TECHlab: Open Source Software [P16]

Open Source Software is computer software that is available to others at no cost, meaning that its source code can be used for free.

It’s relevant in the sense that people can use it to create other things, leading us to new places in the world of technology.

It started out as a way to efficiently develop software by assigning people different roles to be able to create and execute something new.

It’s beneficial because people with different minds and ideas are able to flex their skills without having to pay for it first.

The tradeoffs are that since it’s made widely available, anyone can access it. The downside is that people may not use it correctly or to create anything worth using.

An example of an open source project would be the web browser Firefox. Users that are familiar with its source code can create extensions that can be used with Firefox. When I used Firefox, I had an extension called Ad-Block that someone had created in order to block ads from web pages that I would’ve normally seen while using Firefox.

Microsoft Word, for example, is not open source software, meaning that unless the people at Microsoft created a component of it, no one else would be able to either.

By anabhani

TECHlab: The Internet & WWW [P15]

The Internet is defined as an international computer network that provides communication and information across a system of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.

To most people, however, it is the endless encyclopedia of any and everything anyone’s ever wanted to know, as well as the tool in which we use to communicate almost everything. It’s beyond relevant to us in so many ways, but the most important of which is convenience. Obviously society existed before the Internet. But our culture, society, social, and personal lives are now heavily dependent on it and forever altered because of it.

Research began in the 1960s, as a way to connect computers. Within 10 years, researchers managed to connect 15 computer networks. By the 80s, the Internet was born. The concept of globally connecting computers to each other was actually taking flight.

It’s beneficial in countless ways, but in my small, personal little life, it’s helped me learn things I’d otherwise probably not know. It’s helped me connect to other people, including family, friends, and even friendly strangers. It provides entertainment. Creativity. Convenience. Communication. Connections.

The tradeoffs, though, are starting to become apparent already. I actually worry for the future of the world because of what all of this convenience and faux-interaction has instilled in the next generation — the generation who will never know what life was like, everyday, without the almighty Internet.

I do remember what the world was like before the Internet was so readily available in all of our daily lives. It was slower, but in a way, it seemed more valuable. Maybe it’s because I was younger, and when you’re younger, every new experience seems as though it’s taken place over the course of a lifetime, but I believe there’s value in a lack of convenience… As long as we’re all on the same page. The problem with technology now is that there’s no turning back. Even if I wanted to get rid of my smartphone, and ignore the Internet for a while, I would be the one left in the dark. Because now the use of all of this technology is commonplace. It’s as common as turning on a light switch when you enter a room. If you walked into rooms without turning on the light switch each time, people would probably wonder why you’re choosing to bump around in the darkness. It’s the same if you try to turn back time with all of this technology, like the Internet. You’ll be the one bumping around in the dark while everyone points and stares.

By anabhani

TECHlab: DIY [P14]

Initially, I’d headed over to makeprojects.com, and chose to make a light box. Apparently a light box is, or some version of it, is what a photographer would use to… Take a pretty picture? I don’t know. Either way, mine came out terribly. So instead, I decided to try out instructables.com! A much better choice (for me anyway).

Today we’re going to make a credit card iPhone stand! This tutorial is unbelievably easy to follow, and lucky for me, it’s technology-based!

Step one:

Find an old credit card or one of those supermarket discount cards, since like the website says, no one hardly uses those.

Here’s mine:

Image

I chose to use a now-defunct Forever 21 gift card. The thickness is about the same as a typical credit or savings card.

Step two:

Fold the card in half.

Image

Ta-da! Sorry for the cropped image. I haven’t had a manicure in weeks.

Step three:

This is where it gets wild. With a scissor, cut the folded card like you would if you were making a Valentine out of construction paper in second grade. Like so…

TECHlab - Step 3

Bye bye, old card.

Step four:

Hello, iPhone stand!

TECHlab - Step 4

Or in this case, highlighter stand.

TECHlab - Final

How do you think I’m taking these pictures?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Credit-Card-iPhone-Stand-1/

It was definitely not the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, making this iPhone stand, but cutting weird shapes out of credit cards can be dangerous! Overall, this was a fun little DIY experiment… And went much more smoothly than my silly light box.

For the record, it does actually hold my iPhone!

By anabhani

TECHlab: Computers [P13]

Whoa.  This documentary, The Machine that Changed the World, was pretty informative.  It’s mind-blowing how amazingly smart and talented these people were who invented such a machine that changed our world.

But what if that had never happened?  It’s hard to think about a world without computers.  Computers control almost everything we take for granted these days.  We wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are in terms of technology without them.  So while I can try to imagine a world where computers never came to be, I’m sure I will leave certain, very important things out…

In my daily life, I wake up because of the alarm on my phone.  That wouldn’t be possible without computers.  So I’d probably wake up like I would if I’d grown up in a rural area — by the crowing of a rooster, or by intense sunlight peering through my windows.  I do know that humans create a natural chemical called melatonin that regulates our sleep patterns.  Melatonin is excreted in our bodies when our eyes no longer see bright light.  Sure, we’d still have electricity to keep lights on, probably delaying this process somewhat, but not nearly to the effect we experience now.  The light that our eyes take in from our computers, cell phones, and televisions late at night are technically what keeps us up longer.  Therefore, without them, our melatonin excretion process would work better, keeping our sleep cycles in check.  So who knows, maybe I wouldn’t even need my cell phone’s alarm clock in the morning.

I certainly wouldn’t be able to make my coffee the way I do either because I don’t own a French press, nor do I know how to make coffee on a hot stove; I own a coffee maker, which uses some form of computer system to be able to work its magic.  I guess I’d learn… Or maybe, since my sleep cycle would be in check, I wouldn’t need coffee at all!

I definitely couldn’t open my laptop, go online, and check in with my summer courses, that’s for sure.  So in a world without computers, we’d basically be living as though it were the 1800s, or the early 1900s.  After all, computers were initially made to compute numbers more efficiently, not to live and breathe.  Of course it’s possible, but being born in the 80s, and raised in the 90s, with even the most basic computers, it has become a part of my life that I cannot imagine living without for an extended period of time.  Not to mention the effect it’d have on the whole world.  Most of the things we can do are because of the invention of the computer.

It might be a nice change though, to live without them… But we’ll never know.  Because even if all the computers in the world crashed at once, and we had to live without them, our world would be in chaos.  So it seems to be one of those things that once you do, you cannot undo, so to speak.

By anabhani

TECHlab: Electricity & Wireless [P12]

Now I know why this post is to be titled, “TECHlab” — because it was downright technical!

Although I do appreciate a good dose of history, much of the information in this week’s session was full of technical information.  I learned about the powers of ten, and how they’re used in large scientific calculations.  Of course, I learned that years ago, but I was never quite sure why, until now.  I also learned about the use of metric prefixes… I thought we didn’t use the metric system?  However, it seems as though we should, since everyone else does.  It would make things a lot simpler, don’t you think?

On to the history, though, I enjoyed reading about Marconi, whom I also learned about in my intro to radio courses.  What I liked about the E&E reading, however, was that it included a timeline.  I love a good timeline.  What I found interesting about it was that as children, we’re taught that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity.  But alas, he did not.  While he did play a large part in conducting studies in the mid-1700s, those studies began long before he ever even existed — in the 1500s, and in England, not the US.  But we just love to take credit for stuff, don’t we?  🙂

By anabhani

Arrrr, Piracy [P11]

Stealing is wrong.  Fine.  But the issue of piracy runs deeper than just stealing.  The big record companies charge a ridiculous amount of money for music.  Half the time most of the money goes to them and not the artist anyway.  So it’s difficult to justify spending a lot of money on music.  But that’s the standard now, so what are we supposed to do?  If we can get it for free on the internet, the artist is still having their music heard.  People will still pay to see them perform live, and there is still an interest in them.  If anything, more people will be privy to music they otherwise wouldn’t hear, which could perhaps enlarge their fan bases.  

But of course, I’m not a musician.  I think bands like Radiohead did it right.  They released their 2007 album In Rainbows online, and you could purchase it for as much or as little as you wanted.  After some time, then it was released in music stores and on iTunes for the regular price.  It’s a good idea to offer your fans your music for as much as they think it’s worth or want to contribute.  Because hey, they’re still millionaires!

But what about new artists?  Piracy still isn’t so bad.  I’m much less inclined to buy an album by someone I don’t know.  I know if I could listen to it for free, there is a greater chance I may become a fan, because there’s no downside to listening to it.  

I know a lot of my friends download torrents.  I personally enjoy album art.  I enjoy holding something tangible.  But I’m not the majority anymore, and I can’t blame them.

By anabhani

My iPhone, My Life [P10]

Out of all the media technologies out there, the most interesting to me is the iPhone.  Bless those inventive enough to have thought of such a thing.  To have your phonebook, music, the Internet, and basically everything else is one place, on such a tiny device that’s with you all the time, is pretty ingenious.  

But there’s so much I don’t know.  For example, who really came up with the idea?  Was it a team?  Was it just one genius?  If so, does he or she really get the credit for it?  To be honest, I still don’t understand how gigabytes work.  I know that mine has 32, though.  I know it stores more stuff… but where does it all go?  Is there some enormously large database somewhere, secretly storing my every word and picture?  My bank information that I so easily type in every single day?  That’s a scary thought.

The iPhone doesn’t just relate to my life, it is my life.  I check my balance on it.  I talk to my friends and family on it.  I tell them personal information and details about everything via text message sometimes.  I take pictures.  I check into places that I go with it.  I make to-do lists on it.  I get coupons from it.  I search for things on the internet on it.  I read e-mails, I look for jobs, I look at other people’s social media as well as my own.  What don’t I do on it?  I can’t shower with it.  I can’t drive with it.  But it definitely can come to the bathroom with me.  It can play music for me while I’m in the shower, and it certainly comes with me in the car and keeps me company while I drive.

I’m not sure that my iPhone will be a big part of my professional ambitions other than the fact that I can check e-mails and communicate with my co-workers on it.  I definitely use LinkedIn, and I search for other jobs using Safari on it.  But I assume that if I’m ever in a bind, as long as my iPhone is with me and charged, ready to go, that it will serve as my very own personal assistant.

By anabhani

My Techie Future [P9]

I wake up, but I’m not ready to take on my day without a cup of coffee, so I text the coffee machine from my phone so it’ll start brewing.  This new technology has made it so that you don’t have to fill up the coffee machine the night before and set it to a timer.  No, this technology does the work for you.  These new coffee machines have a week’s supply of coffee beans stored within them.  Worried about freshness?  Don’t be!  The coffee is made up of beans, and what do you know, the machine has a grinder.  So every cup of coffee is fresh!  The water is connected through your home’s water supply, so that’s something you never have to worry about.  This new digital coffee maker is linked via WiFi to your cell phone, which allows it to receive texts.  It texts you when you’re out of coffee so you can pick some up on your way home from work, without having to come home and see that some old-fashioned light is on warning you that you’re low on coffee.

I can get ready in the morning with ease knowing that my coffee’s been made.  What a time saver!  My phone rings while I’m brushing my teeth, and it’s my best friend.  I answer, and she pops up right in front of me, as a hologram.  She wanted to show me her new hair like in the old days when we used FaceTime to get an accurate 3-D view of her whole head.  Except now, it’s like she’s right in front of me.  No lag, no choppiness.  There she is, new haircut and all!

What I love most about these holograms is that I might never have to go to a concert again!  YouTube is all I need as far as live performances.  The band just pops up right in front of me, and it may as well be me crowd surfing an AC/DC concert in Donington in the early 90s!  Angus Young duck walks across my living room floor, and I can pretty much smell his sweat filling up the room.  What’s annoying is definitely the new law banning holograms in public.  I guess they can’t control what a select few weirdos want to watch on public transportation.  The good news is that I read an article about these new soundproof cubbies in all buses and trains.  It’s already begun in Japan, but we’re always last to the punch!

By anabhani

Media Technologies: A Codependency [P8]

The relationship of media and technology is, as the title states, a codependent one.  Media is a broad term.  It can be a book, a website, television, a movie, music videos, CDs, and the list goes on.  However, most media couldn’t really exist or be disseminated to a larger audience without technology.  Yet technology can live on its own.  So really, media is a needy partner.  Technology is what allows media to be shown, heard, and used.  Without technology, we couldn’t listen to a song on our iPods, or watch an acting performance on a little flat box in our living rooms.  We would probably have to go see a live performance… Except that we probably wouldn’t know about it without technology!

Here’s a list of all the media technologies I can think of:

  • iPhones
  • iPods
  • iPads
  • TVs
  • DVD players
  • VCRs (remember those?)
  • CDs
  • Tapes, even!
  • MP3s
  • The radio!!
  • Cable, as in cable boxes
  • Recording devices
  • Records
  • Record players?
  • Walkmen!
  • Laser discs (too bad about those, by the way)
  • Blu-Ray players?  Blu-Ray in general?  I’m not even sure what Blu-Ray is yet to be honest.
  • USB cords
  • Computers, laptops
  • The Internet!
  • “apps” like Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Digital cameras

Some commonalities among these different media technologies are:

  1. CDs, MP3s, records, tapes, etc. are all forms of technology that music can be heard on.  These technologies have made it easier for people to listen to music.
  2. Radio and television are forms of technology that allow programming to be spread across large amounts of people.  Because of this, advertising plays a huge part.
  3. DVD and Blu-Ray players as well as Walkmen and iPods allow different forms of media to actually be used, and in the case of Walkmen and iPods, also allow for mobility.
By anabhani

Individual Thoughts on Media & Technology [P7]

Technology, media, information, communications, science, art, culture

Here are my definitions of what these words mean:

  • technology: anything that has been created by man in order to make life easier and/or more progressive
  • media: any form of a broad means of communication, such as television, the Internet, and/or newspapers
  • information: knowledge made to help one understand a subject better
  • communications: the subject of communicating, or delivering information from one party to another
  • science: a man made set of information and guidelines about nature humans use to explain phenomena 
  • art: a form of self-expression
  • culture: a society’s rules and traditions 

As a society, we consider technology things such as iPhones, elevators, or nuclear energy.  Often technology is helpful, but its use can be questionable.  In my daily life, technology is a life-saver.  As we deal with this awful heatwave, I would probably lose my mind if it weren’t for air conditioning.  

Media in a broad sense can dominate a society.  It can teach them the values the media-controllers believe.  Because media can be entertaining, it is all too easy for this to happen, and it happens everyday.  In my daily life, I do look at media as a positive thing.  I’m able to do a lot of things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do without it.

In terms of society, information can be a very helpful tool.  People from different societies can learn from each other with new and improved information.  In my daily life as well, I appreciate information, and want as much of it as I can get!

The term communications from a societal standpoint can be the means in which large groups of people can communicate.  In my life, communications means the phone, the Internet, and advertisements I see every single day!

Science is important because it’s the universal language of society.  Every country, every inventor, every doctor, must learn the basics of science in order to achieve or create.  To me, science is interesting, although not my strong suit.  It’s too intricate and requires far too much time to fully understand.  Although at one point, I did major in Biology and want to become a doctor… :/

Art is another hard-to-define term.  As far as society goes, it could mean music, paintings, sculptures, etc. yet has no real meaning.  People often misuse the term art.  This graffiti?  This is art.  This dead bird?  Art.  So it’s really in the eye of the beholder.  I would personally define it as a means of self-expression… Whatever that means.

A society’s culture is what makes them specific to them.  Let me explain.  In American culture for instance, it is understood that you hold the door for someone who is behind you, to which that person would usually show gratitude, and that would be the end of that.  In Persian culture, this entire exchange is defined by the term ‘tarof’ which is hard to literally define in English, but basically it is the exchange of pleasantries, to which the most polite is a “winner” of sorts.  The person holding the door would instead be met by someone who took the door from them, and exclaimed, “No you first!  It is my pleasure!  No really, you go first!”  It’s odd to us as Americans that a simple exchange of politeness would have an entire term and definition, but that’s just a cultural difference between us.

By anabhani