My Student profile

Hi,
I’ve been on a long break from blogging to work on my dissertation which is due for submission in less than a month :(. However my vain side would not let me rest without shouting this one on the hilltops.
Well today as I was going about my jolly business, I get a Facebook notification; lo and behold, it’s a link to my very own student profile page on the Edge Hill University website….imagine all the colors that came alive in my face :D. Well here’s the link to My Profile
have a nice read

http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/profiles/obi-onuorah

 

Whereabouts in England

Hi there again,

I’m in London again for the second time in ten days, and trust me you don’t want to know why I am here again.

But I was thinking of all the places in England I have been to and what took me there and what I liked most about them. Sadly the list is very short and as usual, I will keep it in bullet points…. enjoy

Ormskirk: small picturesque village, perfect for a uni town because its far enough away from distractions but near enough so you have somewhere to blow off steam when the studying gets tough. Not very much to buy except on the twice a week market days, sadly the town thins out horribly when the Edge Hill Uni is on vacation 🙁

Liverpool: nice city, very many sights to see. My personal favourite is the docks. There are loads of very interesting museums and art galleries if that’s your thing, you can even follow the life of the Beattles, right here. And then ofcourse there are the Liverpool FC and Everton football stadiums.

Manchester: one word..PERFECT. Metropolitan, picturesque, huge but not confusing like London which i will discuss in a bit, there’s loads of enormous universities so the city never thins out, not like that kind of city even needs a uni to be full. If I had to pick where I’d live in England, it would definitely be Manchester, as if that were not enough, it is the home of the greatest football club in history MANCHESTER UNITED!!!!

London: beautiful, splendid, wonderful sights, massive city with a very complex and expensive transportation system. Its the perfect place for the occasional holiday or the hard cracking business visit, but if and only if I had my say, I wouldn’t live in London. If you do come here however, you must see Trafalgar square, the Buckingham palace, London bridge, the Eye..oo i could go on and on but I’m sure by now you get it!

Bournemouth: was here on an away weekend with some friends, went clay shooting in a nearby town, wonderful place for a night out, a pebble beach even though I prefer the traditional sand beaches. All in all, it was a very ok kind of place…

SouthPort: I loved the beach and the pier. Southport is somewhere between a city and a town! Quite large and metropolitan, but without the hustle bustle of Manchester and London. Southport has lots of nice shops, interesting recreation, a park and many other sights. It’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway…if you know what I mean 😉

Well that’s it. I might be updating this list soon, possible with places outside England when I can manage!

Bye for now.

Keeping safe online 2

In quite an uncharacteristic fashion, I decided last week to deviate from my regular banter to talk about keeping safe online, a subject which is very important to everyone who uses the internet, yes I mean you reading this right now!
I remember when there was a sudden spate of people’s email accounts getting hacked into. Identities were stolen, personal details of one’s acquaintances were also compromised and in many cases, fraud was committed with this information. And then we heard of the concept of social engineering. Criminals and good ol’ weirdos would stalk a person online, gaining access to information about them from their online profiles on social networks because their privacy settings were loosely set or by profile hopping from secondary level friends or acquaintances whose privacy setting were gapping. These weirdos would then use the information they gleaned to groom their victims for one nefarious purpose or the other.
And so back to our big question from last week: cross account sign-in, is it that much of a blessing?
Well the answer is a rather dodgy yes and no. In fact, every benefit like a two edged sword has its own caveats. Take for instance the fact that you no longer have to remember different usernames and passwords in order to access different website and web resources. This is good but it also means that the potential hacker also only has to compromise one account to gain access to your entire life and he doesn’t need to remember usernames and passwords. Also, your account information is only as secure as the platform where you have elected to host your real account and with the recent myriad of corporate system compromise by hackers, who knows which of these platforms will be next. So am I saying you should not link your social network and other accounts – NO. Am I saying that these providers are not secure – no. Am I saying you should stay locked away in a prehistoric cave because hackers prowl the internet – most definitely not!
So how do you make the best of these new technologies and still keep yourself reasonably sae online, well here are a few steps you can take
• Uncheck remember me: many of us would like never to enter our username and password again and so we check the ‘remember me’ or ‘keep me signed in’ button every time we sign into our accounts. Although some may think that this is safe on your own computer, but you will find that if you form the habit of checking that box, or leaving it checked, you will find yourself doing the same on public or unsafe computers and that’s like leaving home with your front door wide open
• Log out when you finish: Yes it means you will have to go through the mortifying pain of logging in again when you come back, but it definitely beats the inconvenience of your account being compromised.
• Log out from the host account: as a follow up to the previous point, it’s often best to logout from the main account (e.g. if you log into other sites through facebook, always sign out from facebook). This would normally log you out of other websites which use your facebook login.
• Get a good antivirus/spyware program: the importance of this cannot be overstated. Some people’s personal computers and even some public computers are a Pandora’s box of malicious programs waiting to be opened. It doesn’t have to cost u an arm and a leg, there are tonnes of free ones which are sufficient as long as you keep them updated.
• Avoid writing your login details on loose papers: for heaven’s sake if you have just one set of login details, it’s not too much to ask that you actually remember it.
• Do send your login details to someone else via email. Emails are hardly the best way to secure information and their contents can usually be sniffed easily on a wireless network. Also, if your email account is ever hacked, any lingering login credentials in your sent items, inbox or deleted items folder will be at the mercy of the hacker.
• Double check: double check everything, form the habit of taking time to ensure that you have done every thing right aand logged out, ended all sessions and closed all windows when you are leaving your computer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but I hope it will be of immense help to everyone as we all try to keep safe online.
Browse Safely!

Keeping Safe Online

This week, I have decided to take a break from the regular chatter and discuss something somewhat serious. For those of you who do not know, one of the elements of my Masters course in Edge Hill University is Information Security and a pervasive part of that field is Internet security. Nowadays, people rely so much on the internet in order to run their daily lives. One way or another, we all make use of the internet, hell I’ve seen a couple of toddler profiles on facebook.

Matter of fact is, if you are reading this blog, you too are an internet user, what differs is how each individual uses the internet, but then again, this distinction seems to get thinner and thinner with each passing day. Almost every internet users use email! Whether yahoo, MSN, gmail etc, we’ve all got one somewhere. And then there is the social network phenomenon: facebook, twitter, linkedin etc. And then we have the ubiquitous blog, website, forum where a lot of people find answers to their problems, avenues to let themselves loose and a platform to showcase themselves. And then there are times when we really can’t distinguish between our social network platform and our email provider (facebook email and google buzz!!! :-/ )

In the past, we had to maintain a user name and password for all of our online accounts, and so we might have as well been a different person in every different online environment. Different sites had different authentication and security requirements and we had to battle with remembering user names and password combinations. And then someone though of using email addresses as usernames and it was the fad for a while.

Enter Web 2.0, social platforms and open authentication and the dynamics of user registration evolved dramatically. Not only did we not have to use a different username and password but in many cases we didn’t even have to fill a form to register anymore or sign in to get access to our profiles across different independent sites. It seemed like life couldn’t get any better. And then recently, we began to see cross email platform registration. The ability to sign into your email using your facebook login, accessing your yahoo email using your gmail login. It seems too good to be true, right? Before you answer lets backtrack a bit.

Read part 2 of Keeping Safe online for the answer to that question, the caveats to be careful for and how to keep yourself and your friends safe online.

 

On dinners and things

Now that my stay in Edge Hill is fast approaching its end, I think back on some of the ‘grander’ moments in my experience and I cannot help but smile as I am overwhelmed with nostalgia…Ok before we get too mushy, lets jump in and get this wagon moving.

Some of my favourite activities on campus (second only to the nights out!) were the dinners. In the past year there have been several dinners but I as an international student have sadly only been invited to two, but then this was more than enough!

The first was the Thanksgiving dinner in October last year, in celebration of the American thanksgiving festival. I can quite appreciate the need for this as we had a very ‘healthy’ American student population. A rare chance too see so many beautiful people all nicely dressed, the thanksgiving dinner was indeed a very colourful event. The most interesting part however, was the food! It was my first American thanksgiving dinner so as you would expect I was eager to try out the typical American thanksgiving dinner. I was quite impressed as my previous impression of the American diet was a picture of two large bright yellow arches with the word “MacDonalds” emblazoned below. Well it is safe to say that my previous impressions were wrong. I particularly love the apple pie though I wasn’t adventurous enough to try the pumpkin pie. The food even managed to taste a bit different from the typical ‘blandry’ that English cooking is popular for.

The second was the common wealth dinner. Another very colorful event saw students from different countries coming in their native attires. I came in a jacket, couldn’t even be bothered wearing a tie :/. And as you would expect, the Americans who never cease to amaze you when you least expect it all showed up in….T-Shirts and jeans! Anyway, on to the food, we had an exotic selection of delicacies from different parts of the world. They even made an attempt with Nigerian chicken soup which I am afraid failed abysmally to taste anything like what the average Nigerian would keep down his stomach, but we had to smile and act like it was a good attempt!

All in all, I’ve had loads of fun with the dinners and I do look forward to attending a few more before I leave if the opportunity presents itself! Let me know what your own experiences are with dinners and the food you’ve had to experiment with, or just drop a line to say hi 😉

Night in Ormy

The typical English day ends with a chat with friends and acquaintances old and new, over a few drinks in one of the local pubs…or if you are a student in Edge Hill University, a night out in the town at The Alpine Bar and Club or The Styles. Of course a lot of the time it’s a decent combination of both 😀

So whats a typical night out like in Ormskirk? Well first lets put Ormy in perspective. It’s a small market town about 30mins from the city of Liverpool. it’s home to Edge Hill University and surrounded by a few other towns. The night life crew comprises mostly of students, who cannot help but have a good time every so often to blow off the steam from the school work, though for some especially freshers, it seems like school work blows off the steam from the nights out!

Then we have the local league, people from the local area who just like the students need to blow off the steam after a hard day at work selling kebabs and things ;).  And finally, we have the away teams which come from far and wide. The most popular of these are the ladies and lads from skelm (for Skelmersdale), a neighbouring town with a predominantly residential population, a bevy of pretty ladies and nothing of a decent place to go out! And so they all find their way to Ormy somehow! And then we are sometimes graced by the presence of the Liverpudlians, who have scoured the clubs of Liverpool and seem not to be able to get the kick from those surroundings and decide to make the 30 minute drive down to Ormy for their night out fix.

All in all, as the various participants in the nights events converge in their various venues of choice, you cannot help but look forward to a most interesting night with the best music and very often, cheap drinks 😉

Judgement day Nights Out

Hello again,
The judgement day weekend was an intense one for me. I had a friend celebrate their birthday on the said day of apocalypse (weird!!!) after which a group of us went on to Liverpool for a most memorable night out! We were in several clubs over a period of four hours, as you would imagine in a city like Liverpool, the city centre was bubbling with activity until the wee hours of the morning as if there was a clearance sale market in the area.
As we went from one club to the next, I could not help but notice how most of the clubs were hurdled together in one area with several of them having their front entrances staring each other eyeball to eyeball in aggressive comradeship. I could not help noticing however, how each club had a unique theme and a very different atmosphere (almost an aura) that made the music sound different even though they were probably all playing tunes from the same playlist!
People were able to walk freely out from one club to the next and with the constant torrents of bodies walking in and out of the club entrances and on the streets, it seemed everyone wanted to have a taste of everything before the night was over.
Night activities here went on until people saw the sun thankfully at this time of the year that happens at about half past four a.m. allowing us just about enough time to get home, grab a bite, catch a quick nap and head off to the train station to return to the serenity of ormskirk. While riding on the train back home, I began to flash back and compare my nights out in Ormy with the nights out in liverpool; a world apart was the only thing I could use to describe them but that the topic of another blog.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll talk about nights out in Ormy and other parts of England I’ve been to.
Cheers

The beginning of the end

Hello Again,

WOW, it so amazing how time has flown by since I came here in September 2010. As a matter of fact, for me, the journey began in mid 2009 with a text message which was my ticket into the scholarship competition that has brought me to study at Edge Hill University. Almost 2 years after I participated in that competition, I am staring the end of my Masters degree program straight in the face.

It all dawned on me on the 11th of May, when I wrote my last examination for the semester and for my entire program. I felt a familiar nostalgia pretty much like what I felt when I finished my final exams during my undergraduate programme. And now with all of that behind me, all I have left is to write my dissertation and I can lay down my academic regalia once again. Who knows if it will be for the last time or whether I will be back down the glory road of attaining greater academic heights…. Well I guess time answers all questions and we can only wait and see.

It’s been a wonderful year, I have met some very wonderful people from all over the world, I have also met some not so wonderful people but I guess they are as important in the experience as any others. Anyway, I stil have quite a bit of time ahead of me and still a lot to see and learn so I will save the euphoric speech for when it is actually needed. Right now, I’m going to relax, watch some very good movies and think about what I am going to write in my dissertation/project that will get me that 60 credit A grade that I want more than anything right now….

Catch ya 🙂

 

Trip to Southport

Hi there again,

A lot has gone down in the last few weeks and I will hopefully try to share it all over the next few blog posts. Since I started my studies at Edge Hill University, I’ve been involved in quite a lot! We’ve had two dinners which I will be blogging about in the coming weeks; I have been to see London where I had quite an amazing experience! Recently, I went with Ruki and Jeanine to the city of SouthPort. I have to admit it was very different from what I expected. Having been to much larger neighbouring cities like Manchester, Preston and Liverpool, I think my expectations were rather high L I was however not totally disappointed, for where SouthPort fell short in the pomp of big city appeal, it more than made up for in beauty and a picturesque surrounding.

On getting to Southport, we had lunch at the Subway which I am afraid was another thumbs down. Then we walked to the beach. Now this was the highlight of the entire experience. We also walked down the Pier which was quite a marvellous experience. One other fascinating thing was how the tide went in so far during the day that there was no water in sight from the beach. Even after an almost 15 minute walk in the direction of the water, we were still not rewarded with even a glimpse! Of course the strong sea wind subtly discouraged us from venturing any further.

We got to Southport rather late and there was so much we were unable to do but I am sure that I will be making another missionary journey to Southport in no distant time. Well that’s all for now. Until I come back at you with more of my adventures and experiences…. Arriverdeci

 

Final dissertations and the like

So I just had this intense almost two-hour conversation with my dissertation supervisor on possible dissertation topics. To give this a bit of background, I am studying for a M.Sc. in Information Security and IT Management. My professional background is in software development and I opted to study Information Security and IT Management over Information Systems or Software Engineering as would normally be expected. The reason for this was plain and simple grandiose thirst for adventure into the unknown… I must admit, it’s been one heck of an adventure!
So I’m close to the end of my course and I’ve had all my course work handed in, placement done and all that’s left is the Almighty Dissertation. Even the name gives me shivers, like saying Mufasa around the hyenas in Lion King – Dissertation, Mufasa eeek. Anyway let’s get back to it!
So my conversation with my supervisor centred on finding a topic for me to work on and what options I really had. Being the kind of tutor that he is, my supervisor consistently shied away from out rightly giving me a list of options for me to choose from and rather wanted to pick at my own mind to see what areas I was interested in. So we talked about security around identity preservation and theft with respect to chip and pin cards. Basically, your ATM credit or debit cards come with a small golden circuit box called the chip which is capable of holding small amounts of data such as your card pin etc. Hackers have learnt to create spoof cards which POS terminals authenticate even with dummy passwords and the like. The idea would be to research the chip and pin technology and architecture, possible security flaws and their exploitations and if possible recommend solutions to these flaws, maybe even develop a prototype implementation who knows!
Next we talked about the somewhat scary area of steganograghy which would probably see me trying to develop or at least research possible alternative ways of hiding steganographic data. Possible applications would include areas like concealing information in corporations like Sony for instance, which last week lost almost 100 million personal records of its gaming customers to hackers. The Sony issue in itself is a whole other story so I’ll leave that here for now.
Finally, also along the lines of identity theft, we discussed cross site authentication using OAuth (open authentication) and the possible security implications when your email is accessible via the same authentication mechanism as your login to a file sharing site which for all intents and purposes could be a malicious front to obtain authentication details from unsuspecting subscribers!
At the end of the day, I pretty much have my task cut out for me and I hope I will sooner than later figure out which of these three very interesting areas I want to take the plunge into over the next few months…either way it’s a plunge into a cold and dark ocean!