Friday, June 17, 2016

Another e-milestone.  Google tells me that this is Blog number 3650 – that’s one Blog post per day for 10 years!  (Ignoring leap years and those days when all I said was, “I have nothing to say.”)  And just for your amusement, here’s a map showing my loyal(?) fans on one recent post.
(I have no idea why Poland leads the list, unless some professor there has been using me as a “Bad Example.”)

Does Janet Yellen know this is what happens when the economy stagnates?
FBI: Business e-mail scam losses top $3 billion, a 1,300% increase in since Jan.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) this week said the scourge it calls the Business Email Compromise continues to rack-up victims and money – over $3 billion in losses so far.
The BEC scam is typically carried out by compromising legitimate business e-mail accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds, the IC3 stated.
   The IC3 said that the latest variant of the scam goes like this: “Fraudulent requests are sent utilizing a business executive’s compromised e-mail.  The entity in the business organization responsible for W-2s or maintaining PII, such as the human resources department, bookkeeping, or auditing section, have frequently been identified as the targeted recipient of the fraudulent request for W-2 and/or PII.  Some of these incidents are isolated and some occur prior to a fraudulent wire transfer request.  Victims report they have fallen for this new BEC scenario, even if they were able to successfully identify and avoid the traditional BEC incident.

I see this as rather disingenuous.  Am I wrong?
CIA chief argues for action on encryption before Senate panel
The head of the CIA told congressional overseers on Thursday that the law is failing to keep up with rapidly evolving technology, potentially giving foreign terrorists an avenue to escape U.S. intelligence agents' eyes.  
During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, John Brennan appeared to endorse bipartisan legislation that would create a commission examining how the government should exert authority over encrypted technologies that protect people’s data — even from government agents with a warrant.
   Lawmakers have struggled to deal with the wide adoption of encryption tools, torn between concerns of security and privacy.  Critics of the trend say the digital barriers prevent government officials from gathering crucial evidence from criminals and terrorists.  But defenders warn that undermining encryption would erode Americans’ rights to privacy and degrade security for everyone.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the Intelligence Committee's leaders, have pushed for legislation that would require companies to provide “technical assistance” to the government to unlock data in the course of an investigation.  The legislation was made public on the heels of a high-profile legal fight between the FBI and Apple over the iPhone used by one of the killers in the San Bernardino, Calif., attack last year.
“What we had hoped is that we would start a national debate,” Burr said on Thursday.
But Brennan notably appeared to ignore that bill.

This is a bit of a stretch. 
Lawsuit claims social media companies liable for Paris attack
The family of one of the victims in the 2015 Paris terrorist attack has filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court, accusing social media companies of providing material support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 
The civil lawsuit filed earlier this week against Twitter, Google and Facebook asks the court to hold the companies liable for enhanced damages, and rule that the companies “violated, and [are] continuing to violate, the Anti-Terrorism Act.”
   The lawsuit alleges that the companies have not done enough to block the spread of terror recruitment and communication online.  It also claims the companies, which are driven by digital ad sales, have profited from ISIS postings. 
“For years, Defendants have knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use their social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits,” according to the lawsuit

The future is here?
Meet Olli, America's first driverless public shuttle bus
What do you get when you cross self-driving artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, and public transportation? Olli, an autonomous, electric shuttle with room for 12 passengers.
   To test Olli, Local Motors plans to offer free rides to the public around the development in what is believed to be the first public trial of a completely self-driving vehicle in the United States, reported The Washington Post.  In February, the Netherlands launched a fleet of WEpod driverless buses, which can carry six passengers, on the campus of Wageningen University in a central Dutch agricultural town.
Miami-Dade County has bought two Olli shuttles, and Las Vegas has bought one.  The two municipalities are expected to pilot the shuttles by the fourth quarter of this year
   Olli has services powered by IBM Watson, the company's artificial intelligence platform.  That means Ollie can process information, interact with passengers and ask them their destination, explain why they made certain driving decisions and even use face recognition to identify them and their favorite destinations, according to Local Motors.

When words fail you?
Twitter Introduces Emoji-Based Targeting
   Advertisers can make the most of the cartoonish icons by targeting consumers who have tweeted or engaged with tweets that feature emoji.  That means someone in Chicago who tweets a pizza emoji can now be targeted by a local restaurant to come in for a delicious slice of deep dish.

Keeping an eye on the competition.  Whatever make your employees happy?  I bet we could turn this to our advantage. 
Amazon says it will share employee training know-how with other firms wants to spread the knowledge of how it put together an ambitious employee-training program that prepares entry-level, mostly warehouse workers for better-paying careers outside the company.
Juan Garcia, Amazon’s global leader for career advancement, said in a LinkedIn post that the company is “open-sourcing” the program, known as Career Choice.  That’s basically providing the blueprint free to other companies so they can “build upon it, tailor it for their own use cases, and improve upon it,” Garcia wrote.
Career Choice is an Amazonian twist on the tuition-reimbursement programs common among many employers.  The difference is that Amazon prepays 95 percent of the cost, and staffers aren’t required to study something related to furthering their Amazon career.
In fact, Amazon will pay for training only in high-demand fields that could lead to better-paying jobs, CEO Jeff Bezos said in a recent interview at a Recode conference in California.  That means jobs in health care or, say, as an airplane mechanic.  The program is 4 years old.
“The last thing any enlightened company wants is for any employee in their company to feel trapped in that job,” he said.  “If they want to be there, great. But if they want to be a nurse, then help them do that.”
   Career Choice works with community colleges to offer classes right at the warehouses.
An Amazon spokeswoman said that the information the tech and retail giant plans to share with other companies includes how to pick what courses to pay for, how to run the administration of the program, how to do the classes on-site “as well as lessons we’ve learned along the way about what works and what doesn’t.”

Something for my ESL students?
Cortana Can Be Your Personal Dictionary in Windows 10
   Cortana, the assistant who wears many hats, is happy to define any words you send her way.
Simply pull up Cortana by pressing the Windows Key on your keyboard or by clicking her icon on the left side of the Taskbar and type What does mumpsimus mean? and she would tell you that it means “a traditional custom or notion adhered to although shown to be unreasonable.”  You can also phrase the question by typing “define sialoquent.”
This brings you a brief definition, which might not be enough for some words.  If you need more info, hit Enter or click on the definition to bring up an expanded box with more info on the word, including origins and translations.
If that still doesn’t satisfy your quest for word knowledge, hit Enter again to search for the word on Bing and receive all the info you could ever need.

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