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Posts Tagged ‘hack

After reading this article on Microsoft pushing Minecraft into classrooms, I was not taken by the efforts of the technology giant. While they might have an education arm, they do not have an education heart.

Instead I liked Mimi Ito’s description of the game.

Specific educational features of Minecraft — shared virtual world, construction tools, hackability— are not new, but what’s really new is the fact that it has been put together in a package that is embraced at a massive scale by kids, parents, and educators.

The ability to build freely, share what you build, and hack so that you have better tools, effects, visuals, etc., are probably why Minecraft caught on so rapidly. This led to why Microsoft bought it and why schools might embrace it more widely.

The emphasis is on might.

Some progressive individuals already have, e.g., the Minecraft Teacher. This was way before Microsoft jumped on and bought the whole bandwagon as well as the trail and the world it was travelling on.

School leaders and teachers no problem with building. I will resist the urge to describe Minecraft as digital LEGO. Instead I will point out that schools might include Minecraft under the trendy umbrella of making and maker spaces.

Schools might not be so open with sharing. Trump might not have his wall, but schools have long maintained walled gardens to protect their classroom bubbles.

School are definitely not keen on hacking even though it is legal and encouraged in Minecraft. There is a whole ecosystem of customising the game to suit your needs. There are entire servers based on modifications of the Minecraft core that provide different experiences, e.g., even more limited space and resources, Hunger Games-like survival, simple emulations of other games.

That said, schools might reluctantly embrace Minecraft hacking under the trendy identity of coding. Ah, much better.

So I provide my answer to this quote tweet. MinecraftEdu should not be shaped to the classroom because that would be stepping back in time. Case in point (from the same article):

So far, though, not every feature of Education Edition is being met with whoops of joy. For example, Microsoft chose to include in the game virtual chalkboards — a decidedly old-fashioned tool plunked down into a 21st-century game.

Minecraft has the literal and figurative building blocks to go forward, up, deep, and wide more rapidly than schooling can. This movement will be lead by learners from age 4 to 40, and by innovative teachers.

Let us say that you read the news about how 13 Singapore school websites were hacked into. The news reported that sites were all hosted on the same server [1] [2] [3].

After the hacker, what would the next most logical thing be to blame? I say first the security of the server and then the people who maintain it. You do not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to follow that logic.

But let us say that you are part of an IT security team of another system. You decide to take this opportunity to remind users to be secure.

What is the logic of this?

This is like reminding you to lock your car in a parking structure that threatens to collapse. This is like reminding you to use two-factor authentication for online banking when the doors and safe are easy to open.

I agree that most breaches stem from human factors. But some people would rather create the fear of being responsible for a breach than follow and present a logical course of action.

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Have you asked yourself what you really own? Nothing earthly for sure.

What do you own that you can give to make a difference? I can think of two things at the moment.

One is your word. The other is your time.

I have made the mistake of giving my word and promising my time, but not delivering on both.

For example, in the past I have failed to spend time with my son on weekends despite promising some Minecraft server time. My flimsy excuse was that I was given work to do late the previous week with deadlines early the following week.

No excuses, not now, not any more. I give him my word and my time so as to not take him for granted.

One thing we do is photograph and blog his LEGO creations.

I have a simple setup using an IKEA storage box (foldable SKUBBs) and as many battery-operated LED lamps as I need. I use a Sony NEX-5R to photograph my son’s LEGO creations.

Here is an example of what is possible with this simple setup.

My son and I discuss the shots, the short story to tell, and how to blog about it. It is my way of taking back the third thing we can truly own. Relationships.

Two days ago, news broke of a Firefox extension, Firesheep, that allows users logged into the same Wifi networks to detect the browser session cookies of other users and take over their Facebook, Twitter or other similarly unprotected accounts.

The creator of the extension explains why he did this (short story: to highlight the inherent weakness of such online services).

Video source

Someone else has created a YouTube video illustrating how easy it is to do this. But he has also suggested a workaround: Install another extension that requires websites to use https (secure) instead of http.

You can also edit your bookmarks of sites that you visit regularly in public/shared Wifi networks so that they start with https instead. However, I have found that this does not always work with mobile browsers. You might be presented with a message to revert to http or you might experience an endless loop of page reloads.

Whatever the case, better safe than sorry.

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