theCLOUD

In the class the other day, we discussed what we would do if the laptops we use every day were suddenly gonebroken, in the shop, fried, or eaten alive by virus’s. Within 15 minutes, I realized how much I rely on my laptop everyday.

I use my laptop daily for Gmail, Facebook, Photoshop, my online banking, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and of course- Word Press. Fortunately, most of these applications would be accessible from any computer because they are on the internet. However, what about my $200 Photoshop CS5 program? And we all know that Microsoft Office for Macs isn’t exactly cheap– so how could I possibly cope without these two pricy programs for a week?

That’s why the Cloud is so great- theres an online version of basically any program. Through the Cloud, you can basically do anything that a desktop program can do. After learning about Google Docs, I have been using it more than Microsoft Word; not only does it save as you type, (a skill I can’t seem to grasp), but it saves to to your Google account– which means I can access it in class without having to bring my laptop from any computer. In my Computer Imaging class, we have Photoshop tutorials due every Friday. I bought Photoshop in order to avoid having to go to the ATEC Lab every week to work on my tutorials, but if my laptop is unobtainable, wouldn’t I have to? Thankfully, no. Websites that provide online Photoshop techniques like Piknic.com and Gimp.com would not only save me the 10 minutes I would have spent walking to the ATEC Lab, but it would also save me the initial stress of temporarily losing Photoshop.

Originally, I was upset knowing I could get all this software for free of the Cloud- but like anything else, you pay for better quality and all the extra bells and whistles. So while it’s great to know that life would not end without my laptop, it’s also important to know to never rely completely on the Cloud- but always know it’s there to fall back on.

Goodbye for Now!

Relaxing by the Cloud

Visual Confections

Being an OCD, artistic person, I have always considered appearance as the #1 priority in any type of work. Whether it’s a paper you’re turning in, a painting you want to hang on the wall, or a website you’re visiting- the appearance is the first thing you see, the first impression you get, and usually the deciding factor on whether or not you like whatever it is you’re looking at.

Have you ever sat through a presentation that might have been interesting, but the way it was presented made it less appealing? Plenty of people do valuable research over various topics, but present it in such a way that makes it seem worthless.Why waste your time coming up with good ideas if you don’t plan on presenting them as if they are worth listening to? On the opposite end of the spectrum, think of all the people who have no idea what they are actually talking about, but present it in a way that makes it seem legitimate. That is why I consider the visual aspect of presentations as something that can be more important than the content.

I have the same opinion when it comes to website home pages. When I go to a website, I want to be able to find what I am looking for as fast as possible, I want it to be easy to navigate through, and I want to be able to see the purpose of the site as soon as the home page loads on my screen.

In class last Tuesday, we got to compare and contrast different websites and explain what we liked and didn’t like about them. When my partner and I showed each other our websites, we both had the same top preferences when it comes to websites home pages- visually appealing and straight forward. No one wants to look at a website that has plain text, no photos, and no animation (or I hope they don’t), and no one wants to look at a website that is confusing or involves 20 different clicks to get to the page you wanted.

One example of a dreadful webpage was the UT Dallas Orion site (screen shot below). Once you log in, you are taken to this screen…
To be honest, I have been using Orion since last March, and I still don’t know where everything is on that dumb site. It’s confusing, all the content is hidden, and the summaries of things like your “Account Inquiry” just restate what the first page said. Orion is presented in a very unappealing way (visually), and really just makes me feel bored and stressed as soon as I pull it up.

On the other hand, an example of a site that I regularly visit and enjoy visiting is my Gmail account (again, screen shot below). Not only can I search through my mail in the search bar, but it has all my mailboxes labeled clearly. Also, you can change the theme and put pretty pink flowers! Visually appealing? Of course!

Basically, when it comes to websites (or anything else, for that matter), it’s very easy to “judge the book by it’s cover”– because if someone isn’t concerned with the appearance of what their presenting, it’s hard to believe that they are actually expecting viewers to take them seriously.

Goodbye for Now!

PageRANKS

When I use a search engine, I use Google. Partly because the Google search bar is at the top of my Safari page, and also because I have always assumed it’s the best search engine.

Yesterday in class we used the website Ranks.nl to compare and contrast search engines. It’s a pretty simple site to use: You choose what search engines you want to see (up to 5) from a lengthy list, and then type in what you’re searching for.

I compared Google, Altavista, Yahoo, and Bing and I chose to search for puppies- Here’s a screen shot of the results for my search. When I compared all the different results, I realized that they all had almost the exact same top sites but their layouts were completely different. Google and Altavista had similar layouts- image results at the top followed by the different web pages, while Bing and Yahoo had similar layouts- video results at the top followed by the top results, and image results a few links down. It was interesting to me to be able to see the similarities and differences in the search engines since I usually do not use anything other than Google. By looking at different search engines and being able to compare and contrast them on the same page, I was able to see what I like and don’t like about them. Surprisingly, I was impressed by Bing and I was pretty entertained by the video results- (they play when you put your cursor on them!) Although Bing and Yahoo had the exact same image results and page ranks, I liked the layout on Bing more than I did on Yahoo. Google would definitely be my second preference because it is more orderly to me than Yahoo or Altavista, and if you scroll down they also have the video results.

I did find one thing more interesting than the comparison of search engines: how to get your website to the top of their lists. I always assumed that page ranks were based on how many people click on your site after searching, but there is much more to it.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization: SEO considers how a search engine works and what people are searching for in order to improve a websites visibility and promote a higher search engine ranking.

Here is a list of three ways to get your website a higher ranking, it’s called the Three Step SEO Strategy:

1. Make a list of targeted keyword phrases.

2. Create an optimized page for each keyword phrase on your list.

3. Obtain quality back links to each of your pages.

So if you are interested in being the #1 ranked page on Google, keep these three steps in mind.

Our homework this week has been to not use any sort of search engine and just in one day I have realized how much I use Google’s search bar- enough that I have had to break the homework rules a few times. However, I probably rely on the page ranks more than I rely on the search engine itself: thats the whole reason for using a search engine, to get the best results fast. So although the process of ranking pages is long and difficult to fully understand, it is good to know that they take it seriously and are interested in ranking pages accurately– that way I can see the cutest puppies first, without having to go through a strenuous search process.

Goodbye for Now!

Ranks.nl Logo

Screen shot photo is off of my screen.

PRIV@CY(@)PL@CES

When I updated my iPhone, I knew I would get the “Places” feature for my photos, but I didn’t realize how creepy it was until I actually looked at it this weekend.

When you open the “Places” in your photos, little drop pins show up based on where you have taken pictures. Most of my times has been spent in North Texas (Dallas), West Texas (Abilene), and Central Texas (Austin)- so when I open my Places I just see three little red pins. This weekend I decided to zoom in on my drop pin in Central Texas since I have taken most of my pictures there, and as I zoomed, more and more little pins showed up.

Turns out, every picture you take has a specific location on the map based on where you took it. I knew this whenever I updated my phone, but I wasn’t creeped out until I actually saw it on my screen. The other thing that creeped me out about the whole process was the fact that photos I had taken before I updated my phone were also on the map, exactly where I took them.

…I find that a little eery.

Maybe I shouldn’t, since technically I am the only person who looks through the pictures on my phone (I hope, since you never really know), but it still freaked me out when I saw the drop pin for the first picture I took on my iPhone at a friends house in Maytwo updates ago.

So I guess when it comes to location privacy, I am “Paranoid” (proudly paranoid). On the contrary, most of my friends are willing to throw their locations, activities, and plans out to anyone whos willing to listen: keep in mind, my friends are female, college students– A.K.A.: prime victims for all the creeps of the world.

My biggest pet peeve came about when Facebook added “Places” as a way to update your status. Since most of the girls I am friends with on Facebook are not very intelligent, this is an example of what I see on a daily basis:

So-and-So is studying at Starbucks Coffee @ 1:32 p.m. with Her Friend and is about to head back to Her Dorm at Her University, going to a concert at Some-Unsupervised-Place at 9 p.m., anyone want to go?! Text me at 555-STALK-ME!!”

As you can see, (by my dramatized version of a status update), people are not too concerned about what people see. Whether it’s what your doing, who your with, or where you are- people seem to want everyone else to know. Part of me thinks that these types of status posts are to get attention, feel a sense of belonging, or make it appear like you have a life outside of Facebook: but never-the-less it is dangerous.

I put a link at the bottom of this post that has a video on privacy and some tips on how to set your privacy on different applications. I would advise everyone to advise everyone they know about different dangers of revealing everything you do to the general public, which includes stalkers, kid nappers, and perverts. Yes, some people want their friends to know what they’re doing, but be sure to set your privacy on those applications where Only your friends can see it.

Should you probably go check, recheck, and most likely change your privacy settings? Yes. And know that sometimes the only people who are interested in every single thing you are doing are the dangerous ones.

So- Go check & change!

Goodbye for Now!

Privacy Settings <go to this page for a neat video. It is also where I got my photo.

mind mapping

Everyone is willing to apply new routines to their lives if it makes their other routines easier.

In class the other day, we talked about life hacking. I figured that life hacking meant to take over someone elses life by finding out all of their personal information; but turns out its more about self-observation. Life hacking means to apply different things to your life to make other things easier; for instance, keeping an RSS feed on your computer or even just keeping up with a planner to help yourself stay on track.

One aspect of life hacking really caught my attention: ways to improveyourself as a student. One topic we seemed to stay on for a while was “mind mapping”. Other life hacks that are similar to mind mapping are free writing, drawing out a brain storming chart, or making list of words that come to your mind that have to do with the particular subject. However, doing any of these activities almost makes your thought process harder to map out when you have to do it with a pen and paper.

As we all know, technology makes almost everything in life easier (one big life hack in itself), and when it comes to brain storming the internet makes the process much more beneficial.

Bubbl.us is a website that makes brainstorming fun. Not only does it make cool explosion animations when you delete a thought bubble, but it also makes it easy to follow you own train of thought: no erasers, no crumpling up papers, no smearing ink or ucky handwriting– just crisp, clean, organized  thoughts. You can change the color scheme, the order, and the layout to customize it to your own style of thinking.

In class, we partnered up and explored each others blogs with mind maps. My partner had a completely different layout and color scheme than I did, but we had the exact same thoughts. However, a lot of people had similar layouts but got completely different ideas on what the main points were. That’s what makes mind mapping helpful for writing papers, blogs, or even emails- you decide what the main points are before you begin to write and it makes it a lot easier to emphasize them in your writing.

And, it’s really fun! Go try it out.

Goodbye for Now!

MindMap

RSSfeeds

Everyone has seen this little symbol. You may not have noticed it, or known what is was, but if you have spent more than 5 minutes on the internet you have seen it.

It is located in the web browser of different sites you can subscribe to: including blogs, news headlines, audio/podcasts and videos (YouTube). By subscribing to a site, it is included in your personal RSS reader and every time the site updates you get notified. RSS feed readers are convenient because instead of having to go to each website you only have to go to one to get updated and from there you can decide on where you want to go specifically.

RSS feeds are a great way to funnel all your sites into one, constantly updated page. Around 2005, RSS feeds gained widespread use- today, you can access your RSS feeds on your mobile device. I didn’t ever know what the little icon in the browser was but since I found out its meaning I have been noticing it a lot more; almost every website is compatible with RSS readers and can be included on your subscription list.

RSS feeds are great for people who have a lot to look at and not very much time. I have never been the type of person to go to a news page to keep myself updated, but by subscribing to a news page I can keep up with what’s going on without having to put effort into looking for it myself.

I use Google Reader as my RSS feed because it is easy to figure out and efficient in what it’s made to do. I recommend RSS feeds for everyone- they save you time and effort by allowing you to check all your sites without having to switch from page to page.

So go get one & subscribe to my blog!

RSS feed logo

RSS feed graph

tweet tweet

I have never been a fan of Twitter. I never wanted one, I was never interested in it, I didn’t think it was beneficial/funny/convenient, I thought it was narcissistic and retarded.

But, I’m starting to be intrigued…

Especially from learning more about the business standpoint on Twitter.

Have you ever driven past a billboard and actually remembered the number? And if you somehow did manage to remember it for the remainder of your drive, did you ever call it?

Twitter makes advertisement, news, upcoming events and ideas easy to distribute to the public audience on the internet. From a business’s perspective, if you can reach a person while they are on the computer (more so, when they’re on twitter) then you can reach them while they are not so busy that they over look you (since the entire purpose of being on twitter is to communicate and recieve communications), they are probably near a phone, and they can access their email/social networking accounts to either respond to you or to tell others about you.

Also, when it comes to billboards and surveys, the results always end up based on a biased audience. They only people who actually do the surveys are the people who take the time to remember the number to call, and those are usually people who are either upset or obsessed. All kinds of people are on twitter, so you have a much broader audience to hear from.

Some businesses are based off of twitter. I had never heard of hootsuite, twellow, or cheaptweet until I got a twitter account; but they are very useful tools. The growth and popularity of twitter has made these businesses successful, and the growth and popularity of these businesses has given twitter suers a better experience.

So for the Kardashians of the world, twitter has remained a gossip filled, cocky site to brag about what you did with who and where– but for businesses and the average American, it is a great tool for receiving and distributing news, ideas, and events.

But if you’re interested in Kim getting her eyebrows waxed, twitter can help you be up to date on that as well.

Goodbye for now!

Follow Us

Hootsuite

Kim Kardashian

laugh out loud or LOL?

Today I had my first Skype conversation! My Mom and Dad are obsessed with their iPhone 4’s, (understandably), so consequently they have become obsessed with all kinds of apps- even Angry Birds. Anyway, my Mom Skyped me and it was a lot of fun. I could work on my powerpoint for my other class while talking to her, or by simply nodding “yes” or “no”. It has the same purpose as a phone conversation, except it’s better. It is about as close as you can get to talking in person- when you’re hours away from one another.

Mediums make a difference;
But does medium make such a difference that it changes the message being sent?

I used to watch the news every night with my parents. It was just one of those things you do before you go to bed– after the Criminal Minds or House esisode is over, you watch channel ten news, and before you know it, Mom is yawning and saying, “Ookay, it’s time for bed.” It’s a routine.

But if you have ever been on the news, you know it is anything but relaxing.

In high school I was on the varsity cheer squad. We were filmed on ESPN and were also shown during the weather forecast. When I watched the recorded version, I was amazed at how calming it was. They had dimmed our voices down to a calm roar so that you could hear the news man and see a bunch of bubbly girls on the side pannel. When they showed us cheering on the sidelines, our voices were so low that you could basically ignore them, and pay attention to the commentators.

I was shocked when I watched it, and couldn’t believe it was the same game I was cheering at.

In reality, it was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself speak. We were having fun- but it was a high strung, stressed out kind of fun: go over there and smile, yell “GO TIGERS” on the count of three, build a fancy stunt, pretend your cheering, ect. ect. I felt like I didn’t get a single break the entire game, but the only time they showed us on TV was during the breaks.

I believe Medium holds almost all the Message.

If you go to to football game, you are going for the excitement, the smells, and the sounds. If you choose to just watch the game on the news, you are just interested in what the camera man was told to sh

oot and what the commentator decides to say about it. (granted, if you have a 72″ plasma and surround sound you are obviously interested in excitement- but you would still kill for the 50 yard line seats)

Nothing beats seeing something for yourself. Watching the news, shows, or games is trusting that they are showing you everything you want to see- when they aren‘t.

I thought it was funny when my ATEC 2322 Professor told us about streakers at baseball games: people used to run across the field naked knowing it would be put on television,but eventually the camera men were told to go straight to a commercial break if it ever happened again. That way it is a win-win situation for the game show hosts– the streakers don’t get as much attention and therefore they deal with less streakers. But is it a win-win situation for the audience watching from home?

I mean really, who wouldn’t want to get to see the crazy-naked-guy prance across center field?

 

Whether it’s a baseball game, or the news, or even having a casual conversation with a loved one- it is completely different when done through a computer, television, or cell phone screen rather than in person. Sure, in a text message you can say LOL- but I highly doubt you get the same feeling you do when laughing with someone.

Good or bad, medium makes a difference in the message, and it’s unavoidable.
Why do you think it’s
so bad to break-up with someone via email/text?
It’s the same message, but it’s delivery is one of it’s main components.

Goodbye for Now!

{All these photos are Creative Commons}

(it’s a small) world-wide-web

Kat Atmar is writing a blog for ATEC  2322.
(about an hour ago)

Facebook has made it possible to connect with people you know, people you kinda know, people who know people you knew in junior high, and even people you don’t know. A lot of people veiw this as a potential danger, but it can also be a great way to keep in touch with people you normally wouldn’t, contact people you regularly would, and even meet people you would have never met without it.

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly a year and we met on facebook thanks to a couple “mutual friends”; we don’t exactly brag about the way we met, but we aren’t ashamed of it either.

 

There’s nothing wrong with meeting new people or staying in touch with old people- Facebook has helped us all out by making the “small world” we live in even smaller.

Some students are required to have a Facebook or Twitter account in order to make new friends and keep in contact with other students about homework, campus events, ect.  These social networking sites are great for that. These sites are also great for making connections: if you read a blog post that has to do with your career and start following it, or even broadcast your own blog on your status bar, people will see what you are interested in and more than likely become interested in you. Thanks to these sites, we can advertize ourselfs and our talents to anyone who wants to see them. I mentioned in an earlier post that anyone can be famous today, with the help of technology.

Connections are vital in todays world, especially if you want to be successful- Facebook lets us stay connected with anyone we want, and lets us access their connections as well.

I am always surprised by the number of friend request I get from people I don’t know when I add one of  my long-lost friends; I know it is their friends adding me, but I am still shocked that people are even interested in adding people who they know they don’t know. That is why sites like Facebook & Twitter are perfect for advertizement: you choose someone who you have a few mutual friends with, post something on their wall, and then all of their friends see it- the people you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.

Aren’t we lucky to have it?

In a way, I suppose; because as much as I love Facebook, people can be a little ABSOLUTELY ridiculous with social networking. I know some people who will be on Facebook Mobil the entire time they are “out with friends”. You might as well sit at home on your computer, not waste everyone elses time while you are in another world.
I think there is an appropriate balance for everything that we consider a “priority”; given that we consider social networking a priority. It is good to go outside and breath some fresh air and have a conversation that isn’t over Facebook chat every so often- don’t let the online world replace the one you actually live in.

On that note, I will end this blog.

Goodbye for now!

Kat Atmar is ending her blog for ATEC 2322.
(15 seconds ago)

so who didn’t recognize the facebook logo?

I promise I’m not like the lady in the comic

are they still teaching cursive?

I don’t know about you, but I love to write.
No, not
type, WRITE. Like, with a pen? pencil? chalk…?

Don’t get me wrong- I am a typing fanatic. I always envied my mom when I was younger because she could type like a machine gun while looking at the computer screen. She assured me that eventually I would be able to do it as well, but at the time I didn’t even know that double-clicking was standard procedure; super speed typing was way out of my league.It’s funny now to think of how easy it was to learn to type, howfast I was able to memorize the keyboard, and how now, typing isn’t a challenge at all: it is something that makes everything else much easier.

I just feel sorry for notebook paper and good ol’ Number 2 pencils. They have almost completely lost their purpose in America due to technology- and if technology isn’t the cause of their extinction, “Going Green” will be.
Today, we use a key board for almost everything. Whether it’s on a phone, computer, navigation system, or iPod, you better expect to come across some sort of keyboard: it could be set up for T9 or maybe just a boring QWERTY layout, none the less, it will be there. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Of course not. Think of how much easier it is to shoot a revised and edited email to a loved one rather than starting over who knows how many times until you have the perfect love letter. Would you rather travel all over the country (well, the World actually) to find an old friend, or type their name into a search bar on Facebook? And no one, NO ONE, wants to sit and actually count the number of words in the 1,500 word essay that jerk-of-a-professor assigned: that’s why we have word count.


It blows my mind when I see an 8 year-old carrying around an iPhone and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to receiving Facebook friend request from the kids I babysit; but then again, I never thought I would be able to “speed type”. Truth of the matter is, we all have a lot to get used to. The World of Technology is constantly updating, and we have the choice on whether or not we want to update with it and explore all the new features.

Both of my parents recently got the new iPhone 4 and I have to admit, I was very skeptical of their technological-adaptation skills. I was just knew that one of them was bound to go absolutely nuts trying to figure out how to make a phone call and just give up- in other words, give it to ME! Needless to say I was very anxious and came into the living room one day to see my mom in deeply concentrating on her iPhone… could it be? Was she getting the headache that was going to make or break my hopes?
No. She was playing Angry Birds and actually swatted her hand in annoyance at me me when I asked her what she was doing. My hopes were shredded, but I couldn’t help but grin. It made me happy that my parents were enjoying their phones- even though, having an iPhone 4 still doesn’t make them “cool”.

So what’s going to happen for the next few generations? Will they need to come to class with some paper and a pen? Or will they only see those in movies or museums, like we see typewriters today?

I couldn’t tell you, but I do know that some people get the same joy from a smile they see on Skype as one they may see face to face. The real question is, do you? Would you hoard away a few spiral notebooks and colored pencils, or be completely fine with doodling on an online sketchpad? Because honestly, these advances are not going to wait for you to make a decision. You can be in your own little world of writing letters and soaking up the sentimental value of the way a book may feel in your hands- or you can simplify your life, keep in touch with people you love, and be respected as someone who is interested in keeping themselves up-to-date just by taking part in the advances our World is making.

I would ask you, “So, what are you waiting for?”, but 1. That would be way too cliché, and 2. I don’t have time to ask you anymore rhetorical questions- things are changing every second.

Goodbye for Now!

 

the awesome smiley keyboard photo is by Marcin Wichary, now all he needs to do is invent one!
maybe one of the cute kids in the next photo will someday.