Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Uniguest Needs a Better Explanation for Why Conservative Sites Are Being Blocked

We control the horizontal…

James Varney of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, stayed at the Hyatt Place hotel in Riverhead, NY. He tried to look at the Drudge Report, but was blocked from doing so by his hotel’s internet connection.

In fact, he tried looking at a number of conservative websites, including Powerline and Instapundit. They too were blocked. He then tried a number of liberal websites from Talking Points Memo to DailyKos. None of them had access problems.

His hotel, Hyatt Place, uses Uniguest to connect its guests to the internet.

Digging deeper, I contacted the good people of Uniguest. A cheery online chatter at their corporate website praised my question as a very good one, asked for my e-mail so he could run it up the corporate flagpole and I await that response.

I also spent some time on the phone with Hyatt representatives. Well, most of that time was on hold, actually, but I did eventually get two bright, human voices. Both of them assured me no political line was being enforced.

Neither of them knew for sure but they were quite certain it was all a matter of security – it was virus and malware that prompted the warnings and kickoffs, not a point of view.

Yeah. Right…

Rejoice that Facebook Used You as a Lab Rat, says New York Times Op-Ed

My colleague and friend Stephen Green is wrong to feel betrayed by Facebook using us for psychological experiments, according to a columnist in the New York Times.

Steve should be happy.

Tech pundit Farhad Manjoo gives us this reason, among others, to rejoice.

Facebook’s latest study proved it can influence people’s emotional states; aren’t you glad you know that? Critics who have long argued that Facebook is too powerful and that it needs to be regulated or monitored can now point to Facebook’s own study as evidence.

This is like telling a woman who was startled by a Peeping Tom while she disrobed, “Aren’t you glad you know that men can see you naked through those venetian blinds? After all, there are some creepy men out there who would love to get a peek at your birthday suit.”

The voyeur could tell the judge, “I was just peering into her bedroom to confirm that she’s at risk of being seen in the buff. I was going to call her the next day to inform her of the threat, which is now much more than conjecture.”

After reading Steve’s piece, and then Farhad’s, I’d plunk down $59.99 on a pay-per-view bout to see Green v. Manjoo in a no-holds-barred debate on this topic…and then I’d put all the rest of my nickels on Green in 3.

85 percent of ObamaCare ‘inconsistencies’ can’t be fixed

NYPost

Federal officials can’t resolve 85 percent of 2.9 million “inconsistencies” on applications for ObamaCare even after nine months of trying, according to new data provided by the administration.

Most of the problems involve certifying citizenship and income, key components of the national health plan.

But some of the problems are downright nutty.

One unidentified state-run marketplace cited situations in which infants and young children were “erroneously identified as incarcerated, according to federal data,” the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department revealed Tuesday.

Just 425,000 problematic applications have been resolved out of 2.9 million that states and the federal exchange reported, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told The Post.

Only citizens are eligible for ObamaCare, and only people at certain income levels are eligible for tax credits and subsidies.

But in 77 percent of the applications under scrutiny, federal records differed from what applicants submitted on those two key qualifications.

The CMS responded that the agency is “committed to verifying the eligibility of consumers who apply for enrollment in qualified plans.”

You get what you pay for (and from who)…

Colorado’s $58 Million Computer Upgrade To Be An ‘Epic Failure’

Brought to you by CGI – the one-hit-wonder of “HealthCare.gov”…

A $58 million overhaul to Colorado’s computer accounting system, performed by the same company blamed for the meltdown of HealthCare.gov, is poised to be an “epic failure,” according to an anonymous whistle-blower who spoke to Denver’s Fox 31.

The system, which is supposed to go online on July 1, isn’t ready and won’t perform as promised, the insider told the station.

Known as the Colorado Operations and Resource Engine (CORE), the system is meant to handle everything from benefits payments to taxes to vendor services, but Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler called it a “disaster in the making.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the overhaul because the current version of the software is badly outdated.

Century Link and CGI designed the system; CGI also created the Obamacare website which performed dismally when the new health care law rolled out in October.

Was there a non-compete clause in the NSA?

Snarky Lawmaker Reminds Former NSA Chief That Selling State Secrets Is Illegal

Gen. Keith Alexander, the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, has launched the consulting firm IronNet Cybersecurity. It also may explain why a congressman has reminded the former spy that selling top secret info is a crime.

To capitalize on his recent departure from military intelligence—Alexander resigned in March following months of revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—the general is offering his security expertise to the banking industry for the fire sale price of $600,000 per month after first asking for $1 million. There are threats everywhere, Alexander warns, and “It would be devastating if one of our major banks was hit, because they’re so interconnected.”

That may be, but Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) is suspicious that Alexander has anything useful to offer at that price—unless, that is, he’s peddling national security secrets.

In letters sent Wednesday (.pdf) to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and the Clearing House—all of which Alexander reportedly has approached about his services—Grayson made it clear to Alexander and those who might retain him that selling classified information is illegal.

The crash felt from Washington D.C. to Cincinnati, OH…

The Seven IRS Employees Whose Computers ‘Crashed’

Lois Lerner: Lerner was the Washington-based head of the IRS Exempt Organizations division until her recent resignation. Lerner and her attorney husband Michael Miles live on a $2.4 million property in Bethesda, Maryland.

Nikole Flax, former chief of staff to IRS commissioner Steven Miller: Flax was a busy bureaucrat during her tenure at the IRS, where she worked for Lerner in the exempt organizations division among other roles. Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs

Michelle Eldridge, IRS national media relations chief: This 23-year IRS veteran was tasked with defending the IRS when it came under scrutiny in 2012 for whistleblower reprisal from its inspector general.

Kimberly Kitchens, agent: Kitchens, who donated to President Obama’s 2012 campaign, worked in the IRS Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements office in Cincinnati in 2012, according to IRS documents.

Nancy Heagney, agent: Another Cincinnati-based Exempt Organizations official that worked under Lerner.

Julie Chen, agent: Chen is another Exempt Organizations official, according to IRS documents.

Tyler Chumny, supervisory agent: After some confusion as to the identity of Tyler Chumney, a source informed us that he served as a Cincinnati-based contact person on at least one tax-exempt decision letter signed by Lerner.

Gohmert and Flores Propose $1M Bounty for Lerner E-mails

NationalReview

Representatives Bill Flores and Louie Gohmert, both Texas Republicans, have proposed a million dollar bounty for the recovery of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s e-mails.

They’ve filed the Identify and Recover Sent Emails Act, which, if passed, would award $500,000 to anyone with “pertinent information sufficient for prosecution” of anyone involved in the destruction of Lerner’s e-mails or a cool $1 million to anyone who can recover the e-mails outright.

How is the sizeable bounty to be funded? From the IRS budget.

In addition, the bill would mandate that all IRS employees receive not more than 80 percent of their 2014 salaries until the e-mails are recovered.

Unbelievable

Now EPA says it can’t find emails requested by Congress because of hard drive crash

Does the federal government have any systems at all to back its email archives? Maybe not, because the Environmental Protection Agency is now using the same excuse as the IRS is using in response to a Congressional subpoena: the computer ate our homework.

In a hearing Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency was still trying to recover the emails from a now-retired employee who was involved in a controversial EPA evaluation of a proposed mine project in Alaska‘s Bristol Bay.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., asked McCarthy: “Were all of his emails preserved according to the Federal Records Act or was a law violated?”

McCarthy responded: “I think we have notified the appropriate authorities that we may have some emails that we cannot produce that we should have kept. I do not know yet whether we can recover all of these or not.” She added that later: “We are not sure where the failure came from and what it is attributed to.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., was incredulous: “Two different government agencies tried to convince Congress and the American people this week that emails disappear into thin air. We didn’t believe it when we heard it from the IRS and I’m not inclined to believe the EPA’s excuses. The Federal Records Act is very clear. This is either willful ignorance on the part of the EPA or gross incompetence. I hope the EPA will follow through and turn over the relevant information it promised to the Oversight Committee months ago.”

How exactly does this work again?

Employees Behind Failed Cover Oregon Website Getting Nice Bonuses

In yet another case of “so tone deaf it has to involve government”, the employees responsible for the Cover Oregon website, unarguably the worst among all state exchanges and so bad that the state has given up on fixing it, are receiving bonuses for their hard work. The Daily Caller reports,

Thirty-eight employees will be awarded bonuses worth one to three months pay to convince them to stay on with the exchange through the next nine months. All remaining 163 employees will be eligible for a bonus worth two weeks of government pay if they remain at the exchange through March 15.

In the months since Oregon officials announced they would be shutting down the exchange and allowing the federal government to take over and run a marketplace through HealthCare.gov, Cover Oregon lost 30 percent of its employees. Hamstreet expects the bonuses to cost another $650,000 of federal taxpayer funding.

Ultimately, $650,000 is a tiny sum from Cover Oregon and the state’s budget, but it’s the principle of rewarding employees for work so shoddy it could only come from a government bureaucracy that’s so appalling. Unsurprisingly, this is a state where every single office of any consequence is held by a Democrat. Oregonians can voice their displeasure by calling their legislators, their governor, and I suppose their federal Senators and Representatives. We can all help out by contributing to Republicans running in Oregon, headlined by gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson and U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Monica Wehby, who, as a pediatrician, ought to know a thing or two about healthcare. They need your help.

Another slippery slope…

Spy satellite agency wants to tap video game technology

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the secretive agency that launches and runs the nation’s spy satellite system, is looking at technology developed by the video game industry to help it improve how it gathers and analyzes intelligence data, according to a research proposal released Monday.

The NRO wants to tap into the video game industry’s “innovative algorithms” and “enhanced visualization techniques,” the proposal said.

The NRO works with the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to provide data to be analyzed to track weapons of mass destruction and potential terrorists, develop military target information, help with natural disaster assistance and support international peacekeeping and relief efforts.

The Director’s Innovation Initiative, the agency says, is aimed at paying for research in collection, data processing, management and dissemination-enabling technologies. The various projects are expected to last no longer than nine months and cost no more than $450,000, NRO documents show.

Yeah. Right…

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