30 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for May 7, 2012
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Date: Sun, 6 May 2012 10:44:10 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: 'The Single Biggest Change in Education Since the Printing Press' Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> 'The Single Biggest Change in Education Since the Printing Press' Rebecca J. Rosen The Atlantic MAY 2 2012 A new joint initiative between Harvard and MIT demonstrates the schools' desire to open themselves up to more people. Over the past few years, the tools that could make for really excellent online distance learning have emerged in a piecemeal fashion. We have reliably good videoconferencing, live video streaming, collaborative document editing, and so on. We don't know how best to translate classroom education to the online realm, but the tools are there, and, sooner or later, someone is going to figure it out. In such an environment, the dons of elite education could batten down the hatches and try to preserve the limited-supply model that has served them well (see: newspapers, record labels, publishing houses). Or, they can choose to embrace the openness and radically democratic accessibility the Internet makes possible. This morning two of the top universities announced a collaboration that signals they are taking the latter path: MIT and Harvard are each pouring $30 million into a nonprofit partnership edX, which they hope will make the top-notch faculties and courses of their schools available for free to millions of people around the world -- free for anyone with an Internet connection. In presenting edX, the initiative's new president, Anant Agarwal, called the opportunity presented in online education "the single biggest change in education since the printing press." Though the online platform will have a second-fiddle status compared with the on-campus experience (online students will be able to attain certificates of mastery but not traditional degrees), the effort reveals a public-minded spirit that animates both schools. At the core of this program is a belief that the excellence of the education available at MIT and Harvard should be available -- in an online format -- to anyone who has the commitment and desire to make it through an online course. It's a reminder that these schools aren't just institutions with long, venerable histories, but also collections of living people -- people whose values and ideas shape how these universities exist in the world today. The video below of the press conference this morning fills out some of the details of the project. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/the-single-biggest-change-in-education-since-the-printing-press/256655/ ***** Moderator's Note ***** When I was in High School, I used to hang around the AI lab at MIT. The generosity and guidance that the AI staff gave me was the reason I decided to attend college: those men and women showed me, as nothing else could, that knowlege - and the hard work needed to obtain it - is a precious thing that provides its own reward. I applaud both Harvard and MIT for taking this step. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Sun, 6 May 2012 10:44:10 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: How the Blind Are Reinventing the iPhone Message-ID: <email@example.com> How the Blind Are Reinventing the iPhone By Liat Kornowski The Atlantic At first many blind people thought that the iPhone would never be accessible to them, with its flat glass screen. But the opposite has proved true. Maria Rios, 66, woke up at 6am. She got out of bed in her little second floor apartment on the north side of Central Park, and checked her iPhone for the weather. Then she felt around in her closet, where she had marked her navy blue garments with safety pins, to tell them apart from her black ones. In the adjacent room, her roommate Lynette Tatum, 49, picked out a white sweater and dark denim slacks. She used her VizWiz iPhone app to take a photograph and send it to a customer-service rep who lets her know what color the item is. For the visually impaired community, the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 seemed at first like a disaster -- the standard-bearer of a new generation of smartphones was based on touch screens that had no physical differentiation. It was a flat piece of glass. But soon enough, word started to spread: The iPhone came with a built-in accessibility feature. Still, members of the community were hesitant. But no more. For its fans and advocates in the visually-impaired community, the iPhone has turned out to be one of the most revolutionary developments since the invention of Braille. That the iPhone and its world of apps have transformed the lives of its visually impaired users may seem counter-intuitive -- but their impact is striking. Watching Rios and Tatum navigate the world with the aid of their iPhones is a lesson in the transformative and often unpredictable impacts that technology has on our lives. After getting dressed, they strap on their backpacks, canes in hand, and walk out the door. They can't see the sign someone hung in the elevator, informing them the building is switching to FIOS, but the minute they're outside the fact they can't see is a minor detail. They use Sendero -- "an app made for the blind, by the blind," says Tatum -- an accessible GPS that announces the user's current street, city, cross street, and nearby points of interest. What it's missing, adds Tatum, is a feature that tells you which bus is arriving and what its next stop is. In the meantime they walk a couple of blocks south to catch the M1 downtown. ... http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/how-the-blind-are-reinventing-the-iphone/256589/
Date: Sun, 6 May 2012 14:43:01 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: New ransomware impersonates the U.S Department of Justice Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> New ransomware impersonates the U.S Department of Justice By Dancho Danchev ZDNet May 5, 2012 Summary: Security researchers from Trusteer have intercepted a ransomware variant being pushed using the Citadel crimeware platform. Security researchers from Trusteer have intercepted a ransomware variant being pushed using the Citadel crimeware platform. The ransomware is pushed using drive-by malware attacks. Upon execution the following activities take place: Once installed on the victim's computer, the ransomware locks-up the targeted machine and displays a warning message notifying the user that they have violated United States Federal Law. The web inject screen (below) claims the IP address belonging to the infected machine was identified by the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section as having visited websites that contain child pornography and other illegal content.In order to unlock their computer, the victim is instructed to pay a $100 fine to the US Department of Justice using prepaid money card services. The payment service options presented to the victim are based on the geographic location of their IP address. For example, users with US IP addresses must pay using MoneyPak or Paysafecard. What's particularly interesting about this campaign, is that it's a decent example of campaign optimization performed on behalf of the cybercriminals behind it, adding multiple monetization vectors in it. Not only will they earn revenue out of the ransomware variant, they will also be able to successfully hijack online banking transactions thanks to the Citadel crimeware that will also remain active on the system. ... http://www.zdnet.com/blog/security/new-ransomware-impersonates-the-us-department-of-justice/11955 -or- http://goo.gl/mp9WB ***** Moderator's Note ***** Neal Stephenson's latest work, "REAMDE", is a fictitios account of a ransomware attack which affects a computer owned by a professional criminal. It's a great read, and I recomend it. More to the point of this report, ransomware is the next step in the evolution of malware: hackers are no longer content to sell purloined credit card numbers or even online banking credentials. The black hats have graduated to retail, and are demanding payments directly from victims, thus bypassing the gangsters who were acting as very-well-paid middlemen. Bill Horne Moderator
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