SOUNDING OFF

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You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. But to shake things up, you have to get real ticked off about the important things that need fixing. The dangerous alternative is complacency.

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The Power of Lists

More Telling News Events of 2014, Part 2

More Telling News Events of 2014

2014’s Big News Stories Impact Our Lives, Part 2

2014’s Big News Stories Impact Our Lives

The Power of Lists

Americans can’t get enough lists. What is it about a list that turns us on?  We see a list in a print headline or as a cable or TV broadcast news story, and it draws us like a magnet.   

I’ve written many stories and blogs about the power of or the magic of numbers.  It’s no wonder why lists are a successful marketing tool.

It took only 15 minutes of Web surfing to find a bunch of sources publishing job lists. Here are a few:
·       CNNMoney
·       AOL  
·       ABCnews.com
·       Salary.com
·       Marketwatch.com

And that’s only a sampling. If broad-brush, all-inclusive job lists are preferred, U.S. News & World Report publishes yearly lists of best careers. Typically, they are clustered in groups of 50, so we have plenty to choose from. Don’t ask why only 50 jobs made U.S. News’s list. We’ve crossed a publishing Maginot Line, a dangerous no man’s land oldsters dare not approach. We’re inferring that this respected global publisher, not to mention leading list aggregator, is not doing its job properly. Please don’t go there, as the saying goes. This distinguished information evaluator has been doing this for decades, so it must be right.

But don’t think that job lists have been compiled because we belong to this powerful, influential, cynical and growing rag-tail army of oldsters with the temerity to demand what every American citizen is entitled to. Sorry, there are lists for other groups as well, such as high school and college graduates, single and working moms, technical professionals, craftspeople and home-based entrepreneurs, just to name a few.

Why so many best-job lists?

It’s because we love them and gobble them up, and they sell like crazy. That’s why publishers never stop producing them. Over the past several decades, list generation has catapulted to a multimillion-dollar niche industry because we love numbers.

What is it about the number five or 10 in front of a best-job list that grabs our attention and captures immediate credibility? There’s something undeniably compelling, efficient and orderly about a nice round number like five or 10. Is it the reputation of the publisher or list aggregator? Nope. It’s because of the magical meaning of numbers. To learn more about the subject, bone up on the fundamentals of numerology. So I don’t piss off the legions of numerologists, who take this pseudoscience very seriously, here are two definitions of numerology to ponder.

·       Freedictionary.com: “The study of numbers, such as the figures in a birth date, and of other supposed influence on human affairs.”

·       Merriam-Webster.com: “The study of the occult significance of numbers.”

Why are we so infatuated with lists? Find out in my next blog.

Posted on: January 26, 2015 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

More Telling News Events of 2014, Part 2

The Sony Hack points up the urgent need to crack down on cyber bad guys. The hacking of Sony’s computer system in late Nov. was a wakeup call to industry and government.  The message was the bad guys have outsmarted us because our cyber security precautions are woefully inadequate.  It is estimated that the Sony breach resulted in a loss of between $90 and $130 million.

Sony's internal computer system has become a "national security issue,” asserted White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

The Sony hack culminated a year of record-breaking security breaches, corporate espionage and ATM compromises. According to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, security breaches in 2014 increased 350 percent. The report tallied 1,367 data breaches and more than 63,000 security incidents in 95 countries. 

No universal solution
Even though organizations are investing a tremendous amounts of money in security hardware, software and human resources, “there is no universal solution to stop the cyber attacks,” said Norman Rankis, a Bethlehem, Pa.-based security consultant to government agencies. “A hacker determined to compromise a business will find a way to do it,” Rankis said.

Companies plan to beef up their security staffs
Organizations will be beefing up their security staffs in 2015, Rankis said. “They will be hiring security analysts, penetration testers and chief security officers (CSOs), to name a few.” 

They’ll also be hiring ethical, or white-hat, hackers. White-hat hackers are ethical computer hackers who specialize in penetration testing, for example. The bad guys are called black-hat hackers because their goal is to break into systems, typically for personal gain. And gray-hat hackers reside in the middle, because they have reputations for breaking into security networks to demonstrate to its owners that there are vulnerabilities.  

Long-term job outlook excellent
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that IT security professions will see 22 percent employment growth through 2020. 

Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, commanding general of the Army Cyber Command, said he plans to recruit 6,000 cyber focused personnel by 2016, in addition to the 2,000 or so he has already hired.

More industries will be re-evaluating and tightening their security precautions and hiring security professionals. New jobs will be created to manage organizations’ security operations. The manufacturing industry, for example, has created the new position of plant data security manager, Rankis said.  

And job requirements will be more stringent than in the past, Rankis said. Most companies require candidates to be certified. The most popular certification is the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). To find out about qualifications for the CISSP, visit https://www.isc2.org/cissp-how-to-certify.aspx.

Other popular security certifications are the CPTC (Certified Penetration Testing Consultant); CPTE (Certified Penetration Testing Engineer): CopTIA-Security+; CSTA (Certified Security Testing Associate); CPT (Certified Penetration Tester); OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional); CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker); and the CEPT (Certified Expert Penetration Tester).

While certification is a door opener, most employers are also looking for security experience, which could be in testing, firewall configuration, programming, virus protection or networking, Rankis said.

In the wake of confusion and horrific events, Americans are finally plugging into — albeit slowly — to the horrific realities of the day, and doing something about it. Look for niche industry spinoffs that compliment cyber-security efforts. 

Posted on: December 31, 2014 07:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

More Telling News Events of 2014

There is more telling 2014 news that ought to help us prepare for the year ahead. For example:

Not a good year for the airlines. Three planes disappear
The most recent was AirAsia Flight QZ8501. In the last days of December, the AirAsia Flight went missing on its way to Singapore, carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members. The plane was reported missing on Sunday, Dec. 28; on Monday, Dec. 29, debris from the plane was spotted off the coast of Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province on Borneo. Three bodies were recovered.

Malaysia Airlines’ plane disappears
In March, Flight 370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, vanished during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A month-long air and sea search has so far failed to turn up any sign of the missing aircraft.

In July, Flight 17 carrying 298 people was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all on board. Ukraine and U.S. officials blame separatist fighters backed by Russia.

Remember privacy?
Technology, and especially the refinement of the Internet, has spawned a new kind of criminal, the cyber thief.  Skilled cyber hackers are not only breaking into websites, and stealing credit cards numbers, money and securities, they’re also stealing private personal records, and compromising photos of celebrities, mostly women and posting them on various websites so the world can gawk. How low can you go?  Cyber thieves conducted a sophisticated and targeted attack on Apple’s iCloud service to find the material.

Ebola epidemic
All hell broke loose when a few cases of Ebola were diagnosed in Guinea. In a short period of time, the outbreak was cited as the deadliest outbreak of Ebola on record. Despite efforts to stop the disease in its tracks, the virus spread throughout West Africa, claiming more than 5,000 lives. In Sept., 2014, the first case of the disease was diagnosed at Texas Presbyterian Hospital. A few more people contracted the virus, but recovered. Since then, there were no other cases reported. 

The story wended its way to the back pages.  Yet, looking back, it was yet another event that points up our vulnerability. If it wasn’t a violent terrorist attack killing innocent children and adults, horrific airline crashes or cyber breach, it was a devastating disease that could have escalated to plague-like proportions.

But the event that was a wakeup call to safeguard our identities and virtually everything we own was the recent Sony Hack.  More on that in my next blog.  

Posted on: December 31, 2014 07:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

2014’s Big News Stories Impact Our Lives, Part 2

When we look back on 2014, we see a scary calendar of events that impacted our lives on many levels. They affected our lifestyles, our careers, and they also set the stage for 2015.

At the root of all these events, there’s a disturbing common theme — a disrespect and disregard for human life — that runs through all of them. One would think that at this advanced stage of our development, marked with advances in medicine, and with technology designed to improve and better our lives, that we would have approached a new level of awareness of our responsibility, a heightened sense of respect and understanding of the human condition.

But most of the chilling events of 2014 demonstrated just the opposite. We’ve gotten in touch with our creativity, we’ve discovered that technology can better our lives, but it failed to teach us very basic lessons about responsibility to our fellow man.  The horrific slaughter of more than a hundred teenagers and their teachers at a Pakistan school demonstrated that we’re still in the middle ages. When it comes to war, all the religious teachings that have come down through the ages are meaningless.

Other noteworthy news events revealed a heartless contempt for human life. It pointed up the need for the mainstream media to confront, understand and, most importantly, report the truth. Not that this is the first time that the world has had to confront and make sense of heartless violence. But how can anyone condone the mechanical, robotic, systematic killing of children? What were the six terrorists thinking as they moved from classroom to classroom killing kids? What kind of men commit crimes like these? 

We can easily say that the events were triggered by political/religious motives. The perpetrators were not drawing ethical/moral lines when planning the attack. They weren’t saying, “We can’t kill kids?”, “How can they be used as political pawns and targets, as symbolic acts which send a signal to the world that all rules are off; there is no playing fair; and that fanatic religious groups will continue to wreak havoc, affirming the fact that barbaric religious acts are still taking place, and that we learned little from history.

It’s widely believed, but unproven, that organized religion was responsible for most of history’s killings. “The total number of deaths estimated to lie at the feet of humanity's poor practice of Christianity is approximately 17 million,” according to http://www.provethebible.net/.

But there’s more say. Look for more chilling news events, all of which are a preamble for bracing for the year ahead. Are they a harbinger of more bad things to come?  Read on and find out.

Posted on: December 31, 2014 07:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

2014’s Big News Stories Impact Our Lives

If you missed any of the major news events of 2014, plunk yourself in front of your TV and watch all the stories about the world-shattering news events of the past year.  These events are the fodder for predicting what 2015 will be like.   

The nice part about all these shows is that you don’t have to do any thinking. Just trust that the folks analyzing the news are correct, and follow their advice.  Obviously, taking a stance like that is dangerous because we’re making a lazy assumption that the experts actually know what they are talking about. 

Take economic predictions.  While the numbers tell us that  the economy has been steadily improving, and recovery from the 2009 recession is still taking place with most industries — especially technology and healthcare — rebounding aggressively.  Based upon the last two quarters of 2014, we can conclude that next year’s job picture looks good. 

On another level, when the ritualistic ball in Manhattan’s Time Square noisily signals the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, Americans can look back on a year full of horrific, scary events.  These events tell us a great deal about the U.S. and global economy, and they’re also an accurate barometer of our moral climate.  While business analysts and economics predict a strong business climate and excellent job outlook, 2014 was also a year pockmarked with scary events.

Here are some of them that affected many aspects of our lives, our lifestyles, safety, careers, emotional well being: 

Brutal slaughter of children in Pakistan.  Originally, it was reported that 135 people, mostly children as young as 12, were brutally slaughtered in an hour-long attack by six armed Taliban militants in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan in December, the country bloodiest terrorist attack ever.  A more recent tally revealed that the number killed was 141, 132 students and 9 staff.

Islamic State’s savage killing.  In November, the terrorist group the Islamic State, or Isis, beheaded a third American, former Army Ranger Peter Kassig.  The terrorists released a video, which was available on the Internet for the world to see. While the video did not show the actual beheading, it did show a member of the Islamic group with Kassig’s head at his feet. President Barrack Obama called the murder “pure evil.” 

The U.S. wasted little time retaliating.  At a cost exceeding $1 billion, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Syria have killed more than 1,100 Islamic state fighters.   The above events are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. 

Plug into more of the big news stories of the year in my next blog and find out how they impacted our lives, and created a need for better security precautions to protect us both inside and outside our own borders. 

Posted on: December 30, 2014 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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