The way we consume content is changing

On August 31, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are traditionally considered connected devices, because each device connects to and interacts with the Internet. However, HDTVs, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles are also connected devices, as a high percentage of their functionality performs on the Internet. Each of these gadgets offers a means of communicating and consuming content.

    Where information was previously compiled manually, it can now be accessed remotely. Information consumption, in turn, is changing, because the avenues in which that content can be found are evolving. With an increase in connectivity, finding specific information is as easy as performing a Google search. So, how does increased connectedness change the way we consume content?

Faster Access of Information

    Finding information is almost instantaneous, and can be done from a wide variety of locations. You don’t no longer need to be tied down to a hardwired computer; content can be accessed through your phone or tablet via WiFi or 3G. Now, researching and accessing content is a process that only consumes a few moments. The speed at which we now consume content is greater than it has ever been because accessing that content takes almost no time at all.

Faster Generation of Information

    The connectedness that exists between devices is one that goes both ways. While content is easy to find, it is also easy to generate. You can upload a video to YouTube, post a blog on WordPress or update your status on Facebook, all from a connected device. The speed in which content can be generated is astounding, as millions of gigabytes of information are uploaded to the Internet every day.

High Rate of Communication 

    Connected devices allow for content to be passed along at an extremely high rate. A notification on a smartphone can trigger an n email to a tablet user, which triggers to a post to Facebook that is then reposted by a fan or follower and so on. This phenomenon is called “going viral” and is the process by which content is communicated to a large audience over a short period of time.  Thanks to connected devices, information has the ability to travel and travel quickly.

    Our increased connectivity has changed the way we consume content. The main difference, if you hadn’t already guessed, is speed. Like most technological advancements, it’s difficult to determine the value of this change. Information can be gathered, created and shared faster than ever before. How we choose to use that information is entirely up to us.


Technological Censorship Worldwide

On August 26, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

As access to information worldwide grows, governments and authorities fear how uncensored access will affect the people they govern. Due to this fear governing authorities develop different procedures to deal with this. Some choose to monitor or restrict access to certain sites; others choose to completely control all types of communication-technology in order to regulate the content people are exposed to.

The countries below have varying levels of severity for censoring and restricting the Internet, cell phones, and other communication technologies.

The United States – It is illegal in the US for civilians to use cell phone jammers however in some instances, federal officials may. Recently, the matter of censorship vs. free speech was brought into focus in America. San Francisco transit officials prevented the use of all cell phones on the BART system by cutting off electrical power to cellular towers. They effectively prevented an anti-police brutality protest, as well as enraged the public and precipitated a federal investigation into the legality of their actions.

China – Individual private screens and chat room are highly monitored and several websites are blocked in China because of their content. See if your favorite websites are blocked in China on this website.

North Korea – One of the most technologically censored countries in the world, North Korean grants access to only three websites of academic information. There are a few heavily monitored chat rooms hosted on a closed system which are permissible. The North Korean Internet is more like an Intranet. The high degree of censorship has created a huge black market for cell phones in North Korea.

The reasons governments give for censoring communication technologies are as varied as the levels of strictness. Here are a few reasons that are commonly given:

Reasons why censorship is necessary

  • Censorship can protect the safety of the public
  • Censorship can prevent youths from being exposed to inappropriate content
  • Censorship can protect social unity and national glory
  • Censorship can prevent disturbing the social order
  • Censorship can protect national security

Reasons why censorship can be dangerous

  • Censorship violates the natural right of self-expression
  • Censorship can prevent people who have an emergency from getting help
  • Censorship can lead to ignorance of the world and other cultures
  • Extreme censorship can lead to social upheaval
  • Extreme censorship can lead to an oppressed and uneducated society

A definitive study of the geography of Internet censorship, written by Professor Barney Warf, was published in the 2010 December issue of GeoJournal. His conclusion is that the more globalized a country becomes, the more difficult it is to monitor and control information. The worldwide debate of whether technological censorship is right or wrong will continue as we become more and more connected. Issues will arise and it will become increasingly difficult for governments to censor what the content their citizens are exposed to.

You can read this article to learn more about Professor Barney Warf and his study.


Anonymity on the Web

On August 24, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Google has recently received a small amount of press because of their restriction of users creating profiles under pseudonyms. Currently, Google doesn’t allow fake names, and this has some people upset. One of the appealing things about the Internet is that is seems to offer blanket anonymity. Anyone can be whomever they choose, but is that necessarily a good thing? To answer this question, we first have to contemplate the pros and cons of being anonymous.


    There aren’t many sites that require you to use your real name, or even have any means of verifying that the name you provide is real or not. This allows you to assume multiple personalities, crafting a new version of yourself every time you log on. This can provide a layer of safety when providing your full identity can be dangerous. Consider users who have been the subjects of abuse or stalking, the freedom to be anonymous on the Internet helps them to be less accessible and therefore less vulnerable. Anonymity comes with a specific level of freedom.


    Many problems caused on the Internet begin with a misuse of anonymity. Email scams, social media spam and profile hacks begin with the creation of a fake Internet identity. While tactics such as IP address tracing and validating the information given when setting up Internet profiles can provide the true identity of any Internet user, creating a imitation profile is the easiest way to scam someone else. While being anonymous on the Internet is often a plus, it’s important to consider the negatives that complete anonymity can create.

    The moral value of total Internet anonymity is a matter of personal responsibility. It is only as good as the person who uses it. Anonymity being good or bad is not a matter of anonymity itself, but rather, a matter of the users of the Internet. When considering if you are for or against it, first reflect on how you use it.


Actions to take after being hacked

On August 17, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

No matter how elaborate your email password is, there is always a chance that a hacker will find a way to decipher your information and gain access to your digital personality. So what do you do once you’ve realized that your personal email account has been compromised? It is important to be proactive in this type of situation. Taking the appropriate steps can help you repair any damage done by a hacker as well as help prevent future hacks from being successful. Here are some important steps to take.

Notify Webmail Provider

    Letting your webmail provider know that your account has been compromised is an important step that many email users might not think of. When you notify your webmail provider of a problem it gives them the chance to rectify the situation and further strengthen their security against potential hacks. Your particular hack could be a part of a much larger security breach, letting your webmail provider know about it gives them the opportunity to fix it.

Change Password

    This is most likely the most important thing to do once you’ve regained control of your email account. Doing so will prevent whomever hacked your account from taking over again or from providing your password to another hacker. Make sure to make your password completely different and, if possible, make sure it shares no characters with your previous password. Also, remember to make it complex. The hacker who broke into your account may have personal information, like your birthday, that would help them decipher any new password you created that was too simple.

Notify your contact list

    One of the main reasons hackers break into personal email accounts is to send out well disguised spam. A spam email is more likely to be successful if it is sent to a victim through an established account. Letting your contact list know that your account has been compromised can warn them against these attempts and likely prevent the transfer of viruses or a successful scam. Make sure and relay the message clearly in your subject line, so that your contacts will know that you’ve regained control over your account without needing to open your email.

No one likes having his or her personal information compromised. It’s important to remember that, if your email has been hacked, your online banking and other Internet managed services may also be compromised. If you’d like additional information on what you should with a hacked email, please take a look at this article.


Set Goals to Improve Job Satisfaction

On August 12, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Most of us set goals in our personal lives. It keeps us motivated and each accomplishment gives us the drive to keep reaching further. We do this in our home life so why not do this in our work life too?

Approximately 30% of our lives are spent at work. Some people are unfulfilled by this time. Many people do not feel that they are an active part of the company and let whatever comes into their inbox dictate how their time is spent. Setting goals gives people a sense of control and allows them to choose how they spend their day. They feel like an active member of the team as they have a say in establishing  goals and the part they will play in their completion.

More than ever people work autonomously; people who work like this must be proactive about setting goals. Regardless of whether you work in a group or autonomously, here are a few tips that will help you start the process of goal setting.

  1. Set or Assess Goals Every 3-6 Months – These types of meetings will allow the team or individual to analyze the goals, set specific times for their completion, and help them stay focused.
  2. Write Goals Down – Documentation helps to solidify the goals in your mind and provides a reference point for inspiration or redirection.
  3. Aim High – Set goals a little outside your comfort zone. This can lead to learning new skills and finding pride in one’s work. Remember, don’t set your goals so high that it is an extreme burden or unachievable for you or your team.
  4. Find a System to Measure Performance –Breaking the goals down into smaller ones, determining specific timeframes, or deciding on specific skills that need to be learned before the goals can be accomplished can help you measure the progress toward achieving your goals.
  5. Celebrate Each Achievement – No matter if you are part of a team or working separately, celebrating accomplishments is motivating and builds pride in the work being done.
  6. Schedule the Next Goal Setting Meeting – Schedule these meetings in advance so people know the deadline to have their steps completed by. You may even see a boost in productivity as they want to show the team leader how much they have achieved.

Setting and reaching goals gives us pride in our work and makes us feel that we are important and contribute to the larger picture.


What Makes a Fine App

On August 10, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

A good app is one that provides value. But what determines that value? A large consideration for that answer is the functionality of the app itself, be it practical or entertaining. However, it’s important to consider the design and development put into the app. If Angry Birds crashes unexpectedly in your favorite level, then does that app still contain value? No matter what the case, if you’re debating purchasing a hot new app, here are a few key factors to consider when determining any app’s inherit value.

Stability and Reliability

    A good app is one that has been rigorously tested. There are several outlying factors that can determine how an app will function and, if not tested all possible situations, you might find yourself using an app with limited functionality. Some things to consider when looking at the stability and reliability of an app: does it work without WIFI? Does it work when on airplane mode? Does it work if the service of the phone is interrupted? Depending on what the app is made to do, these factors can be paramount. Make sure to research the testing that went into any app you are considering.

Consumer Consideration

    App developers need to consider how their app will affect the user. Even a cheap app can be costly if it consumes too much data. Most Smartphones come with a limited data plan. A good app will consider the consumer and be developed in a way that will not infer further charges with their monthly cellphone plan.  When deciding on which app to download, make sure to research the data transfer rate needed to use the app as well as any other factors that might create be supplementary charges.

A Well Built API

    API stands for application programing interface. In layman’s terms, an API is the part of an app’s programing that controls how it communicates with other apps and programs. This is an important part of any app’s development because it directly affects functionality. If you download an app that connects your smartphone to your Twitter account and the API is dysfunctional and doesn’t connect well, the functionality of that app is rendered useless. Basically, if the API is broken, your Twitter postings will not work. Make sure to research the reliability of an app’s API before downloading.

While an app’s worth can be of objective determination, there will always be several key elements to look for when searching for that perfect new download. For more tips on finding great apps, take a look a this article.


The evolution of DOS

On August 5, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Do you remember DOS, with its simple black screen with the patiently blinking cursor? Its full name is Disk Operating System and a week ago marked its 30th birthday. To celebrate, I thought we should consider the changes it has undergone in the past three decades. DOS may be past its prime but is it gone from our lives? Was it simply a stepping-stone in the evolution of other operating systems?

 In 1981 IBM released the PC and the following choices for operating systems (OS).

  • IBM Personal Computer Disk Operating System – cost at the time: $40
  • Digital Research CP/M-86 – cost at the time: $240
  • SofTech USCD p-System w/Pascal – cost at the time: $695

DOS was the only one of these three which was available immediately and was the most affordable and therefore became the most popular and commonly used. For a few years the public willingly used the no frills interface of DOS. Then in 1985 Microsoft released Windows, which at that time, was a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that required DOS as an operating system but allowed for easier access to programs. The earliest versions of Windows weren’t very well liked but as newer and improved versions were released, each one still needed DOS, until 1995.

When MS-Windows 95 was launched it no longer required DOS but could run entirely independent as it had its own built-in OS. However, it did include some portions of the 16-bit DOS code to operate. Like a baby bird, Windows had not quite learned to fly without a little bit of help from DOS.

But all things must change and a year later in 1996, Windows-NT was released. It was the first version of Windows that was fully 32-bit with no 16-bit DOS code in it all.  However, DOS didn’t disappear from our lives.

Many people still use DOS believing its simplicity to be dependable and efficient. They don’t want all the bells and whistles that come with “user friendly” interfaces. Because of this, newer versions of DOS continue to be developed and sold. Many computer manufactures still sell computers with DOS as the main operating system. Today we see FreeDOS, ROM-DOS, DR-DOS, and many more on the market. It appears DOS will live on so long as the die-hard fans still demand the straightforward elegance of cmd enter.

On August 3, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Gadgets, for the most part, are designed to make our lives easier. We have smartphones to keep us entertained, tablets to keep us connected, and even digital blood monitors to help keep us healthy. But are there devices out there that are designed to help keep us cool? Moderating body temperature is an essential part of staying comfortable and luckily, technology has worked to make that moderation more manageable. We are all familiar with desktop fans and air conditioners, but here are three unique personal gadgets that can also help you beat the heat.

The Bedfan

It’s natural to sleep best when nestled tightly under a heavy blanket. However, it’s difficult to do this in the hot summer months without running a high utility bill. Luckily, gadgets like the Bedfan are an efficient solution to this problem. The Bedfan attaches to the end of your bed with a thin vent that easily fits right under the covers. Then air is pumped out createing a light current. Because the current is insulated between your body and your blanket, the effects are highly noticeable. You’ll enjoy sleeping under a heavy blanket any time of the year. For more information, check out this website.

The BEX Runner

Exercising at a temperature above your internal body temperature can be dangerous. This is problematic in the summer months, especially for anyone who enjoys a nice outdoor stroll. While the BEX Runner is not necessarily a safe solution to extensive exercise in high heat conditions, it does offer a new level of comfort. The BEX rests on your palm and conducts and stores your body heat. Basically, it draws the heat away from your skin to help make you feel cooler. To learn more, read over this article.

The iPocket Fan

While this gadget doesn’t provide the most effective means of cooling you off,  it is definitely entertaining to use. This fan is attached to a charging dock for your iPhone that displays an animated fan on your phone’s screen. If you spin the blades on the screen faster, the blades on the dock spin faster. While you shouldn’t expect to replace your air-conditioner with this gadget, you can at least expect to have a fun time creating a light breeze. For a closer look, check out this link.

Keeping cool is easy with the right gadgets. Make sure and beat the heat this summer by moderating your temperature. If you’d like to read up on some more cooling gadgets, take a look at this article.