Monthly Archives: June 2013

What a strange email address you have

The tale of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf provides a cautionary note that can be useful when dealing with e-mails. The, well known, tale tells of a wolf who dresses up in Granny’s clothing, with the intention of acquiring little Red Riding Hood as his supper.  She was cautious enough, when she recognised some unusual signs such as Big eyes, ears and teeth. A similar amount of caution should be present in a person who receives unsolicited e-mails in their Inbox.

 

When you receive an e-mail from a strange e-mail address there is a good chance that it might not be what it seems.  A large amount of communication takes place through e-mail.  Information directly to your computer about events has in many instances replaced the circulars through the post.  There is one remarkable difference between a printed letter and an e-mail.  Unlike some rogue e-mails, the printed letter cannot do anything. It is unable to reach into your address book, get all the name and addresses and send itself to all your contacts.

 

Where to start when trying to differentiate between a rogue e-mail and a genuine one, in other words how can you tell a wolf from a Granny.  When an unsolicited e-mail arrives in your inbox  Before rushing to open it up, check to see is this something you are interested in , is it something you have enquired about, or is it possibly spam, or even more potentially disruptive contains malware.

 

Watch out for strange e-mail addresses, misspellings in the e-mail,  and requests for you to log into your account, or give your account details,  The deep voice, big eyes, big ears and big teeth. Just because the e-mail purports to come from an organisation such as your bank or Paypal. There is  no guarantee that it is genuine, and in most cases is not.  If an e-mail in your Inbox is from an known person or organisation, check out for signs of the wolf in granny’s clothing. The following e-mail address is a fake, to the informed eye.

 

PayPal [hold-ub3FNRhajo@aktionmusik.de]

 

E-mail addresses are in the format   username:@domain.ie, the one above states that it comes from Paypal but  the domain is aktionmusik.de, who might very well be a legitimate organisation whose mail server has been hacked.

 

Rogue e-mails serve the purpose of their creators and that is normally to solicit personal information or money from you the innocent user.  Always check that the domain is consistent with the name of the organisation, who are sending the e-mail.  Also your bank or Paypal will not send you unsolicited e-mails. According to the Grimm brothers, Red Riding Hood learnt from her experience with the wolf and was fully prepared the next time she met  one.

The Roses, the Stars and the Young

Hubble telescope Image

Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 Image from Hubble telescope

An interest in science was developed in a former Rose of Tralee, Aoibhinn O Suilleabháin, whose father encouraged her to stargaze, as the 22 year old Rose said “This is what I really want to do with my year, promoting maths and physics as well as Irish culture”.

Remarkably in Ireland companies in the science and technology sectors are taking little comfort from this year’ Leaving Certificate results, showing continued issues with the uptake of Higher Level maths. Only 16% of students sat the paper, but problems were far from restricted to the higher level, with over 4,300 failing the subject across all levels. This situation has the potential to effect the reputation of Ireland as an excellent location for multinational operations and also can reduce the attractiveness of Ireland as a place for foreign students to attend college.

How can this trend be reversed? Curiosity and an interest in problem solving are two of the key qualities needed for a person who wishes to study computer science or Information Technologies at development level. Aoibhinn O Suilleabháin’s father, possibly, recognised the importance of observing the sky, as a way of developing understanding of the nature of things and broadening the mind.

The ability of individuals, in today’s Internet centred world, to access massive amounts of information on seemingly every subject presents both benefits and challenges to the learner in the education system, there can be an apparent futility to learning things that can be Googled in a few seconds, and students will be quick to point this out to teachers given any opportunity.

Looking up information is not learning. This rarely has the effect of developing understanding or broadening the mind, which are essential components of an educated person. Over the next number of years technology will become more central to the learning experience for students, but we need to ensure that it does add to their education not just provide them with rapid answers to difficult questions.