Today, we graduated with master’s degrees from the London School of Economics. What a relief it was to stand together with classmates in celebration after reaching the end of what seemed to be a very long road. It’s been many months since we completed our coursework, and many have moved on to other countries and taken jobs in various fields. It was a reminder that the most valuable thing gained in our time at LSE was the friendships and connections we made.
Before starting work, I skipped to China to visit my friends Kyle and Jamie, who live in Shanghai and run their own tour company (which is amazing – visit it). I had intended to stay there for a month, but 10 days would have to suffice and we made the most of it.
We spent several days in Shanghai and then went to Beijing to visit our friend Dave, who works in the American embassy.
Living so close to Buckingham Palace is particularly useful when one loves parades. And this country loves marching. I went down to the Mall this morning to watch Trooping the Colour, a ceremony marking the Queen’s official birthday. It was a fascinating event. It’s easy to forget that the participants in this parade are all active soldiers in the British Army. Most have served, or will soon serve, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here’s a better explanation from the monarchy’s website:
Although The Queen was born on 21 April, it has long been the tradition to celebrate the Sovereign’s birthday publicly on a day in the summer, when good weather is more likely. Trooping the Colour is carried out by fully trained and operational troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, watched by members of the Royal Family, invited guests and members of the public. Read more →
If your password is a word, you’ve got a problem. Yes, even if you replaced some of the letters with numbers. Mother’s maiden name as a “secret question”? Not so secret. We’ve all read the stories of celebrities, politicians and simple folk that had their accounts hacked and their dirty underwear thrown all over the press. They were all shocked to hear that someone didn’t “hack” the system, they just guessed their password. Vindictive exes? Snooping spouses? Passwords on paper? Probably the biggest threats to your accounts…not hackers.
Facebook and Google and Yahoo and Microsoft can have the best encryption and security protocols in the world, but that doesn’t mean anything if your password is “shinyobjects321″. It may be easy for you to remember, but it’s also easy to guess. And, chances are, you use it for every account you have. Sound familiar?
So, please, do these three simple things and feel much safer about the security of your accounts.
A few years ago, a friend and I read an article in the New York Times challenging readers to take a “digital vacation” away from their communications devices. If you’re anything like most Americans today, you’re glued to at least a cell phone, but probably quite more, like a smartphone or iPad. Permanently connected and infinitely accessible, we’re tethered to networks that bring use closer to friends, family and strangers despite barriers of distance or social obligation. For many of us, we marvel at the possibilities and appreciate the moments that connect us with those whom we treasure most. Increasingly, though, and for many that are tethered to the workplace by Blackberry and email, it’s really just a pain.
Dave and I were terribly unsuccessful in our attempts to eliminate communications devices from our lives every Sunday, lasting only a month before just giving up. Oddly, it wasn’t because we needed to reach out to others, it was because we felt the pressure to be plugged in was simply too great. We were missing out on something, we were sure of it. What if friends wanted to go out? What if there was a breaking news story that we weren’t even remotely involved in but obviously HAD to know about? Were we letting friends down by not being available all the time? I think we were pretty surprised at the feelings raised by this challenge.
The world today was rocked by the sensational revelation that the iPhone is tracking our whereabouts and storing the coordinates in a file on its operating system. I found this terribly fascinating, unlike most of the population. Sure, there are privacy concerns and Apple needs to explain why it is they’ve been storing this information to begin with, but is it really a surprise? Unless it comes out that this information was being transmitted outside the phone, I would hope that most iPhone users greet this news with cautious interest and take a moment to load their location information into the iPhone Tracker software the researchers that released this news have developed.
I suppose I’m a bit used to this, though. Google Latitude, an app in my browser and iPhone, has been tracking my location since it was released. I’ve enabled it and disabled periodically, but it has a rather detailed history of my precise movements since June 2010 (yet another reason I use two-step verification on my Google account). It’s not public, and I don’t broadcast it. My immediate family uses it and that’s it – my Mom calls it her Weasley Clock, after the magical device from the Harry Potter series. Read more →
I was asked to photograph the fourth and final party of the LSE Students’ Union Postgraduate Assembly last night. It was held in LSE’s Quad, a café and meeting place by day and club by night. There was a great showing and a masterful set by one of LSE’s own postgrad DJs, Ted Giletti.
Click on an image below to view a sampling of the photos. Read more →
I thought I had finished my time in student government at American, but I found myself thrust back into the mix last month with a friend’s campaign for the LSE Students’ Union top spot. We only had a few days to put together the whole campaign, but it was a good exercise to brush off the online advocacy tools. I took the theme from this site, which I was working on at the same time, threw in some social features and reworked some of the code to display his platform.
The campaign is only one week with enormous limits on funding. This was the first year that websites were allowed, and I think I spent more time fielding questions about the site than actually building it. We had fun, and I was happy to help out a good friend that will surely go on to big things.
Here are some examples of the photography I used and some snaps from the site itself. It was hosted at danielkroop.com
Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited LSE last night to discuss the State Department’s implementation of “21st Century Statecraft“, a relatively new initiative to better integrate “innovation” (read: the internet, social media, etc.) into American foreign policy and examine policies concerning the same. His lecture was concise and generally explained the principles they have adopted, strongly urged by Clinton’s own dedication to the subject. I admire the entire department’s work and am thrilled the secretary has spent so much time talking about issues like internet freedom.
I asked Mr. Ross about the State Department’s funding of internet censor busting technologies given the secretary’s speech in February and the recent (rather idle) threat from some members of Congress to take it away.
In her first major speech on the subject last January, Secretary Clinton warned, “nations that censor the internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote internet freedom” and subsequently backed that up with $30 million in grant funding provided by Congress. The available grants, ranging from $500,000 to $8 million, have been slowly awarded to projects that enable activists and citizens around the world to circumvent censorship technologies like the Tor Project. Training and education programs are also funded.