April 06, 2014

Cryptocat Sticks to Openness Despite Grief Over Audits
On Wednesday, Cryptocat's founder, Nadim Kobeissi, announced the release of two more code audits, both of which found flaws with the chat program that have now been mostly resolved. But the release of the audits fired up critics of Cryptocat, which is an easy-to-use instant messaging program that allows people without a background in computer security to exchange encrypted messages. The critics tend to use the audits as fuel to throw doubt on the viability of the project despite the fact that the project takes the audits seriously and quickly works on fixes.

How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion
Downey’s approach is to determine how the drop in religious affiliation correlates with other elements of the survey such as religious upbringing, socioeconomic status, education, and so on. He finds that the biggest influence on religious affiliation is religious upbringing—people who are brought up in a religion are more likely to be affiliated to that religion later. However, the number of people with a religious upbringing has dropped since 1990. It’s easy to imagine how this inevitably leads to a fall in the number who are religious later in life. In fact, Downey’s analysis shows that this is an important factor.

Public sector lacks IT skills to deliver services effectively
Mike Fetters, public sector director at totaljobs.com, said: “The public sector is filled with talented people, including IT professionals. But there is no denying that the last three years have been a tumultuous time, with widespread staff cuts and reforms by Whitehall affecting everyone in local government, central government and the NHS. “While there have been huge achievements in terms of reform implementation, those in the public sector are clearly worried about their ability to continue to deliver services. They have indicated that IT skills is an area in which they need more support.”

How to Protect Valuable or Personal Data on PC, Hard Drive and Flash Drive
Portable computers are taken everywhere: home, vacations, or business trips. It makes them an easy target for criminals, especially for the private data they contain. Flash drives are also an easy theft target. Even a failed hard drive that you send back to your vendor for warranty is a potential threat to your private intellectual property. How can your personal data be protected? With one word - encryption! Data encryption has gone mainstream with Windows BitLocker, an optional security feature that enables data protection on volumes with 128/256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption.

Open-Office Backlash: Seeking Productivity in a Noisy World
“The open-office movement is like some gigantic experiment in willful delusion,” Jason Feifer of Fast Company wrote recently in an annoyed screed calling for offices for all. “Maybe we can spend less on space, the logic seems to go, and convince employees that it’s helping them.” In a New Yorker piece called “The Open-Office Trap,” Maria Konnikova reports on data point after data point detailing how far the open office has fallen out of favor with employees. The sound of fellow employees doesn’t foster a can-do spirit, but a get-me-out-of-here reaction: In a study conducted by Cornell University psychologists,

How Can Server Monitoring Improve Performance?
It’s important to maintain a careful watch over a company server as misuse of this technology can lead to data loss and it can incur financial costs. Server monitoring tools provide administrators with an easy way to maintain a vigilant approach as they provide alerts and function to keep the administrator up to date and abreast of any problems – potential or current. A network monitoring tool is a powerful application that can monitor bandwidth, availability and server performance monitoring.

Proposed health IT strategy aims to promote innovation, protect patients...
“The diverse and rapidly developing industry of health information technology requires a thoughtful, flexible approach,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This proposed strategy is designed to promote innovation and provide technology to consumers and health care providers while maintaining patient safety.” Innovative health IT products present tremendous potential benefits, including: greater prevention of medical errors; reductions in unnecessary tests; increased patient engagement; and faster identifications of and response to public health threats and emergencies.

Indosat Routing Error Impacts Few but Hits Akamai, Chevron
The problem was quickly corrected but still caused problems for companies such as Akamai and Chevron, Zmijewski wrote. It also caused a flood of traffic to hit Indosat's network.ISPs and telecommunication providers publish public data on their networks that is used in routers to direct Internet traffic. That data is distributed to other providers using BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), a specification for exchanging such information. BGP data changes are "announced" and then picked up by other network providers. But errors in BGP data can cause websites and networks to be unreachable.

Say Hello to Microsoft’s Answer to Siri
Like Siri for iOS devices and Google Now for Android phones, Cortana can answer spoken questions like “How old is Barack Obama”; and it can act on commands such as “Wake me up at 7 a.m. tomorrow.” However, in a demonstration of the app given at Microsoft’s Build conference, Cortana appeared to be more closely integrated with other functions and apps on a device than its competitors. Unlike Siri and Google Now, it is possible for developers to write apps that can be controlled using Cortana. Cortana appears to combine design features of Apple and Google’s own virtual assistants. Cortana is similar to Siri in that you are encouraged to address the app as if it really had a personality of its own

Parliamentary computers crash 90 minutes after IT assurances
Users of the system repeatedly endured interrupted and slow internet access, delayed delivery of emails sent outside Parliament, and computers that kept freezing. Miller apologised for the problems, which resulted from an upgrade to the network. She said: “Unfortunately, in January, one of our suppliers involved in this upgrade inadvertently introduced an error into the supporting software. This had the opposite effect of that intended; that is, it reduced the capacity of the access to the internet.”

Quote for the day:

"I believe it is important for people to create a healthy mental environment in which to accomplish daily tasks." -- Darren L. Johnson

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