Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We're Number 1!

Not only has the Pittsburgh area been rated the No. 1 place in the country for Baby Boomers to find love and keep it, but the City of Boomer Love also consumes more Ho Hos than anywhere else.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Happened to 18000 Votes?

I just saw this great talk by Michael Shamos detailing an investigation (that he was part of) into 18000 undervotes in the 2006 election in Florida.

Although I couldn't stay for the whole talk, it looks like there were fairly substantial HCI problems, in terms of the ballot design. When Shamos showed the actual ballot screen in question, I actually didn't see that there were two separate races being shown. The race at the top of the screen was the one that had the huge number of undervotes, but was visually overshadowed by the second race, which had a larger header and had more people running. Of course, the button to go to the next screen is right under the second race, so I could see how people could have easily missed the race that is currently in dispute.

It strikes me that we really need a single ballot design, one that can be massively user tested to ensure usability and understandability. A key problem, though, is that ballots and voting machines are done on a local basis rather than on a national scale, meaning that it would be very difficult to have any improvements translate into practice.

Or as Reagan would have said, the solutions are simple but not easy.

A copy of the full report is available here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mossberg on Usability and Security

Walt Mossberg has a nice report spotting three important computing trends, namely usability, security, and mobile phones (all three of which I coincidentally work in :)

On usability:

[M]y main criteria for judging digital consumer products have been simplicity, ease of use and reliability -- a sort of index for the burden on the user. And in 1992 most products failed miserably on that scale. They required far too much attention, knowledge and effort by users when theoretically they were supposed to do just the opposite -- namely, to make their lives easier.


And by then the World Wide Web had changed everything. It had vastly enriched the experience of computing, adding information, entertainment, communication and commerce on a grand scale.

On security:

[O]ver the past five years, the security problem has morphed into a major hassle for people who own and use Windows computers. Viruses and other malicious software programs are still with us, but now they've been joined by new categories of pernicious technologies, especially spyware, adware, and fake e-mail and Web sites designed to steal your privacy, your money and even your identity. Spam has gone from a nuisance to a plague. And the Internet, for all its numerous benefits, has become an engine for this digital onslaught.

The Social Web: Content, Communities, and Context

This fall, Robert Kraut and I will be teaching a course entitled The Social Web: Content, Communities, and Context (links to PDF of our course flier).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

IEEE Pervasive Computing Special Issue on Security and Privacy

I'm a guest editor on a special issue of IEEE Pervasive Computing on security and privacy.


Author guidelines:
Submission address:
WIP Deadline: See below
Publication date: September 2007

IEEE Pervasive Computing invites submissions to a special issue on the topic of ÎéÎíSecurity and Privacy in Pervasive Computing.ÎéÎí Example topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Establishing trust in pervasive hardware
  • Preserving security in cyber foraging
  • Software and hardware attestation of remote executions
  • Authenticating with low distraction
  • Using tamper-evident hardware
  • Providing peripheral awareness of trust context
  • Combining privacy with accuracy in location sensing
  • Coping with physical threats to pervasive hardware
  • Encrypting on low-power computing devices
  • Anonymized computing with disposable devices and states
  • Security and privacy of RFID technology
  • Tradeoffs between attribution and anonymity in pervasive systems
  • Pervasive surveillance and privacy - technology and policy issues
  • Design and evaluation experience
  • Usable privacy and security
Submissions should be 4,000 to 6,000 words long and should follow the magazine's guidelines on style and presentation. All submissions will be anonymously reviewed in accordance with normal practice for scientific publications. Submissions should be received by 1 May 2007 to receive full consideration.

In addition to full-length submissions, we also invite work-in-progress submissions of 250 words or less (submit to Molly Mraz at These will not be peer-reviewed but will be reviewed by the Department Editor Anthony Joseph and, if accepted, edited by the staff into a feature for the issue. The deadline for work-in-progress submissions is 1 August 2007.

Guest Editors

M. Satyanarayanan, Carnegie Mellon University
George Cybenko, Dartmouth College
Jason Hong, Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, April 03, 2007