Archive for March, 2012


Posted: March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Assignment: Choose the sentence from the first five paragraphs of Gardner Campbell’s Personal Cyberinfrastructure essay that most appeals to you. Briefly describe how and why that sentence appeals to you (one or two paragraphs should suffice – unless you need more).


“At the turn of the century, higher education looked in the mirror and, seeing its portals, its easy-to-use LMSs, and its “digital campuses,” admired itself as sleek, youthful, attractive. But the mirror lied.”

Campbell stresses the importance of higher education embracing the ever-changing content of the digital world, and incorporating those elements into their system.This particular sentence caught my attention because it couldn’t be more true. In today’s day and age, basic HTML is not enough to properly perpetuate higher education to the next level. Higher education institutes nationwide are too content with their (much too late) implementation of basic online features. It is vital that higher education use more complex elements from the digital web in order to move forward as an institution. Both faculty and students must have a decent understanding of the web, and should be able to use it to their advantage. . Online grades, adding and dropping of classes are a thing of the past. The institutions must strive for more complex elements in order to stay relevant in the online world. Both the faculty and students must embrace these elements in order to perpetuate forward. Being satisfied with basic online features won’t get you far. The web changes in a blink of an eye. The web doesn’t stop for anyone, so neither should the education sector. It is vital for higher education to move forward with the changing content and features of the web.

Keep up and stay up!


Link to the assignment: Police Beat 


Essentially, identify an innocent seeming song that advocates some odd/criminal behavior and reformat it as a police report style article. My example based on “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” is below.




MARCH 10TH, 2012

Acclaimed Italian eurodance group, Eiffel 65 (Jeffrey Jey, Maurizio Lobina, Gabry Ponte) has been arrested for allegedly painting sixteen women, ten vehicles, three churches, and eight houses blue.They were arrested approximately five blocks from their home in Naples, Italy. The exact brand of paint used is unknown, but is currently being investigated by crime scene investigators. Witnesses claim the three men were yelling “Im blue, da ba dee da ba dee” as they were painting everything in sight with an unknown blue substance.

Witness and local farmer Marco Materazzi said the three men were most likely drunk, if not clinically insane.

Alessandro Del Piero, a clinical psychotherapist at the Naples Hospital of Mental Care warns the public that although the three men are mentally unstable, and should be avoided at all costs. “In my professional opinion, Eiffel 65 must be kept in police custody for as long as possible, for they are a possible threat to the general public of Naples. They have an unhealthy obsession with the color blue.”

The three men are currently under custody, pending over 20 charges for vandalism, destruction of property, assault with a deadly weapon (unknown blue substance), public indecency, etc.

Total Damage: Estimated to be over $200,000 USD.

Linke to the assignment: Google Maps Story 

Assignment: Use Google Maps to tell a story! It can be the story of a trip you took, a trip you would like to take, a strange occurrence, a war, anything you like! The only rules are that you have to use Google Maps proper in order to tell your story, and post it here

Process: I used google maps to creation a set of directions, and used screenshots taken via google maps to help tell the story.


My trip to Japan (quite possibly the most cost effective method) last August…..

My expedition began in Los Angeles, my hometown…


It was a 35 day trip, consisting of blood, sweat, and tears. I could have spent $2000 on a round trip plane ticket, but instead i chose to travel “green” (goodbye jet fuel).

It started off quite nicely, cruising along highways and empty streets. It was as if I was in a movie, my hair blowing in the wind while driving a convertible. But as we all know, good things don’t last forever…

Here was the next set of instructions given to me:


Wait…what? Kayak for 2,756 miles? Ok, challenge accepted.

11 days later, i finally arrived in Hawaii. I was exhausted, but felt like Bear Grills.

I decided to stop by a local hawaiian restaurant (not eating for 11 days is tough, trust me).


Food has entered my system, Awesome.

After spending a few hours digesting food, it was back to the Kayak. This time i had to kayak across the pacific ocean to enter Japan….here we go.


3,879 miles later, i was in JAPAN!!!!!

Random shore i ended up at (somewhere in Japan):


I was exhausted, but i knew i had to stay strong. I stopped by a local sushi restaurant to reward myself.


It was the best sushi i’ve ever eaten in my life. I took out my cellphone to call my grandparents (they were in Kyoto at the time), but i realized that my phone was drenched from the kayaking, so i was unable to let them know that i arrived.

DAY 35:


It was a long and exhausting trip, but it was definitely worth it. I had $2000 in my pocket (which subsequently had to be spent on medical bills due to the intense kayaking strain on both my arms), a smile on my face, and most importantly, a sense of accomplishment. I’ll definitely be taking the same route when i go back to the states this summer.


Link to assignment: One Story Four Icons 


This idea was first suggested by Tom Woodward and has been a long standing popular ds106 assignment, but mis-filed in the Visual Assignments category (see the 80+ examples done there). This is really a design task, so hang ’em here from now on. The assignment is to reduce a movie, story, or event into its basic elements, then take those visuals and reduce them further to simple icons, four of them. Write your blog post up but do not give away the answer, let people guess! The challenge is to find the icons that suggest the story, but do not make it so easy.

Process: I took pictures (or icons) from microsoft word and/or my collection of random images on my computer. I put them together on microsoft word, and took a screenshot of the image. Then i posted it directly onto the blog.


Unfortunately, i am unable to provide you guys with the title of the movie. Take a look at the four icons i put together…maybe you can guess what movie it is! Its definitely a childhood classic (for us 90s kids).

Good luck!

Images taken from microsoft word and my “online photo collection” (unable to track down original creator).

This is in response to Rodnie’s presentation “Hire a Hacker Now!!”

Link to his presentation / write-up: here 

Rodnie’s presentation covered the topic of “Hackers” on the internet. There are several sites that offer Hacking services in exchange for money. These include (but are not limited to): acquiring email passwords, shutting down websites, etc. Services start from as low as $150USD. According to his source, most of the hackers for hire can be found in America and Asia (mainly China and Korea).

To me, the idea that hackers are readily offering their services to common end users is both disturbing and frightening. If i pay $150, i can get access to someone’s private email account and take all of their information. That’s a scary thought. Next up: bank accounts and credit cards. I enjoy freedom on the internet, but when sites like these come up on my google search, i can’t help but cringe. The freedom for end users on the internet is definitely a double edged sword. On one hand, it lets creativity and freedom grow and prosper, but on the other hand, every user is also at risk due to sites such as the one Rodnie posted.

For those who are interested (i certainly hope not), here is the site that will give you access to the hackers for hire:

For those who are in need of step by step instructions (lol), here are four easy steps to get a hacker (courtesy of Rodnie)

” The Steps to finding a hacker:

1. First acquire a target to hack, such as someone’s email account

2. Find websites such as or other sites through google or Craig’s list.

3. Submit a request for a hacker and what need to be hacked.

4. Pay the fee. The fee can as low as $150. “



“Now that SOPA’s dead, five easy ways to reform copyright laws”

Link to article: here 

This is an article from another “topic” that i dissect. It deals with copyright laws, and how the United States can improve it’s laws in order to make the basis of copyright more fair for the end users.

In the United States, copyright laws are incredibly strict and unforgiving. They heavily favor major corporations, rather than the original creator themselves. An example would be the fact that corporations have control over an original creators copyright, long after he or she has passed away. Ridiculous laws such as these drive consumers to the ground and cause confusion and chaos within the online community.

In order to combat the madness, the Washington Post has posted five simple suggestions that can potentially eliminate the copyright law chaos that America is going through right now.

(following five rules are pasted directly from Washington Post)


1. Curbing abuses of copyright takedowns. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), if a copyright holder — say, a record company — comes across pirated material on a site like YouTube, it can fire off a takedown notice. YouTube then has to take down the material for at least 10 days while it evaluates the claim. The problem, Public Knowledge says, is that this law is prone to overreach. All content is “assumed guilty until proven innocent.” Perfectly legitimate material can get muscled offline until its owner files a counter-notice. (And companies have been known to abuse this right, as when Wal-Mart got a comparison-shopping Web site taken down by inaccurately claiming copyright infringement. See a list of examples here.)

In order to prevent such abuses, Public Knowledge suggests that innocent defendants can ask for damages, ranging from $200 to $2,500, if the takedown request turns out to be frivolous. Copyright holders would also have to make their takedown requests public and would face penalties for misrepresenting their cases.


2. Shortening copyright terms. Back in the early days of the republic, an author owned the copyright of his or her work for just 14 years (with an option to renew for another 14 years). But Congress has lengthened copyright protections over the years — often at the behest of companies like Disney, which isn’t keen on letting the copyright on Mickey Mouse to expire. Right now, a copyright lasts for the entire life span of a creator plus an additional 70 years. Public Knowledge argues that this has gone way too far and is stifling innovation. They suggest whittling the length of copyright ownership back to life of the creator plus 50 years. (Corporate copyrights over an employee’s creation would drop from 95 years to 50 years.)


3. Clear up “fair use” rules. “Fair use” is a rather murky doctrine in copyright law. In theory, you can use copyrighted material without permission for certain purposes — say, quoting the passage of a book in a review. The problem is, it’s not always clear what use counts as fair use (the artist Jeff Koons famously lost a case on this after parodying a banal photo of puppies). And if you’re wrong, you can be hit with a fine of up to $150,000 in statutory damages, regardless of how much actual harm was caused by the copying. Public Knowledge argues that this curbs innovation, and wants Congress to do away with the statutory fine. (A copyright holder could still sue for any actual damages he or she suffered.)

4. Protect against overbearing copyright claims. This one is a relatively modest proposal, but Public Knowledge wants companies to stop claiming copyright powers that they don’t actually hold. For instance, the NFL often states during telecasts of football games that “any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL’s consent, is prohibited.” The NFL doesn’t actually have the legal power to prohibit such things, and Public Knowledge wants to make it illegal to say so. Likewise, the group wants Congress to clarify that making “transient” copies of copyrighted objects (for instance, when a CD player buffers parts of an album to prevent skipping) is okay. While most of these things sound minor, the idea is to make absolutely clear what people are and aren’t liable for.
5. Allow the breaking of Digital Rights Management software for legal purposes. Many DVDs come with DRM protection that makes it harder to copy or excerpt the works. And fair enough. But this can lead to some odd consequences. It’s illegal to break these digital locks even if you’re using the material for perfectly legal purposes. As Public Knowledge puts it, “if you wanted to use a clip from a movie in order to criticize it, taking the clip itself is legal, but breaking the DRM on the DVD in order to do so is not.” (Currently, there are a few exceptions — university professors are allowed to break the locks to show film clips in classes — but these exceptions are murky and have to be relitigated every few years.) The group wants it to be legal to crack DRM technologies for legal purposes.
“We should make it easier to promote creative and innovative uses of copyrighted materials”.
They keyword in the quote is CREATIVE. In order for end users to perpetuate creation, they must use materials that are already in circulation to base their work upon. There must be a way for users to use copyrighted materials in order to give birth to creativity and innovation. It is the only way we can move forward. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that these suggestions will make it through congress, for lobbyists from major corporations have a much more influential voice than those who oppose the totalitarian-like policies that are being implemented. In order for copyright laws to truly transcend into fair ground, those who oppose (the majority) must reach out and take action.

The end of online privacy

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


Article link: here 



Did you know that applications on your smartphone keeps track of your personal information? Contacts, phone numbers, mobile web browsing history, etc.

An example would be a social application for the iPhone called “Path”. This application looks into your smartphones contacts, and uploads all of the information to their server(s). Most people who downloaded the application were not aware of this activity. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by a user interface designer found that 13 of the top 15 developers for iOS (iphone/ipad) applications confessed that they have access to a huge database of private user information. Although they claim the information is strictly confidential, it make’s one think how safe their information is in their hands.

Think before you click (or touch)!



Twitter claims they have a database full of their users private information as well. It keeps a record of all address book data (including phone numbers and email addresses).

Target, one of the largest (online) retailers in the United States, claim that they can use statistics (via a record of purchased items) to identify pregnant shoppers. The tool Target uses to track what their customers purchase is called the “25-item prediction system”.

Google makes 97% of its revenue from ads. Therefore, it is necessary for them to track what their users search in order to provide the most effective ads for each individual browser. For the end user, it simply means that google tracks every move that one makes within it’s “system”. Because of this, Google has received harsh criticism for it’s policy regarding user privacy.


In order to protect users’ private information, the government (ironically) is beginning to take action:

“The culmination was the announcement last week by the Obama administration that it would push for all browsers to have a ”Do Not Track” button as part of a ”consumer privacy bill of rights”, while the Californian attorney general said that apps would have to include privacy policies to tell users what data they would access” (Arthur).

One thing is for sure, there is no such thing as “true privacy” in the cyber world. Somewhere, someone has access to the information you keep online. Whether it’s a smartphone or a laptop, your personal information may be in jeopardy. Make sure you read the fine print when you download an application on your smartphone. Double check the website’s privacy policy when signing up for it. Etc.


Stay safe out there.