Wednesday, April 22, 2015

For my Computer Security students. Unchecked checks and unbalanced balances? This case came from a whistle blower who did a better analysis of the data than the regulators did? How does one small trader have this kind of impact? If it takes five years to figure out he was responsible, will they be able to convince a jury?
Mystery Trader Armed With Algorithms Rewrites Flash Crash
… Navinder Singh Sarao was as anonymous as they come -- little more than a day trader by the standards of the Street.
But on that spring day five years ago, U.S. authorities now say, Sarao helped send the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the wild, 1,000-point ride that the world came to know as the flash crash. By regulators’ account, he was responsible for a stunning one out of five sell orders during the frenzy. On Tuesday, he was arrested by Scotland Yard and charged in the U.S. with 22 criminal counts, including fraud and market manipulation.
… That picture, according to U.S. authorities, belies a years-long history of lightning-quick computer trading that netted Sarao $40 million in illicit profits.
… Regulators initially concluded that a mutual fund company -- said to be Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. of Overland Park, Kansas -- played a leading role. Many in the industry countered that a confluence of several forces, including high-frequency trading, was probably behind the crash.
By all accounts, the flash crash was more than a mere technical glitch. It raised fundamental questions about how vulnerable today’s complex financial markets are to the high-speed, computer-driven trading that has come to dominate the marketplace.
Little is known about Sarao and his trades, beyond what is contained in a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. A related civil suit filed by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission provides a few additional glimpses into his supposed activities. The case stemmed from a whistle-blower who brought “powerful, original analysis” to the CFTC’s attention, said Shayne Stevenson, a Seattle lawyer representing the whistle-blower.

Think Computer Security is “by the numbers” in the military? Think again. This can happen to anyone.
Patty Ryan reports:
The internal theft of five laptop computers from U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base went undetected until a supplier noticed four of them advertised on eBay, according to federal court records.
A CentCom official ordered an inventory, putting it in the hands of a Riverview man who now admits to being the thief.
Read more on Tampa Bay Times.

For my Computer Security students. Add this to your toolkit, then charge to tweek your friend's account. (Then send me 10%)
Twitter Now Allows Total Strangers To DM You: How Can You Stop It?
As users continue to whine about Twitter's newest software tweak that lets anyone in the Twitterverse directly message anyone else, more than a few others are asking just one simple thing. How can a user opt out of this new messaging free-for-all that Twitter created with supposedly good intentions?
Thankfully, the answer is pretty simple.

I can point you to a few students who flunked the Cryptology class, perhaps they can make you a really crappy encryption tool. But who are you going to get to use it? They are asking for a system that uses: a Public key, a Private key and a Government key.
Joseph Menn reports:
The Obama administration hopes Silicon Valley technologists can think of a system with strong encryption that could be pierced legally by one party without opening the door to others, a White House official said on Tuesday.
White House cybersecurity policy coordinator Michael Daniel said at the annual RSA Conference on security that he is trying to set starting principles for a broad public discussion on the issue, which has been a major source of tension with technology companies and other cyber experts.
Yeah, you’ll sometimes encounter unexpected pushback when you keep asking for the impossible. Ask for a unicorn instead, maybe?
Read more on Reuters.

Not as popular as the Oscars. (Fewer celebrities on the red carpet.
NextGov reports:
Organized by advocacy nonprofit Digitalcourage, the 15th annual BBAs were announced Friday night in Bielefeld, Germany, a northwestern city of about 330,000. The tech prize was awarded to Hello Barbie, a “smart” version of the toymaker Mattel’s iconic doll, that records everything its owner says and allows parents to review the sound clips.
… three Big Brother Awards awards went to the German federal government:
  • to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service) for its collaboration with the NSA and its monitoring of German citizens’ online activities
  • to the current and former Interior Ministers for “systematic and fundamental sabotage” of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which includes the right to be forgotten
  • and to the Ministry of Health, for the eHealth program, which BBA said puts doctor-patient confidentiality at risk.
Read more of the award “winners” on NextGov.

Convergence. Internet companies are becoming phone companies. I guess it's easier that phone companies taking over the Internet. Time to sell my phone stocks?
Google may launch US wireless service powered by T-Mobile and Sprint as early as this week
ZDNet's Liam Tung posted the news that Google was planning to get into the mobile data business back in January. According to a Wall Street Journal report Google's wireless service may launch as early as this week in the US.
The service will reportedly be powered by T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest US wireless carriers. Unlike traditional carrier plans, it's likely that Google will only bill customers for the data they actually use each month.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the service will initially only work on Google's Nexus 6 smartphone. The phone will reportedly switch between the two networks to find the optimal signal. WiFi will also be used for phone calls to help keep your bill low.
… There are plenty of other options for consumers, such as Republic Wireless, that give consumers full control over their monthly wireless service with no contract obligation.
We are seeing more and more consumers making the move to such providers so the timing of this Google service may be perfect.

(Related) Another Internet/phone thingie...
Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Be How the World Makes Phone Calls
WhatsApp is the world’s most popular smartphone messaging app, letting more than 800 million people send and receive texts on the cheap. But it’s evolving into something more.
On Tuesday, the company, which is owned by Facebook, released a new version of the app that allows people with iPhones to not only text people, but actually talk to them. This built on a similar move the company made at the end of March, when it quietly released an Android update that did the same thing.
… the company is intent on keeping it free (or nearly free). Though it has little traction here in the US, WhatsApp is enormously popular in parts of Europe and the developing world—areas where there’s a hunger for cheap communication. The result is an app that could bring inexpensive Internet calls to an audience of unprecedented size.
… After rolling out voice calling, he says, it may venture into video calling. The app already lets you send files, including videos, and other messaging apps, such as SnapChat, already have ventured into video calls.
None of these tools—video calls, voice calls, file sharing—are new technologies. But not everyone has them. WhatsApp has the leverage to change that.

God knows some of my students could use a bit of help.
7 Apps to Help Anyone Improve Their English Grammar
In a world of spellcheck and texting abbreviations, few people want to take the time to learn about subjects, objects, and dangling modifiers. Besides, computers can fix our sentences for us.
However, as anyone who’s suffered an autocorrect embarrassment knows, computers don’t always get it right.
Language is a human tool and requires the insight of human minds. Plus, employers still care about this stuff. From emails to reports, business involves plenty of written communication. Businesses want to hire employees with strong writing skills who will represent their company well to clients.
So what’s the best way to improve your grammar skills?

Perspective. I suspect that formats have not changed to take full advantage of new viewing habits.
Accenture – The World’s Love Affair with the TV May Be Coming to an End
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Apr 21, 2015
News release: “The television’s popularity as the go-to entertainment device may be ending, according to “Digital Video and the Connected Consumer,” a new research report from Accenture. The television was the only product category to see uniform, double-digit usage declines across different types of media worldwide among viewers of nearly all ages. It is rapidly being replaced as consumers turn to a combination of laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones to view video content. The report, developed for communications, media and technology companies, found that video consumption – anytime, anywhere – has become mainstream, accelerating the decline of traditional TV viewing. Viewership for long form video content, such as movies and television on a TV screen, has declined by 13 percent globally over the past year and by 11 percent in the United States. Similarly, the report found sports viewership on TV screens declined by 10 percent globally and nine percent in the United States. Nearly all age brackets reported double-digit declines in TV viewing globally, with 14- to 17-year-olds abandoning the TV screen at the rate of 33 percent for movies and television shows and 26 percent for sporting events. This decline continues for 18- to 34-year-olds at 14 percent for movies and television shows and 12 percent for sporting events, and for 35- to 54-year-olds, at 11 and nine percent, respectively. It does, however, flatten among the 55 and older crowd, at six percent and one percent respectively.”

I used to marvel that individuals in England could become fanatical experts on very narrow areas (teapots made between 1506 and 1515) Today you would think the information is much more readily available. Apparently not.
When Talking Points Memo, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post needed data on how often police officers are charged with on-duty killings, they all turned to the same guy: Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip M. Stinson.
Stinson, 50, has become an indispensable source for researchers and reporters looking into alleged crimes and acts of violence by police officers because he has built a database tracking thousands of incidents in which officers were arrested since 2005.
… The whole data-collecting operation is powered by 48 Google Alerts that Stinson set up in 2005, along with individual Google Alerts for each of nearly 6,000 arrests of officers. He has set up 10 Gmail addresses to collect all the alert emails, which feed articles into a database that also contains court records and videos.
… I was taking an ethics class. Somebody in the class — it was a bunch of cops in class, mid-career — somebody made a comment that cops don’t get in trouble much. I said, “That’s just absurd.” I started looking into it and realized there are no government statistics, and no government agency tracking it well.
… I had two and a half years, three years of data in my dissertation, covering 2005 to 2007, with 109 quantitative variables.
And then over time at Bowling Green, we now track 270 or so quantitative variables. Everything is automated now. Because data collection is real-time — you can’t use Lexis Nexis, NewsBank, all these other archival news databases, because lots of stuff has disappeared from the Internet — so because of that it’s very slow and time-consuming. It takes forever to do.

This could be fun for my Excel students. Convert all this paper to a more modern tool.
Are You Looking to Buy a Home?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Apr 21, 2015
Buying a home is one of the most exciting yet one of the most difficult financial decisions you will make. Understanding the costs of real estate settlement services, defining what affordable means to you, and finding the best mortgage are among the many aspects you’ll need to consider. This new toolkit (PDF) from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), offers a step-by-step guide that includes checklists, conversation starters for discussions between buyers and lenders, and research tips to find more information.”

I like tidbits like this, even if you do have to really search for them. I try to tell my statistics students that improbable things do happen.
Khmerican Food
… The connection between Cambodia and American pastry entrepreneurship is most pronounced in California, where, by one recent count, 90 percent of all independent doughnut shops are owned by Cambodians.

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