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Browsing Posts in My Thoughts

OK so I was asked today to give an interview to my friend Aidan… Thought it was really cool and here’s how it went!

Ok…What is your title and where u work?

Bill Heese… IT Manager: global Creative Services

Do you think newer technology will improve our way of life? If so, how drastically?

You have to look at Google Glasses… It is the newest/hottest piece of technology around. It will allow individuals to super impose information gotten for the Internet in real time on real life. That’s a huge break through in smart technology. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a pizza place… Now imagine being able to look at the menu real time as you are walking past the store. Or driving down a street and being able to see what street you just pasted without having to worry about finding a street sign. Now imagine not having o take your eyes completely off the road as you ow have to do with current smartphone technology. I think that’s pretty drastic.

Do you think that we are too reliant on technological advancements? If they were taken away how deeply would we be affected?

I think that humans adapt very well to technological advances… Look those of us old enough to remember pay phones know what’s its like to have to have change in your pocket to make a phone call. Now with the wide spread use on cell phones we don’t think twice about having to find a pay phone… We reach into our pockets pull out our cell phones and we make our call. Smartphones/devices have taken that to the next step. Now we hop on the Internet when we need information now matter where we are. Need to find the train schedule while your walking to he Penn Station… Let me get my cell phone out. That being said… I’d like to think that if the infrastructure were to away tomorrow we adapt back to the past but it would take time… I don’t believe the change would happen instantly… It would take time as we have moved away from old technology. Try finding a parking pay phone… Do you have change in your pocket?

Do you rely on technology on a daily basis? How?

Absolutely… The smartphone has changed the way we get information. Facebook… Twitter… CNN, Wall Street journal, NY times… They all are available online. And oh by the way… news is being delivered real time. Just take a look at the recent Boston marathon bombings or he shooting in Newtown Ct… That was all delivered to us in real time. We need to be careful that our news source is being accurate I95 is backed up you can see that the Merritt is not so I’ll take that home instead. Yes… I’d say its any everyday event.

What, in your opinion, is the technology that has impacted us the most? And why?

There are so many technological improvements that we use everyday it’s hard to say what impacts us the most. And if you look a little deeper each of use may use technology a bit different from the person next to you. My kids use it to interact with individual all over the world as they play online video games… Mind craft is a favorite in my house. My wife will use it to get the latest recipe from Glamour magazine. Me… I use it to get situational information based on what I am working on or doing at any given moment. There are draw backs… There is information overload and we need to balance that.

That being said smart devices are the tools that we are being drawn to because of its portability. They more than anything has change we as humans interact with information.

Words can’t express the anger I am feeling right now. How sad I’m feeling for the families that lost loved ones today! This is a time of year when families should be brought together not torn apart senselessly! An unbelievablely selfish act that destroyed the hopes of parents and took the giggle away from little ones that will never get to know the joy of having kids of their own. Or how much they will be missed by the parents they left behind. My prayers go out to all of those that are hurting right now… hug your little ones and let them know how much they are loved!

Tragic things happen in life. Growing up in the Bronx, I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy. It doesn’t mean that we forget… no rather we can do 3 things

1. Stop living life because the pain is too unbearable,
2. Deal with the pain and try our best to move past, or
3. Learn from the tragedy and do something to insure it will never happen again.

I’m sure people will point out others things that I have missed but I believe we as human beings need to move past these tragic events and live life to its fullest!

There is one thing we can all be sure of… we will to die. Death is a part of life and depending on your spiritual beliefs it can be seen as a wonderful part of it or the tragic end of it. It is a process that brings anxiety and stress into our lives. So how do we deal with this.

I came across a bunch of podcasts given by Professor Shelly Kagan of Yale University that have now been posted to youtube.

The rest of the series can be found here… Death with Shelly Kagan

Who decides what is acceptable from what is not? Where does one draw the line? Who makes the decision to pull the plug once something has been published?

Freedom of Speech is the foundation of the American Idea. It is in fact protected by the very first amendment that our Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution on the United States. So it must be important! I certainly think so.

Censorship in its basic form is a type of bullying. Those in the position of power to suppress those not in power from being heard. It is a slippery slope. Where does it stop? Do we apply the standard of good judgment? There were many at the time that did not believe our Founding Fathers were exercising good judgment when seeking to separate from England. Yet hindsight being 20/20 those of use who call ourselves American think they did. However, at the time if they were to have been caught they would have been hanged.

One does need to realize that the freedom of speech in the United States is not absolute. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were the first real test of this. It prohibited individuals from making “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” against the United States government and then president John Adams. This wasn’t too popular at the time.

Fast forward to today we still just can’t say anything we want. While you may not get arrested you might find yourself in civil court defending yourself against false or inaccurate statements.

One of the beautiful things about the United States is that we can celebrate our difference in beliefs and be protected against prosecution simply because of those beliefs. We can speak out about our dissolution in the American Dream caused by the actions of our elected officials. We can make speeches filled with our hatred of other races, sexes nationalities and religions. It seems most everything is fair game.

I believe that everyone should have say and I’ve tried to live by this principle even when I don’t want to hear what is being said. In fact, I have often made it a point to protect one’s right to speak even when others wish the person not be heard.

Lying… trickery… duping… all words for the same thing. Words that have taken on a new meaning in the world of the on-line… connected… human! Words that have evolved into high stakes games on misinformation, fraud and identity theft. Words that have taken on the new moniker of social engineering!

Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information, rather than by breaking in or using technical cracking techniques; essentially a fancier, more technical way of lying (wikipedia.org, 2010). So what does this all mean? Well how many times have you answered the phone and the person on the other end of the line starts asking you questions about your mortgage? Wanting to help you reduce your rates! They start by asking benign questions and then move onto more personal information… such as your date of birth or heaven forbid your social security number. You’re happy to give away that information in exchange for $200 dollars off your monthly expenditures!

Or how about that cold call asking if you’re in charge of the network infrastructure at your place of employment? Or perhaps they want to know about what routers you use or the brand of toner purchase. Sure they may be mere cold calls… BUT they could be so much more. Social engineering in not about knocking at one door to see who answers but rather it’s about gathering as much information and using the information gathered in previous calls to further the manipulators efforts to make inroads into an organization.

In his book the Art of Deception, Kevin Metnick goes to great lengths to illustrate the ways in which we can be tricked into revealing information that may be common place within an organization but to an outsider can be very damaging if used inappropriately. In an interview in 2006 with Tom Espiner, Kevin Metnick shared his thoughts on what signs to looks for in a possible social-engineering attack.

Mostly, it’s gut instinct–if something doesn’t look or feel right. If someone is calling on the telephone, but they refuse to give any contact information, that’s a red flag. If they make a request that’s out of the ordinary, that’s a red flag. If they make a request for something sensitive, that’s when verification is necessary, depending on company policy (Espiner, 2006).

Honestly, the Art of Deception should be required reading for anyone responsible for security in any kind of organization… especially IT and HR departments! Social engineering needs to be addressed. Still and all, no matter what technical measures you introduce, people will do and say careless things under insecure conditions (Coffee, 2006). Employees need to be educated to the various forms phishing another social engineering practices both when using the Internet as well as answering the phones (Heese, 2007).

At the end of the day, humans have a need to help others. It ingrained within each of us. We have to get in touch with our inner selves… That part of us the screams out that something is wrong. We need to listen to that voice and heed its warning.

Resources:

Coffee, Peter (2006, August 14). Security Success Depends on Good Management, Retrieved on July, 6th, 2010, http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2001478,00.asp

Espiner, T., (2006, June 14th), Kevin Mitnick, the great pretender, Retrieved on July, 6th, 2010 from http://news.cnet.com/Kevin-Mitnick,-the-great-pretender/2008-1029_3-6083668.html

Heese, W., (2007, February 21), Computer system security policies – key trends, Retrieved on July 6th, 2010 from http://weblog.randomdog.net/?p=942

Various, (2010, July 4th), Social Engineering (security), Retrieved on July6th, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering_(security)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

I wanted to take a moment to thank all the men and women that place themselves in harm’s way to protect myself and family… You are the backbone of freedom and liberty! Thank you!

The Art of War is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

The Moral Law
Heaven
Earth
The Commander
Method and Discipline

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Computers and science fiction are intrinsically bound at the hip! And no one individual ties the both together than Star Trek’s Mr. Spock! Spock could be seen in most episodes working at his computer workstation fine-tuning the results of a search, calculating odds or presenting definitive course of action. But it wasn’t Spock’s love of computers that made him so special… It was his impeccable logic! SO sound was his logic that Kirk would go on to say, “You’d make a splendid computer, Mr. Spock” (Roddenberry, 1967).

We as human beings often think with emotion rather than logic. Thinking with emotion clouds logical thought. In IT the ability to think logically about a problem is a must… ones and zeros. It helps with the reasoning process… “I understand that your computer seems slow but can you be more precise?” If we can eliminate subjectiveness, we can often get at the root of the problem much more expeditiously. But logic isn’t only used to troubleshoot software bugs. Logic comes in handy for project management concerns as well.

We are constantly moving solutions into and out of the organizations we work for. Returning machines on lease seems pretty benign. We buy machines… they get delivered… we image them… we deploy them to the end-users desktop. One needs to be worried about interrupting the user. We don’t want to incur additional costs because we can’t turn around the number of machines ordered. It takes a lot of planning. The more you touch a piece of hardware the more time it takes to deploy… the better your chances of messing up! Understanding how to stage the machines and being able to be flexible to change needs to be a part of your logic.

Technology data migrations are another place where logic plays a hand. The more complex a migration is the more logic needs to be applied for a successful outcome. One needs to be able to determine the order in which changes happen. Formatting out a hard drive before you move the data off would be a really bad thing. Does the users home directory reside on the server or is it cached locally on their laptop? When was the last time the data was synced? These are just some of the questions you need to adequately plan. It is logic that you use to formulate the best way to make things happen.

Common sense… plays a part here too. The most common meaning to the phrase is good sense and sound judgment in practical matters (Wikipedia, 2010). It is this judgment that when strung together makes our logic sound as well! Some may Logic does not come naturally. Just like our reasoning skills logic needs to be learned. The study of logic enables us to communicate effectively, make more convincing arguments, and develop patterns of reasoning for decision making (Angel, 2007). The more you exercise your logical thinking the better you become at it.

Resources:

Angel, A., Abbott, C., & Runde, D., (2007), A Survey of Mathematics with Applications, Pearson/Addison Wesley

Roddenberry, G., (1967, February 9), Star Trek [The Return of the Archons], New York: National Broadcasting Company.

Various, (2010, April 20th), Common sense retrieved on April 21, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_sense