November 18th, 2008

UNC CAUSE 2008—Day 2

Our complimentary breakfast this morning was provided by Techexcel. My schedule today included these sessions:




9:00-9:45Give Your Users a LittleUNC-Chapel Hill
10:15-11:00Adventures in New Student EmailUNC-Pembroke
12:15-1:00Web Services BOFNCSU
1:30-2:15IT Tools - Cyber StalkersUNC-Wilmington
2:30-3:15Using the Power of the Web to Organize Your LifeUNC-Chapel Hill
3:45-4:30Professional Development Strategies UNC-Wilmington
4:45-5:30Collaborating on IT CommunicationECU

In that first session of the day, I sat in one of two chairs against the back wall of the room, near which was an electrical outlet for my laptop. After a few minutes a guy took the other seat, which was right by the door.

When the presenter started, she said something like, "I'm sure most of you have some kind of newsletter communication going on in your organization," to which that man next to me nodded his head violently—presumably in an attempt to let us know that he really did belong there in the session.

After a few minutes, while the presenter was speaking and I was typing notes on my laptop, he leaned over to me, and said, "Excuse me sir, can you tell me where the men's room is?"

Holding my breath so as not to further smell the pure grain alcohol on his breath, I said, "No, I'm sorry. I don't know where it is on this floor," which was true.

"Oh, okay," he said.

About a minute later: "So you're just here for a class?"

"Yes," I said, thinking, "This is not really a class, it's a conference session," and at which time I noticed that this man had no conference ID badge on.

"Me, too!" he said enthusiastically.

Now, if this were literature we were dealing with, the notion of the literary device known as the unreliable narrator might start to surface for you at this point. I know it did for me.

Then about five minutes before the session ended, he leaned over and actually pointed very, very close to the screen of my laptop, and he said, "I'm going to be right back. I have two questions that I want to ask you about this stuff."

If I could raise one eyebrow at a time, I would have done it then. Needless to say he never came back.

Without a doubt, the presenter of the Cyber Stalking presentation was the most animated and engaging of the day. He had a great sense of humor, and the people behind me laughed out loud several times, as did I.

Here's one thing this guy told us to do: Put your name in google (in its various iterations—last name first; with and without the middle name an initial, etc.), and then separately (not with your name!) put in your social security number. It would be good if you found nothing related to yourself, especially the social security number.

Another thing this presenter suggested was that you not only change your password regularly, but that you use different sign-ons often. That is, don't open all of your online accounts with the same username!

Why? There is a website called spokeo, at which someone can put in your userid/account name/signon and it will tell the person all of the websites (or most) where you use that userid/account name/signon. This includes bank websites, even though the sites listed on the spokeo home page doesn't advertise that. Needless to say, this is a hacker's dream.

This evening's reception was at The Empire Room, which was about three blocks from the hotel, not far from last night's venture to Natty Greene's, so we'd seen it on the way. Marc Hoit, our CIO, walked over there with us.

Once again, we were each provided with two tickets for free drinks at this event, which was sponsored by Sun Microsystems, but I never paid for a drink all night, and I had at least six, if not eight, bourbons and diets.

The core group at our table consisted of Jen, Nick, Jason, Garrison, and Bill with various and sundry people checking in and out during the two or so hours we were there. We had a lot of laughs and team building was done. Love that passive voice.

Back at the hotel, a few of us hung out in the bar area for an hour or so. I had some funny conversations with Bill and a guy named Charlie, who mostly couldn't believe most of the stuff that Bill and I were talking about, which made it all even funnier.