My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

3 Articles in April 2015

  1. An open response to “Teachers have no right threatening education”

    Dear Mr. Lavallee,

    You wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in The Chronicle Journal on Saturday, April 11: “Teachers have no right threatening education.”

    Your letter communicates a great deal of frustration with teachers, arguing that we suffer from a sense of entitlement, that we strike because we aren’t satisfied with how easy we already have it. You ask us how we “dare” to “hold our kids’ education hostage.”

    The truth is, the decision to strike is never an easy one. Striking is not easy. We don’t do it very often. We teachers are, by and large, passionate about our jobs: we love what we do, and we love being in the classroom with students. It’s true that the weather has recently taken a turn for the better—but I can assure you, we would much rather be inside, teaching, than outside on a picket line.

    It is because we are passionate that we consider strike action. It is precisely because you and I share a concern for our children’s education that we teachers require adequate working conditions.

    You seem to be under the impression that teaching is a cakewalk: we “make great money, have great benefits, two months…

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  2. On binge-watching

    Two interesting television-related things happened this weekend that have me thinking about our (and by that I mean, my, I suppose) relationship with consuming new television shows in 2015. Firstly, Netflix released the first season of Daredevil, a “Netflix original” series it produced with ABC Studios for Marvel. Secondly, the first four episodes of season 5 of Game of Thrones leaked (one day prior to the premiere).

    In both cases, I see a lot of posts on social media about people “binging” on these episodes. Some people are even suggesting that HBO should release the season—or at least the four pirated episodes—all at once to level the playing field, so to speak. The alternative being a post-apocalyptic dystopian future in which the people who binged on the leaked episodes spoil everything on the Internet for everyone who hasn’t seen them yet. And by “future,” I am clearly referring to “Monday.”

    Now, I’m not actually interested in what HBO is going to do. I’ll watch the episodes as they come out (mostly because I am too lazy to pirate, and also for reasons discussed momentarily). Rather, I want to discuss the rise of binge-watching, and the tectonic shift in the…

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  3. Fighting CryptoWall on Windows XP: caltrops, scorched earth, and triage

    How was your Easter break? I spent a good portion of my four-day weekend fighting a ransomware attack.

    My boss's computer at the art gallery (not at my other job) is still running Windows XP while connected to the Internet. This is, no joke, a terrible idea. But they are a not-for-profit organization with very little money—she is finally getting a modern computer in May.

    Not soon enough. Last week her computer was hit by CryptoWall 3.0, the beefier descendant of CryptoWall 2.0, which was hitting computers last April. Seems like this is going to be an annual event. This ransomware is so pernicious it has been hitting police departments in the United States, with some of them even paying the criminals because they had no other way to retrieve their files.

    Ransomware is exactly what the name describes. It is a pernicious virus that infects your computer, disables as much security as possible, and then it encrypts your files so you can’t access them until you pay its masters for the decryption key. If you refuse to pay, then tough. It’s RSA encryption: you can’t just brute-force your way past it and get your files back. The only…

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About Me

I’m a 27-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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