect American national interests? Could Ukraine become a 21st century echo of the Balkans in the 1990s, when the collapse of Yugoslavia saw a decade of war between Serbs, Croatians, Bosnians and Kosovars? (No one should forget that just a century ago Ukraine was sucked into a tragic, bloody civil war shortly after gaining independence in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution.)

If users have value to advertisers, creating virtual users has value to crooks.
Fraud Alert: Millions of Video Views Faked in Sophisticated New Bot Scam
A pernicious and sophisticated new form of online click fraud has been uncovered and it’s aimed at digital video advertisers, according to ad software firm TubeMogul. The ad tech agency has published a hitlist here of websites that are contaminated with bot traffic, generating phony views on video ads for major advertisers like Nissan and Samsung.
TubeMogul, which recently filed for its IPO, said that publishing the list of shady websites at the center of the newly uncovered bot schemes is a first for the anti-fraud community.
… “Someone who operates these sites hired botnets to make them look really popular,” said David Burch, TubeMogul’s communications director. “All these sites have botnet traffic associated with them.”
TubeMogul discovered three new botnets—Blog Bot, Annex Bot and 411 Bot—that are alarming in their sophistication, TubeMogul’s chief strategist Jason Lopatecki said.
“There were three major bots identified that haven’t been reported yet,” Lopatecki said. “They’re using a number of technologies that haven’t been seen before. So the complexity is getting bigger with each generation of fraud.”

Anything to get people (and their money) into their stores? Only within the US?
Wal-Mart’s plan to offer money transfer service hits Western Union, MoneyGram shares
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s plan to start a money transfer business sent shares of Western Union Co. and other services lower on the threat of competition from the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart-2-Walmart Money Transfer Service will let customers transfer money to and from more than 4,000 stores in the US, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer said on Friday in a statement. The announcement pushed shares of Western Union lower by as much as 9% while MoneyGram International Inc. sank 21%.

Perspective One in every three in the US?
LinkedIn Celebrates Record 300 Million Members
… The popular social network for professionals hit a milestone record, gaining in upwards of 300 million members, the company announced Friday.
The U.S. makes up about 100 million of the crop while the other 200 million hail from the rest of the world.

Could Kim be right?
Kim Dotcom wins back cars and cash seized in Megaupload raid
Kim Dotcom, the multimillionaire founder of closed file-sharing site Megaupload, has won back cars, cash and property seized in a January 2012 raid.
Requests from police to extend the length of time the assets could be held were declined by a court in Auckland, New Zealand, where Mr Dotcom lives.
… Mr Dotcom added: "The NZ asset ruling is HUGE. We've just filed a case in Hong Kong against unlawful seizure of Megaupload. The US case is falling apart!"

For my fellow professors (and my students) NOTE: Don't ask me.
Earn Money Writing: 4 Tips For Pitching A Great Guest Blog Post

Laugh time
… The Florida House of Representatives has passed legislation that would protect student privacy, phasing out the usage of Social Security numbers as student IDs and banning biometric data collection.
… “The Maryland Higher Education Commission is cracking down on institutions that provide distance education to students in the state,” reports Inside Higher Ed.
After explaining how Maryland regulates out-of-state providers, the letter presents them with three options: Confirm that the institution enrolls students in Maryland, then pay an annual registration fee of $1,000 and a bond valued at five times the average cost of tuition; confirm that the institution is interested in enrolling students in Maryland, and pay the same fee; or decline any interest in enrolling students in Maryland, thereby barring those students from enrolling altogether. [What if they (either schools or students) just ignore Maryland? Bob]
… The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that a UVA climate scientist’s emails were protected and exempt from public records requests.
… A Pennsylvania special education student, unable to get help from his school to stop fellow students from bullying him, tape-recorded one of his tormenters. He’s now being charged with felony wiretapping.
... The fifth graders at Zeman Elementary School in Nebraska were sent home a guide on how to handle bullies: Rule #7: Do not tell on them.
… Education Week published several stories this week on ed-tech and privacy, including a review of the privacy policies of Khan Academy, Pearson, and Edmodo. Edmodo responded with a blog post, insisting it cares about privacy, bragging about its implementation of SSL (but failing to mention OpenSSL and the Heartbleed bug).

Leave your computer at home. Bring your phone.
Here's how Android users can control their desktops with their devices
Google this week released a mobile app that makes it easy for Android owners to control their desktops and laptops through their smartphones.
The app is called Chrome Remote Desktop for Android, and it makes it easy for users to gain access to their Windows PC and Apple Macintosh computers, even when they are not near them.
… For the app to work, computers must be turned on and connected to the Internet.
Google said an iPhone version of the app would be available later this year.

Friday, April 18, 2014

So after all that “negotiation” Russia got almost everything they wanted. That will teach them!
Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreement on defusing conflict
The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have reached agreement on a series of immediate steps aimed at pulling eastern Ukraine back from the brink of war.
The deal, clinched after a dramatic extended meeting in Geneva, calls for the disarming of all illegal groups.
… In return, the protesters in eastern Ukraine would be offered amnesty for all but capital crimes and the government in Kiev would immediately start a process of public consultation aimed at devolving constitutional powers to the provinces.

(Clearly unrelated) “Hey Vladimir, look what I found in the storage shed!”
Is Ukraine about to go nuclear again?
… Two of Ukraine's leading political parties, "Fatherland" and "Strike," have jointly introduced a bill in Parliament that calls for the rejection of the country's 1994 accession to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

We were hearing about this back in January. Why take so long to go public?
Michaels confirms breach of as many as 2.6M debit, credit cards
Michaels Stores said that about 2.6 million cards, or about 7% of all debit and credit cards used at its namesake stores, may have been affected in a security breach.
The nation’s largest arts and crafts chain said Thursday its subsidiary Aaron Brothers was also attacked, with about 400,000 cards potentially affected.
Irving, Texas-based Michaels said that it has contained [Interesting choice of words... Bob] the incident, which began last year.
… Michaels’ report comes as many shoppers worry about the safety of their personal data following a massive pre-Christmas security breach at Target that affected 40 million debit and credit cards.
The details come nearly three months after Michaels disclosed that it may have been a victim of a data breach and that it was working with law enforcement authorities, banks and payment processors.
… The breach at Michaels stores occurred between May 8, 2013, and Jan. 27. The company confirmed that between June 26, 2013, and Feb. 27, 54 Aaron Brothers stores were affected by this malware.

Think of this as a. “Boy, are we bad managers or what?” notice. So who gets the blame for this one? Even the Business Associate should want an agreement.
Berea College in Kentucky is notifying current and former patients of the Berea College Health Service of a self-discovered HIPAA violation that has not been associated with any harm to patients. In a notice posted on their website today, they explain:
Berea College Health Service (BCHS), a department of Berea College and medical care provider for the Berea College campus community, recently recognized during a review that it did not have a written agreement to protect patients’ medical privacy with a contractor who handled insurance billing for BCHS from January 2012 through October 2013. The provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) required BCHS to have such an agreement in place when the contractor began providing services in January 2012.
Although this contractor had access to medical records, including names, addresses, dates of births, insurance numbers, social security numbers, and diagnosis and treatment information, BCHS has no reason to believe that any patient information has been misused or disclosed inappropriately. We did not have a written agreement in place because BCHS failed to request it. The contractor has advised us that patient health information was used and disclosed only for BCHS billing and for no other purpose, and we have been assured that the contractor has returned to BCHS or destroyed any patient information that she might have accessed. Nevertheless, we are obligated to notify you of this issue.
Read the full notice here (pdf).

Well, duh!
Privacy Is a Business Opportunity
… While a digital economy requires businesses to rethink priorities and practices, this doesn’t have to be a burden. Instead, privacy protection should be a practice as fundamental to the business as customer service. Privacy is an essential element of being a good business partner. It may take time for this idea to sink in at the highest executive levels of some companies, but the conversation is advancing rapidly after a number of recent high-profile data breaches.

It Took Just Four Days to Hack the Samsung Galaxy S5's Fingerprint Scanner
It took German "researchers" at SRLabs just four days to created a fake fingerprint using wood glue that can bypass the scanner on the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 which was released last Friday. The iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner was hacked by Chaos Computer Club in only 48 hours using a very similar method.

You need to consider threats as part of the Security Development Lifecycle.
Microsoft Updates Threat Modeling Tool
Microsoft has updated its free Threat Modeling tool with new features designed to offer organizations more flexibility and help them implement a secure development lifecycle.

Worth reading.
What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care?
… A common criticism of those who advocate for Net Neutrality is that they’re asking for something that simply isn’t reasonable, fair or attainable. Let’s be clear. Asking for Net Neutrality isn’t asking for free-of-charge access to the Internet. Nor is it asking for higher, better quality of access for less money. In actuality, it is asking that all Internet traffic be treated equally. This would likely manifest itself in the form of legislation which would prevent telecommunications companies from splitting the Internet into a fast lane, and a slow lane.
It sounds innocuous. So, why would people be against it?

U.S. Views of Technology and the Future
The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage.
… Many Americans pair their long-term optimism with high expectations for the inventions of the next half century. Fully eight in ten (81%) expect that within the next 50 years people needing new organs will have them custom grown in a lab, and half (51%) expect that computers will be able to create art that is indistinguishable from that produced by humans.

Trivia for my Statistics students. (Due to Global Warming?)
"The number of twin births more than doubled from 1980 through 2009, rising from 68,339 to more than 137,000 births in each year from 2006 to 2009. In 1980, 1 in every 53 babies born in the United States was a twin, compared with 1 in every 30 births in 2009... If the rate of twin births had not changed from the 1980 level, approximately 865,000 fewer twins would have been born in the United States over the three decades."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Would the cost be trivial if this allows Putin to recreate the Soviet Union? (Now called the Common Economic Space)
Russian Economy Hit by Ukraine Turmoil
Russia's economy slowed sharply at the start of the year as the crisis in Ukraine spooked investors into pulling money out of the country. But with Russian President Vladimir Putin still enjoying high popularity ratings, the economic damage is not yet likely to soften his politics in the region, analysts say.
In the first official estimate of the Ukrainian turmoil's impact on growth, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Wednesday the economy expanded just 0.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier — far short of the previous prediction of 2.5 percent. Compared with the previous quarter, the economy contracted 0.5 percent.

(Related) ...and so the Dominoes begin to fall.
Moldova’s Breakaway Region Asks Putin to Recognize Sovereignty

“Security is as security does...” F. Gump (Also has implications for license plate readers)
Google's latest Street View algorithm beats its bot-sniffing security system
You know how Google's been doing such a great job associating addresses with their locations on a map? Apparently, it's all thanks to the company's new magical algorithm that can parse (with 90 percent accuracy) even fuzzy numbers in pictures taken by Street View vehicles. In fact, the technology's so good that it managed to read even those headache-inducing swirly reCAPTCHA images 99 percent of the time during the company's tests. While that proves that the system works really well, it also implies that the distorted Rorschach-like puzzles are not a fool-proof indicator of whether a user is human.

SQL Injection Breaches Take Months to Uncover and Fix: Survey
According to a new report from Ponemon Institute, 65 percent of the 595 IT practicioners surveyed said they had experienced at least one SQL injection attack that successfully evaded their perimeter defense in the past 12 months. In addition, each SQL injection attack took an average of roughly 140 days to discover and required an average of 68 days to contain.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

(Related) Shoemaker's children? 20 or 30 years ago, it came as quite a shock to IT when “Computer Auditors” wrote programs to analyze the security logs and began asking questions they should have benn asking themselves.
In Automation We Trust! (Or Do We?)
The sad truth is that the security practice lags behind pretty much every other IT discipline when it comes to automation.
Need to spin up compute power? Give me a few seconds. A new virtual server may even be spun up automatically when the workload requires it.
Need a new database? Take a 5 minute coffee break – it will be ready when you get back.
Need a new firewall rule? Need alerts analyzed? Need access to new system? Sure, what does your schedule look like after Labor Day?

It could be worse.
Beyond Data Breaches: Global Interconnections of Cyber Risk
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 16, 2014
“The Atlantic Council and Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) have released a pioneering report, Beyond Data Breaches: Global Interconnections of Cyber Risk, to better prepare governments and businesses for the cyber shocks of the future. Through a combination of stable technology, dedicated technicians and, resistance to random outages, the Internet has been resilient to attacks on a day-to-day basis, creating an extended period of prosperity. Yet, as we approach nearly absolute dependence on the Internet, [Too strong? Think about it. Bob] cyber attacks of the future can and will affect globally interconnected systems like electrical grids and worldwide logistics systems. This Internet of tomorrow will be a source of global shocks for which risk managers, corporate executives, board directors, and government officials are not prepared… Recommendations to be resilient to cyber shocks include:
  • Putting the private sector at the center of crisis management, since government management of cyber risk lacks the agility needed
  • Developing plans within organizations that have system-wide responsibility that ensure the stability of the system as a whole, rather than risks to an individual organization
  • Creating redundant power and telecommunications suppliers and alternate ISPs connect to different peering points
  • Investing in trained teams ready to respond with defined procedures
  • Conducting simulations of the most likely and most dangerous cyber risks to better prepare.”

Anything you can program your phone to do, my Ethical Hackers can program it not to do.
Mobile carriers pledge anti-theft tools for smartphones
… Owners' options will include remotely removing a smartphone's data and preventing reactivation if a phone is stolen or lost, the association said.
It appears the wireless industry has somewhat reversed course as law enforcement and elected officials in the U.S. demand that manufacturers implement a "kill switch" to combat surging smartphone theft across the country. Industry officials have previously said putting a permanent kill switch on phones has serious risks, including the potential that hackers could activate it.

So I could read my textbooks on my Kindle, if I had a Kindle. (Just an advertising suggestion Jeff Bezos. Teachers with Kindles in front of every student in America the world!)
Amazon makes Kindle documents available via Cloud Drive
If you have any documents (or e-books acquired in a "non-standard" way) stored on your Kindle, now you can access them anywhere via Amazon Cloud Drive. Starting today, documents uploaded to your e-reader via your browser, mobile device or email will automatically be stored in a new "My Send-to-Kindle Docs" folder within Cloud Drive. Unlike previous document uploads that were automatically converted to Kindle format, new additions will be saved in the cloud in their original format.

For the student's toolkit.
PowToon Makes It Easy To Create Animated Videos And Slideshows
… You don’t need to have any real expertise or experience to make something look good. You just need to be able to drag and drop, and know how to structure a narrative.

For the professor's reading list? There is a FREE subcription option to try for yourself.
Just a quick note to announce that Educating Modern Learners is now live!
… This week’s issue looks broadly at how technologies might prompt us to reframe our demands for “literacy” and includes writing from Lee Skallerup Bessette and Doug Belshaw. Next week’s issue includes writing from Cedar Riener and an interview with Roger Schank and asks, among other things, about the role of science and data in how we rethink schooling.

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...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just in case we thought they were not serious... Let's not make a mistake guys.
Russian fighter jet passes near US warship
A Russian fighter jet was engaged in "provocative action" when it repeatedly passed near a US Navy guided missile destroyer for over 90 minutes in the international waters of the Black Sea off the coast of Romania, the Pentagon claimed today.
… "The Russian plane made a total of 12 passes. It did not overfly the deck of the Donald Cook," he said, adding that the Russian fighter jet was not exactly circling over the US ship.
There was another Russian fighter jet (S-24) which was at a very high altitude. [I bet that one was armed. Bob]
… Warren said at the time of the incident, Donald Cook was in international waters, East of Romania.

Nato satellite images reveal huge build up of Russian troops at Ukrainian frontier

(Related Maybe) They used to do this a lot.
Japanese fighters scrambled as Russian planes fly near archipelago
… Of the four planes, an Ilyushin Il-20 electronic surveillance plane flew from the Soya Strait off Hokkaido, northern Japan, to areas off the Pacific coast of the Kanto region, eastern Japan, before making a return flight on almost the same route, ministry officials said.
Another Ilyushin Il-20 made a round-trip flight along the Sea of Japan coast from west of Hokkaido to areas off the Chugoku region, western Japan, they said.
In addition, two Tu-95 bombers flew from east of the Korean Peninsula over the East China Sea and Japan's remote southwestern islands before turning northward along the Pacific coast of the mainland, the officials said.

But will they take any action? Probably not.
More online Americans say they’ve experienced a personal data breach
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 14, 2014
Pew Research – Mary Madden – “As news of large-scale data breaches and vulnerabilities grows, new findings from the Pew Research Center suggest that growing numbers of online Americans have had important personal information stolen and many have had an account compromised. Findings from a January 2014 survey show that:
  • 18% of online adults have had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information. That’s an increase from the 11% who reported personal information theft in July 2013.
  • 21% of online adults said they had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over without their permission. The same number reported this experience in a July 2013 survey.”

If you look at me through your Google Glass, am I a victim? (Or merely “Content”)
Should Google know your deepest darkest secrets?
Google opens up its Explorer Program today, offering the general public an opportunity to purchase Glass for $1,500.
… And what about the people on the other side of the camera? As they have no legal or political mechanism for opting out of Glass, they can either jump on the bandwagon or stay home: Our entire lives are now fair game for recording and sharing. Lest we fret too much about the prospect of full disclosure, Mark Zuckerberg reminds us that privacy is no longer a "social norm." It's so last century, right?
… According to Google's Eric Schmidt, we need not be concerned if our entire lives are recorded and made visible to others, because: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." By taking a moral high ground, he reduces privacy to a protection mechanism for illegal or illicit activities.

New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer.
EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI's massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population.

Providing service to the “not yet” connected should produce loyal (for a time, “locked in”) customers. Making high speed Internet is not too important. Eventually, they could compete with Cable and Cell Phone companies.
Google buys drone maker Titan Aerospace
The technology company announced Monday that it has acquired Titan Aerospace, a start-up founded in 2012 that makes high-altitude, solar-powered drones.
The purchase is part of the new push in Silicon Valley to find ways of delivering Internet service to underserved areas, particularly in the developing world.
… The purchase marks the latest salvo in the tech cold war between Google and Facebook.

The slope has been greased, prepare to slip!
Comcast's shakedown of Netflix pays off for consumers
You might remember back in February when it was announced that Netflix had come to an agreement to pay Comcast (which at that time had not yet won the prestigious "Worst Company in America" award — congrats, guys!) for the privilege of connecting directly to Comcast's servers for an undisclosed sum.
… But it wasn't long before Netflix's Reed Hastings wrote a blog post calling for strong net neutrality and talking about exactly the kind of issues Netflix had to pay to solve. The implication is that the big cable companies can essentially hold a service like Netflix hostage until a check is cut. For a somewhat less biased look at the deal, check out What The Netflix-Comcast Deal Really Means In Plain English at Business Insider.

(Related) “Ignore the monopoly behind the curtain...”
Time Warner Cable was the only major pay-TV company to reduce the price of basic cable TV over the past four years, a new report out Monday has found.
The New York cable company reduced the advertised price of TV service by 2.5 percent between 2009-13, according to Free Press, a group aimed at changing media and technology policy.
Meanwhile, Comcast, which moved in April to buy TWC for $45 billion, raised its advertised basic TV rates by 68 percent over the same period, according to the Washington, DC, group, which is part of a campaign to torpedo the mega-deal.

(Related) I'm burning up the Internet at 2.13Mbps. This is almost 500 times faster.
TalkTalk teams up with Sky to bring superfast broadband to York
… "We are going to deliver a pure fibre network that will deliver speeds of 1 Gig per second (1,000 Mb) direct to homes and businesses in York independent of BT Openreach infrastructure," TalkTalk's Chief Executive Dido Harding said.

Monday, April 14, 2014

...or it could be one of China's “student” countries, like North Korea, who might find stealing research cheaper than doing research. (Or it could be a high school rocket club considering “going nuclear”)
German Space Research Center Under Espionage Attack: Report
Der Spiegel said that several computers used by scientists and systems administrators at the Cologne-based DLR center had been infiltrated by spy programs.
"The government classes the attack as extremely serious because it, among other things, is aimed at armament and rocket technologies," Spiegel said.
In some computers IT experts found traces of spy programs that were set up to destroy themselves on discovery, while others only activated themselves after months of lying in wait.
IT forensic experts probing who could be behind the assault have turned up clues that seem to point to China, but Spiegel quoted an unidentified "insider" as saying they could also simply be "camouflage".

Making uncommon law, Common Law?
Daniel Solove writes:
I’m pleased to announce that my article with Professor Woodrow Hartzog, The FTC and the New Common Law of Privacy, 114 Colum. L. Rev. 583 (2014), is now out in print. You can download the final published version at SSRN.
Read more on Concurring Opinions.
[From the Abstract:
Since the late 1990s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been enforcing companies’ privacy policies through its authority to police unfair and deceptive trade practices. Despite over fifteen years of FTC enforcement, there is no meaningful body of judicial decisions to show for it.

(Related) “So the rule is based on what we said a few months ago, but not what we wrote last month because that was reversed by the court after they read what we wrote two weeks ago which contradicted the chairman's speech in October. Simple, right?”
As I expected, a slew of law firms posted their analyses and commentaries on Judge Salas’s ruling on Wyndham’s motion to dismiss the FTC’s complaint about its data security.
I haven’t linked to most of them, but took note of this commentary by Lance Koonce and Christin McMeley of Davis Wright Tremaine as they take a less FTC-friendly view on the issue of fair notice. They write, in part:
There is a tension between Judge Salas’ rejection of numerous consistent public statements by the FTC disavowing its power as “unconvincing,” discussed above, and the judge’s willingness to accept a patchwork of publications and statements and consent decrees by the FTC as giving fair notice of a discernible standard for reasonable data protection that businesses everywhere must understand and follow. Indeed, the public statements and business guidance brochures can hardly meet the specificity of an interpretive rule or general statement of policy that would be required to go through a rigorous public (and congressional) comment period and give affected businesses an opportunity to conform to the any applicable standard.
The question is whether this is the manner in which we want our agencies to promulgate guidance for all businesses operating with the jurisdiction of the United States on a topic as important as data security, rather than through formal rulemaking. Moreover, do we want agencies to then be able to bring standalone enforcement actions for violations of that guidance? While it may be possible for scholars to assemble lists of standards from various sources, is this the optimal way for companies to ascertain the applicable standards and apply them on the ground? How thoroughly must a company scour FTC literature, public statements and settlements, and to what extent must every piece of guidance be followed—for instance, is “Privacy by Design” now a requirement that must be followed, and what type of documentation of compliance with that rubric will suffice if the FTC challenge’s a company’s compliance? How will a company ever feel confident that it is providing “FTC-sufficient” protection for its customers’ data?

Here’s another commentary/analysis of Judge Salas’s ruling on Wyndham’s motion to dismss that is worth noting here, by the law firm of Covington & Burling: They write, in part:
The FTC’s data-security authority is still in jeopardy. Although the FTC is the plaintiff in this case, it is really Wyndham that is on the offensive. If Wyndham prevails in the court of appeals on the issue of the FTC’s statutory authority or the need for rulemaking, it would be a major blow to the agency’s ability to pursue companies for lax data-security practices. Wyndham could also prevail in the district court if the FTC fails to produce sufficient evidence in support of its claims to survive a motion for summary judgment, a result that could be nearly as devastating to the FTC as a loss in the court of appeal. On the other hand, if the FTC manages to win in the district court and the court of appeals, the victory will simply ensure that the agency can continue doing what it has been doing for years: using its unfairness authority to regulate data-security practices.
Read more on Covington & Burling.

Why would this picture sharing App be worse than any other picture sharing App? It integrates some “photoshoping” tools to blur the picture which is a good thing, unfortunately, blurring everything but that lightning shaped scar won't make Harry Potter anonymous.
Carl Smith reports on concerns about a new app called Figure 1:
A new picture-sharing phone and tablet application for doctors and medical students is raising concerns about patient privacy.
Figure 1 allows the sharing of medical and clinical pictures between health practitioners to assist colleagues with patient diagnoses and to aid studying students.
It is one of three new clinical picture-sharing apps to hit the Australian market this year.
But Assistant Professor Bruce Arnold from the University of Canberra says Figure 1′s privacy policies rely too much on individual users to keep distinguishing features of patients confidential.
Read more on ABC.
[From the article:
The Figure 1 app includes tools for users to blackout distinguishing features like eyes and tattoos.
"A lot of doctors or students probably won't be very good at blacking out the tell-tale spots," said Professor Arnold.

I would have thought this was obvious. Does it really surprise anyone?
Investigative Report Highlights Google as Washington Lobbying Powerhouse
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 13, 2014
Tom Hamburger, Matea Gold, Washington Post: “…Google — once a lobbying weakling — has come to master a new method of operating in modern-day Washington, where spending on traditional lobbying is rivaled by other, less visible forms of influence. That system includes financing sympathetic research at universities and think tanks, investing in nonprofit advocacy groups across the political spectrum and funding pro-business coalitions cast as public-interest projects. The rise of Google as a top-tier Washington player fully captures the arc of change in the influence business. Nine years ago, the company opened a one-man lobbying shop, disdainful of the capital’s pay-to-play culture. Since then, Google has soared to near the top of the city’s lobbying ranks, placing second only to General Electric in corporate lobbying expenditures in 2012 and fifth place in 2013… This summer, Google will move to a new Capitol Hill office, doubling its Washington space to 55,000 square feet — roughly the size of the White House. Google’s increasingly muscular Washington presence matches its expanded needs and ambitions as it has fended off a series of executive- and legislative-branch threats to regulate its activities and well-funded challenges by its corporate rivals.”

All my students...
5 Tools That Help Students Organize Research and Create Bibliographies

For my entrepreneurial students, who will remember me at IPO time.
New on LLRX – eCommerce Resources on the Internet
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 13, 2014
Via - eCommerce Resources on the Internet - Marcus P. Zillman’s guide is a comprehensive, diverse and wide ranging listing of eCommerce Resources on the Web. These resources include those in a wide range of areas such as: associations, indexes, search engines as well as individual websites.

For my student programmers.
– is an online editor & sandbox that lets you write your code all from the comfort of your browser. They do all the heavy lifting so you can just focus on writing and learning code. Compilr has been tested across all modern desktop and mobile web browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
… Compilr supports a wide array of programming languages like Java, C#, C++ and many more!