07-03 Contents: Federal Spyware, Adware victim, PDF tips, EMU, GGPhi, Spreadsheet Addiction, Iceland
ISSN 1649-2374 This issue online at http://www.sysmod.com/praxis/prax0703.htm [Previous] [Index] [Next]
|Systems Modelling Ltd.: Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success|
IN THIS ISSUE
|1) Risk & Security
German Federal Spyware ruled illegal
Teacher unable to stop indecent adware faces prison
|2) Tech Tip
Prevent PDF files hanging Internet Explorer
PrimoPDF: an alternative to Adobe PDF Writer
Volcano, earthquake and glacier monitoring in Iceland
|5) Off Topic
|17 Web links in this newsletter
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I spent February in Reykjavik. A wonderful place, and there's free wireless internet access almost everywhere!
http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number4.24/computer-online-searching Plans that would give the police and the Interior Federal Office of Criminal Investigation permission to access online computers of the German citizens were criticized last December by Germany's Federal Data Protection Commissioner.
http://www.cebit.de/newsanzeige_e.html?news=27998 Surreptitious online searches of PCs are illegal (heise online, 06.02.2007 15:32) According to the Federal Supreme Court the criminal investigation authorities also wanted to carry out surreptitious online searches of PCs with the help of a so-called "Federal Trojan." There are no legal grounds for such an approach, the court found.
"Federal Trojan" is the unofficial name given to that part of a certain program designed to slip spyware code onto PCs, thereby enabling criminal investigation authorities and the secret services to search these online. Programming the software required two full-time programmers paid with funds earmarked for the Program to Strengthen the Internal Security of the Federal Republic. All in all the online PC search tool is said to cost no more than 200,000 euros.
I have not seen a similar proposal in the US yet. The law there prohibits the opening of normal postal mail:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=962453 Can the President Read Your Mail? A Legal Analysis by Anuj C. Desai of the University of Wisconsin Law School. 'The statute bars the opening of letters without a warrant, subject to only one relevant exception: the "physical searches" provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA").'
A substitute teacher was put in a classroom which had a computer that was exposed to Internet porn. The students were 7th graders, 12 year olds. The teacher claims she was a computer illiterate. She took several different actions to try to prevent her students from seeing the Internet porn, but was unsuccessful. The school had a policy banning teachers from turning off computers. It never occurred to her to turn the monitor off or throw a coat over the screen. The school computer did not have even minimum protection against badware. The school had provided zero guidance for how a teacher is to cope when bad stuff shows up on computer. She faces a prison term of up to 40 years.
http://julieamer.blogspot.com/ Julie Amer's appeal for funds for her case.
http://sysmod.com/az.php?a=0321444426&b=The+Art+of+Software+Security+Assessment by Mark Dowd, John McDonald, and Justin Schuh.
This has earned five-star reviews on Amazon. The Art of Software Security Assessment covers the full spectrum of software vulnerabilities in both UNIX/Linux and Windows environments. It demonstrates how to audit security in applications of all sizes and functions, including network and Web software. Moreover, it teaches using extensive examples of real code drawn from past flaws in many of the industry's highest-profile applications.
If you find that you cannot view large PDF files in the browser, you can change the preferences of the Acrobat Reader so that it does not display the file inside the browser window but instead offers to save them. When you have a direct link to the .pdf you can of course right-click the link and select "Save As" from the popup menu. But sometimes the file is delivered from a database or Content Management System (CMS). To change the preference, select Edit > Preferences > Internet and uncheck "display in browser".
http://www.primopdf.com/ I have PDFWriter, but am often asked about a free alternative. Primo PDF is simple and works.
I contributed an article "European Monetary Union: technology lessons learned" to the Capco Journal of Financial Transformation. It should be available online by the 16th of March. Other articles in that issue cover economic and monetary union, convergence, markets, stability in the euro zone, macroeconomics, exits from monetary unions, and MiFID.
Last July I mentioned the GGPHI project. http://www.ggphi.eu. The project is also described in the Galileo web site:
The Informatics Development Institute are involved in an EU funded project led by a team in the University of Leeds Institute of Satellite Navigation. The GGPhi concept aims at making precision positioning attainable for applications that are constrained by environmental and cost issues. A network of Galileo carrier phase receivers, capable of detecting movements of the order of millimetres, could be an early warning system for incipient landslides.
Last month I visited the Nordic Volcanological Institute who currently use the U.S. GPS system:
http://www.norvol.hi.is/~thora/ondvegi.html High-rate continuous GPS observations in Iceland
http://isgps.blogspot.com/ shows the stations in the network.
http://hraun.vedur.is/ja/englishweb/index.html The Physics department of the Iceland Meteorological Office has a map showing locations of earthquakes in Iceland in the previous 48 hours.
I was introduced to the University of Iceland by Prof. Oddur Benediktsson, a frequent visitor to universities in Ireland. His course in the Centre for Software Engineering, Dublin, 1996, on the Personal Software Process (PSP) of Watts Humphrey started my interest in software quality and process improvement. He gave me the opportunity to present my talk on "Auditing Spreadsheets: Motivation and Methodology" in February to an audience at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. The participants had a lot of questions and interestingly included some engineers who knew about the risks in spreadsheets used in engineering practice.
If you'd like to hear more details about how to audit spreadsheets, I provide one and two day courses.
http://www.burns-stat.com/pages/Tutor/spreadsheet_addiction.html Patrick Burns looks at spreadsheets from a quality assurance point of view.
Ralph Baxter posted to the Eusprig mail list a tongue-in-cheek presentation he gave at the end of 2005:
It's a do-it-yourself questionnaire to assess your business's dependence on spreadsheets and the opportunity to join the little known group of Spreadsheets Anonymous if you find that your dependence has reached objective levels of addiction.
http://www.sysmod.com/az.php?a=190540400X&b=Spreadsheet+Check+Control Available worldwide from Amazon.
http://sysmod.buy.ie/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=188 Our offer - free shipping to EU .
Simply send your comments to FEEDBACK (at) SYSMOD (dot) COM
Thank you! Patrick O'Beirne, Editor
My wife Megan had a residency for February in the Society of Icelandic Visual Artists in Reykjavik. She showed some sketches in the Midwinter Lights Festival. I accompanied her and took the opportunities for talking about my current projects with people in the University of Iceland.
Reykjavik ('Smoky bay') is a lovely city of only 200,000 inhabitants with a very active cultural life. It was not as cold as we feared, -3 to +3 C. Everybody says it's expensive but coming from Ireland we don't notice that much. We enjoyed learning about the somewhat ironic Icelandic sense of humour.
There is a genetic connection between Icelanders, Irish, Scots, and Norwegians. Most of the men have Norwegian genes and most of the women have Celtic genes. Obviously, the Vikings from Norway stopped off in Scotland or Ireland to pillage more supplies and captured some women too. Which is why Icelandic women are so good-looking!
Icelanders claim that they inherited their skills in music and story-telling from the Irish ... and the sting in the joke is that they add "and drunkenness and tax evasion". An alternative legend to explain both the literacy and the tax evasion is that a medieval Norwegian king decided to raise taxes and posted a notice about that on all the church doors. Everyone who could read left for Iceland.
We both took many photographs of the spectacular scenery. I posted a couple of photographs on my blog but hope to set up a page for them later.
On a more serious note, Oddur Benediktsson (mentioned above) told me that he has set up a research foundation into prostate cancer. He attributes his remission to the Jane Plant diet, which eliminates milk products and promotes antioxidant fruit & vegetables. His web page with presentations and links is at http://www.hi.is/~oddur/info/pc/
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