Just Got Hacked

June 18th, 2011
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Haeckerstraße

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Well, I suppose it is something that website owners do not usually admit but I give it a go: someone just hacked my blog. Apparently my wordpress password was not strong enough, and they were able to change it or something. Looks like no big harm done, that it was more of a warning from someone using email address wd5(at)hotmail.com.

What bothers me though is not so much that someone hacked my site. After all, if the point was to give a warning, then well, annoying as it was, point taken and password changed. However, the thing that really bugs me is that I do not really know. Maybe there was some other mistake from my part that lead to this. Dont know and probably never will.

So, my point is, and as naive as it sounds, if a hacker really wants to improve the security of my site, then they should leave a message how to do that exactly, or what was the flaw that abled them to access the site. Then I could really do something about it, within my coding limits that is. Now it is like the mechanic telling you that your car is broken but not saying what it is or how to fix it. So next time, dear hacker, leave a detailed message on what should I do to make the security of this site better. And thank you for not leaving any malicious virus etc. behind (at least I hope you did not)

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What Makes a Good Invention

January 12th, 2011
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I Have an Idea.

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What are the most important inventions of all times? The web is full of lists on these (see example here), and some of them have common artefacts, and some seem to disagree in all. The question always is though, what is it that makes a good invention, what is THE thing that all these items share?

I came up with a thought regarding this. Admitted, it is a flawed one, hence I would not call it a theory, but nevertheless it makes an interesting idea/thought. The thought/idea/flawed theory goes: all the major inventions that have shaped our lives in one way or another have had the capacity to alter our conception of the two basic dimensions of everyday life: time and space. Whether they have been able to significantly shorten the time it has taken to do something, they have untied a certain function from a certain place, or simply brought distant places more closer, that is, they have made the issue of distance less of an obstacle.

The examples are various: the phone saved us the task of going over to someones places to talk, we could do it from a distance. That also made things quicker to handle. The mobile phone on the other hand has untied the phone (apart from certain remote corners of the world) from a particular place, since you are able to carry it with you.

The car/airplane etc. made travelling easier, and most important, quicker. The steam engine let us do certain things in less time. Television (or any tool of mass communication) was able to provide us information from distant locations without us having to go there ourselves. The internet  provides us not only information but also relationships, up-to-date news (as well as false news) and tools of communication and all this from anywhere, at any time and with (almost) anyone.

The key issue is to see how will the invention alter the current realm of time and space dimensions of ordinary people. If it does not, well, then the only thing left is to make your invention just a little bit better what is out there now. Take the telly for example: the basic idea has not really changed in 50 years, there just have been improvements in the technical side. The same things goes for the car.

There is one thing though that pushes the breaks on invention, and that prevails over the two dimensions of time and space: security. We value security more than breaking the barriers of the two others. If the invention is not secure enough to be used or the security cannot be guaranteed, the invention will not be either accepted, or it will only be used in an environment that provides enough security. Take cars for example. This is the reasons why there are speed limits, or in principle (supercars apart) there has not happened too much development in the top speeds of the ordinary cars. On the other hand, in trains there has, cause the secure conditions can be created.

So whatever you invent, make sure it changes our conception of time and space. In a secure and a nice way.

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Korean Tipping Point

November 26th, 2010
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Kim Jong-il Riding the Bomb

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Once again fire has been exchanged in the border-zone (or island) of North and South Korea. These kind of news seem to pop out on a regular basis, and at the same time there goes on the never ending debate over how long can the situation last, that is, when will the North Korean state finally crumble? It is interesting though that the northern counter partner  just keeps on “existing”, and furthermore, is capable of transferring power from a father to son without much without visible internal tensions.

The question that I find myself wondering is, what is the “thing” that would bring some sort of an end to the current status quo (the whole other question is how desirable that would be)? One has to notice though, that the North Korean existence has several advantages on its side: the US is not very fond of having another front (military or other) opened, China is somewhat on the side of the the current regime, nobody can be 100% sure of the country’s nuclear capabilities, the waves of democratization that passed East Europe missed North Korea, and similar ones are not very likely to come (since the era of communism already came to an end..). Finally, as a state, North Korea is still a relatively small state. In the eyes of many western and other states it might be annoying, but yet, not very significant, hence the current status quo just might be the solution everybody is looking for and hoping to maintain.

However, at the same time everybody are just waiting something to happen that will bring it all to an end. Below is my list of possible sparks that could led to the meltdown of the current situation in the peninsula. It is far from exhaustive (so feel free to add your own suggestion to the comments), and many of the reasoning lack “scientific scrutiny”, but might make interesting reading anyway.

1. War between South and North Korea (and possibly some others). This one seems to be most possible option, and the regular exchange of fire does hint to this direction. However, there is one thing that goes very strongly against it: by  getting into a full scale war, North Korea would risk its entire existence. In most of the cases, states try secure foremost their own existance. Going into a war against a smaller/same size state is one thing, but the North Korea would probably find the US on the other side as well. In addition, China might offer some sort of assistance, but it also has too much at stake (especially economically) to get sucked into another Korean war. I see war likely only if North Korea possesses a suicide bomber attitude, which I think currently it does not.

2. Economic meltdown. As simply as it sounds, there is no longer money nor food nor anything to keep the country running, not even in the mode it is running now. However, China and also possibly some other countries may well prefer of this not happening. Also, from China’s perspective the current North Korea might be a lot better option than the one which would take place after.

3. Internal turmoil. Grassroot revolution is always a possibility. However, have not heard much of that happening in North Korea, yet I suppose they call it the world’s isolated state for a reason, not too many news (that have not been approved by the regime) get through anyway.

4. Change of direction by the new leader. Yes, this one is also an option, and has happened in many cases before, for example in Spain in the 70s. Also true that you should not judge a person by his looks, but the successor for Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un does not look to differ that much from his father. Furthermore, firing a neighboring country to celebrate ones crowning is not exactly the most peaceful way to start.

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Paving the Way

August 8th, 2010
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Aardman Wallace and Gromit Cracking Ideas exhibit at the Glasgow Science Centre

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This is based on 5-minute-thinking in the sofa, but why is it that everytime there a new “occupational category” being born it seems that it is the men who are the first ones to do those jobs? After some time the women also take their place, and eventually the situation “stabilizes” (in certain occupations more than in others), but it seems the forerunners always seem to be the men. The examples I came across with were medicine, programming, web design, writing (authors, journalists), and many of the fields of science in general.

I am not saying that women are not cabable of this, but somehow it seems that the role of innovating and “trying-out-first” is reserved for the men. I suppose this has been largely due to the societal constraints imposed on women, but the pattern seems to continue, despite the changes within the roles of the women in some of the societies of the world. That, on the other hand, might be caused by the relatively technology-concentrated nature of the societies of today, that still favors the men over women (most of the students for example in tech schools are still men, see one example here).

To take this line of thinking a little bit further, one could make a connection (even though a weak one) between the outsourcing to the developing countries and the role of women in the labour market. The more “mature” the occupation, the more likely it is  transferred to the labour-abundant developing countries, or/and, the higher the percentage of women of the workforce within that sector. Naturally, the exceptions to the above are numerous (there are plenty of women in the most cutting-edge jobs, just as well there are plenty of non-western). However, I do not know if that is still enough to make my “observation” completely invalid, it does seem to hold some water, at least on a larger scale.

What I am looking forward, though, is that we could see some sort of leapfrogging effect to take place not only regarding the developing countries, but also the role of women within the most innovative and “latest” occupational categories. Instead of just being the followers, they should be the creators as well. Who knows where we could end up, maybe we could possibly change the technological focus of our concept on development entirely?

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