Saturday, June 04, 2016

For my Computer Security students.  (Hackers gotta hack)
Security concerns rising for Internet of Things devices
The burgeoning market for gadgets that trigger a sprinkler system, help you count the number of times you swing a bat, or dim the lights automatically are rising.
That’s a concern for any business due to how these devices are also starting to show up at the corporate office for use in conference rooms, executive suites, and even as a low-cost building security camera system.  Experts claim the industry is not doing enough to protect these devices.
Craig Young, a cybersecurity researcher at Tripwire, says a big part of the problem is that the firmware is not updated on a regular basis.
In one recent example, researchers at the University of Michigan found they were able to hack into the Samsung SmartThings platform and even control an entire home automation system.  
   Young says the most common hack is to break into a connected home hub, which then provides access to any of the connected devices including door locks, motion detectors, sprinkler systems, and even the alarm system protecting a home.
Surprisingly, there are few security apps available that can monitor Internet of Things devices, let you know about any new emerging attack vectors, and tell you about any recent compromises.

If not, why not?  IBM is using Watson to allow you to ask questions about the Ads they present.  Lots of voice activated digital assistants are available.  Why not use the technology you have available? 
Facebook: No, we're not using your phone's mic to eavesdrop

Wal-Mart partnering with Uber, Lyft to pilot grocery delivery program
At the company's annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Ark., Friday, CEO Doug McMillon will announce a grocery delivery pilot with Uber and Lyft.  The test will debut in Denver, Colo., and Phoenix, Az., over the next two weeks, and follows what the company called a "very quiet" pilot between Sam's Club and Deliv in Miami, Fla., in March.
   To place an order for home delivery, a customer in one of the test locations goes online and selects the preferred delivery window.
Store associates will then select and prepare their orders, and request a driver from one of the companies to pick it up.  Shoppers pay the retailer's standard $7 to $10 delivery charge online, and pay nothing to the driver when their order is delivered.
Wal-Mart's latest test comes as it seeks to use its network of stores to better compete against Amazon.  To do so, it's leaning heavily on its grocery business.

See?  You can over-incentivize. 
Chile Producing So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving Electricity Away for Free
In a new Bloomberg report, Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free, solar capacity from the country’s central grid has increased four fold to 770 megawatts since 2013.  Another 1.4 gigawatts will be added this year with many solar power projects under development.
   However, the article points out that Chile’s rapid solar expansion isn’t all good news.  Due to the nation’s bifurcated power grid, the central and northern grids are not connected.

I didn’t think the two industries talked the same language.  Still, nice to see a local kid make good.
Nest's new CEO lives in Denver and will commute to the Palo Alto headquarters
Nest named Marwan Fawaz as its new CEO on Friday, after Tony Fadell announced that he was stepping down.
Fawaz is a cable-industry veteran who is not nearly as well-known of a name in Silicon Valley as Fadell, a former Apple executive.
In fact, he doesn't live in Silicon Valley. Fawaz currently lives in Denver, Colorado.
And according to a Nest spokesperson, the company's new CEO will continue to live in Denver. 

For my geeky students.
How to Create a Portable Windows To Go USB Drive
   What if I told you that you could carry around your own version of Windows in your pocket, ready to run on any computer you may encounter, with all the programs you typically use already installed and set up exactly the way you like?
Well, you can.  Don’t worry, I won’t hold you in suspense.  Here’s how you can set up your own Windows 2 Go USB Drive (or external drive, if you prefer) that will let you run Windows 8 or 8.1 anywhere you need to.  It’s free, it’s portable, and it’s yours.

For all of my students!
Asking for Advice Makes People Think You’re Smarter
Download this podcast
A written transcript will be available by June 13, 2016.

Every week.
Hack Education Weekly News
   Via the AP: “Donald Trump said that the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by former Trump University students has an ‘absolute conflict’ in handling the case because he is ‘of Mexican heritage.’” More via The Wall Street Journal.
   Via the MIT Media Lab: “What we learned from designing an academic certificates system on the blockchain.”
   Via The Baltimore Sun: “Company says it can predict whether a teacher will be good – before entering a classroom.”  Riiiiight.  “The four-year-old company [TeacherMatch] says that its proprietary screening tool – the Educators Professional Inventory – can accurately predict whether a prospective hire will be an effective teacher, and more specifically whether they will be able to boost students’ test scores.”  Proprietary algorithms so no way third party verification, no research.  But hey.  This company was just acquired – more on that in “The Business of Ed-Tech” section below – so it has to be legit, right?
   Cengage says that for fiscal year 2016, its digital textbooks outsold its print textbooks for the first time.
   Via Education Dive: “IT security in education on the decline.”
   Via Techcrunch: “Nearly 1 in 4 people abandon mobile apps after only one use.” So when folks insist “the future of education is mobile” (and mean “apps” and not “the Web”), do keep this statistic in mind.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Makes me wonder what else they do that they shouldn’t.
The secret government requests for customer information Yahoo made public Wednesday reveal that the FBI is still demanding email records from companies without a warrant, despite being told by Justice Department lawyers in 2008 that it doesn’t have the lawful authority to do so.
That comes as a particular surprise given that FBI Director James Comey has said that one of his top legislative priorities this year is to get the right to acquire precisely such records with those warrantless secret requests, called national security letters, or NSLs.  “We need it very much,” Comey told Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., during a congressional hearing in February.

Who would have expected honest answers from advertising?  (Or has Watson gone to the Dark Side?)
IBM Watson Is Now Offering AI-Powered Digital Ads That Answer Consumers' Questions

More Bad News for Twitter as Snapchat Jumps Ahead in Popularity
A new report from Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton reads like a tick-tock of the company, which has struggled with flatlining user-growth and a free-falling stock price.  If three-time C.E.O. Jack Dorsey can’t pull it off this time, it could be curtains for him, and possibly for the start-up, too.  “There is no Plan B,” Twitter executives say.  “This is it.”  Now, a new report from Bloomberg suggests Twitter has another thing to worry about.  Snapchat has 150 million people using its app every day, according to the report—much more than use Twitter.  And unlike Twitter, which seems to have lost its ability to attract new users, Snapchat is continuing to grow quickly.  In December, Bloomberg reports, Snapchat had 110 million daily active users—meaning that in the last five months, it grew its user base by more than 35 percent.  Twitter has grown its own user base by just 3 percent globally, according to its most recent quarterly report, and is estimated to have about 136 million daily active users.

For my Computer Security students.
Security Pros Show Extensive Distrust of IoT Security
Security testing firm IOActive recently surveyed 129 security professionals on the security of Internet of Things devices at its IOAsis San Francisco 2016 event March 1-2, 2016.  The result shows extensive distrust of IoT security.
According to Gartner, there will be 6.4 billion connected things this year.  That number will more than triple to 21 billion connected things by 2020.  "Your refrigerator, smoke detector, doorbell and air freshener may already be.  Next, clothes, traffic lights and pedestrian walk buttons - and every part of a factory - and even your home's windows, will all be connected, sharing information..." commented a CNBC report in February.

For my Computer Security / encryption talk.
How to Password Protect & Encrypt Your Microsoft Office Files

For my student researchers.
Announcing the Net Data Directory
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
“The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is delighted to announce the launch of the Net Data Directory, a free, publicly available, searchable database of different sources of data about the Internet.  The directory is intended to make finding useful quantitative data about a broad range of Internet-related topics—broadband, cybersecurity, freedom of expression, and more—easier for researchers, policymakers, journalists, and the public.”

For our Criminal Justice students.
U.S. Supreme Court: Policies and Perspectives on Video and Audio Coverage of Appellate Court Proceedings
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
U.S. Supreme Court: Policies and Perspectives on Video and Audio Coverage of Appellate Court Proceedings, GAO-16-437: Published: Apr 28, 2016. Publicly Released: May 31, 2016
“The U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) posts audio recordings of oral arguments on its website at the end of each argument week, but does not provide video coverage of these arguments.   In addition, starting in 2000, the Court began granting requests for access to audio recordings of oral arguments on the same day arguments are heard in selected cases.  As of October 4, 2015, the Court had received media requests for access to same-day audio recordings in 58 cases and had granted them in 26 cases.  Other selected appellate courts have varying policies on video and audio coverage of oral arguments.  For example,
[Much omitted.  Bob]

Thursday, June 02, 2016

A nasty breach indeed.  They detected it a day before one of their vendors (website host?) notified them of a previously unknown hole in their software.  Both seem to have detected and responded to this breach quickly, but still are unsure what was accessed. 
Simon Sharwood reports:, the Scrum certification and training site run by Scrum co-creator Ken Schwaber, appears to have contacted users to warn them of a nasty security breach.
Reg reader “KB” has sent us an email sent to members and customers that says “On May 26, 2016, we noticed an issue with the website outgoing mail server.”
“Upon investigation, we determined that emails used to communicate initial passwords were not being sent.  After further investigation, our information technology professionals discovered that some of our mail server settings had been modified and found one new administrator user account.”
Read more on The Register.

The argument is that full disclosure would undermine trust in the banking system.  I think failure to disclose makes me suspect this was much worse than they (reluctantly) admit.  Do they know who did the hacking?  If so, did the US retaliate? 
Jason Lange and Dustin Volz reports:
The U.S. Federal Reserve detected more than 50 cyber breaches between 2011 and 2015, with several incidents described internally as “espionage,” according to Fed records.
The central bank’s staff suspected hackers or spies in many of the incidents, the records show.  The Fed’s computer systems play a critical role in global banking and hold confidential information on discussions about monetary policy that drives financial markets.
The cybersecurity reports, obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request, were heavily redacted by Fed officials to keep secret the central bank’s security procedures.
Read more on Reuters.

Think what the NSA could do with this…  Oh, wait, they probably had something very like this 25 years ago.
Facebook Unveils DeepText: An AI With ‘Near-Human’ Level Of Language And Context Comprehension
A lot of companies — Facebook, Google and Microsoft included — have, in recent years, begun working in earnest to incorporate “deep learning” algorithms into their software that are used to recognize objects in images, faces in photographs and spoken words. Last month, Google open sourced “SyntaxNet” — an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that, through the use of deep neural networks, aims to read and understand human language in order to process it and derive real meaning.
In another step toward creating a deep learning-based AI capable of grasping the way humans talk with a near-human level accuracy, Facebook on Wednesday unveiled “DeepText” — a natural language processing engine that comprehends the textual content of several thousand posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages.

This is an update.  I did not have a link to the order last Friday.  But I think the transcript is much more interesting.
I had noted this opinion last week, but now June Williams has more on the court’s opinion in U.S. v. Michaud:
A federal judge has thrown out evidence in a child pornography case after prosecutors refused to turn over the code used to hack the defendant’s computer.
U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan ordered the government to provide the defense with the full code of malware used in a network investigative technique (NIT), a type of hacking that traces website viewing back to the computer used.
The FBI used the method to trace users of the “Playpen” child pornography website.  The FBI seized the site last year but continued to operate it for two weeks while using malware to trace visitors.
Read more on Courthouse News.

I had not expected this.  Uber must seem better than taxis?
Never Fear, Uber Is Here! Crime and Fatal Accident Rates Fall Since Company Launch.
   Researchers at Stonehill and Providence colleges co-authored a study titled “Ridesharing, Fatal Crashes and Crime” in which they examined 150 cities to determine the effects of Uber on auto-related incidents.  They found that ridesharing services are related to a decrease in fatal crashes, DUIs and some types of crime.

Always interesting.
Mary Meeker's 2016 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis
At 213 pages, there's a ton of data, but here are our Top 3 takeaways.
1) The internet itself is seeing slowing growth.  In the past two decades, the internet economy was affected by macroeconomic trends, but it was external issues like the housing crisis and the financial crisis that were driving the slowdown.  Now it is global internet growth itself that is slowing down.
2) Typing text into a search bar is so last year.  In five years, at least 50 percent of all searches are going to be either images or speech.
3) The home screen has acted as the de facto portal on mobile devices since the arrival of the iPhone and even before.  Messaging apps, with context and time, have a chance to rival the home screen as the go-to place for interaction.

Probably a few of these have broader applications. 
15 Tools for Teaching History With Technology - A Handout
One of the things that teachers often ask me for is a set of tools to get them started on using technology in their classrooms.  This is a common request because it can be overwhelming to look at a website or a read a stream of emails with tips and try to figure out where to start.  For that reason, I have started to put together short PDFs that contain a few options for a three or four common activities in a subject area.  These are not meant to be comprehensive guides, they're meant to be starter kits.  The first starter kit is for social studies teachers.
In the handout embedded below you will find my recommendations for tools to create timelines, tools to create videos, tools to create digital maps, and tools to help students conduct better web research.  You can download the document from Box or grab the Google Docs copy.

For the Gaming Club.
Game of Drones is a form of aerial warfare where drones fight to the death

Either the “Internet” has fully matured or familiarity has bred contempt?
The internet gets decapitalized
Some of the world's most influential news outlets on Wednesday stopped treating the internet as a proper noun.
The Associated Press, whose style guide is used in many newsrooms, announced back in April that it would soon stop capitalizing the word for the global networks of interconnected computers, which has become ubiquitous in modern life. 
The AP timed the change with the release of its 2016 style guide on Wednesday, and a number of other outlets have followed the company’s lead.  The New York Times announced last month that it would change over, as did the The Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

It’s a start.  More than can be said about the Bangladesh bank heist. 
Two Japanese Arrested After ATM Heist: Police, Media
Two Japanese men were arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing money from an ATM, with local media reporting they were part of a coordinated nationwide heist that netted millions of dollars earlier this month.
The theft on May 15 reportedly involved about 100 members of an international gang each making a series of withdrawals from 1,400 ATMs around the country in less than three hours, Japanese media reported.
The haul totalled 1.4 billion yen ($13 million), according to the reports, with cash-dispensing machines in Tokyo and Osaka among those targeted.
   That was allegedly carried out by thieves armed with fake credit card details from South Africa's Standard Bank.
It was not clear how the gang made off with the equivalent of millions of dollars so quickly as the cash machines usually limit withdrawals to 100,000 yen a day.
Standard Bank acknowledged the heist and put its losses at around $19 million.
The lightning-fast raids began early on the morning of May 15, a Sunday, when banks were closed, according to Japanese media.
Similar robberies have occurred in recent years, including a pair of heists totalling about $45 million that saw a group of cyber thieves disable withdrawal limits on ATMs around the world.

I would have expected more from a country reputed to have some of the best (or at least the most aggressive) hackers in the world.
The headline in the Daily Mail basically says it all:
Well almost all.  Note that this is not Facebook’s site but a Facebook clone called phpDolphin.  Even so…

Just out of curiosity, what does Facebook consider offensive?  Are we going to be treated to another “Facebook hates conservatives” if someone claims they block images of Donald Trump?  (Should we start the rumor that they do?) 
Facebook spares humans by fighting offensive photos with AI
Facebook’s artificial intelligence systems now report more offensive photos than humans do, marking a major milestone in the social network’s battle against abuse, the company tells me.  AI could quarantine obscene content before it ever hurts the psyches of real people.
Facebook’s success in ads has fueled investments into the science of AI and machine vision that could give it an advantage in stopping offensive content.  Creating a civil place to share without the fear of bullying is critical to getting users to post their personal content that draws in friends’ attention.

(Related) …but completely different?  What if everyone (“the majority”) hates Donald Trump? 
Periscope has a new plan to fight back against internet trolls
Periscope, Twitter's standalone livestreaming app, has created a new way to combat internet trolls, which includes a system to put internet bad guys on trial in front of their internet peers.
Here's how the new abuse system works: If you're watching a Periscope livestream and come across a vile or inappropriate comment, you can report that comment, triggering what Periscope calls a "flash jury" of other users watching the same livestream.
Periscope will ask this flash jury, a small group of other randomly selected users, if they also consider the comment abusive or offensive.  If the majority agrees with you, the commenter will be placed in a one minute time-out with commenting disabled.  Repeat offenders will be muted for good.
In other words, Periscope wants its user base to police itself, all the way down to the verdict.

New on LLRX – Should Colorado court documents be free on public library computers?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
Via LLRX.comShould Colorado court documents be free on public library computers?Jeff Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition raises the question of expanding free public access to court documents in Colorado.  Specifically, he identifies the only location where a non-lawyer can view and request copies of all civil court documents from ICCES, the Integrated Colorado Courts E-Filing System.  This location is the Colorado Supreme Court’s law library in the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center in downtown Denver.  Fees and access to PACER have been the topic of discussion in the legal community for many years.  The urgency of this discussion and a resolution that ensures free public access to court filings is critically dependent upon the future of court law libraries.

Again the pendulum swings. 
U.S. court says no warrant needed for cellphone location data
Police do not need a warrant to obtain a person's cellphone location data held by wireless carriers, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday, dealing a setback to privacy advocates.
The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, voted 12-3 that the government can get the information under a decades-old legal theory that it had already been disclosed to a third party, in this case a telephone company.
The ruling overturns a divided 2015 opinion from the court's three-judge panel and reduces the likelihood that the Supreme Court would consider the issue.

For my Computer Security classes.  Security by Design…
Managing the Bots that Are Managing the Business
Science fiction writer William Gibson once said, “The future is here.  It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”  You don’t need to wait five years to see how technology will change the practice of management.  You just need to study companies that are already living in the future that remains around the corner for everyone else.
   Some further implications of this insight include:
·         A typical programmer in a 20th-century IT shop was a worker building to a specification, not that different from a shop floor worker assembling a predefined product.  A 21st-century developer is deeply engaged in product design and iterative, customer-focused development.  For larger programs, this is a team exercise, and leadership means organizing a shared creative vision.  Technology is not a back-office function.  It is central to the management capability of the entire organization.  And companies whose CEO is also the chief product designer (think Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, or Apple under Steve Jobs) routinely outperform those whose leaders lack the capability to lead not just their human workers but their electronic workers as well.

I have to study this.  It seems to be the next big thing in Access Security.
Microsoft collaborates on blockchain-based ID system
Microsoft's work in the blockchain space is continuing with a new partnership committed to building a blockchain-based identity system.
Microsoft, Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys took the wraps off their initiative at the ID2020 conference in New York on May 31.
   "In the coming weeks" an open-source framework will be available on Azure where developers can set up an instance to work on projects involving the proposed open-source identity layer.
Microsoft has been forging a number of blockchain-related partnerships over the past several months.  Microsoft's initial foray into Azure Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) came late last year with an offering on the Etherum Platform with ConsenSys.  Now there are packaged BaaS offerings in the Azure marketplace.

Another angle on the new economy.  An infographic.
What is The ‘Gig Economy’ and How Does it Affect You?

I find this amusing.
How Paper Shaped Civilization
How would Plato have used Twitter?  To tell the world what he just ate for lunch?  To sound off about the Emmys?  To scold Kim Kardashian?
Probably not.  But he may have left one clue: “Wise men speak because they have something to say,” declares a quote that’s often—though probably falsely—attributed to him.  “Fools because they have to say something.”

Want a computer that speaks with a British accent?
BBC Micro:bit computer now available to all for £13
After a couple of unforeseen delays, the BBC finally began delivering Micro:bit computers to Year 7 students across the UK in March.  With the objective of distributing free microcomputers to an entire year group nearing completion -- around 80 percent of schools have received theirs to date -- it's time to let anyone else with an interest in coding loose on the little device.  Pre-orders open today at element14, which manufactures the palm-sized 'puters, Microsoft's online store and many other resellers, with the first shipments expected in July.
A lone Micro:bit costs £13, while a starter bundle with battery pack, USB cable and a handful of introductory activities goes for £15 -- you can also get 10 of these for a discounted price of £140
   Now anyone can pre-order the device, but better yet, there's a wealth of resources available for free online to help you master the Micro:bit, including apps for iOS and Android that mean you only need a smartphone to get started.

Something to build on?
Pepperoni spices up iOS and Android app dev
Mobile developers can get a slice of assistance from Pepperoni, which provides a blueprint for cross-platform app-building.
Also characterized as an app starter kit, Pepperoni works with Facebook's React Native JavaScript framework, to build apps for iOS and Android.
   Pepperoni features prebuilt components and boilerplates for common use cases; login, authentication, and user management via the AuthO identity platform; push notifications; and a cloud-ready back end

I’m going to encourage my students to try this.
Here’s Why You Need to Write For MakeUseOf
If you’ve clicked to read this article, then you’re probably one of those people who visits MakeUseOf frequently, and you’ve come to know what the site is all about.
You know that we are a bit different than your typical tech site.  We try to explain things to people — from the most complex programs or DIY projects, to the simplest tips and tweaks for your operating system — in a way that is easy to understand, and will hopefully enhance the life of the reader in some way.
·  You will be paid $90 for every article. The longer you write for us, the higher your pay will go.
·  You’ll get cash bonuses for writing superb stuff

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Deny first, investigate later?  
Database of California Electric Utility Exposed Online
MacKeeper researcher Chris Vickery, who has spent the past months identifying misconfigured databases that had been publicly accessible online, said the PG&E database he discovered appeared to be part of an asset management system and it contained information on 47,000 computers, servers, virtual machines and other devices belonging to the company.
The exposed information, which could have been accessed by anyone without authentication, included IP addresses, hostnames, MAC addresses, locations, operating system data, and over 100 employee passwords.  While some of the passwords were hashed, the expert also found ones stored in clear text.
PG&E told Vickery that the unprotected database was fake, but the researcher doubts this is the case, especially since it also included more than 688,000 unique log entries.
   The researcher said the database was quickly taken down on May 26 after he notified PG&E, but he made a copy of the data, which he plans on providing to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The DHS is interested in incidents involving electric utilities since these types of organizations are considered part of the country’s critical infrastructure.

It’s okay to read them (after all, they have been using the old mark one eyeball for years) it’s the “forever database” they really don’t like.  In other words, if you are looking for a particular plate, that process still works.  If you want to see if a plate was at the scene (in the neighborhood) of a series of crimes committed over many years, that’s out.  Because there is no way to ensure a search of this database is ethical? 
Mike Maharrey reports:
A Massachusetts House committee has passed a bill that would put limitations on the storage and sharing of information collected by law enforcement agencies using Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) in the state, and place significant roadblocks in the way of a federal program using states to help track the location of millions of everyday people through pictures of their license plates.
The Joint Committee on Transportation created House Bill 4322 (H.4322) after considering several bills that would limit the use of ALPRs.
Read more on Activist Post.

I guess it’s worth a try.  Would his lawyers also accept payment in Bitcoin?
Miami money-laundering case may define whether Bitcoin is really money
In a Miami money-laundering case that is being closely watched around the world, an economics professor took to the witness stand Friday to offer a tutorial on the widely known, if poorly understood, virtual currency known as Bitcoin.
The takeaway: Bitcoin isn’t really money, professor Charles Evans said.
No central government or bank backs Bitcoin, like the United States does the dollar.  Government regulation of Bitcoin remains a messy hodgepodge from state to state, country to country.  The IRS considers Bitcoin deals no more than bartering, he said.
“Basically, it’s poker chips that people are willing to buy from you,” said Evans, a Barry University economics professor who, yes, was paid $3,000 worth of Bitcoins for his appearance as a defense witness.  
   The hearing unfolded in the case of Michell Espinoza, who is accused of illegally selling and laundering $1,500 worth of Bitcoins to undercover detectives who claimed they wanted to use them to buy stolen credit card numbers.
His lawyers, Prieto and Rene Palomino, are asking a court to dismiss the case against him, arguing that Bitcoin isn’t technically money under Florida law so laundering charges don’t apply.
   The prosecution of Espinoza is being watched closely, especially in financial and tech circles, because it is believed to be the first money-laundering case against someone for dealing in Bitcoins.  As the currency has gained in popularity, law enforcement has struggled to figure out how it fits into illegal activities.

The political equivalent of “It is more important to look good than to feel good” is “It is important to ‘do something now!’ even if it makes little sense.” 
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft Sign Hate Speech Agreement
Some of the biggest U.S. tech firms have signed up to a code of conduct formulated by the European Commission, in which they agree to help fight against the spread of hate speech in Europe.
Online rights groups have reacted with outrage, saying they have no confidence in the agreement because they were left out of the discussions leading up to it (a point now being investigated by an EU watchdog) and they think the deal fails to protect free speech rights.
   Based on a 2008 piece of legislation, the code of conduct describes the illegal material as “all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”
   “The ‘code of conduct’ downgrades the law to a second-class status, behind the ‘leading role’ of private companies that are being asked to arbitrarily implement their terms of service,” the groups said in a statement.  “This process, established outside an accountable democratic framework, exploits unclear liability rules for companies.  It also creates serious risks for freedom of expression as legal but controversial content may well be deleted as a result of this voluntary and unaccountable take down mechanism.”
“It will, in practical terms, overturn case law of the European Court of Human Rights on the defense of legal speech,” they added.

In every class, I try to convince my students that I am not perfect and therefore do not know everything there is to know about every subject.  I encourage them to find additional resources – free ones if possible. 
A Large Collection of Free eTextbooks for High School & College Students
Bookboon is a service that offers free etextbooks to high school and college students.  The textbook section of Bookboon offers more than 500 digital textbooks.  On Bookboon there are etextbooks available in ten core subject areas with additional subtopics with each subject area.  The bulk of the etextbooks are focused on economics, engineering, and IT.  You can browse the title lists to find a book you want or you can search Bookboon by keyword.  Bookboon hosts books written in five languages.  All of the books are free to download.  The only catch is that you have to provide an email address before you can download the books.
Applications for Education
Bookboon's books are targeted to university students, but that doesn't mean that some of the books couldn't be used with high school students.  And since the books are free it wouldn't hurt to download one that you think might work for your class and use excerpts of it to supplement other materials that you are already using in your classroom.

Since we’re encouraging our students to start putting their work online, this may be useful.
Rubrics for Assessing Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, and Digital Portfolios
The University of Wisconsin, Stout has organized a nice collection of rubrics for assessing digital projects.  In the collection you will find rubrics for assessing student blogging, student wikis, podcasts, and video projects.  Beyond the rubrics for digital projects there are rubrics for activities that aren't necessarily digital in nature.  For example, you can find rubrics for writing, research, and oral presentations.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Imagine this as practice for a serious attack.  If it was, they wouldn’t tell us how the servers were hacked. 
J.F.K. Computer Glitch Wreaks Havoc on Air Passengers
A Verizon service disruption unleashed travel chaos at a terminal at Kennedy International Airport on Sunday night, grinding the check-in process to a near halt and forcing airline employees to hand-write boarding passes for thousands of unhappy passengers.
   Mr. Buccino said the server that provided wireless Internet and other computer services for the terminal had “some kind of problem.”  An airport official said the services were provided by Verizon, which did not offer a comment when reached on Sunday night.

Consider that either these companies concealed the breach, or minimized it, or never knew it occurred in the first place.  Any way you look at it, we’ve been underestimating the success of the Dark Side. 
The emergence of historical mega breaches
Over the period of this month, we've seen an interesting trend of data breaches.  Any one of these 4 I'm going to talk about on their own would be notable, but to see a cluster of them appear together is quite intriguing.
For example, just yesterday I loaded the Fling database (you probably don't want to go to fling dot com until you're in a private setting).  That was over 40 million records and the breach dates back to 2011.
A few days before that it was LinkedIn which has been pretty comprehensively covered in the press by now.  There's 164 million unique email addresses (out of about 167 million records in total), and that dates back to 2012.
Just now, I've finished loading tumblr into Have I been pwned (HIBP) with a grand total of over 65 million records dating back to 2013.
   But all of these will pale in comparison when the much-touted MySpace breach of 360 million records turns up.  Whilst I've not seen a date on when the breach actually occurred, c'mon, it's MySpace and you know it's going to date back a way.
   But here's what keeps me really curious: if this indeed is a trend, where does it end?  What more is in store that we haven't already seen?  And for that matter, even if these events don't all correlate to the same source and we're merely looking at coincidental timing of releases, how many more are there in the "mega" category that are simply sitting there in the clutches of various unknown parties?
I honestly don't know how much more data is floating around out there, but apparently it's much more than even I had thought only a week ago.

Will any of these services refuse to comply and cut Iran off? 
Iran orders social media sites to store data inside country

Interesting.  A way for them to find firms they can use and who will eventually use them in return? 
Dentons launches free law firm referral network
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
“Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, today announced that it has created the only free law firm referral network.  Named “Nextlaw Global Referral Network,” it is based on a new technology platform that will allow member law firms to easily connect and track referrals.  Nextlaw Global Referral Network avoids the problems of existing referral networks by not charging a fee for membership and by not being territorially exclusive.  With free membership, the ability to have multiple firms with differing strengths in any city, and a technology platform that promotes reciprocal repeat referrals, Nextlaw Network is committed to connecting clients with the top talent around the world, and connecting high-quality firms with opportunities everywhere…”

Perspective.  Are my Architecture students ready for this?
A third of new cellular customers last quarter were cars
With the U.S. smartphone market saturated, most of the growth in the cellular industry is actually coming from other kinds of devices including tablets, machine-to-machine connections and lots and lots of cars.
In the first quarter, for example, the major carriers actually added more connected cars as new accounts than they did phones.
   When it comes to new accounts added, so-called "net adds," things were fairly split among cars, tablets, phones and industrial connections, according to a new report from industry consultant Chetan Sharma.

Let me know if you choose to bid.
Ernst & Young to sell $16 million in confiscated Bitcoin at auction in Sydney
Around $16 million worth of Bitcoin is up for auction in Sydney next month after they were confiscated as proceeds of crime last year. 
   The 24,518 Bitcoins were seized last year and will be split into 11 lots of 2,000 coins and one lot of approximately 2,518. Bidders are able to bid on one lot or multiple lots and bidding registration opens on June 1 and closes on June 7.
The 48-hour sealed auction will take place at 12.01am on 20 June. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gather everything, select out what is covered by the warrant, keep the rest in case it proves useful sometime in the future?  No doubt the FBI will start saving all the phone calls it gathers with ‘stingray.’
Adam Klasfeld reports:
In a setback of data-privacy advocates, the Second Circuit agreed en banc today that authorities did not commit an unreasonable seizure by sitting on computer data for 2 ½ years before an investigation.
Judge Denny Chin penned a furious dissent likening the case to the digital-age equivalent of the general warrants from Britain’s throne that inspired the American Revolution.
Read more about U.S. v. Ganias on Courthouse News.

When “natural intelligence” is absent?
How artificial intelligence is transforming the legal profession
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
ABA Journal, Julie Sobowale, April 1, 2016: “Artificial intelligence is changing the way lawyers think, the way they do business and the way they interact with clients.  Artificial intelligence is more than legal technology.  It is the next great hope that will revolutionize the legal profession.  Change can be brought on through pushing existing ideas.  What makes artificial intelligence stand out is the potential for a paradigm shift in how legal work is done.  AI, sometimes referred to as cognitive computing, refers to computers learning how to complete tasks traditionally done by humans.  The focus is on computers looking for patterns in data, carrying out tests to evaluate the data and finding results.  Chicago-based NexLP, which stands for next generation language processing, is creating new ways for lawyers to look at data…
·         “Nearly 80 percent of a company’s data is unstructured,” [Jay] Leib says.  “While unstructured data represents the lion’s share of a company’s data, for years lawyers have been stuck with antiquated tools that focus primarily or solely on Boolean search.  Better tools are needed to truly understand data, infer meaning, classify the various types of ideas present, and help you get to the result fast—even if that result didn’t involve the keywords you used.”  [David] Roth helped develop technology that can turn information into stories.  Story Engine is a program that can read through unstructured data and summarize conversations, including the ideas discussed, the frequency of the communication and the mood of the speakers.  The company uses the data to build models to analyze behavior and find signs of fraud or litigation…”

(Related) Lawyers could build their own systems or let the students in our programming classes do it as a project.
Google announces SyntaxNet: “The World’s Most Accurate Parser Goes Open Source”
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
May 12, 2016, Posted by Slav Petrov, Senior Staff Research Scientist: “At Google, we spend a lot of time thinking about how computer systems can read and understand human language in order to process it in intelligent ways.  Today, we are excited to share the fruits of our research with the broader community by releasing SyntaxNet, an open-source neural network framework implemented in TensorFlow that provides a foundation for Natural Language Understanding (NLU) systems.  Our release includes all the code needed to train new SyntaxNet models on your own data, as well as Parsey McParseface, an English parser that we have trained for you and that you can use to analyze English text.  Parsey McParseface is built on powerful machine learning algorithms that learn to analyze the linguistic structure of language, and that can explain the functional role of each word in a given sentence.  Because Parsey McParseface is the most accurate such model in the world, we hope that it will be useful to developers and researchers interested in automatic extraction of information, translation, and other core applications of NLU.”

Perspective.  The race to one billion anything used to take decades.
Google Photos celebrates first birthday and 24 billion selfies
Happy birthday, Google Photos.  In the year since its launch, the service has created 1.6 billion animations, collages and movies from your snapshots, according to a post on the Google blog.  More than that, there've been some 2 trillion labels, with 24 billion of them categorizing selfies.  All told, the search giant says that thanks to the cloud backup option, the app's 200 million users have collectively cleared 13.7 petabytes of storage from their phones.

It might help you select a search engine for specialized search areas. 
All the Internet Meta Search Engine
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
All the Internet, a business of Advanced Search Technologies, Inc. which is a leading provider of search services and technology.  Advanced Search Technologies, Inc. continues to advance Internet search with new search technologies and features designed to improve the search experience for consumers.  Based in Nevada, Advanced Search Technologies, Inc. has a rich history of search technology innovation dating back to 1999 and has processed over 1 billion search requests.  All the Internet makes searching the Internet extremely easy, because All the Internet has all the best search engines rolled into one easy to use web site.  Our goal is to keep Internet search simple and safe.