Monday, February 27, 2017

How would you explain this to your boss?  “We forgot about them?”  “What-his-name must have done that just before he retired?”  “We have backups?” 
Zack Whittaker reports:
A security lapse at a New York international airport left its server backups exposed on the open internet for almost a year, ZDNet has found.
The internet-connected storage drive contained several backup images of servers used by Stewart International Airport, but neither the backup drive nor the disk images were password protected, allowing anyone to access their contents.
Read more on ZDNet.

“Icantremembermypassword” is not a good password. 
Many ‘password challenged’ internet users don’t take steps that could protect their data
by on
“In today’s digitally connected world, where accessing medical records, ordering groceries and paying taxes can all be done online, many internet users find it daunting to keep up with all the various passwords associated with their online accounts.  One consequence is that a significant minority of users settle for less secure passwords they can more easily remember.  A new Pew Research Center report finds that 39% of online adults report having a hard time keeping track of their passwords.  Compared with the 60% of online adults who do not express difficulties keeping up with their passwords, this “password challenged” group also tends to be more worried over the safety and security of their passwords…”

A tool for my Computer Security students.
Google Hands Over Email Encryption App to Community
The tech giant first announced its End-to-End email encryption project in June 2014 and released its source code a few months later.  The goal was to create a Chrome extension that would make it easier for less tech savvy people to encrypt their emails using the OpenPGP standard.
The End-to-End crypto library has been used for several projects, including E2EMail, a Gmail client that runs independently of the normal Gmail interface and allows users to send and receive encrypted emails.
The E2EMail source code has been available on GitHub for the past year and it has received contributions from several security engineers.  The search giant has now announced that E2EMail is not a Google product and instead it has become a “fully community-driven open source project.”

Make Ebola at home?
DIY Gene Editing: Fast, Cheap—and Worrisome
   Crispr gene editing by amateurs and hobbyists brings an unusual set of challenges. Crispr-Cas9 is easier, faster and cheaper than previous gene-editing techniques. While that raises the prospect of people with nefarious intent gaining access, the greater concern with amateur enthusiasts is that someone might make a seemingly innocuous gene edit in a fungus, insect or plant that turns out to wreak havoc on the environment.
“The question is, can we rely on individuals to conduct their experiments in an ethical and appropriately safe way?” says Maxwell Mehlman, a professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, who is working with do-it-yourself scientists to develop DIY Crispr ethical guidelines.
   A do-it-yourself Crispr kit with enough material to perform five experiments gene-editing the bacteria included in the package is available online for $150.  Genspace, the Brooklyn, N.Y., community lab where Mr. Sadeghi is learning how to use Crispr to edit a gene in brewer’s yeast, charges $400 for four intensive sessions.  More than 80 people have taken the classes since the lab started offering them last year.

Good news or bad?  If they are bolted to the floor of an auto assembly plant, will they feel the need to revolt?  Somehow, I’m not too worried.
Within 30 years, artificial intelligence will be smarter than the human brain.
That is according to Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group Corp, who says that supersmart robots will outnumber humans and more than a trillion objects will be connected to the internet within three decades.
   In his speech, Mr. Son said that while average humans had an IQ of roughly 100 and that geniuses such as Albert Einsten were believed to score around 200, superintelligent computers would have IQs of 10,000.  He said computer chips possessing superintelligence would be put into robots big and small that can fly and swim.  These robots will number in the billions and would be greater than the human population within 30 years, he said.
The chips would also be in everyday objects.  “One of the chips in our shoes will be smarter than our brain,” he said.  “We will be less than our shoes, and we will be stepping on them.”

The next offensive in the grocery wars?  (All quiet on the mid-western front?) 
Exclusive: Wal-Mart launches new front in U.S. price war, targets Aldi in grocery aisle
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is running a new price-comparison test in at least 1,200 U.S. stores and squeezing packaged goods suppliers in a bid to close a pricing gap with German-based discount grocery chain Aldi and other U.S. rivals like Kroger Co, according to four sources familiar with the moves.
Wal-Mart launched the price test across 11 Midwest and Southeastern states such as Iowa, Illinois and Florida, focusing on price competition in the grocery business that accounts for 56 percent of the company's revenue, said vendor sources with direct knowledge of the matter who did not wish to be identified for fear of disrupting business relations with Wal-Mart.
   Spot checks by Reuters on a basket of grocery items sold by competing Aldi and Wal-Mart stores in five Iowa and Illinois cities showed Wal-Mart's bid to lower prices is already taking hold.  Wal-Mart consistently offered lower prices versus Aldi, an improvement over recent analyst estimates that Wal-Mart's prices have been as much as 20 percent higher than Aldi on many grocery staples.
The competition at these stores is intense, with both competitors selling a dozen large eggs for less than a dollar.  A gallon of milk at some stores was priced at around $1. 

Minimum Wage Hikes And Online Sales Will Save Wal-Mart, But Not Neighborhood Stores
   Minimum wage hikes have a mixed impact on Wal-Mart, the company that is.  On the one side, they help the top line, as they place more money into low-income customers who shop in its stores.
On the other hand, they hurt the bottom line, as they raise the cost of its own labor, which rises in line with minimum wage hikes.
This mixed impact of minimum wage hikes is reflected in Wal-Mart's most recent financial statement, revealing that same store sales rose slightly while earnings dropped sharply.
   Wal-Mart is also partnering with Uber and Lyft to home deliver groceries and general merchandise, bridging the “last mile” between customers and warehouses.  
   What does all this mean for the future of the company's stores? They will either be turned into warehouses that fill on-line orders or into fully automated Wal-Mart Go stores where customers will pick up merchandise ordered on-line.

Think of this as virtual robots, taking over trivial tasks in your home.  Soon women won’t need husbands at all!  
   As for what you can do with Assistant, think of it as an evolution of Google Search and "OK Google," with a bit of added functionality like smart home controls, remembering things, and an open API developers can plug into.  However, don't be surprised if you notice that Assistant on your phone is still oddly missing some features that Google Search has had for a while, like recognizing songs, reading messages, and adding items to specific Google Keep lists.

A word to my students (wise or other wise)
Across the U.S., change is coming for the ecosystem of employers, educational institutions and job-seekers who confront the increasingly software-driven nature of work.  A potent combination—a yawning skills gap, stagnant middle-class wages and diminished career prospects for millennials—is bringing about a rapid shift in the labor market for coders and other technical professionals.
Riding into the breach are “code schools,” a kind of vocational training that rams students through intense 12-week crash courses in precisely the software-development skills employers need.
Code schools aren’t the place to go if you want to be a “rock star” at Google or Facebook .  These are designed to turn out junior developers, or “apprentices” as they’re known at Software Guild, which currently has 16 instructors and 148 students split between in-person and online programs.  Students learn just enough to be dropped into teams of more experienced coders and continue their education at a company, even as they draw a competitive full-time salary.

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