Knowing What Goes On The Cloud

The cloud is an amazing development in modern computing.  With fast internet speeds individuals and companies are able to store and access files from anywhere they have an internet connection.  This leads to faster and better collaboration and less lost files due to hard drive crashes, lost computers, and other disasters.  But this great power can also open up new risks, especially when it comes to security.  Before the internet it would be very hard to access files on a computer.  But as the internet grew and files became shared more commonly and all computers had access to the internet, viruses and malware grew exponentially.

With the cloud, these risks become even greater depending on the type of security that you have set up.  According to Krebs On Security there are many large corporations that still put files up on Amazon Web Server (AWS) without any security protection, and they are there for anyone to see and access.  Sometimes cyber criminals will hijack this information and contact the company, letting them know they have seized the sensitive information and that they will release it for a ransom.  This extortion is very common nowadays.

For this reason it’s extremely important to ensure that your employees and technicians are aware of the proper security protocol when it comes to putting documents and sensitive data on the cloud.  You can’t just assume that “nobody is looking” at it.   These cyber criminals are very cunning and scan the internet for files left out in the open.

It’s important to ensure that you’re following AWS best practices when using the cloud for storage.  Ensure that these files have proper security protocol.  Access control, monitoring, and logging are all very important corporation level security considerations to think about.  This is where hiring an IT Company can come into play.

Ensuring that employee computers also have appropriate security software and anti malware tools in place is also very important, as is educating employees on security best practices such as not downloading random software or attachments, and if that is needed then opening those items in a sandbox first so that the network or computer is not put at risk.

Although the cloud can be a great tool for backups and restorations in case of disaster, it’s also important not to rely on them as the sole source of computer backups.  Ensuring that you have a proper backup protocol in place is very important.

It’s possible to repair broken systems that have been attacked by a virus by running things such as Reimage repair, a utility software tool, but these tools will not put those files back if they are damaged by a virus.

Reimage is a high quality tool however it will not replace a proper antivirus software setup.  I highly recommend that you ensure that you have multiple layers of protection in place in order to really ensure that your computers are backed up and secure.  You don’t want to be on the wrong end of a data theft or extortion scheme.

Solving Language Barriers

When conducting work in other countries it’s extremely beneficial to learn the native language so as to connect more fully with the locals.  If you’re trying to learn a new language it’s helpful to think of a few tips and tricks to make your life easier and the language learning process go more smoothly.

There are many different software programs out there that can aid in the acquisition of a new language.  One of the top language learning programs is Rosetta Stone, and their library of available languages is the largest in terms of all the different software programs out there.  However, as an adult learner many people have trouble with Rosetta Stone.  This is why the Rocket Language series is often recommended.  Unfortunately there aren’t as many languages offered in the Rocket Languages library.  There are the usuals, like French, Spanish, German, etc.  However the more exotic languages are not available.  This review can help you see what these programs consist of.

There have been many studies done on the effect that language barriers can have, and how both sides can manage expectations.

In spite of these accommodations to international, or American, business norms the potential for conflict and instances of actual, if hidden, conflict between native English speakers and English-speaking Mandarin speakers is clear. While accepting the need to speak English, and indeed embracing it as a symbol of their internationalism, all the respondents also spoke of their need to speak Mandarin at key events, of a need for the willingness of both parties to expose themselves to the difficulties of speaking in a second language and of a need for a reciprocal understanding of cultural norms and practices. An underlying thread in the interviews was the sense that if such reciprocal behaviour is not forthcoming, it will be imposed by a unilateral refusal to speak English. In their 2013 study of the language practices of MNCs across the globe Harzing and Pudelko comment

Fischer, Mary. “Language choice as a potential source of intercultural discord in English-Mandarin business encounters.” China Media Research 9.4 (2013): 45+.

We think that you’ll have much more success if you at least make a concerted effort to communicate in certain instances in the native language.  This will go a long way towards showing effort and bridging that gap where many other non-native English speakers feel like second class.

Donating To Diversity Causes

If you’re looking to make a difference in diversity and education but you’re too busy in your day to day life, a small donation to an organization that promotes diversity is a great way to go.  I suggest that you first thoroughly think about WHAT specifically you want to support – is it racial diversity?  Human rights issues?  Education and scholarships?

Starting a scholarship – one great way if you are looking to promote education AND racial diversity is to start a scholarship for a local University.  Even a small scholarship is a huge help to students.  You are allowed to set your own criteria, whether it be racial or location based.  Check out this WSJ article on creating your own college scholarship.

Another thing would be to donate to something like the Human Rights Campaign.  This organization promotes human rights in all categories, but is mostly known for their work in lgbt rights and equality.

You could also donate to a library in a poor part of town.

Donating online is a very easy way to go as well.  We suggest that you ensure that the site or organization you’re donating to is legitimate and also has the proper security measures in place for their online payment systems.  You should also ensure that your computer is set up with the latest spyware protection in order to ensure the safety of your transactions.

No matter what you decide, donating a bit of your money is a great way to not only promote the human race, but it will also make you feel good about yourself.

Ethnic Diversity In America: Strength Or Weakness?

One of the biggest markers of American society is the vast cultural differences between pockets of society.  Are these differences a strength of our society, enabling us to deal with other cultures better?  Or is it a weakness, causing strife and discontent?

First, let us agree that the degree of ethnic diversity, and the continuing sense of some pre- or non-American ancestry is amazingly a fact of American life. And it will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. Even as it is a fact also, as Sollors and others have shown, that much of our ethnicity is an invention within and of the American scene.(2) The 1980 census, e.g. for the first time asked for the ancestry/ethnicity of its respondents. There was an “open-ended” question about this – no pre-listed categories; respondents could write in what they wished. About 83% reported at least one “non-American” ancestor. That is, about 188.3 million out of a total population of 226.5 million. And of those, about 167.5 million – almost 89% of the 83%! – reported derivation from 50 European group designations (these were 128 all together as derived from actual responses) (Magoesi 133-168). These are astonishing figures, however you may interpret them, however elastic the terms “ancestry” and “ethnicity” are. With the great increase the 1965 revision of our immigration policies produced in immigrants predominantly from Mexico, the Philippines, Cuba, Korea, China/Taiwan, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, we can be sure that the 1990 census will continue to show an extraordinarily high degree of ethnic diversity. The greatest growth will be in non-Europeans, in people of color and Latins. The U.S. census projected that by the year 2000 the white population would be somewhat over 221 million, the Black almost 39 million, Hispanic over 25 million. They did not, interestingly enough, predict the number of Asian Americans and Native Americans. We know they, especially the Asian Americans, will be considerable, in a trend that will continue into the 21st century. The changes, the mix, the diversity are indisputable. What arouses anxieties among mainstream historians and cultural observers is undoubtedly the spectre of racial conflict so deep and apparently unrelenting in our culture, and how to deal with or accommodate seemingly exotic and alien populations. (Every student of our previous nativist history and debates will experience a sense of dija vu at these phrases and the ones that follow). Different races, “impossible” languages often with “weird” alphabets, often religions that are outside the presumed Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States. (I say “presumed” because this too is a social and historic construct, I would argue, but cannot develop here.) No wonder Higham asks us to go “beyond pluralism.” But let us not dive into despair or empty rhetoric.

Chametzky, Jules. “Beyond melting pots, cultural pluralism, ethnicity – or, deja vu all over again.” MELUS 16.4 (1989): 3+.

It is hard to say for certain.  It is thought that cultural diversity would reduce the ethnocentrism of a society.  Homogenous societies could fall prey to ethnic superiority – a huge detriment in the long term.

America does have a rather checkered past when it comes to racial and cultural equality.  However, our ability to learn from our mistakes and better our society (even though it might take time) is one of the hallmarks of our nation.

One of the biggest cultural turning points is happening with the tipping point of gay rights in the United States.  The interesting thing is that it would appear that the influence of social media has quickened this change in society.  Although change was happening slowly through the 90′s and 2000′s, it is clear that the biggest changes happened in the last couple years, spurred on by social media.

Will social media and electronics spur other changes?