Sunday, November 29, 2015

Little Red - A classic story to understand a current issue -

Little Red
    Once upon a time there was a young woman who was loved by everyone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother Nini. They get together weekly via Skype. The grandmother lived far away in the suburbs.
     There was nothing that Nini would not have given to the young woman. She also gave her a nickname that suited so well. So she was always called 'Little Red. That was also her profile name when she was online.'

     One day Little Red’s mother said: ‘This is a picture of the cake I will make for grandmother’s birthday. She is not feeling well and this will do her good. Go online and send the picture. Don’t forget to do it before noon, please don’t play online games with strangers or peep into every ones profile. You may forget your duty and then Nini will get nothing.'
     'Sure, I will take great care,' said Little Red.
    Just as Little Red went online, an invitation from someone called “Wolf” pops up in the screen. Little Red accepted as a friend, without knowing what a wicked creature “Wolf” was.
     'Good day, Little Red,' he wrote in the chat.
     'Thank you kindly, Wolf.'
     'Why you are so early chatting, Little Red?'
     'I got a picture of a cake that my mom made to my grandmother's birthday. She is not feeling well lately and this present will make her fell better.'
     'Where does your grandmother live, Little Red?'
     ‘In the suburbs, we use Skype to get together. Her profile name is “Grandma”.  You should contact her and become friends,' replied Little Red.
     Wolf thought to himself: 'What a nice young woman! I wish I knew her username and password to access her profile. Then I would pretend to be “Little Red” and do silly things under her name. I think would be better try to get Nini’s password first. So I better hurry and maybe I can catch them both.'

     Then “Wolf” said: 'Hey Little Red, you should try the coolest game that was release last week. I did it and it was so fun. You should it! Check the attached link I am sending to you link and let me know what do you think.'
     Little Red opened the link and suddenly the screen brought sunbeams through trees and flowers dancing here and there. Little Red ran into the virtual forest looking for more flowers. Whenever she had picked one, she saw a prettier one further on and ran after it. Slowly she got deeper and deeper into the digital forest.
     Meanwhile Wolf searched for Grandma’s profile. When she was found, he send an invitation to be friends.
    Nini accepted and wrote in the chat: 'Who are you?'

  'I am Little Red, I had to change my profile. Thank you for accepting me granny.' Wolf typed back.
     ‘But why I can’t see you in the screen my dear?’ Nini asked.
     ‘My camera is not working. The good news is that I got a pic of the cake mom made for your birthday. I will send it to you as an attachment.'
     'I don’t know how to open attachments,' called out the Nini.
     ‘No worries Grandma, I will help you. Just give me your username and password and I will take care of everything.’ Replied Wolf.
     ‘My dear Little Red, that is easy. Username is our nickname and age: Nini82 and password is our favourite colour and age: Blue82.’
    As soon as Nini finished the sentence Wolf accessed her account and changed the password. He really was a hacker who stole grandmother’s online identity.  The real Nini went offline.
     In order to continue with his plan, Wolf tried to contact Little Red pretending he was granny. He tried to look like the young woman putting on similar clothes, dressing in a cap, laying in bed and closing the curtains.
     Little Red, however, was picking virtual flowers and gathered so many points that she could carry no more. When she remembered her grandmother, run out on the way to the meeting.
    Little Red opened Skype and founded that Grandma was online. When she started the video call Nini’s room was very dark. Little Red requested to open the curtains and when the person at the other end did so, encountered her grandmother with her cap pulled far over her face, and looking very, very strange.
     'Oh! Grandmother,' she said, 'what big ears you have!'
     'All the better to hear you with, my child,' was the reply.
     ‘Look, what big eyes you have!' she said.
     'All the better to see you with, my dear.'
     'Wow, what large hands you have!'
     'All the better to hug you with.'
     ‘And what a big mouth you have!'
     'I know I look different. Let me tell you my dear girl, that you also look different to me. I will probe that we are the same people, because I remember that your favourite colour is blue.’
     ‘You are right, granny. Isn’t funny that at the age of 13, I still think that blue is the best color in the world.’
     And again, as soon as Wolf heard the girl’s age, he went into the browser and opened her account. He typed the username: LittleRed13 and password: Blue13 and changed the password for a new one. Wolf the hacker, took over Little Red’s account. Sadly the real Little Red went offline.

     Huntsman was Little Red’s friend. He was in the comfort of his home browsing the Internet.

     Minutes later he received a notification on his mobile phone. When he opened found a post from Grandmother’s account. An unusual picture of granny, with a note indicating she was looking for a partner to snowshoeing in the mountain.

     Huntsman noticed that something was wrong. She never posted such a things. He contacted Little Red by phone to talk about the latest post. She recalled that another strange situation also happened to her. Since then she was not able to access Skype.
     ‘Maybe your account was stole because your profile is online. You should contact the app provider and fix the problem.’ Huntsman suggested.
      Little Red called Nini’s home telephone and found out that her identity was also stolen. Then, she helps granny to deal with the situation.
     The app administrator banned Wolf, the hacker, from the site and also reported him to the police.
    Huntsman, Mon and Little Red visited Grandmother on the weekend to celebrate her birthday. They ate the cake that Little Red had brought.

     Huntsman asked them to promise him to create more secure passwords and never, never share their personal information with estrangers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Children Book Review

Book shopping guide for every kid on your list, the best present you can give.

My son and I have been reading books since he was born. No matter what age he is, I still think a book is the best present I can give him. Before he knew how to understand words, we read picture books. These days, we read books with more text than pictures, from saga adventures to classics, award-winners and indie-authors.
The simple literacy exercise of reading books together out loud makes distance irrelevant. Wherever we are, whether that’s Ontario or British Columbia or overseas, we are connected through books.
If you ever see a grown man in a local coffee store reading a book on a mobile device via Skype with a pre-teen on the other side of the screen, come over and say hello and join us for story time.
Here are my picks for a holiday shopping guide for every kid on your list.

-       Give the best of the force for early readers -

Star Wars Epic Yarns by Jack & Holman Wang

If you love Star Wars, share these needle-felted picture books in child-friendly words from the Vancouver-raised authors who have turned their yarns into a series of successful classics. In simple words this book is the perfect vehicle for early reading at the speed of light.

-       Holiday classic to read before you are an adult -

Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

This book was written 50 years ago and Christmas in Peanuts-land remains fully alive even today. It has all the elements of the season: snow, Christmas threes, ice-skating, music, friends and sparkly lights. Can the Peanuts gang help us discover the true meaning of Christmas? Cue the now classic Vince Guaraldi piano piece. 

- Recommended teenage books -

Wonder by R J Palacio

Diversity as a fact-of-life is beautifully explained in Wonder with Auggie’s extraordinary face. Although born with a facial difference, that physical attribute hasn’t prevented him from going to a mainstream school.

- For the silly guy/gal within  -

Captain Underpants (An epic novel) by Dav Pilkey

If life is getting too serious and complicated, it’s time to bring in a dose if silliness. From the Attack of the Talking Toilets, my favourite by far, to the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies, the reality is Everyone needs Underpants!

- Children literary masterpiece-

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

This is a book about books that inspired the Academy Award–winning short film.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and it should be in everyone's library, no matter what age you are.

 - Good reads for pre-teens -

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon

I like books with illustrations. The Doldrums have the best of both worlds. It is a gorgeous written book with approximately twenty pieces of full-color artwork and black-and-white spot illustrations.

- Beautiful is the new cool-

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

This book captured the struggle of a young woman who loses her father. To protect her heart from adversity, she decides to put the emotions of her heart in a bottle. Then all the dreams and curiosity have disappeared because her feelings were safe in an unbreakable jar.

Seattle coffeehouse mecca

Seattle coffeehouse mecca

In 1987, Forbes listed Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar as one of the wealthiest men in the world. For us Colombians, that recognition carried the stigma that one of the country’s most notorious citizens was not just rich but also a violent criminal.

That same year, there was a TV ad by Nabob, a Canadian coffee company. The sophisticated voice of a man in the commercial claimed that after many years of evolution, farmers grew the best coffee in the northwest corner of South America called Colombia. Using only 100% Colombian beans, Nabob produced ‘Summit’ the best coffee in the world.

I remember seeing those ads and thinking that coffee would finally be the product that allowed the world to understand that Colombia was a country full of traditions and culture and not just cocaine.

I begin drinking home-roasted coffee at the early age of five. This was the daily ritual in our family home in the Andes Mountains. The powerful effect of fresh roasted coffee immediately consumed is not negotiable.

Whenever I travel, I am in search of the perfect cup. I am not talking about coffee with aspiration to someday be desserts—the kind mixed with whip cream, drizzles and caramel or even, God forbid, pumpkin spice.

The problem is that the industry around the world is driven by shelf life filled with old and stale coffee.

I decided to take my coffee quest in search of the perfect fresh cup to Seattle, Washington, the coffee mecca in North America.

Here are my suggestions on some of the best places to hit, depending on your brew behaviour.

It was a surprise to find the first gourmet coffee house is smack in the middle of downtown. Cherry Street Coffee House is a family owned café with five locations around the city and is ‘Home of the United States Barista Champion.’

The menu offers pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads and specialty coffees served with certified organic milk. Ali Ghambari owns the coffee house, his daughter Laila Ghambari was the 2014 United States barista champion.

“People in Seattle love coffee because my personal feeling is because we don’t get enough sleep in this city,” says Cherry Street barista Lance Lorton. “We need it every day to get us through the day because we’re so busy doing other things. And we’ve figured out that you can get good and bad coffee and people here are figuring out what makes good coffee.”

Lorton suggested that the place to go to check out the widest variety of good coffee is Capitol Hill, which is walking distance from downtown. From their Olive Way location up the hill, my second stop was Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery at 1650 Olive Way.

The minimalistic and modern building is inviting and pleasing, with high ceilings and seats far apart in an open space. If you’re in the mood for something cosier, take your coffee outside where they have an outdoor fireplace.

Molly Atom, the barista, was manning the coffee station and the blowtorch and prepared a perfectly thick espresso full of flavour and accompanied that with a S’more square with torched melted marshmallow.

“I don’t think people in Seattle are coffee snobs,” she says. “But they do understand there’s a time for coffee for when you’re sitting around on a rainy day with friends and having a great time catching up and there’s the kind of coffee that you drink to get you through the day.”

Not far from Hot Cakes Molten is Analog Café where the coffee is simple and there’s not a blowtorch to be found. Instead of the usual scene of people typing intently on their laptop, most of the coffee drinkers that day were reading comic books.
Thomas Dunlap, who has lived in Los Angeles and in Washington D.C. says in Seattle, he has noticed residents have a great loyalty to small independent coffee houses like Analog.

“It’s the neighbourhood place you go every day and in some cases, some days, a few times a day.”

Still in Capitol Hill, Victrola Coffee Roasters has a loyal, devoted following because of its focus on small-batch roasting process of blends and single origin coffee.

Down the street, Ada’s Technical Books is a nerd heaven bookstore offering books and gifts relating to computer, math & physics. You can also find great coffee and in-house bakery. The atmosphere full of natural light invites to socialize and the outdoor patio with just few tables makes the space very intimate. The place, named after Ada Lovelace, who some considered the world’s first computer programmer, prides itself on being geek-friendly.

At Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting, pride in its coffee takes on a more boastful tone here. The one-storey building on Pike Street builds itself as a coffee temple for connoisseurs to experience the roaster, enjoy coffee brewed in multiple ways and learn from knowledgeable baristas about unique and rare flavours that belong to the exclusive 1% of beans that qualify for the Starbucks reserve label.

Here is where you will find real live coffee plants growing on the side of tables. For me, those plants tell stories that can’t be read about in the 200 coffee-related titles in the library on site and being able to touch those plants was a sensation that brought back memories and an immediate connection from the Pacific Northwest to the mountains in Colombia.

The next day I took the light rail to visit the Seattle neighbourhood called Columbia City. It took just minutes from downtown to arrive at Café Umbria. Espresso with Nutella was the perfect treat to start the day. The coffee was so rich and filling, breakfast was unnecessary.

Food writer friend, Joe Ray, recommended Empire Espresso Bar. Ray, who is used to deadlines, says Empire is the fuel he often needed.

“You will have electricity coming out of your fingers after an espresso there,” he promises.

The espresso did have an electrical zing that was not expected and gave a jolt of memories. In Columbia City was where I found the awareness that Colombia can be more than a memory but taste, smell and recognition, all contained in a cup of coffee.