My buddy Rob and I gave a presentation at a local High School yesterday.   Let’s be very clear about something… I’m not very good at public speaking.  Even if the people that I’m speaking too are 15-18 year olds.  I’m not good at it, I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it.  So why do it?  Well, we had important information.  As I understand it the conversation that got me roped into this went something like this:

Teacher: Hackers are people that break into computers and do bad stuff.
MyAdoptiveNiece: Umm… my Dad and Uncle Tommy are hackers and they work for a major national bank.
Teacher: Oh?
MyAdoptiveNiece: Yeah… 
This conversation made it back to Rob and he had a chat with the a teacher about what “Hacker” means in this context and about the difference between “Hackers” and “Crackers”.  In the process he agreed that we would stop by and have a chat with her class about the topic.  The teacher asked if we would mind talking to several classes while we were there which sounded great… until I found out that I’d be presenting to about 150 students in an auditorium.  I still wasn’t sold on the idea until the teacher asked  if we would mind adding content about online safety and that’s when I was bought in.  It’s one thing for me to not like presenting.  It’s quite another to be able to provide an “outside” view of what these kids are putting on the Internet.  
I didn’t do very well in the presentation but that was rather expected.  However, we got a lot of information to the kids and managed to get a few laughs out of it.  Most of them were very engaged in the conversation and they asked a few questions that were fantastic.  I was VERY surprised when one of the students asked, “what’s the highest level of encryption that you’ve ever cracked”.
I talked about “hackers” what that means and how you can turn the concepts into every day values.  Rob tacked about “crackers” and drove home the point that they’re generally not considered “hackers” but more “script kiddies”.  I followed that up with a talk on Ethics and Rob finished up with the largest part of the conversation on Online Safety.  In truth, everything up to that point was the “bait” and the Online Safety bit was the “switch”. But the previous examples gave us enough credability to have them pay attention to the last section which was the overall goal.
I didn’t like it.  I wasn’t happy with my performance.  I’m VERY happy to have done it and have agreed to return next semester to have a second go at it.
Mad Presentation Skillz

2 thoughts on “Mad Presentation Skillz

  • October 23, 2008 at 1:31 am

    You used to fly out of Clow (C09)? That’s interesting… Clow is 1C5. How’d you ever find it? Especially when you’re GPS is taking you to Morris every time?

  • October 23, 2008 at 4:28 am

    How did I find it? When your GPS takes you to the wrong airport you just follow the interstate north until you find the blue water tower.

    Still, it’s a fair point. It’s been a few years and I was more interested in commenting on the story than in getting the identifiers correct. Morris a nice wide runway which usually has good crosswinds and makes for good crosswind practice. I used to fly between the two airports all of the time so 1C5 and C09 are pretty close in my thinking. One would hope that I’d notice the error if I were flying in that area again.


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