Author: Herminia Richardson

Russians Unsuccessfully Tried To Hack Computers Of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill : NPR

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asks a question of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last month. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asks a question of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last month.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Russian hackers trying to influence the 2018 elections made an unsuccessful attempt to breach the computer system of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of this fall’s most vulnerable Democrats.

The Daily Beast reported that McCaskill is the first known target of the Kremlin’s plot to interfere in this fall’s midterm elections after targeting the U.S. in the 2016 presidential election.

McCaskill has been a critic of Russia and of President Trump — who has at times doubted that any such interference happened at all and decried attempts by special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate as a “witch hunt.” At a press conference last week after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump appeared to believe Putin’s denials over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies, though he later tried to walk that back.

In a statement, McCaskill said she “will not be intimidated” by the attempts, which occurred around August 2017.

“Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy. I will continue to speak out and press to hold them accountable,” McCaskill said in a statement. “While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.”

The Daily Beast reported that the attack was similar to one used by Russia’s “Fancy Bear” hackers to access emails by John Podesta, the campaign chairman of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton:

“The hackers sent forged notification emails to Senate targets claiming the target’s Microsoft Exchange password had expired, and instructing them to change it. If the target clicked on the link, he or she was taken to a convincing replica of the U.S. Senate’s Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) login page, a single sign-on point for e-mail and other services.

“As with the Podesta phishing, each Senate phishing email had a different link coded with the recipient’s email address. That allowed the fake password-change webpage to display the user’s email address when they arrived, making the site more convincing.”

Trump tweeted earlier this week that if Russia did try to impact the 2018 elections, it would be to help Democrats — despite evidence that they intervened to hurt Clinton and help Trump two years ago. And now, this report has surfaced that Russian hackers were trying to breach the computers of one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats — and not a Republican incumbent or candidate.

I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018

The president is set to chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday to discuss election security, which Democrats and even many Republicans have said they fear he is taking too lightly in the wake of his comments last week.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has said that the “warning lights are blinking red again” about future Russian cyberattacks and that “the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also said last week at the Aspen Security Forum that it would be “foolish” to think Russia is not trying to influence the 2018 elections.

And FBI Director Christopher Wray also said last week in Aspen that Russia’s attempts to undermine American democracy were ongoing.

“My view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day,” Wray said. “It’s a threat that we need to take extremely seriously and respond to with fierce determination and focus.”

Russians Unsuccessfully Tried To Hack Computers Of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill

Man discovers 30 year old Apple computer still in working order – CNN

“What shall I do next,” reads the prompt on the screen.
“This is tricky, because three decades later I can’t quite remember where I left off this round of Adventureland.”

This game… never got past the first level despite HOURS of (pre-internet cheating) trying.

Now w the web, I have a shot.

The music, tho. That classic Apple IIe music.

— John Pfaff (@JohnFPfaff)

Pfaff found floppy disks with several different games of the time including; Millionware, Neuromancer and Olympic Decathlon.

My kids thought things were insanely retro when my wife and I played NES Super Mario on the oldest’s Switch.

Tomorrow morning their definition of retro is going to shift significantly.

— John Pfaff (@JohnFPfaff)

Besides finding games on the floppy disks, Pfaff came across saved copies of his high school assignments and a note from his late father.
“Just found this letter my dad typed to me in 1986, when I was 11 and at summer camp,” he tweeted. “My dad passed away almost exactly a year ago. It’s amazing to come across something so ‘ordinary’ from him.”

Just found this letter my dad typed to me in 1986, when I was 11 and at summer camp.

I REALLY WONDER what my theory abt the daily newspaper comics Spider-Man was.

My dad passed away almost exactly a year ago. It’s amazing to come across something so “ordinary” from him.

— John Pfaff (@JohnFPfaff)

Pfaff showed off the vintage system to his own children and their reaction is what you’d expect from a generation that has moved on to an iPhone X.
“My oldest, who is 9, exclaimed “that’s a computer?!” in genuine surprise, and then pointed at the floppy drives and asked “what are those?” My younger twins just kept laughing at how silly it seemed to them.”

Wells Fargo computer glitch blamed as hundreds lose their homes – CBS News

Wells Fargo computer glitch blamed as hundreds lose their homes

Wells Fargo says a computer glitch is partly to blame for an error affecting an estimated 500 customers who lost their homes. The giant bank filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, revealing it incorrectly denied 870 loan modification requests. About 60 percent of those homeowners went into foreclosure.

Legislators, housing advocates, regulators and most importantly, the people who lost their homes – people like Jose Aguilar – are asking how this happened.

“It’s been very hard for me. It’s something I wouldn’t wish upon anybody,” Aguilar told CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.
These days, Aguilar can only drive by the home he and his family lost to foreclosure three years ago, the small ranch house in upstate New York where they wanted to raise their children.

“I used to look there and see how many times my kids and I used to run up and down, ride our bikes,” Aguilar said.

He said the problems began when he and his ex-wife found mold in the house. He tried to remediate it himself but fell a few months behind on the mortgage payments. So the couple asked their lender Wells Fargo to modify their loan to lower their monthly payment.
“At first they told me, ‘OK, you know, you might be able to qualify for a loan modification,'” Aguilar said.
But he said then came the delays – weeks, then months – waiting for a decision.
“Then the whole process just started all over again. And then it got to the point we were a year behind,” Aguilar said.
Finally, Wells Fargo turned them down.

“What was your reaction, I mean, after all that time?” Werner asked.

“At that point I just gave up,” Aguilar said.
He and his wife split up. The house went into foreclosure. With the hit to his credit, Aguilar said he found no one would rent to him.
“At that point my son and I had to move to the basement of a friend’s house and we stayed there for three months, and we had nothing. We had a couch and my son had a bed,” Aguilar said, choking up with emotion. “I felt worthless. I felt like I had let my family down.”
Then in September this year, nearly three years later, he got a letter from Wells Fargo. “Dear Jose Aguilar,” it read, “We made a mistake… we’re sorry.” It said the decision on his loan modification was based “on a faulty calculation” and his loan “should have been” approved.
“It’s just like, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding me?’ Like they destroyed my kids’ life and my life, and now you want me to – ‘We’re sorry?'” Aguilar said.
Wells Fargo now said that “calculation error” on loan modifications affected 870 customers over an eight year period, customers who either were denied loan modifications or “were not offered a modification in cases where they would have otherwise qualified.” About 545 of those customers ultimately lost their homes to foreclosure.

At least some of those people got a check from Wells Fargo along with the letter. In Aguilar’s case, it was for $25,000. But his attorney Marc Dann said that doesn’t begin to cover his total losses.
“So how do you think they came up with the amounts of money that they handed out to people?” Werner asked.
“That’s what we want to find out. We want to find out what went wrong, how it went wrong,” Dann said.
Alys Cohen is with the National Consumer Law Center.
“The question is, how did this happen? Aren’t they supposed to check their computer programs regularly to make sure they’re accurate?” Cohen said. “This is clearly more than just a simple computer mistake.”

Wells Fargo declined to do an on-camera interview. The company could not say how much money it expects to pay out in remediation to customers. But Aguilar said it’s not just about money.
“I want Wells Fargo to know that there’s people out there with feelings and families that try hard to pay their bills and survive. We’re real people, we’re not just money,” Aguilar said.

Wells Fargo said it plans to work with each of those customers to reach a resolution. The bank is also offering no-cost mediation. Meanwhile, non-profit groups and some legislators are pushing for more answers.

Her husband is killed in Afghanistan, then she opens his laptop and finds a file he had hidden from her

This happened a while ago, but it contains one of the most beautiful expressions of love I’ve every seen so I couldn’t help but share it again here.

Back in September 2010, U.S Army 1st Lt. Todd Weaver was serving in Afghanistan when he was killed by an explosive device.

His widow, Emma, was devasted, and his 9-month-old daughter, Kylie, would never know her loving daddy.

Todd’s body was flown back to the U.S. and he was given a hero’s funeral in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sadly, Emma and Kiley never got to say goodbye to the husband and father they loved so much. And Todd never got to say all the things he wanted to say to Emma and Kiley before he left. Or so Emma thought…

Then two days after Todd’s funeral, Emma turned on his computer and found something incredible. Just sitting there in a folder were two Word documents. One was named “Dear Emma” and the other “Dear Kiley.”

© Frank Somerville KTVU/Facebook

The first letter is from Todd to his wife, Emma:

Dear Emma:

Well if you are reading this, I guess I did not make it home and therefore, I was not able to remind you again of how much I love you.

I love you so much baby and I will always love you. Although I may not be here right now, take comfort in the fact that I am watching over you right now.

I am not gone and I will always be with you in spirit. I know this time must be hard for you but I also know how strong you are.

Never forget that God knew what was best for us before we were even born. Take comfort in that. This happened for a reason. Although you may not believe it now, you will one day.

I want you to know just how important you are to me. I could not ask for a more caring, beautiful and loving wife. The memories that we have shared over the last few years have been the best of my life. Although it may seem like my life was cut short, I lived a life that most can only dream of. I married the perfect woman. I have a beautiful daughter that amazed me every day.

I even had two great dogs — at least most of the time. I couldn’t ask for anything more. If you feel sad, just think back to the memories that we shared. Look at our daughter and how beautiful she is.

Be strong for her. Remind her about her Daddy and tell her that I loved her more than anything else in the world. Her birth was the best day of my life and she was the best thing that ever happened to me. Her smile and laughter represent all that is good and beautiful in this world.

Tell her that Daddy is in heaven now and will watch over her and protect her every minute of every day. I love you Emma. But never be afraid to do what you need to do to be happy. It is so important that you continue to find happiness in your life. Although you may think this is impossible right now, have faith.

Much better times are coming. You and Kiley have a wonderful life ahead of you and I am so happy to have shared some of it with you.

I love you.
Your loving Husband,

© Frank Somerville KTVU/Facebook

The second is from Todd to his 9-month-old daugher, Kiley:

Dear Kiley, My Sweetie:

Although you may not remember me, I want you to know how very much your Daddy loves you.

I left for Afghanistan when you were 9 months old.

Leaving you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

You are so very special to me sweetie — you are truly a gift from God.

The best day of my life was the day you were born.

Every time I saw you smile my heart would just melt.

You were my sweetie — my life was not complete until you were born.

I am so sorry I will not be able to see you grow up.

But remember, your Daddy is not gone. I am in heaven now smiling down on you every day.

You are so very lucky to have such a wonderful Mom to take care of you.

Make sure you are good for her and help her out whenever you can.

Always remember to say your prayers at night and be thankful for all your many blessings.

Never forget how important and special you are to so many people.

We love you so very much. When you get older and start school, do your best and try to learn as much as you can about the world you live in.

Always be nice and caring to others and you will discover that the world will be nice to you.

But when things aren’t going your way, never forget that God knows what is best for you and everything will work out in the end.

You have such a bright and beautiful future ahead of you.

Have fun. Enjoy it. And remember, your Daddy will always be proud of you and will always love you.

You are and will always be my sweetie.

With very much love,
Your Daddy

Nothing can ever make up for Emma and Kiley’s loss, but we’re so glad that Todd was able to write these letters before he died and that Emma found them.

Todd sure seems like he was an incredible husband, father and human being. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Please share this story with all of your friends and loved ones if it also touched your heart.

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How tai chi and a Linux laptop can create a tiny, powerful orchestra

Dr Ivica Ico Bukvic of Virginia Tech is transcending art and science with the world’s first Linux-based laptop orchestra.

Electronic music has improved substantially in the past few decades, but the work being undertaken by Dr Ivica Ico Bukvic of Virginia Tech is taking things to a whole new level.

In 2005, Bukvic received his doctorate in music composition with cognates in computer music programming and music theory from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he taught at the Oberlin Conservatory and University of Cincinnati.

Now, he is the founder and director of the Digital Interactive Sound and Intermedia Studio (DISIS) at Virginia Tech.

What inspired you to become a researcher?

I am sure my father, who is a retired engineer, played a role in this process. Another was observing the world through discipline-agnostic lenses.

In part inspired by Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, regardless of the source or context, every action can be broken into a binary tree. As a result, I see everything around me as a binary network of possibilities, actions and outcomes.

I see modalities simply as different ways of perceiving and interacting with this network. More importantly, I see the separation between STEM and other disciplines, including the arts, as an educational dead end.

There is science in arts and arts in science and, as a result, my creative and educational focus is in the integrative design, engineering, arts and science (IDEAS).

Can you tell us about the research you’re currently working on?

My research involves a contemporary intermedia ensemble, Linux Laptop Orchestra (L2Ork, pronounced as lork). It mixes traditional orchestra with increasingly accessible human-computer interaction technologies.

This is for the purpose of exploring expressive power of gesture, communal interaction, discipline-agnostic environment and the multidimensionality of arts.

Founded in May 2009, L2Ork is part of the interdisciplinary initiative by DISIS and the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology.

As the world’s first Linux-based laptop orchestra incorporating extensive study of gesture and tai chi choreography, L2Ork offers optimal infrastructure for creative research at minimal cost.

By providing a seamless integration of arts and sciences, it is in part designed to provide access to an integrative approach to education.

Since its inception, L2Ork has helped start seven laptop orchestras in North and South America, many of which rely heavily on its affordable design.

L2Ork’s infrastructural backbone, the Pd-L2Ork (aka Purr-Data) visual programming environment with its unique K-12 (kindergarten through to the 12th grade) learning module, has been utilised in dozens of K-12 maker workshops, including the Raspberry Pi Orchestra summer gifted programme introduced in 2014.

In autumn 2016, the ensemble introduced the world’s first professional Raspberry Pi orchestra.

In your opinion, why is your research important?

On a societal scale, I see my research focusing on improving the human condition. It aims to tackle this challenge with a multi-pronged approach, from improving education and access, to empowerment through open-ended creativity inherent in the arts.

It could also help build communities and design new technologies and better tools to broaden human cognitive bandwidth and independence.

What commercial applications do you foresee for your research?

This offers new ways to represent data through sound, lowering cognitive load in time-sensitive tasks and big-data scenarios, reimagining education and exploring open-ended creativity rooted in STEM.

It also sees disciplines as overlapping and cross-pollinating catalysts, rather than politicised artificial boundaries.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a researcher in your field?

Cutting through the STEM red tape that limits the understanding of the importance and impact of integrative and holistic education.

Are there any common misconceptions about this area of research?

Plenty, as I am sure is also the case with just about any area of research.

To address them, my goal is to raise awareness by generating high-profile research that questions the current status quo and promotes possible future follow-on research trajectories.

What are some of the areas of research you’d like to see tackled in the years ahead?

Continuing to dig deeper in the research whitespace that has been left conspicuously underexplored, like the exocentric spatial sonification.