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Chandler Weiner
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Alright everyone, listen up. This is important.

In a world of consumers, where people expect technology to "just work", the vast majority of us have actually forgotten what it means to "compute" and how to use the incredibly technology in our hands. You become placid with your raw computing power, unless something goes wrong.

I just read a wonderful article by Marc Scott, a teacher and systems administrator in the UK. I will be quoting his article numerous times, so I greatly encourage you to read it.

http://www.coding2learn.org/blog/2013/07/29/kids-cant-use-computers/

I'm sure you've all heard this phrase before: "‘Oh… I guess these days you must find that the kids know more about computers than the teachers…’"

False.

The children of today (and frankly, my millennial generation as well) have been raised in the age of computers and networking. I was literally born in the same year that AOL became a public company. There has never been a point in my life where I was not "connected". Likewise, the kids I work with today are born with broadband coming out their ears. Babies can use an iPad, 5th graders can make Minecraft videos, 8th graders find out about Snapchat, and 12th graders finally learn Word. But none of them can use a computer.

A high school graduate, well versed in Facebook, YouTube, and their cell phone, lacks the skills to reinstall an operating system. They lack the understanding of how their technology works. They have no idea why an app crashes on their iPhone, or frankly, how it even went from source code to packaging to Apple to their phone. You lost them at "source code". 

Here are some examples from the article that personally relate to some stories of my own (the author is British, to all of my American friends who think that I misspelled some words):

"A kid puts her hand up in my lesson. ‘My computer won’t switch on.’ she says, with the air of desperation that implies she’s tried every conceivable way of making the thing work. I reach forward and switch on the monitor, and the screen flickers to life, displaying the Windows login screen. She can’t use a computer."

"A teacher brings me her school laptop. ‘Bloody thing won’t connect to the internet.’ she says angrily, as if it is my fault. ‘I had tonnes of work to do last night, but I couldn’t get on-line at all. My husband even tried and he couldn’t figure it out and he’s excellent with computers.’ I take the offending laptop from out of her hands, toggle the wireless switch that resides on the side, and hand it back to her. Neither her nor her husband can use computers."

"A teacher phones my office, complaining that his laptop has “no internet”. I take a walk down to his classroom. He tells me that the internet was there yesterday, but today its gone. His desktop is a solid wall of randomly placed Microsoft office icons. I quickly try and explain that the desktop is not a good place to store files as they’re not backed up on the server, but he doesn’t care, he just wants the internet back. I open the start menu and click on Internet Explorer, and it flashes to life with his homepage displayed. He explains that the Internet used to be on his desktop, but isn’t any more. I close I.E and scour the desktop, eventually finding the little blue ‘e’ buried amongst some PowerPoint and Excel icons. I point to it. He points to a different location on the screen, informing me of where it used to be. I drag the icon back to it’s original location. He’s happy. He can’t use a computer."

"A kid puts his hand up. He tells me he’s got a virus on his computer. I look at his screen. Displayed in his web-browser is what appears to be an XP dialogue box warning that his computer is infected and offering free malware scanning and removal tools. He’s on a Windows 7 machine. I close the offending tab. He can’t use a computer."

The children and millennials of today, which by the way are the future leaders of our world, have no understanding of the technology that makes their life so special. There has been, essentially, a "technology gap" in time. Those who were into adulthood before computers were commonplace, those who were born into the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs eras who actually know the ins and outs of a computer because they were the ones who created the technology that we have today, and then there's the complacent  "new" generation who relies on the technological successes of the "older" generation and no longer feels the drive and passion that the great tech giants possessed. They just want it to work. Their way. And when it doesn't, they have 0 clue how to fix it.

Let me be very clear, both myself and Mr. Scott in the article are not trying to bash "adults" here (older than the millennial generation). I make a good living teaching and tutoring people how to use their technology. Just like I would never be able to understand a reference to Mr. Edd and his TV show, I wouldn't expect my clients to be able to process PCI compliant credit card payments digitally over Ruby. There is, as stated before, a generational gap. As a natural teacher and tutor, I love being able to explain concepts that once seemed difficult and turn them into something routine. As corny as it sounds, I love the lightbulb moments, the sense of accomplishment I get to see in my student's eyes, and see how happy it makes them when I help them figure out a technological problem. My work is about teaching, not fixing. I want to have my students feel better about each session and learn a little more about how to use their technology. 

My students are marvelous because they come to me wanting to learn and grow. However, my own generation and below don't have that same drive. When it doesn't work, bring it to the Apple store and pay someone else $120 to just fix the problem. You've learned nothing from the experience. 

When my own Mac had a major hardware failure, I fixed it myself. Even ordered the parts directly from Foxconn. Who does that anymore? What millennial would even know how to insert RAM? Do they even know what RAM is?

I'm not saying that everyone born before 1980 has to be a wiz at computers. Not everyone needs to know how to code their own IMAP client, but at least they should understand what IMAP is and how it differs from POP3. Or, as Mr. Scott puts it:
"They click ‘OK’ in dialogue boxes without reading the message. They choose passwords like qwerty1234. They shut-down by holding in the power button until the monitor goes black. They’ll leave themselves logged in on a computer and walk out of the room. If a program is unresponsive, they’ll click the same button repeatedly until it crashes altogether.

How the hell did we get to this situation? How can a generation with access to so much technology, not know how to use it?"

What we need to do is teaching the K-12 generation, the rising generation, how to use the technology they have. What to do if you have a virus infection. What to do if the Internet "dies". How to swap out a dead hard drive for a working one. How to be safe online, not by firewalls and IP tables, but by letting them see for themselves how devilishly hard it is to fix some malware problems. And, when they can't fix it, teach them how to reinstall an OS.

These lines are just beautiful:
"When they hit eleven, give them a plaintext file with ten-thousand WPA2 keys and tell them that the real one is in there somewhere. See how quickly they discover Python or Bash then."

"We should be teaching kids not to install malware, rather than locking down machines so that it’s physically impossible. We should be teaching kids to stay safe on-line rather than filtering their internet. Google and Facebook give kids money if they manage to find and exploit security vulnerabilities in their systems. In schools we exclude kids for attempting to hack our systems. Is that right?"

The sense of accomplishment that you feel when you've solved a problem, be it one on computing or string theory, is immensely satisfying. What we have done in our consumer-centric society is removed that. Likewise, politicians, most of whom are from the generation that I said we would not expect to be compute savvy, are already passing laws restricting our digital freedom and rights, yet the masses at large remain complacent because they simply don't understand technology in the first place.

What really worries me is my own generation. The millennials are getting married and are having kids of their own. They have grown to be consumers of technology, not producers. They want it easy and simple. When life throws them a curveball, such as a fried power supply, the ability to be resourceful and fix it yourself is gone. The generation that grew up with bandwidth coming out of their ears doesn't know what to do with it.

This is what I want:
"I want the people who will help shape our society in the future to understand the technology that will help shape out society in the future. If this is going to happen, then we need to reverse the trend that is seeing digital illiteracy exponentially increase. We need to act together, as parents, as teachers, as policy makers. Lets build a generation of hackers. Who’s with me?"

I am, Mr. Scott. Count me in.

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Good morning NOAA,

I was reviewing an article on your site, titled "How Old Is It? Using Magnets to Determine Age" from the GalAPAGoS Log Dated December 22, 2005. You can see this article here: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/05galapagos/logs/dec22/dec22.html

The picture on this page of the earth with it's magnetic field lines is drawn incorrectly. The convention of how to draw a magnetic field line is showing the magnetic field emanating from the North end of a magnet and returning into the South end of a magnet, like this picture shows:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/VFPt_cylindrical_magnet_thumb.svg


The first problem that you have with the picture, which may also be found taking up it's own dedicated page at this link (http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/05galapagos/logs/dec22/media/magfield_600.html), is that you have these magnetic field lines switched. Magnetic fields do not go "into" a North pole, they radiate out of it.

Also, the second problem that you have with this picture is the orientation of the bar magnet placed upon the earth. What you need to do is think about this logically:

You know that a north pole of a magnet will attract to a south pole. That is very simple. If you push two north poles or two south poles together, then they would repel. So, knowing that, think about the north pole of a compass. The magnetic north pole on the compass points to approximately the north geographic region of Earth because earth has a South magnetic pole at that location. Because Earth's magnetic field is a magnetic south pole at the geographic north, then a north needle of a compass will point towards it. If the Earth's magnetic pole was drawn as you have it, with the magnetic north field at the geographic north, then the South pole of a compass would be attracted to that region. Does that make sense?

You can look at these pictures for what things should look like:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Earths_Magnetic_Field_Confusion.svg

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/imgmag/mearthbar.gif


Why is this a big deal and why am I bringing it up? If you do a Google Image search for "earth's magnetic field", your image is one of the very first that appear, and it is wrong. You need to fix this so that students searching for information do not get confused!

https://www.google.com/search?q=earth's+magnetic+field&hl=en&safe=off&tbo=d&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=6q_-ULelHPOx0AHTvYHADA&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAA&biw=1237&bih=591

As it says in my Physics textbook: "Since unlike poles attract, the south pole of the earth’s fictitious bar magnet lies beneath the north magnetic pole". You may download the first 3 pages of Chapter 21 in James Walker's Physics textbook at my personal Dropbox here: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/104278/Physics-Cutnell%2C%20Johnson%208th%20Edition%20Chapter%2021%20Pages%20672-674.pdf

You may also read up and get more information here: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/magearth.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field#Earth.27s_magnetic_field

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_magnetic_field


Please, please read the links that I have provided and fix this very large error on your pages. Because this wrong image ranks so highly in a Google search, I really hope that you all at NOAA will fix this so you don't confuse others, especially students looking to obtain correct information.


Sincerely,

Chandler Weiner
Junior at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.

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A must see for any adventurous mind!
This is one of the cooler things I've seen in a while. It may have done the rounds a bit back, but my friend +Roger White pointed it out earlier, and I just had to share.

Scale!!

http://static.flabber.net/files/scale-of-the-universe-2.swf

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Very cool video "This is Aperture" set to the tune of "This is Halloween" by Danny Elfman: Portal 2 - This Is Aperture

SOPA and PIPA have been delayed in Congress! It is important, because, unlike what some websites are reporting, the Bills are NOT dead! A delayed Bill can still come back to the floor of Congress. This is a major turn for the better in making sure that SOPA and PIPA do not pass, but it is important to know that the battle is not over. Ready your letters and phone calls for when we have to fight these Bills again!

Parts of Gemini Blvd at UCF are closed off for a race of a Formula 1 style racecar, accompanied by police escort, speeding at insane speeds around the twisting road. No joke. This isn't safe at all, especially during busy traffic. Why would UCF allow this? It's insane!

For those of you who do not understand what these SOPA/PIPA protests are, allow me to hopefully help.

SOPA and PIPA are two pieces of legislation trying to be passed through Congress which fundamentally undermine the possibility of having an open internet. There are 2 major things wrong:

1. These acts would give legal access to companies like RIAA, MPAA, WalMart, Visa, etc to take down any website that is harming their business or is hosting any infringing content whatsoever. For example, consider YouTube. We both know that it contain copywritten videos on the website. But, it also contains hundreds of thousands of hours of educational material, news clips, legitimate content, etc. Under these laws, if a single person uploads one infringing video to YouTube, then the entire website can be taken down. All of it, just for the stupidity of one user. This stretches to Wikipedia (if someone uses a copywritten image), Google Books (accidentally scanning a protected book, then taking down all of Google), etc. You would eliminate companies because of the stupidity of a single user.

2. The process by which these takedowns occur is at the DNS level. For those that do not know, DNS is the system that translates things like "YouTube.com" into a series of numbers called an IP address. Your computer can understand this IP address number, not the words that make up a .com, .net, or .org. Without DNS, you would have to memorize a series like 120.644.76.45 to even get to a website!

These takedowns must be done by creating a back door and purposely opening a security hole in the system. This is similar to what China uses to block access to its people. You would purposely be breaking the way DNS works by allowing redirects at the TLD (top level domain, AKA, the .com, .net, etc.) level, similar to what ICE did last year. We have new DNS technology to stop this, but the ISPs are slow to roll it out (ironically, Comcast, a supporter of SOPA/PIPA just did).

So, that's it in a nutshell. These proposed acts will open a security hole in DNS and allow practically any company, even those without digital content, to blacklist any website at the highest domain level, thereby removing a huge site from the internet because of the actions of a dumb user.

Please read through my other post today to read my stance on SOPA and PIPA. It also includes information on what you can do to help.

Today, the internet goes dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). We are in an outrage that Congress is even thinking of handing over the power to control the very backbone of the internet, DNS, to the recording industry, record labels, and even companies like WalMart, Visa, and the NFL. Who do you want censoring any opposition on the internet? Do you want to give control over the very process of how the internet works to these companies? I have emailed, faxed, and written letters to my members of Congress urging them to stop these two acts from passing, and I encourage you to do the same. For my friends who also grew up in Boca Raton as I have, our very own Representative, Ted Deutch, is a written supporter of these bills. Do all you can to stop this, and take 3 seconds out of your day to email your Congressmen and help stop SOPA and PIPA from Passing!

If these proposed acts are new to you, please go here to learn more: http://lifehacker.com/5860205/all-about-sopa-the-bill-thats-going-to-cripple-your-internet

You can email your Congressman in 5 seconds by going here: https://blacklist.eff.org/

Read the actual proposed legislation here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/dont-censor-web.html
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