College Courses That Every SMCC Student Should Take

By Mohammed Omane

College can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but sometimes a little recommendation can save you a semester of stress or help you gain the most for your money. I’ve compiled a list of five courses that I think every SMCC student should take if they need one or two more classes for the semester. These courses will not only help you in your academic future, but will teach you important life skills that I think everyone could benefit from. These courses are not part of the general requirements, and most are electives.

1. Personal Finance (BUSN 115)
One of the most crucial skills that many students are not taught in high school is being financially stable. This class has so much applicable material to everyday life. From understanding the topic of insurance to doing taxes, the knowledge from this course will still be used 30 years down the road.

2. Foreign Language (SPAN, FREN, CHN, GERM)
Being monolingual in a very globalized society. Learning a new language, whether you take Spanish and French here at SMCC or take Chinese and German at USM through the GPACU partnership, could really add a lot to your perspective. The added physical benefits and mental fitness a second language provides are also vast. It might be challenging now, but down the road, traveling will be so much more fun and meeting new people will be that much easier.

3. Creative Writing (ENGL 200)
Introductory English only scratches the surface of exposing students to their writing potential. Creative writing teaches you the techniques and strategies of captivating your readers with your next essay or article. This can be applied to so many aspects of a student’s career, from writing scholarship essays to an attention-grabbing cover-letter for that summer internship.

4. Macroeconomics (ECON 125)
Government changes are always happening — from tax cuts to increases in government spending. Understanding how these affect you could save you the surprise of price increases or rises in interest rates on your loans. We hear a lot of economic terms thrown at us every day on the news, social media, and even in conversations with friends. This course will teach you how to perceive these changes in policy and how you could benefit from them.

5. Drawing (ARTS 110)
This is probably one of my favorite courses. Drawing is a calming activity that can help you de-stress after a long lab session or work day. This course, while teaching you all about the arts, allows you to be creative and express yourself through all sorts of material.


Kindness Korner

By The Kindness Mama

Illustration by Sosanya Pok

Another two weeks have passed and still nothing has come into my inbox about any random acts of kindness. Now we are into our last few weeks of our spring 2018 semester and finals are looming around the corner for most of us students at SMCC. I too have finals and have been hard at work getting the final touches done on study guides, passing in any reports and assignments that are due and preparing to pull an all-nighter studying for my exam(s).

With finals on my mind and knowing I needed caffeine to get me through the last of my two classes for the week, I headed over to the campus center for a cup of my favorite coffee from Starbucks. Starbucks is one of the greatest additions to the campus in my time here at SMCC. As I was walking to the line, which was now growing to 10 people, I quickly glanced at my watch and was trying to gauge if I did indeed have enough time to grab a cup of my favorite joe or if I should hightail it out of there and off to my next class.

I must have had the look of a sleepwalker or the walking dead, or had desperation on my face, because the very next person in line asked me if I wanted to go before them. I couldn’t believe it. Out of total disbelief I pointed to myself and asked, “Are you talking to me?” The kind handsome gentleman nodded and responded with a smile: “Yes, I am. Don’t we have class together in five minutes?” I nodded and ever so weakly said I was sorry to all that were in line in front of me.

Now, I normally would never ever do this on a normal day, but this was not a normal day. I had just come from a group presentation that our group had nailed, which was a miracle unto itself, as I had a family emergency and was not as prepared as I should have been. I was almost late for said presentation because of the lack of parking spots available, but was able to find one with only minutes to spare, and because of my time restrictions I had been unable to grab anything for lunch, and it was now almost time for dinner. So, yes, I cut the line; after apologizing to everyone, I paid for my coffee and was in class on time with only seconds to spare.

Now I will pay this forward: I will allow someone else to cut me in line, buy a stranger, fellow student or staff personnel a cup of coffee and keep the kindness wheel rolling. Some of you may not think of this as a random act of kindness, but for me it was so much more!


Chasing the Dead in Ireland

By Randall Delaware

The Butler Arms Hotel in County Kerry, Ireland, owned by the author’s family since 1916. Photo by Randall Delaware. 

My grandmother, who lived in Derry, New Hampshire, asked me, I think, in late summer of 1984, after I returned from a summer in Europe, “Did you visit Ireland?” I said “No.” And then this woman of 96 years old said, “I suppose everyone I know is dead now anyway.” I felt bad that I didn’t visit my grandmother’s hometown and that I hadn’t any information from relatives to bring to her.

About 2001 or 2002, I received Irish citizenship, and I wanted to learn more about my grandmother’s Ireland. I contacted an American cousin living in Massachusetts, who was the granddaughter of my grandmother’s sister. She was raised Catholic, her grandfather’s religion, yet didn’t know her grandmother was originally Protestant. Her grandmother was baptized through the “Church of Ireland” back in County Kerry in Munster Province in Ireland. This sparked some curiosity, because my grandmother said people “got along.” So I read several books on Ireland, and I learned a lot. This I’ll share with you.

In the late 1500s and early 1600s the English organized two settlements in Ireland. The best known is the Ulster Settlement in Northern Ireland. The settlement in the south, in what is now the Republic of Ireland, was the Munster Settlement. The Ulster settlement rewarded loyalists to England with land. This land, which was confiscated after war, was taken from the wealthy native Irish and the Catholic Church. The land division and grants were given out in roughly three equal amounts between English settlers, Scots settlers and native Irish. The Irish portions was mostly granted in 3,000-acre lots, while the English portions was mostly granted in 2,000-acre lots, and the Scottish portions in mostly-1,000 acre lots, thus giving land to a larger number of Scots. The book “The Plantation of Ulster” by Philip Robinson, a historical geography, gave me greater insight into the history of Northern Ireland.

The Munster Settlement was not easily settled, because many an Englishman didn’t want to venture into Ireland and southwest Ireland was certainly “beyond the pale.” That expression may cause some confusion to the unfamiliar, but just think of “pale” as a protective fence keeping dangerous people outside. At one time anything outside of Dublin was considered “beyond the pale.”

What England resorted to was to send the Palatines, German Protestants from the Rhineland escaping continued war; the Huguenots, French Protestants who fled France for England and other Protestant countries to avoid torture, imprisonment and death for practicing a different religion; and former British soldiers, granted land for military service. Michael MacCarthy-Morrough has written a fine account of this settlement in “The Munster Plantation: English Migration to Southern Ireland, 1583-1641.”

So how did my Protestant ancestors get along with their Catholic co-inhabitants? There were some difficulties, but nothing of the scale and duration of Northern Ireland, which another branch of my family left in the 1700s to move to Maine. These settlers did not own the land that they farmed, because some powerful men in London received the land grants and leased the land to settlers. Typically, these landowners never left England. The settlers not only paid to use the land but also had to pay a tithe or tax on the bounty from their rented land.

My grandmother grew up in County Kerry, although it was County Limerick where the Palatines and others first settled. It’s County Kerry that I want to write about. Perhaps you have heard of the “Ring of Kerry”? Well, that’s the area. The Catholics and Protestants on this western coast got along okay. There was one skirmish, which left one Protestant dead, as told to me by my Irish-born cousin, who, like me, has a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, and is descended from another of my grandmother’s sisters.

When I first met Cousin George, a fellow hobby genealogist, and a Trinity College Dublin graduate with a history degree, he brought me to his parents’ home, where his mother, not a fan of genealogy, admonished us: “Stop Chasing the Dead!”

But anyhow, let me continue. County Kerry was where Daniel O’Connell, the first Irish Catholic Minister of Parliament in London representing Ireland, was born. The O’Connell home is about 10 miles down the road from my grandmother’s birthplace. Daniel O’Connell’s family had a relative, whose family was native Irish but Protestant by choice, which allowed many privileges. O’Connell’s family was wealthy, and very interesting. O’Connell’s uncle, “the Colonel,” was one of the “Wild Geese” who fought for the French in France, a country that England wanted to prevent from getting a foothold in Ireland. “The Last Colonel of the Irish Brigade,” by Morgan John O’Connell, provides a better understanding of this leader of the “Wild Geese.”

Additionally, the O’Connells were smugglers. Cognac was one such item smuggled in, and this Catholic family didn’t hesitate to sell their goods to wealthy Protestants, who had a taste for French spirits. County Kerry also had its small share of Catholic/Protestant weddings. Which church the mother, father and kids went to just depended on the family. One such arrangement was the mother and children going to the Catholic Church and the father going to the Protestant Church. The book “Daniel O’Connell: Nationalism Without Violence,” by Raymond Morley, gives a wonderful description on life in Ireland in the early 1800s.
Life in the early 1900s was different, and many an American of Irish ancestry knows of U2’s song “Bloody Sunday” about the war in Ireland. So what happened in County Kerry? Well, World War I broke out in 1914, and many Irish Protestant and Irish Catholic sons fought in the Great War against Germany. But also during this time period the Anglo-Irish War broke out, which was followed in the early 1920s by the Irish Civil War, which had the IRA fighting the IRA, disagreeing over the division of Ireland into two countries. American-born Eamon de Valera would survive the Civil War, and Michael Collins would die in an ambush. These were two of the great figures in the Irish Civil War. Collins was sent by de Valera to negotiate with the British and was blamed for the division of Ireland into two parts.

What gave rise to Britain’s willingness to grant independence to the 26 counties in Ireland was Germany’s powerful onslaught in France, which required as much manpower as Britain could get. The British, not needing to prolong a big war in Ireland, offered independence if helped by the Irish against Germany.

Anyhow, my grandmother’s uncle, who was a Protestant in Waterville, County Kerry, bought the Butler Arms Hotel in 1916, which is still owned by the family to this day. To buy a hotel during the Anglo-Irish War says something about my family’s relations with Catholics in this area. When my great grandmother died in the 1920s, her obituary noted that the procession was large due to the numerous Catholics attending my great grandmother’s funeral. She was well liked.

The Bay View Hotel in Waterville was also owned by another relative, but was recently sold to purchase another in Killarney, County Kerry. But, if you ever go to Waterville, you’ll see a statue of the actor Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), whose hotel of choice, during his summer vacations, was the Butler Arms Hotel. Waterville is a nice little village on the southwest coast of Ireland, with a nearby golf course. In nearby Caherciveen, which has three spellings and where my grandmother called her childhood home, there is an Englishman named Mr. Cooke, who will take you trap shooting for a fee. He is married to an Irish woman, whom he followed back to Ireland. There are some excellent restaurants nearby; at one, the bartender and wait staff advertise Mr. Cooke’s shotgun shooting business.

Another book, which reads a little like a textbook, but which gives readers a good understanding of the development of labor unions in Ireland, is “The Trade Union Pint: The Unlikely Union of Guinness and the Larkins” by Martin Duffy. The Guinness family, an Irish Protestant family, established the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. The company had always been one of the highest paying companies in Ireland. But, although they continued to be the best paying company in Ireland, they failed to keep sharing their increased wealth with the workers until Jim Larkin Jr. and the Workers Union of Ireland (WUI) persuaded Guinness to change. Jim Larkin Jr. was able to improve working conditions and introduce methods of communication that aided Guinness by allowing feedback from the lowest level of workers to the top level of workers. This turned out to be a win-win situation.

A statue of American actor Charlie Chaplin in Waterville, Ireland. Photo by Randall Delaware.

My last visit to Ireland was a couple of years ago. I was able to travel the country quite cheaply by bus. If you have a liking for history or are into genealogy, you’ll find much of interest in Ireland. Dublin is a great starting location. If visiting cemeteries and taking photographs is your thing, then a car or bus or train will get you there.

Dublin is where the National Archives are held, which possesses the 1901 and 1911 census records. Listed are my grandmother and my great grandparents. My great-grandparents are listed as speaking both English and Irish (or Gaelic, the Latin term).

I hope I provided you with books to read and a better understanding of lesser-known facts. If you ever visit Ireland, the drinking age is 18, so have a pint of Guinness or Baileys Original Irish Cream.

Understanding DRM

tech talk

By Adam Barber

As we very rapidly transition into a digital world, the content that we consume — our entertainment — has gone from a physical copy you can hold to something that you access via a device or platform. I’m talking about music, movies, TV shows and video games. The concept of owning a movie or a video game has gone from having the disc in your hands to having access to a file on a server. Sure, you could download it, but many times you can only use the piece of entertainment through a designated platform or a certain number of times. Sometimes you need an internet connection to access the content, or you are unable to make a backup copy of the media you have purchased. What stops these downloads from being downloaded and pirated throughout the internet? Why can I only watch my movie or play my music through designated platforms?

This is where Digital Rights Management (DRM) comes into play. DRM is essentially a protection for copyrighted material. It’s a method of securing content released digitally to prevent piracy and unauthorized use. DRM is a set of access control technologies that control the distribution, modification and use of the above-mentioned software and digital multimedia content, as well as devices and systems. If you were going to protect physical goods by putting a lock on them, then DRM is the digital equivalent of the lock.

It works by encrypting the digital content that is stored and transmitted so only authorized users can use it. Before the content is streamed or downloaded, it must be encrypted using multiple DRM schemes for device compatibility. Let’s say you just bought a movie from Amazon. So when a user tries to play back a video, the video player requests a key to decrypt the content from a license server. The server then determines whether the user and the device are authorized for playback. If they are, then the license server issues a decryption key. The video player can then decrypt and play the content for the user.

Is this a good thing, though? Some say yes, some say no. The general idea of DRM is to protect copyrighted material and to thwart would-be software pirates. This is to ensure that only someone who has purchased the media is able to use it, protecting the owners of the intellectual property and hopefully keeping sales numbers where they should be. There are several downsides, though.

Let’s take the computer-game industry as an example and how they implement DRM. They use several methods, but one is limited install activations. This is where the owner of the game is only allowed a limited number of installs. It’s usually about three or five. That number may seem fair, but what if a computer is reformatted or upgraded? This can be an issue for someone who is planning on playing this game for years to come on multiple computers. Another method is persistent online authentication. This is where a game must always be online to play. This is also intrusive as it forces someone to be online to play their game. What if their network is down, or the servers that are enforcing the DRM are not accessible some day?

So DRM is a complicated issue. I am all in favor of a digital future and in favor of paying full price for entertainment because I like supporting the industries and people that create it. It bothers me that a game I love, which I am totally willing to pay the full price for, may not make its money back or get a sequel because of lost sales due to piracy. I’m not sure if DRM is the answer, but it does attempt to protect the industries that create content.

Some are saying that relaxing the restrictions of DRM may actually be beneficial. Look at the content that is available on YouTube. Some artists are happy to get the word of their art out even if it means losing a few sales. What is lost at first may be gained via new revenue through an unofficial copy. DRM-free is actually regarded as a good thing to many, and even is looked at as good marketing. If the price is right, some people are happy to support DRM-free media and play video, music, or a game through any medium they see fit. It’s an interesting argument and one that affects us all in some form or another.

Adam Barber is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is planning a career in network and systems administration.

Password Security and Why It Is Important

tech talk

By Joshua Duplessis

As a college student pursuing a degree in Information Technology, passwords have been a big interest to me. Passwords are what keep us secure when a majority our of social and financial interaction has migrated online. The pace of our greater and greater reliance on technology for the sake of convenience is putting us more at risk for security breaches. The reason for that is 61 percent of people have admitting to using the same password for multiple accounts. If one company that you have an account with gets hacked and uses the same password as another online service you have, that other service has a chance of getting compromised as well. In 2016 even Mark Zuckerberg did this and got his LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest accounts compromised for using the same password. (I don’t know what’s funnier, that it happened to Mark Zuckerberg or that he has a Pinterest.)

An average U.S. citizen has around 130 online accounts attached to an email address. Let’s say 10 percent of those 130 companies do not store your password securely: 13 of those companies could easily get hacked and that hacker could have all your account information, and some of those accounts could be tied to financial institutions. So how can we prevent ourselves from being hacked and having our security compromised?

First, by making a password that meets complexity standards, with at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number 0-9, and one distinctive character (~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|\(){}[]:;”’<>,.?/). Having just a complex password alone help in an immense way.

Another way to help with password security is to use something called a passphrase. Instead of using a password that is just a single word in the dictionary, use a combination of words to make a phrase while still meeting the complex-password rule set.

One last tip would to be to make sure you change your password frequently. Tips on strengthening your password may only go so far, though; how companies store your information is just as important or even more important. No matter how strong your password is, if the company isn’t secure, a hacker will still get your information.

One way to know if a company you have an account with is secure is if it has a two-way authentication tool, which texts or emails you a code when you try to log in. This security feature adds another layer on top of your strong password, and the likelihood of some hacker getting your information is not likely. Two-way authentication is becoming more of a common thing now. Most social media sites and Google will let you set up two-way authentication. Banking applications are starting to implement biometric authentication, which requires your face, voice or fingerprint to log in.

Our online lives are growing every day, and with more online accounts, there are more passwords we are going to have to remember. I hope this made you more conscious of your data footprint as you go online today and take what type of data you put on the web and the integrity of the website you trust.