To Redact or Cover Up With a Black Box?

If you don’t want someone to have certain data, then don’t send it to them. Cutesy features like placing a colored box on top of text are next to worthless when it comes to protecting sensitive data. Obscuring the ability of the eye to see the data protects it from 90% of people, yes. However, one can usually get to data in a file in multiple ways. Unfortunately, lawyers and legal assistants are not likely the ones to know this.

Maybe this should be a wake up call to Adobe and other PDF software creators to actually devise a means to redact information from PDFs?

AT&T leaks sensitive info in NSA suit | CNET News.com

Lawyers for AT&T accidentally released sensitive information while defending a lawsuit that accuses the company of facilitating a government wiretapping program, CNET News.com has learned.

AT&T’s attorneys this week filed a 25-page legal brief striped with thick black lines that were intended to obscure portions of three pages and render them unreadable….

But the obscured text nevertheless can be copied and pasted inside some PDF readers, including Preview under Apple Computer’s OS X and the xpdf utility used with X11.

Crowdsourcing

I am glad industries outside the computer-related realm are picking up what open source has known for a long time: Value can come from those who have not had to go through a job interview process to attach to a project. The power of the Internet is to facilitate communication.

Wired 14.06: The Rise of Crowdsourcing

Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.

Reality TV perhaps is the one example which made a half-hearted effort. Instead of professional actors, get people off the street. However, the writers have contrived to pick casts that interact through conflict. When the actors succeed it is in despite of the producers.

The specific example of this is stock photography. I didn’t read past the first page of four. Hopefully they get into Creative Commons and free stock photography?

Moz Outside Looking In

Yeah, this one is a royal pain. Mozilla removes support for older versions of their browser six months after the new one went into production. Open source is nimble. Proprietary companies are inflexible. Sounds like its time to go after nimble applications?

Why Mozilla still hasn’t cracked the enterprise | May 24, 2006 07:12 PM | By Matt Asay

[A] hurdle Firefox must overcome is the “heartbreakingly slow” process many enterprises go through to certify the use of a tool as critical as a Web browser, according to Baker.

Espionage vs. First Amendment

Gonzales Says Prosecutions of Journalists Are Possible – New York Times

The government has the legal authority to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday.

“There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility,” Mr. Gonzales said on the ABC News program “This Week.”

“That’s a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation,” he continued. “We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.”

Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine “the appropriate course of action in that particular case.”

“I’m not going to talk about it specifically,” he said. “We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity.”

Cheating in an Information Technology Era

Some quotes from an article in the NYT on cheating. This recently came up on a WebCT Users list (usually at least once every year). Maybe the timing is right because the academic year at many schools just ended? Test administrators are usually one step behind the cheaters. There are lots of technologies that have found a niche in increasing the control of the testing environment to prevent cheating. Usually such technologies lock down the computer to prevent the use of other programs and Internet access.

Then there are the anti-technologists who want to go to pen and paper. Ick….

My brain is not wired well for cheating. Rote memorization is very difficult for me. Songs I have listened to a hundred times are still 10% outside my grasp. Quotes longer than a short sentence are pretty fuzzy. The only way I can remember things is through mneumonics that associate items or concepts with items already in my head. I can’t recall all of it; however recognition works pretty well. I can pick which is the right one. So the killer test for me was the complete two essays and ten short answer questions.

Right before I left my last job, one of my “projects” was to convert a student worker from her cramming mentality to a lifetime learner. I viewed the classes I took in school as ways to enrich my understanding of the world and tests as a necessary evil for teachers placed in a difficult position by administrators. The SAT and ITBS were scarily enough kind of fun? The questions were challenging and gave me an opportunity see that I am not as smart as I could be. For several, I wanted to go home a research how they worked…. too bad my memorization sucks. However, my former student worker sees just the classes she takes as the way to get her degree. Tests are in the way between her and the ultimate goal. So she spends long hours the night before cramming for the exam to stick every piece of information she can into her brain and hopefully be better prepared for the test. Later in the term, I asked her a question relevant to the class she was taking and watch her face get concerned as she could not recall it. I explained that she needs to pursue more long term learning techniques. She will find everything she learns useful later in life; so cramming and forgetting is really a waste of her time.

Colleges Chase as Cheats Shift to Higher Tech – New York Times

In a survey of nearly 62,000 undergraduates on 96 campuses over the past four years, two-thirds of the students admitted to cheating.

“One of the things that we’re going to be paying close attention to as time goes on is the use of iPods,” Professor Carlisle added, pointing out that with a wireless earpiece, these would be hard to detect.

Several professors said they tried to write exams on which it was hard to cheat, posing questions that outside resources would not help answer. And at many institutions, officials said that they rely on campus honor codes.