Computer Security

Well, here I am trying to catch up with my school work after a fun-filled Spring Break of sleeping in, celebrating birthdays, and hijinx at work.  So to all of my fan (hi mom), I apologize for the brief hiatus in my blog.

Today’s topic is computer security.  Here is a list of basic security measures recommended by George Mason University’s IT department:

  • Activate a Password Protected Screensaver
  • Use Strong Passwords for All of Your Accounts
  • Automatically Receive Critical Updates
  • Use Antivirus Software and Verify Proper Configuration
  • Back Up Files As Needed
  • Never Open Suspicious E-mails or Attachments
  • Use SSL or https for Online Transactions
  • Reformat Hard Drive if Owner Changes
  • Use Secure Shell, https, VPN, or Other Encrypted Client Portals for Transferring Files
  • Follow Best E-mail Practices
  • Browse Safely

Some of these are common sense for most of us, however there is a growing target of e-attacks against senior citizens.  While most people may not open a “suspicious e-mail or attachment”, seniors have a tendency toward trusting internet sources.  My 68 year old father lost $2500 in such an attack.  How did they get him?  They hacked his cousin’s account and sent my dad a message that appeared to be coming from his own cousin asking for money.

Another form of internet safety above that I’d like to touch on is to “use strong passwords for all of your accounts”.  This is a great practice, but also extremely annoying.  Depending on what you are trying to access, the requirements for passwords is different.  Some sites require two or more “special characters” (such as @, !, or $), a mix of capital and lower-case letters, and one or more numbers.  Other sites don’t allow special characters.  The trouble here is that while Internet security becomes more standard, it becomes near impossible to keep track of what password you use where.

How do you protect yourself?  First of all, your computer and/or devices should have password protection.  This is good for loss or theft of your device, as well as keeping teenagers and young student humans off of your computer.  (This is experience talking).  Other safety strategies are to use visual aids in your passwords, such as a ‘site-key’ required when logging onto online banking.  If you don’t recognize your site-key, then you are most likely logging into a fraudulent website.  You can also set up your device to require security questions, for example you cannot log in until you type the name of your high school boyfriend’s step mothers best friend’s maiden name.  You get the point.

Fun with Copyright

Today’s task was to take a copy written photograph and alter it under fair use protection.  What is fair use?  Well, you can use material and original work that holds a copyright if certain requirements are met.  #1-What is the purpose for which you are using the material?  For instance, copyright material can be used for educational purposes.  #2-What is the amount of your use of the copyright material?  I sure hope it wasn’t more than 10%, or else you would be in trouble.  Check out this interesting video that my professor showed us, that I think really drives this point home. #3-What is the nature of what you did with the original material?  Lucky for me, PARODY is an acceptable and protected way to manipulate play with copyright material without getting in trouble.

I created a meme with the help of my wonderful and talented husband, “Batface”.  I’m pretty sure this is the best thing ever, and it will go viral.  Enjoy!Mickey copy 2

Check out this article from the Washington Post that explains a little bit about my meme.  Should we be nervous about this?  I am.

Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues in a Digital Age

Check out this website.  It is called “Teachers Pay Teachers” (TPT).  I know my aunt Julie will probably love this website, as she is always looking for new and innovative ways to keep her young students engaged.  What is the website all about?  Well, it’s a business model similar to craft website Etsy, or perhaps even (slightly) similar to the auction site Ebay.  It is a website where teachers can buy and sell reproducible teaching resources from $Free to $40 and up.  The website boasts anything from site word readers, holiday-specific activities, all basic subjects (Math, English, History, even Art) and activities tailored to students in specific grades.

So now you know what it is.  Here is the question-is it right?  As the title of this blog suggests, is it ethical or legal?  Hmm.  Here is where it gets tricky.  I first took to searching for some of the resources outside of TPT to see if any of the stuff was ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere.  Every random post that I pulled up seemed legit.  In fact, several of the teachers sharing and selling resources on this page offer up their wares for free on their blogs.  There is also quite an extensive Copyright page on the site, you can find it by clicking here or FAQ’s here.   The FAQ page contains several interesting topics, such as “Who owns the daily Teaching Content I made for my classes, me or the school that I work for?” and ”
Who owns the tests I created for my class, me or the school that I work for?”.  The answer is…it depends.  <<Here is where I point out that you should always read any contracts you sign.  Hey, I’m a lawyer’s sister, and I’ve been scolded educated enough on this issue!>>  Traditional exceptions vs loopholes, IP regulations vs hard copy, work for hire laws, insert headache here.

It does seem that the website keeps a rather close eye on material being posted, though the website is growing, and it is increasingly difficult to monitor open marketplace websites.  The question now is, how do you protect yourself and your best interests?  Well…

  1. As I said before, read your contract.  Know what your rights are at your school district.
  2. Be prepared to back up your work.  (read: don’t steal other people’s stuff!)
  3. Be on the lookout for other people profiting from the sale of your original work.  If you put it out there, just keep an eye out for it popping up in other places.
  4. I don’t know if I said this yet, but read your contract.

Stay tuned later today for my next post, “Fun with Copyright” It’ll be a hoot.

Fun with Wiki

Just for giggles and grins, I decided to look up our esteemed professor, Mills Kelly, on Wikipedia.  The article that came up was extremely interesting, and had to do with creating internet hoaxes on Wikipedia.  I was dismayed to find that the last entry was way back in March of 2013, so I decided to make it better.  I changed the last period to a comma, and added, “…however, as of February 2015 Professor Mills continues to delve into topics dealing with editing and/or manipulating Wikipedia in his History 390 Digital History Class at George Mason University.[17]

Check out this screen shot of my handiwork:

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 8.33.36 AM

To say that I am proud of myself is an understatement.  When I coach cheerleading at a local middle school, I have to ask the girls how to work my cell phone.  This is me patting myself on the back.

Somewhere on the Southern Coast it is Hidden

One only needs to google piracy in the Outer Banks to come up with the name “Captain Edward Teach”, alias “Blackbeard.  The chilling description of him in the Boston Globe (published some 177 years after his death) is as follows:

“Our hero, Capt Teach…assumed the cognomen of Blackbeard from that large quantity of hair which, like a frightful meteor, covered his whole face, and frightened America more than any comet…He stuck lighted matches under his hat, which, appearing on each side of his face and eyes, looked naturally fierce and wild…”

Was it simply his fearsome looks which enabled him to hold Charleston, South Carolina at bay for several days in 1718?  Was Teach, himself, fearless?  The governor of South Carolina, Governor Johnson wrote to the Council of Trade and Plantations on June 18, 1718 of the ordeal:

“The unspeakable calamity this poor Province suffers from pyrats obliges me to inform your Lordships of it in order that his Majestie may know it…we are continually alarmed and our ships taken to the utter ruin of our trade…about 14 days ago 4 sail of them appeared in sight of the Town…commanded by one Teach alias Blackbeard has a ship of 40 od guns under him and 3 sloopes tenders besides and are in all about 400 men.”

Ok, so maybe his 400 men had something to do with his fearlessness.  At least he seemed to take care of his men:

After taking hostages the pirates sent word “if I did not imediately send them a chest of medicins they would put every prisoner to death”, and once the medicine was received “plundered” the hostages and sent them back near naked.

How are my findings impacting my research?  Well, they may force me to go in another direction.  Preliminary findings don’t have much to do with the Outer Banks, other than a potential hiding place for the pirates and their yet to be found treasure.  This Charleston bit is quite interesting, though, and I remember when I was in Charleston for my honeymoon, the locals today seem pretty proud of their history with Blackbeard.

FYI-Teach was killed on November 22, 1718 by one Lieutenant Maynard (allegedly killed after at least 6 shots and 20 cuts while fighting back, until he finally fell down dead, only to be beheaded by Lieutenant Maynard and proudly displayed on the front of the sloop before heading to Virginia.


Lego Blackbeard

Pyle, Howard. “Blackbeard’s Treasure.” Boston Daily Globe (Boston, MA), Jan. 20, 1895.

Frederick, R.S. “Georgia Isle May Yield Fortune in Lost Gold.” The Washington Post (Washington, D.C), Nov. 25, 1934

Yaramanoglu, Okay, Creator. Burnbeard. Photograph on Flickr, Nov 13, 2014.

 Robert Johnson, Letter from Governor Johnson to the Council of Trade and Plantations, June 18, 1718.

The Underpinnings of the Web (Whatever that means!)


I don’t know about any of you, but reading the Digital History excerpts is like reading stereo directions…in Chinese…as a dyslexic suffering from narcolepsy…during a coffee drought. Luckily for all of us, I am a fighter. Therefore, here are my observations on this week’s readings:

Digital History

  1.  As I said above, for me this was an extremely slow read.  Through the drudges in my brain, I gather that what Cohen and Rosenweig are trying to convince me of is essentially what we discussed in class.  Knowing HTML will help me when building a website as a historian.  Why?  It will give me a sense of control that I wouldn’t get were I to utilize web design software such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage.
  2. What if the only job I can possibly get with my history degree is as a teacher or professor?  Ok, programs such as Blackboard or WebCT will basically spoon feed me the creation syllabus.  One caveat-I’ll be at the mercy of some nameless web designer’s creativity, and not be able to think outside the box while designing my course.  They also say that my students may have difficulty accessing the information.  Unheard of!  Blackboard is a saint!! (Tongue-in-cheek)
  3. Don’t get me started on graphic design.  Seriously, don’t get me started.  Literally the only thing I understood in that section was “Adobe Photoshop” and “educational discount”.
  4. Adding multimedia to my page-it can get bogged down by the file size.  The next question is streaming music/videos or downloading?  I find that in my own personal experience, if my internet takes more that 2 seconds to show me what I want to see, I’m impatiently clicking buttons and refreshing pages.  (Oh the days of logging onto Prodigy or AOL with my phone modem.  It would take at least 15 minutes for me to grow frustrated back then).  The question is, do I want people to stick around to see what my website has to offer, or do I want them to grow impatient and click over to Facebook instead?  The answer to that question will then solve my multimedia conundrum.
  5. Databases…the bane of my existence in my current HR position.  Excel documents that can narrow down any type of information imaginable.  Why would I care about this for a historical website?  For starters, when I’m presenting information, it must be accessible in several different methods-by date, by name, by type.  These keywords are helpful to me in collecting and displaying information, as well as my audience while accessing information.
  6. I’m not going to touch on which server to use, since reclaim was the server presented to us at the start of this class.
  7. My sister is a scholar.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Library Science, and a Juris Doctor Degree.  I joined the Army straight out of high school and have been getting my education in here and there over the course of the last 17 or so years.  So, my sister is a lot more knowledgeable about education and the professional world. Right as I was finishing up the payment for my domain name, my sister called on the phone.  “Guess what,” I said, “ wasn’t taken!!!”  And all I heard on the other end was silence.  Then I received a nice scholarly ‘talking to’.  More thought needs to go into choosing a domain name than what is or isn’t funny or taken.  Especially if one wants to have a respectable website where folks can go to get good information valid to a certain topic.  We discussed it a little bit in class.  Are people going to take Times New Roman more seriously than Comic Sans? Along the same lines, I’m sure people will take more seriously than  (May I just say that I spent about 40 minutes trying to figure out how to change the font of “Times New Roman” and “Comic Sans” before giving up?)
  8. Funding-I used my credit card.  In the future?  I hope to use my wit to secure funds.  (Perhaps not for

Ted Nelson and Computer Code

  • I’m intrigued by the “philosophical implications” that Ted Nelson talks about in 1965 about zip drives, databases and accessibility to information.  Must explore further…
  • Computer Code-Binary Code was written by a mathematician.  (Have you ever met a mathematician?  They’re crazy.  And you’d have to be crazy to come up with binary code.)
  • Jacquard’s Loom-My mother brought me something similar to this, it was a quick knitter that came with different ‘cards’ to tell the hooks when and how to move.  It’s fascinating to watch.
  • Ada Lovelace-a B.A woman.  (Too bad she was a mathematician-they’re crazy you know.)  Ms. Lovelace, along with Charles Babbage, took this loom idea from Jacquard and turned it into an Analytical Engine-calculating machine.  Or, at least, they designed it.  While the machine was never built, the idea was sound, and Ada Lovelace is credited as the first computer programmer and nerd extraordinaire.
  • The census guy came to our house last year because we forgot to send in our information.  What happened to our information after that?  I can tell you what didn’t happen, and that is 8 years of manual recording!  Thanks to Herman Hollerith and Jacquard’s Loom, electricity was utilized to rapidly log collected data.  This was essentially the birth of what was later to become IBM.
  • Encoding machines on tape-resulting in a machine that could perform multiple tasks (rather than only looming, computing, or data-collecting for the census).
  • The first computer was programmed in binary code and contained 128 MB of memory.  Try to sell someone a 128 MB cell phone nowadays and see if you don’t get laughed at (or stabbed if you’re in Detroit).
  • 1951-digital music on a computer.  I bet it sounded like bunk, but to those crazy kids in the 50’s I’m sure it was music to their ears.
  • 10 years later, and finally something that is useful to me.  Video games.  Thanks to a couple of guys at MIT, we now have something to do while we’re avoiding homework.
  • NASA (allegedly) used 74KB of memory to send man to the moon in 1969.  Don’t tell my mother, but I don’t believe it really happened.
  • 1975-The year my sister was born.  Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and other computer nerds in the Silicon Valley get together to share ideas.  Wozniak later builds the first Apple computer using a code called “BASIC”.
  • 1981 Britain jumps on the computer bandwagon.
  • 1984 architects start using computers to aid their workload (read: trial and error) in saving time, money and accuracy.
  • Did you know that the Stock Exchange isn’t a bunch of yelling screamers anymore?  For me, it will always be just like the scenes in the old Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd movie “Trading Places”.  Apparently now, thanks to computers and electronic trading, things can be done in “virtual market places”.  No more seeing first hand the looks on the faces of the people you ruin at the stock exchange.
  • DNA-what a breakthrough.  Suddenly 3 billion letters in the human genetic code can be deciphered, much to the chagrin of several ‘fathers’ on the Maury Povich show.
  • Did you see that commercial during the SuperBowl where Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel talk about this ‘fad’ called the internet in the early 90’s?  Hilarious.  1991-World Wide Web created.  1996-100K websites world wide.  Today-estimations of a half a billion websites, among which is, a scholarly site devoted to the knowledge and education of today’s historians.
  • Google and Facebook.  Created as school projects at Stanford and Harvard, respectively.  Now billion dollar enterprises.
  • 2008, the app store.  Thanks to those guys at MIT who invented video games and the app store, you now have something to do while waiting for your oil to be changed.

And Now for Something Completely Different

 One of the topics that I mentioned that I was interested in researching is the pirates of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  To pose a good research question:

Why was there an abundance of pirates in the Outer Banks?  What were they doing there?  Who was funding them?  Where were they taking/selling the spoils of their travels?

Thank you for sticking with me through this post.  It is long, but I hope that you found as much enjoyment reading it as I did in writing it.  And now for a completely unrelated picture of my cats, because this is the internet:


1. Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, “Digital History, A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web,” Center for History and New Media, Accessed 4 February 2015,

2. Craig Bellamy, “Ted Nelson (1965): Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate,”, Accessed 4 February 2015,

3. Piers Linney, “how the world came to be run by computer code,” BBC, Accessed 4 February 2015,

History 390

It’s nice to be taking a ‘history’ class that has a bit of a different focus.  I’m technologically disabled, so I am very much enjoying staring at all of this techno mumbo-jumbo while my eyes cross, because it is a change from the usual read/research/write/repeat process that I am used to in my history classes.  I am also looking forward to delving into the final project, simply because-again-it is a fresh change from the usual process.  I have always been interested in Colonial America, I love Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  I also love certain bits and pieces of history along the east coast, like the Outer Banks pirates and the lost colonists of Roanoke (freaky!!).  I think the third thing that I would be interested in delving into would be Canadian history.  I grew up in Michigan, and Canada was always just there.  As a kid in Detroit (long before 9/11) we would often travel over the bridge to Canada, and it was beautiful but kind of exotic to me.  I spent some time a few years back in Ottawa, and it was the first time I’d been to Canada in several years, so I was able to really enjoy the visit with an adult’s perspective.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to do too much sight seeing because I was working.  Next best thing? Research!

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