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Is Email Really Insecure?

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11 min read | 3072 words | 357 views | 0 comments

We've all been instilled with the old adage that email is insecure, but is it really? After all, most websites that use encryption (HTTPS) aren't considered insecure, and most of us are perfectly content to do things banking and filing taxes online. So, why is email different? Given that email has evolved in many of the same ways that other Internet technologies have over the years, I think this statement is worth picking apart in greater detail.

Everyone "knows" that email is insecure, and while this is certainly a heuristic, it's not necessarily a bad one. I'm guilty of indulging in it myself; whenever I've been consulted on IT policy regarding data transmission, I've also vehemently insisted against sending confidential data or documents by email, and using secure file transf… — Read full post

Debugging Mystery File Descriptor Leaks

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  tech telecom

16 min read | 4530 words | 404 views | 0 comments

A couple weeks ago, I discovered that one of my Asterisk servers was occasionally getting into a state where no new channels could be created, due to having used all available file descriptors (1024, which is a lot). It was pretty clear that we were looking at a file descriptor leak here.

Normally, this wouldn't be a hard issue to debug, as Asterisk comes with a DEBUG_FD_LEAKS compiler option that will let you see all open file descriptors, supposedly, by running core show fd from the CLI. This is to allow developers to easily debug possible file descriptor leaks.

Well, that didn't help much this time. The file descriptors in question didn't show up in the output of core show fd at all. However, if I checked /proc/PID/fd… — Read full post

Debugging Mystery Emails: The 5 Whys at Work

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26 min read | 7508 words | 519 views | 0 comments

You may have heard of "The Five Whys" before. The concept is commonly used to illustrate the importance of not settling for a surface-level answer when something has gone wrong and instead digging deeper to get to the root cause.

IT professionals are likely to be as familiar with this concept as anybody. When troubleshooting something broken or unusual, troubleshooting problems back to the root cause can involve working back through several problems, not all of which initially seemed related. As a very concrete example, take a stack trace in a core dump file. Stack traces are important since they allow a programmer to see how a program got to the point of failure.

Unfortunately, not all problems come with a stack trace (and even those that do are not always trivial to debu… — Read full post

Nullish Coalescing and Optional Chaining

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  critique ethics tech web

9 min read | 2554 words | 764 views | 0 comments

Unless you're a front-end web developer, "nullish coalescing" and "optional chaining" probably don't mean much to you. If you're like me though, you cringe inwardly every time you read them. So, what's the big deal with them, and why are they bad?

Actually, bad is an understatement: these are simply downright evil. Nullish coalescing and optional chaining (hereafter N.C. and O.C. for short) are special operators in JavaScript that attempt to simplify traditional JavaScript syntax. To understand why they were introduc… — Read full post

Almost Everybody Is Wrong About Incandescent Bulbs

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  activism critique environment health policy

6 min read | 1753 words | 425 views | 0 comments

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran its latest attack article vilifying incandescent light bulbs.

The article states objective facts which are long known to be true: incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient and have a relatively short life span. Seizing on the fact that incandescent bulbs are supposedly more readily availble in poorer areas, the author then goes on a crusade against the technology, blaming the Trump administration's blocking of a ban on incandescents, which is ironic, because that's probably one of its few environmental accomplishments on record. … — Read full post

The Left Is As Clueless About The Environment As The Right

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  activism critique environment policy

5 min read | 1344 words | 548 views | 0 comments

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the Republicans and the right are beholden to fossil fuel interests and the Democrats and the left are beholden to renewable energy interests.

Is that a generalization? Yes. Is it pretty much spot on, though? Also yes.

The left has a long history of conflating “renewable energy” with “sustainable energy” and forgoing substantive action on climate change for misguided polices that do nothing more than rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. Actually, that’s an understatement. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic doesn’t do any harm. Policies espoused in the “Green New Deal” and the latest climate change bill that is being discussed actively make the problem worse. So a more accurate metaphor would be puncturing … — Read full post

When the World Wide Web goes on strike, how do you fight back?

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  critique tech web

6 min read | 1745 words | 639 views | 0 comments

As some people may know, my primary browser of choice is SRWare Iron 70. Iron is a Chromium-based browser that's very similar to Chrome, without the phoning home to Google (although some people allege there are other concerns). How much better than Chrome it is exactly is up for debate, but it essentially looks and feels exactly like Chrome. I'll use both Chromium and Chrome throughout this post to reflect the fact that Chrome is just a specific Chromium-based browser, and I haven't been a regular Chrome user in years now, so using Chromium is more encompassing.

I don't use the latest version of … — Read full post

What's the Deal with Call Waiting Deluxe?

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9 min read | 2600 words | 747 views | 0 comments

Call Waiting Deluxe — it's one of the coolest phone features you've probably never heard of or used. But seriously — what is it and how does it work?

Call Waiting is something many of us take for granted these days, but of course, it hasn't always been around. Nowadays, thanks to voicemail and call waiting, it's actually become rather rare to hear a busy signal on the public phone network, which is a mixed blessing in that it has become easier to evade people. A busy signal tells you a very specific thing: I'm busy right now, but call back in a little bit. If you hear a line go right to voicemail right away, it's not really clear what the deal is. Was that Call Forwarding Busy? Safe Call Forwarding? Probably not Call Forwarding Don't Answer. You can't even trust audibl… — Read full post

Why The Green New Deal Won't Save Us

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  activism critique environment

10 min read | 2783 words | 662 views | 0 comments

The Green New Deal has attracted a lot of flack as its viability has been the subject of political bantering in a highly polarized climate. Some people have said it goes too far, while others have said it doesn't go far enough. Some environmentalists are more candid with themselves — it's, at best, a distraction from real pressing problems that deserve our attention.

The Green Deal simplify exemplifies an environmental ignorance that plagues the mainstream. And it's not just conservatives, as some liberals might jive. Michael Moore's documentary, Planet of the Humans aired earlier this year and was available for free viewing for several months. Conservatives propped it up as evidence that environmentalism is a hoax, while liberals criticized its criticism of human grow… — Read full post

W.E. Energies Smart Meter Likely Culpable in House Fire Causing $100,000 in Damages

Posted by Contributor

  activism critique environment ethics health policy

10 min read | 2993 words | 816 views | 0 comments

Damages from the fire totaled $100,000 Figure 1.1 - Damages from the fire totaled $100,000

On July 6th, 2020, at approximately 3:05pm, the Waukesha Fire Department responded to a local house fire. Of course, that's what their firefighters are paid to do everyday. What was odd about this fire were some of the details regarding how the fire started and the nature of the response to it. Suspicions were further intensified as the investigation began to unfold, and the puzzle pieces began pointing to a familiar culprit: smart meters.

Press release from Wireless Action

… — Read full post

Death To Box Tops: Creative or Cover-up?

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  critique environment tech

7 min read | 1830 words | 735 views | 0 comments

In the past 25 years, General Mills' Box Tops For Education program has raised nearly $1 billion for schools. For better or worse, that era has come to an end. General Mills planned to phase Box Tops out completely by December 2019, so if you haven't seen any on boxes for quite a while, now you know why.

Of course, General Mills is pretending that it hasn't actually killed off Box Tops… they're just "going digital", but they're no longer Box Tops, theoretically or practically.

For over 20 years, Box Tops for Education has given families an easy way to earn cash for their school, with products they already buy.
Now you can simply scan your store receipt with the Box Tops mobile app to identify participating products and instantly a
… — Read full post

SameSite, Sessions, and Single Sign-On

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  tech web

12 min read | 3533 words | 1018 views | 0 comments

Web developers in the past year may have been caught off-guard by the effects of Google's new stance on SameSite cookies, or rather, cookies without an explicit SameSite attribute. Or, perhaps a website you use regularly has been acting erratically of late. For those unfamiliar, Google has a good introductory overview of what SameSite cookies are all about, but we'll rehash the basics here.

Cookies, of course, are key-value pairs stored by the client, which are sent as part of the request headers when requesting a webpage. Originally, cookies were used to allow shoppers in the 1990s to save items to their shopping cart. This is rarely done anymore - instead, the server keeps tr… — Read full post

Optimize Your Music

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10 min read | 2790 words | 958 views | 0 comments

While some audiophiles might swear by vinyl, most music consumption today is digital. As awesome as records and as convenient as cassettes are, digital music can be consumed infinitely and endlessly without degrading, and it can be organized and consumed in ways that analog music simply can't be. Although PCM-encoded "CD quality" WAV is the gold standard, MP3s are also popular thanks to the proliferation and convenience of MP3 players over the past two decades. Throw in yet other formats - WMA, AAC, M4A, and FLAC, to name a few, and it's easy to get confused. What format is best? Which formats sound the best? Which format is right for me?

In the past, the question was often portrayed as either a tradeoff or as a Hobson's choice. The tradeoff was between quality and size - the bet… — Read full post

The End Is Near: FCC delivers final nail in the coffin to 7-digit dialing in 87 area codes

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  critique policy telecom

14 min read | 4065 words | 1436 views | 0 comments

UPDATE: The number of affected area codes is 87, not 88. As this continues to be an evolving situation, refer to the Anti-Digit Dialing League's official website for the latest details.

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2020—Today, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. The rules require all phone service providers to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.

To ensure that calls to 988 reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, all covered providers will be required to implement 10-digit dia
… — Read full post

Chasing Love: An Illusory Myth

Posted by Contributor

  critique ethics society

10 min read | 2726 words | 727 views | 0 comments

The world is more electronic and transactional today than it has ever been before. Some would go so far as to say that the world is more connected than it's ever been before, but depending on what exactly one means by this, it's a contentious assertion.

Although the Internet has given way to many things in its nearly sixty years of existence (yes, fifty-nine, count 'em!), most of its growth has been due to the adoption of the World Wide Web, which is more than thirty-one years old now. Since then, we've seen the growth of eCommerce, through sites like Amazon and eBay which grew during the 1990s. In the 2000s, we had the rise of social networking giants, some of which have since fallen by the wayside. In recent years, the Internet has continued to become a more diverse arena for a… — Read full post

The "Green Thing"

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  critique environment society

3 min read | 818 words | 664 views | 0 comments

Here's a witty but truthy anecdote we were forwarded recently. We can't find the original source of this, as it's been reposted hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times on the web, and it's been making the rounds for maybe ten years or more. It's perhaps unlikely this conversation ever happened, but it's nonetheless clever and insightful commentary — it's even been narrated for listening enjoyment. Here it is in its original form:

The "Green Thing"

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have t… — Read full post

Actually, Windows Encodes New Lines Correctly

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  tech web

2 min read | 532 words | 532 views | 0 comments

Ever open a text file somebody sent you in Notepad and wondered why it looked all wonky? As in, why everything is all run together on one line? The reason this happens has to do with line control characters, and dates to the days when teletypewriters still ran the world. The two control characters in question related to the carriage return (CR or \r) and the line feed (LF or \n), also known as new line. A carriage return, a manual process on a regular typewriter, returned the typewriter head to the beginning of the line. In contrast, line feed (LF) advances to the next line. Typically (but not always), these operations occur together.

When computers arrived on the scene, not all operating systems agreed on the control characters to use. MS-DOS, and subsequently Windows, adopted t… — Read full post

The Future of Passwords

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  tech web

9 min read | 2543 words | 631 views | 0 comments

Based on the title of this post, you might be expecting some futuristic revelations about passwords and how quickly they'll be going away. If that's what you're looking for, look at the technical blogs of high-tech companies with futuristic visions that generally fall flat. The conversation about passwords that has been ongoing in industry is an interesting one we've been watching from the sidelines but not publicly commented on until now. Now that the idea of potentially going password-less has gained some prominence among average users, some good common sense insight into this issue is warranted.

Phasing out passwords has been the wet dream of many in the tech industry for some time now. A Microsoft white paper from 2016, titled … — Read full post

Discounted Teleconferencing Services for Impacted Businesses

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1 min read | 267 words | 568 views | 0 comments

At InterLinked, our daily operations have not been impacted by COVID-19 - however, we recognize that this is simply not true for the vast majority of people, businesses, and organizations.

Through our partnership with the Mountain Pacific Telephone Company, heavily discounted enterprise teleconferencing services are available to local businesses and non-profit organizations impacted by the current situation. For $5 a month, Mountain Pacific Telephone can provide a bridge with a dedicated dial-in number, unlimited attendees, no restrictions on conference length, and free recording and logging. PIN protection is optional and free. There are no extra fees, no hidden fees, and no hassles.

Due to the current economical situation, no payment is due for 30 days, and organizations… — Read full post

Smart911: A Dangerous and Distracting Delusion

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  critique policy telecom

4 min read | 946 words | 799 views | 0 comments

It's well-known amongst dispatchers that, today, it's harder than ever for emergency responders to locate 911 callers.

This problem has tremendous implications for emergency callers. The consequences of using a mobile phone to call for help are so dire that there's now even an entire website purportedly dedicated to tackling this issue. Here's a description from the Smart911 website:

Today, 9-1-1 Can’t Find You

Over 80% of calls made to 9-1-1 come from mobile phones. When you dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, the 9-1-1 call takers have very little information to help you – only your phone number and a very general sense of your location.

This is a ser

… — Read full post

Diluting The Boxcar Children

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  critique society

6 min read | 1585 words | 688 views | 0 comments

The Boxcar Children has delighted children for nearly a century now — Gertrude Chandler Warner first penned "The Box-Car Children" in 1924, and it was rewritten for publication for children in 1942. (If you can believe it, the Aldens were original the Cordyces in the original novel, which you can read on Project Gutenberg.) Over her lifetime, Warner penned a further eighteen books in the series, and since, other authors have expanded the series to over 150 titles today.

A classic children's series, both interesting, delightful to read, and of arguable merit, The Boxcar Children has changed quite a bit f… — Read full post

It Takes One

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  critique policy telecom

7 min read | 1847 words | 651 views | 0 comments

On September 16, 2019, a bulletin was sent out to Panasonic customers, informing them that the venerable KX-TA824 PBX was going to be discontinued later that year. As of this writing, that time has already passed.

At first, I was surprised. The Panasonic KX-TA824 is truly a work of art. It's a compact, analog, partially electromechanical but mainly electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange. With 3 trunks and 8 extensions out of the box, expandable to 24 lines, it's enough to get most people started on their never-ending journey of telephone collecting and telephone switching. Or (more boringly), serve as a home or small office phone system.

The KX-TA824 was my first PBX, and even at $99 used, it's a real bargain for what you get. It's much smaller than the 308 EASAPHONE… — Read full post

Inefficient Isn't Always Evil

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  critique environment ethics health policy

5 min read | 1463 words | 797 views | 0 comments

There's no shortage of articles about the messed-up things happening in today's world. Here's the headline of an article of an article from last month:

California's light bulb ban

According to the article, "The California Energy Commission voted on November 13, 2019 to ban the sale of inefficient light bulbs starting January 1, 2020."

OK, interesting enough. Even if the national government hadn't already done something similar, incandescent bulbs are certainly hard enough to find in some places, which is why, for good reason, a lot of people have or are stockpiling them.

What is annoying here is not the ban in and of itself. Although environmental legislation is usu… — Read full post

Happy Birthday, Windows 2000!

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5 min read | 1452 words | 635 views | 0 comments

Windows 2000 turns 20

On December 15th, 1999, Microsoft released Windows 2000 to the public. Today, with fewer than twenty days remaining until 2020, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of this venerable operating system.

Windows 2000 was special for Microsoft and continues to be special today. It lives perpetually in the shadow of its slightly younger brother, Windows XP, never quite getting the credit it truly deserves, largely because Microsoft considered W2K a stepping stone to Windows XP, which was released less than two years afterwards, and thus quickly downplayed the awesomeness of Windows 2000 as soon as XP became available. Windows 2000 was one of Microsoft's most revolutionary releases of all time, and is considered by many modern and retro… — Read full post

InterLinked Launches New Satire Site

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  society web

1 min read | 124 words | 791 views | 0 comments

If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with our blog. What you might not be familiar with is a new satirical blog that we have publicly launched recently, which we've dubbed "The DiaLog".

"The DiaLog" is a technical satire blog touching on different technical aspects of today's society. One doesn't need to look too far today to feel disgusted, overwhelmed, or dismayed by current happenings and goings-on in the tech world today. Indeed, there's no abundance of stupid technology today! That's why we've capitalized on the opportunity to spread some humor and convey some serious information. Articles are contributed by the InterLinked community — if you have something good to say and can say it in a funny way, w… — Read full post

Californian Legislator promotes false solution to PG&E-induced outages

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  critique policy telecom

8 min read | 2242 words | 936 views | 0 comments

Articles like this one are increasingly common, as PG&E service failures combined with consumer stupidity have made communications gaps painfully obvious to the masses.

However, it is angering and frustrating to see legislators promote false and dubious solutions to these issues, rather than addressing the underlying problems. California Senator Mike McGuire, whose constituency was heavily affected by the PG&E outages, is the latest to join in to the endless cascade of delusional and dangerous "solutions".

McGuire proposed a bill that would mandate cell towers in California's high-risk fire areas to have sufficient backup power for at least 2 days. Maybe … — Read full post

Stop Buying Microsoft Office (and Windows, too)

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  critique tech

9 min read | 2401 words | 611 views | 0 comments

Yes, we're coming right out and saying it. No reservations. The days of paying for Office are past. If you're still upgrading your copy of Office every few years (or worse, shelling out money to Microsoft each month for a subscription), you should really consider closing your wallet to Microsoft and spending that money elsewhere.

Why prompts us to say this? How dare we insinuate that the era of Microsoft dominance is over, and that other office suites and operating systems are now sufficient?

To be clear, we're not endorsing either of these viewpoints because, quite frankly, neither of them is true. Office still runs circles around all the other office suites out there, which are quite pathetic in comparison. It may seem like Office is just unnecessarily powerful, b… — Read full post

Experience the WOPR for Yourself — Relive WarGames as David Lightman

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  tech telecom

2 min read | 412 words | 678 views | 0 comments

If you've ever clicked on the metadata at the top of each of my blog posts, among other things, you'll see a list of my favorite movies, and among them the 1983 movie WarGames. If everyone had a list like this, chances are you'd fine this title on a lot of them. It was extremely popular when it came out, and it continues to have a powerful hold on numerous people. References from the movie continue to permeate the fabric of society — both online and offline.

One of the most captivating parts of the 1983 film is the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), an intelligent computer system that NORAD uses to help plan Cold War strategy, including determining how to best initiate or retaliate in nuclear war. David Lightman, the movie's protagonist, is a high school junior who skim… — Read full post

An Open Letter to Microsoft: Why Windows 10 Sucks

Posted by Contributor

  critique tech

25 min read | 7419 words | 1239 views | 0 comments

You shamelessly advertise it as the "latest and greatest Windows ever", when, in actuality, most people either love it or hate it. I'm talking, of course, about Windows 10. As of today, the homepage of informs us that "the best Windows keeps getting better", when, in fact, it would be more accurate to reword it "the worst Windows keeps getting worse". On the surface, you promise a slew of never-ending better and better enhancements to your posterchild operating system. Yet, you have consistently failed to deliver. Windows 10 launched on July 29, 2015, and few of what you've promised in the years before and since has materialized. Sure, specific one-liners in the update KBs have, but not the overall promised experience.

Nearly four years after you launched Windows 10 s… — Read full post

Why Ridesharing Is Evil

Posted by

  environment ethics health society tech

6 min read | 1694 words | 579 views | 0 comments

In an appropriate followup to yesterday's post on the evils of mobile apps, we thought it would be appropriate to take a closer look at a relatively new technology based completely around mobile apps: ridesharing.

Ridesharing is all the rage these days. People are increasingly ditching taxis for Ubers, Lyfts, and many other ridesharing services. The idea itself is a new take on a somewhat old idea. Indeed, people have been ridesharing since there were automobiles, though not necessarily with strangers. Certainly, modern technology has allowed this to escalate to a whole new level.

Don't get us wrong — "pure" ridesharing — carpooling, in other words — is great. Why take two vehicles out on the road when you can just take one? Carpooling not only reduces your personal … — Read full post

Why Apps Are Evil

Posted by

  ethics tech

7 min read | 1865 words | 591 views | 0 comments

Here at InterLinked, we maintain a firm opposition to mobile apps, and we're not the only ones. Considering that we feel the modern "mobile culture" to be beneath us, why sink to that level of mediocrity?

Such feelings aside, however, mobile apps have had important ramifications for society, whether intended or not. Although many consumers feel that apps are all the rage these days, apps are truly one of the (many) modern evils in society.

To understand why apps are evil, let's go back to the beginning of the Internet. Actually, no need to even go back that far. Let's go back to the beginning of the World Wide Web. It may be hard to believe it now, but the "web" was only conceived by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, and the first webs… — Read full post

Digital Music is Killing the Planet

Posted by

  environment tech

1 min read | 254 words | 468 views | 0 comments

Okay, maybe that's a slight overstatement, but downloading and now streaming of music has only contributed to, rather than mitigated, the effects of the digital consumer world on the environment.

Most people think that going paperless and sticking with electronics means "going green", and most people are wrong. E-waste has exploded exponentially in recent years and the energy required to power all the servers and clients connected to the Internet is stupendously enormous. "Going digital" means exchanging an often one-time environmental cost (the production or duplication of a song) for a continuous burden on the environment that never ceases.

Researchers in Scotland and Norway found that "while we spend less on physical music these days, we're using more energy to listen t… — Read full post

The Failings of Modern Day Education

Posted by

  critique education society

4 min read | 1003 words | 801 views | 0 comments

Education in the United States right now is quickly becoming a joke. Some would say it already has been, considering that the U.S. lags far behind in math, science, and other benchmark scores compared to other developed (and even less developed) countries. Yet, the controversial Common Core standards have ushered in a new era of unprecedented dumbfounding educational "standards" that are doing little but ensuring that future generations of kids will be dumber than the ones that came before.

If this seems jarring, consider the evidence at hand. Perhaps the biggest dumber of Common Core has been the emphasis on "21st century learning", a movement that is not, as it turns out, academically rooted, but strongly pushed by tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. After all, they'… — Read full post

A Legacy of Leadership

Posted by Contributor


2 min read | 519 words | 799 views | 0 comments

Although we don't cater at all specially to high school students (or youth in general), we wanted to take the time to review a few key opportunites of which you can take advantage during your high school years in order to maximize your present and future success.

First is Academic Decathlon. A rigorous, intellectual, but fun series of competitions, Academic Decathlon is "the premier academic competition in America". With essentially limitless room for improvement, the competitive nature of the activity can really bring out the best in students, forcing them to tap into potential they may not even have known they had. Though the competition is largely objective, all competitors will also need to present a prepared speech — as well as an impromptu speech — and participate in a … — Read full post

Running Your Own Phone Company

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2 min read | 388 words | 635 views | 0 comments

Have you ever thought of running your own telephone company?

If you're like most people, the answer is probably "no", without any question. But the idea used to be more romantic and enticing. Even during the era of Bell System dominance, from the late 1920s right through Divestiture in 1984, hundreds of independent phone companies existed and flourished — and many still do. Perhaps you remember the New City Telephone Company from the 1975 AT&T video production, "Run A Phone Company", in which high school students participated in a simulation of managing a phone company. While it was purely an educational initiative, it does prompt the … — Read full post

Canaries in the Coal Mine

Posted by Contributor

  activism environment ethics health

4 min read | 1012 words | 754 views | 0 comments

It is always sad when we lose a member of the EMF activist community. It is unfortunate that one of our number took her own life recently. Maria August departed this life on March 12, 2019, just shy of her 50th birthday. Sadly, many of her last birthdays here with us were not those filled with joy and jubilance, but those filled with pain and debilitation. Maria was a victim of EHS (electromagnetic hypersensitivity), an affliction that, while legitimate, nonetheless remains stigmatized and controversial. She conducted an interview with Nicolas Peneault last year regarding what it was like to live with EHS. You can read her posthumous self… — Read full post

The growing irrelevance of toll-free numbers

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7 min read | 1870 words | 644 views | 0 comments

First, there were "ZEnith" exchanges, the original toll-free numbers. Since there was no Z on the dial, you would call the operator and she would connect you to a business on its dime, making the connection by looking up the number associated with a ZEnith number.

Finally, the Bell System launched Wide Area Telephone Service in 1961, which became used for the first direct-dial toll-free 1-800 numbers in 1966 and 1967. Originally toll-free exchanges were tied to geographic areas, much like area codes, but, gradually, like everything else in the phone network, things soon loosened up and, today, the modern toll-free network remains a fixture of television advertisements, magazine inserts, and radio jingles. What better way to entice the customer than offer to pay for his call?

… — Read full post

Whom should autonomous vehicles kill in a collision?

Posted by

  ethics society tech

5 min read | 1350 words | 492 views | 0 comments

Autonomous vehicles are seemingly all the rage in many of today's tech lines. Tech companies like Tesla and Google just won't give up, will they?

For what it's worth, the likelihood of so-called "self-driving" cars taking off is slim. Sure, tech moguls say it's the next big thing, just like 5G, the Internet of Things, "smart meters", and the multitude of other tech disasters that are sprouting up across the country, mostly financed using misappropriated public funds. But why should you believe them? Given that autonomous vehicles would most likely necessitate V2V, or "vehicle to vehicle" communications, using high-frequency millimeter waves, it's safe to say that if too many of these ever get out on the road, it will be anything but safe.

The only real thing autonom… — Read full post

Landlines Win Again

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1 min read | 244 words | 439 views | 0 comments

Somewhere between 40% and 50% of households have a landline today, though the number of true traditional copper POTS lines is somewhere around 20%. (Think you have a "true" landline? You might be in for a nasty surprise.)

Yet, at least in theory, most people have a lot more love for the humble landline than they let on. According to a 2014 Pew Research Poll, "the public felt most secure using landline phones": The public feels most secure using landline phones, least secure on social media

Personally, this is n… — Read full post

The Truth About the Digital Divide

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  education society tech

1 min read | 292 words | 494 views | 0 comments

The digital divide has taken on a new meaning. Previously, it referred to the areas of the country that relies beyond the reach of high-speed broadband Internet. We referred to them as being unfortunate enough to be "on the wrong side" of the digital divide. All of America still does not have high-speed broadband Internet, one reason why millions of Americans continue to use dial-up Internet today. But now the digital divide has taken on a new meaning, as technology becomes so heavily integrated into schools that the whole idea of the digital divide has gotten flipped on its head.

Back in October, the New York Times ran an article … — Read full post

The Power of PowerShell

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4 min read | 1137 words | 535 views | 0 comments

PowerShell isn't by any means new. Designed by Jeffrey Snover and initially released in 2006, PowerShell is now on its 6th stable release and has infiltrated workplaces everywhere. While it hasn't entirely displaced the Command Prompt, which itself came about in 1999 to emulate MS-DOS, it certainly allows administrators to spend less time at the black shell and more time at the blue one. While there are many cases where the regular Command Prompt is sufficient (mainly because the PowerShell prompt takes noticably longer to load), network admins everywhere are using PowerShell, so here's a gentle nudge to see what PowerShell can unlock for you if you haven't delved deeper into it yet.

A great place to start is the MVA series … — Read full post

A Second Look at Richard Nixon

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5 min read | 1439 words | 605 views | 0 comments

No doubt one way or another, you've been caught up in the drama of the election that ultimately culminates today, when people will cast their ballots. Today, it seems like every candidate is out to get you, one way or another, and there's no good choice to be made. In the 2016 election, people were forced to choose between the lesser of two evils in a highly polarized election: the only question, who was the lesser of the two evils? (Answer: Neither, vote for a third-party candidate.) Wouldn't it be nice if we could return to a bipartisan era when people could feel good about going to the polls?

Today, we'd like to take a closer look at one of the most infamous presidents in history: Richard Nixon. Undoubtedly, you've heard of him — he was the only president ever to resign (and… — Read full post

The Truth About Fiber-Optics

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  tech telecom web

23 min read | 6647 words | 920 views | 0 comments

Fiber-optic cables aren't exactly new. Part of the reason for the 2001 recession was a tech crash caused by excessive buildout of fiber, most of which remained "dark" for years. Fiber has been used for Internet backbones as well as long-distance trunks in the PSTN, but only recently has the idea of extending fiber directly to the home become pervasive. I won't give an overview of fiber here, so for some history and details about how fiber-optic communications works, you can check out Broadband Now.

Until recently, I'd been fairly ambivalent about fiber-optics. Fiber is much faster than cable or DSL Internet, but it's much more expensive. The cost of fiber-optic cable and connectors is exorbitant: which is why computers … — Read full post

Why Splits Are Preferable To Overlays

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  policy telecom

16 min read | 4502 words | 791 views | 0 comments

How many digits constitute a telephone number?

The most common answers, at least in the United States, which is part of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), are 7 and 10. There's a pretty good chance that whatever answer YOU gave says something about your age.

For the record, telephone numbers are 7 digits long. They have been since 1947 when AT&T devised the NANP, in which area codes, officially called Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs) played a prominent role. It's why you write area codes in parentheses (unless you don't know how to write telephone numbers correctly). The NANP unified the Bell System in an era when there were no real standards for telephone numbers. Some communities dialed 6 digits, others dialed 5 — still smaller communities dialed 4 digits.… — Read full post

Adopt A Payphone

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4 min read | 916 words | 769 views | 0 comments

Adopt A Highway began as a local effort in Texas in the 1980s. Today, the program has spread all over the United States. It's hard to drive almost anywhere these days without seeing the iconic "Adopt A Highway" signs on the edge of the road. That's all great, and the idea could prove to have other useful applications as well.

Today, most payphones are owned by payphone providers, not telephone companies. Most telephone companies got out of the payphone business in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Today, PTS (Pacific Telemanagement Services) is the largest payphone provider in the U.S. If you've used a payphone recently, chances are good that it's a PTS phone. They have phones on both coasts and everywhere inbetween. Since they're not owned by the telephone company, they obviously d… — Read full post

The Year The Music Died — What Happened in 1986?

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6 min read | 1771 words | 704 views | 0 comments

The lyrics to Don McLean's 1971 hit "American Pie" (one of the longest hits of all time, at 8:33) contain the memorable line "the day the music died". Surprisingly enough, the day the music died was an actual day in history. Specifically, it was February 3rd, 1959. I won't go into the details much here (there's an entire Wikipedia article about it if you want to read more) but on this day in 1959, three singers were killed in a plane crash in Iowa along with their pilot. The most prominent musician on board was Buddy Holly, perhaps best known for his famous 1957 hit "Peggy Sue". Holly was an inspiration to McLean, who penned the lyrics to memorialize that day (it wasn't known as "the day the music died" u… — Read full post

The Telephone Songs

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  quirky telecom

2 min read | 496 words | 640 views | 0 comments

Depending on how old you are, you may remember watching a video called "Telezonia" when you were in grade school, instructing young children how to use the telephone in a musical and playful way.

If you do, hats off to you! If not, that just means you're probably young.

The most famous Bell System instructional video was called "Adventures in Telezonia". There were multiple videos made over the years with this name, but the most popular one was released in the 1970s. The plot? According to AT&T Archives, which releases Bell System videos, "It starts off like a typical short film cautionary tale, but once they take a trip inside the telephone, things go terribly weird. This film is a cult classic."

The music has become a classic in and of itself, too. Below are a… — Read full post

Reasonable And Prudent — Speed Doesn't Kill, Speed Limits Do

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  critique policy

11 min read | 3234 words | 864 views | 0 comments

It's a common belief that speed limits are designed to keep us safe. Few of us like to heed them, but we believe they exist to keep us safe and thus grudgingly abide by them, because we believe they are there for our own good. A closer look at the facts, however, will put this misconception to rest.

The truth is: speed limits do not keep you safe. If anything, they put you at greater risk of being involved in a fatal car accident.

To better understand this, let's consider the case of the only state that until recently had no speed limits (more or less): Montana.

For a long time, Montana held the honor of being the only state with no daytime speed limits. Many can recall when Montana had no maximum speed other than driving in a “reasonable and prudent” manner:… — Read full post

Electric vehicles aren't the solution to climate change

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3 min read | 676 words | 585 views | 0 comments

Global warming, or climate change as is the more "proper" term, is a serious conundrum. Everyone likes a cleaner planet, but few people are actually willing to adopt a lifestyle that is seriously environmentally friendly.

In the meantime, businesses everywhere have rushed in to take advantage of this sublime opportunity to make a buck. Perhaps no industry has done more to try to profit off of climate change as the automobile industry. Ironically, electric vehicles do little to combat climate change. Here's why.

Electric vehicles are thought of as being "green" and "efficient". What we must remember, however, is that electricity is no more a renewable resource in most places than oil. People who use electric vehicles are generally switching from oil power to coal power. Ste… — Read full post

The term "cell phone" is a misnomer

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5 min read | 1301 words | 854 views | 0 comments

“Phone” used to be just short for telephone. Telephones were phones and phones were telephones. Today, that is not the case. "Telephone" adheres to the denotation of the word, whereas the connotation of "phone" has changed. Think about it: the word “telephone” is generally only used to refer to corded fixed-line phones. Today, all telephones are still phones, but not all phones are telephones. Mobile phones and cordless phones are generally never referred to as “telephones”.

In fact, a dictionary definition of telephone says it is “a system that converts acoustic vibrations to electrical signals in order to transmit sound.” Neither cell phones or Voice-over-Internet-Protocol phones fit this definition. Only standard analog landline phones fit this definition, alth… — Read full post

The Biggest Drug Crisis The World Has Ever Faced

Posted by Contributor

  health society tech

5 min read | 1415 words | 568 views | 0 comments

The world is facing a drug crisis — an unprecedented one. No, I'm not referring to crack, dope, meth, weed, marijuana, heroin, pot, or anything edible for that matter. I'm talking about a hunk of metal and plastic about the size of a cassette tape that most people nowadays can't live without.

That's right: "smartphones".

Although they've been around for basically a decade, they've already become highly integrated into most people's lives. Most people who have smartphones are addicted to them. Chronically. Many people under the age of 25 or 30 can't fathom live without them. Many people can't even recite more than a few phone numbers. Good luck if you get booked one day.

No invention is more troubling and more problematic than the "smartphone" or "mobile" as it is … — Read full post

Monopoly Isn't Always A Bad Thing

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  policy telecom

9 min read | 2638 words | 857 views | 0 comments

Monopoly isn't necessarily bad. In fact, sometimes it can be a good thing. A very good thing!

Most economics classes foster a passionate dislike of monopolies in students. But this dislike is not necessarily deserved. Economics classes teach us about seemingly malevolent monopolies that wreacked havoc on the economy. But most economics courses omit discussion of the largest monopoly ever to have existed — perhaps the most benevolent monopoly of all: the Bell System.

That's right, Ma Bell the monopoly! Technically, the Bell System — headed by American Bell Telephone until 1899 and American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) from 1899 until 1984 — was not a complete monopoly in the United States and Canada, although it was a geographic monopoly where it… — Read full post

Local School District disregards health in stunning move

Posted by Contributor

  critique education health tech

2 min read | 408 words | 675 views | 0 comments

Article as it ran in The Waukesha Freeman (page 5A)

West High School administration announced this year that the district's cellphone policy, No. 5136, had been relaxed to allow students to use cellphones during lunch and in between classes. While the district says it aims to provide "safe and secure" Internet access and Policy 7540 promises safeguards inhibiting negative side effects, its IT department has been fiercely deploying wireless technology in all K-12 learning environments, despite studies confirming too much technology leads to drops in test scores and retention. Two classes unanimously said they didn't like using tablets for education, although some admitted they enticed gaming.

Policy 7434 says "the negative health effects of tobacco are we… — Read full post

21st Century Learning — NO Technology In The Classroom

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  education tech

3 min read | 685 words | 538 views | 0 comments

Scientific American released an article about a month ago that reported students are supposedly better off without technology in the classroom.

Wait, what? Isn't technology the whole point of "21st Century Learning"?

Yes, and that's the point.

21st Century Learning is a movement being pushed by the technology and wireless industries in order to increase bulk purchases from schools and educational institutes. While they usually floor superintendents when they boast of "increased workforce preparation" and "real-world applications", these phrases are just buzzwords thrown around to make them look like they know what they're talking about. The reality is that technology is drastically overused in the classroom and has little, if any, role in it.

Now, wh… — Read full post

Smartphones: The Undoing Of Humanity?

Posted by Contributor

  health society tech

10 min read | 3000 words | 717 views | 0 comments

I'm a baby boomer. At least as far as most people would care to be concerned, I am. Whether it's a wintry Monday or a summer Sunday, I'm usually up before the sun. I'm a diehard user of rotary telephones and desktop computers. I write letters to family friends I haven't seen in a while, in cursive, and conclude by licking the stamp. In all regards to habitual characteristics that define an individual, I should be receiving my first social security check soon. But, I'm not even eligible to vote yet!

Typically, a person born into a generation grows up differently than those who grew up in other generations. And usually, a person can easily identify with his generation. For me, not so much. I may be very much part of Generation Z physically, but I live with the baby boomer mentality… — Read full post

Limes Are Not Unripe Lemons

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1 min read | 243 words | 563 views | 0 comments

Limes and lemons are typically flavors found in carton drinks; for whatever reason, they're not popular fruits for solitary consumption (though I happen to like both limes and lemons). I was speaking the other day with someone who uses lemons, and only lemons, frequently as a cooking ingredient. I was surprised when she asserted that limes and lemons are the same fruit. Obviously, this is not true; she backtracked and asserted instead that limes are just "unripe lemons".

While there are nutritional differences between limes and lemons I won't disclose here, the fact remains that saying limes turn into lemons is like saying windows turn into doors. Limes and lemons are completely separate fruits. A bit of research will turn that up. … — Read full post

A Professional Perspective: Kari’s Law

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  critique policy telecom

8 min read | 2303 words | 931 views | 0 comments

On December 1, 2013, Kari Rene Hunt was murdered by her estranged husband whom she was intending to divorce. She agreed to meet him at a local motel to leave their children with him for a short visitation while he was in town. Her estranged husband ambushed her in the motel room and cornered her in the restroom. During the struggle and resulting death of Kari, her oldest daughter, age 9, (name withheld for privacy) attempted to dial 911 from the motel room phone. She followed instructions as taught by her mother on the way to call for help but she was never instructed that in some hotels and motels you must first dial a “9” and then 911.

This is the beginning of … — Read full post

What The Color Coded Tape Means On Store Columns

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  quirky telecom

1 min read | 222 words | 701 views | 0 comments

Many stores like Walmart and Sam's Club, especially the older ones, color-code their poles. Have you ever noticed colored pieces of tape at the top of some of these poles? Yes, they actually mean something!

  • Blue — Blue tape at the top of the pole indicates that there is a telephone at the bottom of the pole.
  • Yellow — Yellow indicates a spill clean-up station is located at the bottom of the pole.
  • Red — Red indicates that a fire extinguisher is located at the bottom of the pole. Hopefully, you'll never need to look for this one.

Some poles may have more than one piece of tape. For example, a pole may claim a blue piece of tape and a yellow piece of tape. That means both a telephone and a spill clean-up… — Read full post

A Cool "Telephone Trick" That Will Impress Your Friends

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  quirky telecom

1 min read | 77 words | 1191 views | 0 comments

  1. First, pick any 7-digit telephone number. For example — 567-1234
  2. Now, punch in the first 3 digits of the number you chose
  3. Multiply the number by 80
  4. Add 1 to the result
  5. Now, multiply that answer by 250
  6. Now, add the last four digits of your telephone number to the result from Step 5
  7. Add the last four digits of your telephone number again
  8. Subtract 250 from your result
  9. Now, divide the number by 2
  10. You should now end up with the number you chose

AM/FM Radio Numbering — What's The Deal?

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  quirky tech

2 min read | 317 words | 753 views | 0 comments

Millions of people regularly listen to terrestrial radio. AM (amplitude modulation) is an older standard than FM (frequency modulation) and is easier to implement. AM signals can travel between 100 and 300 miles while FM signals are limited by the curvature of the Earth, giving them a maximum distance of about 50 or 60 miles. While AM signals fade with distance, FM is consistent within the receiving area, making AM ideal for news broadcasting and FM ideal for music.

All FM radio stations end in an odd number (88.3, 96.1, etc.), though this is purely conventional and regulated by the FCC. AM frequencies are measured in kilohertz, while FM frequencies are measured in megahertz. AM stations range from 520 kHz to 1710 kHZ, with stations spaced 10 kHz apart, while FM stations range fr… — Read full post

Can't Beat the Heat?

Posted by Contributor


1 min read | 199 words | 613 views | 0 comments

Are you looking for something nice and cool to do this summer? How about something really cool that's also cool? Dubbed the "Polar Bear Capital of the World", Churchill, Manitoba is a popular getaway among numerous people and it's one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world for viewing polar bears in their natural habitat. What makes Churchill so unique? First off, you can't reach Churchill by road at all. Nestled in northern Manitoba along the southwestern portion of the frigid Hudson Bay, there are no roads connecting this town of just under 1,000 to the rest of Canada. The only ways to reach Churchill are by air, train, or boat (Churchill has a port, but unless you're commanding a vessel through the bay ice, we recommend you don't sail there). Churchill is a great spot … — Read full post

A Couple Videos Guaranteed to Get You Laughing…

Posted by Contributor

  quirky tech telecom

1 min read | 132 words | 476 views | 0 comments

Someone once said that laughter is the best medicine. Even if you're not sick right now — I'm sure we could all use a little laugh right now. Well, I wanted to take a minute and share out some videos I've seen in the past that are guaranteed to get you laughing. If they don't well, let me know and we'll chat. This first video addresses the notion that desktop computers are stationary and stay in one place — all the time. Well, in this video, some students have decided to attend a lecture and they bring their desktops with them, computers, keyboards, monitors, dial-up modems, and all. In this second video, you'll witness what happens when… — Read full post

When Technology Does More Harm Than Good

Posted by Contributor

  society tech

11 min read | 3127 words | 687 views | 0 comments

We've all seen that person — perhaps he or she is waiting at a bus stop or perhaps in line at the drycleaners to pick up a beaver-pelt coat. Yet, there he or she is, looking down at a minuscule little screen, fingers tauntingly trained to remain invisible with motion to make life as a recluse complete. How did we get here? Has technology gone too far? How much technology is too much, and how do we know when and where to draw the line? If for some reason, you are not already subjectively guilty to the nature depicted beforehand, then I congratulate thee for remaining rooted in discipline, a humble member of society serving in and of itself. Unfortunately, the number is fewer and fewer with each passing moment, a warning to those who are adamant in social interaction and the traditional… — Read full post

What Wi-Fi Really Is (And What It Isn't)

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  tech web

14 min read | 3980 words | 840 views | 0 comments

Hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with Internet connectivity.

Today, I'd like to acknowledge the fact that despite the vast number of Internet users in the world, a good majority of them are quite dumb. Not dumb in general, but not especially smart in the way they approach technology terminology. For those of us who were around in the 80s and 90s, confusing computer networking technology would be a disgrace, but for the unlucky generation born after 2000, not much can be said for them. Let's look at a few ways that young people today, especially teenagers and college students, manage to screw things up.

First off, let me talk about the most common misconception. The Internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing. The World Wide Web is … — Read full post

Save the Polar Bears!

Posted by Contributor


3 min read | 622 words | 571 views | 0 comments

When you think of cute and cuddly pets, polar bears may not come to mind first thing. But polar bears are one of the most affectionate creatures that roam this planet, and the loss of such a wonderful species to global warming (yes, it's happening), would be beyond catastrophic. Do your part to help save these amazing creatures before it's too late, and help make the world a better place! By simply changing your lifestyle with these revolutionary tips, you can ensure that generations to come will still be able to enjoy these marvelous creatures.

First and foremost, you need to be motivated. To gain an appreciation for this wonderful species, I highly encourage you to watch this short documentary. You can watch this with your students in a regular class period or watch it during a… — Read full post

Make Extra Money Online — Here's How

Posted by Contributor


2 min read | 397 words | 775 views | 0 comments

Are you always broke? Do you want to earn extra money in the easiest way possible without getting a job? In just a couple of steps you can be on your way to earning an extra $1,500 in just one year! How?

The secret is knowing which services to use online that allow you to make the most money. I've been making money online for over a year and I've joined over 30 survey panels and websites that allow you to make money in your spare time on your terms. Some of them have been great, some of them not so much. Here are the services that you need to sign up for to be on your way to earning extra money this year. The more you signup for, the more money you'll earn!

  1. SwagbucksT
… — Read full post

Steve Jobs — Hero or Hater?

Posted by Contributor


3 min read | 608 words | 652 views | 0 comments

Steve Jobs is regarded by many as one of America's technology pioneers, credited with his success at Apple. Nobody will deny that his legacy is a great one or that he didn't innovate constantly, but some of the deepest and darkest secrets of Steve Jobs may turn some of his biggest fans against him. Steve Jobs has throughout the years, maintained a close bond with Bill Gates, founded of Microsoft, the world's largest software company and the most powerful technology company of all-time. Jobs dreamt of stealing that title from Microsoft, and although it failed and is unlikely to ever do so in the future, Apple has uncovered a niche of its own under the leadership of Steve Jobs. What few people realize is the malicious nature and evil sense of humor that Steve Jobs was sometimes known to p… — Read full post

Walmart CEO — Impostor or the Real Deal?

Posted by Contributor


2 min read | 462 words | 815 views | 0 comments

A couple years ago, I received an angry email from the CEO of Walmart. Yes, you heard that right. But was this email really from the CEO of Walmart, or was it an impostor eager to wreak havoc by submitting support tickets? This question has bothered me ever since I received this message from the "CEO of Walmart", and looking back at it, it seems unlikely that this email was sent from the actual CEO of the world's largest superstore. However, until anyone offers to step forward as the sender of this email, I will continue to attribute the ambiguity and hilarity that ensued after reading this email to him,

Why did I receive an email from the CEO of Walmart? A few years ago when I offered local services through a local school, I decided to create a webpage dedicated to some of the p… — Read full post

Are there SMART-Boards in your school?

Posted by Contributor

  education tech

5 min read | 1290 words | 1204 views | 0 comments

Are there SMART-Boards or other interactive whiteboards at your school? If so, let me ask you a question? Do you use them? Does anyone use them? How often are they used? Do teachers actually use the SMART-Board in their room, or do they just use it as a white canvas for their projector? These are some of the questions that I have been forced to ask myself as changing practices at many schools in the district have started to render these little marvels fruitless. Once the center of attention and the focal point of the room, many don't even realize that these SMART-Boards are more than just a blank canvas and an interactive whiteboard — if they're not being used, they're a extremely large wasted asset.

Now our district is not known for its ability to allocate a budget properly. S… — Read full post

Yes, you still need a landline!

Posted by Contributor


11 min read | 3112 words | 1109 views | 0 comments

Don't even think about giving up your landline! Yes, you still need it — same goes for your desktop. This concept is one I've been preaching for a long time now, but recently this past Tuesday an event occurred that made me want to reiterate my point. Recently at our school, we experienced a power outage. In our area of the state, power outages are not uncommon, but they are not a frequent occurrence. This particular day we experienced some mild gusts, but nothing to warrant any severe weather precautions. Regardless, with about half an hour left until the end of the school day, the power went out; at that moment I was on stage with one of the bands prepping for a concert later that night — the overhead lights went out and then flickered back on. They flicked off and on again a coup… — Read full post

Welcome to Our Blog…

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1 min read | 26 words | 1003 views | 0 comments

Welcome to InterLinked's official blog. Come back often for new topics to ponder or to learn something new. You never know what you'll find here tomorrow!