Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Star Wars Crawler. Sweeeeeeeeeet!

I would totally embed this in my global template but it would take too much time to load and probably just annoy people. I will add it to my links though! Click it to make your own!

Art, Lightsabers, and Intellectual Property

I recently decided to find an image to complete the logo for this blog and found myself considering intellectual property rights. While I was able to find plenty of royalty free images, nothing perfectly fit the bill, so I was stuck with the dilemma of finding a way to combine the aspects of my favorite pieces without stealing someones work. Long story short, I contacted a design company I have worked with in the past, gave them my likes and requirements, and they are designing something unique that will not violate intellectual property. Some of you may be thinking, What is the likelihood that someone would notice or even care that you copied their work? Even if it were never discovered, it still would not sit right with me.

Urban Outfitters recently came under fire for copying the ideas of an independent designer, and were met with mass protest by the social media community. From the articles and blogs I read in regards to the story, this is not the first time Urban Outfitters has been accused of such tactics. After looking at the images below, can we deduce anything other than UO copied the design? They have since pulled the neclaces from their site, and you can read more in the blog My Aim is True.

                                     Stevie Koerner's Design                  The Urban Outfitter Version

Then today I read an article regarding Lucasfilm, who has filed an injunction against Wicked Lasers for creating a Lightsaber-like laser, and I wondered where the line is drawn between direct copying and emulation. Wicked does not call their lasers "lightsabers" nor do they imply they are in any way like lightsabers. They certainly do call lightsabers to mind, but then as a Star Wars enthusiast, I could not help but make the connection.

I will be interested to see what comes of this, and if the courts will determine there is sufficient connectivity between the two to merit a lawsuit. I am not sure how I personally feel about it all, but will probably throw in my two cents in the future. Although I don't know why anyone would need such a thing, it is really damn cool! Now if it only came in purple...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shiny! Cowboys and Spaceships!

I <3 Firefly.

If you have never seen the show put it into your Netflix queue, or better yet, watch it instantly. Then throw in the feature film that follows up the unfortunately short-lived series: Serenity. I am actually watching Episode 1 as I write this, thanks to my lovely secondary HD monitor. I cannot think of a single show I have ever seen as rife with savvy humor and sarcasm,  poignant moments, utterly convincing characters, and a blend of cowboys and spaceships. That's right folks... I said COWBOYS and SPACESHIPS!  

Yes, I am a Firefly Fangirl. Yes I own the entire series on DVD, have a couple of t-shirts, and would probably kiss Nathan Fillion's picture before bed each night if I were a bit younger.(O.K. so I might even do it now if it would not make my husband realize I am even stranger than he thinks).

Watch it now!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cookies Can Hurt Your Waistline and Your Identity

The ways in which cybertechnology has impacted privacy are already too numerous to recount in a short discussion, but the following four key points may provide a summary:

Trackability: with GPS in cell phones and car navigation, “check-in” features on Facebook, as well as “add location” buttons on other sites, minute to minute location updates can broadcast incredible detail about a person’s habits. Such details can aid stalkers and thieves of both physical and cyber realms.

Trojans, Viruses, and Worms, Oh My!: Malware has added numerous ways for malicious users to gain access to personal information much more easily and quickly than in pre-tech times. Once the information has been obtained, the thief can also utilize online resources to gain even more data regarding the potential victim.

Cookies Can Hurt Your Waistline and Your Identity: Whether they are “session,” “persistent,” or “third-party,” the enablement of cookies allow sites and therefore site owners to collect personal information about a user (Richmond, 2009). If utilized, that information may then be available for advertisers who can send user-specific media and/or malicious users who will grab any data which may be to their benefit.

Convenient and Safe are Mutually Exclusive: These days, many businesses sport logos that say “Free Wi-Fi,” which is convenient, but not necessarily safe, for customers. Public access offers risks to such a point that Microsoft has created a Wi-Fi safety page, and specific attacks like the “evil twin” mirror Wi-Fi access points and gather data without the user ever knowing they have been compromised (Microsoft, 2011; Biba, 2005). With the growing use of cloud computing, these issues will continue to expand as users will have to decide how much security they are willing to compromise in order to conveniently access virtual services.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Total Security in Cyberspace is Neither Possible nor Desirable

Benjamin Franklin once stated that, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” (Moncur, 2006, par. 1). To me, this quote has become ever more applicable, and therefore important, in a world increasingly dominated by the threat of homegrown and nation-state sponsored terrorists. The vast realm of cyberspace has provided yet a new arena and a new form of attacker: the cyberterrorist. Yet whether on the ground or in cyberspace, the question still remains as to how we can be protected from such attackers, and where the line between “essential liberty” and “safety” exists. The short answer is: I don’t know. Or perhaps, I am not sure yet. What I am sure of is that total security in cyberspace is neither possible nor desirable.

Consider software; one part of the many aspects of technology required to make the Internet work. A perusal of the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) shows 4639 software vulnerabilities from January to December of 2010, as well as 1674 reported thus far in 2011 (National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2011). These figures indicate that software contains vulnerabilities which could be exploited by malicious users, and as a building block of the Internet, the vulnerabilities would also be present in cyberspace. It is therefore not a great leap of logic to suggest that as total security is not available in software, it is not going to be available in cyberspace.

In regards to the issue of desirability, it seems that total security in cyberspace would require the relinquishment of all control to a governmental entity who would then decide what was appropriate and inappropriate for citizens to access or use; all in the interest of safety, of course. Such passivity speaks directly to a purposeful renunciation of Franklin’s “essential liberty,” and is therefore of no interest to me. I would rather work under security guidelines and suggestions, with the ultimate decision resting upon my shoulders. Let the user beware.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Solid State Drives and Memories

I have a forthcoming paper on Solid State Drives that will cover a brief history, tech specs, but mostly examine ways in which it will both positively and negatively impact forensic efforts. If you have any input or resources to share, they would be welcome!

I heard about SSD's a year ago when a family friend who works at Intel raved about how fast her system was running now that she had switched over. In actuality, that incident may have been the catalyzing force behind my switch from criminal justice to IT. I had been an "accidental" educator for over a decade and really loved it, but did not see it as the profession that would hold me to retirement. While each group of students brought some new challenges, the repetition of the same material over multiple semesters wore on me. At one point I taught three different courses (English, Algebra, and Social Science Survey) in the same term, and while it was hectic, it was also the most fun! I think I am something of a novelty addict and IT certainly offers that!