Mar 07

Going Off Grid

It’s your birthday.

Your daughter has gotten you glasses, the wearable-tech kind.

It's your birthday.

Always befuddled by technology, you gawk as your daughter runs through the pairing of devices, installation of apps and general operation.

She explains, “This eyewear connects your physical world with the virtual world. They can overlay a map of your location, respond to movement and record what you see while relaying data to …”, earnestly, you interrupt, “Yes, darling, fascinating, but what am I going to *do* with them? You know, I still can’t fathom the wireless comm interface you installed last month.”

“Please, Dad, this is important. Let’s just start by …”

Cuh-raash! Bah-aang!

Security force

The front door to your home is blown of the hinges.

Through the smoke come security forces that take hold of your daughter and march her away.

You chase them and get tased for your efforts. Later regaining consciousness, you see there’s an envelope on the floor in front of you. “This is a national security letter. You are prohibited from saying anything about today’s events. We will be in touch within the next 90 days.”

The clock starts.

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Mar 29

Digital Democracy

The cusp of digital evolution, freedom and neighbourhood

Our cities, workspaces and homes are seeing an unprecedented influx of technology. The intelligent connectivity between sensors, devices and individuals is re-modelling our landscape. Some trust in the technology and fearlessly envision a future re-invented, all of society’s woes addressed. Then there are others, more cautious, keen for technology to flourish, but with hold of the reins, not allowing it to run unbridled.

But how tightly should the reins be held? And who should be holding them anyway?

Last week, non-profit digital think-tank Cybersalon, represented by Eva Pascoe among others, held a public event in the House of Commons debating digital citizenship, democracy, privacy and security; regulating the common interest of digital rights, education and commons—the digital public space—was at the forefront.

Having met with Pascoe some weeks previously, I had the opportunity to ask her about the evolving digital world, or neighbourhood as Pascoe refers to it, and what it means to live in the modern digital environment. We also spoke about the physicality of technology as an impediment to adoption, as well as touching upon location based technology and the unnecessary desire of some companies to collect masses of irrelevant data. Gaming came up too, and in particular, women’s role as not only gamers, but creators too.

Digital citizenship

In the following video, she cites Andy Cameron as a considerable influence. Cameron lived digital media and among many things co-founded the University of Westminster‘s Hypermedia Research Centre. Cameron and Richard Barbrook wrote The Californian Ideology, which has been described as a critique of the neo-liberal politics of Wired magazine. Pascoe refers to Cameron telling her that, “A digital community will only work if it is treated as a physical community.” As Pascoe says herself in this clip, “If we were in the same room, we would just have one big discussion and settle it.”

In a reference to the Hong Kong demonstrations of 2014, Pascoe points out that we need to see the protestors as neighbours in a physical world, as well as a digital one, “… digital space does shrink distance … behaviour online needs to be executed in the same way that we would treat our physical neighbour.” She goes on to talk about the need to mature, “… assuming that you can behave differently in cyberspace has probably outlived its usefulness, so we need to manoeuvre forward and negotiate digital citizenship in a different way.”

 

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Oct 22

Baghdad Bound for Hollywood

A life-changing journey from Kuwait City to Baghdad, and then onto the silver screen.

CAIRO: It’s 2003. The advent of the Iraqi war is being predicted by political and military advisors everywhere. The atmosphere in Kuwait is unsettling. Many citizens and residents are still scared from the Iraqi invasion in 1991 and aren’t taking chances. People can’t leave quickly enough.

It is this setting that awaits Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, a field translator for the Los Angeles Times. On March 21 2003, the start of the war, he and his team crossed the border into Iraq, “We entered from Safwan in the south. Two days later we were ambushed by Iraqi militia and had no choice but to escape back to Kuwait. To get back in, we were going to join dozens of journalists on buses to cover a food aid distribution organized by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent. Then our partner ‘Mark’ showed up in 4×4 dressed in a full U.S. military uniform that he had used to cross the border.” Fahmy told The Daily Star Egypt.

Interpreters are an integral part of life in a war-torn Iraq

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Jul 03

Advanced Targeted Attacks, ATAs

aka Canada’s a target for cyber attack

 

An advanced persistent threat (APT), also referred to as an advanced targeted attack (ATA), is an Internet-enabled hazard typically coming from a well organised collective of individuals.

It is advanced because the operators, the people, responsible for the threat are particularly capable at gathering intelligence with a variety of means, sometimes including, but not limited to, the Internet, telecommunications and satellite.

It is persistent as a key goal of such an attack is to maintain continuous access to the target stealthy, in essence being as invisible as possible.

And threat? This points to the ability, intent, motivation and coordinated actions of the people behind the attack.

This week, network security company Fortinet put out a white paper called Threats on the Horizon: Canada and the Advanced Target Attack. The paper highlights the desirability of Canadian companies and organisations as targets for cyber attack. The reasons are clear and plentiful.

I had the opportunity to meet Fortinet’s Security Strategist Richard Henderson in the company’s FortiGuard Threat Research & Response Labs in Burnaby, BC. We spoke about Canada as a target of cyber attacks, the sophistication of the attacks being perpetrated and what individuals can do to protect themselves and the places they work.

Richard Henderson’s job is about being observant and watching what happens online, good and bad:

“As a security strategist, a big part of my job is keeping on top of everything that’s happening on the internet … and especially [the] bad. Threat events, online attacks and trends in security.”

Education is important

“I believe education is one of the most important things … [showing] how people can protect themselves. I blog about this, chat with users and customers, about how to spot bad things that are happening on their computers—and how to react accordingly.”

For as long as Henderson remembers, he’s always been a, “computer guy,” and after university he did some technical software development writing, and seeing as computer security had always been a  hobby of his, he soon found himself at Fortinet where he began managing the documentation team, and then moved on to his current role as security strategist.

To see Henderson’s explanation of what an ATA is and also talk about the history of cyber attacks, please see sciwae.com.

Below is Henderson talking about when Canada became as much a target as any other country for cyber attacks:

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May 30

One Vegan, Two Vegan, Three Vegan, Four

aka #TeamShorkey

Four ladies, known for being entrepreneurial, good looking and making sound lifestyle choices, plan to set off on a 2500 km road trip into, and hopefully back out of, Northern British Columbia.

These ladies are Bridget Burns, Jen Boyle, Jessica Grajczyk and Samantha Shorkey.

Their goal?

They hope to show people that vegans are not the emaciated, malnourished misfits often depicted in mainstream media.

How?

Well, they’ll drive around with amusing bumper stickers, make stops to see vegan chums on their travels and probably wave their fingers at the many despicable non-vegan acts they’ll witness en route.

Oh … and, yes, one of them might also make time to compete in the Northern Classic Bodybuilding and Fitness Show. Yes, bodybuilding. Yeah, I don’t know how either.

Upon hearing this, I needed help connecting the meat-laden dots in my mind and wanted to understand how somebody on a vegan diet could possibly compete in a body building competition.

Shorkey has been training for this competition since last fall, has the tremendous support of her closest friends and is being sponsored by Vega Sport (a complete, all natural, plant-based sport performance system, who knew?!?).

I recently had the good fortune to meet Shorkey and ask her about the training, the food and the friends.

Salsa Sam

Shorkey’s road trip buddies have a site called The Vegan Project, “It was started a few years ago by my good pals Bridget, Jen and Jessica. The VP girls showed me all kinds of amazing recipes, and I became Salsa Sam, as one of my favourite specialties is fresh salsa.” Says Shorkey, who’s glad to have had their help making the transition from vegetarian to vegan, and credits them for the change.

Accompanying the four ladies on this journey will be a selection of sports supplements from their sponsor, Vega. Here, she talks about the prep so far:

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Feb 16

Aikikai to Aikido

Eighth Dan Aikido Shihan Visits Vancouver

On a yearly visit from Fukuoka Japan, Shihan Morito Suganuma came to Trout Lake Community Centre in East Vancouver to teach and test students over a three day open to the public.

Tamami Nakashimada Sensei and Shinobu Matsuoka Sensei oversaw the event.

Shihan Suganuma trained under the founder of aikido—ŌSensei Morihei Ueshiba.

Aikikai is the founding school of aikido. Over many years, ŌSensei Ueshiba implemented changes to the art of Aikikai, ultimately resulting in aikido.

Aikido stands out from other martial arts via its de-emphasis of striking techniques. The art is performed by unifying the movement and momentum of the attacker with your own. Essentially, the goal is to manipulate and redirect the force of the attack without resisting it.

The following clip sees Aikidoist Jojo La Rosa, 2nd dan, at last year’s seminar, defending himself from an attacker.

Shohei Juku Canada (formerly Pacific Aikido Kensankai) represents the Canadian branch of Shihan Suganuma’s organization which is based in Fukuoka, Japan. In addition to offering Aikido classes to all levels of interested students, the dojo hosts a yearly seminar with Shihan Suganuma in Vancouver.

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