Sunday, August 26, 2012

What I Meant to Say

How many times lately have you heard politicians say that?  They utter something incredibly stupid and then backtrack with "What I meant to say was..."  Are you as sick of this as I am?

Although politicians are getting most of the attention right now because of the upcoming election, they, as we know, are not unique in their ability to stick their feet into their mouths.  Celebs do it and even ordinary people do it.  

Why do you suppose it happens so often?  Are we so anxious to have our opinion heard and so focused on getting noticed that we forget to edit what we are about to say?  Do we simply not care about the words that fall out of our mouths? What does this say about us as a society or civilization?

We state opinion as fact; we perpetuate urban legend; we insult; we wound.  We care little for what we say until it has been said.  Then, when the firestorm of indignation hits us, we backpedal.  We cover-up by restating our position, pretending that we misspoke, hoping that no one will remember what was originally said.

We've seen Twitter feuds between celebs and I have relatives who lost friends because of something posted on Facebook. We just watched this happen with Rep. Todd Akin. 

If we truly believe what we say and say it correctly so that others understand, the need to amend or correct goes away. We can stand by what we said because it is accurate and the meaning is clear.

The sad truth is that all this poison of hurt and anger could be avoided if we would just give a second thought to what we are about to say.  It is what we want to post or tweet or say really true?  Will it hurt someone unnecessarily?  Will we stand by it no matter what?  It is worth the grief or humiliation we will experience if we proceed?  Is our ego or is our brain motivating us?

Will we have to say, "What I really meant to say was...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Storm in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing scares the pants off me. It is a form of communication that is subject to trouble, big trouble.

For those of you who are unaware of "the cloud," it is a concept defined by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology as "enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." Lots of words to say that digital files are stored in a central, off-site location to be accessed by anyone from anywhere who happens to have the password.  

Frankly I don't care if a photo of me is out in the cloud.  I do care if my medical records or tax returns are.  Why? Because I have seen first hand the damage done by identity theft. Some of our clients are still trying to clean up the mess as fraudulent tax returns were filed to obtain refunds or phony prescriptions were refilled.  The cloud is too much communication.

Both the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) and the ABA (the American Bar Association) have recommended that their members not use the cloud.  The reason is security.  Over the last couple of years, the news has featured numerous stories about sensitive data being hacked.  In most cases, this data was unique to the corporation that was hacked: passwords and/or account numbers for that bank or that credit card only. The cloud is holding so much more. Gain access to a cloud server and you've hit the mother lode of information.

There are other ways to communicate necessary information that is more secure. Some of them require only an additional step or two. We sacrifice security for convenience all the time. Instant access from any location is certainly expedient but is it worth it? 

I don't know the answer to the question. I do know that my jobs have always tied me to IT in some fashion and so I know the cloud is vulnerable. The more data we place in others' hands, the more likely it can be stolen.  

Do you care?  Perhaps not.  But perhaps you should. Too much communication can be as bad as too little.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Male Stripper Memories

Some projects take a lot of time. Sorting through old snapshots is one of those.  I haven't written anything for the last week because I've been communicating with my past.

It recently occurred to me that having ten photo albums sitting in a box in the attic was a waste of space and of the pictures. Why keep them if I was never going to look at them? So down they came and I began the arduous task of going through them.

The first thing I discovered was that I had an emotional response to many of them as good or bad memories came flooding back.  The second thing I learned was that I had been pretty good about labeling.  Thankfully, I had a fair idea of who all the people were.  Third, there were a lot of duplicates, blurry images, and otherwise unnecessary pictures.  

So, over the course of the last two weeks, I sifted through my life. Five photos of a boring party with work associates I never liked went into the trash along with three of the male stripper taken at a friend's 30th birthday party. (Trust me - one was plenty. I hope that guy found another line of work.) And so it went from college through several book signings.  Some stayed, a lot didn't. The ones that made me smile I kept. The ones that made me cry, I kept. The ones that didn't do anything for me were tossed.

Do you get philosophical when you look at old photos? I sure did. For years I had trouble thinking about an old boyfriend. Now, looking at a picture of him, I know that it is a good thing that we didn't stay together. A snapshot of my childhood home reminded me how happy I was when I found out the family would be moving to a Chicago suburb. (I've loved Chicago since I was a kid.) One can't help but ponder how life would have been altered if the events in the photos had not taken place.

Eventually I achieved my goal, after whittling the collection down to about 800 pictures, and dropped them off at to be digitized.  Will I look at them when they are on my hard drive? You bet. Family photos make wonderful wallpaper that you can change as often as you like.  It's a great way to communicate with your past while enjoying and appreciating your present.