Demystifying Media Reflection – Week 8

Week 8 Class Discussion – Mr. Oliver

In class last week, we were able to speak with Jeff Oliver who is the Senior Director of Operations for the Eugene chapter of the YMCA. The conversation was interesting, because unlike many of our other speakers, Jeff seemed to come in without an agenda. Yes, he works for the YMCA, but he wasn’t trying to sell the organization in a noticeably outward way. The mere presence of Jeff in the classroom was selling the organization, I guess, but it felt as if he were there to actually be honest and candid with us instead of directly selling something.

I’m an a big fan of people who give back to the organizations that gave to them, and it was heartening to see that Mr. Oliver wanted to give back to the University of Oregon. I know that he works with the Gateway section of classes in the Journalism School, and that is not easy work. It’s impressive that he feels like he is getting a lot out of helping with the courses, and he is also giving a lot by helping with the courses.

I was fairly familiar with some of the services that the YMCA provided, like meal and job services, but I was not aware of other services — like diabetes education. I feel that that kind of education is vitally important in our community. The organization’s work in youth sports or helping out the area’s homeless population is heartening because it’s the type of direct community outreach and philanthropy that I am attracted to. What impressed me about Mr. Oliver is that he is doing good work, vital work, “God’s work”, and he’s doing it well, without the ego that can sometimes come with it. Egotistical community organizations are a big turn off for me.

I am always a bit dubious of Christian-based organizations, because I sometimes feel that the message of Christ or the conversion of non-believers is a big factor in their outreach. Yes, I acknowledge faith has benefits too, but I feel that can take away from the community-centered aspects of the work. While Mr. Oliver did acknowledge the Christian aspect of the YMCA, it did not seem like the biggest focus of the organization. He was quite clear that some “Ys” have more of a focus on religion than others do. I was also impressed that the YMCA seems to be doing a lot more community outreach than some churches do. The YMCA seems to embody the ideals of Christ (service to your fellow man), which I am attracted to, but it does it in a way that is humble (which I am also attracted to).

I felt very happy about Mr. Oliver’s visit. Athough I am not a Christian or a follower of Christ, I do believe in their service ideals without ego, and I can easily see myself becoming active in the YMCA for that very reason.

TechCrunch Week 8
Why Doesn’t This Thing Work?

This week TechCrunch had an article on the issues that have manifested with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Users of the headset found themselves locked out after seeing a message that their security certificates were expired. Normally, issues like this are localized to just a few users across a network, but this time, every user was locked out. Web applications that use the secure HTTP protocol HTTPS depend on a security certificate to authenticate that the application accepts connects over HTTPS. The protocol offers a type of encryption that makes it harder for hackers and malware to both attack a computer and gather information. This incident is especially embarrassing for Oculus VR, because re-certifying an HTTPS certificate is fairly routine. For a leading VR tech company (or a tech company in general), the failure to see to such a mundane routine task sheds a lot of doubt on how the company operates. It also casts doubt on the company’s dedication to user security. What’s even more embarrassing in an ironic way is that Oculus VR is owned by Facebook.

Can’t We Get Some Stability?

In the latest round of cryptocurreny instability, Binance, China’s leading cryptocurrency exchange announced that hackers were able to exploit the site’s application program interface (API) to create fake buy and sell orders on the site. After the news was announced, holders of Bitcoin started to shed their holdings. According to the article, the price of Bitcoin went from a high of $10,740 to $9,690. The decrease is over 10 perfect of Bitcoin’s value. As of writing this reflection, the price had dropped to $9,658.

The latest round of price drops further show the speculative instability that the cryptocurrency market faces. Last December (2017), the price of Bitcoin climbed to an all-time high of $19,783. The climb was
due to speculative purchasing or FOMOing (fear of missing out) by those who saw the price climbing and expected it to rise further. Almost a month later, with news the South Korea might regulate or outright ban cryptocurrency (it didn’t), the price snapped back to $6252. That was over a 30 percent decrease in value in little over a month’s time. With the latest round of value decrease, investors have to continue to be aware of what they’re buying into, and be prepared to take massive (and hopefully quick) losses.

Wyoming Has Crypto?

This week, the Wyoming State House passed House Bill 0070 exempting open blockchain tokens from future regulation. According to the TechCrunch article, open blockchain tokens are tokens that are used for utility purposes and not speculative monetary gain purposes. Bitcoin, for example, would still be subject to regulation under the current law, because Bitcoin originally started as a general payment coin, and has gradually moved to a holder of value — like gold. There is no utility associated with Bitcoin. An example of a utility coin would be IOTA whose purpose is to become the leader in IoT purchases. IoT is an acronym for Internet of Things. IOTA is a utility coin that would enable payment over the internet from devices like refrigerators or vacuums (should the need arise).

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