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February 17, 2010

We’re back, we’re bad,
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 08:12 AM * 39 comments

We hope you’re…delighted.

Martin saved the day. Because he’s like that.

Comments on We're back, we're bad,:
#2 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 08:24 AM:

We're not delighted. We're relighted.

#3 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 08:35 AM:

I'm mad, who's black?

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 08:36 AM:

alex @3:

If I take the part, do I get to be beautiful as well?

#5 ::: john stanning ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 09:01 AM:

nigra es et formosa ...

#6 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 09:03 AM:

I missed all the excitement - the message saying "we're in trouble" and the message saying "we're out of trouble" both appeared since last time I checked Making Light.

Is this a sign that I don't check often enough?

#7 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 09:22 AM:

Evil rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look at your webpage baby, comments are gone
Martin's the reason we're all postin' on
Don't think twice, it's Making Light.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 10:01 AM:

Hail, Martin!

#9 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 10:02 AM:

alex @ 3: but are you bad and dangerous to know?

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:20 AM:

Yay Martin!

Jon #7: Cute!

#11 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:36 AM:

All hail Martin!

#12 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:39 AM:

Xopher @11:

Is that a subcase of raining men?

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 12:24 PM:

On the other hand, the latest comment in the thread on the 'agency model' isn't showing up in the thread, although it's on the front page.

So maybe not as back as all that.

#14 ::: John Fiala ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Good job, Martin!

#15 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 01:53 PM:

@4, 9 - yes, and yes, of course. If we do a Byron/Flashman crossover, the whole thing comes together - though not in a very savoury fashion, I'll admit, so maybe let's not actually go there...

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Right at the moment we are slightly more back than bad, but only slightly.

We'll do our best, but there are realtime constraints on pretty much everyone at the moment.

#17 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 12:27 AM:

Paul A. @ 6 ...
I missed all the excitement - the message saying "we're in trouble" and the message saying "we're out of trouble" both appeared since last time I checked Making Light.
Is this a sign that I don't check often enough?

I usually consider it a sign of the offline world having taken precedence, whether for good or for evil...

#18 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 12:44 AM:

Paul A. @6: I check ML every day, and I missed it too, so don't feel too bad.

#19 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 11:59 AM:

By the way, the nasty generic server error messages still advise the user to send email to webmaster@nielsenhayden.com, which is (or was, the last time I checked) an invalid email address.

#20 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 02:18 PM:

So I know that the particle about zero tolerance policies just went up, but I'm sorry, I saw a story this morning that made the doodle story look tame:

http://www.newser.com/story/81237/school-gives-kids-laptops-spies-on-them-via-webcam.html

Basically the gist is: School gives kids laptops, spies on them, and then BUSTS them over stuff they did at home.

#21 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 02:28 PM:

PixelFish -- I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we don't have all the information around this yet. I'm not sure that school administrators are necessarily capable enough to do what he's supposed to have done.

On the other hand, if they have to monitor what's going on on laptop screens in class, then maybe the laptop shouldn't actually be in class.

(says me, who just put a sticker over my webcam on the desktop machine.)

#22 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Eric: The Boing Boing discussion has a PDF of the legal filing. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/02/17/school-used-student.html

The parents say they didn't know the laptop had that capability, and they were never informed of the surveilance aspect. They claim the school used a photo from the laptop's camera to back up the claim that the male student had behaved inappropriately and that was when they first became aware.

#23 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 05:16 PM:

There's a difference between 'used a photo from the webcam' and spying on them at home. I'm not saying the school district it right. But I also suspect that the story we're getting is one sided, and exaggerated.

My wholly unsupported guess is that he left incriminating evidence on the drive, which was snarfed in the 'normal' spyware that they have on school related systems. It's stunning the number of people that take pictures of themselves doing stupid things. And post them to facebook. (Or back in the day, usenet.)


#24 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 06:09 PM:

@21, On the other hand, if they have to monitor what's going on on laptop screens in class, then maybe the laptop shouldn't actually be in class.

I'm a teacher. We get dinged on our annual evaluations if we're not seen to be "using technology" on a regular basis. And there are legitimate reasons to use laptops in class--frex, speed and legibility of note-taking.

#25 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 06:47 PM:

I cast a very suspicious eye on requiring 'technology' in the classroom. I've seen (and umm experienced) how many ways there are to waste time on a computer, and that just doesn't need to happen in school time. I suspect, in a lot of ways, I'm pretty conservative when it comes to education. (conservative in the "there are standards, and things you need to learn, like science, math, and such.") I'm stunned, for example, that my local high school doesn't teach calculus, and it had something like a #18 ranking in the state. Where I'm from, that was a graduation requirement. (yeah, we were outliers of outliers, but still.) Yet there's a push now to go full laptop in a couple of grades here. Wonder how many teachers they'll have to cut to get the $$.

We'll see how this works out with my kids. So far, so good, but I'm only 6 months into the school journey with them.

#26 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 07:50 PM:

eric, #23: What I really, really want to know is why he was disciplined at school for "behaving inappropriately at home". What was he doing? Jerking off? None of the school's business. Sending/receiving porn ("sexting" on the computer)? Should be taken up with the parents. Bullying another student online? Again, should be taken up with the parents first, before any school-level discipline is invoked. The whole thing sounds fishy as hell to me.

#27 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 08:11 PM:

Lee, I'd go further. The appropriateness of his behavior at home is none of the school's fucking business, almost no matter what it involved.

If he was using the computer inappropriately, that could be an exception. But unless they also phrased things incompetently, they would have said it involved the use of the computer.

#28 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 09:43 PM:

The school claims that he STOLE the laptop from another student and that they were using the remote cam to recover it.

I don't buy that, but if it's true, it changes things a little. But the remote-spy capability should be activatable only with a court order.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 09:59 PM:

28
I know of at least one university that uses GPS locators to track their laptops - but they don't make a secret of it, either. (The computers aren't supposed to be taken off-campus.)
The school district sounds like they're trying to find some reason that people will believe, rather than own up to the spying that they actually did.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 10:04 PM:

Yep, that's pretty much what I figured as well.

#31 ::: Anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 10:20 PM:

All student laptops look alike around here. It's very easy to pick up the wrong computer by accident. "Stolen"...I don't believe the administrators.

#32 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 09:47 AM:

When your school administration starts acting like an UNSUB on "Criminal Minds", it's time to get a new administration.

Previous to this, most of the instances I've seen of "school punishes child for something done outside of school" involved religious schools. (One in my hometown insisted that a child cease-and-desist playing Judas in a community theater production of "Jesus Christ Superstar"; then they backed down and said, "OK, we won't expel you this time, but from now on you need our approval prior to taking any theatrical roles". To which his parents said, "Excuse US??" and transferred the kid to another school.

#33 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 09:49 AM:

Grr. Here's the missing ).

#34 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 02:11 PM:

So, what do we _know_ about this?

There's a lawsuit that's been filed. With Allegations. (Not Proof, Allegations) There's a couple of statements from the school district that don't say much. And we have a bunch of essentially anonymous posts that may or may not contain fact related program material.

As much as I like Cory and the Boingers, he's got something of a bias when it comes to things that look like a panopticon if you squint right. There may be something here, there may not be. But we're not going to know till there are some actual facts on the ground.

#35 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 04:23 PM:

Abi @ #11 would have made me spit tea if I had had any tea.

Still giggling.

#36 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 09:31 PM:

eric, #34, this WashPost article has the FBI moving in.

#37 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 11:42 PM:

The FBI is annoyed about the school board treading on their turf?

#38 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 12:00 AM:

It sounds like the school libraries in the Lower Merion School District really need a few copies of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

#39 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 12:23 PM:

As much as is coming out in this, we still don't know what was going on. But it's looking more and more like a serious WTF moment on the part of the school district, especially with some of the forensic stuff that I've seen out there.

Like, daemon listens on an open port, no auth, runs as root, accessible over bonjour?

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