You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Information’ category.

aerial-displayHave you ever heard the rhetorical question; “What will they think of next?”

Viable answers to that question may be gleaned by perusing applications filed with the US Patent Office (USPTO).

A patent is an assignment of exclusive intellectual property rights by a government to an inventor for a specified time period, in the U.S. and Europe for 20 years.

When someone files a patent on an invention or process, others are prohibited by law from creating and selling products derived from that intellectual property.

Inventors cannot patent ideas alone, they have to demonstrate how the invention will work and that it is feasible.

The word patent stems from the Latin word “patere” meaning “to lay open.”

This etymology reflects the public nature of patents and distinguishes them from trade secrets which are kept private and guarded.

In addition to sheer curiosity you can make powerful uses of the information at uspto.gov.

Some investors make profitable uses of that information in deciding what industries to put their money into.

Writers can gain excellent topics for analysis and writing from patents because successful future products are communicated to us in the present.

For instance, students may develop presentations and papers based on patent information.

infectious-diseaseSuppose that you have a class presentation or paper to prepare and need a strong topic.

Browsing through recent proposals at the USPTO you find a patent filed in 2015 by Boeing Inc. for “Infectious Disease Detection.”

This proposed invention would use sensors to detect traces of specific pathogens; bacteria and viruses.

Why would a company that makes airplanes invest in disease detection?

Because infectious disease is spread significantly by air travel leading to pandemics which are global outbreaks of illness

To turn this idea into a paper or presentation, think through the conditions and implications of effective disease detection at the primary points of transmission.

Detecting disease allows for intervention and preventing its spread which may dramatically impact the global health situation.

Think of other situations where the spread of disease is significant, such as hospitals, daycare and University residence halls where the Norovirus runs rampant.

The analytic strategy of turning a proposed patent invention into a top-rate paper is to produce a reasoned analysis based on the problem, the proposed solution and the implications of a successful solution.  Break it down like this:

1. The problem: describe the circumstances that occur without the invention; e.g. infectious disease spreads rapidly and is hard to control leading to deaths, illness, increased health care costs and other economic impacts.

2. The proposed solution: explain the proposed invention and how it will solve or change the problem; e.g., a system of disease agent detection and intelligent alerts will recognize when a severely contagious disease is present and allow for immediate interventions to help infected people and prevent further contagion.

3. The implications of a successful solution: speculate on the social impacts that will occur if the invention works and is used effectively; e.g., by detecting and managing disease at the primary points of transmission the spread of infectious disease can be significantly contained and prevented.  The gains to human welfare in terms of health will be great and economic benefits from lower health care and otherwise lost productivity will add significantly to the general welfare.

cardboard-bicycleYou can totally make an interesting paper or presentation with a strong analysis and argument from this by filling in the details and backing up your claims with facts, such as the current costs of infectious disease to the economy.

You might also think of potential negative effects of such inventions, which is how writers like Michael Crichton make great stories (Jurrasic Park, Prey) and tons of money.

Now that you see how such analysis and future-casting works, try your mind some other fascinating recent patent filings.

Multi-Part Navigation Process by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Navigating to a Medical Situation”: Google filed a patent for a drone with navigation and flight control processes capable of reaching an emergency with appropria1te reinforcing-photosynthesis1medications and medical equipment. Imagine in the future subscribing to a medical response service that responds immediately to your crisis based on your medical profile.

“System in Space for Reinforcing Photosynthesis and Method”: Airbus, a European airplane maker, may have a way to collect sunlight by satellites in orbit and retransmit the energy to Earth to re-enforce photosynthesis and crop growth. I wonder whether this technology can also boost solar energy collectors.

“Fact Checking Using and Aiding Probabilistic Question Answering”: IBM filed a recent patent for a use of its Watson artificial intelligence program that won the Jeopardy game show. In its role as fact-checker Watson will “decompose a statement into sets of question and answer pairs for each of which it then determines a confidence value from which is calculated a probability that the statement is true.” Imagine this at work in newsrooms and Presidential debates.

“Gamma Secretase Modulators”: Pharmaceutical giant Merck filed a patent for a compound that “targets amyloid beta, a metabolite of amyloid precursor protein which is considered to be of great importance regarding the degeneration and loss of neurons in Alzheimer’s patients.” This may lead to a treatment and even prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

It does not follow from the fact that a patent was filed that the proposed concept will really work, be practical and economically feasible.

Patents do show us the realm of the possible driven by human imagination.

Here are some titles of patents filed in the last few years to peak your interest.

“Method and Apparatus for Delivering Energy to an Electrical or Electronic Device Via a Wireless Link.”

“Devices and Methods for Transferring Data Through a Human Body.”

“Method for Personalizing an Appliance User Interface.”

“System and Method for Targeting Customers Who Invite Other Customers to a Business.”

“Apparatus and Method for Sharing User’s Emotion.”

“Recyclable Cardboard Bicycle.”

“Foreclosure Prevention and Protection.”

“Seawater Desalination System.”

“Foreign Currency Solution.”

“Aerial Display System With Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices.”

“Fabrication of Products On Demand.”

“Self-propelled unicycle engagable with vehicle.”

“Telescopic Contact Lens.”

“Virtual Universe Teleportation Suggestion Service.”

Find many more filed patents at: uspto.gov >Patents >Patent Search (Search for Patents) > Seven Step Strategy.uspto_logo

For patents filed since March 2001 be sure search the AppFT: Applications database.

Understand that patents are legal documents and not designed for easy reading, but you are smarter than the average duck and can hone in on the key points, especially the “abstract” or ”summary” sections.

Make sure that you access the images linked at the top and bottom of the patent text.

Learn to access these ideas directly from the USPTO and you will gain a wealth of future potentials that you may talk and write about.

 

Source Acknowledgements

USPTO
http://www.uspto.gov/

The Top 10 Patents Issued in 2015, Steve Brachman
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/12/28/top-10-patents-issued-2015/id=64025/

Image Acknowledgements

aerial-display.jpg

infectious-disease.jpg

cardboard-bicycle.jpg

reinforcing-photosynthesis1.jpg

Advertisements

dangerous-software-1200_croppedImagine that you are working to meet a midnight paper submission deadline.

Suddenly your computer freezes. Reboots don’t help. The Engineering major down the hall can’t help. Midnight passes helpless. The next day the repair specialist tells you that a wicked virus trashed your machine and only a total reformatting of the hard drive will save it. It is expensive.

Even worse, all of your data including your paper, drafts, research and earlier works are just plain gone.

This heartbreak is a genuine possibility, but the odds against it can be radically shifted in your favor.

“OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year.”

To understand how we may ward ourselves against digital catastrophe at OSU I spoke with Lois Brooks, Vice-Provost of Information Services (IS), and Dave

lois_brooks

Lois Brooks


Nevin, Chief Information Security Officer for the Office of Information Security.

These guardians of our networked community had two salient calls to action for you: be aware and compute safely.

dave_nevin

Dave Nevin

 

Being aware means paying attention to the daily changes in our network ecosystem in order to take appropriate action.

For example, are you aware that this week OSU Information Services is recommending an Apple computer patch and device update in order to address new security risks to the Apple OS?

If you are not aware of this current threat, then you are not network secure, no matter what operating system you use.

“Criminal hackers seek to access your personal information (e.g. SSN) and sell sell it to high-end information identity thieves.”

Nevin is blunt about the risks to the inattentive; “OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year. The hostile attacks are from criminal organizations seeking personal information and intellectual property. OSU can prevail against this assault only if students, faculty and other members contribute by safeguarding their computers and devices against the hostile hackers.”

I was like; “Did I hear that right? 16 million attacks per day? Why would anyone even do that?”

The answer is that your Social Security number and other personal information is stored digitally at OSU which criminal hackers can immediately sell it to high-end information identity thieves.

Nevin observes; “It’s tough. We’re out-numbered. The people we’re fighting against to protect that information are smart, and have a lot of resources available to them. But we have smart people too, and we’re working together to do everything we can to prevent t1hat from happening.”

norse_map

NORSE Attack Map

To see a live display of network attacks around the globe, see the NORSE Hack Attack Map (do check this out because it is amazing!)

Brooks is OSU’s chief information officer and is ultimately responsible for the University’s information technology (IT) policy and budget.

She explained to me in detail the delicate balance between security, safety and privacy at the large scale of the university enterprise.

“All OSU members participate in a social compact with one another to ensure a secure community of trust and shared resources. It requires that every individual take personal responsibility to meet that overall aim.”

Do your part by keeping all of your devices fully patched using current anti-virus and anti-malware available to you for free from Information Services.

Sometimes safety goes beyond network hacks and enters the realm of physical threat.

Brooks and Nevin affirm that OSU cooperates with law enforcement to protect public safety.

osu_recommended_software

On occasion this involves accessing information from the accounts of individuals.

Brooks emphasizes how extraordinary such instances are; “Even though we need to be able to respond when there is a problem, we at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Ours is a culture of respect and I speak from experience to vouch for the integrity of our university leadership in upholding these values.

For you, dear reader, there follows from this balance of privacy and safety a principle based in the wisdom of discretion.

That is: do not use OSU network resources to post information that potentially puts you and others at risk.

Create your own balance of safety and privacy by keeping your machines full patched against hacking and by maintaining intellectually responsible content.

This is what it means on Overheard at OSU when someone posts; “Keep it classy Beavers.”

“We at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Here are two simple steps that you can take to do your part in upholding safety and respect at OSU.

Be Aware: Build your expertise about the OSU’s security ecosystem at “Be Aware!”

is.Oregon State.edu/accounts-support/be-aware

Free Software: Turn your computer and devices into a personal anti-hacking fortress by installing the free and essential software at:

“Anti-virus is a requirement while you are at the university as it is part of the Acceptable Use of University Computing Resources agreement.”

Nevin invites all OSU members to contact him about network security and privacy issues: Dave.Nevin@oregonstate.edu.

Brooks has an open door policy concerning all OSU IT matterantivirus-icon[2]s: Lois.Brooks@oregonstate.edu.

You can always write to me about anything.
drtech@oregonstate.edu

I promise to make sure that your comments get to the appropriate people and I will write you back.

Have a great start to Spring term, invest some time in your network awareness and safety and keep it classy, Beavers.

Resources

OSU Office of Information Security

OSU Antivirus Software

OSU Campus Civility and Inclusivity Campaign

 

Image Acknowledgements

dangerous-software.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/office-information-security-created

Dave_nevin.jpg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-nevin-a9a9b2

lois_brooks.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/adminserv

norse_map.png
http://map.norsecorp.com/#/

osu_recommended_software.png
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

antivirus_icon.gif
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

This morning my bleary eyes focused on the top email in my inbox with the subject; “Immediate Action: Your Mailbox Size Notification.”

The email was simple and to the point.

“Your email account has used 23.7 GB (95%) of 25 GB.

Spear-PhishingYou will be unable to send and receive messages if you do not reset your account storage space to a higher limit.

Click the link to reset and validate your account.

http://oregonstate.edu/amiladministrator

Sincerely, OSU Mail Desk Administrator

This is a phishing attack and if I took the bait by clicking on the link, I could compromise my identity, my money and my data.

Phishing is the use of fraudulent messages disguised as coming from legitimate entities to acquire privileged information.

Phishing exploits trust, worry, and desire to trick people into giving up their up their sensitive credentials such as passwords and credit accounts.

A grim finding from an Intel Security survey shows that 97% of people globally are unable to identify phishing emails. Now that is scary.

The most powerful tool for computer hacking is social engineering which is the larger category of human manipulation into which phishing falls and there are numerous sub-categories of phishing.4894714911_42f0f50f72

Spear Phishing is targeted at specific individuals or groups and may contain familiar graphics and Web addresses to trick you.

Whaling is like spear phishing but aims at very large fish, such as a university president or corporate vice president.

Clone Phishing reuses a legitimate email and modifies it to contain the malicious url.

False Friend is email from someone that you know whose contacts have been hacked or spoofed and used to generate phishy emails.

Tab Nabbing exploits Web browser tabs to open a tab to a fake page.

Evil Twins are bogus wireless networks that mimic public networks in airports, libraries, coffee shop, and hotels in order to harvest credit cards and other personal information.

Phishing and social engineering are confidence games or confidence tricks and c7bc35f579799a5973f2b66937bcd3afcan also occur in text messages, phone calls, Web pages, social media posts, Skype calls and snail mailConfidence games are very old; read the Iliad for some prototypical instances.

Given that phishing is based in deception and some of the fakes are very convincing, how may time-stressed individuals such as yourself protect against the ruses? The solution comes in two parts: know what to look for and alter your online habits accordingly.

In his book The PrinceThe Prince Machiavelli gave advice that rings true when protecting oneself against phishing; be like the fox and the lion, the fox to discover the traps, the lion to frighten the wolves – be both smart and strong.

Here are some clues to watch for in order to detect predatory messages.

Asks for too much: computer system administrators never require your username, password, credit card or social security number. Even if sensitive information is needed online or by voice you are better off taking an alternate path to double-check the source.

Mismatched links: Don’t click on email links, but do examine them by mousing-over and you will see that phishing emails include linked text that is different from the Web address linked to.

You did not ask for it: a warning, threat or offer comes to you without you having initiated the contact – beware.

Threats and promises: fear, greed and pride are the nuts and bolts of confidence games and when you detect those elements in a message your phishy antennae should perk right up.

Poorly constructed: some phishing messages are expert but most are barely literate and would end up in the reject folder at crappypasta.com. You should know enough to reject them as well. This is one reason why advanced literacy is a practical part of your education.

“97% of people globally are unable to identify phishing emails.”

Cultivate smart habits to protect yourself against predatory messages (see my earlier columns for techniques of habit change) including the following practices.

Slow Down: most phishing threats can be disarmed by separating action from feeling. Phishers rely upon the impulsive actions of their victims and so when an email or related message gives you feelings of urgency, take that as a sign that you need to step away from the mouse and give clarity time to emerge.  Much of what feels like an emergency in life – for instance a midterm – is not as big as it seems.

Analyze before evaluating: Judging something as bad, dangerous, desirable or important are evaluations that will benefit from analysis. Learning to discern the relevant facts of situation before evaluating those facts is a fundamental critical thinking skill that will save you from confidence games. It is like looking both ways (analysis) before crossing the street (judgment).

Research the claims: What is the message seeking from you? What does it claim to be? What evidence do you have for these claims? A great way to check any message for phishing is to copy the message text and paste it into a Google search. It took me less than ten seconds to do so with the email that I receive this morning (see above) and my search returned hundreds of posts identifying the fraud. This method directs analysis to a safe and useful action.

Never link from an email: Once when I was little I put my finger in a stapler just to see what would happen. Once I clicked on a link in an email just to see what would happen. I have not done either of those things ever again.

Never reply with personal information: Todd Davis is CEO of Lifelock, a personal identity protection company. To promote his product Davis give out his social security number on television and the Web claiming that Lifelock will prevent identity theft. Within months his identity was compromised 13 times including fraudulent loans, credit cards, and gift basket purchases. Don’t be like Davis and do not give out your social security number, passwords, credit card information, and other personal information unless you are very sure about whom you are giving it to.

Be network selective: be very careful about using personal information on public networks such as coffee shops and airports because you may expose it to an evil twin or wifi sniffer.

Do not reply at all to suspects: do not reply to phishing or spam messages because even selecting the unsubscribe link will verify your email address and invite more malicious attacks.

Use your junk mail, spam filters and security programs: get familiar with7557181168_91f4af2d99_b your self-defense tools and use them effectively. Look into Google Safe Browsing for Chrome and Firefox. The OSU Computer Walk-Up Help Desk in the Valley Library and the OSU Computer Help Desk at 541-737-3474 will help you become an internet ninja.

Report phishing: the OSU Helpdesk has a feedback form by which you may report phishing messages. See jondorbolo.com for resource links. Reporting helps the community address phishing and makes you more aware because you become an active participant.

Stay informed: security specialists like McAfee Labs, Symantec and Norton are reliable sources for phishing threats and defensive strategies. Being aware of the threat environment and current protective measures is a source of personal power. OSU Computer Helpdesk has extensive online resources on Phishing including effective breakdowns of actual examples plus no-cost security software and help in using it.

Don’t be paranoid: be smart and safe but please do not let this information make you more fearful or cynical. With reason, knowledge and habit adjustment you can be cyber-secure. The key to a better life is learning to see a better world.

For more depth on phishing and other malicious hacking phenomena consider two sources which I drew from for this column.

Phishing Dark Waters, Christopher Hadnagy (2015, Wiley).

The Art of Deception, Kevin Mitnick (2007, Wiley).

Please send your experiences with phishing to me at drtech@oregonstate.edu.

Image Acknowledgements

Spear-Phishing.jpeg
https://blog.knowbe4.com/tech-firm-ubiquity-suffers-46m-cyberheist

4894714911_42f0f50f72.jpeg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/35484468@N07/4894714911

c7bc35f579799a5973f2b66937bcd3af.jpeg
http://www.amazon.com/The-Prince-Dover-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486272745

7557181168_91f4af2d99_b.jpeg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/61423903@N06/7557181168

Pictofigo_FrustrationThe Turning clicker system is currently a source of irritation to OSU students and faculty alike.

In this column I will consider what the problem is, what solutions are being pursued and what you can do to succeed with your clicker this term.

What are clickers?

In Fall 2015 approximately 12,000 students are using the Turning clicker system in 77 course sections.

The Turning clicker system consists on the student side of a physical remote, ResponseWare iOS and Android apps, a web clicker for browsers at rwpoll.com and a licensed Turning Cloud account.

On the instructor’s side is a USB receiver and the TurningPoint software.

What holds all of this together is the Turning License. Think of the license like the data plan for your smartphone. The phone will not work without a data plan and your clicker system will not fully work without a license.

“See the video of Dr. Tech being soaked with ice water in freezing weather as penance for this unfortunate situation.”

In Fall 2015 the Beaver Store began selling the QT remote which replaces and costs the same as last year’s NXT bundle.

Costs to students are contained by not raising them when the tools upgrade.

The updated system works with the NXT so that students who own a clicker from previous years do not need to buy a QT.

Costs to students are contained by designed backwards compatibility thus limiting new required purchases.

What is the problem with the clickers?

The problem with the clickers is that many students are having difficulty registering their system such that their name and the device ID are paired.beaver-46239_640

This problem is due to several factors.

One factor is the transition from Blackboard to Canvas which produced the need to connect accounts to both; the departure of Blackboard from OSU this term will simplify that matter.

Another factor is the existence of three ONID email address for each OSU member: @oregonstate.edu, @onid.oregonstate.edu, @onid.orst.edu.

Most of the student registration troubles that I encounter involve a combination of email logins for multiple Turning Cloud accounts.

Add to these factors Turning’s move to a cloud-based system with some design flaws and the variations proliferate faster than fruit-flies in a compost bin.

85% of OSU students in clicker-using courses this Fall are correctly registered so that their names and clicker device IDs are paired in Canvas.

Consequently, 15% of this term’s students – about 2,000 people – are not completely registered as of week three.

Being completely registered means that you have a Turning Cloud account that is linked to Canvas and contains a redeemed license and a valid device ID.

The most important point I have to convey is that the Turning clicker system saves your participation points 100% of the time.

I will not tolerate a system that loses points of students who use it correctly.

Even if you are in a registration snarl, every time you use your clicker and get a check mark symbol, your responses are received and saved.

The TAC plan is to get every student registered and then go course by course, file by file to retrieve and post every participation point for every student.

You have my word on that and if you feel that your participation points are not being properly credited, please come see me and we go after it with a passion.

All of the instructors who use clickers are aware of these facts and co-operate fully in crediting the legitimate participation points of students.

You also have my humble apology for the confusion and irritation related to our clicker system.

To wit, see for the video of me being soaked with ice water in freezing weather as penance for this unfortunate situation.

What is being done to fix this problem?

I take responsibility for leading us to a clicker registration solution for future terms.

I am working with Turning and Canvas to guide development of a direct and logical integration between the two nxt_qtthat supports a three-step registration process such as is common to many web applications.

The critical objective is to eliminate false-positives so that students do not believe that they are correctly registered when they actually have incomplete accounts.

Basically I plan to banish incomplete clicker accounts to the bowels of hades so that students get one of two outcomes: “that worked, congratulations” or “that did not work, go get help.”

Verily I say unto you, this strategy will result in a 98% successful registration rate before the end of week two in a term.

Moreover I am seeking to normalize clicker ownership so that incoming students receive their fully registered clicker bundle at START in the Summer.

I’d like to add unicorns and rainbows to this plan, but for the coming academic year a completely reliable and hassle-free clicker registration system will suffice.

What can I do to solve my clicker issues now?

Visit the TAC Clicker Registration Station in the lobby outside of LINC100 from 10-2 M-F.

Many students have more than one Turning account – often one linked to Blackboard and another to Canvas.

I suggest that you check each of the ONID email addresses – @oregonstate.edu, @onid.oregonstate.edu, @onid.orst.edu – at the Turning Account login; go through Canvas to find it.

Use the password retrieval to see if the account for that login exists and to determine whether you have a stealth account.

If you do have multiple accounts, check to see which one has a redeemed license and whether it is linked to Blackboard or Canvas.

Often the solution is to link Canvas to the licensed account by selecting the Turning link in Canvas and logging into Turning.

If you reset your password the Canvas link is broken but you only need connect from within Canvas again and login to restore it.

In the Dashboard “http://oregonstate.turningtechnologies.com” shows a Canvas connection.

In the Dashboard “http://my.oregonstate.edu” shows a Blackboard connection.

If you are in any doubt, come see us at the Clicker Registration Station in the lobby outside of LINC100 from 10-2 M-F or write to clickers@oregonstate.edu.

My clicker crew colleagues and I agree that OSU students are among the most patient and civil people on the planet.

In tribute to your excellence we are holding a raffle with Turning Technologies support.

Love for money

Prizes are Beaver Store gift certificates in denominations of ten $10, five $25, two $50, and one $100.

Winners will be drawn from all OSU students with fully registered Turning clicker accounts and announced in a future Dr. Tech column.

Please come to TAC’s Clicker Station in the LINC first floor lobby M-F 10-2 for assistance and write to me with your thoughts on clickers and anything at all: drtech@oregonstate.edu.

I am deeply troubled by the recent tragedy in Roseburg and recent atrocities in Yemen and Afghanistan, so I want to share with you ways that I have been exploring for responding to horror without becoming numb to its significance.

I am learning to implement a technology by which you too may sustain yourself while also acting effectively in a tragic world.

First consider how we commonly respond to news of a horrible event.

When I heard of Thursday’s Umpqua massacre I felt a cold weakness in the middle of my chest.

Shortly after I stood before a class of first-year students, some of whom I knew were from Roseburg, all of whom reminded me of the dear people we had just lost.

It seemed apparent to me that they did not yet know what had just happened and I struggled with a sense of unreality as I reached for something meaningful to say.

After that class I wept.

Perhaps you also have physical reactions to awful news.

Next I did what many parents do when we hear of a disaster; call our children just to make sure they are ok.

Then come a series of predicable messages from predictable sources.

People start sharing rumors and reports as if possessing the latest bit of information can impact the gravity of the incident.

Leaders hold press conferences and send email denouncing and consoling.

Some people immediately seize the shock of the moment to advance or defend their political and personal agendas, often in ways that increase the harm.

Then comes a barrage of angry and speculative verbiage about who to blame.

Experts weigh in with analyses, statistics and opinions.

That evening people with gather with candles, put personal items at the site of the harm and set up memorial scholarships, every detail shared by constant repetition through many media.

Then we go on about our business in wait for the next appalling event.

In our present age all of this reaction happens with blinding speed and tends to race past the reality of the moment, as if the attendant information and spectacle is more significant than the event itself.

This set of reactions may be called a “viral cycle” because the activity builds on itself and has a predictable path as social phenomena.cue_routine_reward.fw

Do you recognize the parts of this viral cycle and most important, your roles in it? Do you have characteristic reactions to news of a horrible occurrence?

If you do, and I think that we all do, then there is a habitual pattern in you that guides your reactions automatically.

What concerns me about these habitual patterns is that they typically leave us individually and collectively in a negative mental state and with a sense of impotence about effecting any change for the better.

When there is nothing that we can do about suffering except feel bad, it is natural to seek emotional distance and I suspect that much of transpires in the social viral cycle are various ways of gaining that distance.

Yet we really can do something to make things better in the face of horror and it starts with our remarkable ability to modify our own habits.

There are techniques – a technology – for changing our own habits. By using those techniques we can teach ourselves to react with care and kindness in the face of horror.

This capability matters because increasing care and kindness in the world is the effective means to preventing future tragedies and because acting with care and kindness sustains your self when the worst happens.

Here is how you may modify your gut reactions to tragedy (and any other habits that you want to change).

Learn the technique of habit modification such as that developed in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2014) by Charles Duhigg. the_power_of_habit

In Duhigg’s analysis every habit consists of a cognitive/behavioral loop in which a cue triggers a routine which elicits a reward.

Think of the cue as an event that happens to us, the routine as a behavior pattern that we perform in response to the cue, and the reward as a perception that the routine was successful.

Habits are self-reinforcing and habit change is most effective when we associate the cue and reward with a different routine.

When we learn of a horrific event it is a cue that triggers routines (such as those listed above) which reward us by reducing negative feelings.

Following this analysis of habits, the effective means to changing your reactions to shocking events is to associate the cue (horrible events) and the reward (feeling less badly) with a new routine (patterns of action).

A routine that is relevant to the cue of horrible events is to increase your feelings of care and expressions of kindness

I am serious that expressing kindness from a feeling of care provides an effective counter to shock and frustration

Treating others with kindness from care through words and actions will change how you feel.

I’ll not suggest how to be caringly kind because in order to effect personal change those feelings and behaviors must be uniquely yours.

I will show how to develop those feelings and behaviors for yourself.

Step 1: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for yourself and turn them into a habit.

You already know how to be mean to yourself and maybe have a strong inner critic.

Now add to that self-judgment an inner advocate that throughout the day acknowledges positively you for simple accomplishments and voices value for you as a person.

In second week scan the news for a horrific tragedy, it won’t take long, and when you find it make yourself aware that the fact that you care about it is reason enough to be kind to yourself (just some inner kind words are enough).

Step 2: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for others.

People are all round you so opportunities for care and kindness abound.

Start with people whom you know and tell them what you value about them, then expand into kindness to strangers.

Repeat the news-scan activity in step 1, this time responding to tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to others.

Step 3: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for people whom you dislike or who irritate you.

Caring for enemies may be as simple as wishing them well in your mind instead of wishing them harm; i.e. that they suffer the same as they cause.

Replace signals of irritation (scowls, gestures and words) with quiet patience until you are practiced enough to muster a smile.

Repeat the news-scan activity in steps 1 and 2, this time responding to the tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to people who irritate you.

Now put the three steps together so that you perform all of them at least once per day and please note that in order to work you need to make this a practice in action, not merely a thought.

I base this formula upon the psycho-spiritual technologies developed and taught by Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Śāntideva, King and Gandhi among other luminaries.

I believe that using the technology of habit modification to transform your feelings of hurt and frustration into actionable change will benefit you because the resulting patterns of behavior make you more effective and positive in dealing with tragedy.

I also believe that this practice will contribute to preventing some horrific events because as the practice of care and kindness grows – by you joining it – the people who potentially cause harm will encounter care and kindness.

The killers at Umpqua, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Northern Illinois and so many others expressed their perceptions of social isolation as a partial motive for the horror they inflicted.meditation-651411_640

If a potential killer experiences even momentary kindness from strangers, their path of destruction may be altered.

We have the technology to change ourselves, our actions and the people around us.

You and I are not helpless in the face of horror and tragedy as long as we have the will to become the change that we want to see in the world.

 

Oregon State University Support Resources

OSU has resources for students, staff, and faculty for addressing grief and stress.  The centers of these resources is:

CAPS
http://counseling.oregonstate.edu

Student Health Services
http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu

 

Image Sources

Sépulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadness#/media/File:S%C3%A9pulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12.jpg

cue_routine.reward.png
jon dorbolo

the_power_of_habit.jpg
http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

meditation-651411_640
https://pixabay.com/en/meditation-compassion-presence-love-651411/

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the following individuals who contributed to this essay.

– Jennifer Knaus

beaver-46221_640A campus full of Beavers makes my heart glad. If you have returned, welcome home. If you are new to OSU, we are so glad that you have joined this community.

I am Dr. Tech and this weekly column covers issues in technology that are important to OSU members and maybe of interest to you; students, staff and faculty. Write to me anytime with questions and ideas to investigate and address; drtech@oregonstate.edu.

“All students with clickers completely and correctly registered by Friday 10.09 5:00 p.m. PST will be entered into the raffle and the winners will be announced in this column on the following Wednesday.”

Learning Innovation Center (LINC)

The big news this term is the Learning Innovation Center (LINC). This astonishing facility seats up to 2,300 students in 15 classrooms of widely diverse styles.

The unique design of the building, classrooms in the center with perimeter walkways, provides 600 study and collaboration spaces on all 4 floors. Conversations with students consistently identified the need for more informal learning space and now you have it.

parlement_roomSome of the class rooms such as the in-the-round spaces are totally unique to OSU.

Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC), The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and Boora Architects have launched a study of these spaces titled “The Geometry of Learning.”

This study is a research framework initially seeking to measure seating choices by students in order to correlate location to learning outcomes.

We also aim to map the social networks of learning spaces by following seat choices over time.

This research is original and has potential for discovering how to design learning spaces for optimal learner performance.

This research is supported by Academic Affairs and Information Services.

Thousands of students have consented to participate in the research and if you are among them, we appreciate your foresight.

Fourth floor LINC is home to the Honors College and the Integrated Learning Resource Center (ILRC) which brings together the units of Academic Technology (AT) and CTL. My office is there if you ever have time to stop in to say “hi.”

Clickers

There is a new Turning remote in town, the QT, sold in the Beaver Store as OSU’s clicker solution.

The QT has a qwerty keyboard which makes it equivalent to the ResponseWare mobile device clicker interface.turning_qt

The QT bundle costs the same as last year’s NXT clicker and no new costs are added to clicker-using students.

Please note that students who own a NXT from previous years are fully supported and do not need to buy a new clicker.

Students who registered an NXT in 2014-5 (last year) do not need to register again. Students who own a new QT must register the device and their license.

Registration licenses your QT and apps which are downloadable at no cost from the Apple Store and Google Play, as well as the web service at rwpoll.com. All of these will work as a clicker if your instructor enables the ResponseWare.

Check your course syllabus for the ResponseWare Session ID because some instructors choose not to enable ResponseWare for mobile devices.

TAC’s Clicker Registration Station is located outside of LINC100 Monday through Friday in week one for everyone who needs to register their clicker or wants to check on it.

The Turning clicker system at OSU is part of a comprehensive strategy intended to steadily increase learning/teaching power while containing and reducing costs to students.  I will cover details of this strategy in columns to come.

How about a raffle contest for the quickest classes to register? Some of you may remember last year when I took the ice bucket challenge in December to promote clicker registration. Now TAC with support from Turning Technologies is launching a raffle to encourage fast and total clicker registrations by classes. The prizes are Beaver Store gift certificates in the following amounts and denominations:

10x$10
4x$25
2x$50
1x$100

All students with clickers completely and correctly registered by Friday 10.09 5:00 p.m. PST will be entered into the raffle and the winners will be announced in this column on the following Wednesday. To qualify you need to be an Oregon State University student and have a Turning NXT or QT remote with a redeemed license, which is listed as a participant in the Canvas system.  TAC will randomly select Beaver Store gift certificate winners from the active participants listed in Canvas.  Winners will be contacted by ONID mail.  Certificated unclaimed four weeks will be awarded to an alternate student. Send your questions about this F15 raffle to Jon.Dorbolo@oregonstate.edu.  

Canvas

Fall 2015 is the last term for Blackboard at OSU and Canvas is performing well as a strong successor.canvas_panda

Three new features are available in Canvas: Studio Sites, Turnitin, and Canvas Commons.

Studio Sites enables OSU members to create Canvas areas for non-course uses such as student clubs and department resources.

Turnitin is a text pattern-matching tool that may flag different kinds of plagiarism and inappropriate reuse. Instructors must inform students that Turnitin will be used on course assignments, preferably in the syllabus. The tool may be used to let students check their drafts for pattern matches before submitting an assignment, which turns Turnitin into a learning tool.

Canvas Commons facilitates sharing of selected course content among instructors both locally and globally.

Office365

Every OSU student gets Microsoft Office365 for use on 5 devices at no cost.  Download yours at oregonstate.edu/office365

Walkup Computer Help Desk

No one could ask for better technical support than available to OSU students at the OSU Computer Walk-Up Helpdesk on main floor of Valley Library. There is not enough room on this whole page to list all of the services that they provide, so check my blog for links.

Game On!

Dr. Tech’s Top Ten Technologies Countdown is an interactive live game show c3_spin_gamethat uses clickers and student’s brains to compete for knowledge and prizes. Three sessions of the game are reserved for U-Engage first year students and other sessions will be open to the collective Beaver colony. This game and yours truly will be featured at the upcoming Unizin Summit conference.

My forecast is that F15 will be an action packed term with you being especially successful. I advise you to read “Ask Dr. Tech” weekly to stay sharp on the edge of tech.

Image Sources

beaver-46221_640.png
https://www.google.com/search?site=imghp&tbm=isch&q=beavers&tbs=sur:fmc#imgrc=9VCpr2lGN0kD8M%3A

canvas_panda.gif
Canvas

linc_parlament.jpg
Boora Architects

spin_game.jpg
c3softworks

Wenger_EvoGrip_S17I hope to persuade you that your summer plans should include a strategy for creating at least one substantive product that demonstrates your skills.

This matters because you will eventually be competing for a job, program or grant and those candidates who have demonstrated relevant skills shall prevail.

It is not hard to demonstrate a skill, but so few people do so that those who grasp its value will gain power.

Here is a formula for demonstrating your skills:

1. Identify a skill to promote

2. Do something that uses that skill

3. Produce a commentary on what you did,

4. Publish your commentary publicly

5. Refer employers and evaluators to your product.

To identify a promotable skill [step 1 of the formula] review the objectives of what you have already accomplished and find out what your potential audience values.

All of the courses and programs that you have completed have performanceimage3 objectives stated in the syllabi or other descriptive documents.

A strong way to prepare an account of your abilities is to review the performance objectives that you have met and write a paragraph expressing the specific knowledge or action that fulfills each objective.

I put each learning objective for the courses that I take (I am pursuing a MA in Psychology) on an index card at the start of the term, then write a statement of specific knowledge that fulfills the objective on each card at the end of the course.

Employers and evaluators tell us what they value and you should pay attention to what they are saying.

Read “The Six Critical Abilities Students Need for Success After College” in Forbes Magazine.

The employable skills listed in that article are; Think analytically, Express ideas effectively through written communication, Exchange ideas effectively through oral communication, Bring innovation to their work, Envisage and work independently on a project, Accept and act on criticism.

Read “IDC study reveals skills today’s students need to succeed in tomorrow’s unimagined world.”

When you look at a job application consider whether any of the parts asked for map to the skills identified by employers in these studies.

Acknowledging what you have accomplished, there is always more that you can do to validate a skill [step 2 of the formula] and the solutions are no further than your mobile phone.

Thousands of online courses, seminars, textbooks, eBooks and audio books are available for free or cheap.

Some of these are validated by universities such as Open Oregon State, MIT OpenCourseware, Stanford Online, and Merlot.

14695-adventures_moduleI recommend that you take a look at “Adventures in Writing” from Stanford Online which is a series of lessons presented in graphic novel style that you can take for free.

I ask you, is “I succeeded in a writing course from Stanford” or “I completed a seminar taught by a Nobel Prize laureate at MIT” worth having in your cover letter?

Even better, all such offerings have performance objectives so that you may map your skills back to what employers are seeking.

Open Culture is a massive repository of free online learning resources.

Even a little bit of computer programming knowledge is valuable in the job market and even the most non-technical of us can gain such knowledge at Khan Academy an Code Academy.

I am not suggesting that you pursue C++ coding, but that a truthful statement such as “mastered the basics of writing macros in Word in this certified tutorial” or “over summer break I learned Javascript which I applied to the website at…”

While you are learning something you may as well turn it into evidence of your competence (step 3 of the formula) by writing a review of the course-book-article-video that you studied and post your review on a blog or a review site such as Goodreads.

With even a small repertoire of such publications (step 4 of the formula) you will have objective evidence of your skills in learning and communication to be references in resumes, cover letters, and applications.

Consider the following statements from two job applications:

“I have excellent communication and collaboration skills.”

“My communication skills are demonstrated by my book reviews at link and my collaboration skills are demonstrated in the report that I produced from a group project at link” [step 5 of the formula].

If you were an employer, which statement would invite you to take another look at the candidate?

If acting on this advice interests you, please send your thoughts and opencultureoutcomes to me at drtech@oregonstate.edu.

I wish graduating seniors and all degree recipients luck in entering an amazing career; your path to excellence is just beginning.

Fare ye well and come back to us some times, because once a Beaver always a Beaver.

To you who will return in Fall, have a wonderful summer, plenty of fun, make sure you learn something and make it count for you.

 

Image Acknowledgements

Wenger_EvoGrip_S17.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Army_knife#/media/File:Wenger_EvoGrip_S17.JPG

14695-adventures_module.jpg
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/january/writing-adventures-illustrated-010815.html

image3.jpeg
http://www.thewisejobsearch.com/2010/07/filling-out-job-applications-why-and.html

jan_michael_looking_wolfThirty years at OSU and I can say that not a single day has been uneventful. 

Walking across campus after an interesting symposium I came upon a large circle of students playing wooden flutes. 

They were past students from Jan Michael Looking Wolf ‘s course Native American Flute (MUS108) at OSU. 

350 students joined to play "One Heart" in what may be a world’s record for the most wooden flutes at one time. 

Looking Wolf has submitted the event to the Guinness Book of World Records.

For your joy, here is my video of that magic moment.

potter_jumpDean Potter jumped off a cliff 2,286m (7,500ft) up and died.  He had done this and other stunts taunting death many times; in the end death won.

Dean is a celebrity among many people who risk their lives to base jump, climb, dive, and engage in other activities known as “extreme sports.”

I have no criticism of those who engage in extreme sports, even when like Dean they hit the wall.

I do think that his death affords an opportunity to explore an interesting distinction – that is: our culture commonly reviles people who kill themselves, but does not revile (and even honors) people who get themselves killed.

Dean Potter got himself killed, but he did not kill himself.  That distinction is at the core of why folks dead people like Dean are treated heroically, even spiritually, in the media while suicides are publicly called out as “cowards.”potter_moon

The legal status of killing oneself has changed in the US from being a felony in all 50 states to currently having no explicit criminal sanction, but will likely invoke State health authority.

Getting oneself killed has never been criminal, so far as I am aware, so that jumping out of an airplane, a cliff, or building is one’s own business, unless it involves trespassing.

People who get away with such activities are not treated publicly as criminals, but as celebrities.

There is something fascinating about people who risk their lives for fun andhoudini_water_torture profit.  In 19th century England attempted suicide was punishable by the death penalty.  At the same time people paid to see performers go over waterfalls in a barrel and for Houdini to court death chained in tank of water.

Perhaps the distinction is based in the intention.  The serious suicide intends to kill themselves and die.  The daredevil is not overtly trying to kill themselves and die, but rather to come close to death and escape its grasp.

Dean Potter did not jump off a cliff because he wanted to die.  He expected to live to tell the tale of his near-death experience.  He spoke of his experience of fear and his intense awareness that he might die.

It by surviving that the daredevil represents a triumph over death.  We honor the risk takers because they show it possible to overcome the fears that we experience.

potter_flight_frontalAccordingly, when the risk ends in death such as Dean Potter, our sense of the risk is verified and we know that he was playing it for real.

I suspect that the more successful we are at preventing death by disease, accidents, and violence, as our natural life spans increase, our value for living will grow.  One effect of this value is that daredevils – those who risk death – will become more special and interesting for us because they will be risking even more.

To be clear – I find daredevils fascinating and followed Dean Potter’s adventures.  I am not criticizing him or other risk takers.

I do think it is relevant to re-think how we classify those who get themselves killed and those who kill themselves.

pov_globe_cropLast Friday Kelley Engineering Center erupted with ingenuity and excellence as more than 600 undergraduates demonstrated their senior projects capping their careers as OSU engineering students.

300-plus projects from all 8 engineering disciplines departments were on display and I was fortunate to talk with a few dozen of the groups about their work; here are my impressions of a few.

Healthy Cat is a smart feeding station that measures food and water consumption of the porculent puss when it steps onto the feeding platform so that feline guardians may adjust the amount and frequency of Meow Mix via a mobile app; I grey_catsuggested adding a camera to automatically upload kitty selfies to Instagram.

3D Printing Management is notable as this achievement is now deployed in the OSU Valley Library 3D printing system and has reduced order processing time by 75% which is outstanding given how popular the library’s 3D printing service has become in the year since it launched.

The Bird Detection System uses a GoPro camera and custom software to identify and track birds and achieved a breakthrough by removing non-moving elements of the scene, thereby freeing most of the processing power to more accurately follow the fowl in flight.

OSU_Rocketry_Logo_Alternate-300x295The OSU Rocketry Team is always a top contender at the Experimental Sounding Rocketry Association (ESRA) and this year is especially strong with a contribution from the Payload Electronics Team who designed on-board instrumentation that “parses GPS coordinates with altimeter data and plots a 3D visualization of the flight into Google Earth, showing a 2D representation of the flight profile.”

Master Hand DJ Glove controls electronic dance music by gestures, which looks and sounds cool; Michael Jackson would have loved it.

Persistence of Vision Globe produces an animated 3D image of the earth out of a spinning ribbon of programmed LEDs which made this one of the most visually interesting projects on display.

Autonomous Energy Harvesting optimizes the performance of solar powered instruments by smartly controlling the level of operation according to how much power is available, thus preventing battery drain and ensuring that the sensors will have sufficient energy to do their work.

OSU stormwater runs from campus directly into Oak Creek so this team measured contaminants and found a lot of zinc but no detectable E. coli, and acceptable levels of turbidity and conductivity.

Smart Disk is a wireless switching device that replaces traditional wall switches with programmable mobile controllers that work with conventional light bulbs which is wonderful since most commercial wireless light control systems require special bulbs at higher cost.

Baxter is a smart industrial robot that is state-of-the-art except for having only two fingers on each hand which makes it hard to turn door knobs and that is why the “Door-Opening Tools for Robots” team designed add-on prosthetics that Bather can use to accomplish tasks requiring three points of contact; even though Baxter’sbaxter_profile face is really an image on an iPad, it looked happy about this.

The “Self Orienting Puck” uses internal electro-mechanics and Netwon’s Third Law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, (not the metaphorical interpretation from “Interstellar”) to keep the puck up no matter how it lands.

The “Extreme Materials Tester” team designed a tool to analyze the materials that can be used to make amazing soft robots that move around like alien life forms and can be useful for many applications including search and rescue operations in disaster areas; I must say, however, that if I were trapped in an earthquake and then saw one of these jelly-fish like robots oozing towards me without warning, I’d feel anxious.

Engineers Without Borders is a global organization with an OSU student chapter that is currently participating in projects in El Salvador, Kenya and Nicaragua such as developing clean drinking water systems.

Phi Sigma Rho is a social sorority for women in engineering and having met some of the women in the OSU chapter I am certain that they have outstanding careers ahead with a lifetime of support from this group.

Phi_Sigma_Rho_heartMany more wonderful projects and groups were present at the 2015 Engineering Expo such that I wish we had more opportunities for all of campus to experience these outstanding achievements.

These brilliant beavers worked hard for a year or more to bring their ideas to reality and warrant our hardy congratulations for their successful projects and especially for bringing their academic efforts to commencement.

I thank all of these students and the College of Engineering for sharing these accomplishments at the Expo.

Now go forth dear graduates to make this world a better place and bring glory and honor to your alma mater!