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Six quirks/habits of Raul – Meme November 24, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.
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I’ve been tagged by Keira-Anne, so here goes my response (sorry it’s SO late!)

1.- I follow exactly the same routine at night, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
– Check the doors are locked (outside and in my apartment)
– Brush my teeth and floss.
– Drink water.
– Choose my clothes for the following day.
– Go to sleep.

2.- In the past year, I’ve started to check my blogging Gmail BEFORE my personal or research emails. Yeah, I’m first a blogger and then everything else. Weird!

3.- I hate waiting for anyone to pick me up, so I’ll walk outside my house and stand there. I know, if you watch the water all the time will never boil. It’s painful.

4.- I lit candles in my apartment regardless of whether I have company or not. Sometimes I do it just for the sake of feeling calm and relaxed.

5.- I prefer to book slots of time for friends than to have a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of schedule. Makes my life somewhat complicated sometimes as I have a pretty active social life. And the tech community loves to do things in the spur of the moment (on Twitter!)

6.- I say “REALLY?” a lot. I think what I actually mean is “mmmmhmmmm”.

This time, I’m tagging people who may (or may not) expect me to tag them. I can’t tag Rebecca as she’s already been tagged, so here are who I’m tagging.

Andy Peatling
Duane Storey
Tyler Ingram
Gus Fosarolli
Ianiv and Arieanna Schweber
Tanya Davis

There you go! You didn’t expect me to tag you, did you? πŸ™‚

Music – St. Marks Square by Black Science Orchestra November 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in music, personal life, random thoughts.
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I’m a big fan of deep house music, and particularly of Black Science Orchestra. One of their best tracks, New Jersey Deep, is always on my iPod. The song whose video I’m inserting here is pretty much another one of those “tunes that define me“.

The rhythms in this song are completely along the lines of what I like to dance to, what I dance to when I am at home or in a club. Although I think the last time I heard this type of tunes was (believe it or not) at Bar None (in Yaletown, Vancouver)! Oh no, that’s not exactly true. It was at the Media 2O party (one of the best parties I’ve ever attended – only comparable to BarCamp Vancouver 2008 party!)

Thanks to the universe November 9, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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I’ve always a grateful person. I think that there is an intrinsic circle of positive energy whereby “what goes around, does come around” , and at least in my case, that’s always true. No matter how many hardships I may be facing, there’s always that ray of light, that glimmer of hope, that random act of kindness on the part of the people whom I care for and who care about me that just gives me *that* extra push to keep going.

These past few days have been nothing short of awesome. I feel so complete, I’m almost afraid of saying it out loud for fear of jinxing it. Some of my close friends who face seemingly unsurmountable challenges are still going strong and are always an example. My own mother has had a terrible past couple of years, and she is working hard to stay afloat and thrive. And all of these things, I take everything. I take the good with the bad.

I’ve also struggled, and had rough times. Living on a tight budget is not something I always did, but there’s always food on my table, I have everything I need (not everything I want, but everything I DO need, or at least almost everything). I’ve had a wonderful life, and I continue to do so. I have nothing to complain about to the universe. It’s just nice to realize it, every so often.

Thanks.

Meet the child of my upstairs neighbours! November 7, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts.
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Actually, this isn’t the actual child, but the kid who lives upstairs from my apartment behaves EXACTLY like the one shown in this video (I think it’s safe for the office, but it shows the word “preservative” so you may not want to watch it at the office – no actual preservatives are shown, though). Now you understand why I call him the Demon Spawn? πŸ™‚

Whistler’s Cornucopia – Chef’s Luncheon Series with Anthony Nicalo November 6, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, dining out, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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My friend Anthony Nicalo (Farmstead Wines) is hosting a Chef’s Luncheon Series during Whistler’s Cornucopia. Admittedly, I’d love to attend, but frankly and honestly, I can’t, because I have a grant application and a grant report to submit over the weekend. But Whistler’s Cornucopia sounds amazing, and knowing Anthony like I do, I am sure the Luncheon will be outstanding.

Chef’s Table Luncheon with Anthony Nicalo & Farmstead Wines
Saturday, November 8
12:30pm – 3:30pm

Enjoy a luncheon highlighting local, seasonal ingredients with gourmet selections from around the world. Share ideas and cooking techniques, learning ways to get the most out of great ingredients. Exploring the connection between the farm and table will extend to the wine pairings, with a selection of naturally farmed, handcrafted wines. Guests will move beyond the rhetoric of 100 mile diets and experience the underlying principles for themselves. [Whistler Cornucopia]

Anthony is passionate about sustainability and its implementation within our food systems. While I wasn’t much of a wine addict before I met Anthony, he’s introduced me to some really good (biodynamic) wines, and I think that participants in the event will have an outstanding time.

I actually thought of Russ for this event as he just started a food and wine blog, and while we are at it, I should probably point you out to his blog. I’ll edit this entry once I obtain permission from Russ to link to it, his is a new blog precisely on the topic of wine pairings with food. Russ and Gus are good friends of mine and I think you’ll love both their blogs (Gus has been blogging for quite a bit already!)

I’m in The Georgia Straight! November 5, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, friends, link love, personal life, Vancouver, Web 2.0.
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I may not be nearly as visible on the web as any of the top 20 most visible Vancouver bloggers, but I will never complain, because I have been fortunate enough to have the mainstream media cover my blogging activities (for example, the 24 hrs coverage of Blogathon and Buzz Bishop’s article where he mentioned my involvement as the organizer of Vancouver Bloggers Meetup). The most recent mainstream media coverage I have received is fresh off the presses, and it’s on The Georgia Straight, one of Vancouver’s (if not THE) most read weekly newspapers.

A few weeks back, Jeffery Simpson asked me if I’d like to be interviewed and I gladly accepted. In case you didn’t know, Jeffery wrote not only one, but two guest blog posts during my Blogathon 2008, and he has done really awesome work with Vancouver MetBlogs, so I was quite honored.

In Jeffery’s article for The Georgia Straight “Vancouver bloggers have their say in cyberspace“, Kate Milberry (a phenomenal analyst of digital activism, based out of Vancouver) is quoted. Kate has done research on the way in which activists use the internet to advance their agendas, and as a scholar of environmental studies, I have analyzed the behavior of environmental non-governmental organizations and their use of the Internet to disseminate information about toxic releases in their neighbourhoods, so in some ways, Kate’s work and mine have some parallels.

Jeffery also interviewed Sean Orr, of Beyond Robson/Morning Brew fame. While I haven’t met Sean in person, I do respect his work and that of many of the Beyond Robson writers (even if sometimes we do have our ideological differences, I think we all respect each other and the role we have in Vancouver’s blogosphere).

I really enjoyed Jeffery’s article and I hope you do too. Thanks for the interview Jeffery!

The point of being a friend October 31, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts.
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The point of being a friend is not to say that you’re a friend. It’s to BE THERE.
The point of being a friend is not to prevent any damage. It’s to help DO DAMAGE CONTROL.
The point of being a friend is not to be dismissive when your friends tell you they need something. It’s to actually DO SOMETHING.
The point of being a friend is not to keep things from each other, it’s to SHARE WITH EACH OTHER.
The point of being a friend is, simply, understand who you are and why you are the way you are and love you regardless. THAT is being a friend.

Building connections off and online October 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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While this weekend was probably one of the busiest ones of them all (and I’m still stressed by work that I have to do), I managed to say no to a number of things. However, I had to cave in and have a couple of short breaks in what otherwise was a working weekend.

On Friday, my neighbour and good friend DMcN invited me over for a couple of cocktails (small ones to avoid any kind of hangover) and a nice chat. We hadn’t had a chance to hang out in a long while, so it was nice to just have a nice quiet Friday evening. Then I went to a wine tasting hosted by my good friend JH. Very low key, only a few other very close friends attended (ML, HZ and CS) which was actually really nice. And yes, despite the fact that it was a wine tasting, I did not consume one single drop of alcohol. None. As in, all I had was water (and well, lots of chocolate).

On Saturday, I needed to skip all invites because I had a pressing deadline, but I took a very late night quick break and headed over to Two Parrots, where Colleen had called up for a Tweetup. Normally, TP would never be my hangout of choice, much less on a late Saturday night (Granville Street gets an overwhelmingly high quota of drunken early 20-somethings. Not my idea of fun).

But having a chance to spend time with Gary, Gus, Colleen, Jeremy, John and Rebecca, Airdrie and Kerry Anne, Gregg Scott, Rainer and Michael was simply awesome. Although I am sorry I missed a chance to hang out with many other friends (at the Parade of Lost Souls, at Boneta where Karen celebrated her birthday, So, I headed over there rather late (after every other event was pretty much over).

Gary was kind enough to ensure that I had continuous supply of alcohol (prairie fire, monkeys lunch, blue eyed blonde and melon breeze). The strongest was the prairie fire (tequila and tabasco sauce) but I could handle my alcohol quite ok. Thanks Gary, very much appreciated! Overall, was a great evening, a good couple of hours hanging out with friends. And I held my alcohol extremely well. Four drinks and I didn’t stumble, have slurred speech, nor flirt with anyone.

I’ve been discovering that I have a much better chance of enjoying the time I spend with my friends if I just don’t try to do everything and over commit. I feel really guilty about saying no, but sometimes I can’t do everything. I would have loved to do coffee with Jonathon Narvey, Monica Hamburg, David Drucker and other friends. I would have loved to go to Parade of Lost Souls with Karen Parker, Ianiv and Arieanna, Gus and Russ, Lorraine and Heather, for example, or to Media Democracy Day with Tris, Kate Milberry and others, or to the Health Show with DaveO. But work was calling and I had to live vicariously through their tweets. I went out late at night simply because I was almost done with my work (which I think is what I should do – work, and then do a bit of play).

At any rate, this was a good weekend, albeit a reflective one. I still need to learn to navigate the fine line between extrovert/socializer and introspective/time alone. If anybody has the magic formula, feel free to share πŸ™‚ Hope you had a wonderful weekend too.

Toasting to a great beginning of the week! October 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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You may have read that I had a really wonderful weekend. You may also have read (on Twitter) that I have been feeling amazingly positive and energetic and hopeful and lucky. That wasn’t the case last week.

FreeWine (Flickr)

Credit: FreeWine (Flickr)

The reasons behind this mood change are many, but primarily associated with feeling healthy again and having gotten really positive feedback for the really hard work for the project I completed last week. Also, a really positive comment (encouraging me to apply to the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University) also made my day.

I am not going to deny that last week (particularly by the end of it), I felt pretty crappy (emotionally drained and somewhat bummed, and physically exhausted and sick). But one thing I’ve been reminded many, many times is that – the darkest hour is just before dawn.

I found this photograph extremely compelling and descriptive of how I feel. I just need to keep paddling to reach great heights and achieve the successes I feel I deserve because I have worked so hard.

I’m not writing in a self-absorbed attempt to glorify the current state of affairs. I want to just remind myself (and share with the world my joy) because truthfully, I didn’t think I was going to ever get to this point again.

Yes, I am enthusiastic. Yes, I am always thinking in positive ways. But when it’s dark, and rainy, and gloomy, I too feel down, sometimes. I’m grateful that it is not something that happens frequently, but I too sometimes feel as though it’s just me against the world. And then… something happens that just cheers me up. A friend talks to me on GTalk. Another one sends me a direct message on Twitter. Another group of friends force me to go out and enjoy a good meal or a drink and the company of good friends, or just a walk in a park, or watching movies and ordering sushi in.

That point, that precise point, when I have finished each one of those activities, has been a stepping stone for me. At each and every one of those points, I was shown affection, love, genuine care, support and solidarity. And I cherished it. And I relished in it. A smile on my face has been a constant throughout this weekend.

I have great talents (and lets be honest, modesty, really, is not one of them) but even better, I have great people around me. So, on a Monday night, I toast to those of you who keep me sane, who keep me real, who never let my success get to my head, or my difficulties drown me. Thanks, many, many thanks.

It’s going to be a great week.

EDIT – As you can see, I wrote it on Monday and published on Wednesday. I still feel awesome.

Studying the behavior of social networks and scholarship October 19, 2008

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Last week when I met with Robert Ballantyne, I told him that in a way, I had begun to get involved in social media to understand the creation of online social networks. Several people have mentioned that I’m a good networker and that I’m good at bringing people together. Heck, I’ve even introduced bloggers to each other who (in theory) *should* know each other in real life!

I was telling Robert that, in the process of understanding these new public spaces (the Internet) I had actually fallen prey to the phenomenon I was interested in studying. That is, instead of being an analyst of bloggers, blogs and Web 2.0/social media folks, I became one with them.

The fact is, I don’t have any interest in studying these networks in a formal way. Of course, I am puzzled by the online behavior of people. I always will be, but I don’t want to spend time attached to this research topic. There are better people out there (danah boyd, Michael Geist and Fred Stutzman and even friends of mine study this stuff – Karen Quinn Fung, Kate Milberry).

If I had it my way and somebody paid me (and someone else put me up to speed on the literature) I would probably go to the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. But truth be told, (a) I don’t have the time to get up to speed on the literature, (b) I would probably prefer to be invited to the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies – At Harvard too, and (c) even more related to my field, the Center for International Development or the Belfer Center for International Affairs, also at Harvard University.

Just dreaming out loud, that’s all… πŸ™‚

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone October 13, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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It’s Thanksgiving Day in Canada (October 13th, 2008), and I’m very thankful for:

– My health.
– My family, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, my Dad and my Mom, my cousins, my uncles and aunts, and extended family.
– My friends, both online and off line.
– The opportunities I’ve received throughout the years for personal and professional growth.
– Living in Canada. I love this country and I think it loves me back.
– Having still a deep connection with Mexico. Because I owe Mexico a lot.
– My successes, and my failures. Because I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’ve relished in my triumphs.
– Having had the opportunity to fall in love. Despite the fact that I have also been heartbroken, I know exactly what love feels like, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
– Calling Vancouver my home. I absolutely love this city, despite its horrendous weather and sometimes difficult people (not everybody, of course – just a few).

I am thankful because I am alive, and because every day I live to the fullest. I do what I can, with what I have, wherever I am. Happy Thanksgiving!

Blogging, socialization and social media October 12, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a chance to talk about this topic with Kerry Anne, Arieanna and Lorraine. I’ve also talked about this at length with many other friends from the blogosphere, but more recently with the previously mentioned friends of mine.

You would think that, being in social media, bloggers would be VERY social. Some of us are (at least, I admit that I am!) but some are not all that much. I am an extrovert by nature, I get a lot of energy from hanging out with people. But not all bloggers/PR/tech people are like me.

For me, hanging out with people from the blogosphere is now kind of second nature. There are a few people online that I haven’t met in person yet, although Twitter and our respective blogs, and email do keep us in touch and thus I feel as though I’ve grown to know them (to cite a few examples — Mel, Barbara, Tania, Paul Hillsdon or Dan).

However, it is indeed rare that I don’t *know* some of the people whom I’ve befriended through my blog (in person, that is). I was going through my blogroll very briefly and noticed that, really, only very few of those people I haven’t met in real life (IRL).

I like to think that social media has given me an outlet to socialize, and while sometimes I do enjoy taking off my “blogger” hat and just hang out, have a beer, or go for a walk, have a coffee, or simply just enjoy birthday parties with my blogosphere friends, I have to recognize that it was through my blog that I met them, and for that, I’m very appreciative and grateful.

Canadian Thanksgiving October 8, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, friends, personal life, random thoughts.
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I am aware that some of my close friends are having an early Canadian Thanksgiving. Last year I spent it with HZ and CS, as well as a few other friends.

In previous years, my PhD supervisor invited us all for Canadian Thanksgiving. This year, I think I’m going to probably have to attend at least one dinner, and I’ve noticed that it’s not as relevant to Canadians as American Thanksgiving is to Americans. So my question to you is… what are YOU doing for Canadian Thanksgiving?

Off the grid (and guest posts!) October 4, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.
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I have a deadline for a project I need to get done pretty much ASAP, and therefore I will most likely be unable to blog (and/or do Twitter). I do have some content that should be queued (thank you WordPress for time-stamping posts!) but in general, I’m pretty much not going to be able to blog (at all, or at least as frequently as I usually do). But I’m always accepting guest posts (since I’ve been a frequent guest-poster on other blogs, and also recently with Blogathon 2008 I had a LOT of great guest-posters who wrote amazing content). Feel free to contact me (best way is probably leaving a comment on here or sending me an email). In the mean time, don’t forget about me y’all out there! πŸ™‚

In the grand scheme of things October 3, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts.
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I have nothing to complain about. I am just annoyed at the fact that things aren’t going my way right now. I am very blessed for the great friends and life I have, I am just complaining a little bit because of the nasty weather (and my upstairs neighbours). But as I joked on Twitter, desperate times require desperate measures – I’ve opened the box of lovely German chocolates that my good friend HZ and his fiancee CS brought me. And some rooibos tea. I hope this brings my mood up. If only my upstairs neighbours stopped being such jerks and make so much noise.

More German chocolate

I *am* an academic October 1, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, personal life, random thoughts.
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Photo credit: Roland on Flickr.

I had a lovely day today (well, yesterday since it’s Wednesday by now) where I finished editing two journal articles (one approved for publication with minor revisions and one for peer-review), doing a peer-review of a journal article (which I rejected as the article was horrendous) and managed to do a couple other errands and have a lovely meeting with Robert Ballantyne.

During our meeting (where I gained a lot of insights), he emphasized one thing. He said “well, you ARE an academic“. And it’s true. I’ve been trained as an academic. I look at things, phenomena, stuff through research-trained eyes. My heart jumps when I publish another journal article, when I share my research in conferences and present papers, when my students graduate, when I write letters of reference for them for graduate school, etc. And I absolutely love, love, love teaching.

I live, breathe and eat research and teaching. Well, I have. The past few months, I have sort-of-abandoned the research field. Well, maybe abandoning is not the right verb. I still do research and I still have presented at conferences (like this summer) but I’m not as active as I used to be and I haven’t been able to keep up with the literature on some of the areas where I’ve done research.

By the time September came, I already had lined up 3 or 4 conferences for the following year, and I already knew my travel calendar for the fall. This time, I think I’m only doing 2 conferences in total in 2008. That’s really, really very few conferences and talks for my standards (although I seem to recall that I may have not presented anything around 2002).

However, the past few weeks (particularly since I’ve been back in Vancouver) I’ve started to come to terms with the fact that maybe I’ll have to keep blogging and social media as a side, instead of fully incorporating it into my portfolio. I need to get back to my research portfolio and find ways to expand my output in such a way that I can apply my recently acquired social media skills to my academic pursuits.

Today, as I was talking with Robert (and later in the evening with my brother A, who is a tenure-track professor right now) and in previous weeks with my good friends HZ and Beth Snow, I *do* love academia. It’s the family business (Mom, 2 of my brothers, myself).

Now this doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop blogging or that I’ll shift much the focus of my blog. I may blog more infrequently but not stop fully. I may incorporate more of my research into my blog writing. This is just a quick reflection on what I think will be the future for me.

I’m back in Vancouver September 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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Yaletown, Vancouver

I never thought I’d be so happy to be back in Vancouver. I loved my time in Mexico with my Mom and my cousins and uncle, as well as a chance to hang out with three of my brothers. However, I did miss my apartment, my life here, my friends and now that I am back, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be back. See you all soon πŸ™‚

Torn between two lovers September 11, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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Deer Lake Park

That’s the title of a song by Mary McGregor, “Torn between two lovers”. Funny enough, I’m not torn between to lovers, but probably torn between two of my loves. Part of me wants to come back to MY HOME: Vancouver. Part of me wants to stay here in Mexico, specifically at MY MOM’S HOME. I love both countries, Canada and Mexico. There are parts of me that are very Canadian and parts that are very Mexican (and of course, since I grew up in so many different parts of the world, there is a bit of other regions in me as well).

I have wonderful friends here in Mexico, and I grew up with them. We shared so many things, and I have got such great memories, that it’s kind of hard to let go and move away from them another 6,000 km. But on the other hand, my life is back in Vancouver. I have made my home there. I feel grounded and happy and loved and welcomed in Canada, and specifically, in the rainy city.

I tweeted earlier that I didn’t know what to blog about. Well, truth be told, I *do* know what I want to blog about. I want to blog about how much I miss Vancouver. I miss my friends. I miss my life there. But I’ll miss my time with family here, specifically Mom. And my friends, particularly my closest ones. Although truth be told, she seems to be taking things alright. And she’s got a new cell phone (better), new MSN address and she is using GTalk and Skype just fine. Thus, I think that I will be able to communicate with her whenever I want.

EDIT – You probably are wondering what “Wave of Mutilation” by The Pixies is doing here. Well, it’s my favorite Rock Band song (well, one of the three or four) and it’s the first one I want to play/sing (depending on who’s doing bass and who’s doing vocals) soon as I get back to Vancouver.

Happy birthday, Airdrie! September 9, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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So it turns out that I missed a great birthday party, but everyone knows it’s because I was in Mexico, otherwise, not even a hurricane would have made me miss it! Just wanted to wish Airdrie a very happy birthday, hoping we’ll celebrate upon my return with some sort of MargaritaCamp πŸ™‚

Airdrie, you’re a great woman, an inspiration and a good friend. AND on top of that, I love Lip Gloss and Laptops πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to do a guest appearance talking men’s grooming/cologne stuff! Derek and you are two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and I cherish your friendship greatly.

Chocolate cake

Here is a virtual birthday cake for you πŸ™‚ Happy birthday!

Lessons in security (or insecurity!) September 7, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.
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One of the things I have to say I love the most about having immersed myself for the past year in Vancouver’s tech scene is that I have learned a lot about network and internet security. I was a happy user of Microsoft MSN, and GTalk and GMail, until I started to talk to Vancouver’s geeks and they told me that Skype was probably the safest chat and voice talk system around. For reasons that I will not get into here, I will need some pointers as to how to ramp up internet safety.

Yes, I know that this means also reducing access to Flickr, maybe protecting my Twitter updates, etc. Probably remove my name from things here and there. I’m not terribly freaked out, but just think I need to be more careful.

But the most important thing is, I am grateful that my tekkie friends in Vancouver have taught me so much, because now I can pass this information and data on to my family and loved ones. Thanks, folks!