The "Twitter porn names" game, currently Twitter's top-trending topic (things that are twittered the most), may be a fun distraction that gives you and your friends something to tweet about. But it also has a security hole -- one that is no technical snafu. It could be simple human error, but it's also possible that this security hole is an example of truly sneaky social engineering.
The porn names game has a few variations, but the information that all of the versions elicit is the same. To find your "porn name" you are asked to take the name of your first pet, and combine it with the street you grew up on or your mother's maiden name. Silly, sure. But look more closely: All of these are common security questions. By playing the game, you could be revealing private information that Web scoundrels could potentially use to access your online accounts and bank information.
Sometimes hobbies grow to become much more than hobbies. Some children who are in the school play in fifth grade may decide to study drama in college. After college they may return to their communities to bring the gifts of drama to others. The high school student who shows business initiative in high school may expand that entrepreneurial spirit after high school. As they say, great oak trees grow from little acorns. If this is true, what kinds of acorns are we planting with our youth?
The good folks at the Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT's Media Lab asked themselves that question and came up with this good answer: Scratch. Scratch is a free download (for Mac or Windows) that lets children build their own interactive games, animations, and digital stories. After building their creations, children can share their Scratch creations via the Web. Children can learn from each other, be inspired by one another, and build upon each others' creations.
I first learned about Scratch from a third-grader who had learned Scratch the previous summer at a summer camp. “I like building things in Scratch,” he explained with tremendous pride. “I can teach you how to do it, too.” Those are the words we need to be hearing from our youth. I love hearing, “I've got ideas for improving my Scratch program,” or “my friend showed me some neat tricks in Scratch.”
The end is near for several weekly news magazines. They may stop publishing this year or next. I work at a public library and sometimes wonder what our extensive magazine shelves will look like when these magazines are gone. The magazine shelves are going to look like a first grader with seven missing teeth.
Suppose Newsweek were to stop publishing. Is there anything that could fill its place on the magazine rack? As it happens, there is. MAKE magazine, a quarterly do-it-yourself magazine out of San Francisco, has gained a very devoted following. If you haven't seen this magazine yet, check out the inspiring, amusing and instructive MAKE magazine blog. That same spirit of inventive adventuring bounces off every page of MAKE magazine. Whoever is editing that magazine has high standards. When I read MAKE magazine, I not only learn new things, I become more creative. That magazine puts me into a creative mood: It gets me thinking about constructing creative solutions to a host of different things in my life. The spirit of that magazine is “yes, we can,” which is why it's no surprise that our new president remarked in his inaugural speech: “... the risk-takes, the doers, the makers of things.”
It's clear to me that Phillip Torrone, the editor of MAKE magazine, deserves a cabinet level position – perhaps Secretary of the Tool Cabinet. And the neat thing is that we could Skype him in to the president's cabinet meetings on an ad hoc basis. So when the president needs advice from the Secretary of the Tool Cabinet, he could say, “Let's Skype in the Secretary of the Tool Cabinet to hear his (or her) take on this issue.” I can't believe that previous presidents made decisions – important decisions – without consulting the Secretary of the Tool Cabinet.
The kindest thing you might say to someone this week is, "How would you like to be reached: via e-mail, phone, or mail?" That doesn't sound like an Earth-shattering act of kindness, but let me tell you why it might sound exceedingly kind to some in our community.
E-mail is a useful form of communications, but there are many people in our community who would prefer not using e-mail. And that's fine. It's totally fine.
Sure, if someone chooses not to use e-mail, that could place an added burden in trying to reach them. But that's fine. Added burdens are fine. Here is why.
About ten years ago I was helping a retired couple use their desktop Macintosh computer. After I had helped them with their desktop computer, the wife asks her husband, "Why don't we show him the kidney Powerbook? Maybe he can answer some questions about that computer."
My curiosity got the better of me and I asked, "Do you mind if I ask why you call that laptop the "kidney Powerbook?" The wife lets out a chuckle and explained, "My husband donated one of his kidneys to his sister. She asked him what he'd like in return. Without hesitation, he said, 'I'd love a Powerbook.'"
If you don't use Macintosh computers you might not understand why someone would trade a kidney for a Mac laptop. If you do use Macs, that kind of trade makes perfect sense.
In order to stop the slaughtering of baby seals in Canada, animal rights group Peta 2 plans to kill a few of their own, virtually speaking, in World of Warcraft on Saturday, April 11. Peta 2's current 'Stop the Seal Slaughter' campaign hopes to draw attention to the mass killings and is protesting the Olympic Organizing Committee's approval for Vancouver as the location of the 2010 Olympic winter games.
The following is not an unfortunate April fools joke. A team of four Undead Horde on the Whisperwind realm will be slaughtering baby seals in the Howling Fjord at 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST. Peta 2 claims that the honorable shaman Warchief Thrall has ignored the Alliance's multiple requests to ban the killing of seals. Peta 2 continues to provide misinformation on their blog, stating that you have to be level 70 to enter the Howling Fjord. The suggested level to start questing in the Howling Fjord is 68, and anyone, regardless of level, can take a Zeppelin to the zone as long as you have the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
Alternative Northrend starting zone known as the Borean Tundra is home to World of Warcraft's Peta parody known as D.E.T.A (Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals). D.E.T.A's quest line for their achievement D.E.T.A's little P.I.T.A includes trapping fur trappers, killing loot-crazed divers, and saving baby elephants. All of which is legitimate in game content. Peta 2's unofficial rally to 'kill seals to show killing seals is wrong' exists only on one server. World of Warcraft hosts a myriad of in game events such as Azerothian holidays and even had a special for international talk-like-a-pirate day. However, this is not an offical Blizzard event. Peta 2 is designed for teenagers and college students who continue ridiculous campaigns like trying rename fish 'Sea Kittens'.
As part of my job at the Takoma Park Maryland Library, I teach a beginners computer class for seniors who use the library's public computers. Some of the seniors do not have a computer at home. When I can, I find them a donated computer that they can use for basic word processing and Internet browsing; later, as their skills increase, they can decide whether to buy a new computer. It doesn't make sense for them to buy a new computer while they are still learning the basics.
Two months ago I delivered a donated Windows 2000, Pentium III computer to an 87-year-old woman in my class. I suggested that she start off with dial-up Internet, as she might not use DSL or cable-modem service all that much. This computer had OpenOffice and Firefox installed, so she had all the tools she would need to do word processing and surf the Web.
I set up a NetZero account on her computer. This dial-up Internet service costs $10 a month. She started using it mostly to check e-mail from family and friends and to play some fun games on the Web, such as TextTwist and Mahjong.