This is the time of year that I become highly unfocused and slightly annoyed. As a transplant to Saratoga from New Orleans, I feel it is my inalienable right to enjoy myself during the Carnival season, but unfortunately, it’s a time of year that goes relatively uncelebrated here in upstate New York.
Despite what you might see on the Travel Channel, the whole season isn’t just fraternity brothers drinking on Bourbon Street. It’s actually one of the best all-inclusive community celebrations on earth. There’s parades, families costuming, eating great food, and joining together before Lent. You find yourself talking to folks you never met before while waiting for the parades to roll. Real fun, real community.
One of the greatest community memories revolve around king cakes, those round sugary coffee cakes loaded with purple, green and gold sugar. When I worked at a furniture manufacturer, hotelier, restaurant, and contractor uptown (a classic New Orleanian company) there was an elderly bookkeeper named Evie. She was from da’parish (Chalmette) and insisted there be king cake all carnival long. Not only was there to be king cake every day, but she would prefer
you purchase yours from Randazzos, also in Chalmette. Yeah, she was picky, but she was such a classic southern lady and hard to resist. I made the long drive to Chalmette to buy the right king cake when I “got the baby”, meaning it was my turn to buy. Once I bought one from Mackenzies, a since closed New Orleans bakery, and it was cheese filled. I never heard the end of it from dear old Evie. For seven years she reminded me not to buy those nasty things from Mackenzies.
Every year I hear tales told of some places in the upstate area making king cakes, and I wait and try to find one on Lundi Gras. One local bakery will make one if you pre-order, but I’ve yet to figure out when the pre-ordering is, and after 4 years, they still never make an extra or want to tell me when I might need to pre-order to get one. Their loss.
I’ve also heard tales told that some Price Choppers make them, and last night I almost missed it when I was “makin’ groceries”, but saw this on the way out.
Yes, pretty anemic. Not the exciting brightly sugared cake I was looking for, but still. It said “cream cheese” on the package, so I figured it had cream cheese filling. Not Evie’s cup of gumbo, but good enough. This morning, I was so excited for that Fat Tuesday bite, I cut into it, and nothing. No filling, no cinnamon. Just a round hunk of bread with some frosting. Not how I wanted to bring my co-workers into this community tradition.
By 8:45, my hopes were dashed, and the parade photos started rolling in via Facebook. I am working on Mardi Gras and my king cake is a bust?
Enter Rick and Olga Gile. We had discussed the king cake tradition in the previous weeks, and they had mentioned seeing them at Bella Napoli. And there it was, a lovely, beautifully decorated king cake!
The frosting was a multi-colored drizzle, a little New York affectation, but the taste was right. The look was right. The dough was hand rolled. At last, Fat Tuesday in New York was happening, and the best part of the carnival season was alive and well in upstate New York!
I was browsing through my Google Reader RSS feeds, and came upon this gem today: Staten Island Judge Booted For Facebook Oversharing. I understand that people love updating their social networking sites and constantly letting people know where they are, but “his once-public Facebook profile ‘included photographs of his children and, at times, blow-by-blow details of his location and schedule,’ sources told the Staten Island Advance.” Not even in the peak of my Facebook career did I feel the need to let everyone know where I was going.
What can we take out of this example? Be very careful and complete when you make a policy regarding social networking websites. For example, I have a personal Twitter name that I like to keep disconnected from my company username (@wsgandrew) in case I just want to post some goofy things to friends. My Facebook page is not open to the public, and as far as I know, I’m not even able to be seen in search results. It’s not necessarily about the things I put on there (though that’s very important too), but about the things that other people could put onto my profile (wall messages, bumper stickers, graffiti, etc.)
As I said earlier, I have a personal Twitter account and a professional Twitter account. I post updates relating to work and social networking from my professional account, and never really let my opinion out on off topic items. Granted, since this is the age where any piece of information can be found out, my personal Twitter name is easy to find. I am Twitter friends with people from work on both my personal and professional name. It’s a very slippery slope, trying to decide where exactly the line is.
For companies looking to implement a social media program that their employees would outreach into the digital world, there should be some limits that are put into place. Some of these items are obvious, like no pictures from parties or nights out that aren’t work-related gatherings. Again, all of these criteria are malleable based on your (or the owner’s) preference.
Be aware of what your employees post, but also be aware that without the power of these free social networking tools, you would have to spend thousands of dollars to get your message heard. And a few minutes on Facebook or Twitter per day is a lot less of a financial burden than large-scale advertising. Protect your personal pages, and realize that as long as it’s been out on the internet, it’s possible to access.
Speaking of Twitter:
Information Week: Anti-U.S. Hackers Infiltrate Army Servers
We got into the nation’s cyber war capabilities and challenges on the radio last Thursday. The story about Turkey-based (basted? lol) hackers M0sted infiltrating US Army web servers very much stuck out in my mind. Not because hacking into a web server is that unique, or even the military element of it.
Most interesting to me was the very common method used to carry out the attack, namely SQL injection. As described in a comment by InfoWeek user DigitalGrimm on the article linked in our post here:
These ‘hacks’ are easy enough for any person worth their weight to exploit and happen every days to hundreds of web sites. Most likely, judging by the described defacement, these were 90% automated attacks. Furthermore, if the web server is setup correctly (be it Linux, Windows, MAC, BSD, etc) the most the group would have access to is the web site’s database which should have nothing more then information for dynamic content. As I doubt any company would be foolish enough to actually have an externally accessible server to have access to internal only data.
Sorry, but there will be no ‘kudos’ to the ‘hackers’ on this one.
We have seen many sites fall victim to this method of attack, and that an Army-maintained site was vulnerable just emphasizes what another recent Information Week article details quite well: Cybersecurity Review Finds U.S. Networks ‘Not Secure’.
This blog is one of my favorite recent discoveries. Their tag line is Each week we provide a handful of tips that will save you money, increase your productivity, or simply keep you sane” and it has feel similar to LifeHacker. With posts like “Mono-Task and Work More Effectively” and “How to: Share iTunes Media With All Your Computers” how can you not like it?
Reuters via the New York Times: Facebook Sells 1.96% Stake for $200 Million
According to the story “the stake, sold to Digital Sky Technologies based in London and Moscow, values the social networking site at $10 billion” which should bother you, even if you love Facebook.