Redeem us from the prequels, Disney…

Star Wars: Episode VII will release in theaters on December 18, 2015.

It has also been confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VII is set about 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and will star a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces. No further details on casting or plot are available at this time.

via Star Wars: Episode VII Set to Roll Cameras May 2014 | StarWars.com.

No one likes to take the time to make passwords online. When you’re setting up your CBSSports account to fill in your March Madness brackets, you just want to get to work. No one’s going to hack you, so you just use the same password there as you do for your Bank of America account and GMail. Who cares, right? You’ve got nothing to hide.

And then you get “hacked” and it’s no fun.

Being a “techy” person, I get lots of questions about how to avoid being “hacked” (it’s fascinating to me how that word has changed its usage as geek and tech culture has become mainstream).

My response is normally:

1) Never use the same password twice. Ever. Use a service such as LastPass if you’re into that (I am).

2) For each of the online services you use, make unique and long passwords that include random characters and even nonsense strings that only you know (I know, I know… this isn’t completely foolproof but it helps prevent the script kiddie hacks). Try to avoid common terms such as “password,” “changeme,” or “123456.”

3) Never use the same password twice. Ever.

4) If you can, enable 2 Factor Authentication.

5) Never use the same password twice. Ever.

Step 1 is usually when the person loses interest in my advice. But you should really enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA) as soon as possible if you’re at all concerned about your online accounts or just want to have a good lock on your doors to keep honest people honest.

TwoFactorAuthor.org has a nice list of major services that we all use, with links to relevant instructions, such as Google Accounts, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, even Steam or Etsy etc.

There’s no reason for you not to do this today.

Two-factor authentication! In this age of endless massive hacks we seem to be in the middle of, it’s one of the easiest ways you can dramatically boost security on your online accounts.

But which sites actually support it? It can be a pain to keep track. Fortunately, a new, community-driven list keeps a running list of all the big sites that have some form of 2FA enabled (and encourages you to nag at those that don’t).

via Here Are All The Sites You Should Enable Two Factor Authentication On (And The Ones You Should Yell At) | TechCrunch.

That humans have confirmed the Higgs boson and much of the underpinnings of the inflationary nature of the universe shortly after the Big Bang (gravity waves!) in the last two years (not to mention other advances in biological, psychological and sociological sciences) in a time of scientific budget cuts and anti-scientific thinking in our country gives me great hope for our species in this still young century.

We’re explorers, and these understandings of the universe around us leads us to greater deeds here on earth with the right guidance. Or to put it another selfish way, every dollar we put into science leads to many many more in return.

While we are capable of disastrous and terrible actions, we’re also capable of learning from our past and correcting our path as a species. Here’s to our better natures in this incredible time of human exploration…

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. Guth was correct.

Inflation has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years, though many, including Dr. Guth, wondered whether it could ever be proved.

If corroborated, Dr. Kovac’s work will stand as a landmark in science comparable to the recent discovery of dark energy pushing the universe apart, or of the Big Bang itself. It would open vast realms of time and space and energy to science and speculation.

via Detection of Waves in Space Buttresses Landmark Theory of Big Bang – NYTimes.com.

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Chilling to see the results of Chernobyl still working themselves out in the natural world…

“Apart from a few ants, the dead tree trunks were largely unscathed when we first encountered them,” says Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and lead author of the study. “It was striking, given that in the forests where I live, a fallen tree is mostly sawdust after a decade of lying on the ground.”

Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly: Smithsonian Magazine

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SXSW has come to epitomize so much of what is wrong with web marketing in 2014.

I gave up on the idea of attending SXSW every year after things took a turn for the worse (in my opinion) back in the 2009-2010 timeframe. We saw the first real takeoff of Twitter at SXSW in 2007 then Foursquare hit it big at the show in 2008. Since then, it’s been a place to “find the next Twitter” or “improve your brand marketing.”

As an agency person who cares deeply about social media and about marketing in general, I just can’t bring myself to go see this spectacle. That might make me an elitist hipster or whatever, but the truth is I have taste (again, in my opinion). That taste doesn’t correlate with things like fashion but I do have good taste (imo) when it comes to marketing.

I’ll keep doing what I’m doing with our agency here in sunny SC and leave the “idea vomiting” and “hashtag highness” surface level approach to “marketing” to my friends who go to SXSW from the larger agencies with insane expense accounts but a shallow grasp of tasteful marketing.

Given SXSW’s status as a birthplace of social media, the festival attracts an outsized number of self-styled gurus leading panels to educate the less savvy. Attendees flock to standing-room-only sessions with names like “Idea Vomiting” in the hopes that beyond the bluster, the social media ninjas and rockstars in attendance will share some pearls of wisdom. “Eighty percent of it is useless,” confides a man who is attending on behalf of a large American company. “You’re looking for those diamonds in the rough.” We are sitting next to one another at a session named “High On Hashtags”. A colleague of his, overhearing us, raves about a session she attended the previous day called “The Digital Cronut”. “I heard that was awesome,” her colleague says.

via Hucksters and hustlers: inside the hidden brand orgy of SXSW | The Verge.