Home Computer Security

Published / by Hunter Barrett

The security of your personal computer is becoming more and more important these days.  The rise in cyber crime made national headlines over the past few years as several high profile credit card breaches at companies such as Target opened the doors for fraud to millions of customers.  I know, I was one of the people who shopped at Target during the dates the card data was exposed, and my card was hit a few weeks later.

Being lazy with computer security will definitely bite you in the butt at some point; it’s really only a matter of time before something happens.  I used to never install antivirus software on my computer because I thought it slowed the system down (in my defense, old antivirus software really was horrible on system resources).  However I would ALWAYS end up with a virus of some sort.

The viruses now, however, are much more damaging.  Ransomware is rampant now.  Ransomware will encrypt your computer files and force you to pay a huge sum of money in order to get the key to unlock them.

So what can you do to fight against these security threats?  There are a few key things that you can start to do TODAY in order to ensure that your data remains safe.

Back Up Your Data

This is the first thing I tell people to do before anything else.  The biggest threats to your computer security are data loss.  You won’t know how important this is until you suddenly lose access to your computer files.  This could happen due to ransomware, viruses, or a hardware failure such as a hard disk breakdown.  The hard disk breakdown actually happened to me while in the middle of a high profile commercial project.  However, since I had a cloud based backup solution running at all times (thanks Backblaze) I was covered.

The best way to set this up is to get a cloud based backup system that will back up your data around the clock, on the fly, in the background.  This way you’ll never forget to back up your data – something that pretty much never happens no matter how many New Year’s resolutions you make to do this.


Get A Good Antivirus

I really recommend Norton 360.  It’s the most lightweight and fastest antivirus software that I have used.  I never notice that it’s there…it’s just always running quietly in the background.  And I have never noticed a system slowdown due to its presence.

In addition to a good antivirus program you might want to seriously consider an anti-malware software program such as Spyhunter 4 or Malwarebytes.  These programs help to get rid of adware and spyware that masquerades on your system as real software.  These will sneak by your antivirus software – it happened to me with the Conduit search malware that piggybacked on with a .rar software that I had downloaded.

Be Careful Out There

The usual advice here is to stay away from email attachments that you’re unsure of.  However I will go beyond that and tell you not to browse internet “bad” neighborhoods.  This is usually the adult industry, download sites (free software and torrents), message boards for unsavory subjects, and more.  You’ll know it when you’re there.  These are where a lot of “drive by” infections happen.  It’s true that you can be infected anywhere, but these types of sites are hotbeds for criminal and hacker activity.



Learning The Languages Of Our Ancestors

Published / by Hunter Barrett

Those of Hispanic or Spanish descent no doubt want to delve into some Spanish language learning.  If you weren’t raised in a Spanish speaking household, then there’s little to push you to learn the language.  But once you realize that many of your friends and family are fluent, that kind of makes you want to jump right in.

There are dozens and dozens of articles online that delve into the methods of learning the Spanish language.  And there are countless software programs that make it easy such as Rosetta Stone, Rocket Languages, and Duolingo.

When thinking about learning a new language, you have to think about how you personally learn — do you do better through audio cues or do you learn more traditionally through reading and writing?  This is what you should look for in any language learning program that you decide to get.

I am personally a fan of the Rocket Languages series.  Their Spanish course is probably one of the better ones out there – and they constantly update it to keep it fresh.  The 2017 version of Rocket Spanish is a great testament to the effort the Rocket Languages company goes to in order to ensure that people keep coming back to their courses.

Not to mention, the reviews of the Rocket Languages courses are excellent.  The New York Times actually raved about it, and it gets consistently high marks from other review sources as well.

One thing that I like to think about when learning a new language is how the human brain actually learns the language.  Here is a very cool excerpt from an article about how children learn languages….not by rules but by sounds and associations:

The past tense in English is almost incrediblysimple. To form the past tense of the verb, you almost always add “ed’ to the end of it, unless it is an irregular verb, such as “go’ or “bring.’ Among the 150 or so irregular verbs, “go’ is in a class by itself. The rest of the verbs fall into about 20 groups, such as the group containing the verbs keep, sleep, and weep. All the verbs in a group form past tenses in the same way.

Because the past tense is so simple, saysPrince, “linguists have not studied it much. When you go to graduate school, it is not the sort of thing you linger over.’

But psycholinguists have discovered thatwhen young children learn to speak, they start out by forming irregular past tenses correctly and then they get worse–they overregularize. Finally they learn the correct forms again. For example, children start out by saying “brought’ and “went.’ Then they switch to “bringed’ and “good’ before they relearn the correct irregular forms.

The standard explanation of overregularizationis that children when they first learn to speak, memorize words one by one without regard for any relations between them. Later, they discover the past tense rule and run amok with it, overregularizing, because they do not grasp the structure of the language. Finally, they learn the exceptions to the past tense rule and their speech becomes correct again. The idea is that children eventually learn the past tense rule for regular verbs and learn the irregular past tenses by analogy.

Rumelhart and McClelland started out byassuming that this standard explanation is correct. Only after they developed their connectionist model of language acquisition did they question it. Rumelhart, in fact, used to illustrate the observation that children learn rules for forming the past tense by playing for his students a tape of his own little boy, who was 5 years old when the tape was made.

In the recording, Rumelhart asked his sonwhat grade comes before the seventh grade. “Sixth,’ the boy replied. Then Rumelhart asked what grade is before the sixth grade. “Fifth,’ the boy said. What is before fifth? “Fourth.’ What is before fourth? “Thirdth.’ What is before third? “Secondth.’ What is before that? “Firsth.’

Then Rumelhart asked the question in theopposite order. What grade is after kindergarten? His son replied “First.’ What is after first? Second.’ Rumelhart continued up to grade seven and, this time, the boy got all the words right.

“I would play this tape for students andwould tell them that it was obvious that the kid had learned a general rule,’ Rumelhart says. He did not worry about the fact that his child got the words wrong when he went in descending order and got them right when he went in ascending order.”

Kolata, Gina. “Associations or rules in learning language?” Science, vol. 237, 1987, p. 133+.

Once you realize how language learning works you can then use it to help you to figure out how to learn another language.

More on the Chronicles

Published / by Hunter Barrett

This is a very good video talking about the history of the books of Chronicles.  It’s extremely interesting, and we think that you should definitely listen to this no matter what religion you are.  Even if you are an atheist I think that you should definitely learn a little about this, as it’s basically just history anyway.


Biblical History And The Chronicles

Published / by Hunter Barrett

Biblical history is quite fascinating.  Non-religious people seem to think that the Bible is entirely made up.  However, it is not.  It is a historical document of people, times, and events of that era.  It is well known that the Jews were very meticulous about documenting their geneaology, and it is a source of pride for them.  The books of Chronicles in the Bible are examples of this:

What does this tell us about the Chronicler himself? We agree with the assumption that he lived in Yehud, probably in the mid-fourth century B.C.E. He was also quite obviously somehow connected with the temple, as is evident both from his interest in its cult and from his extensive knowledge of that cult, of the Priestly and Levitic genealogies and so on. This kind of information seems to imply that the Chronicler had access to the temple and its archives. Those archives may also have been a source for some of the additional preexilic information he seems to have had, such as old census reports, building records, and “prophetic” materials. (63) Adam C. Welch seems to have been the first to suggest that the Chronicler was a descendant of “the community which had never been in exile.” (64) Weinberg suggested that rather than one of the “repatriant” priests who ran the “citizen-temple community,” the Chronicler was part of a preexilic “scribal clan” whose descendants were among those who remained in the land. (65) This is not a tenable option, since there is no evidence of such preexilic clans in places outside of Jerusalem that would not have been among those who were exiled. Further, with all his access to temple archives and records, the Chronicler must have been part of the Jerusalem priestly elite. R. Zadok has suggested that he was one of the temple musicians rather than a member of the ruling priesthood. (66) This is certainly possible, though there does not seem to be much evidence for it. In any case, the Chronicler would still have been part of the “elite.” Dyck sees the Chronicler as a part of “the ruling and priestly classes in Jerusalem” who used “the (imminent or actual) demise of the Persians … to think big.” (67) We have already seen that the Chronicler’s outlook was different in many ways from that of the Priestly writer of Ezra-Nehemiah. In two recent articles, Gary N. Knoppers stresses the fact that the Chronicler’s genealogy of Judah includes many disparate and seemingly unrelated elements, some of them non-Israelite in origin. (68) We have further pointed out the inclusion of Mesopotamian elements in the Manassite list, and Dyck has called this “a lateral ethnic ideology,” as opposed to Ezra-Nehemiah’s “vertical” ideology. (69) Such an ideology would have been impossible in the EzraNehemiah circles; the Chronicler was clearly of a different “school.” So while the Chronicler was obviously a member of the Jerusalem elite, that elite in the late fourth century seems to have been very different from the “Golahreturnee” elite of the mid-fifth century, as represented by the author of Ezra-Nehemiah.

Despite the claim made several years ago by Kent H. Richards that the Persian period “has gone from being described as the dark ages to being acclaimed as the most generative time for the formation of the library of books that we call the Hebrew Bible,” (70) we actually know relatively little of the social or political history of the Judean province during the fourth century B.C.E. and in the period of frequent revolts and wars that characterized the latter half of Persian rule in the Levant. A few coins, some unclear archaeological evidence, and perhaps a few undatable biblical texts are all we have to work with. (71) The same is true for the early Hellenistic period, the first years of Ptolemaic rule. In the Judaism that emerged from that obscure period into the relative clarity of the Seleucid and Hasmonean eras, however, there is no evidence that a division remained between the descendants of the Golah and those of the “remnants.” In the Judaism of the Hellenistic period and later, the division was once more between the urban, easily hellenized “elite” and the agrarian populace, who continued to practice their “traditional” way of life.

These “people of the land,” within and without the political boundaries of the Judean province, were both the object and the audience of the Chronicler. (72) This audience, living in a society that was still to a large extent “tribal,” could easily understand the Chronicler’s message of the basic unity of all Israel in all of its land, in the past and in the present. The Chronicler, as opposed to the separatist, maybe anti-Samaritan, Priestly author of Ezra-Nehemiah, is not telling his “history” from the perspective of the urban elite of Jerusalem. When the Chronicler, in his genealogical “introduction,” lays out the ethnic and geographical framework of his “Israel,” his perspective is that of the tribal, village society, which was very much alive and functioning in his day. The villagers of the hill country of Judah and Benjamin, but also those of Ephraim and Manasseh, were both the Chronicler’s source of information and his audience.

Levin, Yigal. “Who was the chronicler’s audience? A hint from his genealogies.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 122, no. 2, 2003, p. 229+.

That is an excerpt from a very in-depth article on the Chronicles that looks at several different points of information.  It’s extremely easy to read.

Welcome To Our Blog!

Published / by Hunter Barrett

Pacific International has started up this blog in order to better connect with our clients.  We want to post about anything and everything!  This is where the rubber meets the road; where you connect with your people.

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