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December 5, 2010 10:47 pm / joecoolish

How much is too much?

A lot of articles have been published about gaming addiction, and almost all of them state that gaming addiction can be defined as spending “too much something” gaming.  The something can be anything from time, money, and energy, to anything else that has to be given up in order to game.  This definition has a very big problem.  The problem is that “too much” is left to be defined by the user.  Every subset of people will assign a different definition to “too much”.  Some people are willing to pay $40+ a month to play a game while others are appalled that Angry Birds costs a one-time-fee of $4.99 on their iPad.  People that are affected indirectly by gaming addiction tend to define the unit value of “too much” a lot lower than people who are directly affected.  Doctors, “experts”, parents, and children… They all give unit values that can differ by orders of magnitude.  With all of this variability, the true definition of “too much” cannot be given a definite value (or static const val for all those computer programmers out there).  The only way that any reasonable unit value can be assigned to a specific “too much”, is by all parties involved with the decision being completely open and honest to each other and coming to an agreement.  That is the only way a real value can be assigned.

December 1, 2010 9:14 am / joecoolish

To meme or not to meme

YouTube, 4chan, Wikipedia, and the like have freely given the world the ability to virally spread any idea. The only problem with this gift to humanity is the word “any”. Viral ideas generally fall into two categories: Information, and memes. The flow of information is vital to our global society, and any new means of delivery is a welcome addition to our current infrastructure. For every good attribute viral information has, there exists an equally negative attribute associated with memes. Information gathering is a constructive usage of one’s time, while memes are generally considered “Time Wasters”. Information has little need for validation because by definition, information is made up of facts. Memes rarely have any truth associated with them, and in some instances memes cause the spread of miss information or flat-out fallacies. The only attribute of value present in memes that generally isn’t associated with viral information is “humor”. And since laughter is the best medicine, this doctor prescribes a healthy daily dosage of memes to help all that information go down.

November 29, 2010 10:14 am / joecoolish

Just another manic Monday

Online retail has completely redefined how we shop for gifts. Last year, retailers reported that shoppers spent around $500,000,000 during the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza, commonly referred to as “Black Friday”. This number, however, pales in comparison to the transaction reports of “Cyber Monday”. Cyber Monday is the term for the recent trend of online retailers offering extended sales to customers returning to work on the monday after Black Friday. Consumers that feel they weren’t able to adequately stock up on holiday cheer during the Friday chaos are taking advantage of these Monday deals to the tune of a cool $750,000,000, according to last year’s reports. These numbers prove two things: first, people prefer convenience to chaos, and second, nobody really works the week after Thanksgiving.
November 22, 2010 1:05 pm / joecoolish

Privacy: The case against anonymity‏

Anonymity has always been misunderstood as being a form of privacy, but What anonymity really does is create a means by which privacy can be violated.  The ability to be completely anonymous enables people to view, copy, and steal information without the threat of ever being discovered.  The term “Facebook Stalking” is an example of how anonymity is used to violate privacy.  Facebook stalking occurs when a person’s Facebook profile is visited in order to “catch up” on the events of that person’s life.  The intent of the visit could be anything from just seeing what they are up to, to stealing their identity, or worse!  Because of anonymity, the stalker has no fear of the profile owner ever knowing who they are, what they saw, and when they saw it.  If there was no such thing as anonymity, the stalker would not want to visit the profile because the owner would have access to the metadata of the stalker’s visit (metadata being the who, what, and when) thus allowing for true privacy.  Because the internet has allowed for social networking and group conversation to occur in ways that previously were unavailable, online privacy has become a huge issue.  The only way to allow for privacy online is by destroying anonymity and give every user the ability to view metadata about their online information.  Then, if the user sees violations of their privacy, they can have the evidence to prosecute the offender, or they can make changes so that personal information is kept in more secure environments.

November 10, 2010 10:24 pm / joecoolish

iPod Zombies are coming to get me!

My position Vlog is about iPod Zombies.  Yes, those pesky people that seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that other life exists outside their little world.  Follow me on an adventure where we try to walk, listen to music, and record a video, all while maintaining a firm position about the dangers of walking with headphones.

In the video, I am seen walking and talking (well, trying to walk and talk) all while listening to loud and obnoxious music. It is a difficult task! And if you haven’t tried it, I wouldn’t recommend doing it.

My position on walking and listening to music is that common sense dictate a moderate volume, and even though it is hard, we must try and interact with other people on a daily basis.  Always being plugged in is a great way to fail at that.  And of course, how could we forget that no song is worth getting hit by a truck, even if it is Lady Gaga!

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgP6Mv-uiPA

November 8, 2010 12:45 am / joecoolish

Putting the Pro back in Procrastination

Article: http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/11/06/1633256/In-Praise-of-Procrastination

Computer software is developed in a recurring cycle.  The cycle starts when a task is given and is finished when a product is produced.  Many times, however, this cycle includes a phase called “Crunch Time”.   Crunch Time (or CT for short) is the when the product deadline is rapidly arriving and the product’s development team is required to put forth more effort to ready the software for delivery.  CT is the result of many factors, including: aggressive delivery dates, lack of man-power, poor planning, late bug discoveries, and procrastination.  Procrastination is an interesting factor because it too is a regularly re-occuring phase in the development cycle.  Because CT requires extra effort,  a period of recovery is required shortly following.  This period usually also occurs during the beginning phases of the next iteration of the development cycle, causing the product to be procrastinated and resulting in another instance of CT.  There is no healthy way to stop this cycle and so therefore, to work as a software engineer you must be pro procrastination.

October 26, 2010 11:47 pm / joecoolish

One two, one one.

The key to cyber security is figuring out how to transmit information in such a way that it can be received by your intended audience without being intercepted by untrusted sources.   In order for this to be accomplished, the data has to be transformed so that only valid recipients can get it back to its original state.  In other words, data needs to be encrypted before it is transmitted.  Originally, the process of encryption only involved two pieces: a cipher and plain text.  A cipher is an algorithm that is used to modify plain text to and from an encrypted state.  These algorithms generally consist of clever number patterns that are difficult to reverse engineer.  The harder the algorithm, the better the protection.  However, if the algorithm becomes compromised, the message can easily be deciphered.  Because both the sender and the recipient need to have the same algorithm, there is a high risk of it being intercepted while in transit and of it being taken from either end.  Because of this risk, modern cryptography relies on asymmetric key encryption.  With a cipher, both algorithms (or keys) need to be the same, whereas with asymmetric key encryption, both keys can be different.  This is where the terms “public key” and “private key come from.  A good way of thinking about public and private keys is by comparing them to a P.O. box.  Anyone can send a P.O. box a letter that has its address (public key) but only the owner can receive the letter, because only he has the key to open the box.  In cyber security, public and private keys are generally two number sequences that are mathematically related to each other and where derivation between the two is feasibly impossible.  A great example of asymmetric key encryption is RSA, where encryption using the public key and decryption using the private key is achieved in O(n) time and deriving the private key from the public key and the encrypted message is O(2^n).  Over all, since cyber security has become a major issue in today’s world, the cleverness of information assurance has had to evolve from simple number patterns to complex mathematical algorithms, thus proving if you make a machine to kill the hacker, you only make a better hacker.

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