Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's that sound?

Before it was hacking, it was phreaking. Phone phreaking was the term for the action and the people who hacked the phone system to make calls anywhere....everywhere. There were many possible ways into the old Ma Bell phone system. You could try to tie into someone's line using a lineman's phone or by using certain tones that resonated at 2600 Hz. in fact, during the sixties, a Captain Crunch cereal toy was given away and it just happened to resonate at that frequency. Later, boxes, called blue boxes, were made by many techies in the seventies and early eighties. Steve Jobs was one of those techies that made and sold them. Depending on what method you chose you could get through the phone system and discover new lines, numbers that shouldn't exist but did, and make calls for free.  Another common way, especially in the days of not caring about what happens to your trash, people would dumpster dive and pick up reams of info from phone companies or businesses.
The reason, I am writing about this is that Boing Boing had a post about a parody song about Phone Phreakers and I got all nostalgic. Give a listen and enjoy.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

This looks great!

For over ten years I have taught computers and software to anyone who would listen. This movie could have been just a bunch of "funny haha look at seniors being dumb" but it really isn't. From the trailer you get a feeling of connection, understanding and just overall hope. One of my goals in my teaching career has always been to get people excited about the possibilities of technology and to never talk down to a person who knows less about it than you. This movie seems to highlight this. You see teens helping seniors, not just in the basic functions, but becoming a true net citizen.
I am definitely looking forward to this.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

That escalated quickly

A while back I did a lecture on geek culture. We talked a lot about memes for their shortcuts of communication. This is a really fantastic primer of where theses memes come from. Take a few minutes and enjoy the video. I did.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Worry about the right things

Many people worry about getting hacked or having their info taken. Although this does happen, it is the other lesser known activities that are going to get you taken advantage of. Let me introduce you to two versions of an ATM skimmer. These are very convincing fakes placed over ATM machines. They are used to steal your card's info so they may resell it or use the money. The problem is that they are so real-looking that it is hard to know the are even there. Before you insert your card into an ATM, see if you can get a fingernail under the card slot or the keypad. If so, DO NOT USE THAT ATM. Report it ASAP to the bank.
Below are two versions of the skimmer.
With all information, don't be afraid, just be aware.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

It's just metadata, who cares?

I do.
Metadata are hints and details at what you have been doing or where you have gone. Many say they don't care but those people don't understand what metadata is. Think of letting someone know where you make every call and whom it went to makes me rather nervous. The counter argument to this is, people give away their info freely all the time, but these companies, do not have the ability to imprison me or to take away my rights. The NSA says they only do two hops, meaning If a friend called a terrorist then the NSA could call me because it is just TWO data points away from me. The issue is that most people have called a major business like Fedex or AT&T. This means that a "terrorist" could call FedEx and now everyone who has called Fedex is a hop away from being investigated, even though there is no real connection. This opens the possibility of huge swaths of people to be spied on or have their details kept. I recommend reading this article off of Boing Boing and to watch the interview below from PBS News Hour to understand a bit more about what metadata is and how is can be used. Remember, there may not be a use for your data now, but there may be one coming up soon.