“Criminals of curiosity”
The word “hacker” conjures many mental images in the marketplace, and very, very few of them are good. Seriously, it’s pretty much Snowden and Angelina Jolie with a pixie cut, and plenty of people don’t like Snowden.
Past that, it’s black fedoras in basements, or Russian intelligence screwing with elections, or scumbags pulling ransomware nonsense on minor, no-consequences concerns like the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and banks and railways in Russia. Not a good look.
But let us speak of the white hat.
In the grim darkness of the 1980s and 1990s, “hacker” referred less to a job description than a subculture. If your touchstones for that subculture are masterworks like the aforementioned Jolie opus, you may be surprised to learn that “hacker culture” was a real thing, albeit involving less hairspray and more breakfast cereal than is conventionally portrayed.
It goes all the way back to a culture of DIY phone enthusiasts, “phreakers,” who messed with network infrastructure in the days of Ma Bell.
I’d do a “kids, ask your parents” joke here, but seriously, it might have to be your grandparents.
The Internet hit that subculture like Southern sun on kudzu. It grew on BBSes and Usenet, through the Jargon File and the Hacker Koans and the Mentor, until it became a permanent undercurrent in the digital world: people who, for their own reasons, really like messing with data that is, and often as far as its owners know isn’t, available online.
The influence of hacker culture on the evolution of technology is incalculable. Jobs and Wozniak were both phreakers. A successful and well publicized hacker named Kevin Mitnick is basically why there is data security now.
Hackers used to be so far ahead of law enforcement that, no fooling, right in the beloved hometown of The American Genius, the US Secret Service gave a masterclass on keeping Austin weird by raiding a roleplaying game publisher because they made a game about hacking, and the Feds couldn’t tell the difference. The game company promptly sued their socks off.
For decades the gold standard for information security wasn’t corporate cryptography, and it certainly wasn’t the government, US or otherwise.
It was individuals or small groups who worked out exploits big institutions lacked the expertise to fix, and as often as not, they were doing it for fun.
Good guys and bad guys
Institutions started paying the hackers. IBM famously coined the term “ethical hacker” and provides a nice explainer on how it works but it’s universal in the tech world. That’s the white hat.
Black hat hackers hack things in ways you wish they wouldn’t. White hat hackers hack in ways you ask them to.
It’s a fundamental part of data security to get the smartest people you can find to try and hack holes in it, because if they can, it’s not very good, is it?
Enter HackerBay. Given the usual media narrative of “hacker” basically being Internet for “terrorist,” a job board that straight up says that’s what it’s looking for might seem nuts.
To professional nerds like your humble narrator, it takes two looks to figure out why anyone would have a problem with it.
It goes like this: nerds are universal. You’re probably one yourself, though if you’re a nerd about football or makeup as opposed to SQL or Star Trek, you may not use the word. If you’re fascinated by the ins and outs of something, if there’s a subject you get into so deeply it makes other people bored, guess what: you’re one of us.
Hacking is a unique subset, not a different thing.
It’s the usual nerd ethos of, “this is fascinating and I want to understand everything about it,” applied to publicly available systems.
That has rather more socioeconomic impact than fantasy football or D&D (shh, don’t tell anyone, but those are basically the same thing), but is in the end the same impulse: the desire to understand, optimize, and play.
You can’t stop that; short of rewiring the human brain, and if you’re doing that, stop.
Instead, as with everything in the human firmware, the trick is to make it work for you. We’re talking about people so enamored of your code they futz with it for free. Pay them for it. Have them write it.
The HackerBay offer is how the market has been correcting for the hacking phenomenon since the hacking phenomenon involved 2600 hertz tones and 2400 baud modems.
In an era of malicious hacking on a large scale, HackerBay is not part of the problem. It’s an implementation of a proven solution.
Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess
(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.
A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.
Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.
Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.
Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.
What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?
It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.
There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.
As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.
Provide accommodations or not?
According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”
Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.
Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.
Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.
Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.
Missing office culture while working remotely? This tool tries to recreate it
(BUSINESS NEWS) This startup just released new software to help you reproduce the best parts of in-person office interactions while you work from home.
Are you over working from home? Feeling disconnected from your co-workers? Well look no further: The startup Loop Team just released a tool that reproduces the office culture experience virtually.
“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter,” said Loop Team’s founder and CEO Raj Singh in an interview with TechCrunch. “[W]e built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form.”
Singh’s company, founded pre-COVID, is posed as a solution to feeling “out of the loop” while working remotely. During the pandemic, where virtually all of us are working from home, this technology is needed more than ever.
How it works is by essentially recreating an office experience on a virtual platform. Somewhere between Zoom and Slack with some added features, Loop Team lets you know who’s free to chat, who’s in meetings, and allows you to have private discussions using audio, video, and screen share. It’s ideal for working on projects together.
Loop’s layout is unique in the sense that it is designed to show you conversations in a clear, direct way – exposing relevant items and hiding the rest. Also, employees who miss meetings have the ability to review what they missed, making it perfect for companies that hire across time zones.
The platform was made available December 1st free of charge, but Singh is hoping to introduce a paid version next year. Pricing will likely reflect team size and should remain free for teams of 10 or less.
I’m a big fan of software that allows you to feel closer and more connected to your co-workers. Do I think anything will ever compare to a true, in-person office experience? Definitely not. That being said, I value this kind of progress, especially since I don’t think office culture en mass will make a return any time soon, regardless of vaccinations.
What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?
(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.
Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.
This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”
The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).
Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.
Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.
Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.
DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.
So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?
Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).
Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.
Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.
It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.
For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.
For more reading:
- A full (and long) history of DMT
- The documented effects of DMT
- What it’s like to take DMT (according to users)
This story was first published here in June, 2019.
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