Daily Archives: December 25, 2013

Better Computing Science in High School


Version 2.0.1

There’s few better people to talk about computers and high school than me, as the two consume the vast majority of my life. I discovered computers at age five, the same time I enrolled in school, and I’ve been programming since I was thirteen. So when the two crash into each other at a crossroads, I can easily analyse the wreckage. I’ve written in the past about some of the failings in the teaching of technology in the past but just about one year later I’m pleased to report that it’s all about to change. At long last, computing classes in Scotland are entering the 21st century.

If you’re not familiar with the changes in the Scottish education system, it’s getting a huge overhaul. And I mean huge. They’re throwing out the old and outdated Standard Grade and bringing in new and fresh Nationals.


Dusty Old Standard Grades

I’ve just sat through two years of the last ever round of Standard Grade as a student and it was evident that in some subject areas there were a few outdated resources. I recall my geography teacher saying that she had watched some of the video clips she used in class when she was in high school — yes, they were that old!

Computers are my thing, they always have been. A few years ago I taught myself how to make websites and I’ve been progressing ever since in that department. So when it came to Standard Grade Computing, some of the outdated elements were very clear to me.

This howler appeared in the 2012 exam:

Source: SQA

For those that aren’t in the know: HTML is the only way to create a website, ever. It’s the markup language used to write a set of instructions which the browser uses to build a website. So surely there can’t be any disadvantages with using HTML — without it, there is no webpage! I later found out that the question was referring to the differences between writing directly in HTML versus using visual programs that write the underlying code for you, so-called What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors.

You’re living in the 90s maaaan!

WYSIWYG editors are the old-fashioned way to create websites; the black-and-white TVs, the steam trains, the iPhone 3GSes of web development. In the industry they are generally frowned about by developers. They normally generate low quality designs and markup as opposed to a website being created from a skilled developer.

The problem here is that teaching outdated information is just redundant. I understand that WYSIWYG editors are easier to grasp for beginners, but the wording of an exam question gives the impression that it’s the best option when that’s just not true.

And it’s not just references to obsolete software that were gathering dust in the Standard Grade course material. There were references to floppy discs, 10GB HDD and magnetic tapes — seriously.


Squeaky New Nationals (Yay!)

All the course needed was a little lovin’. I haven’t had the honour of being a part of a Nationals class, but it is quite a bit more modern. I know this, because I designed the software development unit for my school.

The course specification stipulates that it give an insight into how computing affect the modern world, (no more floppy discs) and that’s a very important part of it.

We are at a point where we are surrounded by technology and it’s very important to know how it works, especially in the event that the machine rise up.

We’re all aware of the demand for people in the technology sector — there are 1.4 million computer science jobs for only 450,000 students.

It’s not just Nationals that’s receiving the update to 2.0, the next step after Nationals (Highers and Advanced Highers) are also being treated to a fresh lick of paint to bring them into the new generation. I can’t really comment on those just yet as they won’t be under way until a year from now but I can assume the refresh will also give students a taste of computing post-1990.

This upgrade is a major leap forward, and teachers can stop teaching us about floppy discs and move on to the more current things like the technology of tomorrow. Preparing us for the world of work where computers are everything.


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Update complete

Further Reading

The State of Web Development in Schools

 — 

Originally published in .NET Magazine in September 2012, I decided to re-publish the article ahead of a follow-up next week.

Written by

16-year-old Full Stack Web Developer and Writer on Medium for Futures Exchanges. Founder and Developer at @planrrapp

 

The 21st Century Prisoner’s Dilemma


Decreasing labor in order to salvage profits, to the detriment of both

A prisoner’s dilemma is when two groups that would be better off cooperating in order to achieve a higher coordinated payout choose instead to sacrifice their better aggregate payouts because their individual incentives lead them to forgo cooperation. Typically represented in a matrix form, one way to conceptualize it is to describe the following scenario: I and Stephen Colbert are both in prison for being fearless conservatives. We are given the choice to either be silent or to cooperate with the statist authorities by informing on the other. If we are both silent, we would get two years each in prison, if we both informed we would get three years in prison, and if one of us cooperated and the other remained silent, the one cooperating would be free, while the other who was silent would get five years. It is in both of our private interests to inform on the other, because then we face a choice between freedom if the other was silent, and three years if the other informed, rather than in the case of if we choose to be silent, in which case we face either two years in prison if the other was silent, and five years if the other informed.

In aggregate that means instead of having two years in prison if we both were silent, we will both inform on one another and get a negative aggregate outcome of having three years in prison each because it is in our private interest to arrive to this equilibrium, since both of us will seek the better payoff of informing on the other. We will harm each other as we seek to help ourselves.


The 21st century’s prisoner’s dilemma will be that every firm will not want to hire workers, but will want every other firm to hire workers in order to have a consumer base for itself. This is because the private payoff of having less labor (and saving on what for many businesses is the largest cost) is such a powerful private incentive. Despite what other businesses do in aggregate, it will almost always be better for the individual firm to shed workers. Unfortunately, this will lead to a worse social equilibrium. Castes of the unemployed, political and economic volatility, and staggering inequality may become the norm. Ironically, this economic chaos will then lead to lower profits, as less consumers will be able to buy most products. If left unchecked, lower private costs will be overwhelmed by higher social costs.

The 1950s saw the rise of the Great Society, the establishment of the welfare state, and of mass infrastructure projects that set the foundation of the 20th century. We will have to do even better to build the 21st century, and ensure a balence between private and social incentives.

(Now please help break me and Stephen out of prison!)

Written by

Passionate about engaging students to solve real-world problems in a fun and dynamic way.

 

You’re immortal in the multiverse


Why don’t you remember your previous life then?

I’m often asked what I believe in. So here is a short snapshot of my complicated beliefs. I’m not really a big fan of creationism. However, having looked at how finely tuned the physical constants are, it’s tempting to start to believe, that it’s not a strange coincidence, but is a result of an action, performed by someone or some principle.

Not only scientists stop at attempting to explain the fine tuning of universal constants. They stumble at the interpretation of quantum mechanics as well. The famous principle of Landau is “Shut up and calculate” is written on the wall of our understanding, of our attempts to explain the fundamental uncertainty principle, that a particle exist in the superposition of an infinite number of states.

All attempts to interpret the fine-tuning and the quantum uncertainty are beyond the science according to the Popper criterion of science — the falsifiability. The criterion is basically distinguishes between matters of science and matters of belief. If you can build an experiment to test your hypothesis, which may prove or disprove it, then you’re in the area of science, if not, then you’re beyond the science, where you can only stick to one or another belief.

I believe that the matters of fine-tuning and quantum uncertainty are intertwined and both can be explained based on the assumption of many universes. And here I’m at the crossfire from both creationists and physicists.

Existence of many universes each with random laws of physics and physical constants makes it simple to explain the fine-tuning: there’s no such thing as fine-tuning at all; among the many universes with many laws of physics, only some allow the existence of life, while the rest are just empty or filled with fields and unstable particles. And only those universes, which laws of physics allow life end up with observers asking “how come it’s so finely tuned”. This concept is called anthropic principle or else biocentrism.

Quantum uncertainty principle started its path from the double slit experiment: light forms an interference picture on the sensitive film if both slits are open at the same time, but not if slits are open consecutively. This means that each particle goes through both slits at the same time, however attempts to register half of the particle at the slit never succeeded. One thing led to another and scientists came up with terms of uncertainty, superposition and decoherence. Uncertainty states that there’s no way to determine precise location and speed of the particle, because particle is in the superposition of infinite number of states each with some probability. When you observe or register a particle, all probabilities collapse except the one, which you registered, i.e. decoheres.

Now, if you ask how the probability function is implemented in the universe, how does the decoherence works, you’ll hear “Shut up and calculate [the wave function of quantum system from the Schroedinger equation]”. Such an attitude is enough to earn money doing theoretical physics, but not enough to satisfy your curiosity.

Existence of many universes makes it simple to explain the decoherence: there’s no such thing as decoherence at all; all the possible states of each quantum system (from one particle to the whole universe) exist and all of them are just as real as you reading these words. In fact there’s practically infinite number of yous reading these words, and you’re all of them. You may interpret these words as if there are alternate universes with copies of you. No. YOU’re a quantum system and you exist in superposition with other representations of YOU, but they are not your copies, they are part of YOU as a quantum system. Simplistically speaking, we live in 3 spatial dimensions + 1 time dimension + N variational dimensions, or as Dr. Brown would say 4+N dimensional space-time-variation continuum. Variational dimensions are the arena for all the possible variants of the universe, i.e. each classical universe is just a point in the N-dimensional space of variations.

All the possible universes with different laws of physics including those with virtually nothing inside, exist in the space of variations. All the universes with the same laws of physics as ours including the universes with or without you exist in the space of variations. What you think of yourself as 3-dimensional body with an embedded brain, is actually a 3+N dimensional quantum system in the multiverse. And each fundamental particle composing your body is actually a N-dimensional surface in the 3+N dimensional space-variant continuum.

Now, let’s assume that there’s a function of your brain, which is responsible for the continuity of the perception in time. This function is only responsible for the continuity of perception, not continuity of your memory, knowledge, talents and skills, feelings, traits and habits, just continuity of perception, i.e. your subliminal feeling that you exist. And this function is implemented by some X number of fundamental particles in your brain combined together in a 3D spatial structure (part of your brain, contained neurons, contained molecules, contained particles). This 3D structure is actually a 3+N dimensional quantum system in the multiverse, responsible for the continuity of your perception in time. Let’s call this an individual perception (IP) system.

As you live your life, the IP system changes, new particles come into the system, old particles leave the system, old neurons die, new neurotransmitters replace old ones et cetera. What stands is the IP system itself. In the practically infinite number of variations there’s practically infinite number of universes at any given time where the IP system with exactly same particles exist in the exactly same configuration.

Let’s consider the simplified example. An atomic bomb explodes with probability 1/2 near you destroying every your cell in a fraction of a second. One second before the 100% probability of your existence was spread across S number of universes. One second later you seized to exist in S/2 number of universes. The probability that you continue to perceive yourself existing in any of the S/2 universes where you seized to exist is 0%. The probability that you continue to perceive yourself existing in any of the S/2 universes where you continue to exist is 100%. You think that you avoided sudden death, but actually YOU as a quantum system experienced both death and survival, more than that, YOU as a quantum system have just become twice smaller.

The cool thing about YOU is that your IP system is not strongly a subset of YOU. And while YOU may seize to exist (for example because practically infinite number of universes is not so infinite, and at some point of time you can die in all of them), your IP system is shared among infinite number of other universes with completely different YOU. Your IP system continuously seize to exist in some universes and start to exist in others. Which means, that not only you won’t stop existing, you will continually perceive yourself as existing forever. You won’t experience your own death.

This also means that you’re way older than your 30 or so years. Your individual perception system could have existed for millions of years in many other universes and bodies. You don’t remember them, because your IP system should be lightweight. It should carry only minimum sufficient atoms to ensure the continuity of perception of existence, because the probability of combining the same structure of the same atoms falls dramatically with the number of atoms increasing. So, memories and feelings are not included.


Next time i’ll tell you about Laplace determinism and your free will.

Written by

Engineer

Published December 25, 2013

 

he Benefits of Quality Content and Genuine Social Engagement


 

With every algorithm update, Google is making SEO more and more complex. The company has expressed it’s desire to improve the quality of their search results, filtering out spammers and content of lower relevance — but how that ‘relevance’ is determined is becoming increasingly difficult to understand to a definitive degree. The elements that are regularly highlighted by Google are ‘quality content’ and ‘genuine engagement’.

The issue with quality content is that it’s less scientific. Less certainty in the process means more research, more work and, ultimately, more investment to ensure best results for your online presence. This can be a frightening prospect for companies — you can’t just go to Google Adwords and ensure all the relevant search terms are included on your webpage, you need people to be actually reading your content to up that relevance rating. Real people and real engagement.

The one metric that is totally clear is the need for social engagement. How many ‘Likes’, ‘re-Tweets’, webpage links — these elements are being weighted more heavily by search engines. The social media aspect, which used to only form a part of the SEO puzzle, is becoming more influential. The idealistic result of this is that users get a better quality experience all round, but the underlying motivator is that, over time, organic results will be diluted to the point that brands will have to pay to get best ROI. The only way to combat this is to create great, sharable, engaging content and become an active participant on social platforms. But what’s the best way do you do it? How do you know that the content you’re investing in will give your company the best results? Here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

1. Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them. You can’t just load up your company website with a heap of updates on what the company’s doing, how you’re helping clients, etc. These are all sales pitches and, in the majority, these won’t be widely read. You’re caught up in the corporate culture and the internal wins and losses, so the temptation is to write about them, show the people how good the company is, sell them on that culture that you, yourself are invested in, but you need to take a step back and think about what the clients want to know. What are the articles you’re reading each day? What is of interest to you, as an industry expert? What are the things clients need your services for? If you are not an industry expert, not following all the relevant influencers in your field, then you need to be and you need to be viewing their insights from the client’s point of view. Inform clients of industry trends and updates, write about positive stories in which your brand has had an influence, but always be wary of the sales angle. Social media is about building relationships, rather than booking sales. The more you’re able to establish the first, the easier the second will become.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

2. Content that gets highly shared is content with heart. Real stories, real storytelling, actually getting to the humanity of something, rather than corporate messaging. All businesses affect the lives of real people, many in very positive ways, and these stories are gold. They are not only great to tell, but they show the genuine passion of your brand. If you can express that passion in an engaging way, you can create strong, shareable stories that will help expand the reach of your business, which has benefits across all aspects. Take time to think about different angles to your corporate stories, try and find the heart and humanity in what you do as a company and where your brand is able to help. And again, make it story first, corporate messaging second. You don’t need to sell to your clients straight up, you’re working to establish a connection, to communicate on a deeper level.

3. Take time to engage in your online community. It’s one thing to use Twitter to respond to client concerns and queries, but you shouldn’t stop there. Look to have a presence on all social media platforms and in their respective communities, become part of them, participate where you can. You’ll often see a company representative drop into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook with no real introduction, saying ‘give me a call at *** and we can help you out’. This is not real engagement. You’re likely to build better customer relationships if you talk to people on a human level, offer advice and links to online articles (not necessarily your own company content) and show them that you’re the expert in your field. The opportunity to convert these contacts into clients will come, you don’t need to rush it. By being present and being a trusted part of the conversation, you will establish better relationships for ongoing business. And be honest and positive, at all times. Going online and trashing your opposition, using a half-truth to initiate a business conversation — these tactics do not benefit the establishment of ongoing partnerships.

As with anything, the approach you take will vary dependent on the industry, but the way to solidify your online presence, making your company more resilient to SEO algorithmic changes and enabling you to make best use of social media, is through the creation of engaging content and the establishment of trusted networks. It takes time and investment, but it will pay off, over and over again.

Written by

Melbourne based writer, author of the novel ‘Rohypnol‘ and a lot of short stories, working on second novel.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Quality Content and Genuine Social Engagement


 

With every algorithm update, Google is making SEO more and more complex. The company has expressed it’s desire to improve the quality of their search results, filtering out spammers and content of lower relevance — but how that ‘relevance’ is determined is becoming increasingly difficult to understand to a definitive degree. The elements that are regularly highlighted by Google are ‘quality content’ and ‘genuine engagement’.

The issue with quality content is that it’s less scientific. Less certainty in the process means more research, more work and, ultimately, more investment to ensure best results for your online presence. This can be a frightening prospect for companies — you can’t just go to Google Adwords and ensure all the relevant search terms are included on your webpage, you need people to be actually reading your content to up that relevance rating. Real people and real engagement.

The one metric that is totally clear is the need for social engagement. How many ‘Likes’, ‘re-Tweets’, webpage links — these elements are being weighted more heavily by search engines. The social media aspect, which used to only form a part of the SEO puzzle, is becoming more influential. The idealistic result of this is that users get a better quality experience all round, but the underlying motivator is that, over time, organic results will be diluted to the point that brands will have to pay to get best ROI. The only way to combat this is to create great, sharable, engaging content and become an active participant on social platforms. But what’s the best way do you do it? How do you know that the content you’re investing in will give your company the best results? Here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

Image representing Google AdWords as depicted ...

Image by None via CrunchBase

1. Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them. You can’t just load up your company website with a heap of updates on what the company’s doing, how you’re helping clients, etc. These are all sales pitches and, in the majority, these won’t be widely read. You’re caught up in the corporate culture and the internal wins and losses, so the temptation is to write about them, show the people how good the company is, sell them on that culture that you, yourself are invested in, but you need to take a step back and think about what the clients want to know. What are the articles you’re reading each day? What is of interest to you, as an industry expert? What are the things clients need your services for? If you are not an industry expert, not following all the relevant influencers in your field, then you need to be and you need to be viewing their insights from the client’s point of view. Inform clients of industry trends and updates, write about positive stories in which your brand has had an influence, but always be wary of the sales angle. Social media is about building relationships, rather than booking sales. The more you’re able to establish the first, the easier the second will become.

2. Content that gets highly shared is content with heart. Real stories, real storytelling, actually getting to the humanity of something, rather than corporate messaging. All businesses affect the lives of real people, many in very positive ways, and these stories are gold. They are not only great to tell, but they show the genuine passion of your brand. If you can express that passion in an engaging way, you can create strong, shareable stories that will help expand the reach of your business, which has benefits across all aspects. Take time to think about different angles to your corporate stories, try and find the heart and humanity in what you do as a company and where your brand is able to help. And again, make it story first, corporate messaging second. You don’t need to sell to your clients straight up, you’re working to establish a connection, to communicate on a deeper level.

3. Take time to engage in your online community. It’s one thing to use Twitter to respond to client concerns and queries, but you shouldn’t stop there. Look to have a presence on all social media platforms and in their respective communities, become part of them, participate where you can. You’ll often see a company representative drop into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook with no real introduction, saying ‘give me a call at *** and we can help you out’. This is not real engagement. You’re likely to build better customer relationships if you talk to people on a human level, offer advice and links to online articles (not necessarily your own company content) and show them that you’re the expert in your field. The opportunity to convert these contacts into clients will come, you don’t need to rush it. By being present and being a trusted part of the conversation, you will establish better relationships for ongoing business. And be honest and positive, at all times. Going online and trashing your opposition, using a half-truth to initiate a business conversation — these tactics do not benefit the establishment of ongoing partnerships.

As with anything, the approach you take will vary dependent on the industry, but the way to solidify your online presence, making your company more resilient to SEO algorithmic changes and enabling you to make best use of social media, is through the creation of engaging content and the establishment of trusted networks. It takes time and investment, but it will pay off, over and over again.

 

Written by

Melbourne based writer, author of the novel ‘Rohypnol‘ and a lot of short stories, working on second novel.

 

 

 

How Instagram Direct is helping marketers ruin Instagram


Your Instagram Direct inbox is your new email inbox and Instagram hopes marketers will treat it accordingly.

 

Yesterday Instagram announced their latest feature – Instagram Direct. The feature makes two important changes to the Instagram experience.

  1. It allows users to send picture and video messages to one or more people.
  2. It gives every user a new inbox area to receive picture and video messages.

While this may seem like a clever counter punch at Snapchat from Instagram and Facebook, it’s actually a genius move by Instagram to give brands a more personal and direct channel to user attention on the Instagram platform.

Instagram ads on their own may end up being successful but there’s nothing like having direct access to a user’s inbox.

Instagram Direct also notifies users when they’ve received a new Instagram Direct message, a power that the general Instagram feed ads lack.
Your Instagram Direct inbox is your new email inbox and marketers will treat it accordingly.

Even better for brands, many Instagram users already follow a handful of their favorite brands on Instagram, which effectively equates to opting in to allowing those brands to send you Instagram Direct messages.

It will be interesting to see how Instagram chooses to monetize this new photo and video inbox. Will they charge brands for a more efficient group messaging experience? Sticky Instagram Direct messages? Direct message ads to curated groups of users? Contextual Direct message ads based on location data?

Whatever direction Instagram chooses to go, I know one thing is for sure. Marketers will find a way to ruin this seemingly untouched social utopia. That’s the point though, right? That’s what Instagram is counting on.

Instagram

Instagram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook, who acquired Instagram in 2012, is counting on Instagram to bring in a substantial new revenue stream. To do this Instagram needs to become an indespensible utility for both users and brand marketers (their real customers). Users clearly wanted a better video and picture messaging platform and marketers want an engaging and direct channel to user attention. Well played Instagram, well played.

 

 

Written by

Entrepreneur. I believe in curiosity, experimentation, and love. Techno-optimist fascinated by the human condition. Love BIG ideas and smart conversations!

 

 

 

David Kelley, founder of IDEO and Stanford’s d.school, on How To Do Design Thinking


Kelley presents a universal method for generating creative breakthroughs

David Kelley: The first step in the Design Thinking process is what we call the Understand phase: if you’re going to work in a certain area you really need to talk to experts.

We’re generalists, we’re expert at process but if you really want to do something, if you’re going to design a new medical device, you have to really immerse yourself in it.

So in the first step you end up studying the state of the art, going and talking to experts, doing research to bring yourself up to speed. You’d be really surprised how quickly you can get up to speed, even in a highly technical area, just from doing a little research and talking to experts. They’ll tell you a lot more than you can use, more than you could ever imagine.

Then there’s the Observation phase. There’s plenty to learn from interviewing people but we think that you learn a lot more from being there. So we jump right out, we go around the world, we go wherever there’s interesting people.

If we’re going to design a new gas station we’ll go and see how they pump gas in Japan. How do they get gasoline where there’s no gas station whatsoever? We just hang out, watching over and over and seeing what the issues are. We find that if we’re going to have some kind of breakthrough, a lot of times we see it by just being there. We’re watching nurses and we see how nurses have trouble with the shift change, or we watch somebody using a vending machine. I was watching people pay for parking at one of those vending machines where you take your ticket and you put it in and just seeing all the trouble that they had, they’re grimacing, they’re panicking. So for us this is a lead to where there’s an innovation that can be done.

If you see somebody having trouble using something, or that they grimace or they’re unhappy or they’re scared, that’s a place that we could really do innovation because we can fix that.

At some point by observing these people and building empathy for them you start to have insights about them. “Oh, they really do value this. It’s not obvious at first that that’s what they really value. They say they really don’t do something but it turns out they actually do when you observe them.”

Because this thing’s a team sport you have all these different eyes watching. We’ll have the business person and the technology person and the psychologist or anthropologist, so they see different things.

My mentor, Bob McKim used to say “A fish doesn’t know its wet,” meaning it’s hard for an expert in one field to see clearly. So these teams that have people with different methodologies, by definition they’re kind of naive. They have what we call child’s mind, so they see new things to the world. And that gives them insights about what could happen, and also enables breakthrough products and services.

The next phase we call Visualize. Okay, now I’ve seen some problems, I know what I want, I have some big ideas from the observations that I’ve done. Now I want to visualize some possible solutions.

I have developed a point of view: I think that the problem with checking into a hospital is that it’s just too redundant. I think the problem is you should be able to do things in advance of getting there, right? So that’s my point of view.

Then I start building systems. I start making physical things out of cardboard, I start making prototypes or I start making quick and dirty videos that show the solution. If it’s a service like checking into a hospital I make a video of what I think would be a really cool, efficient, better way. I’m painting the future of what it would mean in that hospital by making a video.

Then comes the Iteration phase. I start showing the prototype around. This is the big win, because I haven’t fooled around or tried to cover myself or be careful, I just cranked out a few possible prototypes or videos of the future and then I start showing them to smart people. It’s amazing how people will help you.

These prototypes that we make are not precious, they’re quick and dirty. They just get our ideas out so that we can get help from other people. So now you’re using the brain power of everybody else. Anybody can do these types of prototypes, right?
So understand, observe, visualize and iterate. The trick here is that the big deal is the iteration. Rather than planning incessantly you quickly come up with something, you show it to smart people, you show it to users, and then you do it again and again.

Excerpt from my interview with David Kelley, founder of IDEO and the Stanford d.school

Written by

India, Israel, USA @avisolo

 

When the sluts go marching in


Slutwalk, Toronto, 2011 — Anton Bielousov

Slutwalk, Toronto, 2011 — Anton Bielousov

Slut.

Evocative word, isn’t it?

It’s not just a word, though. Slut is a weapon. A blunt instrument used by those who feel they should be able to control how a woman dresses. How she uses her body. Who she uses it with.

She’s a slut. Look what she’s wearing.

Slut is a witch hunt. A mark used to brand women who step outside the boundaries that have been designed for them.

She’s a slut. Look how she behaves.

Slut is an excuse. It gives abusers justification for their behaviour, and allows society to place blame for abuse in the hands of the victim.

She’s a slut. She deserved it.

Slut is about control. It’s about silencing women who dare to speak out, and keeping power in the hands of the men too afraid to see a woman as an equal, or heaven forbid, in any way superior.

She’s a slut. She should shut her mouth.

Slut is a term used with such regularity, with such venom and vitriol, so broadly and with such a lack of measure, it almost defies definition.

A slut is a woman who has too much sex.

A slut is a woman who openly enjoys sex.

A slut is a woman who has sex too young or with too many partners.

A slut is a women who has sex for a living.

A slut is a woman who wears a certain type of clothing.

It goes on.

Let’s frame it another way, because slut isn’t about women at all. Slut is all about the men who use it.

And to those men, I’ll define it for you like this: Simply put, a slut is a woman who isn’t having sex with you.

Whether you fear her, desire her, or wish to destroy her, you’re using slut to define her sexuality in reference to your own.

She’s fucked too many people and that makes me feel insecure. I want her and she won’t fuck me. She’s having sex and I’m not. I don’t want anyone else to fuck her. She dares to enjoy herself. I’m going to teach her a lesson. Look what she made me do. She’s a slut.

It has to stop.

Since 2011, woman in cities around the world have gathered in protest at the slut-shaming, victim-blaming, misogynistic culture that perpetuates these attitudes.

The movement is called SlutWalk, and unsurprisingly the protest and the women who take part have been met with fear, anger and abuse.

I am writing this because I support SlutWalk.

I support SlutWalk because I believe all women have the basic human right to not have to live in fear.

I support SlutWalk because I don’t believe we have the right to define a woman’s sexuality for her.

I support SlutWalk because I believe women have a right to enjoy sex and to choose who they enjoy it with.

I support SlutWalk because I don’t believe language should be a weapon used to oppress and silence girls and women.

I support SlutWalk because I don’t believe a victim is ever complicit in their own abuse.

I support SlutWalk because whoever she is and whatever she’s wearing (or not wearing), she’s never asking for it.

I support SlutWalk for the daughters I don’t have yet, because if I decide to have children, I want to raise them in a world where they don’t have to live in fear that their choices will somehow invite abuse.

I support SlutWalk because I want women to be able to enjoy the rights and privileges I, as a man, take for granted.

I’ve used the word slut 35 times in this article.

Has it lost all meaning yet?

I hope so.

Support SlutWalk Melbourne this Saturday, and help put and end to slut-shaming and victim-blaming.

Further Reading

We need to talk about ‘Frape’

 — Or: How to block friends and influence people

Written by

Not drunk enough to write well. This is the best I can do sober.

 

Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Microbusiness


and finally be free to do work you love

 

When I was 12 years old, my dad quit his corporate job. He quit his job to open his own restaurant. The restaurant opened around my 13th birthday. I only remember that because the restaurant billboard by the street said “Happy 13th Birthday Courtney”. I was billboard by the side of the road famous.

I was famous, and hired to work at the family biz. I thought it was really cool to have a paying job at such an early age. It sparked my entrepreneurial spirit and formed my strong work ethic. I loved being that girl who could bring pizza to events and meet friends for lunch (for free). When I was in high school, I still thought it was great to have a job, but being the owner’s daughter meant that if someone called in sick and a last-minute replacement was needed, I was the easiest to reach. Even if it was on the night of a dance or other event that was more appealing than work. It was then that I realized when it’s your business, you get the good and the bad.

There are pros and cons of growing up in a family business

  • You spend a lot of time working with your family
  • There is always restaurant food to eat
  • People think you get special treatment as the owner’s daughter
  • You get special treatment as the owner’s daughter

Each of the above statements are pros and cons.

While I always admired my dad for going out on his own and realizing a dream, I was determined to work for someone else instead of having my own business one day. I didn’t want to be so invested. I didn’t want to care so much. I wanted to pick up a paycheck and go on my way.

That’s exactly what I did until a few years ago, after decades of pouring my heart and soul into everyone else’s dreams, when I realized that I still cared and was still invested even when it wasn’t my business.

I didn’t start working for myself for more money. I did it for freedom, for time, for creativity. Yes, I want and need to make money, but it wasn’t the driving decision maker for me to make a change.

Times have changed

In 1982, when my dad’s restaurant opened, being your own boss meant getting a loan, finding a store front, ordering inventory, hiring staff and then trying to make a little money. Today, being your own boss means having an idea, building a platform and opening your computer in a coffee shop to check your email, write a blog post and connect with clients via Skype. (I’ve grossly simplified both scenarios here.)

I do not believe that there are people destined to own their own business any more than I think some people are supposed to work for other people. Circumstances, desires, openness to change and opportunity all shape the decisions we make for the life we want to live and the work we so desperately want to love.

Everything You Need to Know to Start a Microbusiness

Pay Off Your Debt
Before you leave your day job and declare your independence, be debt free with $1000 emergency fund. That doesn’t mean wait until that happens to get started, but I suggest waiting until that happens to actually quit your job. I chose to save 2 months of income so that I wasn’t pressured to make money immediately. I didn’t want to start a business with the anxiety of where the next dollar would come from.

Assess Your Income Needs
You may want to make a lot of money, but to get started think about how much you really need to make. Read Your Money or Your Life and Smalltopia to define that number.

Dream
Maybe you don’t know what you want to do. You might be so overextended and burnt out with your current job and lifestyle that you have no idea what interests you. If you don’t like what you are doing, but don’t know what’s next, this book is next: The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte.

Brainstorm Business Ideas
In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau says “To start a business, you need three things: a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid. Everything else is completely optional.”

I’ll add that it will help if you know and love what you are selling. That makes you much better at what you do and takes the sting out of asking for money. When you know you are offering your very best, and that product or service will help someone else, you will feel good about getting paid for it.

Visit an Accountant
There are plenty of tools online like to help you manage your business finances, but I recommend meeting with a local expert. Understand tax laws, organize your business and have a friend in your local area that can help if problems arise.

Develop a Platform
Almost every client that I’ve worked with found me as a result of my blog. They may have found the blog from twitter or another site, but they didn’t find me because my face was on a billboard, or in a magazine ad. Each person found me because I showed up and wrote honest, helpful information consistently. Building a blog will be your number one way of developing new ideas and connecting with clients, business partners and investors. To answer your next question, yes, you really need a blog.

With my history in the advertising industry, I can tell you with no uncertainty that times have changed. Your business will not grow because you throw thousands of dollars at TV spots and magazine placements. Your business will grow because you will take time to let people get to know you and your work through a platform like a blog. It will grow because you help people and they will tell other people that you helped them.

Keep Your Day Job
The early stage of new business planning is not the time to leave your job, unless money is not an issue. The early stage of new business planning is the time to hustle. I launched my first site in May of 2010 and quit my job 17 months later. That meant months of writing nights and weekends, staying up late, waking up early and working extra hours.

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The beauty of it was that it wasn’t exhausting. It was exhilarating. I knew I was building my future work. I knew I wouldn’t be attending weekly meetings. I knew I wouldn’t be writing reports that no one cared about and that I wouldn’t be chained to a desk or a cell phone all day long. I knew I wouldn’t need a committee to make a decision and that I would have an opportunity to do some really cool stuff.

Discover What You Love about the Job You Hate
Your boss is a jerk and your hours suck, but there are things about your job that you really like and maybe even love. Make a list of those things and brainstorm what they might look like in your own microbusiness. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Set a Date (or several)
I set 3 different dates before I pulled the trigger, but each date gave me hope and motivation. My first date was May 2011 but I wasn’t ready. The next was July 2011, and my dog needed an expensive surgery that depleted my jump ship fund. My 3rd date at the end of September 2011 stuck. Setting a quit date will be a reminder that this isn’t a pipe dream or a hobby. This is your life.

Read and Connect
There are people out there doing what you want to do or doing something that can help you do what you want to do. Meet them, work with them, learn from them and read their stuff. I’ve learned from the best in my field, Leo Babauta, Pam Slim, Chris Guillibeau, (+ many others) have all helped me with in person meetings, phone consultations or live events that shaped my business. If they didn’t have a blog, I never would have found them.

Hire Someone
Ask for help to brainstorm and organize your ideas, streamline your business and put an idea into action. Yes, you can hire me.

Use Virtual Partners
You don’t need a staff to run your business, instead, use free or paid microbusiness resources.

Test. Fail. Repeat.
Not everything you do will work. When you are out of debt, building your platform, and connecting with new people, you will feel better about trying new things and then trying again. You won’t be filling your garage with millions of dollars of widgets that won’t sell, leaving you broke. Instead, you can create on demand and give people what they want.

Paul Jarvis says this about experimenting, “I like to frame my business ideas as experiments (no lab coat required). I do this because experiments don’t fail, they simply show results. Sometimes those results are great and point you in the direction for bigger and better things. Sometimes they just show you what idea isn’t worth pursuing.”

Get Real
You won’t be working from the beach everyday, even though some people do. I like the beach, but I also have a family to take care of, grocery shopping to do, bills to pay, and a daughter in college. None of that changes when you own your own business.

The romance of location independence work can be alluring, but instead, think about how working for yourself would benefit your lifestyle. I love that I can walk my dog in the morning, exercise in the afternoon and work when I like instead of when an office is open.

Treat People Like People
If you start your own business, you will be working with people. Care about them. Help them. Support them.

Understand the difference between selling something and selling someone. It will change the way you do business.

Partner
I am not a fan of partnering on a business, but I enjoy partnering on business projects. Working with Leo Babauta on theclutterfreecourse.com and Tammy Strobel on Your Lovely Life is a great part of my microbusiness. We share the workload, get to know each other better and have a great time creating together.

Dump Perfection
I am sure that there is a spelling or grammar error in this post and someone may email and tell me about it. That error and my general lack of perfection does not dilute my message. If you make a mistake, you can correct it. If you wait until things are perfect, nothing happens.

Start Now
This isn’t your someday business. The right time is right now. You don’t need a mission statement, marketing plan or quarterly projections to get started. You don’t need a degree in business or a special certificate. You just need an idea, a taste or tolerance for uncertainty and a good sense of humor. Supportive friends and family help too!

But how do you really make money?

Every microbusiness is different but my income comes from a combination of writing and selling books and digital courses, fine art photography sales, speaking, and working with really awesome people who want to start or grow their own microbusiness and develop creative ideas.

I believe that doing work you love should be accessible to anyone who is interested. I help you simplify your life and business so you can focus on what really matters.

Is this really everything you need to know about how to start a microbusiness?

It’s everything you need to know to get started, and the rest … you don’t know what you don’t know and you won’t completely know what you need to learn until you get started. My business is different from what I thought it would be when it started, and I know next year it will change again.

Just start.


If this article was helpful to you, please hit the recommend button to share these microbusiness ideas and resources.

Connect with me if you want to talk more about starting a microbusiness.

 

 

Written by

Imagine a life with: more savings and less debt, more health and less stress, more time and less stuff, more joy and less obligation.

Published October 29, 2013

 

 

Another BIG hack that wasn’t


http://www.spacerogue.net/wordpress/?p=489

Posted on 2013/10/28 by

No time to do a full analysis but the basics are a story out of Israel of a tunnel that was hit by a sophisticated cyber attack that caused a… traffic jam. The story went out on the Associated Press newswire on a Sunday afternoon so by Monday morning it was pretty much everywhere you looked.

The “attack” was supposedly a “classified matter” involving “a Trojan horse attack” that targeted the security camera system in the Carmel Tunnels toll road on Sept. 8. The attack caused an immediate 20-minute lockdown of the roadway and then an eight hour shutdown the next day causing a pretty big traffic jam. Supposedly the attack was the work of “unknown, sophisticated hackers” which were then compared to Anonymous but not sophisticated enough to be nation state funded attackers from Iran.

Even just by reading this it sounds like a run of the mill malware infestation and not some targeted sophisticated state sponsored cyber attack. I mean why would anyone specifically target a tunnel? There is no money there, no intellectual property to be stolen, so unless your goal is to create an isolated traffic jam, whats the point? But there is more. The tunnel operators, CarmelTun, issued a statement saying Nope, no cyber attack here. And blamed the traffic jam on a “an internal component malfunction” and went on to say “this was not a hacker attack.”

 

@snd_wagenseil @4Dgifts @WeldPond more than one source confirmed.

— Daniel Estrin (@DanielEstrin) October 28, 2013

Image representing Hacker News as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

 

 

According to @DanielEstrin whose name is on the byline of the story, more than one source confirmed this Trojan Horse attack story and yet he did not bother to confirm with the people most likely to know, the actual operators of the tunnel.

So we can either believe the unnamed “cybersecurity experts” who warned of a sophisticated “Trojan horse attack” that was compared to Anonymous and was conducted for no monetary gain or intelectual property theft or we can believe the operators of the actual tunnel system itself. Who has more to gain here?

Late Update:
Looks like I am not the only one to think this might not have been a cyber attack.
“Cyberattack Against Israeli Highway System? Maybe Not”

This entry was posted in Current Events, Media Hype by Space Rogue. Bookmark the permalink.

About Space Rogue

Space Rogue is widely sought after by journalists and industry analysts for his unique views and perceptions of the information security industry. He has been called to testify before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and has been quoted in numerous magazine and newspaper articles as well as appeared on such TV shows as News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CNN Nightly News, ABC News Online with Sam Donaldson, and others. A recognized name within the industry, Space Rogue has written articles that are often quoted or refered to by other major media outlets. He has spoken before numerous audiances including the Digital Messageing Association, Defcon, Pumpcon, HOPE, H2K, and others. As a former member of L0pht Heavy Industries, Space Rogue ran the widely popular Hacker News Network which quickly became a major resource on the Internet for daily information security news. Before HNN he ran the The Whacked Mac Archives, which at the time, was the largest and the most popular Macintosh security site on the net. Currently Space Rogue does consulting for various companies.