Archive for April, 2011

IT Security Survey

I’m currently working on my MSST Capstone project, which is going to focus on IT security in small organizations and small businesses. If you work in a small business, especially if you have an IT role, please fill out a short survey I’ve put together. It’s 36 questions, mainly yes or no, so it shouldn’t take up too much time. You can access the survey here.

U.S. Government shuts down online poker

I don’t write too much about online poker, simply because I’ve been too busy to write about much of anything these days, between work, school, and the rest of the banalities of life. However, it’s hard to ignore the subject on the day that the U.S. government essentially shut it all down. Charged with fraud and money laundering, three major online poker sites have effectively been shuttered, as far as U.S. players go.

Online poker in the U.S. has had a pretty absurd history, even before today, start in 2006 when the ban was inserted into a piece of completely unrelated legislation. To argue that those that play poker online are either criminals or victims is pretty ridiculous: players wager their own money using their own free will on a game of skill. Of all the issues facing the U.S. today, online poker seems to be rather unimportant. Especially considering that the purveyors of online poker are practically begging to be regulated and taxed, in order to gain legitimacy. Not that online poker sites had much trouble getting U.S. players before today.

Of course, gambling addiction is a serious issue, and more needs to be done to keep kids from accessing gambling sites. These are exactly the kinds of issues that could be addressed if online poker were regulated by the government, with tax revenue that could partially go towards gambling treatment. Today’s actions, however, will no more eradicate online poker than making marijuana illegal has ended drug addiction. With everything going on in the world today, it seems hard to argue that the guy playing a few five buck online poker tourneys a month is such a scourge that it requires the immediate and full attention from the government.

I’ll end with a comment about this action found on Reddit: “Aren’t the CEOs of Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, and Fannie Mae still walking around free?”

The budget: numbers or values?

At both the state and national level, our elected officials are dealing with budget deficits and how best to handle them. This leads to a lot of numbers thrown about, such as “15% cuts” and “$30 billion versus $38 billion” and the like, along with various stories about who is “winning” or “losing” the debate. What’s missing from these statements is any grasp on what the numbers mean: could any random voter explain how an additional cut of $30 billion will affect them, or how a cut of over a billion dollars to the Health and Human Services budget will affect the state? The numbers are too large, the subjects too ethereal, to be comprehended in any meaningful way. Thus, numbers are just thrown out arbitrarily, without any rhyme or reason other than making the math work correctly. After all, why are cuts so often in neat multiples of 5%?

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