Monday, December 12, 2005

Digital Nugget # 9

Google: New big brother?

With the modern citizen concerned about big brother ie. Government looking over their shoulder and the collection of their data seems to not really care until it's to late other institution on what information is collected. Google recently announce that it will start putting online their new public domain digital library. What people don't know is that they also intend to create a online phone book of cell phone numbers. How are they getting these numbers? From their free gmail service. Also from that service they are going to keep all the emails that you sent and receive on their servers. Also on these servers, Google will save every search that people have made using their search engine. Just imaging the potential damage people can do if they ever get their hands on this information.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Digital Milestone #10

It's quite amazing too see technology advancing and how main stream society throughout the world has adapted it to their own. Podcasting didn't exsist 2 years ago and yet now major news organizations are podcasting every night. Blogs were just for the computer or technology nerd. But after the blog proven to be useful and spread, major organizations from networks to major Fortune 500 companies are blogging.

These new technology systems are not the only things that are becoming main stream. The gaming industry has been a very profitable business. It has come to the point that the video gamers have become their own subculture with the games of Everquest, Star Wars:Galaxies, and others. It got so bad that people commit suicide if their character dies with these digital worlds. (Note: People committing suicide because of Everquest or other online games has not been proven.)

Complementing these digital subcultures there are gaming tournaments. In fact recently there were two gaming tournament that just concluded where the prize money combined totaled $750000. It would be surprising if these events are televised internationally like the Olympics. They are already being televised nationally with the host country. Here are some organizations that organize these events.

I would be quite interesting to see how the computer and its software continue to dominate our lives. Will the technology continue to help the lives of human or will it take control of our lives?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Digital Nugget #8

The US government has traditionally avoided regulating the market place until some sort of social or economic disaster has taken place. For years the US Congress has avoided regulating stock market. That’s until 1929, when the stock market crash sending millions of Americans into poverty.

This is a similar situation now with data protection. Data brokerage companies have been collecting data from the average citizen from personal to financial data. The US Congress has been content of letting these companies regulate themselves. Until recently only the state of California required notification if their data was compromised, however with the recent security breaches at major firms such as ChoicePoint Inc, LexsisNexis, and others Congress has finally decided to act.

With the certainty of passage from the House of Representatives and resistances from the industry, H.R. 3997, the Financial Data Protection Act, will require the firms to be held accountable for future security breaches and notify people if their data has been compromised.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

digital Nugget #7

There was a report on the CBS news website about a new electronic payment system. This system is being tested in the Chicago area Cub Food stores. They market this service as a convenience and more efficient way to pay.

The system requires a voided check, your name, your drivers license, and your fingerprint. This can be done with a special booth that they set up. After the patron finished inputting their information, then all they have to do is give their fingerprint to the machine and it will deduct the appropriate amount from your checking accounts.

This brings up several issues on privacy, convenience, security, and technology. How will this information be used? How will this information be protected? Who is ultimately responsible for the integrity of this information. Can the patrons track and change their own information? Will the patrons be notified if their information is compromised? Will this technology catch on?

What do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Digital Milestone #9

It's always amazing in hearing about how the Internet came about. We take for granted the modern Internet provides. Example: e-mail, electronic databases, and World Wide Web. Like many recent pushes in technology many of them are either military or government funded. Without these entities, technology would become stagnant.

Recent technologies that benefited from the military or the government is synthetic rubber. When World War 2 started to effect America, they discovered that their natural supply was cut off. So the US government has poured millions of dollars into researching an alternatives.

Same thing with nuclear "things". Without the Federal Government, we would have a new source of energy or new treatments for disease. Then again we also have nuclear weapons.

During the life of computers and the Internet, the government has always been closely linked to it's development. The first major computer bought for commercial or governmental usage was a computer designed by Herman Hollerith. The company that he found and sold this equipment eventually became part of IBM. The reason why this computer was created because the US Census department need a more efficient way in processing census forms. This was for the 1890 census.

Let's fast forward to about 30 years ago. The government wanted some type of computer network that would theoretically keep running after a nuclear attack. So with cooperation of several research institutes, the Department of Defense created ARPANET. Despite what Al Gore may have stated, the Internet was a collaborative effort amount many people. Without government interest and investment, the Internet that we know today wouldn't come about.

That is why the government is continuing to do research to improve the efficiency of the government, protecting it's citizens, and the betterment of science and technology.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Digital Nugget #6

This came up in Dr. Carbo's class on Information Policy. As we all know, satellite phones are available on the web. In fact Elizabeth Mahoney during her reference class, showed us a service where she pulled up a satellite photo of the school. There's currently a provision in posting these pictures that there will be no pictures posted that will threat the national security of any country. However what happens if the are was within a natural disaster zone. The zone could be literally anywhere. Satellite photos were used during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. However during the earthquake operations of Pakistan the government won't let people use the photos due to national security reasons. Granted that the area includes the disputed area of Kashmir, but shouldn't there be a way that nature disasters trumps national security?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Digital Nugget #5

With technology, it can be used for good or evil purposes. I read in a Star Trek novel that "Technology is neutral. It was we do with it that makes it good or evil." Computers today store a lot of useful data and make record keeping a breeze. However a computer can be used to attack other computers and reek havok in society.

The FBI has recently arrest a 20 year old who is a member of the "Botmaster Underground". A bot is a program that once it's installed on the computer, the hacker can them come in and take over the computer. The bot can do serious damage to a comouter network or send huge quantity of spam. What make this individual unique is that he sold his services and his bots.

He made about $60,000 and has effect thousands of computers including the US Naval Air Warfare Center and the Department of Defense. If convicted on all 17 counts, he could be in prison for 50 years.

Here are some links about bots in general.