Saturday, May 22, 2010

Taxpayers Should not be Paying for Computers for Students

Taxpayers should not be paying for computers for students in the first place. Laptops are not essentially for education. This article points out just one of the many problems of children having laptops. No computer should have the capability for a school to spy on students.

The following piece appeared on

Quote of the Day - “Putting a computer in front of a child and expecting it to teach him is like putting a book under his pillow, only more expensive” Anonymous

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

School Spy Program Used on Students Contains Hacker-Friendly Security Hole
By Kim Zetter May 20, 2010

A controversial remote administration program that a Pennsylvania school district installed on student-issued laptops contains a security hole that put the students at risk of being spied on by people outside the school, according to a security firm that examined the software.

The LANrev program contains a vulnerability that would allow someone using the same network as one of the students to install malware on the laptop that could remotely control the computer. An intruder would be able to steal data from the computer or control the laptop webcam to snap surreptitious pictures.

The vulnerability was discovered by researchers at Leviathan Security Group, who provided Threat Level with a video (see below) demonstrating an exploit they developed.

They began examining the program after customers who saw media coverage of the Pennsylvania case expressed concern that the program might be exposing their employee computers to intrusion from outsiders. The same software is used by many businesses to monitor and maintain their employee laptops.

The Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania is embroiled in a lawsuit and FBI criminal investigation over use of the LANrev software. The cases involve allegations that administrators spied on students through the software installed on 2,300 school-issued Macbooks.

LANrev is a suite of remote-management software. The primary issue in the Lower Merion case is the optional Theft Track feature in the software designed to let administrators covertly snap images through the computers’ webcams. The school district insisted that the cameras were rarely activated and only when a laptop was reported stolen or missing.

But a class-action lawsuit against the school district alleges that the program surreptitiously snapped tens of thousands of pictures of the pupils at home, school and elsewhere, through school-issued laptops that were not lost or stolen. Lawyers for the plaintiffs allege that some of the pupils were even photographed nude and partially undressed.

The district discontinued the LANrev webcam-tracking program in February after the spying allegations came to light and says it’s now addressing security issues in the LANrev software.

“The District is taking aggressive and immediate steps to ensure that issues related to security and technology are effectively resolved,” said school district spokesman Douglas Young in an e-mail.

The vulnerability in the LANrev system lies in the symmetric-key encryption it uses for authentication between the client and the server, and isn’t related to the optional Theft Track feature. Therefore, even computers that are not using the theft feature are potentially vulnerable.

The authentication key is stored in the client-side and server software and is fairly easy to decipher, says Frank Heidt, president and CEO of Leviathan. It took Leviathan just a few hours to determine that it’s a stanza from a German poem. The key is the same for every computer using LANrev.

The LANrev client software on a computer is configured to contact a server every minute or so to check in and see if the server has any commands for it. Knowing what the key is would let an attacker who has installed a sniffer on the network intercept that ping and masquerade as the server in communication back to the laptop. It requires the attacker to be on the same network as the target machine — for example, on a wireless network at the school or anywhere else that offers free Wi-Fi the student might use.

“If we give you this stanza of poetry, it’s over and the fat lady sings,” Heidt says. “There would be [hackers] turning on webcams.”

Absolute Software, which acquired LANrev last December, said it identified the vulnerability at the time it was purchasing the software and is fixing it in a more robust version to be released in July, which will use Open SSL for encryption.

“Is it theoretically possible [to exploit this]? Of course it is,” said Tim Parker, vice president of research and development for Absolute. “[But] we are not aware of any customer who ever had an issue with this. If any customer did express concern, we would immediately supply them with a patch.”

The attack only uses the LANrev software as an entry point to install malware. Because a LANrev administrator can remotely install and execute other programs on the client machines, once an attacker is on a machine, he can then install malware to take over the machine.

In the hack demonstrated in the video below, Leviathan researcher Joel Voss is seen intercepting communication between a LANrev computer and its server, and then impersonating the server to install a remote control program that gives him complete and surreptitious control over the machine. He can operate its web camera to capture imagery of the person sitting in front of the machine.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jim is Finished with his Book

Jim is putting the finishing touches on his book, it will be sent out for publication by the end of the month. We will let you all know where you can purchase the book once it hits the book stores and cyber book stores.

Quote of the Day - “A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Garrison Keillor

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are Students Learning About The Corruption Of Climate Science? Of course not!

Are Students Learning About The Corruption Of Climate Science? Of course not!

The following piece appeared in the Canadian Free Press.

Quote of the Day -Global warming is indeed a scam, perpetrated by scientists with vested interests, but in need of crash courses in geology, logic and the philosophy of science. MARTIN KEELEY, BBC News, Dec. 6, 2004

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Are Students Learning About The Corruption Of Climate Science?

By Dr. Tim Ball Thursday, May 20, 2010
The mainstream media actively promoted global warming, then effectively ignored evidence of corrupt climate science and essentially ignored the whitewash investigations of the activities of members of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They promoted Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” yet ignored the evidence of major scientific errors. They quickly condemned Martin Durkin’s documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” because of one small error on a graph. Durkin withheld the DVD until the error was corrected. Al Gore’s movie is still shown uncorrected in most schools, although a UK court ordered the government to have teachers advise students of the bias and errors.

It appears little has changed in the schools. Some teachers are giving both sides of the story, but they appear to be the exception. But why would a teacher change or be willing to present both sides? Governments continue to push the arguments based on the IPCC research. They were complicit in the whitewash investigations, and need the tax and control Cap and Trade provides. Most of the change in the schools comes from students who do some investigation often triggered by YouTube videos. In the UK court case the student complained to his father about having to watch Gore’s movie more than once.

Their Questions Tell a Tale
Each week I receive three or four requests from students doing projects on global warming. Some come from other countries, but most are from the US. Usually they seek answers to written questions. I give answers, but also attach a list of other sources so they can dig deeper.

Most of the time they are researching the skeptics view and I am the chosen spokesperson. Interestingly, very few requests are from university or science students. Most are in social studies but a surprising number are doing English essays. One or two tell me their research supports the skeptics’ view, but most clearly accept the government global warming position and appear to be trying to understand why I could have it so wrong. Most have seen Al Gore’s movie, but none appear aware of the errors.

An Example
The following is just one example of the type of questions asked with my answers. The questions are generally typical, however, number three is particularly interesting. It isn’t clear if the student is aware of the complexity of the associated ideas. My answers are in italics and cursory, but provide my view. I expect the student to pursue these ideas with the web sites provided.

Do you believe that global warming is caused by mankind?

No. The claim is that human produced CO2 is the cause of warming. The problem is we produce such a minuscule amount relative to natural production that it is impossible to detect it within the crude measures of these sources. For example, the amount we produce is less than the error of the estimate for three natural sources including the oceans, soils and rotting vegetation. More important, it is assumed that an increase in CO2 results in an increase in temperature. Every record shows that exactly the opposite happens. The temperature increases before CO2.

Would a modest increase in the temperature of the planet necessarily be bad?

The world has been warmer many times in the past and survived. Whenever change occurs there are winners and losers. Overall history shows warming creates better conditions for life on earth that is the flora and fauna, which includes humans. For example, more plants animals and people die of cold than warm.

Can global warming create an ice age?

Ice ages are marked by growth of ice sheets. The idea that warming can produce them recognizes that somehow you must have more snow survive the summer melt. This argument is based on the idea that glaciations are either produced by cooler temperatures with less winter snow but less summer melt or by warmer temperatures that results in more evaporation more snowfall and even though more melts in the summer the net survival amount is an increase.

Are global warming and climate change the same thing?

Yes and no. Global warming is one type of climate change. When temperatures began to decline in 2001 and CO2 continued to increase they stopped talking about warming and began talking about climate change. This then allowed them to point at any change and claim it was caused by human activity.

What role do natural forces play in the current global warming trend?

All the warming over time and now is caused by natural forces, primarily the sun. Even the IPCC admit that warming up to about 1950 was over 50% due to the sun. Since then they say with 90% certainty that human CO2 is the cause. They base this claim on the output of computer models that ignore most changes in solar mechanisms and many other factors such as variation in water vapor, by far the most important greenhouse gas.

Any additional information you feel is important for people to know about global warming, please feel free to include!

Here are a few web sites that provide many of my views to expand on the above.

The first is for a group I helped organize and contribute articles to occasionally. It is strictly devoted to the science.
Friends of Science

The second is a more political/ science mix and here is a list of all the articles I have done over the last few years.
Dr. Tim Ball’s archives on Canada Free Press

A couple of other sites I recommend;

A Range of Questions
A few questions follow that give an idea of how some students approach the topic. Generally they accept global warming is due to humans and their concern is with the impact.

Grade 10;

How will global warming effect (sic) the wildlife?
Will a changing climate create more problems?
What advice would you offer high schoolers (sic) to help them slow down the progress of global warming?
Grade 7;

What is global warming doing to the earth?
What are some steps that can be taken to prevent global warming in our own homes and communities?
Grade 11;

Is climate change real or is the earth going through cycles?
In your opinion what are the biggest contributes (sic) to climate change?
How does cutting the rainforest effect (sic) global warming?
Do you think global warming will ever stop? When? Why?
Biased Information Continues
I wrote about biases in the classroom here;

So far the evidence is not much has changed. Henry Canby said that, “Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism are the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellect of the young.” Add political bias and lack of understanding of the subject and there is little chance students will ask the right questions or understand the answers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

School Board Association or Just Another Puppet Group of the NEA/AFT?

As a board member, I view organizations claiming to represent school boards with deep suspicion. How is it possible to advocate for "school boards" on the state, nevermind the national level? The purpose of a school board is to promote the interests of their electorate. How can we expect the wishes of Croydon to align with say, Plymouth or Nashua? In the dog-eat-dog world of state redistribution of education dollars, one cannot expect harmony of values among New Hampshire's many communities.

A watered-down organizational position could allow such a group to encompass the diverse makeup of our state. Regrettably, this is not the case. The New Hampshire School Board Association's Policy Manual ( encapsulates the key values of this particular group. Among these:

- Section I: Total opposition to school choice, including vouchers, tax credits or any form of support to non-government school systems. (As their first policy statement, this is quite telling.)

- Section II: Support for the "adequate education" mandate embodied in the Claremont and Londonderry rulings. Opposition of any efforts to reverse these decisions. Section E is code for an education income tax.

- Section IV: Increased regulation of charter schools.

- Section V: Relaxed restrictions on expenditures by local school districts.

- Section VII: Weakening of AYP standards.

- Section VIII: Mandatory kindergarten. Increased mandatory attendance from 16 to 18 years old.

These values read as if cribbed from the NEA/AFT wish list. This is either an astonishing coincidence, or good old-fashioned Astroturf. I suspect the latter.

In any case, New Hampshire's 1.3 million citizens have substantive differences of opinion on these issues. All should have equal representation from their school boards. If these policies represent the will of a majority of New Hampshire school boards, then these school boards are neglecting their responsibility to the public.

In particular, no school district should be using tax dollars to support these organizations. I do not yet know whether Croydon or Newport does, but it is worth finding out.

So what brought this up? I received an email from the National School Board Association soliciting interest in a "Technology and Learning" conference in Phoenix. (ie. Computers and Internet, as if jet engines, microwave ovens, and vaccines are not "technology") More effort on results instead of expensive tools would be appreciated.

The end of the email really made me want to puke. It had a paragraph-long virtual apology for holding the convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jim Peschke

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seriously they Rehired the Fired Teachers?

Seriously they Rehired the Fired Teachers? "just 7 percent of 11th-graders passed state math tests -- 7 percent." " More than 700 people had already applied for the positions." Why on earth would you rehire the teachers when clearly they could have improved the quality of teachers working at the school and reduced operational costs at the same time. Once again another Taxpayer Funded Socialist Indoctrination Center reveals that it is nothing more than an entitlement program for failed educators with little interest in providing the best possible education for the children it is suppose to serve.

The following piece appeared on Be sure to visit the Fox News website to visit the links associated with the story.

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

R.I. School District Agrees to Rehire Fired Teachers
Updated May 17, 2010
Associated Press
The school was under a mandate from the state to make improvements, and it opted for the mass firings after a breakdown in talks with teachers about other reforms that would have required more work.

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. -- A school district that gained the support of President Barack Obama for promoting accountability after it fired all its teachers from a struggling school announced on Sunday it had reached an agreement with the union to return the current staffers to their jobs.

The two sides said a transformation plan for Central Falls High School for the coming school year would allow the roughly 87 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and other staffers who were to lose their jobs at the end of this year to return without having to reapply. More than 700 people had already applied for the positions.

The agreement calls for a longer school day, more after-school tutoring and other changes.

"What this means is that they have come to an agreement about a reform effort and that will change the quality" of the education program at Central Falls, said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who applauded both sides for working together.

The board of trustees overseeing the school system in Central Falls, one of the poorest communities in the state, voted in February to fire the staff of one of the state's worst-performing schools. The school was under a mandate from the state to make improvements, and it opted for the mass firings after a breakdown in talks with teachers about other reforms that would have required more work, some without extra pay.

Obama, during a national address on education in March, said the firings were an example of the need for accountability over student performance.

"So if a school is struggling, we have to work with the principal and the teachers to find a solution," Obama said. "We've got to give them a chance to make meaningful improvements. But if a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn't show any sign of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability."

He continued: "And that's what happened in Rhode Island last week at a chronically troubled school, when just 7 percent of 11th-graders passed state math tests -- 7 percent."

Details of the agreement were to be released following a ratification vote by Central Falls teachers at a meeting Monday. The union and district had been working with a mediator since March.

"Both the school district and the union agree that while this has been a difficult process for everyone involved, the negotiations resulted in a newfound appreciation for shared responsibility, and a solid commitment to bring lasting solutions that will improve teaching and learning at Central Falls High School," said a joint statement from the union and the district.

Under the deal, teachers will need to recommit to their jobs and interview with the new principal. Other changes aimed at increasing student achievement include: a new evaluation system designed to inform teaching and learning, and targeted and embedded professional development.

Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo said she was pleased to be welcoming the staff back. She said that among the changes would be the reassignment of the high school principal and assistant principal to the middle school.

Central Falls Teachers Union President Jane Sessums said there had always been agreement that the sides wanted what was best for the students and that significant changes were needed.

"Working together, we and the district have arrived at a solid, forward-looking agreement that provides supports for our students and the tools our teachers need to help them succeed," Sessums said.

Senior Valerie Florez, who is set to graduate next month, said rehiring the teachers was a good idea.

"It's not the teachers' fault that students don't want to learn," she said.

Florez said she used to be one of those students who didn't want to learn, skipping class and failing to do assignments, but her teachers helped her turn around.

Jonathan Beltran, a 19-year-old freshman at Roger Williams University who graduated Central Falls High School last year, had helped organize rallies and protests in support of the teachers. Beltran, who hopes one day to return to Central Falls as a math teacher, said he was happy about the agreement.

"I love the teachers at Central Falls," he said. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them. I want to work side by side with them."

Antony Restrepo, who has two stepdaughters at the school, said he wanted to see improvements if all the teachers are to be rehired. But he said he wasn't sure that the problems were entirely the staff's fault.

"They just want to be in the streets," he said of some students.