Weak Passwords

Pay particular attention to the difference between using only lowercase characters and using all possible characters (uppercase, lowercase, and special characters – like @#$%^&*). Adding just one capital letter and one asterisk would change the processing time for an 8 character password from 2.4 days to 2.1 centuries.

via lifehacker.com

I know lots of people question the potential for the single point of failure aspect of 1password, but being able to create and use one really complex password to protect against using the same crappy password across the web seems like a better solution. I am honestly floored at how the difference between a single character in a password string makes such a huge difference. I guess my new goal should be to have at least 14 character passwords. Even if you don't use a tool like 1password you should read this and head the warnings — if not for your own personal reasons, then for the security of your organizational data.

The Rage Is Not About Health Care

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

via www.nytimes.com

I wish it were my title and my text, but I can't begin to put these kinds of words together. In so many ways it so discouraging to see what I believe is at the core of so much of the fear and anger in America today. So very little about the outrage is about the future, but bound to the roots of the past. The whole piece is worth a read.

Almost Heaven

What a day yesterday! Nearly all day was spent at the amazingly inspiring TLT Symposium here at Penn State. Another killer event and one that I will try to find words about after a little reflection. I got home last night for a small birthday gathering my wife put together for me to watch my West Virginia Mountaineers beat mighty Kentucky to earn a spot in the Final Four. The highlight had to be sharing it with my wife and calling my Mom and Dad after the game to talk about it. All four of us have WVU ties, so it is a huge deal for us all. The last time WVU pulled this off it was with Jerry West in 1959. Best Birthday present, ever! “Take me home, country roads …”

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Join us at the TLT Symposium

Just a quick post to point out that our keynote, Michael Wesch, will be streamed live this morning here at the TLT Symposium. We would have liked to stream all the sessions, but we will be recording them to post later. At the minimum, stop by this morning and participate from afar.

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Yesterday I got to spend a few hours with Mike and several PSU faculty talking mostly about digital scholarship, engaging students, and managing the shift that is happening under our feet. Both sessions were wonderfully insightful discussions that I wish we would have captured. I’ll do my best to reflect a bit more on those and the Symposium in general, but for now please stop by and watch!

TLT Symposium 2010!

It is hard for me to believe, but it is time again for the annual TLT Symposium here at Penn State. This has turned into quite the event over the last several years — we have well over 400 registered this year … and that is for a PSU only event being held on a Saturday! I continue to be amazed by the outcomes and the efforts that go into the event. The thing I love the most is how the energy from our community just pours out of every single session. People from all over the State of PA will be here sharing ideas, talking in the halls, and building new connections that will be of real lasting value. The program this year is so strong … it is actually tough to figure out what sessions to attend — from Michael Wesch’s keynote to the final keynote of the day it is packed with plenty to inspire.

As in year’s past we will be both streaming and archiving big portions of it, so be sure to check the Symposium site for those details. I love how the energy of this event is built around the idea that it is both the start of another year of innovation and the celebration of what has been done in the recent past. Most of us will be locked into the event starting first thing tomorrow through Saturday night when we’ll collapse. I can’t wait to get things started!

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Who I Work For

In one of the talks I do on a semi-regular basis I share thoughts on my audiences — one is way down the path and the other is the one that stands before me on my campus. While the students I work to inspire and support right now are really important, it is the ones down the path a bit that I love to think about. I have a built in barometer living in my house with my own two digital kids. My daughter is eight and my son is 3 and they are both heavily engaged in the use of digital devices.

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More and more I am watching both of them attacking digital devices in ways that just a year or so ago they didn’t. They’ve mastered the Nintendo Wii, their DSi, the iPod Touch, and in a lot of ways the Mac. My little boy can browse (and we’ve learned, also place things in a sopping cart) the web with relative ease. But what has become amazing is how my daughter is using the Mac to create digital artifacts — the creation of blog posts, videos using PhotoBooth, and podcasts using GarageBand seem close to second nature to her. It gives me a great view into what our students will demand of us as they arrive on campus.

With that said I continue to be torn about my need to provide the platforms, but I still think it is important and I do not think the platforms we provide are simple commodities given the importance of privacy, identity, and other emerging concerns.

I showed Brad Kozlek my daughter’s travel journal she keeps for school yesterday and we got to talking about how cool it is that we are building the future infrastructure to support children like her. She keeps her travel journal as a WordPress blog and sends the URL to her teachers, classmates, and family. I love everything about it — especially that she can do it herself. This time we even looked at how to embed pictures from Flickr in her posts! What is interesting is that this space grows over time and allows us to look back at things in ways one can’t when living in a more analog Universe. We looked back at our trip to Washington DC as we were finishing the post from the Outer Banks with real amazement of all we did — we sort of relived the trip and that was really cool.

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So when people ask me why I care so much about providing platforms for digital expression one of the first stories I tell them is the one about my own children and how I want education to be able to support them in all sorts of ways. I want them to be able to do what they can do at home inside the walls of the school … I need them to feel like the things they make are an important part of who they are today and who they will become. I need them to feel the power related to thinking about their thinking and I really want them to actively reflect on what that means to them. As I sat looking at her travel blog I actually got goose bumps thinking about how important our work really is — and how important it is to build opportunities for how it should be in the future.