Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Mother, My Dear Mother...

1938 - 2014

Here is an excerpt from her eulogy:

Judy was born in Portland, ME [...]. Raised mostly in Hartford, CT, she spent a lot of time with relatives in Maine. She often spoke of her grandmothers, Nana Bea and Ma Curry. She lost her beloved brother, Jimmy when he was just 20 years old. They had a very special bond and throughout her life she shared her many memories of him.

She wed her truest friend and the love of her life, Quintin, in 1956. From 1958 to 1963 they had 3 children – James, Charles and Quinci. Judy always said she knew she wanted to have a family of her own.

Who She Was to Her Husband and Children

She was a survivor, of circumstances in her youth over which she had no control.  She took control of her life at an early age and created a life and family for herself.

She made our house feel like a real home.  She made curtains for our bedrooms, painted the rooms of the house vibrant colors, did paint-by-number paintings to decorate our walls.  When her kids were young, she would read magazines and get ideas for Christmas decorations. She could perfectly recreate anything she saw in those magazines, making glittery and colorful hanging mobiles above the stairs, decorations around door frames, wall hangings, paintings of Christmas scenes on the glass of the front storm door... she transformed our house into a magical Christmas Land!  We kids were “wowed” by her artistic talents; it seemed like she could do anything.

In the summer, she planted beautiful flowers, morning glories up the sides of the front porch, a rock garden with portulaca in the center of the lawn, Easter Lilies and Jack-in-the-Pulpit in front of the house, and she grew all sorts of indoor plants. She had a green thumb, and taught us kids how to grow things, too.  She and dad worked on the vegetable garden, giving us a bounty of vegetables in the summer, with enough to can for winter.

She always prepared delicious and balanced meals for us, and friends were always glad to stay for supper whenever they had the chance.  She also loved to bake.  As we got older, she insisted that we do our share of housework, such as showing us how to cook simple things, mend our clothes and do laundry. It wasn’t until we moved out that we realized she had taught us how to take care of ourselves, helping us to be self-sufficient and independent.

Judy had a rich sense of humor, even exchanging pranks with her kids and laughing when others may have scolded. Her love of animals and appreciation of nature have always been an important part of who she was.

She could be shy and retiring, a bit of a recluse, but when it was necessary to interact with a lot of people (as in the hospital), she would rise to the occasion, and be very sociable.  She used to knit afghans and sweaters for people, with bright colors and interesting patterns, and give them away.

She created a lot of beauty in our lives that we took for granted, thinking that's just how life was supposed to be. Then we went out into the world and found that it's not always that way. Someone has to be doing it, to be making that beauty.  And fortunately, we had a good example from our mother as to how that is done.

“She was my wife, and our mother, and we loved her, and to us the world was a better place just for her being in it.  Just knowing she was there was a great comfort, and her absence now is sorely felt.  We miss her, because she was a part of us, and still is, and always will be.”
She was suffering from pulmonary hyper-tension and a calcified heart valve. She underwent surgery to replace the heart valve, but her lungs were too compromised, and she did not recover from the surgery. She was removed from artificial life support on June 11th.

We had the funeral in September, and buried her remains in a family plot at a rural cemetery in Maine. I went back for the funeral, and haven't blogged much since. It's been a lot to take in. My sister read this poem at the burial ceremony:

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Of course, I cried when she read that poem. So did she. The service ended with a Baptist Minister reading a variation of the Consolation Prayer, which felt both devastating (as in "This is it") and comforting (even though I am not religious). Then the box of ashes was buried.

As much as we say things like "Mom will live on forever in our hearts", it's still not the same as having her here on earth with us. Getting used to that is the new reality.

The movie "Rabbit Hole" dealt with the topic of grief caused by the loss of a loved one. I remember one scene, where an adult daughter (Nichole Kiddman) who has lost her son, a small child, in a tragic accident, asks her own mother (Diane Weiss), who had also lost a son, if the pain ever goes away. Her mother says no, but...

That is perhaps what people mean by the phrase "time heals". I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot like that.

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Is the nearly extinct Northeast species of Republicans being brought back from the brink?

I once did a post about the demise of New England Republicans. It seemed like they were gone for good. But could it be they are making a comeback?

Return of the Northeastern Republican
[...] Republican political operatives say the gains the GOP is set to make are due to a convergence of causes. There is the fact that in the wave election year that 2014 seems poised to become, the party could win in even the most unexpected of places. There is the fact that in many of these states Democratic legislatures are entrenched, and voters are looking for a counterweight.

And finally, there is the fact that most of the culture wars have reached a stalemate. In Massachusetts, for example, Baker is running as a pro-choice, pro same-sex marriage Republican nominee. Other Republicans are similarly downplaying these hot-button issues of old, and pollsters say most voters see them now as settled matters. And so if two candidates are a wash on matters of civil rights, why not go for the guy who is going to cut your taxes?

“Republicans have just been putting together a more coherent message of change in New England,” said Will Ritter, a Republican political operative who worked on a number of statewide races in Massachusetts. “The Democrats’ message is what—‘Hey, it is not so bad?’ People look to candidates who have a business background, or at least have conservative underpinnings, when it looks like budgets are going off the rails.”

The major question for the Republican Party going forward is what all these Yankee newcomers will mean for its direction. The GOP has been at odds with itself as it tries to decide how to appeal to a diverse and changing electorate, and some Republicans think a handful of new voices from states not necessarily of the reddest hue could help the eventual 2016 presidential nominee.

“It takes a lot of Democrats to elect a Republican in one of these places,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster. “You can’t win otherwise. You broaden your base, you broaden your message, it shows that you really want to get things done. And we need do to that, not just racially but demographically.”
But will the Republican party welcome these blue-state Republicans, or will they shoot themselves in the foot (again!) by declaring them to be RHINOs and try to drum them out of the party with social issues litmus tests, insuring that the Republican Party remains small, with only limited appeal to a small minority of the vast demographic of voters? You can be sure that the latter is what the Democrats are hoping and praying for.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is Iran Our Allie Against ISIS?

Maybe. We have goals in common on that and other issues, and despite harsh anti-American rhetoric from the Iranian Government, the people of that country are often well disposed toward Americans:

The Truth About Iran: 5 Things That May Surprise Westerners
Since the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis of 1979, Iran has had antagonistic relations with the U.S. and other Western nations, with little official communication between heads of state, fierce rhetoric on opposing sides, and increasing sanctions.

Given this history, it's not surprising that many Westerners fail to appreciate ways in which Iran is a relatively advanced and even liberal state.

It certainly took me by surprise when I traveled there last year. [...]
Read the whole thing, for photos, embedded links and more.


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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Language learning, before and after puberty

One can learn a 2nd language, before or after, but the way the brain accomplishes that may change:

Why Can't I Speak Spanish?: The Critical Period Hypothesis of Language Acquisition
"Ahhhhh!" I yell in frustration. "I've been studying Spanish for seven years, and I still can't speak it fluently."

"Well, honey, it's not your fault. You didn't start young enough," my mom says, trying to comfort me.

Although she doesn't know it, she is basing her statement on the Critical Period Hypothesis. The Critical Period Hypothesis proposes that the human brain is only malleable, in terms of language, for a limited time. This can be compared to the critical period referred to in to the imprinting seen in some species, such as geese. During a short period of time after a gosling hatches, it begins to follow the first moving object that it sees. This is its critical period for imprinting. (1) The theory of a critical period of language acquisition is influenced by this phenomenon.

This hypothetical period is thought to last from birth to puberty. During this time, the brain is receptive to language, learning rules of grammar quickly through a relatively small number of examples. After puberty, language learning becomes more difficult. The Critical Period Hypothesis attributes this difficulty to a drastic change in the way that the brain processes language after puberty. This makes reaching fluency during adulthood much more difficult than it is in childhood.


Noam Chomksy suggests that the human brain also contains a language acquisition device (LAD) that is preprogrammed to process language. He was influential in extending the science of language learning to the languages themselves. (4) (5) Chomsky noticed that children learn the rules of grammar without being explicitly told what they are. They learn these rules through examples that they hear and amazingly the brain pieces these samples together to form the rules of the grammar of the language they are learning. This all happens very quickly, much more quickly than seems logical. Chomsky's LAD contains a preexisting set of rules, perfected by evolution and passed down through genes. This system, which contains the boundaries of natural human language and gives a language learner a way to approach language before being formally taught, is known as universal grammar.

The common grammatical units of languages around the world support the existence of universal grammar: nouns, verbs, and adjectives all exist in languages that have never interacted. Chomsky would attribute this to the universal grammar. The numerous languages and infinite number of word combinations are all governed by a finite number of rules. (6) Charles Henry suggests that the material nature of the brain lends itself to universal grammar. Language, as a function of a limited structure, should also be limited. (7) Universal grammar is the brain's method for limiting and processing language.

A possible explanation for the critical period is that as the brain matures, access to the universal grammar is restricted. And the brain must use different mechanisms to process language. Some suggest that the LAD needs daily use to prevent the degenerative effects of aging. Others say that the brain filters input differently during childhood, giving the LAD a different type of input than it receives in adulthood. (8) Current research has challenged the critical period altogether. In a recent study, adults learning a second language were able to process it (as shown through event related potentials) in the same way that another group of adults processed their first language. (9)

So where does this leave me? Is my mom right, or has she been misinformed? The observation that children learn languages (especially their first) at a remarkable rate cannot be denied. But the lack of uniformity in the success rate of second language learning leads me to believe that the Critical Period Hypothesis id too rigid. The difficulty in learning a new language as an adult is likely a combination of a less accessible LAD, a brain out of practice at accessing it, a complex set of input, and the self consciousness that comes with adulthood. This final reason is very important. We interact with language differently as children, because we are not as afraid of making mistakes and others have different expectations of us, resulting in a different type of linguistic interaction. [...]
I enjoyed this, because I'm attempting to learn Spanish, and I've been reading a lot about the differences in the ways children learn a 2nd language, compared to the ways adults learn. Both can be successful, but it's important to find the right approach, particularly for adults, I think. Read the whole thing, for the many embedded footnotes and reference links.

And if you think you are too old to learn a 2nd language, you should read these links too:

Why adults are better learners than kids (So NO, you’re not too old)

The linguistic genius of adults: Research confirms we’re better learners than kids!

Breaking Down the Language Barriers


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How to educate Americans for jobs

How to educate Americans for jobs? Ask the Germans, employers urge
INDIANAPOLIS — Two years. That’s how long it takes William Lankin’s fast-growing electrical contracting company to teach new hires with four-year university degrees the tricks of the trade.

These college grads “have learned the book stuff, but they don’t have real-world experience,” said Lankin, vice president of Industrial Electric. “They don’t know how to work with other people, or subcontractors — how to actually do business.”

Bringing them up to speed while paying them a salary is time-consuming and expensive, and even then there’s no guarantee that they’ll be good enough to keep. Which only complicates the original predicament: In spite of the still-soft job market, companies like Lankin’s can’t find enough qualified workers.

Now some hiring managers, a few policymakers, and a handful of community colleges are accepting help to solve this problem from an unexpected source: Germany

Through an initiative being quietly promoted by the German Embassy, U.S. colleges, which consider themselves part of the greatest higher-education system in the world, are importing the German model of career and technical education to keep up with a demand they can’t fill for skilled American workers.

“We said, ‘What is the best model?’” said Sue Smith, vice president for technology and applied sciences at Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College, which has teamed up with Lankin’s company to create a program for prospective employees based on what the Germans do.

“And, quite honestly, the German model is the best model.”

It consists of a so-called dual system of education and training that combines a few days a week of classroom instruction at vocational schools with on-the-job apprenticeships that are designed to lead to full-time jobs for which graduates are ready straight out of school. The German students also receive a form of credential called a certification qualification.

This simple setup keeps German industry humming, and youth unemployment down to about 8 percent — less than half of what it is in the United States — according to the German Embassy.

By comparison, routes to similar careers in the United States are convoluted and confusing, even as the need for workers to fill them escalates, a study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development found. [...]
Read the whole thing for embedded links, video and more. There are some interesting comments in the comments section.

This website has a seven minute video:

Skills Initiative: Enhancing German-American Cooperation on Workforce Training
The German Embassy in Washington, DC presents the Skills Initiative as one of the cornerstones of its work.

Through the Skills Initiative, the German Embassy is bringing together German and American businesses and local education/training providers with the aim of developing training programs best suited to businesses’ needs. The Embassy launched the Skills Initiative to identify and spread best practices in sustainable workforce development in the USA.

Now the Embassy, through Skills Initiative, is seeking cooperation with federal states, locally convening groups of German companies and bringing them together with training providers so that they can work on the best fit for training programs in their area. [...]

The video has some interesting comments by American students who are participating and learning career skills, about why it is such an attractive alternative to college.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Largest outdoor arts festival in North America

A Look Inside the Burning Man Festival
Burning Man, held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, is the largest outdoor arts festival in North America. It began August 25th and runs through Monday. Festival-goers attend from around the world to “dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance,” say organizers. Last year, 68,000 people attended the sold-out festival, which is now in its 28th year.

‘‘In all my travels, Burning Man is utterly unique,’’ Destin Gerek, an 11-year veteran who teaches Burning Man workshops on the ‘‘intersection of sexuality and spirituality,’’ told the Associated Press. ‘‘Absolutely nothing compares.’’
I'd rather look at it on the internet, than actually be there. A gigantic Artsy Fartsy, Hippy Arts and Crafts festival. With sex, drugs and rock and roll too I'm sure. And plenty of spectacles.

If you go to the page, and follow the "Next" link at the end of the text on the first page (or arrows on the edge of the photo), it will start you on a slide show of about 25 photos, with text underneath describing what you are looking at.

There were some interesting things. The Temple of Grace was nice, both in the daytime, and lit up at night. A very detailed, classic design, looked kinda like something from India. At night, electric lights were used in lots of creative ways on many of the exhibits.

There are more links about the festival at the bottom of the first page.

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"Preserving and expanding the world of sustainable order is the leadership challenge of our time"

Order vs. Disorder, Part 3
[...] Seidman looks at the world through the framework of “freedom from” and “freedom to.” In recent years, he argues, “more people than ever have secured their ‘freedom from’ different autocrats in different countries.” Ukrainians, Tunisians, Egyptians, Iraqis, Libyans, Yemenis to name a few. “But so few are getting the freedom we truly cherish,” he adds. “And that is not just ‘freedom from.’ It is ‘freedom to.’ ”

“Freedom to” is the freedom to live your life, speak your mind, start your own political party, build your own business, vote for any candidate, pursue happiness, and be yourself, whatever your sexual, religious or political orientation.

“Protecting and enabling all of those freedoms,” says Seidman, “requires the kind of laws, rules, norms, mutual trust and institutions that can only be built upon shared values and by people who believe they are on a journey of progress and prosperity together.”

Such values-based legal systems and institutions are just what so many societies have failed to build after overthrowing their autocrats. That’s why the world today can be divided into three kinds of spaces: countries with what Seidman calls “sustainable order,” or order based on shared values, stable institutions and consensual politics; countries with imposed order — or order based on an iron-fisted, top-down leadership, or propped-up by oil money, or combinations of both, but no real shared values or institutions; and, finally, whole regions of disorder, such as Iraq, Syria, Central America and growing swaths of Central and North Africa, where there is neither an iron fist from above nor shared values from below to hold states together anymore.

Imposed order, says Seidman, “depends on having power over people and formal authority to coerce allegiance and compel obedience,” but both are much harder to sustain today in an age of increasingly empowered, informed and connected citizens and employees who can easily connect and collaborate to cast off authority they deem illegitimate.

“Exerting formal power over people,” he adds, “is getting more and more elusive and expensive” — either in the number of people you have to kill or jail or the amount of money you have to spend to anesthetize your people into submission or indifference — “and ultimately it is not sustainable.” The only power that will be sustainable in a world where more people have “freedom from,” argues Seidman, “is power based on leading in a two-way conversation with people, power that is built on moral authority that inspires constructive citizenship and creates the context for ‘freedom to.’ ”

But because generating such sustainable leadership and institutions is hard and takes time, we have a lot more disorderly vacuums in the world today — where people have won “freedom from” without building “freedom to.”

The biggest challenge for the world of order today is collaborating to contain these vacuums and fill them with order. That is what President Obama is trying to do in Iraq, by demanding Iraqis build a sustainable inclusive government in tandem with any U.S. military action against the jihadists there. Otherwise, there will never be self-sustaining order there, and they will never be truly free.

But containing and shrinking the world of disorder is a huge task, precisely because it involves so much nation-building — beyond the capacity of any one country. Which leads to the second disturbing trend today: how weak or disjointed the whole world of order is. The European Union is mired in an economic/unemployment slump. China behaves like it’s on another planet, content to be a free-rider on the international system. And Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is playing out some paranoid czarist fantasy in Ukraine, while the jihadist world of disorder encroaches from the south.

Now add a third trend, and you can really get worried: America is the tent pole holding up the whole world of order. But our inability to agree on policies that would ensure our long-term economic vitality — an immigration bill that would ease the way for energetic and talented immigrants; a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would replace income and corporate taxes; and government borrowing at these low rates to rebuild our infrastructure and create jobs, while gradually phasing in long-term fiscal rebalancing — is the definition of shortsighted.

“If we can’t do the hard work of building alliances at home,” says David Rothkopf, author of the upcoming book “National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear,” “we are never going to have the strength or ability to build them around the world.” [...]
How ironic. "Nation Building" was supposed to be one of President Bush's mistakes, according to Democrats. Is it now coming back into fashion, because a Democrat is in the Whitehouse?

This article does say nation building is beyond the capacity of any one country to do. OK then, who does it? The U.N., which has never been able to do it? And perhaps more importantly, who pays for it, in a world where national budgets are already severely over-extended?

The article does a good job of identifying problems, but solutions are more elusive. And don't get me started on his wish-list for putting our own house in order. If it were that simple, we'd be doing it. But that's a whole another article, or at least way more than a few comments that I could make here.

One thing seems certain. The "world of sustainable order" has got it's work cut out for it.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

OSU: Languages and Small Farming

I was looking at on-line language learning classes, and discovered that Oregon State University has one of the best on-line language learning programs in the country: OSU Online Foreign Language Courses

I was also surprised to learn that they have a course about growing your own small farm or ranch:

Growing Farms: Hybrid Course for Beginning Farmers
[...] Growing Farms: Hybrid Course for Beginning Farmers teaches those new to farming how to plan and manage a farm, while giving them tools to produce and market farmed and raised goods. The course also encourages interaction and community building among participants, helping build a professional network among small farmers and ranchers.

While developing a whole-farm plan, participants will learn about sustainable practices and land stewardship. The course encourages farmers to see how small farms and ranches fit into our community’s economic and environmental success.

It's called a Hybrid course because it's partly on-line, and partly on-site. But the online portion is also available by itself.

Participants can enroll in the full course, which includes six learning modules and onsite sessions, or the modules-only option.

Online modules

The modules are interactive and feature audio and video. Participants will test their comprehension with short, ungraded quizzes throughout each module and create their own farm plan.

1.) Dream It – Planning
2.) Do It – Farming Operations and Equipment
3.) Sell It – Marketing
4.) Manage It – Finance, Administration and Personnel
5.) Grow It – Ecological Agricultural Production
6.) Keep It – Liability and Risk

Onsite sessions with cohort:

The total number of sessions, times, dates and locations have yet to be determined.

In addition to the online modules and onsite sessions, a social networking website will be developed for participants in both course options.

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"Provoking Emotions" = "Political Intolerance"

I guess it's good or bad, depending on if you are in power or not:

S. African President Walks Out of Parliament Amid Chaos
[...] Early this year, the public protector ordered Zuma to pay back to the state a portion of the $23 million used for security upgrades to the home. Zuma was in parliament to explain his response to the public protector’s report. “I have responded appropriately and I am saying people who did the upgrades at Nkandla, they are the ones who always determine who pays, when to pay,” he explained.

But the leader of the newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters, (EFF) Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ruling ANC partly for undermining Zuma’s authority, demanded a precise response. “The question we are asking today and we are not going to leave here before we get an answer, is when are you paying the money?” he stated.

When President Zuma insisted that he had already answered the question, there was commotion as EFF members refused to take instructions from the speaker of the House of Representatives.

It is at this point that Zuma decided to walk out. The speaker then temporarily adjourned parliament and called in riot police to eject EFF members, who violently refused and instead started chanting "pay back the money."

Chaos: scuffling, shoving

When it was time for parliament to resume, ANC members of parliament charged towards the EFF members, leading to a scuffle as they pushed and shoved each other.


The ruling ANC is now calling on parliament to slap the EFF members with the strongest sanction possible. In a strongly worded statement, the ANC warned the EFF not to provoke emotions, saying this could lead to political intolerance with dire consequences to the country’s democracy.
A bit ironic, that last statement. When the ANC was in political opposition, they did their share of provoking emotions. But now that they are in power, provoking emotions is a bad and dangerous thing.

Here is an earlier post I did, about the money issue the president is being questioned about:

What South African Taxpayer's Money Buys

I'm no fan of Julius Malema. But taxpayers everywhere have the right to question how the government is spending their tax dollars.

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USB Devices and Malware Attacks

New Flaws in USB Devices Let Attackers Install Malware: Black Hat
[...] In a blog post providing more insight into the talk, Nohl and Lell reveal that the root trigger for their USB exploitation technique is by abusing and reprogramming the USB controller chips, which are used to define the device type. USB is widely used for all manner of computer peripherals as well as in storage devices. The researchers alleged that the USB controller chips in most common flash drives have no protection against reprogramming.

"Once reprogrammed, benign devices can turn malicious in many ways," the researchers stated.

Some examples they provide include having an arbitrary USB device pretend to be a keyboard and then issue commands with the same privileges as the logged-in user. The researchers contend that detecting the malicious USB is hard and malware scanner similarly won't detect the issue.

I'm not surprised, and no one else should be, either. After all, this isn't the first time researchers at a Black Hat USA security conference demonstrated how USB can be used to exploit users.

Last year, at the Black Hat USA 2013 event, security researchers demonstrated the MACTANS attack against iOS devices. With MACTANS, an Apple iOS user simply plugs in a USB plug in order to infect Apple devices. Apple has since patched that flaw.

In the MACTANS case, USB was simply used as the transport cable for the malware, but the point is the same. Anything you plug into a device, whether it's a USB charger, keyboard or thumb drive has the potential to do something malicious. A USB thumb drive is widely speculated to be the way that the Stuxnet virus attacked Iran's nuclear centrifuges back in 2010. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly has similar USB exploitation capabilities in its catalog of exploits, leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

While the Security Research Labs researchers claim there are few defenses, the truth is somewhat different.

A reprogrammed USB device can have certain privileges that give it access to do things it should not be able to do, but the bottom line is about trust. On a typical Windows system, USB devices are driven by drivers that are more often than not signed by software vendors. If a warning pops up on a user's screen to install a driver, or that an unsigned driver is present, that should be a cause for concern.

As a matter of best practice, don't plug unknown USB devices into your computing equipment. It's just common sense, much like users should not open attachments that look suspicious or click on unknown links. The BadUSB research at this year's Black Hat USA conference is not as much a wake-up call for USB security as it is a reminder of risks that have been known for years


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Is Google Plus the next Borg? IMO, it's TMSTDW

It sure looks like they are angling to be! I found this video kinda funny, kinda creepy:

It was kinda informative too. It certainly nailed Facebook's faults. But I'm not ready to jump onto Google+ either. And if the video is right, I won't have to, because it will be inevitable...

I remember the early days of PCs and the internet. I would get tired of it and take a break from them for days at a time, sometimes even a week or more. My life did not revolve around the internet or the computer.

Now, I go on-line at least once a day, for the weather report, if nothing else. I usually glance at the news headlines on Google as well, just to get a glimpse of what's happening in the world. It's faster than watching TV, listening to the radio or reading a newspaper. It saves time!

Convenience. Speed and convenience. A quick way to get the information you seek. And there is much education and entertainment content too. A nice place to visit, but I still wouldn't want to live there almost 24/7. The internet's a good thing, but even so, too much of a good thing isn't necessarily a good thing.

What made me even look at this was, an online class I was interested in. The teacher wanted the students to sign up with Google+, because that was her primary mode of communicating with them (using something called "Hangouts"). So I tried to find out more about Google+. And my opinion of it so far is: TMSTDW (Too Much Sh*t To Deal With). But of course, if it's inevitable, I won't have to learn it, I can just wait until it assimilates me. ;-)

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