The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard

Can you type faster than you can write using pen and paper? If so, how do you take notes? Do you hand write or type notes during a meeting or lecture? I think that people retain knowledge better by writing things down. When you write your thoughts, you tend to write slower than you type. This make you hold the thoughts in your short term memory for longer, which in turn helps you retain the ideas in your long term memory. When I type notes, I find that I’m not really listening and comprehending the information. It seems it goes in one ear and out the other while transcribing what the speaker is saying.

What style to-do lists do you use? Do you prefer to write down your tasks or use some sort of software to track your activities? I like to write down my tasks for the day on a piece of paper. There’s not greater satisfaction in my opinion than crossing a task off a list by drawing a big line through it.

Do you think writing things down helps you learn the information better than typing notes?

Read more about the psychology behind this theory: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/taking-notes-by-hand-benefits-recall-researchers-find/51411

Work Audit in Highschool

IDEA: What if in high schools, nation wide, there was a mandatory class called “Work Audit”. In a nutshell, each day of the course, students would hear from one person in a certain field, such as lawn care, or doctor, or programmer, or teacher, or chef, or salesperson, or psychologists, or whatever and have them share about their job. To offer perspective. Get some actual ideas churning in young people’s head. Be blunt. Be honest! Have people ask questions like how much it pays and what are the worst frustrations/biggest joys of the job. How much more well rounded would we be with having that real experience hammered into our heads?

What did you want to do when you grew up? What’s your dream job? Would a class like this be useful to high school students?

Should the basic standard of writing proficiency change?

The article on page 11 of the November 2013 edition of Campus Technology expands on this idea.

http://online.qmags.com/CPT1113?sessionID=CC6B730ABEED948B57959CCB7&cid=2331368&eid=18476#pg1&mode1

MOOCs, SMOOCs, or is it all Moot?

​There seems to be a buzz in higher education these days about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Some people say it has changed education since they are free to the world and accessible to anyone. What happens if you ask a senior in high school what a MOOC is? Do they even know what a MOOC is? Probably not.

The premise that MOOCs are going to disrupt the entire education system is premature. According to Andrew Kelly, the director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute,  “The reality is that the vast majority of people who sign up for this type of class already have bachelor’s degrees.”

It’s certainly an admirable goal to target MOOCs to people in Africa, India, China, and elsewhere in the world, but aren’t people more comfortable with learning on the Internet through informal pathways, such as Wikipedia?

Compound this fact with the low number of students who actually complete a MOOC they sign up for – which is fewer than 10%.  I’ve signed up for a MOOC, reviewed the high quality content, but completely ingnored the assessments and discussion boards. It seems like the discussion boards lose their activity over time anyway.

I like the concept of a SMOOC, or a synconous-MOOC. I think people learn better together, so hold virtual online classes seems much more engaging. 

I ask you – are MOOCs the future of Higher Ed, or are they simply a moot fad?

Read this article if you want to learn more: http://www.fastcompany.com/3021473/udacity-sebastian-thrun-uphill-climb

How Robots are Transforming the World

Robots aren’t just characters in science fiction movies anymore. Robots are being used in many different industries for many different uses. Some of the more exciting uses of robots are in the fields of military, medical, and human care. This article focuses on how robots are being used to transform the world.

Transportation Robots

Google’s new autonomous cars that drive themselves in traffic to a specific destination would be a great way to facilitate the mobility of elderly people. My grandmother, for instance, has to call a Dart bus whenever she wants to visit somewhere by herself since she cannot drive herself. When these robot cars are ready for mass production, it will surely grant elderly people more freedom and independence…it will also give the rest of the driving population one less thing to stress out about since they won’t be tailgating drivers who always go 10 miles under the speed limit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgQpa1pUUE

Helpful Robots in Human Care

First, a couple of examples of what could eventually become robot babysitters:

 

Hanson Robotics is creating robots with realistic facial impressions

The Geminoid DK mimics the movements of its operator. It extremely realistic looking and it actually performs the act of breathing

They’re a bit freaky in my opinion. The robot’s lips sync up to words. Once they develop these robots to walk and “see” via a video camera, you’ve got a robot babysitter that looks like a kid’s parent. Further, once the robot has the functionality to perform basic childcare functions, the robot would not only look like a kid’s parent – it could actually be a child’s parent. Honestly, I don’t think that’s a great idea for a developing child. It just seems to me that it will give a child an unrealistic view of the world. Children should not develop basic trust from a robot.

Plus, if this robot automates the majority of the trivial processes involved in raising a child, what’s to become of the role of a parent? TV is notorious for raising children these days, but think what life would be like if a robot fed, cleaned, and rocked a baby to sleep at night? Parents everywhere would just sit around and play Farmville all night while tweeting about how easy it is to raise a child. The real question is are these robots truly helping us or just making people everywhere lazier?

Finally, virtual pets are coming down the pike. It’s true: robots that look and act like pets. They even interact with their owners. We’ve all heard that having a pet is good for an elderly person’s mental health. However, this is a suitable alternative for owners that have special needs and are not able to own a real pet.

Further, people usually outlive their pets, so this is a great way to gain the benefits, such as companionship and other therapeutic services, but not deal with the realities of death. The question isn’t really can humans truly bond with AI robots, but should they? What if a child had this type of robot as a pet? It would probably be harder to understand life and death when the child’s best friend is an immortal furry metal robot…

There’s definitely value in automating truly trivial tasks such as vacuuming or cleaning a pool. The iRobot Roomba 560 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is a great way elderly people can clean their house and play with their cats! Finally, cats can clean up their own hairballs. The iRobot Verro Pool Cleaning Robot would be especially useful for an elderly person because strenuous activity could be a health risk. However, that dependency on robots could certainly be detrimental to human health and wellbeing in the long run due to inactivity.

Military & Firefighting Robots

A lot of advances have been made in regards to military robots. These Exoskeleton Robotic Suits (AKA the suit that turns you into a real Iron Man) are a really great example: Read more about the XOS 2 robotics suit.

There’s surly a line between “right” and “wrong” we should consider. For instance, Robokiyu is robot created by the Tokyo Fire Department; its original purpose was to help rescue people asphyxiated by smoke inhalation inside burning buildings. Obviously, this task can be dangerous for fire fighters, so this robot is very helpful. However, when officials realized how versatile this robot could be, they started using it for other duties…such as moving corpses and “dormant” (AKA drunk) people. I think this robot proves it that robots should not be involved in certain processes, despite how helpful they may seem. Shouldn’t the sanctity of death be treated with a little more dignity and respect? Likewise, could you imagine passing out drunk and waking up inside a robot’s belly?

Read more at: http://www.weirdasianews.com/2008/04/20/robot-scooper/

Ethics – where do we draw the line?

If a malfunction occurred, should the corporation that created and sold the robot should be held responsible? Shouldn’t the corporation have tested the robot to always work properly? Obviously, if the consumer didn’t follow the instructions and caused the problem, it would probably void the warranty and any ensuring law suits. I feel that there really needs to exhaustive testing. With software, you can just fix bugs as they occur with relatively minimal repercussions. However, robots have physical power which could potentially injure or kill someone.

Who do you think should be held responsible if there is a problem with one of these robots? The engineers, programmers, corporation, consumer? 

Do you know of any other interesting robots? What are some of the ethical and safety considerations that robots create? Do you have any predictions about how robots will change society? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Digital Rights Management: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Father Digital Rights Management: Peer-to-Peer file sharing

Peer-to-peer file applications have left a scar on the music and movie industries. Just a few years ago, it was commonplace for users to use peer-to-peer file sharing apps such as Limewire and Napster to download entire albums and movies – completely free. At the time, it seemed like everyone was doing it and nothing was “wrong” with doing it. However, musicians do own the copyright to their music meaning it is illegal to download without paying. For big musicians like Lincoln Park, it’s hard for most people to sympathize since they’re rich anyway. Imagine for a minute how harmful free distribution of music is to a smaller band just trying to make a living and get by.

In terms of the music industry, digital rights management is an issue that has been hard to solve. Some banks, like Metallica, perceive the ownership of their music’s license like a fire-and-brimstone issue – they once sued fans and Napster for using P2P sites to down download their albums:

Metallica Sues Napster Universities Fans 

Sure, it’s is a serious issue for musicians, but suing one’s own fans is a bit extreme. Metallica isn’t exactly going broke because of this. Technically, Metallica was justified because they own the copyright to their music, but do you think that it was “right” of the band to go after individuals? What do you think Metallica should have done?

The other end of the spectrum is bands who think that Digital Rights Management is killing the music industry all together and encourage fans to listen to their music – by any means necessary. Radiohead, for instance, allowed fans to download their entire new album, for free, but allowed fans to donate however much they deemed fit :
Radiohead’s Donation Album Idea Spread Over the InternetAngels and Airwaves let fans download their album from their website during a 24 hour promotional period. I attended a concert once where the band Thursday said to get ahold of their music – even if that meant downloading it off the Internet for free! Obviously, there is some debate as to a solution for solving the illegal peer-to-peer file applications.

Congress is even proposing to impose penalties for people for making YouTube videos with copyrighted content. If I want to use my favorite band as the background music for my skate video, should I be put in jail? If anything, I’m spreading awareness about the band!

Read more at: http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/ten_strikes/ 

Usage Enforcement and its Effect on Consumers

Hollywood and record companies have taken 1 giant step to protect the copyright of the media they license: this step is usage enforcement. Usage enforcement is a very sophisticated, yet inconvenient, technology which changes the file format of media to enforce copyright. For instance, if you buy a music track from iTunes, the track is configured so that you can only store the file on a certain number of devices. In other words, even though you bought the track, it’s not completely yours to use however you’d like. The reason usage enforcement was implemented was to cut down on the sharing of files.

It’s quite possible that video games and movies will soon do something similar to cut down on sharing. They could use the Internet to register a video, therefore tracking the number of licenses which a certain video has used. This is also inconvenient because you’d need to be connected to the Internet just to register. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t be able to play a music file which you copied from a flash drive to a PC without first registering it. While most people view P2P file sharing as stealing, do you think it should be considered stealing to simply burn an album on to a CD for a friend?

Of course the copyright owner has the legal right to limit the use of an audio/video file license. However, usage enforcement is typically considered extremely unfair to people who are not distributing the music illegally. It comes as no surprise that the UK is updating their copyright laws to incorporate common sense: Changes Outdated Copyright Law Set Legalise Format Shifting Do you think that this is a good move forward for the industry? Do you think that the US should follow suit?

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Taxing Radio

Radio broadcasts are a live performance of music. Live performances are definitely covered in the constraints of copyright law. Due to this, however, law makers are pushing to tax radio. Because local radio stations would not be able to cover the royalty fees to play songs, this law would hurt many local radio stations. Where do you stand on this issue? Should radio be taxed? Aren’t radio stations just providing free advertisement for musicians and a great way for people to discover new music?

The Business Model of “Hollywood” and “Big record labels”

Technology and the Internet are surely changing the business models of Hollywood and Big music record labels, but they aren’t completely obsolete. It’s great to have a label to provide structure, funding, and marketing. The traditional model of purchasing an entire album is outdated – thus Apple’s popular model of purchasing tracks. However, being limited with how many systems or devices a track can be licensed to is very frustrating to users.

I’m for a subscription model where users pay a monthly fee and never own music, but rent it. Netflix does this with movies and they put Blockbuster out of business. Obviously, it works for the film industry, now we need a mainstream way of doing this with music. Rhapsody offers this, but it needs more buzz and better access methods to become mainstream: Will DRM Free Music Subscription Model Threaten iTunes?. In short, big record labels are quickly becoming obsolete.

Obviously, the music industry is changing with the times. It’s probably just a matter of time before paying for music is a thing of the past. Pandora, for instance, let you listen to music for free from a web browser. What happens when Internet speeds are powerful and widespread enough for users to consistently access free music from mobile devices?

Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google & also the person recognized as The Father of the Internet, wrote on his blog in 2008: “In the next decade, around 70% of the human population will have fixed or mobile access to the Internet at increasingly high speeds, up to gigabits per second. We can reliably expect that mobile devices will become a major component of the Internet”

The music industry has to evolve its business strategy. Advertising will likely be a big part of it considering that’s how free services like Google and Facebook make a profit.

Hollywood certainly isn’t obsolete by any means. Even with the exponential growth of self-produced media – like Shane Dawson’s YouTube channel – I just don’t see Hollywood going away anytime soon. People love movies – high quality movies. Simply put, YouTube videos will never be better than Paranormal Activity 3. There’s still a big demand for blockbuster movies.

Accessing music and movies

I use Pandora when I have access to a PC or laptop. If I want to hear a specific song, I just go to YouTube and look it up with the word “Lyrics” after the band name & song title. Otherwise, you’ll get the band’s label page (usually VEVO) and typically have to watch an advertisement…a long advertisement (almost 30 seconds!)…an advertisement you can’t always skip. Otherwise, I use my iPod when I’m driving in the car.

Just a few years ago I only used CDs and never thought anything of burning a copy for a friend. There’s an old saying that if you love a book don’t let friend borrow it. The rational is you’re costing the author from gaining a potential profit. I don’t agree with that quote. I think you’re helping promote the book (or band if you’re burning a CD). Further, the person might get hooked on the series of books or band and start purchasing concert tickets or book sequels. You wouldn’t want to waste you’re money on a bad book or CD, so this is a great way to test the waters.

Big labels are just too controlling. Recently, Justin Bieber uploaded his own song to YouTube on his personal account and that video was removed – by his own record label, Universal Music Group. Here is a link to the full article:Justin Bieber infringes copyright of his own songs by uploading YouTube video Shouldn’t the copyright to a song belong to the person who created it or do the creators sacrifice that right when they sell the copyright’s exclusive license?

For more reading about Digital Rights Management, check out:
The Top 10 Arguments Against DRM 
Digital Rights Management Controversy

QUESTIONS TO YOU:

How has copyright affected the way you listen and acquire music and videos? Have you ever been frustrated by the overbearingness of usage enforcement? What changes do you see occurring in the music and movie industries in the future? 

Do you or have you ever used a peer-to-peer file sharing application to download music or movies? Do you consider it stealing? Is it stealing to burn an album on to a CD for a friend?

To be (a cloud computing user), or not to be: that is the question.

In 2009, the CEO of Animoto Brad Jefferson said:
“Cloud computing is really a no-brainer for any start-up because it allows you to test your business plan very quickly for little money. Every start-up, or even a division within a company that has an idea for something new, should be figuring out how to use cloud computing in its plan.” 

A Visual Overview of Cloud Computing

Yale Begins Move to Google Apps

Yale University is currently working with Google on migrating to Google Apps for Education . This project is expected to be completed by the end of the 2011-2012 academic year for students and the 2012-2013 year for faculty and staff. Yale isn’t the only institution making the switch – more than 200 higher education institutions use Google Apps (including Wilmington University for student email). Google is offering this service for free to Yale. 

Benefits of Google Apps for Education:

  • Email, IM, phone and video calls from a single interface
  • More reliable than an internal email server & virus free
  • Large storage; disaster recovery built in
  • Google Docs and Calendar enable ‘smart scheduling’ when planning meetings
  • Publish school event calendars
  • Students can share course schedules

Besides the new technology services this move will make available to staff and students, Yale was also motivated because using Google Apps will reduce staffing costs and make less of a burden on physical resources. Additionally, with the IT staff freed up from maintaining these services internally, they will be able to focus on other projects. 

The push to cloud computing saves money and gives the Yale community with new services. In theory, this is a win-win; however, there are security and privacy concerns regarding the storage of data on external servers. Yale has already stated that not all of their staff will make the switch due to privacy convers: “Some faculty and staff members with special circumstances — like those dealing with electronic protected health information (ePHI) — will most likely stay on a locally-hosted email system.” 

Students’; academic records are protected under Federal FERPA regulationsto ensure that students’ privacy is respected; FERPA requires student’s personal information to be properly safeguarded and only used for legitimate purposes. On an institution’s local servers, it’s seems like it would be safer since the data is under lock and key. Google addresses these concerns with a detailed Privacy Policy – it states that Google will not inappropriately share or use personal information placed in their systems. 

It seems too good to be true. How does Google benefit from this? The emails are advertisement free. Google states: that Google Apps for educations does not share personal information with advertisers or other 3rd parties without your consent. Due to FERPA, shouldn’t there not even an option for institutions to consent to sharing data? Personally, I love Google and its products, but remember the Google Buzz controversy? Google obviously doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to privacy. Even though Google states says that Yale owns the data, Google’s word reliable enough when it comes to academic records? When you entrust your data to 3rd parties, they could potentially go out of business (I know this might be silly to think this in regards to Google, but you never know).

To be (a cloud computing user), or not to be: that is the question.

For more reading on cloud computing, check out these articles:

QUESTIONS TO YOU:

Do you use a cloud computing service? What do you like or dislike about it? 

What privacy or security concerns do you see with cloud computing or other software as a service (SaaS) technologies? 

Can you trust cloud companies to protect your data – what if they change their terms of service and suddenly no longer have access to your files?

The Slippery Slope of SOPA: Censorship in America

I strongly oppose SOPA and PIPA as they represent a big step towards Internet censorship in America.  The United States government currently censors content in schools and libraries – they have filters used for blocking certain websites due to their obscene/pornographic nature; I agree with this type of censorship as it helps to protect our young children. Other than those filters, the American government doesn’t censor the Internet – nor should it.

Authoritarian governments, such as China, see the massive power the Internet has, so they limited it as a means of controlling its people.  That is why when things get dicey, authoritarian governments just flip the kill switch and start turning off parts of the Internet.  That’s what happened during the protests in Egypt in January 2011.  In America, I hope that the Internet remains uncensored to ensure our First Amendment right of freedom of expression remains protected. The First Amendment guarantees the creation of any US laws against freedom of speech or of the press. Basically this means individuals can legally express themselves anyway they want without the government saying otherwise.  SOPA and PIPA would circumvent these first amendment rights and ultimately fail to do what it was created to do – enforce copyright licenses. While the rights of copyright owners do need to be protected, SOPA and PIPA are not the answer.

What do you think is the answer to enforce copyright licenses?

PS – Kudos to Wikipedia for taking a stand and blacking out their site down for entire day to protest this.

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