Thursday, June 18, 2015

“Everybody does it!” But probably not after they think about this for a while.
AT&T hit with $100M fine for throttling "unlimited" data
The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday it will impose a whopping $100 million fine on AT&T to punish the phone carrier for severely slowing down the data speeds of customers who have “unlimited data plans.”
According to the FCC, it received thousands of complaints over AT&T’s slow mobile internet, and that the carrier failed to notify subscribers it was providing slower-than-advertised speeds.
“The Enforcement Bureau’s investigation revealed that millions of AT&T customers were affected. The customers who were subject to speed reductions were slowed for an average of 12 days per billing cycle, significantly impeding their ability to use common data applications such as GPS mapping or streaming video,” said the FCC in a news release.
… “Unlimited means unlimited,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. [Honesty, what a concept! Bob]

Interesting that AT&T does poorly here too.
EFF’s 2015 Data Privacy Report Lauds Apple, Dropbox, Slams Verizon
Digital rights organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published its fifth annual Who has your back? report into online service providers’ transparency and privacy practices when it comes to government requests for accessing user data.
The organization notes a general transformation among major Internet players to be more transparent with users about data requests over the past four years. But for its latest report it’s tightened evaluation criteria, arguing that “it’s time to expect more from Silicon Valley”.

When innovation crosses the line?
Beware the Listening Machines
One of my great pleasures in life is attending conferences on fields I'm intrigued by, but know nothing about. (A second pleasure is writing about these events.) So when my friend Kate Crawford invited me to a daylong “Listening Machine Summit,” I could hardly refuse.
What's a listening machine? The example of everyone's lips was Hello Barbie, a version of the impossibly proportioned doll that will listen to your child speak and respond in kind.
… Barbie accomplishes this magic by recording your child’s question, uploading it to a speech recognition server, identifying a recognizable keyword (“New York”) and offering an appropriate synthesized response. The company behind Barbie’s newfound voice, ToyTalk, uses your child’s utterance to help tune their speech recognition, likely storing the voice file for future use.
… listening machines trigger all three aspects of the surveillance holy trinity:
  1. They're pervasive, starting to appear in all aspects of our lives.
  2. They're persistent, capable of keeping records of what we've said indefinitely.
  3. They process the data they collect, seeking to understand what people are saying and acting on what they're able to understand.
To reduce the creepy nature of their surveillant behavior, listening systems are often embedded in devices designed to be charming, cute, and delightful: toys, robots, and smooth-voiced personal assistants.

There are things your App can do that you really need to think about. Do you need to do what the App allows you to do?
'Find My Phone' Leads To Tragic Shooting Death Of Man Seeking Stolen Smartphone
... Location technology means that, at least while the phone is on, we can see right where it is on a map. This week, an 18-year-old’s attempt to retrieve his smartphone in Ontario, Canada ended in tragedy.
Jeremy Cook apparently left his smartphone in a taxi and then looked the phone up online, at which point he discovered that someone else had picked it up. He and a relative went out to locate the person carrying his phone and ended up confronting three people in a car outside a strip mall in London, Ont. During the confrontation, Cook was shot multiple times and died at the scene.

Another player thinks they can lock out the NSA and China. Is the apparent security a competitive advantage?
Reddit to fully encrypt traffic
Reddit, the self-described “front page of the Internet,” will start encrypting all of its traffic by the end of the month, joining other major Internet players that have made similar moves in recent months.
… Many digital giants, including Facebook, Google and Wikipedia, have all already transitioned to what’s known as HTTPS everywhere. Most websites continue to use the unencrypted HTTP protocol to communicate data.
… Even the U.S. government recently said all federal websites will only provide service through an encrypted connection by the end of 2016.
But the tech community has repeatedly clashed with the government over encryption, accusing it of not supporting strong, robust encryption.
Government officials maintain that while strong encryption is key to free speech and fighting oppression, it also enables criminals to operate without fear of detection.

Yet another branch of government being “managed” by people who can't manage? Are we guaranteeing that only second rate controllers are guiding planes?
DOT to Investigate FAA Based on FOX Business Report
The Department of Transportation is investigating the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following a FOX Business Network report, which uncovered misconduct and cheating in the air traffic controller program. The DOT released a statement on their investigation.
Earlier, the FAA launched its own internal investigation after a six month FOX Business Network report, Trouble in the Skies, uncovered misconduct and cheating in the FAA air traffic controller program.
… FAA administrator Michael Huerta says he is troubled by the reports of misconduct and ordered the investigation in response to a letter from the Subcommittee on Aviation chairman demanding answers.
The letter was signed by 14 members of congress after FOX Business broadcast recordings of FAA employees offering to help air traffic control applicants cheat on a key test.
The FBN investigation also uncovered shocking details of corruption within the FAA as it deals with the growing scandal. Critics of the FAA are calling Huerta's internal investigation the "same old dog and pony show" and are demanding Congress hold hearings.

Perhaps we should create a Forrest Gump award? (“Stupid is as stupid does”) This seems more like a Cristo art project than anything useful.
Project to move Wikipedia from computer to many books
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 17, 2015
NYT – “The Wikipedia entry for “quixoticism” runs only about 255 words. But if anyone could argue for a personal mention, it might be Michael Mandiberg. For the past three years, he has been fully engaged in a project that might make even the most intrepid digital adventurer blush: transforming the English-language Wikipedia into an old-fashioned print reference set running to 7,600 volumes. Mr. Mandiberg, an interdisciplinary artist who teaches at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, describes the project as half utilitarian data visualization project, half absurdist poetic gesture… [What is vast online is half vast in print. Bob] For the code-literate, the technical operations will be tracked on a monitor in the gallery and online at”

It’s All About The Context - How Mobile Is Crucial For Marketers
The mobile is clearly no longer the second screen for customer engagement. Nearly a third of total digital traffic (31 percent) is now via mobile devices, with more consumers than ever using their mobile devices to engage with companies, be that shopping or interacting over social media.
Yet 71% of marketers still rank desktop as the primary route for providing a consistent customer experience, according to the Econsultancy/Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: The Quest for Mobile Excellence.

Big Data just keeps getting bigger!
HathiTrust Research Center adds 5 billion pages
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 17, 2015
News release: “…Partnering with close to 100 research libraries from around the world, HathiTrust holds about 595 terabytes of digitized textual data — that’s about 157 miles, or 10,000 tons of text. In 2010, HathiTrust launched the HTRC to help researchers around the world accomplish tera-scale data mining and textual analysis. The HTRC is a collaborative effort among Indiana University; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC); and the University of Michigan. Until recently, the HTRC had access to less than a third of the full HathiTrust repository. That all changed this year, and now the HTRC is working with the University of Michigan to enable analysis of the entire 5 billion pages of textual data in the HathiTrust repository. “This will be the first time that a researcher could analyze, as data, a collection that is equivalent to some of the largest research libraries in the world,” says Robert McDonald, associate dean of libraries at Indiana University. This poses a new challenge for the HTRC. Most of the texts in the HathiTrust remain under copyright, so one of the chief HTRC goals is to ensure non-consumptive research access to these protected works. This stipulation has led the HTRC to create the Secure HathiTrust Analytics Research Commons (SHARC), a secure framework for researcher access to restricted content.”

It's never too early t think about stocking stuffers.
Why Stay Boring: Find Funny Office Supplies with These 8 Websites

Just because?
Need Food? 8 Best Social Restaurant Recommendation Apps Worldwide

Resources for my Math students.
MIT Open Courseware: Free Math Videos and Learning Materials
… The MIT Open Courseware is a website by the Massachusettes Institute of Technology where they publish actual class videos from the said Institute. This means that unlike Khan Academy where you see an electronic whiteboard/blackboard, in MIT Courseware you see real professors teaching and interacting with students.
… Aside from videos, they also contain audio course. The complete list of uploaded audio and video courses can be found here. The Youtube Channel can be found here.
… Aside from mathematics, the courses in MIT Open Courseware also include science, technology, engineering, and social science.

Surprising that they missed LibreOffice and IBM's Lotus Symphony.
4 Free Spreadsheet Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

Tools for students?
Your profile is now a portable digital business card thanks to this new app
… has always been a digital business card of sorts, a convenient place to list basic work experience and links to a user’s different social media accounts. The new Intro by app aims to embrace that usage by offering users the ability to share and view profiles on either Windows Phone or Windows devices.
The app allows users to control the specific information they share, send the info to an email address, phone number or account, keep a history of cards both sent and received, communicate with contacts either through the app directly or by adding their information to the device’s address book and of course, view a user’s entire profile page.

Definitely something NOT for my students. (Digest Item #1)
Carry On Watching Cat Videos
That time you spend watching cat videos online may not actually be as wasteful and pointless as you have been led to believe. In fact, according to a new study published in the Computers in Human Behavior journal, watching cat videos may be good for you.

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