Saturday, June 16, 2018
Trump-Kim Summit Attracts Wave of Cyber-Attacks on Singapore
The number of cyber-attacks targeting Singapore skyrocketed from June 11 to June 12, during the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un in a Singapore hotel, and most of these attacks originated from Russia, F5 Labs reports.
Russia has long been said to keep the United States under a continuous barrage of cyber-attacks, and even attracted a series of sanctions following the hacking aimed at the 2016 presidential election, which was supposedly the doing of state-sponsored Russian threat actors.
Thus, it’s no wonder the Trump-Kim summit earlier this week was targeted as well, but the number of assaults coming from Russia is indeed impressive: 88% of the total number of observed cyber-attacks came from this country. Furthermore, 97% of all the attacks that originated from Russian during the timeframe targeted Singapore, data from F5 Labs and Loryka reveals.
“We cannot prove they were nation-state sponsored attacks, however the attacks coincide with the day President Donald Trump met with North Korean President Kim Jong-un in a Singapore hotel. The attacks targeted VoIP phones and IoT devices, which appears to be more than a mere coincidence,” F5 says.
The cost of a software hack.
Volkswagen Group Fined an Additional $1.18 Billion for Emissions Cheating, More Suspects Emerge at Audi
In 2017, the U.S. hit Volkswagen with a $4.3 billion fine as part of the company’s plea agreement for violating of the Clean Air Act. It was a rough ride for the automaker, caught using defeat devices on its diesel engines, but it brought the scandal more or less to a close in America.
An ocean away, it seemed nothing would come of the endless raids by German authorities on VW-owned facilities. Apparently, the wheels of justice just turn a little slower in Europe, as the automaker was fined 1 billion euros on Wednesday. It’s one of the largest financial penalties ever imposed on a company by German authorities.
According to Reuters, Volkswagen is not contesting the penalty. “Following thorough examination, Volkswagen AG accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it. Volkswagen AG, by doing so, admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis and considers this as a further major step toward the latter being overcome,” the automaker said in a statement.
This might work in classrooms! Do they really need one jammer per cell?
Federal officials: Prison cellphone jamming test a success
Federal officials say they conducted a successful test earlier this year of a jamming technology some hope will help combat the threat posed by inmates with smuggled cellphones.
A report obtained Friday by The Associated Press details the January 17 test of micro-jamming technology at a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland. Officials say they were able to shut down phone signals inside a prison cell, while phones about 20 feet away worked normally.
I think this might be wise. (Not something I often say about California.)
California officials move to reject court ruling on coffee and cancer risk
California officials bucked a recent court ruling Friday and offered reassurance to concerned coffee drinkers that their fix won't give them cancer. The unprecedented action by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to propose a regulation to essentially clear coffee of the stigma that it could pose a toxic risk followed a review of more than 1,000 studies published this week by the World Health Organization that found inadequate evidence that coffee causes cancer.
The state agency implements a law passed by voters in 1986 that requires warnings of chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. One of those chemicals is acrylamide, which is found in many things and is a byproduct of coffee roasting and brewing present in every cup of joe.
If the regulation is adopted, it would be a huge win for the coffee industry which faces potentially massive civil penalties after recently losing an 8-year-old lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court that could require scary warnings on all coffee packaging sold in California.
Judge Elihu Berle found that Starbucks and other coffee roasters and retailers had failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any cancer risks. He had previously ruled the companies hadn't shown the threat from the chemical was insignificant.
… "The proposed regulation would state that drinking coffee does not pose a significant cancer risk, despite the presence of chemicals created during the roasting and brewing process that are listed under Proposition 65 as known carcinogens," the agency said in a statement. "The proposed regulation is based on extensive scientific evidence that drinking coffee has not been shown to increase the risk of cancer and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer."
Turning trash into treasure. Now that’s smart technology!
Chinese Smart Garbage Recycling Platform Xiaohuanggou Raises $164M Series A Round
… Founded in 2017, Dongguan, Guangdong-based Xiaohuanggou is owned by Paithink Group, an investment company that focuses on fintech. It places smart garbage recycling machines close to residential areas, hotels and business centers. With Xiaohuanggou’s app and WeChat mini-program, users can locate the nearby recycling stations. The machine will automatically weight the garbage and pay users by cash.
Its recycling station has several machines for different types of wastes, including paper, plastic, metal, waste textiles, glass and others. Its staff will then send the garbage to different specialized recycling organizations.
Perspective. The robots are already here! “Human! Fetch me a nice cup of WD40!”
In China, a picture of how warehouse jobs can vanish
JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce gargantuan, has built a big new Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack and ship 200,000 orders a day. It employs four people — all of whom service the robots.
The supply chain is the heart of a company’s operations. To make the best decisions, managers need access to real-time data about their supply chain, but the limitations of legacy technologies can thwart the goal of end-to-end transparency. However, those days may soon be behind us. New digital technologies that have the potential to take over supply chain management entirely are disrupting traditional ways of working. Within 5-10 years, the supply chain function may be obsolete, replaced by a smoothly running, self-regulating utility that optimally manages end-to-end work flows and requires very little human intervention.
With a digital foundation in place, companies can capture, analyze, integrate, easily access, and interpret high quality, real-time data — data that fuels process automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics, the technologies that will soon take over supply chain management.
Friday, June 15, 2018
Wait and see.
Cops Are Confident iPhone Hackers Have Found a Workaround to Apple’s New Security Feature
“Grayshift has gone to great lengths to future proof their technology and stated that they have already defeated this security feature in the beta build.”
Something for my Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery students to ponder. Inadequate redundancy? No deals with the other airlines in Charlotte?
FLIGHTS CANCELED: Chaos at Charlotte airport as thousands stranded
Thousands of passengers remain stranded Friday morning after all PSA flights were canceled at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Thursday night due to a technical issue, airline officials said.
There were roughly 275 flights canceled, with about 120 of them in Charlotte. The airport tweeted around 8 a.m. Friday that PSA plans to resume operations at noon though Channel 9 learned overnight that those flights would not resume until 6 p.m.
… On Thursday night a spokeswoman for American Airlines said there was no timeline for when the issue will be resolved.
Another tool my students need.
… It was all part of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policy which forced companies to give their customers much more control over the personal data they have collected.
As part of the reforms, Spotify introduced a new privacy tool. It allows you to download and view all the data that Spotify holds on you. Let’s look at how it works.
Ethical AI, an oxymoron?
European Commission names 52 experts to its AI advisory board
The European Commission today named 52 experts to its High Level Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLG), an advisory body tasked with drafting AI ethics guidelines, anticipating challenges and opportunities in AI, and steering the course of Europe’s machine learning investments.
The 52 new members — 30 men and 22 women — were selected from an applicant pool of 500 and come from titans of industry like Bosch, BMW, Bayer, and AXA, in addition to AI research leaders that include Google, IBM, Nokia Bell Labs, STMicroelectronics, Telenor, Zalando, Element AI, Orange, SAP, Sigfox, and Santander.
… As part of that engagement effort, the Alliance today launched a public online platform of discussion forums, blogs, documents, and events meant to foster conversations about AI. A list of planned AI HLG and AI Alliance meetings, workshops, and consultations will be made available online via the Commission’s Register of Expert Groups.
… Today’s announcement comes just over a month after the White House set up a task force dedicated to U.S. artificial intelligence efforts.
Was it always this easy to do?
Facebook Claims 99% of Extremist Content Removed Without Users' Help
At this week's International Homeland Security Forum (IHSF) hosted in Jerusalem by Israel’s minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, Facebook claimed growing success in its battle to remove extremist content from the network.
Dr. Erin Marie Saltman, Facebook counterterrorism policy lead for EMEA, said, "On Terrorism content, 99% of terrorist content from ISIS and al-Qaida we take down ourselves, without a single user flagging it to us. In the first quarter of 2018 we took down 1.9 million pieces of this type of terrorist content."
This was achieved by a combination of Facebook staff and machine learning algorithms.
… However, the implication that Facebook is winning the war against extremism is countered by a report ('Spiders of the Caliphate: Mapping the Islamic Stateís Global Support Network on Facebook' PDF) published in May 2018 by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP).
Learn how Google (and the world?) looks at your online actions?
Google, seemingly aware that people are unnerved by just how much ad networks know about us, today said it’s refining how it lets you control what ads you see. The company has updated its ad personalization settings page, and in the process, has kindly reminded us that it’s easy to turn off personalized ads altogether.
If you currently have the ad personalization feature turned on, Google’s refreshed Ad Settings page should include a list of topics and categories that Google is potentially using to serve you ads.
… Google is also updating its Why This Ad? links, product manager Philippe de Lurand Pierre-Paul wrote in a blog post on June 14: “We’ve now significantly expanded coverage of this feature; starting today, you’ll see Why this ad? notices on all our services that show Google Ads ...
… Google’s update today is a good reminder to turn off targeted ads if you’d rather not have companies targeting you as precisely as Google allows. You can view your current settings here. If you have multiple Google accounts, you’ll need to adjust each one.
This is news.
After years of growth, the use of social media for news is falling across the world
NiemanLab: “…People are becoming disenchanted with Facebook for news. The “Trump bump” appears to be sustaining itself. And younger people are more likely to donate money to a news organization than older people. These are some of the findings from a big new report out Thursday from Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report for 2018 surveyed more than 74,000 people in 37 countries about their digital news consumption. (Included in the report for the first time this year: Bulgaria.) The research is based on online YouGov surveys earlier this year, followed by face-to-face focus groups in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Brazil on the topics of social media and messaging apps. The report includes a number of findings on fake news, misinformation, and trust in the media; for more on those topics, see this piece by the report’s authors, and I’ll also include some more info in Friday’s fake news column…”
Are you counting?
Facebook is building a big new $750 million data center in Alabama
On Thursday, the social networking giant announced it was building a new 970,000 square foot facility in Huntsville, a city in the northern part of the US state.
… The company now builds and open-sources its own data center hardware through the Open Compute Project, an initiative to make data center designs freely available to engineers — and underming the traditional server industry in the process.
Bird is the fastest startup ever to reach a $1 billion valuation
… People familiar with the deal told Quartz that at least three investors involved in that round—Sequoia, Accel, and Tusk Ventures—have already signed documents and wired money to Bird.
Bird is now raising additional funds in the series C round, seeking a total of $300 million, which would value it around $2 billion, sources familiar with the deal said. “People have definitely given them cash at the $2 billion valuation,” one of the people told Quartz.
… Bird is still remarkable for how quickly it achieved unicorn status. Founded in September 2017, Bird hit the $1 billion marker in well under a year, the fastest ever.
(Related) Is this a not-so-subtle bubble warning?
Unicorns Are Worth Twice As Much As Last Month
If SoftBank keeps throwing cash at startups like WeWork, the numbers will start to lose their meaning.
… “When the ducks are quacking, feed them,” capital markets bankers will tell you, and Bird took that lesson to its avian heart.
In other totally normal unicorn rapid valuation-doubling news:
SoftBank Group Corp. is in discussions to invest another giant slug of capital in WeWork Cos., with a deal that would value the shared-office company at $35 billion to $40 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Such an investment would roughly double WeWork’s $20 billion valuation, set last August when SoftBank invested $4.4 billion in the company.
I have to say, if SoftBank is going to become the entire market for hot private technology startups, then every valuation is going to be marked-to-SoftBank, and the numbers will start to lose their meaning.
Free money? It’s a bit more complicated than that.
If You’re A Facebook User, You’re Also a Research Subject
The professor was incredulous. David Craig had been studying the rise of entertainment on social media for several years when a Facebook Inc. employee he didn’t know emailed him last December, asking about his research. “I thought I was being pumped,” Craig said. The company flew him to Menlo Park and offered him $25,000 to fund his ongoing projects, with no obligation to do anything in return.
… The free gifts are just one of the little-known and complicated ways Facebook works with academic researchers. For scholars, the scale of Facebook’s 2.2 billion users provides an irresistible way to investigate how human nature may play out on, and be shaped by, the social network. For Facebook, the motivations to work with outside academics are far thornier, and it’s Facebook that decides who gets access to its data to examine its impact on society.
… More than a hundred Ph.D.-level researchers work on Facebook’s in-house core data science team, and employees say the information that points to growth has had more of an impact on the company's direction than Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s ideas.
Facebook is far more hesitant to work with outsiders; it risks unflattering findings, leaks of proprietary information, and privacy breaches. But Facebook likes it when external research proves that Facebook is great. And in the fierce talent wars of Silicon Valley, working with professors can make it easier to recruit their students.
… The company has stopped short of pursuing deeper research on potentially negative fallout of its power. According to its public database of published research, Facebook’s written more than 180 public papers about artificial intelligence but just one study about elections, based on an experiment Facebook ran on 61 million users to mobilize voters in the Congressional midterms back in 2010.
BB-8 in Colorado.
Sphero raises $12M as it focuses on education
This year has been a rough one for Sphero. The Colorado-based toy robotics startup kicked off the year with dozens of layoffs, a result of tepid interest in its line of Disney-branded consumer products.
Here’s a little good news, however. The company has raised another $12 million, bringing its total up to around $119 million, according to Crunchbase. The latest round will go into helping shape the BB-8 maker into an education-first company.
Most are words I’ve never heard of…
New words list June 2018
Oxford English Dictionary
Now there’s an App for making an App for that!
App Maker, Google’s low-code tool for building business apps, comes out of beta
It’s been a year and a half since Google announced App Maker, its online tool for quickly building and deploying business apps on the web. The company has mostly remained quiet about App Maker ever since and kept it in a private preview mode, but today, it announced that the service is now generally available and open to all developers who want to give it a try.
Access to App Maker comes with any G Suite Business and Enterprise subscription, as well as the G Suite for Education edition. The overall idea here is to help virtually anybody in an organization — including those with little to no coding experience — to build their own line-of-business apps based on data that’s already stored in G Suite, Google’s Cloud SQL database or any other database that supports JDBC or that offers a REST API (that that’s obviously a bit more of an advanced operation).
Thursday, June 14, 2018
A question for my Computer Security students. Should the US do this? Can we assume that Russia is getting some value from this effort or do you think it is only done because they are paranoid?
World Cup: US Spy Warns Russians Will Hack Phones, Computers
A top US intelligence official warned football fans traveling to Russia for the World Cup that their phones and computers could be hacked by Moscow's cyber spies.
William Evanina, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that in Russia, even people who believe they are too unimportant to be hacked can be targeted.
… "Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you're too insignificant to be targeted."
Interesting talk (in English) on Complexity.
[and his slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17bKudNDduvN-7hWv7S84MiHUj2AnOPNbwjTM8euDC8w/edit#slide=id.p1
What should Apple do, leave all their customers vulnerable?
Apple is reportedly closing a security loophole that will prevent police from accessing iPhones
Apple is reportedly changing the default settings on iPhones to close a loophole which can be used to access locked phones via the charging and data port.
The software update, reported by The New York Times, will disable the iPhone's Lightning port an hour after the phone is locked. After that, a user will be able to charge the phone, but unable to transfer any data to or from the device unless the passcode is entered.
The update will block anyone using a GrayKey device, which costs $15,000 (£11,000) and can be used to hack into iPhones via the Lightning port. Multiple US law enforcement agencies have purchased such devices, including the Drug Enforcement Administration.
… "We're constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data," Apple spokesman, Fred Sainz, said in an email quoted by the New York Times.
"We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don't design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs."
Mozilla Asked People How They Feel About Facebook. Here’s What They Said
Medium: “47,000 people responded to our survey asking how they feel about Facebook. The data is interesting and open for your exploration. Facebook has been in the news a lot lately. It started with the announcement that over 87 million Facebook users had their personal information shared with the private firm Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge. Since then, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified twice in front of the US Congress and people all around the world have been talking about Facebook’s data practices. We took this opportunity to survey people on how they felt about Facebook these days. The results are in and they are interesting. The top takeaways? Most people (76%) say they are very concerned about the safety of their personal information online. Yet few people (24%) reported making changes to their Facebook accounts following the recent news of privacy concerns around Facebook. The majority of people who responded to our survey (65%) see themselves — rather than companies or the government — as being most responsible for protecting their personal information online. And very few people (only 12%) said they would consider paying for Facebook, even a version of Facebook that doesn’t make money by collecting and selling personal data…”
For my next Data Management class.
A new way to look at knowledge management
Nick Milton – Knoco: The relationship between knowledge and information has always been problematical. Here is a new way to look at it.
The Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom pyramid is a very common diagram in the KM world, but despite its ubiquity and simplicity it has many problems:
It implies that each class can be turned into the next by some sort of transformation process, so that information plus something turns into knowledge. However it is not as simple as that. Much or most knowledge comes from experience and insight rather than from information. Knowledge is something you add to information in order to be able to take action; it is not necessarily something you derive from information.
It implies a hard distinction between each of the four, whereas information and knowledge potentially overlap. Documented knowledge is knowledge, but its also information. Not all knowledge is information, and not all information is knowledge, but some is both information and knowledge.
It implies wisdom is somehow part of the same family as data and information, and it isn’t. Wisdom is more of a virtue or a spiritual quality, and not amenable to management discipline…”
An over-reactive strategy? Amazon did it, so we have to jump on it too or Amazon will own the market? Easy to sell to any company that feels threatened, but what is Amazon determined that it was a bad idea?
Exclusive: Microsoft takes aim at Amazon with push for checkout-free retail
Microsoft Corp is working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, in a nascent challenge to Amazon.com Inc’s automated grocery shop, six people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
… Microsoft’s technology aims to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, a highly automated store that opened to the public in Seattle in January. Amazon customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter. Cameras and sensors identify what they remove from the shelves. When customers are finished shopping, they simply leave the store and Amazon bills their credit cards on file.
Perspective. Wakanda is real? Perhaps I should expand my list of tech cultures.
Google will open an AI center in Ghana later this year, its first in Africa
… Today, Google announced its next AI research center will be in Accra, Ghana.
“In recent years, we’ve … witnessed an increasing interest in machine learning research across the continent,” senior Google AI fellow Jeff Dean and staff research scientist Moustapha Cisse wrote in a blog post. “Events like Data Science Africa 2017 in Tanzania, the 2017 Deep Learning Indaba event in South Africa, and follow-on IndabaX events in 2018 in multiple countries have shown an exciting and continuing growth of the computer science research community in Africa.”
Google said that employees in the new AI center, which will open later this year, will work closely with local universities, other research centers, and policymakers on the potential uses of AI in Africa. This is Google’s first center devoted solely to AI research in Africa and, as far as we can tell, the first from any tech giant (beating Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft to the punch).
… Google isn’t the only one investing in AI programs abroad. Early in 2018, Samsung announced the opening of new research centers in Toronto; Moscow; and Cambridge, England. Ecommerce company Etsy said it would open AI R&D offices in Toronto by the end of this year. And in January, Google and Facebook pledged to expand their AI investment in France.
Schooling the Justice Department. Definitely worth reading!
This week’s decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to allow AT&T and Time Warner to complete their merger will bring to a close a deal that has been pending for almost two years.
In his blistering, 172-page decision, Judge Leon did much more than simply reject the government’s claim that combining two companies that do not compete with each other would harm consumers. He also made clear, as a matter of federal law, that the U.S. Justice Department’s view of a static media landscape is dead and buried.
“If there ever were an antitrust case where the parties had a dramatically different assessment of the current state of the relevant market and a fundamentally different vision of its future development,” Judge Leon began his decision, “this is the one.”
A new legal specialty!
… As more and more lawyers specialize in cannabis law, that means increasing competition among them. As competition increases, firms ramp up their cannabis-related marketing. For many, a key piece of that marketing is a cannabis law blog.
So clearly it’s not the ability to do math.
Where Boys Outperform Girls in Math: Rich, White and Suburban Districts
In much of the country, the stereotype that boys do better than girls at math isn’t true – on average, they perform about the same, at least through eighth grade. But there’s a notable exception.
In school districts that are mostly rich, white and suburban, boys are much more likely to outperform girls in math, according to a new study from Stanford researchers, one of the most comprehensive looks at the gender gap in test scores at the school district level.
… On English tests, girls test better than boys regardless of their parents’ socioeconomic status.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
AI for Hackers? Why not?
Tom Warren reports:
Microsoft has issued a Windows 10 security update to prevent hackers from breaking into PCs using Cortana. Microsoft’s digital assistant is built into every version of Windows 10, McAfee security researchers discovered it could be summoned from a lock screen to execute malicious software. Any potential hacker would need physical access to a PC, and McAfee details methods to get the digital assistant to index files from a USB drive and execute them.
These files could be executable ones, or Powershell scripts that can even go as far as resetting a Windows 10 account password.
Read more on The Verge.
Sounds like an exam question: How do you ensure contractors follow your security rules?
… A lawsuit filed by former employee Amy Liu this month alleges that Clarifai’s computer systems were compromised by one or more people in Russia, potentially exposing technology used by the US military to an adversary. The lawsuit says Clarifai learned of the breach last November, but that Clarifai’s CEO and other executives did not promptly report it to the Pentagon.
So the short answer is, Nope!
Paper – Can Fact-checking Prevent Politicians from Lying?
“Abstract – Journalists now regularly trumpet fact-checking as an important tool to hold politicians accountable for their public statements, but fact checking’s effect has only been assessed anecdotally and in experiments on politicians holding lower-level offices. Using a rigorous research design to estimate the effects of fact-checking on presidential candidates, this paper shows that a fact-checker deeming a statement false false causes a 9.5 percentage points reduction in the probability that the candidate repeats the claim. To eliminate alternative explanations that could confound this estimate, I use two types of difference-in-differences analyses, each using true-rated claims and “checkable but unchecked” claims, a placebo test using hypothetical fact-check dates, and a topic model to condition on the topic of the candidate’s statement. This paper contributes to the literature on how news media can hold politicians accountable, showing that when news organizations label a statement as inaccurate, they affect candidate behavior.”
For my students, to compare with their ATM App.
The Unbearable Awkwardness of Automation
… The ATM is one of the most visible and familiar symbols of automation, its 24-hour service demanding neither coffee breaks nor health insurance.
… It’s not just banks. Automation has also changed how people shop, park, fly, and more. In the process, it has reshaped the architecture that contains those experiences—making them more efficient, often, but also putting machines above people.
AI for the everyday...
Google Translate is rolling out offline AI-based translations that you can download
Google has rolled out offline downloads for its AI-powered translator. So if you don’t have unlimited data or you have a plan that doesn’t work internationally, you can now download neural machine translation from Google’s Android and iOS apps.
… Here’s a full list of the 59 available languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jannada, Korean, Lavtian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Welsh
Perspective. Disrupting traditional economic models?
E-Commerce Might Help Solve the Mystery of Low Inflation
Unemployment is sinking and businesses are churning out more goods and services. Yet even with the economy standing on tippy toes, prices and wages are climbing a lot more slowly than anyone has expected.
Now a growing body of research is putting the blame more pointedly on e-commerce. The spectacular growth in online shopping, it turns out, is not only tamping down inflation more than previously thought, but also distorting the way it is measured.
Another set of research tools.
CRS – Resources for Key Economic Indicators
Via EveryCRSReport – Resources for Key Economic Indicators:, May 30, 2018: An understanding of economic indicators and their significance is seen as essential to the formulation of economic policies. These indicators, or statistics, provide snapshots of an economy’s health as well as starting points for economic analysis. This report contains a list of selected authoritative U.S. government sources of economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), income, inflation, and labor force (including employment and unemployment) statistics. Additional content includes related resources, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and links to external glossaries.”
Just another (somewhat uneven) tool.
Google Wants to Play a Bigger Role in Your College Search. Here’s What You Need to Know
Google waded into the college-search process on Tuesday, announcing that it would elevate certain statistics about four-year colleges when people use the ubiquitous search engine to seek out information.
Here’s what that will look like in practice, Google says: Enter “University of Montana” into the search bar, and a prominent result will be a selection of statistics about the institution — its graduation rate and average cost after financial aid, among other things.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
...but they missed Russian meddling, so what are they concentrating on?
… Law enforcement officials arrested 74 people for allegedly carrying out business email compromise (BEC) schemes, or “cyber-enabled financial fraud" as part of Operation Wire Wire, according to a DOJ press release.
Hackers execute BEC scams by impersonating employees or business executives after gaining access to their email accounts. These types of attacks use social engineering tactics to trick unsuspecting employees and business executives into making wire transfers to bank accounts that are controlled by the criminals. The elderly are particularly targeted in BEC schemes.
The Justice Department coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Treasury Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to track the suspected cyber crooks, which ultimately resulted in the arrest of 42 alleged fraudsters in the United States and 29 in Nigeria.
Has management lost the ability to learn from the mistakes of others? Do they even look outside their own narrow focus? Does the US have anything set up to review software? AI software might be more of a concern than emission controlling software.
German ministry says 774,000 Mercedes cars contain unauthorized software
Germany's Transport Ministry on Monday said 774,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles were found to contain unauthorized software defeat devices in Europe and ordered Daimler to recall 238,000 cars in Germany.
… Daimler confirmed the recall to CNBC and said "open legal questions will be clarified" during discussions with the German Ministry of Transport.
Daimler is not the first German automaker to be investigated for the use of devices meant to defeat diesel emissions tests. Volkswagen was slapped with roughly $30 billion in fines over an emissions cheating scandal that began in 2015, after it was revealed the automaker had outfitted defeat devices on millions of vehicles worldwide.
Since the best stories are always the horror stories, I doubt this will change anything.
Federal Aviation Administration drone rules 'overly strict,' new report says
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking an "overly conservative" approach to integrating drones into the national airspace, according to a report requested by Congress and released Monday by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Math (NASEM).
The agency "tends to overestimate the severity and likelihood" of potential dangers associated with drones, NASEM said and maintains a "near-zero tolerance for risk" despite the life-saving potential of drones.
Since I train disrupters, this is a must read.
Three Signals Your Industry Is About to Be Disrupted
Legacy companies are falling like dominoes to disruptors. Together, emerging technology and new business models have created new ways of serving customers. The same way Airbnb, Uber, and LinkedIn fundamentally changed the lodging, taxi, and recruiting industries, titans such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook are now poised to disrupt every industry as wide-ranging as health insurers to grocers. It’s safe to say that no industry will be left untouched — but is yours next?
A number of industries seem to be “safe” from disruption, but often the markets most at risk do not see it coming. Who would have predicted, for example, that Amazon would follow its acquisition of Whole Foods Market with a jump into health care? We have looked at common patterns among more recent business model innovations and determined three major signals that your industry could be on the precipice of major change.
Sign # 1: Your Industry Has Significant Regulatory Burdens
Sign # 2: Your Customers Have to Work at Managing Their Costs
Sign # 3: Your Customers’ Experience Isn’t Positive — or Even Neutral
Because with the Quarter over, what else do my students have to do?
Here are 454 pages of Facebook’s written follow-up answers to Congress
Facebook finished its homework. In a pair of newly uploaded letters, the two Senate committees that grilled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in April have published the social media giant’s written answers to their considerable body of questions.
(Related) Expect lots of articles like this as everyone pours over the Responses.
Here Are 18 Things You Might Not Have Realized Facebook Tracks About You
BuzzFeed: “When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said he’d have his team follow up on questions he couldn’t answer in full during the hearing. On Monday, Congress released a massive document with written answers to those questions. These responses were a good reminder that Facebook records a ton of information about you, including:
mouse movements on your computer
information about “nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers”
“purchases [users] make” on off-Facebook websites
import their contact information”…”
Perhaps Colorado could sell advertising rights to potholes they repair?
This feels like something from a William Gibson cyberpunk dystopia novel, where the government has become so weak and useless, private corporations have been taking over the basic upkeep of the nation. But it’s not a William Gibson novel, there’s no plucky protagonist with some sort of cybernetic implant, it’s just America in 2018, with crumbling roads that Domino’s has decided to fix. For the sake of the pizzas.
Domino’s is tired of their innocent pizzas, who only wish to serve humankind, being beaten all to hell by poorly-maintained roads. They even have a website that shows, in graphic, pizza-box-cam detail, what brutal hell pizzas are put through when their delivery vehicle impacts a pothole.
… To remedy this, Domino’s has been hiring work crews to repair potholes in a number of cities, including Burbank, CA (five holes fixed), Bartonville, TX (eight holes), an impressive 40 holes fixed in Milford, DE, and an astounding 150 potholes filled in Athens, GA.
It’s not entirely altruistic, of course. Domino’s tags every filled pothole with their logo and the tagline “OH YES WE DID.”
For the next time I teach Math.
Three Good PowerPoint Add-ins for Math Teachers
PowerPoint has many features that students and teachers often overlook. That's bound to happen with any program that has been around as long as PowerPoint has and includes as many features as PowerPoint does. One of those overlooked features is found in the Add-ins available for PowerPoint. Browse through the gallery of Add-ins and you'll find some excellent tools for math teachers and students.
The GeoGebra PowerPoint Add-in lets you access GeoGebra materials directly from your PowerPoint slides. You can also use the Add-in to create graphs, shapes, and spreadsheets within your slides. The GeoGebra PowerPoint Add-in works in the desktop and online versions of PowerPoint.
Khan Academy's math videos and math practice exercises are available in a PowerPoint Add-in. The Khan Academy PowerPoint Add-in lets you find videos and exercises to insert directly into slides. The exercises that you insert into your slides are fully functional which means that you could use them for live demonstrations without having to leave your slides.
PhET provides free interactive math and science simulations covering topics in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. In the PhET library you'll find simulations appropriate for elementary, middle, high school, and university students. More than 50 of the PhET simulations are available to insert into PowerPoint presentations through the use of PhET's free PowerPoint Add-in. With the Add-in installed you can browse the available simulations and insert them into your slides. The simulations work in your slide just as they do on the PhET website.
Monday, June 11, 2018
Can’t imagine the scams we could run with more advanced AI? You won’t have to wait long to find out.
It Is Mind-Bogglingly Easy to Rope Apple’s Siri into Phishing Scams
A month ago I was milling about a hotel room in New Orleans, procrastinating my prep for on-stage sessions at a tech conference, when I received a startling iMessage. “It’s Alan Murray,” the note said, referring to my boss’ boss’ boss.
Not in the habit of having Mr. Murray text my phone, I sat up straighter. “Please post your latest story here,” he wrote, including a link to a site purporting to be related to Microsoft 365, replete with Microsoft’s official corporate logo and everything. In the header of the iMessage thread, Apple’s virtual assistant Siri offered a suggestion: “Maybe: Alan Murray.”
The sight made me stagger, if momentarily. Then I remembered: A week or so earlier I had granted a cybersecurity startup, Wandera, permission to demonstrate a phishing attack on me. They called it, “Call Me Maybe.”
… Wandera reported the problem as a security issue to Apple on April 25th. Apple sent a preliminary response a week later, and a few days after that said it did not consider the issue to be a “security vulnerability,” and that it had reclassified the bug as a software issue “to help get it resolved.”
What’s alarming about the ploy is how little effort it takes to pull off. “We didn’t do anything crazy here like jailbreak a phone or a Hollywood style attack—we’re not hacking into cell towers,” said Dan Cuddeford, Wandera’s director of engineering. “But it’s something that your layman hacker or social engineer might be able to do.
For my Software Architecture students.
What We've Got Here is Failure to Communicate!
Many enterprises have been taking stock of their security architecture as well as assessing gaps and redundancies (see last month’s article Wading Through Tool Overload and Redundancy?). Sometimes it is the result of a post breach investigation, and the post investigation finger pointing. Sometimes it is due to new management taking stock of the company’s risk exposure. Sometimes it is a financially driven exercise to better understand budgets and bang for the buck. Regardless of the motivation, what many are finding is that they don’t really have an architecture so much as a bunch of disparate parts sitting in silos across the environment. Looking back at it all, CISOs may wonder how they got there, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Another Architecture article. I assigned a project (due this week) to develop the architecture for a banking (ATM) App. I wonder if any of my students even considered some of these features?
Monzo's big smart bank move links your money to Alexa, Twitter and pretty much anything else
Want your Amazon Echo to play Money, Money, Money every time you get paid? Or for your debit card to automatically record every purchase you make on a budgeting spreadsheet? Well, challenger bank Monzo is making a move to become the UK's first smart bank and is using If This Then That (IFTTT) to connect your account to a host of other services.
Monzo's integration with IFTTT lets people build mini ‘applets’ by setting a series of personalised rules automatically triggered by actions in the real world. This is the first time that a bank has linked-up with IFTTT to connect their bank account with a range of other apps and devices.
(Related) Another consideration for the ATM App.
Could Venmo Hurt Your Relationships? Yup, Says Expert On Social Status. Here's Why
When you calculate what you owe for your portion of lunch, drinks or cab rides down to the penny and share it with your friends, does that boost or harm your standing in a group?
It’s a good question, and a familiar one for anyone who’s made Venmo, a hugely popular app owned by PayPal that allows you to quickly transfer money to other people’s accounts to pay for anything from a cup of coffee to your share of the dinner bill.
As The New York Times pointed out recently, while you can keep account information and payments private, many users do not, essentially broadcasting their financial activity in the same way they show off their happy vacation photos on Facebook or Instagram.
Sounds like “Pre-Crime.” Do the police have the expertise to see (in a brief records review) what teachers don’t see with daily contact?
PA: Local Police Director Wants Laws Protecting Student Records Loosened in Midst of School Shootings
In Bensalem, Bucks County, the school district has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on some 500 surveillance cameras in and around its facilities.
But the township police director, Fred Harran, doesn’t think they are enough.
He is pushing for preventative measures on another front. Harran wants Pennsylvania lawmakers to give greater access to police for information about students: grades, medical records, attendance history.
Read more on NBC10.
[From the article:
"The key is making sure that person gets identified before they grab that gun, before they get into the building," Harran said.
...and yet, we do.
Why Do We Care So Much About Privacy?
Big Tech wants to exploit our personal data, and the government wants to keep tabs on us. But “privacy” isn’t what’s really at stake.
… as it has become apparent in the past year, we don’t really know who is seeing our data or how they’re using it. Even the people whose business it is to know don’t know.
Do we gain enough as a society for the individual privacy lost?
I missed this one, but thankfully, Joe Cadillic caught it. Maria Dinzeo reports:
A federal judge indicated Friday he will uphold a California law allowing police to collect and store DNA samples from people arrested but not yet charged with crimes.
The government has a high interest in accurately identifying arrestees, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said, perhaps even greater than an arrestee’s expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. Breyer suggested scenarios in which the arrestee is an ex-con who has a gun on him, but he gives the cops a phony I.D. during booking, or one in which someone is arrested on a case of mistaken identity.
Read more on Courthouse News.
Big Brother has invited all the neighbors?
In Newark, Police Cameras, and the Internet, Watch You
The camera perched above the bus stop sends back a continuous feed from the corner of 16th Avenue and South 18th Street in Newark’s West Ward. Regular customers come and go from Max’s, a convenience store, and a man without a shirt paces aimlessly on the same slice of pavement. Anyone with a fast internet connection and a desire to watch could also see Fernando Demarzino stepping out of his cousin’s barbershop.
“My girlfriend called and told me what I had in my hand,” Mr. Demarzino said on a recent evening as he stood within the camera’s line of sight. His girlfriend had heard about official camera feeds that had recently been made available online, and she was checking out the spot where she knew she was likely to find Mr. Demarzino. He had change in his hand, and she jokingly told him the image was sharp enough for her to count out three quarters. She also spotted his Jeep parked on the street.
… in Newark, the police have taken an extraordinary step that few, if any, other departments in the country have pursued: They have opened up feeds from dozens of closed-circuit cameras to the public, asking viewers to assist the force by watching over the city and reporting anything suspicious.
The Citizen Virtual Patrol, as the program is called, has been hailed by officials as a move toward transparency in a city where a mistrust of the police runs deep, rooted in long-running claims of aggressive enforcement and racial animosity. The cameras, officials said, provide a way to recruit residents as Newark tries to shake a dogged reputation for violence and crime. “This is part of building a partnership,” said Anthony F. Ambrose, who, as public safety director, oversees the city’s police and fire operations. Since the program started about a month ago, he said, 1,600 users have signed into the website, and residents have been lobbying the department to add more cameras in their neighborhoods.
Helping my students select their next class.
The What, Why, and How of Digital Forensics
Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science focused on recovery and investigation of artifacts found on digital devices. Any devices that store data (e.g. computers, laptops, smartphones, thumb drives, memory cards or external hard drives) are within the ambit of digital forensics. Given the proliferation of digital devices, there has been a ramp-up in use of digital forensics in legal cases and investigations.
I want to use Mickey Mouse as a political analyst…
Lessig – Congress’ Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection Is Misguide
Lawrence Lessig – Wired [Lawrence Lessig (@lessig) is the Roy L. Furman professor of law and leadership at Harvard University and founder of Equal Citizens. He was lead counsel in Eldred v. Ashcroft (2002)]: “Almost exactly 20 years ago, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended the term of existing copyrights by 20 years. The Act was the 11th extension in the prior 40 years, timed perfectly to assure that certain famous works, including Mickey Mouse, would not pass into the public domain. Immediately after the law came into force, a digital publisher of public domain works, Eric Eldred, filed a lawsuit challenging the act. The Constitution gives Congress the power to secure copyrights “for limited times,” for the express purpose of “promot[ing] Progress.” Extending the copyright of an existing work, Eldred argued, could not promote anything — the work already exists. And repeated extensions of existing terms cannot be what the framers meant by “limited times.” The Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge. I was lead counsel for the plaintiff. And in addition to our brief, a scad of creators who build upon the public domain, along with librarians, archivists, and economists, filed briefs in support of Eldred; Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman agreed to sign the economists’ brief only if the words “no brainer” were included. Yet the court rejected our challenge to the law… Twenty years later, the fight for term extension has begun anew. Buried in an otherwise harmless act, passed by the House and now being considered in the Senate, this new bill purports to create a new digital performance right—basically the right to control copies of recordings on any digital platform (ever hear of the internet?)—for musical recordings made before 1972…”
Perspective. All that data about consumers can become addictive.
Four years ago, when Rich Fulop founded Brooklinen, the direct-to-consumer luxury bedding startup, the customer acquisition strategy was straightforward for DTC brands: pour money into Facebook ads.
Soon, Brooklinen was spending up to 75 percent of its overall ad budget on Facebook. But Brooklinen and other DTC companies, and marketers of all stripes, were pouring money into Facebook’s giant ad machine, lured by micro-targeting segments. Simple economics took over: Facebook ads became very expensive for DTC brands like Brooklinen, Thinx, Roman and Quip — all of which are now diversifying their spending to new channels, including fuddy-duddy outlets like out-of-home, terrestrial radio and even — heavens — print.
“We’re trying to move away from Facebook as fast as we can,” said Fulop, who said CPMs on the platform are double what they were a year ago. “We’re fighting in this little slip of real estate with everyone else out there and it’s hard to cut through. You’re paying an impression-based auction so you are essentially bidding against anybody and everybody that wants to compete for that space, so it’s become a hyper-competitive environment.”
Perspective. Even copy paper is going paperless.
Copy Machines in Libraries Are ‘Going the Way of the Dodo’—Slowly
EdSurge: “The printed book just won’t die. But another print-based technology—the copy machine—is disappearing from many academic libraries, as librarians swap the old dime-eating machines for multi-function devices that scan texts and send copies to students via email. “Copiers seem to be going the way of the dodo, slowly,” says Stephanie Walker, dean of libraries and information resources at the University of North Dakota. The switch from copiers to scanners makes sense in the hybrid digital/print environment students and faculty operate in now. There’s also a financial incentive for academic libraries looking to economize and streamline operations and provide patrons with the services they most need. And in at least one case, the rise of the scanner has created an opportunity for an academic library to engage in a little community-minded entrepreneurship, providing fellow libraries with a customized computer/scanner/software bundle that won’t break the bank… Budget pressures have hastened the switch from copiers to scanners…”
Just because it seems illustrative. (Also interesting: The picture accompanying the article shows the President signing a bill with a Sharpie. And where does he buy his 4$ shirts?)
Meet the guys who tape Trump's papers back together
Solomon Lartey spent the first five months of the Trump administration working in the Old Executive Office Building, standing over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him.
Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, was a career government official with close to 30 years under his belt. But he had never seen anything like this in any previous administration he had worked for. He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again.
Armed with rolls of clear Scotch tape, Lartey and his colleagues would sift through large piles of shredded paper and put them back together, he said, “like a jigsaw puzzle.” Sometimes the papers would just be split down the middle, but other times they would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti.
It was a painstaking process that was the result of a clash between legal requirements to preserve White House records and President Donald Trump’s odd and enduring habit of ripping up papers when he’s done with them — what some people described as his unofficial “filing system.”
Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.
I feel like I had a deprived childhood, I never had a scooter.
How Skip wants to win the scooter wars by following the rules
Skip hasn't yet dumped its e-scooters onto the streets of hometown San Francisco, instead quietly testing its service in Washington, D.C. while waiting for San Francisco to put a regulatory regime in place.
Bottom line: Skip is betting that its friendlier, play-by-the-rules approach will help put it ahead of competitors like Bird, Lime and Spin.
San Francisco is only giving e-scooter permits to five companies, [Why? Bob] but a dozen companies applied. Skip not only will compete against established e-scooter rivals, but also against ride-share giants Uber and Lyft.
Interesting offering by my local pizza joint in honor of the summit.
The Summit: a little Korean Kimchi and a lot of American Bologna.