Sunday, June 19, 2016

Simple.  Elegant.  Predictable?
Ethereum/TheDAO hack simplified
   Bitcoin is just a public ledger (the "blockchain"), of all transaction there ever was.  This ledger is huge (80-gigabytes) and growing, but Moore's Law says computers grow even faster, so that shouldn't be a problem.
Each entry in the ledger says to move the coins received in these previous entries, and give them to this recipient. In other words:
move these coins I received there, to this guy here
   How did The DAO get hacked?
When a member exits the investment scheme, they call the function name splitDAO().  There are two issues.
The first is that the member will supply some of their own code with the transaction.  Among the things that code will do is tell the DAO code how to transfer Ethereum coin.  It's a necessary feature, part of Bitcoin as well.
The second issue is that Ethereum code is recursive.  That means when a function is running, it may call itself a second time.
The bug is that when splitDAO() is called, it will then call the recipients code to transfer Ethereum coin, after which the recipients code will call splitDAO() again before finishing.  This causes the process to repeat itself, transferring more Ethereum coin, then calling splitDAO() again, which calls the hacker's code, which calls splitDAO(), which calls the hacker's code, and so on.  The process will continue endlessly, until it drains all of TheDAO's coin.

A little something for our Ethical Hacking students. 
Department of Defense expanding Hack the Pentagon program
The department announced today that it is expanding its Hack the Pentagon program to include more DoD systems and networks.  Hack the Pentagon pays hackers to find and report vulnerabilities in exchange for cash, and so far it’s proved effective — the first bug was reported 13 minutes after the program launched.
   “Although the pilot was a success, it only tested the crowdsourced security concept against public-facing websites.  We believe the concept will be successful when applied to many or all of DoD’s other security challenges,” a DoD spokesperson said in a statement.
Hack the Pentagon was administered by the bug bounty platform HackerOne, which reports that the pilot generated 138 unique bug reports and a total of $71,200 in bounties paid to hackers.

Not much guidance out there.
Lisa M. Thomas of Winston & Strawn writes:
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) recently published a draft “Guide to big data and the Australian Privacy Principles” (Guide), and asked industry participants for comments.  The guide is intended to help companies understand how the Australian Privacy Principles (under the Australian Privacy Act 1988) apply to big data that contains information about “an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.”  Often, there is a question whether or not information contained in big data is really personally identifiable, or is “de-identified,” (Guide, p. 3) which to OAIC, is information that is sufficiently de-identified that “the information is no longer about an identified individual or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.” (Guide, p. 3).  When sufficiently de-identified, the Guide indicates, the privacy principles would not apply.
Read more on Winston & Strawn.

The Sports Book is open!  OR: Oh look, an application for Watson!
New York State Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Fantasy Sports
   The businesses’ legislative backers in New York have insisted that fantasy sports is not gambling — which is mostly barred by the state’s Constitution — but rather is “based upon the skill and knowledge of the participants.”  The widely advertised games, in which players create imaginary teams using real players and win or lose depending on the players’ statistics, would be classified as games of skill, not chance, a distinction under a 2006 federal law governing online wagering.

An illustration of the old adage, “Cheaters never prosper!”  (Unless they get away with it of course.) 
VW Said Ready With $10 Billion Diesel Plan, to Devise Fix Later
Volkswagen AG  will submit its $10 billion plan this month to fix a half-million emissions-cheating cars or get them off U.S. roads even though it’s awaiting regulators’ sign-off on how to retrofit the vehicles, a person familiar with the matter said.
About $6.5 billion will go to car owners and $3.5 billion to the U.S. government and California regulators, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deal isn’t public yet.

Perspective.  Successful is not always profitable.  A lesson for my IT Architecture students.
Can Netflix survive in the new world it created?
   Netflix, since its streaming service debuted in 2007, has had its annual revenue grow sixfold, to $6.8 billion from $1.2 billion.  More than 81 million subscribers pay Netflix $8 to $12 a month, and slowly but unmistakably these consumers are giving up cable for internet television: Over the last five years, cable has lost 6.7 million subscribers; more than a quarter of millennials (70 percent of whom use streaming services) report having never subscribed to cable in their lives.  Those still paying for cable television were watching less of it.  In 2015, for instance, television viewing time was down 3 percent; and 50 percent of that drop was directly attributable to Netflix, according to a study by MoffettNathanson, an investment firm that tracks the media business.
All of this has made Netflix a Wall Street favorite, with a stock price that rose 134 percent last year.
   At the moment, Netflix has a negative cash flow of almost $1 billion; it regularly needs to go to the debt market to replenish its coffers.  Its $6.8 billion in revenue last year pales in comparison to the $28 billion or so at media giants like Time Warner and 21st Century Fox.  And for all the original shows Netflix has underwritten, it remains dependent on the very networks that fear its potential to destroy their longtime business model in the way that internet competitors undermined the newspaper and music industries.

(Related) Something else for my Architecture students.  (Who are all too young to remember.)
How Mobile Today Is Like TV Six Decades Ago
In the early 1950s, television was popular, but unsophisticated.  This was a common sentiment, even among the people who produced it—"a hybrid monstrosity derived from newspapers, radio news, and newsreels, which inherited none of the merits of its ancestors," as one CBS News anchor summed it up.  But either despite its gimmicky shortcomings or because of them, advertisers loved the little box.  Revenue from ads increased more than 60 percent a year for the first five years of the decade, so that by 1955, television accounted for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. media advertising.
This year, mobile media accounts for the exact same share, nearly 20 percent of total U.S. media spending.  So, in a very real way, mobile is today where television was exactly six decades ago.

In case you missed this yesterday…
Facebook Reveals How It Decides if a Research Project Is Ethical
   Now, after nearly two years of soul-searching, Facebook has revealed how it reviews and approves the experiments the company runs on users without them knowing about it.
In a new paper, called “Evolving the IRB: Building Robust Review for Industry Research,” company officials describe a process that loosely imitates the system used at universities, which convene institutional review boards, or IRBs, to evaluate research projects on their scientific and ethical merits.
At Facebook, which is constantly experimenting on its users, “expert” managers have to approve all research projects, according to the paper.

Many students use Chrome; not sure how many have a map-able mind.
Connected Mind - A Mind Mapping App in Chrome
Connected Mind is a free mind mapping tool that you can find in the Google Chrome Web Store. Using Connected Mind you can create free-form mind maps or use a template. A lot of mind mapping tools lock you into using straight lines between elements, but Connected Mind is not one of them. Connected Minds allows you to create mind maps in any configuration that you like. As it is a Chrome Web Store app, Connected Mind allows you to save your work online using your Google Account credentials. The video below offers a demonstration of Connected Minds (there is not any sound in the video).

This is not the future.  This is now!

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