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The following posts were written beginning in January 2010 on another blog platform. Not wanting to lose them, they have been transferred here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Always connected…even in the clouds

Just yesterday, Foursquare enabled the new Mile High Badge, which can be received when you check in on a Gogo Inflight Wifi-enabled flight. Gogo connection prices range from $4.95 for flights up to 1.5 hours and an unlimited account is currently on sale for $34.95 (with a discounted first month) for $19.95.What baffles my mind is that you can check into wireless Internet 40,000 feet above the ground. In fact, I had a friend on a flight yesterday who tweeted from the air.I’m not going to lie; I always have found the rule of turning off cell phones and “portable electronics” somewhat relaxing. As we continue to become more fast-paced and the world becomes more consumed with workaholics (especially in American culture), I always found it nice that for a few hours, we weren’t connected.

Sure, you could still pull out your laptop and work on a PowerPoint or report, but if you absolutely needed to pull info from the net, you were SOL. Nothing left to do but give up, sit back and relax…maybe for the first time in awhile.

I always liked the idea that for a little while, we weren’t connected. Passengers had the opportunity to talk to those around them and be a little social, and not in the social media sense that is. Their brains were able to take a break from all the information and their eyes took a break from the strain of the computer.

Don’t get me wrong, I spend all day on the computer and am a huge social media and Internet nerd, but I did like the idea of not being connected for once. Now —if you’re willing to pay — you can be connected anytime…at any height.

So I guess where to go from here is just to embrace this technology and take it to new heights, literally. Just think how much more productive we’ll be able to be if we can be connected anywhere.

What’s next? Wifi on public subways? Oh wait. That’s happening too. Check out the article here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Foursquare-Not just a game for 5th grade recess anymore

Findings from a Forrester Research report released yesterday showed less than five percent of online users in the U.S. have ever used a location-based application on a mobile device. That statistic aside, almost 85 percent said they were not familiar with the applications at all.For those of you who may be in that 85 percent group, a location-based application is accessible through a mobile device and utilizes the ability to use geographical positioning to track the location of the user. Using a smart phone, a mobile website or via text message, users can state their current location and find the venue they are located at on the platform and choose to “check in” to that specific place.The app check-in can also serve as a game, where users are rewarded badges or stickers based on their check-in actions. These actions include being the first to check in to a location, checking into a location more than anyone else or just by completing the action the badge or stickers denote (i.e. earning the “gym rat” badge on Foursquare by checking into 10 gyms in 30 days). Individuals can even become the “rockstar” or “mayor” of a location, depending on the app, which means they have checked in to a certain location the most.

Some of the most popular include Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt.

What’s also interesting to note about location-based media is that women are the minority users. According to Forrester, close to 80 percent of location-based apps are men and almost 70 percent are between the ages of 19 and 35.

For those few who do use these services, they don’t use them often. The report said only one percent of users post an update more than once a week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The new iPhone: as powerful as a spacecraft?

Ever stop to think about how powerful the new iPhone 4 really is? Yea, I hadn’t either until I was given an assignment for my internship this summer. I was instructed to find statistics on the power and speed of the new iPhone in relation to other impressive machines for a company presentation on the evolution and capabilities of mobile marketing and technology.This didn’t mean just comparing the iPhone to another phone or even a simple laptop computer. This meant comparing its processing speed to that of the space station or the Hydra computer, which beat a human being in the game of chess in 1995. Essentially, the argument was to prove the new iPhone is just as powerful as something that sustains a human being millions of miles outside of the earth’s atmosphere or is even smarter than a human.So I began with the basics-trying to figure out the computing power of each type of machine, which for someone not tech-savvy like me, proved to be a bit challenging. For example, I found the iPhone 4 is rumored to have 1 GHz of processing power. I also found the space station has 16 MHz of computing power inside its floating walls. The math idiot I am had to then convert the MHz to GHz in order to compare it to the iPhone. Not to get too technical but since 1 GHz = 1,000 MHz, I found the space station has .015 GHz of power, making it actually slower than the iPhone (I’m still not convinced this is correct so don’t quote me on it.)

Then I turned to something called MIPS (otherwise known as instructions per second). Turns out, the space shuttle has 1.2 million MIPS within its computers and the Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition i980EE processor has 17,600. That’s about as far as I got considering Apple still hasn’t released the iPhone4’s specs.

That’s when I decided to post on Apple’s forum about my roadblock. I figured some computer nerd, no offense, with a good deal of time on his hands would know the answer.

I posted a thread asking the following questions:

1) How many iPhone 4s have been sold up to this date (7/13/10)?

2) How many mips are in an iPhone 4?

3) How does the iPhone compare to a larger computer (such as a MacBook) or anything else impressive (like the Wii, the space station computers etc.)in terms of processing speed?

The first two responses I got were:

“LOL” and “I almost posted a reply, but then thought ‘why?’….”

With the exception of these two jerks not taking any time to actually consider this could be a legitimate question, I got some very intellectual responses. Not any that helped, but at least a few kind-hearted souls tried to give me a real answer.

Overall, I got the answer that because the two computers are so different, there really is no way to compare the iPhone to something as complicated and intricate as the space station.

On person wrote:

“That’s going to be an impossible contention to prove since there is no single statistic by which a system can be measured. Clock speed, MIPS, memory access rate, I/O rates, etc. are all situational and will be given different weight in different uses.”

He compared my question to “a Ferrari is better than a dump truck” sort of argument, he said.

Another person said the major difference is that computers on the space station are able to perform in order to maintain function while the processing power on the iPhone performs to handle human interface experience, something completely different.

So the moral of the story is that the iPhone 4 is powerful but unless someone can come up with a way to compare it directly to the computing power of the space station, it’s not going to take us to the moon anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Magazine journalism, dead?

While flipping through the latest issue of Glamour last night, I came across an add that caught my attention. It wasn’t an ad, but I simple statement from Glamour ensuring readers magazine journalism isn’t dying and readers should keep buying their favorite publications. For the first time, my attention was diverted from the articles and colorful photographs to something that made me sit up and think about what I just read. Not just the content, but about how I was reading it. I’ve always read magazines but I’ll admit, I have gone straight to a website to read about the latest gossip or fashion trends more often than I have pay $4.95 for the print version. As a recent college graduate with a degree in journalism, I have been aware of the fact that print journalism is becoming less and less of a novelty. But that simple ad made me really think about how much the industry is changing. I wish I had an answer for what is going to happen to it but I have been trying to answer that question myself now for four years. I will say though, that whatever happens, I have lived at a time and worked in one of the biggest industries that has seen such a great deal of change in such a short amount of time. And it’s definitely not just magazines-try newspapers…and now books too. But that’s a whole other conversation for another time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

iPad-new technology with old setbacks

Below is an article I wrote for the blog on the FutureWeb conference website, a conference I am helping organize with around 10 other students to be held in April. The conference will feature top Internet visionaries and will discuss the future of the WebThe iPad was unveiled two weeks ago and has caused some dissapointment among excited consumers. Along with 3-D, Internet-television and portable televisions, the iPad is one more piece of technology showing just how fast we are moving forward (but due to its lack of camera, Flash technology and USB port, how we are still standing still). I’m sure the kinks will be worked out eventually and hopefully it becomes more than just a larger-scale iPhone.

Last week, Apple introduced its highly anticipated tablet computer device, the iPad. The iPad acts similarly to the popular iPhone, running existing applications from the Apple apps store but with a much larger, nearly 10-inch screen. It is currently priced at $499 (not including applications, which will cost around $4 each).

According to Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, the iPad will be about a half-inch thick and weigh about 1½ pounds.

“What this device does is extraordinary,” Jobs said in an interview with CNN. “It is the best browsing experience you’ve ever had. … It’s unbelievably great … way better than a laptop. Way better than a smartphone.”

The iPad will allow users to read books, newspapers and magazines electronically, chat with friends, type and surf the Web.

However, the long awaited tablet device has been receiving scrutiny from hopeful admirers, and not just for it’s name being linked to a woman’s personal hygiene product.

The iPad does not have a camera (although Apple has already announced a camera connection kit which will include a $30 pair of adapters which will let you either plug the camera in direct or plug in an SD card to pull out the photos). It also does not have a USB port, phone, or Flash capability and there have been talks of its inability to run multiple applications at one time.

“The innovation is going to be limited to what’s possible [on the iPad], you know,” said Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry, a group that tracks app sales in a CNN interview. “I don’t think imagination can override the true limits of what’s offered.”

The iPad, used as an attempt to save print journalism some say, may still be in too much of its infancy to produce what users want while slapping on an expensive price tag.

“A large fraction of the public doesn’t read the news online as they did in print,” said Pablo Boczkowski of Northwestern University in an interview with Slate Magazine.

“They’re more interested in browsing, searching, linking, and interacting than they are in long, sustained intakes of information. “Put differently,” he said, “getting the news online is normally surfing, less often snorkeling, and very rarely scuba diving. Most people need a simple surfboard, rather than the complex—and costly—diving gear.”

According to Apple, there will be many more versions of the iPad to come. Only time will tell if the device becomes the next everyday household item or if it is merely a passing technological fad.

-By Laura Smith

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti and Twitter

By now, everyone has heard of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti near the capital on Tuesday. People believe hundreds of thousands have been killed and relief efforts are building up to bring medicine, food water and anything of need to the area. What I find most interesting, though, is that a lot of these efforts are being carried out through social media sites. When the tsunami in Asia happened in 2005, PSAs and the Red Cross asked for help and donation through the television and a few places online. Now Twitter, for instance, has several pages dedicated solely to helping Haiti. Tweets give links of where you can go online to donate money. Facebook has been utilized too, creating ads asking for help and Facebook users have been creating individual groups and threads regarding donations. One of my Facebook friends is an artist and creates her own jewlery. She decided to make special bracelets where the proceeds will go towards Haiti relief. She sent out a mass message on Facebook to tell everyone about it. These sites have also been a new platform for news distribution. People on the ground have been tweeting about what is going on and taking photos to show their followers. Major news organization such as CNN have been getting information from tweets. It’s interesting to think about- a few years ago these web sites were looked at as nonsense social outlets for college kids. Now they’re helping bring aid and information from one of the biggest natural disasters of all time. Without them, we might be a little more in the dark about the terrifying situation.

Monday, January 11, 2010

And we thought robots were the work of Spielberg only

In my class for Winter Term, we are learning about the future of the Internet and what is to come of it in the next few decades. Call me a big nerd, but this stuff is actually fascinating. For years, we’ve watched movies with robots taking over the world or humans who carry an all-in-one media box in years ahead. Now, that future is rapidly approaching. I remember when I was probably about five sitting in the dining room watching my dad type his graduate school thesis on a typewriter. Just ten years ago, my family had a huge monitor computer in which I only used for checking email (which was courtesy of dial-up America Online) and games on the desktop.
Now as a person trying to go into the journalism world, I have been so immersed in what the Internet has to offer. It is allowing us to connect with people all over the world while at the same time concerning us over how private our information really is. Just last week, for example, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg explained that Facebook should have been made public in the first place, a statement coming after changes were made to the site to allow more public access of information late last year. are some interesting links of what’s to come in the technological future:2010 Consumer Electronics Show megatrends –

Sports Illustrated online magazine demo –

Apple iSlate iTablet – <

Pretty crazy stuff! I think this convergence will be a good thing and a bad one. I think it will make the stream of information more up to date and acccessible. With information available anytime, anywhere, who knows if there will even be a need for the local news broadcast at 6:30. Sorry, Brian Williams 😦 But with the already emerging trend seen in the “crackberry,”I think people may become information overloaded. They will become obsessed with their media devices and always being in the know. Employees at IMB have issued a quiet time Tuesday mornings every week where cell phones, e-mail and other media devices are not allowed to be used to combat this problem. I also worry about the outlandish but possibly true fact of robotics and virtual reality overtaking us. When everything is virtual, how will we know what is real and what isn’t? Technology writer Mike Elgan talks about how the cell phone will be customized to know your personal schedule, tastes, interests etc.

Cool or creepy? Up to you to decide

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hello 2010

Well, it’s a brand new decade and a new opportunity to start something I’ve been wanting and meaning to do for a long time now-start a blog. As a journalism major and someone who uses writing as an outlet, I feel like I’m a little late on the timing. To be honest, a year ago, I would have told you I hated everything about blogging, about the Internet and this whole new virtual world. I thought it was a waste of time. Now, as I look forward into what the next decade holds, I realize just how important having a life on the Internet really is for socialization and opportunities all around.
Most of my friends have blog about something specific-sports or movies for example. Well, I’m not a huge movie junkie, even though I like watching them, and I’m DEFINITELY not athletically inclined or a real fan of any sports team. What I am interested in though is how people think and why people make the choices they do. Hey, maybe my psychology minor will help me out. Because of this, I want this blog to be about how the world is changing and where it’s going. Why are people making the decisions they are today? Why is something happening now going to be impactful later? I want to look at it as a time capsule, per say, so I can read this a year from now and remember that this is what will make the history books. We are living in one of the most tumultous times since the Great Depression. There is the contrasting fact that we are in the worst recession since the 1920s, but at the same time, we are seeing technology come to life that we never though possible. We are governed under the first African American president and are moving slowly toward overcoming racism, yet are fighting a war dealing with cultures that are unable to see beyond the racial differences of one another.
Never did I think I would live in a time that people 100 years from now will look back at and learn so much from. The world is changing in a more rapid pace than maybe is comforting, but it’s our responsibility to stop and look around at it once in awhile.

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