Daniel Millsap is a Houston Texas based reality tester and mental engineer. Specializing in diverse fields such as decision theory and cognitive neuroscience, Daniel utilizes out-of-the-box critical thinking skills to brainstorm his way through the issues of the day.
When not contemplating contemplation itself, Daniel can often times be found out and about on his bicycle chasing after his two precious dogs, who faithfully remind him of his daily duty to traverse the neighborhood block several times in search of the elusive Squirrels
Embrace life. Face Fear. Court Uncomfortable Situations
Pain and Pleasure
I must admit that I prefer pleasure to pain, fun times to boring ones, and friends to foes. In my constant attempt to control my emotional state based on these preferences I found myself grasping for and trying my best to hold on to those “good” feelings and when situations in my life arose which I interpreted as not feeling “good” I grew frustrated and withdrawn.
Attempt to Control
It was a scary feeling to experience a perceived lack of control over my internal state, or mood. This created many problems in my life. I became hypersensitive to stimuli that I perceived as contributing to or taking away from my happy place. In allowing myself to go down this path I was giving up control in my life to the external environment. If I could not control the world then at least I could control my immediate environment. I could choose to stay inside my house rather than venture outside into the unknown. I was hiding, and it felt shitty. I longed for human contact and reminisced about times past and old friends. Why couldn’t the world be like that again?
Then I realized that I would be dead someday. I saw myself laying in a coffin, a peaceful look on my face, and it came to me that with all the perceived uncertainty that I was hiding from there remained and will always remain that one certain event. There will come a time when I will no longer have a choice of whether or not to venture out into the big unknown world and try this or try that. And this feeling is liberating. Things, which once seemed very scary, now appear funny and inconsequential. The knowledge of impermanence in this life is comforting.
I admire successful people because they are tenacious. They are uninhibited by failure because they know that immediate consequences are not necessarily correlated with future consequences. I may be turned down today. I might be rejected, I might be ridiculed and laughed at, but so were many others who were on to something special.
I hereby declare that I am not afraid of the world. I am not afraid of the unknown, because I know that I will and must die, and this realization has set me free from the fear of pain. I would rather try and fail a million times than approach my dying breath lamenting time lost and chances wasted.
Embrace life. Face fear. Court uncomfortable situations.
“The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim.
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaining one’s aim is a dog’s death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.”
As you sit in your deathbed and gaze softly upwards, what thoughts will comfort you? Will you sigh a happy sigh as you dissolve into nothingness or will a longing sense of chances lost steal into your last moment, as you try to put your foot into the door that is closing before you.
Live your days with consciousness and purpose. Embrace death. Let it comfort you with its certainty. Allow it to counsel you in your daily decisions.
How trivial the risk seems when the end remains the same!
As I wake I should ask myself what choices shall I make today so that someday I can smile as I close my eyes and sigh the happy sigh of a life well-lived.
The way a question is posed can affect the answer given in response.
We recently replaced our broken printer, and I was in charge of getting the thing to work. I noticed a funny thing in the process, and would like to share with you my encounter with the Framing Effect.
Change The Frame, Change The Response
If you have ever installed a new device or new software for your computer, then you are probably familiar with the screen asking you to register your device, but who wants to go out of their way to find a company’s website and enter in all their personal information along with the device serial number when the expectation is that the information will just be used to send another 20 pounds of junk in the mail?
HP had a different solution. Instead of framing the question like this: “Would you like to take the time to visit our website, enter in your name and address along with the serial number of the printer you just purchased?” They framed it like this instead: “Click here to see what free rewards you may qualify for. *Device serial number will be automatically sent.”
You see, the question is the same in substance but when registration is no longer a chore but rather a chance to win something for free, people are more likely to not only go and register their device, but to do it in a damn hurry.
Can You See The Frame?
The next time you are asked a question, think about whether the question was worded the way it was for a specific reason. Have you ever seen a poll done on a major television channel with only two answer choices, neither of which you agree with? Do you think that, by giving such polls and reporting results, popular opinion can be misrepresented or even influenced?
Don’t Like The Frame? Then Change It
When you are asked a question, think about WHY the question was asked in the first place, and think about HOW the question was asked. Were you only given two choices, neither of which you agree with? If the question was fill-in-the blank, what answer would you give?
Assume that the person asking the question has very specific reasons for choosing the words to the question. Can you think of a reason WHY it was worded that way? What does the question-poser stand to gain? Better ratings? Support for legislation? Getting you to do something that you normally would not have done otherwise?
It’s time to think for ourselves. The time is now. No one is going to take care of us. No one is going to do the thinking for us in a way that is in our best interest and not theirs. Are you ready to change?
If you try, you may fail, but at least you give yourself a chance to succeed.
How often to we talk ourselves out of pursuing our goals before we even try to take the first step towards fulfilling those goals? What purpose does it serve to convince ourselves that it is better to not try at all and be sure of our chance of success when, by trying, the chance of success is unknown but the outcome is at least potentially positive?
Is it a Brain Thing?
What part of the brain assesses and values risk and reward, pain and pleasure, and what would cause someone to always overestimate the probability of failure and to undervalue the reward of success?
All I had to do was pick up the phone, dial a number, and ask a simple question. Sure, I could have dialed the wrong number or I could have received “no” for an answer but why should these mere possibilities have stopped me from at least trying? Was a 100% chance of not being told “no” more valuable than a 30% chance of getting to ride along in a Life Flight helicopter?
The importance of trying
I could have easily have put down the phone and picked up some magazine to read while I waited, but something in the back of my head called out and reminded me that I had always wanted to ride along with Life Flight. Rather than dismiss the thought as being boy’s dream, I picked up the phone and did what any successful person must do. I just did it.
and so should you.
Daniel Millsap | Life Flight Ride Along Houston Texas 2010
Gamifying the classroom – using gamification to improve learning in the classroom
In 2004, I went to Beijing China to teach 1st grade English at YuYing Primary School. As a new teacher, I was thankful for my ability to adapt because nothing stayed the same for very long. Depending on the time of day or any one of a number of other variables, ensuring a smooth-running lesson required constant tweaking of the lesson plan in motion. Besides, I loved my kids and wanted them to have fun while learning.
One day, I decided to try an experiment. I wanted to see if I could use a little friendly competition to get things going and so, using materials already found in the classroom, I devised a method of teaching so that students disciplined themselves while maintaining a high level of motivation to learn. Using a combination of story telling and classroom props, here is what I did.
After a year of hard work by my students and myself, I am happy to say that the results were spectacular. Watch Yuanna and Peter have a dialogue using the material they learned throughout the school year.
George had been waiting for this day to come for a long time. He had it all planned out, and as he sat motionless in a tree that was in a yard not his own, George suddenly wished that he was not quite so afraid of great heights and that it had not rained so much the night before, because he had almost slipped and fallen on his way up the tree. But it was worth it. Tonight, Stephanie would be home alone while her parents were out to dinner. “See you at 9 tonight honey and don’t forget to set the alarm. The password is 69347.” George smiled at the thought that people believed that their cell phone communications were private.
He could have found a way to get physical access to the girl’s cell phone, and he thought that it would have been a lot more fun that way. He could have knocked on the door pretending to be from the telephone company. “I am doing routine work in the area and oh by the way, do you or any of your family use a cell phone with our company?” he would say. And he knew that 99% of the time people would assume that he really was from the telephone company because of the fake uniform and so wouldn’t think twice before handing over every cell phone in the house. No not this time. He wanted to play it safe, and luckily for him, Stephanie’s cell phone already had just what he needed built in to the device by default so there was no need to install anything. It was already there and the average user would never find it because it was cleverly hidden. It loaded when she turned on the phone and there was no easy way to force it to quit. That is if she ever even knew it was there.
So his day had finally come. With his special device he put together one day, George was able to intercept any and all information going in or going out of Stephanie’s cell phone. He was even able to see what she was up to just by her using the device. What keys she pressed, what she typed, what web sites she visited, what her password was to her bank account, and most importantly now, the fact that her parents would be out to dinner until 9 pm and that the passcode for the home alarm was 69347. George was going to have fun tonight.
Carrier IQ – What took us so long to find it?
If you haven’t heard of Carrier IQ by now then you should find out about it. If, like me, you have only recently heard of Carrier IQ then apparently we are out of the loop because they have been around for a while. In fact, the first thing you will notice when watching their training video is that the copyright date is 2005-2007.
Boost Revenues with Improved Mobile Customer Experience
IQ Insight Experience Manager provides a level of visibility into true customer experience that was, previously unavailable in the mobile industry. Based on Carrier IQ’s leading Mobile Service Intelligence technology, IQ Insight Experience Manager uses data directly from the mobile phone itself to give a precise view of how users interact with both their phones and the services delivered through them, even if the phone is not communicating with the network.
With user experience increasingly viewed as the key differentiator between mobile providers, IQ Insight enables you to align your business improvements with the things customers truly value. Identify exactly how your customers interact with services and which ones they use. See which content they consume, even offline. Identify problems in service delivery, including the inability to connect to the service at all. This actionable intelligence enables you to focus on critical quality and customer satisfaction issues.
What are you doing CIQ?
Trevor Eckhart made a video (linked to at bottom) in which you can clearly see that CIQ is doing such things as:
Hiding itself – by not showing up in the applications list
Running whether or not you want it to – by not allowing you to disable or turn off the process.
Recording what numbers your press when calling someone
Recording, in plain text, the contents of your text messages
Recording, in plain text, the search terms you type into a search engine even when that search is done through your wireless connection and by using SSH.
What are you REALLY doing?
It is my opinion that the use of CIQ or any other similar software service has nothing to do with actual diagnostics that would be useful in improving the quality of service for device customers and has more to do with collecting data on user behavior for the benefit of marketers, advertisers, and the intelligence community.
That was 2005 but this is 2012
If this is what they could do in 2005, then imagine what is going on now in 2012. When a week is a lifetime in terms of technological progression, then we really need to watch over ourselves more closely because, it seems, no one else is doing that for us.
Also, expect to see developers jump in by making software that supposedly looks for, disables, and prevents this type of thing. But in the end, who is to say that the ones creating the “security software” won’t be the same ones who are violating our privacy now.
Somewhere sometime and for some reason
Imagine that you are at a protest somewhere and the city sends in the police to clear out the peaceful protesters. You reach for your phone to send instant messages of the news to your friends and on Twitter but they never receive the message because it was intercepted and deleted before they ever received it.
My neighbor was known for his wild parties. I could never sleep at night with all the crashing noises outside as he and his friends threw empty beer bottles against the brick wall. I tried calling him but he told me that it was a free country and that I should screw off. I couldn’t think of a way to get through to him so one day I started polishing my sniper rifle in the window opposite his house, like I always do but this time with the shades wide open. And Ill be darned; he hasn’t thrown a party since.
How a Game Theorist Might Look at SOPA
Sometimes it’s impractical to pick up the phone and have a talk with the world about what you would like to accomplish, so sometimes it’s a lot easier to find alternative means of sending your message. Something that is strong enough to get your attention but subtle enough to convey what it is that can’t be said outright.
We (the government) would like the ability to immediately deny access to a website that, shall we say,”endangers public health” and worry about the little details like court orders etc later.
SEC. 102. ACTION BY ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROTECT U.S. CUSTOMERS AND PREVENT U.S. SUPPORT OF FOREIGN INFRINGING SITES.
(b) ACTION BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.—
(5) RELIEF.—On application of the Attorney General following the commencement of an action under this section, the court may issue a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, or an in-junction, in accordance with rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, against a registrant of a domain name used by the foreign infringing site or an owner or operator of the foreign infringing site or, in an action brought in rem under paragraph (2), against the foreign infringing site or a portion of such site, or the domain name used by such site, to cease and desist from undertaking any further activity as a foreign infringing site.
Now Before you object, let me tell you how we can make your life difficult if you choose not to cooperate with us.
(4) ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS.– (A) IN GENERAL.—To ensure compliance with orders issued pursuant to this section, the Attorney General may bring an action for injunctive relief—(i) against any entity served under paragraph (1) that knowingly and willfully fails to comply with the requirements of this subsection to compel such entity to comply with such requirements; or
(c) ACTIONS BASED ON COURT ORDERS.—
2) REASONABLE MEASURES.
(A) SERVICE PROVIDERS.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—A service provider (also Internet Search Engines, Payment Network Providers, Internet Advertising Services) shall take technically feasible and reason- able measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.
But we don’t REALLY want to make your life more difficult. Look harder and you will see.
(ii) LIMITATIONS.—A service provider shall not be required- I) other than as directed under this subparagraph, to modify its network, software, systems, or facilities; and
4) ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS.—
C) DEFENSE.—A defendant in an action under subparagraph (A)(i) may establish an afirmative defense by showing that the defendant does not have the technical means to comply with this subsection without incurring an unreasonable economic burden, or that the order is not authorized by this subsection.
What do you say we forget the whole thing? But we will need a small favor from you. Do the job for us. It will be our little secret.
SEC. 105. IMMUNITY FOR TAKING VOLUNTARY ACTION AGAINST SITES THAT ENDANGER PUBLIC HEALTH.
(a) REFUSAL OF SERVICE.—A service provider, payment network provider, Internet advertising service, advertiser, Internet search engine, domain name registry, or domain name registrar, acting in good faith and based on credible evidence, may stop providing or refuse to provide services to an Internet site that endangers thepublic health.
(b) IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY.—An entity described in subsection (a), including its directors, officers, employees, or agents, that ceases or refuses to provide services under subsection (a) shall not be liable to any person under any Federal or State law for such action.
Things aren’t always as they appear to be, and many different readers may interpret things in their own special way. Sometimes, if we watch very carefully, we may observe the magician’s secret while he is busy trying to keep us fixated on his other hand waving about in the air.
Solutions and Recommendations
Read the bill for yourself.
Don’t rely on second and third-hand interpretations from your favorite website (or even mine!)
Don’t let others frame the issue for you because, before you know it, you will be looking at the issue in the way they want you to, which keeps you from seeing the real issue itself.
Resist the urge to constrain your interpretations to only a few possibilities. Make a list of questions as you read that strike you as odd or that connect from one area of knowledge to the next. Have you seen any similar patterns before?
Put yourself in the actors’ shoes. If you were in the shoes of each party, what would you do?
Black Hat 2011: “Staring into the Abyss: The Dark Side of Security and Professional Intelligence” by Richard Thieme
Peel Away The Layers
Richard Thieme, esteemed writer, speaker, and thinker on important topics such as the relationship between culture and technology as well as the spiritual dimensions of technology, gave a fast-paced yet very deep talk at the 2011 Black Hat Convention held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
Listen Carefully Or You Will Miss It All
One must listen carefully to Richard Thieme speaking because the talk is nested and there different levels of meaning. Thieme sets the stage by saying
“I’m going to try and build a bigger picture of the security world than we are usually in the habit of hearing described in all of the conferences we go to and try and look at some of the nested realities in which security is really taking place and ask ourselves whether the word security itself is appropriate to what is in fact the behaviors that actually take place inside the ‘security space.'”
The World Is Grey
We often hear of hackers being classified according to their “ethics” into White hat hackers, Black hat hackers, and Grey hat hackers but Thieme challenges the notion that the terms mean anything and that they can be so easily pigeonholed.
“As we grow and go through developmental changes, hopefully our view of things gets more sophisticated, more nuanced, more complex, and that usually means a greater sense of the grayness of all things. You hear about black hat hackers and grey hat hackers and white hat hackers and they are often defined imprecisely. “It’s all grey. The world is Grey. Distinctions that seemed clear and precise in our earlier life all go liquid on us and we realize that everything is not as binary as the code which is hackable.” “The truth is fudged all the time. We are all in it together; The world is grey. Hacking is a subset of the world, therefore hacking is grey.””A black hat hacker is a hacker. A grey hat hacker is a hacker who knows when to fudge the truth; and a white hat hacker is a hacker who put the truth down somewhere and can’t remember where he put it.”
The Myth That Is Called Security
“So when we talk about the problems that confront security the weakest link in the chain is frequently the definition of the problem and the definition of the problem is really not what we think it is.””Security vendors sell solutions that address our fears, real or imaginary, and they sell the tools that can do what they can do. They can’t sell the tools that can’t do what they can’t do.””People lose the ability to think critically about information. People don’t know what is true so they believe simplest explanation that will secure their world so they can wake up in world that is same as when they went to sleep.”
The Problem Is Built Into The System Itself
Richard Thieme talks about being approached by a company that wanted him to work in the area of Brand Defense. It was explained to him that his job would be to create credible looking websites for the company where people could go to criticize the company or ask questions regarding a problem. Sound familiar? The goal was to control and direct the conversation in the direction that would be in the company’s own good. If someone got too close to the truth, Thieme stated, it was time to “blow it up” or to inflect the conversation.
Be real with yourself. Don’t let that nagging feeling go untended. Do not rely on others to take care of the issues you see, because then you give all your power away. If you see some odd process going on in the background of your computer or your mobile phone, don’t rely on your favorite website to update you on the news. Start learning more about computers. And don’t forget to get the free and useful tool Wireshark so you can get started yourself in seeing what the fuss is all about.
I Want To Hear More Of What Richard Thieme Has To Say
If you think hes speaking style is elloquent then you just might find his books fun to read as well. You can download kindle versions of his books on Amazon.com
Richard Thieme Books
Mind Games by Richard Thieme. (From Amazon.com Description) Mind Games is a unique collection of 19 stories of brave new worlds
and alternate realities – stories of computer hackers, deception and
intelligence, puzzling anomalies, spirituality and mysteries of
consciousness, the paranormal, UFOs, alien life forms – in short,
everyday life in the 21st century.
Islands in the ClickStream by Richard Thieme. (From Amazon.com Description) CNN called Richard Thieme “a member of the cyber avant-garde”. Digital Delirium named him “one of the most creative minds of the digital generation”. Now Richard Thieme’s wisdom on the social and cultural dimensions of technology is available in a single volume. “Islands in the Clickstream” ranges beyond the impact of technology to spirituality, psychological insight, and social commentary. Now that people are used to living in virtual worlds and move easily between online and offline worlds, they want to connect that experience to the deeper issues of our lives, including spiritual issues. Some examples include “Dreams Engineers Have”, “The Crazy Lady on the Treadmill”, and “Whistleblowers and Team Players”. These essays raise serious questions for thoughtful readers. They have attracted favorable commentary from around the world and a fanatic, almost rabid fan base.
YouTube Video | DEFCON 19: The Dark Side of Crime-fighting, Security, and Professional Intelligence
The speech was also given at Defcon 19, and as of December 1, 2011, can be seen on Youtube.
It’s that time of year again, when you can no longer stroll around the house naked or practice the Kama sutra in your back yard with that special someone because it’s just too damn cold. But wait
North Face To The Rescue
Nothing screams “I’m a confident, sexy, and independent woman” or “Hi, no time to talk now; I’m an important and busy man on my way to (receive my Nobel prize, attend an important legal meeting, speak with the shareholders) than a warm, elegant, sexy-looking Jacket from The North Face.
Serious Jackets for Serious People
There’s a reason you see people climbing Mt Everest in these things. Because their clothing keeps your ass WARM. I don’t mean kind of warm in a “I can sorta almost feel my fingers but can’t move them” sort of way. No, I mean a “Oh shit it’s snowing so hard I can’t see two feet in front of me but why is it so HOT out here then” kind of warm.
These Jackets are for badasses only, so don’t bother picking one up if you aren’t one.
I can’t wait! Tell me more!
So don’t buy your loved ones a shitty Kindle Fire or an overpriced iPad this holiday season. Buy them something they NEED and something they WANT.
Houston SPCA adopting animals at Galleria’s Neiman Marcus from Nov 25 – Dec 23
Neiman Marcus is located at 2600 Post Oak and is one of the many entrances to the maze we call the Galleria. If you are thinking about getting a pet then please stop by and take a look to see if you just may fall in love with one of the dogs or cats available from the Houston SPCA. These pets need homes and are full of love that they are just waiting to give you once you pick them up. All animals are healthy, both physically and behaviorally, as they go through a rigorous check up process that ensures that they are ready to be around you and your children.
What all do I get?
If you need any other reason than a loving companion, then why not consider the financial savings included when adopting an animal from the Houston SPCA:
Adoption package valued at over $400
The adoption package is valued at OVER $400 and includes…
A health evaluation, initial vaccinations, rabies vaccinations for animals three months and older
Heartworm testing for dogs six months and older
Microchipping with free lifetime registration, 30 days of Shelter Care Insurance
And, of course, a friend for life!
Wait There’s more
As an added bonus, VCA Animal Hospitals will provide a complimentary overall wellness examination (within five days after adoption) and complimentary 14-day follow-up care for certain conditions to give your pet the very best in medical care. Plus, everyone receives a FREE bag of Hills Science Diet food! Adoption fees vary and restrictions may apply.