Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

9/25/2020

Can you Spot The Troll?

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

For the next two months, “Don’t feed the troll” should be our mantra.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a “troll” is “…[s]omeone who deliberately pisses people off online to get a reaction.” And, while that’s true, I feel like it’s not a complete description anymore. Since I’ve been on the internet, back in the “Before Time” of the early 90’s, trolls have been around, in one form or another, purposely irritating people for laughs. But, sometime in the last ten years or so, professional trolls with a political agenda, and often backed by a nation-state, have sprung up in attempts to sway elections and disrupt the democratic process. A lot of those trolls aren’t even people at all but are robots. They’re automated scripts that just constantly harass actual people who happen to trigger certain keywords. Being able to spot the trolls is a lot harder than most people realize.
So, in preparation for the upcoming election, I’m sharing a website called “Spot The Troll”. It’s s short quiz that shows you social media profiles and asks the simple question “Troll or Legit”? All you have to do is pick. And, then afterward, either way, there are a series of screens showing the “red flags” that should have tipped you off to the troll. Or, things that might have tricked you into thinking a legit human was actually a troll. I scored 7 out of 8. Not bad, I think, considering how sophisticated the trolls and their programmers have gotten.
Take the quiz and see how you do!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words! You can leave comments there.

6/5/2020

Political Agenda

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Buckle up, this might be a bit of a bumpy ride.

I usually work pretty hard to stay non-political on my blog, but it’s too late for that. As my childhood hero, Abraham Lincoln famously said “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” So, what I’m willing to say and be responsible for through time and eternity is that, yes, we need to change. We need to be a truly free and equal society. Being more aware is a start. I can’t change everything myself, but we can damn well vote for people that we think can change things to be more like the way we were taught they should be. We can vote for officials that want to make our country what we were taught it was already. Every state can be a swing state if enough people vote their conscience. If you’re not registered to vote yet, go do that right now.

And, we can continue to educate ourselves, because it is OUR responsibility to educate ourselves as to the condition of our fellow citizens, not theirs. I’ve already bought the Autobiography of Malcolm X and there are several lists of racial justice books that have been recommended, including this list from Early Bird Books and this list from the Chicago Public Library. We can read books from those lists and continue to educate ourselves because this is an issue that we can’t ignore any more.

We can support more minority businesses. There’s a great list of resources for Black freelancers at Freelancers Union that include lists of Black businesses we can support.

We can donate to causes that support a United States of America that is truly free and equal for all of her citizens, like the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not everyone may be willing to risk their life or incarceration to protest injustice, but we can absolutely support those people who are fighting that fight. We may not even be able to donate time to them, but we can absolutely give them money to keep the fight going.

Why do all that? Because, while we may not be who’s afraid today, we can be who’s afraid tomorrow. And, because the things that the activists are fighting for will benefit all of us as a nation.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

4/26/2019

Government Sponsored Font

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Your tax dollars at work for better design!

No, seriously, this is actually US tax dollars working to develop a “better” font. Not even kidding.
Believe it or not, there’s a little something called the United States Web Design System that’s collaborative team specifically started to “…make it easier to build accessible, mobile-friendly government websites for the American public.” And, as it turns out, they have some resources that might be helpful for non-governmental web designers, too. One such is a simple font called Public Sans, which they call “A strong, neutral typeface for text or display.” Which it is, actually. It can be downloaded from their GitHub page, which further describes the font as “principles-driven” and “open-source”. It’s also a fairly nice, and free, change from Helvetica. Oh, and it includes webfonts, so you can, in fact, use it to unify your on-line and off-line branding identity.
And, again, all freely available and all brought to you, one way or another, by the United States of America Federal Government.
Sometimes, the government really IS here to help!

Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

5/25/2018

Pulp Archive

Filed under: Art,The Infinite Library — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Pulp is the perfect flavor of fiction for holiday weekend.

Yes, I know, Memorial Day is about honoring those who died to preserve our freedoms. Of course, I would never want to lose sight of that. But, it’s also a day off for most of us and I know, personally, I need an extra day off to unwind a bit. I know my stress is nothing like our military faces in combat theatres, but it is still stress and I do still feel it. My favorite way of escaping that stress is to read. Mostly the least-common-denominator of fiction. And, let me tell you, pulp fiction is the most “empty calorie” fiction imaginable. That’s why I was thrilled to see that Archive.org had shared their Pulp Magazine Archive. It’s all free and downloadable as PDF, straight text or either of the popular ebook formats; epub or mobi. And, it’s not just science-fiction! There’s plenty of detective fiction and movie magazines and more! Just the thing to distract you from the world for a few minutes.

And, also, take a break from your life for a couple minutes on Monday to consider those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can complain about our politicians and taxes.

 

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

2/2/2018

Work – Fatherland – Order

Filed under: About The Author,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My own political leanings often surprise me.

I should start by saying that I don’t think of myself as a particularly political person in any sense of the word. Sure, I have some very strong opinions about some things, but I mostly keep that kind of thing to myself because I hate the idea of becoming a bore. And, I think I’m a terrifically boring person, though my wife and friends assure me that is not the case. In fact, recently when I pumped out a bunch of messages about the net neutrality changes and the fight in the House and Senate to repeal that very, very bad FCC decision, at least one friend was so surprised he had to ask me about it. Which gave me the opportunity to educate him. It was nice.
But, what the title of this post refers to is the results of the quiz I took at PolitiScales. The quiz is meant to measure where you fall on 8 axes, including the one we think of most; Progressive vs. Conservative. I was surprised to find out that I was only 31% Conservative, but 57% Progressive. More stunning to me was that I rated 57% Regulationist vs. 17% “Laissez-faire” and 52% Nationalist vs. 31% Internationalist. The other axes include; Constructivist vs. Essentialist, Communism vs. Capitalism, Ecology vs. Productivist, Revolutionist vs. Reformist and Rehabilitative Justice vs. Punitive Justice. Again, it was a little eye-opening to me as I’d always thought of myself as both more conservative and global than they measured me as being. Of course, this is just one relatively short quiz and my thoughts on all this are more complicated than they can easily measure with a multiple choice questionnaire. Still, I encourage you all to take the quiz and see how you feel about it. And, maybe, give a little thought to your political life before the mid-term elections later this year.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

12/24/2017

The Coldest War of All

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Our nation’s finest tracking holiday spirit.

As I usually do at this time of year, I’m reminding you of where to find Santa and, more specifically, how to track his progress.
During the Cold War, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, more popularly known as “NORAD”, stood between us and what we were sure was complete destruction at the hands of the Soviets. What with the recent tensions vis-a-vis Russia, China, and North Korea, NORAD may find itself busier than ever in the coming year, but, until then, thankfully, they can fall back on my favorite tradition; tracking Santa. It started with a wrong number and an accidental connection, but a gentle soul in a high-pressure job spread a little Christmas cheer once a long, long time ago. The story got around and before you can say “Who’s violating my air space?”, everyone was misappropriating government resources to make kids happy. Before long, it was fully sanctioned and, if I say so myself, an entirely proper use of my tax dollars. In any case, now, whether you’re young or old, or whether you have children or not, you can have fun tracking Santa with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!  Besides, it’s about time for the Federal Government to bring us a little holiday cheer, don’t you think?
I’ll post again on Friday, but, until then, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

8/4/2017

Surveillance Self-Defence

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Also known as “opsec for computer users”.

Though, to be fair, most computer users don’t actually need this kind of operational security. And, they certainly don’t refer to it as “opsec”, like I just did. These days, I pretty much keep my nose clean and my mouth shut, even online. I mean, look, the average troll on a message board really isn’t worth my time, especially at my consulting rates. What’s more, I have never, ever seen anyone convince someone with an argument, no matter how well reasoned, that the listener’s position is, in fact, wrong and the speaker really is the political/cultural/media genius that they both think they are and claim to be. I mean, literally, not a single time. Not even when I’ve been the one making the arguments!

Still, there are those last few idealistic “true believers” out there who continue to throw themselves against the colossus that is the internet comment board, or, worse, the government. (And, let’s face it, no matter who’s government it is, getting them to change is a pretty monumental task!) Those brave souls need to keep themselves safe. It’s for those crusaders that the Electronic Frontier Foundation created their series of tutorials which they’ve grouped together under the heading of Surveillance Self Defence. And, let me tell you what, these are some really smart people who have made some really great tutorials on staying safe, and as anonymous as necessary, on the internet while you protest against or agitate for your cause.
They’ve also been fighting for you, whether you know it or not, for years. Since 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, also known as the EFF, has been fighting to keep your free speech alive, especially on the internet. They’ve fought everyone from the MPAA to the U.S. Federal Government and won often. You can read about their legal victories on their website.

In any case, the EFF is a worth cause, to whom I donated anonymously at DEFCON 20, and opsec is pretty important, too.
So, all in all, not my usual “fun” for a Friday afternoon, but still good to talk about.
Come back next week to see what else I have to share!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, my other blog!

6/27/2003

Strom Thurman dead at 100

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

He was a great man, no matter your politics.

Strom Thurman was the oldest serving Senator, a war hero, and a truly amazing man. He was also, like me, a Freemason.
You can read more about his political careeer at MSNBC, here.


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