U.S. GOA Rules EPA Used Social Media to Spread Propaganda

Despite the prevalence of advertisement in social media (the ability to advertise on social media is basically why social media exists), the Environmental Protection Agency was recently found in violation of federal law for using social media to raise support for a potential law regarding protecting streams and surface waters.

EPAA decades-old battle has always raged between internet users’ right to free speech and the rights of victims of libel, slander, and other forms of public shaming. Around 2000, U.S. courts accepted “cybersmear” as an offense worthy of claiming reparations. In the case, cybersmear was considered to be any disparaging statement in which there couldn’t be found a single grain of truth, not even in the realm of opinion.

For example, if someone posted on Twitter than a politician was incompetent, that would be seen as free speech. If someone posted that a politician was a convicted felon and that weren’t true, the statement would be considered unprotected.

One would think that Trump’s allegations regarding Obama’s and Ted Cruz’s citizenship would be considered some form of cybersmear considering this definition, but perhaps pointing this out hasn’t been seen as politically fruitful.

So here’s where the EPA Comes in: Just one month ago, EPA spokesperson Liz Purchia wrote and posted a blog on the EPA website defending the agency’s use of GSA-approved Thunderclap social media platform. She claimed the EPA used the platform “to get the word out about our historic Clean Water Rule: a law to better protect the streams and wetlands that are the foundation of our nation’s water resources.”

The page on Thunderclap apparently included the EPA logo and a byline stating: “Clean Water is important to me. I support EPA’s efforts to protect it for me health, my family, and my community.”

The page was “linked to an EPA website with information about the rule. We shared this page with all of our stakeholders- no matter what sector, geographic location, or perspective- with the goal of catalyzing our public engagement process, and getting people excited about the importance of clean water,” explained Purchia.

GOAThe Government Accountability Office (GAO), a Republican-led investigative arm of Congress, took issue with the Thunderclap post around this time last year. The agency had been requested to investigate the EPA’s use of social media (Thunderclap in particular) by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The Committee’s chairman, Sen. James M Inhofe of Oklahoma, requested that the GAO tailor its inquiry to examine “whether EPA’s activities constituted prohibited covert propaganda or publicity.”

Upon GAO’s submittal of its subsequent 26-page report, Inhofe had this to say:

“GAO’s finding confirms what I have long suspected, that the EPA will go to extreme lengths and even violate the law to promote its activist environmental agenda… We conclude that the EPA’s use of Thunderclap constitutes covert propaganda, in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition… We conclude that the EPA violated the anti-lobbying provisions contained in appropriations acts for FY 2015 when it obligated and expended funds in connection with establishing the hyperlinks to the webpages for environmental action groups.”

“Because EPA obligated and expended appropriated funds in violation of specific prohibitions, we also conclude that EPA violated the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(A), as the agency’s appropriations were not available for these prohibited purposes.”

The issue seems to be more political than legal in nature, but one can assume that these issues are likely to bring about some kind of change in how government agencies spread the word about their causes in this social media age; either it will be officially unbridled, or agencies will have to real it in.

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What Could Come with the Next Phase of Computers

The spookiest thing about quantum mechanics is likely the concept of superposition, a theorem which claims that things can be in two states simultaneously. That means a switch can be both on and off, opening the door to a new interpretation of the idea of parallel universes.

When it comes to practical uses of quantum mechanics, John von Neumann may have said it best: “You don’t understand quantum mechanics, you just get used to it.” Plenty of gadgets are built by utilizing properties of quantum mechanics despite the fact that no one can really wrap their heads around them.

nasaOne of the most exciting uses of quantum mechanics is shaping out to be computer processing. The Google and NASA engineers at D-Wave have already created quantum computers that use qubits to manipulate the superposition of subatomic particles and thus achieve parallel processing capabilities totally unknown to the modern computer that uses bits. Their most recent computer is not yet fit for real practical uses, but under experimental conditions it is said to operate with over 10 million times the processing power of a traditional computer.

Once quantum computing becomes useable for more traditional methods, it’s difficult to predict exactly what it will be used for. Perhaps it will augment digital computing, perhaps it will extend it; perhaps it will do both, and much more.

Some people propose that the laws of quantum physics could be manipulated in such a way that it could prevent the forgery of banknotes and diamonds because the rules of quantum mechanics prevent the copies of unknown states to be made and don’t allow for measurements to be made without changing the exact measurements of what’s being measured. This would make it impossible for the identity of an object to be copied.

Uncounterfeitable quantum money has a similar logic; the idea is that a conterfeiter couldn’t attempt to measure the necessary formatting of the money without changing it, which in turn would be detectable by the right officials.

androidSome better ideas about what quantum computing could be used for include decrypting all encrypted information made thus far (a feat for a digital computer barely makes a dent in the potential processing power of a quantum computer). It could also help to usher the myth of infinite networking into reality. Researchers report that they can already send information instantly over ten kilometers using only entangled photons. Also the realms of logistics and distribution, service jobs, consumer industries, telecommunications, and publishing could be revolutionized, if not eradicated.

The idea is that qubit processing will allot for complex processes like voice recognition to become perfected. Even just change would completely revolutionize the publishing industry and telecommunication industry while potentially destroying the service industry. Now image the artificial intelligence available to a computer with that kind of processing power; not only could it learn and create its own categories, it could make decisions based on what it learned that could potentially lead mankind to a brighter future; or it could decide to kill mankind, who knows.

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New Dojo Keeps Users Safe

Meet Dojo, a new gadget that plugs into users’ home routers and makes sure that all the devices running under the users’ network aren’t up to any funny business.

The technology utilized by the device is by no means new; what’s different is that the latest developments in cybersecurity are now available to typical internet users as well as large corporations. This comes as a relief for many, as the threat of information and financial theft is prevalent among all internet surfers, not just major companies.

dojoThe Dojo can detect intrusions and block out hackers by building an awareness of how a device operates on the home network. The longer the Dojo is in place, the better this understanding becomes.

Dojo-Labs CEO Yossi Atias explains, “That gives their [the device users’] normal behavior a signature. Any deviation from that usually indicates some software vulnerability.”

The Dojo doesn’t just work with computers; it operates most effectively with single-purpose devices that make up parts of the IoT (Internet of Things). Gadgets like baby monitors and webcams that provide one simple service are easily overseen by the Dojo.

The Dojo has a unique design that allows for both a hardware and mobile component.

The hardware is composed of a dock that can in turn be connected to a router. Additionally, the dock comes with a “pebble” which can be carried around and used to check on network activity. If the Dojo senses an issue with a gadget, the light rings on the pebble turn orange to signify that to Dojo is automatically solving it. If the light turns red, the problem needs further attention and cannot be completely solved by the Dojo.

baby“The pebble gives the nontechi consumer an overall view of their home security in just the blink of an eye,” explained Atias.

“This is a system for people who don’t understand anything about security or privacy. This is a dummy-proof system. The user does not need to configure or set up anything… Most low-level risks [such as] malware, viruses, bad websites… are automatically mitigates and the user just informed of the action.”

The mobile component consists of an app that receives notifications from Dojo, allowing owners to give or deny permission in regards to certain activity on their networks. The app can also alert users to potential cyberthreats.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, had this to say about the Dojo:

“Rather than installing software on every individual device, which would be a nightmare for anybody to keep up, it watches the behavior of the devices and then lets you know if any are performing badly so you can take them offline.”

The major appeal of the Dojo: the people who fall into the category of tech-reliant but not tech-savvy (i.e. most people) can continue on with their lives while avoiding the problems potentially caused for them by more tech-savvy and ill-intentioned hackers. They don’t need to learn anything new and can instead leave the watch dog responsibility to the Dojo.

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Should you use a VPN? If so, which?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a group of devices or networks linked together over a public network (i.e. the internet).

For businesses, this can be very useful when it is necessary to connect remote datacenters. For private individuals, VPNs can help with connecting to network resources despite not being on the same local area network (LAN) and securing and encrypting communication when using an untrusted public network.

You connect to a Virtual Private Network by launching a VPN client on your computer. This can also occur by clicking links on particular websites. You then log in with your personal information and your computer exchanges security keys with the client’s server. If and when both the computer and the server have proven to be authentic, you are free to browse the internet and all of your communication will be encrypted and secured from eavesdropping.

VPNs can help to defend you against ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) spoofing and other common hacking methods that are easily performed given a victim’s use of a publicly accessible network. They also allow users to spoof their physical location; the individual’s IP address is replaced by that of the VPN provider.

Spoofing your location can help you to access the networks you need despite being at home or traveling. This alone makes VPNs commonly used among students and corporate workers.

internet pirate

Illegal downloaders also appreciate the anonymity that VPNs have to offer. Companies can’t know the IP address of the device that is downloading their intellectual property, so the internet pirate is virtually home free.

Security advocates enjoy the privacy that encrypted communication bestows upon the VPN user.

Finally, travelers or people with global interest have plenty to gain from VPNs. If you want to watch absolutely any sporting event or TV show as it first airs, chances are you’re going to need a VPN to make it happen. VPNs also help you to listen to location-restricted streaming internet radio or access a web service that is restricted to a specific country or region.

Which VPNs are Good VPNs?

If any of that sounds appealing to you, your next step will be to pick a one VPN among the numerous providers vying for your interest. There are enough competitors out there that there’s likely to be a service tailored for people like you, whether that means people that expect to hardly use it, to use it for heavy downloading, or whatever else fits.

There are several different types of VPN, but SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the most commonly used and does not require the installation of specialized client software on the end-user’s computer.

The server’s location is also worth considering depending on what you plan on using the VPN for. If you’re a constant traveler but want to watch whatever is on live TV in your home country of Austria, you’re going to want to make sure that your VPN Service provider has servers in Austria that you can opt into. If you’re looking for a VPN that can help shield you from state-sponsored snooping, you’re going to want to pick a service that operates from outside your country (though this doesn’t always guarantee the privacy of your data).

Also check to see if you can find a VPN that bundles in anti-malware software and allows you access from your mobile devices.   cookies

Finally, know that if you use a free service, your activities are likely to be logged somewhat to enable advertisements to be tailored to your browsing history. If that would totally defeat the purpose of you opting into a VPN service, it’s going to be worth it to you to pay a little extra. Just do your research so you know that you don’t end up paying to be logged anyway- plenty of paid services do it.

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Useful Computer Wisdom

Technology seems to move faster than we can keep up with it. There’s always new software that has new memory requirements or a new game that requires a faster CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). So when it comes time to upgrade these parts, you might be confused on how to do it or if you even can do it. We’re going to take you through each possible part and what you need to know to upgrade.

Power Supply – This should only be upgraded to power your hardware. Don’t go overboard or it’ll be bad for your motherboard.

Graphics – Every motherboard has a PCI type slot and you have to find out exactly what kind of PCI slot your motherboard has to know what kind of graphics card to put in. The common types are PCI-E 2.0 and PCI-E 3.0.
Processor – You need to know the socket type of your motherboard and the wattage of your power supply to know that your power supply can handle the new processor.

Hard Drive – This only needs to be upgraded if you absolutely need the space. 500Gb seems to work just fine for most people unless you store a bunch of movies and media and in that case, you’ll need a Terabyte drive at least. For gamers and office users, I recommend getting a smaller SSD drive.

If Your Computer Is Running Slow – Here Are The Possible Causes

Some people just purchase new laptops or computers when the ones they own break down, but it is usually a lot more financially advantageous to just get yours fixed if the same thing happens. The average computer buyer does not have a big enough budget to afford purchasing a new machine whenever the one that is currently being used malfunctions. As such, it is likely in your best interests to take some time to see if there is any way that laptop of yours can be repaired properly.

Of course, in order to get your computer repaired the right way, it will be necessary to hire a someone with a good deal of experience in computer repairs and everything in between. Depending on the extent of the damage that your computer suffered, there is usually a pretty good chance that it will be able to be repaired. Of course, to you it might seem like the problem is very severe, but to a laptop repair person chances are the problem can be uncovered and fixed within a very short amount of time. There is no need to throw that laptop away without first checking to see if there is a way it can be fixed.

What to Do if Hard Drive Is Acting Up

Did you recently notice strange noise coming from your hard drive? The noise could be ticking or clicking. If that’s the case, try to back up all of your important data from that hard drive onto another one, because it looks like this hard drive will not make it. If you did not get around to making a back up, you will need to hire a company specializing in data recovery of hard drives by brand that you have. For example, if you have a Seagate hard drive, you should consider Seagate hard drive data recovery specialists, because each manufacturer of hard drives is slightly different, and you need to make sure this job is taken care of.

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home automation

3 Essential Tips You Can Use When You Want To Automate Your Home

Home automation is a concept that has numerous benefits in virtually every way you can think of. For instance, it can be used to improve the security and safety of the house, and can also reduce the energy consumption of the same. A good example of the latter is when you install a system that you can use to switch off the lights remotely, so that in case you ever forget to do this you don’t have to go back home to do it. There are automation technologies for use in many systems in homes, and there are new ones that are currently under development.

Though there is a huge variety in the way in which automation can be done in a home, the basic principles on what needs to be done to make them work are more or less the same. Some of the important things you need to keep in mind when installing one of these include:

It’s easier to do it during construction or renovation

It’s usually easier to install such systems during a time when the house has been stripped. This allows for doing things such as laying of cables without having to tear down parts of walls and then put them up again. Aiming to do the installation of such systems during home renovation or when constructing the house is a good idea. Of course, this does not mean that you can’t do it any other time; it’s just easier to do it during these times.

Use tried and tested technologies

The concept of home automation is more or less in its infancy. This means that there are some products out there which might be very good on paper, but which are not very good in practice. To avoid installing an expensive system that will give you headaches later on, it would be a good idea for you to consider the historical background of any such technology before using it. You need to find out if there are any people who have used it in the past, and then find out what they have to say about it. Such reviews and reports are easily available online, so you should never neglect them.

Always focus on practicality first

There are many home automation technologies and products out there that are extremely gimmicky. They might have features that are fun to use for most people, but which ultimately won’t benefit you in any way. The fact that they cost a lot of money means that you will be paying for features that you are unlikely to use. To avoid this, you should always try to focus on how practical the product is going to be for you. Once you are sure that it serves a practical need that you have, you can then invest in it with confidence. It is very easy to get carried away by some of the gimmicky features that some of these products have, but this is something that you should try to avoid as much as you can.

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home theatre experience

Buying A Home Theater System And Enjoying It To The Fullest

Getting a home theater system for your house is usually an exciting thing to do. However, there are many times when home owners end up spending a lot of money on such electronics and then end up finding that they don’t really work for them. If you are interested in getting a home theater system for your home, there are a few things you might need to think about when in the process of shopping for one. Some of the most important of these include:

How you are going to use the system

People who buy home theater systems rarely use them for light entertainment. Most of them have big plans for them, and often use them for multiple purposes. For instance, if you are the kind of person who usually loves an immersive viewing experience, you might want to buy a home theater system that features a TV with 3D capabilities. You might also want to get electronics that can read BluRay movies for the sake of clarity. The fact that not all systems offer such capabilities means that when you are out there shopping for one, you need to keep them in mind. The best way to shop for a home theater system is to figure out how you are going to use it, and then buy a system that has all the features you will ever need.

The size of the room involved

One critical aspect of investing in a home theater system is the size of the room it’s going to be used in. Most people think that you can simply buy such a system and put it in any room regardless of size. However, if the system is not as powerful as needed and is in a large room, it could be extremely underwhelming, and this means that you are not likely to enjoy it as much. If you buy a very powerful system and then put it in a very small space, it’s likely to be a waste since you will have spent a lot of money on power you don’t need.

Electronics you already have

There are times when you might already have other electronics that you might want to use with the home theater system. For instance, if you have a games console, you might want to use it in conjunction with the system for a better gaming experience. In such cases, it would be a good idea for you to buy a system that best matches what you already have. Most of the time, buying from the same electronics manufacturer is a good way to do this. In such cases, pairing the two sets of electronics is likely to be more seamless.

In summary, you should never simply go out and buy a home theater system for the sake of it. It’s important that you figure this out carefully to avoid any disappointments in future. An even better way to do it would be to let an AV company to help you figure out what to get.

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