Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cliff Stoll's Hacker

I recently finished reading the book "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Cliff Stoll. I found it interesting how he was constantly trying to get help from government agencies throughout the entire story and they all refused to help. He was chasing the hacker by himself even though many of the "three letter agencies" wanted him to shut it down and forget about it. He was driven by his own curiosity and sense of justice. It consumed almost an entire year of his life yet he kept going without outside support until he finally caught the hacker. Sometimes I wish I had that sort of self motivation and drive in the things I do.

Another thing I found interesting was how many ignorant systems managers there were in charge of sensitive information. All the hacker had to do to get into many systems was use the default user name and password that came with the machine and then create an account for himself. You'd think the systems managers would know enough to at least change those default passwords.

I had never heard of Cliff Stoll or the hacker Markus Hess before reading this book but I thought his story was very interesting. Hacking is an invasion of privacy and a form of thievary and it was very surprising to me that very few agencies wanted to do anything about the hacker when Cliff Stoll told them about his situation.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Family History Work

All of the great innovations of the last few centuries have been inspired by the Lord to facilitate the growth of His latter-day work. One of the greatest of the latter-day works revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the salvation of our ancestors in temples. Family history research has become an enormous endeavor with billions of names, dates, and statistics found and recorded. What better use of computers and networks than to greatly simplify this undertaking and fulfill the commandment of God to search out our ancestors? God has provided us with the needed tools and we should take full advantage of them in forwarding His work.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Technology and the LDS Church

Since the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its leaders have taught that improvements in medicine, transportation, communication, and other facets of our lives are blessings from God that help to advance His work. Particularly of note is the use of the computer and the internet to spread the gospel message and disperse information at an incredible rate. Others include television and satellite used to broadcast conferences and other meetings of the Church to every corner of the earth. The printing press has made scriptures and other texts of the Church available to all of its members. I agree with the leaders of the Church that all of these technological advancements are direct blessings from God and that we should use them to forward his work.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It is Worse to Be Wrong than to Be Irresolute

William Strunk Jr. "felt it was worse to be irresolute than to be wrong." While it is important to be bold and firm in one's beliefs, it is far more important to be correct. Resolution just magnifies the error. In general people are greatly influenced by rhetoric but should be more concerned with what is said rather than how it is said. I do not hold this view because I cannot express myself very well in writing or speech, but because I truely believe to be right is better than to be able to sway people with fancy rhetoric and be wrong.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Software Theft

In an article from last year (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/23/technology/23oracle.html?_r=1&oref=slogin) software company Oracle claimed that its main competitor SAP had stolen copyrighted software and confidential information by hacking into their computer systems. Breaking into computers that you have no right accessing, or hacking, is a very serious crime. As millions of dollars worth of information or even currency may be stolen, it should be treated no less severely than any grand theft. Since the invention of computers and networks hacking has always been a problem. Everything from advancements in computer security to punishments carried out by law should be done to prevent hacking in the future.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Technology and Change

Advances in technology that allow faster and more convenient transfer of information is, for the most part, a good thing. Of course, as with any invention, those whose intentions are evil will find ways to abuse those technological tools. However, I disagree with many of the things that Neil Postman spoke about in Denver, Colorado on March 27, 1998 regarding the negativity of the advancement of technology. While it is true that there are those who misuse it, that does not mean that the technology is a bad thing in and of itself, but rather it makes apparent a problem that has always existed in the world. In general, the advantages of progress in knowledge and technology far outweight any minor disadvantages that may occur and mankind should always seek to learn and do more.