I can still remember what it felt like at such a young age to discover that I could tell a computer to perform a desired action. Later I became amazed with how much it would reveal to me. Today we find that the Internet is a device for learning, which has prompted its being implemented in the classroom as a research tool, and allowed people to acquire degrees online. I mention this only because the question asks of my educational background, and my poor marks aren’t worth bragging about. The Internet’s role in my intellectual enrichment cannot be understated. If…

I believe that it’s not able to accurately create a picture of someone’s coding ability, and it’s also not how problems get solved in the real world.

Yet it’s become a staple of interviewing for a job in Silicon Valley. I’ve no statistics, but I would guess that these types of interviews are now used at a majority of companies in order to assess candidates.

Believe me, I appreciate how it weeds out beginners and plagiarists. It also demonstrates how people can explain their thinking out loud and reason about a problem, solve those problems under time constraints or with…

Aaron Swartz’s words that I am re-posting here (Creative Commons license) could’ve been a sort of guiding compass during a very specific phase of my life, and I hope that future generations of internet-connected activists will continually return to them for inspiration. Here is the afterword to Homeland, a novel by Cory Doctorow:

Hi there, I’m Aaron. I’ve been given this little space here at the end of the book because I’m a flesh-and-blood human and, as such, I can tell you something you wouldn’t believe if it came out of the mouth of any of those fictional characters:

This…

This piece was published in Volume Ten of Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal and earned myself the 2012 Sanderson Prize for “best essay” from the UMass Amherst English department.

Of all the writers in the Western modernist canon, Henry Miller (1891–1980) will turn out to be one of singular importance and unusual power. Although his popularity is owed as much to the scourge of censorship as to his own talents, in his books he was able to explore new narrative forms while challenging establishment institutions and fashioning an antidote to the way of life they represented. …

This piece was first published on April 18, 2014 at The Huffington Post.

The drama of Barrett Brown’s case and cancelled trial is all but over, but the media and the public has dropped the ball on what he was trying to expose. That’s the secretive world of private intelligence contractors — an estimated $56 billion-a-year industry consuming 70 percent of America’s intelligence budget.

Edward Snowden’s leaks have shed a much-needed spotlight on the activities of the NSA and GCHQ — governmental surveillance, yet very little examination is now given to the corporations and companies who work closely with the…

This piece was first published on September 15th, 2013 at VICE Motherboard and also appeared the next day at the Daily Dot.

Could the intelligence community have a secret exploit for Bitcoin? It’s rather obvious that Bitcoin presents a very strong financial incentive to break its cryptography, since such a vulnerability could allow an attacker to claim large amounts of virtual currency for themselves. Earlier this month, we learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) has led an aggressive effort to “break widely used Internet encryption technologies.” There is speculation that many protocols or crypto implementations have been compromised, deliberately…

This piece was first published February 28, 2009 in UMass Media.

In a controversial decision spurred on by the economic crisis, Brandeis University recently decided it will close its Rose Art Museum and sell its $300 million collection to help with its endowment. Meanwhile in Sweden, the operators of the torrent website The Pirate Bay go on trial in a landmark case about copyright infringement; no doubt the charges are supported by several film studios and media companies seeking lost revenues. …

This column was first published on March 11, 2009 in UMass Media.

The Republican Party in the United States has lost all credibility. It is foolish for anyone to think that someone like Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal will save them in 2012. To an independent observer like myself, it’s entirely clear that the Republicans have squandered their political power on minor issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, things that seem to contradict their original philosophy of individual liberty. …

This piece was first published November 25, 2008 in UMass Media.

In his unconventional 15-year career, Conor Oberst’s songs have evolved from angsty and emotional expositions on adolescence to the serious existential and occasionally political ones he is known for writing today. Having followed him closely since 2000, when I lined up outside the Roxy in downtown Boston, I was careful to discern which kind of fans have gathered to see him. Therein lays a central fallacy — that you can tell anything about a person by their appearance — age, clothing… but the style factor has been essential to…

This was first published January 24, 2010 in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Just before the weekend, Vampire Weekend’s (VW) “Contra” album hit #1 on the Billboard 200. In order to understand this achievement, we might require a cursory glance at their first effort — the self-titled Vampire Weekend album was largely simplistic in its verses, choruses and instrumentation. This formed part of its appeal — it was, after all, clever and refreshing melodic pop. As soon as some tracks hit the blogosphere, VW found themselves the darlings of both mainstream and indie media. They were immediately signed to XL Recordings…

Kevin M. Gallagher

Linux sysadmin/DevOps/SRE privacy & transparency activist 0xB604C32AD5D7C6D8

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