An important song for me

No explanation, really. At the time — 1991, I think — I was stuck in a bus for two days. It moved forward, yes, but ever so slowly. All the time, all I had was my Sony Walkman and one single tape — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John. Also, I only had two batteries. I also had one book, “Fear and Loathing in the Campaign Trail” by Hunter S. Thompson. The batteries ran out, I read the book twice. What a miserable time. What a wonderful moment.

OK, so there was some explanation.

A cybersecurity glossary

Antivirus software Computer programs that can block, detect, and remove viruses and other malware.

Backups/backing up files Extra copies of computer files that can be used to restore files that are lost or damaged.

Bandwidth The amount of data that can pass through a network or part of a network per second.

Botnet Multiple computers on a network that are infected with a program that can be controlled remotely. The infected computers are usually used to cause damage that couldn’t be achieved with a single computer.

Computer network Two or more interconnected devices that can exchange data.

Computer virus A computer program that can copy itself and cause harm in various ways, such as stealing private information or destroying data.

DDoS A distributed denial of service attack attempts to make an online service, like a website, unavailable by overwhelming it with a flood of traffic from a team of computers.

Doxnet A fictional virus modeled after the Stuxnet virus. Like Stuxnet, Doxnet is able to damage physical infrastructure.

Encryption The process of using codes to make readable information unreadable. Encrypted information cannot be read until it is decrypted using a secret key.

Firewall Software designed to block malware from entering protected networks.

Hacktivist Someone who uses computers and computer networks to disrupt services or share secret information in an effort to draw attention to political or social issues.

Internet service provider (ISP) A company or organization that gives users and devices access to the Internet.

Keylogger malware A program that records every key struck on a keyboard and sends that information to an attacker.

Malware Software that harms computers, networks, or people. Includes viruses, worms, ransomware, and other computer programs.

Phishing Attempting to trick people into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, often by using emails or fake websites that look like they are from trusted organizations.

Ransomware A type of malware that holds victims’ computer files hostage by locking access to them or encrypting them. It then demands a ransom if the victim wants his or her files back.

Server A computer or computer program that provides specific services on a network, such as an email server that directs emails and a web server that serves up web pages.

Software Consists of code written in a programming language that instructs computers to perform specific tasks.

Software patch A piece of software designed to update a computer program in order to fix a software vulnerability or improve the program.

Software vulnerability A flaw or weakness in a computer program that hackers or malware can exploit to gain access to a system or damage it.

Spam Unsolicited emails sent to many addresses. The purpose of most spam is to make money through advertising or identity theft.

USB drive A data storage device that is used to store, back up, and transfer computer files.

USB port A type of connection between devices that can exchange information and power supply.

Taken from the Khan Academy’s brief cybersecurity presentation.

Open-sourced, at last

I have finally let go of my ISP, after… many years of hosting. They (a2hosting) served me well, but now I have to try things on my own and practice what I preach. Exciting times, yes. I wish this had happened 20 years ago, or better yet, 30. (EDIT 2: I see what I did there… -30-)

EDIT: At this location, the blog is running on Google’s blogger.com platform, where the site is redirected courtesy of my domain name provider, namesilo.com. They’re inexpensive and I find them to be very reliable. Other domains I own are also hosted in the cloud (including github.io spaces) and my costs are way down. I just make sure my stuff is backed up.

Rhiannon

Somewhere along the way, a friend of mine posted this video on Facebook, and I stopped disliking the song Rhiannon, that for whatever long-forgotten reason I disliked.

I think it was because it was featured in the TV-Guide channel of whatever cable system I had in the late 80s that kept on playing it over and over again. Welcome to the time machine.

Computer Skills Requirements

You need to have a basic knowledge of computer and Internet skills in order to be successful in an online course. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Knowledge of terminology, such as browser, IMHO, application, etc.
  • Understanding of basic computer hardware and software; ability to perform computer operations, such as:
    • Using keyboard and mouse
    • Managing files and folders: save, name, copy, move, backup, rename, delete, check properties
    • Software installation, security and virus protection
    • Using software applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email clients
    • Knowledge of copying and pasting, spell-checking, saving files in different formats
    • Sending and downloading attachments
  • Internet skills (connecting, accessing, using browsers) and ability to perform online research using various search engines and databases.
  • Ability to use online communication tools, such as email (create, send, receive, reply, print, send/receive attachments), discussion boards (read, search, post, reply, follow threads), chats, and messengers.

Strong reading and writing skills

You need to have strong reading skills and be able to communicate effectively through writing. Most of the material in the online environment will come from your textbooks and written lectures, therefore strong reading and critical thinking skills are very important for success in an online course. Online students communicate through such text-based tools, as emails, discussion forums, chats and instant messaging. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing.

Self-motivated and independent learner

While online courses can offer more flexibility in scheduling, they require more self-discipline and independence than on-campus courses. Some students can find this uncomfortable and not suitable for their learning style. They may miss face-to-face interaction with an instructor and peers, which helps to keep them on track. In the online environment, you have to be able to start and to work on tasks on your own, without someone keeping you focused, and you have to be self-disciplined in order to follow the class schedule and meet deadlines.

Time commitment

Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course. Note that some students report spending even more time for online classes than for traditional ones. Time that you need to devote to a 3-credit course will be approximately 12 hours a week.

Time management: log-in frequently and develop study schedules

Even though you may not have to “be” in class on some specific day and time, you still have to follow the course schedule provided by your instructor. Remember that online classes are not independent study courses; you are still required to “show up” and participate actively.

Since online courses are asynchronous, they will continue developing and changing even if you are not online. You need to be online frequently enough and log in at least three to four times per week in order to keep up with the content flow, complete assignments, follow discussions and communicate with your classmates and instructor. Some courses may even require you to log in every day.

Never wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. You may have a technical problem or run out of time which will cause frustration. One of the major reasons for failing online classes is procrastination, since it is very easy to fall behind in the online environment. Make sure to set aside specific time on a regular basis to participate in your course. Schedule specific times to log in and to study.

Active learner

Online students must be active learners, self-starters who are not shy or afraid to ask questions when they do not understand. Remember that you, not the instructor, must be in control of your learning process.

Since your instructor cannot see you, you need to “speak up” right away if you have problems and be as explicit as possible; otherwise there is no way others will know that something is wrong.

Remember that your instructor is not the only source of information. Most of the time you will be able to post your question in the discussion forum and your classmates will help you as well.

If you have technical difficulty, problems understanding course content or difficulty meeting the deadline, seek help right away and contact your instructor to make arrangements.

I thought you died alone, a long, long time ago

I’m a big David Bowie fan, but not because I heard his songs and listened to him on the radio. The first song of his that I liked was the collaboration with Queen “Under Pressure,” and even then (early to mid-80s) I associated that song more with the supergroup than I did with just Bowie. Radio hits of the 80s that followed (“Let’s Dance,” “Blue Jean”) were a welcome splash to the otherwise repetitive string of pop put out at the time.

Because pre-internet times demanded to do so, I was a member of the Columbia Records and Tapes Club, and one fine day, after failing to reject the album of the month, I received a copy of “Nirvana Unplugged in New York,” which I diligently listened to, it being the 90s and surely anything by Nirvana was worth listening to. The truth is, only one song stuck in my head, and that was “The Man Who Sold the World.” I couldn’t quite understand who Kurt Cobain credited the song to, although I was able to figure it out in not-too-long a spell (I actually had several conversations with friends and co-workers — pre-internet days, remember?).

It was during those times that I also frequented driving to the big Metropolis (Houston) to visit the big stores (Barnes & Noble) and I was able to secure my own CD copy of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World, and suddenly, maybe 20 years too late, I became a big Bowie fan. I don’t know that I can easily rattle off the names or melodies of the rest of the songs in the album, but “The Man Who Sold the World” is enough to fill a library of memories, hopes and doubts that were otherwise filled with synthesized chords and other regrets.

After my initial approach to “The Man Who Sold the World,” slowly I absorbed the rest of the Bowie library, which lives with me even without the help of Spotify or any other recorded medium.

Nirvana’s cover was a faithful rendition of the song, and I guess that any artist that attempts to do so will triumph in his or her or their own way, which is why that accidental CD delivery made up my mind once and for all that performing a cover song is indeed the most sincere form of flattery. If I had any talent at all, I would pick up an instrument and record R.E.M.’s “Find the River” and call it a life.