You Should Use Reddit – Here’s Why (and How)

The Reddit Alien

Reddit is a social sharing and discussion site that bills itself as “the front page of the Internet.” If you’re not visiting and using Reddit regularly, you are missing out on some of the most interesting, entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking content on the web.

You can view Reddit posts without logging in, but to vote on posts and comments, save posts, and post things yourself, you will need an account. Fortunately, Reddit lets you create an account completely anonymously – you only need to provide a user name (which can be anything not already in use) and a password. You don’t even have to provide your email address.

Content on Reddit is submitted and curated by the members themselves. Users (known as Redditors) can submit links, pictures, or simply text posts about anything. Other users can vote these posts up or down. Users can also comment on each other’s posts or respond to comments with additional comments. Comments are also upvoted or downvoted by the community. In this way, the most interesting and useful content rises to the top, while most of the useless noise stays invisible.

Reddit organizes content into subreddits, topic-specific communities that you can browse or subscribe to (subscribing to a subreddit will cause its contents to appear on your Reddit home page.) Here are just a few of my favorites:

You can even group multiple subreddits together into something called a multireddit. This allows you to aggregate the content from a specific set of subreddits together in a single feed. You can make your multireddits private or public. Here are a few of my public multireddits:

TIP: To see the best posts in any subreddit or multireddit, click the “top” button. When the list of top posts appears, you can narrow the time-frame using a drop-down just below the header area. See the image below:

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There are lots more things to learn about Reddit, including how to save posts you like, make posts of your own, and how to interpret all the jargon and abbreviations you’ll see on Reddit (such as NSFW which means Not Safe For Work and usually means the post contains nudity or sexual commentary.) Rather than repeat all that information here, I’ll just suggest that you follow the links below to see some well-written and easy-to-understand tutorials on Reddit:

Now get out there and start enjoying Reddit! You’ll be glad you did. And if you want to follow or communicate with me on Reddit, my user name is LL_Cool_Bean.

Zombie Attacks and The Federal Government’s Track Record on Cybersecurity

Zombies Ahead

I’ve been reading Senator Tom Coburn’s report from the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee entitled, “The Federal Government’s Track Record on Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure”. If you’re a concerned citizen (especially if you have a background in IT,) I recommend reading the entire thing (it’s only about 20 pages long.) Here’s an interesting passage from page 2:

Last February, hackers reportedly broke into the national Emergency Broadcast System, operated by the FCC as the federal government’s tool to address Americans in case of a national emergency. The hackers caused television stations in Michigan, Montana and North Dakota to broadcast zombie attack warnings. “Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living,” an authoritative voice stated in the hacked broadcast message, while the familiar warning beep sounded. “Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.”

The rest of the document goes on to outline some INCREDIBLE security failures (lost computers, easily-guessed passwords, unencrypted data, unprotected external hard drives, stolen information, etc.) at agencies such as the IRS, Department of Homeland Security, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and more.

hackers have penetrated, taken control of, caused damage to and/or stolen sensitive personal and official information from computer systems at the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, Labor, Energy, and Commerce; NASA; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Office of Personnel Management; the Federal Reserve; the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; the Food and Drug Administration; the U.S. Copyright Office; and the National Weather Service, according to public reporting.

These are just hacks whose details became known to the public, often because the hackers themselves announced their exploits. Largely invisible to the public and policymakers are over 48,000 other cyber “incidents” involving government systems which agencies detected and reported to DHS in FY 2012.

Read the report and see if you don’t wince a few times. Some of the items described would get a an employee (or an entire department) fired on the spot if it happened at a private company. Happy reading!

I’ve Fallen in Love with This Song by Okkervil River

The Silver Gymnasium

While sitting in the Midtown Art Cinema waiting for American Hustle to start, I heard an unfamiliar song playing over the PA that immediately caught my attention. I fired up the Shazam app on my iPhone and it identified the song for me: Down Down the Deep River by Okkervil River. I have developed a deep infatuation with this song and cannot seem to stop playing it:

You can also find this track on iTunes and YouTube if you’re not into the whole Spotify thing. Enjoy!

 

An Easy Way to Perform Random Acts of Kindness Using Amazon.com

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In addition to your other year-end charitable giving, you can also use Amazon.com’s Wish List functionality to perform random acts of kindness for strangers in need. It’s really easy and rewarding, and you’ll brighten up someone else’s day in the process.

Just head over to the Find a Wish List page at Amazon.com. From there, search for keywords such as:

  • shelter
  • homeless
  • abused
  • neglected
  • adoption

You’ll find dozens of wish lists created by charitable organizations in need of everything from clothing to pet food to office supplies:

Amazon.com-7

 

From there, just pick a wish list that appeals to you and buy one or more items from it that fall within your budget. Once you enter the checkout process, Amazon will provide you the option of shipping directly to the beneficiary as shown below:

select a shipping address

That’s all there is to it. Spend a few bucks to make someone’s day and perhaps help out an organization in need.

 

10 of the Most Interesting and Moving Videos of 2013

1) New York State of Mind

Billy Joel performed a Q&A at Vanderbilt University when a student asked if he could play “New York State of Mind” with him. What happened next was an amazing moment and a once-in-a-lifetime memory for the student:

2) Space Awesomety

Colonel Chris Hadfield performs a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from aboard the International Space Station:

3) Metal Kids

Two 12-year-old kids love playing metal and don’t let peer pressure change who they are or what they want to be:

4) Speed Painting Surprise

Speed painter “D Westry” shows off his creative talents on the Anderson Cooper show. Make sure you wait until the end:

5) Ronald Davis

Ronald Davis: “No matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human first.”

6) Omelette

A beautiful animated short about unconditional love:

7) Baby Steps

Awesome Zach Anner shows that there are absolutely NO EXCUSES for failing to exercise and work out.

8) Kindness Captured

This video shows that Russian dashcams capture more than just horror and gore.

9) How to Throw a Bachelor Party

Colin Bennett was about to get married. His amazing friends created a bachelor party like no other. They spent many weeks creating a day of events that he would never forget:

10) We Are Brothers

Two brothers were asked by their other brother to be the best men at his wedding, and they made this video instead. It’s like the best worst 80′s video you never saw:

 

8 Hours of Music to Accompany Your Thanksgiving Dinner

thanksgiving_dinner

Every gathering needs some good music, and Thanksgiving dinner is no exception. This Spotify playlist provides eight hours of background music for your family homecoming and holiday feast. Just put in on shuffle, play it low in the background, and it will provide a mix of classical, jazz, and other music perfect for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Happy listening!

The Roots of Rock and Roll: Boogie Music Prior to 1950

wynonie_harris_sings

When did rock and roll begin? Many people maintain the misconception that the first rock and roll records came out in the mid to late-1950s. This Spotify playlist contains almost three hours of rocking boogie music recorded in the 1940s, providing a clear preview of the rock and roll era to come.

From “Good Rockin’ Tonight” through “Rock This Joint” and “Move it on Over”, these upbeat songs of the 1940s show that rock and roll was alive, if perhaps largely unknown, many years prior to 1954′s “Rock Around the Clock.”

Spotify Playlist: The Roots of Rock and Roll: Boogie Recordings Prior to 1950

The Original Versions of Songs Made Famous by The Blues Brothers

Fence

If you were a fan of The Blues Brothers back in the 1970s and 1980s, you probably heard their version of classic blues music on their album, Briefcase Full of Blues, and in the soundtrack to their classic movie.

Thanks to the power of Spotify, you can listen to the original version of these classic songs by Floyd Dixon, Junior Wells, King Floyd, The Chips, Willie Mabon, Big Joe Turner, and many others via this playlist:

Spotify Playlist: Briefcase Full of Blues

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