Friday, June 6, 2008

Last Week

This week's review definitely made clear what I need to do to prepare for the final exam. Considering my quiz score, which was lugubrious, I'd say I have a considerable amount of studying and reading to do. On a positive note, however, my Word skills have remained intact, as making my mom a resume proved. I hope that by the end of next week I feel as confident in Excel as I do in Word and Powerpoint, and that the class, for me, was a success.

In technology news, a recent lighting convention in Las Vegas demonstrated the versatility, convenience, and superiority of LED lighting. LED lights produce little heat, use less electricity, and last exponentially longer than regular incandescent bulbs. With the supply of tungsten running out, and considering the world's energy concerns, LED will definitely soon be replacing the light bulb. Right now, however, the LED's run at a high price, even though the money saved in electricity fees make up for it, people probably won't take advantage of LED until prices go down.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Excel keeps proving problematic for me...I guess studying and practice would amend that. Working on Excel in class certainly helps, though. I find the program reminds me very much of math class, especially the word problem portion of the course. The problems confound me, until the answer or method is revealed and explained, then it all makes sense and appears easy.
In technology news, it seems as if the popular trend in professionals working ever more with portable electronic devices has cost businesses millions due to Repetitive Strain Injuries, or RSI. This reflects the designer's and developer's failure to take into account the importance of ergonomics when conceptualizing and building computers, laptops, and the like. The immense loss due to injury leave hopefully will prompt businesses to urge their suppliers consider the stress poorly-designed keyboards and phones cause, and perhaps even re-evaluate the hours of the standard workday/workweek.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sewing machines and umbrellas

This week presented more Excel problems for me, especially the Lemonade Stand project. Like most math and math related things, Excel continues to seemingly mock me with it's simplicity. Whenever I can't figure something out, then eventually have the problem explained to me, the solution appears so simple it damn near shames me. I don't mind practicing at home, which I'll need to do more often, if I hope to do as well on the final as I did on the midterm. I really hate that lemonade stand, though.

In tech news, it appears that Facebook has yet again changed features. It has attempted to reduce spam, fix applications that somehow allowed friends to view your purchasing information, and make the site generally more accessible. You can check the article out here. This appears to be good news, for although the changes may not ameliorate the entirety of Facebook's problems, it will make it easier for folks like me to use the site. I generally avoid Facebook because I have no idea how to use it or do anything on it. Facebook is not designed for the Myspace-frequenting apes like me...(it's fer University peoples), and thus, once I created my account, I just as soon forgot about it. This is unfortunate, as I have friends who are strange and do not trust Myspace and refuse to use it, yet comply with Facebook, as it's for intellectual people who do not care about "profile songs" or "glitter graphics." With crucial long-distance connecting at stake, I will at once look at the improved Facebook and hopefully reconcile my ill-feelings with it.

Crummy/ Not Crummy

This week in Excel world managed to foul my dreams and leave me strung out, at two in the morning, convulsing on the couch, trying to figure out what the hell happened. No worries, I thought, I'll GET it, besides, all the excel stuff is so easy to do in the homework. Ah, but my failings in class, the shame of not having gone home and practiced, the feelings of inferiority as others in class eruditely finish notebooks as I struggle to find the summation button finally came to a head, a nightmare of spreadsheets, endless workbooks, numbers, equations, all going faster miles an hour, into oblivion. Simply stated, Excel has me a little worried and significantly stressed out.

A reprieve came, though, to my near-squealing delight when I found this from a link in Wikipedia. It's a work of J.D. Salinger's that I had known of, but never had the privilege of reading: Slight Rebellion off Madison, one of the earliest Holden Caufield stories Salinger penned. This absolutely delighted me, as I've been stewing in indignation for months over a copy of a Salinger tome in Powell's Rare Book Room. It makes me incredibly happy that rabble such as I can access works otherwise reserved for the elite who can afford to spend $200 on a book from the internet. The wonders of technology.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

most super awesome

(Hopefully my blogs are in the correct order...)
This week held in store the much-dreaded mid-terms, a source of considerable anxiety and studying. The online chapter review questions were invaluable. Although I was thwarted at the beginning of the exam, upon learning that we couldn't employ print-outs for the test (oops!), just filling them out and reviewing helped so much, and I ended up only missing one question on the multiple choice part of the exam. In addition, I felt confident on the hands on section of the midterm, although my shortcut skills are wanting. This was, however, the first week I ever got behind in homework. Not having a hard copy of the assignments kind of thwarted me, and this is a problem. Reluctance to switch between screens is sort of like saying that I don't read because turning the pages is annoying.

I found an interesting bit of tech news, concerning Google street view and the French preference for privacy. Here's a link to the article. Parisians have a problem with their image being available to the world, as they hold highly the right to keep their image private. Lawsuits concerning Google street view have already arisen, and I believe for good reason. The feature is certainly neat, and yes, probably useful, but kind of superfluous and a little invasive...a little Big Brother. I've looked at it once, for San Francisco a few years back, for nostalgia's sake ("oh wow, I miss the Tenderloin"), but I wouldn't use it for anything else. Some frames had people in them, and it seemed a little sad...there they are, going about their day, caught picknicking by the Bay for the world to see, stuck in the ether of cyberspace forever.
I'm glad to hear that Google is having a hell of a time capturing the streets of Europe. Their ancient pathways and roads were not built on the handy grid system, it often makes no sense at all, in all it's serpentine and circuitousness. In addition, the architecture arising from those streets presents even more problems for the cameras. It seems as if the people and buildings alike do not wish to be captured.

one small step for the technically challenged

I experienced a moment of great pride in Week 5, one that proved I really had been paying attention in class and to the lessons in the text. My mom needed a clear yet tiny list of drinks to put in her order book. Her formatting was a mess, and the font was all wrong. In a few minutes, however, I formatted a lovely little table in readable font, colored titles, and highlights. The best part of all: it fit perfectly in her order book! We exchanged high-fives, and I was on top of the world!

In tech news...apparently "they're" going to make the video game "Bioshock" into a feature-length film. Now, I really don't like video that, I'm very bad at playing them, and I hate watching other people play them (with the exception of the original Zelda, Mario Bros., Beautiful Katamari and Guitar Hero). However, I will tolerate it...just sit and look bored and slightly frustrated, or sleep. Now,video game films I can't tolerate. The marketing behind them, the usually awful plot/writing/acting (like Street Fighter...what an abomination), it all feels like a scam. Whatever was special, unique and enjoyable about the game becomes inflated and senseless on the big screen, and furthermore, why make movies about games? Would they make a film about checkers? The Movie of Life? Even most sport films suck (except good boxing films...especially the old-timey ones). I imagine that Bioshock is going to be dark, bleak, drippy...ugh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

best picnik ever?

The other week I thought to myself: "I really ought to shell out for Photoshop...everyone else has such lovely photos, and I'm stuck with iPhoto.." However, shelling out is one of my least favorite activities, and thus it was much to my parsimonious glee that we learned about the wonders of picnik, picassa and gliffy last week. I immediately went home and downloaded picassa onto my parent's computer, and picnik onto mine. Fabulousness ensued, and I was quite pleased, except that picnik tends to be a trifle whiny and suggested I restart my browser. Never! But I will continue to use the program regardless. Because making pictures of my cat look like infrared neon is so cool!

A bit of technological news that caught my eye was this

about Lasik surgery and the potential damage it has caused a minority of those who have undergone the treatment. I had read in the newspaper a few months back about a woman who has been suffering severe depression since her Lasik surgery, but the article seemed to make it all better by mentioning that only a very small percentage of people have experienced complications and most people really dig the procedure. This was enough to alarm me, though, for I have entertained the notion of Lasik for years now, since my eyesight is atrociously bad and I hate it. Now, since the expose, many more afflicted people have come out and are demanding change. The most frightful side effect of Lasik-induced injuries is suicide. Blurry images, double vision and eye pain and dryness have caused many to experience depression and suicidal thoughts. Having poor vision is certainly a handicap in some ways, and is incredibly annoying...since fourth grade I've been a little angry at my ever-declining vision. But imagine the pain of these people who underwent a surgery to fix their eyesight only to be left with irreperable and painful damage. Indeed, any surgery is risky, and often people die under the knife, or emerge worse off than before. Lasik often seems too good to be true, too easy, too painless (definitely not too cheap, though). It's also elective, and these people knew there may be a risk of injury from doing it. Still, because Lasik is so new, we haven't been able to make really long-range assessments of it's impact and how it evolves with vision through the lifespan. The suffering people have had is important to consider, and I think that the procedure ought to be improved and re-assessed to further lower the percentage of people left in debilatating pain.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Second Life

Second life was launced in 2003 by Linden Research Inc. of San Francisco. Apparently the idea for the site was influenced by the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and has been described as a Metaverse, a concept explored in the novel. As of March 2008, 13 million accounts, working or otherwise, had been created, and the popularity of the site has continued to grow, sparking parodies and rivals (such as the adult-themed Red Light Center).
Within the Second Life (SL) world, users create avatars of themselves (realistic to their actual person or not, usually not), and the avatars, or "residents" interact, create social networks, and even make business and sexual transactions with each other. Yes, SL has its own economy and currency, the Linden Dollar, which may be traded for real world currency. Goods and services are commonly exchanged between residents, and some people have earned considerable amounts from the site. Currently there is a debate on whether the Linden Dollar will be subject to taxation in response to the large sums being made by users. Only real world banks are allowed to operate in SL, to prevent fraud. In addition to real world banks, actual universities have set up "islands" in SL, and are experimenting in creating useful learning communities. Individuals have set up artistic and music communities within the site as well, and goods and services may be offered for fees.
Aside from "residents" garnering filthy lucre from the site, the creators have also profited from their operation. The basic SL account is free, but anything beyond that may cost up to $295 USD a month. Land and property may be bought for actual money as well, up to the thousands of dollars. Indeed there is money to be made in the SL world.
SL may seem like a virtual utopia where one may enact their dreams and live a life completely different than the one they actually have, others maintain vices in their second life carried over from their first. SL has instated an gambling ban, for example. Reports of child molestation and the like have also occurred, and thus SL has come under scrutiny and opposition from individuals. Just like chatrooms, even virtual environments are far from perfect.

Moog would be proud?

I loved week three of fact, I looked forward to it, as my other classes are driving me nuts. The lack of partner work was a haven, and I found that sitting on the far side of the room, or maybe just changing chairs, didn't kill my back with stabbing pain. My favorite aspect of week 3 were the lectures on technology and where it's going. This is a world I know nothing of, and I enjoy any insights I can glean concerning the cyber world and computer technology. I was so excited, in fact, that I went home and looked up Second Life and signed in (to see what it was all about). Alas. My crummy techo skills barred me from re-entering the candy-like other world. Oh well...that's progress, I guess.

Now, this week I thought I should probably post some useful and important technology information, but as usual I botched it up. Instead I found this article, on how to construct a tiny theremin. (For info on the theremin, click here). It's true--technology really is making everything smaller, including instruments hardly anyone (with an exception of yours truly) cares about. A pocket theremin has to be one of the most useless yet intriguing tiny things out there...and if I knew how to weld, I would totally make one! More importantly, however, it goes to show how an initially convoluted and sensitive instrument, or piece of technology, has been simplified to the point where anyone can make a miniature for under $20. It's also amazing how something great and baffling can become a novelty in a rather short period of time, as well.

Foiled Again!

Week two of CIS 120 went by surprisingly well...the classes were informative and interesting, and I predict that by the end of the quarter my Power Point Skills will be "mad hot." The homework was fairly simple, and proved useful overall. However, the reading for week 3 proved to be quite dry. Eventually I decided to 86 the reading and work on answering the end of the chapter review questions. Far more beneficial, encapsulated, and far less sleep inducing than my previous studying method.

In technology news this week, I learned that Paypal will no longer allow older web browsers, Safari and Firefox to use its services. This makes sense (security holes) but torques my goat as well, as I use either a. Safari or b. Firefox, and also use Paypal often as I buy items off the internet all the time. This will certainly have a ripple effect, moving beyond the gear heads and vintage-snatching bimbos of ebay and onto the browsers, hopefully inciting some improvement (Safari sucks), and the disuse of older browsers (they suck even more).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Week One

A friend warned me a few weeks prior to the beginning of the spring term that CIS 120 was apparently difficult and insane on the homework front. I wasn't shaken...she hadn't taken it, so how the hell should she know? I was almost angry. However, I felt sheepish last week at my inner rage against her smug warnings. Yes, the homework load and class seem a little daunting, but I noticed that once I began doing the work, it proved absolutely do-able and slightly less scary. Am I still anxious? Yes. Have I finished the "Are You Ready?" test? No. But I'm an extent. This class bears a remarkable resemblance to a math class. The work appears hideous and awful, but once completed the simplicity becomes apparent and I wonder why I made life so difficult for myself. But this is only week one....who knows what the next nine will bring.

an interesting article about the Chinese suppressing certain Wikipedia articles and the like.

I hope to god that that makes a hyperlink. I'm on a Mac, and they certainly aren't as simple as a in...where the hell is the thingy that makes a hyperlink???

If this doesn't work, then expect a supplemental post with the link that will take you to an article that describes the censorship of Wikipedia by Chinese officials. Yes, censorship is alive and well, even on the internet. I guess my post is a little less technology and a little more critique on the suppression of information by governments. Control over the internet seems like something parents are in control of in the u.s....and who would consider Wikipedia dangerous? Ah, the Chinese government. And of course they've blocked information on Tibet....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I enrolled in CIS 120 for two reasons: one, that CIS 120 is a requirement for the AAOT, with which I'll graduate this Spring, and second, because I've finally faced up to the facts that I need to learn how to "do stuff on the computer." More specifically, to learn how computers work, and also to learn how to operate my computer so as to make my life a little more clarified and better. I mean, computers ought to be something more than a "talking picture box." Mind you, I can use Power Point, Word, e-mail, the intranet (hehe) and most of the applications on my Mac. Just not to their full potential.
So, I hope to learn, basically, how to use a computer. I wish I could be more concise, but I'd have no idea what I was talking about, and I'm embarassed enough as it is.