Day 10: Renaissance Festival

Today I went to the Carolina Renaissance Festival with my two sisters. That sort of thing is another of my great loves. I love the food, all the people in costume, and all the artisan booths. It’s really fun to see. In a way, it reminds me of a “outdoors con”, if that makes sense. I’ve always wanted to go in costume, but out of the 4 or 5 times that I have attended, I haven’t done that yet. One reason is that I don’t really have any sewing skills or lots of money to purchase a costume. All the same, I still like fawning over the different outfits I see going around.

I saw some very entertaining performers this year. There was a man dressed up like a tree, covered with bark and leaves to where he really looked the part. It was like he was an Ent from Lord Of The Rings. I also saw acrobats, musicians, and magicians. It was really good to spend time with my sisters as well. I really enjoyed looking at the blades they had for sale there. When I have more income and a place of my own, I’d like to buy a few for my house. I think medieval/fantasy blades are really cool and that’s something that I could get into collecting. In all, there are a lot of really talented people there and it has been a lot of fun this year.

If there’s anyone that hasn’t been to one of these, I highly recommend it for everyone. It’s a lot of fun and there are a lot of things to see and do to keep your attention.

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Day 9: IBM Trip

Today I took a field trip with some people to the IBM Campus in Research Triangle Park. The facility was really nice, although I didn’t get to see much of it. Today was both their University day and their Cyber Security day, and so I watched multiple talks about security, cryptography, and privacy. There were some interesting ones, some boring ones, and some that went straight over my head. I was surprised to see that at a conference with presumably esteemed speakers, only one used Beamer for her slides. The others used Power Point…really badly. There were moving graphics galore and lots of complicated diagrams. I felt like almost all the slides were far too cluttered.

One talk that I did find interesting was this guy that was talking about implementing rules in our “monitoring systems” to control when and when we can share our info with the world. With social networks and smart phones and the increasing interconnectedness of people today, this also means that people are (intentionally or not) sharing more information about themselves. He proposed a rule-based system where you could tell your GPS “while I am on IBM Campus, you may track me, but when I leave, stop recording information”. Something like that would be really cool and useful to have I think. He also talked about “fooling the system” such as with Google’s location services. While a normal GPS will show your actual location, he purposely enters in false locations to confuse the system and kind of beat them at their own game of targeted advertising and tracking. I’m a very big proponent of controlling your data and your privacy on the internet, so I thought these were definitely cool ideas.