Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Expectation of Privacy

With the recent NSA leaks as well as a number of legal settlements regarding consumer privacy, one of which was Google, the question of privacy was brought up in a unofficial roundtable discussion at my local pub. Every semester we discuss expectation of privacy in both my cybercrime class and the course in corrections, as both deal with correspondence albeit in very different paradigms. I thought I might take a moment and make this post about privacy expectations.

There are some basic misnomers when discussing communications between two parties in the United States. Your privacy is only protected when there is a "reasonable expectation of privacy". So then the question becomes, what is reasonable? A public place? Your home? Work?

What I tell students is this, who owns the system or area? If you are openly discussing something in a bar or public place, there is very little reasonable expectation when compared to your home or a closed door meeting. The same thing holds true for email and other forms of electronic communication. When I am at work, I am operating on a University owned computer. I have no reasonable expectation of privacy save for the terms of use and privacy policy granted by the University. Simply put, the resources I am using are not my own. What if I took a personal computer to campus? This happens daily for students right? There is a reasonable expectation of privacy on a personal device, but the instant information is sent across resources that you do not own, or have no privacy agreement with (example, the University wireless network), the reasonable expectation of privacy drops significantly. This holds true for faculty, staff, and students. Very little is different in corporate environments. The email address at your work is not "yours", in fact is it the property of the sponsoring organization. The same holds true for any resource you do not own, even personal accounts at third parties like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other web-based email providers.

The reasonable expectation of privacy is the standard litmus test used in court and privacy cases in the United States, so keep this in mind when sending sensitive or critical information of a personal or employment related nature.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer of Lego

I have been able to relax a little more this summer with my teaching load reduced and the research at DSU manageable for the first summer session. I am looking forward to the class on "big data" taught by Dr. Deokar. I think it will be interesting based on some research projects I am in currently and a few abstract proposals which are out right now for review. My students for the UTA corrections course are doing very well and are highly interactive.

This has left me some free time. Lately I've been back into designing Lego creations almost exclusively. I have a pinterest page up with almost 530 unique awesome lego creations. This page is updated daily from various sources like Brickshelf and MOCpages. The pinterest page can be found right here. As soon as I can get my MOC pages recreated and set up again the additional pages for "MOC" and "My Collections" will be updated as well, each with their own special pinterest page respectively. I find this hobby highly therapeutic and easy to maintain while listening to lectures and audio texts. It also helps with my insomnia.

The current goal is to rebuild all my old sets. This is almost complete as I have a few sets outstanding with missing pieces which need to be replaced. I am currently working on the 575 Coast Guard Station, which was the very first set I ever had, surprisingly enough I still have quite a bit of the bricks for that set. In addition I want to submit a Lego Cuusoo project just to say I could (bragging rights only).

I will say that I reached a milestone with the use of Lego as a teaching device. I actually managed to help a student understand the ideology of States' Rights with the use of Lego Mini-figs. Yes, I actually did this, and I revel in the fact it made sense in context. I will never again say that I have too many police Lego sets now. I have managed to move the entire collection into my office at UTA.

Hopefully the second summer session will go as smoothly as the first.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Yahoo Pipes and Zapier

I have been trying to get this blog updated weekly or bi-weekly, but my schedules at UT Arlington and Dakota State have not afforded me much time. I did manage to come up with a nice little combination of services to solve a problem the other day.

If you are looking for a quick and easy method for content delivery, do not forget Yahoo! Pipes. I am grabbing and parsing information from Pipes and feeding that to Zapier for quick email delivery. Although the documentation for pipes could be somewhat more inclusive and more detailed, like say a regular language reference, it's enough to get the idea and testing phases completed.

Zapier is amazing stuff. What I'm most interested in with Zapier is the ability to integrate ticket items into service suites for technology help desk collaboration softwares. The real strength lies there in my humble opinion.

In addition I will also say that it would be nice to have some integration to more traditional suites like Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, without having to rely on RSS or Atom feeds, or some others manually created XML.

Side Note: turned several students and at least one GRA on to Mendeley. I love watching their eyes light up and the look of relief when they see what it can do. Also I discovered that Blackboard and YouTube go well together when trying to convey an idea to 200+ students. I cannot imagine how many email I saved myself this week.

Ok that's it for this week. No cool logo, but we will see what next week brings.