Monthly Archives: August 2011

What is the Internet Public Library and What Will I Find There?

The Internet Public Library, or IPL or ipl2, is a non-profit organization with a website hosted by students at Philadelphia’s Drexel University. The IPL was founded at the University of Michigan in 1995, and since then, has provided reference material on a wide array of subjects. The site has direct information, as well as compilations of source data. Below are a few of the things you can research through this site.

  1. Entertainment – Users can research any number of topics, from movie reviews to outdoor entertainment and leisure activities. Restaurant guides are available, as well as news of Broadway and Hollywood.
  2. Health News – The library is a good source for health and medical news, whether you need information on nutrition, illness or anatomy, and sources are easy to identify.
  3. Newspapers – Click on a state and instantly pull up a list of periodicals. Within seconds, you can verify, in the Virginia Informer, that the College of  William and Mary is about to institute mandatory meal plans for students, in order to help shore up sagging revenues.
  4. Magazines – ipl2 is the place to go when you need to access the Merriam-Webster online magazine, Word, where you can delve deeply into the June, 2011 word-of-the-month, “travesty”, and see how Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have misused the word in a recent opinion.
  5. Travel – The Budget Traveler’s Guide to Sleeping in Airports is a must-read for those who plan to spend most of their two-week vacations waiting in airport lines, as their luggage enjoys the sunny beaches of Cancun.
  6. Education – Teachers like the site because they can access a world of information on teaching techniques and class activities, as well as finding blogs and chats on almost every educational topic.
  7. Computer – Have a question about your computer? Ipl2 can steer you to answers, on subjects ranging from search tips to hardware specifications to blogs on the latest innovations.
  8. Search Help – Sometimes research criteria can be vague, and the Internet Public Library has a “wildcard” feature in its search apparatus that helps broaden searches using alphanumeric techniques.
  9. Literature – Information about literature and authors is easy to access, ranging from Ray Bradbury’s biography to attempts to censor the works of William Shakespeare to criticisms of modern works.
  10. Ask the Librarian – This feature allows users to type a question that will be researched by staff librarians, a service currently offered 24/7, and the librarians will respond via email. Also available is a FAQ section, which can speed up research.

Educators and lay persons alike can benefit from the offerings of this virtual library, and students should be able to use the site for valuable term paper help.

10 Reasons I Won’t Be Following You on Twitter

Social networking sites are all the rage lately. You can’t swing a cat these days without someone tweeting at it, then posting the pic on Facebook. Fine. Tweet away to all your tweeps, tweeter. I won’t see a word you’re tweeting. Why, you ask? Let me count the ways … Okay, ten. Here are 10 reasons why I won’t be following you on Twitter:

  1. Honestly, how can I take a statement from someone seriously when it’s called a tweet, for Pete’s sake? The creators of Twitter knew this when they named it, which goes a long way in illustrating that it was never intended to be a medium for us to take all that seriously: “So we looked in the dictionary for words around it, and we came across the word twitter, and it was just perfect. The definition was “a short burst of inconsequential information,” and “chirps from birds.” And that’s exactly what the product was.”  - Jack Dorsey, co-creator of Twitter, LA Times, February 18, 2009
  2. Don’t get me wrong. I do actually have a Twitter account, so I’ve given it a shot. At last count, though, I had about 104 messages which I have yet to read  because, of the previous 200+ messages, most were from people that were selling something I didn’t want, nor ever expressed a need for.
  3. What’s more, I can’t keep up with the influx of messages, even if by some miracle, there actually were some important bit of information posted. The truth is, I have to filter out the unimportant; and so Twitter just doesn’t suit me – or maybe I’m just not suited for it.
  4. Then again, maybe I’m just jealous. Because in my life entire days can go by, even weeks, before I’ve got anything that seems tweet-worthy. But no, that can’t be it, because no one else seems to have that much to say either. But the tweets keep coming just the same.
  5. As it turns out, all of my own tweeps are peeps with whom I already correspond regularly, via myriad other media. Seems we now have more ways with which to say something than most of us actually have worthwhile things to say.
  6. Which reminds me: Is it just me or are half of all tweets merely links to some other place on the web anyway? Do I really need a tweet from someone, directing me to someone else’s blog, which links to a lolcatz .jpg that someone else got in their email?
  7. As if that weren’t enough, what feature has Twitter added? Yep, Re-Tweets! Now they’ve armed you with a button exclusively designed for regurgitating old news. How utterly fabulous.
  8. I’m not a company, a retail store, a celebrity or a “brand”. I’m a person, an individual; and my network consists of friends and family. For that purpose, I’ve already got a Facebook account. I had to. It was the only way to reach most of them anymore.
  9. Basically, I have enough of a life to stay too busy to keep up with tweets, yet not quite an interesting enough one to tweet about. If only more people were as honest with themselves. This clearly is not the case, based on my incoming tweets, therefore …
  10. I, like Twitter itself, must limit myself to 140 characters; and I’m afraid you’d be #141. So here’s to keeping the number of characters in our lives to a minimum. Fewer tweets, fewer twits. Not that I necessarily think of you specifically in that sense; but my philosophy is, why chance it?

10 Reasons an ISP Should Cut-off a Customer

When should an ISP cut off service to users? Some answers seem clear, on the surface. Known or suspected terrorist threats to national security, child pornography and hate group sites are often mentioned, but laws can be vague, freedom-of-speech issues arise and different ISP’s can have different standards. Below are some of the situations that face ISP’s today, as well as some responses to those situations.

  1. Piracy – Copyrighted materials are constantly being pilfered, something that might not occur as frequently if ISP’s were to cut off service to known pirates. Now, stern warnings are about as far as it goes.
  2. Spammers – As far back as 2004 ISP’s have been called upon to take steps to control spammers; Savvis Communications, Inc. succumbed to anti-spamming groups and cut off service to 40 companies that used the ISP.
  3. Infected Users – Sometimes computers are infected with malware that the user may not even be aware of; these “zombie” computers can spread trouble, and there are those who say the ISP should cut the service of these infected users.
  4. Bandwidth Hogs – A bandwidth hog is described as a user of a network who uses considerably more bandwidth than other users of the network, and there have been calls to limit or cut off service to those users.
  5. National Security – Egypt cut off internet service during recent periods of unrest, which has led to much debate over the practice. There is considerable debate in America about whether or not the President should have the power to cut off service to suspected threats.
  6. Hate Groups – There have been numerous calls for ISP’s to cut service to known hate groups such as racial supremacists, but it is difficult to determine what constitutes free speech.
  7. Pornography – Pornographers have worked their way into a status whereby their “product” falls into gray areas involving free speech, though there have been many people who say that ISP’s have an obligation to clean up what comes out under their banner.
  8. Competition – There has been a lot of commentary about ISP’s and their relationship’s with companies that have products that are similar to products offered by the ISP itself, such as in the case with Netflix. There are fears that ISP’s may unfairly limit or cut the service of their competitors.
  9. Use Contracts – Buried in the fine print of contracts issued by ISP’s are provisions that allow an ISP to cut off service for a variety of reasons, but there has been a lot of hesitation in this regard.
  10. Hackers – ISP’s actually do have authority to cut service to known hackers, but the hackers are too sophisticated, and are able to go online despite attempts to thwart them.

ISP’s are dealing with changing circumstances on a daily basis, and spheres of responsibility change as well. It will be interesting to see how the ISP’s evolve in the near future.

10 Ways to Rapidly Spread Gossip in 2011

In today’s internet age, gossip can be spread at lightning speed to hundreds, thousands or millions of people. The new “party line” is cyberspace where millions of people can all access the same information instantaneously. Just get on your computer, iphone, ipad or blackberry and let the rumors fly. Here are 10 ways you can use new technology to rapidly spread gossip in 2011 (in no particular order).

  1. Email – One way to spread a rumor quickly is to send an email to all the contacts in your account, except the one the rumor is about, of course. Then they can forward it to all their contacts and on it goes from there. You better hope they delete your name when they forward it, or you might get blamed for starting it.
  2. Facebook – Post your gossip on facebook and all your friends will know about it instantly. If they “like” it, comment on it or repost it, all their friends will see it too. Pretty soon you’ve got the rumor spreading quickly.
  3. Myspace – Another social networking sight great for gossiping is Myspace. Post that rumor on a bulletin or your group’s message board and watch it spread like wildfire.
  4. Twitter – You can tweet a rumor and all your Twitter followers will know your juicy gossip in 140 characters or less. They can re-tweet it to all their followers and in no time the gossip is flying through cyberspace.
  5. Blogs – Some people love to spread gossip through their blogs. Even unintentional rumors are sometimes started by bloggers.
  6. Website – You won’t believe some of the stuff you find posted on websites, and you shouldn’t either. There are whole websites put on the web just for the purpose of spreading misinformation. Always remember to check their sources.
  7. YouTube – If you have a registered YouTube account you can upload an unlimited number of videos. If you have a video of someone doing something dubious, this is the best way to spread that rumor to millions of viewers.
  8. Comments – A great way to anonymously spread gossip is to post a comment on a website, blog or YouTube video. You can log in under an assumed username and say all kinds of outrageous things without revealing your identity.
  9. Chat rooms – Another anonymous way to spread rumors are internet chat rooms. You can start with an offhand comment and embellish it as you go.
  10. Texting – If you see or hear something juicy to gossip about, you can send a text message to all your friends. That will get the thumbs flying as the rumor gets spread.

The new social media available has taken gossiping to a whole new level. Unfortunately this can lead to cyber bullying and be very traumatizing to vulnerable people. Celebrities and politicians are easy targets for internet gossip and careers are ruined by unintended tweets. Everyone should use the new technology responsibly, but many abuse their newfound privileges. Be careful what you put out into cyberspace or it may come back to haunt you and always check the sources of what you see or read. Chances are it’s just more cyber-gossip.

10 Tips for Strong, More Secure Passwords

In this day in age it seems like you can’t trust anyone.  It’s kind of sad when you think about it.  When I was growing up, (and I’m not that old) we left our doors unlocked.  I did grow up in rural Iowa though so that might have had something to do with it.  But people used to leave their keys in their cars when they ran into the store.  We didn’t worry that when we came out the car would have been stolen.  As for as computers go it’s impossible to know who is checking out your data.  Do you shop online?  Do you pay your bills online?  Every time you log on to a site you have to have a password now.  We all have trouble remembering passwords, but it’s not a good idea to use something easy like your birthday or your kids’ birthday.  These are dates and numbers that hackers will try.  Check out 10 tips for stronger, more secure passwords.

  1. Length matters: Longer passwords are harder for hackers to figure out.  Use a password that is at least 8 characters or longer.  Try combining names and dates to make it easy for you to remember, but harder for a hacker to discover.
  2. Change it up: Yep, I want you to come up with different passwords for different sites.  It is possible that your password for one site could be compromised and then they can use your password to access other sites that you frequent.  You may be wondering what are the odds of that happening and while I can’t tell you the exact odds I can tell you that you don’t want someone to steal your identity.  If someone gets your password they can find you on Facebook and see what you are into and then that will give them clues for where else to try to login.
  3. Be different: Use a symbol in your password.  People are less likely to guess a password with an @ symbol in the middle of it.  Or use a capital letter or a number in your password.  The more unusual you can make it the harder it will be for someone to figure it out.  If you use a symbol you can use it as part of something easy for you to remember.  Something you like, Big$$$$$ or something funny like that.
  4. Make up your own acronym: For example, you could do Sghsin1985.  This stands for Sam graduated high school in 1985.  This is a strong password because it’s not easy to guess, it’s longer than 8 characters, it blends numbers with letters and there is a capital letter in it.  If you want to be even cleverer you can substitute the s for high school and use $ in it’s place. (Sgh$in1985)
  5. Hide your passwords: Okay, I know what you are thinking.  How am I supposed to remember what password I used for which site if I’m going to use different ones for everything?  Feel free to write them down, but don’t use a sticky note stuck to your computer.  If someone were to break into your home they could see that and take it figuring that they will continue to steal from you online.  Hide your passwords in your home.  Tape it in the back of a reference book or something.
  6. Beware of the computer you’re using: With cyber cafes out there and libraries that let you get online you need to be careful with how secure the computers are.  Even our home computers might not be as secure with being able to access the Internet through our phones and tablets.
  7. Don’t pick a random word: You may think that just picking some random word that is longer than 8 characters would be a good choice, but it isn’t.  There are programs out there that hackers use that will literally run through all of the words in the dictionary.  Always change it up.  If your favorite word is curmudgeon then use it, but add some sort of number with it either before or after it or a symbol.
  8. Avoid using personal information: One of the biggest mistakes people make when coming up with a password is by using their kids’ names or dog’s name or anniversary date.  All of these things are available for hackers to find and they can use that information against you.  Feel free to use this information in combination with other things though.
  9. Try not to use repeated numbers: You might be tempted to use 8 characters in a row on your keyboard.  (wertyuio)  This looks on the surface like it would be a good idea, but hackers are onto these types of passwords.  That same as 12345678 is a bad choice.  Also, don’t just spell something backwards.  Hackers are onto that trick too.
  10. Test your new password: Once you have done all the legwork and come up with what you think is the perfect password you can go HERE and check the strength.  If you need to make adjustments after that you can.

6 Phone Companies Propose Nation-wide Broadband Deal

The Federal government has been encouraging the expansion of broadband internet into rural areas, which do not currently have broadband internet access available. Since many internet service providers are also phone service providers, the top six communication providers approached the FCC with a plan that may help finance that rural expansion on July 29, 2011.

The proposal presented by AT&T, Verizon and four others suggests that the FCC could use funds already being collected from them to help finance the internet expansion. The funds in question are collected from telecommunications companies based on their revenues and fund the Universal Services Fund, which was created by the FCC.

The Universal Services Fund consists of four different programs: High Cost, Low Income, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries Program. The High Cost, Rural Health Care and Schools and Libraries Programs are all aimed at providing rural areas with telecommunication services at costs that are relative in price to those available to urban areas. The close association and intent of these programs to rural expansion of broadband internet is the argument being used by the telecommunication companies to persuade the FCC to designate some of these funds in that direction.

The Schools and Libraries Program is already helping to provide funding to bring affordable internet access to rural schools and libraries. The High Cost program has been directed at keeping rural phone service affordable for residents, and the Rural Health Care program has helped fund communication services for rural hospitals and clinics. To incorporate the expansion of broadband internet services into these programs is just a natural upgrade to current needs, according to the argument provided by the telecommunication companies.

The Low Income portion of the program is one area that did not have a specifically rural focus. This program was targeted on low income families and individuals. The goal of this program is to make basic telephone services more affordable to homes without telephone service. They do this by providing discounts on local telephone service and also by now providing free cell phones with 250 free minutes each month.

It is this free cell phone program that seems to have taken the headlines, since the media began shining the spotlight on the Universal Services Fund. In a recent article TCMnet.com questioned the statement made by a representative of one of the free cell phone providers, that the low income recipients had the ‘right to peace of mind’ that would be provided by their no-cost cell phones.

In a time when the federal government has been arguing about where to cut spending, this program is definitely one that will be looked at very closely.  For some households, cell phones sit in the hands of every child and each of the parents, but other hardworking families choose to forego the luxury of instant-everywhere communication. It can be hard to explain to these families why the government is collecting money from their phone company to help pay for someone else’s free cell phone.

100 Sites That Can Replace Your Cable TV Service

Who needs to pay for cable service when there are so many cheap or free entertainment options online? By knowing which sites to visit, anyone can enjoy watching videos, television programs and Web shows without breaking the bank.

Streaming Variety Sites

  • Hulu – This free-to-use site is known for a large collection of comedy shows.
  • Western Mania – All of the best Westerns can be found at this free site.
  • Live-Online-TV – View local television channels from countries all over the world for free.
  • Solar Movie – This site houses one of Europe’s biggest collections of free movies from around the world.
  • BlinkX – Watch many of the hit shows from the Golden Age of television on this site.
  • FamilyGuyX – Every “Family Guy” fan should bookmark this free source of full episodes.
  • SquidTV – Use this free site to watch television shows from all over the world in various languages.
  • Side Reel – Although this free site focuses mostly on teen shows, there are several other comedy, drama and reality shows for all ages.
  • MyEasyTV – Offering over 15 categories of entertainment, this free site has 350 different television shows.
  • DotComedy – Enjoy free side-splitting laughs with this online selection of various comedy shows and video clips.
  • Adult Swim – This site features a large selection of free adult comedy television programs, Web comedy shows and quirky games.
  • FreeTVOnline – Watch hours of streaming television shows, viral videos and feature films.
  • Travel Videoz – There is no need to pay for travel channels or magazines with this free source for travel videos.
  • CastTV – In addition to popular soaps, this site has one of the most extensive collections of new and classic television shows.
  • Free-TV-Video – This site is one of the best sources for the top-rated television shows.
  • Satellite Direct – Enjoy access to over 3,500 channels on this site.

Popular Direct Television Channels Online

  • TV Land – There is no need to pay for cable to enjoy these feel-good classic television shows.
  • Fox – Use this site to keep up with news or watch full episodes of network shows.
  • CBS – Watch news, sports and full episodes of CBS comedies on this site.
  • NBC – Keep up with NBC’s news, sports reports and episodes of network shows.
  • ABC – Full episodes of the latest ABC drama television shows are available to watch on this site.
  • Cartoon Network – This kid-friendly network has a large selection of the best cartoons for young viewers.
  • Weather Channel – Enjoy free access to exciting episodes of “Storm Stories” and local weather information.
  • Discovery Network – This site offers educational programs for all ages.
  • Nickelodeon – Let kids watch their favorite television shows online without worrying about content quality.
  • ESPN – This site has the latest news, highlights and schedules for popular sports.
  • SyFy – Fans of science fiction may watch full episodes of their favorite television shows on this site.
  • C-SPAN – Keep up with politics here via live streams of C-SPAN 1, C-SPAN 2, C-SPAN 3 or C-SPAN Radio.
  • USA Network – Learn about upcoming new shows, watch full episodes of network shows and have the opportunity to win Web-only contests.
  • Fashion TV – Watch live streaming of recent fashion shows, current news and helpful style tips.
  • TNT – This site features full episodes of popular TNT Network shows, sports news and contests for viewers.
  • Family Channel Online – Children may use this site to watch full episodes of wholesome kids’ shows.
  • A&E – Use this site to watch full episodes of reality or drama shows, play games and keep current with entertainment news.
  • PBS – The official site of the Public Broadcasting System has several full-length episodes of popular shows.
  • National Geographic – Watch full episodes of educational nature shows that are suitable for all age groups.

Streaming Online Movie Rentals

  • Netflix – For a monthly fee of $7.99, customers can stream as many movies as they please with a compatible device. Netflix has over 100,000 titles to choose from.
  • BlockBuster – This service is $9.99 per month, and customers are allowed to watch an unlimited amount of movies.
  • iTunes – In addition to music, Apple iTunes also offers online movie rentals. For only $3.99 per month, customers can watch as many movies as they wish.
  • Cinema Now – Unlimited online movie rentals are only $3.99 per month with this company.
  • Big Star – Enjoy unlimited access to independent, foreign or feature films on this site. There is a 30-day free trial followed by a regular monthly fee of $4.99.
  • YouTube – Movie content owners may submit their content for customers to rent. Fees vary between $1 and $20 per rental, and rental periods vary between one and seven days.

Music Entertainment

  • MTV – Watch this network’s shows, music videos and news on their official site.
  • VH1 – Visit this site to keep up with the latest music videos, news and entertainment.
  • CMT – This site is one of the Web’s best online resources for this genre’s music videos and news.
  • Live365 – There’s no need for music-only cable channels with the thousands of live resources available on this site.

News

  • CNN – Watch full episodes of CNN broadcasts, read news stories and have access to the network’s latest updates.
  • AllYouCanRead – This free site is a database of current newspaper publications from nearly every region in the United States.
  • Facebook – Interact with friends and family on this famous social media site.
  • Twitter – Keep current with quick news updates from friends and family members on this site.
  • MySpace – Use this site to keep in touch with friends, follow musicians and stay abreast with Hollywood news.
  • AlJazeera English – This news site is one of the best resources for current world affairs.
  • BBC News – This news site offers free online stories, videos and blogs.

Web Show Sites

  • MySpace Videos – This site is similar to YouTube, and there are several episodes of various Web-only shows. There are also funny video clips, music videos and viral sensations.
  • Annoying Orange – Enjoy some laughs from this talking orange’s episodes.
  • Married On Myspace – This is a reality show about couples who let MySpace users plan their weddings.
  • Fred – Watch a young man experience daily life with a humorous twist.
  • Smosh – This YouTube channel features a comical duo’s odd videos.
  • The Confession – With Kiefer Sutherland as the lead star, this Web series details a suspenseful action story.
  • Chad Vader – Chad, who is the fictitious brother of Darth Vader, runs a grocery store in this goofy comedy series.
  • Gigi: Almost American – This series follows a funny young man who portrays life from the perspective of a teenage girl.
  • SMBC Theater – Office workers depict life as a wacky reality in this spin-off of a comic strip.
  • Dorm Life – Follow the lives of college students who share a dorm floor in this reality series.
  • Anyone But Me – This is a drama show about modern relationships.
  • Red Vs. Blue – Watch inanimate action figures fight in this silly series.
  • The Guild – This show follows the lives of online gaming fanatics in reality and on the Web.
  • Mortal Kombat: Legacy – This is an animated action series.
  • Jake And Amir – Join these two mismatched staffers who share space in an office.
  • Tekzilla – Watch this show for the latest electronics reviews and answers to tech questions.
  • Zero Punctuation – This series features comical reviews about animated video games.
  • Troopers – Fans of space films will enjoy this comical farce of “Star Wars.”
  • Between Two Ferns – Zach Galifianakis, who is determined to make his guests uncomfortable, interviews Hollywood celebrities.
  • The Fuzz – Profane puppets try to solve a murder mystery in this adult comedy series.
  • TMZ Live – Harvey Levin and his crew of comical workers dish on the latest celebrity sightings.
  • Epic Meal Time – Enjoy hours of laughs as these not-so-savvy cooks demonstrate how to make the most unhealthy meals.
  • Arby ‘N’ The Chief – Follow the misadventures of the chief and his sidekick in this animated series.
  • The Man In The Box – Watch this show to ponder life from the perspective of a goofy cubicle worker.
  • Doctor Horrible – Follow the suspenseful story of a villain, hero and the girl the hero is interested in.
  • Mommy XXX – This adult comedy follows an adult actress who is attempting to be a homemaker.
  • Legend Of Neil – Neil, who is playing a Nintendo game, gets sucked into it and must battle his foes.
  • Lumina – This fantasy romance series follows a young woman who lives in Hong Kong.
  • Easy To Assemble – For some good laughs, join Illeana Douglas after she quits her Hollywood career to work at an IKEA retail store.
  • Wainy Days – This reality series follows David Wain as he tries to meet women in New York City.
  • Angel Of Death – Eve, who is a killer, contemplates changing her ways in this suspenseful series.
  • iCarly – This is a fun show for kids. The site also has blogs, music and games.
  • Compulsions – See life from the perspective of disturbed individuals in this show.
  • Oz Girl – Follow Sadie as she moves from a small town to a big city in this Australian Web series.
  • The Bannen Way – Although the main character wants to quit his life of crime, he must complete another job before his bosses will pardon him.
  • A Comic Book Orange – Watch interviews with famous comic creators, see current reviews and enjoy access to other interesting links on this site.
  • DiggNation – Tune in to this show to watch weekly Web and tech culture information.
  • The Totally Rad Show – Three hosts focus on comics, popular movies and skits in this daily Web show.
  • The Secret Life Of Scientists – This reality series covers the details of scientists’ lives.
  • Rocketboom – Watch this show to see commentaries about Internet culture and popular news stories.
  • Auto-Tune The News – The Gregory Brothers use Auto-Tune to make news stories sound hilarious.
  • The Young Turks – Three young Turks report on world news, pop culture, lifestyle and politics in this show.
  • Flying Kebab – Follow Nando, a photographer, as he tries to find his inheritance in Lebanon.
  • NOOB – This popular French series is a favorite among many gaming enthusiasts and fantasy fans.
  • Odd Job Nation – Follow this intriguing series about odd jobs, the recession and the entertaining reactions of strangers.
  • Old Friends – This series focuses on the lives of two young men and their romantic relationships.
  • Harper’s Globe – Follow Robin, who has a mysterious past, as she works for a newspaper company on Harper’s Island.
  • The Temp Life – These Web episodes reveal a company that rescues job-seeking individuals from the horrors of becoming temp workers.