Thursday, February 04, 2016

I guess they didn't realize it was tax return season.
IRS says experiencing computer failure
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service said on Wednesday it is experiencing computer failure across several systems and temporarily cannot accept many taxpayer returns.
"Several of our systems are not currently operating, including our modernized e-file system and a number of other related systems," the IRS said in a statement.

An invitation to hackers? (They read the same news sources that I do.) Seems they are accepting this risk based on “it hasn't been detected yet,” while articles like this tell hackers how to exploit the weakness.
eBay has no plans to fix “severe” bug that allows malware distribution
eBay has no plans to fix a "severe" vulnerability that allows attackers to use the company's trusted website to distribute malicious code and phishing pages, researchers from security firm Check Point Software said.
The vulnerability allows attackers to bypass a key restriction that prevents user posts from hosting JavaScript code that gets executed on end-user devices. eBay has long enforced the limitation to prevent scammers from creating auction pages that execute dangerous code or content when they're viewed by unsuspecting users. Using a highly specialized coding technique known as JSFUCK, hackers can work around this safeguard. The technique allows eBay users to insert JavaScript into their posts that will call a variety of different payloads that can be tailored to the specific browser and device of the visitor.
Update: In an e-mail sent to Ars after this post went live, eBay officials wrote: [ … ] We have not found any fraudulent activity stemming from this incident.” [Yet Bob]
The e-mail added:
[ … ] it's important to understand that malicious content on our marketplace is extraordinarily uncommon, which we estimate to be less than two listings per million that use active content on the eBay marketplace.

A backgrounder to start the conversation in my Computer Security class.
5 New Gadgets That Present New Security & Privacy Issues

Local. The story was about the evil of sexting. Did they need visuals? What could justify this?
Emma Gannon reports:
An NBC station in Colorado sexually exploited a 14-year-old boy by broadcasting a picture of his penis and identifying him in a news story, the teenager claims in court.
Levi Holden, now 16, sued KOAA TV Channel 5 & 30, NBC Universal, Comcast, and six KOAA employees on Jan. 29 in Federal Court.
Read more on Courthouse News.
The parties dispute whether KOAA was supposed to keep Levi’s name confidential. But if KOAA really aired a thumbnail of a picture of his erect penis, I have to wonder what the hell KOAA’s editors were thinking – even without attribution or display of any Facebook page, that just seems so… inappropriate. [Unnecessary. Bob]

No camera, yet.
This Android-Powered Smart Bathroom Mirror Lets You Do Voice Searches On Google
With a two-way mirror, a controller board, a display panel, components, arts and crafts supplies and a lot of know-how at hand, Googler Max Braun created the only logical thing to do: a smart Android-powered bathroom mirror.
The nifty device offers the date, time and weather through Forecast along with some news headlines via the Associated Press. It automatically brings the latest updates and features voice search support. In other words, it can be considered an early prototype of a Google Now mirror.

...and submarine nets in the bay.
32-mile-wide 'No Drone Zone' surrounds Super Bowl 50 site on Sunday
Outside of passes from two of the NFL’s biggest playmakers, not much else should be flying around Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Superbowl Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Starting at 2 p.m. and lasting until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, the FAA has issued a temporary flight restriction for most aircraft -- including drones -- in a 32-mile radius around the stadium south of San Francisco.

Phones Will Drive Internet Traffic Past the Zettabyte Mark This Year
… The Visual Networking Index, a survey of global Internet traffic trends, predicts that the total amount of Internet traffic will break the zettabyte barrier this year, and will double again in 2019.
What’s a zettabyte? It’s one billion terabytes. A terabyte is the amount of storage space you get in an Apple iCloud account for about $10 a month, or for those who still think in gigabytes, it’s one trillion gigs. Zettabytes are bigger than exabytes, which are bigger than petabytes, which are bigger than terabytes. It’s one sextillion bytes, which is a one followed by 21 zeros.

I bought these last week and the mozzarella was missing. How do they make these things?
McDonald's Mozzarella Sticks Are at the Center of a New Lawsuit
Following last week’s case of the missing cheese – for which McDonald’s apologized – the company’s mozzarella sticks are now the subject of a proposed class action lawsuit.
A man in California is seeking $5 million in damages for him and 40 other customers across the U.S., claiming the franchise falsely advertised that the sticks were made with 100-percent real cheese, according to Law360. The suit alleges McDonald’s used starch as a filler, which would violate FDA guidelines prohibiting the use of starch in products labeled as “mozzarella cheese.”

For my Data Management students and our ongoing discussion of the globalization of e-commerce.
Alibaba Seeks to Gain Foothold in India via Acquisitions
… They could potentially do this by purchasing a stake in Flipkart LTD, which is India’s largest internet firm. Flipkart has over 30,000 employees and has been operational since 2007. Flipkart successfully raised $1 billion worth of investment in July 2014. As of May 2015, Flipkart was valued at around $15 billion. It has been reported that the deal will only go ahead if Flipkart is willing to offer Alibaba a significant discount.
… Alibaba could potentially buy a stake in Snapdeal instead (another Indian firm.)

(Related) Why?
The Amazon-Store Mystery
On Tuesday, a routine earnings call hosted by a mall developer became the call that launched a hundred articles (and yes, this is one of them) . According to The Wall Street Journal, Sandeep Mathrani, the CEO of General Growth Properties, responded to a question about foot traffic with the surprising answer that Amazon will soon play a role in attracting shoppers, since the company is aiming to open 300 to 400 physical bookstores. After lots of speculation and a good deal of anger displayed by sources within Amazon (who haven’t yet officially denied the reports), Mathrani released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that his comment “was not intended to represent Amazon's plans.”

For our CJ students. No longer in Beta?
Sunlight launches Hall of Justice – massive data inventory on criminal justice across US
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 3, 2016
“Today, Sunlight is launching Hall of Justice, a robust, searchable data inventory of nearly 10,000 datasets and research documents from across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government. Hall of Justice is the culmination of 18 months of work gathering data and refining technology. The process was no easy task: Building Hall of Justice required manual entry of publicly available data sources from a multitude of locations across the country. Sunlight’s team went from state to state, meeting and calling local officials to inquire about and find data related to criminal justice. Some states like California have created a data portal dedicated to making criminal justice data easily accessible to the public; others had their data buried within hard to find websites. We also found data collected by state departments of justice, police forces, court systems, universities and everything in between . “Data is shaping the future of how we address some of our most pressing problems,” said John Wonderlich, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “This new resource is an experiment in how a robust snapshot of data can inform policy and research decisions.”

This one just entered Beta.
GPO Launches govinfo beta to replace FDsys
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 3, 2016
“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) launches and ushers in a new, dynamic way for the public to discover and access Government information on the three branches of the Federal Government. govinfo is a user-friendly, modernized site that provides an easy to use navigation system accessible on smartphones, tablets, laptops and personal computers. GPO receives information from Federal agencies and organizations in all three branches of the Government. Its content feeds The Library of Congress’ and the Federal Register site. Currently in beta, govinfo will replace GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) in 2017.
Some key features on govinfo:
  • Mobile-friendly optimized for screen size
  • An ABC list of collections
  • Quick Links to popular publications
  • Related Documents
  • Search by Calendar
  • Shareable social media content

Perhaps the ultimate source of PowerPoint slides! (We don't need no stinking Shakespeare!)
Epic ‘Frinkiac’ Search Engine Matches Any Simpsons Quote With Its Still
One site. Fifteen seasons. Three million searchable screengrabs. This is the wonder that is Frinkiac, a compendium of Simpsons moments frozen in time, and the latest, best, most perfectly cromulent way to waste time on the Internet.

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