What is the big deal with Scott Forstall leaving Apple? 0

Late last week, Apple announced that Scott Forstall was leaving the company. Many newbies to Mac, iDevices, and Apple in general may not know what the big deal is. Well, here’s the story:

Scott Forstall was an integral part of the design team for many Apple products. Not all of his decisions, however, were well received by the general public. They were also not well received by other bigwigs at Apple either, which led to the current situation.

Forstall was a huge proponent of a design theory called skeuomorphism, which is – in short – application of physical-world textures to digital vision. Basically things like the leather texture and stitching on things like the iPad calendar and some of the icons (like Find My Friends) on other iDevices are a great example of this design philosophy. Textures and “look and feel” points from real-world objects (desk calendars and leather covers) are applied to purely non-physical concepts (digital calendars and icons). For some folks, the merging of the real-world and the digital world makes software more humanized and easier to relate to. For others, the “window dressing” takes up valuable screen real-estate and doesn’t offer any true benefit.

Until recently, most people had seen and used desk calendars and blank notebooks with physical covers to write things in at least at some point in their lives on a daily basis. Today, there is an entire generation who’s gone mostly paperless, and may not even relate to the skeuomorphic attributes of these software platforms at all. Yeah, they look nice, but they don’t add anything to the software for those folks and detract from the overall surface area that can be used for more important information.

Johnny Ive and most of the other Apple designers wanted to move in the direction of cleaner lines, with digital-focused interfaces that were recognizable both to people who worked on pen-and-paper objects and software. When the tipping point came, Ive’s group outnumbered Forstall’s group, and he was out the door.

Things also went south because Forstall was in command of the high-profile failures of Apple Maps and other mis-steps in iOS 6. The very public failure of those apps, combined with a power loss in his design philosophy meant his days with Apple were numbered.

So what does this mean for the average Apple gear user? Not a whole lot, overall, but many little things will change. Software on the Mac and iDevices will start to lose the little real-world texture touches we’ve seen over the years. That process started back with Leopard, but will become even more prevalent now. Lines will be cleaner, sharper, and more digital – with more useable screen space taken up by information and data, instead of leather and cloth textures.

Scott Forstall will be missed. Some of those skeuomorphic touches were quite beautiful, but in the end, cleaner lines and less window dressing will make devices more useable and functional. No one can debate that this is a good thing for Apple gear users.

Be careful not to post Personal Info, no matter how much you want to. 0

It’s Election Day here in the USA, and lots of folks are upset about lots of issues. Many have decided they will spout off by posting photos of themselves voting, or protesting, or just generally upset about things. Sometimes, that’s good, other times, it is VERY bad.

Don’t post photos about your Voter ID opinions – especially if that opinion photo includes your ID.

It should go without saying, but posting photos of your ID is a truly bad idea. Never post photos of your passport, your driver’s license or any other identification documents. They can be used to glean information about you that you would probably rather not let people have.

Feel free to write about your experience. Blog about it, check in on Foursquare from your polling place, but don’t post photos of your ID. Ever.

Don’t post photos of your ballot.

Not only does it defeat the premise of a secret ballot if you go and post it online, but in several states (like New York) it’s actually illegal. Specifically, posting photos of a “ballot that has been prepared for voting” is a no-no in many places around the US.

Discuss the candidates, give your opinion, even tweet who you voted for if you really want to; but don’t photograph your ballot.

Do not take photos in your polling place.

While it may not be illegal to do so (though it may very well be in your city), it’s a very bad idea to take pictures while you are around or in your polling place. The reason is simple, there are about 100 other people in the room besides you, and many would not want their photo taken. Unless you get permission from everyone in the room (unlikely) and get it in writing (nearly impossible), you should not be taking photos.

Again, check in at your polling place (without a photo) and take pictures outside of the “No Electioneering” posted signs. That should be far enough away that it’s public space and outside the realm of personal voting space.

Play it smart today. Go and vote, exercise your rights and responsibilities every year and elect those who will represent you. Just don’t share photos of it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Use your words instead, they are just as powerful and much less likely to get your identity stolen or get you in trouble with the law – at least until you vote someone in who will change them.

No matter how you dress them up, bugs are still bugs. 0


Fried bugs

The iPhone5 has not escaped some rather major bugs on launch, and as much as Apple has tried to sugar coat – or outright ignore them – in some cases, they’re still pretty major bugs. Due Disclosure, I upgraded to the iPhone 5 and like it a lot, but I’m still going to talk about the problems it has – and how to work around them.

First, Maps: Let’s get that one out of the way up front. It’s been blogged to death, so I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that Apple truly screwed up on this one. You should not be trusting Apple’s Maps App to figure out where you are, or how to get where you’re going.

Workaround: Many other map apps are available on the App Store. I use Motion-X GPS Drive for turn-by-turn navigation, mostly because it does walking directions just as easily as driving directions. I also can recommend Maps+ with the (US)$2.99 in-app upgrade. This gives you access to Google Maps until Google finally releases their own native app for iDevices. You could also just wait a bit for Apple to update their own Maps App, but there’s no street date for that yet.

Exchange Calendars: Moving on, there’s a pretty massive issue with Microsoft Exchange Calendars. If you decline an invitation you get via your Microsoft Exchange account, there is a chance that everyone invited to that meeting will get a cancellation notice. Strangely – possibly bordering on bizarrely – this isn’t a new issue, and has existed since iOS 4 in one form or another. Short story, if the calendar event gets saved on both the iDevice and the Exchange Server, and then you decline, a software glitch lets the iPhone make believe you are the meeting organizer and process the decline as a cancellation of the whole meeting.

Workaround: None yet. Believe it or not, this isn’t only Apple’s problem, as the software glitch that allows it to happen stems from a problem with Microsoft Exchange not rejecting a set of instructions that it is supposed to reject, even though the iPhone sends them anyway. Microsoft claims the instructions are not allowed for mobile email clients and shouldn’t be sent, Apple claims that since the instructions are invalid, they should be rejected by the server. The fight won’t end soon, but a software update on either the Server or the iDevices may hit in a few months to fix it until the next version of iOS does it again. In the meantime, don’t delete or decline invitations from your iPhone or iPad, instead wait until you are on a desktop or Outlook Web Access client to send the decline. Handy-to-know hint: You can reply to a message containing an invite to say you will be declining it later.

Battery Life: Those of us coming from the iPhone 4 will be shocked when looking at the battery life (or lack thereof) on the iPhone 5. Those on the 4s will probably have gotten used to four to six hour battery life, but the 4 could go eight to twelve hours of moderate use before dying out (or 3-4 hour talk time as opposed to 5-6 hour talk time on the 4). After a couple of weeks using the 5 the same way I used to use the 4, I can definitely say that the battery life is drastically shorter. There’s a few reasons for this. First is the fact that the phone got slimmer and lighter, and a lot of any phone’s weight and size is battery space. Secondly, the processors and components of any new phone will be more power hungry than the slower ones of the previous versions. So if the size of the phone limits the battery tech to only growing by a factor of 2 from the previous version, and the power consumption goes up by a factor of 4 – well, the math isn’t good.

Workaround: There are a few things you can do to extend battery life, but still use your iPhone as an iPhone and not a ridiculously expensive iPod. Turn off LTE in settings. You’ll still get basic 4G speed, which is more than good enough for most web applications, but it will use far less juice to communicate. Secondly, keep in mind that you get better battery life when you have three or four bars of service than when service is poor (yes, even with WiFi connected). In short, this is due to the phone working to transmit the same amount of data over less bandwidth and also a continual hunt for a better signal going on behind the scenes. Granted, you have very little control over signal strength, but if your home or work is in a poor service area, just keep in mind that you’ll need to charge much more often. Finally, nearly any rechargeable USB power pack, combined with a Lightning cable or 30-pin cable plus Lightning adapter, can charge you up when you’re out and about.

Scratches and cable shortages. These are not specifically bugs, as they have nothing to do with software, but they’re weighing heavily on the minds of iPhone 5 owners.

Scratches to the screen and case are pretty common for any mobile phone. They get shoved in pockets and put down on any number of various surfaces. With the back cover of the iPhone 5, however, the scratches are even more likely, and some users have reported finding scratches on phones even before they take it out of the box.

Workaround: First, carefully examine any piece of electronics you buy as soon as you open the box. Return anything that arrives in less-than-perfect condition. To keep it looking new, use a skin or case. I’d recommend that even if you didn’t have a scratch-prone device, as you’re shelling out big bucks for this hunk of tech, and should spend a few more bucks to properly protect it. Gelaskins makes hundreds of differently-designed skins for all kinds of gizmos, including the iPhone 5. As a blogger/writer, my personal favorite is the Underworld design. Also, a thin shield-type case is a good idea, I go with the Caze brand cases, as they’re thin, light and strong. For those who want more protection, there are dozens of other types of skins/shells that can withstand quite a lot of abuse. Couple this skin/shell with a high-quality screen protector (available from just about any tech retailer) and you’re set against having your new toy scuffed up five minutes after you get it.

Lack of cables: Apple chose to change the charge/sync port designed from the long-suffering 30-pin design to the new Lightning port. This isn’t a totally bad idea, as Lightning is indeed much faster and takes up a lot less space in the phone itself. The problem is that every dock/device/cable you used before to connect your iPhone to something is now useless. There is another very real added problem here, namely the fact that Apple is running short of cables and connectors, itself. You see, the cables require some very tiny electronics to be incorporated into them during production, and the components are in short supply. Most ship times for the Lightning Cable and 30-pin to Lightning Adapter are at least 1-2 weeks out, and the phone only comes with one Lightning Cable. Lose the cable? Oh well, you can’t charge your phone anymore.

Workaround: Get in line now to purchase a couple of extra cables and adapters from Apple’s online store. Guard the one you have with your life for the two weeks it’ll take to get the replacements in your hands. Eventually, 3rd-party manufacturers will start cranking out cables, docks, devices, etc. with Lightning connectors, but that hasn’t started happening yet. Of course, if you’re in the European Union, or know someone who is/will be, you can buy a micro USB to Lightning adapter from Apple over there, making life a lot easier.

Hang in there, folks, Most things will get better in time. The bugs will get fixed with software updates (hopefully soon). The shortages of components for cables and lack of 3rd-party options will be resolved. The scratches are going to be here for a long time, but that’s a problem you can fix today with less than (US)$30.00 worth of protective gear.

Automate Your Secure Social (and other) Surfing 0

As most readers are no-doubt aware, I’m amped up on security issues in general, and data transmission specifically. I always keep an eye out for tools that can let people become more secure online with as little effort as possible, as if it’s difficult, most folks will ignore it.

Most readers also already know that Facebook, Twitter, and many other Social Media Sites and Networks have the ability to allow you to perform all communications between your browser and those sites via secured HTTP connections (https). The problem has always been that you have to change your settings from the defaults (and make sure they stay changed) or else manually change URL’s to be https:// instead of http:// each and every time. Otherwise, you go to the non-encrypted, non-protected version of the site by default. Some sites even have different URL’s for secure surfing (like Google’s encrypted.google.com domains) – taking the problem a step beyond just remembering to type https:// first.

Added to the manual steps, some sites only encrypt certain components of their sites, with other elements like images and videos remaining unencrypted by default. This opens up holes in the overall security of communication, and is unfortunately difficult to avoid. Your browser might ignore the issue completely, or worse yet it may spit back a “mixed content” message that causes more confusion than it helps with security. With browsers changing what secure URL’s versus mixed-content and insecure URL’s look like in the address bar (a padlock today, a green background tomorrow, who knows what next week…), making sure you’re secure is harder than ever.

I have, however, stumbled across a tool that can make it easy – and most importantly automatic – to always use HTTPS whenever it’s known to be available. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released updated versions of HTTPS Everywhere – a browser plug-in (add-on, extension, etc.) that does just that.

Available only for Firefox and Chrome right now, but expanding to other browsers in future, this add-on has a list of sites known to support HTTPS (like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, most banks, shops and other platforms) – and automatically forces your browser to connect via HTTPS and *only* HTTPS when you surf those sites. This eliminates the potential to get unencrypted data on encrypted pages, and removes the need to remember to go to the secured site each and every time you browse. In addition, the tool automatically changes your URL’s to the more secure version of some very popular sites – such as directing you to encrypted.google.com instead of just the HTTPS version of the regular google.com site.

The EFF, in the documentation and FAQ’s, clearly states that the tool can see what domain you are going to. It does not, however, track this information or report it back to the EFF themselves. Since anyone could see the domains you’re headed to if they get on the same network as you and sniff traffic (like from a coffee-shop WiFi hotspot), the tool doesn’t pose any additional risk than most of us already deal with in Social Media, and does limit a great deal of risk that’s out there otherwise.

Nothing is foolproof, and the whitelist of sites that HTTPS Everywhere uses is not all-encompassing. You still need to check and make sure that you’re on secure versions of your Social Networks and Sites. However, the tool makes it much easier to find out which networks support the secure communications systems and makes finding the higher-security versions of those sites happen without guesswork. Also keep in mind that some sites may not be properly formatted to work entirely over HTTPS, resulting in pages that render incorrectly or not at all. Luckily, the add-in provides a button that you can use to turn it off when necessary – and it should be used only when you’re sure you don’t need to be using HTTPS.

The EFF has made the tool and corresponding tool-kits available under the GNU licensing platform, so that other coders can extend it as time goes by. It’s also free to use for Firefox and Chrome, though you do have to follow the instructions on the site to install it properly. This means that you can start protecting yourself now, and that developers can continue to work on the project even if the EFF should decide they no longer wish to support it.

While nothing replaces common sense and care when using Social Media and other sites on the web, this tool is a good step in your overall security process. Take it slow, know where you’re surfing to and surfing from, and always confirm that you have reached the secured site you thought you were headed for.

Also, as always, keep in mind that even secure communication doesn’t protect you from posting updates that become public knowledge. Once you post, tweet, or blog something, it’s out there for everyone to see – HTTPS or not.

Should you get the new iPhone? 0

Ah yes, another year, a new iPhone to buy. That’s pretty much become the mantra of Cupertino, but doesn’t answer the question of if you *should* buy it or not. I’ll offer my advice here.

Note: I have pre-ordered an iPhone 5 using the same logic I’m spelling out below.

First, what are you using now. If you’re on an Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Widows Phone or feature phone and want to move to the iPhone, then it makes sense to go with the latest model. Another great choice, however, would be to go to the iPhone 4S, as it will cost you much less and still runs the latest version of the iOS software and nearly all apps that are out there.

Verdict: Yes go for the 5, but if you’re looking to save money and don’t mind the smaller screen, go for the 4S instead.

Already own an iPhone? OK, then the question is “which one have you got now?”

3GS or earlier: It’s time to upgrade. These phones will soon be unable – or are already unable – to use iOS releases as they come out, which means you’re missing security and functionality updates. The 5 is the logical choice for you.

4: Definitely time to upgrade. While the iPhone 4 (which I have myself) is a great phone, it shows it’s age when running iOS 6. Apps can be sluggish, switching between them can be a frustrating lag-fest, etc.

4S: Wait. Unless you specifically need the bigger screen, there’s not a ton of benefit to going to the 5 just yet. The 4S has Siri, great battery life, works great with iOS 6 and is still 100% supported by Apple. So the better bet would be to hold the 4S for another year and then jump to the iPhone 6 (or whatever they call it).

Verdict: iPhone 4 or earlier, time to upgrade. iPhone 4S, hold off unless you need the bigger screen.

What’s new in the iPhone 5 is well documented on many other sites, so I won’t go into details on that now. What’s important is to really look at how you use your phone, what apps you need to run, and if you’re ready to swap out all of your sync/charge cables just yet. If you are on an earlier model (before the 4S), or if you need the bigger screen, then the 5 makes sense. Otherwise, opt for the 4S if you’re making the switch and want to save cash – it’ll still be useable and stable for at least another year or so. Go with the 5 if you can afford it and want to make the switch to a phone you’ll use for the next two to three years.

When and how much to post 0

Though I’ve posted on this topic before, I get a lot of questions on this one. How often, and how much, to post is a hot topic for Information Workers trying to leverage Social Media in their work lives, so here are my usual recommendations:

Twitter: Tweet often. How much “often” is will vary from person to person and business to business, but there are some general guidelines. Try to post at least twice per day, and no more than three or four posts per day should be direct advertising (“Come see our new product website,” or “Call your local sales rep” etc.). Ask general questions about your industry and try to engage in discussions instead. This means that you should also be replying to DM’s and @Replies as often as is reasonable for you, but at least twice per day.

Facebook: Update your fan pages and your own profile page at least once per workday. As with Twitter, avoid direct and point-blank advertising posts for the majority of your updates. Reply to messages whenever convenient, at least twice each day if possible.

Other Social Networks: Typically, with networks like LinkedIn and others, the basic advice is the same as with Facebook.

NOTE: Always know your limits. If you can only actively work with three networks or risk fewer updates, then limit yourself to three networks. It’s better to offer great content on a few sites, then to not update at all on seven.

Blogs: Once per week is the minimum for most types of blogs. More often is not a bad idea, but unless your blog is a clearing house for industry news, try to update no more than three times per week.

As to when, that’s a much easier answer. Update, tweet and post when your users are most likely to see it. If you’re a local business, then you want to make your updates in the best times in your local time zone, but if you have a far-reaching business you may need to stagger your updates to hit multiple time zones. Tools like HootSuite and BufferApp can help a great deal with that task by letting you create updates, but post them on a schedule.

Also remember that your customers may be looking for information at times you might not think about. Most folks are swamped from 9am to 10am in their local time zones, and again from noon until about 3pm.

Another thing is to try to hit your customers when they’re most likely to be looking for that info. So if you sell food or entertainment, you want to get your updates out around 11am and 3pm to 7pm, the times that most customers are looking for a place to eat or meet up for lunch or after work.

Most times, you can rely on common sense for when to post and how often. Going with your gut is usually not a bad idea. Just remember that the goal is to get people talking to and about your business, not just create a new advertising venue.

Make your voice heard, register to vote now! 0

In 2008, about 63% of eligible voters in the United States went to the polls.

That number should shock, outrage, and infuriate every single one of us, even though it apparently doesn’t. *One THIRD* of people who are eligible voluntarily decided not to vote.

Around the world, people are fighting and dying for the right to cast a vote in the leadership of their countries. They are waging wars and fighting battles just to get the chance to do what one-third of us don’t do, even though we have the right and the ability.

Stop, right now. If you’re not sure if you have registered to vote, sign up again. If you know you’re not registered, get registered immediately. You have to file your registration by October 6th in most states (individual state laws vary) so time is of the essence.

Once you’re registered to vote, figure out when to show up at the polls, and where. Your State’s official website will have links to where you can find your polling place, hours of operation, and phone numbers you can call with questions. One Google or Bing search can open the doors to your polling place, so no excuses!

If you’ll be out of town or out of the country, sign up for an absentee ballot. This will let you vote even if you cannot physically be in your polling place when Election Day rolls around.

Yes, it’s true that some lawmakers are trying to impose Voter ID restrictions on their constituents. It’s true that robocalls and black-ops tactics are trying to keep people away from the polls. Take the time, learn the rules, know your rights, and cast your vote. By the way, want to help make sure these lawmakers never get the chance to make this kind of law again (or want to ensure that they do)? Then only your vote can make that change.

Let’s do this, America. If we expect our politicians to represent 100% of their constituents, then the least we can do is ensure that 100% of eligible voters cast their ballots. You have a voice, you have the power to change the face of the country. It’s your right, your duty, and your privilege to cast your ballot and take control of your government. We don’t have to fight for it, we don’t have to do anything but check the box or pull the lever. Do not allow this election (or ANY election, for that matter) to pass by without your voice being heard loud and clear.

Because, in this country, no one can take that away from you… except you yourself.

Head over to HeadCount.org to find out how to register to vote!

Make your voice heard, register to vote now. 0

In 2008, about 63% of eligible voters in the United States went to the polls.

That number should shock, outrage, and infuriate every single one of us, even though it apparently doesn’t. *One THIRD* of people who are eligible voluntarily decided not to vote.

Around the world, people are fighting and dying for the right to cast a vote in the leadership of their countries. They are waging wars and fighting battles just to get the chance to do what one-third of us don’t do, even though we have the right and the ability.

Stop, right now. If you’re not sure if you have registered to vote, sign up again. If you know you’re not registered, get registered immediately. You have to file your registration by October 6th in most states (individual state laws vary) so time is of the essence.

Once you’re registered to vote, figure out when to show up at the polls, and where. Your State’s official website will have links to where you can find your polling place, hours of operation, and phone numbers you can call with questions. One Google or Bing search can open the doors to your polling place, so no excuses!

If you’ll be out of town or out of the country, sign up for an absentee ballot. This will let you vote even if you cannot physically be in your polling place when Election Day rolls around.

Yes, it’s true that some lawmakers are trying to impose Voter ID restrictions on their constituents. It’s true that robocalls and black-ops tactics are trying to keep people away from the polls. Take the time, learn the rules, know your rights, and cast your vote. By the way, want to help make sure these lawmakers never get the chance to make this kind of law again (or want to ensure that they do)? Then only your vote can make that change.

Let’s do this, America. If we expect our politicians to represent 100% of their constituents, then the least we can do is ensure that 100% of eligible voters cast their ballots. You have a voice, you have the power to change the face of the country. It’s your right, your duty, and your privilege to cast your ballot and take control of your government. We don’t have to fight for it, we don’t have to do anything but check the box or pull the lever. Do not allow this election (or ANY election, for that matter) to pass by without your voice being heard loud and clear.

Because, in this country, no one can take that away from you… except you yourself.

Head over to HeadCount.org to find out how to register to vote!

11 years on, a call to action (Not Mac-related) 0

Anger might’ve been the answer What if I’d hung my head And said that I couldn’t wait? But now I’m strong enough to know it’s not too late
‘Cause a thousand words Call out through the ages They’ll fly to you Even though I can’t see I know they’re reaching you Suspended on silver wings
Oh, a thousand words One thousand embraces Will cradle you Making all of your weary days seem far away They’ll hold you forever
- "1000 Words" From the video game Final Fantasy X-2

11 years ago, on September 11, 2001; thousands of lives were extinguished in an attack against the World Trade Center in New York City. While I will never forget that event – after all I watched in play out in real-time and was involved in the aftermath at Ground Zero – I don’t think I need to re-hash the events themselves here.

Instead, I want to turn my annual moment of remembrance to something that should have come from that set of events, but didn’t. It’s true, the terrorists did not win. The United States of America is still here, and despite our problems, we continue to be a strong country. However, we could be doing something more.

I’m not talking about what our elected officials should do. I don’t mean to reference what business should do.

What I want to talk about is you.

According to FactCheck.org; in the USA, in the 2008 elections – which recorded the highest voter turnout in decades – only about 62% of eligible voters actually turned out to cast ballots. This means that a huge number of citizens just decided not to vote. The founding virtue of our form of government – representative legislature – was not participated in by over one third of the citizens of that government.

We talk a lot in this country about how our lawmakers have lost touch with their constituents. We rail against the night in rallies to reform government, recall politicians who have lost their way, decry the corruption and wrongness of the system the way it is.

But, one third of us don’t even vote – and that was a Presidential election year, where a much higher percentage of people turn up at the polls than normal.

One third of eligible voters did not cast a ballot.

I think it’s time to remember that the 9-11 attacks were carried out by people who thought our freedoms, our policies, our government, and our nation are wrong. They were misguided, to say the least, and homicidal maniacs to say the truth.

And we need to prove them wrong. Right now. Today.

Go take half an hour and find out how to register to vote in your local, state and federal elections. Head over to RockTheVote.org or any other site that can show you how and where to sign up. Then go get registered. In November, exercise your Constitutional rights, and vote in the general election.

It really is as simple as that. People are fighting and dying around the world for the right to do what one third of our eligible citizens already could do, but don’t. We cannot let that continue to be the norm in this country.

Register. Vote. I cannot imagine a better way to send a message to the world that the terrorists who struck on 9-11-2001 did not win. More importantly, it will send the message that those who believe as they did cannot ever win, because we will not allow it.

This is our country, they are our leaders, and we – and only we – have the right to pick and choose them as we see fit. Send those who seek to destroy us the most powerful message imaginable, show the world that every vote counts.

But, first remember that no vote will count unless you actually cast it.

11 years on, a call to action (Not Mac-related) 0

Anger might’ve been the answer What if I’d hung my head And said that I couldn’t wait? But now I’m strong enough to know it’s not too late
‘Cause a thousand words Call out through the ages They’ll fly to you Even though I can’t see I know they’re reaching you Suspended on silver wings
Oh, a thousand words One thousand embraces Will cradle you Making all of your weary days seem far away They’ll hold you forever
- "1000 Words" From the video game Final Fantasy X-2

11 years ago, on September 11, 2001; thousands of lives were extinguished in an attack against the World Trade Center in New York City. While I will never forget that event – after all I watched in play out in real-time and was involved in the aftermath at Ground Zero – I don’t think I need to re-hash the events themselves here.

Instead, I want to turn my annual moment of remembrance to something that should have come from that set of events, but didn’t. It’s true, the terrorists did not win. The United States of America is still here, and despite our problems, we continue to be a strong country. However, we could be doing something more.

I’m not talking about what our elected officials should do. I don’t mean to reference what business should do.

What I want to talk about is you.

According to FactCheck.org; in the USA, in the 2008 elections – which recorded the highest voter turnout in decades – only about 62% of eligible voters actually turned out to cast ballots. This means that a huge number of citizens just decided not to vote. The founding virtue of our form of government – representative legislature – was not participated in by over one third of the citizens of that government.

We talk a lot in this country about how our lawmakers have lost touch with their constituents. We rail against the night in rallies to reform government, recall politicians who have lost their way, decry the corruption and wrongness of the system the way it is.

But, one third of us don’t even vote – and that was a Presidential election year, where a much higher percentage of people turn up at the polls than normal.

One third of eligible voters did not cast a ballot.

I think it’s time to remember that the 9-11 attacks were carried out by people who thought our freedoms, our policies, our government, and our nation are wrong. They were misguided, to say the least, and homicidal maniacs to say the truth.

And we need to prove them wrong. Right now. Today.

Go take half an hour and find out how to register to vote in your local, state and federal elections. Head over to RockTheVote.org or any other site that can show you how and where to sign up. Then go get registered. In November, exercise your Constitutional rights, and vote in the general election.

It really is as simple as that. People are fighting and dying around the world for the right to do what one third of our eligible citizens already could do, but don’t. We cannot let that continue to be the norm in this country.

Register. Vote. I cannot imagine a better way to send a message to the world that the terrorists who struck on 9-11-2001 did not win. More importantly, it will send the message that those who believe as they did cannot ever win, because we will not allow it.

This is our country, they are our leaders, and we – and only we – have the right to pick and choose them as we see fit. Send those who seek to destroy us the most powerful message imaginable, show the world that every vote counts.

But, first remember that no vote will count unless you actually cast it.