Entries Tagged as 'Society'

BART overstepped boundaries in San Francisco Cell Service Incident

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) logo Apparently SF BART had shut down cell service for about three hours in the San Francisco area at a few stations where some activists were going to protest.   While I do believe this has some serious free speech implications since they’re trying to pull a whole minority report type of scenario which is against current law, I have to say that from a telecommunications standpoint, they pulled a major flaw by calling it a safety issue.   As a telecommunications professional, I have spent years of time facing countless hours trying to maintain the cellular infrastructure.  One of the biggest risks we face in telecom is the one where someone can’t make a 911 call.   That means that people’s lives could indirectly be effected by our work which is why we must be careful.

In shutting down cell service to “prevent” something from happening, the problem then becomes an issue when someone does indeed get hurt and there’s no communications inward or outward.   You can’t rely on BART officers there with their CBs since they can’t be there while maintaining lines or what not against a protest.   So from an emergency situation where someone’s life is dictated by the minutes of time that could effect life and death, cellular service is critical for response.   In this case, I believe that BART made an egregious error and whomever made that decision didn’t think about the consequences that it might follow.  On top of all of this?  BART themselves pulled the plug on the base stations and notifying the carriers after the fact (another mistake and a hard one).  Meaning, the carriers had no idea and probably saw the sites go down in the NOCs and were scrambling to get them back up.

BART said that they were well within their legal rights to turn off cell stations, but I beg to differ.  If this were the case, then all base stations are endangered by the tower leasing areas.  Of which I know for a fact, the leasing contracts do state that they can’t just willy nilly turn off power or otherwise to the leased areas since the carriers are the ones that maintain those agreements with the utilities and not BART.

Nice job, BART.   You not only wasted a lot of telecom professionals time with your crazy logic, but you didn’t go down the right legal roads to at least create a foundation that your logic could stand on.   And thus, BART’s going to get their “you know what” handed to them by all sorts of legal experts.  Do I foresee a resignation?   Maybe, but at the very least, someone is going to take the fall for this one.

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More Layoffs Means Economy Still Down Toilet

sun Still think that the economy is improving? If the shutdown of the Dell plant around here isn’t enough to scoff at that mindset, let’s look at an even larger one. Sun Microsystems is looking to layoff three thousand more employees. Now, while layoffs are inevitable during mergers and acquisitions (in this case with Oracle), this also represents something a little bit larger.

It says that until corporations or the government gives a nice jab in the arm on hiring, the overall percentage of buying power has been reduced. This hurt can and will be felt through both retail and financial markets since people without jobs cannot pay loans and mortgages. And let’s face it. Saving the financial institutions do not amount to squat if the people that the money is being loaned to can’t get work to actually pay it back. This is not only brings financial players to a grinding halt, but it shows that politicians do not understand the basics of economics. Everything starts with the beginning of the food chain, not the end.

What’s worse is that until someone does actually gain this bright idea, all of the injection of federal funding is for naught. That means that the taxpayers bear the burden of a costly mistake, of which becomes more and more weight per each individual as more and more people cannot find work. And you wonder how Congress can sleep at night with a twenty or so percent approval rating.

Why Fearmongering Solves Nothing


Argh. I can’t stand it. While I agree that environments effect a child’s raising, I truly don’t buy into the entire “it takes a village” scenario. It all starts, and ends with the parents and how much responsibility they’re willing to pick up in teaching the ways of the world to the child. So when I read about video games under attack, especially ones that are as light-hearted and humorous as Fat Princess, I just have to say something.

First off, for the kids. Eating a piece of cake will not make you fat. I don’t care who’s telling you that but if you’re going to trust me over your parents (which I don’t even want to know why I would be more authoritative in your family than your folks), cake doesn’t make you fat. Not exercising and eating too much will make you fat. Yes, the truth hurts, but portion control is key along with a healthy lifestyle. If your parents haven’t taught you that, then there you go. Voila, a lesson of life.

Next, for those that are afraid of games that will wreak havoc in their young children’s lives. Have you taken a look at television these days? Rated “M” is not the same Rated “M” a decade ago. In fact, there are several cable shows that I’ve heard on prime time use foul language. Are you to banish that from young ears for sake of corrupting innocence? Hate to break it to you, but every single one has been corrupted at an early age. There’s always some potty mouth at school that let’s your kids in on the excitingly forbidden. The question is more of how you deal with it. If your children live in a sandbox all of their lives along with you fearing everything, then they’ll grow up to …. guess what: fear everything. And there’s so much more to the world than some video game or movie. Will you always cower under the threat that nuclear war might ensue? Or that a meteor might strike the earth? Maybe Yellowstone might erupt?

The fact is, it’s YOUR responsibility in molding your kids, not the rest of the world. If you were supreme ruler of Earth, then I would probably say otherwise, but you’re not, I’m not, and we probably won’t ever be seeing one of those. So, quit shirking your responsibilities as a parent and get with it. Insults in life are a daily occurrence whether or not you like to deal with it. Same with staying healthy and not eating too much cake, just as dessert isn’t always on the menu. It’s how you manage to teach this to your children instead of passing off to people like Titan Studios. They’re in the business of entertainment, while you’re in the business of raising your kids to be be a part of society.

Why Job Postings Are Not Accurate Looks At Job Market

Monster.com visits the Craigslist office
Image by unfurl via Flickr

Several of my good friends were hit by the latest downturn in global economics and they’ve had asked me to look into a couple job searches for them. Fortunately, in the Bay area, it’s a bit easier to find opportunity and they have all been employed again.

But I did notice one very crazy fact that needs to be addressed. If you make any judgements on the job market based on job placement sites such as CareerBuilder or Monster, the amount of actual positions are actually inflated. Didn’t know that? Here’s a way to tell. If you’ll notice that in every single city, or whatever zip code you put in, there are usually several jobs that seem very similar. In fact, the chances are that they are the same position. Job placement companies often take an actual job opening and create their own position in that market in hopes to getting people to sign up for it. Then they go to the company and ask for a referral fee, or sometimes broker the deal so for example, if the original hourly wage was thirty dollars, then the employee would get seventeen and the rest would be the placement agency’s fee.

What really stinks about this tactic is that you really could be wasting your precious time in finding a position since you have to filter through positions that you might have already applied for directly. My suggestion? Find out where the position is and apply direct to the corporation. You’ll get the most bang for buck, and unless the placement agencies have a track record with that corporation, it’s unlikely you’ll have something great out of it.

In any case? Good luck with your search.

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Be Wary in Job Searches

Maximizing Your Job Search Workshop
Image by danieljohnsonjr via Flickr

If you’re one of the many that are searching for positions on the Internet and probably sending your resume along on those job sites, be wary. One of the latest scams that has been broadcast in the past six months through security firms has been an increase in identity theft through job postings.

Think about it. You’re desperate to become employed again, you hand over your social security number, name, address, and all sorts of other identification materials to a “potential” employer just to realize that they don’t exist. My suggestion? Do your homework.

While you might not stop every sort of theft, providing due diligence will greatly decrease the risk of being taken for a ride. See if that person actually represents the company that they claim they are. Are they overseas and using a local number to contact you? Do they represent a placement agency? Perhaps you’ve never even heard of this business that they claim is several miles from your house and it’s not in the phone book. There are always signs to these sorts of scams.

If you don’t, you take a great risk. If you do, you minimize that risk. And best of luck on your search.

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Dangerous Riding With Tailgating Motorists

Motorcycle Ride 002
Image by Dabe Murphy via Flickr

Sometimes, you just have some plain idiots on the road.

I was behind a motorcyclist this morning and gave him plenty of space since motorcycles have better brakes (I do have my motorcycle endorsement). They also can’t take on a half-ton carbon-fiber body either in a collision.

But of course, as I give them plenty of room, some dolt decided that it was plenty of space for them to edge in and be about a two feet away from the motorcyclist. This type of tailgating might be “okay”, and I say that with a lot of reservation, to do with another automobile but the risk of an accident with a motorcycle it’s absolutely dangerous. Any person that rides would know how much more you have to pay attention than driving when you’re on a two-wheeled vehicle because it’s noisier and commandeering such a vehicle takes a lot more concentration than driving a car.

We won’t even go into the fact that some people that tailgate also do not like to use their turn-signals in switching lanes. As a motorcyclist, it’s scary enough to see a vehicle right behind your rear wheel, but one that suddenly gets there that you were not expecting? Talk about increasing risk of an accident. As a driver, I would say that it’s not something I want on my conscience when it comes to hitting another vehicle. But as a motorcyclist? I don’t want to be hit since the chance of death is surmounting from someone that tailgates.

Scary stuff. And as the summer approaches, please pay attention to how you drive.

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Why legal prosecution of computer crimes require superior computer forensics

It’s really unfortunate when you read stories like this. Julie Amero, a substitute teacher in the Connecticut area, has been battling the state on a porn pop-up case that landed her four felony pornography convictions in early 2007.
A team of pro-bono computer forensic experts examined a ghost image of the hard drive and found numerous errors in the prosecution’s case which lead to overturning of the trial and it went to a new trial last June. Amero plead guilty to a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct, paid a fine and is moving on with her life.
Unfortunately for this particular situation, I think that Threat Level reported on the spot. The prosecution’s technical expertise was flawed in many cases and the testimonial didn’t jive with the evidence given by what the forensic evidence provided by the hard drive. Even giving up her state teaching credentials is asking too much of someone that didn’t actually click the pop-up links from malware judging by the analysis report of the ghost image given by the defense’s technical experts.
I assume that the prosecution wouldn’t let the charges drop even due to this overwhelming evidence due to the fact that four years down the line, they had already committed to many resources that it a dropped case would have looked bad. While I’m no legal expert, I believe that the misdemeanor was a justification of internal politics that happens in all stages of corporate and government alike.
A copy of the report by the forensics team can be found here.

Vote against Congressional Bailout Supporters

wethepeople.jpg You can guarantee with the latest news about the financial bailout where it seems that no one actually pays attention to what their constituents are saying…
Let’s be frank. We’re all cynical enough to know that Congress, those people that we voted in, don’t actually listen to a word the people that they represent. But you can be sure that I personally will be one vote more in standing in the way of their job in their next election if they supported the bailout.
Thus, there’s this:
A petition where those that support the bailout will indeed lose a vote.
And if there are enough people that actually sign this? You know that at least some of those in Congress will shiver in their boots. Let’s be frank. When you’re paid a little under $170 thousand dollars a year to work only ninety some odd days and complain about how you work too much and the average American works more and gets paid less than you do? You better dang well listen up to what they have to say.

GiftGirl working on the clueless guys of the world

giftgirl.jpg I have to say that when I saw this website go up a while back, I really didn’t have any inkling of want to actually review it. It wasn’t until after yesterday, a buddy of mine asked me to take a look at it after he looked was doing a little searching himself for his 19th anniversary (happy anniversary, man!)
I have to say that from the get-go, while I understood what the site was trying to do, I didn’t like the absolute boundaries that it carried as far as understanding “women” in general. The site itself was more earmarked for a certain type of personality type and women that happened to like spa treatments, clothes, shoes, bags, and expensive jewelry. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t think of anyone that would pay $200USD for a consultation on gift giving. But maybe there’s a market out there, since the team there said that consultants charge even more than that. Just surprised after all, since middle class working people don’t tend to drop $200 for a consultation. That’s more like an expensive gift.
But again, I digress. The site itself was targeting the clueless men in the world that don’t know what to get their special someone. Knowing many of these guys, I would say that there’s something definitely here as far as a business model and even a target audience, but I think it’s missing the mark as I pointed out time and again with Mike Pratt, whom I believe is the CTO of the the corporation. Pretty interesting conversation and definitely good to see where they’re going with the product and why. I wrote a lot more in the comment thread there, so definitely read it for full value since regurgitating it here would just be wasteful. And hopefully some of the suggestions that I gave helped.
I did find him going on the defensive even though everything TD said was pretty much on the mark too. How people find sarcasm in text is beyond me, especially if they only read one single post and commentary. Text is a blunt instrument. No offense there, Mike. Just pointing out what I saw in the whole thing.
Mike was actually extremely cordial with myself though, and answered all of my questions although I’m hesitant to say that he understands why I told him to simplify the interface even further if it’s for men and why I thought the gifts needed a lot more diversification (I just found that the gifts, while nice, were kind of aimed directly at the same type of girls in “Sex in the City”). That was my entire issue with the site. It seemed to target one single personality type that fit the all of the presets and ran with a totally different crowd.
This particular niche is definitely a ginormous help with many men. Truthfully, I really think that there’s more to it and if you have troubles buying your woman a gift then you might have some deeper issues with your relationship than you realize. But even so, I believe that GiftGirl actually does fulfill a basic need. My hopes is that at some point they do figure it out for more middle-class rather than more upper crust (scarily, I’d hate to think of what guy would need help with buying gifts in the $5000+ range).
Myself? Hopefully if they actually implement some of my ideas, I’d love to hear some feedback or get some acknowledgement. For now, the site isn’t for me since I know what my darling girl likes and loves, but for those that don’t know… it’s definitely a good starting point. Heck, it couldn’t be worse off for you starting here than where you are now, right?

As we shift social classes

Crude oil prices keep flirting $140USD and gas prices are now close to averaging around $4.00USD a gallon. As nothing is being done of any significance on the national level to regulate their resource, the only talk there is comes from the White House on drilling in ANWR. But as with anything, if you allow people to take advantage of the system, then it only takes one bad apple to abuse the loophole.
But in doing some straight mathematics, we find that while traveling is a fixed necessity (you have to take your kids to school, go to work, or buy groceries), the lower on the societal totempole you are, the harder hit you have to take.
Let’s first make some assumptions. If we assume that the vehicle gets on average about 25 miles to the gallon, and that you drive about 300 miles a week. If that 300 miles takes up about 12 gallons (an average full-sized car given the circumstances) then that also means that every week you’re spending $4.00USD times 12 gallons. That would equate to $60USD a week. Given that there are fifty-two weeks in a year, $60 x 52 is $3120.00USD.
Now this estimate is probably a bit low, but let’s just use that number for now. If you’re a NC teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and certified in teaching with one year of experience, the salary is approximately $30,000USD. That means that even before taxes, you spend more than 10% of your income for gas. If that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.
As you shift this fixed necessity above or below that salary scale, then you can see that it definitely impacts a lot more people a lot faster. You either have to make cuts in other necessities or find a job that pays better. Even cost-of-living increases can’t adjust quickly enough to rising gas prices. Thus, the social class shifts. Everyone takes a step downward and feels the pressure involved from these price hikes while the rich just keep talking about how we need to go drilling domestically. I’m not saying that wouldn’t help. I’m saying without regulation, who’s to say that we’re not going just delay the inevitable of greedy corporate executives looking to line their pockets with the most profitable quarters year after year on the backs of everyone else that do not make seven figures in compensation?
The rich get richer, as the gap grows between the top and the middle. As everyone starts taking the heat more seriously as it starts effecting their pocketbooks, you have to wonder when people will finally backlash and say, “No more.”
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