#TechEd 2012: Uncle Sam Wants You…to Learn Stuff!

Actual Clip-Art

If you use computers, smart phones, the Internet, or chipped-out credit cards, you need to learn how to protect yourself. That’s what’s up. These days, a good briefing on modern technology is more than just a good idea; #TechEd is our civic duty. #TechEd is the new learning not to play with fire. As we wade further into the deep end of this e-pool, with every e-footstep comes the mounting risk of fatal e-electrocution. True.

With all these devices and, everyday, more of our lives being defined in code ,we will inevitably find ourselves at the mercy of the electronic equivalent of bag snatchers. E-Bags, if you will. These aren’t master hackers, or whatever. These aren’t your c0mrades (RIP), your Zero Cools, or even your Dexter Douglases. These are just random jerks with a computer and just enough reason to figure it out. Even so, cyber crimes like identity theft cost United States households, like, $13.3 billion in 2010.

But what can ya do, you know? Seems like, truth be told, not much, bro. If these criminals are able to fell The Department of Justice website, and snake files out of places like Stratfor, then what chance do we have? Somini Sengupta over at that other New York paper, Yesterday’s News…I mean, The Times, mused recently on how the bright side of this #HackAttack super-trend sounds “the alarm about the unguarded state of corporate computer systems.” Fair enough, but I hear another alarm. It’s coming from our bedside tables, it’s telling us that we need to get up, shoot a 5-Hour Energy, and get to work. Big companies and government agencies aren’t the only ones who need to learn a little about The System.

I’m not saying that we should all go out and become computer scientists, or evenDIY robot hobbyists, though if you did manage to scrape together something excellent, @Kickstarter might just make you a mint. Either way, if you’re going to live in the Age of the Nerds, you may want to don a pocket protector just so they know whose side you’re on. “When in ROM…” as they say, “…read-only.”

There are a number of resources out on the Internet to get you up to snuff. Startups like Treehouse and Codecademy look to make your learning fun. If you’ve got a touch of the artist in you, Processing is a language aimed at satisfying the need for instant gratification by serving as a sort of code sketchpad. Moving through the many tutorials, users harness the power of the Processing language to create arts. Actually cool!

While Treehouse costs a good scrap, 25 monthly bucks for the intro package, they do boast a huge number of instructional videos, and helpful texts. I can’t think of anywhere else you’d get such a great deal from obviously knowledgeable people…oh, wait…I did once hear that some two-bit school was offering full introductory courses to Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics online and totally for free. What school was that? That’s right: damn Stanford University. Through the Stanford Engineering Everywhere program, you can get a world class education from the comfort of your own tax deductible home/office (that’s what web developers call their studio apartments, btw), all it’ll cost you is time.

Speaking of—and, trust me, I know the market value on seconds these days—the good folks at Lifehacker recently mentioned how just thirty minutes a day can make all the difference when you’re learning something new. I’m not talking about those 30 minute pay courses, either. Really. Just sit down for 30 minutes a day and practice.

Remember, fellow Netizens: ask not what your computer can do to you, ask your computer to do anything you want it to.

Follow @44carib on @Twitter just because!


[Author Edit of Article Written For and Published by NYPress.com]


TV on the Aereo: Turn On, Tune In, and Drop the Lawsuit, Dudes.

So this website called Aereo got sued by every major broadcast network. Why? Because on watching the Internet just like the rest of us. If you are watching TV, it’slikely that you’re using a DVR to do it. Which is sort of what’s up with this whole Aereo deal.

All the way back in 2009 Vishesh Kumar and Sam Schechner totally sucking. When Cablevision plunked that one a whole bunch of networks sued them too. Cablevision hired a lawyer and totally won the case and, no spoilers, Aereo just hired the same dude so they’ll likely win also.

The original defense rested on the fact that each DVR+ member was basically doing the same thing TiVo lets you do: recording content that anybody with an antenna and a TV has free access to, and every recording was saved to an individual’s own/private Virtual DVR Storage. Very much like when Universal and Disney sued Sony because the Betamax (seriously) was an evil piracy device. Aereo’s set to use ‘The Cablevision Defense’ because their whole system works by allotting members their own/private pair of micro-antennae located on the company’s own Brooklyn rooftop aerie. So, in effect, you’re paying Aereo to hold on to your antenna for you.

Like millions and millions of my contemporaries, to me, the Internet = an Absolutely Everything Machine. If it’s not on the Internet: I don’t know about it. Even if it is on the Internet, but not in the cheap to free price range, I very actually do not want it. Aereo’s $12/month price is not bad. Even on top of Netflix and Hulu+ that’s way less than my grandfather pays for cable. After an extended Beta, Aereo launched for New York residents on March 14th. New users get a 90-day free trial. Which is excellent. The site looks nice and the video quality is just fine when you’re watching it live—that’s right: Live Streaming Video. How often do you see that phrase this e-side of the porn-belt?—sometimes the image is a little jiggly/pixelated, whatever. It works good, I’d say. Any issue I had was, oddly, emotional. More on that, now:

All this actually-on-the-air-right-now content reminded me of what a huge bummer it was back in the day when there was “just nothing on!” I Flipped ahead in the guide a bit, set it to record 30 Rock, did things, and came back at 9pm. Actually giddy! To think, my very own brand new episode of 30 Rock saved away snug within 40 hours of DVR Storage Space on the Aereo Cloud, and, WTF?! Under the Recordings tab, I found a friendly, devil-red, line of text which read: “Not recorded: System error”

I felt feelings then that I hand’t felt since I once forgot to put a new VHS in for the ST:TNG series finale. Good thing Hulu’s got my back. There’s bound to be issues at first. Seinfeld and an airing of The Addams Family recorded just fine later on. I’m into it.

Broadcasters need to check themselves on this one. Here are all these business models popping up that are showing us all that The Future is not allergic to revenue. But still these clunky old brands are so afraid of reality that they’ve become incapable of taking all this money I’ve got sitting around. So be it.

Services like Aereo could be a non-candy lifesaver for these guys. All the ingredients are there: TV, Internet, willing consumers, money. Also, think of how much more in touch networks would be with all the data available from a web audience. Instead of spending all this cash picking on the new kids, legacy media outfits might consider a few smart investments. Don’t be afraid of working together to make life easier for consumers. It definitely won’t piss us off.

How do you get your sitcoms? Think The Plaintiffs are right? Let us know in the comments!

Follow @44carib on @twitter just because!


[Author Edit of Article Written for and Published by NYPress.com]

Google Wants to Go Steady: The New Privacy Policy and You

Lately, you may have seen a tab pop up while using your everyday Google Services: “We’re changing our privacy policy. This stuff matters. Learn more.”

Goo-oooooooooooooogle Crisp!

Indeed. The new Google Privacy Policy, taking effect on March 1st 2012, matters. To even mention how deeply Google has permeated our lives seems silly. For a whole ton of people, Google basically is the Internet. Now, while the company has only modest (relatively) market share within many of the sub categories that make up the full scope of Google Services, just the fact that all of these exist creates a pervasive, fungal, sort of presence across e-society.

Up until now, each G Service requested that new users agree to a clearly stated Terms of Service before entering—remember all those Terms? No? Me neither, bro! Nobody reads those things. It’s just generally accepted that companies aren’t binding us into contracts for our first-borns, or any overtly Satanic requirements, in order to use their services. What they do ask of us is that we allow them to sell information about us so that they can generate income. Which is fair. I’m certainly not paying them.Now, instead of each sub-Goog having separate policies, all of them will be grouped under one big legal roof.

So what will the new Privacy Policy mean to you? Well, it’ll mean that if you ever become curious about what you’ve consented to, you’ll only have to read ‘one’ (fairly giant) wad of text. In the same sense, it means a consolidation of your Internet person. You could think of it as, like, a declaration of self, vaguely. A coming of age.

Before now, the Internet knew you in a piecemeal way. It’d be, all, “Oh, you like that? Let me show you where to get more,” and then you were, all, “Dude, I hate that. I was just curious,” and then the Internet would say it was sorry, and urge you to tell it more about yourself, and you’d be, like, ‘God! You’re smothering me!’ but then y’all were back together the next day, because, by now, you just can’t live without one another. Come March 1st, it’s going to be like all of your Ex’s just got together for drinks with your current special someone, a.k.a. Google, and…well, suffice it to say that your Sexy Air of Mystery just got a lot less Airy.

The question is, are we ready to settle down with this cyber-babe? Are we prepared to give ourselves to Google TDDWP? Does that stand for till death do we part? Yes! Yes to all of it. It does. We do. Because we just have no choice. Google has been nice enough to let us opt out of any and all of their services, and, it’s easy enough: stop using them. Otherwise you can just opt out of the data-mining part, or the web-history part, or the Relevant Interest Advertising part, and it’s all right there on the GoogleDashboard that you probably didn’t know existed. Though, even if you do all of that, there are so many websites and apps grabby-handsing at your data-sandwich that, well gosh, you might as well not have packed a lunch at all.

Personally, I think Chris Davies at slashgear.com is right in saying that we don’t give a shit about our privacy. Granted, we give huge amounts of shit when our bank numbers are swiped, or we find out that Apple knows where we get lattes while we loop around our—suddenly so visibly pathetic—daily trajectories. But is it all so bad?

What Google wants to do with our information is make a ton of money. That’s reasonable. Google is a product(s), and we are consumers, and this is how that works. The how of Google is advertising. Paradise for advertisers is for every ad seen by consumers to be, not just relevant, but necessary. That’s kind of a paradise for consumers too. If, after the new Policy takes effect, a person were to use Google for everything—really. From Calendar to Wallet to Health—Google, in turn, could conceivably make life extremely convenient for that person.

Imagine a life where you don’t forget to set your alarm because your phone knows your schedule. It tells you that your normal route to work is going to make you late and suggests the best alternative. It even highlights an alternate Starbucks because you stop there every day for a your favorite drink—which—it will order for you once you get close enough so they’ll have it waiting at the bar. Or you could imagine that Google = Cyberdyne Systems and soon we’re all going to die in a brutal robo-pocalypse.

So, what? Are we ready to wear Google’s pin, or will they play us like a fool? What do you think?

Follow @44Carib on @Twitter just because!

[FOLLOW UP: This is a great article by Jon Mitchell for Read Write Web that argues “The Case for Google”]

[Article Written for and Published by NYPress.com]