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 cliché 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.

Friday, November 04, 2016

What if I’m right and these attacks are practice for larger attacks aimed at the US or the EU?  The source code is out there being modified in subtle or not so subtle ways.  The number of devices that can be slaved to attack is growing every day.  What more could a strategic attacker want?
DDoS attack with Mirai malware 'killing business' in Liberia
The malware behind last month's massive internet disruption in the U.S. is targeting Liberia with financially devastating results.

This week, a botnet powered by the Mirai malware has been launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on IP addresses in the African country, according to security researchers.  
These attacks are the same kind that briefly disrupted internet access across the U.S. almost two weeks ago.
   Hackers have been creating botnets with the Mirai malware ever since its anonymous creator released the source code on a forum in late September.  About 500,000 poorly secured internet devices, including surveillance cameras and DVRs, are estimated to be infected with Mirai. 
Last month's DDoS attack in the U.S. came from 100,000 infected devices, according to DNS service provider Dyn.

That “worst case” scenario my IT Governance students are learning to resolve.
Fixing the communications breakdown between IT security and the board and c-suite
   Communicating from the bottom up, IT security must talk to the c-suite in terms of the effects of security-related decisions and resource allocations on the business; otherwise the message fades into the background.  IT security needs to impress upon the c-suite the risks that certain resources will mitigate and the potential bleeding in financial losses that balanced, proper threat mitigation can avoid.

We (the US) work closely with Canada, so I wonder…
Colin Freeze reports:
The Federal Court of Canada faulted Canada’s domestic spy agency Thursday for unlawfully amassing data, for misusing its surveillance warrants and for not being forthright with judges who authorize its intelligence programs.  The court is also revealing that CSIS no longer needs warrants to collect  Canadians’ tax records because of changes wrought by Bill C-51.
The matter was said to involve the decade-long collection of volumes of data within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s little-known Operational Data Analysis Centre, which the judges who scrutinize CSIS are characterizing as a hidden and unlawful repository of data amassed by the spy agency.
Read more on the Globe and Mail.

Perspective.  So, is Apple doomed?
The mobile operating system war is now over. And Android won.  Because while Apple still sells shedloads of iPhones, 9 of 10 smartphones sold around the world is now powered by Android.  And those numbers are unlikely to change anytime soon.

Something I’ve been saying for years!
Ever since the publication of Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, 25 years ago, companies have sought to become “learning organizations” that continually transform themselves.  In our era of digital disruption, this goal is more important than ever.  But even the best companies still struggle to make real progress in this area.
One problem is that they’ve been focused on the wrong thing.  The problem isn’t learning: it’s unlearning.  In every aspect of business, we are operating with mental models that have grown outdated or obsolete, from strategy to marketing to organization to leadership.  To embrace the new logic of value creation, we have to unlearn the old one.

I’m sure I mentioned this before. 
U.S. government launches to showcase its open-source software
The White House today is announcing the launch of, a website that shows off U.S. government open-source projects and offers relevant resources for government agencies.  By launching this site the White House is hoping to improve public access to the government’s software and encourage the reuse of software across government agencies.
The launch comes four months after the White House introduced the Federal Source Code policy, which specifically mandates that government agencies “make custom-developed code available for Government-wide reuse and make their code inventories discoverable” at, with certain exceptions.
The new site already has almost 50 code repositories from more than 10 agencies, U.S. chief information officer Tony Scott wrote in a blog post.
   The White House recently open-sourced the code behind President Obama’s Facebook Messenger chatbot.  Other existing open-source initiatives include and  Yes, even the code for is open source.
Check out the new site here.

My reading list? 
Books students at top US colleges are required to read
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Nov 3, 2016
Quartz: “The leaders of tomorrow will be well versed in dead philosophers, according to a new database of college syllabi.  The Open Syllabus Project, a collection of over 1 million curricula from English-language colleges and universities over the past 15 years, released its data on Friday (Jan. 22, 2016).  Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Aristotle overwhelmingly dominate lists in the US, particularly at the top schools.  The required readings skew toward the humanities—science and engineering classes tend to assign fewer titles—and not surprisingly, toward the Western canon…”

Perspective.  I look forward to the day I can lose $3 Billion!
How Mark Zuckerberg Lost a Record-Breaking $3 Billion in One Day

For my students who claim they have no time to read.
Daniel T. Willingham is the Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.  He turned this question into a study and a blog post.  The short and quick version of his answer is that listening to an audiobook is exactly like reading print, except that the latter requires decoding and the former doesn’t.
With that misgiving out of the way, let’s turn to a wonderful little tool called Narro that can turn your heaped reading list into podcasts.  These personal podcasts can then help you get through your reading list faster.  Send your bookmarked articles to this cross-platform app and fill up those in-between minutes.
Narro comes as an Android app, iOS app, Chrome Extension, and as a bookmarklet.  It automatically turns any article into a podcast which you can listen to in any device and any podcast player.  It also integrates with a few other apps like Pocket and Instapaper.
   Narro has Free and Pro versions.  The free version gives you 15 articles to convert and listen to every month.

I have got to try this!
   Image to Excel Converter enables you to take a photo of a paper arithmetic and convert it into editable MS Excel spreadsheet in order to work on them faster and more efficient.  In that way it’s possible to combine traditional paper math and modern, advanced Excel functions.  
   For example, you have different values written on a sheet of paper and you need to do analysis for a case study, in that case:
1. First download Image to Excel app
2. Then select Take a new photo option and take a picture
3. Just wait a little bit and you’ll have an editable Excel spreadsheet

Thursday, November 03, 2016

No, he was not a student.  He got caught didn’t he?
Rick Salinger reports:
A 29 month prison sentence was handed down on Tuesday to a Colorado man who pleaded guilty to charges involving a massive photo hacking scheme.
Brandon Bourret, of Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud.
The FBI tracked Bourret and a colleague down after a total of 1.9 million Photobucket accounts were found to be hacked.
Read more on CBS.

Maybe AI will be better at this…
From the oi-veh dept., Noel Towell reports:
Centrelink has apologised to hundreds of users of the myGov web portal after their contact details were shared with hundreds of strangers – twice.
The latest federal government data breach is being blamed on a rookie email error, someone at the giant Department of Human Services hitting the CC button on an email instead of the BCC button.
When the department realised it had disclosed the email contact details of hundreds of its customers on October 24, it tried to recall the email containing the information, but only succeeded in sending it again.
Despite the blunder, Human Services’ service delivery boss Darren Box insists that myGov is the best way for millions of Australians to manage their dealings with the federal government.
Read more on The Canberra Times.

Human nature. 
CISOs Must Step Beyond Their Comfort Zones
A new survey published by Accenture shows that the twin security conundrums of increasing security breaches despite increased security spending, and high security confidence despite a high level of breaches, are both alive and well.  These conclusions are drawn from a survey of more than 2,000 enterprise security practitioners across 15 countries in organizations with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion.
Accenture's report on this survey, Building Confidence: Facing the Cybersecurity Conundrum published Wednesday finds that 75% of the respondents are confident in their security strategies while a similar number describe security as 'completely embedded' in the corporate culture.
Despite this confidence, the same respondents faced an average of 106 targeted attacks every year, with as many as one in three being successful.  This implies a disconnect between belief and reality, and a potential misunderstanding of today's threats and possible solutions.

Architecting failure.
Ongoing Use of Windows Vista, IE8 Pose Huge Enterprise Threat
Duo Security reports that 65% of its clients' Windows users are still running Vista, and that tens of thousands are still on XP (now 15 years old, unsupported, and with around 700 known vulnerabilities of which 200 are rated as high to critical).  On top of this, while Chrome is the most popular browser, 20% of Internet Explorer users are running a version that has reached end-of-life status and do not receive security patches.  For the XP users, as many as 88% are still using Internet Explorer 8.
Duo Security is a trusted access provider offering multi-factor authentication to its customers.  As part of this service it is required to collect telemetry from the users -- often resulting in a greater knowledge of what is connecting to its customers' networks than those customers themselves.  Duo's new report, The 2016 Duo Trusted Access Report: Microsoft Edition, is based on an analysis of that telemetry.
   To illustrate the effect he suggests looking at healthcare and ransomware.  "From our own studies, healthcare customers have 4 times as many XP boxes as the financial sector.  That illustrates why ransomware attacks have been so successful against healthcare.  The bad guys go where they know they will succeed without a lot of effort."

An interesting and quick reaction to the surveillance of one journalist.
Ingrid Peritz reports:
The Quebec government has moved quickly with a series of measures to try to restore confidence in the judicial system and protect press freedom amid a widening controversy over the surveillance of journalists by police.
The announcement came in the aftermath of damaging disclosures that high-profile Quebec journalist Patrick Lagacé had been the target of a months-long covert police operation that tracked the calls and texts on his iPhone, and allowed law enforcement to follow his movements through the phone’s GPS.  Montreal police were seeking the source of an internal leak to the media.
The scope of the controversy appeared to grow on Tuesday after a Montreal daily said three other journalists had also been the object of police attention.  Citing police sources, Le Journal de Montréal said police brass did not obtain court warrants but had scrutinized the call logs of its officers to find out who had been speaking to the reporters.
Read more on the Globe and Mail.

Perhaps a custom template for education?  “Yes, I received your paper ___ minutes ago.  No, I have not graded it yet.” 
Gupshup’s new development tools help you build a chatbot without writing code
Let’s say you run a restaurant, and you want a chatbot to take orders.  Or you run a hair salon, and you need a chatbot to help schedule appointments for blowouts and coloring.  Or, for fun, let’s say you’re me, a journalist, and you’re jealous of Chris Messina and Esther Crawford, who have their own personal bots.
The trouble for many of the people running these small businesses (as well as the person writing this article) is a lack of coding skills needed to make such chatbots.  But in about 10 minutes, while sitting at my kitchen table in front of my MacBook Air, I built a simple chatbot, TheBeeZeeChatbot for Facebook Messenger.   I built it using two new development tools from Gupshup: Flow and Template Bot Builders.
   As an example, Sheth says the template for restaurant bots is based on the most common variables, like location, price, hours, menu, and order placement.  The new tools walk the restaurant’s bot builder through the conversation flow, prompting them to customize the conversational text in accordance with their style — all without writing a single line of code.
“Our goal is to democratize bot building,” says Sheth. “Before, high-end bots required high-end coding skills.  We’re now helping small- and medium-sized enterprises create, test, and deploy bots for dozens of messaging platforms.”
Both Flow Bot Builder and Template Bot Builder are available to try at

As I get older, this seems more like the search engine I need.
Atlas Recall, a search engine for your entire digital life, gets an open beta and $20M in backing
   “The house of search is actually two houses,” said Ritter.  “One is, find me something I’ve never seen.  The other is, find me something I definitely know I’ve seen.”
Atlas Recall is intended to fill the second role better than anything out there.  It indexes and makes searchable everything you encounter on your computer and mobile — yes, every single thing.  On the web, on Facebook, in Outlook, on your computer, everything.  But before you freak out:
  • No, it doesn’t need access to those services or their APIs
  • Yes, it’s always encrypted
  • Yes, you can easily block, delete, and otherwise control what it remembers
   Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold, and Aspect Ventures ponied up $20.7 million for Ritter and his colleagues to pursue this dream of a “searchable photographic memory for our digital lives.”  The open beta, which you can sign up for here, is — as you might expect — intended to shake out bugs, refine the interface, and learn what features users like, don’t use, never find, and so on.  It’s available for macOS and iOS now, with Windows 10 and Android on the way.

Interesting.  Strange, but interesting.
Japanese architect flat earth map accurately illustrates size of land masses and oceans
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Nov 2, 2016
UK Daily Mail: “The traditional map of the world, known as the Mercator map, may be the most often seen image of our planet but it is also considered highly inaccurate because Antarctica and Greenland are greatly distorted.  Now, a Japanese artist and architect believes he has solved this 447 year old problem with an ‘origami map’ that represents landmasses and seas as accurately as possible.  To create the perfectly proportioned map, Hajime Narukawa divided the spherical globe into 96 triangles that are flattened and transferred to a tetrahedron.  This allows the image to be ‘unfolded’ into a rectangle while still maintaining an area’s proportions…”

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

See Hillary?  Sometimes it takes a nation-state.  So, is it clear or unclear?
Jay Greene and Robert McMillan report:
The hackers believed responsible for breaking into computers at the Democratic National Committee have exploited previously undisclosed flaws in Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system and Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash software, Microsoft said Tuesday.
It is unclear if those hackers, reportedly tied to Russia, used the newly disclosed vulnerabilities to hack into the DNC.
Microsoft Tuesday criticized Alphabet Inc’s Google for publicly identifying the Windows flaw on Monday, before Microsoft had had a chance to issue a patch.
Read more on Wall Street Journal.
Over on ThreatPost, Michael Mimoso explains:
Microsoft has singled out Sofacy, an APT group long thought to have ties to Russia’s military intelligence arm GRU, as the entity behind targeted attacks leveraging Windows kernel and Adobe Flash zero days in targeted attacks.
The group, which Microsoft calls Strontium, is also known as APT28, Tsar Team and Sednit among other identifiers.
Microsoft said the zero day vulnerability, the existence of which along with limited details were disclosed on Monday by Google, will be patched Nov. 8. Google said yesterday it privately disclosed both zero days, which were used in tandem in these targeted attacks against unknown victims, to Microsoft and Adobe on Oct. 21.  Adobe rushed an emergency patch for Flash Player on Oct. 26, while Microsoft had yet to acknowledge the vulnerability until Google’s disclosure.

Something to mention to my Computer Security students. 
Enterprises continue to struggle to find cybersecurity talent, survey finds
According to the Global State of Information Security Survey (GSISS) 2017 -- a worldwide study conducted by PwC, CIO and CSO released this month - skilled cybersecurity professionals are hard to come by — and continue to make enterprise IT security all the more challenging.  Many enterprises are attempting to close their skills gap by turning to managed security services.  According to the survey, 62 percent of respondents use security service providers to operate and enhance their IT security programs.

For my Ethical Hackers: Now show me what you’ve been doing in secret!  (Establish “projects” now, fill in the results later.)
You can now legally hack your own car or smart TV
Researchers can now probe connected devices, computers and cars for security vulnerabilities without risking a lawsuit.  Last Friday, the FTC authorized changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that will allow Americans to do hack their own electronic devices.  Researchers can lawfully reverse engineer products and consumers can repair their vehicle's electronics, but the FTC is only allowing the exemptions for a two-year trial run.

If security was so bad even OPM (the government poster child for bad security) could identify it?  Anthem would be doomed.
Dark Reading reports:
Victims of a data breach at health insurer Anthem in February 2015 have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company and are seeking details of an audit by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on Anthem’s network security, Modern Healthcare reports.  In the cyberattack, hackers compromised personal details of around 80 million Anthem, Blue Cross and Blue Shield members, many of whom have since reported payment card account misuse.
As per the court filing, OPM, which manages the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, had first carried out a security audit at Anthem in 2013 and pointed out vulnerabilities in its system.  It wanted to conduct tests, but this was reportedly turned down by Anthem citing “corporate policy” issues. Shortly after the 2015 cyberattack, OPM conducted a second audit, but its findings were not made public.
Read more on Dark Reading.

Easier to sue?
Michelle de Leon writes:
A panel of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has declared the victims of a data breach suffered by Nationwide Insurance no longer need to establish their standing to prove that they are in danger.
The victims of the 2012 data breach committed against the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. were declared to successfully establish the risks that could stem from the incident.
The Sixth Circuit decided the plaintiffs are eligible to claim their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) against the defendant.  With the reversal of the trial court’s ruling, the panel sided with the victims’ claims that they are exposed to “a substantial risk of harm” and have “incurred mitigation costs.”
Read more on Legal Newsline.

(On the other hand) Not exactly a Sword of Damocles, but you get the idea.  It’s not a “harm” until that hair snaps…
Karen Kidd writes:
Plaintiffs in a data breach class action lawsuit against Barnes & Noble fixed their standing problem but still couldn’t adequately allege damages, a Pittsburgh attorney says.
“Upon analyzing the facts, this was not a particularly surprising ruling,” Brian Willett, an associate with Reed Smith, said.
“However, it was significant in the data privacy space given that standing has been a common stumbling block in similar suits and while Plaintiffs here cleared that hurdle, their claim ultimately failed because Plaintiffs did not establish sufficient damages.”
Plaintiffs in the case, R. Clutts et al v. Barnes & Noble, claimed the book seller had breached implied contract, violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, invaded their privacy, and violated the California Security Breach Notification Act and California’s Unfair Competition Act.
Read more on PennRecord.

When do we hit the tipping point where we should expect all police officers to have cameras?
Joe Cadillic writes:
Soon, cops across America will be wearing body cameras equipped with ‘Christian’ facial recognition software.
Watchguard Video (WGV) claims their new “Redactive” software will enable law enforcement to identify anyone.  (WGV is really, Enforcement Video LLC)
Redactive quickly scans the entire video clip first, automatically recognizing faces, so the user [officer] spends much less time manually performing the task.
According to WGV’s company profile, God wants to give cops facial recognition cameras:
WGV is a God-guided company founded on Christian principles.
WGV is a God-guided company that is committed to serving our employees and customers through servant leadership.
Are they listening to God or the cops?
Read more on MassPrivateI.

My students have been talking about changes due to self-driving and ride sharing, but this was not on our radar.  The ultimate geek-mobile? 
Volvo’s China Bet: Eject the Passenger Seat, Install a Fridge
   “Only by being distinctive can it be competitive in the market,” said Li Shufu, the billionaire founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which bought Volvo in 2010 for $1.8 billion.  Volvo unveiled its new China-built S90 and a top-of-the-line luxury version, which is aimed at the market for chauffeur-driven Chinese executives, on Wednesday.
Volvo’s new China-built S90 features a longer wheelbase than its European-built counterparts to meet Chinese demand for greater legroom.  Its luxury S90 Excellence model takes things further by featuring a small refrigerator, while the front passenger seat has been removed and replaced with what the company calls the “Lounge Console,” a foldout workstation that incorporates a desk, a touch-screen “infotainment” system and a heated foot rest.

Mobile and tablet internet usage exceeds desktop for first time worldwide
   Its research arm, StatCounter Global Stats finds that mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3% of internet usage worldwide in October compared to 48.7% by desktop.

Business opportunity?  Create phony Facebook pages to turn this back on the intruding companies? 
Admiral to price car insurance based on Facebook posts
   Admiral Insurance will analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car owners to look for personality traits that are linked to safe driving.  For example, individuals who are identified as conscientious and well-organised will score well.
The insurer will examine posts and likes by the Facebook user, although not photos, looking for habits that research shows are linked to these traits.  These include writing in short concrete sentences, using lists, and arranging to meet friends at a set time and place, rather than just “tonight”.
In contrast, evidence that the Facebook user might be overconfident – such as the use of exclamation marks and the frequent use of “always” or “never” rather than “maybe” – will count against them.

(Related)  Can Facebook selectively deny companies access to my public pages? 
Facebook blocks insurer exploiting user data to find 'conscientious' drivers

All prices eventually fall to zero.  Maybe.
Pinterest makes Instapaper’s premium features free for all
Starting today, the online bookmarking service has discontinued its premium offering and opened up the paid features to everyone.
Users will now have access to features such as full-text search for all articles, unlimited notes and speed reading, text-to-speech playlists, an ad-free Instapaper website, Kindle Digests of up to 50 articles, and the ability to send articles to Kindle through a bookmarklet or mobile app.  These were previously only available if you paid $3 per month or $30 per year.

Skynet may be here already.
How Twitter Bots Are Shaping the Election

Another election prediction.
Tinder data suggests 53% of U.S. users will vote Clinton, 71% of Russians would vote for Trump if they could
   While the numbers vary from poll to poll, broadly speaking, Hillary Clinton remains ahead of Trump and by most assertions should emerge victorious come November 8, though some reports suggest that momentum favors Trump.
You may also remember that perennially popular dating app Tinder last week launched its Swipe the Vote campaign in the U.S. and 15 other countries.  This initiative is designed to match users to their most appropriate presidential candidate based on their opinions on a range of political and economic issues, including gun control, immigration, taxes, and education.  Well, the results from the massive global swiping poll are now in.

Maybe, this is why Trump (or anyone) wants to be President?
CRS – Conflicts of Interest and the Presidency
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Nov 1, 2016
CRS Reports & Analysis Legal Sidebar Conflicts of Interest and the Presidency, 10/14/2016 – “Does federal law require the President to relinquish control of his or her business interests?  Federal regulation of financial conflicts of interest is aimed at preventing opportunities for officials to personally benefit from influence they may have in their official capacity.  As a general rule, public officials in the executive branch are subject to criminal penalties if they personally and substantially participate in matters in which they (or their immediate families, business partners or associated organizations) hold financial interests.  However, because of concerns regarding interference with the exercise of constitutional duties, Congress has not applied these restrictions to the President.  Consequently, there is no current legal requirement that would compel the President to relinquish financial interests because of a conflict of interest…”

Just in case anyone still has this old stuff.
Microsoft has stopped selling Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8.1

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Could this happen here?  (Hint: Absolutely!)  Just out of curiosity, what does the computer do that doctors can no longer do manually? 
Abe Hawken reports on what sounds like it might be a ransomware situation:
All operations have been cancelled at three hospitals run by the same NHS Trust after a virus attack compromised their computer system.
The system, which is run by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust, had to be shut down on Monday following yesterday’s breach, which has been described as a ‘major incident’.
More than 1,000 outpatient appointments, procedures and operations scheduled for tomorrow have been cancelled.
Patients at the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby, Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole and District Hospital have been affected by the breach.
Read more on Daily Mail.

From the country that gave us Turing, and then persecuted him. 
UK will 'strike back' if it comes under cyberattack, says government
International hackers and cyberattackers who launch operations against the UK will be retaliated against, the government has warned, as it sets out plans to protect infrastructure, business, and citizens from online threats.
These tactics form part of the government's National Cyber Security Strategy, an effort to boost defences against a variety of online threats.
   In his speech in London, Hammond is expected to argue how reliance on old IT systems, the rise of Internet of Things connected devices, and easy access to hacking tools means it's necessary for the government to take steps to fight back against cyberattacks and cyberespionage.
The strategy is being overseen by the National Cyber Security Centre, a new part of the GCHQ intelligence agency which opened in October.

U.S. Should Strike Back at Cyberattackers: Report
   "The time for action on the issue of active defense is long overdue, and the private sector will continue to be exposed to theft, exfiltration of data, and other attacks in the absence of a robust deterrent," the report said.
   However, the panel did not recommend hacking back "because we don't want the cure to be worse than the disease," project co-director Frank Cilluffo said.

For my Architecture students.  A common failing of government software projects.  “We’re so unique, nothing that exists could possibly be useful!” 
Thiel’s Palantir Wins Battle Over Army Combat Data System
   The Army failed to adequately consider commercially available options for the system, effectively shutting out the Silicon Valley firm from bidding, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

A question for my students.  First, self-driving cars, trucks, busses, etc.  Then what?
When Will Robots Take All the Jobs?
There is a contradiction in economic forecasting today that I’ve come to think of as the “robot paradox.”  Some people seem confident that automation will take many workers’ jobs, yet they cannot point to evidence that technology has done anything in the last few years to replace work or add to productivity.  Indeed, economic growth has been lackluster for the last few years, productivity growth is mysteriously moribund, and the last two years have been perhaps the best time this century for wage growth.  This is not what the end of work looks like.

Everyone is getting into ride sharing.  Fear than no one will want to own a car is spreading.  (Sounds like an easy hack to me!)
Automaker may launch unmanned rent-a-car business in Japan
Automakers are beginning to realize too many cars are sitting for too long without being driven.  In that vein, Toyota is launching a car sharing pilot program that allows users to unlock shared cars without the need for a physical key.  The program, established in partnership with car sharing company Getaround, starts in January in San Francisco.
Instead of a key, car sharing users will receive special codes on their smartphones granting them access to the vehicle.  When the smartphone comes in close contact with the car, the codes are authenticated through Bluetooth technology with what Toyota calls a Smart Key Box.  This box can be preset to operate within certain time periods specified under a car-sharing reservation.

Because reality is not that interesting?
This Project On Law Enforcement And Popular Culture Is So Good I Want To Call It Data
Over at The Washington Post, popular culture writer Alyssa Rosenberg1 has written an incredible series on the role and portrayal of police in pop culture called “Dragnets, Dirty Harrys and Dying Hard.”  Rosenberg notes the intersections of law enforcement and culture historically, such as New York police shutting down theaters in the city in 1908 (long before filmmaking was considered protected speech) and Hollywood’s role in the war on drugs.  From there, she discusses the many ways such intersections are reflected — or not — in how culture has portrayed police activity itself, including idyllic early police shows (like “Dragnet”) and the family friendly dystopia in “Zootopia.”

Monday, October 31, 2016

Imagine what Ben Franklin would have done with his iPhone…
Nicholas Iovino reports:
A federal judge proclaimed Thursday that the nation’s Founding Fathers have little insight to offer on whether the Constitution allows people to sue Facebook for collecting their biometric facial data without consent.
“A couple of justices are focused on what happened 200 years ago,” U.S. District Judge James Donato said during a hearing on a motion to dismiss a privacy class action against Facebook.
“What opinion does George Washington have on this?  There are historical realties that simply don’t overlap.”
Read more on Courthouse News.
[Why not ask the man himself?

I’ve been trying to explain this to my students; Apps are dead, long live the Bot!
How Microsoft plans to find you the best bots
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella may be the tech giant CEO who’s most publicly vocal about his belief that conversation will be as impactful to computing as the graphic user interface.
So it makes sense that his company has made conversation-computing breakthroughs.
Last week, Microsoft researchers announced that they made neural networks with speech recognition on par with humans.  This week, Microsoft is widely expected to launch its Slack competitor, Skype Teams.
   The research group created the Microsoft Bot Framework — a toolkit to make bots for half a dozen chat apps released in April, and which, as of last month, is being used by 45,000 developers.  Microsoft Research also made Xiaoice, Rinna, and Tay, bots that have attracted the attention of tens of millions of people.
Cheng and Forstrom talked about the idea of creating a common bot search engine with some of the biggest platforms in the world.

Keep up or perish!
Butterball Turkey help line is getting a big update this year
   This is the first year you'll be able to contact the help line by sending a text message to 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  The text line will be open 24/7 from November 17 through November 24.
   While this is the first year Butterball is communicating via text, the company has started using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube videos to help panicked cooks.  The company has Spanish-speaking turkey experts on the line.  As the company noticed an influx of men calling in with turkey questions, it hired more male talk line experts.

I should probably make a comment on this latest kerfuffle, just so 100 years from now historians can say, “Bob got it all wrong!”  This recent episode is very fishy.  Apparently, the FBI had the emails for a couple of weeks before Comey was “briefed on their discovery.”  Apparently, the FBI asked Abedin about emails she received from Secretary Clinton (all aides were asked about emails) but did not find these at that time.  Apparently, Abedin/Weiner have their own mail server, just like Hillary, otherwise the emails would be stored on the g-mail server or whatever service they used.  Emails “not previously reviewed” would be Hillary’s personal stuff, which was mixed in with State department business but then pulled before turning over her official emails.  Would discussions about her campaign not fall under personal? 
Abedin told FBI she didn't know emails were on laptop
   There are a number of scenarios that would explain how the emails got onto the laptop without Abedin's knowledge, including that they were somehow automatically backed up from the cloud.  [Backups would go to the cloud.  Restores would come back from the cloud.  Bob]  But investigators will want to know how this happened and if there is any indication that Abedin misled them about the existence of emails.
It is a large project.  Agents determined there were as many as 650,000 emails on the laptop, dating back years. [How old is this computer?  Bob]  The number of emails related to the Clinton investigation is likely to be much smaller.