Let PEACE Begin With Me

peaceLast holiday season we got invited by a family friend to a Christmas cantata at her church. After the wonderful evening of singing with a great choir and watching well produced skit plays we had a sumptuous dinner at the house of one of our close friends who were likewise invited to the event. What a great way to end a wonderful and memorable event for all of us. Memorable in the sense that beyond the usual perfunctory yuletide theme of peace it packed a message that surprisingly kindled a spark that lingered a bit longer, certainly longer than the exit from the car park 🙂 – let peace begin with me.  With the tragedy of the massacre of the innocent children of Sandy Hook still fresh in our memories, how proper and fitting the message could be, as if shaking you up and saying – why don’t you do something ?  Come to think of it, are we not sick and tired of all the gang wars, drug wars, religious wars and all the violence and senseless killings that never ever resolve anything ?  And hey, I will not be arguing about control here. Where I live I can’t own a handgun unless I am a member of a gun club nor a rifle unless I have a license to hunt. These licenses aren’t rights but privileges subject to passing mandatory government safety courses and extensive background checks. I can only carry my handgun when I travel from my house to the gun club – nowhere else. I have no right to lug the gun around for self protection. Perhaps numbers could speak for itself. The metropolis where I live with a population of some 4M has less than 100 murders in a year. This could sound laughable, but my wife and my ex-wife (if I had any) will have to affix their signatures of approval on my application for a firearm license. Absence of such approval with result in rejection of the application.

war casualtyGovernments and religious fanatics who live for prophetic fulfillment are the main reasons why the killing continues. It somehow justifies their existence, of protecting people from the imaginary evil that supposedly lurks everywhere threatening to take over. Maybe our brains could overpower the machinery that perpetuates this paranoid thinking. Maybe we can focus on minding our own business, be less adversarial and be a bit more patient, tolerant of the simple mistakes of others. Maybe we could be less envious and hateful of the success of others. Maybe we should stop feeling too special demanding extra attention from others. Maybe we could tame our egos and start mingling with people and genuinely enjoy their company. If I start behaving this way, I could probably make my home and workplace a bit more peaceful 🙂

Here’s one man who started a simple handshake to an enemy of his country…

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Cyberwoes

About 3 years ago I attended a security luncheon seminar at a press club hosted by a national telecom carrier and moderated by popular CBC broadcast journalist Wendy Mesley. I bet people went, yours truly included, to see Wendy in person ; after all, she is a topnotch TV anchor with a vibrant, engaging and pleasing personality (my all time favorite anchorbabe is Erica Hill, formerly of CNN and now with CBS, who is still stunning after making it to the People Magazine’s 100 most beautiful people list in 2006 [#35]). Wendy was definitely a show on her own but the seminar wasn’t bad at all. Former hackers turned G-men and RCMP crime busters were on the podium sharing their experiences , both from the conman and G-man side of the fence , likewise taking questions from the audience . At one point everyone froze momentarily, instinctively groped for their back pockets and wallets when the security experts hurled an unexpected question to the crowd “ have you ever tried googling your VISA or Mastercard account number ? If it shows up it is likely compromised as hackers may have sold your card number to scammers over the internet . Credit card numbers are sold from anywhere 10 cents to a dollar per number by cyberthieves. “ Everyone was silent, perturbed by the thought that their credit cards may have been compromised. In that brief moment of anxiety, Wendy Mesley turned from Snow White to evil Cruella de Vil for being a bearer of potential bad news 😦 We left sensitized with the importance of awareness and vigilance but at the same time apprehensive with the thought that danger lurks in cyberspace and that as implementors and users of technology we must be one step ahead of the underworld elements when it comes to protecting valuable information.
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Going Wireless… Going Nuts

Wireless is invading our homes these days – HDTV’s, Blue-Ray DVDs, Nintendo DSI’s, SLR cameras are slowly getting into the wireless bandwagon as well. Obviously there is a purpose for these devices going wireless and we can spend the whole day talking about the subject but what I’d like to talk about in this post is what people do nowadays – buying that cheap wireless router from the local store or through the internet mail order and attaching the unit to their cable or DSL allowing their PC’s and laptops to browse the net in a wireless fashion. The mobility feature of wireless is its main selling point and it is really great when you have more than one PC or laptop at home – it gets rid of the cabling hassle. Some people don’t understand however that if they turn on their wireless router in a plug and play fashion with its default configuration, they would be offering a public service – free internet access to their neighbors 🙂

For years now, I always see a neighbor’s UNSECURED wireless network ( using the default name of the router manufacturer) when I do “view available wireless networks” from my laptop. I was kidding my wife that maybe we should cancel our internet service because it looks like our neighbor doesn’t plan to get educated any time soon 🙂 Well, not quite. For all I know he providing free internet access on purpose and spoofing on our privacy 😉 So I told my wife never to do internet banking or online purchase on our neighbor’s wireless network and always do it on ours which is secure. The rule of thumb when activating your wireless router is to install the highest level of encryption between the router and your devices. This ensures that only your devices can authenticate to your router. You can also add further security by MAC filtering and that means allowing only the MAC addresses of your wireless devices to connect. You can also turn off the broadcasting of our SSID or your network name to the airwaves so that no one sees your network. Only your devices that know your network name can connect. With these three options which are not difficult to configure, your network will be fairly secure but of course, never impregnable to the willing hacker. 😯

Last week, I took my laptop to the office for some software upgrade. I felt like browsing the net out of our corporate network so I searched for an unsecured wireless access point in the neighborhood I can ride on and  this iswhat I found. Strange that someone would deliberately advertise his wireless access point as FREE . I can understand that he’s pretty pissed with the wireless network provider judging from his language 🙂 but man, would you ever trust the dude’s network? 😉

KRIS PROTECTING HER TERRITORY AND GOING NUTS

In these times of recession, the cruise business had suffered a setback hence cruise prices have dropped but this didn’t stop a cruise line from banning a cougar club – a bunch of older women looking for younger men to date – from boarding its ships. What might be the relevance of this news ? Perhaps not much but read on anyways 🙂
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Do I Need a Netbook?

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Do I need a Netbook?

My answer is a resounding YES. But I already have a laptop – why would I need at netbook ? Well, here’s a simple guide to differentiate a netbook from the traditional laptop. It may clear the cobwebs for most people.

I need a netbook because it is so darn easy to lug it around. The fact that my computer activity outside the office is 90% internet browsing, a netbook perfectly fits the bill for my need. Put a G3 wireless stick on it and you’re wired to perfection, totally mobile and internet ready. But more importantly , I need a netbook that works – fast, no disconnects, no freezing, no stalling and you know where I’m getting at – retrofitting the netbook’s brain with something that really works and that means discarding the fickle and overrated and Windows for the leaner and meaner Ubuntu operating system. I just bought a Dell mini 10v netbook with Ubuntu OS in lieu of Windows XP and saved 70 bucks in the process. Shipping was free and yes, I saved more money by not requiring anti-virus software. Since Ubuntu runs on Linux , it isn’t susceptible to viruses and although not totally immune, it is much harder for hackers to infiltrate and gain control of the system and inflict serious damage. Therefore I don’t have an anti-virus system twiddling its thumb in the background depleting my memory resources causing the system to stall and freeze.

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The Waves of Change

images1Evolution is a pretty touchy topic as there are those sanctimoniously thin-skinned among us who will have no second thoughts of calling you an irreligious, godless SOB when you talk about it. But let’s talk about evolution as our eyes see it – the salient and remarkable technological changes we see around us, affecting our very own lives. I am truly amazed and fascinated by the human brain because it evolves faster than any of the human being’s physical attributes. Scholars have suggested, largely based on anecdotal evidence, that at some point in our human history, aliens from outer space may have visited earth and copulated with earthlings and injected their more advanced genes into our specie. The astonishing, exponential surge of our human intelligence in such a short period of time leapfrogged our very own expectations of the human brain’s evolution hence the appeal of the alien intervention postulate. Or perhaps the human brain on its own is truly special, an enigmatic blob of energy that has boundless and limitless capacity when you nurture and stimulate it right.

I chanced upon this video which talks about the changes that will challenge man in the near future – the economy and technology. If you have 18 mins to spare, I strongly suggest that you watch the video. The first 7 minutes talks about the financial crisis and its impact on the economy and the remainder provides a fascinating insight on the potential scientific advancements of the future that could trigger man’s self designed evolution.

I don’t want to dwell much on the economy because it is a subject that had been beaten black and blue for the last 6 months. President Obama may be very well on the right track with his health care reform to save the USA from bankruptcy. Americans normally shun anything that purport notions of socialism but I will not be surprised if the US government impose a consumption tax much like the VAT (Value Added Tax) in the future if things get real tight with the deficit. It may be a tough pill to swallow but it could extricate the country from the deficit bind.

I am more intrigued with the speaker’s prediction of growing cells and tissues and the thought of a futuristic biological parts store, ala Radio Shack, where people could shop for a body part replacement. The tought of a blind person getting an eye that behaves like a camera lens certainly exceeds the capabilities the creator has given us. I’m curious as to what the long gone founders of religion would have to say about this – a miracle or work of the devil? Would the advent of super robots downgrade man’s workload ? Perhaps we could see countries warring with each other with unmanned drones and robot soldiers confining men as the brains of the whole spectacle of destruction. Our brains certainly have the power to accelerate our evolution and control our own destiny. I dare not speculate on the world order that would seek control of the affairs of the earth when the ultimate reboot happens but I hear echoes of John Lennon’s song Imagine when I think about this scenario.

One thing that perplexes me after watching the video, that despite the incredible and remarkable breakthroughs and predictions of scientific advancements in the generations to come, a considerable part of our world today still live in the medieval age where the predatorial rule of the jungle reigns, with people unsure whether they would see the sunrise the next day. Famine and poverty are very real in some parts of our world. The human race doesn’t seem to collectively progress towards the evolution of our intelligence. While some of us are working on farming of human organs to cure illnesses and prolong life others can barely eat three times a day to keep themselves alive. Why the disparity? Is intelligence the monopoly of the few? Don’t we all have brains? Perhaps the power of one’s innate intelligence can only be effectively harnessed and stimulated by some measure of enlightenment which is a requisite ingridient of the evolutionary process. Without such enlightenment, a restrictive, myopic view of the world constricts the power of thinking which paves way for stagnation and retrogression. Just a thought.