The following does not represent opinions held by CrexTechs but is intended only as food for thought on an important issue.
Should we be concerned that the NSA (National Security Agency) is digitally stockpiling our email messages, text messages and phone calls in mega databases that allows them not only to surveil domestic communications for possible terrorist threats but might also allow them to use these same databases to mine other information that could be used to suppress our political freedoms?
In this digital age it is very easy to divert to data centers the stream of data that is our email messages, text messages, phone conversations and even our web browsing history without our knowledge. Huge data crunching computers can sift this information for key words and phrases for analysts to look at and determine if there is a threat to our national security or a political threat to say the current administration (now or in the future).
Are we willing to risk our political freedoms to ensure the level of domestic security we have come to expect? Are we going to trust our government to do the right thing with this data and not use it for political purposes? Who is the enemy if we can't trust our elected and appointed officials to safeguard our rights and freedoms? Or does power corrupt and is access to our private information yet another source of power that will only corrupt our elected and appointed officials?
Ben Franklin is quoted as having said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
Are we sacrificing a little of our freedom to gain a little security or are we sacrificing a lot of freedom to gain a lot of security and does this compromise the basic tenets of our constitution, the very nature of who we are as a nation? Has a more complex and dangerous world forced us to take extreme precautions that will destroy the fabric of our social compact? If (when) we are attacked again by foreign terrorists are we going to point our fingers at the administration and accuse them of not doing enough to ensure our safety? Are we going to be willing give up even more of our political freedom? How much is enough? How much is too much?
Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Is it enough that we are aware that our digital communications are being intercepted, stockpiled and data-mined? We do know that we are vulnerable to all kinds of cyber-attacks and threats to our digital identities. Shouldn't we be vigilant about our digital communications anyway as we know that all systems are breachable, that our information is not safe from crooks and scammers so why would we fear the government having access?
If we are fully aware of what is going on, aren't we still a free and open society? And isn't that the important thing? Was Mr. Snowden, whose leaks merely confirmed what we already knew to be happening despite assurances from Congress and the Administrations, merely ensuring that the whole mass of people are educated and informed about what is happening? What happens if we shut him up? Are we then ensuring that we will be giving over our political freedom in favor of a secret government that has carte blanche to use and abuse our personal data?
Here is some information to consider in the process of educating and informing ourselves on this important topic.
Checking out a variety of opinion pieces is also important in gaining insight into what the impact of government surveillance of our digital communication might mean to our political freedom in the future.
Ever wonder what the difference is between your hard drive (hard disk) and RAM?
Your hard drive is for storage, like your long term memory.
Your RAM is fast access temporary memory like your short term memory. Nothing is stored long term in your RAM memory. When you shut a program or shut down your computer, your RAM should be cleared.
You also have some short term memory on your CPU (Central Processing Unit or processor) called cache memory. This is super fast memory for you CPU to use when it is processing.
How fast your computer works is a function of your RAM and cache memory. If you don't have enough for all the programs you are running at the same time, your computer will slow down.
All your programs are stored on your hard drive as well as all your data (files such as pictures, music, documents and database files). Information that your programs need to run are also stored on your hard drive, some of it encrypted such as saved user ids and passwords. Safeguarding your data from hard drive failure is why it is important to do regulard backups of your hard drive. Saving your program disks is also important as you may need to reinstall these.
When you shut down your computer, information from your short term (RAM) memory that needs to be saved long term is copies over to your hard drive before shut down. Then your RAM is cleared out so that it is empty when you reboot.
Do you ever get the message Out of Memory (OOM) when you know you have everything closed? This can happen when you are using a program that has some memory issues, that is the program doesn't close properly and so is hogging all your RAM memory making it hard or impossible to do anything. Rebooting should clear the memory but if you open the culprit program you will get the error again. Try uninstalling and reinstalling the culprit program or look online for updates for the program. If this doesn't help you will need to find a replacement program. This can be a pain if the program has files specific to the program that are not openable with a different program.
Do you feel like you've been watching the world pass you by because you aren't getting texts, tweets and Facebook updates on your mobile phone and you can't upload photos to your Facebook page or sell on eBay while you are commuting to work (on public transport!!) or shopping for groceries? Do you think you want a tablet or a smart phone but not sure if you should forsake your laptop or desktop just yet?
There are advantages to mobile devices that the young especially find compelling. The biggie is that you can stay in touch with your circle of friends and family no matter where you are or what you are doing. Among certain circles it is not considered rude to have a face to face conversation while texting and tweeting. That may not be as appealing for older folks who find the constant distraction annoying and resent the apparent inattention of kids and grandkids forever staring at the palms.
But what you may find attractive is that tablets and other hand held devices can help you access information on the run. My sister used to keep a yellow pages in her car to look stuff up when she was out and about and a Hudson Road Atlas. Having internet access on the run is a great thing and many mobile devices have build in GPS to boot.
Sharing pictures, documents and music and keeping family and friends updated on significant news and developments is also nice and can be done on the spot, a time saving advantage unless you are constantly sharing which may prove not only time consuming but annoying to family and friends.
There are lots of reasons why mobile devices are gaining in popularity but will they replace the computer on your desk whether a desktop or laptop?
This may be an important question to you if you are trying to decide whether to spend your money upgrading your computer or investing in a tablet.
How you use your computer will tell you a lot about whether abandoning your current machine for a tablet or smartphone is a good choice for you especially if having both is not economically feasible.
For me the issue with handhelds the size of the screen and the size of the keyboard. I do too much composing and reading on line to be happy with even a laptop screen and keypad.
I'd like to have a tablet for travel as my laptop is a pain to carry on planes and I use it only to keep up with email and to find attractions in the city I'm visiting. But I don't travel enough to warrant the cost or to learn a whole new touch screen operating system. Not yet anyway. From where I sit, at my desk in front of my monitor, typing into a full size keyboard, it will be a few years before I make the move.
Dennis and Vaughn, on the otherhand, are using their devices to keep in touch with our customers and each other. They would be greatly impacted by not having the mobility these devices afford them. Even at the shop they do a lot on their mobile devices but will not be abandoning desktop computing anytime soon.
If you are wondering about the pros and cons of tablets and/or smartphones and whether it is time to invest in the latest and greatest, check out these articles for help determining if its time to abandon your trusty work horse for greater freedom!