What can (and has) gone wrong on Facebook–and how to fix it

If you missed Matt Ivester’s webinar Monday, you can still watch it. And you really should. Although it was directed ‘officially’ towards undergraduate students, it had much of value for anyone who uses any kind of social networking (and even for those who don’t–one of his points is that you never know what’s ‘out there’). It was filled with suggestions about how to take control of your online reputation. One of his points is that nowadays employers and other evaluators are using online search tools and finding things you might not even know about.

Links to the live presentation, Ivester’s powerpoint slides and other materials can be found here:


LOL…OMG! What can go wrong on Facebook–Jan. 30 at 1 PM in Bernath

Facebook and similar social networks are now so commonplace that the creation of Facebook was recently a major motion picture. And most of us have some kind of presence on FB, if not some additional ones (faculty and staff also use Linkedin and Plaxo, among others). On the other hand, we’ve all read about the problems that can be created if the wrong thing ends up on one of these sites. Matt Ivester (‘eye-vester’) learned a whole bunch of things when he started JuicyCampus a couple of years ago as a gossip site for universities and their students. He thought it would be fun (LOL) and it very quickly turned nasty. Very nasty. As in lawsuits and death threats (OMG). He has since written a book about his experiences, aimed primarily at high school and college students (although all of us could learn something from him). The book is, funnily enough, LOL…OMG!

EDUCAUSE, the national educational computing organization, to which Wayne State belongs, is presenting a national webcast with Matt Ivester on January 30 at 1 PM. It’s free and we’re streaming it live in Bernath Auditorium.

If you use Twitter you can ask questions (@address will be available just before the webcast).

You can find out more about this event here


As an extra added bonus, Ivester is permitting free downloads of his book (for a limited number of days) at the site mentioned in the link above.

If you can’t attend live, the event can be streamed to your desktop (probably mobile device too). Watch this space for additional details. It will also be archived, so you can watch it later, at your leisure.

Now you have to watch out for QR Codes

What are QR codes? They’re those funny little blotchy squares you see all over the place. They are actually web addresses that you can point your smartphone at, and it will take you there. Many ads in magazines and billboards have them. They’re cool, and they’re handy. But now, they’re also risky. Who would have thought? A recent article on Dark Reading (a website for security geeks like myself) has the info:


SOPA Protest will spread all over the Web

You may recall I’ve blogged about the exceedingly ill-advised legislation entitled SOPA (‘Stop Online Piracy Act’) here and here. I am not alone in being very concerned about its potential effect on freedom of speech and expression, and the power it places in the hands of anyone with enough money to purchase a team of lawyers, not to mention the US Government. Tomorrow a number of major Internet entities will be running an organized protest (going dark for twenty-four hours, actually) against the proposed  law, including Wikipedia, Boingboing, and Reddit. Here’s a news article about the protest.

In addition WordPress (the originators of this blog software), Mozilla (the creators of Firefox and Thunderbird) Craigslist and Facebook are planning organized protests, including, perhaps, going dark also.

It appears the White House has begun to distance itself from the legislation, and it’s been interesting to observe a real-live popular uprising in the US that has apparently had an effect.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day on the Web.

Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again?

Those of you familiar with British sitcoms might be aware of the show The IT Crowd, about an IT support office for a huge but mysterious company. Their catchphrase is the title of this blog. The reason I’m bringing this up is that C&IT is going to do just that this coming Sunday. Everything you know and love will go away from midnight Saturday night till 10 AM Sunday morning, and this blog is intended to provide a sense of why this is being done and what effects it will have.

As you might imagine, C&IT has hundreds of servers, running Pipeline, Blackboard, Banner and even each other. The last bit is because much of the C&IT infrastructure runs on virtual machines rather than having one operating system per machine, and there is also complex load balancing going on. When there are thousands of people visiting Blackboard at the same time a ‘traffic cop’ assigns them to different routes to the basic Blackboard files.
Consequently, the electrical power demands of these hundreds of units are very large, and require  a very elaborate system to assure continuous power. The system includes an enormous battery back-up system, and beyond that, a natural gas-powered generator to power the entire building independently when power problems occur. All this is necessary to deal with the vagaries of electrical supply in the city of Detroit, especially during the peak-demand summer months.

The electricity comes into the primary room to the un-interruptable power supply (UPS) system and is then routed to power distribution units (PDU’s) where the power is transformed from 480 volts to 208 volts before being distributed through panels that are similar to the circuit breaker panels in your basement. Over the years the number of servers has increased, and it’s time to rewire the PDU’s  in order to make sure that servers are connected redundantly to the PDU’s and subsequently the breakers. But, as you know if you’ve ever thought about doing this at home, you need to shut off the entire power supply before you touch anything. So, early on Sunday morning (specifically 12:01 AM) we’ll start shutting down all the computers. Because they are all interconnected, this is a complex and slow process. Then the electrical guys will do the rewiring, and finally we’ll turn it all back on again, which is again, a very slow and careful process. This is why we’re allocating ten hours for the complete change. It’s possible it will take less time, but just to be sure, we’re being very cautious.

So, everything you normally use (Blackboard, Pipeline, Banner, Wayne Connect email…) will be turned off between midnight and 10 AM Sunday morning. We’re hoping, because the university is closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day, that this will not be too disruptive.