Friday, March 30, 2012


Reading the article about Codeacademy and then beginning to use it made me very glad that I signed up for this course! These are things that I always wanted to learn, but honestly thought I needed to be formally trained in (say, for instance, by taking a college course or receiving some sort of certification) before I could properly use them with confidence. There are so many things that I'd like to take a stab at with this information that I will probably dedicate a great deal of my summer to learning as much about programming - developing code which allows one to execute commands. The Codeacademy is a free web service that teaches anyone who wants to register and learn about programming, from the basics all the way up to the tough stuff. Because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire, I have not had enough time to complete the JavaScript lessons yet, but I think I have just found my new favorite site!


As far as the Internet goes, all I had ever heard of was the APRANet which I believe is dated at 1969 by most accounts. The most important piece of the process of transmitting and receiving data is the protocol, or rules, that the Internet uses. These include TCP/IP and multiple other acronyms that allow our computers to send data to each other that is readily interchangeable and transferable. I never thought so much about how interdependent and universal online data must be in order to get our information from point A to point B so quickly and seamlessly. Both videos as well as the lecture did a good job of covering the importance of protocol and packets, smaller sequences of data that the larger information parcels we consume are broken down into. One thing which was left out of the lecture that I would've included is the Dot-com bubble and its subsequent burst. Before this point, a lot of people speculated in websites without true business models (or at least without good ones). After the bubble burst, the Internet was able to progress and to become better than ever because of clever problem-solving and useful products and services which were better for people to understand and consume. Going forward, the most important developments will be those which optimize smartphone and tablet browsing and apps, making the Internet even more efficient and useful on the go.

CMS and the Beauty of the Web

What's the beauty of the web, you ask? For TWT (Techies Without [formal] Training) like me, it's that nothing has to be as hard as it may initially seem. There are always all sorts of ways to 'skin a cat,' as the saying goes, and CMS provides us with some tools that allow us to develop premium web content without taking the time to memorize or use tons and tons of code. Of course, knowledge of code is still extremely useful, but it isn't absolutely necessary anymore. Enter Drupal, open source software that even some of the biggest and baddest entities on the Web (such as the White House and Sony) use as we speak. It's free stuff! Incredible what you can do with a bit of tinkering, all thanks to the fact that one of the hallmarks of noncriminal Techie culture is to make using the Web a nearly universally accessible experience. Just finding out about such developments make the task of developing a site seem so much more feasible.

Infosec - Things That Make You Go Hmm....

Mikko Hypponen is an excellent speaker. His first video, about the three types of online attack, really provide very sobering commentary and thoughts about Internet crime and how serious (and lucrative) it can be. As our world becomes more and more digital, it really is bothersome to think that there are a few people or organizations out there with more skills than entire populations who rely on the technology these skilled individuals like to tamper with. Also, it seems to be quite the losing battle to fight, although a very necessary one.

With his second video, on fighting viruses and defending the net, we got to see how complex the issue of internet crime can be, and the type of thinking and resourcefulness it takes to fight it. As he spoke about a more concerted global effort to fight internet crime, Hypponen brought to mind my favorite book series as a teenager, Tom Clancy's Net Force. This group was an online government agency comprised mainly of hackers as well as military forces who worked together to fight online criminal organizations and individuals. There was even a TV movie made of the series, which was discontinued after about 8 - 10 books, which I still have. I wonder if the INTERPOL or other such organizations could draw from Tom Clancy's imagination to develop the type of force needed to fight internet crime?

As far as SOPA and PIPA are concerned, a lot of today's great techies (Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page) have reached rockstar status. These guys have the means to alter our lives, truly, if they want to, and a great many of them did just that in response to Congress's mulling over of those two bills. Because of their very widespread influence, I never did get too concerned that either of these would actually pass. That also brings a book to mind, though (although, one has to extrapolate greatly from the book to think of this). Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, was about censorship, but through the burning of books. Could censorship of the Internet provide the government with the same means of control of the masses and seriously decrease our quality of life, bringing about a dystopian society (perhaps I read too much)?

HTML - "This is a line of text" = "See Spot Run"

The review on was nice and informative while remaining concise. However, that video was painfully basic and elementary. I know not everyone has HTML experience, but as the title denotes, I think the video was the equivalent of See Spot Run. Anyway, the W3Schools site was very good, and I am really enjoying all of these resources that will allow me to shore up my skills in the areas of programming and HTML. One can never be too marketable these days!

View Source is a tool that can be accessed from the dropdown menu on most Web browsers. It shows the source code for a particular Web page, and could probably be used to design a web page which emulates or draws from elements of an existing page. It could also be used to kind of reverse-engineer a page in an effort to learn HTML.