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Travel Tips, Inspired By Misadventures

Okay, you already know about useful sites like TripAdvisor and SeatGuru, and you're doing your best to accumulate and use frequent-flier points. Here are some tips to cover the other stuff, inspired partly by my own misadventures.

The context for these tips is that I travel for public service and philanthropy, not business; I haven't been in craigslist management since 2000. (I hear that people travel for "pleasure" or on "vacation," which I understand are mythological concepts.)

Store everything online. Anything that has to be local, encrypt. Act as if you could lose your laptop anytime. Recently, I cleverly left my backpack in the cab taking me from airport to hotel, containing my laptop and medicines. The latter includes thyroid medicine, since I need it daily or I WILL DIE. (Slight exaggeration.)

As for forgetting the laptop, that's expensive, but I keep very little data locally (anything sensitive is elsewhere). Worst that could happen is that someone would learn my terrible taste in music and books…

Learn to do pretty much everything on the phone. Seriously, I can do almost all of my work on a smartphone, though some tasks are much easier on a laptop. Regarding your phone, store everything online. Accept that your terrible taste in music and books will become public. Always carry your phone in a pocket or somehow attached to you. For male humans, if the pocket thing doesn't work for you, learn to love the "murse." May have begun with Seinfeld…

Before you get to the airport, or inflight with Wi-Fi, check out your flight status. Now and then, I get a flight canceled with little notice. Sometimes that happens when I'm in flight, and my connecting flight is the problem. I use flightstats, which also seems to have the most current ETA. Even if you're at the airport, and they ask you to line up for customer service to get a flight, get on the phone while you're in the line.

Do good while traveling. Sometimes hotels don't have a preventive maintenance program, and you encounter a problem with facilities like the shower or A/C. Even if you'll be there one day and have to deal with it once, call hotel engineering anyway. (The next guest won't have to deal with it and will never know you helped, but do it anyway.) While you're at it, bring an extra charger and cable, and loan it or give it away to someone who forgot theirs.

If you happen to mix business with pleasure, be prepared to dodge drool.

Sometimes, I'll take a side trip and wind up in a family way. Pictured is the #20 nephew, aka The Kumquat. He's the one (visibly) drooling.

Oh, and if you're possibly getting married, and it's possible that they might have a chair dance planned for you, I recommend scotch.

Photo: creative commons licensed (BY-ND) flickr photo by ♔ Georgie R; selfie with Billy the baby

Some Things You Should Know About Voter ID Laws

Voter ID Laws: solving a nonexistent problem with more government and more expense.

Folks, we're almost a month away from National Voter Registration Day, on September 23, 2014, and less than 3 months away from elections, and that means that you should be aware of your rights.

Elections for US States Senate will be November 4, 2014. These elections mark 100 years of direct elections of U.S. Senators.

The elections to the US House of Representatives, elections for governors in states and territories, and many state and local elections will also be held on November 4, 2014.

The Declaration of Independence reminds us that we're all equal under the law, but there are politicians who find that threatening.

There are some real bad actors out there trying to implement laws to stop eligible people, including women, the elderly, and communities of color, from voting. What I learned in high school civics class is that an attack on voting rights is virtually the same as an attack on the country.

According to the ACLU, 30 states require voters to present identification to vote in federal, state and local elections.

The Founders of the US tell us that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, meaning that citizens have the right to vote. However, there are politicians who don't like that, and they're attacking the integrity of the election by making it hard for people to vote.

But there are some orgs out there who are doing real good work, like the Advancement Projectthe Brennan Center for Justice, Rock the Vote, League of Women Voters, and Voto Latino, they really have their boots on the ground when it comes to protecting the voting rights of us all.

49 yrs ago, LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to protect all voters. And, hey, maybe it's time Congress does the same. It's been over a year since the Supreme Court gutted the VRA. Congress needs to protect all voters by passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) to restore the VRA and provide modern, nationwide protections against discrimination at the polls.

It's important to know when the Voter Registration deadline is in your state, you can find out here.

Disenfranchising voters is not a new thing, but has been happening across the country for some time now. A while back, my team and I created an infographic about the impact of voter suppression. And we also put together a list of voting resources; please check it out, and share any helpful resources that you think are missing in the comment section.

Is There Such a Thing As Online Privacy?

Folks, do you think that online privacy really exists?

This is what we tried to find out when we surveyed 1,007 Americans. Rad Campaign, Lincoln Parks Strategy, and infographicI teamed up to uncover experiences and views about online privacy. We took the results and created an infographic to share with you.

This is the second portion of data from the poll to be released. Last month, we released an infographic showing that about half of Americans under 35 have been bullied, harassed, or threatened online, or know someone who has.

Here's a snapshot of what the Online Privacy survey revealed:

  • 74 % of Americans are either very or somewhat concerned about having too much personal information about them online.
  • On average, those surveyed believe that 64% of Americans have too much personal information about themselves online.
  •  People under 35 have more trust in social media sites than any other age demographic.
  • 70% are certain or think it's very likely that social networks collect personal data such as interests, political affiliation, purchase habits, and what content is clicked, and then sell that data to advertisers to target ads and/or content at them.

privacy laws

If Internet users are so concerned about their privacy, do they read the terms of service (TOS)?

  • 66% either just click the agree box without reading any of the TOS, or skim through the TOS then click agree.
  • Only 17% carefully read the TOS before agreeing.
  • More college grads (27%) than non-college grads (18%) just click agree without reading.

The way I see it, more people need to read the TOS before signing up for these sites so they understand what kinds of data they're giving to these platforms.  Stronger privacy laws could be useful too.

Folks, are you concerned about your online privacy? And if so, what are you doing about it?

Check out the full infographic and data here.

 

Why It’s Important to Get Girls Involved in Tech

Folks, I've been supporting an effort to get women and girls involved in tech for some time now, with support for orgs like Girls Who Code and Black Girls CODE. I've also done some work with Roya Mahboob and the New Delhi-based Feminist Approach to Technology. And, I've been working with The Women's Building in SF. Check out this map to see where we've teched across the globe…

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. To reach gender parity by 2020, women have gotta fill half of these positions, or 700,000 computing jobs. Right now, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but hold only 25% of the jobs in tech or computing fields (according to Girls Who Code).

This is why it's important to get girls involved in tech now.

girls who code

Here are 5 other reasons we need to focus on teaching girls about tech:

  1. In middle school, 74% of girls show interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.3% of high school girls select computer science. If we encouraged girls to code and to get involved in tech, more girls might start majoring in computer science.  For example, 100% of girls who participated in Girls Who Code's 2012 program report that they're definitely or more likely to major in computer science after taking the program.
  2. Today, women represent 12% of all computer science graduates. In 1984, they represented 37%. This number should be increasing.black girls code
  3. When we create technology and tech products, we create for the masses. By having a male perspective consistently leading and developing tech, we're building this through the lens of men and their perspective not the masses.
  4. "The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world."- Charles MalikThat is, we're living in a very small period of tremendous social change, where the people who are best prepared, who have the best listening and cooperative skills should get their chance of running things.

    I don't think we'll see revolution, we'll see a rebalancing of power, shifting from traditional sources of power (authority and money) to power based on the size and effectiveness of one's network.

  5. Although the digital divide's steadily eroding, tremendous barriers to entry in the technology field still remain for women of color. Black Girls CODE notes that early access and exposure are essential to changing the status quo.

Google launched an initiative last month called Made With Code, with the goal of getting young women excited about learning to code in an effort to close the gender gap in the tech industry. Google's investing $50 million into the program over the next 3 years. Hey, it's a good start.

How else do you think we can work to get more girls involved in tech and coding? This is the real deal, more to come…

Fighting Pigeons, and Other Home Office Visitors

Hey, I get a lot of appreciated disturbances at my home office. Sometimes the visitors act as my alarm clock, and other times they're drooling. Here's a brief look from my window…

2Fighters, or …?

1

Insects are delicious, or, Woodpecker waking Craig up at five am is hilarious.

suet
Steller's Jay locks in best target in the Squirrel-resistant Suet Palace.

(note to self: refill the Palace)

A Robin, bath interrupted, and indignant
A Robin, bath interrupted, and indignant.

Craig's wake up call today provided by two raccoons

Craig's wake up call is sometimes provided by two raccoons, here's one of 'em.

New way to wake up Craig- a very chuffed, very loud, Western Scrub Jay

Others have discovered a new way to wake up Craig: a very chuffed, very loud, Western Scrub Jay.

Okay, we'd like to see more of these guys. The Mrs put up a parrot toy. She's instructed me to make parrot noise

Okay, we'd like to see more of these guys. The Mrs put up a parrot toy. She's instructed me to make "parrot noise."

Parrots, skeptical and amused (at least the bald spot hasn't grown in  20 years...)

Parrots, skeptical and amused. (At least the bald spot hasn't grown in  20-30 years…)

Philosopher pigeon wonders about it all

Philosopher pigeon wonders about it all.

Selfie with Billy

Selfie with Billy, nephew #20 who will visit, someday. Billy's the one (visibly) drooling…

the demure one

The demure one.

The team

The team.

Walter

And, finally, this is Walter.

These photos are all by the Mrs. and myself, and were pulled from my facebook page, and the #Crileen (that's Craig and Eileen) Birdography Spectacular. A Special thanks to Cornell Lab of Ornithology and eBird.org for helping out with some bird IDs, they do great work!

I'll keep you posted on the parrot noises…