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The Actuator – March 20th

Level 17

In sunny Redmond this week for the annual Microsoft MVP Summit. This is my 10th Summit and I’m just as excited for this one as if it was my first.

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

Massive Admissions Scandal

Having worked in higher education for a handful of years, none of this information is shocking to me. The most shocking part is that any official investigation was done, and indictments handed down. I truly hope this marks a turning point for our college education system.

Philadelphia just banned cashless stores. Will other cities follow?

One of the key benefits touted by cryptocurrency advocates is “access for everyone.” Well, the City of Brotherly Love disagrees with that viewpoint. The poor have cash, but not phones. Good for Philly to take a stand and make certain stores remain available to everyone.

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

A bad server configuration? That’s the explanation? Hey, Facebook, if you need help tracking server configurations, let me know. I can help you be back up and running in less than 15 hours.

Your old router is an absolute goldmine for troublesome hackers

Included for those that need reminding, don’t use the default settings for the hardware you buy off the shelf (or the internet). I don’t understand why there isn’t a default standard setup that forces a user to choose a new password, seems like an easy step to help end users stay safe.

Why CAPTCHAs have gotten so difficult

Because computers are getting better at pretending to be human. You would think that computers would also be better at recognizing a robot when they see one, and not bother me with trying to pick out all the images that contain a signpost or whatever silly thing CAPTCHAs  are doing this week.

The Need for Post-Capitalism

Buried deep in this post is the comment about a future currency based upon social capital. You may recall that China is currently using such a system. Last week, I thought that was crazy. This week, I think that maybe China is cutting edge, and trying to help get humanity to a better place.

The World Wide Web at 30: We got the free and open internet we deserve

“We were promised instant access to the whole of humanity's knowledge. What we got was fake news in our Facebook feeds.” Yep, that about sums up 30 years of the web.

Ever feel as if you are the dumbest person in the room? That's me at MVP Summit for 4 days:

MVP-badge.JPG

33 Comments
Level 14

Thanks for the links.  The post capitalism article scares the hell out of me. 

"People don’t need money; they need to feel valued. People don’t need payment; they need respect. And people don’t need handouts; they need to earn their way."

I disagree wholeheartedly...what people "need" is to stop deciding what other people need. 

Level 13

Thanks

The admissions scandal was very disappointing to hear.  I suspected this was always the case, but now that there's proof . . .   People will only better hide their attempts to cheat.

Banning cash?  Probably not constitutional, I'd say.  The US Treasury guarantees that cash is acceptable.  Every dollar bill says "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private".  How will Philadelphia get around that?

I suspect they don't have a clue about the scope of electronic fraud and money laundering that electronic funds bring.

Facebook outages sending users elsewhere? 

  1. The reason for going elsewhere should primarily be security concerns, and secondarily reliable and ubiquitous access.
  2. Prove the alternative vendors' solutions are more secure and more reliable than FB and you've got something worth looking into.

Although it's inconvenient, my organization clears all configurations on equipment before recycling it.  This includes removing and physically shredding hard drives and memory that could store configs.  It's not cheap, but it's the right thing to do.

MVP
MVP

Nice

I've spent more time trying to prove to Captcha that I'm NOT a robot than I've actually used some of the sites it protects.  It's a poor solution and should be discarded in favor of something more reliable and fast.

Ron Funches put his finger right on the robot/Captcha issue here in this standup comedy bit:

Ron Funches - I'm Not A Robot - Comedy Works - YouTube

I'll kindly point out how using social capital is NOT working well for China.  They reportedly restrict / prevent travel to anyone whose politics varies from the party line.  "Oh, you want to take the train or plane somewhere? Sorry, we don't like what you posted online yesterday.  You're not allowed to use public transportation.  EVER."

China Will Block Travel for Those With Bad ‘Social Credit’ | Fortune

China social credit system, punishments and rewards explained - Business Insider

China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains - The Verge

If you are a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard addressed the problems of creating social capital and using it to judge a person's value and punishing them for their family history or speech or opinions in this clip from The Drumhead"

Captain Picard's speech (The Drumhead) - YouTube

Let's never go to Social Capital if it means what China's doing to its people's freedoms.

I agree with your assessment of WWW 3.0.  When the vast majority of the web is used to spread access to socially unacceptable things, it's really a disappointment.  So much for the bright new world.

MVP
MVP

Ever feel as if you are the dumbest person in the room? That's me at MVP Summit for 4 days:

Level 14

sqlrockstar​ on your Summit observation.... I prefer the term "Craniumly Challenged" !!! (it's what I use)  

Level 14

The whole admissions scandal thing just really kills me. This just is insane.... the depths to which some people go to "always win"...

The photoshopping of faces for "athletic" scholarships is just mind blowing....

Hey parents.... great role model you are!

Just when you think you've heard it all.

Level 13

Thanks for another great batch of interesting and thought provoking links.  Have a great time at MVP Summit. 

As for this corruption with the higher education admissions what I find most interesting is that many people believe is that its over. Too much $$$ involved and too much motivation combined with opportunity.

As long as cash is paper and coin stores will have to accept it as is. If, one day.. and I hope that I am not alive for it, cash is virtual then we can wave devices at sensors to pay for goods and services.

Level 12

So D. Miessler's idea of post-capitalism is Ready-Player-One?

MVP
MVP

I guess we will have to start referring to sqlrockstar​ as Mr. MVP

Level 13

Sweet.... Nice

MVP
MVP

Free internet..probably after we get the flying cars we were promised.

Level 12

The primary way to get around it, is to have the customer pay in advance.  Then you are working on a credit and you are not in debt.

If you eat first, then pay, they are required to accept cash.

The tricky part is if you agreed, in advance, on the method of payment.  Such as, the server specifically tells you, "we don't accept cash", and you agree.  Now what takes precedence, the verbal agreement, or the "legal tender for all debts".

MVP
MVP

Massive Admissions Scandal

MVP
MVP

It's amazing how people will accept so many things that people can go without as needed, but let Facebook fail and some people just loose it.

Level 13

I think I'd vote on cashless stores by not shopping there.  We have a place near us that is exactly the opposite.  Cash only.  Kind of refreshing, and the prices are great because they don't have all those friction costs that the card merchants hit them up for.  They are also so busy there is usually at least a 30 min wait.

Level 16

Facebook's outage was inevitable, same as any cloud service as well.

Level 16

I rarely see anyone using cash these days and feel safer not carrying it.

Level 20

Thomas has had MVP for like 10 years in a row or something Jfrazier​  I think he has like some little tower thing that has one ring for each year he's been an MVP o.O!

MVP
MVP

ecklerwr1​, in addition to the tower of rings there is the multiple coat hooks with badges/lanyards hanging from them.

But I figured he deserved an official Honorific.

MVP
MVP

Philadelphia just banned cashless stores. Will other cities follow? - Perfect, it shouldn't be a mandate to go cashless and people should have an option to pay the way they want (be it cash or cashless)

Level 14

Higher education thought...

Remember when you went to college for 4 years and graduated..... (The term always was " A 4 year degree")

A few years back when my son was going to school as a freshman, my wife and I asked what the graduation rate was for students finishing in 4 years ( as I am picking up the tab... important to know... we got the blank stare, then " I will get that info to you... "... Answer was about 56%). Sadly... I have found out that most kids now are on the 5 year plan...

My point... higher education is now about money... the longer they stay the more you have to pay....

Level 16

My kids university also offered summer classes at a much discounted rate. If you played your cards right you could graduate in three years and save some time/money. She did study abroad during the summer so it was still a bit of a summer vacation mixed in.

In the end I think the travel costs offset the 4th year of schooling as she was able to finish in three.    

Level 12

The Orville did an episode on the whole social capital thing. It was quite amusing, and fairly disturbing as well. Everyone walked around with a badge that had a number on it which was your social score, and an up and down arrow. People could tap your up or down button to vote you up or down in person, and online. If your score went to low you would go to court which was aired like a reality tv show. If your offence was bad enough and you were found guilty, basically a popularity contest, you would get sent to be "Social Correction" basically being electronically mind wiped or lobotomized.

"The Orville" Majority Rule (TV Episode 2017) - IMDb

Level 12

Constitutional may not quite be the right word in this case.  Emphasis added below is mine, as I found that quite interesting.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_tender#United_States

On the other hand, coins made of gold or silver may not necessarily be legal tender, if they are not fiat money in the jurisdiction where they are proffered as payment. The Coinage Act of 1965 states (in part):

United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.

— 31 U.S.C. § 5103

Contrary to common misconception,[38] there is no federal law stating that a private business, a person, or a government organization must accept currency or coins for payment. Private businesses are free to create their own policies on whether they accept cash, unless there is a specific state law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in cents or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores, and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency as a matter of policy or safety.[3][4]

The principal purpose of that statute is to ensure the nationwide acceptance of U.S. currency, consistent with constitutional language that reserves to Congress the power to create a uniform currency that holds the same value throughout the United States. While the statute provides that U.S. money is legal tender that may be accepted for the payment of debts, it does not require acceptance of cash payments, nor does it provide that restrictions cannot be imposed upon the acceptance of cash.[39]

Level 12

The more time that passes since the admission scandal, and the more we learn about it, the more shocked I am that Hollywood people are clueless enough to think that whatever they do must be above board by virtue of their doing it.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.