August 03, 2016

Getting the Critical Role of Data Preparation Right

Self-service data analytics tools are becoming more popular. They require less IT attention and enabling organizations to personalize the experience of working with data through data visualization. Such tools also make it easier for non-IT individuals to work with data. Some of these tools use machine learning, natural language process, and other advanced techniques to suggest data sets and guide users. Equally important – data preparation needs to address data governance. As Stoddard notes, “data governance is often regarded as being primarily about protecting sensitive data and adhering to regulations; indeed, data preparation processes are vital to meeting those priorities. However, data governance is expanding to include stewardship of data quality, data models, and content such as visualizations that users create and share.”

Getting Started with MapReduce

A MapReduce program is composed of a Map() procedure (method) that performs filtering and sorting (such as sorting students by first name into queues, one queue for each name) and a Reduce() method that performs a summary operation (such as counting the number of students in each queue, yielding name frequencies). The "MapReduce System" (also called "infrastructure" or "framework") orchestrates the processing by marshalling the distributed servers, running the various tasks in parallel, managing all communications and data transfers between the various parts of the system, and providing for redundancy and fault tolerance. The key contributions of the MapReduce framework are not the actual map and reduce functions, but the scalability and fault-tolerance achieved for a variety of applications by optimizing the execution engine once.

Web-native mobile app frameworks: How to sort through the choices

Two of the main problems with using the web stack are feature fragmentation in browsers' JavaScript engines and bad performance on old WebVews. The biggest problem is on Android. Apache Cordova relies on the installed WebView on each device, so it’s not going to help in this case. Fortunately for us, there is an open-source project from Intel, called Crosswalk, that lets you embed or install a new Chromium-based WebView for your hybrid application, letting you access new APIs and have better performance even on older devices. It’s compatible with Apache Cordova and available as a free plugin. If performance and latest APIs are important to you, you should consider adding it to your tool chain.

Security Think Tank: Brexit and infosec – for now it’s business as usual

Most information security professionals will be familiar with the difficulties in putting together a business case for spending on IT security. Infosec projects rarely deliver a return on investment and are typically treated as an “insurance policy”. As noted above, Brexit may reduce infosec budgets. Alternatively, nothing sells insurance better than fear and uncertainty, and the political instability that surrounds the UK’s exit from the EU may instead translate into a desire to improve big businesses’ IT security posture. For organisations that take information security seriously and recognise the changing threat landscape, this may result in an increased interest in information security initiatives and demand for the services of infosec professionals.

Encryption's quantum leap: The race to stop the hackers of tomorrow

NIST is exploring preliminary evaluation criteria for quantum-resistant public key cryptography standards, a process that's due to be finalised by the end of this year. NIST will then begin accepting proposals for quantum-resistant public key encryption, digital signatures, and key exchange algorithms, with a deadline in late 2017. This will be followed by three to five years of public scrutiny before they are accepted as standards. So, while new encryption algorithms should protect future communications against attack, what about all that old data secured with existing cryptographic standards? Will it be at risk at some future date? Professor Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey thinks it's unlikely.

Five Strategies for Leading a High-Impact Team

One strategy for managing team size is to consult specialists only when their expertise is required rather than keeping them on full time. Adding some fluidity to team membership can also help with the problem of homogeneity. In team sports, you hear a lot about the importance of team chemistry—that innate understanding that leads to the no-look pass or the intuitive hit-and-run. While building a team of like-minded individuals may create a safe and comfortable environment, it also elicits a narrower vision and less productive friction than a team that is diverse both in personality and function. “We found that changing the membership of a team—taking out one member and putting in a new member while holding everything else constant—actually leads to an increase in creative idea generation,” says Thompson.

Here’s how Law Enforcement and IT Security Companies are Fighting Ransomware

“This collaboration goes beyond intelligence sharing, consumer education, and takedowns to actually help repair the damage inflicted upon victims. By restoring access to their systems, we empower users by showing them they can take action and avoid rewarding criminals with a ransom payment.” Wil van Gemert, Europol Deputy Director Operations, finally: “For a few years now ransomware has become a dominant concern for EU law enforcement. It is a problem affecting citizens and business alike, computers and mobile devices, with criminals developing more sophisticated techniques to cause the highest impact on the victim’s data. Initiatives like the No More Ransom project shows that linking expertise and joining forces is the way to go in the successful fight against cybercrime. ... ”

IBM creates artificial neurons from phase change memory for cognitive computing

"Basically, it operates how the brain operates, with short voltage pulses coming in through synapses exciting neurons," said Tomas Tuma, lead author of the paper and a scientist at IBM Research in Zurich. "So we use [a] short pulse of, say, nanosecond induce change in the material." The PCM's stochasticity, Tuma said, is of key importance in population-based computing where every neuron responds differently and enables new ways to represent signals and compute. "Normally, people try to hide [stochasticity], or if you want good quality stochasticity you have to induce it artificially. Here, we have shown we have a very nice stochasticity natively because we understand the processes of crystallization and amorphization in phase-change cells," Tuma said.

Facebook's privacy chief insists Facebook is 'a privacy-enhancing platform'

When we think about privacy, we have to think about people's expectations. What do they understand? What are we telling them about our product? On Facebook, people decide whether or not they want to decide to share information. They can decide whether or not they want to make their lives public, whether they want to do something just for their friends, or just do it for a very small group. We've worked very hard over the years on these sharing controls to educate people on them. The same privacy model that applies to what we do with whatever you share, that also applies to Live. Yes, people have to understand what that is. People have to use it and understand it and get it. We have a responsibility to tell people, and we are. But this isn't a new phenomenon.

Infrastructure as destiny — How Purdue builds an IT support fabric for big data-enabled IoT

The worry for any CIO is that the only thing I have that’s mine is my business data. Anything else — web services, network services — I can buy from a vendor. What nobody else can provide me are my actual accounts, if you wish to just choose a business term, but that can be research information, instructional information, or just regular bookkeeping information. When you come into a room of a new solution, you’re immediately looking at the exit door. In other words, when I have to leave, how easy, difficult, or expensive is it going to be to extract my information back from the solution? That drives a huge part of any consideration, whether it’s cloud or on-prem or whether it’s proprietary or open code solution. 

Quote for the day:

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." -- Henry Adams