Archive for March, 2011

The Internet: Paving the way for Politics (Week 10)

Simple looking image isn’t it?
But as far as images go, this one in particular has a far deeper message than what can be deduced from surface value.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well then, let us break down this picture above, starting by talking about some fundamental aspects on the details that this image contains.

Twitter

It is instantly recognizable that this image has been cropped from the famous social networking site Twitter. With an emphasis on micro-blogging, Twitter has taken the world by storm with it’s unique and simple way to share bits and pieces of one’s life with anyone who wants to know and vice versa. And like many of the big players in the social networking game, Twitter, has been making it’s way into many of our daily routine. A vital point to note that adds to the Twitter’s immense popularity, is that it’s users are not limited to average netizens. Twitter’s registered users database boast a number of internationally renowned personalities from a myriad of different fields that include the arts, sports and politics. On top of that, major organizations also utilize Twitter’s broad reach to advertise on new products or services.


The Obama Edge


As you can see from the image, the person who posted the particular tweet is the current President of the United States, President Barack Obama. This raises the question,“ Why is the most powerful man in the World using a social networking site that even commoners can use?” The answer is simple. It is because social networking has made the Internet the most powerful broadcasting medium in the World. Never has there been a medium where you can receive messages or updates with such convenience and promptness. Additionally, the Internet can be used to share information such as tweets like the one above, with great ease. People can quote tweets like this and share them with their friends and family. They can even add opinions or comments that they might have regarding it.

This is History

The final, but most significant, detail of the image is the “Tweet” itself.
“This is History.”
It is due to the nature of the tweet that inspired me to select it to write about. “History” is a word that resounds in so many aspects of the “Tweet”.
The writer of the tweet, President Barack Obama, is a prime example of that. He has made history by being the First President of the United States of America to be of African-American heritage. As a Hawaiian, he was also the first to be born outside the continental United States.
However, the historical landmark, that is the focus of the entry, is of a different “First”.
President Obama is the first president to have actively integrated social networking sites, such as Twitter, into his Presidential Campaign. This bold move struck a chord with the youth and many other IT savvy groups, and reaching further out to the world than any president has at the same time. By using the Internet and Social Networking, he has emulated his predecessors by using a new medium to garner popularity.
From the first time when Presidential Election results were broadcasted on radio in 1924 that President Calvin Coolidge had won to the first televised Presidential Debate between JFK and Nixon in 1960.
Presidents have used what were “new media” in their times to keep up and connect with their people.
President Obama is doing that now, with the Internet. But which good politician wouldn’t do that anyway?


Conclusion

The Internet is definitely a broadcasting medium that is here to stay. And Politics, like almost everything else, will be forever changed by it. President Obama has set a fine example of how to use this powerful medium to his advantage, by being the first president to use the Internet to stay current with changing times and connect with his people at the same time.
This is History.

The Multimedia Advantage (Week 9)

Multimedia

Multimedia can be defined rather simply. By breaking up the word, we get “multi” and “media”. Therefore, it is safe to say that multimedia is primarily media that incorporates a combination of various types of media such as audio, video, still images, text and animation. On top of that, another fundamental aspect of multimedia to consider is that it is interactive, which explains why it is usually associated with computers.

 

Interactivity of Multimedia

Computers, unlike old media such as television or radio, allows users to choose what form they would like their media to be in at their own convenience. For example, instead of watching random mobile phone advertisements that are broadcasted on primetime television, I can go online and search for information on the specific model of mobile phone that I am interested in. Furthermore, I can choose if I would prefer to read a text-based write up on the specifications of the phone accompanied with a few still images or just watch a thorough and dynamic video review that could be too long to be broadcasted on primetime television.

 

 

With that said, here is an advertisement for a mobile phone by BlackBerry that I have never seen on television. I found it on YouTube and felt that it was exceptionally good.


The BlackBerry Torch 9800

It has the makings of an outstanding multimedia advertisement. A catchy audio track, stunning computer graphic effects, stylized video clips, bold headers and crisp, digitally rendered images merged together in an awesome symphony of cutting-edge style and class without forgetting to include important information on it’s features.

 

The Multimedia Advantage

People might argue that an advertisement like that is no different from the ones on television. Well, it is true to a certain extent. However, what the focus should be on is it’s interactivity and how it can be a strong advantage.

A Suitable Medium

Due to the commercial being available on YouTube, anyone with a multimedia device, which is currently most computers and smartphones, can view it. In that way, since the product is essentially a multimedia tool, it would be very apt to be presented in that medium.

 

Reaching the Target Audience

Additionally, primetime commercials are just broadcasted to a random mix of audience. While on the other hand, most people who have viewed this particular commercial online are most likely already interested in it and want to find out more. The difference is that while it is likely there will be more people watching the primetime commercial, there is a higher chance that the people who view multimedia commercial would actually purchase the product. This factor takes care of the company trying to reach to its target audience. To further enhance this point, primetime spots on television can cost up to millions on top of the production costs. Advertising online is virtually free. This means that the company would be reaching its target audience at a fraction of the alternative cost if they choose to use the Internet.

 

Social Networking

The final, and probably most significant, advantage is related to another Internet phenomenon, Social Networking. Many companies, including Blackberry, now have the option for someone to be able to link their product pages on various Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Thus, the merging of these two Internet phenomena has the potential to make something every multi-million dollar marketing campaign seeks to make, Buzz. People are more likely to buy a product that has been hyped up by other people. If one were to see his or her Facebook wall or Twitter feed peppered with videos and articles on a particular product, he or she would likely be at least intrigued and seek to find out more about that product. Some people even make their decisions based on the popularity of the product.

 

Conclusion

At first glance, multimedia and regular media may not seem to have much contrast. A commercial viewed online and on the television can even be identical. However, the vast network of the Internet paired with the interactivity of multimedia has been a marketing revolution. It has shattered barriers that regular media could never have overcome. Multimedia is not just another passing trend; it is the medium of the future.

Cyber-crime: As real as it gets. (Week 8)

Cyber-crime

Cyber-crime, like regular crime, can occur in all sorts of variations and intensity. These crimes range from the mildly annoying to the downright destructive. Therefore, it is vital to recognize the different types of Cyber-crimes that one can be a victim of, and more importantly, protect him or herself from.

 

 

The Different Types of Cybercrime

Spam

Perhaps one of the less severe types of Cyber-crime, Spamming is viewed as more of an annoyance rather than something malicious. It is usually defined as the act of sending unsolicited e-mail in large quantities for the purpose of advertising. I would say it is comparable to companies making cold calls or a door-to-door salesman. It could cause inconvenience, but no major damage is done.

Computer Fraud

As the Internet grows to aid us more in our daily lives, especially in the field of e-commerce, it has inadvertently made us more vulnerable and exposed to threats. Let us take the real world as an example; if someone wants to steal our money or peek at our pin number, he or she would have to take great pains to do so because of the obvious factors involved. However, in the virtual world there are many ways one can steal passwords, obtain sensitive documents or hack into accounts; including the use of Trojan Horses, Worms and Bombs.

 

Cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying has been defined as “when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person”. However, it is not limited to that, cyber-stalking is can also manifest as a form of cyber-bullying when it escalates to cause distress and trauma for the victim. Statistics have shown that cyber-bullying is an epidemic faced by most teenagers. In America, the number has reached to almost half the teenage population. The dangerous consequence of cyber-bullying is it can drive impressionable and impulsive teenagers to depression, rage and in extreme cases suicide. The suicides of Megan Meier and Ryan Halligan are a couple of tragic examples where cyber-bullying led to death.

 

Protecting Yourself from Cyber-crimes

As cyber-crimes draw a parallel with crimes in real life, the ways in which we protect ourselves from them are also somewhat similar.

Passwords

As we know, passwords are a staple in the online world. They are found everywhere; from MMORPG to iBanking accounts. And there are hackers who have developed countless of programs find out your password combinations. However, simply using a complicated and long password can thwart a lot of these programs. It is the same logic as using bigger and more locks on your doors. Sure it might be a slight inconvenience to remember a password, but it could save you a lot of trouble and heartache. Would you rather remember a 10-digit password or have all your contacts from your e-mail address book stolen from you? Some tips to keep in mind would be to use capital letters and special symbols along with the usual alphanumeric passwords. A password like “!MpR3Gn@b|3” would be a tough nut to crack.

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-Virus and Firewalls

As we continue to draw a parallel between the real and virtual worlds; firewalls and anti-viruses would be like having security guards standing in front of your doors and patrolling around your estate respectively. They work to keep out undesirable content and search your system to contain and dispatch of that can be seen as a threat. There are different types of software such as McAfee, BitDefender and Norton that offer comprehensive and updated anti-virus capabilities. There are even some types of software, such as AVG, that are free for download.

 


Being Alert and Savvy

Even with all the preventive measures, one of the most effective ways of preventing cyber-crime is to be alert and savvy. If you see a deal online that is too good to be true, it probably is. Do not give away valuable information such as personal particulars and credit card numbers to strangers who promise extravagant rewards and prizes, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

This point would especially be of value to victims of cyber-bullying and stalking. Parents and teachers should educate teenagers to take the high road and not succumb to bullies or even become bullies. Also, being sociable and positive are excellent methods to deal with bullying in any form.

 

Conclusion

It is inevitable that as IT becomes more advanced and ubiquitous, the rate and intensity of cyber-crime would rise as well. However, we should not be deterred and always be on constant vigilance. Ultimately, it will be you who would suffer for being complacent and ignorant. Updating and enforcing the security on your multimedia products is a key measure to take in this process of protecting yourself against cyber-crime. The virtual world like the real world; is a dangerous place.
Do not become a victim of cyber-crime!

LIVE and LOUD! (a COM 125 Blog Video) (Week 7)

LIVE and LOUD!

I say that experiencing music LIVE and LOUD, is the BEST way to really appreciate and feel the music that you love.

Live performances surpasses any Genre;  from Classical to Metal.

It is only then when you can appreciate the stage antics of the performers, feel the energy of fellow fans of the band, totally immerse yourself in the performance and be just be enraptured by the Music.

This is a small collection of videos from some of the awesome concerts that I have had the pleasure of attending in Singapore.

THANK YOU FOR WATCHING!

I hope you have had as much fun watching the video as I had making it! 😀

Google Everything (Week 7)

Google

If a Netizen told you that they have not used Google or one of Google’s many products, he or she would probably be lying. Google, it’s subsidiaries, and the various tools that have spawned from the company have most probably found it’s way in your life one way or another.

3 major factors come into play to attribute to Google’s success, the ubiquity of the Technology, the wide reach of the Internet, and the exhaustive scope Google has on the various major facets of the Internet.

Web Search Engines

We are all well aware of the stark omnipresence of technology and the Internet, representing the first two factors previously mentioned, so how did Google take advantage of that? As the number of people going online grows rapidly; even more so will the content on the Internet.  As such, the content on the Internet would need to be indexed, so as to facilitate searching for items on it. This ignited the creation of Web Search Engines. Early examples of popular web search engines include Lycos, Alta Vista and Yahoo!. These search engines were efficient and fairly popular in their heyday, till 1998 when Google arrived and changed the game.

PageRank

Google became the leading search engine with an invention called PageRank, an iterative algorithm that ranks web pages based on the number and PageRank of other web sites and pages that link there, on the premise that good or desirable pages are linked to more than others. Evidently, this unique way of searching for items on the Internet struck a chord with Netizens and the rest is history.

Google Everything

Google did indeed revolutionize the search engine and has many other search engines that cater to more refined searches such as Google News for News Articles and Google Patents for registered patents and patent applications. However, search engines were just the tip of the iceberg for Google. Heard of the saying “To have a finger in the pie”? Google went to have it’s figurative “fingers” stuck in virtually every “pie” that the Internet had to offer. Chrome for web browsing, Blogger for blogging and Groups for Internet communication are just a few of the many Internet related products Google created to propel itself to one of the most popular and wealthy brands in the world.

As a seasoned Netizen myself, I too have used a number of Google related products and subsidiaries. Google and YouTube are definitely websites I use on an almost daily basis. I am a registered user for Gmail and Google Groups and have also used Google scholar to search for journals, Google Maps to look for directions and probably many Google products that I was unaware of. A point to highlight is that I did not use any of these websites or products just because they were popular or were under the Google brand. I used them because they were they were efficient and useful; more points that contribute to the success of Google.


Google Books

For this week’s blog entry I has to learn something new on Google tools or services. I then decided to make use of this opportunity to expand my horizons. Upon Googling google (I hear that doing this will break the Internet. Well, it didn’t) I noticed that there was this search engine for books, cleverly name Google Books.

I used to be an avid reader when I was younger but stopped in my pubescent years because of a number of trivial reasons. However, I have been meaning to rekindle the joy I had for reading again after many recommendations and the priceless knowledge and entertainment that comes with reading, but was just lacking the push needed to start again. That is until I found out about Google Books.


I was blown away by the new world that Google Books had opened up for me. With Google Books, I can now read the synopsis and dozens of reviews for literally any book that was ever published. In addition to that there are pictures of the covers, and even scanned pages of a select number of books to preview. Moreover, there are even links to online stores where one can buy the selected book.

To add to the perks of using Google Books, I realized that I can view 3 free eBooks just by logging on to the website.

Google Books even indexes Graphic Novels and Magazines!


I can safely say that Google Books is an excellent tool for someone who wants to rekindle the love he or she had for books like myself. In fact, I believe even if one is new to reading or a seasoned book enthusiast, he or she would find Google Books extremely useful. I would now like to take the time to thank Google again for changing my life with yet another groundbreaking service.  Thank You Google!

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Here is a video of one of Google’s founders, Sergey Brin, talking about the future of Google Books.