Online Intimacy

All too often I follow the breadcrumbs wherever they lead me online. So I stumble across some pretty random stuff. Thus why my RSS reader contains way too much stuff to reasonably read. (That reminds me, I need to cull a couple hundred subscriptions again.)

Well, I found the anonymous blog of a woman in my extended social network (no, not the Web 2.0 sense). There is enough evidence to know who the owner is a specific person 2 degrees away. The one thing which confused me was her use of a pseudonym for talking about someone who was in the news.

Having read just posts covering the last 18 months, I don’t think I could meet her without bursting into tears. She has had a horrible time with three deaths of family or friends, a wedding which didn’t happen, and verbal abuse at work. Tragic stuff has just bombarded her. These horrible events interlacing insightful commentary about media make me sad. Yet I was only able to make myself stop in order to write this post.

Someone who invests the time and energy to publicly write about the difficult personal details of his or her life really impresses me. Years ago I kept journals which became where I expressed many of the emotions I ought to have instead given to the people around me. Whether positive or negative, people deserved to know how I felt about them. Instead pieces of paper received the intimate details of who I was. My friends got a Vulcan. This blog is rather impersonal because I figured out early on in blogging, people who know me would find an anonymous blog and read it for any mention of themselves.

At this point I no longer even try to hide. Anyone reading it knows in seconds Ezra writes it and whether or not they know Ezra. Then again, these cold emotionless bytes are for public consumption.

Irony would be if she reads this post and mentions it. The above details are obvious enough she would almost certainly know I am talking about her. I am relying on the same tricks of not using names of people and places to avoid making it too obvious. They didn’t work for her. So I have one last thing to possibly break the anonymity: We both use the words “rants” and “raves” in the blog titles/subtitles.

Racial Profiling

Walking home from the bus in high school, I saw police cars and officers in front of my house. Their presence made me extremely apprehensive. The only little assurance was my father talking to the officers. Someone broke into the house and stole some of our stuff.

We felt violated. Our own home was unsafe.

At the time however, the people with guns with a tendency to keep their hands near them were much more threatening than some anonymous teen who wanted some quick cash.

Police officers are the good guys.

Take this scenario:

  1. You’ve spent almost a full day on a plane or in airports flying from Shanghai to Boston so you are extremely jet-lagged.
  2. (SUGGESTED ADDITION) You picked up the flu while in China (remember Avian Bird Flu?).
  3. Your front door won’t open when you get home, so you end up gaining access to the house from the back door. Eventually with help you do get it opened.
  4. While calling someone to come fix the door, a police officer shows up to question you about being the owner of the house. (Let’s ignore that Harvard owns it. You just reside there.)

This is like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: “Nothing at all was right.” Except… This state of mind was interpreted by the police officer this way:

“From the time he opened the door it seemed that he was very upset, very put off that I was there in the first place,” Sergeant Crowley told the station, WEEI. “Not just what he said, but the tone in which he said it, just seemed very peculiar — even more so now that I know how educated he is.” NYT

This seems like the perfect opportunity to ask questions about Dr. Gates’ day to establish something of a rapport to ascertain why he might be so upset. It’s not so peculiar when the context is known. I bet if all this had been placed in context at the time, then this would not be front page news.

Confidentiality

A student wants Blackboard Vista to not reveal his or her last name. The student has already gone to the Registrar and gotten a confidentiality flag placed on the record. As I understand it, this flag in Banner is a FERPA protection to prevent the record from being provided to parties external to the university. It does not provide anonymity within the university. That electronic systems are being scrubbed of the student’s last name means something more than just confidentiality.

We only create new and not update from our student information system (SIS). So in general, the last name should not revert.

The instructor must know who the student is in order to correctly assign grades. If grades were automatically sent back to the SIS, then it would match the IMS id to the what is in the SIS. The user name or any other name is immaterial and not a confounder to the process. Unfortunately, our faculty has to manually transfer the grades. Some rely on the WebCT id / username. Others rely on the first and last name. I guess without names, this latter group is going to have to deal with relying on the WebCT id.

Only username, first and last name, and role are populated into the grade book. So moving the last name to another name field (like other, prefix, or suffix) would not help.

The last name appears to be part of their scheme for creating usernames, so they will likely need to change the username if the point is to not let anyone know what it is. The school in question does not appear to populate their Vista user records with a school email address. So I don’t know if the same would need to be done with it as well.

Blackboard Vista 3.0.7 does have issues with renaming the last name. While many things are immediately updated (good), some things are not. This is not a comprehensive list.

  1. The last name in the grade book was not updated. Removing the user from the section and restoring it to the section changed the name to the correct one.
  2. The last name in discussions was not updated.

So while renaming the account is easy to do, not everything takes place as quicklly as we would like.

Zemanta Pixie

Fall in Love With Cyberbullying

Kentucky’s Bill HB775 would require those operating web sites or blogs or message boards in the state to enforce a policy to collect legal names, postal addresses, and email addresses to use the service. The legal name would, of course, be posted on the web site. Should the poster cross someone else, then the operators have to hand over to the victim the identity of the poster. First offense at not having the poster’s identity is $500 ($1,000 each thereafter).

A policy to collect the information doesn’t mean the users of the web site must actually provide the information. Though it seems like this law is pointless unless it means the web site must force users to provide the information.

Any universities running a system like Blackboard Learning System Vista or CE editions (possibly others) probably would need to disable anonymous postings in the discussion board. The legal name of the poster would need to be visible. So, the system could not use nicknames the person would be addressed by in a face to face setting.

Universities typically have major difficulty getting students to correctly maintain their postal addresses. This is why many are turning to direct deposit of excess checks and email. This way the school avoids mail returns on thousands of addresses.

Quotes to Make You Think

Also make great signature files! Additional collected quotes are under the blog’s quotes category. Drop a comment to suggest something.

Organized alphabetically by first major word.

Anonymous/Unknown Author

A

Accomplishing the impossible means only the boss will add it to your regular duties.

According to my calculations the problem doesn’t exist.

Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and has started growing in the middle.

Advice is free: The right answer will cost plenty.

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the flame of a single candle.

Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Always remember that you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

Always try to be modest. And be darn proud of it!

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

B

Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing.

Blessed are the pessimistic for they hath made backups.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

C

Children may close their ears to advice, but they keep their eyes open to example.

A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.

Cleaning the house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it’s stopped snowing .

A clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory.

A company is known by the people it keeps.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation.

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

The customer is always right but not always pleasant.

D

Don’t be irreplaceable; if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

Don’t hate yourself in the morning – sleep till noon.

Duct tape is a lot like the Force. It has a Dark Side, it has a Light Side, and it binds the galaxy together…

E

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Endeavor to so live that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Every time I think I’ve hit the bottom, someone lends me a shovel.

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lessons afterwards.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

F

Few women admit their age, Fewer men act it!

A filing cabinet is where papers get lost alphabetically.

Four-word story of failure: Hired, tired, mired, fired.

G

Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

Go the extra mile. It makes your boss look like a slacker.

A good test for conversation: if you wouldn’t write it and sign your name to it, don’t say it.

Good resolutions are often checks drawn on an account with insufficient funds.

The great essentials of happiness are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.

H

Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off NOW.

The haves and the have-nots can often be traced back to the dids and the did-nots.

The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.

How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand….

I

I don’t exaggerate. I just remember bigger than most people.

I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it!

I have a mind like a steel trap – rusted open.

I haven’t lost my mind. It’s backed up on tape somewhere.

I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

If at first you don’t succeed, give up, no use being a damn fool.

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

If both of us thought alike, one of us would not be necessary.

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?

IF Pro is the Opposite of Con, What Is The Opposite of Progress? Congress!!

If you’re going in the wrong direction, God allows u-turns.

If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to… expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, what’s the point of making them?

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

If you were somebody else, would you want to be friends with you?

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

It has been determined that research causes cancer in rats.

It is harder to conceal ignorance than to acquire knowledge.

It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are most likely to be remembered.

It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.

It will do no good to get on the right track if you are headed in the wrong direction.

J

Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

K

Keep your ideals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.

L

Language is a wonderful thing. It can be used to express our thoughts, to conceal our thoughts, or to replace thinking.

Laugh alone and the world thinks you’re an idiot.

Leaders go down in history — some farther down than others.

Leadership has been defined as the ability to hide your panic from others.

Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% mortality rate.

Life is complex: part real, part imaginary.

Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

M

Many people quit looking for work when they find a job.

The measure of man’s real character is what he would do it he knew he would never get caught.

The mistake a lot of politicians make is forgetting they’ve been appointed and thinking they’ve been anointed.

The more people I meet, the more I like my cat.

The more you know, the more you know you ought to know.

N

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

No matter how far money goes, it still can’t go as far as the next paycheck.

No matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

O

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

One of the mysteries of life is how the boy who wasn’t considered good enough to marry the daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

One reason folks get into trouble is that trouble usually starts out being fun.

One trouble with the world is that so many people who stand up vigorously for their rights fall down miserably on their duties.

The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you’re in the bathroom.

P

People who do the world’s real work don’t usually wear neckties.

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.

Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Practice makes perfect, so be careful what you practice.

A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.

The quickest way to get a lot of undivided attention is to make a mistake.

People who wonder where the younger generation is headed for would do well to consider where it came from.

The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

Q

R

The really productive ups and downs are getting up in the morning and down to work.

The reason we never see ourselves as others see us is that we’d never believe what we saw.

A reckless driver is a person who passes you on the highway in spite of all you can do.

S

Save time… see it my way.

Some people get lost in thought because it’s unfamiliar territory.

Some people spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats; then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.

A sure-fire formula for making a good speech: have a good beginning and a good ending–and keep them as close together as possible.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

A synonym is a word you use in place of one you can’t spell.

T

Tact is the ability to close your mouth before somebody else wants to.

There can’t be a crisis today, my schedule is already full.

There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.

There is nothing so comforting as the patter of little children’s feet about a home, because the moment the sound stops one knows that they are up to something they shouldn’t be.

There is nothing that upsets a person quite as much as having company drop in and see the house looking as it usually does.

There needs to be fewer Republican Senators and fewer Democratic Senators, and many more United States Senators.

Thinking is when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself.

This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.

Those who complain about the way the ball bounces are usually the ones who dropped it.

Time may be a great healer, but it certainly is no beauty operator.

Trains stop at train stations
Buses stop at bus stations
On my desk is a workstation.

A true friend is one who thinks you’re a good egg even though you’re slightly cracked.

U

Usually I try to take it one day at a time, but lately several have attacked me at once…

V

W

Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

What most people want these days is less to do, more time to do it, and more pay for not getting it done.

When adults act like children, they are called silly. When children act like adults, they are called delinquent.

When computing, whatever happens, behave as though you meant it to happen.

When our children are old enough not to say or do anything in public to disgrace us, they have reached an age when the things we do and say embarrass them.

A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.

Why is ‘abbreviation’ such a long word?

Wild horses couldn’t drag a secret out of most women. Unfortunately, women seldom have lunch with wild horses.

With every right there is a responsibility. Just once, I wish someone would demand his responsibility.

A woman wants one man to meet her every need. A man wants every woman to meet his one need.

A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item she doesn’t want. A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he DOES want.

Work is the easiest thing man has ever invented to escape boredom.

Work like you don’t need money,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
And dance like no one’s watching.

X

Y

Years wrinkle the skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

You are only young once. After that, you have to think up some other excuse.

You can’t keep people from having bad opinions about you, but you can keep them from being true.

You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do.

You cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

You only live once, but if you live right, once is enough.

Z

Misc.

Comment from a correspondent in Australia on the U.S. political scene: “Thank God you got the puritans while we only got the convicts.”

Worm Food

My next personal computer probably will be a Mac. However, I’m not sure whether I should be amused, terrified, or ambivalent about this Mac worm author receives death threats story.

The beef over news of a worm targeting Macs, and the identity of the researcher who claimed to have created the malware, took an even stranger turn Wednesday as death threats were allegedly posted to his or her blog, which was then reportedly hacked.

These are pretty gruesome for just reporting on a computer bug…. C’mon.

  • “You are lucky you are anonymous or I would put a bullet in your head for this!” — Anonymous
  • “I dare you to demonstrate this at Defcon you ***** Microsoftie. We will drag you out, put a bullet in you, and bury your body so deep it will take a nuclear blast to find your body.” — Anonymous

No More Public Anonymous Photos

Early in the history of the WWW, people thought a document which did not have an inbound link, a link from some external location to the file, was private. Search engines looked for content on web sites in locations for which there was not a link already pointing. To truly respect the privacy of those sites, these search engines would have only index content from sites which asked to be index AND only indexed content which that web site pointed a link.

Just because SiteB links to a location on SiteA doesn’t mean SiteA wished it to found in a search, an example is deep linking. Note the court cases (1, 2) in which judges rule in favor of the SiteAs who go to court about SiteBs who make such links. Note I made deep links in order to demonstrate the deep links. 🙂

On Privacy and Polar Rose – Polar Rose Blog : On Privacy and Polar Rose

It should come as little surprise that we believe that Polar Rose adds tremendous value to the photo web. We think we’re as harmful to the photo web, as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google have been to the text web. By sorting the text web, these search engines exposed the wonderful resource of public documents that web had already become. The side-effect was that information which was not meant for public consumption, but which was kept private by obscurity, was suddenly exposed and searchable.

By Polar Rose’s logic, because people acclimated in general to losing textual anonyminity, they will do the same for facial recognition. Just what does the lack of a label mean? The photographer may be protecting the identity of someone, a minor for example. The uploader may be lazy. The uploader may not know. The uploaded may not own the copyright to the photo.

On the whole, I think facial recognition is a good thing. The cases in which there are likely going to be privacy concerns are going to be more likely uncommon than common. Those who it affects are going to be most upset all the same.

If anything, then I think we have a tendency to underestimate how badly such things are going to violate the privacy of our lives. For example, look how often search engines exposed Social Security Numbers on web sites.

Homer a Pseudonym for a Woman?

I have always considered the Illiad or the Odyssey to be among the best of love stories. True, there is lots of violence. True, the characters are mostly men. Love is the motivation and driving force behind the heros and why each is able to overcome and win.

If they were written by women, then that will not change my opinion about them being my favorites.

Discovery Channel :: News – History :: Scholar: Iliad, Odyssey Penned by Woman:

The author of the Greek epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey was probably a woman, according to an upcoming book by a British historian and linguist.

Andrew Dalby, author of Rediscovering Homer, argues that the attribution of the poems to Homer was founded on a falsehood.

Homer’s link to the poems, Dalby writes, stems from an “ill-informed postclassical text, the anonymous Life of Homer, fraudulently ascribed to Herodotus,” a respected Greek historian who lived from around 484-425 B.C.

Read moreHomer a Pseudonym for a Woman?

New phishing scan

I know so many people who would jump at this…. This is disturbing.

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