TEDxBYU

A few weeks ago on March 21st I had the privilege of attending TEDxBYU.  I was excited to attend again after leaving last year‘s TEDxBYU feeling super inspired.  I was not disappointed.

Here are some of my highlights: (I’ll update the blog with links to the videos once they are uploaded)

Dr. Daniel Crosby

Can being weird make you rich and happy?  This is the question that Dr. Crosby presented at the outset.  He said that we are at our best when we embrace our quirks.  We are at our worst when we go with the herd.  I really loved how he talked about the idea of principled defiance and taking a stand for what is right.

I really hope his book of dark children’s poetry gets published.  I’d definitely read it.  I loved that he ended with this stanza from one of his poems:

So when you feel misunderstood,
I’ll tell you what you ought to do,
Don’t run and cry or swear and fuss,
you don’t fit in – you’re one of us.

See another TEDx talk by Daniel Crosby here.

Jake Harriman

“Extreme poverty is a lack of meaningful choices for basic human rights.”  The best ideas about ending poverty start with those who are in poverty themselves.  We need to unlock the leadership potential of people trapped in extreme poverty.  This is the greatest crisis of our time today.  1.5 million people die every month from causes related to extreme poverty.  There must be a sense of urgency about this.

Kelly Loosli

“Creativity, to me, is simply problem solving.”  We need to see everyone as inherently creative and stop associating creativity just with the arts.  What about the car you drive? Or the clothes you wear? Or the chair you are sitting in?  Those were all thought of by designers.  Creativity is so much more than just the arts.

Hal Gregersen

“One of the most powerful intersections in life is coming face to face with the questions we don’t know we don’t know.”  Problems can get solved much faster in life when we learn to ask the right questions.

The important and difficult job is never to find the right answer, it is to find the right question…

-Peter Drucker

To inspire people to ask more questions, Hal has started the 4-24 Project. He encourages people to set aside 4 minutes every day to ask nothing but questions about a problem they are facing.  This is definitely something I need to do more of and plan on implementing right away.

Thoughts on Social Media

Social media represents a fundamental human desire to connect.  After studying social media this semester, this is the conclusion I have drawn.  Humans love to connect with humans be it family, friends or businesses.

When businesses can tap into that connection then they are much more likely to succeed.  This is where social media can be their best friend.

I just finished reading a book called Social Media Explained by Mark Schaefer.  It was a fast read and had some great insights.  One of the concepts I liked was in the very first chapter.  “Humans buy from humans.”  Prior to the era of advertising people relied on highly personal, interactive experiences with businesses.  Success depended on word of mouth recommendations.  “Social media platforms…are becoming the new town squares to exchange news, photos, videos, and our personal life events.  They are also becoming the preferred place to go to find products and answers to problems.”

I hadn’t thought much about how social media can be utilized by businesses until recently, but now it just makes sense.  How many people have you seen on Facebook asking for recommendations for a good doctor or restaurant?  When businesses finally learn to harness the power available through this medium to have a personal connection with customers they will be able to see growth in a new way and maintain loyal customers for life.

5 Exciting CyberIQ Updates

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This has been a busy few weeks for CyberIQ!  The website is making lots of progress and we have received some nice media attention.  Here are the top 5 highlights from the last month:

  1. This morning we were featured on KSL Radio.  
    Yesterday morning reporter Mary Richards came to BYU to interview Devin, Sean and me.  A two-minute segment aired this morning at 5:15 am and 7:15 am.  As of 4:00 pm today, our website has had 4,735 hits today!  This is an insane amount of traffic for us and is only possible because of today’s publicity.
  2. Later today we were referred to on KSL’s The Browsers.
    The Browsers mentioned us today as a part of their ongoing series “21st Century Kids.” We are mentioned here starting at 21:07. 
  3. BYU published an article on us in The Daily Universe
    Last Tuesday, an article by Katherine Coates was published our our efforts as BYU students.
  4. 173 hours were contributed towards the CyberIQ wiki over two weeks.  
    On February 25, we had a kickoff activity in conjunction with the BYU Association for Information Systems encouraging BYU Information Systems students to donate their time and talents towards creating content on our wiki as part of a two week service event.  We are so grateful to everyone that contributed to the wiki over those two weeks.  When we finalized the time contributed on March 11, we had a grand total of 173.6 hours donated. 
  5. We received a $300 microgrant. 
    BYU’s “Be a Philanthropist” initiative encouraged graduate students to apply for a $300 microgrant to be used towards a community service project. We were thrilled to be selected as recipients to be able to have some money to be used towards making the site look as good as possible.  Using some of the money we were able to buy a new theme for the site.  We plan on using the rest of the funds towards buying some stock photos and other website enhancements.  

Why I love Twitter

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Okay, today’s post is definitely biased.  I won an Xbox One Titanfall edition this morning on Twitter, thanks to Microsoft’s Safety and Security Center.

Microsoft’s Chief Online Safety Officer (COSO) has a twitter account (@Safer_Online) that I follow.  As I work on CyberIQ, I try to follow a lot of security accounts on twitter to gather resources and to gain advice for teenagers pertaining to cyber-security.  For the past few days, Safer Online ran a contest inviting users to tweet questions to their COSO and invited users to respond to questions posed by them.  Every interaction counted as an entry to win an Xbox.  I was just as excited to get some direct feedback from Microsoft’s COSO, but winning the Xbox is awesome, too.

Besides just winning this contest I have really come to enjoy twitter over the last two months.  Prior to January, I had just 37 followers.  I am now up to around 130.  Here is a snapshot of that growth:

Source: twittercounter.com

Source: twittercounter.com

Twitter has also become a great way for me to get digestible access to news.  As a busy student, I don’t often make the time to read the news either online or in print.  But, by following both local and national news organizations I can see headlines about what is going on in the world and easily learn more about issues that interest me.

Finally Getting a Minor in Ballroom Dance

Exciting news: I am officially a ballroom dance minor!!  The paperwork got submitted earlier this afternoon.

This is a moment nearly eight years in the making.  I remember back in high school I decided that when I got to BYU I was going to take some ballroom dance classes.  It was just how life was going to be.  So I enrolled in Social Dance 180 the first semester of freshman year.  I had no idea how much that decision would change my life.

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 I fell in love with dance in that class and after seeing the incredible tour team perform several times I was inspired to keep dancing.

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Getting onto one of the non-touring ballroom dance teams became my goal.  Every semester after that first one I enrolled in anywhere from 1-4 dance classes.  Every semester.  There have been two exceptions- 1) my study abroad in Jerusalem and 2) this past Fall where I had 18.5 credits of graduate classes to take.  After just looking at my transcript I realized that I am currently enrolled in my 21st dance class at BYU.  21st!  That is nuts.  I had no idea I had taken so many dance classes.

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DanceSport Winter 2012

One of the biggest highlights for me was finally making the team in the Fall of 2012.

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BYU Fall 2012 Homecoming Parade

I got to make some fantastic friends and worked with an incredible coach, Brent Keck.

April 2013 Concert

April 2013 Concert

Being on team was a fantastic experience for me and it taught me that it is worth it to work to achieve your goals.

The final class I am enrolled in is called Methods of Teaching Social Dance.  I am thrilled to learn how to teach others about one of my passions in life and hope to inspire others to dance.

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Introducing CyberIQ.org

I am super excited to introduce the capstone project I’ve been working on for the last few weeks for my graduate program. Two other students and I are building a website to help educate teenagers on cyber-security. The following paragraphs give some context to our project and explain the solution we are in the process of developing. I’ll post updates as the project progresses.

Cyber-Security: A Growing Problem

What do Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Adobe, LivingSocial and Evernote have in common? They all had between 250,000 and 50 million accounts compromised in 2013. According to the Online Trust Alliance, an estimated 740 million records were exposed in 2013, including credit card numbers, email addresses, log in credentials, social security numbers, and other personal information. 89% of these breaches could have been prevented.  Many of these breaches involved teenagers with accounts on these sites. Over 95% of American teens use the Internet.  37% of all teens have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.  55% of teens say they give little or no thought to the consequences of posting something online.  49% of parents think their teens know how to deal with uncomfortable online, content, but fewer than 1/3 of teens agree.  With about 25 million teenagers living in the United States, that ends up being more than 8 million teens.  With the ever-growing presence of teenagers online, we are becoming increasingly concerned with keeping teens safe as they use the Internet daily. Many users fall prey to computer attacks that could easily be avoided through safe computer and Internet practices, but they haven’t been properly educated on how to protect their identity online.

Several cyber-security informational sites exist, but they don’t teach the average person how to be safe. Other cyber-security awareness sites exist for the average person, but they don’t tend to educate beyond overly simplified awareness of risks. Additionally, content varies across sites, but there is no comprehensive site that aggregates content from existing sites.

CyberIQ.org: An educational tool for teens

Our goal is to bridge the gap between security awareness and security education so that teens, parents, and educators can know how to actually do something about the threats that currently exist, protecting themselves and their families from online threats. For our capstone project in the BYU Master of Information Systems Management we are creating www.cyberiq.org that will do just this. CyberIQ’s vision is to enable teens everywhere to establish safe, lifelong online habits.

The website will provide a one-stop shop for people to understand what content already exists on other sites (security awareness) and provide a practical resource for them to know how to protect themselves (security education). We hope to call teens to action so that they will actually go out and do something about protecting themselves by visiting our site and using training materials we put on the site.

We also hope to ensure that our site can be created in a sustainable manner such that it can have an impact long after this semester ends. For this reason we are partnering with the Information Systems Department at BYU.  Last night we held a service event with about 50 students for 2 hours to help build content for the website. For the next few weeks content will continued to be developed and be organized and published to the website. Training materials will also be developed to be used by parents and educators.

Students helping create content for the site

Students helping create content for the site

In early April we will be holding a training workshop with representatives from Provo, Nebo, Grand and Iron School Districts to train them on how to use the materials on our site and implement a cyber-security education program in their school district.

After April, we will continue to develop the site and improve materials, working with future students in the Information Systems department to continue to provide this service to the community .

To measure impact, we are coming up with a pre- and post-training assessment to be distributed at schools. Additionally, a similar assessment will be available on the website to allow other users to see how their knowledge improves as they utilize trainings on the site.

We are confident that CyberIQ has great potential. Clearly, cyber-security education is lacking as data breaches continue to abound worldwide. We believe that educating this generation of teenagers will create an empowered, educated group of young adults that will change the world in coming years.

Top 10 Ways to Live in the Present

With 64 days to go until graduation and 143 days left until I get married, I am having a hard time being focused on the present. The quote I posted a few weeks ago was in reference to this.  So I thought I’d make today’s post as a way to help me find the best ways to work towards these huge milestones in my life.

1) Take Things One Day At a Time

2) Make a to-do list

3) Make a bucket list 

4) Be engaged in Whatever it is You’re Doing

5) Remember that “It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over”

6) Keep a Journal

7) Celebrate Small Victories  

8) Prioritize

9) Take a break from Technology

10) Focus on Relationships