Thursday, September 20, 2018

District 7 fall meeting announced

Meeting - Stock Photo courtesy of Pixavy
The fall meet and greet for the District 7 area, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood, has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 3. This meeting will happen in the Adams-Butzel Recreation Center (10500 Lyndon) at 6 p.m.

This meeting will consist largely of general updates from the District 7 staff.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by phone or email to the District 7 manager Ray Solomon at (313) 236-3516 / solomonr [at] detroitmi [dot] gov or the deputy manager Mona Ali at (313) 236-3540 / alim [at] detroitmi [dot] gov.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

Rouge Park on a foggy day - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The non-profit advocacy and service group Friends of Rouge Park will have their next meeting tomorrow evening. They will meet at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Brammel St.) from 6 - 7 pm on Tuesday, September 18.

Anyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

FBI warns about cyber risk to students

Cyber-threats - Stock image by Pete Linforth/Pixabay

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement recently encouraging public awareness of cyber threat concerns related to K-12 students. The US school systems’ rapid growth of education technologies, which is also known as EdTech. This technology has led to the widespread collection of student data could have privacy and safety implications if compromised or exploited.

EdTech can provide services for adaptive, personalized learning experiences, and unique opportunities for student collaboration. Additionally, administrative platforms for tracking academics, disciplinary issues, student information systems, and classroom management programs, are commonly served through EdTech services.

The types of data that are collected can include personally identifiable information as well as:
  • biometric data;
  • academic progress;
  • behavioral, disciplinary, and medical information;
  • Web browsing history;
  • students’ geolocation;
  • IP addresses used by students; and
  • classroom activities.
Malicious use of this sensitive data could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children. Therefore, the FBI is providing awareness to schools and parents of the important role cybersecurity plays in the securing of student information and devices.

Sensitive Student Data
The widespread collection of sensitive information by EdTech could present unique exploitation opportunities for criminals. For example, in late 2017, cyber-actors exploited school information technology systems by hacking into multiple school district servers across the United States. They accessed student contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information. The actors sent text messages to parents and local law enforcement, publicized students’ private information, posted student PII on social media, and stated how the release of such information could help child predators identify new targets. In response to the incidents, the U.S. Department of Education released a Cyber Advisory alert in October 2017 stating cybercriminals were targeting school districts with weak data security or well-known vulnerabilities to access sensitive data from student records to shame, bully, and threaten children.

Cybersecurity issues were discovered in 2017 for two large EdTech companies, resulting in public access to millions of students’ data. According to security researchers, one company exposed internal data by storing it on a public-facing server. The other company suffered a breach and student data was posted for sale on the Dark Web.

Inter-connected Networks and Devices
EdTech connected to networked devices or directly to the Internet could increase opportunities for cyber actors to access devices collecting data and monitoring children within educational or home environments. Improperly secured take-home devices (e.g. tablets, laptops) or monitoring devices (e.g. in-school surveillance cameras or microphones), particularly those with remote-access capabilities, could be exploitable through cyber intrusions or other unauthorized means and present vulnerabilities for students.

The increased use of connected digital tools in the learning environment and widespread data collection introduces cybersecurity risks of which parents should be aware.

The FBI recognizes there are districts across the United States who are working hard to address cybersecurity matters in their schools to protect students and their data. For districts seeking assistance, there are numerous online resources, consortiums, and organizations available that can provide support on data protection matters and cybersecurity best practices.

The FBI encourages parents and families to research existing student and child privacy protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and state laws as they apply to EdTech services.
Discuss with their local districts about what and how EdTech technologies and programs are used in their schools.

Families should also research parent coalition and information-sharing organizations that are available online for those looking for support and additional resources as well as school-related cyber breaches which can further inform families of student data vulnerabilities. The FBI also recommends that families consider credit or identity theft monitoring to check for any fraudulent use of their children’s identity. Parents should also regularly search the Internet for their children’s information to help identify the exposure and stop it from spreading.

If you have evidence your child’s data may have been compromised, or if you have experienced any of the Internet crimes described in this PSA, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Protecting your children from the latest EdTech cyber-risks is your Tip of the Week for the week of September 17.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Miss Michigan is my new hero

Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan 2019 - Photo by Yachin Parham/Miss America Foundation
Nia Franklin of New York was crowned Miss America at the pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, it was Miss Michigan Emily Sioma whose introduction caused the most stir and excitement.

At the beginning of the Miss America pageant, each of the 51 contestants took center stage to introduce herself briefly to the audience. "From the state with 89% of the U.S. freshwater but none for its residents to drink," she began, "I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma."

To say that the internet exploded with comments regarding Emily Sioma and her comments at the Miss America pageant is an understatement. Everyone seemed to understand that she was referring to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, though, her comments could also apply to Detroit public school students and others around the Great Lakes State who lack a reliable source of clean drinking water.

I am incredibly proud of Emily Sioma for using her platform at the Miss America pageant to keep the problems of clean drinking water in Michigan in the public consciousness. There are a lot of people in this state, particularly in Lansing, who would like the issues associated with our water to go away so they can go back to cutting taxes and regulations. However, when people like her keep water at the forefront of everyone's mind, it makes it hard to impossible for this issue to die a quiet death without someone finally fixing the problem.

I feel like I should mention a few other things about Emily Sioma to put her life thus far into perspective. She was born and raised in Grass Lake, Michigan, which is along the I-94 corridor between Ann Arbor and Jackson, but closer to Jackson. She is also a graduate of the University of Michigan where she received a degree in women's studies.

Emily Sioma is a survivor of a sexual assault. She used her personal experiences and her education to further the "I Believe You" initiative as part of her reign as Miss Michigan. Its mission is to support those who also survived a sexual assault.

It is for all of these reasons that Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan 2019, is my hero.

One of the things that I normally do on this blog is to publish a Tip of the Week feature; something to make someone's life a little easier or better. This Monday, my tip of the week is simple: be more like Emily Sioma.

I want to be more like her. I want everyone in Michigan to be more like Emily Sioma. That's why it gives me great pleasure to make "be more like Emily Sioma" this blog's Tip of the Week for September 10, 2018.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.

Monday, September 03, 2018

How to take out of this world selfies

Visiting the Christmas Tree Cluster - Photo by Frank Nemecek (with help from NASA)
In an era that is truly dominated by social media, there's no getting over the fact that selfies are a ubiquitous part of Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, and Twitter. This creates a certain amount of pressure for people to take a truly spectacular selfie.

A selfie that is, to put it either figurately or in this case literally, out of this world.

To help with such a selfie, my dear readers, I would like to introduce you to the NASA Selfies app. This free app, which is available from either the App Store or the Play Store, takes a selfie like the one that I featured above.

My friends may have posted selfies from the beach or some music festival. I, however, got to post a selfie from the Christmas Tree Cluster - a group of new stars in the Monoceros constellation this is located approximately 2,600 light years from Earth. I don't think anyone can top an out of this world selfie like this.

The NASA Selfie app is incredibly easy to use. Besides the Christmas Tree Cluster, one can also take a photo of one's self at the Triangulum Galaxy as well as:

  • Andromeda Galaxy;
  • Antennae Galaxies;
  • Arp 142 Galaxies;
  • Cassiopeia A;
  • Cigar Galaxy;
  • Crab Nebula;
  • Eta Caninae Star Forming Region;
  • Galactic Center;
  • Helix Nebula;
  • IDCS J1426 Galaxy Cluster;
  • Large Magellanic Cloud;
  • Meisser 78;
  • Meisser 81;
  • Milky Way;
  • Mountains of Creation;
  • North America Nebula;
  • Orion Nebula;
  • Perseus Nebula;
  • Pleiades Star Cluster;
  • RCW Star Forming Region;
  • Rho Ophiuchi;
  • Serpens Cloud Core;
  • Sombrero Galaxy;
  • Spider Nebula;
  • Spitzer Space Telescope;
  • Trifid Nebula;
  • W33 Star Forming Region; and
  • W5 Star Forming Region.
All of this makes the NASA Selfies app a really cool thing to have on one's smartphone.

The NASA Selfies app, therefore, is your Tip of the Week for the week of September 3, 2018. Please check back next week for another tip on making your life just a little bit better.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.