Kids Today

Plinky said, “Name three advan­tages that kids born these days have over old­er gen­er­a­tions. What about dis­ad­van­tages?

Inter­net I

1) The inter­net. I can hard­ly imag­ine what it would have been like to have ready access to so much infor­ma­tion at an ear­ly age!

2) Ubiq­ui­tous con­nec­tiv­i­ty. Even for those like my daugh­ter who don’t remem­ber a time with­out the inter­net, being able to con­nect every­where is a new thing that kids born now will take for grant­ed.

3) Con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion. These kids are unlike­ly to ever walk five miles to the near­est gas sta­tion if they run out of gas, because they’ll have cell phones so they can call for help. There are few­er and few­er places with­out cell cov­er­age, too.

As for dis­ad­van­tages:

1) They’ll nev­er know a world with­out sur­veil­lance. They’ll be mon­i­tored con­stant­ly from cra­dle to grave, offi­cial­ly or unof­fi­cial­ly.

2) There are few­er and few­er wild places where they can go to get away and just be kids, run­ning around with­out a phone ring­ing or an adult mon­i­tor­ing them in some way. I spent many hours in the woods as a child, but it was­n’t safe for my daugh­ter to do the same thing.

3) The same inter­net that brings them such mar­velous infor­ma­tion brings them into con­tact with more peo­ple as chil­dren than their grand­par­ents ever knew, thus increas­ing the like­li­hood that they’ll encounter preda­tors. With­out care­ful mon­i­tor­ing, they can all too eas­i­ly become vic­tims.

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Malware Woes

A few weeks ago, my PC was some­how infect­ed with some nasty thing that tried to turn it in to a spam­bot via dri­ve­by down­load. I had the cur­rent ver­sion of Syman­tec AntiVirus run­ning, set to the absolute high­est para­noia lev­els and updat­ed dai­ly. I also had Spy­bot Search & Destroy run­ning, again, updat­ed dai­ly and care­ful­ly con­fig­ured. I had both do full sys­tem scans every day, as well as keep­ing them mem­o­ry-res­i­dent at all times.

Nei­ther pro­gram ever gave so much as a peep. In fact, when I found the orig­i­nal file that was to blame and checked it man­u­al­ly with Syman­tec AV, it passed as though it were as inno­cent as a babe. If I had­n’t had the antivirus soft­ware con­fig­ured to show me an icon in the systray when it was check­ing out­go­ing mail, who knows when I would have real­ized that the sys­tem was com­pro­mised? As it was, I knew with­in sec­onds. (Hey, I notice “out­go­ing mail” when my email pro­gram isn’t even open.) I end­ed up pulling out the eth­er­net cable to stop com­mu­ni­ca­tions ’til the sys­tem was clean.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Mal­ware Woes”

Online Writing Labs

So any­way, I meant to post about those Online Writ­ing Labs (OWLs) that many col­leges have put online.

Their con­tents and qual­i­ty vary wide­ly from one col­lege to the next. They’re intend­ed to help stu­dents write their papers at what­ev­er time they get around to doing them, wher­ev­er they hap­pen to be. Good ones include online access to ref­er­ence tools such as dic­tio­nar­ies, the­saurus­es, and gram­mar usage guides, a link to the school’s library, any for­mat­ting stan­dards estab­lished by his school in par­tic­u­lar, and some­times more spe­cif­ic mate­r­i­al depend­ing on the type of stu­dent expect­ed to be using the OWL.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, some schools have slapped a list of links up on a set and called it an OWL. I won’t be rec­om­mend­ing any of those piti­ful lit­tle things.

Yes, it’s per­fect­ly fine for oth­ers to use these sites. They aren’t behind the school’s fire­walls, so they are a resource that has been gen­er­ous­ly shared with the pub­lic. If you find one espe­cial­ly help­ful, con­sid­er send­ing an email to the site’s authors/editors, thank­ing them for their efforts