Discussion Post: Week 9
Well, we’re just about done with Presentation II. What sorts of things have you seen emerging in the presentations thus far? Are there any areas in which we seem to be excelling? Just as importantly, where is there room for improvement?
We’re going to narrow our focus to technology news this week — as always, you’re free to talk about a topic beyond the issues covered in this post, you’d like to discuss something that I’ve missed. For starters, anyone familiar with Anonymous knows that the loosely-connected hacker group represents, perhaps, the most notorious collective on the internet. As just a taste of their activities, on Friday the group released what seems to be sensitive information snatched from police chiefs from around the world during the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The documents released include “internal documents, membership rosters, Social Security Numbers [sic], addresses, passwords, and other data,” according to the hackers responsible. This was apparently a show of support for the 16th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, which took place on Saturday — the fact that the IACP conference began on Saturday as well was enough to incur Anonymous’ wrath.
Facebook privacy concerns never cease, do they? The social networking behemoth is once again facing scrutiny, this time from Irish investigators who may ultimately fine the company €100,000 (about $138,000) for not complying with its country’s privacy laws. The issue appears to be Facebook’s “shadow profiles,” which allegedly hold records of everything you do on the site. The latest wave of privacy panic started when Austrian law student Max Schrems, who was writing a paper on the subject, asked Facebook to send him a copy of all data related to him. They sent him a CD with 1,200 pages of information about his day-to-day activities, from ignored friend requests to deleted (yes, deleted) messages. Schrems and 21 other students subsequently filed a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, which has jurisdiction over Facebook’s operations outside of the U.S. and Canada since the company’s international base of operations lies in Dublin. A slew of others have since requested their own data. As if that wasn’t enough bad news for Facebook, 86% of Facebook users “hate the new changes to the website,” and Google+ is maintaining its push to dethrone the internet giant. Still, it’s not all gloomy for the company, worth an estimated $82 billion: the police have been using Facebook to nab criminal suspects, and not everyone is so worried Facebook’s privacy threats. Researchers have also used Facebook as a data gold mine — most recently, we’ve found that you can learn a lot about someone’s brain structure from how many Facebook friends they have.
It’s funny how history repeats itself. In September, we talked about a dying satellite that was about to freefall to the earth’s surface. (The satellite, which was roughly the size of a school bus, apparently landed in the ocean.) It’s expected to happen again today, as Germany’s ROSAT satellite has ceased to operate as well. In years past, an average of only one satellite fell to earth each year. Still, the odds of ROSAT striking a person when it lands are roughly one in 2,000, according to the German Space Agency — leaving the odds of striking a particular individual at around one in 14 trillion — and since the earth is 75% water it likely won’t touch land at all. Still, it makes you wonder about all the other trash floating above our atmosphere. As NASA orbital scientist Mark Matney noted, “The U.S. space [sic] Surveillance Network has catalogued 16 thousand things in Earth orbit, many of them are quite small pieces of debris, but about 7,000 of those are large objects, spacecraft and large rocket bodies, we have made quite a mess up there.” Most of those 16,000 objects would likely be incinerated before reaching land, but the 7,000 with substantial mass throw the chances of debris hitting a person into question. Amidst these concerns, though, NASA is working to get the public excited about its new role, as 20 Twitter users following an earth-observing satellite’s launch will be given behind-the scenes access to the launch, and the organization is also working to extend its contract with Russia to ride its rockets to the International Space Station through 2016. NASA is also considering the development of space gas stations that would potentially help astronauts fly to much more distant locations, including other planets.
That’s enough for this week. You know the drill!
Other articles of interest:
As Libya cheers, questions over brutal Gadhafi death
Tunisia Set To Vote In First Free Elections
Tunisia vote could shape religion in public life
Hillary Clinton: U.S. will still stand by Iraq
European Leaders Push to End Debt Crisis
Police pepper spray Haka dancers at football game
Hacker develops rear window LED to send messages to other drivers
They grow up so fast: today is the 10 year anniversary of the iPod
Team won’t line up for extra point in tribute to teammate
World Series has the makings of a classic
Owners intent on spending limits
NBA lockout: Players react on Twitter
October 2011 Coding Challenge
Tags: 16th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, Anonymous, Austria, Canada, Facebook, German Space Agency, Germany, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Ireland, Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Mark Matney, Max Schrems, NASA, Presentation II, ROSAT, shadow profiles, Twitter, U.S., U.S. Space Surveillance Network