Thursday, August 28, 2014

Uber Now Delivering Lunch, Too (PCMag)

For its next act, the app-based car service will bring you lunch.

Uber has already experimented with delivering everything from ice cream to toilet paper. But for its next act, the app-based car service is going to bring you lunch.
"We've all been there — that moment when you go from hungry to hangry during the lunch rush," the folks at Uber wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "At Uber, we take these problems seriously and wanted to explore another way to get lunch without the line."
The company will begin testing a new lunch delivery service, dubbed UberFresh, starting today in Santa Monica, California. If you live in the area, you can order by selecting the new UberFresh option on the lower right side of the Uber app between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. From there, you just set your delivery location, make your request, and meet your driver outside once he or she arrives.
At this point, Uber is offering a prix fixe menu with a different selection each day, for $12 per meal. Best of all — Uber promised super speedy delivery.
"Typical food delivery takes 45 minutes to 1 hour," the team wrote. UberFresh delivers you healthy, fresh food in about 10 minutes."
There's no delivery fee and no need to tip your driver, you'll just need to pay for your lunch order, Uber said.
The company is running the experiment in the Santa Monica area until Sept. 5, and may extend it if things go well. Note that the service will not be available on weekends or Labor Day.
"Depending on the results we look forward to expanding UberFresh throughout the southland — so head to Santa Monica for lunch this week and give it a try, that might just be enough to bring it to your neighborhood!" the company wrote.
The move comes after Uber last week launched Corner Store, a delivery service for all kinds of common items like toilet paper, razors, and body wash.
Angela has been a PCMag reporter since January 2012. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a reporter for SC Magazine, covering everything related to hackers and computer security.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five free smartphone apps to make life easier at trade shows (TechRepublic)

By  in Five AppsAugust 26, 2014

The right apps can make a world of difference in convenience and efficiency when you attend a trade show or conference. 
As someone who attends a lot of trade shows each year, I have found that my smartphone is an invaluable tool for helping me to function efficiently while on site. Here are five of my favorite smartphone apps to use while attending a trade show.

1: CamCard

CamCard (Figure A) is a free app that allows you to take pictures of business cards and save the contents to your phone. Upon photographing a card, CamCard uses optical character recognition to recognize the card data, but you can edit the data if necessary. CamCard also enables you to add custom fields and to add reference notes to the card information.

Figure A

Figure A
CamCard is available for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android.
2: Track My Budget 
Track My Budget (Figure B) will help you to keep track of spending as it relates to your budget. Although the app is geared toward household budgets, it works surprisingly well for keeping track of spending while on the road. It allows you to set up custom categories, such as flights and hotels, and then categorize your transactions. You can enter your total travel budget as Income and the app will show you how much you have spent and how much money remains in your budget. Best of all, the app allows you to enter certain expenses (such as parking at the airport or your morning coffee) as recurring so that you don't have to enter the expense manually each day.

Figure B

Figure B
Track My Budget is available for Android and Windows Phone. There is also an iOS version that is designed to link to your Google calendar.

3: Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes (Figure C) is a free app that lets you create a collection of virtual sticky notes. You can choose the color and font for each note, and there is even an option to dictate the note. Best of all, you can generate reminders for sticky notes and the Windows Phone version lets you pin a note to the Start screen.

Figure C

Figure C
Sticky Notes is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

4: Dude, Where's My Car

Dude, Where's My Car (Figure D) is a free app that helps you keep track of where you parked. It's simple, but effective. It allows you to create a named location for where you parked. When it is time to locate your car, the app uses mapping to show you how to get back to it. On my phone, the mapping software defaults to walking mode, but since I am in Houston at the moment and my car is in Charlotte, I have the option of getting driving directions to my car.

Figure D

Figure D
Dude, Where's My Car is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

5: Expensify

Expensify (Figure E) is a free app for keeping track of those receipts. It lets you photograph your receipts and then uses optical character recognition to extract data from them. You also have the option of entering data manually. Once the data has been entered, you can compile a collection of receipts into an expense report.

Figure E

Figure E
Expensify is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Port Gate Hours -Election Day : 8-26-14 (FCBF)

 Election Days 8/26/14 - Gate Hours


                                   SAFETY AND SECURITY DIVISION

DATE:                       AUGUST 26, 2014

TO:                            ALL PORT USERS

SUBJECT:                 ELECTIONS DAY 8/26/14- GATE HOURS


Please note South Florida Container Terminal (SFCT) and Port of Miami Terminal Operating Company (POMTOC) will open their gates starting at 9:00 a.m.  Today, August 26, 2014, and operating hours will be extended as needed in efforts to allow voting time for port users.

Operating hours will return to normal on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, for questions, please contact individual gates.

NOTE:  Expect possible traffic delays. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

UPS Store Hacked, Credit Card Info Exposed (PCMag)

Security Password Hack


The UPS subsidiary was hit with a malware-based intrusion impacting 51 franchises between Jan. 20 and Aug. 11.

The UPS Store, a subsidiary of UPS, was hit with a malware-based system intrusion impacting 51 franchise locations in 24 states between Jan. 20 and Aug. 11, the company said this week.
Customer data, including credit card and debit card information, may have been exposed at the impacted locations during the varying periods the malware resided on the computer systems at those franchises, according to a UPS Store notification to potentially affected customers.
Other customer information that was potentially exposed to bad actors included names, postal addresses, and email addresses, according to the UPS Store. The company said that "[b]ased on the current assessment, The UPS Store has no evidence of fraud arising from this incident."
The company said it hired an outside, unnamed IT security firm to investigate the breach and purge the systems at affected stores of the malware, which the UPS Store first learned about from a U.S. government bulletin.
"I understand this type of incident can be disruptive and cause frustration. I apologize for any anxiety this may have caused our customers," UPS Store president Tim Davis said in a statement. "At The UPS Store the trust of our customers is of utmost importance. As soon as we became aware of the potential malware intrusion, we deployed extensive resources to quickly address and eliminate this issue. Our customers can be assured that we have identified and fully contained the incident."
A full list of affected UPS Store locations with the dates each store was afflicted with the malware can be found here.
The majority of stores became infected after March 26, according to the UPS Store and its IT security contractor, though the computer systems of some locations were exposed to the malware as early as Jan. 26. All affected locations listed as exposed by the UPS Store were clear of the malware as of Aug. 11, the company said.
UPS Store customers who are concerned that their sensitive information may have been compromised can visit or call 1-855-731-6016 to speak to a customer representative.
Damon Poeter got his start in journalism working for the English-language daily newspaper The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand. He covered everything from local news to sports and entertainment before settling on technology in the mid-2000s. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nearly Half of Americans Think the Recession Is Not Over (BusinessWeek)

The U.S. economy has nearly recovered. Now someone has to convince Americans. Nearly half think the United States is still in recession, according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll. Some 76 percent don’t think their children’s generation will have a better life than they did. Americans are right to think they are worse off: Even if they have recovered financially, they have become aware that the economy is riskier than it used to be. They might never bounce back from that.
Economic well-being is not limited to wealth, earnings, and employment; security matters, too. All else being equal, a riskier environment is worse, economically speaking. Financial markets may be less volatile, but structural changes in the economy have increased risk for most Americans’ largest asset: future earnings.
Lifetime earning power has been getting less certain for decades, but it took the recession to make people realize it. In 2002, one out of two Americans expected real income gains in the next five years, according to the Index of Consumer Sentiment; by 2013, only one in three did. It is well known that real median earnings didn’t increase in the last 20 years; overall earnings have become more volatile, too. The amount that the average household’s earnings fluctuate each year has been increasing (PDF) since the 1980s. Household finances also are less secure because people have less liquid savings and more debt. The economic stress associated with the recession made these trends more apparent.
The future of U.S. children also looks precarious. Tyler Cowen argues that changes in technology and trade are hollowing out the middle class, leaving a larger chasm between economic winners and losers, with very few in the middle. People who thrive in the future will do very well. The rest will have a harder time getting by.  Previously, parents could safely assume that their children had good shots at landing middle-class lives. The stakes are now higher and the risk of failure larger.
Younger Americans may never recover from the recession’s wake-up call to risk, and the economy might suffer for that. The Great Depression scared a generation away from taking financial risk: Many Americans who came of age during the Depression never invested in the stock market. To be fair, they never had to because many had company-sponsored pensions to support them in retirement. Millennials have internalized the same fears, with 13 percent describing themselves as financially conservative, a rate matched only by World War II babies (now ages 68 and up), according to a recent UBS survey (PDF). They are holding more in cash and less in stock than other generations have done.
The fortunes of the Depression’s children were eventually bolstered by a wartime economy and postwar boom. Millennials face no such relief on the horizon. Downturns have historically pushed previous generations (PDF) into entrepreneurship, but that’s not happening either. The youth self-employment rate has fallen each year since the recession and shows no sign of turning around. In 2003, 8.3 percent of Americans aged 25 to 39 were self-employed, by 2013 only 6.8 percent were.
The economic recovery cannot be measured only by market returns, growth in gross domestic product, and housing starts. Psychology counts. Heightened fear can hurt career and investment decisions for decades. Put another way, economic well-being requires a certain level of optimism, a firm belief that success is possible, even when times are hard. Markets crash. Businesses fail. But if people today unwilling to take measured chances, we haven’t recovered at all. That may affect career and investment decisions for decades.

Allison Schrager is an economist and writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @AllisonSchrager.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

4.5 Million Patient IDs Compromised in Hospital Hack (PCMagazine)

·        BY DAMON POETER  AUGUST 18, 2014

The hack of Community Health Systems, operator of 200-plus hospitals, is believed to have come from China.
Security Password Hack

One of the country's biggest hospital operators, Community Health Systems, on Monday announced that its computer network was the "target of an external, criminal cyber attack" which saw the compromise of patient identification data for "approximately 4.5 million individuals."
The attacker or attackers are believed to have originated in China, according to Community Health Systems and its IT security contractor, Mandiant.

Community Health Systems, which operates more than 200 hospitals in the United States, revealed the breach in a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The hack of the computer network occurred in July, the publicly traded company said. Data stolen in the breach "did not include patient credit card, medical, or clinical information," Community Health Systems said, but did include "patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers, and social security numbers," which are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Community Health Systems said Mandiant, serving as the company's forensic expert for the breach, believed "the attacker was an 'Advanced Persistent Threat' group originating from China who used highly sophisticated malware and technology to attack the company's systems."
The intruder or intruders behind the attack is known to federal authorities, according to Community Health Systems.

"The company has been informed by federal authorities and Mandiant that this intruder has typically sought valuable intellectual property, such as medical device and equipment development data," the SEC filing said.

However, the July intrusion focused on "non-medical patient identification data related to the company's physician practice operations," Community Health Systems said.

Attorney Nick Akerman, a partner at international law firm Dorsey and Whitney with a specialization in computer crimes, said the scope of the breach was very concerning.

"The danger here is not only in the patient's privacy but the fact that they could be victims of identity theft because of the credit card information that was stolen," Akerman said. "It is unlikely that the Chinese hackers care about the health information. What is key is the financial information on the patients."

Community Health Systems said it was "providing appropriate notification to affected patients and regulatory agencies." The company said it has finished removing the malware installed by the attackers in its computer systems and was working with Mandiant on other remediation and preventative measures to avoid future intrusions.

Damon Poeter got his start in journalism working for the English-language daily newspaper The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand. He covered everything from local news to sports and entertainment before settling on technology in the mid-2000s. Prior to joining PCMag, Damon worked at CRN and the Gilroy Dispatch. He has also written for the San Francisco Chronicle and Japan Times, among other newspapers and periodicals.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Where Do U.S. Airline Profits Go? Away From Travelers, Toward Investors (BusinessWeek)

Compared with those ultralux Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, it’s easy to disparage the service levels of the average trip aboard an American (AAL)Delta(DAL), or United (UAL) plane. Overhead TVs in the aisle, circa 1980? Yep, the U.S. airline giants still have ‘em. Free meals on a six-hour, cross-country flight or a 10-hour haul to Hawaii? Those aren’t in the budget.
Yet when it comes to airline profits, no one does it like the U.S. carriers. After several Asian carriers reported results in recent days—including Cathay Pacific Airways’ (293:HK) half-year profit of $45 million announced on Wednesday—the financial difference between the U.S. airlines and the foreign carriers that travelers love to fly is striking. Nowadays, Delta clears a $45 million profit in less than a week during the summer.
With a mind on Cathay’s results, which marked an enormous increase over the same period last year, Bloomberg Businessweek tallied the results at other highly regarded airlines. Granted, the operating conditions for U.S., Asian, and Middle Eastern airlines differ, but the dramatic disparity in financial results illustrate to some extent differing philosophies. (And, as Delta executives routinely argue, the large Middle Eastern carriers are state-subsidized and don’t compete fairly on costs, an accusation those airlines deny.) All figures below have been converted to U.S. dollars:

• Singapore Airlines (SIA:SP), which often vies for the top spot in rankings of best airlines, earned $39 million in its most recent quarter ended on June 30.
• Japan’s All Nippon Airways (9202:JP), another of the five-star airlines in the Skytrax ratings, earned a little less than $3 million for the quarter.
• Asiana Airlines (020560:KS), the South Korean airline known for its premium service, isn’t profitable at the moment.
• Emirates, one of the world’s largest international carriers, earned $898 million in the year ended March 31.
In comparison, Delta fell only $9 million short in one quarter ended in June of Emirates’ $898 million haul for its full fiscal year. American Airlines earned $864 million in the second quarter, while United Continental’s profit finished near $800 million for the same period.
The striking disparity also helps show that while travelers love to fly on Singapore and Emirates, their inner investor is likely to bet on American and Delta—and then, of course, complain about the dreary flight.
Bachman is an associate editor for

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The billion dollar web site you paid for (ZDNet)

Summary: Whoever heard of a pure IT project that cost a billion dollars to build (so far)? A GAO investigation goes deep into just how bad the process of building was.

By  for Between the Lines | s

Perhaps no news about, the Federal healthcare exchange website and supporting systems, is shocking anymore. We all know that it was an utter disaster at launch on October 1, 2013 and was completely unusable for some time thereafter. But eventually they got it to the point of being usable, so no harm no foul, right?
You may not think so after reading the recent GAO (Government Accountability Office) report HEALTHCARE.GOV — Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management. The report is embedded at the bottom of this story.

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Not only was the project a technical disaster — development was originally supposed to be complete October 1, 2013, but the schedule is now for the end of 2014 — but it has cost far, far beyond what was budgeted and far further than what could be called reasonable for such a system.
The report says (page 9) that, through March 2014, the total cost of the project was $946 million. $840 million of this was spent by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), with the rest by the IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs. But the development costs continue to rise and are likely already over $1 billion.
Clearly CMS was put in a bad spot having to build a major first-of-its-kind system in a compressed time frame. One implication of this was that the bidding process had to proceed without completed specifications. CMS made many risky decisions in order to meet their goals, such as the use of "cost-plus-fixed-fee" contracts in the bid process and an Agile software development model, which was new to CMS. As the report notes (footnote 23), in 2009 the Office of Management and Budget released a Memorandum (M-09-25) calling for a reduction in the use of such high-risk contracts.
A theme pervades the report: These decisions might have been reasonable, but the risks they created increased the requirements for oversight. The report finds that the agency failed utterly in its oversight responsibilities. Over and over, procedures called for the creation of quality assurance surveillance and other oversight mechanisms, but CMS did not do so. The result was huge cost overruns, the main potential downside of cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts.
The report doesn't go on to the next logical question, whether more senior HHS and Administration officials were exercising any oversight of the process, but the answer would appear to be that they were not, and there certainly is no evidence that they were. The surprise of everyone to the site's miserable initial performance indicates that senior HHS managers and the White House were unaware.
CMS's work consisted of two main projects: the FFM (Federally Facilitated Marketplace) and the data hub. The FFM accepts and processes data entered through and was intended to provide 1) eligibility and enrollment, plan management and financial management. The data hub "...routes and verifies information among the FFM and external data sources, including other federal and state sources of information and issuers. For example, the data hub confirms an applicant's Social Security number with the Social Security Administration and connects to the Department of Homeland Security to assess the applicant's citizenship or immigration status." See page six of the GAO report for more expansive definitions of these projects.
The oversight failings made it possible for failures in development to go unaddressed. Why did development fail? One reason, if not the top reason, was CMS's changing of requirements throughout the process. The following quote summarizes many of the systemic failures in oversight and management and their implications:
From September 2011 to February 2014, estimated costs for developing the FFM increased from an initial obligation of $56 million to more than $209 million; similarly, data hub costs increased from an obligation of $30 million to almost $85 million. New and changing requirements drove cost increases during the first year of development, while the complexity of the system and rework resulting from changing CMS decisions added to FFM costs in the second year. In addition, required design and readiness governance reviews were either delayed or held without complete information and CMS did not receive required approvals. Furthermore, inconsistent contractor oversight within the program office and unclear roles and responsibilities led CMS program staff to inappropriately authorize contractors to expend funds.
Figure 4 from page 20 of the study. Unsurprisingly, the panic payments accelerated as the October 1 deadline approached. Yes, the popup text says "definitize".
Of course, throwing people and money at an IT project tends to make things worse, not better. And it's almost always a better idea to delay the rollout of a project than to launch with significant problems. But a launch delay was politically impossible, no matter how badly the project was going. The law said it would launch on October 1, so it had to launch on October 1.
But even though the launch date was fixed, the problems in the project necessitated schedule changes. As Figure 5 from the study, included below, shows, the Requirements, Analysis and Design stage of the project went from the originally scheduled three months to a year, which they did mostly by cutting out features of the system which were not essential to the launch, such as the Financial Management system that sent payments to the insurers. Indeed, this part of the system is still not complete and, according to the report, "... is currently scheduled to be implemented in increments from June through December 2014."
Cutting features cut the Development and Test stage from nine months to six, and the Operational Readiness Review from seven months to one. Yes, one. They reserved enough testing time to realize just how bad things were, and then they launched anyway. No IT project can succeed this way.
Given how pathetic the government management of the project was, I'm inclined to be somewhat sympathetic to the contractors, who were in an impossible position. That would be naive, as government contractors are often in the business of putting themselves in impossible positions, figuring that cost overruns will more than make up the difference. It's hard to work up any sympathy for CGI Federal, the main contractor for the FFM, and their hundreds of millions of dollars.


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Even so, the GAO report says that CMS "identified significant FFM contractor performance issues as the October 1 deadline approached" (i.e., problems that were the contractor's fault), but decided to let them slide. It wasn't until December, when the you-know-what had already hit the fan, that CMS began withholding payment to CGI Federal. In January CMS announced that Accenture Federal Services would replace CGI Federal on that contract.
In retrospect, it would have been politically impossible to dismiss or discipline CGI Federal severely in June 2013 when, says the report, CMS grew increasingly concerned with their performance. CMS even sent a letter in August listing the problems and suggesting that they would take corrective action, but the letter was quickly withdrawn at the order of CMS Chief Operating Officer Michelle Snyder (who fell on her sword shortly after the rollout).
The report made clear that CMS was well aware of what poor shape the site was in at launch, and yet the news of it did not leak out. If only the government were as good at keeping national security secrets. It's clear that nothing was going to stop the October 1 rollout.
The Accenture contract to take over the FFM development project was a one-year, sole source contract for $91 million for one year, and even that contract has exploded. As of June 5, CMS had obligated more than $175 million to the Accenture FFM contract.
The conclusion the GAO draws is that the organizational and process decisions made by CMS are still flawed and the problems remain. Ominously, they conclude "[u]nless CMS takes action to improve acquisition oversight, adhere to a structured governance process, and enhance other aspects of contract management, significant risks remain that upcoming open enrollment periods could encounter challenges going forward." Will the next open enrollment be as disastrous as the first? We'll know by October.
Things may be better this year, as the administration brought in someone from the outside world late in 2013 to try and make some lemonade out of Mikey Dickerson, an operational engineer hired away from Google, didn't like what he saw when he got to Columbia, Md., headquarters for "The government had none of the modern tools to track, second by second, visitors to the website. And it had no way to figure out why the site was crashing." The addition of tools to address these concerns certainly accounts for some of the runup in costs in 2014.
But even if the system were complete and working well, it still cost a billion dollars. I asked a few people familiar with the development of large, complicated internet systems and they all said a billion dollars is a ridiculous amount, even including the fact that hardware purchases were involved. Nobody would go on the record.
I expect government to do a bad job in general, and I'm not surprised that it's bad at building IT systems. What disappoints me is the lack of appreciation of just how bad a job the administration, an administration once reputed to be "tech savvy," did on their most prominent project. A couple of CMS officials were allowed to resign and the contractor was replaced (after taking in hundreds of millions of dollars), but I'd say nobody has really paid a price for the debacle — other than the taxpayers who paid for it.
Larry Seltzer has long been a recognized expert in technology, with a focus on mobile technology and security in recent years