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Yosemite, iOS 8, Spotlight, and Privacy: What you need to know By Rene Ritchie, Monday, Oct 20, 2014 a 8:31 pm EDT

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According to Landon Fuller, who collected the data in the first place,
this is not just about Spotlight, and the data will continue to be
sent to Apple even if Spotlight Suggestions -- or any of a number of
other seemingly relevant system configuration options -- are disabled.


for the raw data and analysis, without either the Apple apologism of
iMore or the journalistic spin of the Washington Post article they

Of course it is in Apple's interest to say that they care about
security and privacy, to emphasize how much effort they put into
minimizing data (we've heard this one from James Clapper before!), and
to claim that their snooping serves to benefit users by providing more
accurate answers.  None of this changes the surveillance they have
built into their system or how difficult it is to avoid!

Yosemite, iOS 8, Spotlight, and Privacy: What you need to know
By Rene Ritchie, Monday, Oct 20, 2014 a 8:31 pm EDT

A story made the rounds earlier today calling into question the new Spotlight Suggestions feature in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. In an effort to garner attention, it reports the collection and usage of the information required to enable this feature in a needlessly scary way. As any long time reader knows, security and privacy are always at odds with convenience, yet features like Spotlight Suggestions — and Siri before it — do an excellent job balancing as much convenience as possible with maintaining as much privacy and security as possible. Here’s Apple’s statement on the matter:

“We are absolutely committed to protecting our users’ privacy and have built privacy right into our products,” Apple told iMore. “For Spotlight Suggestions we minimize the amount of information sent to Apple. Apple doesn’t retain IP addresses from users’ devices. Spotlight blurs the location on the device so it never sends an exact location to Apple. Spotlight doesn’t use a persistent identifier, so a user’s search history can’t be created by Apple or anyone else. Apple devices only use a temporary anonymous session ID for a 15-minute period before the ID is discarded.

“We also worked closely with Microsoft to protect our users’ privacy. Apple forwards only commonly searched terms and only city-level location information to Bing. Microsoft does not store search queries or receive users’ IP addresses.

“You can also easily opt out of Spotlight Suggestions, Bing or Location Services for Spotlight.”

Here’s the original charge:

Apple has begun automatically collecting the locations of users and the queries they type when searching for files with the newest Mac operating system, a function that has provoked backlash for a company that portrays itself as a leader on privacy.

The “backlash” cited by the sensationalistic story is not the result of the story but the result of sensationalism, and that’s disappointing. We depend on major publications to provide us with accurate information for our benefit, not for their own benefit. Where they could have taken the time to look into it, assess the facts, and help people understand, they chose to double down on FUD, and that’s not only disappointing, it’s distressing.

So what are the facts? Apple discloses how Spotlight Suggestions work in both the Spotlight section of System Preferences on the Mac, and in the Spotlight section of Settings > General on iPhones and iPads.

There’s also a Spotlight Suggestion check box on both so that you, the person using the device, can easily turn it off if you value privacy and security over convenience. (And if you are such a person, and have already disabled location services, Spotlight honors that setting and doesn’t send the information.)

Apple links to the following text right from the prefs/settings pane on both OS X and iOS. Not only is it simple to find, it’s plainly written and understandable:

When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple. Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. These searches are not stored by Microsoft. Location, search queries, and usage information sent to Apple will be used by Apple only to make Spotlight Suggestions more relevant and to improve other Apple products and services.

If you do not want your Spotlight search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions. Simply deselect the checkboxes for both Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches in the Search Results tab in the Spotlight preference pane found within System Preferences on your Mac. If you turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches, Spotlight will search the contents of only your Mac.

You can turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions in the Privacy pane of System Preferences on your Mac by clicking on “Details” next to System Services and then deselecting “Spotlight Suggestions”. If you turn off Location Services on your Mac, your precise location will not be sent to Apple. To deliver relevant search suggestions, Apple may use the IP address of your Internet connection to approximate your location by matching it to a geographic region.

Apple has also posted a privacy section on their website, and an updated version of their iOS 8 security document that reiterate what they’re doing and their long-standing position on privacy. Here’s the relevant parts:

To make suggestions more relevant to users, Spotlight Suggestions includes user context and search feedback with search query requests sent to Apple.

Context sent with search requests provides Apple with: i) the device’s approximate location; ii) the device type (e.g., Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod); iii) the client app, which is either Spotlight or Safari; iv) the device’s default language and region settings; v) the three most recently used apps on the device; and vi) an anonymous session ID. All communication with the server is encrypted via HTTPS.

The white paper goes on to explain how locations are blurred, anonymous IDs are only kept for 15 minutes, recent apps are only included if they’re on a white list of popular apps, etc. (It starts on page 40 of the above-linked PDF if you’re curious about the specifics.)

So, again, Apple is only doing what they need to do to provide the conveniences of the feature they announced — the same way they’ve needed to collect enough data to answer questions with Siri in the past, or show you locations on Maps, or find your iPhone, iPad or Mac, and the list goes on.

If you don’t like or want it, you can turn it off. That’s the real story here — education. How it works, and what you can do with it and about it.

If you have any concerns or questions about Spotlight Suggestions, let me know in the comments!


Written by youryblog

October 24, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers and journals

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My updates:

AIRCC’s International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology (IJCSIT) (see below about AIRCC)

International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technologies see more about this journal here:

LIST OF STANDALONE JOURNALS (just for myself only). Copy from

Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-accesfs journals

This is a list of questionable, scholarly open-access journals. We recommend that scholars read the available reviews, assessments and descriptions provided here, and then decide for themselves whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards.  The criteria for determining predatory journals are here.

We hope that tenure and promotion committees can also decide for themselves how importantly or not to rate articles published in these journals in the context of their own institutional standards and/or geo-cultural locus.  We emphasize that journals change in their business and editorial practices over time. This list is kept up-to-date to the best extent possible but may not reflect sudden, unreported, or unknown enhancements

Last updated October 5, 2014

Appeals: If you are a publisher and would like to appeal your firm’s inclusion on this list, please go here.

LIST OF PUBLISHERS Beall’s List: copy from

Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers

This is a list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. We recommend that scholars read the available reviews, assessments and descriptions provided here, and then decide for themselves whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards.  The criteria for determining predatory publishers are here.

We hope that tenure and promotion committees can also decide for themselves how importantly or not to rate articles published in these journals in the context of their own institutional standards and/or geocultural locus.  We emphasize that journal publishers and journals change in their business and editorial practices over time. This list is kept up-to-date to the best extent possible but may not reflect sudden, unreported, or unknown enhancements.

Last updated October 4, 2014

Appeals: If you are a publisher and would like to appeal your firm’s inclusion on this list, please go here.

Written by youryblog

October 5, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Posted in Conferences, Research

OC’s Computer Information Systems degree answers employer and graduate needs

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 Chris Kluka
Choosing the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree program at Okanagan College was a no-brainer for Chris Kluka – and it has been a decision that paid off in spades with career opportunities.

Kluka had taken post-secondary studies at other Canadian institutions, but the credential and education he received didn’t fully meet his needs or expectations.

“I’m interested in infrastructure and systems management,” says Kluka, who is now an IT Systems Infrastructure Architect at Daemon Defense Systems Inc. in Winnipeg.

“I looked at programs across the country and chose Okanagan College. The other program I took and others I looked at had the wrong focus. They were focused on Programming or Computer Science. I wanted a program focused on IT systems implementation and management,” he says.

With the benefit of the College giving him transfer credits for much of his post-secondary education taken elsewhere, Kluka entered the Computer Information Systems (CIS) diploma program at Okanagan College. The CIS diploma is a two-year credential that ladders into the College’s four-year Bachelor of CIS degree. At the College, he was also able to integrate some courses from the Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology program as electives.

Between diploma and degree, Kluka found work with a Kelowna-based company, FormaShape, where he started as a junior network administrator. Eight months later he was IT Manager. Then he came back for his degree.

After graduation, it was a return to Manitoba, where career opportunities have been unfolding. For the past two years, he has been with Daemon Defense Systems Inc. and the contracts the company has secured have afforded him considerable experience in a variety of environments.

“I’ve been leading architecture design and deployment in projects such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, network redevelopment in the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the Investors Group Field, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Those three projects alone represent 6,300 network drops and $20 million worth of servers and storage architecture. I have designed and implemented the IT systems architecture for three of the largest projects in the province in the last two years. ”

The College’s degree program has a solid reputation among employers, explains Department Chair Rick Gee. Demand for graduates may also partially explain the high ratings given the program by students in independent surveys conducted by the Provincial government. A review of five years of graduate data shows a 94 per cent employment rate, average annual earnings of $56,000 and 91 per cent of surveyed students reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied with their education.

“There will be continued demand for diploma and degree graduates from our programs,” says Gee. “Our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on information systems, and that bodes well for the people who can understand and manage them.”

For more information on the degree or diploma programs in Computer Information Systems, visit

Written by youryblog

September 6, 2014 at 2:26 AM

Ultra-Fast, the Robotic Arm Can Catch Objects on the Fly

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Ultra-Fast, the Robotic Arm Can Catch Objects on the Fly
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (05/12/14) Sarah Perrin  (from ACM TechNews on 14 May 2014)

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne’s (EPFL) Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory have developed a robot that can react in real time to grasp objects with complex shapes and trajectories in less than five hundredths of a second. The arm measures about 1.5 meters in length, and the robot keeps it in an upright position. The arm has three joints and a hand with four fingers. The researchers note the ability to catch flying objects requires the integration of several parameters and reacting to unforeseen events in record time. “Today’s machines are often pre-programmed and cannot quickly assimilate data changes,” says EPFL’s Aude Billard. To overcome this limitation, the researchers developed a new technique, programming by demonstration, which does not give specific directions to the robot, but rather shows examples of possible trajectories to the robot. In the first learning phase, objects were thrown several times in the robot’s direction. The robot uses a series of cameras to create a model for the objects’ kinetics based on their trajectories, speeds, and rotational movement. The researchers then translate the data into an equation that enables the robot to position itself very quickly in the right direction.

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Written by youryblog

May 14, 2014 at 5:46 PM

It’s Judgment Day for Killer Robots at the United Nations

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It’s Judgment Day for Killer Robots at the United Nations
The Wall Street Journal (05/13/14) Amir Mizroch  (from ACM tech news on 14 May 2014)

The United Nations on Tuesday began its first-ever multinational convention on “lethal autonomous weapons systems.” The meeting is taking place over three days in Geneva under the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which aims to ban or restrict conventional weapons considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or civilians. The 117 member-states will attempt to define what an autonomous weapon is and whether it fits into the definition governed under the convention, and delve into legal and ethics questions. The meeting will hear from robotics, military, and human rights law experts, as well as from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which held a seminar on the issue in March. The ICRC said in its report there was a sense of “deep discomfort with the idea of allowing machines to make life-and-death decisions on the battlefield with little or no human involvement.” Georgia Institute of Technology professor Ronald C. Arkin, who will participate in the meeting, believes autonomous weapons could reduce human casualties in war. However, he says the systems should not be deployed unless they can comply with international humanitarian law.

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Written by youryblog

May 14, 2014 at 5:46 PM

European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web

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European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web
The New York Times (05/13/14) David Streitfeld  (from ACM tech news, 14 May 2014).

The European Court of Justice on Tuesday said Google should allow online users to erase links to content about them after a certain amount of time, in a ruling that rejects long-established Internet practices. The court said people had the right to determine what others can find out about them by searching the Internet, and said search engine operators should erase links to Web pages unless there are “particular reasons” not to do so. “Some will see this as corrupting. Others will see it as purifying,” says Harvard University professor Jonathan Zittrain. “I think it’s a bad solution to a very real problem, which is that everything is now on our permanent records.” The court’s decision cannot be repealed and clashes with U.S. First Amendment rights. The European Court said search engines played an active role as “data controllers” and should be held accountable for their links, and also said “as a general rule” they should place the right to privacy over the right of the public to find information. Google said the ruling was disappointing and noted it differed significantly from a preliminary verdict last year. Analysts say the ruling leaves many unanswered questions and could lead to the imposition of digital borders.

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Written by youryblog

May 14, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Posted in Interesting, News, privacy

Job Search Tips for 2014 College Grads, April 11

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Job Search Tips for 2014 College Grads, April 11

For recent college graduates looking for a job in the IT sector, expressing early interest in a profession, company and a role can give you an edge over the competition. Even with a bright employment outlook for 2014 graduates, the job market gets flooded at graduation time and with every passing semester, even more competition enters the market. As a result, college graduates should begin their search as early as possible to gain an advantage. And it’s not just candidates who are beginning their job searches before diplomas are even handed out — many organizations begin the recruiting, screening and hiring process almost a full year in advance when looking to fill entry-level roles.

Even if you haven’t begun your job search, there are a number of ways you can prepare for entry into the job market. An internship opportunity is always a great way to gain on-the-job experience and work with potential future employers, and an internship may well turn into an offer for full-time employment. Internships are exploding across the IT industry and more and more companies are using these types of programs with college students. New college graduates without much relevant work experience aren’t necessarily at a great disadvantage when looking for jobs if they know how to highlight their strengths and their knowledge. They are often far more aware of and skilled with cutting edge technologies and best practices than even more seasoned, experienced jobseekers.

Even if you haven’t participated in an internship program, making sure your social media presence is up-to-date, polished and professional is also crucial during a job search. LinkedIn is a huge advantage, especially for college graduates or potential graduates. If you’re establishing a presence there, it shows a level of professionalism and tech savvy that’s enticing for employers. Potential graduates should get involved with available career resources and continually make contact with on-campus recruiting efforts and events, because networking is such an important part of landing a job. Don’t underestimate the importance of being connected to career resources on campus, and get involved in the events and offerings from companies at your school.

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Written by youryblog

May 6, 2014 at 11:31 AM