• Posted on July 13, 2017 12:03 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Internet or 'Net' Neutrality, by definition, means that there are no restrictions of any kind on access to content on the Web, no restrictions on downloads or uploads, and no restrictions on communication methods (email, chat, IM, etc.) It also means that access to the internet will not be blocked, slowed down, or sped up depending on where that access is based or who owns the access point(s). In essence, the internet is open to everyone. What does an open internet mean for the average Web user? When we get on the Web, we are able to access the entire Web: that means any website, any video, any download, any email. We use the Web to communicate with others, go to school, do our jobs, and connect with people all over the world. Because of the freedom that governs the Web, this access is granted without any restrictions whatsoever. Why is Net Neutrality important? Growth: Net neutrality is the reason that the Web has grown at such a phenomenal rate from the time it was created in 1991 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (see also History of the World Wide Web). Creativity: Creativity, innovation, and unbridled inventiveness have given us Wikipedia, YouTube, Google, I Can Has Cheezburger, torrents, Hulu, The Internet Movie Database, Reddit, LifeWire, and many more. Communication: Net neutrality has given us the ability to freely communicate with people on a personal basis: government leaders, business owners, celebrities, work colleagues, medical personnel, family, etc., without restrictions.  Strong net neutrality rules should be left in place to ensure all of these things exist and thrive. If Net Neutrality rules are removed, everyone that uses the internet will lose these freedoms. Is Net Neutrality available worldwide? No. There are countries whose governments restrict their citizens’ access to the Web for political reasons. Vimeo has a great video on this very topic that explains how limiting access to the internet can impact everyone in the world. Is Net Neutrality in danger? Possibly. There are many companies that have a vested interest in making sure that access to the Web is not freely available. These companies are already in charge of most of the Web’s infrastructure, and they see potential profit in making the Web “pay for play”. This could result in restrictions on what Web users are able to search for, download, or read. Some people in the United States are even afraid that changes from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could result in a negative net neutrality ruling. At Fight for the Future's Battle for Net Neutrality site, you can send a letter directly to FCC and Congress and let them know how you feel. You can also file a document into the official FCC proceeding to let officials know whether or not you want Net Neutrality regulations to change or remain in place. It's a super wonky form with a couple of weird things (hey, this is the government!) so follow these instructions carefully: Visit ECFS Express at the FCC website. Type 17-108 in the Proceeding(s) box. Press Enter to turn the number to a yellow/orange box. Type your first name and last name in the Name(s) of Filer(s) box. Press Enter to turn your name into a yellow/orange box. Fill in the rest of the form as you would normally fill in an internet form. Check the Email Confirmation box. Tap or click the Continue to review screen button. On the next page, tap or click the Submit button. That's it! You've made your feelings known. What would happen if Net Neutrality were to be restricted or abolished? Net neutrality is the foundation of the freedom that we enjoy on the Web. Losing that freedom could result in consequences such as restricted access to websites and diminished download rights, as well as controlled creativity and corporate-governed services. Some people call that scenario the 'end of the internet.' What are "Internet fast lanes"? How are are they related to Net neutrality?  "Internet fast lanes" are special deals and channels that would give some companies exceptional treatment as far as broadband access and internet traffic. Many people believe that this would violate the concept of net neutrality. Internet fast lanes could cause issues because instead of Internet providers being required to provide the same service for all subscribers regardless of size/company/influence, they could be able to make deals with certain companies that would give them preferred access. This practice could potentially hamper growth, strengthen illegal monopolies, and cost the consumer. In addition, an open internet is essential for a continued free exchange of information – a bedrock concept that the World Wide Web was founded upon. Net neutrality is important Net neutrality in the context of the Web is somewhat new, but the concept of neutral, publicly accessible information and transfer of that information has been around since the days of Alexander Graham Bell. Basic public infrastructure, such as subways, buses, telephone companies, etc., are not allowed to discriminate, restrict, or differentiate common access, and this is the core concept behind net neutrality as well. For those of us who appreciate the Web, and want to preserve the freedom that this amazing invention has given us to exchange information, net neutrality is a core concept that we must work to maintain.

    Blog Entry, DATA, EDUCATION
  • Posted on February 12, 2017 6:50 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Well it always happens (short post), eventually automation gets comfortable with itself and BOOM!  An Update overwrote our custom theme. Across my SNX Consulting network, I accidently applied a theme update to my custom "Vanilla" theme which I'm using as a placeholder.  Welp, it just happens to be the same name of another theme that is publically available through WordPress.   So through my "left-clicky" of Apply Updates, I ended up overwriting my custom theme. Basically means, my homepage is now showing someone else's theme work, and a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream. A Yummy Mistake!, So after I go get a bowl of Vanilla Ice Cream, I'll look for my backup. Maybe have it fixed by Monday

    Blog Entry, HAPPINESS
  • Posted on January 5, 2017 10:12 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    The problem begins with Microsoft's attempt to update things for Operating Systems (Like Windows 7), to be compatible with the newer Windows Update methods.   Since the release of Windows 8 & 10, including the 8.1, and 10 AU updates, Windows 7 has fallen behind in the care and love from Microsoft.  However sometime in July some patches were applied that broke the Windows Update process for Older Windows 7 systems.   This really affected people with clean/new installs of Windows 7, that haven't had all the updates applied since June/July 2016. I've had this problem with virtual machines I've recently setup that had clean installations of Windows 7, but Service Pack 1, is pretty far behind.  I haven't done my "due diligence" in slipstream Windows Updates into my Install ISO. After awhile, I found out that letting the Windows 7 machines just idle (tax at 100% CPU & RAM) for three days, until finally Windows Update shows a list of available updates to apply.  Then once more, having to apply those updates, and do it again to finish up with any updates that were not discovered beforehand. Step 1. Make sure you have KB 3078601, 3109094, 3138612, 3145739, and 3164033 installed You only have to do this once. To see if you're missing any of them, you can check the Windows Updates installed updates list (Start, Control Panel, under Windows Update click View installed updates). But it’s probably easier to download all of them and try to install them. If one is already installed, the installer will tell you -- no harm done. Step 1a. Make sure you know if you have a 32-bit (so-called “x86”) or 64-bit (“x64”) version of Windows 7. If you’re not sure, click Start, right-click Computer, choose Properties, and look under System type. Step 1b. Use any browser to go to each patch download site: KB 3078601  x64 x32 KB 3109094  x64  x32 KB 3138612  x64  x32 KB 3145739  x64  x32 KB 3164033  x64  x32 Step 1c. On each of those sites, Click Download. You’ll get an MSU file. In Chrome and IE, by default, you see an offer to either Open or Save the file. Save it. In Firefox, by default, the file downloads. These Microsoft servers are notorious for freezing -- sometimes the download won’t start, sometimes it won’t finish. If that happens to you, try reloading the page (click the circle-arrow near the address bar). You can also switch browsers. In any case, if you experience oddities while trying to download you aren’t the only one. Step 1d. Turn off Windows Update. The least confusing way to do that is to click Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools. Double-click on Services. Scroll down the list of Services and click once on Windows Update. Then, in the upper-left corner, click the link marked Stop. Step 1e. Double-click to run each of the five downloaded files. If the installer says you already have the patch, smile and go on to the next. Running those five updates will get you set up for the one significant update you need to run each month. Unless something weird changes (hey, this is Windows), you never need to go through Step 1 again. Step 2. Find this month’s favored patch and install it Unfortunately, the patch itself changes from month to month -- or at least, it has changed in every month since March. Here’s how to finish the job: Step 2a. Go to wu.krelay.de/en and find the latest magical patch. It’s listed at the top of the first table on the wu.krelay.de/en site. In July, the magic patch was KB 3168965. No doubt there will be a new one in August and another in September -- for however long we have to struggle with slow Win7 updates. Step 2b. Armed with the knowledge about whether your Windows 7 installation is 32- or 64-bit, use the links in that first table with any browser to download the correct patch. Step 2c. Save the patch but don’t install it. Step 2d. Make sure the Windows Update service is stopped. See Step 1d above. Step 2e. Double-click to run the downloaded patch. Step 2f. Reboot, as instructed after the patch is installed. (The Windows Update service will restart itself.) Then click on Start, Control Panel, and under Windows Update click Check for updates. If all went well, the check should take a few short minutes. My thanks -- and deep admiration -- to Dalai, ch100, and EP.

    Blog Entry, HAPPINESS, Patches
  • Posted on January 3, 2017 12:00 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Keeping track of passwords can seem like a hassle. Most of us have multiple sites we visit which require password logins. So many, in fact, that it's tempting to use the same username/password combo for all of them. Don't. Otherwise, it takes only the compromise of a single site's credentials to have a toppling domino effect on the security of all your online assets. Fortunately, there is a fairly straightforward way to have different passwords for each site you use but still make the passwords easy enough to remember. Creating Unique Passwords Before you begin creating strong passwords, you need to consider the use of those passwords. The intent is to create strong passwords unique to each account, but easy enough to memorize. To do this, first begin by splitting the sites you frequently login to into categories. For example, your category list might read as follows: social networking sites auction sites ecommerce sites email accounts banking sites forums A word of note here about forums. Never use the same password for a site's forum as you would for logging into the site itself. Generally speaking, the security on forums is not as strong as it is (or should be) for the regular site and thus the forum becomes the weakest link in their security. This is why, in the example above, forums are split into a separate category. Now that you have your categories, under each appropriate category, list the sites to which you must log in.  For example, if you have a Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo account, list these under the category 'email accounts'. After you've completed the list, you're ready to begin creating the strong, unique, and easy-to-remember passwords for each. Creating Strong Passwords A strong password should be 14 characters. Each character less than that makes it a little easier to compromise. If a site absolutely won't allow a password that long, then adapt these instructions accordingly. Using the 14 character password rule, use the first 8 characters as the common portion to all passwords, the next 3 to customize by category, and the last 3 to customize by site.  So the end result ends up like this: common(8)|category(3)|site(3) Following this simple rule, when you change your passwords in the future - which, remember, you should do often - you'll only need to change the first common 8 characters of each. One of the commonly recommended means of remembering a password is to first create a passphrase, modify it to the character limit, then begin swapping characters for symbols. So to do that: Come up with an 8 letter passphrase that is easy to remember. Take the first letter of each word to form the password. Substitute some of the letters in the word with keyboard symbols and caps (symbols are better than caps). Tack on a three letter abbreviation for the category, also replacing one of the letters with a symbol. Tack on a site specific three letter abbreviation, again replacing a single letter with a symbol. As an example: In step 1 we might use the pass phrase: my favorite uncle was an air force pilot Using the first letters of each word, we end up with: mfuwaafp Then we swap some of those characters with symbols and caps: Mf{w&A5p Then we tack on the category, (i.e. ema for email, and swap out one character of ema: e#a Finally, we add the site abbreviation (i.e. gma for gmail) and swap out one character: gm% We now have a password for our gmail account of Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Repeat for each email site, so perhaps you end up with: Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Mf{w&A5pe#aY%h Mf{w&A5pe#aH0t Now repeat these steps for the additional categories and sites within those categories. While this may look hard to remember, here's a tip to simplify - decide in advance what symbol you will equate with each letter.

    Blog Entry, Data Recovery, Hacking
  • Posted on June 15, 2016 10:00 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    If you've ever wanted to teach yourself how to do something, learn more about a particular discipline, or immerse yourself in something you've always wanted to know more about, then the Web is your dream come true. There’s no need to sign up for expensive college classes that can be outdated as soon as you finish them, or order books that lose their value as soon as you receive them in the mail. The Web has made all of that somewhat obsolete with free training on pretty much anything you can think of .In this article, we’re going to look in depth at online resources you can tap into for teaching yourself; some of these are email-based, some are in a game format (always my favorite!), and some are instructor-led via video. Just pick and choose the one that works best for you. unsplash.com 1.  MIT Open Courseware One of the most venerated educational institutions in the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been offering free classes taught by world-class instructors for several years now. Over 2000 (!) free classes are available in a wide range of subjects, including Computer Science. Course offerings include Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Elements of Software Construction, and Computer System Engineering. Most are packaged with online lecture notes, multimedia content, assignments and exams (with an answer book if you get stuck), online textbooks, even study groups. No registration is required to take these classes, and no certificates or credits are granted once you take these classes. However, that doesn’t make these offerings any less valuable (especially on a resume!), and all are available to take at your own pace. More » 2.  Coursera Coursera is an online collaboration between several of the top-tiered universities in the world, with offerings from a wide variety of programs, anything from Humanities to Biology to Computer Science. Online courses include classes from Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Edinburgh, and Vanderbilt. For those of you interested in computer science or technology-related offerings, there are classes offered in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision), Computer Science (Systems, Security, and Networking), Information Technology and Design, Programming and Software Engineering, and Computer Science Theory. Classes include online lectures, multimedia, free textbooks, and links to other free resources, like online code testers. Registration is free, and you will earn a signed certificate for each class you complete (must complete all assignments and other coursework). More » 3.  Code Academy CodeAcademy aims to make learning how to code fun, and they do this by making all of their courses game-based in nature. The site offers “tracks”, which are series of courses grouped around a particular topic or language. Course offerings include JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Python, Ruby, and JQuery. Registration is free, and once you get going in a class, you start to earn points and badges as a way to keep you motivated. No certificate or credits are offered here, however, the interactive classes make complicated concepts seem not as intimidating. CodeAcademy also runs CodeYear, a year-long collaborative effort to get as many people learning how to code (one lesson per week) as possible. More than 400,000 people have signed up at the time of this writing. More » 4.  Khan Academy The Khan Academy is an online library of video resources on nearly any subject you can think of, from Linear Algebra to Finance to Test Prep. They’ve got over 3000 videos from experts in the field, including Computer Science and the basics of programming. Interactive challenges and level by level assessments are available with each class, along with points and badges to measure your progress. All courses are self-paced; no credit or certificates are awarded. Videos are conversational in style, making complicated concepts easier to understand no matter what your educational level might be. More » 5.  Udemy Udemy differs a little bit from other sites on this list in two ways: first, not all of the classes are free, and second, classes are taught not only by professors but also by people who have excelled in their particular fields, like Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) or Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo). There are plenty of “learn to code” classes here, but there are also course offerings here like “Product Development Process” (from Marissa Mayer), “Product Development at Facebook” (from Mark Zuckerberg), or iPhone App Design (from the founder of App Design Vault). More » 6.  Udacity If you’ve ever wanted to do something like create a search engine in seven weeks (for example), and you’d like to learn directly from one of the co-founders of Google, Sergey Brin, then Udacity is for you. Udacity offers a limited selection of courses, all computer science related, with instruction from distinctive leaders in their fields. Classes are organized into three separate tracks: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. All classes are taught in a video format with quizzes and homework assignments, and final grades/certificates are awarded to students who finish the coursework successfully. One really intriguing thing about Udacity: they actually help their students find employment with over twenty technology-related companies, based on referrals from their Udacity credentials. Students can opt in to Udacity’s job program when they sign up for classes (free), where they can choose to share their resume with the Udacity team and potential employers. More » 7.  Google Code University Learning how to code from the team behind the most popular search engine in the world? Seems like a pretty good deal. Course content here includes information on Computer Science, Programming Languages, Web Programming, Web Security, even Google APIs and Tools. Google Code University is free and does not require registration; classes are offered via recorded video lectures, talks, problem sets, exercises, documents, and slides. Computer programming language courses are mostly introductory in nature, and include languages such as Python, C++, Go, and JavaScript. No certificates or credits are awarded with the completion of these classes. More » 8.  University of Reddit Reddit, one of the most popular communities on the Web today, has one of the best kept secrets online, and that is the University of Reddit: classes taught in a variety of disciplines ranging from Art to Technology by Redditors who are experts in their fields. Classes are free, and all it takes to sign up is a username and password. Depending on who is teaching the class (there’s not really a centralized source of information), you’ll get video lectures, assignments, tutorials, and collaborative instruction/feedback from others in your class. More » 9.  P2PU Peer to Peer University (P2PU) is a collaborative experience where you’re meant to learn in community with others. Registration and courses are totally free. There are several “schools” within the P2PU organizational framework, including one for Web-based programming backed by Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser. As you complete courses, you can display badges on your website or social profiles. Courses include WebMaking 101 and Programming with the Twitter API; no developer certifications are offered here, but the courses are well executed and worth taking a look. More » 10.  edX edX is a collaborative effort between Harvard University and MIT to bring free online courses from both institutions to the Web for anyone to take advantage of. Classes from Harvard, MIT, and Berekley are offered here for free, with more universities joining in the near future. Certificates of completion are awarded at the time of this writing for free; however, a “modest fee” for these certificates is planned for future students. Classes are somewhat sparse right now, but the origin of the classes as well as the informational content is well worth a look; for example, you could try Software as a Service from Berkeley, Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard, or Introduction to Computer Science and Programming from MIT – all for free. 11.  Stanford Stanford University – yes, THAT Stanford – offers an ongoing selection of free courses on many topics. If you’re looking for a basic introduction to Computer Science, you’ll want to check out SEE (Stanford Engineering Everywhere), which is ostensibly for students interested in engineering, but there are quite a few technology-related class offerings here as well. In addition, there’s Stanford’s Class2Go, an open platform for online research and learning. There’s a limited course offering here at the time of this writing, but more classes are planned in the future. Courses include videos, problem sets, knowledge assessments, and other learning tools. More » 12.  iTunes U There is an astonishing amount of free learning material available through iTunes, from podcasts to interactive classes to educational apps. Dozens of reputable universities have created a presence on iTunes, including Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Oxford, and Harvard. You’ll have to have iTunes in order to use this program; once you’re in iTunes, navigate to iTunes U (near the top of the page), and you can start to check out the course offerings. Classes are delivered directly to you on whatever device you’re using to access iTunes and are available in a variety of formats: videos, lectures, PDF files, slideshows, even books. No credits or certifications are available; however, the sheer amount of learning opportunities here from world class institutions (more than 250,000 classes at the time of this writing!) more than makes up for that. More » 13.  YouTube EDU YouTube offers a hub of educational content with offerings from organizations such as NASA, the BBC, TED, and many more. If you’re a visually oriented person who learns by watching someone else do something, than this is the place for you. These are meant to be standalone informational offerings rather than part of a cohesive course; however, if you would like to dip your toes in a subject and want to get a quick video introduction from leaders in the field, this is a good solution. More » 14.  Google It While all of the resources listed here are fantastic in their own right, there are still many more too numerous to list, for whatever you might possibly be interested in learning. Here are a few Google queries you can use to narrow down what you’re looking for:learn (insert what you want to learn about here)” Believe it or not, this is an incredibly powerful search string, and will bring up a solid first page of results. inurl:edu "what you want to learn" This tells Google to search within the URL keeping the search parameters to only .edu sites, looking for what you're trying to learn.

    Blog Entry, Cloud Apps, EDUCATION