Tag Archives: Technology

Here is the cat, and here is the bag…

When I was High School, I had the fun of going to Vo-Tech to study computers.  My teacher decided it was my time to learn some problem-solving skills.  He presented me with a computer that would not work.  It could be software, it could be hardware, and it could be the outlet.  Simply put he told me to fix it and I was given a short time period to give him a report.  I tried turning it on, to no avail, I looked at the outlet and saw the power to the monitor and computer was plugged in.  The monitor worked so the outlet was getting power.  After staring at the computer, I shrugged my shoulders and returned to him to express my enigma.  We walked over and turned the computer around to show me the power cord was unplugged.  I was embarrassed, but he took that opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson.  When you are trying to solve a problem, always start at the root and work your way out.

When the Aurora shootings happened, I had thought about writing about the incoherent rantings of some experts about social media and video games.  Because we all know, inanimate objects tell their users what to do with their lives.

Actually, I do contend if video games had that power over users, this world we be a better place.  Because I cannot tell you how many times I have saved the world, helped others and saved more money then I knew what to do with, in most video games I play.

Oh well…

Of course with Aurora came the call for more gun laws and as usual I tried to ignore the coverage.  For me I find most of the coverage grating, filled with experts who provide more FUD then good insight and knowledge.  And it is not that the experts are not qualified to talk about the subjects they are called upon to give insight, it is the fact that a fresh incident cannot be commented on that quick.  And it is not that much fun to watch people conjecture about what laws we should make, and what thing we should ban when an incident like Aurora happens.

There are certain issues in the country I may have opinions about, but talking about those issues are futile.  One such is the laws governing guns.  Not that this is something that may or may not affect us all, but because I find the arguments ground in the middle of the sun.  Both sides are so far away from reality that I cannot find myself supporting either side, because of lack of reality.  It’s when I read something like this:

So, can you print a gun? Yep, you can and that’s exactly what somebody with the alias “HaveBlue” did.

I have to pause and see if people will accept reality, or simply still argue their points.

Sadly, they are still arguing their points…

3D Printers are starting to gain traction in the mainstream.  3D Printers are a technology that allows you, in the convenience of your own home, produce items with all sorts of materials (mainly plastic) right now.  The technology is not exactly new but it is now picking up steam.  3D Printers are very tantalizing to my passion, game design, as it allows me to create board games for lower prices and from the comfort of my own home, versus outsourcing that side of production.

What 3D Printers represent is the idea Star Trek presented with Replicators.

“No more shipping huge amount of products around the world,” according to the blog post. “No more shipping broken products back. No more child labor. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people. We’ll be able to share not only a recipe, but the full meal.”

This technology is going to change our world in the near future.  Revolution here we come.

Getting back to guns, the reality is the cat has been out of the bag for a long time, if you want to make a gun, you can, albeit a slow or long process depending on what you want to make.  Now with 3D Printers people are experimenting and succeeding at making low cost guns.  Now the catch right now is they are not able to make certain parts of the gun yet.  However, eventually this technology will allow anyone to print any type of object they want to, with the right materials at a cheap price.  The reality is passing a new law or hoping for people to change is wishful thinking.  People will find ways to do what they want, regardless of laws.

As has been shown over and over again, there will be calls for regulations and bans.  In addition, the business this type of technology disrupts will be forefront in calling for its ban and regulation.  And such is life.

The real question is there a solution to problems such as Aurora.  That answer is not as simple.  However, with problems like Aurora we seem to want to place blame on everything but the root cause.   Sure plenty of things could have contributed to why someone decides to commit crimes but still the root lies at them choosing to do such a thing.  And blaming the shoe maker, will not do much to stem nor solve similar crimes from happening.


Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Technology


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Rant: I don’t want your app…

The other night I picked up my phone and clicked on Pulse.  Pulse is a web reader designed for mobile that lets you pick your favorite sites and get their content.  You can separate your news sources by topic and tab and for the most part has replaced the newspaper for news in my life.   I get to peruse through stories from all over the web and world in a nice convenient format.  Most of the time, the stories will be teasers on the major newspaper sites and I have to click on a “Read More…” link.  Some sites are nice enough to allow me to read the whole story in Pulse app.  Lately though I have been noticing some rather bothersome behavior from clicking the “Read More…” links.

Usually when a story gets my attention and I choose to read the story I get taken to the site’s website and with my phone’s generous screen size, even sites that don’t have mobile counterparts are very readable.  Nevertheless, for some reason I have noticed more and more sites have cut me off from even that choice, instead offering me a 404 unreachable page.  And if they let me reach the main site, some news sites have gone as far as giving a teaser on the website itself, choosing to cut main content off by a paywall.  For those who do not know what a paywall is, it is a website that does not allow you to view content without paying first for access.

For a geek like me these paywalls are usually no problem.  First a well known story will be available at other places and when it becomes necessary I have my ways to bypass the wall.  To be honest though, the paywall doesn’t bother me as much as the newest behavior that has become prevalent , the pushing of the app.  I am probably late to this game, but I am noticing more and more newspapers pushing their custom app to deliver their news.

To this, I say No Thank You.

There is one thing I liked about technology and that is making it work to my needs.  When I want to do my daily reading I rely on software and apps like FeedDemon and Pulse.  It allows me to go to start one piece of software to get more done and thus saving me a lot of time.  The reason I use these apps because they work brilliantly for my life, and as far as I can tell do for many other people.

This is not even a rant against paying for content, but for being able to use said content the way I want to.  If I found one of my favorite sites for information decided to go behind a paywall, I might gladly pay for said content but I want it delivered my way.  To me installing an app for each site I read would be insanity.  For those who still do not understand it would be like having to buy a TV for each channel you want to watch.

Imagine the fun of having a specifically branded TV that only allowed you to watch one channel!

That also brings up the other issue I have, that is the old does not want to work with the new.  Many times, sometimes on a daily basis I am reminded how the established does not want to change or work with the new.  We have seen this is music, movies, books and more established industries.  People now have choices where before they did not.  Moreover, the response to this loss of control has been clamping down to the detriment of the buying public.  While this might seem to be a solution, it just cuts off the old from the new and eventually will be their undoing.

It is truly ironic when you think about it, the only way the public can consume something is for said products to made and displayed to be chosen.  Locking down, and forcing people to make choices you want to them to make is not usually met with favorable opinion.  Consumers have so many choices that one less choice is not going to harm them, and the market is already filling the gaps of those who refuse to change and adapt.

And by the way, I still don’t want their app.

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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Technology


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It was a perfect storm of almost farcical proportions. Almost anything that could go wrong, did go wrong: Kids who exaggerated what they saw on Julie Amero’s screen. A school principal who overreacted and called the cops when an administrative rebuke would have been sufficient. An IT administrator who was dangerously out of touch. A DA who overreached in applying a felony charge to what was at worst a misdemeanor. A police computer forensics “expert” who was anything but, and a defense expert who was even worse. And Amero herself, more clueless about technology than the students she was supposed to teach.

As with many subjects, background is needed and this one needs as much as any.  Moreover, this is probably one of the most important issues for anyone who is involved in education.  If you are a Teacher, Administrator or have a child in a school, you need to understand this issue.  The issue is the application of the Internet in our classrooms and policies towards the use of technology in our schools.

I became aware of Julie Amero’s case and situation a few years ago actually after taking security courses at college.  It was jarring, to say the least, but not surprising.  It was a case of all parties involved not having a clue about technology, a clue about the Internet and fear.  It was a story of people in power, not understanding technology.  Moreover, it was a story of overreaction by those in power who did not understand what they were dealing with.

One day at school…
On October 19, 2004, Julie Amero was a substitute teacher who had just come to work, another teacher had logged her into the classroom computer, as she had no login id.  She left the room to use a bathroom, when she came back to her horror, pornography images had begun popping up and never stopped.  She tried to stop them but as she did more and more and more replaced each one.  Instead of doing what most would have done, which was power off the computer, she told the Vice Principle of the incident.  She did not turn off the computer, because she had no knowledge of computers, and it was against school policy.  She had sought out help during the day, but was told pop-ups were normal; No one ever came to her aid to help.  She also turned the monitor away from students eyes, but this was to no avail.  She would let the Principle know of the issue the next day.

Once students let their parents know of the issue the situation exploded.  Julie found herself charged and looking at real jail time.

What went wrong
In the beginning of the investigation no care was paid to what caused the porn pop-ups to start.  As far as investigators and the school were concerned, Julie had been surfing porn sites all day and exposed minors to pornographic material.  The truth was far from that simple.

Not because of the district, or investigator intervention, but outside of the school district the real truth came out.  The school IT Administrator never updated the anti-virus software, which was a trial version of the software.  The network also did not have a proper firewall.  The cause of the porn pop-ups was discovered to be the work of malware, which upon activation would non-stop flood the computer with porn images.

The school did not have the knowledge, nor had a qualified professional in their IT department.  The school was also looking to wash their hands of the matter.  The detective who investigated the case had little understanding of Browser technology and relied upon network security experts who could not prove Julie had intentionally caused the pop-ups.  In the end Julie was initially found guilty in her court case and facing a prison sentence of 40 years.  It wasn’t until an outside security expert stepped in and proved that the prosecution had overlooked a lot of facts in pursuit a conviction.

In the end Julie was granted a new trial, ending with a disorderly conduct guilty plea, $100 fine and had to forfeit her teaching credentials.

Lessons not learned
When I first discovered the case and read through all the opinions I was as outraged as many others were.  There was so many things that came together to create a perfect storm of fallacies in this case.  If it were not for an outside security expert doing voluntary work, the facts of the case would have never come to the light of day.  It also highlighted to me that we still have those in power who do not have the basic understanding on technology and what can be done to innocent people through malware.

Almost 15 years ago one of my friends went through a nearly similar incident.  Now his incident was not dealing with pornography, but something as serious.  His friend had hacked into the New Jersey State Police and proceeded to give all the police officers records.  The investigation led to the police interviewing my friend about software he gave his friend at the time.  This software could be used for illegal activity, but at the time its favored use was to ping computers to find out connection speeds for game servers.  Because my friend had given the software to his friend, police were interested in the software and what it was used for.  My friend co-operated and gave them all the information they needed.  At first the police told my friend that he was in no trouble being he had co-operated and did not do the hacking personally.  A week later the police decided the rules had changed and my friend was now an accessory to the crime.  Being a minor, he was given probation and community service.

What I learned then was that those in authority did not have a grasp on technology, nor how it worked.  A decade after my friends community service, the case of Julie Amero proved that those in power still didn’t understand the technology they were dealing with.  Not even Julie herself understood how a computer worked, or how to turn off the computer.

What prosecutors failed to see was that they were dealing with malware that was a Porn Trap.  That is malware that is intended to infect the computer with a Internet browsing history of porn websites.  For those that may ask why such malware would exist, this malware could be used to destroy someone’s career in any public position from educators to politicians.  As seen with Julie it almost did.  This is one of the reasons I am never quick to judgment when reading stories about people caught with child-porn or similar situations.  Unless there is substantial, concrete evidence, you can never be sure about guilt or innocence.

Still not getting it
On Friday I plan on going to into detail with what is happening in our own local schools with this issue and how it can possibly happen to any parent or educator in our schools today.

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Technology


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Thoughts for a cell

As a friend the other day lamented life, I think today I’m going to do the same thing.

lament  (ləˈmɛnt)   — vb 1. to feel or express sorrow, remorse, or regret (for or over)   — n 2. an expression of sorrow 3. a poem or song in which a death is lamented

Again, as seems to be happening with each article, I have a thought and then something changes that thought.  I had been thinking about the subject of online commentary and why anonymous musings online are not “evil.”  However, as with any given thought I have, things change.  I sometimes wish I could just turn off my brain and stop reading.  I sometimes bemoan the fact that my mind is curious to read and understand both sides of an argument.  Even if I did turn the computer off and walk outside, I probably would talk to the birds and try to figure out why they are doing what they do.  Because of my nature, I want to understand and come to conclusions.  Moreover, sometimes those conclusions are scary.

This is not to say I’m always right about those conclusions.  Moreover, I sometimes wish the conclusions I do come to were not true.  Today is no different.

“Google and other search engines should take steps to ensure that their websites are not used as vehicles to breach the law and should actively develop and use such technology. We recommend that if legislation is necessary to require them to do so it should be introduced.”

In other Google privacy news, the search giant has been forced to suspended part of its autocomplete function in Japan after complaints that it violates users’ privacy.

The case was brought after an unidentified man claimed he had been associated with crimes he did not commit; when links related to crimes committed by someone with the same name appeared when typing his name into Google.

According to the BBC, the man’s lawyer said his client had found it difficult to get work because of the impact the association had on his reputation.

Up front, I have to admit I do not understand Japan’s culture completely.  In addition, as much as I know about the UK (big fan of Britcoms and Doctor Who) it would safe to say that not living there makes it hard to make judgments on culture.  However, I do know what Super Injunctions are.

For those who may not see the video, or want to sit through advertisement, a Super-Injunction in Britain is a court order that blocks society from talking about whatever the injunction had been granted for.  What I do not understand in culture, I certainly understand in technology and ignorance of technology.  And more so then just the cultural impact it has on foreign lands, the very real impact it has on our land and our daily lives.

I think the best place to start with ignorance is understanding.  Google’s autocomplete is not a technology that is unique to them.  Autocomplete is used in all sorts of software to help users save time by guessing and completing words for the user.  Where the words comes from is dependent on how the software is programmed.  As I type this in Microsoft Word, the software will auto-correct my words for me based on the dictionary.  In terms of Google, the search engine has a database of words that commonly used with other words built from the words people search for.  Also stored is our own searches on our own computer that do not come from Google’s servers.  On top of all that, the search engine also has a spell checker, that auto corrects spelling errors for us.  The weight of how what results are chosen to guess your typing is done by what is called an algorithm.

al·go·rithm [al-guh-rith-uhm]


a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor.

As evil as you may think Google is, the search engine does determine these results.  In fact it’s not in their best interest to.  Their commodity is giving you the results you seek.  We can argue advertising and paid results some other day, but their number one goal is to make searching easier for the end user.  If they frustrate the end user, they will lose page views.  Remember YaWHO?  Okay you get the point.

The point to all this is to explain that Google has very little to do with what results are ultimately displayed to you the end user.

I don’t ___ it
Going back to my article on commenting, yes the one where I rambled on and on and on.  As many issues surrounding commenting there are, there is one thing I do understand concretely.  It is a truth that never changes; every generation has an older generation that cannot understand the younger generation.

The younger and old generations clash the most because they see each other as wrong.  So in a war of words ignorant thoughts are thrown out.   The older generation complain that their side is the best because it is “reverent” and done every week the same way therefore it must be good.  They rail against the beat and instruments of the youth, make connotations, and allure to the devil in these new beats.  The ignorance they blissfully ignore is history.  They cannot see that these same arguments were used against their traditions and constants long before.    In an ironic twist, their age is not old enough to see the folly.

The youth in turn rail against the older generation as being wrong.  In turn losing out what could be learned from the past and understanding the history of music.  In this, both sides miss out on what could learned from both, choosing to condemn each other.  At the end of the day, books are written condemning the sides and no true understanding is reached.
– Unknown.

And further back I wrote about the situation at Daniel Boone High School.  One of the reasons I wrote this, piece you are reading, was the continued jeremiad the superintendent at Daniel Boone seems to be continuing.  One thing that “struck” me after writing that post was the fact that it is known who posted the comments.  While I am a staunch defender of online privacy, I am not when it comes to protecting speech that harms.  It is why we have laws that prevent people from yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.  If there are truly threatening speech intending to do harm to others I can’t see how Facebook would stand in the way of an investigation.  I can’t even see it being a privacy issue.  However, if this is the case of boys being boys, then is there an issue.

I have no issue with punishing those who cry wolf if alternative motives.  What I have a problem with is leadership and authority that use the cries of wolf to push an agenda.  What scares the older generation about the younger right now is the fact that it is becoming clear the older generations have no care to change their ways.  They refuse to except to accept the fact that the realities of life are changed and are outright scared of what is happening.  It’s not that this is some new phenomenon that is occurring.  It has happened before but with a twist.  The twist is we are becoming a worldwide community now.  The reigns of control that the older generations had, or were used to, are completely and utterly obliterated.

While the youth are coping with a constant barrage of changes to their life every year, month and sometimes every day, the older generations are, (it seems) completely at a loss as to how to cope.  Often fumbling their way through this transition as show below.

WARNING: Not Safe For Work (NSFW) viewing

A Scary _____

The district’s website describes the forum as an opportunity to “educate the community on issues of tolerance, diversity and respect” and that the intent of the evening will be to “update the community on the results of our security efforts at the high school and to hear thoughts on how we can partner with the community to address the issues of tolerance and diversity from this point forward.”

Moreover, this is where some conclusions I am seeing be made actually scare me, and should scare everyone.  The one thing that did not exist before was the ability for thought to be expressed by anyone and everyone 24/7.  The Internet has given us all an outlet to express our mind.  Those thoughts that used to be kept to ourselves are no longer private.  With Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to express our moment to moment thoughts.  The openness of the Internet is allowing us to experience culture of other countries.  It means we are starting to share thoughts openly and thoughts not always from our own culture.  Thoughts our present culture may not know or understand.

This is an observation I made a long time back because of watching British comedies.  Many times the characters will use terms that in the US we would have problems with and some we would never have a clue were mean.  One such word is Fag; in the UK, the word is slang for cigarette, as many know it has a different meaning here in the US.  What happens when a younger person makes a comment about taking a drag on a fag in our culture?  One would hope we have leadership in place when these situations arise to make correct judgments.

For Daniel Boone leadership bemoans technology and that which it does not understand.  Going back to my early thought about the comments being boys being boys, the words may have been nothing more than words.  I do not question the judgment call for safety over chance; increasing security was the right call.  However, if no violence entails the comments does that mean the security measures have worked or is it the fact that threats were empty words made by boys acting on testosterone?  I’m sure decision makers will point to increased security as a solution, but I could go on a limb and say that the number of bugs in the air increased the day of the threats and decreased the next day.  Thus proving the controlling the population of bugs outside a school is the ultimate form of security.  The truth is I’m off on a tangent and without careful consideration of all facts the real meaning of there being no violence at the school has no meaning.

Moreover, when the head of authority at said school, bemoans technology and pursues a personal side tangent, the trust of said authority is called into question.  The problem with all this thought is that we as human beings do not control it.  We control what we say, what we do with thought, but what we think is not always as controlled.  In addition, here comes the paradox: While we are still taught to control what we do and say, we now have a new temptation.  Those who are younger will struggle with this control and freedom of expression.

Now this is the place where things get scary.  As I explained before the phrase “For the children…” should be banned and this is why.  Children spouting testosterone is one thing, but jumping to the conclusion that a whole community has an issue is a scary thought.  And it brings into question why an issue doesn’t stay the threat level it is.  If the issue, and root cause, is teenagers making threats then bringing those in line with rules is one thing.  Talking to their parents and assessing what the teenager’s environment might have contributed it another one.  That is to say this is addressing the root cause of the problem.  Jumping to the conclusion, and bemoaning, Facebook is a leap that can’t be made.  Facebook is a tool, one could use the same criteria and say that sending these teenagers to school was the problem and therefore schools should be curtailed.

I’m saying it: Gary Otto was yelling at a mirror in the Facebook rant.

However, beyond this local issue you have the greater issue of what this means for society.  As pointed out with Google earlier, there are those that have an ignorance of technology and how it works.  This ignorance is being used for alternative motives and agendas.  Some of it simply those with money and power can’t understand how their former power doesn’t work anymore.  For the UK, the thought that one can’t stop the Internet is a foreign concept for the older generation.  However, when it comes to Governments, we are watching and being shown in the last few years that technology is being used to overthrow and bring down authority.  In addition, simply pulling a switch is not enough anymore, as pointed out with the Raspberry Pi, shutting down communication, even turning off power, is no longer enough to control people.  This freedom is scary to some.

One might think this does not happen here, but surprisingly it has been and is still going on.  Nevertheless, that will be for another article (SOPA FAQ time.)

The question I am left with is when those in power and authority become scared of technology, what measures will they use to stop it.  And what side tangents will be used to prove their case.  What happens when the realization that thoughts can’t be controlled and people are truly free to express themselves.  What will happen then?

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Technology


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Those that wait…

One of the sites on my daily read list is techdirt.  At home, on my desktop, I use a program called FeedDemon to read my daily news, on the go I have Pulse for my phone.  I simply take the site suggestions that the programs give me or plug in my own RSS links and the program by schedule delivers the new posts on each site for my reading consumption.  In many ways you could say these programs are my newspaper.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying I grew up with newspapers.  My father had a subscription to a local paper and every day, whether before school or after I would read the paper.  I remember the touch, feel and look of the paper.  There is something nostalgic to those memories.  I think it would be safe to say reading the newspaper was sort of an institution, something passed down to every generation to be enjoyed.  But then something interesting happened, the Internet was born.  And over the course of it’s beginnings it would change a lot of things.  None the least was the newspaper institution.

While slow to start as soon as the Internet starting gaining public acceptance gaming and tech(nology) news sites starting popping up.  In the mid-90s these sites were the counter-culture to print media.  They offered up to the minute real time content that couldn’t be matched in print.  And so in turn print magazines started falling to wayside finding it difficult to transition to this new reality.  The interesting turn of events was that print media didn’t know what to do with open freedom the Internet gave people.  Instead of the control the old media once had, things were more open and in turn brought competition.  Instead of people being slave to print and what an editor wanted to present to the public, print was turning into obsolete news the minute it was printed.

The other interesting thing was how print media couldn’t figure out how to deal with unlimited advertising.  Whereas print had the confining options of space where advertising could be put, online media had the opposite problem, boundless advertising.  Which as many know, and have seen, many sites still don’t have a grasp on.  And this isn’t the only problem.

Newspapers only serve up news that serves them and their interests.  One thing I don’t think I will ever turn to a newspaper for is tech and gaming news.  It is one of the reasons I gave up on the nightly news.  I’m not looking to be fed only things that those in a news room care about but my interests also.  And while one could argue this is the way it’s always been, I question why?  The problem lies right before us, that newspapers haven’t changed with the times and thus are loosing their impact on daily lives.  And in doing so have let others fill in gaps not realizing they are now the future of the media and leaving the old guard to the wayside.  One of the big positives going for newspapers is local news and with the rise of blogs even that hat they could hang their head on is evaporating.

Newspapers are now trying to save themselves by locking themselves down and as techdirt pointed out it’s a failing proposition:

I’ve spent years detailing why these kinds of paywalls don’t work. The short version is that for most newspapers, they just can’t sign up enough users to make it worthwhile. But, more importantly, paywalls actually make the paper less valuable. That’s because lots of people these days read news as part of a collaborative process, in which they want to share what they’re reading via things like Twitter and Facebook. Setting up a paywall makes that a lot harder and a lot more annoying. That makes those publications a lot less valuable in general to readers who can no longer share. On top of that, the paywall shrinks the visits and page views drastically, cutting off the (growing) online advertising opportunities.

The other thing to point out is that as time goes by newspapers are losing the opportunity to control the last advantage they have: To control the reading experience.  This is same for the book industry.  One of the biggest arguments against new technology is experience.  Those who don’t care for technology and e-readers often say it doesn’t feel right, doesn’t look right.  Even ignoring the positives (unlimited books in a small package) their argument is starting to lose flavor because of the industry ignoring those things that could have saved them.

About three years ago I was turned onto e-ink technology.

I looked at a couple videos like this and one my first thoughts was how this could be used for books and newspapers.  Imagine a device that you could folder up and carry with you that would be update it’s content on demand.  Newspapers and books could be reborn with this kind of technology and it isn’t to say they won’t, but have they?  Just to satisfy curiosity I looked up the new developments on e-ink and flexible displays and found these:

Instead this is what is being introduced to a whole new generation of readers:

Amazon Kindle

And there lies the problem, the old media is now losing the last thing that could save it.  Now this isn’t to say it doesn’t have a chance to sway public opinion, but as this information revolution continues the public is becoming used to the new ways of life.  Because of waiting, fear and non-understanding of the current changes, the public is becoming accustomed to consuming their media in new ways that will become the new standards coming out of this revolution.  By standing by the side, not influencing change and hoping things will stay the same, new standards are aloud to take control thus helping to continue the irrelevance and downfall of the old.  And the locking down of content is only accelerating this end conclusion.

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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Technology


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Ignorance of the heart…

I had wanted to start with some other subjects but as always some other subject rears its ugly little head.  But turning things into a positive this is a great gateway into other subjects I want to eventually cover on this blog.  Two days ago news broke of the slur incident at Daniel Boone High School.  Racial slurs were written on bathroom rooms and there was legitimate concern of real violence at the school.  No problem there from what I see the school did the appropriate thing.  But it wasn’t that in itself which peaked my interest it was what Garry Otto, Superintendent of the school district said:

“That’s the problem with Facebook, there’s no accountability for what you say,”

Then add to that this statement in another article:

“I wish the social media would start to police their own,” he said. He noted that he recently heard Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg is now a billionaire. He suggested he put some of that money into policing Facebook.

“You know what Mark, why don’t you start something called ‘Safebook,’” Otto said. “When you see garbage like (what students may have been posting), you should be kicking kids off Facebook, shutting (their accounts) down.”

“It’s a great thing, Facebook, (but) as great as it is, on the other side of the coin, obviously, it’s led to a lot of negative situations and freedom for kids to bully and say what they want,” Otto said.

Those diatribes on the subject of Facebook did it for me and so born forth a child in this article you are reading.  As with all things I stepped back and before letting anger over ignorance, of what I was reading, set in I wanted to let this subject sit in my mind for a while. With all things I want to be open to being wrong, because let’s face it we all are humans and make wrong assessments of situations.  But I also don’t like off the cuff opinions being made without rebuttal.  Especially when opinions are thrown into an already emotional situation.

I have to admit I don’t know Gary Otto nor how well his policies have or have not worked.  But what I do know is the computer world, or at least what all these years of working with these computer type things have taught me.  I have a degree in Information Technology and have been around computers since I was in elementary school.  I also know a thing when it comes to security, having dabbled in White and Black Hat arenas.  In computer and network security there are two types of hackers those who were the Black Hat type (bad actors who do bad things,) and those that are White Hats (good actors who try to set the bad right.)  There is a third but that is questionable (Grey Hats.)

I had so much interest in the subject I had thought about going into security, possibly looking at Government work.  I took a network security course at college which confirmed a lot of what I already knew.  It also confirmed some fears I had, that ethical hacking (the White Hat stuff) was frowned upon by organizations, but at the same necessary to learning the security world.  To be network security specialist you have to know the Black Hat arena and know the enemy to combat them.  That takes understanding of fun terms like Honey Pots.  Honey Pots are a security trap based on that ever famous bear (Winnie the Pooh.)  The idea is to put out fake data in a semi-secure spot, data that disguises itself as something very lucrative to the hackers.  Then when they grab the data you have them caught red handed and they have useless data.  It’s a virtual version of the dye packs used by banks.  The other fun thing you learn about security is threat assessment.

And here’s a fun fact: Network security is very similar to real world security.

So going back to the situation at hand one might already see where I have issues with Otto’s jeremiad against the “evils” of Facebook.  It shows a lack of knowledge on his part of the state of technology in this day and age.  Hate to break it to some people, but we are in the midst of revolution and leadership who don’t understand that fact are ignorant.  And this can be a danger in itself, because of helping situations they can harm situations also.  This is a subject I’m going to cover in more topics as this blog goes on but let’s look specifically at the situation here.

The problem doesn’t lie in the assessment to protect children from harm, the problem lies in not understanding the technology that could help.  Going back to what I laid out in terms of network security Facebook in this instance is the Honey Pot.  Students freely posted information that could leave them with dye-stained hands and instead of embracing this fact we have a leader lamenting the “evils” of technology, ignorant to the benefits.

I can’t tell you how many times I had to laugh to myself when someone pointed out the evils of some new technology like Youtube.  What sometimes fails to be mentioned is that while kids may be following trends they see, they are also posting publicly their crimes which is sometimes surprising.  In the day and age of openness we have children who are freely admitting crimes and giving all the evidence police could have ever dreamed of.  And to top it off they can’t even claim privacy when they make it public.

I’m not going to sugarcoat things, there are negatives with technology.  Like all things technology needs to be balanced with other parts of our lives.  And I do see how social media has accelerated peer pressure like never before.  But there are two things hard pressed to forget.  Again people publicize their transgressions for the whole world to see freely.  And second when has peer pressure not existed.  Is someone going to tell me that huffing didn’t spread in the 80s because of lack of social media?  What about drug abuse?  Seems to me that humans were good at social media way before social media existed.

The other thing I never have understood in the crusade against the “evils” of technology how people don’t understand that these thoughts have always existed.  What people share in social media have always existed in human’s minds.  If you don’t understand then read about the Milgram Experiment.


Yes I know the experiment is about authority.  But here’s the point: In all that time since the first experiment think about how much of society has changed.  With all the push for political correctness, treating everyone equal, the quest for a better world people still pushed the button.  Lamenting that Facebook should be policed because people are expressing thoughts you don’t like, shows lack of understanding of the present age, let alone the lack of knowledge of the human condition.  It also shows poor leadership.

At least not all cases show such ignorance.  But still as has been pointed out we need leaders who understand the day and age and the future who can address these problems head on.  The ultimate problem is we have leaders who aren’t leaders.

As spelled out here, which summed up how I feel when I read these stories:

This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.

In other words:

Born leaders
That follow, floating with the tide


Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Technology


Tags: , , , ,

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