Monday, January 09, 2017

Even in ‘on ground’ classes, faculty and students rely on access to our computer system to find assignments, upload homework and record grades. 
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while because it wasn’t clear if any personal info was involved.  CBS had reported that Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen was subject to a cyber attack over the winter break, but it was not known how large the breach was or its scope.
Now Breitbart is reporting that the school’s website and email system was taken down on New Year’s Day by ransomware, and the school paid $28,000 to free hostage data:
1,900 students and faculty were locked out of their computers with the message: “You have 7 days to send us the BitCoin after 7 days we will remove your private keys and it’s impossible to recover your files,” according to the campus newspaper.
It took the college 72 hours of computer systems freezing up throughout the Valley Glen campus before college administrators caved and made the payment the day after school had reopened.  But even after the criminals delivered a decryption “key” to unlock LAVC servers, it will take weeks to unlock every campus computer and try to assess damages.
Read more on Breitbart.

Heads of intelligence agencies should never use technology without a babysitter.  Clearly, they can’t concentrate on security while surfing the politics of Washington. 
Man Pleads Guilty to Hacking Accounts of U.S. Officials
   According to authorities, between October 2015 and February 2016, the hacker group used social engineering and other techniques to gain access to the online accounts of U.S. government officials and their families, and government computer systems.  In addition to CIA director John Brennan, the group also targeted U.S. spy chief James Clapper, and senior figures in the FBI, the DHS, the White House and other federal agencies.
The hackers published their victims’ personal details online and harassed them over the phone.

For my Data Management students.  If this data is valuable, should Uber sell it to the highest bidder?
Uber is finally releasing a data trove that officials say will make driving better for everyone
The combative ride-hailing giant Uber is extending an olive branch to cities — in the form of data that transit wonks have coveted for years.
The San Francisco-based company shared a vast trove of transportation data Sunday that it said local officials could use to help cut down on commute times and improve traffic flow.  The data, on a public website that shows the time it takes to travel between neighborhoods in various cities, is derived from the company’s extensive logs of trips taken by millions of Uber riders each day.
   Uber’s move underscores a new power dynamic emerging among technology companies, researchers and governments.  Technology companies, from Uber to Facebook, hold growing stores of data about user behavior, and officials and academics want access to it.  They believe it contains valuable insights that could benefit the public.
The challenge for the public interest is that many technology companies will share data only on their terms

I used to look forward to new technologies introduced at CES.  Now I worry I’ll need a Smartphone to make coffee and toast in the morning.  (Will people who reach their data limits starve?) 
LG threatens to put Wi-Fi in every appliance it introduces in 2017
In the past few years, products at CES have increasingly focused on putting the Internet in everything, no matter how "dumb" the device in question is by nature.  It's how we've ended up with stuff like this smart hairbrush, this smart air freshener, these smart ceiling fans, or this $100 pet food bowl that can order things from Amazon.
Now that phenomenon is reaching its logical endpoint: during the company's CES press conference today, LG marketing VP David VanderWaal says that "starting this year" all of LG's home appliances will feature "advanced Wi-Fi connectivity."

I told you this was coming.  (And it’s Block Chain, not Bitcoin)
Wall Street Clearing House to Adopt Bitcoin Technology
   The company that serves as the back end for much Wall Street trading — the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, or D.T.C.C. — said on Monday that it would replace one of its central databases, used by the largest banks in the world, with new software inspired by Bitcoin.  The organization, based in New York, plays a role in recording and reporting nearly every stock and bond trade in the United States, as well as most valuable derivatives trades. 
IBM, which has been making a big push into blockchain technology, will be leading the project for the D.T.C.C. and aims to have it fully functioning by early next year.

Perspective.  Increasingly, I find I have to teach history as well as Computer Science.  This Quarter I had to explain to my students what an LP was. 
Streaming Now Officially the Number One Way We Listen to Music in America
   Overall on-demand audio streams surpassed 251 billion in 2016–a 76 percent increase that accounts for 38 percent of the entire music consumption market.  Plus, “the on-demand audio streaming share [of total music consumption] has now surpassed total digital sales (digital albums + digital track equivalents) for the first time in history.” 
As previously reported by BuzzAngle, there were more streams on an average day in 2016 than song downloads for the entire year.  (An average of 1.2 billion streams per day versus 734 million downloads for all of 2016.)

So that’s what that was…
Audubon Online Guide to Identifying Birds
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jan 8, 2017
If you are at all interested in birding, bird watching, feeding birds at your feeders, then please take some time to visit this beautiful and educational site.  It provides extensively documented information on specific birds and raptors, including multiple sets of photographs of species and subspecies, stories about each subject as well as audio of bird calls, quizzes to test your birding ID skills, as well as teaching us about the flyways traveled by birds each spring and fall.  Birds and raptors are with us regardless of the seasons or our geographic location – take the opportunity to learn more about them, and to participate in bird and raptor conservation efforts.

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