#TechEd 2012: Uncle Sam Wants You to Learn Stuff!

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If you use computers, smart phones, the Internet, or chipped-out credit cards, you need to learn how to protect yourself. That's what's up. These days, a good briefing on modern technology is more than just a good idea; #TechEd is our civic duty. #TechEd is the new "learning not to play with fire". As we wade further into the deep end of this e-pool, with every e-footstep comes the mounting risk of fatal e-electrocution. True. With all these devices and more of our lives being defined in code every day, we will inevitably find ourselves at the mercy of the electronic equivalent of bag snatchers. E-Bags, if you will. These aren't master hackers, or whatever. These aren't your [c0mrades](http://andthatsjazz.org/wbglinks/pages/interviews/comrade.html) (RIP), your [Zero Cools](http://jananeibauer.blogspot.com/2011/05/hack-planet.html), or even your Dexter Douglases. These are just random jerks with a computer and just enough reason to figure it out. Even so, cyber crimes like identity theft [cost United States households, like, $13.3 billion in 2010](http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/press/itrh0510pr.cfm). But what can you do? Seems like, truth be told, not much. If these criminals are able to fell The Department of Justice website, and snake files out of places like Stratfor, then what chance do we have? Somini Sengupta over at that other New York paper, Yesterday's News?I mean, The Times, [mused recently on how the bright side](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/technology/the-bright-side-of-being-hacked.html?_r=2)of this #HackAttack super-trend sounds "the alarm about the unguarded state of corporate computer systems." Fair enough, but I hear another alarm. It's coming from our bedside tables, it's telling us that we need to get up, shoot a 5-Hour Energy, and get to work. Big companies and government agencies aren't the only ones who need to learn a little about The System. I'm not saying that we should all go out and become computer scientists, or even[DIY robot hobbyists](http://hackaday.com/2012/03/20/humanoid-robot-will-eventually-take-over-the-world/), though if you did manage to scrape together something excellent, @Kickstarter might just make you a mint. Either way, if you're going to live in the Age of the Nerds, you may want to don a pocket protector just so they know whose side you're on. "When in ROM..." as they say, "?read-only." There are a number of resources out on the Internet to get you up to snuff. Startups like [Treehouse](http://teamtreehouse.com/)and[Codecademy](http://www.codecademy.com)look to [make your learning fun](http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/39926/?ref=rss). If you've got a touch of the artist in you, [Processing](http://http://www.processing.org/) is a language aimed at satisfying the need for instant gratification by serving as a sort of code sketchpad. Moving through the many tutorials, users harness the power of the Processing language to[create arts](http://vimeo.com/22955812). Actually cool! While Treehouse costs a good scrap, 25 monthly bucks for the intro package, they do boast a huge number of instructional videos, and helpful texts. I can't think of anywhere else you'd get such a great deal from obviously knowledgeable people?oh, wait?I did once hear that some two-bit school was offering full introductory courses to Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics online and totally for free. What school was that? That's right: damn Stanford University. Through the [Stanford Engineering Everywhere](http://see.stanford.edu/see/courseinfo.aspx?coll=824a47e1-135f-4508-a5aa-866adcae1111)program, you can get a world class education from the comfort of your own tax deductible home/office (that's what web developers call their studio apartments, btw), all it'll cost you is time. Speaking of-and, trust me, I know the market value on seconds these days-the good folks at Lifehacker recently mentioned [how just thirty minutes a day can make all the difference](http://lifehacker.com/5892446/dedicate-30-minutes-a-day-to-learn-something-new)when you're learning something new. I'm not talking about those 30 minute pay courses, either. Really. Just sit down for 30 minutes a day and practice. Remember, fellow Netizens: ask not what your computer can do to you, ask your computer to do anything you want it to. Follow @44carib on @Twitter just because!

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