Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dr Brene Brown on Vulnerability - TED Video

Dr Brené Brown is a research professor and best-selling author of "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead" (Penguin Portfolio, 2013).

She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Explore: Stephen Fry explains Cloud Computing - Animated Video

Stephen Fry explains the history of computer thinking and the revolution of utility in cloud computing in this 5 minute animation.

This is a paid advert from Databarracks a UK company who provide Infrastructure, Disaster Recovery and Backup services from some of the most secure data centres in the world.

This video re-iterates the belief that an English person 'invented' or 'created' the internet. This, of course is a matter of conjecture and is unlikely to be the case.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Eugene Kaspersky speaking about Cyber Attacks to Australian Press Club 2013

A speech by Eugene Kaspersky at the Press Club in Canberra, Australia. The broad talk was designed to bring non-tech journos up to speed on infosec issues.

In it, he said a engineer friend told him Stuxnet had 'badly infected' the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant after the sophisticated malware caused chaos in Iran's nuclear facilities in Natanz.

The malware, widely considered to have been developed by the US Government as a means to disrupt Iran's nuclear enrichment plans, had crossed a physically separated 'air-gapped' network in the Russian plant after it was carried across on a USB device.

Monday, September 2, 2013

TED Ed Video: The Higgs Boson Field explained - Don Lincoln

One of the most significant scientific discoveries of the early 21st century is surely the Higgs boson, but the boson and the Higgs Field that allows for that magic particle are extremely difficult to grasp.

Fermilab's Don Lincoln outlines an analogy (originally conceived by David Miller) that all of us can appreciate, starring a large dinner party, a raucous group of physicists, and Peter Higgs himself.

Lesson by Don Lincoln, animation by Powerhouse Animation Studios Inc.

Other informative animated videos are available here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

Bestselling author Daniel H. Pink argues that everyone, no matter what their profession, is in sales now.

In this episode of BOOKD, Pink joins a group of experts from different backgrounds to discuss his brand new book, TO SELL IS HUMAN, and what skills the new art of selling requires.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cognitive Productivity in a Knowledge Overload World - Video

To harness rather than drown in the ocean of knowledge that swamps us daily via the media and the Internet, we've got to become more cognitively productive, says Luc Beaudoin.

The Simon Fraser University adjunct education professor drives home that message in his new book Cognitive Productivity.

Released on Leanpub, a Vancouver-based online bookstore, it's the first research-based book to explain how marrying learning strategies that underlie cognitive science with learner-friendly technology can make us more cognitively productive.

Drawing on concepts in cognitive science, an interdisciplinary field that encompasses linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology and artificial intelligence, Beaudoin defines cognitive productivity as our mind's ultimate goal.

He explains how the artificial intelligence-like makeup of not just our brain, but also our mind, inspires that goal.

"The mind is like a sophisticated software program. It is engineered to cognitively process information, turning it into knowledge that we use to solve problems, develop marketable products or better our own lives," explains Beaudoin.

"If we, however, inundate it with information in varying formats, such as PDF files, audiobooks and Ted Talks, without meaningfully encoding and using it, then it will be quickly forgotten and the potential benefits of learning will be lost."

Enlightened by what his own varied career path has taught him about what fosters learning, Beaudoin cites examples of how information overload and learner-unfriendly technology are combining to break down our cognitive productivity.

"Merely skimming and archiving information, which most of us do to try to stay afloat on our sea of information, stymies cognitive productivity," says Beaudoin.

"There's not enough active reading, annotating and harvesting of information gems, which we must then practise recognizing and using if we're to become expert with the knowledge."

Referencing cognitive science-based learning strategies, Beaudoin demonstrates how conveying information in a synced knowledge-environment that incorporates learner-friendly technologies can enhance cognitive productivity.

Some examples of this he says are: "allowing users to annotate all content in the same way, whether it be ebooks, podcasts, web pages, audiobooks or videos, and enabling users to easily create productive practice challenges from any content they read."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Going To The Cloud In Stages - YouTube

Racker Joseph Palumbo answers the question, "Do I have to move everything to the cloud in order to take advantage of it?" in the second video in our series, Cloud Questions You Didn't Even Know You Had

Monday, May 13, 2013

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what economic motivation

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace. Watch the full lecture here:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

TED tailors 'ideas worth spreading' for US PBS TV

PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger is shown in 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. TED conferences has teamed with the US Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create an education-focused version of its real-world conferences for a show set to air on PBS stations nationally on Tuesday and again on Thursday.

The prestigious TED gathering known for perspective-shifting presentations by the brilliant and famous is tailoring "ideas worth spreading" for a television audience.

TED teamed with the US Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create an education-focused version of its real-world conferences for a show set to air on PBS stations nationally on Tuesday and again on Thursday.

"Re-imagining education is the key to a more hopeful future," said TED curator Chris Anderson.

"What better time to gather some of the country's most respected and forward-thinking education advocates, and make this the theme of TED's first-ever original television broadcast special."

The program is hosted by Grammy-winning musician John Legend and features presentations by Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates as well as by social activist Ken Robinson, the most watched speaker at

Online videos stemming from TED conferences—which are renowned for mind-bending mixes of creativity, passion and innovation—passed the billion-view milestone late last year.

The number continues to rocket, with more than a million TEDTalks watched daily, according to the organization behind the prestigious TED gatherings that give rise to the presentations made available free on the Internet.

The nonprofit Sapling Foundation behind the conferences began making its recordings of talks available online as podcasts in 2006, then began streaming videos free at a website the following year to reach a global audience.

The move to original television programming is another step on the path to reaching as many people as possible with ideas for making the world a better place. "TED, at its core, is about spreading ideas," said Juliet Blake, who produced the "TED Talks Education" program.

"Public television reaches a huge audience," she continued. "I hope people who watch the show on PBS come graze more videos at the website."

The PBS broadcast will be the first of more television programs to come, and a project is already in the works in Europe, according to Blake.

"The plan is not necessarily to do a lot of television; but to do tough, provocative, exciting television," Blake said.

The TED program on PBS will live on at public broadcasting and TED websites, available to anyone in the world with Internet access.

Funding for the PBS program came from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, according to TED.

"This collaboration between PBS and TED is a natural fit as our organizations both aim to educate, engage and inspire," said PBS chief programming executive Beth Hoppe.

TED started in 1984 as a private gathering in California.

With Anderson as its "curator," TED has become renowned for 18-minute talks devoted to mind-bending perspectives on anything from music or dance to climate change or futuristic technology.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Explosion in online consumer data collection poses major threat

Dr Terry Beed
A marketing expert at the University of Sydney Business School has warned of a mounting threat to privacy posed by a massive increase in consumer information being amassed in a way that does not comply with the code governing data collection by market and social researchers in Australia.

Honorary Associate Professor of Marketing, Dr Terry Beed, says that market research tools such as SurveyMonkey are now readily available to individuals or firms who may not use them correctly or ethically.

Dr Beed has recently completed a major review of the Market and Social Research Privacy Code administered by the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) and co-regulated by the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

His warning coincides with Privacy Awareness Week (28 April to 4 May) - an effort by authorities across the Asia Pacific Region to boost consumer understanding of the mounting threat to privacy.

The University of Sydney Business School is partnering with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to promote Privacy Awareness Week ahead of changes to next year's changes to privacy laws.

"The ground is changing under our feet," Dr Beed said. "There has been an explosion in the amount of personal data being gathered in the digital environment and it has revolutionised the way we go about marketing goods and services."

"However, much of this data is being gathered by people with no background in market and social research," Dr Beed added. "It is important that they are sensitised about working with consumers' personal information in accordance with the privacy regulations."

Dr Beed says much of this information is being onsold to marketers often via data brokers without the knowledge or consent of consumers and in possible breach of the Privacy Codes, which are approved by the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

"Marketers are now using age, gender or product preferences to design highly targeted advertising," Dr Beed said. "While this may be annoying to some consumers it is relatively harmless. Of far greater concern is data that might be related to incomes, debt levels or health profiles which is gathered and onsold without any warning to the consumer."

"Alarmingly, data analysis tools are becoming more sophisticated and are enabling the reconstruction of individual consumer profiles from a diverse range of sources," he added

Despite the dangers, a recent survey found that very few Australians were fully aware of privacy protections in this country.

The survey, conducted by AMSRO which represents the established market research sector, found that 25 percent of Australians claimed to have no knowledge at all of how companies were required to protect their privacy.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

MYO Wearable-Computing Armbands with Bluetooth 4.0 Connectivity

"Wave goodbye to camera-based gesture control." That is the confident directive coming from a one-year-old Waterloo, Ontario, startup called Thalmic Labs.

The company is prepared to ship its next batch of wearable-computing armbands for device controls early next year.

The $149 armbands called MYO do not require cameras in order to track hand or arm movements. The armbands can wirelessly control and interact with computers and other digital consumer products by recognizing the electric impulses in users' muscles.

The MYO is worn around the forearm; its purpose is to control computers, phones, and other devices, sending the data via Bluetooth. Windows and Mac operating systems are supported and APIs will be available for iOS and Android.

Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE) is used for the MYO to communicate with the paired devices. (Bluetooth version 4.0 is the most recent version of Bluetooth wireless technology.

It includes a low-energy feature promoted as good news for developers and manufacturers of Bluetooth devices and applications—enabling markets for devices that are low-cost and operate with low-power wireless connectivity.)

The MYO specs include on-board, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and an ARM processor. Also part of the mix are the company's proprietary muscle-activity sensors and a six-axis inertial measurement unit.

A user's gestures and movements are actually detected in two ways: muscle activity and motion sensing. The Thalmic team says that when sensing the muscle movements of the user, the MYO can detect changes down to each individual finger.

Also, when tracking arm and hand positions, the MYO picks up subtle movements and rotations in all directions.

Right now, as indicated in their newly released video of the company, Thalmic Labs hopes for greater things for MYO via a developer community. They expect an official developer program to be up and running in the next few months.

They pride themselves in groundbreaking technology, as a team with specialties from electrical engineering to embedded system design. Nonetheless, they are looking to developers for innovative ideas in applications.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Twitter Saved Us From a Scam: Dutch Bank ING DIRECT’s Social Media Strategy

While social media can certainly be risky if you don’t take proper precautions, it can also be your number one ally in times of crises.

One such company is ING DIRECT. The banking brand recently averted a potential PR crisis by harnessing the full potential of social media. How?

On the afternoon of April 2, 2013, the company’s social media team received a Tweet from a Twitter user alerting them that somebody was sending out text messages in a phishing scam targeting ING customers.

“ING Bank member alert!” the fake text shouted urgently, guiding recipients to call a provided phone number to “remove restrictions” placed on their credit cards—by disclosing highly confidential banking and personal information.

ING’s social media team and other departments worked together quickly. Internally, the news travelled through the company at lightening speed.

The first public service announcement to warn clients was sent out from ING DIRECT’s social service Twitter account a few minutes after the initial alert, and within the hour a similar mass tweet was sent to all of its major social media channels.

“If we didn’t have social media, we would not have been able to respond with the speed that we did or alert as broad of an audience as quickly as we did,” explains Jaime Stein, ING DIRECT’s Senior Manager, Social Media.

From this crisis Jaime was able to come out with two key takeaways for any business effectively using social media to deal with a crisis situation:

1. Monitor your social media diligently—a single Tweet can mean everything in crisis management. In this case, ING DIRECT was only able to act as quickly as they did because they were paying attention to what people were saying to them on their social media channels.

“We always have somebody actively monitoring conversations, not only directly to us but other conversations in the ecosystem,” says Jaime. “One major advantage we had in this recent crisis situation was this.”

How can you best monitor all of your social media channels at once so you and your team don’t miss a beat? Set up social media streams using HootSuite.

For companies, the key to this is also organization-wide accessibility to key data—so consider setting up a social media Command Center.

Command Centers help organizations manage crisis situations by enabling them to:
  • Monitor brand mentions, sentiment and influencers from one place.
  • Coordinate social team response across departments.
  • Capture and archive conversations for offline responses.

2. Make sure there is a strong social media team in your organization. Educate them to to communicate quickly (both internally and publicly) in crisis situations. It’s all about speed during potential PR disasters.

Luckily, social media allows you and your team to move faster than ever before to respond to clients and associates.

“With the phishing scam, we had the ability to put out an important announcement to all of our Twitter accounts without sending emails, or phoning each other across the organization to say ‘By the way this is happening,’” explains Jaime.

“This is because we have such an engaged team of people across the country in social media. That really helped. We currently have 40 to 50 people plugged into HootSuite and they’re constantly engaged and active on social media.”

Educate your organization’s social media team and prepare them for emergencies. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

That’s what the social media team at ING DIRECT believes. According to Jaime, as risky as social media can be in businesses, it can be just as beneficial: “How you handle bad situations will be what matters most,” he asserts. And this principle trickles from the top down at ING DIRECT.

“From 5 years ago to today, there’s a clear acknowledgement among leaders that this is something that’s really important and that they need to invest time and money in,” the company’s CEO Peter Aceto told us recently.

Monday, April 22, 2013

David Foster Wallace on Ambition - Video

Like Neil Gaiman, who famously admonished, "Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving," Wallace cautions against the lose-lose mindset of perfectionism:

"You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in failure. It’s actually kind of tragic because it means you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is."

Wallace also sees learning and teaching as intertwined:

"I was a very difficult person to teach when I was a student and I thought I was smarter than my teachers and they told me a lot of things that I thought were retrograde or outdated or B.S. And I’ve learned more teaching in the last three years than I ever learned as a student."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Router compromise, rogue remote control? Easy - ISE

Router hacking is joining the ranks of computer security headaches, where the wireless router becomes the key target for those seeking to trespass into someone else's network.

The remote attacker can take full control of the router's settings or just bypass authentication and takes control. The attacker is free to modify traffic as it enters and leaves the network.

Wrote Michael Mimoso in Threatpost, from Kasperksy Lab, "Hackers love to attack Java. Why? Well, not only because it is full of holes, but because it's everywhere, embedded on endpoints, Web browsers, mobile devices and more.

The same goes for attacking wireless routers; they're buggy and they're everywhere." Earlier this week, that turned out to be more than a quip as, beyond Kasperksy Lab, other researchers exposed critical security vulnerabilities in small office and home office (SOHO) routers and wireless access points.

The research was from Baltimore, Maryland-based Independent Security Evaluators. Their key findings: All of the 13 routers they looked at can be taken over from the local network (four never requiring an active management session) and 11 of the 13 can be taken over from the WAN (two never requiring an active management session).

Actually, there is a another important takeaway from their research: The wireless router hacking vulnerabilities they examined do not take a pile of expertise.

"Our research indicates that a moderately skilled adversary with LAN or WLAN access can exploit all thirteen routers," they said. But while attackers may not need esoteric skills to break into routers, the ISE experts said the average end user can do little to fully mitigate such attacks."

"Successful mitigation often requires a level of sophistication and skill beyond that of the average user (and beyond that of the most likely victims)."

ISE's team said the vendors of these networking devices should be in the front of the line for mitigation actions.

Actions they can take include preparing firmware upgrades that address the issues, instructing their registered users how to upgrade device firmware; be timely in the issue and customer notification of patches; and design a method for automatic firmware updates with the opportunity for users to opt out; and perform regular security audits to ensure devices are as hardened as possible.

ISE has also announced its future plans toward focusing on SOHO routers. All signs are that they will stay on the case.

"Six months after releasing the advisories for the 13 routers, ISE will upgrade the firmware on all 13 routers and perform a reassessment to determine what—if any—impact deeper scrutiny from the security community has brought to the SOHO router industry."

According to ISE, its next study may include more than the 13 routers seen so far. This research was conducted by Jacob Holcomb and directed by Stephen Bono and Sam Small. Jacob Thompson, Kedy Liu, Jad Khalil, and Vincent Faires also contributed.

More information:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Security holes in Android Smartphone apps - Videos

Zhendong Su and his students at the UC Davis computer science department have found serious security flaws in popular apps for Android smartphones.

Popular texting, messaging and microblog apps developed for the Android smartphone have security flaws that could expose private information or allow forged fraudulent messages to be posted, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The security flaws were identified by graduate student Dennis (Liang) Xu, who collected about 120,000 free apps from the Android marketplace.

The researchers focused initially on the Android platform, which has about a half-billion users worldwide.

Android is quite different from Apple's iOS platform, but there may well be similar problems with iPhone apps, Xu said. The victim would first have to download a piece of malicious code onto their phone.

This could be disguised as or hidden in a useful app, or attached to a "phishing" e-mail or Web link. The malicious code would then invade the vulnerable programs.

The programs were left vulnerable because their developers inadvertently left parts of the code public that should have been locked up, Xu said.

"It's a developer error," Xu said. "This code was intended to be private but they left it public."

The researchers have submitted a paper on the work to the Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH) 2013 conference to be held in Indianapolis this October.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Networking for Introverts

If the prospect of networking fills you with dread or you think it's something only extroverted people do, think again.

You don't need to have a gregarious or outgoing personality to build a network of professional contacts - in fact, your approach may be better received than the brash personality types out there.

Natural listeners
There is a misconception that only extroverts can network. Introverts in fact have some advantages: they are natural listeners and they tend to reflect before they speak. They are also sometimes better at building long-term relationships.

Regarding yourself as an introvert should not be used as an excuse for doing nothing.

Connecting with people in your search is a skill that needs practising, and the less it comes naturally, the easier you should make the first steps.

Begin with "Level 1 - Conversations" the gentlest form of networking, and one which anyone can do.

Start by talking to people you already know and trust, but talk to them in a way you've never done before.

This approach helps avoid mistakes that will feel like setbacks. Like the cold rebuff you get when you start a phone call saying "you don't know me, but...." or approaching high-level contacts too early in the process when you're still feeling bruised and you don't know what you're looking for.

Don't give people the opportunity to say "not now" or a plain "no" when you're aware how much these will set you back.

Easy targets
Nervous networkers should target the easiest people to begin with not the 'main target.'

When you pick up the phone you know that you can just begin a conversation, and you don't need to prepare a script of what you will say.

Be honest about what you're asking for - make it clear that you are setting up brief conversations with a range of people to find out what is going on in the world or in a particularly favourite sector.

Just think carefully about what to ask for and steer clear of asking for favours!

Ask people for things they are happy to talk about, but a good conversation about the world the person knows well is always welcome and don't forget to thank people properly.

Start by talking only to people you know, ask about their job or their hobbies, the universe, then ask them if they can introduce you to someone else; a proper, warm introduction, not just a name.

The big event
Once you've had a few "safe" conversations with the contacts you already know, you may wish to consider attending a more formal networking event.

Of course it can be intimidating going into a room full of strangers and feeling pressured to make contacts, but the fear of networking is often much worse than the reality.

You are all there for the same reason and you are all feeling the fear!

If you are at an event, ask one of the organisers to introduce you to others. any organiser worth their salt will be happy to facilitate this.

Do make sure that you introduce yourself clearly, so that people know your name and what you do, as this often reveals areas of common ground for conversation.

As long as you show an interest in other people and a willingness to listen, generally people will only be too happy to talk to you.

Networking from home
If you can't face wearing a name badge and making small talk, don't despair. Online forums and networking sites like LinkedIn allow you to make contact with people in your sector - without even having to leave home.

To get started, search for ex-colleagues and look for groups set up within your industry. Remember, as with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you'll get out - so be sure to post messages and join the conversation rather than just observing.

Do not rant, do not pontificate, and do not over-criticise others. Let the tolerant, thoughtful and collaborative you come through in your conversations.

Having a few open conversations online should make it easier when you take the plunge and meet up at a real life event. You'll be networking like a pro before you know it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Cupertino Effect

The Cupertino effect describes what happens when a computer automatically "corrects" your spelling into something wrong or incomprehensible.

The name originates from an early spellchecking program's habit of automatically "correcting" the word "co-operation" into "Cupertino", the name of the California city in which Apple has its headquarters.

One of my favourite Cupertinos was my first computer's habit of changing the name "Freud" into "fraud" - or, more recently, of one phone's fondness for converting "soonish" into "Zionism".

As Cupertinos suggest, onscreen language is both a collaboration and a kind of combat between user and medium and if self-expression can sometimes reduced to little more than clicking on "like", there's every bit as much pressure exerted in the opposite direction.

The bewildering stream of new words to describe technology and its uses makes many people angry, but there's much to celebrate.

Someone, somewhere has probably already coined you a term - from approximeetings with friends (arranging a rough time or place to meet, then sorting out details on the fly via mobile phone) to indulging in political slacktivism (infective activism carried out by clicking online petitions).

Read more on Neologisms here

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Networked minds create a cooperative human species

In their computer simulations of human evolution, scientists at ETH Zurich find the emergence of the “homo socialis” with “other-regarding” preferences. 

The results explain some intriguing findings in experimental economics and call for a new economic theory of “networked minds”. 

Credit: © violetkaipa / Fotolia

Economics has a beautiful body of theory but does it describe real markets?

Doubts have come up not only in the wake of the financial crisis, since financial crashes should not occur according to the then established theories.

For some time economic theory has been based on concepts such as efficient markets and the “homo economicus”, i.e. the assumption of competitively optimising individuals and firms.

It was believed that any behaviour deviating from this would create disadvantages and, hence, be eliminated by natural selection.

But experimental evidence from behavioural economics show that, on average, people behave more altruistically ('fairness-oriented' and 'other-regarding') than expected. A new theory by scientists from ETH Zurich now explains why.

“We have simulated interactions of individuals facing social dilemma situations, where it would be favourable for everyone to cooperate, but non-cooperative behaviour is tempting,” explains Dr. Thomas Grund, one of the authors of the study.

“Hence, cooperation tends to erode, which is bad for everyone.” This may create tragedies of the commons such as over-fishing, environmental pollution, or tax evasion.

Evolution of “friendliness”
Prof. Dirk Helbing of ETH Zurich, who coordinated the study, adds: “Compared to conventional models for the evolution of social cooperation, we have distinguished between the actual behaviour – cooperation or not – and an inherited character trait, describing the degree of 'other-regarding' preferences, which we call the friendliness.”

The actual behaviour considers not only the own advantage (“payoff”), but also gives a weight to the payoff of the interaction partners depending on the individual friendliness.

For the “homo economicus”, the weight is zero. The friendliness spreads from one generation to the next according to natural selection. This is merely based on the own payoff, but mutations happen.

For most parameter combinations, the model predicts the evolution of a payoff-maximizing “homo economicus” with selfish preferences, as assumed by a great share of the economic literature.

(Homo socialis is subjected to society, is a part of it.)

Very surprisingly, however, biological selection may create a “homo socialis” with 'other-regarding' preferences. In such a case, clusters of friendly people, who are “conditionally cooperative”, may evolve over time.

If an unconditionally cooperative individual is born by chance, it may be exploited by everyone and not leave any offspring.

However, if born in a favourable, conditionally cooperative environment, it may trigger cascade-like transitions to expand cooperative behaviour, such that 'other-regarding' behavior pays off. #

Networked minds create a cooperative human species

“This has fundamental implications for the way, economic theories should look like,” states Professor Helbing.

Most of today’s economic knowledge is for the “homo economicus”, but people wonder whether that theory really applies.

A comparable body of work for the “homo socialis” still needs to be written. While the “homo economicus” optimizes its utility independently, the “homo socialis” puts himself or herself into the shoes of others to consider their interests as well,” explains Grund

Helbing adds: “This establishes something like “networked minds”. Everyone’s decisions depend on the preferences of others.” This becomes even more important in our networked world.

A participatory kind of economy

How will this change our economy? Today, many customers doubt that they get the best service by people who are driven by their own profits and bonuses.

“Our theory predicts that the level of 'other-regarding' preferences is distributed broadly, from selfish to altruistic. Academic education in economics has largely promoted the selfish type.

Perhaps, our economic thinking needs to fundamentally change, and our economy should be run by different kinds of people,” suggests Grund.

“The true capitalist has 'other-regarding' preferences,” adds Helbing, “as the “homo socialis” earns much more payoff.”

This is, because the “homo socialis” manages to overcome the downwards spiral that tends to drive the “homo economicus” towards tragedies of the commons.

The breakdown of trust and cooperation in the financial markets in 2008would be seen as good example.

“Social media will promote a new kind of participatory economy, in which competition goes hand in hand with cooperation,” believes Helbing.

Indeed, the digital economy’s paradigm of the “prosumer” states that the Internet, social platforms, 3D printers and other developments will enable the co-producing consumer.

“It will be hard to tell who is consumer and who is producer”, says Christian Waloszek. “You might be both at the same time, and this creates a much more cooperative perspective.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Metasploit - Entire Internet probed for insecure devices - Millions Discovered

A surreptitious scan of the entire internet has revealed millions of printers, webcams and set-top boxes protected only by default passwords.

An anonymous researcher used more than 420,000 of these insecure devices to test the security and responsiveness of other gadgets, in a nine-month survey.

Using custom-written code, they sent out more than four trillion messages.

The net's current addressing scheme accommodates about 4.2 billion devices. Only 1.3 billion addresses responded.

The number of addresses responding was a surprise as the pool of addresses for that scheme has run dry.

As a result, the net is currently going through a transition to a new scheme that has a vastly larger pool of addresses available.

The scan found half a million printers, more than one million webcams and lots of other devices, including set-top boxes and modems, that still used the password installed in the factory, letting almost anyone take over that piece of hardware. Often the password was an easy to guess word such as "root" or "admin".

"Whenever you think, 'That shouldn't be on the internet, but will probably be found a few times,' it's there a few hundred thousand times," wrote the un-named researcher in a paper documenting their work.

HD Moore, creator of Metasploit, carried out a similar survey in 2012, said the results looked "pretty accurate".

He added he had seen malicious hackers exploiting the security failings of these devices to run criminal networks known as botnets that are used to send out spam, mount phishing attacks and bombard websites with deluges of data.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Telecom User Trends: Text messaging plunges in popularity

The number of text messages sent by people with a Dutch mobile phone contract fell last year by 27% as free alternatives such as Whatsapp made inroads, according to telecom watchdog Opta in its annual report.

At the same time, mobile internet traffic rose by 42% to an average of 182 Mb a month in 2012, Opta's annual report shows.

Despite the rise in free services, the amount of time spent making mobile phone calls was virtually unchanged at an average of 97 minutes a month.

Opta also said Switzerland has now overtaken the Netherlands in terms of broadband connection density. Switzerland now has 42 internet connections per 100 people, compared with 39 per 100 in the Netherlands.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

TED Talk: Amanda Palmer - The Art of Asking - Video

Don't make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer. Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

FROST: Forensic Recovery Of Scrambled Telephones

Freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents, German security researchers have found.

The team froze phones for an hour as a way to get around the encryption system that protects the data on a phone by scrambling it.

Google introduced the data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The attack allowed the researchers to get at contact lists, browsing histories and photos.

Cold start 
Android's data scrambling system was good for end users but a "nightmare" for law enforcement and forensics workers, the team at Erlangen's Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) wrote in a blogpost about their work.

To get around this, researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling from FAU put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C.

The trio discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode.

This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system. The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost - Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones.

The Frost software helped them copy data on a phone that could then be analysed on a separate computer.

A chilled phone also helped their hacking project. Data fades from memory much more slowly when chips are cold which allowed them to grab the encryption keys and speed up unscrambling the contents of a phone.

PhD student Tilo Muller told the BBC that the attack generally gave them access to data that had been put in memory as users browsed websites, sent messages or shared pictures.

The researchers tested their attack against a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as it was one of the first to use Android's disk encryption system. However, they said, other phones were just as likely to be vulnerable to the attack. The team are planning further tests on other Android handsets.

While the "cold boot" attack had been tried on desktop PCs and laptops, Mr Muller said the trio were the first to try it on phones.

"We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs," he said. "but we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well."

The German research group is now working on defences against the attack that ensures encryption keys are never put in vulnerable memory chips. Instead they are only used in the memory directly attached to a phone's processor.

UK Financial Scams: A Growth Industry

"Trust me, I'm a financial adviser!"

The Financial Scams is one industry that is still growing rapidly, showing no sign of reccession. These range from the sophisticated to the downright weird – but all have the same aim: to relieve you of your money.

Recent figures from the National Fraud Authority show that the total lost to individuals from fraud and other scams is more than £6bn a year.

Here are the top 10 scams to watch out for this year (beware, there are more!);

1 Rare metals
Rare earth metals are chemical elements such as scandium and yttrium which are used in the manufacture of computers and phones.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) warns that companies are using high-pressure sales tactics and are targeting vulnerable customers out of the blue who are often told that supply of these metals is falling, causing prices to rise.

The FSA said it had “yet to see any convincing evidence that there is a viable market for investors to make money from investments in rare earth metals”.

It says that manufacturers using these metals buy in quantity: so they are not likely to want to buy from small independent companies.

2 Pension liberation fraud
Victims are told they can release their pension funds built up before they reach 55 years old. The Pensions Regulator warns that accessing pension savings before minimum pension age is only possible in rare cases, such as terminal illness.

It says that entering into a pension liberation scheme “can be fraudulent where individuals are not informed, or are misled, as to the consequences of entering into one of these schemes”.

It says these schemes can result in tax charges and penalties of more than half the value of a member’s pension savings – and victims are seldom told about these costs.

In the UK it is possible to get 25pc from your pension as tax-free cash. For more information check with your pension provider or a legitimate and FSA registered financial adviser.

3 Mobility aids
Scams targeting elderly people have raked in more than £28m in three years. The Insolvency Service said that around 2,000 elderly people were victims of scams ranging from dodgy investments to companies selling unsuitable or overpriced mobility scooters and stairlifts.

The scam involves selling these aids on the telephone or at home to elderly people with salesmen not coming off the phone until the sale is closed.

These scams can be avoided by only dealing with reputable companies which do not pressurise clients and allow them the chance to consider a deal before paying up.

4 Dodgy job offers
This scam involves victims being attracted by fake job offers which effectively turn them into money launderers.

Financial Fraud Action UK says the offers use titles such as “money transfer agent” or “payment processing agent”.

Those who succumb become part of a money-laundering scheme and are known to authorities as “money mules”.

They are told to receive money into their bank accounts and to transfer it to another, taking a cut themselves.

The money involved is often stolen or the proceeds of drug dealing and extortion. The mules are used to move the money offshore into overseas accounts.

5 Lotteries
Lottery scams remain common, according to Which?, the consumer group. One of the scams seen by Which? purported to come from the International Monetary Fund, which promised the recipient $8m if they paid £960 to release the funds.

It’s easy to tell a lottery scam. You have to buy a ticket to have a chance of winning a lottery. If you haven’t, you can’t win.

6 Truancy fraud
Essex County Council warned last month that a parent of a pupil in one of its schools received a phone call purporting to be from the Education Welfare Service.

The parent was told that as their child had not attended school that day they would be fined £340 and they were asked to give their card details over the phone.

The council pointed out that the Education Welfare Service does not phone parents demanding payment over the phone: it sends penalty notices by post and it would not phone parents demanding immediate payment.

7 Wine scams
These are a growing concern, says the Insolvency Service. According to Decanter magazine, scammers posing as buyers have attempted to defraud suppliers of around £1.6m since May 2011.

Individuals have also been hit by scammers selling en-primeur wine. This is wine that is sold while it is still in the barrel.

Victims are told they are buying wine at this stage because it will rise in value, by fraudsters posing as wine merchants.

Unfortunately, the wine doesn’t exist, and the victims are left out of pocket.

8 Love
According to Action Fraud, there is an increase in romance scams. It has had more than 1,000 reports in the past 12 months from those who believe they have found love online but have actually become victims of criminals who want to relieve them of their money.

The typical victim has been conned out of £21,600. This scam works when those involved hand over useful personal and financial details about themselves to people they have fallen for online.

Anyone looking for love online should watch out for basic warning signs. Be cautious of unsolicited advances, especially if they have too much interest in your personal details and bank accounts.

9 Landbanking
This involves companies which divide land up into smaller plots to sell to cold-called investors on the basis that once the land becomes available for development, it will rise in value but the FSA said the land is often in areas of natural beauty or historical interest and there is little chance of it ever being given permission for developers to build on.

One plot of land recently sold was on a site of special scientific interest; another was on a slope too steep to be built on. The FSA said landbanking schemes had cost investors up to £200m.

In extreme forms scammers can sell plots of land anywhere in the world and have also been known to sell plots on the Moon!

10 Carbon credit trading
Carbon credits are certificates or permits which represent the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide, and they can be traded. They are little understood by the general public, even when they are legitimately traded among corporations.

This Carbon credit trading scam involves cold callers targeting investors to buy into the “new big thing” in commodity trading because industries have to offset their emissions.

Carbon credits can be sold and traded legitimately, and the FSA pointed out that there were many reputable firms operating in the sector.

Investors might find they cannot sell their investment or get a competitive rate because they only have a few credits to trade.

Never trade in any commodity or venture that you do not understand or have not 'fully' studied and researched. Get references, visit sites and talk to existing customers. Caveat Emptor!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Windows Sysinternals Primer: Process Explorer, Process Monitor, and More

The Sysinternals utilities are vital tools for any computer professional on the Windows platform. Mark Russinovich's popular "Case Of The Unexplained" demonstrates some of their capabilities in advanced troubleshooting scenarios.

This complementary tutorial session focuses primarily on the utilities, deep-diving into as many features as time will allow. Learn tips and tricks that will make you more effective with the Sysinternals utilities.

How to Manage and Deploy video

The case of the Unexplained video

More Videos here

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Employers: How to Manage Dyslexia in the Work Place

Dyslexia is a hidden disability that affects 10 per cent of the population. It predominately causes reading and writing difficulties but memory, mathematics, organisation and sequencing skills can also be affected.

If un-addressed, dyslexia can result in underachievement. However, it does not affect intelligence and need not be a barrier to success.

There are many brilliant dyslexic professionals following a wide range of careers. But for those struggling, it is important for an employer to be aware of the ways they can help.

The UK  Equality Act 2010 covers dyslexia so all workplaces need to comply with it if a staff member is dyslexic. This act repeals and replaces the original UK Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

1 Know the signs
Indications of dyslexia in the workplace will reflect the nature of the work and will vary depending on the individual’s difficulties and their severity.

Key indicators might include performance that is not reflective of potential, written documentation that is unexpectedly poor or seems careless, confused memos or messages, deadlines regularly not being met or taking longer to learn new skills.

Have you noticed whether the individual appears forgetful, seems disorganised, has low self-esteem or suffers unduly from stress or anxiety? These are behaviours that may be attributed to dyslexia.

2 Seek confirmation
Many adults do not know that the difficulties they have are the result of dyslexia. If confirmation is required, referral to an occupational psychologist or an expert trained in screening and assessment for dyslexia should be considered.

3 Provide support
Effective support can often be simple and inexpensive. This may include;
  • holding regular one-to-one sessions to reinforce aims and objectives;

    • help with prioritising and organising workloads by using calendars with deadlines clearly marked, diaries or electronic reminders; 
    • allowing regular breaks; 
    • setting realistic objectives and negotiating deadlines; and, if required, 
    • professional training and coaching.

    4 Use technology
    Many products can be incorporated into an office environment,
    • spellcheckers are commonplace, 
    • encourage the use of a dictaphone for note-taking, or 
    • change the set-up of the person’s PC to make it more usable (Consider doing this from both an ergonomic and in terms of operational, as in software default layouts – font size and colour, and the use of a preferred background colour to clarify reading). 
    • Consider investing in Assistive technology such as EasyReader, and /or
    • voice-activated software such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and /or 
    • planning software such as Inspiration may also be helpful.
    5 Look at your practices
    Develop dyslexia-friendly practices across the business for recruitment, assessment, training and health and safety.

    Consider how accessible your communications are and provide alternative formats such as large print or audio.

    Plan training sessions and inductions that accommodate extra time or support to ensure retention of information.

    For instance, give the individual training materials in advance or present communications in a more dyslexia-friendly layout. This may include:

    • bullet points;
    • font size of no less than 11pt;
    • sans-serif typefaces such as Arial;
    • left-justified margin;
    • cream or off-white background;
    • increased spacing between lines;
    • important points in bold (not italics).

    6 Consider individual needs
    Do not assume or generalise. Dyslexia is complex and the number, type and severity of difficulties will vary.

    This will also be influenced by the individual’s ability to manage their own dyslexia. Discussions about support strategies should consider fully what the person feels they need. Listen to them. Do not impose on them.

    7 Seek specialist help
    You are not expected to be a dyslexia expert and, given its complexity, it may be wise to discuss specific strategies and adjustments with a specialist.

    If dyslexia is suspected and formal identification is required, contact an occupational psychologist or specialist service provider.

    Avoid New Age alternative therapy 'solutions' and only consider support and assistance from medically or educationally qualified consultants and institutions.

    In the UK, the Citizens Advice Bureaus should be able to point you in the right direction.

    8 Increase awareness
    Encourage better understanding among all staff by including accurate information about dyslexia in internal communications.

    Key Points

    • Dyslexia need not be a barrier to success, and is recognised under the UK Equality Act 2010.
    • Dyslexia is common – an organisation with 50-100 employees could have up to 10 workers who are dyslexic.
    • Adjustments can help to maximise potential.
    • Do not generalise – treat each case individually.

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

    Since the dawn of recorded history, philosophers have pondered which came first, the chicken or the egg, as a causality dilemma exploring grander existential inquiries into the origin of life and the universe.

    But, it turns out, science has an answer that bypasses the metaphysical and dives right into the nitty-gritty of the tangible and concrete.

    In yet another illuminating animation, AsapSCIENCE enlist evolutionary biology in answering the age-old question, comparing the process to how dogs became dogs and ultimately demonstrating that, like much of science, the solution may have more to do with semantics and nomenclature than with actual scientific evidence.

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Online Child protection : CEOP UK Video

    'The Parents' and Carers' Guide to the Internet', from CEOP, is a light hearted and realistic look at what it takes to be a better online parent. The show covers topics such as, talking to your child about the technologies they use and the things they might see, such as pornography.

    With interviews from leading experts such as, Professor Tanya Byron, Dr Linda Papadopoulos and Reg Bailey, as well as key industry players from Facebook, Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters , this online guide aims to equip you with the tools to have those tricky conversations with your children and keep your family safe online.

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Change: Can Money Buy Happiness?

    Humans are very sensitive to change: When we get a raise or commission, we really enjoy it — but we adapt at incredible speeds to our new wealth.

    Some studies have shown that in North America additional income beyond $75,000 a year ceases to impact day-to-day happiness.

    “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants,” Ben Franklin — who was born 307 years ago today — is often (mis-)quoted as having proclaimed. 

    In asking what you would do if money were no object, Alan Watts echoed Franklin as he advocated for liberating creative purpose from money-work.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Microfinance and Patriarchy: 'Drifts Away from Serving Women'

    Microfinance -- an approach to poverty based on providing small loans and other financial services to poor people, primarily women -- has inspired extensive press coverage, a Nobel Peace Prize for founder Muhammad Yunus and reams of research in the decades that followed the launch of Grameen Bank in 1976.

    Much of the research on microfinance focuses on factors associated with the efficient delivery of loans and their effect on borrowers -- in other words, on the financial and economic aspects of the microfinance movement.

    But by ignoring microfinance's cultural aspects -- including the influence of patriarchal attitudes on lending practices -- the ability to make loans to the women whom microfinance was originally intended to serve can be seriously restricted, says Wharton management professor Tyler Wry.

    Using data on more than 1,800 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 168 countries compiled by the Microfinance Information Exchange, Wry and Eric Yanfei Zhao from the University of Alberta School of Business look at policies advocated by the United Nations, World Bank and other development agencies that are intended to build stable infrastructures for microfinance institutions.

    "We found that countries that do have more liberalised markets, including increased flow of capital and thus the ability to make more loans, also [can] support a lot more microfinance activity, which is good," Wry says.

    "But we also found that these same factors that would make a country attractive to MFIs also made it less likely that they would lend to women."

    He and Zhao present preliminary findings in a working paper titled, "Culture, Economics, and Cross-National Variation in the Founding and Social Outreach of Microfinance Organizations."

    Read the full article here

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    Modafinil and Sleep: A Sociological Speculation

    Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution is a major proponent of the Great Stagnation thesis: that new innovations are not having the same impact on productivity as those we saw in the previous 150 years.

    Think of iPads versus electricity and cloud computing versus the railroad.

    Hence, we can expect to see slowing growth in GDP per capita as future productivity gains will take much more effort to unlock.

    This week The Economist took up this line of thought with a thorough briefing on the subject that broadly agreed with Cowen, although with some equivocation.

    Overall, I think the argument has a lot of merit but there may be at least one more piece of low hanging fruit: a vast reduction in our need for sleep.

    The American Time Use survey reports that an average American work day includes 8.8 hours of work and 7.6 hours of sleep.

    Sleep is the second largest single use of time. However, new drugs such as Modafinil appear to vastly reduce the need for sleep without significant side effects (at least so far).

    Based on reports from users, it seems that people could realistically [edit: potentially (see update)] cut their sleep requirements to as few as 2.5 hours a night without a decrease in mental acuity. That gives us another 5 hours to distribute over the day.

    Workers would probably prefer to allocate the bulk of that extra time to leisure but I doubt employers will let that happen.

    Let's make a generous breakdown and give work an extra 3 hours and let workers spend another 2 as they wish. This increases working hours by around 34% and potentially increases leisure time by 80%.

    This increases the number of hours a worker spends at work from around 1800 hours a year now to about 2,400.

    The argument against the use of drugs such as Modafinil, is that a rapid introduction of these pills would amount to an increase in the labour supply and cause a fall in hourly wages or unemployment.

    However, it's likely that individuals would generally still see an increase in their overall income and their additional leisure time (2 hours extra) would allow this to be translated into an increase in demand in the economy through increased consumption.

     Overall the transition to a sleepless world seems beneficial to humanity. There's nothing special about the 7 hours of sleep we get right now and I think people would rightly be opposed to a change that made everyone spend an extra hour asleep every day.


    • I've never used Modafinil. This is because I don't know where to buy it, I have some moral qualms about using it when the rest of the world is not and because it is still a bit early to conclude that there are no long term health effects; 
    • Some people I've talked to have raised the issue of environmental damage. I think the total environmental impact of a sleepless world could be positive or negative but surely the damage would be lower per unit of output (because there are a lot of fixed carbon outputs per work day such as commuting and building overheads). At the very least, a sleepless world looks like a more environmentally friendly growth strategy; 
    • This argument is premised on the safety of these drugs. Clearly the calculus will change if they are shown to have negative long term consequences; 
    • For those people who already work long hours with little sleep, these drugs should at least make that lifestyle less dangerous. There is convincing evidence that chronic lack of sleep is harmful in normal circumstances; 
    • The precise amount of sleep that a Modafinil user can get by with seems to vary but all sources I've seen suggest it is dramatically lower; 
    • The short term costs of a rapid change might be substantial so gradual adoption is probably preferable from the standpoint of welfare.

    Real the full article here