Monday, September 21, 2015

A perspective on infrastructure.
AWS DynamoDB downtime, Sunday am, September 20, 2015
A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable. Leslie Lamport, 1987
Amazon Web Services DynamoDB experienced downtime in the N Virginia availability zone early Sunday morning, September 20, 2015. As a result, a number of other AWS services inside N Virginia that depend on DynamoDB also had downtime. Companies and organizations that built services on top of those systems who didn’t have geographic load balancing were having problems as well.
Affected services include at least CloudWatch, SES, SNS, SQS, SWS, AutoScale, Cloud Formation, Directory Service, Key Mgmt and Lambda, according to a report on Hacker News.
… There are a lot of applications built on AWS and on Heroku, which are at risk of downtime. A comprehensive list is probably impossible, but here are some reports, in alphabetical order.
  • Airbnb
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • IFTTT. “We have identified an issue with our service provider. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.”
  • IMDB
  • Nest. “We’re investigating a service outage with the Nest mobile app and Cam services, and the team is working on a fix. Details to come.”
  • Netflix. “We are currently experiencing issues streaming on all devices. We are working to resolve the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
  • Reddit.
  • Tinder.
  • Walt Disney World app.

Local firm in a hot industry. My Computer Security students should keep an eye on them.
Two D.C. firms team up to invest in Colorado cybersecurity company
Private equity giant Carlyle Group has teamed with Washington-based The Chertoff Group to buy a majority stake in Coalfire Systems, a Colorado company that helps firms and governments protect themselves against cyber threats.
“Cyber is a hot market,” said David Leach, who leads private equity investments at Chertoff, which advises companies and governments around the world on security and risk management. Chertoff was founded by former U.S. Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.
… Coalfire, founded in 2001, is based near Boulder, Colo., and has 1,500 customers, including more than 60 Fortune 500 companies. Leach said Coalfire will attempt to double its revenue by 2017. It plans to aggressively expand beyond the firm’s current headcount of 300 in the United States and United Kingdom.

Suspicions confirmed.
Brian Krebs reports:
In December 2013, just days after a data breach exposed 40 million customer debit and credit card accounts, Target Corp. hired security experts at Verizon to probe its networks for weaknesses. The results of that confidential investigation — until now never publicly revealed — confirm what pundits have long suspected: Once inside Target’s network, there was nothing stop attackers from gaining direct and complete access to every single cash register in every Target store.
[From the article:
In one instance, they were able to communicate directly with cash registers in checkout lanes after compromising a deli meat scale located in a different store.

I think I've posted this before, but it is worth duplicating.
DOJ Policy Guidance – Use of Cell-Sites Simulator Technology
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Sep 20, 2015

Did they think they could get away with it?
Volkswagen Drops 23% After Admitting Diesel Emissions Cheat
Volkswagen AG lost almost a quarter of its market value after it admitted to cheating on U.S. air pollution tests for years, putting pressure on Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn to fix the damaged reputation of the world’s biggest carmaker.
The shares plunged as much as 23 percent to 125.40 euros in Frankfurt, extending the stock’s slump for the year to 31 percent. The drop wiped out about 15.6 billion euros ($17.6 billion) in value.

Is this reasonable? Any country, any language, pro or con, you have to find it and wipe it?
France Rejects Google’s Efforts to Limit Application of Privacy Ruling
France’s privacy watchdog just will not take no for an answer.
On Monday, the country’s data protection authority rejected Google’s efforts to limit how a landmark European privacy ruling may be applied worldwide.
That privacy decision was handed down last year by Europe’s top court, and allowed anyone with connections to Europe to request that global search engines remove links to items about themselves from queries.
Several European privacy regulators, particularly in France, have urged that this so-called right to be forgotten be applied to all of Google’s search domains.
In contrast, Google has argued that the privacy ruling should apply only to European websites like in Germany or in France.
The standoff took another turn on Monday after the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, or C.N.I.L., the French privacy watchdog, said that it had rejected Google’s appeal for the ruling to be limited to Europe.

Perspective. Worth a quick scan.
Here’s what IoT will do for transportation

If we pooled our funds to invest, would the UK offer us a guarantee?
UK guarantees £2bn nuclear plant deal as China investment announced
Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the UK will guarantee a £2bn deal under which China will invest in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
… Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told the Financial Times she wanted Beijing to take the lead in developing new nuclear plants in Britain.
She said China was expected to lead the construction of a Beijing-designed nuclear station at the Essex site.

The carnival begins!
Allegations of 'disruptive tactics' during Kim Dotcom extradition hearing
Kim Dotcom's lawyer says New Zealand's copyright law provides a safe harbour for his client which should end the United States' extradition bid.
… Ron Mansfield said Megaupload was effectively an internet service provider and as such, under the Copyright Act, could not be prosecuted.
It was the first time the issue had been raised in reference to Dotcom's case.
Mr Mansfield expected the Crown - on behalf of the US government - to forward a "competing interpretation" of the law but he said if the court saw it from Dotcom's point of view it would put the kybosh on extradition proceedings.
… Ortmann's lawyer Grant Illingworth, QC, said he and other counsel had been deliberately restricted from accessing US expertise by Crown lawyers.
"This case is being touted as the biggest copyright case in the history of the United States," Mr Illingworth said.
"It inevitably involves the need for us to engage advisers in US law and advisers concerning the way cloud storage facilities operate. Those issues are embedded in the US case."
They had asked for clarification regarding funding to retain the overseas experts in April but only received a response from the Crown in September.
He said the amount involved was proportionately small compared to the large sums the on which the case was based.
Mr Illingworth called it a "deliberate tactical decision" to hinder their defence and was an abuse of process.

Does anyone think ye olde paper books are going to become rare?
New app offers 'books for the Snapchat generation'
"Umm...why do u have Claires phone?"
"Well if u must know i sat down on this park bench to read"
"And sat right on someone's phone. Claire's I'm guessing"
"What r u reading?"

That's an excerpt from a book meant to be read on an iPhone or Apple Watch. It's available on an app that launched this week called Hooked.
Prerna Gupta describes her app as "books for the Snapchat generation."
Hooked will feature short fiction for young-adult readers. Gupta said that 80% of young-adult novels are read digitally. So the teen-set seemed like the most natural audience.
Each book will be roughly 1,000 words and is designed to be read in about five minutes. The stories will be told entirely through dialogue and read like texts. Messages show up on screen when readers click "Next."
… The app is free to download and features one free story a day. Readers can unlock more stories with the subscription service. A week of unlimited stories costs $2.99. A month is $7.99 and a year is $39.99.

Something for my Enterprise Data Management students.
Empirical Big Data Research: A Systematic Literature Mapping
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Sep 20, 2015
Empirical Big Data Research: A Systematic Literature Mapping – Leendert Wienhofen, Bjørn Magnus Mathisen, Dumitru Roman (Submitted on 10 Sep 2015)
“Background: Big Data is a relatively new field of research and technology, and literature reports a wide variety of concepts labeled with Big Data. The maturity of a research field can be measured in the number of publications containing empirical results. In this paper we present the current status of empirical research in Big Data. Method: We employed a systematic mapping method with which we mapped the collected research according to the labels Variety, Volume and Velocity. In addition, we addressed the application areas of Big Data. Results: We found that 151 of the assessed 1778 contributions contain a form of empirical result and can be mapped to one or more of the 3 V’s and 59 address an application area. Conclusions: The share of publications containing empirical results is well below the average compared to computer science research as a whole. In order to mature the research on Big Data, we recommend applying empirical methods to strengthen the confidence in the reported results. Based on our trend analysis we consider Variety to be the most promising uncharted area in Big Data.”

And for my Spreadsheet students.
Tips & Templates for Creating a Work Schedule in Excel
Excel templates remain one of the most useful tools in the history of computing. They’re great for managing tasks and projects, keeping finances in order, tracking fitness progress, and just staying organized in general — but scheduling is one area where Excel really shines.

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