Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Symantec - Keep your data safe


A Symantec sponsored site was designed to give tips on how to keep yourself and your data safe online. It's an interactive site that allows you to select an image and flip it over for the tip. The tips cover security issues such as shredding paper documents to purchasing and paying bills online. Some of the cards offer links to sites with further information on the tip you are reading. Looks to be a very useful and creative tool for user training in information assurance.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock By T.S. Elliot

The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot is a poem about the inner struggle that J. Alfred Prufrock, the protagonist, has with himself about going to a tea party. The poem has a negative and fearful tone about the protagonist’s view of himself in the universe, comparing ones self to some of the great icons of the past. The poem is a dramatic monologue that reflects the views of his inner self and indecisiveness that everyone can relate to in unfamiliar surroundings.

The first part of the poem describes the dreary and dark path he must take to get to the tea party. Lines eight and nine "streets that follow like a tedious argument" "of insidious intent" gives the reader a look into the narrators negative thought process. In line one "let us then you and I" shows he is in a discussion with himself over the fact that he is ready for the tea party. Then he begins to talk about time, that there is plenty of time "to create" the narrator is becoming indecisive as he starts to procrastinate, leaving for the tea party. This indecisiveness leads to his downfall as he begins to debate his own self image (a middle aged man with a bald spot) and how women have treated him as if he was nothing in lines forty to sixty. Even the servants snicker when they take his coast in line eighty five. The poem ends with a description of drowning which, due to his indecisiveness, he feels he deserves and reflects the decision he ultimately makes.

The poem's theme is negative, and describes the self consciousness this protagonist feels towards his own image, and the fear of putting himself before others at a social gathering. Feeling that if he puts himself before others he will upend "the universe" telling himself he should be content with his place in society. He also attempts to compare himself with past icons such as John the Baptist (describing his bald head upon a platter), Lazarus, and Hamlet, feeling as if he falls well short of these great men, line one eleven "No! I am not Price Hamlet, nor was meant to be". These are all worst case scenarios that show how ridiculous his thought process can be when making a decision, a thought process we are all familiar with.

The poem describes the inner turmoil of J. Alfred Prufrock who while considered the protagonist could also be considered antagonist as he argues with himself over the decision he has to make. The poem titled "The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock" shows that the protagonist is very much interested in meeting women he can love. It also gives the reader on first glance of the title, the idea that this will be a love poem to a woman from a confident, slick man. Instead, the reader is treated to an unconfident man who feels small in a big universe, afraid to open up for the world to see, fearing the criticism he will receive. In the end T.S. Elliot gives the imagery of J. Alfred Prufrock walking on a beach, eating a peach giving in to the fact that women will not sing their mermaid song to him, as he drowns in his own indecisiveness.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a science fiction story set in England during the 1980's and 1990's. Although the timing is set in the recent past its backdrop is an alternate universe with many alternate and social developments mentioned in the story. The story has a linear timeline narrated by the protagonist, Kathy H., which flashes back to her past memories growing up in a place called Hailsham. The story is very detailed and well constructed dropping hints about the core meaning as the story progresses through the narrators view. It hits on a morale issue of the alternate universe, presenting a different point of view, in opposition to the reader’s reality. The author uses several Gothic elements as imagery in his story, using the natural elements, sex and other dark imagery, to present a dark interesting story.

The alternate universe begins in the late 20th century in England with the protagonist Kathy H. taking the reader to a place called Hailsham. The author may be presenting this place as mythical in the name. By separating Hailsham into "hail" and "sham" the meaning of the words could be viewed as a "hail" or hello and "sham" as false or fake. Kathy describes driving around England unable to find Hailsham, making the reader question Kathy's honesty. Due to scientific advancements in the story several of the key characters are clones, referred to as "students" at Hailsham. The people that take care of them are known as "guardians" and could be considered teachers. The clones are created to be "donors" and so naturally don't have a long lifespan, as these donors are called upon to provide their organs for humans, presenting the morale dilemma of the story.

The story timeline is mostly linear, but has flashbacks through most of the story giving the reader Kathy's view of past events. These flashbacks tend to jump around, especially in the first half of the book at Hailsham, keeping the reader in the dark, revealing key elements in a methodical purposeful way. This method leaves the reader guessing, slowly revealing the core meaning of the story, but making the story easy to follow and interesting.

The morale issue is revealed near the end of the story when Tommy and Kathy attempt to put off donating organs, for a few years, by demonstrating their love for one another. To do this they confront one of their old guardians, Emily who was the head guardian at Hailsham. Miss Emily reveals that she and Madame, another character at Hailsham that collected the student’s art work were the founders; Hailsham had existed because they wanted to provide a better environment for the clones and to prove that the clones being produced as donors were not soulless creations of man. The initiative was received for a while but eventually was shut down due to a scientific break through that had the potential to produce clones superior to man. In the end society didn't care to know that the organs the received were being provided by clones with souls. This issue makes the reader question their own morality, and how they would feel in this situation.

Several key elements point to a Gothic theme in the story. Sex is mentioned in several places in the book, often encouraging the clones to take part in, as they were unable to reproduce. There are several dark moments in the story for example: The rumored attempts of students leaving Hailsham and the consequences of those actions. The guardians are described as wearing black, and seem to engage in conversations with an unseen figure. The use of natural elements such as rain, fog, wind, and scenes near water used at the end of the story. The Gothic elements provide a sense of mystery and can reiterate the dark emotions and mysterious theme of the book.

Never let me go is a thought provoking read; that hits on a subject we may deal with in the future. The linear story uses Gothic elements and is presented in a detailed methodical way that is easy to follow and understand. The story compounds the events that take place between birth and death, and the acceptance of purpose in the mystery of life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bet on Bluebell in the 5th

On Joe Posanski's blog he asked the following question regarding tipping:

1. Are you supposed to tip the concierge for giving you directions?
2. Are you supposed to tip the valet parking person on the way in or on the way out or both?
3. How much are you supposed to tip for restaurant takeout food?
4. Are you supposed to tip the person who shows you to your seat at shows or sporting events?
5. Shouldn’t they put the gas tank on the same side of every single car?
6. If someone you barely know is telling you a story he/she already told you, is it OK to stop them mid sentence?
7. Why do planes allow people to recline their seats ALL the way back? Shouldn’t there be some rear-view passenger rights?
8. Why do some flight attendants insists that you raise your window shade for takeoff and landing? I have spent way too much of my free time trying to figure that one out.
9. Is it a passenger right and/or responsibility to turn in a seat mate who does NOT turn off all electronic devices for landing? Or is there some sort of “Airplane Omerta” that we are supposed to adhere to?

I don't travel for a living, however I have traveled quite a bit with a majority of my family being out of state, so here are my thoughts:

1. No, if mapquest is free then why should I tip someone for information readily available, especially with the explosion of iPhones and other handheld devices. Now if I'm getting a tip on a good restaurant, a tip on the best or esaiest way of getting to my destination then you could tip.
2. Way out, make sure your car is in good standing before tiping.
3. I don't tip. I've never worked in the restaurant business but I assume cooks don't get much if any of the tips.
4. I never have. They get paid to watch the show/game. As a doorman working at a movie theater I never got tiped for showing people where their movie was playing. I did however get to watch movies for free and take home loads of popcorn.
5. No, I don't like putting limits on creativity and although a small detail I think forcing companies to conform to putting a gas tank on one side would limit creativity just that little bit, and possibly start a snowball effect of limitations.
6. Usually I'll join in with them during the story they're telling me, making them feel like what they're telling me is interesting and usually they'll finish the story anyways.
7. It's part of the sell. Being 75 inches tall the airline commercials I remember are the ones where the guy is leaning back all the way falling asleep.
8. I've never had this experience, I want to say I've closed it before and fallen asleep, but I can't remember a specific time I've done this. Usually I'm in an aisle seat.
9. I figure if the electronics are strong enough to mess with the airplanes electronics then their would be some kind of indication from the cockpit and another announcement made.

What are your thoughts?