Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Blogging Experience

My initial feelings about creating and maintaining a blog was absolute terror. The thought of having my thoughts and feelings out there for anyone to see was unnerving. I wasn’t overly worried about the technical aspects of creating the blog, although it took forever to figure out everything, I was far more concerned with…What the heck am I going to write about? Generally, I am a person of a few words and a limited imagination and having to write fifteen articles on information technology was quite a stretch for me. I was EXTREMELY happy when the assignment was reduced to ten. Writing a two hundred word article is not what takes a long time, it was coming up with a subject and then researching that subject so I could somewhat write about it intelligently. I found I was consumed with my blog project and then my group project leaving little time to actually focus on the text book, which I’m sorry to say got little to none attention. I am attempting to finish this project early so I can try to focus on the rest of this course for the final exam in a week.

A few suggestions for the next session of MIS at U de M; I think one article a week plus an appreciation article is fair. In addition, I think the subject of the articles should be current events and not just limited to information technology.

Overall, I did begin to enjoy my blogging experience. After all, it was not the project; it was the time constraints, which made it less enjoyable. This project has allowed me to express myself like never before. I have re-discovered my enjoyment for technology through all my research. I am grateful that this project was part of the Management Information Systems program; it has given me a great sense of accomplishment. I think I will create another blog site for fun; it will be fun to maintain one with my friends.

Addicted to Technology?

Are you addicted to your cellular, email, the internet or MSN? Can you live off the grid for a week, long enough to take a vacation? How often do you check your email? Is it the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up? Do you check it more often than you inhale? How many hours a day do you spend checking, reading or sending emails? Would you rather email someone instead of a face-to-face communication? Addictions are serious problems but are people really addicted to technology or is it just compulsive behaviour? I am no expert but take this on-line test to measure whether or not you are possibly addicted to the internet. There is also, research showing that addicted people who attempt to cut themselves off from their emails, cellular, internet, etc. actually begin to go through withdrawal symptoms like irritability and depression.

Some signs of addiction to look out for are: inability to stop using, craving more and more, neglecting family and friends, feeling empty, depressed and irritable when not able to use them for long periods of time, problems at work. Some physical signs of abuse include migraine headaches, backaches, skipping meals, neglecting personal hygiene, changes in sleep patterns, etc. Addictions usually mask a deeper problem, so if you think you know someone who may be addicted ask him or her to take this on-line test.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Closer or Further Apart

Is the increase in email usage bringing us closer together or pulling us further apart? I do not think there is a simple answer to that question, but I thought I would share an example of how it brings us closer together.

I have a cousin who was born deaf and has difficulty speaking; communication with my cousin has always been difficult and very frustrating for her and me because I could not always understand what she was trying to tell me. Our conversations were always very short and on the surface. I use to know a little bit of sign language but since she has moved away, I have lost what skills I use to possess.

After she moved away, she would call me with an especially designed service called Telerelay. If you have ever used the Telerelay service available you already know that it is less than ideal. An operator acts as a translator, so I would have to speak with the operator as if that person were my cousin, the operator would then type what I said and the message would be relayed to my cousin. I found having an operator as a translator a little awkward, so with the birth of email came an awesome method of communication for my cousin and I. Presently, we can actually have in-depth “conversations” that we have never had the luxury of before, so for all the critics, here is one indisputable example of how email can bring us closer together.

Monday, May 21, 2007


The first time I heard the term Phishing (Pronounced: FISH-ing) was when Philippe, my Management Information Systems professor, said, “does anyone know what fishing is?” I thought it was a trick question, you know...rod, and worm and hook…All I can say is that I am glad I did not raise my hand to answer that question! Apparently, Phishing is a spoof-email that one receives; it appears to be from an organization that you trust, it appears to be authentic with the use of that organization’s logo and header, they tell you that you need to urgently sign into your account or your account will be cancelled or something of that nature. As you click on the link which brings you to a fake web page, the culprits behind this scam receive you user name and password and immediately have access to your personal financial information.

I find this very disturbing especially for individuals who have never heard of such email scams. I have personally received such an email from an individual or group of individuals pretending to be a representatives from Paypal, I can tell you that it appeared to be authentic and fortunately for me, ebay had already advise me of this type of scam, so I immediately recognized it and reported it to officials.

For more information on how to avoid Phishing visit your financial institutions’ website, most of them will give you information on how to recognize a spoof-email and what to do if you should receive one.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

IT Security

I work at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency where we have a large team dedicated to information technology security. Their mandate is to monitor the risk of new and existing threats and to provide solutions to these threats. Another part of their mandate is to maintain the standards outline in our information technology security policies.

The team provides information on our intranet to promote security awareness. The details they provide help employees understand what the risks are and how to protect themselves in these technology-based times. They have created a website that provides personal tips on antivirus software and where you can obtain free downloads. The site provides links to Spyware or Adware removal programs; it provides information on e-mail dangers and the different types of dangers complete with links to where you can check if an email is a hoax. There is information on firewalls and links to free firewall protection. They provided tips on how to create strong secure passwords and general information on dangerous applications. The site also has information on hackers and their real threat to everyone. What types of information the hackers could get from your computer, how they could monitor you and use your computer in illegal activities. In addition, there is much, much more information on various related topics. It is a very interesting site, user-friendly, the only thing I found wrong with it was that NO ONE told me about it. I have now added it to my favourites and look forward to reading all the tips and tricks included on it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Right or Wrong

Downloading movies, songs and television programs is it right or wrong. I guess I am a little old fashion but I still buy my CDs, DVDs and the released seasons of my favourite TV programs. I find it disturbing when a person tells me they have downloaded all six seasons of the Sopranos when I paid roughly a hundred dollars a season. I still go to the music store to purchase my CDs and I actually pay to watch movies, I rent them, buy them or watch them at the theatre.

My brother has recorded three CDs and is about to release a new CD, my husband’s band has recorded three CDs and my brother-in-law just finished releasing a solo CD. I know how much these recordings cost these local artists, roughly $20,000 to $30,000 to release one CD. Do the math. How many CDs do they have to sell to break-even? They go through a distribution company that pays them roughly $10 a CD…the answer is, they have to sell 2,000 to 3,000 CDs. Which locally can be a large accomplishment especially because everyone can just sit at their computer and get it free, why would they pay for it?

These artists are playing in bars trying to make a living and hoping that their CD sales will cover the cost of the recording. So every time temptation knocks at my door, I think of the artists who struggle day in and out at their jobs in the hopes of making a little bit of money. Would you go to work everyday without being paid?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spam Emails

I must confess I get over eighty spam emails a day. This fact embarrasses me, what did I do to receive so many emails that are at times quite vulgar. The subjects of these emails range from low-interest mortgage, stocks, Viagra to other subjects too vulgar to mention. It is quite annoying receiving so many emails sent by individuals who apparently do not know how to reach their target audience. I have setup a “bulk” rule that when it works sends all my so-called spam emails to my delete box. There are still emails that get through the bulk rule so I still have to filter through them to get to my important emails. The number of spam emails seems to increase every week, so recently I decided to create a new email address that I only give to my trusted contacts and that I will never give out on the internet. I have kept my old email address because I have had that address for years and have given it out to important contacts over years, so I am not quite ready to close my account. Another reason I am keeping it is for memberships I have with ebay, paypal, blogger and other such website that I do not quite trust with my new email address.

Of course, my knowledge of how my address is dispersed so widely is limited. So if anyone could educated me and provide me with advice please feel free to make a comment.