Archive for March 2011
This week has been pretty chocked full of uni work for me. I’ve been under some tough deadlines, so I haven’t had quite the time I usually have to devote to blogging. That being said, I found this great DIY guide for life hacking. What is life hacking? Well, why don’t you check out this picture and find out? What else are you doing right now? I mean, you’re already reading my blog. You might as well take a look. I guarantee there’s something in here for everyone.
Good afternoon LB! With any luck, you got some actual work done this morning. I bet you’re at lunch right now. I hope you saved room for dessert, a.k.a, this tasty new post I’ve created! Before you drift into a food coma, spend a hot minute checking out this week’s links…
You’re Excused – Best pic on the web today.
High Existence – Take your time with this one, you don’t want to overdo it or you’ll get endorphin overload. Maybe soak up a few each day? I really like #43 and #36 – I didn’t know it was possible to train your eyebrow!
Helvetictoc – Check this out, then check it out again one minute later.
Pod House – Is this what happens in the woods of northern U.S. states these days? My guess is either Washington or Minnesota. What’s your best guess for the location? I wonder if the Ewoks would approve?
Spock and Roll! But first, these lessons – Plan on a duel next time we meet. I’m going to roshambo your face off.
Pronunciation: Fanginnit. Try to say it as fast as possible with a silent “g” at the end of fanging. It should really just be one word.
Meaning: To get around or explore a location in an uncouth manner. Australia’s got some pretty interesting places worth exploring. But unlike America, where Interstates seem to connect everywhere you want to be, a car isn’t always practical. Resourcefulness is a good skill to have. Sometimes you need a troopy. Other times, you might need to hitch a ride on a road train. Or maybe, just maybe, you can make do with a bike.
Usage Example: This kid is totally fanging it on his bike! (Also known as one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time)
And now I’m off to see Cirque Du Soleil’s acrobats fanging it on the trapeze! Have a great Friday everyone.
One of several Anonymous monikers.
Has anyone else been following the recent news stories about the hacker group “Anonymous”? I read about Anonymous a few months ago and now I’m fascinated. There’s no way I can fully explain what Anonymous is, nor can I provide all the mind blowing details about each of their major raids, so if this story piques your interest, run a search for Anonymous in your web browser. The stories you’ll find are seemingly endless. Books about Anonymous will be published, I’ll bet my blog on it.
In 2008 Chris Landers wrote a great (but really long) article for the Baltimore City Paper about the group’s origins. To surmise: Anonymous is a global collection – a “gathering” – of unidentified hackers that wreak anarchic cyber havoc on various organizations and companies for various reasons. The group has been labeled everything from an online Robin Hood to cyber terrorists. Anonymous has no official leader but works as a collection of individuals to hack for causes they deem worthy. Anonymous spawned from the depths of /b/ – a random content forum on 4Chan, which is a massive online imageboard where users can post content anonymously.
Protip: Don’t let your mum visit 4Chan.org/b/.
Rather than fade into obscurity or disband, Anonymous has seemingly grown over the last two years in both membership and notoriety. Some “Anons” hang out in the vast, untraceable depths of Deep Web. One might be that IT guy that lives 2 doors down from you. The reach of Anonymous is global and its headquarters is located everywhere and nowhere. The group’s activities are immensely popular with some people, and detested by others. Your feelings towards Anonymous will likely be decided by which side of the hacktivities you’re on: The observing end or the receiving end. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Anonymous is not a group you want to piss off. The hacking skills of Anons are legitimate. These guys (and gals) aren’t using automated software to find the backdoor into a company or government website. They have other techniques. The kind you see in movies. I can’t even begin to describe what they can do, because I don’t understand it. All I know is that it’s absolutely intriguing. Did you ever see that movie Hackers? Yeah, me too.
Anonymous doesn’t attack random obscure individuals like you or me. Rather, Anonymous takes on major companies, opinion leaders, and movements. Right wing extremists, the Church of Scientology, YouTube, (allegedly) the Epilepsy Foundation, the Governments of Iran, Australia and Egypt, Amazon.com, Visa and Mastercard, and more. Their slogan?: We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.
One organization that became the victim of Anonymous in 2010 is the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas, USA. This church is essentially a thinly veiled hate group that uses God’s name and some incredibly offensive words to picket the funerals of gay service members and other people. It’s sad to think that groups like the WBC are allowed to function in today’s modern society…but I don’t want to talk about that right now. Back to the cyber story, please! On February 24, 2011, the WBC made insulting and aggressive statements towards Anonymous who, in the middle of a live debate with the WBC, pulled the plug on the WBC website “Godhatesfags.com”. The debate was mediated by David Packman and can be seen below. It gets interesting at about the 7 minute mark (a.k.a., the point where the WBC website gets hacked). As of today, the WBC website is still down. WBC – 0, Anonymous – 1.
You might be thinking “okay, that’s great. But who cares?” Although you will probably (and hopefully) never be on the receiving end of an Anonymous hack, there are some really simple but really important lessons to remember as an individual user of the Internet.
Lesson #1: Passwords. Change them up every now and then. Don’t use the same password for every online account you have. Make sure your password is at least seven characters (but the longer the better). Use a combination of symbols, numbers, and upper and lower case letters. Hackers can use an algorithm tool called a “rainbow table” to figure out passwords. If your password is a combination of your pet’s name and the year you were born, a rainbow table is going to figure that out, Sparky87.
Lesson #2: Don’t send emails that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having published on the front page of the New York Times (the online version, of course). I have mentioned this before in my post about tips for becoming a PR superagent, but it bears repeating. One particularly damaging element of the Anonymous hack on HBGary (ironically a cyber security company who threatened to reveal Anonymous member identities to the FBI) was the release of over 70,000 emails. The emails were posted to the Pirate Bay for global public viewing. As Digital Trends reported, “Subject matter range[d] from a PowerPoint Presentation detailing intentions to plant false stories about WikiLeaks to embarrassing love letters between company execs.” Since the attack, HBGary has lost major clients and partners in the cyber security industry.
Lesson #3: If your computer is turned off, you can’t be hacked. It’s like your computer doesn’t even exist. But if it’s turned on and you’re in a public place (like an airport), check your sharing settings to see if people can find your computer. Is your computer discoverable via bluetooth? You might want to turn that feature off if you’re not using it. And if you’re searching for a wi-fi hotspot, don’t jump on a network that doesn’t look legitimate.
Lesson #4: If you’re using a public computer, make sure you log out of any accounts or social network sites. Just closing a browser window isn’t always enough these days. If you leave your Facebook page open for the world to see, you’re also leaving valuable personal information out in the open for anyone to take advantage of. Don’t be that person. You’re better than that.
These lessons are simple and easy to follow. As an online user these lessons should be second nature to you by now. Although there are multitudes of methods hackers can use to get at your personal data, following these quick tips can help reduce that threat.
Hot damn! Usually I post these links on Mondays, but I took the day off to get some gardening done. Sorry, LB! I hope you survived Monday unscathed. Here are some great links to kick off your Tuesday!
Divine Caroline: A retrospective look at some places through photos
Neatorama: Where bats, mist, and green water hang out. Pretty sure I’ve been here in another life. This website also has some other great sections, including the art blog.
Weng Weng: Hopefully this is the first time you’re seeing this little gem of a video. SFW, but headphones are recommended.
Hack Your Brain: Seriously, someone try this and let me know if it works.
Conversations With Jay: A really great blog when you want to read something on the Internet, but only 50 words or less at a time.
If you read my last Aussie Slang Word Of The Day post, you’re probably wondering where the recipe is! So although this post is late in arriving, I have posted it nonetheless. Here is my ANZAC biscuit recipe. It’s easy to throw together, but a bit of care has to be taken with the baking part, so they don’t fall apart! By making this recipe, you will earn the Aussie Bikkie Achievement Badge. Happy baking!
1 cup flaked oats
1 cup sugar (I use brown or cane sugar)
1 cup coconut flakes
2 level teaspoons baking power/bicarb soda
Good 1/2 cup of butter (don’t use the fake stuff or margarine. Treat yourself to the real stuff)
4 tablespoons golden syrup (Maple syrup also works, but the flavor is a wee bit different)
2 tablespoons water (H20)
1) Mix all the dry ingredients together (except the baking powder)
2) On med-high heat, in a small pan, melt the butter, water, syrup and baking powder until consistent/butter’s melted (watch it & stir frequently so it doesn’t burn at the bottom). Lots of tiny, frothy bubbles will form.
3) Transfer the melted frothy bubbling mix into the dry ingredients and mix everything together really well. Put some elbow grease into it.
4) Teaspoon heaps of the mix onto a greased oven tray (Mix will make about 3 tray’s worth if you space them out). No need to flatten too much. Just squish them down a bit. I actually find it easier to use my hands and make little balls instead of heaps. They stay together a bit better once they’ve baked.
5) Bake about 20/25 minutes or until golden brown at about 330ºF. Make sure you watch them – they’ll start to brown very quickly on the bottom rack, so rotate to top oven rack at about 10-15 minutes into the baking.
6) Remove from oven and **leave on baking trays for about 3 -5 minutes*** They’ll fall apart if you try to move them straight away. Once they’re a bit more solid, gently use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack/plate. They harden even more over time.
I was browsing Reddit and came across this little ripper of an image that I wanted to share.
Japan's Tectonic Plates. ~Wikipedia
The image is literally too long to post to my blog, so please check out the link if you’re interested. If you didn’t click the link, here are the Cliffs Notes:
Did you know that the altitude of Everest is higher than the “death zone”? That’s the altitude (26,000 ft) at which air no longer contains enough oxygen to sustain human life. Yet Everest towers above that height at 29,029 ft. How are these mountaineers coping with that last 3,000 ft?
Pop quiz: How long does it take to boil an egg at your house? About 5 or 6 minutes if you live at or just above sea level. On Everest it takes about 18 1/2 minutes. Talk about a waste of time. I’d rather be taking panoramic photographs and focusing on my breathing.
If you scroll down the image to beneath sea level, you’ll notice another tidbit of information:
Once the ocean depth reaches “Deep Sea” – about 5,900 ft – it’s referred to as “The Midnight Zone” because there’s absolutely no sunlight penetrating that far down. Isn’t that cool? Interestingly enough, this depth also coincides with the lowest point of the Grand Canyon (about 6,000 ft below sea level). It’s so fascinating that sunlight can reach a mile below sea level to the bottom of a canyon, but not a mile below the sea itself. Once the depth reaches about 26,000 ft below sea level, you’re in “The Hades Zone”. At temperatures less than 39°F, this area confuses me. I thought the saying was “hotter than Hades.”
Finally, the deepest crevice of the ocean: The Mariana Trench. Approximately 35,814 ft deep.
This trench is a subduction zone for two large tectonic plates – the Pacific and the Okhotsk. A subduction zone is where two tectonic plates move towards each other: The older plate moves under the younger plate, creating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. When a subduction event is particularly violent, a “megathrust” earthquake can occur. These are earthquakes with magnitudes over 9.0 on the Richter scale. During a megathrust earthquake the seafloor also becomes deformed from the subduction, which leads to gigantic tsunamis at sea level. To the right is an image of the tectonic plates near Japan. As you can see, the country is surrounded on all sides and even dissected by fault lines. It’s a proverbial hotbed for tectonic activity, especially earthquakes.
On March 11th, 2011, Northeast Japan experienced a megathrust 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami. The NOAA image below shows the wave height of the tsunami as it spread across the Pacific Ocean. The eastern coast of Japan experienced waves in excess of seven feet. Amazingly, as you can see, the west coast of Japan experienced absolutely no waves at all as a result of the earthquake.
2011 Tsunami Wave Height. ~NOAA.
The way our Earth works is fascinating to me. I find it beautifully orchestrated, yet terrifying and deadly all at the same time. Sometimes I forget I’m on a moving, living, changing planet: Some geological events happen over hundreds of years without being noticeable to most humans. But earthquakes that literally rupture highways, and tsunamis that wipe out entire cities are both instantaneous and devastating to humanity. They remind me that this Earth is not a place to take for granted. I’m lucky to have a nice home located in a relatively stable geographic and geologic environment. If the worst of my problems boil down to stressing about a midterm exam, and worrying about whether or not my dog’s broken paw is healing properly, then I guess I’m doing okay. I hate to get all sentimental and mushy, but take ten seconds to put your life in perspective. Are your problems really that bad?