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Corey Parker

Corey Parker

Saturday, 20 August 2016 18:30

Siri,Quora, And The Future Of Search

Editor’s note: Contributor Dan Kaplan leads Product Marketing for Twilio and writes occasionally about the extrapolation of the present into the future.

With the rise of Google+, the decrease in controversial posting activity by famous tech people and the allure of other shiny new things, the majority of tech press has turned the focus of their gazes away from Quora, my favorite startup of 2010.

Well now that Apple has gone and integrated the most sophisticated piece of AI to ever to see the light of the consumer market into its iPhone 4S, I thought it was time to brush some dirt off of Quora’s shoulder and shine a light on what the future of the company could hold.

What most people who don’t get Quora miss when they write it off as “another Q&A site” (or whatever it is they say then they write it off) is this: When they first launched Quora in the Fall of 2009, Quora’s founders and their first hire—designer Rebekah Cox—created the core of the most impressive “subjective knowledge extraction” machine ever constructed. (Yes, Wikipedia deserves its credit as the first juggernaut of this space, but Quora is positioned to eventually seize its mantle. Meanwhile, you could argue that the whole internet is the most impressive subjective knowledge extraction technology ever constructed, but that’s just semantics).

By combining an answer voting mechanism and a reward addiction loop (upvotes are crack) with a strict identity requirement and a one-to-many follower model, Quora started solving the problem of extracting high-quality experiential knowledge out of humanity’s collective head and getting it into structured form on the internet. What’s more, Quora is also using humanity’s collective wisdom to rank it.

 

With this engine, Quora is building a database of human experience that could eventually contain the answers to a lot of questions people carrying the iPhones of the future might have.

Which brings me back to Siri.

For those of you who haven’t thought through it yet or haven’t played with the iPhone 4S, Siri is a game-changing technology: The thing knows how to translate the garble of human language into targeted API calls that subsequently pull out the correct information from a potentially ever-expanding set of databases (assuming that Apple one day integrates other databases into Siri, which I’m confident it will). The main thing standing between Siri and the best answer for our likely questions is that the database that contains these answers is still a work in progress.

That work in progress is Quora, which is probably why I heard the rumor that some massive search and advertising company that shall go unnamed until the next paragraph allegedly offered to pay upwards of $1B to acquire it.

If that rumor is true, it means that Google looked at Quora and understood the magnitude of the threat. If it’s not true, it means someone making high-level strategic decisions at Google is not paying attention. As I wrote in a post about Quora and Google in March:

Consider an internet on which the best answers to the majority of our queries come not from the vast, increasingly noisy expanses of the world-wide-web but from the concentrated knowledge and experience of its most articulate experts. Here, you no longer filter through 10 blue links (or hundreds) to find what you seek; you simply input your query and are delivered the top response. Should you find yourself asking a question no one has asked before, you merely add it to the stream, where it makes its way to the people who can answer it best.

 

Take Siri as the primary interface for these queries and that just about wraps it up: If Quora’s brilliant team successfully navigates the chasm between its passionate early adopters and the rest of the articulate set, their company could eventually, along with Siri, become an existential danger to the core of Google’s business.

Source :https://techcrunch.com/2011/10/16/siriquora-and-the-future-of-search/

Google Search gets a new feature where users will get an alert every time their name is mentioned or appears on the Internet. The feature is called ‘Stay in the Loop,’ through which the search engine giant will notify users on their registered Gmail IDs as to where their names mentioned.

The new feature works as long as a user is logged into his official Google account. Also, they’ve to give Google access to save their Web and App activity which can be enabled via the Activity Controls menu.

“Save your search activity on apps and in browsers to make searches faster and get customized experiences in Search, Maps, Now, and other Google products,” says the Activity Controls page.

How does it work?

To activate the feature, users need to make sure they’re logged into their Google account and have granted Google access to track their Web and App activity. This can be done via the Activity Controls Menu.

Once they’ve granted Google the required access, the Stay in the loop widget shows up at the bottom of the first page of search results. Clicking on the widget takes users to a Google Alert form that already has your username in quotation marks. Once you’ve adjusted the Settings, just click on Create alert, and you’re good to go.

From here on, users can set Google Alerts for their name references. Users can also choose from a number of suggestions to get alerts for such as music, politics, sports and automobiles. Moreover, users can also adjust settings such as email frequency, source types, languages, and region.

 

Google announced the feature last month in a blog post, though it had not yet been released. Now the search engine giant has officially made the feature live. Along with the ‘Stay in the Loop’ feature, Google has also rolled out several improvements and other features for My Account off-late. The company released the ‘Find your phone’ feature to help users locate their smartphones in case they’re lost or stolen. It also rolled out a new feature where users can access My Account through voice commands.

That being said, several reports suggest that the feature is now live in India. However, I still don’t see the new Stay in the Loop widget that is supposed to appear at the bottom of the first page of search results, even after granting Google access to my Web and App activity via the Activity Controls menu.

Did any of our readers get to see the new Stay in the Loop feature? Do let us know in the comments section below.

http://www.pc-tablet.co.in/google-search-notify-users-metioned-web/38836/

 

Forget Brexit's much discussed impact on the free movement of people. Leaving the EU could impede the U.K.'s free movement of data to and from the continent, negatively impacting businesses.

This stems from the U.K. and EU's potential divergence in data protection laws post-Brexit. Chris Jeffery, Head of UK IT, Telecoms and Competition at law firm Taylor Wessing, says: "The uncertainty as to whether the U.K. will be considered safe for data flows relating to citizens from the rest of Europe is causing concern, and making some companies consider whether data center capacity in mainland Europe is the safer bet."

 

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of industry body techUK explains why this is significant, saying, "The U.K.'s service-based economy means that the transfer of data across borders is fundamental, affecting industries from automotives – which includes the development of driverless cars – to financial services."

As it stands, the U.K. has agreed to implement the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into effect in May 2018. The primary goals of the GDPR are to allow citizens to regain control of their personal data, and cut red tape for international businesses by making rules uniform within the 28-nation bloc. Whilst businesses are currently preparing for GDPR, their work may be undone in the future. Eduardo Ustaran, a partner in global privacy and cybersecurity at Hogan Lovells, says: "EU data protection law is all about the individual's control of their own personal data. The U.K. sits somewhere between this viewpoint and that of the U.S., which is more focused on the accountability of businesses and government. I suspect that the U.K. will continue in this vein, though possibly leaning towards the U.S.' approach."

 

Silicon Valley's technology giants like Facebook and Google must comply with GDPR and any further changes to U.K. law, though this may be less of an issue considering that these companies are likely to have the legal resources to deal with change more efficiently than their smaller counterparts.

"But, there are several nuances to compliance with the new regulations, one of which is technical," explained Martin Garner of analysis firm CCS Insight.

"Technology companies sometimes employ the technique of 'sharding,' which means that bits of data are spread in little slices over several data centers, possibly across regions, so that it exists both everywhere and nowhere at the same time."

Garner adds: "I'm sure that the big industry players have worked out how to do this, while also complying with EU data laws – but this may be less true for some of the smaller players."

 

Brexit's threat to cross-border data transfer will have a wider-reaching impact than it may initially appear, as Ustaran explains, "EU law has an extraterritorial effect, so if a U.K. business is targeting people in the EU or tracking them on the internet, it will still be subject to EU data protection law, even if the U.K. is no longer a member."

A data sharing option for a post-Brexit U.K. could resemble Privacy Shield, a pact struck between the EU and the U.S. earlier this year intended to protect European citizens from mass surveillance. This might mean that amendments may be made to the U.K.'s Investigatory Powers Bill – also known as the Snoopers' Charter – which regulates the role of British security services and police in accessing domestic citizens' data. Chatham House, in a report published this March, cast doubt on the likelihood of such a compromise, saying: "A post-Brexit U.K. would be unlikely to meet the standards required for Privacy Shield status. This would prohibit cross border data transfers between U.K. and EU."

It has been argued that Brexit, in bringing about a reduction of EU red tape concerning data transfer, could provide a more business-friendly environment in the U.K. Jeffery highlights the example of the U.S., whose "largely self-regulatory approach in the online world is often cited as an element in the success of its track record in creating global social media and online businesses." But, this might not be the case. By not complying with the EU, the U.K. will inhibit its access to a primary data stream.

An American tourist stands near the Houses of Parliament the day after the majority of the British public voted to leave the European Union on June 25, 2016 in London, England.

 

"To secure the U.K.'s role in global data flows and as a place to start and grow digital businesses, most people expect that the country will need to align itself closely with the EU's GDPR. Even U.K.-only businesses will need to raise the bar significantly in terms of privacy compliance," Jeffery added.

In the meantime, Brexit's current lack of conclusions means that businesses will have to sit tight. Ustaran advises that "common sense suggests that businesses should continue to focus on ensuring compliance with the EU data protection framework, not least because it will still be applicable in the U.K. for the foreseeable future." Jeffery speculates on the U.K.'s future position, suggesting that potential legislation post-Brexit reflects EU standards, enabling the free movement of data either by "being part of the European Economic Area in a Norway-style deal … or being declared an 'adequate' country for the purposes of the transfer of personal data like Switzerland, Canada and Israel."

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/07/data-flows-post-brexit-the-next-big-headache-for-business.html

 

 

 

 

“We’re kind of in an AI Spring,” says John Giannandrea, Google’s head of machine learning.

Giannandrea's statement — a reference to the term AI winter — sums up how the use cases, interest and research in artificial intelligence are really taking off.

During a Google I/O panel on Friday held at the company's developer's conference, Giannandrea was joined by Google SVP of Product Aparna Chennapragada and Google Brain lead Jeffrey Dean to talk about how AI and machine learning are changing products.

Giannandrea cited the recent success in the areas of speech recognition and image understanding as two reasons AI and machine learning are suddenly so hot.

Even though Google has invested such areas for more than a decade, Giannandrea said the company became really serious about it four years ago.

Chennapragada, who led the Google Now team, says she believes that machine learning changes the game when it comes to building new products.

For example, take something like a voice-enabled assistant. Chennapragada says that as error rates decrease, usage for those types of products increase. “The product gets more usable as machine learning improves the underlying engine.”

She added that machine learning can also unlock new use cases. “Thanks to mobile, a lot of the real world problems – transportation and health – can be come AI problems.”

To help developers get a handle on machine learning, Google has open-sourced some of its platforms, including TensorFlow. TensorFlow, which is an open source library for machine intelligence.

Dean, who was heavily involved with the development of TensorFlow, said Google decided to open-source the library because it wanted to be able to help accelerate the free exchange of ideas.

 

Last week, Google Research also open-sourced a neural network framework for TensoryFlow, known as SyntaxNet. Part of that release was an English parser, adorable named Parsey McParseface, that has been trained to analyze English text.

Although many people using TensorFlow are already familiar with machine learning, the goal is to get even non-machine learning experts using the libraries and models in their projects.

Paying attention to the wow to WTH ratio

Of course, as these platforms and technologies evolve, the products that come out of them don’t always work the way you would expect.

Chennapragada said that while working on Google Now, the team was very cognizant about paying attention to what is internally dubbed as the “wow to WTH ratio.” In other words, there are cases when getting an assumption right can be delightful and magical. But getting something wrong can lead to “a high cost to the user.”

And this is especially true when it comes to the domain of the product. As an example, Chennapragada said that if you were to do a search for Justin Timberlake and got back a result that wasn’t quite as relevant as it needed to be, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But if an AI assistant tells you to drive to the airport too late and you end up missing your flight, it would be a total ‘what the hell’ moment.

Ensuring that ratio is right is really important, especially in the early stages of a new platform or product, she said.

And this is true. Five years later, I know people who still don’t use Siri because of the early stumbles it had coming out of the gate.

Chennapragada added that it’s also important to build trust with the user. “You don’t want to be unpredictable and inscrutable,” she said, noting that this was why it was good to use machine learning against problems its most adroit at solving – stuff that’s easy for machines but hard for humans – like repetitive tasks.

Should we fear the borg?

In a question and answer session, Giannandrea was asked about Elon Musk’s fear of Larry Page’s mythical robot army.

As a refresher: Musk has frequently expressed his fears about AI, stating that “something seriously dangerous” may come from artificial intelligence in the next five to 10 years.

But Giannandrea says he thinks the kind of “superintelligence” Musk fears is “decades away.”

That said, he did concede some stuff done by AI and machine learning can be creepy. He believes it's the job of the people behind the technology (which basically includes himself and his colleagues) to prove that the tools are genuinely useful.

 

Earlier, Giannandrea said that language and dialogue are the big unsolved problems of computer science. For him, he doesn’t see an AI summer coming until we can teach a computer to read.

Source:  http://mashable.com/2016/05/20/google-ai-spring/#2.ykoHn82sqn

Friday, 20 May 2016 17:52

CLUELESS IN CYBER-SECURITY LAND

What are CISO’s (Chief Information Security Officers) worrying about in 2016?

According to the recent 2016 Security Pressures report from Trustwave, theft of information from a successful breach or cyber-attack ranks as the top worrying outcome for nearly two-thirds of respondents.

With the Identity Theft Resource Center placing the number of records exposed from data breaches in 2015 somewhere around 170 million, it’s no surprise.

Security professionals rate customer data theft (43%) as their No. 1 worry followed by intellectual property theft (22%), so that those top two classes of theft amount to 65% of the total concern.

Website disruption made the largest jump year over year; increasing from 7% last year to 13% in this year’s report – in Australia, 19% of respondents list their website being taken offline as the top issue of concern.

This change could be related to the fact that the number of distributed denial-of-service incidents reached record highs during 2015, according to Akamai.

However, it is interesting to note that the number of respondents who feel safe from security threats rose from 70% to 74%. That increase was due in part to the Australian CISO segment, where an eye-opening 88% of respondents claim to feel safe from security threats. Creating a strange sense of schizophrenic personality disorder, over half of the same Australian respondents readily admit their organization has experienced a challenging and costly breach. No, I don’t know what it means, either.

58% of respondents are more pressured to protect against external threats, while 42% feel the other way, up four percentage points from last year. The split is not surprising, considering attacks orchestrated by participants unknown to the victim typically are the ones that drive the headlines. But insider attacks are more likely to go unreported, yet they can actually have the greater impact because they are being perpetrated – either purposefully or unwittingly – by users who are trusted on the network.

 

Of the respondents most concerned about internal threats, 24% are bothered by non-malicious individuals who may commit unintended security risks, like emailing a sensitive file to their personal email address or losing a laptop. 18%, meanwhile, are more worried about malicious insiders, a group that may be motivated by greed or frustration to wage harm on the corporate network.

What all of this tells me is what we actually already know: Breaches are growing in both volume and economic impact and are succeeding in disrupting all networks most of the time and we seem to be completely incapable of stopping or slowing them down.

As we continue to monitor and report these statistics and the results of these endless surveys, the cyber-security threat continues to increase in frequency, complexity and sophistication.

The targets have expanded to include supposedly well-protected Federal Government agencies like the CIA, FBI, NSA, OPM and Homeland Security (making me feel increasingly less secure). The success rate is now phenomenal.

Do we really need surveys to tell us this? Do they expect that suddenly the trends will be headed in the other direction?

The facts are that the bad guys are winning and winning big. Our corporate boards appear to be generally clueless and in denial, joined now by their government counterparts who appear even more clueless and/or in greater denial.

 

I do know that if we don’t start to take this stuff seriously, we are in for a long cold winter. If you want to understand better how this cyber-security mystery works, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of “Worm – The First Digital World War” by Mark Bowden. It is a non-hysterical, completely rational insight into how malware works (in English), how the bad guys do what they do, and how they continue to get away with it.

Then after you read it, write your board and your Congressperson. This is neither a game nor an aberration that is going to go away one day. We are not going to “fix” it by using current means, talent and technology either.

It increasingly feels to me that we are all part of the cast of an existential version of Clueless and we can’t find a way off the set.

Source:  https://www.netswitch.net/clueless-in-cyber-security-land/

Google is now showing extended featured snippets for some queries, which should not surprise anyone.

 

Google is now showing extended featured snippets, where they add more information to the top featured snippet box for some queries. Featured snippets are often seen in the Google search results when Google is confident they can answer your query by extracting content from a specific web page.

 

Now, it seems Google is showing extended versions of them with “related topics” that hyperlink to additional queries in Google.

 

Here are two screen shots, one for [birth control] and the other for [personal loan]. Both of those queries currently bring up extended featured snippets for me:

 

extended-featured-snippet-2-1462452998

 

extended-google-featured-snippet-1462448970

 

extended-google-featured-snippet-1462448970

 

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/google-featured-snippets-now-related-topics-extending-information-snippets-248849

 

 

 

When confronting a subject of study in this day and age, what are the ways you can sharpen the skills it takes to dig into it more deeply—to really learn?

After reviewing thousands of tools and trends in the current learning space, I’ve found there are some basics to consider before you get going along a specific course, and before you choose tools that will assist you in moving forward. Consider:

 

Attitude. Do you know all about this subject already, and are you really just humoring the teacher or the course to see if you can’t pick up a few more tricks? Are you secretly a know-it-all in this area? Or could it be you actually might not know something in this area and there just may be new understanding to be had that you didn’t have before?

 

Purpose. After you sort out your attitude toward a subject, here is a great starting point: What are you learning this for? Why are you curious about this? It doesn’t really matter what your purpose is as long as you like that purpose and it serves you well. So, “I am learning this type of math so when I’m rich, no one can cheat me out of my money” is a fine purpose. Really! If a student believes that and stays interested, deeper learning happens.

 

End Product. What are you driving at? Is there a task at hand, an assignment or a project with a clearly or loosely defined objective? Is there some result, such as a set of understandings, actions you must demonstrate your mastery of, or actual products you must produce? What is that “end product”? Be sure it’s clear.

 

Sources. Where do you start? Is there more than one place? Could your starting place actually be a person? What sort of questions do you have? There are no stupid questions when a learning environment is safe. What are good sources, how do you know if they’re good, and where can you find them?

 

Words. You gotta know the words, man! It’s amazing, but every area of study has its own mini-language. And it’s usually only about 10 to 12 words; so once you understand them, you can make your way forward with a lot less struggle. Write down what you think are the keywords in your area of study, and get those defined and understood. It’s not always the long or complex looking-words, either.

 

Levels. It’s fun to jump right into the toughest textbook or peruse the savviest source and pretend you get it all and are smart, smart, smart, or that you understand what even the most esteemed people have to say about something and you agree with them. But are you learning or joining a status club? Start out with the simple, basic, easy sources. Remember, your attitude is, “I actually might not know something, and I’m willing to learn something new.” Be sure you’ve got the basics, and if you feel tipsy, get off the higher step. Wait until you’re sure you’re comfortable on the lower one before you move forward. This flop-proofs your learning—and yourself.

 

Real Examples. We live in an audiovisual world and there is an abundance of opportunity to see stuff in action. What is whaling? How can you learn to code? How do you solve this math problem? How do you build a go-cart? How do you get a job? What does a bibliography look like? What does the inside of a nuclear power plant look like? How do you write a great essay? What is a document camera? What’s a holy grail? There’s nothing like the real thing—and failing that, a great picture or a video.

 

A Ton of Tools: Lightening Your Load

 

All that said, how do you move forward when there are tons of digital tools that provide solutions for everything? You need to be nimble if you want to get anywhere, so which tools are worth carrying in your repertoire? Well, based on each of the above areas, here are some further thoughts that may help move you forward.

 

While the first three points in the section above—Attitude, Purpose, End Product—can assist you in getting into the right frame of mind before you begin down a learning path, the fourth point above, Sources, is something you will need to look for. Looking for sources is just part of the adventure of learning. However, keep in mind that there are many adjectives used to describe the quality of sources you find: reliable sources, trusted sources, respected sources, good sources, dependable sources, and recognized sources, among others. You will need to assess this for yourself, and be ready to defend your choice of sources. Why did you choose that one? OK, good. Just be confident enough to communicate your logic.

 

Sources Once you decide on your sources (people, books, articles, videos, etc.), here are some great tools to help you easily cite and list them:

 

Citelighter (citelighter.com)

Imagine Easy Solutions: Scholar (imagineeasy.com/scholar)

Zotero (proquest.com/products-services/refworks.html)

BibMe (bibme.org)

NoodleTools,Inc.: NoodleTools Premium (noodletools.com/index.php)

Citefast (citefast.com)

Cite This For Me (citethisforme.com)

Citation Machine (citationmachine.net)

OttoBib (ottobib.com)

 

Words Consideration of the terminology, nomenclature, lingo, or keywords of a subject is perhaps one of the most overlooked routes to deeper learning. And the idea isn’t “deeper,” as in more immersed in a subject, so that when you look around you realize you are in way over your head! No. The idea should be deeper, as in a clearer understanding of the basics, so that you can then move into greater understandings and familiarity, to be sure and comfortable and ultimately fluid and conversant with the ideas and methods of an area. Toward this end, there are a number of excellent word, reading, literacy, and understanding helpers available both on a desktop and through a mobile device:

 

Dictionary.com apps (dictionary.reference.com/apps)

Merriam-Webster.com apps (merriam-webster.com/apps)

Oxford Dictionary apps (oxforddictionaries.com/words/oxford-dictionary-apps)

Wikipeida mobile apps (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedia_mobile_applications)

Curriculet Inc. (curriculet.com)

Light Sail product tour (lightsailed.com/tour)

StudyBlue (studyblue.com)

Knowledge NoteBook (knowledgenotebook.com/students.html)

 

Levels Wherever there is content or curriculum, your eye for how well it is leveled will help you assess what is truly workable or not. Think about it this way: Would you rather ride a mountain bike up the stairs inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or would you prefer riding up the steps out in front of the Boston Public Library? The idea is, work your way up gradually, on very wide steps; then, there is little chance of falling on your head. Most content providers are aware of this phenomenon; some pay closer attention to it than others. However, as a student or teacher, it’s something to keep in mind for successful instruction and solid learning.

 

Reading A—Z: Leveled books (readinga-z.com/books/leveled-books)

Books That Grow: Leveled Reading for the Digital Age (booksthatgrow.com)

Scholastic: Book Wizard (scholastic.com/bookwizard)

Booksource: Collections By Level (booksource.com/Departments/Booksource/Leveled-Reading/Collections-By-Level.aspx)

MobyMax: Accelerated Personalized Learning (mobymax.com)

MasteryConnect: Types of Formative Assessments and Tools (masteryconnect.com/features.html)

 

Real Examples There used to be a show called The Magic School Bus. This is of interest because school buildings don’t move, and classrooms aren’t built on top of flying carpets. If you can take students to places, then they might really learn. The most primitive classroom still has a teacher, and that teacher can take students places through storytelling, or relating their experiences, or sharing others who can. This kind of learning is quite pleasurable. Without arranging a live classroom guest, even a VHS tape viewed on a TV was a great way to learn. We’ve come along a bit further now, and there are plenty of great ways to show and tell students about the actual subjects they are learning about. Here are some really good ones:

 

Nearpod: Virtual field trips (nearpod.com/virtualfieldtrips)

Carolina: Twig science videos (carolina.com/landing/twig)

Discovery Education: Math Techbook (discoveryeducation.com)

Microsoft Education: Skype in the Classroom (https://education.microsoft.com/skypeintheclassroom)

Livecoding.tv (Livecoding.tv)

Khan Academy (khanacademy.org)

 

The listings above are not comprehensive and other favorites may come to mind, but the idea is clear: With the right mindset, one can be truly open to learning, one can have a purpose for learning something, or have something they want to attain or do, and have other people or resources to get them there. Careful students can unlock the language, master the basics, and have a good look at what it is they wish to know. In your research of any subject, whether online or in life, these practical steps should come as no surprise, but should instead serve as a reminder and a validation of what you already know to be workable. Continually used, they’ll become a set of valuable skills. Good luck and have fun!

 

Contact Victor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Source : http://www.internetatschools.com/Articles/Editorial/Features/TOOLS-FOR-LEARNING-Building-Digital-Research-Skills-109618.aspx

Conducting research on the Internet can prove to be either a gold mine, rich with nuggets of knowledge and information, or a mine field littered with stretched truths and dead ends. Which of these two you experience depends on how you go about your research, where and how you look for information, and how you organise it when you find it.

Here are five top tips to make your research easier, more accurate and more effective.

1. Know your sources.

It’s easy to find pretty much any information you want on the World Wide Web. The problem is that it’s not always entirely accurate. For this reason it’s good to try and find the same information from multiple sources and, if possible, the original source. You should always ask yourself if the site you are using is the most reliable source of information. Does it cite additional sources? Do the authors write objectively or subjectively? Is it a creditable organisation?

Citation of the source information is very important when you are looking for information on wiki-style encyclopaedias like Wikipedia. Anybody can edit the information presented on a wiki. While this allows for vast sums of knowledge to be collected more easily, it also leaves a wide margin for error and, in some cases, exploitation. Good Wikipedia articles will always cite sources of information. If there are no citations or the sources seem flaky at best, you should try to verify the data elsewhere.

Government (.gov.uk) and University (.ac.uk) sites are often good sources of information. There are also many private intelligence and information databases, such as LexisNexis and Westlaw; these subscription-based sites are indispensable sources for legal research. The CIA runs a great website called World Fact Book, and it is an excellent source of geographical information. WolframAlpha is another huge database of knowledge which may be useful for legal research. Always seek out the best-quality sources, and keep in mind that often even newspapers or other big news websites may spin a story in their own political direction. For these reasons it’s good to read multiple news articles about the same story in order to extract all the facts.

2. Use your web browser properly.

Web browsers have evolved over time from being able to handle only one page at a time to multi-headed dragons capable of keeping open and managing several pages at the same time in one window. Not only is this a more convenient way of browsing and managing open pages, but it is also easier on your PC. On any modern browser, pressing Ctrl-T will open a new empty tab. If you want to follow a link but keep the original link open, you can right-click and choose “Open link in new tab”. This makes skipping back and forth between pages to compare information a breeze.

Modern browsers like Firefox have the ability to install extensions. These are browser add-ons that extend the capabilities of your web browser. These extensions do anything from word counting to finding citations. There are several add-ons which search LexisNexis, Westlaw, Wikipedia and Google Scholar for citations and legal data.

3. Organise your bookmarks.

It may sound obvious, but many people don’t take the time to manage their bookmarks. If you are trawling through a lot of data, life becomes a lot easier if you make good use of bookmarks. The simplest method is using your browser’s built-in bookmark manager. Create folders for specific things you are looking for, and store related URLs in them. You can go as far as creating sub-folders. If you really want to organise your bookmarked sites, you should try installing a bookmark add-on in Firefox. Bookmarking services such as delicious.com provide official Firefox add-ons which let you go as far as managing your bookmarks with tags. Tagging makes finding data easy because you only need to type in the tag “criminal justice bill” to find anything you have tagged with those words. Some bookmark providers will even show results from other users who have tagged the same information. However you go about it, having a well-organised bookmarking system is a must for effective research.

4. Learn to use advanced search techniques.

Effective Internet research depends a lot on how you search. What keywords are you using? Are your search phrases worded as well as they could be? Are you using advanced search operators? If you haven’t already, you should read my tutorial on advanced web searching with Google. It’s a great start if you want to learn advanced web-searching techniques, and it can help you find the right information much more quickly and accurately.

5. Follow the web.

The oldest methods can sometimes still be the best. Follow the web, surf the wave of information and follow your intuition. Every link you click and page you read will take you closer to your goal. Like a gold prospector of old, sometimes the best discoveries are made using the ingredients of chance, luck and finding the right page at the right time. Sometimes you may stumble onto a page that contains a bit more information than a previous one. Try searching for the names and places you find; stringing information together like this can often result in much better finds. The more you use the web for research, the better you will become at it. In time you will find yourself locating the right data with the least effort. It just takes practice.

Do you have anything to share with fellow members? Research tricks that others may find helpful? If so, feel free to discuss them in the comments section. Happy researching.

Source : http://www.legalsecretaryjournal.com/?q=five_tips_to_improve_your_internet_research_skills

Google, MSN Search, Yahoo!, AOL, and most other search engines collect and store records of your search queries. If these records are revealed to others, they can be embarrassing or even cause great harm. Would you want strangers to see searches that reference your online reading habits, medical history, finances, sexual orientation, or political affiliation?

Recent events highlight the danger that search logs pose. In August 2006, AOL published 650,000 users' search histories on its website.1 Though each user's logs were only associated with a random ID number, several users' identities were readily discovered based on their search queries. For instance, the New York Times connected the logs of user No. 4417749 with 62 year-old Thelma Arnold. These records exposed, as she put it, her "whole personal life."2

Disclosures like AOL's are not the only threats to your privacy. Unfortunately, it may be all too easy for the government or individual litigants to subpoena your search provider and get access to your search history. For example, in January 2006, Yahoo!, AOL, and Microsoft reportedly cooperated with a broad Justice Department request for millions of search records. Although Google successfully challenged this request,3 the lack of clarity in current law leaves your online privacy at risk.

Search companies should limit data retention and make their logging practices more transparent to the public,4 while Congress ought to clarify and strengthen privacy protections for search data. But you should also take matters into your own hands and adopt habits that will help protect your privacy.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed the following search privacy tips. They range from straightforward steps that offer a little protection to more complicated measures that offer near-complete safety. While we strongly urge users to follow all six tips, a lesser level of protection might be sufficient depending on your particular situation and willingness to accept risks to your privacy.

1. Don't put personally identifying information in your search terms (easy)

Don't search for your name, address, credit card number, social security number, or other personal information. These kinds of searches can create a roadmap that leads right to your doorstep. They could also expose you to identity theft and other privacy invasions.

If you want to do a "vanity search" for your own name5 (and who isn't a little vain these days?), be sure to follow the rest of our tips or do your search on a different computer than the one you usually use for searching.

2. Don't use your ISP's search engine (easy)

Because your ISP knows who you are, it will be able to link your identity to your searches. It will also be able to link all your individual search queries into a single search history. So, if you are a Comcast broadband subscriber, for instance, you should avoid using http://search.comcast.net. Similarly, if you're an AOL member, do not use http://search.aol.com or the search box in AOL's client software.


3. Don't login to your search engine or related tools (intermediate)

Search engines sometimes give you the opportunity to create a personal account and login. In addition, many engines are affiliated with other services -- Google with Gmail and Google Chat; MSN with Hotmail and MSN Messenger; A9 with Amazon, and so on. When you log into the search engine or one of those other services, your searches can be linked to each other and to your personal account.

So, if you have accounts with services like Google GMail or Hotmail, do not search through the corresponding search engine (Google or MSN Search, respectively), especially not while logged in.

If you must use the same company's search engine and webmail (or other service), it will be significantly harder to protect your search privacy. You will need to do one of the following:

Install two different web browsers to separate your search activities from your other accounts with the search provider. For example, use Mozilla Firefox for searching through Yahoo!, and Internet Explorer for Yahoo! Mail and other Yahoo! service accounts.6 You must also follow Tip 6 for at least one of the two browsers.7

For Google and its services, you can use the Mozilla Firefox web browser and the CustomizeGoogle plugin software. Go to http://www.customizegoogle.com/ and click "Install." Restart Firefox and then select "CustomizeGoogle Options" from the "Tools" menu. Click on the "Privacy" tab and turn on "Anonymize the Google cookie UID." You must remember to quit your browser after using GMail and before using the Google search engine.8 In addition, be sure not to select the "remember me on this computer" option when you log into a Google service.

If you are using a browser other than Firefox, you can use the GoogleAnon bookmarklet, which you can obtain at http://www.imilly.com/google-cookie.htm. You will need to quit your browser every time you finish with a Google service. Unfortunately, we currently do not know of similar plugins for other search providers.9

4. Block "cookies" from your search engine (intermediate)

If you've gone through the steps above, your search history should no longer have personally identifying information all over it. However, your search engine can still link your searches together using cookies and IP addresses.10 Tip 4 will prevent tracking through cookies, while Tips 5-6 will prevent IP-based tracking. It's best to follow Tips 3-6 together -- there is less benefit in preventing your searches from being linked together in one way if they can be linked in another.

Cookies are small chunks of information that websites can put on your computer when you visit them. Among other things, cookies enable websites to link all of your visits and activities at the site. Since cookies are stored on your computer, they can let sites track you even when you are using different Internet connections in different locations. But when you use a different computer, your cookies don't come with you.11

From a privacy-protection perspective, it would be best to block all cookies. However, because cookies are necessary for accessing many websites, it may be more convenient (though less privacy-protective) to allow short-lived "session" cookies. These cookies last only as long as your browser is open; therefore, if you quit your browser, re-open it, and then go back to your search engine, your search provider will not be able to connect your current searches with previous ones via your cookies.

Use the following steps to allow only "session cookies," and remember to quit your browser at least once a day but ideally after each visit to your search provider's site. We recommend that you use Mozilla Firefox and apply these settings:

  • From the "Edit" menu, select "Preferences"
  • Click on "Privacy"
  • Select the "Cookies" tab
  • Set "Keep Cookies" to "until I close Firefox" 12
  • Click on "Exceptions," type in the domains of all of your search sites, and choose "Block" for all of them


If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer to surf the web:

  • From the Internet Explorer "Tools" menu, select "Internet Options"
  • Click on the "Privacy" tab and then press the "Advanced" button
  • Click on "Override automatic cookie handling"
  • Set both "first party" and "third party" cookies to "Block"
  • Select "Always allow session cookies"

5. Vary your IP address (intermediate)

When you connect to the Internet, your ISP assigns your computer an "IP address" (for instance, EFF's web server's IP address is 72.5.169.162). Search providers -- and other services you interact with online -- can see your IP address and use that number to link together all of your searches. IP addresses are particularly sensitive because they can be directly linked to your ISP account via your ISP's logs. Unlike cookies, your IP address does not follow your computer wherever it goes; for instance, if you use your laptop at work through AT&T, it will have a different IP address than when you use it at home through Comcast.

If your ISP gives you a changing, "dynamic" IP address,13 or you surf from an office computer that is behind the same firewall as lots of other computers, then this concern is diminished. However, if you have a dynamic IP address on a broadband connection, you will need to turn your modem off regularly to make the address change. The best way to do this is to turn your modem off when you finish with your computer for the day, and leave it off overnight.

On the other hand, if you have an unchanging, "static" IP address, you will certainly need to use anonymizing software to keep your address private; see Tip 6.


6. Use web proxies and anonymizing software like Tor (advanced)

To hide your IP address from the web sites you visit or the other computers you communicate with on the Internet, you can use other computers as proxies for your own -- you send your communication to the proxy; the proxy sends it to the intended recipient; and the intended recipient responds to the proxy. Finally, the proxy relays the response back to your computer. All of this sounds complicated, and it can be, but luckily there are tools available that can do this for you fairly seamlessly.

Tor (http://www.torproject.org) is a software product that encrypts then sends your Internet traffic through a series of randomly selected computers, thus obscuring the source and route of your requests. It allows you to communicate with another computer on the Internet without that computer, the computers in the middle, or eavesdroppers knowing where or who you are. Tor is not perfect, but it would take a sophisticated surveillance effort to thwart its protections.14

You also need to make sure that your messages themselves don't reveal who you are. Privoxy (http://www.privoxy.org) helps with this, because it strips out hidden identifying information from the messages you send to web sites. Privoxy also has the nice side benefit of blocking most advertisements and can be configured to manage cookies. (Privoxy comes bundled with Tor downloads.)

You can also use web proxies like Anonymizer's (http://www.anonymizer.com) Anonymous Surfing. This option is more user-friendly but possibly a less effective method of anonymizing your browsing. Anonymizer routes your web surfing traffic through their own proxy server and hides your IP address from whatever web sites you visit. However, Anonymizer itself could in principle have access to your original IP address and be able to link it to the web site you visited; therefore, that service is only as secure as Anonymizer's proxy facilities and data retention practices. While there is no reason to believe that Anonymizer looks at or reveals your information to others (we know the people currently running Anonymizer and they are good folks), there is little opportunity to verify their practices in these regards.

Using Tor and Privoxy is more secure because one untrustworthy proxy won't compromise your search privacy. On the other hand, web proxies like Anonymizer are slightly easier to use at present.

Tor and Privoxy downloads and instructions can be found here: http://www.torproject.org/download.html.en


Conclusion

If you've implemented all six tips, congratulations -- you're now ready to search the Web safely. These steps don't provide bulletproof protection, but they do create a strong shield against the most common and likely means of invading your privacy via your search history.

Source:
https://www.eff.org/wp/six-tips-protect-your-search-privacy 

Saturday, 13 June 2015 01:15

THE MYSTERY BEHIND THE COPYRIGHT

Nowadays the Internet is a wide-open source for information, entertainment, and communication. Many people believe that anything and everything go in cyberspace. I believed that myself, until becoming more informed. Sometimes, in a quest for knowledge and entertainment Internet users cross over a hidden line. Without proper knowledge, users unintentionally break the copyright laws that govern the Internet. Many myths have caused people to believe copyright laws do not apply to the Internet. However, copyright laws are in effect in today's cyberspace.

One of the biggest mistakes that people believe is that if a work has no copyright notice, it is not copyrighted. The correct form of a copyright notice is "Copyright or (date) by (author/owner)" (Templeton 1). Many people believe that if this notice is absent, they can post, use, or take any work on the Internet. Although no name can be copyrighted, the owner's work is (Templeton 2). In fact, everything from April 1, 1989 is copyrighted by the owner or author whether is has a notice or not. Most nations follow the same rules set up by the Berne copyright convention (Templeton 1). The Berne convention created uniform laws for worldwide works (Lussier 1). One of these laws was everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted. All Internet users must assume that the work is copyrighted, unless otherwise specified by the author.
Many works on the Internet are available for public use. However, the author of the work must have explicitly granted it to public domain. If a work is in public domain, granted by saying "I grant this to the public domain," anybody who stumbles upon it can use, take, or copy without giving credit to the owner (Templeton 1). Although, frequently a user can contact the author of the work and be granted permission to use it (Templeton 4). I did that through electronic-mail and received positive results. Requesting permission is not hard. Most times the owner quickly grants a user access and respects him or her more for asking. The author granted me a background graphic that I have since put into a page I have created (http://www.pitt.edu/~skvarka/active/ski/). Often, access to works on the Internet is granted easily and can avoid costly legal matters.
So how does that apply to Internet users? Internet users cannot scan material from periodicals and post them on the Internet. Users cannot transfer graphics or works, without the knowledge of the owner, and post them somewhere else on the Internet (Templeton 1). Technically, no one can post electronic-mail, wholly. A user can refer to a statement in an electronic-mail just as in any research paper. These acts can be prosecuted in a civil court, because "copyright law is civil law" (Templeton 3). The owner can sue for damages to his or her works, if major enough. These laws can be frightening, but often, nothing can be done about violations, because they happen every day. Copyright law on the Internet is a new region for the court system, though ten copies with a value of $2,500 were made a felony in the United States. To be safe, Internet users should just ask first to insure everyone's safety. 

Source:
http://www.pitt.edu/~skvarka/education/copyright/

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