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The Future of Infosec

With the spread of Internet connectivity to everything from smartphones to refrigerators and toaster ovens, the security implications are out of this world. Let’s be honest: hardly anyone thinks about Internet security, and it’s a tale as old as technology. We want things that are convenient, easy to use, and don’t stand in the way of us doing what we want. When I pull out my phone, I don’t want to type a password every time I go to access my email.

The Normalization of Deviance

Why do companies, institutions, or even whole societies not do what is best or most optimal for themselves? Why is it so hard to change? I recently came across an interesting piece by software engineer and blogger Dan Luu, in which he discusses the “normalization of deviance.” The phrase itself seems like a contradiction in terms: if something has been normalized, it’s no longer deviant, is it? What’s really being described is deviation from the optimum–the best or most efficient course of action.

Being Smart About College

I don’t always write advice columns, but when I do, I don’t have a good way to finish this joke. I’m going to talk about going to college in the US. This will be most pertinent to you if you meet the following criteria: * You're in your late teens or early 20s and eyeing college/university as the jumping off point to a your career path. * You/your family are not independently wealthy nor capable of paying for your education entirely out-of-pocket.

Spotting Junk "News"

You just saw this interesting link on social media. It makes very surprising claims–it might even promise to turn your world upside-down. But think before you click “Share”! I’m going to assume that, if you’re taking the time to read this, you are someone who cares about truth and accuracy. You don’t want to share fabricated nonsense. You want the links you share on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to be meaningful, informative, and truthful.

IPv4 Will Never Die

A decade ago–earlier than that, in fact–there was much fretting that we would soon run out of IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, which are needed to connect computers and other devices to the Internet. It’s 2016 and we’re still using the same IP standard–IPv4–as we did back then. What gives? The most obvious question is: why does this matter? Without IP addresses, nothing can connect to the Internet. No Internet, no email, no chat, no messaging, you get the idea.

The Problem with Batteries

Unlike other electronics-related technologies, batteries don’t seem to advance that quickly. What gives? First off, it helps to know what a battery is and how it works. How Stuff Works has a great article on this, but I can also give you the short version. All batteries consist of positive and negative terminals, which are attached to cathodes and anodes (collectively known as electrodes), respectively, within the battery. Some medium must exist between the two to transmit energy, and this is the electrolyte.

Beware Presidentialism

If you grew up in the United States and haven’t spent much time examining other countries, it might surprise you to learn that the US is fairly unique in having a presidential, rather than parliamentary, government. Such a system comes with some unique quirks and shortcomings, too. First, let’s distinguish just what presidential and parliamentary systems are. In a presidential system, the President leads an executive branch and serves as both head of state and head of government.

Work: Respect, Trust, and Accountability

Managing employees is not a new science, and yet effective practitioners seem to be few and far between. Some workplaces are rife with turmoil, high turnover, and poor performance. What gives? There are multiple factors at work here. One of the most prominent is pay: low-paid workers will not feel particularly invested in their job, and so are less likely to perform it well. This doesn’t mean that no one will do a good job, but it does mean that competent workers will likely move on to something better-paying at the first opportunity.

The Reality of Pseudoseizures

In the past, pseudoseizures–that is, seizures not the result of any clear physical ailment–were regarded as malingering, as fakery. That perception is changing, but the rest of the medical field hasn’t quite caught up. This is a topic I am particularly close to since someone in my life has had a history of pseudoseizures. I saw firsthand how she was treated: doctors accused her of faking symptoms, of deliberately endangering her health in order to seek attention, of trying to get her hands on powerful narcotics to feed an addiction.

Child Support Debit Card Nightmares: Part 2

There is finally an ending to a story that began some months ago! Back in March, I posted about some difficulties I was having with a child support debit card. The short version: after weeks of making phone calls, and several hours on the phone, I was left with the promise of getting a call back that would hopefully solve my problems. As it turns out, that call never came.