(re)Focused

So lately I’ve been thinking: How do I start collecting all this ‘helpful’ information I’ve alluded to?

The answer lies in the underlying reasons behind my choice to (re)pursue a blog. There are two:

First, I recognize that I see things differently. Realistically, there are plenty of like-minded people who share my thought processes and open-mindedness, but our paths have yet to cross. At least in the right way…

Second, I will be successful. I want to help people like myself in any way possible, and in turn help myself.

I don’t exactly where to go from this point either, but I can guarantee I’ll eventually be somewhere. I know no better way to help others than by personal experience. So as I collect my thoughts and start the gears turning on this whole entrepreneur thing, I want to share every thought process along the way.

I’ve identified the most immediate hurdles as brainstorming and idea development. The plan is to learn everything from the ground up.

I’m glad to have finally narrowed it down to just this skill set. I should hopefully now be able to improve the frequency and relevance of my posts.

Business, a Remedy for Collegiate Confusion?

Studying for a marketing exam prompted me to pass along a piece of advice I would find helpful had I not already declared a minor.

If you find yourself questioning your major, minor, or any of the serious, life-changing decisions a college student must make on a regular basis, I encourage you to not only consider taking, but to enroll in, at least one business course.

Business majors are no doubt victim to some of the more severe stereotyping known to accompany a field of study. A degree in business carries with it a set of negative connotations. As a result, strangers may be quick to make assumptions about you as a person, or more specifically, your work ethic.

This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. But, after just two years attending a university with a top ten business school, I’ve seen nearly every stereotype validated more times than I can count. Fortunately, if you heed my advice, only a few will apply to you.

Whether a senior in high school, an incoming freshman, a fifth-year, or anything in-between, a deeper understanding of business is never a bad thing. The decision to declare myself a business minor has (so far) proved equally as rewarding as the decision to pursue a BS in computer science, if not more.

For students positive they want to pursue a career solely in entrepreneurship, a (full) business degree is a no-brainer.

For the rest of us, the benefits of a business minor might not be immediately obvious.

Let me clarify that I’m not encouraging anyone to declare themselves a business major. Rather, I’m encouraging all who have found their respective field of study, yet refuse to eliminate the possibility of an entrepreneurial career, to take at least one business course.

Take anything. Be it a 100-level introductory course or something more specific like accounting or marketing. It really doesn’t matter as long as the door to business remains open.

In the end, if you decide to declare yourself a business minor, congrats! I can’t think of a better way for an aspiring entrepreneur to improve him/herself than in this very manner. While rudimentary when compared to their “major” counterparts, courses designed specifically for business minors (a.k.a. non-business majors) divulge a wealth of general business knowledge essential to every beginning entrepreneurs arsenal.

Having completed just three of the required courses for my business minor, I’m already unable to find a reason not to recommend them to everyone I see.

Find a career path where a deeper understanding of accountingbusiness law, and marketing is entirely useless and throw it in a comment below.

Opposition welcomed.

 

Featured Image: Market Photo By [Miroslav Petrasko Link to Flickr]

After 30 Days of WordPress, Learn HTML

Who’d have thought the customization aspect of WordPress.com (yes, the FREE one) could be so… addicting.

I can barely make time for school, let alone a decent post, after applying this new theme. And to think I simply implied the extent of customization from the word ‘free.’ I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

On the exterior, WordPress.com looks relatively simple. At a glance, the Dashboard can even appear entirely blog-oriented. But, what I failed to understand until recently, is that every basic element of a website is present (to some degree) and accessible to the novice blogger.

This is news to me.

The elements of a free WordPress blog are themselves very simple. It’s clear that WordPress.com aims to make starting and maintaining your first blog an effortless experience. And effortless it is!

To my knowledge, a blogger can go from concept to their first published post within minutes; truly an awesome service.

What remains unclear to the first time blogger is the ability to combine these elements as they increase in number. Combining Posts, Pages, Links, Menus, and Widgets, with a tad of basic HTML, to create more than just the average blog, requires a better understanding of the role each must play.

Experimentation led me to discover several ways of creatively combining elements to achieve desired effects. Most notably, I found the ability to add additional HTML code, to nearly any text, useful in making subtle, yet distinctive changes in my blogs appearance.

However joyful the discovery, it has only fueled my desire to self-host. WordPress.org is incredibly attractive. The ability to edit fonts and the color palette, two aspects that play such an instrumental role in overall appearance that you must pay for them separately, is undoubtedly the biggest drawback to a free WordPress.com blog.

All of this my opinion, of course.

Summary: Learn the basics of HTML. It’s almost too easy to comprehend and, most importantly, you’ll have no excuse for an ugly blog.

 

Featured Image: 10 buenas practicas para escribir código HTML Photo By [infocux Technologies Link to Flickr]

I Am My Career

I patiently await the day when I feel utterly grateful that I’ve been prescribed some form of attention deficit medicine for over ten years. What began as a means of self-control in grade school quickly evolved into a necessity of life.

Society says I’m unable to fulfill my role in it without supplementary medication because my brain works a little different from the majority. I have far more trouble applying myself in certain situations than most of my peers. In fact, there are countless activities that will harness my concentration for hours on end without the help of any medicine. Unfortunately, the most gratifying activities for a person with ADD or ADHD are often deemed insignificant because they fail to comply with those of peers.

Big names like Adderall, Vyvance, and Ritalin are changing the way students learn forever. As a result, an alarming number of patients have, and will, develop a life long dependency on a stimulant.

Each year a growing number of students across the country are put on some form of attention deficit medication. Some truly suffer from the disorder and some do not. And sure, it improves concentration (even in the absence of a diagnosis), and literally grants the ability to do schoolwork in severe cases, but it also ignores the root of the problem.

Children today grow up in a world vastly different from that even of an older sibling. Generational differences are at an all time high; just look at the astounding growth in the approval rate of marijuana between the baby boomers and following generations. People themselves are changing and the world stands by, too stubborn to evolve.

We should reevaluate whether an induced dependence in children is the correct way to ensure success in the long run.

ADD medications have undoubtedly helped millions of children learn the basic building blocks required for civilized life. Almost every concept taught up to high school is considered somewhat essential to development. Thus, a supplement that enables an otherwise difficult concept to be grasped and understood, is priceless; and I’m in full support of utilizing medication for this reason.

What I don’t necessarily agree with is the use of the same medications for students beyond high school. A college student should not require a copious amount of stimulants to avoid failing at something.

Forget the millions of college students that abuse prescription stimulants on a daily basis and focus on the segment with a true deficiency.

The chance that any given student could continue down their respective path, at the same rate, without a supplemental drug, is likely low. It’s even less likely if a student’s been prescribed for the majority of his or her life.

Picture a student who’s spent the last ten years relying on a pill to make possible the work required of him each day at school. During this time, he’s gradually learned that his favorite activities, the most gratifying and rewarding hobbies, are entirely useless in adult (real) life. Worse yet, the most boring and uninteresting seem to be those mandatory for the rest of his life.

Like the student, everyday tasks to which I’m able to devote thought and energy, without medication, are my greatest passions; while those that I find particularly useless, or having no immediate value, are seemingly impossible when sober. I have no problem spending all day, everyday studying and learning about the subjects that naturally spark my interest.

It’s these fields that will prevent me from ever working a day in my life.

please add me to your facebook friends list Photo By [naive art https://www.flickr.com/photos/naive_art/7300973284/in/photolist-]

‘please add me to your facebook friends list’ Photo By [naive art https://www.flickr.com/photos/naive_art/7300973284/in/photolist-%5D

When a child, attention deficit disorder or not, enters adulthood without a strong tie between passion and career, the likelihood of that individual ever reaching a self-actualized state is slim. Self-actualization is often disregarded as it was largely considered a pretense by preceding generations.

For legitimate cases of attention deficit disorder the above concept is the key to a rewarding, fulfilling, and ultimately successful life. We are often taught to focus less on what interests us most and more on what interests us the least.

The only hope rests in the education system. Society won’t budge until the very core of people themselves change. Until that day, we’re stuck in a world where you’re forced to discover life’s other doors on your own. Society has provided for us a path and, should you choose not to follow down this path with the rest of humanity, face a world of difficulty.

Unless you’re one of the rare few who find absolute self-fulfillment in their field of study, true happiness lies outside the norm.

Leave the path you’ve prepared for since birth and you’re forced to decide what really matters to you. Gone are the support structures that provided you a reason for being and a sense of purpose. Take everything away, focus solely on yourself, and your true passions come to light. All too often we grow up relying too heavily on external structures for support rather than ourselves. Remove them and you may find that your life is rather dull or lacking.

It’s no doubt easier to take the road “more” traveled. The rest of the world agrees. But, find someone who diverged and pursued themselves… that’s when you learn what your life is about. That’s what I’m going to do. Create me, not my career. I am my career.

 

Featured Image: Adderall is the only way to study Photo By [Quinn Dombrowski Link to Flickr]

I’m Lovin It

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and write something worthwhile. The past week was nothing but tests and homework leaving me little time to do anything extracurricular.

I’m trying a new theme and will hopefully find a good way of organizing content here in the next week. I want to continue blogging as normal, but I’m looking for a way to separate my somewhat personal blog and the information that I plan to gather.

So far I’m thinking most of the navigation should be centered towards finding major articles and subjects rather than a live blog feed. As a result, I’m in the process of switching several posts to pages. I’m thinking the more informational pieces will be on pages rather than posts.

I’m still pretty new to customizing WordPress.com to the fullest extent, but I’ve really been considering going self-hosted just so I have full CSS control. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to layout and design, and would rather have complete aesthetic control over the way content is arranged.

However, I think I’ll hold off a while longer just to see if there’s enough promise in this before making a larger commitment. After all, I’ve just now been back for a month.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get back to publishing at a normal rate. I’ll continue to tweak the site for some time until I get it right, but don’t be surprised if WordPress.org woos me away.

Any random advice for balancing an informational and semi-personal blog?

 

Featured Image: An Open Invitation Photo By [Quinn Mattingly Link to Flickr]

Reigning Security Exploits of 2014

Come On People

Until recently, I wasn’t aware that I’m one of the few who consistently maintains an updated computer. I thought it was a no-brainer. You’re notified by Windows Update or the App Store and after clicking some variation of ‘Update,’ TA-DA! You’re done!

It really couldn’t get any easier, right? If you take into account the period of time the computer itself is unusable, maybe you’ll find an argument against updating somewhere. But really, who can’t find 20 minutes every 3-4 months to, at the very least, install updates to the core OS and maybe even some major apps?

I can’t say for sure, but probably the majority young people. It’s astonishing how many college students will go a year or more without as much as one update. If this was 2001 that attitude wouldn’t pose a problem. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re on the brink of a cybercrime wave the magnitude of which is reasonably unknown.

Protect Yourself

If there’s one single reason you should consistently update your personal computer, it’s the previous statement. At this point, almost everyone is aware of the wave of breaches in credit-card information databases at massive retailers like Target or The Home Depot. What most ignore, especially those that grew up with technology, is the danger posed to individuals in addition to multi-billion dollar companies.

90% of core system updates patch critical security flaws. The number of major security exploits has grown steadily in the past year alone and will probably only increase for as long as we live. Here I’ve listed the two crown jewels of 2014. If you haven’t heard of them there’s a good chance you might benefit from a quick update or two..

 

1. Heartbleed

heartbleed

“The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.”

Hopefully you learned about Heartbleed when it made the news earlier this year. It was the first real security exploit that affected nearly everyone who used the internet and caused quite a disturbance in the days before it was patched.

If it’s been more than six months since you’ve installed updates, it’s highly likely that you’ve missed a multitude of patches from manufacturers correcting for the exploit in their respective programs.

Even though you may feel you aren’t of interest to a ‘hacker,’ wouldn’t you rather not find out?

heartbleed.com

2. Shellshock

Shellshock is a more recent exploit rumored that’s to pose a far larger threat than Heartbleed. I neglected looking into the details of the exploit this time around and opted to just look into the status of a patch for my OS. Multiple updates were already being released as early as the very next day. Here’s an excerpt from Symantec:

“The vulnerability affects Bash, a common component known as a shell that appears in many versions of Linux and Unix. Bash acts as a command language interpreter. In other words, it allows the user to type commands into a simple text-based window, which the operating system will then run.

Bash can also be used to run commands passed to it by applications and it is this feature that the vulnerability affects. One type of command that can be sent to Bash allows environment variables to be set. Environment variables are dynamic, named values that affect the way processes are run on a computer. The vulnerability lies in the fact that an attacker can tack-on malicious code to the environment variable, which will run once the variable is received.”

ShellShock: All you need to know about the Bash Bug vulnerability

You can see why this exploit has the potential to wreak far more havoc than Heartbleed. You’re definitely at risk if you own a Mac and haven’t updated in a few months as several patches were released shortly after its discovery.

Your Task

The severity of exploits like those mentioned isn’t going to get better anytime soon. It’s easy to get caught in the mentality that ‘my computer runs great, why would I update it?.’ Even if it does “run great,” I can hardly imagine that you’d enjoy it not doing just that.

Hopefully this struck a chord and sounds like something you wouldn’t enjoy. Take a few minutes every week and install the one or two available updates, sometimes it’s even less. The intimidation that comes with a year’s worth of neglected updates is eliminated. Not to mention the time commitment virtually disappears as well.

An up to date computer is the only part an owner can play in preventing harmful circumstances from befalling himself and his computer. Education and subsequent action to protect yourself will always prove more time and cost efficient in the long run.

Step 1

I think I’m starting to appear crazy to my friends and family. I devote so much thought and energy to the seemingly endless number of opportunities out there that it’s almost all I talk about.

Most people I talk to perceive it as something negative. They believe that only a genius is capable of making productive use of time spent outside the classroom. The mentality that graduating college is the ONLY goal a twenty-something should have during a 4+ period of life is detestable, yet rampant.

Theres no denying that GPA plays a role in landing a job. But, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority who devote their early twenties to excelling in school haven’t the slightest proof that the time and effort will be appropriately rewarded in the future.

College requires a wealth of hard work, determination and perseverance to graduate with a respectable GPA. No surprise there. But what really separates myself from someone that views college as the current goal, is our ultimate goal.

It comes down to what you truly want out of life (and I mean all of it).

Don’t get me wrong, I want to graduate with the highest GPA attainable, but I recognize the value in having eggs in more than one basket.

It’s a notion many of my peers simply fail to understand. They can’t see the light that is modern technology. And, while higher education is a wonderful avenue for learning about life, it doesn’t necessarily make life any easier. Well my friend, technology does.

Grasp the concept that the ability to use, wield, and ultimately create technology is equal in value to any degree and you might just find yourself in an entirely new state of mind. If you’re already a technology major I’m certainly not blowing your mind here. Realize that even more opportunity is available to those of us studying technology, if you can depart from the typical college mindset.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

                                                                        – Unknown

Don’t neglect schoolwork and grades. Spend an increasing amount of time each day pondering a means to success other than your degree. Think of it as a fallback, albeit a very solid one. Find a subject you’re passionate about and necessity will reveal opportunity in the strangest of places.

So, I encourage you to simply start thinking. It’s the first step towards recognizing a future other than the one you’re already beginning to accept.

Featured Image