Upon returning from a long backpacking trip to India and South-East Asia, everyone keeps asking you ‘What did you do there for 8 months?’. There is no good answer to that because ‘doing’ is something you do when you visit London for a week, or travel to Italy for 10 days. If you are fortunate enough to take a few months off and go on that one big trip, you find that you don’t ‘do’ anything. You read a few books, visit a few places, meet a few people along the way. Doing stuff is not the purpose.
While staying in the city of Luang Prabang, Laos in 2002, I spent a couple of days reading a book in a little bookstore called L’Etranger – Books & Tea. The following photo was taken there in an attempt to capture the magical feeling of that place:
Don’t worry if you can’t see the magic – that is probably because you are looking at it with your eyes.
Sitting on the wooden floor reading a book, it took me a while before I asked what was this enchanting music playing in the background. I was then taken to a side room and shown a binder filled with CDs, and the nice Lao guy explained the specific instructions left by the Canadian owner: “Tosca, this is what we play in the afternoon.”
This is how I came to know the Austrian duo named Tosca, and how I came to love downtempo and lounge music. I actually refer to these electronic styles as ‘harmless music’ (Muzika lo mezika) which might sound like an insult. It is not. You see, I need different things from different styles of music, and downtempo is music that you can listen to while doing something else that needs your focus. Reading, writing, whatever.
Playboy, the men’s magazine that never ceases to surprise, has just released its first CD in a monthly series titled ‘M*sic To F*ck To‘ – and lo and behold, the very first CD is by Tosca and is described as “a super-sexy 60-minute sample of their lush bedroom-ready sound”.
Have a listen: Playboy link is now defunct.
You can buy Tosca’s latest album No Hasslehere or download it here.
Obama’s White House is really moving up the Web2.0 ladder. It started with the first presidential portrait taken with a digital camera, continued with changing the copyrights of released materials to a Creative Commons license, and now they started producing these cool video segments, edited for your short attention span and set to a funky Bow Chicka Bow Wow music. In this video, Van Jones, the White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, visits a local work site to get a glimpse at green roofing:
Do you have a cell phone?
Would you mind terribly if a stranger listens to your voicemail?
So why haven’t you changed the default ‘1234‘ password? Do you have a wireless router?
Would you care if a stranger connects to your home network?
So why haven’t you changed the default ‘admin/admin‘ username/password combination? Do you have a webcam system?
Would you mind terribly if a stranger watches your video feed?
So why haven’t you changed the default anonymous login?
People think of hacking as something done by Russian spies or by genius kids. No one thinks that most of the time the only thing you need is the default password. I honestly don’t get it – how difficult is it to change the initial password out of the box? Why live in the realm of uncertainty when peace of mind is just around the corner?
Here are a few examples to push you in the right direction:
You would think that a 4-digit password combination allows for 10,000 possibilities, and since after 3 wrong tries the phone call is disconnected, then it would take too much time and too much money to crack the voicemail volt. That is only true in theory, since most people do not change the default 1234 or 1111, it would take exactly one phone call to get in.
Wanna bet? Can you wholeheartedly click this play button knowing there is zero chance of you hearing your own voicemail?
Paying for your Internet service? Your neighbor used to do that but decided it would be wiser to use yours instead. Now, there might be legitimate reasons why you would not want your home network to use encryption, but can we agree on MAC address filtering as the bare minimum so that only the computers you know can use it? Even if you have a Jewish attitude of ‘All who are thirsty for bandwidth, let them come and drink my connection’ (a.k.a. ‘Kol dichfin’) – is it too much effort to change the default router password, so that no one will be able to configure it?
And don’t get me started on the legal ramifications of someone downloading copyrighted or illegal material using your bandwidth. Yes, I am sure after three years of trial you would probably be exonerated from any wrongdoing, but it sure would be a fun period until then. To quote Mister Rogers: ‘It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood’.
You have a small business and you want to keep an eye on it from home, so you hooked up a video surveillance system. You have an aging mother and you want to keep an eye on her caretaker. That is all fine, but why risk someone looking in through the Internet peephole? Let your imagination run wild with the kind of people that might want to watch these video feeds. No imagination? Here are some visual aids captured today:
Since my aim is to educate people about privacy and not to teach them how to hack, I did not go into further details. Suffice to say that any one of you can easily enter these systems using your banged up computer and without buying any hardware or software.
In 2008, hundreds of you submitted your poster art to Design for Obama, enabling thousands more to access and use your art in support of Barack Obama. And when we crossed the finish line it was that much more satisfying knowing that we had contributed. This year, we will commemorate the one-year anniversary of our victory by publishing the best posters from our collection in a book edited by DFO creator Aaron Perry-Zucker and filmmaker Spike Lee with TASCHEN Books, including introductory essays from Spike Lee and Steven Heller, a former art director at the New York Times.
We would like to invite you to include your submission to Design for Obama in this exciting book.
After jumping up and down for an hour, it only took me four more hours to complete all the required tasks. Today I got the following reply:
Thank you very much for submitting your Permissions form, survey questions, and artwork for the Design For Obama book. We have received everything we need at this point, and will contact you if any additional materials or information are needed.
We’re thrilled that you’ve agreed to contribute!
Yes, I suppose I could have played it cool, delaying my blogging about it until I got word that my artwork made the final cut, but I just had to share my excitement. For dramatization purposes I have created the following image, a close approximation of how my mind sees my own page in the finished book:
Note: If you’re one of the other artists that got this email, please use the hashtag #TaschenObamaBook when you Twitter the subject.
Update: Thanks to Brian Fraser who graciously allowed me to quote his correspondence with Vikki Warner, Editorial Assistant for Design For Obama. For everyone who postponed their jumping with joy, please read the following and put your mind at ease:
On Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 1:51 PM, Design for Obama wrote:
If you’ve been contacted, you’re already in. The final selection process has already been completed by the editors.