The Future is Finally Getting Closer

For years we have dreamed of technological advancements that have constantly gotten pushed further and further into the future.  Some of these are the thoughts of flying cars, shoes that lace themselves, space ships that travel faster than light, and much more. Science fiction started placing dates of the early 2000’s as the time that would bring these fancy gadgets, but those years soon came and went. Here we are now in 2012 and where are we?  We finally got hand-held touch pad devices that can do just about anything under the sun, but that’s nearly the extent of it.

The reality is that technology takes some times in many cases, mostly because of willingness to research and of people to purchase the products. There has finally been enough interest through the governments desire to mobilize more drone type equipment in war zones, including ground vehicles sparking the flame under a few corporations to develop the self driving car. Google is one of these corporations and recently released an inspiring video documenting where their product is at the moment. (Over 200,000 test miles driven)

There is still a ways to go before we’ll each have our own, but if it takes of like anything from apple has over the past decade, we very well could have our own self driving car in the next five years. It’s been a long time coming, and I for one am excited to be able to tell my car to take me to California, get a good nights sleep, and wake up having arrived at the beach.  What do you think?  What technologies are you looking forward to being developed?

Social Media and Work – Where do we draw the line?

Social Media Name CloudThis topic of Social Media and Work: Where is the Line? sparked a good discussion between a few of us the other day, and we thought we’d put our separate views in separate posts in order to keep them that way as we each seemed to advocate different views on the issue. I want to hear what your thoughts are and see more of the different variety of views that we have regarding this subject in order to better find the common truth in the matter.

Having studied business for a number of years (I have an associates in Business as well as a BS in Business Administration focusing on international management and human resources), I can understand the whole view of looking at the content that people put on the internet as a way to get a basic judge of a person’s character.  Hiring is a very subjective process, and many managers will say that they feel better about one candidate over another. There is no objective reasoning in this choice, only subjectivity.  I’ve seen this first hand through the multiple hiring cycles I’ve done in working life. Learning about Human Resources in school gives one the perspective as to why this is the case. A company is a living organism, and in order to keep it alive and growing, any new additions must fit and enhance the company.  Bad decisions are made and wrong people are hired.  Many other subjective means of choosing a candidate sadly are also used over the qualifications that certain decisions should be based.

Hiring Stick ManThere are certain positions in companies that I can see it near imperative to know what content had been and could be put in mediums where viral posts are common. Managers, police officers, other public figures, and etc. all fit into this category.  As a manager, I would want to feel a level of trust with the employees I may be hiring and apply policies to where social media involving the company is restricted.  I would be willing to show a hiring manager my Facebook account yet would prefer to give them a full tour, documenting why certain things are there and answering questions they may have.  Honestly, any smart person interviewing would rid their account of content that was offensive to a company, just like you would dress up for the interview and not show up in your pajamas, so I consider showing it a non issue. For my own security reasons (being also an Information Systems major) I wouldn’t want to log into a personal account on a computer they provided, but would offer to show them from my own computer or phone.  I would even friend a company hiring manager. Granted, in all of these cases, I would want them to present a consistent and valid argument as to why they deemed it necessary, but then I also understand that I am looking for a place I fit as much as the company is looking for someone who fits in their company and if they are doing it just to do it, then perhaps we won’t mesh very well.

Password KeyUnderstanding all of this, I deem the whole asking for a persons password to an account as an unethical practice. Companies are getting desperate to use the best medium of seeing a person’s character, or their Facebook account which most have set privacy settings restricting view from the outside, and are frankly taking it too far.  I have my Facebook privacy settings set to certain settings for a reason, so the vast public can’t see the majority of what I post (mainly pictures because they get used inappropriately). This being the case, I would have no problem showing an employer my Facebook and other social media accounts as I have nothing to hide. If they deemed that the content was not conducive to their corporate culture, then that’s their choice.  I do not, however, think that it is in any means appropriate to ask for a persons password to an account of a site that is not the corporations, no matter the reason.  I see it like asking for a persons car keys or house keys so that they can look inside. Would you give someone your keys and let them romp through your home or car without supervision?

What are your thoughts?  Should passwords be requested in any case by your work? What situations could you see it necessary?  Has this happened to you?

Social Media and Work: Where is the Line?

Social Media Login

As the job market begins to improve, more and more companies are looking for ways to shuffle through the massive amounts of job applications that they have to go through.  We know the process. We’ve done it. We hated it. It’s a pain going over 200 applicant’s resumes and then trying to narrow that list down to five to call in for interviews. Companies for a while now have been looking at social media to find out more about people and making judgments as to whether to hire them based on that.  Most recently, instead of just looking for or glancing at people’s Facebook pages, they have started requiring that they turn over their password, in some of the more extreme cases, or, in the less extreme cases,  asking candidates to sign in to their Facebook account during the interview or friend a hiring manager. For more detail, check out the article from business insider “If You Want A Job, You May Have To Turn Over Your Facebook Password”. Stay tuned for some of our contributors views on the subject.

What are your thoughts? Where is the line between social media and work?

Mysterious “Booms” in Wisconsin

Mysterious Booms Sound Wave

As I was perusing the news this morning, I noticed an intriguing article about Mysterious Booms in a Wisconsin town. I pulled up the article thinking that it would be simply a funny story about someone doing something stupid. The booms have been occurring since Monday evening and the city has tried to determine the source to no avail. Read more details about the story from the Associated Press. The article and other articles I have found are written by journalists so they are short and don’t include a lot of details.  This has left questions for me, particularly, are the booms only occurring at night, or do they occur during the day as well? If they are only occurring at night, I would suspect that that may help narrow down the source.

I did a little more research and came across a blog: Mystery Booms / Skyquakes.  The author details a number of occurrences of incidents that sound similar and attribute the cause to small disturbances beneath the surface, much like an earthquake only substantially smaller to where only those right next to it would feel it. This could be the case, however, the cities preliminary investigations note that the city doesn’t sit on or near a fault line and that the bedrock is composed of mostly granite. The city hired a seismologist and an engineering team to do a more detailed look and get to the bottom of the situation, so hopefully they’ll have an answer soon.  What thoughts do you have? Any seismologists or geologists that could shed light on this? Any theories?

The Disillusionment of Politics – Reality of Our Common Home: Earth

Earthrise: Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth... home. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14.
Earthrise

In the interest of keeping up with current events, I keep an eye on news stories and politics as I go throughout my day. I like to see what things are happening in the world as they normally end up effecting some aspect of my life. Most recently, the largest amounts of news media has been focused on the upcoming presidential election here in the United States. I get frustrated with politics a lot. Some of this is because we have become so partisan as a society, so extreme in our views that every discussion becomes a heated battle. There is constant bickering and what seems like endless and useless rhetoric from everyone, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Right, Left, Communist, Federalist, and the list goes on. Most of the time, it really seems like nothing ever gets done. I can understand people’s complaint and subsequent animosity towards political systems the world over.

One of the defining reasons I love the space program and admire the astronauts, cosmonauts, and many others, past and present, who have ventured out beyond these political spheres of influence is because they have come to see Planet Earth for what she truly is. Hopefully someday, we’ll all have that same opportunity. Even if we don’t though, we should be able to grasp that we’re all in this together and need to come together and work together to make the world a better place in all aspects. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell stated these same sentiments best, at least I think so:

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’ ” – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut

Legos in Space: A Modern Day October Sky

Lego Shuttle Flight
Lego Shuttle Flight - Soon after takeoff (http://bit.ly/zqzV4f)

Space, dubbed the final frontier most famously by the series Star Trek, has been the dream of many people throughout the years.  As of late, the number of people with this dream seems to have dwindled, but not for Oaida Raul from Romania who was bound and determined to realize his dream like Homer Hickam did in the book Rocket Boys later to be changed to match the movie October Sky . He diligently found an investor who mentored him about how to make his project work and even steered him into using a Lego Space Shuttle Model 3367.  Getting air space clearance, he launched the model along with a GoPro camera and other equipment and sent it soaring.  The song 99 Luftballoons  nearly immediately came to mind upon hearing that they used a 1600g helium filled weather balloon and launched from Germany. The music he picked for his YouTube video was great, but I think it would have been even more of a kicker with that song. Oh well.  Perhaps that can be a future project using a whole squadron! Take a look at the video below. It’s pretty awesome. You can also see the more detailed version of events from his Oaida’s own blog.

Anonymous

Anonymous Logo
Anonymous Logo (http://www.observer.com/files/2011/09/anonymous-logo-1.jpg)

Anonymous has made a lot of international news as of late as it seems their organization is growing larger and more brash.  Most recently have been attacks made by them on a number of US government websites including the CIA, FBI, and many local police authorities, especially as members of the organization have been found and arrested (with charges equaling more than 100 years in federal prison).

“Anonymous is a decentralized network of individuals focused on promoting access to information, free speech, and transparency.” (From http://anonanalytics.com/)

DC Comics Superheroes

Though I agree with promoting these ideals expressed, this is not what the image of the organization is to the public, and perhaps it is that decentralized network structure that makes it so. Without the structure, there is little way for the organization to truly keep a handle on all of its “members” making sure that the ideals it was founded on are correctly pursued.  With the most recent attacks and threats, the group appears to be insecure, a group of nerds and geeks who always wanted to be a superhero vigilante and see this as their chance. I’m sorry to break it to you Anonymous, but you’re not Batman, Superman, Spiderman, or the X-men. All you are making yourselves out to be are bullies and terrorists (which I believe was exactly what Captain America was against).  I am not the only one with this opinion. David Goldman from CNN Money Tech wrote an article last year about the groups and their overall position within the global cyber-crime universe.

The global cybercrime universe is terrifying. Cybercrooks often work in organized crime syndicates like the Mafia. Some defraud banks, and many others are government agents that spy on foreign entities and corporations. They threaten our financial systems, our economy, and our national security.

Comparatively, hacktivists groups are the equivalent of graffiti artists, prank callers, hazers and bullies. Like pranksters, they tend to be young, poorly funded and immature. They seek to embarrass companies, individuals, and government agencies in order to make a statement.
http://money.cnn.com/2011/07/25/technology/lulzsec_anonymous_hackers/index.htm?iid=EAL

There comes a time; however, when the immature “pranksters” that at one time we though were harmless end up making a huge mistake and without looking at the consequences end up destroying what they claim they are protecting. Fighting for access to information and transparency is great and all, but at what cost? One of the most recent attacks was on the police department of my home city where the database of anonymous tips and other information was stolen and held over the states head to get them to stop anti-graffiti legislation they didn’t like. “They criticize the bill for being too broad, an attempt ‘to resolve an inconvenience with a flamethrower.’ ” (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53417158-78/police-site-website-information.html.csp) So you take innocent citizens information, who were reporting crimes, and threaten to release it?  How is that not hypocritical and ‘resolving an inconvenience with a flamethrower’?  Why can’t you go through the normal channels? You’re putting other people’s lives at risk. Even the dumbest of superheroes has more sense than that.

If this was the worse they had done, I might chalk it up to a well-played bluff, but it’s not. They’ve done worse and are currently doing worse. A group called “Morality in Media” whose focus is to try to curb the ever-expanding movement of pornography in our world is under constant attacks and threats because of the outcry of the group’s executive director who witness a man in front of her on an airplane viewing pornography that she deemed to be “childlike”.  She spoke out and was told to be quiet by the stewardess, a number of the passengers, one in particular who told her “Be quiet, no one cares.” (Read her letter here  You can also see the short YouTube video about the experience) After posting a YouTube video about the incident, Anonymous decided to get their hands involved releasing the home address, phone numbers of not only this executive director, but her parents, brother, and other relatives encouraging members and others to harass and threaten them, most recently with “I will kill you” as well as other death threats and calls for violent attacks.

Who Watches the Watchmen?It’s this type of extremism that causes the great many issues we have in this world and to be frank, I am sick and tired of it. I don’t speak just about anonymous as the trend today is if I don’t get my way, then I’m going to be radical until I do. This goes for the government, politics, religious groups, anti-religious groups, and many, many more. Do we tolerate people and groups being a bullies and terrorists because we think they’re fighting for a just cause? How far is too far? Will we let them turn into organizations like the KKK? Would you tolerate them threatening you, your friends, and your family?  Will we let it go on until they’ve compromising our security and freedoms just so they can have their way? Will you care? “Who is watching the watchmen?”   What are your thoughts?