Saturday, December 18, 2010

Week 11 EOC: The future of the internet

Behind every great invention is the inventor known for thinking outside the box. The person who doesn't accept things for the way they are, but sees things the way they could be. Steven Jobs is known as the inventor of Apple computers, more specifically the personal computer. He started the revolution that has lead to each of us being able to carry a computer anywhere with us in the palm of our hand. Although Steven Jobs did not have a clear vision of exactly what would come of his ideas and inventions, he knew that he was doing something that had never before been done. He knew he had million dollar ideas that would lead to world wide innovation. "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." (Steve Jobs)

The future of the internet is more than any of us will ever image or fathom. It is the future of the world. Take a look at our the worlds history. Go back to the dawn of human civilization. For thousands of years our technological advances remained stagnant. It wasn't until the last 200 years or so that we really started industrializing and making major technological changes. This is all due to the invention of things like the personal computer and the internet. They have launched our advancement as humans into hyper speed. We are now cruising at full speed and there will be no stopping tomorrow.

The futurist Alvin Toffler wrote a book in 1970 that scared some, and motivated others. He presented many interesting concepts about the next 3 decades that no one had considered or imagined possible.
"He anticipated, long in advance, today’s computer revolution, as well as cloning, the fragmentation of the family, cable television, VCRs, satellites, customized products, the speed-up of daily life, niche markets, virtual agents and the rise of the "knowledge economy." (
His main thesis however, couldn't have been more wrong. "In three short decades between now and the turn of the next millennium, millions of psychologically normal people will experience an abrupt collision with the future. Affluent, educated citizens of the world’s richest and most technically advanced nations, they will fall victim to tomorrow’s most menacing malady: the disease of change. Unable to keep up with the supercharged pace of change, brought to the edge of breakdown by incessant demands to adapt to novelty, many will plunge into future shock. For them the future will have arrived too soon." (
40 years after Toffler published his work, we look back and read this thesis and can't help but laugh. Yes, technology and society has changed dramatically and at faster and faster speeds. But today's society is most certainly not suffering from these quick changes and technological advances. Yes, human kind is changing the way they behave, interact, and live but this is not what I call "future shock". I call this survival.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Week 10 EOC: What I learned today

One of the topics discussed in class today was the term "War Driving". War driving is a term used to describe hackers who are on the move, using a computer with a modified wireless adapter that has wider range. Sometimes they will even modify a computers built in adapter by adding an antenna that can increase the range. Hackers will drive around in a vehicle looking for hot spots or open wireless networks in neighborhoods and other heavily populated areas.

The question is, why do they do this? The answer is quite simple, yet scary. When a hacker finds an open unprotected network, they connect to that network and begin to transfer data from other computers connected to that network. Anything that is sent over the internet, whether it is encrypted or not, can be apprehended and decoded by the hacker. They can obtain information about someone's email passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and anything else that you send into cyber space.

The funny thing is that I had already discover this technique on my own a few years ago. Of course I didn't use it to steal anyone's identity or money. I had a more innocent motive. My band was in an online battle that required a large number of votes in order to win an amazing opportunity to play in front of thousands. Because the online voting logged your IP address, voting was limited and we could not vote for ourselves over and over. I came up with the idea to drive through neighborhoods and connect to other people's unprotected wifi's in order to vote on their IP address. The process was genius and our band ended up winning first place in the battle. I knew this was cheating and I knew it was wrong but I figured any of the other bands in the contest could have thought of this same technique and used it. I was the only one clever enough to think of it and actually do it, without even this is done by hackers every day and is called "War Driving".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Week 9 EOC: What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of the cyber world. It occurs the Monday immediately following Black Friday. The term originated in the 2005 holiday season by after research showed a 78% increase in online sales the Monday after Thanksgiving 2004. "The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked." (New York Times). This spike in internet shopping seems to be the cause of disappointed Black Friday Shoppers that didn't quite get everything on their list over the weekend. They turn to the internet after a long weekend of sleepless nights, running from store to store, fighting the lines and trying to catch the best deals. "As the official kick-off to the online holiday shopping season, Cyber Monday shoppers will scour the internet looking for holiday gifts from a variety of retailers, making sure to take note of specific prices and deals which offer them holiday savings," (Joan Broughton, Interim Executive Director of Online Retailers have been researching and tracking sales numbers for years now and have been seeing increasingly more people shopping online each year.
"Shoppers are surfing the Web in droves to take advantage of Cyber Monday’s sales and promotions, highlighting a new consumer shopping trend—increased online purchasing. In 2009, shoppers spent $887 million on Cyber Monday which was the second biggest online shopping day in history next to December 13, 2009, when online shoppers spent $913 million." (The Washington Informer). This year that record has been broken yet again."Online spending in the U.S. reached $1.028 billion this Cyber Monday, growing 16 percent over the same day last year and representing the heaviest U.S. online shopping day on record." (data from comScore).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Week 7 EOC: The Scary Internet

The internet can be a scary thing at times. Aside from the more obvious things like downloading viruses and protecting your children from online predators, there are other dangers out there that are far greater. The internet is watching you. These days, most everything you do on the internet can be recorded and stored somewhere other than your own personal computer. You are not safe by simply deleting your browsing history or cookies. The websites you know and trust are collecting information and personal data from you every day. Google is one of the leading companies in tricking its users to give up their personal information. They were one of the first companies to realize that information is power on the internet. Google's search engine is the biggest and most popular on the web. They have the ability to track every search on a personal level in order to figure out exactly what you are searching for, what times of day you are searching, and for how long. All of this data can tell the company a lot about you. They can figure out what time of day you are using your computer the most, even what time of day you are home altogether. They can figure out whether you are male or female, and even pinpoint your age. They can figure out what interests you have, what field of work you are in, whether you are married, have kids, etc. Aside from Google's search, there are a ton of other applications made by Google that we use daily to give Google even more information. Gmail is one of the most widely used email services on the internet. Both sent and received mail is parsed and analyzed by Google. Google Earth posts information about every single person's home address. When a person uses Google Earth they track their searches and collect data about the places they go, where they live, the times they travel, the times they search, etc. Google also has access to all tweets that pass through twitter. They can see exactly who is tweeting about what, when, where, and why. Google uses a ton of other applications and methods to collect data such as Web crawling, Website analytics, Ad serving, Google Public Profiles, YouTube, Feedburner, Google Reader, Google Translate, Google Public DNS. All of these collect your data and build personal profiles for each individual person.

The big question is, Why do companies like Google do this? There are many answers. Luckily Google is a pretty well trusted corporation and they are not looking to cause any harm to its users. That doesn't mean they don't have a questionable reason for doing all of this. Google's main reason for collecting data from its users is to make billions of dollars in advertising. The information they collect from their users is priceless when it comes to companies that want to reach these users and sell them their product. Because Google is able to collect so much invaluable information about their users, companies pay top dollar to be able to reach out to the right crowds at the right places at the right times. So technically Google has been exploiting our personal information For their own gain since the company began. The biggest question of all is whether this is ethical and legal. Does Google have the right to collect our information and sell it to the highest bidder? Their argument is "If you don't want people to know your personal business on the web, then don't use it" or more specifically, don't use their products.

Week 7 BOC: Privacy Issues on the Web - Companies that spy on you

Everyone is concerned with keeping their business private from third parties on the internet. Unfortunately, there are companies that you may know and trust that are collecting your personal information without you even knowing. Two companies that have been doing this lately are Google and Microsoft.

Google is obviously a company that is known to compile the world's information to allow it to be searched on the web. It has definitely been a helpful tool in the past 10 years. Lately however they have stirred up attention for taking things a little too far and making people uncomfortable. Google Earth is a Google Application that allows you to search addresses and other landmarks around the world. “Google Earth is a geobrowser that accesses satellite and aerial imagery, ocean bathymetry, and other geographic data over the internet to represent the Earth as a three-dimensional globe. Geobrowsers are alternatively known as virtual globes or Earth browsers. Google also refers to Google Earth as a "geographic browser.” ( They use street cars that drive around and take pictures of the world's streets allowing for people to have a real street view of any road in the world. Lately these street view cars have been found to be driving around neighborhoods not only taking pictures, but also tapping into unprotected home networks and collecting private data. "Last month, Google disclosed that its Street View cars collected passwords, e-mails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people across the country," Michele Ellison, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau chief, said in a prepared statement. "The Enforcement Bureau is looking into whether these actions violate the Communications Act." ( Google admitted to these acts and the FCC is deciding whether it violates internet protocol or not. We can only hope the FCC does not allow Google to tap any further into our personal lives.

Recently Microsoft released a new gaming experience called "Kinect". Upon its release, people immediately began to question Kinect's full capabilities. Claims were being made that Kinect is basically a window into your living room allowing Microsoft to see everything that goes on. Kinect can calculate exactly how many people are in the room. It can read your every movements and can even tell when someone leaves or enters the room. There are even claims that Microsoft can use this device to take images of your room to see what you own and what you do. Microsoft may be collecting this information to sell people out to advertisers. "In this particular instance, Dennis Durkin, chief operating officer of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment division, spoke at the BMO Capital Markets forum earlier in November and suggested that Kinect can feed back certain information about its users even if the device isn’t immediately active–for instance, it might take in the team colors of a user who’s watching the Xbox 360′s ESPN stream. That information can go back to advertisers." ( Microsoft claims Kinect won't invade your privacy saying "By default we don't listen or look at anything," MIcrosoft's director of the Kinect technology, Alex Kipman, told Kotaku in a recent interview. "No data is ever sent back to Microsoft. Period. Full stop." ( We can only hope that these companies are looking our for our better interests and not just trying to sell us out to earn an easy dollar. We should be able to trust major corporations like these and be able to purchase products and use applications from them without fear of giving up our rights as Americans.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Week 6 BOC: There's an app for that!

Where would we be today without our smart phones? Being someone who doesn't and has never owned a smart phone, I find this question rather pathetic. However, there are a surprisingly large number of people who actually feel as if the smart phone is a daily necessity. I will admit their capabilities are extraordinary and have brought so many technological conveniences to people's lives. My question is, is this a good thing? I believe smart phone applications are doing so many things for people that it is making people a little too dependent on their mobile phones. For some people the question earlier stated is taken a little too seriously. Where WOULD we be without our smart phones? In the case of the Carrr Matey, the answer is simple. We would be lost!

The Carrr Matey is a useful android app that helps you find your car. It doesn't just help you find your car, it does it in a cute pirate themed way. It talks to you in a pirate voice and uses your phone's GPS to mark where your car is parked. "So you don't park your car -- you drop anchor. Can't remember where your car, uh, ship is? Click on the Find Vessel button. Don't want the Navy -- i.e., the police -- to give you a ticket when the meter runs out? Set the timer. And if you want to make note of which part of the garage your vessel is in, click on the Harbor button and you can note (by drawing on your touch screen) the level, letter or space you're using -- on a treasure map." ( Although this smart phone app seems a little too unnecessary I will admit that i have found myself lost in a giant parking garage too many times to count. This app saves time and stress of searching for your car, and does it in a witty pirate themed way.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week 5 Midterm: What is the origin of the word “Spam”?

Spam is a word referred to on the internet as a mass message sent out to multiple recipients from a source that is trying to get you to buy their goods, scam you, or collect email addresses. There are many speculations as to who came up with the word "spam" and what it means exactly. after researching on the internet I have found a few interesting claims about the origin of the word "spam". Some say it is an acronym meaning "Shit Posing As Mail or Stupid Boring Annoying Messages" ( Others say it has to do with downloading images. Often times people would try to download a picture of a naked woman and when they viewed the image it turned out to be only a picture of a can of spam. In our book, it explains a different story about the word's origin."The term spam comes from a Monty Python skit in which every item on a menu contained Spam Luncheon meat. It was originally used to refer to unsolicited postings for commercial products or services on Usenet, especially when they were cross-posted to several newsgroups." (How The Internet Works, pg. 103). "Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!" (Monty Python's Flying Circus). In class we discussed the true origin of the word, which doesn't actually have anything to do with Monty Python. The actual origin derived from a group of web geeks. When one would receive a mass email from someone trying to sell them something or obtain their email address, they would call it spam. If you picture someone throwing a handful of spam into a fan, it would send chunks of it flying everywhere. This is what these early web geeks used to describe a mass email being sent out to numerous people at once.