The Digital Campfire: The Bismarck Plan


The Digital Campfire is a collection of stories about technology. The protagonists are (fictional) Brown students. The problems they face, however, are very real— a stolen phone, a hacked account, an accidentally deleted folder. How do our intrepid heroes deal with these digital hiccups? Read the column to find out. 

Max was scared. He had just clicked a few buttons on Joe’s laptop but the damage was colossal. He had managed to delete the entire ‘My Documents’ folder.

His brother’s entire digital life had been wiped out in seconds. All his pictures, his entire Pink Floyd music collection, his stories for Fiction I ( judiciously speaking—not that much of a loss really) and his beloved PCB designs.

I’m so dead, Max thought. His brother had specifically warned him to stay away from the laptop. Of course, Joe had barely left when Max had rushed to the laptop. He clicked the ‘Delete’ button by mistake. Such a big folder didn’t even pass through the interim ‘Recycle Bin’; it simply got erased. Bits and bytes rearranged themselves, returning to their original form. It was the digital equivalent of a blank page.

Soon enough, Joe re-entered his room. Max’s original plan of denial was discarded for a more natural reaction — he blurted it all out. Joe looked thoughtful. Secretly he was relieved — there was nothing broken. His files were gone, true, but he knew how to handle that. Max walked out of the room, relieved. That was close, he thought.

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The Digital Campfire: Constructing a digital fortress

(BlogDH) Digital Campfire

The Digital Campfire is a collection of stories about technology. The protagonists are (fictional) Brown students. The problems they face, however, are very real— a stolen phone, a hacked account, an accidentally deleted folder. How do our intrepid heroes deal with these digital hiccups? Read the column to find out. 

It was 2 p.m. and the sun was blazing. Sam had just finished with classes for the day and was heading back towards Keeney Quad. As he walked along the path, he whistled tunelessly to himself. While Sam appeared outwardly relaxed, his brain was churning furiously. His mind was consumed by a single thought, one that sprang from a deep primeval urge that millions of years of evolution hadn’t managed to eradicate. “How do I save myself?” he wondered.

Sam replayed the day’s events in his mind. David, the college soccer team’s captain, had been more restless than usual during Math class. When Sam saw him furtively slip into the SciLi, he instinctively followed him. David hated libraries as much as Napoleon detested Moscow; only a dire emergency could make him go there. Sam found him haphazardly browsing through the ‘Computers and Technology’ section in a dark corner of the library. When confronted David told him everything, glad to find a sympathetic listener. “Someone f***ing hacked into my Facebook account,” he said. Sam understood immediately, like any other teenager he found it an horrible intrusion. In fact it was nothing short of an invasion into a digital shrine. And this shrine, according to David, was now being defiled by status updates that were either prurient or ludicrous and messages to friends that were simply nasty. The hacker had even posted a status praising Chelsea FC David fumed, for him this was the last straw. Worried sick, he had hoped to combat this cyber sorcery by finding a book on computer security. But the library didn’t have any. Hacker – 1 : David – 0. He cracked his knuckles, as was his habit when angry, and walked out of the SciLi. Continue Reading

BruNews Round-up: September 22

Are you sick of reading dry news articles? Do you cringe at the notion of logging onto a mainstream news source? Fear not, for Blog is now officially fulfilling that role. We know, bold move. We’ll be hitting you up every Sunday with BruNews Round-up, a collection of all the latest news and musings of the world. Read it and weep, New York Times — your reign is over. 

Domestic: Twelve victims were killed and several others were injured by a gunman on Monday, September 16, in the Washington D.C. Navy Yard. The gunman became psychologically unstable in the period before the attack. He reported to Rhode Island police that he was being followed, and that his alleged stalker was sending microwave vibrations to keep him from sleeping and sending voices through the ceiling and walls of his hotel room. He visited hospitals twice over the following weeks and was prescribed sleeping medication. The gunman sought psychological help from the Veteran’s Association, which described him as “alert and oriented” and exhibiting no signs of wishing to do harm. Despite these well-documented issues, he was still able to legally purchase a shotgun in Virginia. This tragic event has shed more light and added more salience to the debate on gun control and treatment of mental illness in the United States. (New York Times, CBS News, Los Angeles Times.)

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Why “reply all” should be eradicated

About a week ago, I received an email from CIS telling me I had a “naming conflict” with my Brown email address. The email laid out a couple of logistical problems that my account, and presumably those of many others in the Brown Community, were facing. The message was pretty technical, but I elected not to really read it because the email explicitly said, “You do NOT need to take any action yet.” So I did not.

Yesterday, I got another email, which continued to lay out the problem of my “naming conflict.” The email again delayed any sense of urgency I might have possibly been feeling. “You do not need to take any action before tomorrow.” (They bolded; I’m just reporting.) So considering this warning, and the fact that my Brown apps are not that valuable to me post-graduation, I took no action. Presumably, neither did a whole lot of other people, because today we received a clarification email from CIS.

Sounds simple enough. But clearly there had been tension building for days, DAYS, that no one had yet to act on.

Shortly after CIS’s clarification message, a professor (who we will allow to remain anonymous; he has suffered enough) sent an email in response. And because he hit reply all, the message went to everyone with a naming conflict. The saga continues after the jump. Continue Reading

Want an A? Don’t talk to Steve Jobs.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs

No, he won't help you with your homework.

Long Island University student Chelsea Kate Isaacs was writing a story for her journalism class about a project offering half-price iPads for students at her university. After having no luck with Apple’s PR team, she decided to kick it up a notch–and emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who essentially told her to piss off. So Isaacs, pissed off that she “probably won’t get an A” now, got back at him by posting their email exchange on Gawker. Our favorite parts?


Because I have had such good experiences as a college student using Apple products, I was incredibly surprised to find Apple’s Media Relations Department to be absolutely unresponsive to my questions, which (as I had repeatedly told them in voicemail after voicemail) are vital to my academic grade as a student journalist.


Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.

Then, one email later, he ended the conversation for good:

Please leave us alone.

Note to Isaacs: if you want to make the Apple CEO happy, you probably shouldn’t tag all of your emails “Sent via Blackberry.”

iPhone users get it on more often?

Smart phone junkies, make note – OkCupid, a dating site, found that within users of smartphones, iPhone users have more sex partners. The dating site surveyed over 9,000 iPhone, Blackberry, and Android users to find the results. On average, the survey found, male Iphone users have 10 partners at the age of 30, while females had 12. As for Blackberry users, both males and females averaged out to only 8 sex buddies.

Even though the results might be a bit dubious, they just goes to show – the iPhone is better than the Blackberry in more ways than one. You guys and gals out there looking to have some fun this weekend finally have an excuse to get that new iPhone 4.