Author Archives: thompsonbe

About thompsonbe

I am a freshman commuter going to Robert Morris university for cyber forensics and information security.

Apple Admits iCloud is really Google Cloud

Student Editorial

Apple has been very inventive, creating its own way of doing things, and therefore made themselves capable of saying “our way is better.”  The frequent debate of Apple and Android comes from Apple’s exclusivity and notoriety of iMessage, FaceTime, and Apple Music.

Now, Apple has expressed that it uses Google cloud, much like Android uses Google Cloud.  If there are any concerns about this being unsafe, it is important to know that Google Cloud services that are being used by Apple only store the encrypted version of your saved files; Apple uses AES-128 and a key derived from each file chunk’s contents, utilizing SHA-256.  While AES can be deemed insecure by many, it in combination with SHA-256 adds decent security.  It is after that that they are saved onto a Google Cloud Platform.

This may not affect Apple as much as this agreement has affected Google; this has given their cloud services a major boost in use in comparison to its Amazon and Microsoft Cloud competition.

Need more Proof?  The iOS Security Guide is frequently updated, and has recently confirmed use of Google Cloud for iCloud services.




Q&A: Bitcoin: An Interview with Alex Landefeld

This article is an interview that I had conducted when I had realized that my coworker – Mr. Landefeld – had investments in Bitcoin, had cryptocurrency apps on his phone, his own mining setup at home, and was also familiar with a vast range of cryptocurrency.  The answers below are an exact transcript of his answers.

1.) What’s your profession? What are your credentials in the field of technology?

I work as the Information Technology Specialist at North Hills Community Outreach, Allison Park, PA (, supporting the network of Windows 2012 servers, Windows 10 and Windows 7 PCs, phones, printers, licensing, etc. I have worked in IT for nearly 20 years. Outside of work, I play with Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux PC’s, and co-founded the Western Pa Linux Users Group ( in September 1997.

2.) How long have you been familiar with crypto currency?

I have been familiar with crypto currency for just the past five months.

3.) When did you first hear about “bitcoin”?

I first heard of Bitcoin probably in 2012 or 2013, but hadn’t know about the Altcoin universe until recently.

4.) You own a (piece) bitcoin, why? How? Do you still feel it was a good investment?

I do own some Bitcoin, probably 1/10 of a Bitcoin. I use Bitcoin as a jumping-off point, for converting fiat currency to crypto currency, and then move off to invest in Altcoins, as I feel Altcoins will have a better chance for greater appreciation.

5.) You had shown me a few apps that showed other forms of crypto currency aside from bitcoin. Approximately how many others are in existence? Are you invested in any others? Why do you think bitcoin is the most popular and most heard of?

Bitcoin is the original crypto currency and therefore most popular, but as people develop more use cases for other crypto currencies, others may usurp that top spot, just as Microsoft supplanted IBM as the top computer company, Walmart replaced small retailers, and Apple (and Android phone variants) took over the mobile phone market. lists 1324 cryptocurrencies, and this is not exhaustive as more are (a) created daily, and (b) many are created within other coin systems, such as Ethereum ERC20 coins, Wave derivative coins, and Bitshares derivative coins. I am currently invested in 22 Altcoins, in addition to a small investment in Bitcoin. Some are not doing well at all, and some have outstripped the investment return of Bitcoin by 1000%. Right now, crypto currency’s use is as a speculative investment vehicle…but little by little they will fill other uses.

6.) You said that you have mining set up on your computer at home: how? What application do you use?

I am in the very early stages of playing with mining – I downloaded uncompiled code from Github for doing “CPU” mining of the coin Aeon (a derivative of Monero), and compiled the code on a Bodhi Linux PC. I then ran the resulting mining app and the related wallet for about two weeks, tweaking the processor use, and testing the Linux implementation on other PC’s with more powerful processors. I did not get further in Virtualbox, will still have to play with that, but may first try to build a GPU mining rig for further experimentation.

7.) If anyone asks you how mining helps update the ledgers, how would you best explain?

I’m still a crypto neophyte, but would have to say that from my limited understanding that mining is using a computer to “guess” the right answer to a mathematical puzzle that needs to be solved to create new coin, and also verify the global network of transactions, keeping the crypto currency decentralized.

8.) What is your personal opinion about bitcoin and blockchain security?

Bitcoin and Blockchain are only as secure as the PC/server they run on, so all the more reason to employ endpoint protection virus and malware software, as well as robust firewall or network security. Hacking of one’s network is serious business, both for the hacker and the hacked.

9.) Do you believe we will hit a point where no one has physical currency?

That’s a very difficult question to answer. Just as oil and coal will continue to find utility in an increasingly solar/wind/hydro world, fiat currencies and other investable assets will continue to be useful for the foreseeable future. Cryptocurrency represents a very small fraction of all existing other asset classes, and while it will grow quickly, with growth comes regulation, thereby checking the growth.

10.) Bitcoin creates a decentralized form of currency; do you see this as an advantage or a disadvantage to bitcoin acceptance?

Just as the IoT is incredibly important going forward, decentralization of a means of transaction is very valuable. Not allowing countries to control transaction certainly zaps the ability for governments to collect tax revenue, but the internet needs a relatively tax-free form of transactional wealth to facilitate greater usage, to bring computing power to the large portion of global citizens who don’t have banks, communications, or computing access.

11.) What additional information do you think may be important for the future of CIS at RMU to know about Bitcoin?

Blockchain itself will become the key technology, as people branch out from crypto currencies. Just as the original DARPA Net, set up for a few universities to communicate across, is now the medium for billions of cat photos per day, commercial uses for blockchain will blossom out to service uses for which we cannot even understand today. No one expected cat pictures to cripple the Ethereum blockchain, and yet right now Cryptokitties accounts for some 15-25% of Ethereum blockchain use…versus the 10% use of crypto trading via the decentralized exchange,

Recommended videos by interviewee:


Summer IT Internship w/ Fedex

In need of an IT internship just for the summer?  This 10-week internship is designed to allow for students pursuing computer-related degrees to be a part of FedEx in a way that will be tailored to their specific major.

Requirements for the job:

  • High school graduate or equivalent
  • 2+ years towards degree in computer science, computer engineering, or other related major.

Job Details:

  • Summer 2018
  • 10-week
  • $15-23/hour
  • in Coraopolis

How to Apply:

  • Apply as soon as possible
  • Interviews occur October – January
  • Offers are extended from October -February
  • Go to FedEx Careers site
  • Use Keyword: Intern Information Technology
  • Location – Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
  • Resume should include:
    • University
    • Degree
    • Major and/or minor
    • GPA, GPA overall
    • Major GPA
    • Graduation date




Developer Position for rebdev, LLC

Are you interested in the creation of tech software? If yes, then this developer job may be for you!  You would be creating and modifying computer application software/specialized utility programs.


  • analyze user needs
  • develop software solutions based on needs
  • work with project manager/owner
  • recommend upgrades to software to better operational efficiency
  • create flowcharts, user guides, etc.
  • perform routine maintenance of software


  • interest in ERP software solutions and  its implementation
  • Bachelor’s degree in MIS, Accounting, or another related field.
  • Software development experience as well as computer engineering.
  • Programming experience
  • able to use word processing, spreadsheets, project management and presentation software
  • database programming skills
  • Deadline-oriented
  • detail-oriented – will need to document all procedures
  • critical thinking skills
  • Willing to travel as part of employment.


  • 3 openings
  • In Moon township
  • Full-time entry level
  • Expires March 31st of 2018. 

Apply with an email cover letter and resume to

Washington DC 10-day Seminar Information

Washington DC trip informational meeting:

  • Title: National Security (just like first four years until they did cyber last year)
  • May 13-24
  • 2018 Topics:
    • North Korea testing
    • Cyber threats
    • US election tampering
    • Terrorism/Cyber-terrorism
    • Environmental issues
    • “Spy that Couldn’t Spell”
      • gentlemen was employee given a bad review
      • wrote about why he shouldn’t have been reviewed poorly,
      • when he started selling U.S. secrets, cyber teams used his writing patterns from that letter to catch him.
    • Much more
  • Different students from different universities – there will be many variations in knowledge and background
    • EX: some political science students will know areas better than us
    • EX: many non-CIS majors may not understand bitcoin.
  • Morning: sessions.
  • Afternoon: open session.

Living situation/attire:


  • Not allowed to go anywhere without a friend
  • 2 bed 2 bath living room, 2 RMU kids and 2 other university kids
  • Political views can get tough: keep them to yourself to prevent conflict with other roommates
  • You will be buying toilet paper, cleaning your own place
  • Bringing your own sheets
  • Washer and dryer will be provided in each room
  • Full kitchen

Business professional wear:

  • Long hair must be in pony tail or bun.
  • NO: bright colors, or cleavage

Requirements while there:

  • When you have a question- wait until the end, go up, state name, University and then state your question, and then listen while still up there.
  • Everybody must ask 4 questions.  Plan them.
  • No phones or laptops during sessions.
  • Notebook and pen to take notes for daily journal during the morning.  Then whole evening to do whatever.
  • Required to pick a topic and write a 5 page paper on it.
  • 2 pages of writing a day


  • Costs: $2295 for the 10 days. 
  • Petition for busses.
  • if using as a school credit, place under INFS4953 as an open elective or area of interest.  (best to move things up to area of interest that relate to each other)
  • GI bill: register to spring with the fee attached (if eligible).
  • Spring course: Do that NOW.  Attaches fee to that course, but if you don’t have extra money you will have to pay now. Flat rate will pay for it only left paying the seminar fee.  Make sure that you specify for Spring that you are the Washington Center is to Bill the university.
  • 2 grocery stores; need money for buying food. Eligible for $250 travel grant through the university.  Documentation needs to be sent out.  The university chooses how much money we get.  We’ve gotten $250 for this.  (Pay attention to emails and get the paperwork put together.)  Write a 1 page letter on why you should do it.
  • Fall course: Feb – March, do paperwork.  Fill out application to the Washington Center.  Bill me (pay Washington center directly in April)
  • Will not accept financial aid; for the seminar you need to take the extra money out of your financial aid yourself and then pay them. 
  • recommended that you stack your courses up because the trip will count as a credit.

Concerned about cost?

Take advantage of fundraisers and start putting money towards it now!

  • Dip orders.
  • Candy.
  • Gift cards.
  • FlipGive: holiday orders online.

Any Questions?

Click here to go the Washington Center homepage.

Email Paullet about paperwork for the Fall/Spring.

Highlights Part 2: Red Chair PGH Nov. 2017; Panel Q&A

This is the second part of the highlights of the Red Chair Pittsburgh event from early November.  The information here is NOT an exact transcript.  This is a paraphrased version of what the panelists had to say during the Q&A.


Background of Panelists:

Julie Straub – Global IT Director, PPG

Antoinette(“Toni”) Murphy – Comcast Regional VP

Michele R. McGough – Founder and CEO, Solutions4netoworks, Pittsburgh, PA

Priscilla J. Beal – Digital Innovation, Bayer US LLC.

Lori Crozier – VP IT, Digital Technology Delivery & eBusiness at ThermoFisher Scientific.

How they got started:

  • Julia: Was not exposed to computers in high school; started as a math major.  Male peers whom were dual math and computer majors pushed her to get involved in computers.
  • Tony Murphy: French and Econ major until she then focused on IT companies. Comcast for 9 years.  Done everything from product development to… [etc.]
  • Michelle: 1st to go to college as an Economics major and then graduated.  I was offered telecommunications job and loved the continuous learning.
  • Lori: My family didn’t even have a computer as a child;  in my youth, I worked in office for a small company.  Nothing was computerized.  They automated and asked me to get it working for them.  I am big into project management as well.
  • Priscilla: I have a masters in art history.  I spent my time working in museums.  Trying to entice viewers, I led the team who had to learn how to use technology to make the sculptures come alive.  This led me into digital marketing, and 10 years working on digital strategy.  I soon after joined Bayer and now head up the innovation team.

How to move into Leadership:

  • Priscilla: Apply passion to you being inspiring.
  • Lori: People are looking to do well and want to be a part of something meaningful and important, you are important to give them vision and to create the enthusiasm around it.
  • Julie: Develop relationships, trust, and respect with your team.  This is critical for them to follow you as a leader.

Challenges & advocates:

  • Toni: Have mentors advice and sponsors put your name behind theirs.  Here’s a general rule: 60% of my time I am doing my job, and the rest I’m telling about what I’m doing.  Ask for what you want and you will get it.  Be brave.
  • Michelle: Me and 3 other coworkers were sued for trying to conspire against boss to get him fired – we were accused but that was not the case.  I was in a bad place with personal issues and shut down.  When I began to put my company together, and we were getting ready to file for a patent, I learned he [a disgruntled, fired employee] stole the intellectual property before the patent.  Two of the women said don’t worry about it(legal fees), we had the same issue happen; it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
  • Lori: Think about what you want, network early in your career, don’t wait to use your network – keep it active and live.  Use those who will be a good guide for you and get lifelong advocates.
  • Priscilla: Take into consideration what qualities they have that are inspiring and then think about it – is that what I want to do? are they happy? and is that something I could be happy doing? Listen to your gut.
  • Toni: from a sponsor’s perspective, are you a rockstar that I can be proud of? and what is something that I get in return here?  As you move up, you need to use the mentees to connect too.
  • Julie: It does not have to be a formal advocate.  Have courage.  Ask people further up in their career.  Be open to really ask.

Extra Tips:

  • Toni: Paint the picture for where you’re going.  Rate yourself – validate yourself!
  • Michele: Keep a notepad and keep track of what you have accomplished.  Self review.  Justify your raise.

Women blame themselves for what is wrong which can be a bad thing  because when you’re not looking at your accomplishments, you’re lowering your confidence.

How to bring out confidence:

  • Lori: CONFIDENCE GAP! (Meaning: understand that you are just as capable as the men, and that they are more confident because they have been told that because they are men that they belong here; understand that you belong just as much as them because you are just as capable.)
  • Julie: Don’t think you need to have all of the skills for the job.
  • Michelle: In a CMU study, when asked if they could do the next job, we[women] think about it and men immediately say they’ll do it.  Interview woman vs man, this comes off as a difference in confidence. (Meaning: Confidence gives an impression that you are more capable.)

How do you balance projects with your personal life:

  • Toni: I am married, and my husband is in IT.  I have 3 kids, ages 6, 4, and 2.  Be sure to have a good support system.  Leadership is a gift but learn to be okay with delegation.  Don’t think you have to prove yourself over and over again because that is you secretly degrading yourself.
  • Priscilla: I have 3 kids.  You need to love what you do; if you can’t leave your kids for it, don’t do it.  Find personal satisfaction.  See yourself as a role model.
  • Lori: Be an aspiration but be good to yourself.

Big Theme here: Be BRAVE Be CONFIDENT

  • Women are just as capable as men, but overall women approach the computing field more timid due to a lack of confidence.
  • These women are successful because they are not only brilliant, but CONFIDENT.
  • They are all very open, honest, and respectful leaders who prove that you can find a good balance in your life. 
    • Women do not have to do everything.
    • Women can still have a highly successful career while still having children.
    • It is important to understand that women can do anything, and that it is important to get out there and be brave.
  • The wage gap only exists because we let it exist; we have laws against it, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get the fair wage you deserve due to culture.
    • Be confident.
    • Log yourself and prove your credentials.
    • ASK: for the raise, what others get paid, etc.  ASK questions.
    • Address any discrepancies between your wage, and that of your male counterpart(s).

Highlights Part 1: Red Chair PGH Nov. 2017; Keynote: “Filling the Pipeline with Talent”

Hey boys! For those of you who wanted to attend Red Chair Pittsburgh 2017 event – the girls-only event left available for only a select few ladies – here’s what you missed:

What is the purpose of the Red Chair?

  •  Challenge. Innovation. Creativity. Strength. Reinvention. Sustainability.
  • The Red Chair is a physical representation of men and women “sitting” to take a stand about the value that women bring to Computing and IT.
  • having women in the IT and Computing workforce means…
    • Expanded talent pool: we need more people involved in IT due to the span of careers creating a shortage in workers to fill these future job opportunities.
    • Improved technical innovation: greater diversity means people of varying backgrounds which means more perspectives to look at a problem.  Problem solving can be done quicker when you are able to assess the many angles of a problem.  Better assessment means better solutions.
    • Increased ROI: “Research shows that companies with the highest representation of women in their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment than did those with few or no women.”

Keynote: “Filling the Pipeline with Talent”

Carole Frieze

  • Director of Women@SCS and SCS4ALL; these organizations focus on building community on campus, and provide leadership opportunities as well as networking ones. Most importantly, these organizations focus on promoting diversity in Computer Science.
  • working on diversity and inclusion in CMU’s Computer Science division for 17 years.
  • researches
    • culture of computing
    • stereotypes
    • myths
    • unconscious bias
  • Winner of 2016 AccessComputing Capacity Building Award
  • Winner of 2017 Computing Research  Associations A. Nico Haberman Award
  • co-author of Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University

Jeria Quesenberry

  • Ph.D
  • Associate Teaching Professor in the Information Systems Program in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CMU.
  • Research:
    • cultural influences on information technology post-secondary students
    • social inclusion
    • how to broaden participation
    • values behind chosen careers
    • work and life balancing
    • organizational intervention
  • Teaches:
    • global systems
    • social informatics
    • strategic value of information systems
    • web design and web development
    • project management
  • Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Information Sciences and Technology from the Pennsylvania State University

The Presentation


  • Intro: 50% women in computer science major in CMU – big success that deserves recognition; fueled by their hard work researching, and implementing ways to create diversity in computing and IT.
  • Because IT is one of the best rated job areas as far as growth and personal satisfaction, this is an important field to get anyone involved in.
  • 2016 CRA Taulbee report showed that only 18% of the pool of Computing and IT students were female. 
  • 2016-2017 CMU admissions Taulbee report showed that ~ 50% (49…%) of their Computer Science students were female for their 1st years.

Discussed Timeline of Culture in Computing:

  • 1990s: men were all similar in mentality and found that coding was “fun”; women – only 5% of those in computing – saw the computer as something that they wanted to be useful with, but did not feel like they belonged in this field.
  • Post 1999: mentality around the use for the computer began to become more diverse for men and women, as did the pool of men and women.
  • 2012: interviews between men and women showed that
    • reasoning for joining CS showed no gender gap
    • Women’s confidence decreased as they progressed in school
    • Men’s confidence increased as they progressed in school
    • Women and men GPAs were on par; there was no difference in the general academic performance of men and women
    • Leads researchers to believe the problem is not competency, but cultural stereotypes causing women to feel like they do not belong in their field.
  • 1974: Lego promoted boys and girls playing with their products.
  • 2011: Lego designs targeted boys.
  • 2014: 7 year old’s letter to Lego made headlines expressing a lack of Lego toys for girls.  She expressed a distaste for the girl’s Lego toys being girls who would go to the beach and did not have jobs, while the boy’s toys got to have jobs and even go on adventures.  This led to the creation of female Lego science and NASA sets.
  • 2014: Barbie book I Can Be a Computer Engineer – “I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie tells Skipper. “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” – perpetuates the idea that women are not meant to code.

Progress? 2016/17, CMU has managed an almost perfect 50/50 ratio of women to men in their Computer Science major for their first year students.

Intervention techniques to fix the ratio of men to women

  • programming requirements dropped for joining majors
  • became more open and allowed various entry levels to join the field
  • Lenore Blum joined the Computer Science Faculty and began her mission to get women more involved in science and math.
  • Women@scs 
    • formal organization supported by the institution
    • designed to level the playing field by reaching out to women and giving them opportunities in computers.
    • female students were put in charge to develop an importance in student leadership
  • scs4all
    • program that developed from women@scs
    • available to men and women
    • women still the leadership figures

Important theme to the research

  • It is a cultural issue
  • Confidence gap NOT competency gap
  • Do NOT perpetuate stereotypes
  • Do NOT accommodate differences because it only perpetuates the divide
  • Do NOT listen to Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus: “worst book ever for the cause
  • Recommended books:
    • Pink Brain Blue Brain by Elliot T. 2009
    • Delusions of Gender


Red Chair Pittsburgh 2017: Union Trust Building, November 16, 2017.