Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Our infrastructure is not really that fragile, but interconnections may make it seem so.
Update: 11-hour AWS failure hits websites and apps
Amazon Web Services, a major cloud hosting service, had a system failure on Tuesday that affected numerous websites and apps. 
The issue was not fixed until just before 5 p.m. ET.
“As of [4:49 p.m. ET] we are fully recovered for operations for adding new objects in S3, which was our last operation showing a high error rate.  The Amazon S3 service is operating normally,” the company reported.
The problem had lasted for approximately 11 hours and caused problems for  websites and online services throughout the day.
AWS had reported on its Service Health Dashboard at 2:35 p.m. ET that its engineers were working on the problem, which affected websites including Netflix, Reddit and Adobe. 
The Associated Press reported that its own photos, webfeeds and other online services were also affected.  And at approximately 3 p.m. ET, Mashable tweeted that it was also struggling.

"We can't publish our story about AWS being down because, well, AWS is down," the news outlet tweeted.

Computer Security students: How did you think they would respond?  Give up crime and become monks?
Online Fraud in the U.S. Grew Dramatically Post-EMV
The introduction of EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) cards, also known as chip-and-PIN cards, into the U.S. has had the expected effect: with card present fraud more difficult, fraudsters have moved to on-line card-not-present fraud.  Domestic online fraud became 79% riskier in 2016 than it had been in 2015, according to figures come from the Forter/MRC Fraud Attack Index (PDF).
Forter, which provides a fraud detection system for merchants, teamed with the Merchant Risk Council (which currently has almost 450 member companies in more than 20 countries) to develop a Fraud Attack Index.  This is defined as the 'dollars at risk per $100 of sales'.  The 'dollars at risk' combines detected and prevented fraud with actual fraud.
The relative simplicity of cloning non-EMV cards made domestic (ie, US) off-line card-present fraud attractive.  This is no longer easy.  The introduction of more secure EMV cards has driven fraudsters from card-present to card-not-present fraud -- EMV was never going to eliminate fraud, it was merely going to change its nature.  This is shown in the fraud attack index for 2016, rising from $2.7 in Q4 2015 to $4.98 in Q4 2016.

Privacy issues that AI can’t or shouldn’t deal with?  Should Facebook tell friends of the potential suicide?  How about neighbors?  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is the start of a good thing.  How do we hurry development along?
Facebook artificial intelligence spots suicidal users
The social network has developed algorithms that spot warning signs in users' posts and the comments their friends leave in response.
After confirmation by Facebook's human review team, the company contacts those thought to be at risk of self-harm to suggest ways they can seek help.
   The tool is being tested only in the US at present.
   It has now developed pattern-recognition algorithms to recognise if someone is struggling, by training them with examples of the posts that have previously been flagged.
Talk of sadness and pain, for example, would be one signal.
Responses from friends with phrases such as "Are you OK?" or "I'm worried about you," would be another.
   Ms Callison-Burch acknowledged that contact from friends or family was typically more effective than a message from Facebook, but added that it would not always be appropriate for it to inform them.

We need to understand how this works so we can keep it from becoming the only tool politicians use?
Throughout the recent U.S. presidential campaign, commentators of all political stripes urged Donald Trump to give his Twitter account a rest.  He ignored them, bypassing mainstream media in favor of a technology that continued to deliver his provocative messages directly, frequently, at all hours, and without filters.  While no hard proof exists that his tweets put him over the top in the election, they undeniably riveted the attention of a broad public, media included — and continue to do so.  Here’s what business leaders can learn from the tweeter-in-chief about trying to win over large segments of consumers through social media.

In series of paper researchers document how Twitter impacted who won US Presidential election
by on
University of Rochester – “Luo and Wang, a dual PhD candidate in political and computer science, summarized their findings in eight papers during the course of the campaign, including these observations:
  • The more Donald Trump tweeted, the faster his following grew–even after he performed poorly in debates against other Republican candidates, and even after he sparked controversies, such as proposing a ban on Muslim immigration. (Read the paper.)
  • When Trump accused Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman card,” women were more likely to follow Clinton and less likely to “un-follow” her during the week that followed.  But it did not affect the gender composition of Trump followers. (Read the paper.)
  • Moreover, a “gender affinity effect” seen in other elections–women tending to vote for women–did not appear to be working for Clinton as the primaries drew to a close. The percentage of female Twitter followers in the Clinton camp was no larger than that in the Trump camp. Moreover, though “un-followers” were more likely to be female for both candidates, the phenomenon was “particularly pronounced” for Clinton. (Read the paper.)
  • At the same time, several polls, including ABC/Washington Post and CBS/New York Times, suggested that some Bernie Sanders supporters might “jump ship” from the Democratic column, and end up voting for Trump if Sanders dropped out. Luo and Wang found supporting evidence, reporting that the number of Bernie Sanders followers who were also following Trump was increasing–but the number also following Clinton was declining. The dual Sanders/Trump followers were also disproportionately (up to 64 percent) male. (Read the paper.)

Perhaps the problem goes beyond the Oscars?
From the Oscars to the Oval Office, tweeting and texting at work is catching flak
   “Distracted working has become the distracted driving in the workplace,” says Steve Langerud, workplace consultant and principal of Steve Langerud & Associates in Grinnell, Iowa.  “My clients ask regularly about how to manage employees who text at work.”
While major gaffes like Sunday’s mix-up of Best Picture are rare, “the bigger issue is how present employees are at work,” Langerud says.
Indeed, one in five employers think that employees are productive fewer than five hours a day, with most citing smartphone use as the culprit, a 2016 CareerBuilder report of hiring managers found.
Despite repeated warnings, people still get fired for sending an inappropriate photo or tweet.  The problem with sites like Twitter and Instagram is that immediacy and informality are also social media’s greatest dangers, experts say.  And in many cases, there’s no turning back once you hit “send” and there are plenty of reasons not to.  
   There’s a growing body of research supporting “nomophobia” — the fear of being without your cellphone.  Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they couldn’t go a day without their smartphone, according to a 2014 Bank of America survey.  

Make an App, no matter how narrow your focus and sell the company for big bucks? 
Yelp acquires restaurant waiting list tech startup Nowait in a $40 million all-cash deal
   Founded out of Pittsburgh in 2010, Nowait integrates its technology with that of restaurants to streamline and optimize front-of-house operations, including table turnover and waiting lists.
   The partnership was also designed to enable Yelp users to verify restaurants’ waiting times and start queuing remotely — all without leaving the Yelp app.  When a diner’s table is good to go, they receive a message, and the Yelp user can message back to say if they’re running late or whether they’re just a few seconds away.  It essentially replaces archaic systems involving handheld buzzers or pieces of paper — now everything happens through a smartphone.

As long as it’s not Soylent Green!
Subway chicken in Canada was part meat, part something else, according to DNA analysis
   A researcher delved into the DNA of chicken sold at various fast food restaurants, at the request of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Marketplace” program.  Not all poultry, the CBC reported, was as it seemed.
Four of the five fast food joints were mostly hawking the real bird.  McDonald’s grilled country chicken, for instance, contained 90 percent chicken DNA.
But the chicken tucked into the world’s most ubiquitous submarine sandwiches proved to be an outlier.  The chicken sold at Subway — which has the most restaurant locations of any fast food chain on the planet — was found to be almost equal parts meat to soy, based on DNA.

More tools for my researching students.

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