Articles

St. Lawrence: County, School, River, Saint

St. Lawrence County makes up the upper northwest corner of New York State. It is the largest county in New York.

St. Lawrence County is bordered on the west and north by the St. Lawrence Seaway and is home to St. Lawrence University, in the county seat of Canton, and St. Lawrence Central High School, in Brasher Falls. Across the border, in Cornwall, Ontario, you will find St. Lawrence Secondary School.

St. Lawrence County was named for the St. Lawrence River—”discovered” by Jacque Cartier, a French explorer—and on the Feast Day of Saint Lawrence of Rome—August 10—he named a small bay after the saint and cartographers applied it to the River of Hochelaga (Montréal).

Why was Lawrence So Popular?

So, who was St. Lawrence and why was he so popular to have all these places named after him?

Lawrence was a deacon in Rome, under Pope Sixtus II, in 258 AD. Lawrence was in charge of taking care of the needy and poor. The Roman Empire was ruled by Emperor Valerian, a pagan, from 253 to 260 AD. Valerian was the first emperor to be taken prisoner by the Persians and would die in captivity around 264 AD.

Valerian persecuted the Christians and required the clergy to worship the pagan Roman gods. On August 7, while Sixtus was preaching, Roman soldiers broke in to his chapel and took Sixtus to his death. He was beheaded on August 7, 258. As Sixtus was led to his execution, Lawrence wept and exclaimed, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” Sixtus replied that he was not leaving Lawrence behind, as he would follow in three days.

Sixtus was correct.

St. Lawrence Gets Grilled

St. Lawrence of Rome, with his gridiron, upon which he was executed, on August 10, 258 AD.Lawrence was ordered to bring the treasures of the Church to the Roman authorities. He, instead, gathered all the poor in the city and brought them and explained that they were “the treasures of the church.”

Of course, this was not a satisfactory response and Lawrence was sentenced to death by being strapped to an iron grill, or “gridiron,” and slowly roasted to death.

Lawrence, it is said, told the authorities that he was “done on this side” and requested that he be flipped over to continue his roasting on the other side. “It is cooked enough,” he replied as death took him. St. Lawrence, one of the more popular saints, is the patron saint of the poor (of course) and of cooks (ironic).

Accolades on My Master’s Program

Utica College:
Master’s Degree in Computer Forensics and CyberSecurity

From my professors:

Outstanding paper on cyber bullying. This is not only one of the best in the class, but one of the most thorough and historical accounts on the subject that I have read.

Jeff, You absolutely nailed this discussion forum. Your response to the discussion prompt was thorough and analytical, showed great creativity, and was supported by high-quality, properly cited sources. Your proposal of the strict BYOD policy in particular shows that you are “in tune” with current trends in cybersecurity. Keep up the good work.

Jeff, Fantastic job in this discussion forum. As I mentioned in the discussion itself, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that the Internet is a physical thing that is subject to damage, and not just a virtual, ethereal concept. You also went above and beyond the assignment requirements in responding to your classmates, and cited your sources well. Keep it up.

Such a great submission. In addition to correctly addressing all assignment requirements, the inclusion of all of the photographs added a nice touch. Great work and no issues to report. I really liked how you tied the date to national and historical events; that’s a first!

Well written presentation, correctly addressing all aspects of the assignment; verification via hashing, as well as discovery of hidden message due to font color change. No issues to report.

Excellent presentation. In addition to correctly summarizing each of the terms in-depth you correctly completed the hashing exercise. I have yet to ever have a student examine the HTML so that was really cool. Nice work and be sure to retain this presentation for future reference.

Excellent presentation or report; I can’t tell! Comprehensive and accurate summary of computer forensics evidence presented, as well as the grandmother’s testimony and how it conflicted with her work schedule. Nice inclusion of screen shots, as well as identification of NetAnalysis and CacheBack; you clearly articulated the issues that occurred with the returned results generated by the forensics tools. In short, the evidence was there but in my opinion, the technical challenges presented by the defense brought the validity of the evidence into question.

Excellent submission. I really liked how you identified and labeled all of the discovered devices within the photograph; very professional and easy to follow. Computer handling procedures were spot on and the supporting photographs were very helpful.

The step by step procedural detail was excellent! The supporting photographs and detail left no room for speculation. I could easily identify the specific remote, as well as the specific batteries. Excellent work and no issues to report.

Excellent presentation and supporting documentation provided through email. All assignment requirements were addressed in depth and correctly. Nice work and no issues to report.

Rutgers University: 
miniMBA Master’s: Social Media Marketing 

“Jeff, this is great work! You’ve done a wonderful job outlining your plan. It’s very realistic and I love the logic and targeting information you’ve built into it. …in terms of your strategy, everything looks solid. Nice work!”

Social Media Analytics of My Articles on Opensource.com

I have been writing for Opensource.com since August 1, 2016—one year ago today. I created a table (in LibreOffice) of my social media analytics and the results are below.

My first article, on Open Source Graphic Design was, by far, the most popular (it was even a Top Ten!). Branding, video and pets trailed way behind, and Open Source Death took a holiday.

My article on Open Source Star Trek was most popular on Reddit and tied with Open Source Pets on LinkedIn.

Facebook was the the most popular social media channel and Reddit the least. Twitter numbers do not appear, but it could be a result of the order of icons. The share buttons descend from Twitter, to Facebook, to LinkedIn, to Reddit and then Google+ for anyone who uses that.

Open Source Novel Writing (Bibisco) scored low, but had unusually high Likes.

My conclusion is that tech articles do best on tech sites (duh!) and that Facebook still seems to be the favorite social media channel (without knowing the Twitter numbers).

These articles are linked here.

Date Article Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Likes Comments
08/01/16 Expensive tools aren’t the only options for graphic design (and never were) 2687 407 5 166 52
09/20/16 Star Trek: Inspiring people and their tech since 1964 85 44 70 76 3
09/30/16 Tools for writing the next bestseller 73 22 2 95 0
12/28/16 Best of Opensource.com: Art and design 50 7 0 71 1
02/02/17 A look at 6 iconic open source brands 177 18 7 81 4
02/10/17 Lessons from a brief career in open source 64 41 4 85 6
02/14/17 Unleashed: open source tech for pets and animals 126 44 8 36 0
03/14/17 Open source in death and beyond 50 20 0 23 0
03/31/17 2 open source Adobe InDesign scripts 24 17 0 38 0
05/30/17 Tinkering with OpenShot for video editing 106 8 0 29 0
07/25/17 A left-handed software user’s plea 78 7 4 20 19
 1 Year  Totals 3520 162 120 920 85

Word for Mac Loses Hyperlinks in PDF

Have you ever saved a PDF from Microsoft Word for Mac and found that your hyperlinks were no longer linked?

Here’s what happened to me and how I solved the problem.

I was working on a Microsoft Word document on a Mac using Word for Mac version 15.32.

The document contained several hyperlinks. Some were created automatically by the URL being in the text and others I created using the hyperlink command (command-K).

I exported the document as a PDF and checked the links. The automatically created links worked fine. The links I created did not, even though they were created correctly.

I read some blogs to find a solution and several suggested the “Best for electronic distribution…” selection on the PDF export.

That actually worked, but ….

The text was very fine and the images were low-res. (see images for comparison)

 


PDF saved for electronic distribution

PDF saved for print distribution

Open Source to the Rescue!

I saved the document as an .odt file and then opened it in the open source editor, LibreOffice. I exported the PDF from there and…

it all worked!


Save file to open in LibreOffice

However, since it was saved into a different program it did re-flow the text. So, the best solution is to NOT use Microsoft Word on the Mac, but use LibreOffice instead, from the beginning.

All will be well then.

Happy 0100 of 0111

July 4, 2017 is America’s 241st birthday.

So, to keep things modern, I will be celebrating with binary and hexadecimal.

Happy 0100 of 0111, 00110010 00110000 00110001 00110111 !

Hexadecimal USA FlagThe Red, White and Blue

And, here we have Captain James T. Kirk reading the Declaration of Independence to We The People. (Note: both of these guys are Canadian.)

Star Trek. Captain Kirk reads the Declaration of Independence to We The People

Quiz

TV Commercials I Created

I was the associate producer of a 30-minute local feature TV program in Tallahassee, Florida, called 1800 Seconds.

I wrote, edited and even starred in several segments, including playing the part of “The Guy Who Drinks Too Much Coffee.” This was a segment on caffeine addiction.

I also helped create some TV commercials for the Tallahassee market. Here are three of them I have posted on YouTube. (These were converted from old 3/4″ videotape to DVD.)

How to Create a Simple Animation for YouTube

Video animation is fun! There are many tools that can be used and many different ways to create the final work.

The Tools

I am experimenting with video animation using Adobe PremiereAdobe Photoshop and Blender at the moment. I have used Adobe Edge Animateto create some simple animated web graphics, which worked quite well. I created the clip above (Zeppelins Over Fort Pierce) with Photoshop.

I shot some video with my Samsung Galaxy S3 and imported them into a video timeline in Photoshop. I then added a graphic of the zeppelin I made years ago as a .PNG file.

YouTube and Beyond…

Then, I fiddled around with keyframes, added a title card and exported it to YouTube, where I added some free music.

This took about one hour, not including the part where I walked over the bridge in the blazing Florida sun.

How To Open and Edit InDesign with Scribus and Open Source Tools

I read a few blogs on this and tried one suggestion: create an .EPS from InDesign and open it as an editable file in Scribus. That did not work.

Another suggestion was to create an .IDML (an InDesign file that can be read by a previous version) document from InDesign and open that in Scribus. That worked much better. Here’s what I did and the result:

Business Card designed in Adobe InDesign CC

InDesign .IDML file opened in Scribus

Business Card File:

This worked fairly well. The only issue I had was that the tracking (space between letters) was a bit off and the upside-down “J” I used to create the lower-case “f” in “Jeff” got flipped over. Otherwise, the styles and colors were all intact.

Book layout in InDesign

InDesign .IDML file of book opened in Scribus

Paginated Book File:

The book conversion didn’t go as well. The main body of the text was OK, but the TOC, some drop caps and footers got messed up. Still, it is an editable document. One thing was, though, is that my blockquotes defaulted to Arial. It seems that in some cases there was a character style on top of the paragraph style that carried over from the original Word file. A simple fix, however.

Command-A in the Scribus file

This was interesting. I placed the cursor in the text and hit Command-A to select the entire text string. It highlighted one page. However, that wasn’t really true.

Deleted text in Scribus

When I deleted the highlighted text, it seems that the entire text string really was highlighted, as the whole thing got deleted. Then something even more interesting happened…

Command-Z in Scribus

I hit Command-Z to undo the delete. The text came back, but the formatting was now messed up.

Edit Scribus File in Text Editor

If you open a Scribus file in a text editor and open an InDesign file in a text editor, you will see that Scribus is very readable whereas, InDesign is not. You can make changes in both and save the file, but the results are quite different. Editing an InDesign file in a text editor (TextEdit on a Mac) renders the file useless.

InDesign error message

Editing a Scribus file produces better results. I edited a Scribus document on a Mac using TextEdit. This rendered the file useless, just like InDesign. But, then I tried it on my Linux Ubuntu machine, using Gedit, which I launched from the Command Line and, voilà, the file opens and the changes I made in Gedit were retained. How can this be useful? Say you are a printer and you receive a Scribus file. The client calls and says there is a small typo. Instead of getting a new file, open the Scribus file in Gedit and you should be good to go.

Scribus edited in Gedit on Linux

Scribus opens after Gedit changes

I converted an InDesign doc to an .IDML so that I could plop in some PDFs. It seems Scribus is not as easy for this function like InDesign. However, after it failed, I simply converted my PDF imports to JPGs and imported them into Scribus. That worked great. I exported my document as a PDF but noticed that the files size was rather large. I’ll have to investigate that later.

The Future of Printing

Rush-In to New New York’s Information Access Center

It’s 2027, and Quick Printing is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What’s the typical printshop doing?

Note: I was the art director, production manager, editor, writer, coffee-maker for Coast Publishing for more than ten years. We produced several magazines, but Quick Printing was the flagship title. I wrote this article early in my career, in 1987, and predicted what would become of the quick printing industry 50 years hence — in 2027. How much did I get right? Well, not a whole lot really. But, shortly after the publication printed, we received a letter from Kinko’s founder, Ray Orfalea, who requested several copies for his staff. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Orfalea via video-conferencing in 1995. The future was fun back then!

Opening Page of Article in Quick Printing Magazine, October 1987

My father opened Rush In Printing in 1987. At that time it was called “quick printing,” Adam de la Monde says, “I started working in the shop wen I was 10 years old — back in ’97. I’ve been with it for 30 years now. “Rush-In Printing is an Information Access Center success story, a company that has changed with the times since its founding in 1987.

Rush-In opened its first shop in Lakewood, Colorado, a fast-growing Denver suburb. Oscar de la Monde, a 30-year-old pressman from Denver, owned the shop, and his wife just gave birth to their son, Adam. Tired of working in downtown Denver, fighting the traffic, and inhaling the infamous “brown cloud,” Oscar borrowed $25,000 to get through the first year in business and moved west, to Lakewood.

As a typical “yuppie” (in the jargon of those times), Oscar fulfilled his dreams of owning his own business. Lakewood, with a population of 112,000, proved fertile ground for the new enterprise. Rush-In Printing operated out of a storefront in the Villa Italia Center, a popular Lakewood mall. Customers waiting for orders browsed the mall until their job was finished. In short, Rush-In operated as a typical copy center in those days.

Memory management

In the front was a Xerox 9400, a self-sever copier (with an “out-of-order” sign on it), a coffee pot, and smiling receptionist — Oscar’s wife, Cora In the back, were the mainstays of the old-fashioned printshop — an A.B.Dick 360, an Itek platemaker, a VGC Pos One Daylight Camera, an Apple Macintosh, and an assortment of bindery equipment. Always on the front counter was a copy of Quick Printing magazine, then only a monthly.

Adam began working in his father’s shop early. By working in every possible facet of the business, he became a talented craftsman and an astute businessman. Information creation and retrieval became Adam’s specialties. Working with computers all his life, he became quite knowledgeable in the field of word processing and “memory management.” This knowledge was valuable to his father, who didn’t have the luxury of working with computers until he was an adult.

In 2010, Oscar de la Monde retired and Adam took over the business, at 23. “Although I was only 23, working in the shop all my life had given me the experience of a 50-year-old,” Adam says. “and, always, my father owned a copyshop, so I have toner in my blood.”

When relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union improved, and each country established a reciprocal city in each other’s country, de la Monde saw a potential market. He wasn’t interested in Gorbacheville, because who in their right mind would want to live outside of Trenton, New Jersey? However, New New York, located on the outskirts of Moscow, intrigued him. When President Amy Carter invited business to set up in New New York in 2012, de la Monde opened his Rush-In Information Access Center in a freshly painted dacha on Baryishnikov Prospekt.

Service economy

Isaw this as a way of tapping the foreign market,” says de la Monde, “especially the Russians, who, as you know, are still a ways behind the times in information access.” He adds that Rush-In has “installed a Weidner translation program to convert from English to Cyrillic. I still operate the shop in Colorado, and have to translate a lot of this stuff.”

de la Monde’s New New York shop specializes in service, as you might expect from a United States businessman. “The economy in the U.S. is based on service,” Adam says, “we provide better service than any other nation in the world. The manufacturing giants of the Third World require a lot of printing and information access to drive their economies, and we’re there to meet that need. The best thing is our location, in an environment closely associated with the Third World — New New York.

One problem that has endured since his father’s days in the shop is finding quality workers at an affordable price. “I can’t afford the pay scale back home,” de la Monde says, “I can only afford to pay my Colorado manager about a quarter-million a year.” It’s not that there aren’t enough workers available, but a lot of American workers have moved to the Third World countries. “I have only one human working in the Colorado center now,” de la Monde says, “I fill in with a few robots, and occasionally some temp robots. I’ve got my average sales per employee up to $792,812.”

That’s not bad for an average information access center like Rush-In IAC. The shop pulls in about $8.7 million a year, and de la Monde takes roughly $440,000 of that back to his apartment each year.

To service the Russian and Third World clientele, de la Monde operates an ECRM Autokon color scanning system and several Xerox color laser printers in the New New York center. He owns a satellite on which he relays work between Colorado and New New York. He also rents air time to certain clients.

Door to door

De la Monde uses regular embassy transport service to deliver his work to his Third World accounts. “I jump on a Concorde once a month to visit clients in Africa and Asia. While I’m there I do a little selling. Would you believe I actually go door-to-door? Some things will never change.

Of course, Rush-In’s market in Colorado is a bit different than that in Russia. The quick printshop Adam’s father opened in the late 20th century has evolved into a personalized information creation/retrieval service. Most of Rush-In’s customers use their own word processors and laser printers to produce the kind of jobs quick printers did 50 years ago, although de la Monde says he still has a demand for the the high quality of an A.B.Dick 360.

“People come to use when they want the look and feel of real paper,” de la Monde says. “Otherwise, they have to use synthetics like Kimdura, or pay the high price of real paper.” Rush-In is fortunate to have an EPA license to supply paper and paper-related products.

“Back in the ’90s, when they relaxed the pollution control laws, my dad thought about getting out of the business, “de la Monde says. “He told me he’d read in Quick Printing that the pollution would destroy the ozone layer and ten the forests would be stripped,” Fortunately, for Rush-In, when the EPA started rationing paper and licensing paper-related products retailers, Oscar de la Monde was an early applicant for al license. “I don’t think information access centers can survive without some type of licensing deal — either holding their own or leasing one from a supplier,” says de la Monde.

One of the most profitable niches Rush-In has found is one most IACs enjoy — book publishing. Rush-In has gone from doing shorter-runs of 10,000 or so early in the century to producing a single copy for customers.

“Back in the 1980s, the Libraries of MIT began scanning, encoding, and storing books on disk,” de la Monde remembers, “The Ohio College Library Center catalogued and offered books on disk to 600 subscribers in 1982. IBM’s Vice President and Chief Scientist said then that all the books in the Library of Congress would fit into 20 IBM 3850s.

“Now, almost every book is available through the Library of Congress. Customers come into the Lakewood shop, as though they were coming into a library. Apparently, they prefer books printed on real paper, as opposed to what they’re using in their at-home laser printers. They tell us what book they want, and the Library of Congress communicates the information via my own satellite, and the book gets printed on our Xerox 9700,” de la Monde says. “The royalties are protected by the Adonis Project, the American Association of Publishers established in the 1980s.”

Really rolling

Rush-In offers other products as well. Increasingly popular is toilet paper printing. Advertising specialties have turned the paper shortage into an opportunity, and personalize toilet paper has become a popular item for the Lakewood store. Rush-In has its own TP laser printer. “This is one item that is really rolling, although it did take people a few years to get used to the idea,” says de la Monde. “It’s a way of keeping your message out there, and one on a one-to-one basis, too. I have a few of my own rolls installed at Mile High Stadium during some Broncos games,” de la Monde explains.

No IAC would be complete without offering some kind of hologram printing service. National Geographic really brought holograms to the nation’s attention when it became the first magazine to feature a hologram on its cover in 1985. Others followed, including Quick Printing’s sister publication, Publishing Trade, in 1986.

“It’s sort of like thermography was in the 90s,” Adam says, “Radio stations like to order holographic bumper stickers with UPCs encoded in them, so they can track their listeners and contest winners from either helicopters or satellites. Holographic business cares are very popular, especially the ones that change scenes as look at different angles. We’re going to be offering “Scratch-And-Listen” holograms soon, too.”

de la Monde is a firm believer in associations, and belongs to the International Association of Electronic Quick Printers and Information Access Centers, which is holding its 51st convention and Information Access Expo 2027 at the McCormick Place Space Station in August. “I understand Multigraphics is featuring frictionless offset presses at McCormick,” de la Monde says.

“I read in Quick Printing,” he adds, noting that he is an avid reader, “It arrives every Monday, and I read it cover to cover.” Of course, he prefers the version that’s printed on real paper. QP’s Art Director, Douglas J. Macharyas, son of Art Director Emeritus, Jeff Macharyas, says that the full holographic version of QP will be available in 2028.

Back in the 20th century, Jeff Macharyas was Art Director of Quick Printing magazine.

Kinko’s Article Reprint Request


How To Create 3-Sided Boxes in InDesign

InDesign Forms: Three-Sided Boxes

Creating forms is, I think, the most difficult and mundane task a graphic designer ever faces.

EVERYTHING HAS TO BE EXACT. There will always be changes and when the forms are created with a mix of text and rules and symbols, it can become a real mess. Creating forms in InDesign is no picnic. Excel works better, but, hey, that’s life. It may even work better in Scribus; I’ll try that next.

The biggest problem I faced in creating this form is that I needed to create “fill-in-the-blank” boxes for the contractor to write in the customer info. Usually, these boxes are four-sided boxes. In this case, I needed to created a three-sided box — a “topless” box.

You would think this is an easy thing to do. Nahhh. I could have created them with boxes and white lines, or a series of upper-case Is with an underscore, or some other cludge.

Going Topless

HERE’S HOW I DID IT. I was able to create the boxes as “text” in the Character Styles (pull-down TYPE>>CHARACTER STYLES) palette using the Apple Symbols Glyph (TYPE>>GLYPHS) for a four-sided box, and then simply copied and pasted the number of boxes I needed for each entry. It worked for me; it may work for you.

Below are screen shots of the steps I took to “go topless.” This is InDesign CC (2015) Mac. I believe these functions are common in all versions, though.

Steps to Create a Topless Set of Boxes in InDesign

BASIC CHARACTER FORMATS

ADVANCED CHARACTER FORMATS

STRIKETHROUGH OPTIONS

APPLE SYMBOLS GLYPH

THE TOPLESS BOXES

THE TOPLESS BOXES

Meta Descriptions of Colleges

When revving up the Googler and searching for colleges, the browser shows a snippet of information it gleans from the site’s source code. This is the meta description that is embedded in the website’s HTML code.

Ideally, that information should be no more than 160 characters. It can be longer, but it will be truncated and after the limit has been reached, it ends with dot-dot-dot. See this link from Moz for a better explanation: https://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description

A random sampling of university meta descriptions returns a mixed bag of results. Some of them seem well-considered (University of Michigan) and some do not (University of Iowa).

Below is sampling from colleges and universities I randomly searched for in the US, Canada, South Africa and the UK.

If you were searching for colleges and this is the first thing you found out about a particular institution, would you click through?

University of Michigan
(check out the big M in source code!)

University of Michigan<meta name=”description” content=”A top-ranked public university, the University of Michigan has a tradition of excellence in research, learning and teaching, sports and the arts, and more.” />

University of Iowa
The University of Iowa Museum of Art has been without a building since the flood … the help of the University of Iowa will have its world premiere at the American …

University of Montana
Located in Missoula, Montana, the University of Montana is a place where top-tier students, educators and researchers from across the country and around the …

University of Oregon
Oregon’s flagship institution tucked into the scenic Willamette Valley.

Valdosta State
We are a place where all doors are open and you will never feel invisible. Consider the next four years your launching pad. Whatever your goals, Valdosta State …

Mississippi State
At Mississippi State University, we are a world-class research institution. We think inclusively and beyond the boundaries to encourage boldness, imagination …

Savannah College of Art and Design
Visit SCAD. Experience. Calendar · Facilities … SCADTV · Student portfolios · Give. © 2017 (SCAD) Savannah College of Art and Design. Careers Legal Sitemap.

University of Florida
One university. The Gator Good is our campaign to combine those efforts and solve those global problems. Because together, our impact is greater. Learn More.

University of Houston
Located near the heart of Houston, this public, tier one research university offers over 300 degrees and programs and award-winning faculty.

University of Alberta
The University of Alberta is a Top 5 Canadian university located in Edmonton, Alberta, and home to nearly 40000 students in a wide variety of programs. Visit the …

University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, based in the Northwest, is a leading research school, providing majors and degrees for graduate and undergraduate students.

University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati, founded in 1819, offers success by providing a balance of academic excellence, real-world experience and collaborative research.

University of Texas
Like the state it calls home, The University of Texas at Austin is a bold, ambitious leader, home to more than 51000 students and 3000 teaching faculty.

University of Liverpool
For the advancement of learning and ennoblement of life since 1881.

University of Denver
The oldest and largest private university in the Rocky Mountain region, DU offers innovative and rigorous undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.

University of Akron
With more than 250 degree programs, UA is one of the nation’s strongest public universities focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

University of Southampton
Study at the University of Southampton, ranked among the top 1% of universities worldwide. A research-led founding member of the prestigious Russell Group.

University of Pretoria
University of Pretoria is 1 of the top research institutions in Africa and their mission is to be an internationally recognised teaching & research university.

SUNY Oswego
RT @artswego: My Hometown Banner exhibit opens at #sunyoswego’s Tyler Art Gallery @ Oswego StateDowntown this Fri, June 23; rece… https://t.co/ …

Iowa State
Iowa State University is the nation’s most student-centered public research university. 100 majors. 800 clubs. 1 amazing adventure.

Binghamton University
Binghamton University: top-rated public research center; SUNY system; located in upstate New York; 15300+ students; 140+ undergrad/grad programs offered.

Siena College
Siena College is more than a liberal arts college—it is a learning community that prepares students for a successful life filled with compassion and drive, service .

Florida State University
FSU, designated a preeminent university in the state of Florida, is one of the most respected research and learning institutions in the country.


Lynchburg College
Lynchburg College offers opportunities for life through engaging undergraduate and graduate programs. It will adopt the name University of Lynchburg in 2018.

Roanoke College
College isn’t just four more years of school; it sets you on the path for the life you want to lead. At Roanoke College we think the world needs people with passion

UNC-Charlotte
UNC Charlotte alumna Melissa Farling, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, has devoted her career to investigating the effects of architecture on …

Randolph College
Randolph College is a nationally recognized private liberal arts and sciences college, located in beautiful Lynchburg, VA, focused on you the student.

Cyberbullying: Crime or Hysteria?

Cyberbullying is a new twist on an old problem. There have always been bullies—people who were stronger—or thought they were—would harass the weaker ones. Sometimes it was for retribution or just to humiliate their victim.

(I wrote this as a research project for my Master’s in Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics at Utica College in 2014).

Bullying (and cyberbullying) cross all age, gender and socio-economic groups and is not isolated to any particular geographic area. Bullies use whatever means available to them. In the “pre-connected” times, bullies would ambush their victims in the playgrounds, in the streets, or even in Congress. Bullying can take many forms: verbal assaults, threats, or physical violence. The intended result of bullying is to force one’s will onto others. However, it is up to the victim (unless under physical attack) to decide whether to live in fear of the bully or to take counter-measures.

Bullies are experts at leveraging technology and identifying people, or groups of people, to launch their attacks on. Throughout American history there have been many accounts of bullying. Racial and ethnic injustice is bullying, for example. The American Indians were bullied out of their homelands. The Irish were bullied out of job opportunities. The Japanese-Americans were bullied out of their own homes during World War II and even after they returned to society (“Congress urged to pass anti-bullying bill,” n.d.). The list is endless. Most of these bullying actions were in the form of verbal assaults and government edict. The bullies and their victims were easily identifiable and the tactics and “reasons” behind them were well understood by all.

With the invention of the telephone, they took to the wire and bullied people via phone and later even by Ham radio. The Ham radio group “Hamsexy” is considered the “bully of the shortwave.” Hamsexy claims their antics are merely meant as jokes, but those on the receiving end do not see it as such. A review of their website (www.hamsexy.com) reveals forum posts and photographs poking fun at people involved in Ham radio. Their antics can be considered bullying or it can be taken for it is—lame attempts at shock humor. It had reached a point to those offended that it required cease and desist letters, and even Twitter movements, to combat these scourges of the airwaves (Shortwave_america, 2011).

Now, we have a new type of bully—one that is purported to be different somehow. The new type of bully is more vicious, more dangerous and more prevalent. It has become an epidemic that will destroy the youth of the world. The new type of bully is the cyberbully. But, should we fall victim to the hysteria? Maybe not.

Bully For You

To understand what bullying—and cyberbullying—is, we first must understand what the terms mean. “Bully” has its origins in the Middle Dutch language of the 1500s, as boel—lover or brother. During these feudal times, a “bully” was one’s sweetheart. It later took on the meaning of “blusterer” and “harasser.” In the 1800s, Thomas Hughes used the term in his novel, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, to describe a student who taunted others (“Old-School Sweetheart to Modern-Day Menace,” n.d.).

Later in that century, President Theodore Roosevelt took the word “bully”—which was the 1800s version of “way cool”—to new heights of popularity. It was another one hundred years before the word “bully” was appended into “cyberbully” to describe a bully who uses technology connected to the Internet, such as social media, texting, email, video, etc. The term traces its origins to 2000, shortly after the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. The Christian Science Monitor editorialized about the incident and referenced cyberbullying acts that could be carried out via the newly popular Internet (Arseneau & Contributor, n.d.).

Labels are applied to describe people and their actions throughout history. Often, those labels will change over time, as did “bully.” Labels are also used to excess to describe people. People are reviled as “liberals” or “conservatives” to segregate them into one ideological camp, often meant as form of derision—labelbullying, perhaps. Labels are used so often that the meaning becomes diluted and pedestrian.

Not a day goes by that the media will report on how President Obama is bullying Congress, or Vladimir Putin is bullying Obama, or Congress is bullying Obama, or Harry Reid is bullying Mitch McConnell, and so on. Not everyone can be bullied if everyone is the bully (Dean, 2013). To merely suggest something or express a disagreement or a criticism is all too often seen as a form of bullying. The frequency of events considered to be bullying is different depending on where in the country you are. In New Hampshire, it takes but one instance to be an act of bullying, Nebraska leaves that decision up to the Districts (“Are we too quick to cry ‘bully’?,” n.d.). Even in Canada, bullying is rampant. Dr. Neill Gottheil, a Canadian psychiatrist says that due to the broad meaning of the term every slight or altercation is considered an act of bullying. (Dean, 2013).

Cyberbullying: Real Crime or Mass Hysteria?

Now that bullying has taken root in cyberspace, society has a new, and more virulent, form of the age-old problem. People with bad intentions—criminals and bullies—are very adept at learning to use new technology to their advantage. Hackers have been hacking since computers were invented and abusive personalities have found a new tool to replace their megaphones. Bullies take to cyberspace because they know that they have an easy way to reach their targets—often walking right into the abusers’ line of fire willingly.

Web 2.0—social media—has become a staple of everyday life. Every demographic is hooked and hooked-in. From toddlers to centenarians, every category of the population is tweeting, posting, liking, and commenting on their selfies and updates on their cats’ busy day. The media has been reporting on the perils of cyberbullying for years, and when they do, it is almost exclusively about adolescent girls. That’s not really a surprise, since 81% of Internet-accessing tween girls use social media compared to only 72% of the rest of the population. Tween girls thrive on social interaction, and social media gives them a perfect platform to interact with their friends—and their bullies. When it comes to social media choices, the video-heavy channels are favored. YouTube is, by far, the most popular with a following of 45%, followed by Facebook at 15%, Instagram at 10%, and Twitter at only 8%. Instagram is favored by 23% of girls aged 8-12. One of the pitfalls of the visual sites is the rise in narcissism. 33% of tween girls report that “being famous” was important to them. Using visual sites, such as Instagram, gives these girls a perfect vehicle to launch their quest for stardom (Fashion, 2014).

Using these sites is voluntary. Although COPPA restricts social media usage to those above the age of 13, the anonymity and complacency/complicity of parents allows girls (and boys) of any age to log on and start sharing. Amazingly, many parents will help their youngsters set up social media accounts and then just walk away. The social media sites, and any age-restricted sites, certainly don’t help in enforcing these regulations. It is a simple matter to make up a false birthdate and log right in. A test conducted on www.pabstblueribbon.com, a beer site, showed that by entering the obviously fraudulent birthdate of May 11, 1877, access is granted, no verification needed. Age-verification on the Internet is a farce. 22% of 8- 12-year-olds who use the Internet have a Facebook profile, despite COPPA regulations. There is not much point in creating regulations and enacting laws if there are no real ways to enforce them. There are age-verification products available, such as Aristotle Integrity’s ID-Direct, that uses challenge-based questions and a database of 3.4 billion citizens (integrity.aristotle.com/products/#id-direct), which would help mitigate this problem.

These children become ideal victims for stalkers, pedophiles, identity thieves, and cyberbullies. With very little oversight from regulators or by the children’s parents, the criminals can have a field day in social media tormenting their victims who either do not know they are being victimized or simply do not care. As heinous as stalking or identity theft is, cyberbullying is an insidious activity that builds over time, sometimes without the victim’s realization until it is too late and the victim has reached the breaking point. Much like putting a toad in a pot of water and turning up the heat a degree at a time, the “toad” doesn’t know it’s being boiled until the damage is done.

What is the damage done by cyberbullies and just who are they and why do they do such horrible things? Cyberbullying can start as a simple prank or a one-shot “gotcha” directed at someone with no real harmful intent. It can also be an orchestrated campaign to humiliate, discredit or warn someone. “CM” is a 19-year-old college student. He was at a party recently when he made a comment to some people about a girl at the party. “Yeah, I knew her in high school, but I think she’s a lesbian.” A stupid, but innocent, comment made during the haze of a late-night gathering. A strange girl confronted CM on campus two weeks later. “If you ever say anything like that about her again, I’m gonna f—ing kill you! I’ve sent your picture to everyone so they know what you look like!” she threatened. Apparently, his picture was distributed through (and lifted from) Facebook. So far, no crime has been committed, but a threat (no matter how empty) had been made. CM had, indeed, been cyberbullied.

Cyberbullying is often considered a tween crisis. Girls just being girls, saying mean things to each other but using the immediacy and the anonymity of social media to spew their venom. “JM,” a 16-year-old high school boy says that “social media is only for 15- 16-year-old girls now; I’ve even deleted my Facebook account; it’s all crap anyway.” CM is also winding down his Facebook presence and taking up online residence on LinkedIn instead. For the most part, cyberbullies and others targeting youths have a small window of opportunity to exploit before they grow tired of these sites and move out of reach.

Emily Osment in Cyberbully

The 2011 movie, Cyberbully, starring Emily Osment, tried to illustrate the awful effects of cyberbullying on 16-year-old “Taylor Hillridge.” Taylor finally convinces her mom to get her a laptop, which she promptly uses to sign on to “Cliquesters,” a version of Facebook. It was fun for a while, until the evil “Lindsey” starting posting innuendo about Taylor. Taylor would reply and complain to her friend, “Samantha,” about how horrible it was. But, she kept on posting. Samantha even created a fake male profile (for some unexplained reason) to further torment Taylor. But, she kept on posting. It all became too much and she attempted suicide by taking sleeping pills. But, she kept on posting. Even after being warned by “Mom,” and betrayed by her friend, Taylor could not kick her addiction to social media, much like a drug addict’s addiction to heroin. In the end, the solution was so simple: join a support group that will give you the courage to stand up to Lindsey and everything will be OK (Binamé, 2011).

Too bad it’s not quite that simple. But, what real harm can come of it? It’s only words on a computer; the computer can be turned off and the account removed, right?

In October 2006, Megan Meier hanged herself. Megan was 13 years old, suffered from attention deficit disorder, depression and low self-esteem due to her weight. She was befriended by “Josh” on MySpace and developed an online relationship with someone she thought liked and respected her. Josh’s posts became more and more cruel, until Megan had had enough and committed suicide. In this case, it wasn’t “girls being girls” but an adult woman, Lori Drew, along with her employee and her own teenage daughter who perpetuated the online assault. Although charged with Computer Abuse and Fraud, Drew was later acquitted and the conviction vacated. Megan’s mother worked to get “Megan’s Law” passed to help mitigate cyberbullying (“Six Unforgettable Cyberbullying Cases,” n.d.).

In another case, 13-year-old Ryan Halligan hanged himself after being cyberbullied through AOL’s instant messenger service. Ryan’s friend-turned-bully began a taunting campaign accusing Ryan of being gay. Ryan then struck up an AOL relationship with a popular girl (or so he thought). The girl and her friends thought it would be funny to perpetuate this faux romance to elicit personal, embarrassing confession from Ryan, which they later shared over instant messenger. Seeing no way out, Ryan committed suicide to end the torment (“Six Unforgettable Cyberbullying Cases,” n.d.)

As tragic as these cases are, suicide was not the solution. In both examples, the children had developmental and emotional challenges. Their tormenters may have pushed their victims, but it was ultimately their choice to take their own lives. The parents, guardians, and counselors should have been on high alert in these cases, knowing how fragile these children were, and monitored their activities more closely.

In another case, cyberbullying was assumed to be the cause of a girl’s suicide. People were arrested and reputations tarnished by the rallying cry of “cyberbully!” Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old Florida girl, jumped to her death in September 2013. Her mother claimed she was bullied on Ask.fm, a popular social media site. A 12-year-old and a 14-year-old girl were charged. It was revealed recently that there was no real evidence to charge these girls and Rebecca’s suicide could have been a result of her depression over a deteriorating relationship with her father. Rebecca’s mother sees it differently, citing Internet searches and deleted Ask.fm accounts as evidence of cyberbullying leading to her daughter’s suicide (Wallace, 2014).

The Cyberbully Industry

As the Sedwick case shows, cyberbullying is not a clear-cut crime. It is all too often used to shirk responsibility or deflect criticism. People, especially adults, will resort to cyberbullying knowing full well what they are doing and using it to their advantage. In 2013, Chef Gordon Ramsey featured Amy’s Baking Company of Scottsdale, Arizona on his reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. Amy and Samy Bouzaglo were tyrannical restaurant owners who abused their customers and ripped off their employees. Their exploits and peculiarities were highlighted on the show and social media was abuzz after it aired. Of course, being bullies in the physical world (“I’m a gangster,” Samy proclaimed), they took to social media themselves. They were taunted and they taunted back. But, what made their counter-counter-cyberbullying unique was that Samy was posting cyberbullying comments against himself to elicit more responses and then denying it (see graphics below).

Some people will claim to be cyberbullies, then claim to be reformed, then be accused of cyberbullying, and the cycle spins out of control. Cyberbullying is considered a cool, new fad, and opportunities abound in exploiting the concept. Chelsea Itson is a good example of claiming the mantle of cyberbully. Chelsea is an Ohio blogger. In 2006, she claimed she took up the hobby of cyberbullying as a way to vent about the passing of her beloved grandfather. She posted nasty things on other people’s blogs to take out her frustration. Then, she felt remorse at all the horrible things she said that, with her husband’s support, she wrote personal apologies to those she had cyberbullied and begged forgiveness. However, the victims had turned on her. She thought she had made up with the real people, even going to a concert with a new friend, but now she was the one being attacked by cyberbullies. Later, Chelsea got a new job. She found “evidence” that her supervisor was sprinkling a defamation website with her name. Chelsea had other cyberbullying problems at work and decided that she was now an expert at victimizing and being victimized that she started her own blog, overcomebullying.org, to expose the evils of cyberbullying. Was Chelsea really cyberbullied or was she just looking for her 15 minutes of Internet fame? Like a form of Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Chelsea instigated the problem and then complained about it and then exploited it, creating her own little Chelsea the Victim industry (Itson, n.d.).

The Chelsea story doesn’t end there. Others have taken her cyberbully-turned-angel story and have created their own anti-Chelsea industry at exposingchelsea.com. Not only does this site “expose” Chelsea but also her husband, Ellis. Cyberbullying cuts both ways.

Conclusion

In addition to Chelsea’s cyberbullying enterprise, the anti-Chelsea, Amy and Samy, Emily Osment, etc., there are a myriad websites, books, blogs, and other cause-related entities all jumping on the cyberbully bandwagon. Cyberbullying is a real problem. It has had, and will continue to have, devastating effects on people. Weak-minded people are easily swayed by what is said about them. Someone with low self-esteem may not see any other way out other than suicide. Cyberbullies will continue in their taunting because, as JM said, “it just doesn’t seem real.” By hiding behind a computer from somewhere in Ohio, like Chelsea Itson, the cyberbully can torment from behind a veil of anonymity and distance. Amy and Samy can cyberbully themselves thinking nobody will notice, trite movies like Cyberbully will be made, but Rebecca, Ryan and Megan will still be dead as a result of the perceived threat of cyberbullying. Nobody can be cyberbullied to death. Taking one’s own life is a personal decision. Unless cyberbullying turns into harassment or physical abuse it is, indeed, just words on a computer screen. It’s easy to blame technology on the problems of society, but social media is simply a tool. Tools are used and abused as people see fit. Some day cyberbullying will seem like a quaint notion like the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays. The big fear is: what, in the future, will be even worse?

References

Are we too quick to cry “bully”? (n.d.). CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/04/living/schools-bullying-definition-overuse/index.html

Arseneau, S., & Contributor, eHow. (n.d.). The History of Cyberbullying. eHow. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/about_6643612_history-cyberbullying.html

Binamé, C. (2011). Cyberbully. Drama.

Congress urged to pass anti-bullying bill. (n.d.). Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/10/congress-urged-pass-anti-bullying-bill/

Dean. (2013, October 2). PLEASE STOP OVERUSING THE TERM BULLYING | Edubabbling for the Masses. Edubabbling. Retrieved from http://www.edubabbling.com/%EF%BB%BFplease-stop-overusing-the-term-bullying/

Fashion, P. (2014, January 22). Tweens Go Social: How Kids are Using Social Media. FashionPlaytes Company Blog. Retrieved from http://about.fashionplaytes.com/tweens-go-social-kids-using-social-media/

Itson, C. (n.d.). Adult Cyberbullying. OvercomingBullying. Retrieved from http://www.overcomebullying.org/cyberbullying.html

Old-School Sweetheart to Modern-Day Menace: The History of the Word Bully. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.promoteprevent.org/blog/old-school-sweetheart-modern-day-menace-history-word-bully

Shortwave_america. (2011, November 9). Shortwave America: Radio Amateurs and Cyber Bullying – Part 2. Shortwave America. Retrieved from http://shortwaveamerica.blogspot.com/2011/11/quite-while-ago-shortwave-america-made.html

Six Unforgettable Cyberbullying Cases. (n.d.). NoBullying. Retrieved from http://nobullying.com/six-unforgettable-cyber-bullying-cases/

Wallace, K. (2014, April 21). Police file raises questions about bullying in Rebecca Sedwick’s suicide. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/18/living/rebecca-sedwick-bullying-suicide-follow-parents/index.html

This report was written as a requirement for the Master’s of Science program in Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics at Utica College in 2014 by Jeff Macharyas, MS

The Future of Printing

Rush-In to New New York’s Information Access Center

It’s 2027, and Quick Printing is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What’s the typical printshop doing?

Note: I was the art director, production manager, editor, writer, coffee-maker for Coast Publishing for more than ten years. We produced several magazines, but  Quick Printing was the flagship title. I wrote this article early in my career, in 1987, and predicted what would become of the quick printing industry 50 years hence—in 2027. How much did I get right? Well, not a whole lot really. But, shortly after the publication printed, we received a letter from Kinko’s founder, Ray Orfalea, who requested several copies for his staff. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Orfalea via video-conferencing in 1995. The future was fun back then!

(Quick Printing magazine, August 1987)

My father opened Rush-In Printing in 1987. At that time it was called “quick printing,” Adam de la Monde says, “I started working in the shop wen I was 10 years old—back in ’97. I’ve been with it for 30 years now. “Rush-In Printing is an Information Access Center success story, a company that has changed with the times since its founding in 1987.

Rush-In opened its first shop in Lakewood, Colorado, a fast-growing Denver suburb. Oscar de la Monde, a 30-year-old pressman from Denver, owned the shop, and his wife just gave birth to their son, Adam. Tired of working in downtown Denver, fighting the traffic, and inhaling the infamous “brown cloud,” Oscar borrowed $25,000 to get through the first year in business and moved west, to Lakewood.

Opening Page of Article in Quick Printing Magazine, October 1987

As a typical “yuppie” (in the jargon of those times), Oscar fulfilled his dreams of owning his own business. Lakewood, with a population of 112,000, proved fertile ground for the new enterprise. Rush-In Printing operated out of a storefront in the Villa Italia Center, a popular Lakewood mall. Customers waiting for orders browsed the mall until their job was finished. In short, Rush-In operated as a typical copy center in those days.

Memory management

In the front was a Xerox 9400, a self-sever copier (with an “out-of-order” sign on it), a coffee pot, and smiling receptionist—Oscar’s wife, Cora In the back, were the mainstays of the old-fashioned printshop—an A.B.Dick 360, an Itek platemaker, a VGC Pos One Daylight Camera, an Apple Macintosh, and an assortment of bindery equipment. Always on the front counter was a copy of Quick Printing magazine, then only a monthly.

Adam began working in his father’s shop early. By working in every possible facet of the business, he became a talented craftsman and an astute businessman. Information creation and retrieval became Adam’s specialties. Working with computers all his life, he became quite knowledgeable in the field of word processing and “memory management.” This knowledge was valuable to his father, who didn’t have the luxury of working with computers until he was an adult.

In 2010, Oscar de la Monde retired and Adam took over the business, at 23. “Although I was only 23, working in the shop all my life had given me the experience of a 50-year-old,” Adam says. “and, always, my father owned a copyshop, so I have toner in my blood.”

When relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union improved, and each country established a reciprocal city in each other’s country, de la Monde saw a potential market. He wasn’t interested in Gorbacheville, because who in their right mind would want to live outside of Trenton, New Jersey? However, New New York, located on the outskirts of Moscow, intrigued him. When President Amy Carter invited business to set up in New New York in 2012, de la Monde opened his Rush-In Information Access Center in a freshly painted dacha on Baryishnikov Prospekt.

Service economy

I saw this as a way of tapping the foreign market,” says de la Monde, “especially the Russians, who, as you know, are still a ways behind the times in information access.” He adds that Rush-In has “installed a Weidner translation program to convert from English to Cyrillic. I still operate the shop in Colorado, and have to translate a lot of this stuff.”

de la Monde’s New New York shop specializes in service, as you might expect from a United States businessman. “The economy in the U.S. is based on service,” Adam says, “we provide better service than any other nation in the world. The manufacturing giants of the Third World require a lot of printing and information access to drive their economies, and we’re there to meet that need. The best thing is our location, in an environment closely associated with the Third World—New New York.

One problem that has endured since his father’s days in the shop is finding quality workers at an affordable price. “I can’t afford the pay scale back home,” de la Monde says, “I can only afford to pay my Colorado manager about a quarter-million a year.” It’s not that there aren’t enough workers available, but a lot of American workers have moved to the Third World countries. “I have only one human working in the Colorado center now,” de la Monde says, “I fill in with a few robots, and occasionally some temp robots. I’ve got my average sales per employee up to $792,812.”

That’s not bad for an average information access center like Rush-In IAC. The shop pulls in about $8.7 million a year, and de la Monde takes roughly $440,000 of that back to his apartment each year.

To service the Russian and Third World clientele, de la Monde operates an ECRM Autokon color scanning system and several Xerox color laser printers in the New New York center. He owns a satellite on which he relays work between Colorado and New New York. He also rents air time to certain clients.

Door to door

De la Monde uses regular embassy transport service to deliver his work to his Third World accounts. “I jump on a Concorde once a month to visit clients in Africa and Asia. While I’m there I do a little selling. Would you believe I actually go door-to-door? Some things will never change.

Of course, Rush-In’s market in Colorado is a bit different than that in Russia. The quick printshop Adam’s father opened in the late 20th century has evolved into a personalized information creation/retrieval service. Most of Rush-In’s customers use their own word processors and laser printers to produce the kind of jobs quick printers did 50 years ago, although de la Monde says he still has a demand for the the high quality of an A.B.Dick 360.

“People come to use when they want the look and feel of real paper,” de la Monde says. “Otherwise, they have to use synthetics like Kimdura, or pay the high price of real paper.” Rush-In is fortunate to have an EPA license to supply paper and paper-related products.

“Back in the ’90s, when they relaxed the pollution control laws, my dad thought about getting out of the business, “de la Monde says. “He told me he’d read in Quick Printing that the pollution would destroy the ozone layer and ten the forests would be stripped,” Fortunately, for Rush-In, when the EPA started rationing paper and licensing paper-related products retailers, Oscar de la Monde was an early applicant for al license. “I don’t think information access centers can survive without some type of licensing deal—either holding their own or leasing one from a supplier,” says de la Monde.

One of the most profitable niches Rush-In has found is one most IACs enjoy—book publishing. Rush-In has gone from doing shorter-runs of 10,000 or so early in the century to producing a single copy for customers.

“Back in the 1980s, the Libraries of MIT began scanning, encoding, and storing books in disk,” de la Monde remembers, “The Ohio College Library Center catalogued and offered books on disk to 600 subscribers in 1982. IBM’s Vice President and Chief Scientist said then that all the books in the Library of Congress would fit into 20 IBM 3850s.

“Now, almost every book is available through the Library of Congress. Customers come into the Lakewood shop, as though they were coming into a library. Apparently, they prefer books printed on real paper, as opposed to what they’re using in their at-home laser printers. They tell us what book they want, and the Library of Congress communicates the information via my own satellite, and the book gets printed on our Xerox 9700,” de la Monde says. “The royalties are protected by the Adonis Project, the American Association of Publishers established in the 1980s.”

Really rolling

Rush-In offers other products as well. Increasingly popular is toilet paper printing. Advertising specialties have turned the paper shortage into an opportunity, and personalize toilet paper has become a popular item for the Lakewood store. Rush-In has its own TP laser printer. “This is one item that is really rolling, although it did take people a few years to get used to the idea,” says de la Monde. “It’s a way of keeping your message out there, and one on a one-to-one basis, too. I have a few of my own rolls installed at Mile High Stadium during some Broncos games,” de la Monde explains.

No IAC would be complete without offering some kind of hologram printing service. National Geographic really brought holograms to the nation’s attention when it became the first magazine to feature a hologram on its cover in 1985. Others followed, including Quick Printing’s sister publication, Publishing Trade, 1986.

“It’s sort of like thermography was in the 90s,” Adam says, “Radio stations like to order holographic bumper stickers with UPCs encoded in them, so they can track their listeners and contest winners from either helicopters or satellites. Holographic business cares are very popular, especially the ones that change scenes as look at different angles. We’re going to be offering “Scratch-And-Listen” holograms soon, too.”

de la Monde is a firm believer in associations, and belongs to the International Association of Electronic Quick Printers and Information Access Centers, which is holding its 51st convention and Information Access Expo 2027 at the McCormick Place Space Station in August. “I understand Multigraphics is featuring frictionless offset presses at McCormick,” de la Monde says.

“I read in Quick Printing,” he adds, noting that he is an avid reader, “It arrives every Monday, and I read it cover to cover.” Of course, he prefers the version that’s printed on real paper. QP’s Art Director, Douglas J. Macharyas, son of Art Director Emeritus, Jeff Macharyas, says that the full holographic version of QP will be available in 2028.

Back in the 20th century, Jeff Macharyas was Art Director of Quick Printing magazine.

Magazine Design With $0.00 Art Budget

I frequently starred in my own covers to save money
I frequently starred in my own covers to save money

I was the art director/production manager for a publishing company that produced several titles in English and Spanish. Profit was paramount so that meant expenses were to be kept low—or non-existent.

This can be a challenge in publication design, but not an insurmountable one. In fact, having such constraints can stretch the imagination and force the designers and editors to come up with cool ways to illustrate the issue while not spending any money doing so.

This is one example.

One of our titles was “Magazine Issues,” which we renamed from the original name: “Publishing Trade.” I came up with the name, because, well, magazines were issues and issues were magazines. Get it?

The cover story—Employee Wars—was written by the publisher and dealt with intra-office squabbling and back-stabbing. The challenge was how to illustrate “back-stabbing”?

Of course! As a fencer, this was obvious. I gathered my fencing equipment and got up on the conference table and faced off with—my sister! One of the sales reps shot some pix as we sparred on the table as our co-workers looked in staged horror (in between laughing).

The pix came out great and I asked my assistant art director to expand on the idea by creating pencil-sketch illustrations to be used as inside art for the article.

It would seem like my sister got the better of me and I was never to back-stab again.

This was a fun example of how the creative mind can come up with some clever ideas when constraints are in place. Also, keep in mind, this was just before the digital publishing revolution, so we couldn’t simply Photoshop our way out this or illegally grab some image off The Googler.

In addition to Magazine Issues, we published, and I was the art director for: Quick Printing, Southern Graphics, Printing Products International, Artes Gráficas, The Craftsmen Review, several Show Guides, and Direct Response Card decks.

Open Source Graphic Design

open source graphic designI have been experimenting with Open Source Graphics alternatives to Adobe software. This post will detail my experiences and opinions.

 The Setup

I am using the following Open Source Graphics tools on a Linux laptop:
Asus laptop.
Replaced Windows7 with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Intel® Pentium(R) CPU B970 @ 2.30GHz × 2
Scribus Version 1.4.6
GIMP 2.8.16

For comparison, I timed the app launch time on my late 2012 MacBookPro, running El Capitan.
Adobe InDesign CC: 6min 16sec
Adobe Photoshop CC: 1min 10sec
Scribus (Version 1.5.1): 1min 16sec
GIMP: 1min 11sec

Launch time on Ubuntu (Open Source only):
Scribus: 4.3sec
GIMP: 2.7sec

I downloaded Blender. Blender is “a free and open source 3D creation suite.” I am going to try moving from the 2D world of Open Source Graphics Design to the 3D world. They have many tutorials on their site, which I am about to embark on. I installed it on my Mac, but will add it to my collection on Ubuntu as well. OK, here we go!

Opening an InDesign document in Scribus

I read a few blogs on this and tried one suggestion: create an .EPS from InDesign and open it as an editable file in Scribus. That did not work.

Another suggestion was to create an .IDML (an InDesign file that can be read by a previous version) document from InDesign and open that in Scribus. That worked much better. Here’s what I did and the result:

Business Card designed in Adobe InDesign CC

InDesign .IDML file opened in Scribus

Business Card File

This worked fairly well. The only issue I had was that the tracking (space between letters) was a bit off and the upside-down “J” I used to create the lower-case “f” in “Jeff” got flipped over. Otherwise, the styles and colors were all intact.

Book layout in InDesign

InDesign .IDML file of book opened in Scribus

Paginated Book File

The book conversion didn’t go as well. The main body of the text was OK, but the TOC, some drop caps and footers got messed up. Still, it is an editable document. One thing was, though, is that my blockquotes defaulted to Arial. It seems that in some cases there was a character style on top of the paragraph style that carried over from the original Word file. A simple fix, however.

Command-A in the Scribus file

This was interesting. I placed the cursor in the text and hit Command-A to select the entire text string. It highlighted one page. However, that wasn’t really true.

Deleted text in Scribus

When I deleted the highlighted text, it seems that the entire text string really was highlighted, as the whole thing got deleted. Then something even more interesting happened…

Command-Z in Scribus

I hit Command-Z to undo the delete. The text came back, but the formatting was now messed up.

Edit Scribus File in Text Editor

If you open a Scribus file in a text editor and open an InDesign file in a text editor, you will see that Scribus is very readable whereas, InDesign is not. You can make changes in both and save the file, but the results are quite different. Editing an InDesign file in a text editor (TextEdit on a Mac) renders the file useless.

InDesign error message

Editing a Scribus file produces better results. I edited a Scribus document on a Mac using TextEdit. This rendered the file useless, just like InDesign. But, then I tried it on my Linux Ubuntu machine, using Gedit, which I launched from the Command Line and, voilà, the file opens and the changes I made in Gedit were retained. How can this be useful? Say you are a printer and you receive a Scribus file. The client calls and says there is a small typo. Instead of getting a new file, open the Scribus file in Gedit and you should be good to go.

Scribus edited in Gedit on Linux

Scribus opens after Gedit changes

PDF Import in Scribus

I converted an InDesign doc to an .IDML so that I could plop in some PDFs. It seems Scribus is not as easy for this function like InDesign. However, after it failed, I simply converted my PDF imports to JPGs and imported them into Scribus. That worked great. I exported my document as a PDF but noticed that the files size was rather large. I’ll have to investigate that later.

Email Spam: Since 1844

Samuel F.B. Morse sends the first email spam in 1844
Samuel F.B. Morse sends the first email spam in 1844

I don’t believe in email.

I’m an old-fashioned girl.

I prefer calling and hanging up.”

—Sarah Jessica Parker

It is staggering to think just pervasive email is in our lives. In 2012, there were 2.2 billion email users worldwide, 144 billion email traffic worldwide per day, 68.8% of it spam, and of that, 51% was pharmaceutical spam. 425 million active Gmail accounts worldwide, making it the leading email service (Cook, 2013).

Not only is email everywhere, but it’s been around, in some for, for quite some time. Email was apparently born in 1965. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) in 1961, and in 1965, hundreds of users were using the system remotely and sharing data (Van Vleck, 2001).

However, one could really consider the first email to have been sent on May 24, 1844 by Samuel F.B. Morse, whose message “What hath God wrought?” was emailed from the Supreme Court in Washington, DC to Alfred Vail at the B&O Railroad in Baltimore. There does not seem to be a reply, so Morse’s email probably ended up in Vail’s spam folder (Norman, 2015).

You’ve Got Mail.

A pivotal year for email was 1989. In that year, the phrase “Welcome! You’ve Got Mail!” entered our lexicon. It was so ubiquitous that just saying those words would be synonymous with its creator, America Online (AOL). Nine years later, the phrase became a movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (Lew, 2010).

The death of email has been ballyhooed almost as much as the death of publishing. However, email is just as popular as ever, even after discounting spam. There are three times as many email accounts as Twitter or Facebook accounts (although it is likely that people have several email accounts they don’t remember having or use several different ones depending on work, family, social requirements [it would be fair to say that the vast majority of people only have one Twitter or Facebook account if they have any]). Not only is email still popular, it gains in popularity. From 2011 to 2012, email volume rose 5.4% and 79% of people use their smartphones to check email compared to only 43% who use it to make phone calls (Eastman, 2013).

Along with the popularity and usefulness of email comes a dark side. As easy as it is to transmit birthday wishes to Grandpa in Sarasota and cookie recipes to Aunt Gwen in Fredericksburg it is just as easy to send threats from estranged spouses, solicitations from deposed Ugandan Cabinet officials, war and terrorist plots, embarrassing or incriminating information, or plain old computer viruses. And, this sort of thing has been around since Mr. Morse first spammed the B & O Railroad in 1844.

Confederate Email.

During the Civil War, the telegraph became a crucial tool of communication. It relayed battle plans and results back and forth from President Lincoln to his General of the Day and the Confederates were big fans, too. In December 1863, transmissions from Richmond were intercepted by Union telegraph forensicators and led to the capture of Confederate spies in New York and the confiscation of contraband and ammunition. This is an early example of network forensics, much like capturing packets today (Greeley, n.d.).

The problem with all this free-flowing information is that it can be intercepted, whether you’re a Confederate spy or not, or misdirected and the information contained within can be used against the sender or recipient. So, security is paramount for users but it must also be attainable by law enforcement in the event that email becomes evidence.

Authenticating emails is one problem. It’s not enough to say, “hey, I got an email from Mr. Green threatening me” and Mr. Green says “I didn’t write that.” In the 2012 Maryland case of Donati v. State, Mr. Donati threatened a bar and also sent harassing emails to the Montgomery County Police. He used different accounts, the same tone and followed up with phone calls, but denied writing the emails. The authorities were able to authenticate the emails circumstantially by verifying his IP address, finding paper in his house with the accounts written on it, plus the police responded to the emails, Mr. Donati was found to have been the author (Miller, 2014).

Of course, criminals don’t want to get caught and innocents don’t want their emails intercepted or used against them, and people want to be sure that the emails they send and receive are legitimate. Security measures have been in place for years but “email was not designed to with any privacy or security in mind,” says Geoff Duncan, writing for Digital Trends. Encrypting email poses many challenges, some which include that the message, and maybe the attachments, are encrypted by the metadata is not—which could be read and used to produce a trail of evidence, (Duncan, 2013).

Plug it in, plug it in.

Germany’s De-Mail purports to offer end-to-end encryption for its users. De-Mail. The purpose of De-Mail was to complement regular postal mail for legal documents. De-Mail has struggled to attract an audience, only securing 1 million users since its inception in 2012, which is far below the expected totals. Using OpenPGP, De-Mail offers its users a secure transmission of email from user to sender. However, the user needs to install a plugin to make it operational and that plugin is only available fro Firefox and Chrome, which excludes 60% of Germans who use other browsers, not to mention mobile apps and desktop mail clients (Balaganski, 2015).

It doesn’t look like Germany’s De-Mail encryption push will have much effect. Without mobile support in an increasingly mobile-only world, and with only 40% of the browser use supported and assuming people will even install the plugin if they are able, leaves the vast majority of people unencrypted (Craig, 2015).

Although email remains popular, and will be used for transmitting messages for quite some time, there are many other options depending on what it is you are transmitting. Several years ago, it was common to send all messages and small attachments via email. Just about everyone used it and understood it and didn’t worry about it. But, to send large files, email might not be the best option. Services such as TransferBigFiles, HighTail and WeTransfer are better options to send files that are several gigabytes in size, instead of attaching them to an email. Further, sending a text message is much easier than emailing someone with a short message. One benefit of emailing is that is creates a simple archive. It is easy to search through old emails when looking for something of re-download an attachment that was lost. But, if the information is encrypted, searching might not be as easy (“Searching Encrypted Emails, 2010.”).

Hello, I’m from the Government and I Want to Read Your Email.

I do not believe that De-Mail’s new encryption scheme will have much effect on network forensics. Unless it could be implemented for all users across all platforms and be easy to install and guaranteed to be installed, it won’t matter all that much. Of course, to ensure 100% compliance would require government mandates and government oversight over everyone’s email use in the interest of “making it safe for everyone.” I do not think the people will would accept that much government interference and would simply use other methods, such as those name earlier, to transmit information, making email the next MySpace.

References

Balaganski, A. (2015, March 10). De-Mail: Now with End-To-End Encryption? Retrieved March 26, 2015 from https://www.kuppingercole.com/blog/balaganski/de-mail-now-with-end-to-end-encryption

Cook, D. (2013, January 16). Internet 2012 in Numbers. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://royal.pingdom.com/2013/01/16/internet-2012-in-numbers/

Craig, C. (2015, March 13). German E-Government Serivce Gets OpenPGP-Based Plug-Ins But Their Impact Is Unlikely to be Widespread. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://www.infoworld.com/article/2895806/security/google-yahoo-openpgp-end-to-end-email-encryption.html

Duncan, G. (2013, August 24). Here’s Why Your Email is Insecure and Likely to Stay That Way. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/can-email-ever-be-secure/

Eastman, H. (2013, July 7). Communication Changes With Technology, Social Media. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://universe.byu.edu/2013/07/07/1communication-changes-with-technology-social-media/

Greeley, A. (n.d.). The Military-Telegraph Service. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://www.civilwarsignals.org/pages/tele/telegreely/telegreely.html

Lew. A. (2010, May 24). You’ve Got … 25 Years! AOL Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Big Birthday Bash. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://corp.aol.com/2010/05/24/youve-got-25-years-aol-celebrates-25th-anniversary-with-bi/

Miller, R. (2014, February 18). How Do You Get an Email Into Evidence at Trial? | Donati v. State. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://www.marylandinjurylawyerblog.com/2014/02/get-email-evidence-trial-donati-v-state.html

Norman, J. (2015, March 25). Morse Transmits the First Message by Morse Code (May 24, 1844). Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=551

Searching Encrypted Emails in Outlook. (2010, December 2). Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://superuser.com/questions/217757/searching-encrypted-emails-in-outlook

Van Vleck, T. (2001, February 1). The History of Electronic Mail. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from http://www.multicians.org/thvv/mail-history.html

First submitted as a Discussion Forum post for the MS-Cybersecurity Program at Utica College by Jeff Macharyas

FF-RHP

An ad in The American Spectator magazine that is not FF-RHP. Oh no!
An ad in The American Spectator magazine that is not FF-RHP. Oh no!

FF-RHP.

Anyone who has worked in publishing will be very familiar with this term. Advertisers will negotiate with the sales rep to ensure that their ad is placed in the publication far forward (usually first 50%) and on the right-hand page (on top if possible). The sales rep will come to the production manager or the art director with an insertion order with big, bold, underlined, italic Arial type with five exclamation points that reads:

MUST BE FAR FORWARD RIGHT-HAND PAGE!!!!!

The production manager will roll his eyes and tell the sales rep (almost convincingly) that he’ll “do his best” to make sure the ad appears where the customer demands. Usually, this request can be granted. The problem arises when the request is really a demand. Advertisers will use the fact that their ad did not appear where they commanded and refuse payment. Even if there is no guarantee and no premium paid, advertisers will often think that they are entitled to special placement.

It has been my experience that the 80/20 rule applies to this. 80% of the “problems” are caused by the bottom 20% of the advertisers. Here’s an example, based on years of production management:

Phil (not his real name), the ad rep has gotten a hot lead on the hook. He has convinced Widgets-R-Us (not a real company) to give the publication a try. They are willing to buy a one-time quarter-page square ad. In order to get Widgets-R-Us into the January issue of Widget World (not a real magazine), Phil has agreed to their demands. Their quarter-page ad must be far-forward, first 50%, right-hand page, opposite full edit, at least six pages from competitors, not across from any negative editorial. And, oh, by the way: we need to create the ad for them.

“We Need to Create the Ad for Them.”

Deadline approaches. Production manager chases after Phil to get the material in. “But I’ve emailed them twice today; they just don’t respond.” Then call them. “I have, but Mr. Big-Ad is away somewhere.” Uh-huh. “Well, if they do not have material in place by 5pm we’ll have to pull the ad and replace the space with a filler and charge them, since they signed a contract.”

“Whuhhh, no, we can’t do that,” Phil laments.

As if on cue, emails start pouring in at 4:59pm. There’s a Microsoft Publisher file with some unproofed text, then comes some low-resolution PNG files that the advertiser “just got off the Google.” Then a giant logo that needs to be converted to CMYK and re-sized (but first it must be unzipped).

As night approaches, an ad is quickly cobbled together. The Google images are replaced with images found right on the advertiser’s website, the text is proofed, and a PDF is sent to Phil so he can send it to Mr. Big-Ad.

Approved! Who knows if anyone really looked at it, but the returned email is all the proof we need!

Due to some shifting of editorial and some ads being moved around, Widgets-R-Us gets placed on a left-hand page, on page 66. Uh-oh.

The Tribunal of Publication Crimes

The magazines arrive and Phil walks in holding a magazine limply in his hand with a downcast look on his face. “What happened?” Welllll. Yes, this a mistake. A promise was made and not kept. Guilty as charged. However, there are a few things to use as a defense during the trial at the Tribunal of Publication Crimes:

There was no premium paid and Phil should never have agreed to any guarantees, especially for a one-time, quarter-page ad. OK, he did, we messed up. But, what does it really matter? Here’s what research has shown:

Leslie Tucker, writing for The Richards Group, cites a study conducted by VISTA:

An ad on a right-hand page is more effective than an ad on a left-hand page.

Answer: false. In terms of right- vs. left-page positioning, there’s virtually no difference in recall.”

And from Principles of Effective Print Advertising, [Word .doc file] a paper by Steve Blom at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville…

“While this seems to be overstating the obvious, there are still myths that placement has a direct effect on ad performance. “Right-hand page, Far forward” is a frequently heard request.

Unfortunately, it has virtually nothing to do with whether or not your ad will succeed. A well-designed ad will perform well wherever its location: front or back, left-hand page or right.”

There’s an Ad Stuck in My Eye!

This assumption comes from old newspaper “rules.” For some interesting reading on layout and how right and left play into it, see this post by by Chris Da Sie, writing for Creative Bloq. Chris describes the “Gutenberg Diagram,” a design guide developed by Edmund C. Arnold, that describes how people’s eyes “travel” across design. Jessie Lacey writes about it in The Dirigo Blog. It’s interesting reading.

So, next time Phil comes in with another FF-RHP ad, show him this research.

Thank you for reading.

—Jeff Macharyas, publication production and design for many years.

Cybersecurity Complacency

cybersecurityIt is human nature that we do ourselves harm or neglect ways to keep ourselves healthy even when we know it is against our best interest. We fool ourselves by thinking “it won’t happen to me,” or “why bother.” We smoke, we text and drive, we consume mass quantities of alcohol—and we neglect our own digital security.

What does John Q. Public think about digital security?

A 2011 study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance revealed a shocking lack of knowledge and a high level of complacency amongst educators when it pertains to their own protection and to that of their students. A staggering 76% reported that they have spent less than three hours in the past year on cyber protection training and that only 8% reported devoting six or more hours to the subject in the past year. 42% of adults believe that the individual is responsible for keeping the internet safe—40% of those people have not even taken the simple step of changing their passwords in more than a year—if ever.

Schools do a good job (90% of them) at shielding students from digital threats, but very few teach them anything about how to protect themselves. My son is in a dual-enrollment program in high school. One of his subjects is “Computing.” He spends a great deal of time learning Excel and Word, but not a second on security.

A Scout is Loyal, Brave, Reverent, Trustworthy—and in Danger

I had a similar problem as webmaster for several Boy Scout Troops. When asked to post photos with full names of Scouts, I would refuse. “Why not?” I would be asked. There have been cases in which child abductions have occurred because “bad parents” were able to find their kid’s info on Scout websites. It’s BSA policy not to publish full names. The response I often received was: “Ahh, just do it, what’s the big deal?”

The problem also exists on the other end of the age spectrum. Several months ago I was asked to conduct a seminar on smartphone use for seniors at the YMCA. My students were attentive, inquisitive, and surprisingly knowledgeable on many aspects of their devices. I concluded with a segment on security. There were many blank stares and a few asked me for a definition of “cybersecurity”—and still didn’t understand it.

It’s alarming to see the lack of concern exhibited by so many people in regard to their own safety. There are efforts being made and many resources for those who seek them out, such as the book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman, who make the subject approachable for average people. In 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving started a movement and has rallied Americans to take a stand against impaired drivers. Perhaps we now need a Mothers Against Complacent Cyber Victims.

References

Boy Scout Troop 626 Queen of All Saints Basilica Chicago, Illinois (n.d.)  Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://bsatroop626.org/aboutus

Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (2014, January 3). Cybersecurity Simplified: A Reality Check for the Digital Age.  Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://mashable.com/2014/01/03/cybersecurity-book-singer-friedman/

National Cyber Security Alliance (2011). Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://www.staysafeonline.org/download/datasets/2076/K-12 Study Fact Sheet Final _0.pdf

National Cyber Security Alliance (2011). Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://www.staysafeonline.org/download/datasets/2068/NCSA_Mcafee_Online User Study_Final_11_15_11.pdf

Symantec Corporation (2012, October 15). New Survey Shows U.S. Small Business Owners Not Concerned About Cybersecurity; Majority Have No Policies or Contingency Plans [Press Release].  Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20121015_01

This post was originally submitted in January 2014 as a discussion post in the MS-Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics program at Utica College.

The Dark Side of Online Games

Lexulous
Lexulous: Where horrible, cheating scoundrels meet to play games!

I am addicted to playing “Scrabble” online. I get up early and usually devote an hour to it instead of doing something constructive like watching “Kimmie Schmidt” on Netflix.

I grew up playing board games with friends and family. Monopoly, 21, Checkers, and Chess (sounds like an REM song) and, of course, Scrabble.

I’m good with words so I usually win. This drives my family crazy, but I try to be lenient; I’m just that  good.

However, in the virtual world, I’m not as good as I think.

Scrabble moved around a bit and was found on playsite.com, games.com, pogo.com and then it was gone. I think Hasbro, the owners, yanked it offline in a hissy fit because they weren’t making any money.

There are EIGHT Tiles!

Then, some Scrabble knock-offs came online. Some were really awful and then there was Lexulous. Lexulous is similar to Scrabble, but with some differences, notably there are eight tiles, not seven (imagine Captain Picard from Star Trek saying that: “there ahr eight tiles!”). And the values are different for the letters.

So, I’ve been playing Lexulous for a thousand years now. You start with 1200 points and compete with random people from around the world (and beyond). I usually find people from Australia, the UK, India, and sometimes, like 20 miles away (creeeeepy).

A few years ago, I got my score up to 1977. Wow! Almost  broke 2000. Then I went on an epic slide. I went down into the 1600s and have been clawing my way back up. I seem stuck in the high 1700s. I win a few then lose a lot, win some, lose more. I feel like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill. Only, he had it easy compared to what I’m going through!

Dark-Sided

But, there is a dark side. Some of the people on there are just rude, nasty, and out of their freakin’ minds. I was playing “Loopylinda.” All was going well, I won one, she (he or it) won one and then the last game I was behind and I placed my last set of tiles. The system froze. The timer kept running but I couldn’t submit. This happens a lot. So I hit the refresh. Well, that threw the game out. Sorry, not intentional. Loopy will still get the win in three days and the coveted points. But, in the chat window I received the following: “jerk.”

I wrote back that I was locked up and hit refresh. Oh no. I can’t ever play Loopylinda again that’s for sure. Apparently there is a way for people to “censor” you. Sometimes people get all mad at me and then I am censored! Ha! You will never play me again, you, you, meany head!

Lazy Slack Cow

Then, some people just get way carried away. Here’s an exchange I saved from three years and had posted on my Facebook page. Get a load of this:

louise63: u did nothing u took all my work
Me: huh?
louise63: u don`t deserve to win lazy slack cow
Me: ok thank you
louise63: you gave back nothing selfish bitch
louise63: go rot
Me: ok. thanks for the feedback.
louise63: f**k off stupid fat cow
louise63: still doing nothing still useing the other person `s work and giving nothing back it`s a game for two people not just you fatso
Me: i’m not fat. but thanks for pointing out my character flaws.
louise63: ha ha your loosing
louise63: you will never WIN another game
Me: oh no! whatever shall i do?
louise63: die bitch
louise63: u r loosing because you are tro slack to think for yoursef you have to take everybody else`s work

What’s up with Louise63? Does she know Loopylinda? Why do they get so mad all the time? This exchange, actually, is not even the worst I’ve gotten!

A new exchange in which I am accused of cheating while I’m losing!

frogscroak: it’s nidce playing you
Me: see, the universe reset itself
frogscroak: nah..
frogscroak: the site did
frogscroak: but I think you cheat too much
Me: how can i cheat?
frogscroak: are you being obtuse?
Me: no it’s a real question because i don’t cheat nor do i like to be accused of doing so, so tell me how you think i am please
frogscroak: you don’t have the ratings level or the vocabulary for the words you paly
Me: esp. with a score of 1786, i guess im not a good cheater then!
frogscroak: so you must be amazingly lucky then
Me: ah. I work in publishing maybe that helps
frogscroak: no
Me: ok no problem.
frogscroak: you set type?
Me: i used to back in the day
frogscroak: you used to back in the day.
frogscroak: I have no idea what that means
frogscroak: ohh
Me: yes the 1980s before desktop computers

Filthy Anagrammer

But, I’ll keep playing. I play honestly, even though I’ve been accused of being an “anagrammer.” I don’t know. I think there might be some online system to figure out words. If I put down a big-point “bingo” and get like, 103 points, then I get the virtual wagging finger pointed in my face: “Anagrammer! Burn at the stake, anagrammer!” Of course, I rarely get those but my opponents frequently do. But I’m a censored anagrammer. Don’t hang around with me, I’ll steal your vowels.

Zouaves

I played Jovanix who hails from where I don’t know. The score was pretty close but I won by ten in the end. As a way to congratulate me on my epic win, Jovanix and I had the following exchange (I edited some of the naughty bits but I’m sure you can figure out the actual text):

jovanix: f*cking c*nt

jovanix: beat you

jovanix: unbeleiveble chating

jovanix: f*cking unbeliavble

Me: i won by ten and i have score of 1742. really?

jovanix: you are f*cking sick bstard

jovanix: f*cking sick cheating c*nt

Me: ok if you say so. its only a game keep calm

jovanix: go f*cking die together with all your filks

jovanix: f*cking c*nt

Me: i don’t cheat if i did my score would be much higher

Me: ok have a nice day

jovanix: when you f*cking day

A new exchange!

PerfectStorm: you got to be kidding me (I played ZOUAVES for 77 points)

Me: no. it’s real look it up

PerfectStorm: of course it’s real the game would not allow the word if it wasn’

PerfectStorm: my question is whether YOU knew it

PerfectStorm: or a computer helped you get the word

PerfectStorm: go try it with someone else

Me: yes, I am a history fan so i knew it was

PerfectStorm: sure

PerfectStorm: true colors are showing huh?

Me: just because i got a good word does not mean i am a cheater you i just happened to get the letters

Me: if i was such a great cheater would my score be 1758?

PerfectStorm: do you mind

PerfectStorm: i’m playing a game

A Fellow Player Writes In

I received an email from a fellow Lexulous player. I left out the player’s name. Glad to see I’m not the only evil cheating bastard out there!

Hi Jeff, I had a similar experience to yours a few days ago when playing Lexulous. I do not use word generators. I find words on my own. I have a well-rounded background and am knowledgeable about words and etymology (7 years of Latin studies; French and Spanish major at university). Well, I made two bingos in a game with Jovanix and then he requested that the game be aborted. I refused. If there’s a legitimate reason, like a technical problem, I’ll agree, but this was because he was mad that I was winning. Then came the tirade of swear words and accusations of cheating. I have a rating of about 1800, and often dip down to the low 1700s. Like you, I believe that no one with such ratings should be accused of cheating. I’m sure I’d be in the high 1900s, or even 2000s if I were cheating. I avoid playing with people with high ratings for this very reason. Why play against a software program? Well, the phrases full of c*un*s and f*uc*in*s spilled out in the chat box (from Jovanix). What an incredibly foul-mouthed person he is. And he also uses odd syntax. I believe he is not a native English speaker. But I kept my cool. I go to Lexulous for enjoyment, not to get grief. Too bad there are so many people like him there. Just wanted to commiserate with you! And I, too, know what a Zouave is! I learned it in French history classes!

Online Education

We don’t need no education.
We don’t need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
—Pink Floyd
Another Brick in the Wall

An investment in knowledge
pays the best interest.
—Benjamin Franklin
inventor, diplomat,
guy on the hundred dollar bill

 

The value of education has been debated forever—from Benjamin Franklin to Pink Floyd. Some people feel it is invaluable and some feel it is of no value. The debate will rage on, but while it does, the “delivery” of education will change. No longer are students required to be planted in a hard wooden chair in front of a Ben Stein-like teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Students of all ages and abilities can learn on their own, in groups, or collaboratively through distance learning. Many systems have been used over the years to provide distance learning, but it wasn’t until the Internet the took over our lives has distance learning fulfilled its age-old promise.

Learn Shorthand—In Your Own Colony

The first distance education system could be traced all the way back to 1728, when shorthand instructor Caleb Philipps advertised shorthand lessons to “persons in the country desirous to learn this art, may be having lessons sent weekly to them.” But, it wasn’t until 1840, when Sir Isaac Pittman taught his shorthand course via a system of postcards. He would mail his lessons to his students and they would return their assignments for corrections. This was really the first interactive distance learning system. Pennsylvania State College used distance learning via radio in 1922. The University of Minnesota, the University of Salt Lake City and the University of Wisconsin also had been granted education licenses to broadcast courses over the radio and the number grew to more than 200 by 1925. However, lack of faculty interest, poor presentation and competition from commercial broadcasters doomed the enterprise. Although radio-delivered education waned, the Australian “School of the Air” began operation using shortwave radio in 1951 to reach students across the great distances Downunder.

In 1953, the University of Houston offered televised distance learning via public television station KUHT. More than 100,000 semester hours have been taught on KUHT. The telephone was later used as a learning device by the University of Wisconsin in 1965. Three years later, Stanford University began the Stanford Instructional Television Network to teach engineering students.

You’ve Got Mail

1969 would prove to be the most pivotal year for distance learning—and the world. It was in that historical year that the US Department of Defense created ARPANET—a system of linked computers that allowed researchers to share information across distances. It evolved over the years, but it would be almost 30 years later that we all became, in some way, part of the Internet.

I’m a Phoenix!

The University of Phoenix was founded in 1976 and now offers distance and on-site learning for adults in more than 200 locations. Many more such institutions would spring up over the years with varying degrees of “respectability.” In 1985, Nova Southeastern University awards its first PhD earned through online education, in Computer and Information Sciences. America Online got in on the action in 1992, by establishing the Electronic Education Network, and offered a PhD in Integral Sciences. CALCampus, based in New Hampshire, first began total Internet-based learning in 1995 as calcampus.com, although it began offering distance learning courses as early as 1986 on systems such as CompuServe and GEnie.

That same year, Utah Governor Mark Leavitt met with Northern Arizona University President Clara Lovett and sparked the initial idea of a regional university. 19 state governors got together and in 1996 announced the creation of the Western Governors University to offer distance learning to a growing Western United States population that was spread across the much larger Mountain and Western states and out to the territories of Guam and the Northern Marianas in the Pacific. WGU is based n Salt Lake City, Utah, and as of 2012, has graduated 16,000 students.

In 1999, online learning “tools,” such as Blackboard, came online. These tools would grow and expand and would help facilitate learning and instruction between teachers, students, and administration. In 2003, 81% of universities offered some sort of online coursework, and by 2012, that number jumped to 97%.

I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation.
You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation…

Although online education sometimes gets a bad reputation, 83% of CEOs reported in 2010, that online education is just as credible as on-site education. Those students would be in good company. Many well-known personalities have earned degrees, or finished degrees, through online education. Amongst them: Steven Spielberg (CalState-Long Beach, film production, 2002), Dr. Shaquille O’Neal is “a Phoenix,” earning his MBA in 2005 and then earning a PhD in Education from Barry University, Arnold Schwarzenegger was an early proponent, taking online courses at the University of Wisconsin way back in 1979.

In 2009, David Nagel, writing for Campus Technology, reported that 5.5 million post-secondary students have taken some online courses and that by 2014 the number would jump to 22 million.

Just a Coupla MOOCs

Online education has now become available to the masses. Through a blend of licensed and non-licensed content, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been available for the past few years. MOOCs (the term was first used by David Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island in 2008) offer coursework and tests, but also create a shared community amongst its users. Several MOOCs are available on a paid and free basis and offer a variety of courses. Udacity and Coursera are just two. MOOCs aren’t limited only to post-secondary education, though. In November 2012, the University of Miami launched a high school MOOC as part of the Global Academy. Students can use it for SAT prep.

As a lifelong learner myself, I have had a varied experience with different forms of distance learning and I have developed a wide range of opinions about them.

When I was younger I was a licensed Ham Radio Operator. I thought, recently, that I would like to get my license again—just to see if I could do it. Unlike in the past, I did not have to crawl all over the library or order books via the mail. There are several online study courses and I settled on HamTestOnline.com. For $20, I received a two-year subscription to study questions, practice quizzes, diagrams and everything I needed. The lessons are well-prepared and the quizzes offered questions in a random enough basis so I wasn’t able to “game the system.” My subscription ends in September, so I need to get crackin’ on getting this done.

Florida Nights—Scarlet Knights

My next foray into distance learning was with Rutgers University (cmd.rutgers.edu). In an effort to expand my knowledge of marketing, I signed up for what they call a “miniMBA,” or a Graduate Certificate in Social Media Marketing. For $3,000 I took a three-month course online and earned 3.0 credits and a Rutgers diploma (suitable for framing!). My feelings on that course are mixed. The lessons were interesting and they did add to my body of knowledge. I was able to use what I had learned in practical form as well. The final “exam” was to prepare a social media marketing plan for a real or imagined company. I was able to use what I learned and prepared a plan for a fencing studio in South Florida.

The instructor would post videos and lessons online and hold “office hours” every week when the students would log on to a chat room and ask questions or get updates. It was very helpful to have that interactivity once a week. I was surprised that the course did not make use of the very tools we were learning about. One drawback to being an online student is that you are all alone in your house, far away from your peers. With all that is available in social media tools, it would have been very easy to bridge that human connectivity gap. I do feel connected a little bit—for Christmas, my son found a Rutgers T-shirt for me, and I will root for the Rutgers Basketball team whenever I catch a televised game.

My next online learning adventure took me to MediaBistro.com. MediaBistro is an online portal for journalists, media types and publishers. They offer a lot of relevant information, job boards and online learning options. I signed up for a “Job-Hunters BootCamp.” For $79, I took a class similar to my Rutgers course. We learned much of the same thing, but this one was tailored more to marketing oneself via social media, not necessarily a brand or product. This course was a bit more interactive, and there was more consistent discussion between students and with the instructors. The online interface was also much nicer and easier to navigate. The Rutgers lessons were not of the best quality and the audio and video sometimes lagged. MediaBistro’s quality was just much better. Although this wasn’t for a diploma or a certificate, I did feel that I received a lot of value for my 79 bucks.

U and U

In January 2014, I was accepted into Utica College’s Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics program (programs.online.utica.edu), which consists of about two years of classes and two on-site residencies in Utica, New York and Udacity (Udacity.com), one of the MOOCs mentioned earlier. The program I graduated from at Utica College is a Masters of Science Program and carries a price tag to go with it, so this was a decision I did not take lightly. I did a lot of research and compared programs and schools and methods and decided that Utica was the best choice. I am happy with my choice and I think it is a great program and would encourage anyone interested in pursuing a Masters to check it out, along with several others for comparison. Here again, I think the school falls short in using readily available tools to bridge to connectivity gap with the distance students. We started the program with an on-site residency in Utica in January (26 below and snowing) and met with the professors and fellow students for four days. It was a fantastic event. I met some great people and collaborated with others doing what I was doing and felt it had really connected us together and got us onto a great start. We were separated into groups of four and even though I was in Florida, another in New York, one in Ohio and one in California, we were all able to work together on our assignments.

We had to figure out the connectivity problem on our own. So, we experimented with a few ideas. We used the telephone and email, which did not work so well. Then, I tried Skype. It turned out that Skype required a fee for the amount of people we were included. I then discovered Google Hangouts (who names this stuff?) and that worked great. We were able to log on through our school-provided Gmail accounts and were able to conduct videochats for free and (almost) glitch-free. This was a great experience, but I was surprised that the school didn’t offer that as a matter of course. It turned out that the group idea was for just one class. So, I was back to be an isolated online student again. I feel that the schools may fail to realize that distance students don’t want to be distance students they have to be, and that they should take any measures possible to bring the community together.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon Udacity. Udacity is a MOOC that grew out of Stanford University in 2012. With 1.6 million users, it is fast becoming the “Kleenex” or the “Coke” of the MOOCs. Udacity offers paid and free courseware. I didn’t want to get too involved with Udacity while I was still working on my Utica College courses, so I started with one free course, “Intro to Psychology.” I believe I will get a “certificate of completion” (suitable for framing, too!) when I’m done, but I’m just doing it for the experience. I am through about four of the lessons and, so far, I like to program. The lessons are presented in well-scripted, high-quality videos and they offer a quiz at the end of each lesson. There is also a bit of text-based interactivity off to the side for students to comment or ask questions. I don’t know how it will turn out, but you can’t beat the price. If I find the free course of any value I may try some of the others, which really aren’t too expensive. Udacity and Georgia Tech have teamed up to offer a full Master’s in Computer Science.

Finding online courses is easy. You can simply search for them—well, online. Although you can be in Fort Pierce, Florida and take classes in Utica or Georgia or Pennsylvania, the local colleges and universities offer online courses worth checking out. The College of Central Florida offers Ed2Go (institute.cf.edu/online_training.htm), Saint Leo offers continuing education programs (www.saintleo.edu/resources/distance-learning-program.aspx), Rasmussen has many choices (www.rasmussen.edu/locations/online-campus/degrees/), and if going to Utica, New York in January is just a bit too cold for you, you can get a Cybersecurity Master’s at the University of Central Florida (programs.online.ucf.edu) or the University of South Florida (cyber.usf.edu). These are only a few options, the entire world is your classroom and there are too many courses, programs, or providers to list here.

Like any kind of training, you will only get out of it what you put into it. If you were a slacker in high school and you just skated by don’t think that taking online classes in your bathrobe chugging beer will be any easier. It requires just as much, if not more, dedication to make sure you keep up with the lessons and manage your time better. As an online student, you are in control of the classroom. You can go to the bathroom without a pass, you can sharpen your pencils without asking permission, and you can listen to Led Zeppelin on 10 without headphones if you want to. But, you still have to take tests and you still have to pay for it.

So, if you are making the commitment be prepared to be committed. Assignments are due, books need to be read, videos need to be watched and you have to do all the admin work, like registration, add/drop classes, grade verification, by yourself, over the phone or online with people who are probably hundreds of miles away. My advice would be to try a free Udacity course, or check out MediaBistro before diving into a full-blown program, like a Master’s Degree. It takes getting used to but once you do, it almost becomes addictive. There is just so much to learn out there, you just want more and more. Good luck to you if you decide to pursue your continuing education online.

Yes. This will be on the final.

—Jeff Macharyas is a creative services specialist and writer. A lifelong learner, he has a BS from Florida State University, an AA from Indian River Community College, a miniMBA from Rutgers University, a Dale Carnegie graduate, and earned his MS from Utica College in 2015.

License Plate Websites

“I whistled for a cab and when it came near

The license plate said FRESH and it had dice in the mirror

If anything I can say this cab is rare

But I thought now forget it yo homes to Bel Air.”

—The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

It’s likely that Will Smith didn’t see a website on that FRESH license plate back in 1990 when The Fresh Prince of Bel Air premiered, but today he’d see one on that California license plate: dmv.ca.gov. Huh?

License plates are a great way for states (and areas outside the US) to promote their locales and give themselves a unique identity. Many license plate designs carry over to other uses and some would be know even if they did not have the state name on them. Watching old cop shows from the 60s and 70s one gets very familiar with California and New York plates. Both are orange and blue, but are reversed from each other just like the states from two opposite coasts.

Some are known simply by their slogan. “Famous Potatoes” can only be … Idaho, but some are more mysterious, such as “The Natural State.” Umm. Let’s see…. oh, it’s Arkansas. Of course.

Pass the Plate

Since the dawn of the Internet age, we’ve seen websites emblazoned on everything. It didn’t take long for states to get into the act by placing websites on their state plates. Some started out quite awkward, like Pennyslvania’s www.state.pa.us, which is now just visitPA.com.

But, how many people would feel compelled to visit a state’s website just because they’ve seen it on the car in front of them? How many people visit those websites while in traffic!

I grew up in Florida and lived there for many years. As a recent resident, I’ve had license plates on my cars that read myFlorida.com. Even though I love license plates, design and websites, it was not until recently that I finally visited myFlorida.com. It is also the first time I’ve ever visited any of the websites I’ve seen on license plates. My guess is that very few people do.

I gassed up the Googler and went in search of all the license plates I could find that have (or had) websites on them. I found an article by Ethan Wolff-Mann (yes, really) that got me started on this quest. His page ranked all the license plates by design. I agreed with most of his choices, but would have ranked New York much higher. Check it out here: Ranked License Plates.

Florida Gets an “F”

I visited the websites because the license plates ordered me to. I have collected them here along with my personal assessments. I based my grades on how the websites would look and how useful and appealing they would be to people from out of state who might want to visit “PA.com.”

www.visitPA.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Grade: B

I like that the website colors have a little similarity to the license plate and it has great photos. It also appeals to a visitor by offering a Vacation Guide. The top part is a bit of a jumble. Their license plate is recognizable and easy to read, but nothing too exciting.

Travel2SC.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Grade: A

South Carolina has always done a good branding job. They have a great flag, have always had great license plates and their website is very nice, too. I like how the treeline on the license plates mimics the torn paper look of the website and they have wonderful photos and makes it very attractive to visitors.

www.TNvacation.com

TENNESSEE

Grade: A

Similar to South Carolina’s website, this site has excellent images, fantastic typography and an easy, appealing layout. I hate their license plate, though. The website looks tacked on, there are too many typefaces and too many small details. From a distance, you’d have no idea what was going on here.

www.Nebraska.gov

NEBRASKA

Grade: C

Nebraska has a nice license plate, but I think some of their previous ones were much better, especially the simple red & white state outline they had in the 70s. The URL on the plate: nebraska.gov, is pretty serious. It doesn’t say “visit Nebraska” and it takes you to a website that does nothing to attract people to the birthplace of Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (better known as President Gerald R. Ford).

www.Michigan.gov

MICHIGAN

Grade: B-

I love Michigan. Their license plate sucks, though. I don’t get the swishy M. The website is pretty nice (what’s with all the kayaks on these sites?). It’s not that exciting to look at but it serves its purpose and is easy to get around in. I’m not a fan of “Pure Michigan.” Sounds like it could be referring to eugenics or something.

www.Maryland.gov

MARYLAND

Grade: D

Another .gov site. Here again, the .gov takes you to a very .gov place. It has nice images but is overshadowed by the giant search bar and rotating facts—that visitors to the state would just not find interesting: 371 tax payments made last month. Wow! Come on kids! Marylanders are paying their taxes! Let’s go see! Let’s not. Although their license plate is easily recognizable by their LSD-induced flag, it really looks bad when they get dinged up and dirty. They always look dirty to me.

www.ExploreMinnesota.com

MINNESOTA

Grade: A

Cool job, Minnesota. Everyone knows the 10,000 Lakes thing and their license plate is like a Where’s Waldo puzzle. Can you find the canoe? However, their URL is more obscured than the canoeists. It took a few looks to even realize there was a .com on there. But, I was pleased to find their website had great photos, a nice logo, nice type, easy navigation for tourists, and an interesting and appropriate URL: ExploreMinnesota.com. I want to go there!

www.Georgia.gov

GEORGIA

Grade: D-

I think Georgia has gotten rid of the .gov from their plates and good riddance. I never liked the Georgia license plates because there was always so much going on. I always felt it was really close to being South Carolina-good but just couldn’t pull it off. Several years ago, they changed their flag and then had to quickly change it again because it was just too awful to display. I think the same should go for their website. Like Maryland, we are presented with a giant search bar. There’s also some guy with his eyes closed. Maybe he just doesn’t want to look at the website. Who can blame him? Who is he? And, their “logo” at the top is pathetic. The devil went down to Georgia, he had a website to design…..

dmv.ca.gov

CALIFORNIA

Grade: D–

California dreamin’ (of getting rid of this stuff). They need to go back to the iconic Streets of San Francisco blue-and-gold license plates. Plain, simple, but very identifiable. The URL on the Cal plates is bizarro. Would anyone driving behind a car with this plate write this down and check it out to see what cool stuff the…DMV…has to offer? But, if sticking pins in your eyes gets old, check it out. Visitors to the state of California can learn all about AB60 Driver License Implementation. Off we go! I think Maryland, Georgia and California should merge into just one awful website and be done with it.

www.peiplay.com

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Grade: B

Prince Edward Island is not a state, by the way. It was the only Canadian province I could find that had a URL on their plate. Made famous by Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island is now Canada’s Green Province. OK, sounds good. I like the colors of the plate and I guess the wind turbine is one reason they are “green.” It has a little Canadian flag on it, and who doesn’t like the Canadian flag? The URL, www.peiplay.com, is awkward. It looks like a typo. It goes to an OK website with a lot of info. Nothing spectacular, but it works just fine.

www.myFlorida.com

FLORIDA

Grade: F-

Holy palm trees, Batman! Are you kidding me? I live in Florida but have never before gone to this absolute crap website. What an embarrassment. The URL is plastered on the plates in big, arched letters and tells you it is your Florida. Based on this website, you can have it back. I could not believe what I saw. It claims to be the “Official Portal of The State of Florida.” (With a capitalized “The.”) I think the web designer was preoccupied with 19… 19… 1985. I’ve seen old AOL Homesite pages that looked better than this nonsense. This is what the state wants tourists to see? I can’t believe anyone would want to come here. If you go to this site, you’d think it was some authoritarian police state with no sense of humor or style. Oh, wait…. On the right, there is a micro photo of our governor, Rick “Valdemort” Scott. The photo is stretched a bit horizontally so Rick kinda looks like Mr. Clean instead.There’s a tab on the left for visitors to click. Don’t do it! Save yourself! Oh my, oh my, oh myFlorida! Florida: You’re no Maryland, that’s for sure.

I don’t think adding websites to license plates is a good idea. I certainly don’t like it when the state name becomes part of the URL (myFlorida.com, for example). I was surprised there weren’t a lot more states that did this but was glad they didn’t. One thing that really surprised me, though, is that even the good states like South Carolina and Tennessee, didn’t tie in their license plate with their website. There wasn’t any connection between the two to indicate that you got there because you saw it on the license plate. I wonder if these states do any kind of analytics on this. Hey! 647 Child Support Applications filed in MarylandMaryland.gov tells me so.

The Great Colorado-Texas Tomato War

In 1985, I lived briefly in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then moved to Rollinsville, Colorado. I stayed with friends there for a while before moving down about 8,000 feet in elevation to Lakewood, not too far from Golden.

Colorado was interesting in different ways. I commuted up and down the mountains three hours each way from Rollinsville (Gilpin County) north of Boulder, north of Nederland, north of Central City—north of the third moon of Saturn—I think, to my job at a printshop in Aurora. I drove a brown 1981 Ford Mustang that I had to practically push up the hill. I’d leave in the morning with a foot of snow on the roof and get into town where it was 80 degrees.

I did a lot of bike riding and had friends who did the same. I also climbed the Flatirons and played volleyball at a rec center in Boulder. My friend, Darryl, worked at an ad agency in Boulder and worked on Boulder Beer marketing. That was some good beer! I also visited the Mother Cabrini Catholic Shrine with my friend, Betsy, who came to visit me, and my car got pelted by massive hail. Was that a message from Mother Cabrini?

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato

This is not a Colorado tomato

My fondest memory of Colorado, and probably the strangest, was the Colorado-Texas Tomato War. This was an event where thousands of people would take up tomatoes and represent either Colorado or Texas. To my dismay, there were not enough Texans to fight so I was “drafted” as a Texan. Oh, if ole Sam Houston coulda seen me then….

This was in 1985, and for all you young’uns this was when famous Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan, played the part of “The President,” we still had a Soviet Union to worry about, there was no Internet and we had to watch TV…on a TV! Absolutely medieval I tell ya.

The President of Colorado and all these United States

So, anyway, we all went out into the fields of Twin Lakes, Colorado, where innkeeper, Taylor Adams, hosted the big event. I got a chance to meet her while I was there, so that was cool. We all had T-shirts, but I don’t remember what it looked like. What I do remember was that getting pelted by over-ripe tomatoes hurts. You would think they would just squish and drip, but when a tomato comes flying at your head, thrown by one of dem dere Coloradahs, it dang near took my skull off.

I Remember the Alamo. I Was There.

Why did I even think of this? I left a tomato on the counter overnight and it began to sprout. Seeing that tomato sitting there, taunting me, brought back my old “war memories” as an Alamo defender, fighting for the rights of Texians in the hills of Colorado.

For some information on the C-T TW, here’s a Wikipedia link.

James Madison: Cyber Warrior

James MadisonIt’s great when you find your special interests converge. I have always had an interest in American history and especially American Presidents. And now, my new interest is cybersecurity and computer forensics after completing my Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics at Utica College. I had not realized this, but our Founding Fathers were very fond of encrypting their messages. They feared that they may fall into the wrong hands. Who knew that the NSA went back so far! It stood to reason, though, as mail robberies were common, and this was the only form of communication available over long distances.

Madison CipherOur fourth President, James Madison, was especially adept at encoding messages (and he was maybe the most paranoid), but so were Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, amongst others. They began using a polyalphabetical code developed by James Lovell, a Continental Congress delegate from Massachusetts.

Lovell’s code was time-consuming and Madison, along with Edmund Randolph (a Virginia Governor and US Secretary of State), developed a secret seal to circumvent it.

In writing to Monroe, Madison developed a 600-element code, thinking it would suffice and would “answer every purpose.” But, it proved unworthy, and the code was lengthened to 1,500 elements. Eventually this grew to 1,700 elements, and was known as “Jefferson’s Third Cypher.”

Thomas Jefferson—CodeWarrior

Jefferson used encoded messages with others, as well. “I send you a cipher to be used between us, which will give you some trouble to understand, but, once understood, is the easiest to use.” In 1802, President Jefferson wrote this to the US  Minister to France, Robert Livingston.  The cipher he used was derived from the Vigenere cipher, which was used in Europe and considered unbreakable until around 1830. The code was based on a twenty-eight-column alphanumeric table.

Intercepted messages, and perhaps even a Colonial form of identity theft, was prevalent in Madison’s day and they took all precautions they could, much as we use anti-virus software and strong passwords.

Some information for this post was found at Library of Congress, American Memory. Link here.