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Goodbye CPSC 104 :(

I just wanted to say that I had a great time in this class and I will miss our time together. It’s been real. Now let’s all go out and celebrate the weekend — get sick now!


Thing 15: Awareness Tools

Keeping completely current with all the changes on the Web is an impossible task. But there are several services that can help by providing a current awareness service for monitoring changes in specific Internet information resources, from Web pages to news sites to Usenet news.

Current awareness tools are basically push products. Long before the idea of push technology was popularized, current awareness services were pushing new bibliographic references from online databases to people by paper mail or email. And while it lacks the multimedia jazzy feature of some of the over-hyped push technologies that have failed to become the new killer technology, the simple push of email remains an extremely important way to deliver information content.

So what kind of information can Internet current awareness tools push? In general, they can push any kind of information on the Web. While traditional current awareness tools include bibliographic information from published resources, Internet current awareness tools can email notices of Web page changes, new search engine results, the most recent Usenet news articles, and current news stories.

One of my favorites sites that I use almost everyday is called StumbleUpon. You choose what you are interested in — everything from internet utilities to nude photography — and the site returns relevant web pages. The site can also allow the user to link with other users that can suggest pages to be viewed. In this sense, StumbleUpon also fits under the “social media” category.

“The skill to have  is not knowing or using a specific technology, but  the skill to have is to be able to learn or adapt  to changing technologies.” – Ernest Ackermann

Thing 14: Forums and Web Boards

An Internet forum is a discussion area on a website. Anyone who is a member of the site can post discussions as well as read and respond to posts by other forum members. An Internet forum can be focused on nearly any subject and a sense of an online community, or virtual community, tends to develop among forum members.

In other words, an Internet forum is also called a message board, discussion group, bulletin board or web forum. On the other hand, it differs from a typical blog. The name for a web log, as a blog is usually written by only one user and usually only allows for the responses of others to the blog material – if the comments are approved that is. An Internet forum usually allows all members to make posts and start new topics. They can also comment, start conversations, get feedback, the usual jazz…etc.

An Internet forum is also different from a chat room. Members in a chat room usually all chat or communicate at the same time. They have also historically been known to attract only the finest of sex offenders. On the other hand, members in an Internet forum post messages that can be read by others whenever they happen to log on. Internet forums also tend to be more topic-focused than chat rooms — where pretty much anything (any apparently anyone) goes.

I personally have never been part of or participated in a forum or web board. Like I said earlier, I don’t spend too much time on the Internet — it gives me headaches.

Till next time,


Thing 13: RSS

RSS, short for real simple syndication, is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document, which is called a feed, web feed, or channel, includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.

Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item’s content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document’s metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document.

Webfeeds are pretty cool because you can syndicate content automatically once you are subscribed. You can consolidate blog posts from mulitple sources into one, easy to use, site that has a feed of posts in real time.

I use Google Reader. It is seriously the coolest thing that I’ve come across. I have all of the other blogs syndicated from the other classmates. Whenever I log into my Google account, I just click the “reader” tab and it has a list of all the new posts from all the sites that I have subscribed too. It saves me time because I don’t have to click on each blog individually to see if anything has been updated. Pretty cool right? I think so.

Till next time,


Thing 12: Sharing Documents in the Cloud

Cloud services store files on their servers so you don’t need to worry about backups or available computers. They can be as simple as a file repository to more sophisticate things that create entire networks of virtual computers for applications and databases.

Just a word of advice: most sites have pretty crucial fine print when you sign up for them so just be careful that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

Three sites that offer this capability are Microsoft’s Live Office, Google Docs, and Box.net. Microsoft and Google are both free. Box has free accounts but you can’t really do much unless you pay the 15 dollars per month for an account with more benefits.

Each service has different limits on the maximum file size they will allow you to upload and your complete storage allowance. Box has a limit of 2GB per file for its paid accounts and 25 MB for free ones. Google offers 1 GB per file sometimes, I couldn’t really find too much from them on this issue.

The other interesting part of using cloud services is that it makes sharing and collaborating with your documents so much easier. In the past you would have to send email attachments around while constantly being slowed down because not everyone can open the same type of formatted files.

On another note, Microsoft and Box both have some interesting connections with social networking apps. You can now post notifications to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn status feeds so your followers and friends can see what files you are working on.

Till next time,


Thing 11: Social Bookmarking and Tagging

Before the class on this topic, I had no idea that social bookmarking was even an option. It’s different from making bookmarks on your browser because social bookmarks can be accessed anywhere on any browser as long as the site can be accessed. Sites such as Delicious allow users to bookmark web pages as well as tag those pages with certain words that allow other people to access those bookmarks when utilizing search tools. Visitors can search for sites based on keywords, the user, or even the type of site. Social bookmarking is a great way to collect and share information between peers and friends.

Wikipedia defines social bookmarking as a method for Internet users to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Unlike file sharing, the resources themselves aren’t shared, merely bookmarks that reference them.

n a social bookmarking system, users save links to web pages that they want to remember and/or share. These bookmarks are usually public, and can be saved privately, shared only with specified people or groups, shared only inside certain networks, or another combination of public and private domains. The allowed people can usually view these bookmarks chronologically, by category or tags, or via a search engine.

Social bookmarking is a fantastic thing and it allows for so many avenues to be opened. I personally don’t have an account on any site such as Delicious because I don’t spend too much time on the internet on a daily basis. My favorite feature is tagging. I love that you can just search for a keyword and see all of the results.

Thing 10: Video

Videos on the internet has become an integral part of our day to day lives. From streaming video to peer-to-peer file sharing, accessing video is one of the most common ways in which we are connected.

Almost all of us are familiar with Hulu, a site that offers streaming videos (even full episodes) of some of the most popular network television shows free of charge. Also, they are trying to broaden their interest base by also uploading movies that anyone can stream at any time. Recently they have started offering a subscription service that offers HD video…I don’t exactly know how well that is working out for them but I highly doubt it’s making any money.

Another one of my favorites is Netflix. Using my Wii console and an ethernet cord connected to the internet, I can stream thousands upon thousands of movies and television shows directly onto my television for just a few dollars every month. Talk about a bargain.

On another note, youtube still trumps everything else because it’s classic and anyone can upload a video as long as they have an account with the service. Here is an example of a video that I uploaded to youtube back in the day.

caffeine addict

You can now post videos straight onto your friends walls from facebook, send each other videos via email or text message from almost any mobile device, and you can download and stream videos from almost any device these days too. Technology has come so far in such a short amount of time.

Thing 9: Podcasting

Podcasts are basically multimedia files that are recorded by an individual and offered through various types of web syndication. They are available to be downloaded and can be played back on almost any mobile device. However, some podcasts can also be streamed directly from the source onto your device. The term podcasting, which was coined by Apple wayyyyyy back in the day usually refers to audio files that were basically seen as the next step in radio talk shows or another means of getting news relevant to you. It came about in tandem with the spike in iPod sales a couple years ago.

Realistically, none of my friends listen to podcasts. I remember, maybe around 6 years ago, when I bought my first iPod and I tried to get into podcasts. I liked how you could subscribe to a certain channel or podcast host and the daily show or whatever they offered was downloaded directly onto your computer on a daily basis. Pretty cool. Not very many people use podcasts in my opinion though.

Looking at podcasts being offered currently, I was fascinated to see that most corporations (especially those that deal with broadcasting of some sort) issue daily podcasts that talk about relevant issues or popular culture.

Traditionally, you had to go to iTunes and access podcasts there. However, nowadays all you have to do is go to the website of whatever news channel or source you are trying to access. Most of the time there is a link or some RSS enabled button that allows you to subscribe to them.

Till next time,


Thing 8: Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds are online communities that allow users to interact with each other in some simulated, computer-generated space. In class, we used a program called Second Life, which allows the users to literally form a second, online life and interact with other users to form relationships and even earn money. My experience with Second life was rather questionable, however. For example, within 5 minutes of me joining the online game another user (whether or not the user was actually a female is debatable) came up to me and started to digitally flirt with me. I immediately have flashback to my father warning my about online predators. Yikes. Furthermore, the idea of being able to meet people online and have conversations with them scares me as well. I think it takes away from traditional values and also leads to the potential for fraud.

Current technology makes it possible to even have 3-D interactive worlds. Virtual worlds are sometimes known as MUVEs, or Multi-User Virtual Environments. They are online spaces in which users can navigate around controlling remotely something called an avatar, which is just a virtual representation of that user. In Second life, you can maneuver your avatar by using the arrow keys and mouse with the abilities to make him or her fly, run, etc.

Some virtual worlds require a little more speed than the typical internet browser provides. Some 3rd party software is usually required to be able to have access to the worlds. Furthermore, some examples of virtual worlds are the Disney-owned Club Penguin, Gaia, Habbo Hotel, and Second Life.

Thing #7: Photos and Images

Online photo sharing is one of the most popular uses for social networking. Whether it be for friends, family, or personal reasons, many sites offer users the ability to upload photos to the internets. The basic idea behind this: since most people nowadays have both access to a computer and a digital camera, these sites allow users to upload images that can later be accessed by either friends or family. Some sites even offer guests of the users the ability to order prints and comment on the photos.

On the other hand, each site offers something slightly different for the user. Since most sites offer free membership as well as a paid membership opportunity, the basic features are usually somewhat limited. Furthermore, some people are members of multiple sites simultaneously. Some sites even give people incentives to refer others.

Some sites, such as flickr, give users many options and features that in my opinion stand out from the rest. For example, flickr users are able to order high quality prints, upload high quality photos, and even have access to an incredible array of images via something called the creative commons.

Some lesser desired features of these sites include fees for almost everything and the website claiming ownership of that image the minute it is uploaded. This much is true for facebook, which makes any image you upload available for anyone and everyone to download. Some sites even decrease storage for basic, non-paying users.

My favorite feature thus far is the ability to use almost every mobile device to upload photos to the internet. Facebook offers multiple options, for example. You can send the photo via sms, email, and the designated facebook application for smartphones as well.