Apr 12

What Happened When We Created a Facebook App for Social Network Analysis

facebook-medFacebook and Mark Zuckerberg are getting blamed for a large number of issues from promoting fake news, election fraud, mishandling user data, and profiting from selling user data.

While some of that may be true, the Facebook security breach is actually a violation of Facebook API licensing rules by the people who used it. Facebook provided the data and encouraged developers like us to create innovative solutions for the Facebook ecosystem. They weren’t selling the data.They weren’t even charging us to use it.

Our Facebook App with Social Network Analysis and Maps

In 2010, we created a Facebook application using our Sentinel Visualizer technology to perform Social Network Analysis (SNA) based on a user’s friends’ friends. It would automatically cluster friends so you could quickly see their groups (high school, college, work, family, in-laws, clubs, etc.).

Facebook Social Network Analysis App of Clustered Friends

Each box (picture) was one of your friends, and you could move them around the network, hover over them to get their info, or click on them to go to their page.

We also plotted friends on a Microsoft Bing Map making it easy to see who were near you or where you were visiting.

Plotting Your Friends' Locations on a Map

 

We launched our free Sentinel Visualizer Facebook App to a limited number of users and it started to gain followers. People were amazed to see which of their friends knew each other. The application started to go viral. We were having trouble supporting the traffic.

Not Allowed to Save Facebook Data

One of the things developers couldn’t do was to save Facebook’s data. All we collected were the user names and email addresses people provided when they registered our program. Unfortunately, other developers didn’t abide by Facebook’s terms and the data improperly got to Cambridge Analytica and others.

Facebook Stopped Making the Data Available

Our app ceased to work when Facebook limited their APIs and prevented our ability to get to the list of your friends’ friends among your network.

It’s not entirely Facebook’s fault for trying to spur innovation by sharing their data for free. Some developers violated the trust Facebook gave them.

The Full Story

Here’s our new web page describing our experience in detail:

Mar 20

Microsoft Access/Office Resources

There are many online Microsoft Access resources available from the Access and Office teams.

New Microsoft Access Tech Community Site

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This is the Microsoft Access development team’s community site that’s integrated with the Access program. Expect to see more and more information and discussions here:

Microsoft Access Tech Community Site

Online Microsoft Access/Office Training

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Online training videos from Microsoft are available for most Office products.

Online Microsoft Office Training

Click on the Access icon to see the Microsoft Access training videos, or go directly to:

Microsoft Access Training Videos

Microsoft Access Help Center

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The documentation team manages this site for MS Access documents and online help.

Microsoft Access Help Center

Old Microsoft Access Support Team Blog

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This Microsoft Access blog site is being retired but still has relevant information.

Become an Office Insider

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If you have an Office 365 subscription, and want to get the latest builds of Office/Access, become an Office Insider.

Sign up from the PC that will host the insider version. Of course the insider version is not ready for prime-time, so don’t use it for your development or production environment.

Office Insider Sign-up

Apr 28

Microsoft Access Video on VBA Programming with Luke Chung at Access DevCon 2017

FMS President Luke Chung was a presenter at the Microsoft Access DevCon 2017 in Vienna, Austria in early April.

Before giving two conference presentations, he was sat down and spoke with Philipp Stiefel of codekabinett.com of Germany. Philipp is creating a series of videos discussing VBA development.

Luke shares the history of how FMS Inc. began working with MS Access and how we now offer 12 products for the Access community, including Total Access Analyzer, Total Access Emailer, Total Visual CodeTools, and Total Visual SourceBook.

They talked about:

  • VBA Best Practices
  • How end-users migrate from Excel to Access, then learn how to code
  • Why people are hesitant to purchase third party products and how FMS overcomes that by showcasing the value we offer
  • Using tools like Total Access Analyzer to catch errors before shipping and learning best practices
  • Using the module code in Total Visual SourceBook to address problems we’ve already solved so you can focus on the unique issues in your applications
  • The value of creating consistent, quality code
  • How to improve code for developers of all backgrounds
  • Being in constant “growth” mode to look for ways to become a better developer

FMS Inc. is proud of the quality of products we have produced for the past 30 years. We are honored to continuously be regarded as a leading expert in the Access community. Thank you for supporting us and we hope you enjoy the 20 minute interview!

 

Jan 05

Sean Hannity Radio Show Interview on Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Russian Hacking, and Cyber Warfare

sean-hannity-radioBackground

The day after an amazing personal interview of Julian Assange by Sean Hannity aired on his TV show, FMS President Luke Chung was invited to discuss the related technology on his radio show.

Hannity traveled to London to interview Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he’s seeking asylum. They discussed an overview of Assange’s role as founder of WikiLeaks, and their obtaining and publishing the emails from the Democratic National Committee the weeks before the US Presidential election. Some people attribute Hillary Clinton’s loss to the revelations in those emails especially from John Podesta, the former White House Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Clinton campaign. They are also accusing the Russians for hacking (stealing) and providing the data to Assange so Donald Trump could win the election.

Radio Show

On January 4, 2017, I was on the radio show with Sean Hannity and Brigadier General Eli Ben Meir, former Israeli Military Intelligence chief. The three of us discussed the WikiLeaks disclosures. I commented specifically on:

  • Cyber attacks and the security breach at OPM disclosed non-classified government employees and by omission who were covert at American Embassies globally.
  • Noting Julian Assange’s careful word choices to exclude Russia as source without excluding them as the ultimate source of his sources.
  • The need for WikiLeaks’ to keep their sources confidential and how they amplified the data from Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
  • Different approaches to preventing cyber attacks depending on the cause.
    “It’s one thing when someone steals your car because they broke into it. It’s another thing when someone steals your car because you left your keys in the ignition.”

Here’s the audio of the show:

My segment starts at the 6:50 mark. Sean and General Meir speak first, then I start around 9:25. Final comments at 14:15 and it wraps up by 14:50.

Additional Issues

Only a limited amount of information can be discussed in such a short interview. Some additional issues to consider are:

Data Security

Securing data over the internet and inside organizations is very challenging. Threats may come from:

  • External hacks that need to be monitored and defeated
  • Internal people who unintentionally leave the front door unlocked
  • Internal people who intentionally leak information

Different solutions are required for each type of threat. Some are at the software vendor, design, and developer level, while others involve end-user training, background checks, and monitoring.

Applications can be built so that simply disclosing a user name and password doesn’t compromise the whole system by require two-factor authentication and registering devices that can use those credentials.

Unfortunately, many systems were built well before today’s cyber threats existed. The cost of making those systems more secure without breaking their existing functionality will be daunting and expensive. In many cases, the original source code, development environment and/or vendor are long gone, so the only option is to replace them which is also very expensive and time consuming.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are Not Heroes

We need to keep in mind that the WikiLeaks exposed top secret US information by publishing the disclosures from Manning and Snowden. Lives were put at risk and lives may have been lost because of those publications. The Arab Spring was inflamed in part by the disclosure of diplomatic communications and one could argue the human tragedy in Syria is tied to this as well. While Republicans are celebrating and defending Assange and WikiLeaks now for the DNC emails, the tables may turn very quickly.

Data That’s Not Exposed May be More Dangerous

While many are focused on the DNC emails, it’s not unreasonable to assume the people who hacked that also got the RNC emails. Data can be power, and in the wrong hands, data can be used for nefarious purposes such as blackmail.

If the RNC data were compromised, we should be extremely worried if the hackers discovered it was more valuable to keep private than public. Whether they use it directly or sell it to another party or country, the information can make victims puppets by threatening the exposure of their personal data. It’s not uncommon during E-discovery of an email server to discover all sorts of inappropriate language, behavior and activity conducted by individuals in an organization. Disclosures of affairs, homosexual activity, underage sex, bribery, unethical business dealings, breeches of confidentiality, collusion, and actual crimes are often found in email threads and can be used for blackmail.

Additional Resources

Aug 24

Total Visual Agent Available for Microsoft Access 2016

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Total Visual Agent, the world’s most popular maintenance scheduling tool for Microsoft Access/Office and Visual Basic 6 (VB6) is now available for Microsoft Access 2016 (and earlier). This is the ninth major release of Total Visual Agent and introduces many enhancements to automate maintenance chores easier than ever.

To keep your Microsoft Access databases healthy, you need to regularly compact them. For disaster recovery, you should also be making backup copies of your database regularly. You may also have regular tasks such as printing reports that are performed regularly. Total Visual Agent does this and much more on a schedule you specify. Run tasks hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or just one time. Perform database chores, run Access macros or Windows command lines. A complete audit trail is maintained, and you can even be notified by email if something goes wrong. Total Visual Agent can also be run as a Windows service to restart if the machine reboots and for added security since a user doesn’t need to be logged in.

Total Visual Agent 2016 leverages our vast expertise, and offers the best database management solution with many new features:

Total Visual Agent

  • Supports Microsoft Access 2016
  • Supports Windows 8 and 10
  • Does Not Require Access to be Installed on your PC
  • Database Lock Error Identifies Offending Machines
  • Activity Log is Separated from Settings Database
  • Activity Log Shows Duration of Each Activity
  • Email Notifications Support TLS and Office365 SMTP
  • Tasks are Not Run at the End of an Event Interval
  • Enabled/Disabled Status Shown on the Event Form
  • More Robust Windows Service Feature
  • Improved Monitor Settings Tab
  • Default Location of Archive and Extract Folders Moved
  • Improved Setup Program
  • New user manual and help file
  • download-trial-blueand More…

Download the free trial version today!

Easily Define and Manage Events, Tasks, Databases and Folders

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