McGruber writes: Citylab has the news that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration is revoking its 2004 approval of the "Clearview" font for road signs.
Clearview was made to improve upon its predecessor, a 1940s font called Highway Gothic. Certain letters appeared to pose visibility problems, especially those with tight interstices (or internal spacing)—namely lowercase e, a, and s. At night, any of these reflective letters might appear to be a lowercase o in the glare of headlights. By opening up these letterforms, and mixing lowercase and uppercase styles, Clearview aimed to improve how these reflective highway signs read.
Now, just 12 years later, the FHWA is reversing itself: “After more than a decade of analysis, we learned—among other things—that Clearview actually compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs,” said Doug Hecox, a FHWA spokesperson, in an email.
The FHWA has not yet provided any research on Clearview that disproves the early claims about the font’s benefits. But there is at least one factor that clearly distinguishes it from Highway Gothic: cost. Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.
McGruber writes: Nextgov has this surreal news: The Transportation Security Administration is looking for private sector social media mavens willing to take a leave of absence from their job to help boost the TSA's Twitter account, @AskTSA. (www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2015/11/will-sociACal-media-mavens-take-leave-absence-help-tsa-tweet-better/124043/) The successful candidates would spend at least six months on loan to the TSA, working as unpaid social media customer service senior advisers.
According to the actual "Loaned Executive Notice" posted on the DHS website (http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Policy-PSO/LEP_SocialMediaCustomerService.pdf), the hiring "is in direct support of the Federal Government’s efforts to promote travel and tourism to the United States (U.S.), and is a part of broader DHS efforts to improve the travel experience for commercial aviation travelers." Good luck with that.
McGruber writes: Amechi Colvis Amuegbunam, 28, a Nigerian man living in the U.S. on a student visa, faces federal wire fraud charges in connection with a sophisticated email phishing scam targeting businesses. He was arrested in Baltimore and charged with scamming 17 North Texas companies out of more than $600,000 using the technique. If convicted, Amuegbunam faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
McGruber writes: On November 17, two Georgia women filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp had released the Social Security numbers, birthdates, Drivers License numbers and other private information of all registered voters in Georgia (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/15/11/19/0331229/georgia-gives-personal-data-of-6-million-voters-to-georgia-gunowner-magazine#comments).
After the lawsuit was filed, Secretary Kemp posted an official notice of the breach on his website (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/general/important_notice_from_the_secretary_of_state__regarding_the_security_of_the_state_voter_file) as required by Georgia state law.
Secretary Kemp also sent a private letter to Georgia lawmakers describing how the breach happened. In the letter, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp said his office learned of the foul-up on Nov. 13 — four days before any public acknowledgement of the problem. In that private letter to Georgia lawmakers, Kemp also stated that he fired the IT worker who had inadvertently added the personal data including Social Security numbers and birth dates to the public statewide voter file. (http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/georgia-tries-to-contain-fallout-from-data-breach/npRSJ/)
Now that fired IT worker, longtime state programmer Gary Cooley, has told the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper that he did not actually have the security access necessary to add millions of Social Security numbers and birth dates to the data file that was released to the public (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/exclusive-fired-kemp-worker-says-he-is-a-scapegoat/npbBC/). While Cooley does acknowledge a role in the gaffe, he also outlined a more complicated series of missteps and miscommunication both within Kemp's office and with PCC Technology Group, an outside vendor tasked with managing voter data for the state.
McGruber writes: In Albany, NY, Bruce Roter has secured approval to build the Museum of Political Corruption (http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/), dedicated to the state's long history of scandal. In the last decade alone, more than 30 state officeholders have either been accused or convicted of wrongdoing. On Monday, the former Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, was found guilty of taking nearly 4 million dollars in bribes and kickbacks. He was convicted on charges of conspiracy, fraud and extortion. The former Senate majority leader continues to face separate corruption charges in court.
"I tell people, quite frankly, I want to institutionalize corruption," Roter says. "I want to put it in this museum. I want it to be laughed at, and I want people to learn about it." (http://www.npr.org/2015/11/27/457520972/new-yorkers-may-soon-be-able-to-buy-kickbacks-as-souvenirs).
New York leads the list of states Americans view as having the most political corruption, according to a poll by New Jersey's Monmouth University. (http://www.monmouth.edu/assets/0/32212254770/32212254991/32212254992/32212254994/32212254995/30064771087/7c75705d-fd3c-40fa-8377-64b3373ab58c.pdf)
McGruber writes: Earlier this year Mattel unveiled "Hello Barbie" (http://shop.mattel.com/product/index.jsp?productId=71355596), a $74.99 wi-fi equipped interactive doll. Users press a button on Barbie's belt to start a conversation and the recorded audio is processed over the internet so that the doll can respond appropriately. The doll also remembers the user’s likes and dislikes.
Now Security Researcher Matt Jakubowski claims that he has managed to hack the Hello Barbie system to extract wi-fi network names, account IDs and MP3 files, which could be used to track down someone’s home. “You can take that information and find out a person’s house or business. It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want,” Jakubowski warned.
Mattel partnered with ToyTalk to develop "Hello Barbie". ToyTalk CEO Oren Jacob said: “An enthusiastic researcher has reported finding some device data and called that a hack. While the path that the researcher used to find that data is not obvious and not user-friendly, it is important to note that all that information was already directly available to Hello Barbie customers through the Hello Barbie Companion App. No user data, no Barbie content, and no major security or privacy protections have been compromised to our knowledge.”
A petition by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood asking Mattel to drop the doll has already been signed by over 6,000 people.
McGruber writes: A class action lawsuit alleges that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office released the personal identifying information of Georgia voters to twelve organizations, "including statewide political parties, news media organizations and Georgia GunOwner Magazine".
According to Kemp, his office shares "voter registration data every month with news media and political parties that have requested it as required by Georgia law. Due to a clerical error where information was put in the wrong file, 12 recipients received a disc that contained personal identifying information that should not have been included."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution independently confirmed the inclusion of the personal data in the October file. The AJC did so by accessing the October data disc, looking up information for an AJC staffer and confirming his Social Security number and driver’s license information was included. The AJC has returned its copy of the disc to the state.
McGruber writes: Earlier today in Eckwersheim, France, TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) 2369 Test Train caught fire, derailed and overturned. Two carriages were partially submerged into a river and at least five people were killed.
As of now, there are no direct links with the terrorist attacks on Paris and the train crash does not appear to have been caused deliberately.
A TGV test train holds the record for the fastest wheeled train, having reached 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on 3 April 2007 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV). Today's derailment appears to have been the first fatal crash of a TGV while running at high speed.
McGruber writes: Jeff Bezo's newspaper The Washington Post has published a hit piece about the "growing unease about security weaknesses" in Linux: www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2015/11/05/net-of-insecurity-the-kernel-of-the-argument
McGruber writes: On Tuesday, there was an election in Dekalb County, Georgia. An area of the county known as LaVista Hills voted on a referendum on whether they should incorporate into a brand-new city or whether they should remain an unincorporated part of the county. The referendum failed by a mere 136 votes, less than 1 percent of all votes cast.
The second in command at DeKalb County’s office of elections is now alleging there were very serious irregularities regarding the LaVista Hills cityhood vote. Piazza says voters were turned away at their polling places, voter material wasn’t properly secured, and that "there was a memory card that collects citizen votes loose in the office." Piazza's allegations have prompted Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation.
Local Atlanta television stations are reporting that Piazza first reported the irregularities to his boss in Dekalb County and that she responded by putting him on leave. One TV station is also broadcasting footage of state investigators removing election equipment from Dekalb County offices. (Those reports are not yet posted on their websites.)
McGruber writes: The Baltimore Sun reports that (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/harford/aberdeen-havre-de-grace/bs-md-jlens-blimp-loose-20151028-story.html) a military surveillance blimp has broken free of its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and was last seen drifting at 16,000 ft over Pennsylvania.
The 243-foot-long, helium-filled JLENS (Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System) aerostat detached from its mooring at about 11:54 a.m. Wednesday. It was trailing approximately 6,700 feet of cable. "Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately," spokeswoman Heather Roelker said. "People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger."
McGruber writes: At Boston's Logan airport, a contractor for SwissPort climbed on the wing of a plane and snapped a selfie. That forced American Airlines to take the aircraft out of service and inspect it, to ensure that there was no damage.
McGruber writes: Georgia Authorities are giving kudos to technology – and the perseverance of Georgia Tech students – for the safe return of a fellow student who disappeared after a Friday night party.
The missing student was found Monday morning along railroad tracks, in northeast Atlanta. He had been beaten, was unconscious and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Georgia Tech Police Chief Robert Connolly said "The students rallied together and then they started searching. The students stayed out until midnight last night, putting out pamphlets and combing the area, anywhere they could possibly find [cell phone] pings along the route.” The students “were not going to stop. They checked every hospital, every hotel, they checked everywhere. They didn’t give up on their friend.”
McGruber writes: Some more evidence that the the Biggest, Most Expensive Oil Spill In History Changed Almost Nothing (http://news.slashdot.org/story/15/07/13/1939229/how-the-biggest-most-expensive-oil-spill-in-history-changed-almost-nothing): Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has asked coastal restoration officials to allow some of the BP oil spill settlement to be used to pay for the $350 million Louisiana Route 1 bridge. This highway is the main access route to Port Fourchon, which serves the offshore oil industry. (http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/09/jindal_asks_for_part_of_bp_mon.html)
McGruber writes: According to a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 15, bitcoin payment service Bitpay (http://bitpay.com) CFO Bryan Krohn received a phishing email from someone purporting to be with a digital currency publication asking Krohn to comment on a bitcoin industry document.
The phishing email directed Krohn to a website controlled by a hacker, where Krohn provided the credentials for his Bitpay corporate email account, according to the lawsuit.
After capturing Mr. Krohn's Bitpay credentials, the hacker used that information to hack into Mr. Krohn's Bitpay email account to fraudulently cause a transfer of bitcoin" valued at $1,850,000.
Bitpay is now suing Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company, its insurer, after MBIC declined to cover the loss.