How to Prevent People From Emailing You Through Google+

How to Prevent People From Emailing You Through Google+

I know this news is a few weeks old already. But in case you have not done it yet, Lifehacker has a good explanation about how to change this new setting in Gmail. I had already changed this a while ago. Then I saw it still saved in my Pocket queue and thought it was worth sharing.

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Article: Hacking Coveted Twitter Handles

I am always captivated by stories of hackers, scam artists, and fugitives. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is the sense of danger and adventure and plot that I admire in well-written movie scripts. Maybe it’s the window into the dark and mysterious. Maybe it’s how close and relevant it all feels to our daily digital lives.

This week, I read another fantastic story in this “genre” where the author describes the details of a digital attack where the ultimate goal was his coveted Twitter handle @N. I have to admit, that is a pretty awesome Twitter handle, but I would not pay $50,000 for it (as someone offered), or break laws to get it. These stories always remind me of how fragile our security is in the digital world. The other thing I love with this story (and many others like it) is that the attacker is humanized. Many people think of hackers as masked men without morals living in a lawless, virtual world. Here we see that the attacker is very willing to negotiate, with little harm done to the victim’s accounts. In other stories, hack-tivists seek to expose security weaknesses for the good of the people and the industry. I eat it up. Every time.

Read the article here:

http://gizmodo.com/how-i-lost-my-50-000-twitter-username-1511578384/@whitsongordon

The Circle by Dave Eggers – Book Review Part 2

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Photo LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by Andrew Currie

Yesterday I posted my impressions of the first half of Dave Eggers’ new novel The Circle. I initially intended to write a final post at the end of the book, but I am feeling inspired to write more today, because there are more things that Eggers got right that I left out of the first post.

I love the juxtaposition that the author sets up between nature (kayaking in the story) and modern technology. There is a parallel conflict at work between privacy and sharing. Whenever Mae gets into a kayak (which is rarely ever planned) she does not talk about it to anyone, she does not post about it, she does not take pictures – nothing. She never even considers documenting the experience or inviting someone along. Despite how great she feels as part of this community and the excitement she feels from sharing online, she stills desires some private moments, even if she does not realize it at this point. Eggers also conveniently locates the kayak drop between Mae’s parents house (her old life) and The Circle.

The story is becoming a cautionary tale of connectedness and powerful technology. We are starting to see what would happen if data tracking, online sharing, and digital transparency are followed out to the extreme. Instead of community, Eggers shows us surveillance, power, and control. There is an overall sense that this is not a desirable outcome, though we don’t yet know exactly why.

As much as I share online and enjoy using products from the biggest technology companies, I appreciate the way the novel is making me think a bit more critically about those dynamics.

Part 1 of this book review – initial impressions

The Circle – The New Novel by Dave Eggers

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Photo LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by Johan Larsson

I am about halfway through Dave Eggers new novel The Circle, which follows a young female professional as she starts her career with the number one technology company in the world. The company is basically a mix between Google, Apple, and Facebook.

Dave Eggers is one of my favorite authors, and I was intrigued by the idea of him tackling the topic of technology and our relationship with social media. I have seen some backlash, saying the author got it all wrong, but I don’t think that is totally true.

It is difficult to judge a book – a story – until the ending, but I do have some impressions so far.

There is one thing he got wrong that has been bothering me, and that is the use of the term “cloud,” as in cloud storage. This metaphor has become popular to describe data storage outside of your local computer. I suppose the term may make it easier for some people to understand the concept of where is all that stuff. Yet many of us understand there is no cloud, per se. There are many, many intricate networks of many, many, many servers storing data that are access from devices around the world. The way characters in the story use the term (characters that should know better) describe things as being saved on the company’s cloud. That is linguistically, and technologically awkward, because they may be in the metaphorical cloud, but they are stored on the companies network of servers. Am I nitpicking here? I don’t know. I am an English teacher and a tech-nerd, so I guess this is the result of the combination.

I think many people are taking issue with his portrayal of a large tech company, but really it is all allegory. One thing he got very right, is our relationship to our gadgets and the way we engage through social media. The urgency of notifications, and the excitement of “likes” and “retweets” is well represented by the systems and employees within The Circle. At times, the company feels futuristic, and then there are many other times when you feel like you are looking into a mirror.

I look forward to the second half of the book, after which I will share my final thoughts. Anyone else read the book? What are your thoughts?

Newsy Website for Current Event Assignments

Newsy is a site I just heard about that produces videos for the biggest news stories of the day. They compile information from various news outlets to report their stories, including links back to the original articles and a transcript of the video. If you like to have your news delivered in video form, this could be a good site for you to use. It also could be a great resource for teachers and students who are reading article or research about current issues. The videos could act as an introduction to a topic, provide background information, or just be an alternative source for information. From what I have seen the videos are very professionally produced and comprehensive in coverage. This is not a source for cutting edge, investigative, or breaking news. I see it more as a supplement to discussions of current events.

They also have mobile apps for every platform.

Have any teachers used Newsy with their students?

http://www.newsy.com/