Archive for August, 2011

The Way We Consume Content is Changing

Posted on: August 31st, 2011 by NetEffect

What comes to mind when you hear the words “connected devices?” Do you think of your smartphone, laptop and/or tablet? These gadgets can access the Internet from almost anywhere, and because of this they are connected devices. However, most HDTVs, gaming consoles and Blue-ray players can also connect to and interact with the Internet. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any metro location that is far removed from an Internet connection.

With easy access to the Internet comes effortless access to information. However, this also delivers a change in how that information is consumed. Instead of searching a library index, walking to a specific book and then hand searching that book for information, we now simply have to type a query into Google. So, how does the advent of constant connectedness affect the way we consume content?

Faster Access of Information

The time spent researching information is minimized dramatically thanks to constant connectivity. You don’t even have to be seated in front of a plugged in computer, instead you can search boundless informational resources from most modern phones. This allows an incomprehensible amount of information to be accessed from almost anywhere at notable speeds.

Faster Generation of Information

Content can be added to the Internet by posting a photo via TwitPic, uploading a video to YouTube or even writing an article for Wikipedia. These are all things that anyone can do from almost any locale, thanks to the mobility of connected devices. Because physical proximity to a hardwired Internet connection is not a factor, there is a much more substantial amount of content uploaded for us to consume, and that content selection grows at exponential rates every day.

High Rate of Communication

Twenty years ago you could tell someone face-to-face about an interesting fact you discovered. Ten years ago you could tell someone via email. Five years ago you could post a status update on Facebook. Now? You can use your smartphone to respond call, email, Facebook, and tweet that fact from any location and at any time. We have the capacity to communicate more because the time it takes to do so has drastically decreased. In the same way, once information goes viral, it can travel at instantaneous speeds thanks to text messaging, tweeting and blogging.

If you’re asking yourself how the way we consume content has been changed thanks to connected devices, the answer is: quickness. Like so many technological breakthroughs, the benefit of fast and easy information consumption is dependent on how it is used. While this is certain to affect the rate and development of trends and fads, connected devices are just another evolution in the way we share and consume content. Howe we use it is entirely up to us.

Being Connected and Being Censored

Posted on: August 26th, 2011 by NetEffect

As a species we are connected. Our access to information is increasing exponentially. Many authorities and governments worldwide have concerns about what this access can mean for the people in their countries. These concerns lead them to censor the amount of communication that individuals have or cut them off entirely if they feel the threat is too great.

This dilemma is at the forefront of many world leader’s mind and many governments have different approaches and levels of constraint for the Internet, cellular phones, and other forms of communication via technology. Here are some examples of differing severity levels of censorship in various countries.

The United States – The US censors technology very little. In the US it is illegal to use cell phone jammers for private use. However, federal officials can use them in some cases. Recently, transit officials in San Francisco turned off power to cellular towers blocking all cell phone usage on the BART in order to prevent protesters from organizing on stations and platforms to convene upon.   This censorship incited a public outrage and government investigation regarding the legality of the shutdown.

China – It is common practice for Chinese officials to monitor chat rooms, private screen, and black list websites. Their censorship of the Internet is termed the “Great Firewall of China”. Go to this link to see if your website is blocked in China.

North Korea – The government of North Korea has total control over all computers with Internet access. Only three websites can be accessed in North Korea and they only contain academic information. There are some chat rooms allowed, but they are heavily supervised by the government. The high level of censorship has created a huge cell phone black market in North Korea.

As you can see, different governments approach the idea of technology censorship very differently throughout the world. And the socio-political reasons behind the amount of restrictions vary equally as much. Here are some common reasons for and against censorship:

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 professor at the University of Kansas, Barney Warf, published a definitive study of the geography of Internet censorship in an issue of GeoJournal. He believes that the more globalized a country becomes, the harder it is to manage types and amounts of information the public can access. Whether or not technological censorship is right or wrong is situational and up to individual opinion. As the world becomes more connected it will become harder for nations to control the flow of information and we will see this issue continue to arise worldwide.

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

Some Technologies Never Change

Posted on: August 19th, 2011 by NetEffect

It seems like as soon as you buy a new piece of technology, a faster and better version comes out. Technologies that were revolutionary last week are old news this week. However, it may surprise you to know that the root of these technologies have stayed the same for 50 years.

If we live in a world of ever changing technology, what makes these core technologies remain unchanged? Was the initial design so strong that it didn’t need much improvement? Here are a few technologies that have retained their integrity for over 4 decades.

Virtual Memory – 1962 – This allows systems to use hardware memory more efficiently by recycling space used for memory. This theory led to time-sharing or the ability for systems to multi-task.

MOS Chip – 1967 – Metal-oxide semiconductor. This technology is used today to make computer chips and is termed CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor). The technology has changed a bit over time so adaptability is one trait that has kept it alive.

C programming language – 1969 – Designed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs, C is the most popular and widely used programming language in the world. When you get something right why change it?

We have seen these technologies transform into other types of tech, programming languages, and inspire new ideas and designs. It’s amazing that these technologies have remained at the root of so many technological innovations today!

You will find more tech which has withstood the test of time here:

What To Do With a Hacked Email

Posted on: August 17th, 2011 by NetEffect

No matter how intricate 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 jeopardized? 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 selling 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 acknowledged 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 Boost Job Satisfaction

Posted on: August 12th, 2011 by NetEffect

Setting goals keeps us motivated. As we strive to reach these goals, the challenges that we overcome inspire us to keep going, and set our future goals even higher. With every step taken we move towards the future that we have planned and the lives that we want. We all know this truth about life, but do we apply this to our jobs?

Approximately 30% of our lives are spent at work. Many of us use that time to complete repetitive tasks. We monitor our inbox, file paperwork, return phone calls, and wait for the workday to end. This can leave us feeling unfulfilled because the day feels repetitive, as we are not being challenged. Setting goals can give us that challenge which drives us to achieve and at the end of the day gives our jobs a deeper meaning.

In today’s world, more and more people work autonomously. This means that it becomes our individual responsibility to actively set goals. Whether you work alone or are the leader of a team, these tips may help you incorporate goal setting into your work life.

  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 – Records helps to solidify the goals in your mind and provides a reference point for motivation or redirection.
  3. Aim High – A challenging goal once completed is sure to provide a great sense of accomplishment.
  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 attained can help you measure the progress toward achieving your goals.
  5. Celebrate Each Achievement – Whether working independently or with a team, be sure to celebrate each step that has been reached that supports the larger goal. Positive reinforcement goes a long way and it can be as simple as a word of acknowledgment.
  6. Schedule the Next Goal Setting Meeting Ahead of Time – You may lose perspective and drive if you do not refresh your goals. Goals keep us feeling excited and accomplished and that leads to job satisfaction.

Feeling pride in our work and feeling like we contribute is valuable to everyone. Setting and reaching goals reminds us of the important part we play in the larger goal.

How to Spot a Good App

Posted on: August 10th, 2011 by NetEffect

What makes a good app? In short, it’s all about value. Apps like the Urban Spoon are worthwhile because they offer excellent service in a market that has high demand, while apps like Angry Birds are successful because they are intuitive and just really fun. However, there are several constants across the board that all good apps have in common. Whether it’s your most loved capacitive touch game or a helpful restaurant guide, here are a few of the things all great apps have in common.

Stability and Reliability

    Any app worth it’s download is one that has been well tested. The development team behind the app should be confident that the app will hold value under non-premium conditions. If the app you’ve downloaded doesn’t work while your phone is in airplane mode, that’s a problem. A good app should have multi-versatile operation. A good way to determine an app’s value is to research the amount of time spent testing that app before launch.

Consumer Consideration

    A good app will do something worthwhile, be it a practical function or something else that is meant for entertainment. However, a developer needs to consider the consumer in the design of any app published. Simply put, if an app is going to consume your cellphone’s entire monthly data plan, it may not be worth downloading. Before buying an app, make sure to research the data consumption of that program.

A Well Constructed API

    All apps have, in their programing, an API. API stands for application programming interface. Essentially, this is the part of the app’s development that allows it to communicate with other apps. If you use an app that routinely updates your twitter feed, it uses an API to gain access to your twitter account. If an app’s API is faulty, it may experience difficulty when working in conjunction with other apps and, therefore, be rendered useless.

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 terrific apps, take a look a this article.

Three Decades of DOS

Posted on: August 5th, 2011 by NetEffect

Do you remember DOS, with its uncomplicated 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 reflect on 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 options 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

It’s easy to understand why DOS quickly became the OS of choice. It was the least expensive and it was also the only one of the three that was immediately available. DOS dominated the world of OS until the release of Windows in 1985. Windows, a Graphical User Interface (GUI), required DOS as a platform to run on but people quickly fell in love with its graphics and flash. Each version of Windows which was released thereafter needed DOS as a platform less and less.

When MS-Windows 95 arrived on the scene it was released as a standalone system containing its own OS. It still contained a small amount of 16-bit DOS code; I guess it still needed a little help from its friend.

But all good things must end. In 1996, Windows-NT was introduced and it was 100% 32-bit code. Though DOS and Windows parted ways it did not leave our lives.

There are many who are faithful to DOS.  They think that its simplicity is both efficient and less problematic. Many believe that GUI’s have too many graphics that can muck up their systems. This is one reason why we see some computer manufactures installing DOS as the main OS in their computers. Current versions of DOS include: FreeDOS, ROM-DOS, and DR-DOS. Much like many people will forever love and collect records, people will always love DOS and I see it celebrating birthdays for a long time.

3 cool gadgets for summer

Posted on: August 3rd, 2011 by NetEffect

Staying cool in the summer is sometimes more difficult than it sounds. We all have our own means of beating the heat, be it swimming, eating ice cream, or lounging in a good old-fashioned air-conditioned room. However, there will always be more unique strategies to stay cool, thanks to gadget technology. If you’re looking to last out the summer in comfort, one of these quirky devices just might do the trick.

The Bedfan

This first gadget promises to keep you cool at night, even if you like to sleep under a large blanket. The Bedfan connects to the end of your bed, positioning a small vent just under the covers, and creates a slight breeze. Thanks to natural insulation, this strategically placed airflow generates a fantastic cooling effect. If you sleep best nestled under a large cover but hate being too warm, the Bedfan is here to help. For a closer look at the Bedfan, check out this website.

The BEX Runner

Staying active in the summer can be difficult. Your probabilities for heat exhaustion can    almost double when exercising in extreme heat. While the BEX Runner does not claim to prevent these dangers, it does claim to help regulate body temperature.  The BEX runner attaches to your palm and through the power of science, draws in and stores heat from your body. This effect can make exercising in high temperatures much more comfortable. To learn more about the BEX Runner, visit their website.

The iPocket Fan

This is the perfect gadget for any iPhone fanatic looking for an interesting way to cool down. The iPocket Fan is a charging deck for your iPhone or iPod. Attached to the dock is a small desk fan and, when the iPhone is connected, an animated fan display also appears on screen. If you want to make the fan go faster, simply spin the blades on the animated fan on your touch screen. While this device may not be the best thing to rely on while staying cool, it sure is a lot of fun. Check out the website to learn more.

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

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