Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finally Living in the Country

It has been the dsire of my wife and I to live in the country for sometime. Well, we have finally arrived. We recently move and are so happy about it. Well, there are some bumps that we are dealing with like no internet yet and our cell service being weak. But there is nothing like getting up in the morning and hearing the roosters and seeing the land around us. We are still trying to get unpacked. As time goes by I will post about our gardening, canning, and other experiences.

Friday, January 3, 2014


It has been a while since I have posted here. With the New Year I cam going to be posting more and hope you will join the discussion. If there are things that you want to know about send me a message so we can work on it for you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Monday, November 19, 2012

US to scan status updates and tweets for bioterrorism evidence

This was taken from WIRED.

The US department of Homeland Security has commissioned a one-year contract to investigate the efficacy of using social networks to identify instances of bioterrorism, pandemics and other health and security risks.
It is paying Accenture Federal Services $3 million (£1.8 million) to scan the networks' for key words in real time to see if growing threats or health trends can be distinguished. So if an individual flags up a nasty cough in a Facebook update, for instance, the software will be looking to see if key medical terminology is repeated in connected groups or from other individuals posting from the same location.
"This is big data analytics," said John Matchette, managing director for Accenture's public safety department, who admits the technique is yet to be proven. "In theory, social media analytics would have shown timely indicators for multiple past biological and health-related events." Mobile data mapping has been used in the past to track and predict population movements following natural disasters and algorithms can use data to track disease hotspots after the event. However, this latest experiment could provide real time information to help stem disease spread, develop early warning systems and help emergency services coordinate react in a timely fashion
According to a company statement from Accenture, the software will constantly scan blogs, as well as the usual outlets, but not all networks and channels have been decided upon. It's no surprise that national security departments monitor social networks to look out for threats (Paul Chambers' arrest after a tongue-in-cheek faux bomb tweet threat being a perfect example of when that monitoring goes very wrong), however Homeland Security is already being sued by civil liberties group Electronic Privacy Information Centre and is under pressure to answer questions about setting up fake social networking accounts to search for key words such as "virus" and "trojan". The department has been accused of violating the public's free speech and constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. No one would disagree there needs to be better systems in place to monitor and protect against the spread of infectious disease, however how data is monitored to do this has come under fire.
"The information won't be tracked back to individuals who posted it," stated Matchette.
Not everyone is convinced. "Even when data is in aggregate, we don't have any clear policies around how data will be used and how it can be traced back, including if and when there are signs of an illness outbreak," Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Centre for Democracy and Technology, told WebProNews. "I think it's a legitimate question to ask [Homeland Security] what the guidelines are for using this data. I'd prefer they have a plan in advance for dealing with this, rather than waiting."
A statement on guidelines from Homeland Security -- which has begun aggregating data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and collecting urban air samples as points of reference -- is somewhat vague, but does admit there is room to home in on specific persons of interest. Information that is already "accessible on certain heavily trafficked social media sites" is analysed without gathering personal specifics on an individual, "with very narrow exceptions".

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review-Stronger Than Dirt

Stronger Than Dirt
 by Kimberly Schaye and Christopher Losee

How one urban couple grew a business, a family, and a new way of life -  from the ground up.
I just finished the book Stronger than Dirt. I checked it out from the public library and knew nothing of the book or the authors, but I thought it looked intriguing.

The book is about a couple in New York City who decide over a period of time to buy land in upstate New York and become farmers.  Chris has run his father's fence business but with the economy caused him to have to close the business down. Kimberly is a reporter for a New York paper.

The book describes their adventure in finding a piece of land and then buying it.  Chris takes on the challenge of building their house by himself.  As time goes by he finally has to have some help and learns a
great deal from the people who help him.  As they are preparing to seed for their first season, they come to understand that the farm is not ready yet for seeding plants.  So they prepare the first season's
crop in their rented apartment.  Chris built racks and grow lights for them in their bedroom!

The book takes you through the struggles of people who know little about homesteading but have a desire to learn.  Chris reads and researches everything he can to get the answers he needs to make a go
of it in upstate New York.  You will learn of their journey of selling their flowers and produce at the markets in New York, always wondering if this is going to pay off.

This story is about a dream and the pursuit of that dream and never giving up.  As you come to the end you are encouraged that you too can live your dream.

To sum it up, this is a good, easy read.