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.

Telecommuting

images2Telecommuting or working from home is a trend many companies embrace these days, especially with the pressure of decreasing that office real estate square footage that translates into precious and expensive dollars. With the advent of technology that allows both the office PC and telephone environments to be effectively replicated at a remote location, with the help of the ubiquituous and cheap internet of course, many companies these days are seriously considering a fraction of their workforce to work from home to boost productivity and achieve economies of scale. Given all the right scenarios – secure internet access, a reliable and efficient remote access system, portable phone system – the prospects for telecommuting is ripe. Moreover, telecommuting automatically satisfies a substantial part of disaster preparedness and contingency planning, when an unlikely repeat of 911 wouldn’t wreck that much havoc to a company if a portion of its work force is mobile and not concentrated in one location.

Some jobs are perfect for telecommuting – others are not. Job types notwithstanding, telecommuting isn’t for everybody. Even if it is OK for me to work from home, I still prefer to come to the office for at least 2 days in a week, just to chill with the folks and keep updated with what’s going on. In short, the social aspect of work life is pretty important to me and while I would relish working from home so I could go to the driving range anytime and hit balls 🙂 I still feel that need to connect with my peers and exchange ideas, socialize and feel I am part of an organization. I have heard of a staff working from home fired because the company found she was updating her Facebook account quite frequently. There are pros and cons with telecommuting but one thing is sure – when you’re working from home most of the time the company isn’t about to trust you 100%. Expect them to check logs, email activity, browsing time to get a sense of your productivity.

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SUING THE OMNIPOTENT

In this day and age of materialism and extreme liberalism we have grown impervious to the news we hear everyday, suggesting that we are evolving into a world that precariously treads into one that might be devoid of religious rules and norms that once governed our lives and fostered societal harmony . Here’s one shocking news that surpasses your notion of weird and likely to raise your eyebrows – a man sues God in court  for the “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”   Huh? Is this for real ? In light of our freedom of expression in a so called democratic society such a preposterous lawsuit must be given equal consideration like any other so the judge aptly dismisses the case on one technicality – God has no address and can’t be given a subpoena to defend himself 🙂 The plaintiff retorted that since the courts recognize God’s existence asking people to take oath ending with the proverbial ” so help me God” phrase, God must be existing. The plaintiff is contemplating to appeal and waste taxpayers’ money in the process. I don’t know what this means folks but a couple of centuries from now there is a real possibility that this earth many no longer subscribe to the idea of a divine creator.

 

GOOGLE CHROME BROWSER

This is by no means a technical review but I did download the WIndows Vista beta version of Google Chrome, the new browser developed by no other than Google and found it short of spectacular but overall, quite alright. More efficient hence productive is perhaps a more apt description. It does appear to be faster and I dig its clean cut, minimalistic look minus the clutter of menu buttons on the top typical of Firefox and Internet Explorer. It looks refreshingly neat. The menu and toolbar are smartly hidden on the upper right hand corner, readily expandable. I also like idea of the thumbnail pages of your most visited sites being displayed the moment you open the browser. All you have to do is click on the thumbnails. Your recent bookmarks are likewise presented as hypertext links on the same page. Really great for lazy folks like me who could get to my favorite page in two mouse clicks, no dragging required. If you are terribly lazy, you can even cut a desktop shortcut for your favorite URL (link) and simply click on it. I mean how much more productive can you get with a one click operation?  The only problem with this feature is the shortcut opens the browser in a truly specialized fashion. It disables browser menu and won’t allow you to navigate to other URL’s – no back and forward buttons, no URL address bar presented – that’s the catch. It is perfect for my daughter who now simply clicks on the desktop icons of her two favorite links – Webkinz or Family Channel. There are many more features too detailed to discuss in this post but I give Google Chrome a thumbs up for its practicality and ease of use.

SSL on WordPress Admin. This is probably a trivial issue to some but I like the idea of using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption option when having a session in Admin mode. SSL ensures no one can spoof into your session in cyberspace, especially those who use wireless to browse the net. It is a feature you can turn on quite easily.  Blogger has SSL but only when signing on, where your login ID and password are encrypted but defaults back to unsecure mode after sign on. You know if SSL is ON when you see https instead of http on the URL address bar.

 

IMMIGRANT WOES

I’ve met so many Pinoys who migrated to this country and everyone has his own version of the well acknowledged baptism of fire, the difficult challenges one has to overcome or adjust to as a newcomer. Nothing breaks my heart when a family’s plan to settle here is derailed by no other but their very own children. With this I mean couples who give up  because they can’t handle taking care of their kids and I don’t mean 6 or 8 rambunctious children but in the two instances I’ve seen – 2 children , all toddlers. Don’t you find this unbelievable ? The wife simply gives up and surrenders because taking care of her children minus the nannies is tantamount to prison labor 😦  We’re not talking of the super elite here, just ordinary folks who enjoy the comforts of middle class living back home. The real problem in my opinion is, the children had not been trained with any life skills whatsoever, totally dependent on their nannies for everything. A 2 year old literally behaves like an infant, crying for everything she needs. Too bad. The reason for migrating was precisely for the children’s future and now they are the very reason for backing out. The first case happened a few years ago and the family had gone home for good. The second case is still undecided , still in a very early stage and dependent on how the husband’s jobhunting goes.  If I was to say something constructive here, I say remove the blindfolds, shake off the hypocrisy and get real 😯

 

SCRIPT or BOOBOO ?

 

Listen to the mention of the word c**t…c**t..contributor.  Was this a blunder ? Sounds contrived to me. Maybe it was scripted. What do you think ? 🙂