Friday, May 25, 2007

Look Both Ways

Look Both Ways

Linda Criddle, parent and ex Microsoft has a good website (yes she is plugging her book on intenet safety - but that's good) and provides us with some obvious and not so obvious advice about our online activity:

Buy all the safety software you need and use good filtering tools. Keep them current and use them unfailingly-as automatically as locking your door when you leave the house.

Discuss online safety with your family and friends. Decide together how you will help protect each other online and set rules that reflect your personal and family values. Decide what activities are okay, and what information it's fine to give out and to whom. Consider using an Internet Safety Contract For Families.

Be selective about who you interact with online and what information you make public. The risks are relatively low when you stick with people you know—your family, and friends. Going into public chat rooms or opening your blog up to the general public, for example, significantly increases your risk.

Think before you post online any information that can personally identify you, a family member, or friend in public place. (That means in a public blog, in online white pages, on job hunt sites, or in any other place anyone on the Internet can see.) Sensitive information includes birth date, gender, town, e-mail address, school name—even photos. This information can be used to help someone find you or steal your identity.

Pay attention to the risks of e-mail. Think twice before you open attachments or click links in e-mail-even if you know the sender-as these can be used to transmit spam and viruses to your computer.

Never respond to e-mail asking you to provide personal information, especially your account number or password, even if it seems to be from a business you trust. Reputable businesses will not ask you for this information in e-mail.

Put your family computer and Internet-connected game consoles in a central location. A family room or kitchen makes a good place where you can watch over your children’s online activity.

Never, ever meet in person someone you've met online without taking somebody else along. Remember, people are not always who they say they are.

Review the features on your children's cell phones. Can they download images from the Internet, use instant messaging, or access services that allow others to pinpoint their location? All of these features could be a cause for concern, depending on your child’s maturity and situation.

Find out how and where to report abuse. Create an environment that encourages your kids to report abuse to you. Acting as a responsible Internet citizen can help stop the illegal activity, harassment, and predatory behavior of online criminals.

Don’t trade personal information for “freebies.” (Good advice for kids, too.) Just as in the physical world, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unwanted software like spyware and viruses often piggybacks on software that’s “free.”

Check out the safeguards on computers your child uses outside the home-at his or her school, the public library, and the homes of your child's friends.

Choose a safe online name. Use e-mail addresses, IM names, chat nicknames, and other such names that don't give away too much personal information. Pick a name that doesn't help identify you (your age, for example) or locate you. Avoid flirtatious or provocative names that may cause unwanted attention.

Sit down with your child regularly to review Internet contacts and activity—buddies, blogs, browser history, image files, music downloads, and so on. Let them know you'll do this periodically. Explain that this is not to violate their privacy, but to protect them and the family from risks.

Facebook's viral plan

Facebook's plan to hook up the world - May. 24, 2007

"Imagine that when you shopped online for a digital camera, you could see whether anyone you knew already owned it and ask them what they thought. Imagine that when you searched for a concert ticket you could learn if friends were headed to the same show. Or that you knew which sites - or what news stories - people you trust found useful and which they disliked. Or maybe you could find out where all your friends and relatives are, right now (at least those who want to be found)." Or maybe rumours become fact in the flash of a pixel...

24 million members - growing at 150,000 a day - a ready made audience that connects, prods and advises each other is now available to any application developer. Facebook is aiming to be the social networking platform offering multiple applications and interlinked referrals...I don't know - it just seems the idea of loosely connected is getting tightly connected, and mass is going to impact upon social capital, and localization is going to crash against internationalism, and dominant cultures will prevail...and those in the loop will continue to benefit and a new class (or a continuation of) of disaffected and disenfranchised will appear.

And the idea of everybody in the world (the goal) being connected into the same platform (wait a minute isn't that Microsoft?) seems to bring up some sort of Gibson generated cyber nightmare waiting to happen. Am I missing the desire to connect? To paraphrase Gibson -Maybe the future is already here. It's just not widely distributed yet - to every human being - to me?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Star Wars Mash up

STAR WARS TO MAKE HUNDREDS OF CLIPS AVAILABLE FOR MASHUPS Lucasfilm plans to make clips of "Star Wars" available to fans on the Internet to mash up at will. The clips -- about 250 of them, from all six Star Wars movies -- will land on the Web site tomorrow, part of this week's 30th-anniversary celebrations of the release of his hit movie. Working with an easy-to-use editing program from Eyespot Corp. of San Diego, fans can cut, add to and retool the clips. Then they can post their creations to blogs or social-networking sites like MySpace.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Star Trek Scotty’s Space Ashes Lost Up A Hill - Hecklerspray: Music, Movies, TV, Celebs, Games and Gossip

Star Trek Scotty’s Space Ashes Lost Up A Hill - A rocket that blasted into suborbital space two weeks ago from a remote area in New Mexico and contained ashes of late Star Trek star James Doohan has fallen back to Earth and landed in a mountainous region of the state that's made it difficult to recover, according to a spokeswoman for the company … "It's not like Mr. Doohan's lost. The rocket did hit its landing target, but it's in a very mountainous and rugged terrain. They can't get to it by foot or by vehicle. They have to take a helicopter up there."

Captain Kirk never did listen to Scotty's plaintiff cry about the ship['s ability - "She can't take anymore cap'n" - and sadly in his last trip technology failed him yet again. Warp drives aren't what they used to be.

Pentagon blocks websites from staff and troops

New York Times, May 14 - This is yet another case of institutional censorship that is just not going to work. The Pentagon has banned access to MySpace, YouTube, Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos, FileCabi, BlackPlanet, Hi5, Pandora, MTV,, live365 and Photobucket. They cited technical and security concerns - “We’ve got to have the networks open to do our mission. They have to be reliable, timely and secure.” Private internet connections still have access, but most troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are limited to Pentagon service, Stars and Stripes notes.

"Today’s Web site ban and last month’s revision of military blogging policy were partly justified by operational security concerns. Howevere in reality this is just a censorsjip issue - seeking to reduce the voices of individual soldiers by making it more difficult to publish their own material and not allowing them to see or hear information that the Pentagon doesn't want them to see or hear.

Oddly, the ban also arrived as the American military started to increase its profile on YouTube, posting official footage that seeks to counter other footage on YouTube that is less than supportive of the Pentagon and US military actions.

Through their blogging policy and this comprehnsive site ban they have muffled free speech, evn free speech in support of their policies and actions. It is a loss for everyone, and will prove to be an example of great folly - many will find a way around this, and many will still find access to these sites.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Using Wiki in Education » Blog Archive » Why “computer time” and “cheating” are good for students

Why “computer time” and “cheating” are good for students Stewart Mader is so right in this exhortation of the educational system and its inexplicable banning of Ipods in the classroom because students are "cheating". Students are not cheating when they are using technology to find answers and assistance in responding to questions. "Putting facts at your fingertips" is the sort of skill they will be prized for in the workplace. If educational institutions truly want to fight cheating they would beef up their assessment strategies. Why not develop more challenging assessments - something other than true and false and fact based. Why not try to create application questions, project activities, cases studies. These are the sort of real life assessments that need the sort of skills demonstrated when students use technology to assist them in the determination of appropriate answers.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ont. government bans Facebook

Ont. government workers told to log off Facebook

What a throwback this is - did anyone actually do a study to determine who and how often and what they are doing on these site? This issue is so important that the Premier - the leader of the province -had to make the announcement? It reminds of the 1950's and 60's when you couldn't use a company phone to make a personal call.

Among the things that bothers me about this are:
1.Premier Dalton McGuinty says he doesn't see how Facebook adds value to a workplace environment.
2. Facebook joins YouTube, gambling websites and hard-core sex sites as forbidden fruit in any provincial government office.
3. Lack of respect for employees as responsible, discerning adults.
4. Government deciding on a "site" - why not ban all social networking sites? Why not ban web conferencing?

Can Facebook add value to a workplace? Arguably, it can. It is a social networking site - groups are formed for various reasons, professional and personal. The opportunity to network, connect - and stay in touch with people that may be of assistance to your work activities - why not?

What about messenger services or Skype - do the contacts list always have to be work related? How to define that? Facebook is now equivalent to a porn site? A total lack of respect for employees - what actually prompted this? Did all employees join up to facebook - were they meeting online? Oh, my God! Were they networking and getting things done? Was their productivity diminished?

And finally, if the government wants to start picking sites to block the IT folks will be very busy indeed. Monitoring all employees on a minute by minute basis to see what other social software toolset they are accessing - they'll be blocking Eduspaces, LinkedIn, Guesse, Orkit, Skype - the list goes on and on and change by the hour. Good luck to the IT censors! What a soul sucking job that would be.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Disney hijacks social networking for kids Disney unveils social networking for kids

Well with MySpace owned by News Corp. and a myriad of other social networking sites being groped by investors it isn't suprising that Disney would want to step in and protect my children. Hmmm. A safe, social nirvanna where preteens create personal mini websites like , with parental controls. A chat feature requiring parental approval for kids to go beyond trading canned messages ("hey Mickey, where's Goofy", Ariel, have you lost your voice?") and preventing users from revealing personal information, or from using profanity ("Holy !#%^ Batman).

And hey, "Kids can gather games, videos and music files from Disney's promotions-rich website and place them on a page that they decorate with a selection of motifs from the company's character library. “There is a weaving together of entertainment and promotion and marketing,” he added. “It's difficult to say where one ends and the other begins.”

Yeh, right. It's also difficult to see where blatant advertising and propoganda stops and a desire to protect my child begins. Why not protect my child from brazen advertising, gluttonous consumerism and sickly cuteness? Good idea - bad execution; wouldn't it be nice if one of these media conglomerates wanted to really contribute to social networking by doing something without expecting more in return? Disney did this for themselves - the kids are just tools for their marketing. No thanks.

I'll keep an eye on my own kids, set my own restrictions and take responsibility for ensuring they have a healthy, beneficial upbringing.