Your Personal Information Is Probably Going To Be For Sale . . .

“. . .  When The Company You Gave It To Is.

Sometimes, though, there is hope for consumer protection. The NYT points to the sale of Texas-based dating site as an example. In 2013, as part of a bankruptcy proceeding, True tried to sell its database of 43 million members’ personal information to another dating site based in Canada. However, the site’s privacy policy had promised never to sell or share members’ details without their permission, so the Texas attorney general’s office was able to intervene.

“It’s ‘we are never going to sell your data, except if we need to or sell the company,’” Hal F. Morris, assistant attorney general for Texas, told the NYT. “That is the type of information that people were entitled not to have trafficked and sold to the highest bidder. I think it’s an important safety issue for consumers.”

Full article is at

Privacy on the Internet of Things?

“Data privacy is a big enough deal that Americans need a new right — something nobody even imagined a generation ago.

Your computer and cellphone are already tracking and sending a lot of data about you, and although you may not realize it, you can listen in. (You can generally do it by installing something called a “root certificate.”) Even though only a few people might do this, their findings benefit us all. For example, in 2012, it was a Stanford graduate student, Jonathan Mayer, who first publicized the fact that Google was circumventing the security system in Apple’s Safari browser to track users across the Web, contrary to Google’s prior statements to consumers.

The problem is that today’s Internet of Things devices are different: For the most part, you can’t eavesdrop. Manufacturers are shipping devices as sealed-off products that will speak, encrypted, only with the manufacturer’s servers over the Internet. Encryption is a great way to protect against eavesdropping from bad guys. But when it stops the devices’ actual owners from listening in to make sure the device isn’t tattling on them, the effect is anti-consumer.

To address the technical issues and make these systems more robust and secure, we have started the Secure Internet of Things Project, a collaboration among Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan.”

Read the full article at

Water splitter from Stanford produces clean-burning hydrogen

“We have developed a low-voltage, single-catalyst water splitter that continuously generates hydrogen and oxygen for more than 200 hours, an exciting world-record performance,” said study co-author Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

In an engineering first, Cui and his colleagues used lithium-ion battery technology to create one low-cost catalyst that is capable of driving the entire water-splitting reaction. (See video.)”


Digital Dark Age

“On this ‘[ . . . ] episode of On the Media, we’re engaging in some chillingly informed speculation: what would happen if we, as a species, lost access to our electronic records? What if, either by the slow creep of  technological obsolescence or sudden cosmic disaster, we no longer could draw from the well of of knowledge accrued through the ages? What if we fell into…a digital dark age?”


Bonus link: [internet archive]

Spot The Space Station (ISS)

Three ways to learn about ISS:

“See the International Space Station [ISS]! As the third brightest object in the sky the space station is easy to see if you know when to look up.

With, you get a list of all visible passes of the ISS for your location during the next ten days. Green bars indicate the brightness of the ISS on its pass.

NASA’s Spot The Station service gives you a list of upcoming sighting opportunities for thousands of locations worldwide, and will let you sign up to receive notices of opportunities in your email inbox or cell phone. The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, but it is dozens of times higher than any airplane and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster. It is bright enough that it can even be seen from the middle of a city! To learn more about the space station, its international crew, and how they live and working in space, please visit the space station mission pages.”

Space Station videos:

Heavens-Above provides more kinds of info than the NASA site above. Note that the links in this post provide info for Sunnyvale, CA. To start using Heavens-Above:

  1. Click here.
  2. On the home page:
    1. Under “Configuration”, select Change your observing location, and enter info about the location you’re interested in.
    2. Under “Satellites”, “10-day predictions for satellites of special interest”, select ISS. A box in the upper-right-hand corner of your display shows the place for which the data is provided.

Note that “[The Magnitude] scale appears to work ‘in reverse’, with objects with a negative magnitude being brighter than those with a positive magnitude. The ‘larger’ the negative value, the brighter.

Go ahead and explore some of the other info Heavens-Above provides.