Saturday, November 05, 2016

This is the kind of article that drove us crazy when I worked for Army Intelligence.  Someone trying to look important for the media, claiming more than he knows or at least more than he would ever be allowed to reveal.  If this is true, someone committed a crime. 
U.S. Govt. Hackers Ready to Hit Back If Russia Tries to Disrupt Election
U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia's electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin's command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.
   The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.
U.S. officials continue to express concern that Russia will use its cyber capabilities to try to disrupt next week's presidential election.  U.S. intelligence officials do not expect Russia to attack critical infrastructure — which many believe would be an act of war — but they do anticipate so-called cyber mischief, including the possible release of fake documents and the proliferation of bogus social media accounts designed to spread misinformation.  

There is no support for the author’s opinion in this article, but I agree anyway.
An Unprecedented Digital Crime Wave is Coming

My wife would never buy her dogfood from a mere supermarket.
The Seattle Times has an editorial that begins:
Recently, some King County residents received a letter from the government reminding them they are required by law to register their pets.  The letter was sent to a mailing list generated by a marketing company that gets its information from various sources, including grocery-store loyalty cards.
Wait!  The government is contacting people who buy pet food to say they are suspected pet-license scofflaws?  What’s next?  A letter from the health department noting purchases of ice cream and potato chips?
This practice by Regional Animal Services of King County raises privacy concerns.  Yes, the data are readily available to internet marketers tracking clicks online.  But that doesn’t mean the government should be using it to track its citizens.
Read more on the Seattle Times.

Making lawsuits more profitable? 
Cynthia O’Donoghue and Chantelle Taylor write:
A recent High Court decision, TLT and others v Secretary of State for the Home Office [2016] EWHC 2217 (QB) (“TLT v SoS”), paves the way for the greater recognition of distress in cases of data breaches and the misuse of private information.  The victims of a data breach, in this case asylum seekers, successfully sought compensation for the shock and distress caused to them by the accidental publication of their personal data.
Read more on JDSupra.

Should they know what Apps are doing?  I’m sure someone will explain the difference between “knowledge” and “actual knowledge.”  Lawyer speak?  Is that like, “Yes, we knew it but we didn’t actually know it?”
Maria Dinzeo reports:
Apple had no actual knowledge that the social networking app Path was secretly accessing user contacts without permission, an Apple attorney told a federal judge Thursday.
“There is nothing in this record to reasonably support a conclusion of actual knowledge and there is explicit, specific testimony to the contrary,” Apple attorney Robert Hawk told U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar at a hearing on Apple’s motion for summary judgment.
The consolidated class action led by Marc Opperman claims Apple distributed “invasive versions” of the Path app, which downloaded details from users’ contact lists without their knowledge or consent.
Read more on Courthouse News.

Blockchain is going to be big.  But is it the “next big thing?”
Web Pioneer Tries to Incubate a Second Digital Revolution
Brian Behlendorf knows it’s a clich√© for veteran technologists like himself to argue that society could be run much better if we just had the right software.  He believes it anyway.
“I’ve been as frustrated as anybody in technology about how broken the world seems,” he says.  “Corruption or bureaucracy or inefficiency are in some ways technology problems.  Couldn’t this just be fixed?” he asks.
This summer Behlendorf made a bet that a technology has appeared that can solve some of those apparently human problems.  Leaving a comfortable job as a venture capitalist working for early Facebook investor and billionaire Peter Thiel, he now leads the Hyperledger Project, a nonprofit in San Francisco created to support open-source development of blockchains, a type of database that underpins the digital currency Bitcoin by verifying and recording transactions.
Many governments and large companies are exploring blockchain technology not because they want to use digital currency—Bitcoin doesn’t look likely to become widely used—but as a way to work with other kinds of data.  They think blockchains could make things as varied as financial trades, digital health records, and manufacturing supply chains more efficient and powerful.

No surprise.
The Political Environment on Social Media
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Nov 4, 2016
“In a political environment defined by widespread polarization and partisan animosity, even simple conversations can go awry when the subject turns to politics.  In their in-person interactions, Americans can (and often do) attempt to steer clear of those with whom they strongly disagree…  A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that political debate and discussion is indeed a regular fact of digital life for many social media users, and some politically active users enjoy the heated discussions and opportunities for engagement that this mix of social media and politics facilitates.  But a larger share expresses annoyance and aggravation at the tone and content of the political interactions they witness on these platforms…”

Somehow I seem to get lost in some government sites.  See if you can find the gifs…
National Archives searchable database of historical gifs
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Nov 4, 2016
“Welcome to the official Giphy channel for the National Archives [currently there are 179 gifs]. For the official source of information about the National Archives, please visit  To learn more about our social media policies, visit”
[Is this the channel they mean?

Interesting.  Maybe Alexa doesn’t know everything right out of the box.  How many of these new skills are free (and how long will that be true?)
You can now shop for Alexa skills on
   Owners of Amazon Alexa-enabled devices like an Echo or Tap can find, enable, or disable skills via an Alexa skills marketplace or dedicated URLs for individual skills.
The single website to find all Alexa skills launches the same day as Google Home, immediately one of Amazon’s top competitors in the race to place an intelligent assistant inside consumers’ homes.

Something I could do for my students?
A Clear Explanation of Gamification
Gamification is one of the trendy words in education right now.  In most education conference programs I find at least a couple of workshops or presentations about gamification.  You've probably seen those too.  What is gamification?  Common Craft's latest video explains gamification in clear and concise terms.
Gamification is something that I had to experience first-hand in order to really understand why it appeals to so many students and teachers.  I experienced it when I started using the Strava app to track my bike rides.  Once I started using it, I realized why kids like digital badges.  More of that story is found in my post, What Strava Taught Me About Why Kids Love ClassDojo and Digital Badges.

It’s not “MoneyBall” but it does amuse us here in Denver.
The Broncos Pass Defense Is Somehow Even Better This Season

Saturday nonsense.
Hack Education Weekly News
   From the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education today launched the EdSim Challenge, a $680,000 competition to design the next-generation of educational simulations that strengthen career and technical skills.  The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century.”
   A follow-up to something in last week’s news.  From the Foundation for Individual’s Rights in Education: “In a decision issued last week in Keefe v. Adams, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected a nursing student’s claim that his free speech and due process rights were violated when his school punished him for his off-campus Facebook posts.  The decision strikes a blow to the rights of students in professional-level programs.”
   The University of New Mexico has come under fire for spending some $7000 on an (unsuccessful) expedition in search of Bigfoot.

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