Monthly Archives: June 2011

10 Ridiculous Uses of the Internet in Movies

To the extent that movies themselves are based on ridiculous premises, so too is the level of absurdity in the use of the Internet in movies. As far back as 1982, in the movie “Tron”, the Internet has been featured in filmdom. A silly basis doesn’t mean, however, that a movie is necessarily good or bad, and this article isn’t designed to pan your favorite flics, just to point out a few of the ways the Internet has been utilized in film. So, here are some examples.

  1. “War Games” – In this 1983 film, a high school techno-whiz, played by Matthew Broderick, accidentally hacks into a super-computer that, unknown to Broderick, controls the entire U.S. Arsenal. He winds up in a “game” that pits the United States against Russia, and starts a countdown that will lead to World War III.
  2. “Tron” – From 1982, this movie starred Jeff Bridges, a computer programmer who is fragmented, and abducted into a computer world where the “bad guy” is a villainous software programmer who has stolen games Bridges designed, and created an epic malware program known as “Master Control”. Bridges teams up with a “good” program, called “Tron”, and the battle ensues.
  3. “Cloverfield” – From 2008, this one is a sci-fi monster movie, a la “Godzilla”. The movie isn’t about the Internet, but characters in the movie do use the Internet, in real-world fashion. One notable example has citizens using camera-phones to show the severed head of the Statue of Liberty, much as we all “enjoy” footage of train wrecks, tornadoes and other disasters.
  4. “The Matrix” - The first in a series, this 1999 starred Keanu Reeves in a dystopian look at what could happen if machines took over the world.
  5. “Hackers” – Circa 1995, “Hackers” involves a boy who gets in trouble with the Secret Service when he creates a computer virus. Later, the boy and his computer-savvy friends do battle with the Secret Service and the evil creator of a super-virus.
  6. “GoldenEye” – Pierce Brosnan’s first James Bond film, made in 1995, in which baddies use techno-wizardry. Boris Ivanovich Deshenko (played by Scotsman Alan Cumming), an evil hacker-for-hire, is in charge of the missile system that threatens to destroy London.
  7. “The Net” – A 1995 “Big Brother is watching” film, and generally panned by critics, but it featured a bikini-clad Sandra Bullock, which made for commercial success.
  8. “You’ve Got Mail” – The film is a big-budget re-make of a 1940 Jimmy Stewart vehicle called “The Shop Around the Corner”. In this 1998 romantic comedy, which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, the movie came under fire for being a glorified commercial for America Online (AOL).
  9. “FearDotCom” – A website so scary that to view it is to die. Set in New York, this 2002 effort so took the film world that it won the “Worst Movie” award in 2003 from the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Association.
  10. “Chatroom” – Young guys,on a bet, use internet chatrooms to pick up girls, except that the girls turn out to be guys. Berated critically, the film was popular with teenagers.

These films run the gamut, in terms of quality, so don’t believe that the internet makes everything better.

10 Reasons Fair Access Policies Aren’t Really Fair

Most satellite Internet providers have implemented what they refer to as ‘Fair Access Policies’. These policies limit the amount data that a subscriber can download during a given period of time. The intent, according to the ISP’s, is to keep a small number of heavy internet users from using the majority of the limited bandwidth, thereby slowing the internet usage of other low usage subscribers. There have been a lot of complaints from subscribers about these policies. Here are ten reasons that subscribers have given for calling Fair Access Policies unfair.

  1. Unlimited, should mean unlimited- Internet service packages are listed as providing ‘unlimited’ internet access. However, the true meaning of this terminology is simply that you can access the internet 24 hours a day, but the amount of data you can download, and the speed at which you can download it, are very much limited.
  2. Rolling 24 hour periods – The limits imposed on your data downloads are usually per 24 hour period. Trying to determine when you are going to hit those limits can be very difficult to determine since they are not 24 hour days (the clock doesn’t reset at midnight), but rolling 24 hour periods.
  3. Recovery Time – If you go over your data limit, your internet service isn’t shut off, it is simply slowed down to dial-up speed or slower for a period of time. There have been many complaints that this recovery period of slow speed lasts much longer than the ISP’s say it will, often a full 24 hours.
  4. What’s normal surfing? The policies state that normal web surfing and downloads of software and music should not take you over your data limits, however, many customers have felt that their experience has not fit with that statement.
  5. Behind the times – The limits being imposed as ‘normal’ usage do not seem to be keeping up with the amount of data delivery that users are experiencing with current video and graphic content on the web. Many customers feel the limits should be increased.
  6. Higher price tiers – It is confusing to consumers that they will be penalized for using up too much of the shared bandwidth, YET, they can increase that bandwidth limit by paying more per month. Why is it ok to ‘slow down my neighbors’, if I pay more to the ISP?
  7. Businesses – Business subscribers are allowed to use a much larger amount of data for their higher priced packages. If you can provide them with so much bandwidth, is it really that limited? And if fewer businesses subscribe, then won’t that leave more bandwidth for residences, so that the limits could be increased?
  8. Unlimited subscribers – Instead of limiting the amount data that can be downloaded, why not limit your number of subscribers to the number who can access the internet at the speed you sell to them?
  9. Paying for slow speeds. If subscribers want to increase their data cap, they need to pay more money. Yet, when subscriber’s speeds are cut for periods of time during the month, they don’t get a decrease in their rates. They pay the same amount, even if they aren’t getting the same amount of service each day.
  10. Poor communication – One of the biggest complaints about the Fair Access Policies is that they are not adequately communicated to the consumer prior to the installation. Many consumers have spent time with customer support trying to figure out why their internet speed has slowed down all of a sudden, because they were not fully aware of their data limits and how to track them.

It would be interesting to hear if there are users of satellite Internet service that are thankful for the Fair Access Policies of their ISP. The argument for it of course makes perfect sense. In the end, there is only so much bandwidth to go around to all of the subscribers so the ISP simply can’t afford to let a few people ruin the service for the majority of the users.  However like with most things, it is the consumers who complain that are most likely to have their voices heard.

10 Things That Are Frustrating About Search Engines

Searching the Internet for information has replaced many other information sources. Printed road maps, dictionaries and encyclopedias seldom get used anymore. We simply punch our request into a search engine and let it find it for us. However, in spite of the convenience, we often get frustrated with our online information gathering friends.

  1. Mega results. - This is the biggest complaint. We get way more information pulled up than we can possibly look at and the exact piece of information we need is buried somewhere among those tens of thousands of hits you found for our query. It can be quite overwhelming.
  2. Unrelated results. When we search for ‘bear rugs’, we don’t want to have to look through sites that about bear habitat and men’s hairpieces. We would like the sites to be more specific.
  3. Ranking. Why can’t the sites with the most pertinent information to the search show up on top? Instead we get the most popular or the one with the best marketing agent, and the site with the most relevant information is on page 10.
  4. SEO manipulation. This probably relates to number three above. With everyone vying to get on that first page listing, the SEO gurus that know how to manipulate the system get their clients on top, whether they really should be or not.
  5. Paid advertisers. When search engines place their paid advertisers at the top of the page and force the user to look further down to find the actually search results, users get very frustrated. Every second counts these days, and having to scroll down for the results can be very annoying.
  6. Outdated Information. This may be the fault of the people posting the information, not the search engines, but it still is a frustration issue. You find old, outdated information for companies coming to the top of the list, instead of newer information that is also available on the web.
  7. Too many variations. The variations that result between searching the different search engines is also confusing to the end user. Why is a website the first ranking on Google and way down the list on Yahoo?
  8. Dead links. Growls and cuss words are being expressed around the world when people click on a search result and then find that the link no longer exists. Again, precious seconds are being wasted with non-existent results.
  9. Word choices. The difficulty of choosing the right word combination to achieve the results that you’re looking for is a frequent cause of irritation. One word group brings up too broad of a list and another one narrows it too far. How can we know what to type in?
  10. Time consumption. The time spent trying to find the information we want often takes much longer than we anticipate. What we thought would be a two-minute search can turn into twenty minutes without even realizing it.

Search engines, like much of the Internet, are received within a love/hate relationship by those using them and also by many of those trying to win their marketing assistance.

10 Things That Are Frustrating About Search Engines

Searching the Internet for information has replaced many other information sources. Printed road maps, dictionaries and encyclopedias seldom get used anymore. We simply punch our request into a search engine and let it find it for us. However, in spite of the convenience, we often get frustrated with our online information gathering friends.

  1. Mega results. - This is the biggest complaint. We get way more information pulled up than we can possibly look at and the exact piece of information we need is buried somewhere among those tens of thousands of hits you found for our query. It can be quite overwhelming.
  2. Unrelated results. When we search for ‘bear rugs’, we don’t want to have to look through sites that about bear habitat and men’s hairpieces. We would like the sites to be more specific.
  3. Ranking. Why can’t the sites with the most pertinent information to the search show up on top? Instead we get the most popular or the one with the best marketing agent, and the site with the most relevant information is on page 10.
  4. SEO manipulation. This probably relates to number three above. With everyone vying to get on that first page listing, the SEO gurus that know how to manipulate the system get their clients on top, whether they really should be or not.
  5. Paid advertisers. When search engines place their paid advertisers at the top of the page and force the user to look further down to find the actually search results, users get very frustrated. Every second counts these days, and having to scroll down for the results can be very annoying.
  6. Outdated Information. This may be the fault of the people posting the information, not the search engines, but it still is a frustration issue. You find old, outdated information for companies coming to the top of the list, instead of newer information that is also available on the web.
  7. Too many variations. The variations that result between searching the different search engines is also confusing to the end user. Why is a website the first ranking on Google and way down the list on Yahoo?
  8. Dead links. Growls and cuss words are being expressed around the world when people click on a search result and then find that the link no longer exists. Again, precious seconds are being wasted with non-existent results.
  9. Word choices. The difficulty of choosing the right word combination to achieve the results that you’re looking for is a frequent cause of irritation. One word group brings up too broad of a list and another one narrows it too far. How can we know what to type in?
  10. Time consumption. The time spent trying to find the information we want often takes much longer than we anticipate. What we thought would be a two-minute search can turn into twenty minutes without even realizing it.

Search engines, like much of the Internet, are received within a love/hate relationship by those using them and also by many of those trying to win their marketing assistance.

10 Examples of Social Media Bullying to Watch For

Cyberbullying is getting a lot of attention these days. Kids used to worry about bullies at school or on the way to and from school. Now those bullies access them at all times through the social media that is meant for connecting with ‘friends’. Kids don’t always tell their parents about these situations, so parents need to be watching for the signs themselves.

  1. Rumor spreading – Sending false rumors to your child’s friends or acquaintances is one form. Watch for postings where your child is refuting the claims of another, or questions from their friends that may not mention the rumor specifically, but simply say, ‘Is it true?’
  2. Name calling – Watch for posts which place labels on your child or call them names. Your child may brush it off as ‘teasing’. Pay attention to their reactions to the messages. If it doesn’t make them laugh, then it is bullying.
  3. Insulting messages – Messages that degrade your child in some way are another form of cyber bullying. It may be regarding the way they dress, a physical feature or some mistake they made.
  4. Impersonation – Some bullies will go so far as to set up fake profiles pretending to be your child in order to get them in trouble or to make their friends mad at them.
  5. Threats of harm – Open, bold threats of physical harm should never be ignored. Even if they are not actually carried out, the trauma that results from the anxiety and fear can be even more devastating.
  6. Vulgar language – Cursing and other vulgar language sent to your child or posted on their wall can be another attempt to intimidate them.
  7. Humiliation – Posting information about embarrassing incidents is one way bullies try to humiliate other kids. It could be in the form of words, photos or videos.
  8. Group de-friending – Encouraging other kids to remove themselves from your child’s friends list on the social network is another way that cyber bullies try to intimidate kids.
  9. Mocking – Most kids know how to make home videos and post them online. Making videos where your child is being mocked in some way, such as foolish impersonation, is another tactic of cyber bullies.
  10. Intimidation of friends – Making fun of your child’s friends via the social network is another way that these bullies try to hurt your child. Other kids may withdraw their friendship to avoid the association with someone else who is being harassed, to avoid becoming a target themselves.

These are all signs to watch for on your child’s social media connections. It’s not all fun and games, and it is important for a parent to keep a watchful eye on what goes on in their kids cyberworld. Cyberbullies have parents too. Don’t be too quick to defend your child, if they are accused of using these tactics against other kids. Be prepared to provide the proper discipline, if they have been the cause of distress to others.

10 Great Uses of WiFi on College Campuses

The roots of today’s internet grew up out of a common need to share information. So it would seem that the proliferation of WiFi hotspots and portable devices would benefit college campuses as much as anywhere else. How then would WiFi be of best use at colleges and universities? Let’s examine the possibilities.

The following is a list of 10 great uses of WiFi on campus:

  1. The “Clicker” – As part of an ongoing experiment at Abilene Christian University to gauge the benefits of universal smart phone usage on campus, one of the uses that seemed to be popular among faculty and students was to make use of smart phones in class as a means to ‘click in’, or register responses to quiz questions.
  2. Multimedia Study Guides – Students can access study aids such as video clips or audio files of classroom lectures. Given the mobility required of college students who attend classes in scattered locations across campus, the ability to access such study aids on the go seems ideally suited for their needs.
  3. Campus Maps – Using the GPS locator feature on mobile devices, an app has been developed that gives students a visual image of their relative position, on-screen, to help them find their way around campus.
  4. Group Study Sessions – With the ability to network via a WiFi, students can study collectively, sharing notes and prepping for exams. Think of it as a wireless think tank for cramming.
  5. Bus Schedules – An app that students and faculty can use via WiFi to find out when the next bus is coming. Now you can know just how late you’re going to be for Physics with a glance at your smart phone.
  6. Phone Home – Students can download Skype and stay in touch with family for free. Imagine – no more collect calls, no more sharing dorm phones or buying calling cards.
  7. Receiving/Submitting Assignments – One of the core uses of WiFi on campus is for students to keep abreast of their assigned coursework. By logging in to their portfolio, they can monitor their own grades and get real-time updates.
  8. Disbursing Crowds – With the flexibility of getting online virtually anywhere, the traditional venues for study and internet activities are no longer burdened with over-crowding. Libraries, study halls and dorms are no longer your only choices for getting your work done.
  9. Pocket Library – Whether in the classroom or when studying on the go, WiFi puts reference sources at your fingertips for research, documentation or consultation. From the campus library to the world wide web, students can get the information they need to help them in their studies.
  10. Future Planning – According to a study by wireless networking company Meraki, college students use more than three times the bandwidth of the average WiFi user. Traditionally, they have provided an ideal barometer for technology use. How they’re making use of WiFi on campus can help planners develop strategies for deploying WiFi as well as other tech innovations in the future.

What Age Should Parents Allow Their Kids to Join FaceBook and Why?

Facebook has taken a stand on this question since their inception by setting a minimum age limit for its users at 13 years of age. But just because Facebook says 13 year olds may use their social media service doesn’t mean that parents need to allow their kids to become users, does it? Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Any age

There are some parents who don’t see a need for setting a minimum age limit for Facebook users. Some of these parents simply aren’t concerned with their child’s interaction on the web, any more than they are concerned with any other aspects of their child’s life. Other parents who aren’t concerned about a minimum age have a very different reason. Their reasoning is based on their involvement with their kid’s activities online. They do not allow their kids full and uncensored access to the internet in any form. They have parental controls in place and seldom allow their young children on the internet without their presence there beside them. They may see Facebook as a connecting place with family.

Thirteen

Since Facebook has set this as the minimum age to join their network, many people have accepted this as being the appropriate age. Peer pressure enters into this big time. Facebook has said ‘it’s ok’ and ‘all my friends’ are using Facebook, so why shouldn’t I? There are a lot of fun games and learning opportunities on Facebook for kids this age, but there are dangers as well. Teens this age can be very vulnerable to adults and other teens who might use Facebook to gain a connection with them. Young teens can easily feel flattered by attention from others and innocently assume that people are who and what they represent themselves to be. This puts them at risk for predators of many different kinds. Kids this age often have very volatile emotions as well. This means that everything becomes magnified in their minds. Hurts wound deeper and friendships are taken very seriously. Thirteen may be old enough to use Facebook, but for most kids thirteen to fifteen, their use of this and other social media should be closely monitored and guarded with strict rules of behavior.

Sixteen

Some parents have held the line and refused to allow their kids to engage in social media activities until they are sixteen and in high school. Since, at this age, they are old enough to gain a drivers license, it is assumed that they should also be responsible enough to handle social media activities. Other parents have encouraged their kids to avoid the social media craze simply because it can be a distraction and a time waster, and they want their kids to remain focused on more important aspects of their life than socializing.

Conclusions

In reality, there is no magic age that fits every situation or every child. Since Facebook has set a minimum age of thirteen, it is wise of parents to support this age limit by not allowing their younger children to circumvent the rules by posting a false birthdate. Each child has a different level of maturity. It is the maturity level and sense of responsibility of your child that should be considered when making this decision, not just their age. Regardless of the age, teens should be taught how to use social media safely and responsibly. When rules are not followed, the privilege should be removed.

10 Complaints About AT&T’s U-verse

Not to be outdone by other nationwide companies offering internet, television and telephone all in a bundled service, AT&T introduced their U-verse product. This service is provided through a fiber-to-node, or fiber to premise network available to about 20 million people in the U.S. Since bundling all these services into one takes a well coordinated effort, AT&T has not been without problems in its implementation.

  1. Slow internet – One complaint is from customers who previously had AT&T DSL and switched to the new U-verse, which resulted in slower internet speeds of up to 30% .
  2. TV not user friendly – Customers find the television system very cumbersome and hard to navigate through the program guide. Instead of having the 200 channels, they subscribe to all in one place, they’re scattered throughout all 2000.
  3. Hard to call customer service – When people try to call customer service they are routed through the main AT&T phone system and have a hard time reaching the U-verse division. Then they’re subjected to the on-hold waiting game for interminable amounts of time.
  4. Same old AT&T problems – Previous customers site the same problems they’ve always had dealing with AT&T. The main complaint being that, they just don’t care about their customers.
  5. TV picture freezes – The most prevalent problem seems to be the television picture freezing. This happens frequently for various reasons and lasts up to 30 minutes at a time.
  6. Trouble setting up boxes – The IPTV service is routed through massive 52B boxes that towns are not happy to grant public right of ways for. This causes problems for customers who aren’t close enough to the boxes to get reliable service.
  7. Techs don’t show up – People, who have signed up for the new service, plus those who need repairs, have trouble getting technicians to show up on time. Appointments are sometimes rescheduled several times before anyone ever shows up.
  8. Limited service area – Since the infrastructure for this service is still being installed, many potential customers can’t get the U-verse even if they want it.
  9. Equipment interference – Another complaint is that the various components of the TV, internet and telephone equipment interfere with each other. If one member of the household is on the computer it may interrupt TV or telephone connections. Other household items may also affect reception.
  10. Unhappy employees – It’s pretty bad when even AT&T employees won’t use the U-verse service themselves. One service rep who was transferred to customer care detests his job and no longer uses any AT&T products. Even though he has complete sympathy for the people he deals with all day, it doesn’t make his job very fun.

As with any new technology, growing pains are to be expected. AT&T isn’t going to get anywhere with this new product, unless they work out the bugs. Be sure to check with others in your neighborhood before signing on to any new bundled services.

10 Words That Describe How the Internet Empowers Me

The existence of the internet has had an immeasurable effect upon how we, as a society, view and access the world. No other device, service or outlet has achieved what the internet has in broadening the awareness of all those who have taken part in its offerings or have been uniquely affected by those who do. There is a ‘power’ within that cyber-world that is accessed by a few minor finger-clicks on a keyboard; and it’s a power that is unmatched.

Accessibility -Whether in the comfort of my own home, on a plane, on the beach or huddled in the corner at my favorite coffee shop, the internet is there and available to me. With the advent and subsequent development of tangible, reliable wireless services, the internet is accessible from nearly any location on the earth.

Diversity -The menu of information, resources, interest is only limited by my own imagination to access such things via the internet. Somewhere in that cyber-world there lays the answer to my queries or the exact need to pique my contemporary whim; and retrieving these things is incredibly simple to do.

Anonymity -Whether I’m communicating in a forum, chat room, or simply conversing with some cyber-friends I can do this in a manner that wholly suits me. I may choose to don a disguise for the day, type while in my pajamas—whatever–I can communicate, unabated by normal social standards or protocol.

Engagement -The choice is all my own as to whether, or not, I choose to engage with the internet. It is there for me to use whenever I feel the need, or want, to do so. It demands nothing from me and is my dutiful servant.

Exploration -The internet permits me to satisfy any curiosity that I may bring forth. Whether I’m researching news events, historical accounts, or the mating behaviors of the kiwi, the availability of this information is always there.

Uninhibited -Unlike traditional forms of research resources, the internet doesn’t keep any hours of operation. It is always available to me, regardless of time or day.

Entertainment -Along with all the wealth of knowledge available on the internet, it also includes all manner of entertainment. The entertainment can be accessed as an onlooker from your monitor portal, or it can be participatory for those of a more exhibitionist nature. The internet has become a stage upon which anyone can gain access.

Economical -The cost-effectiveness for vendors in publishing and advertising on the internet has profound influence on how I choose to shop or market for services. With time always at a premium and travel expenses at an all-time high, I am able to research, evaluate and even purchase products via the internet and have them shipped directly to my home.

Enrichment -Given the plethora of quality information and resource on the internet, I am able, and empowered, to delve into social, economic, political and entertainment interests at a level that suits me best.

Communication -The true beauty, to me, of the internet is that I may choose to communicate with virtually anyone, and to do so in real time. I don’t have to wait for the postal service to deliver my correspondence. I can send a note, request, solicitation or resumé to anyone; and this communication is delivered in milliseconds.  I may also befriend and socialize with those whom I’ve never met, or would ever have a chance to know, on the other side of the planet.  The internet enables me to keep in touch, more effectively and much more effortlessly.

Communications and enhancements of my personal life have never been more attainable and easier with the use of the internet; and with it, I am truly a ruler of my private domain.