Reading Rainbow: Going Twice as High

readingrainbowReading Rainbow is an award-winning educational show which ran for 23 years on PBS. The show was designed to educate children on the magic of reading, rather than just the technical aspects of it. By that I mean the ability to build your own world via a great work of fiction, rather than simply reading and comprehending the words. That aspect of reading was sorely missing in public education when I grew up, it’s still missing today, but presenting that on television to an era which became more and more addicted to television was a stroke of genius.

The series was canceled in 2006 with reruns airing until 2009. Though the series could no longer be seen on television, classrooms continued to show video tapes when they could, and many public libraries had episodes available. In 2012, the rights to the show were purchased by host LeVar Burton and his business partner, Mark Wolfe. The classic episodes were then released on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video followed by an interactive reading app for iPad and Kindle Fire.

Today, 1 in 4 children in the US cannot read at grade-level by 4th grade, increasing the likelihood that they will fall behind or simply drop out. In response, Burton and Wolfe have launched a Kickstarter Campaign to bring Reading Rainbow to every child they can by expanding the app to more platforms (game consoles, more mobile devices, streaming TV boxes, etc) and providing it all for free to as many schools as possible. The 35-day campaign set a new record by exceeding its goal in just 11 hours, but further donations continue to flow in, and they are forming even grander plans than they started out with.

I vividly remember watching Reading Rainbow on television and checking out the videos from our public library. It’s safe to say that it changed the way I think about books for the better. Books are amazing, because you can create your own world, cast your own actors, write your own music, and more. A book is just words on paper, but you are the one who makes that world a reality. That’s what Reading Rainbow taught us, and I hope it continues to teach more children just the same.

Please donate to Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter campaign to bring it and its message of reading enjoyment and reading proficiency to children around the world!

Back on WordPress.org (again)

It wasn’t too long ago that I moved to WordPress.org after an almost three-year absence, and then quickly moved back to WordPress.com. I had a lot going on and just wasn’t ready to take the plunge. Now, I am ready to take the plunge, and here I am, again.

I could re-hash all of the reason for why I want to be self-hosted on WordPress.org vs. staying on WordPress.com, but you should really just read the original post linked to above. Nothing has really changed except for the plugins used and how I’m hosted.

Rather than being hosted on DreamHost’s standard shared hosting service, I’m now on DreamPress, their managed WordPress hosting service. Think of it as a special server which only hosts WordPress and is therefore designed to serve every aspect of it as quickly and perfectly as possible. That is a severely watered down explanation of it, but I figured you could get all of the juicy details from the link. :)

Plugin-wise, I’m starting out with Jetpack for tons of features, Akismet for anti-spam, VaultPress for backups, Google XML Sitemaps for sitemaps, and a few different plugins for security which I won’t be disclosing this time around. ;)

Big thanks to Mike Schroder and Mika Epstein for both occasionally encouraging me to go back to being self-hosted and for essentially creating DreamPress, Zandy Ring for making sure that everything was moved properly, and Kathryn Presner, Caroline Moore, Lance Willett, and Ian Stewart for being totally cool with me occasionally ambushing them with theme questions.

Here’s to many more years self-hosted on WordPress.org, filled with the usual combination of fun, mistakes, and self-education.

Disclosing a Security Vulnerability

Some of you are coming here from a site where this blog was apparently featured as an example of how to exploit a security vulnerability. I won’t link to it, because what that individual did was irresponsible, but it gives me the opportunity to hopefully educate some people.

There are many ways to disclose a security vulnerability, but the only right way and the only responsible way is to do it privately. If you publicly disclose a security vulnerability, you have made the world aware of both its existence and how to exploit it, endangering thousands (perhaps millions) of unsuspecting users. You are not the hero when you publicly disclose a security vulnerability, you’re the villain.

Many developers and companies have multiple ways to contact them privately. If you have found a security vulnerability, contact the developer or company privately via their official security report system or any private contact method you can find. If you can’t find one, contact them publicly and ask them to get in touch with you because you have found a security vulnerability. Any good developer or company will reply immediately via a private channel. Once you have privately disclosed the vulnerability, give them a few days to resolve the issue while it’s still known only to you, and feel free to publicly disclose it once the security vulnerability has been removed.

Be responsible by disclosing security vulnerabilities privately, not publicly.

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Earth Day, 2014

Earth Day is today! It is once again time to at least start saving the environment for free and to donate to a great charity, like The Conservation Fund. If you want to know why I prefer The Conservation Fund, read this.

Want to do even more to save the environment? Start at home with this list of fifty ways to help the planet.

Now, get out of your home or office and spend some time outdoors, or at least watch this video.