Dear Reader,

Exploration and Innovation have previously been the domain of Universities and Governments marshaling their collective resources.  How does humankind’s drive to colonize Mars in the digital media age take shape?   In the form of a reality show.   Yes, you heard right, Reality show.

It is possible to think that television has been lost in the sea of digital media, but apparently not.   From its inception, television has been leveraged to communicate, bring us together as a digital society, and socially engineer our future selves.   Presidents became closer to mainstream America, we share entertainment, atumblr_mqxvemvpsO1r01w8mo4_1280 (2)nd we witness events as a nation. We all held our breath while Apollo 13 was clinging tenaciously to life.  Broader still, other countries share our adventures into television media.  Although television now has rivals in the Internet, Cell Phones, and Tablets, television has grown to be a dominant force in our global community.

Television with the onset of reality programming has provided  Mars One‘s entrepreneur,  Bas Lansdorp, with the means to finance his dream of colonization of Mars.  Mars One is a non-profit organization working towards the goal of colonizing Mars with the first four people by 2023.   Working within our current technology, Bas, is currently seeking volunteers to go on a one-way trip to Mars.   If anyone ever told you to “Get Lost!” this is the way to do it.

As immediate as 2016, the project will be capable of unmanned demonstration.  The Mars One website showcases a complete list of FAQ’s including the business model, cost of the project, and its feasibility.  Its creator has managed to recruit an incredible amount of support including a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, and world-wide suppliers for all the technical resources they will need.

The Journal of Cosmology said, “…, to attain it [an outpost on Mars] would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political  correctness.” in an article exploring the proposal in 2010.   That article goes on to analyze the potential challenges faced in such a venture.

NASA’s footage of Mars Moons passing each other from the Mars surface is beautiful.   There are individuals willing to take the risks involved in a one-way trip to Mars to be able to witness this firsthand:

This will be an epic media event.   mars-one-childrens-t-250The entire worldwide community will watch these events unfold.   Bas Lansdorp has thought of everything.  Where would any pop media event be without T-Shirts?


cloud-computing (2)Dear Reader,

I remember when the internet was on college machines, text-based only, and you could go get a cup of coffee while your conversations scroll up the screen at 1200 symbols per second (baud).  At the University of Rhode Island, if Brown U was down so was URI.   Human nature then was what it still is today.   Remove all the flash and dazzle of parallax scrolling, quad core computing and terabytes of information, and you still have people at the heart of the machines.

So it came as no surprise to me that people tried to hack each other’s accounts, tried to phish for information, blackmailed others, took down servers, or otherwise tried to commit mayhem on a digital scale.  Technology was advancing, not human nature.  The thing with technology crimes is that generally they require more intelligence than a hit-and-run robbery making the criminals more difficult to catch.

For quite aimagesCAMYXG9Nwhile,  I believed the cloud culture to be more fluff than fact – inherently prone to data break-in and server crashes resulting in data loss and unreliable services.   Something for large companies to take risks with for business needs and  Cloud Computing News has extensive articles examining ideas crucial to businesses in the cloud.   Then I got a smart phone.   Between the phone and my home computer, the value of the cloud became apparent.  For a techy, I’m a bit of a latecomer to the cloud.   However, coordinating across devices IS a problem without the cloud.   Some have USB ports, some don’t.  Some are not compatible with others or your friends’ or colleagues’ machines.   He has an Apple … you have a PC ..  they have a Galaxy …   You have an Android tablet … and so it goes….

Apple has iCloud to coordinate, but it doesn’t play well with others – if at all.   To be honest, as I’m becoming more than passing acquaintances with my iPad I’m wondering how Apple gained the popularity it did.  (Anyone feel free to comment here on their behalf)  You can barely multitask, there are bugs just as with any other piece of equipment, and the security is a poor step-child to PC security.

PCs have a variety of cloud applications to coordinate – DropBox, EverNote, and software to create and run your own personal cloud Tonido.

As time has gone by since I’ve been active on the internet, I have realized that the amount I’ve been hacked has been extremely scarce.   One of my accounts was hacked and spamming friends.   I changed the password and solved the problem.   That was it.   Any viruses I caught was from downloading torrents.   I grew tired of repeatedly fighting off viruses especially after I caught a rootkit.  However, its under my control.   Run a good KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAvirus protector, create complex passwords, don’t put identifying information on the internet such as social security numbers, birthdates, and the like and you will most likely be fine.

So the old girl has learned new tricks.   I’m a fan of the Cloud after all.  I may even work to set up my own Cloud for fun.


images (3)Dear Reader,

Is social media the devil in disguise?

The ills of Facebook are legendary – the lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and abuse of personal information for sales.  Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it has become a part of our culture.

Media, social or otherwise, has long been controversial.   The US Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press in the First Amendment established in 1791.   The freedom of the press was universally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.   There have also been laws passed to prohibit abuses of these freedoms – libel being the most noted example.   The press has had some notable influence in the United States when the “checks and balances” system has suffered.  The rise of Joseph McCarthy to almost unassailable power in post-Nazi America in the ’50s was checked by Edward R. Murrow who pioneered broadcast journalism when television was new.   Murrow, on his show “See It Now” exposed McCarthy when the formal processes failed.

Like Edward R. Murrow with the use of new technology, will we allow social media to form us or will we form social media to our needs and best interests?

So what are the advantages of Facebook?   Among other things, my friends who regularly post to my wall are all media-savvy and I stay more up-to-date on the news than before.   I have found long-lost high school and college friends and I’m once again involved in their lives.   I keep up with my brother’s children who are all grown and leading their own lives now.   I keep up with distant family members as well.   Social media, like any other instrument of communication, is what you make of it.   I do not post anything on Facebook I do not wish to be public knowledge.   I take Facebook as the poor man’s advertising.   Your web personality is reflected in your posts.   No one can expect the cyber community to cyber-revolution-FINAL“know who I am” unless they make it clear.  The responsibility for one’s communication with the cloud community is on the individual.

The positive use of social networking is overwhelming – advances to business, professional networking, following trends, in addition to the aforementioned connection with friends and family.   Entire websites have come up to help people promote positive social change including Idealist and  Change.Org among a plethora of others.   The fact is that social good far outnumbers social bad.   The bad just attracts better headlines.

This post would not be complete without covering the topic of cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying iscyberbullying-2 an extension of bullying that has gone on forever.  Sadly, human nature has not advanced with technology and headlines love attention-getting stories.  “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”  was coined in the mid 1800s regarding this phenomenon.  How many of the headlines regarding cyber bullying go on in real life?  And are we giving it undue attention?  Cyber bullying will probably always exist in some form as real-life bullying has always existed.   Extensive measures have been taken to counteract this problem and will continue.

The challenges for the modern world really haven’t changed.   Employ critical thinking when absorbing information.   Is something shock journalism or serious journalism?  How accurate are the news stories being published and by what source?   What agenda drives the information?  Buyer beware.


Dear Reader,

I was thinking of installing the beta version of Windows 8.1 on my Lenovo but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to install the beta-bugswindows-blue2-300x219

that would surely come with.   I was not up to re-loading my entire operating system if it created too many problems — I’m happy with all the work I’ve done configuring this machine.   I visited the Microsoft Kiosk in the Mall and they had a Surface running 8.1 and it was pretty good.   So I figured I’d go ahead.  About as always to beta; it was not entirely a clean, easy install.   Windows 8.1 download link puts on an installer that sends you to the Microsoft App Store.   It errored out on me.

windows_81v2-590x327

I Goggled to find the solution.  It is entirely possible to install the beta, but it would require some low-level hands-on work.  At the moment, I don’t have the extra time to fiddle with it.   I may wind up waiting for the free install to be released.   For more information, check out BetaNews or any of the links below.


danica_mckellar_580pxDear Reader,

I wish Danica McKellar’sMath Doesn’t Suck” had been around when I was young.  I wound up in a remedial math class in the sixth grade because I believed that I was not good at math.  When the other kids said to me, “Congratulations. You’re a dummy like the rest of us. We are all dummies here. Welcome to the dummies class.” I fought. I refused to be labelled a dummy. I wound up back in the advanced math class.

My mother wasn’t much help. When I returned to college as an engineering major she said, “You don’t have the brains for that. Your father can do that. You can’t.” I was reduced to tears. My father got angry and told me not to listen to her. I realized I was really good at math and truly enjoyed it in college. I was scoring ahead of class average through Calculus 2 and I remember how beautiful an integration across two chalkboards was. The jumble of numbers and letters almost danced.

As supportive as my father was he was still surprised. When I found vector analysis intriguing, he said, “You are not doing vector analysis. I do that.” When I insisted I was learning it he asked me to explain it to him. His response was, “I always thought my sons would be doing that, not my daughter. Awesome.” I’ve been lucky to have a lot of good role models. My first cousin, Donna Livant, is an accomplished cancer researcher doing ground-breaking work at her Oncology lab at the University of Michigan. And she is married with a family.

I wonder how many stereotypes arise from a misunderstanding of the different interaction and learning styles between the genders. In addition to a perceived lack of ability women are not viewed as capable of teamwork. My current department is one of the best-kept secrets in the technology field. More than 50% of the management are women as well as the workforce. In the technical field teamwork is not just good for productivity — its a survival skill.

I take a nearly perverse delight in breaking stereotypes.  Trailblazing is not always comfortable, but I find the rewards far outweigh the challenges. I am not living in anyone else’s shadow. Currently, I have the privilege of being asked to be in a series of videos published by Bridge Technical Talent to mentor and foster children’s interests in the technical field. Will this kill the pesky stereotypes? I hope so.

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bill-shockDear Reader,

I wound up switching from an unrestricted Internet Provider to a restricted plan because I needed a better connection.   For the first time I encountered datashock.   Once I called up my provider and increased my data for the month, I had to figure out which device was the guilty party and how to manage my errant devices.  For those of you who don’t know data-saving tactics, here is a brief run-down:

  1. Close all your apps. If they are left running in the background they will use data while you are not watching.
  2. For a machine running Windows 8, you can set your metered data settings. Tutorial available here.
  3. Windows 8 also has a built-in function to show estimated data use.  Pull up your networks in the charm bar, right click your network and show data use :Screenshot (19)
  4. For Mac users, its a bit more elusive.  Groovin’ on apps wrote a great post here.
  5. There are a couple free apps in the Apple store Mac users can download to monitor data usage including Onavo:

Screenshot (20)

  1. Make sure apps are not updating automatically if possible.
  2. Video streaming of any kind is your worst enemy.
  3. Make good use of public networks if possible.  Now is the time for a coffee shop or restaurant with free wifi.   The price of the meal is less than your data plan.

Happy surfing!


ComputerWomanUsingLaptopDear Reader, “I have one urgent request for the CIA, FBI and other relevant agencies. After the next attack, could you please send a woman to talk to the press? You have lots of them and, trust me, they know what they’re talking about. Please do it to improve the morale of your female officers and give their daughters a better understanding of their options in life. The women are tired of being invisible.” Susan Hasler, Special to CNN.

Its ironic that in this advanced age that men still represent women who did the work. The old images and stereotypes die hard. I was saddened in a recent Facebook debate to see a woman pose the concept that no woman would be capable of being President of the United States because women are incapable of clear leadership thinking due to our nurturing natures. When I was young and we learned English grammar, generic pronouns that were used in proper writing were “him” and “mankind” and that represented women as well. I remember when women got their own pronouns. I remember 1975, the International Year of the Woman. Helen Reddy was awesome.

“I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ’cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again”

I am grateful for all the women who came before me and did the really hard work. Thirty years have passed since I entered the workplace in the mid-80s. Things have gotten much better and the changes are much easier won. The young men I work with are completely comfortable with me as an accomplished colleague. Now, its more a matter of awareness and perception changes. Articles like the one written by Ms. Hasler assist those changes.