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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. — Marie Curie

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Power of PowerPoint

Business, Humor
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, August 24, 2015
8:31 am

How many PowerPoint slides have you presented?  How many statistics have you used (or abused)?

Marketoonist 150824

 

Educational Resources for Space

Education, Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, August 3, 2015
6:36 pm

EducatorLabs

Recently, I received some fun suggestions from Jasmine Dyoco from EducatorLabs via the Feedback page on this site. Intrigued by some of the Space Travel posts on this blog, she suggested a number of great links to educational sites related to Space and science:

I was impressed by the Vision of EducatorLabs:

EducatorLabs is comprised of school librarians and media/market research specialists who work as curators and conservators of the scholastic web. In previous decades, our resource collections were finite and we knew our card catalog backwards and forwards; nowadays, modern technology provides us with a seemingly infinite inventory of educational resources. Unfortunately, there simply are no comprehensive card catalogs for the internet and, sadly, many untapped resources go undiscovered by most teachers.

Naturally, we feel compelled to bridge the gap. Our mission is to assist educators, for whom time is a precious commodity, in discovering valuable resources of substance for classroom use. We also seek to strengthen connections among the educational web by acting as courier: because of our high standards, our approach is grassroots and hands-on in nature.

As a father of six children, all of whom graduated from public schools in Mesa, AZ, I have deep respect for dedicated educators who go above and beyond their “job descriptions” to offer students outstanding educational experience. And now, as my grandchildren are growing up, I am so grateful for teachers and schools that are willing to go the extra mile to help young minds learn and grow and spread their wings of discovery!

Thank you, Jasmine!

 

The Scraping Threat Report 2015

Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, August 3, 2015
5:33 pm

Scraping

Back in May, I wrote a couple of posts about Illicit Internet bots:

I recently read a short, but interesting report on “Scraping,” a process of using bots and similar tools to steal information. The Scraping Threat Report 2015  published by ScrapeSentry. This reports includes this definition:

Scraping (also known as web scraping, screen scraping or data scraping) is when large amounts of data from a web site is copied manually or with a script or program. Malicious scraping is the systematic theft of intellectual property in the form of data accessible on a web site.

This theft of intellectual property can be very damaging to businesses. If, for example, a scraper can download airline fares from a legitimate site through illicit means, the stolen data can be exploited to fuel unfair business practices.

Some interesting statistics:

  • 17 % increase in scraping attacks in 2014
  • 22 % of all site visitors are considered to be scrapers
  • 49 % of the total scraping traffic originates from the US, but the ratio of total traffic to scraper traffic is worst from traffic originating in China.
  • China accounts for 1.40 % of the total traffic but 17.13 % of the scraper traffic.
  • Companies in the travel industry remain top targets for scrapers, closely followed by Online Directories and Online Classifieds.
Scrapers are generally categorized into the following areas:
  • Amateur Scrapers: These scrapers utilize a small number of IP addresses and user agent strings, and are blatantly visible in traffic logs.
  • Professional Scrapers: These scrapers are much more elusive, and usually redistribute what they scrape to other companies for a profit.
  • Advanced Scrapers: These scrapers are extremely dedicated and have a wide range of IP addresses. They change their browsing tactics and user-agents moments after a block.

In short, if you are an Internet user, these scrapers are generating so much traffic that they are undoubtedly impacting the performance of websites you visit. If you are website operator and your website contains any type of information that could exploited for nefarious purposes, scrapers probably have already penetrated your defenses or at least have you in their bomb sights.

 

Coolest Travel Voucher I’ve Seen!

Space Travel, Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, August 3, 2015
12:45 pm

Submitting expense reports is one of the seemingly never-ending exercises I have had to endure in over three decades of professional travel. But last week I saw a copy of the coolest travel expense report I have ever seen.

Col. Buzz Aldrin submitted an expense report requesting reimbursement for $33.31 to cover personal expenses for his Apollo 11 trip to the moon!

Enjoy!

TravelVoucher

 

TravelVoucher2

 

No, I don’t want to engage!

Business, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, June 22, 2015
8:05 pm

Do you ever wonder why in the world you receive the ads you do on Facebook or other online venues? Methinks personalized, targeted advertising still has a long way to go.

Marketoonist 150622 engage

 

May 1927 – Model T Production Ceases

Automotive
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
11:16 am

On May 26,1927  Henry Ford and his son Edsel drove the final Model T out of the Ford factory. Completion of this 15 millionth Model T Ford marked the famous automobile’s official last day of production.

ModelT

 

The History.com article stated

More than any other vehicle, the relatively affordable and efficient Model T was responsible for accelerating the automobile’s introduction into American society during the first quarter of the 20th century. Introduced in October 1908, the Model T—also known as the “Tin Lizzie”—weighed some 1,200 pounds, with a 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. It got about 13 to 21 miles per gallon of gasoline and could travel up to 45 mph. Initially selling for around $850 (around $20,000 in today’s dollars), the Model T would later sell for as little as $260 (around $6,000 today) for the basic no-extras model. …

No car in history, had the impact—both actual and mythological—of the Model T: Authors like Ernest Hemingway, E.B. White and John Steinbeck featured the Tin Lizzie in their prose, while the great filmmaker Charlie Chaplin immortalized it in satire in his 1928 film “The Circus.”

I have never driven a Model T, but have always loved seeing those old cars in real life or in pictures, faithfully restored or heavily customized. Just for fun, here is a hot rod that originally was a Model T. My guess is that nothing but the “bucket” is original equipment, but who cares? Enjoy!

ModelT2

 

To the Moon and Back: We Can Do Hard Things

Leadership, Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
10:15 am

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Kennedy moon speech 1961

A brief excerpt of the speech:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

… in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

What a thrill it was of living through those years of incredible innovation, splendid courage and diligent work by so many people. As President Kennedy said, it was not just one man going to the moon, it was a nation united in effort to get that astronauts there and bring them back.

P.S.  I think the look on Lyndon Johnson’s face is priceless.  It is as if he were thinking, “What in the world has that guy been smoking? We’ll never do that!”

 

Healthy Eating – Really?

Health
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
10:04 am

Incorporating all the current health buzzwords in your diet doesn’t necessarily mean you are eating healthy:

Marketoonist

 

Tom Fishburne (aka Marketoonist) explains:

It’s a tricky time to be a food marketer. How consumers define what it means to be “healthy” is in flux. As a food marketing friend pointed out, consumers are increasingly prioritizing food purity over calorie count.

Chipotle is the poster brand for the current state of health positioning. They’re taking a leadership role in progressive stances like GMO-free and sustainable sourcing. And this obscures the fact that an average meal at Chipotle packs a whopping 1,070 calories, close to a full day’s worth of salt, and 75% of a day’s worth of saturated fat. A Chipotle burrito has more than double the calories, cholesterol, and grams of fat than a Taco Bell Supreme Beef Burrito.

It’s similar to soda makers that tout being “made with real cane sugar” or granola bars that are really glorified candy bars. There’s an aura of health that distracts from the actual nutritional picture. Researchers refer to this as a “health halo.”

Maybe the biscuits and gravy I ate for breakfast yesterday weren’t so bad after all!

 

Bots Generate a Majority of Internet Traffic

Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 22, 2015
11:16 am

Bot1

According to the 2015 Bad Bot Landscape report, published by Distil Networks, only 40% of Internet traffic is generated by humans! Good bots (e.g. Googlebot and Bingbot for search engines) account for 36% or traffic, while bad bots account for 23%.

Bad bots continue to place a huge tax on IT security and web infrastructure teams across the globe. The variety, volume and sophistication of today’s bots wreak havoc across online operations big and small. They’re the key culprits behind web scraping, brute force attacks, competitive data mining, brownouts, account hijacking, unauthorized vulnerability scans, spam, man-inthe- middle attacks, and click fraud.

These are just averages. It’s much worse for some big players.

Bad bots made up 78% of Amazon’s 2014 traffic, not a huge difference from 2013. VerizonBusiness really cleaned up its act, cutting its bad bot traffic by 54% in 2014.

It was surprising to me that the US is the largest source for bad bot traffic.

The United States, with thousands of cheap hosts, dominates the rankings in bad bot origination. Taken in isolation, absolute bad bot volume data can be somewhat misleading. Measuring bad bots per online user yields acountry’s “Bad Bot GDP.”

Using this latter “bad bots per online user” statistic, the nations of Singapore, Israel, Slovenia and Maldives are the biggest culprits.

The report contains more great information for those who are interested in bots. Enjoy!

 

Big Day for Lindbergh and Earhart!

Aircraft
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 21, 2015
4:43 pm

Today is the anniversary of two great events in aviation history.  On May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic ocean.  Five years later, on May 21, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first pilot to repeat the feat, landing her plane in Ireland after flying across the North Atlantic.

Congratulations to these brave pioneers of the air!

LindbergEarhart

Both Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis and Earhart’s Lockheed Vega airplanes are now housed in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Spirit St Louis 590

Lockheed Vega 5b Smithsonian

 

 
 
 
 
 
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