PhoneBoy's Personal Blog http://phoneboy.info I am PhoneBoy. This is my personal blog. 2016-02-05T14:59:09+09:00 EN hourly 1 10Centuries | 15I060 Sharpening My Presentation Skills http://phoneboy.info/2016/02/05/sharpening-my-presentation-skills/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/02/05/sharpening-my-presentation-skills/#comments 2016-02-05T14:59:10+09:00 PhoneBoy 0bad05eb65703c0985839bc9df8ea445 I'm a few weeks away from doing a presentation at Check Point's booth for RSA Conference in San Francisco. Granted, it's one of those "carnival barker" type presentations that vendors give in their booths that are meant to last no more than 10 minutes, but it's been a while since I've created and done a formal presentation. It's also something I plan on doing more in 2016 (perhaps not in this setting), which means I need to sharpen my presentation skills.

From 3 Speaking Tips To Make Sure Your Message Resonates:

If you have a point to make, the best way to make it impactful is to use a story to illustrate.

I've always viewed presentations--good ones at least--as good stories. It's called connecting with your audience. Trust me, I sat through more than my share of boring presentations and I don't want to subject anyone to death by PowerPoint. It's why when I talk to customers, I rarely use PowerPoint. I prefer conversations. And telling stories.

Use your Gestures to Increase your impact

This is all about body language. There's nothing worse than watching some one up on stage that's stiff and monotone. Be animated, but not too animated, because that is problematic too. I feel I'm ok at this, or at least I've never heard anyone tell me I need to improve here. Surely, I can, though.

Each of us has a natural pace of speaking. Some of us are faster, some are slower. There is no right or wrong speed, however as a general rule, you can slow your speaking rate by about 50% and still sound normal.

This is something I definitely need to work on. I naturally talk very fast, mostly in an effort to keep up with my even faster moving brain. That doesn't work when you're up on stage. Good speakers moderate various elements of their speech while presenting to maximize the effect of their message.

We'll see how well I can apply these tips for my booth presentation at RSA in San Francisco, which is happening 28 Feb - 4 March 2016 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Stop by the South Expo Hall, Booth #S1507, if you want to make an in-person connection!


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Carbs Are Evil--Even Moreso With Diabetes http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/08/carbs-are-evil-even-moreso-with-diabetes/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/08/carbs-are-evil-even-moreso-with-diabetes/#comments 2016-01-08T23:30:10+09:00 PhoneBoy f273b0acc44fc5af91973047c2f93702 From It's Carbs:

As a person with diabetes (T1D), my primary goal is to keep my blood sugar in a healthy range (for me that is 65-140 mg/dl). There is only one thing that consistently causes me to go above that range.

It’s carbs.

Now, I know there are many other factors that can cause blood sugar to rise: stress, illness, allergies, exercise, lack of sleep, menstruation … the list goes on. But let’s focus on the one overwhelmingly clear and incontrovertible variable that causes blood sugars to rise.

It’s carbs — the one variable we can actually control.

I have Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), and the challenge is similar for me. Well except that I'm not injecting insulin and haven't had a low blood sugar event (yet).

The good news for me is that I'm already very familiar with low-carb living, having done a bout of Atkins Diet more than a decade ago. Now that I know I have T2D, I'm wishing I never got back on the carb train.

And, sadly, I haven't gone completely back on the low-carb train. Overall, I consume far less carbs than I used to and when I do, I try to stick to the healthier varieties of carbs. You know, the ones that include a lot of fiber to counterbalance it.

That said I do occasionally have stuff I shouldn't. Especially during the holidays when there are so many tasty treats to eat that aren't normally around. And when I travel, avoiding carbs is damn near impossible. Especially when I go to a foreign country. Or have to spend 14 hours on an airplane.

My daily reminder of how many carbs I ate: my glucometer. If I ate too many, my blood glucose will be higher. Fortunately, I have gained a bit more self-control than I used to have. When the numbers are higher than usual, they generally aren't that much higher--my highest reading over the last 3 months was 139 mg/dL, with my average being 107.

That doesn't change the fact carbs are evil.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Yes, Normal People Use Desktop Linux http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/08/yes-normal-people-use-desktop-linux/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/08/yes-normal-people-use-desktop-linux/#comments 2016-01-08T13:32:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 60d7d8214f93e44298c2b4e0e7fe163d From I Moved to Linux and It’s Even Better Than I Expected]:

On a spring day in 2012, I shut down my MacBook Air for the last time. From then on, my primary computing environment — at least on a laptop computer — was GNU/Linux. I was abandoning, as much as possible, the proprietary, control-freakish environments that Apple and Microsoft have increasingly foisted on users of personal computers.

Almost four years later, here I am, writing this piece on a laptop computer running the Linux* operating system and LibreOffice Writer, not on a Mac or Windows machine using Microsoft Word. All is well.

It's worth noting that the author of the above post is Dan Gillmor. He was a long-time journalist for several newspapers (including the San Jose Mercury News in the mid-to-late 1990s). He is currently teaching digital media literacy and promoting entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In other words, he's not a prototypical geek. That said, he was one of the first journalists to blog for the Merc, so he clearly has some affinity for the technology. But it's not someone I would expect to use Linux.

What do I use? I actually regularly use Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are benefits and downsides to all three. I’m definitely aware of the dangers of centralization that Microsoft and Apple are pushing and like that Linux provides a reasonable alternative for some use cases.

For most people, Linux has a “this tall to ride” problem that I doubt will ever be solved. Given there is so much mainstream support for Windows and Mac, people can’t just go buy random computer accessories at the store and expect it to just work. Not that Windows and Mac just work, but for regular folks, they largely do or they can get mainstream support when it doesn’t.

Obviously, if you have a proclivity for tinkering and don’t mind getting under hood and tinkering, Linux is a far better choice. Those of us like that are in the minority. Also, anyone who has to exchange data with other people using Microsoft Office (very common in corporate environments) or have to deal with specific security tools may find it very difficult to exist in a Linux-only world when everyone else is using Windows (generally) or Mac (occasionally).One area where Linux is far superior to Windows or Mac is support for older hardware. I have 7+ year old machines happily running Linux without issue, other than being a little slow.

Bottom line: I’m glad Linux is an option and for the right people in the right situations, it’s the right choice. That said, I don’t see the rest of the world getting onboard the Linux train anytime soon.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
My Secret To Loving My Job http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/06/my-secret-to-loving-my-job/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/06/my-secret-to-loving-my-job/#comments 2016-01-06T22:12:10+09:00 PhoneBoy 1a5e88138bc4f10f48b7e4d0a560ad92 From I Got Fired Two Days Ago:

It’s not like having a job you hate makes you appreciate your free time more (Very Optimistic Tumblr Teen Voice The bad makes you appreciate the good!) Having a job that eats away at your very core actually sullies your free time more. You realize how little of it you do have and often forsake it. You dread having to go back. It poisons your psyche. I was miserable from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm five days a week, and when I came home the transition from miserable to happy was slow.

And then we have the other extreme. From Doing What You Live Is Going To Be F****** Hard:

Because work is always going to get hard. And then get better. That’s the cycle of everyone’s professional careers, even the biggest and baddest billionaires on planet earth. You don’t always enjoy your work, and you don’t always want to do it. If your work is something you love, you can even wind up completely losing your passion and feeling absolutely zero interest in it.

No one is happy with their profession all the time, whether it is one they like or not. I've certainly gone through the highs and lows in my 20 year career. Worse: I went through a low in the middle of writing my second book on Check Point FireWall-1.

The good news is, at that time, I was in a spot where I could work on different things for Nokia--things less directly related to the Check Point products I was supporting. It effectively gave me a break from the things that I formerly liked and allowed me to explore some other things while remaining gainfully employed for the same company. I also took on some side projects that went through their own love/hate cycles.

When the time came to come back into the Check Point fold in 2009 as part of their acquisition of Nokia's Security Appliance business unit, I was ready and attacked it with the same fervor that I did many years before. The timing of that change was fortuitous because I had reached that point yet again where a change of some sort was needed.

While every job--even one you like--is going to have highs and lows, you may reach a point where the bad moments start outnumbering the good. I have learned to recognize and acknowledge when there's a noticeable increase in the bad moments--well before they become overwhelming. I take action before I lose my passion for what I'm doing, which for me has meant mostly changing what I do for a given employer, not changing employers. That said, changing employers may be necessary in some cases.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said "Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion." As I plan on doing great things, I don't want to lose my passion.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
On Click-Bait, Echo Chambers, and Content Circle Jerks http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/02/on-click-bait-echo-chambers-and-content-circle-jerks/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/02/on-click-bait-echo-chambers-and-content-circle-jerks/#comments 2016-01-02T12:09:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 6fc00f970bd9b15b04b449d06c4c568c From The endless echo chamber of online “influencers” is robbing the Internet of its soul.:

The problem with these people is not that they want attention, but that they’re unwilling or unable to trade fairly for it. For the longest time, society has had a pretty straightforward system of rewards: you give us something of value, and we’ll heap praise on you. It’s a fair trade, and one that most social media gurus (sorry, “omnichannel growth evangelists”) are unwilling to make.

Sadly, click-bait, plagiarism, and content circle jerks are as old as the media itself. Ok, click-bait is an Internet phenomenon but the idea of writing a sensationalist headline so that people will read your piece that they probably stole from someone else is nothing new.

The sad reality is, if you can’t fill someone’s need, you’re of no use to them. The small amount of reputation I have gained over the years with a certain group of people is largely the result of being able to fulfill that group’s needs. It may not gather as much attention as the latest social media expert who has figured out yet another way to spin the same old stories for yet more likes, reposts, or whatever, but the attention I get has been sustained far longer than some of those so-called “social media experts” have even been alive.

Which makes me wonder what needs these social media circle jerkers are actually fulfilling and why we all seem so susceptible to their ways. My guess is it's probably this:

We’re all guilty of wanting recognition and, at times, wanting it so badly that we’ll post or repost basically anything. But that doesn’t make it a healthy strategy.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
The Force Awoke, But Meh http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/02/the-force-awoke-but-meh/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/02/the-force-awoke-but-meh/#comments 2016-01-02T00:09:10+09:00 PhoneBoy d2e9c75b581650eb63cd94d89c7a3c6e Yes, I finally did my geek duty and saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I'm not going to spoil it for you, except to say that if you liked the original movies (particularly A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, i.e. Episodes IV and V), then you'll probably like this movie as they borrow a lot of elements from these two movies.

That said, I can't help but feel not excited by this movie. Maybe because I realize that Disney is behind it and I know they're going to milk this Star Wars cow for all she's worth in terms of merchandising, native advertising on Disney-owned networks, and who knows what else. Maybe because it felt like a modern reimaging of the original trilogy of Star Wars movies (which is probably true).

That isn't to say I don't think they did a good job on the movie. Compared to the prequels (two of which I didn't even bother to see), it was good. But I just don't feel the excitement or passion that many others are expressing.

Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Surefire Rules for Getting Responses to Email http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/01/surefire-rules-for-getting-responses-to-email/ http://phoneboy.info/2016/01/01/surefire-rules-for-getting-responses-to-email/#comments 2016-01-01T23:37:20+09:00 PhoneBoy d350aab00ffcbb1187caece7b2dafbe3 You can, of course, read this long piece on the topic, or just read my TL;DR version:

  1. No more than three short sentences, maybe four, with attention to formatting and readability.
  2. Make it clear what action is required, but be realistic with the time commitment you're asking for.
  3. Help the other person understand why they should help.

Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
All Fake Almost All The Time http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/30/all-fake-almost-all-the-time/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/30/all-fake-almost-all-the-time/#comments 2015-12-30T15:50:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 9e99bf06023ad564a4a7c0b461d34f6c From I am 90% fake.

I’d like to escape my brain for one hour, get off this barreling steam train of endless thinking. I’d like to escape my heart for one hour and stop feeling sad, frustrated, lonely, and completely out of place. I wish I didn’t need two shots of vodka to become everyone else’s normal. I dream of a time when I could just be an authentic version of myself. With so many people to satisfy and roles to play, I have no idea who that is. To be the best mother, sister, partner, daughter, friend, employee, leader, community member, I have to do a lot of acting. I hold back parts of myself, display untrue emotion, I lean in, raise an eyebrow, tilt my head to demonstrate my deep interest, laughing heartily at quips that are frankly boring as hell.

I can certainly relate to the sentiment of needing to be someone else around other people. Then again, the world is full of needy people and if you can't fulfill someone's need, people won't give you a second thought.

And sometimes, to fulfill someone's needs, you have to fake it. Some people probably have to fake it a lot more than others. Thankfully, I don't have to do it too often, which is a good thing as my capacity to "fake it" is fairly limited. Then again, maybe that's just a story I tell myself...


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Keeping Up With The Jonses Is Expensive http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/27/keeping-up-with-the-jonses-is-expensive/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/27/keeping-up-with-the-jonses-is-expensive/#comments 2015-12-27T01:15:10+09:00 PhoneBoy 0f2ef25bbdde221b784694144da7ee76 From $100,000 and up is not enough – even the 'rich' live paycheck to paycheck

The trend of Americans earning six-figure paychecks living from paycheck to paycheck grew during the 2008 recession from 21% to 30% in 2009, according to a CareerBuilder.com survey. A recent survey by SunTrust found that things had not improved much by 2015. About 25% of those making over $100,000 a year still live paycheck to paycheck.

When I was a kid, my parents mostly lived paycheck to paycheck and they weren't making anywhere near the kind of money this Guardian articles is talking about. They were the "poor" version of this.

Back then, it never occurred to me that "rich" people might live paycheck to paycheck. Today, I see it all around me. They have fancy cars, every cable channel known to man, fancy furniture and dishes, $200/month cell phone bills with new smartphones each year. This includes their kids.

Me? I've got a nice house, but I still use folding tables for the desk in my office. I drive a 12 year old car that's paid for, my wife drives a 3 year old car that's also paid for. I have Internet, but basic cable TV service. Work pays for my mobile phone, the family is on prepaid service. Only person with the newest smartphone is me, which I buy every other year. The wife just got a used iPhone, my son just got her old iPhone. My daughter doesn't even have a smartphone (though that may change).

What I do have that the paycheck to paycheck folks don't? Savings that we use sparingly and restock regularly. Retirement accounts that I won't touch until I use them for retirement. What I don't have? Debt. Other than my house, everything is paid for. Money isn't spent unless we actually have it to spend. That sometimes means delaying purchases on things you need--or want.

Bottom line: I don't even try to keep up with my neighbors. That said, I live a comfortable lifestyle I can afford today and, with a lot more saving, will be able to afford when I retire.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
The One Thing You Can Steal http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/24/the-one-thing-you-can-steal/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/24/the-one-thing-you-can-steal/#comments 2015-12-24T23:08:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 8078653a95c2965b938d674dcd3062b5 From If You Want To Be Successful, Learn How To Steal:

We are too busy trying to steal things that we cannot keep, and forgetting about knowledge. Instead of trying to steal someone’s success, learn how they built it. Steal their knowledge and build your own. If you didn’t build something, it is never yours.

Calling it “stealing” makes it seem so illicit, so immoral. And yet, all great ideas were built upon other great ideas that came before.

Sadly, knowledge too does not last until our last breath, as we all grow old and forgetful eventually. When compared to other things you can “steal,” it is the one thing that cannot be taken back.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
How I Failed Gracefully Early In My Career http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/20/how-i-failed-gracefully-early-in-my-career/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/20/how-i-failed-gracefully-early-in-my-career/#comments 2015-12-20T00:44:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 487b995d723a59c0cb33840f4d329d7a A post on Medium, along with my recent thinking about the early part of my career got me reflecting on the less than auspicious beginning to my career. From the author of the Medium post:

Here’s something that I think everyone needs to learn and learn young. How to mess something up with grace and maturity and not let it destroy your life and your work. I’m not talking about learning to fail – although that’s useful – I’m talking about learning to accept and respond in a positive way when you make a bad decision. When you make a decision that is really indefensible and possibly even totally stupid.

While in the senior year of college, I managed to get a job with a company within walking distance to where I lived at the time in Santa Cruz. The job was as a sysadmin, which I had been doing while I was in an Engineering lab at Santa Clara University, so I had some experience. The company knew I was still in school when they hired me and accepted that, at least for the few months I had left before I graduated, that I would be part-time.

That job only lasted a grand total of three weeks. Let me tell you, being fired at the age of 21 when you think you’re all that and a bag of chips was a humbling experience. The walk home I took with my exit paperwork and final check, while relatively short, was a walk of shame.

Meanwhile, as I still had a couple months left before I graduated, and I still needed to pay some bills. That meant asking for my job back at the Engineering lab. That was yet another humbling experience: asking for a job back that I had left in a manner consistent with someone who was full of himself and lacked grace. Thankfully, I got it back, but I probably didn't deserve it.

The lessons I learned from this experience that have served me well:

  • Most mistakes aren’t fatal. In fact, shortly after making whatever mistakes I made with that first job, I felt like it was the best thing that ever happened to me (to that date). I can’t explain why I came to that conclusion at the time, but it ended up being a good thing for me in the end. Accept responsibility for what you did, acknowledge that which you can not control, and move forward.
  • When you quit working someplace for whatever reason, make as graceful an exit as possible (i.e. don't burn any bridges). You never know if or when you’ll come back. This specific lesson served me well two years later when I made the decision to return to a previous employer after only five months. Ironically, I was discussing a return with said employer the very day I got laid off. Talk about fortuitous timing.

Needless to say, these were valuable lessons to learn when I did.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Who Decides What Is Hate Speech? http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/15/who-decides-what-is-hate-speech/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/15/who-decides-what-is-hate-speech/#comments 2015-12-15T11:58:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 076098f66a857810c10306f1d8c087d8 From Facebook, Google, Twitter agree to delete hate speech in 24 hours:

Germany said on Tuesday that Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours, a new step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis.

The government has been trying to get social platforms to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web as the country struggles to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees this year.

The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

The question this articles does not define is an important one: who decides what is hate speech and what will be removed by these three companies?

Personally, I don't think this is a good policy, because I already know what will happen: the "hate speech" will simply get driven underground where the disinfecting rays of sunlight cannot reach it. In other words: it will make the underlying problems worse than they are.

Then again, I'm starting to think that's the point of this move--to keep us uninformed and fighting with each other so the thugs in charge can solidify their positions of power over us.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Motivated or Inspired? http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/13/motivated-or-inspired/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/12/13/motivated-or-inspired/#comments 2015-12-13T22:14:10+09:00 PhoneBoy 771e73aeb8b9687a2f388933e722218c From Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action:

Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.

I've gone through periods of time where I have been motivated and other times when I wasn't, or at least so I thought. Maybe it wasn't motivation I lacked in those periods, it was inspiration...


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
What's In A Social Media Interaction? http://phoneboy.info/2015/11/30/whats-in-a-social-media-interaction/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/11/30/whats-in-a-social-media-interaction/#comments 2015-11-30T13:44:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 0ae7f94f4c8d2a3dae21b6eab4176bdb I was listening to the most recent episode of This American Life and was quite disturbed by the first part of the episode where several high school student discussed the complex set of interactions that occur around the selfies they post around Instagram, which they do regularly. Commenting versus liking. What you say versus what you mean. It's completely counter-intuitive but when you hear them explain it, it makes a lot of sense.

Contrast this to my teenage son, who has wisely figured out that social networks of all kinds are a complete waste of time. He has a Facebook account, but rarely uses it. He had an Instagram account that he stopped using once he lost his smartphone. He keeps up with this friends using traditional SMS and Skype.

I have to think that most people who use social media are somewhere in the middle of these extremes. That said, everyone has their own expectations about what they share, how they expect their "friends" to react to it, and what that reaction truly means. Even I have my expectations, if I'm honest with myself, but my expectations are likely much lower than those teenage girls on This American Life.

The driving force in all cases is attention and desire to be acknowledged in some small way. I just wonder how often we eschew attention in the real world for attention on social media and what impact that is having on our relationships, both short-term and long-term.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Pursuing What Matters http://phoneboy.info/2015/11/27/pursuing-what-matters/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/11/27/pursuing-what-matters/#comments 2015-11-27T22:17:10+09:00 PhoneBoy b2c2894266d966759172304266ce204f I don't normally read Shawn Blanc's work. I blame Scott for referring me to it, but not really. It pointed to the kernel of an idea I've had for a while:

In short, if you want to watch more TV, the universe won’t bother you. If you want to do work that matters, it’s going to be a fight.

"Work that matters" is in the eye of the beholder. I know that, when I decide what that is and focus on it, it gets done. It's how my old Check Point FireWall-1 FAQ got built. It's how two books got published. It's how, even during the times where my heart wasn't always in it, I've managed to evolve and stay employed at Nokia for 10 years and Check Point for nearly 7--a man and his family have to eat and have a place to live, after all.

I suppose I should consider myself very lucky. A lot of people have never experienced that sense of purpose that drives them to do anything more than watch life go by. And yet, I feel like I need to go back to the well for another taste, because even though it is hard work, it pays off in the end.

Information Security is where I make my living. In an increasingly digitized and connected world, it is pervasive. There's a lot I have to say about it that maybe other people are saying, but maybe not the right way or to the right people. These conversations are taking place in board rooms, in the media (both traditional and social), and even amongst the masses as yet another major retailer gets their credit card data compromised.

I've spent many years helping Nokia/Check Point customers in a post-sales capacity. I've also been a bridge between customers, sales, and product development. Each one of these players speaks a different language (kind of like the difference between The Queen's English and whatever us Americans speak), and I'm adept at translating as needed.

The last few years, I've started getting more directly involved in the sales process. I've been working with individual customers through specific sales engagements that help identify the areas of greatest risk and come up with a written plan to improve their security posture. It has taken a couple of years to turn this into a framework that contextualizes the findings and recommendations, but more importantly, can drive change.

It has been great to work with individual customers. With a different platform, I could have a greater, more meaningful impact to more organizations. How I move forward is the subject of many thoughts I am not yet ready to elaborate on publicly at the moment.

What I can say is that this matters. I know it's not going to be easy to see this through, but I'm committing myself to do it.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Mass Misinformation http://phoneboy.info/2015/11/10/mass-misinformation/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/11/10/mass-misinformation/#comments 2015-11-10T10:17:20+09:00 PhoneBoy 90806714243dca1ace6dbf23698d27ba From Skullf*** You Very Much: Cultural Authority and the Dispossessed:

The fact that most experts talking on TV and writing for online “news” media cannot swim in the critical deep end of the subjects in which they claim expertise is masked by the shallowness of the medium in general.

The analysts and experts who are invited to talk on TV about politics spend more time whitening their teeth than they do weaving nuance.

We are living under a media regime where a debate moderator can ask an absurdly complex question like “What will you do about poverty?” and expect it to be answered in less than a minute.

Comcast-owned NBC would not dare upset its nightly prime-time sitcom lineup with in-depth analysis that might upset their Comcast-owned bottom line.

Vox is not going to Voxplain how Comcast captures the media and cable markets both by lobbying for regulative barriers that prevent competition.

You’re never going to see someone greenlight an in-depth Nightline segment dedicated to demystifying shit ideas like “natural monopolies.”

I've long questioned the kinds of things our so-called "news" covers. Years ago, I started asking the question "why is this news" and mostly stopped caring about it. When the Internet became mainstream, I had a way to find other, less mainstream answers for what was going on in the world. Sources with more nuance, more details, and differing points of view.

Clearly, something is missing in the media. It's hard to get into the "why" of this question without veering off into conspiratorial waters. It’s a narrative I occasionally see being played up by the media, usually by attacking the messenger.

The good news is that I'm hearing more people starting to question the news, particularly when they cover topics they have first-hand knowledge on. The obvious followup question is: if they're wrong about that, what else are they wrong about?

The truth for any subject is out there to find. You probably won't find it in the mass media, though.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Number Sense Makes No Sense To Most People http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/27/number-sense-makes-no-sense-to-most-people/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/27/number-sense-makes-no-sense-to-most-people/#comments 2015-10-27T09:36:00+09:00 PhoneBoy a2b3a6d07370591b58d130d14ddeebdf From Common Core Math is Not the Enemy

We call this new math, but it isn’t new at all.

In fact, it has been around for a very long time. It’s called number sense. And it’s the way mathematicians have been thinking about numbers for centuries.

Mathematicians are insanely smart people. I should know, I got my Computer Science degree in a Math department at a University. They also don't think like normal people do. I should know that, too, as I am often accused (rightfully so) of thinking about things differently.

If I believe what this piece is saying, Common Core math is trying to impart the math wisdom of these really smart people onto the masses. Instead, it comes off as really confusing, even to kids who actually know how to do math. One of my kids who is smart with numbers was deploying different tricks to solve these problems and found whatever it was they were teaching in Common Core confusing. My wife had to re-teach our children basic math after being traumatized by Common Core in elementary school.

It seems to be we are going about this the wrong way. They should teach the basic, tried-and-true methods first, then supplement with number sense to show other, more memorable ways to solve the problem. Or maybe encourage students to come up with their own methods to achieve the same answer and allow them to teach it to their peers.

Of course, there are some people who just don’t have any number sense whatsoever and won’t no matter how you teach it or who teaches it.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
The Problem Isn't With Twitter, It's With Us. http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/16/the-problem-isnt-with-twitter-its-with-us/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/16/the-problem-isnt-with-twitter-its-with-us/#comments 2015-10-16T08:12:00+09:00 PhoneBoy 16cddcc0d388f86abd9ef202cc687264 From Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It):

Abuse is killing the social web, and hence it isn’t peripheral to internet business models — it’s central. It has significant chilling effects: given a tipping point, people will simply stop using a network, and walk away…and that appears to be what’s happening with Twitter. Abuse is just as central to tech that connects people as selling beef that isn’t contaminated with salmonella is to an industry that feeds people. For the simple fact is that no one wants to spend their life being shouted at by people they’ll never meet who are angry not at them but at the world for things they barely even said to people they barely even know.

This problem is not unique to any given social network. The real problem is us, the humans that use social media. Some clearly find joy in imposing their world view on others to the point of abuse. Many cannot stand the thought of their world view being challenged, much less be wrong. Lots and lots of squabbling is the result.

What really happens on Twitter these days? People have self-sorted into cliques, little in-groups, tribes. The purpose of tribes is to defend their beliefs, their ways, their customs, their culture — their ways of seeing the world. The digital world is separated into “ists” — it doesn’t matter what, really, economists, mens-rightists, leftists, rightists — and those “ists” place their “ism” before and above all, because it is their organizing belief, the very faith that has brought them together in the first place. Hence, to them, it’s the totem to which everyone, including you, must pay homage, and if you dare not to bow down before it…or worse still to challenge it…well, then the faithful will do what they must to defend their gods. They will declare a crusade against you.

This problem is not unique to Twitter. It’s a problem on any social network with any sort of critical mass. I’ve seen this cycle play out over and over again across many services and several decades. It also happens in person, but there is one thing we get in face-to-face interactions: social cues that have evolved over many centuries. Social cues that a particular sort of behavior is not acceptable. People will either knock it off or suddenly find themselves without many friends, sorting into the same kind of tribes we see and decry on social media.

Humanity hasn't been able to come up with better solutions to these problems in millennia. What makes us think the socially inept folks that develop the social web can solve these problems? Even so, those very same social cues we rely on in face-to-face conversations should have social web analogs and, at the very least, those cues can be developed and refined.

Bottom line, this is not a social web problem, it's a human problem.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Digit Damage http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/12/digit-damage/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/12/digit-damage/#comments 2015-10-12T12:50:00+09:00 PhoneBoy c3a7bfafd8e544ac83e2bc26f65f1e8d Last night, I did not treat the vegetable slicer with the appropriate respect and ended up lacerating my index finger on my right hand. I suspected it might need stitches, but I waited until this morning to call my doctor's clinic and ask. They said: go to Urgent Care. So I did. The nurses there cleaned up the wound and stitched me up.

If you're interested, you can see the semi-gruesome photo of my stitches on Instagram.

The downside of this means I will be without a properly functioning index finger for the next week and a half. It's amazing how much you use that finger. It's even more amazing your brain mostly knows how to compensate for the nonfunctional digit as well.

Where it is having noticeable impact is in my typing, mostly because I do that more than anything else. My middle finger is being used a whole lot more right now, especially on my iPhone. It doesn't seem to have affected the speed at which I type, though it has mildly increased the error rate, but I'm mostly managing.

We'll see what other things I notice over the next several days.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
The Online Purge Starts With Twitter http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/11/the-online-purge-starts-with-twitter/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/11/the-online-purge-starts-with-twitter/#comments 2015-10-11T20:53:00+09:00 PhoneBoy 8616cde7b32f61ccdb7b2254b2ce6f87 In my last post, I talked about making a fresh start online. I've started taking some steps to do exactly that and it starts with Twitter.

I've been on Twitter since it was made public in 2006. I have tweeted a TON of things over the last 9 years, most of which is probably not relevant anymore. I have also accumulated several Twitter accounts over the years, accounts that probably should have been removed long ago, and I deleted those accounts.

I did not want to delete my main Twitter account, I just want to delete everything I've posted. How do you do a mass purge of tweets? Deleting tweets one by one when you only have a few is fine--I did this on another account--but how about when you have more than 40,000 tweets like I did?

There are actually a number of tools out there that claim to do this. However, if they are only working with the Twitter API, you won't actually delete all the tweets. This is because the various API calls that query your most recent tweets will only show your 3200 (or so) most recent ones. If you delete all of those (as many tools do), then older tweets will still exist in the system. If you happen to know the tweet ID, you can still query them.

However, I have found a tool that runs on Windows and can actually delete all your tweets. It's called Twitter Archive Eraser. It's a free tool that runs on Windows-based system that will work with an export of your Twitter archive and delete all your tweets, one by one. I actually use it on my main Twitter account and it worked great, deleting more than 40,000 tweets in around 9 minutes.

For accounts that have 3200 tweets or less, you can use any number of websites, iOS, or Android apps out there. The one I chose, based on a recommendation from Stefan Constantinescu, is called Delete Tweets. It has a big red button that does what it says: deletes all your tweets. You can pay $2.99 for a "pro" version that will give you some filtering options (i.e. you can choose to delete only some tweets). You can run it regularly from your iOS or Android device to reset your tweets back to zero.

The next step is to do this with Facebook.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Thinking About A Fresh Start Online http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/10/thinking-about-a-fresh-start-online/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/10/10/thinking-about-a-fresh-start-online/#comments 2015-10-10T14:10:10+09:00 PhoneBoy b1b7283d0c05981a0bf6368edbb13e6d One of the guys I've followed for years on the Internet has taken what some might call a drastic approach: he's purged his Twitter account of tweets. Given the ephemeral nature of Twitter, this actually seems somewhat appropriate to do. Also, things that you said years ago in the heat of the moment, things you may not say or think today, could easily come back to haunt you.

I'm thinking of taking this a step further and doing some culling of all of my various online presences. I've been on the Internet more than 20 years and I've managed to bring forward a ton of content--content that, quite frankly, may not entirely be relevant anymore.

I've also got far too many presences on the Internet. Some of them it makes sense to continue to maintain, others not. I almost want to blow it all up and start over. Or maybe seriously cull what's out there, starting with my Twitter accounts. I have a dozen of them. I actually deleted four of them today and completely emptied the tweets out of another.

Has anyone actually gone through this exercise of cleaning up their online presence or nuking it entirely? While I'm sure I can figure out the mechanics of actually doing it, anyone have any tips or tricks they want to share?


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Taking A Minute http://phoneboy.info/2015/08/24/taking-a-minute/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/08/24/taking-a-minute/#comments 2015-08-24T07:39:10+09:00 PhoneBoy 8dcfff538c992f46accac76fb471523a Okay, maybe a minute is too long, but certainly you've got 30 seconds for a habit with a lifelong impact:

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.

I must do something like this unconciously as there are so many conversations or situations where I cannot recall the exact details, but I can usually remember the key takeaways. This generally works well for me, though taking a moment to write it down couldn't hurt.

That said, people might have different ideas about what is important. This is where I sometimes run into trouble, but as the article suggests, you'll get better at figuring this out over time.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
A Bag-Carrying Member of the CPAP Club http://phoneboy.info/2015/07/17/a-bag-carrying-member-of-the-cpap-club/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/07/17/a-bag-carrying-member-of-the-cpap-club/#comments 2015-07-17T23:42:00+09:00 PhoneBoy d9a6c52d6829044efb09f431e61281c8 Since I got my CPAP machine, I've started noticing how many other people have them as well. How do I know? This unassuming grey bag.

phoneboy-1437201689009

I notice at least one such bag every time I'm in an airport. It's possible I saw such bags before, but since I didn't know what was in them, I didn't think much of them. Now, because I carry one of these bags myself when I travel, I know.

This morning I encountered someone someone right in front of me in the TSA line. He saw my bag and said "better make sure we don't get our CPAPs mixed up." Agreed, that would be an unpleasant surprise.

We exchanged a few pleasantries and comments about how CPAP haas made sleeping easier. He also called out the type of machine I had:

"A REMstar, right?""Yup," I said.

It's like being in an exclusive club. Granted it's not a club most people would want to be a part of, but if I have to have one, I might as well embrace it.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
CPAP Only Works When You Wear It http://phoneboy.info/2015/06/26/cpap-only-works-when-you-wear-it/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/06/26/cpap-only-works-when-you-wear-it/#comments 2015-06-26T18:27:20+09:00 PhoneBoy a463d9ed21dae7ff575837f61d78e3d8 I did something I haven't done before: I got up in the middle of the night to pee and forgot to put my CPAP mask back on. This meant, for a few hours last night, I slept in my bed without my CPAP.

This isn't the first night since I got my CPAP that I didn't wear it, mostly because I've had a couple of red-eye flights since then. CPAP usage on an airplane isn't feasible, at least in coach. However, its the first time I've slept in my bed without the mask on since I got it.

And, sure enough, I snored. How do I know this? I've been using the MotionX-24/7 app to track my sleep and record sounds that happen while I sleep. Since I got the CPAP, mostly all it picked up was me rolling over and the very occasional quiet snore.

Last night, it picked up truly proper snoring. I have no idea if I snored the whole time I didn't have the CPAP mask on or not. I do know the CPAP only works if I wear it.

phoneboy-1435367804652

Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>
Alcohol: It's Not So Great For Your Heart http://phoneboy.info/2015/06/02/alcohol-its-not-so-great-for-your-heart/ http://phoneboy.info/2015/06/02/alcohol-its-not-so-great-for-your-heart/#comments 2015-06-02T23:31:10+09:00 PhoneBoy 905a6bfc3ff6da0ab6d40d4dd1571543 From Time Magazine, How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?? [time.com]:

The not-so-good news: The more the participants drank, the more likely they showed abnormal changes in their heart structure and function. In men, the changes started accumulating after more than two drinks per day, or 14 or more drinks a week. In these men, the pumping chambers of their hearts increased slightly compared to those in non drinkers, a sign that the heart had to work harder to pump the same amount of blood, which can cause it enlarge and weaken. In women, these changes appeared when women drank much less, just above the one drink a day. In addition, among the women who imbibed more than a drink a day, the scientists found slight drops in heart function compared to women who drank less.

This paragraph hit home because this is exactly the reason my mom died about two years ago. Her heart was, according to the autopsy, enlarged. I'm not sure how much she drank, but I'm pretty sure it was more than a drink a day for many, many years.

My mom was not the only alcoholic in my family. As a result, I made a decision relatively early in my life not to allow alcohol to control my life. As a result, I do not drink alcohol on a daily basis.

Turns out that early life decision ended up being smarter than I thought.


Copyright 2016 - PhoneBoy's Personal Blog
]]>