Archive for October, 2010

Chicago IT Jobs

It has been frustrating as a student to hear negative hiring reports after college.  Jobs are harder to find and even more competitive to attain.  In a recent article from the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, October 17th, 2010 an article titled, “Software Engineers Harder to Find: Shortage of Trained IT Talent Challenges Chicago Companies” takes a closer look at IT jobs specific to Chicago.

Author Ann Meyer explains that with the “continued growth of the Internet and mobile technology”, IT professionals are needed.  The short supply of appropriately trained IT professionals is hurting Chicago companies.  Companies, small and large, want to function efficiently with new technology but many are struggling to find the necessary assistance.  Many Chicago companies have started to recruit from out of state, primarily Silicon Valley or the East Coast, but it is also difficult to attract these workers without large benefits.

Chicago has recognized the lack of IT professionals and has taken steps to help.  A Chicago Career Tech training program was launched, funded by the city of Chicago.  The training program aims to train 2,100 workers through a six-month retraining session with the first class of 165 students expecting to graduate soon.  Communication between local colleges and companies has also improved to assist in preparing new trained IT professionals.

It does seem intimidating to understand that companies want the best developers in order to stay cutting edge but because “fewer young adults entered the profession,” the outlook is still positive.  Gaining experience through internships is encouraged and do not forget companies want people who are willing to try, learn, and hopefully ready to impact a company in a large way.  Take a look at the original article and let’s go Chicago!

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-10-17/business/ct-biz-1017-out-technology-20101017_1_software-engineers-chicago-developers-tech-jobs

Take the quiz… cheers

Marla

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October 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Cisco Umi Brings Videoconferencing to the Living Room

As technology advances we get to bear witness to new technologies that build off of the combinations of multiple new technologies.  HDTVs can be compared to when color TVs; they were expensive at first, but as time went on they became more affordable and appeared in numerous homes around the world.  Combining the abundance of HDTVs in homes as well as a broadband connection, Cisco has recently revealed its newest gadget, Cisco Umi.

Pronounced “YOU-me”, this new telecommunications system provides the sophistication of high definition videoconferencing pairing it with features similar to that of a telephone.  The cool thing about this?  It’s a consumer product.  When you buy Umi, you get a Cisco HD camera which has an embedded microphone and a remote to control its functionality.  Now, consumers will need their own HDTV and broadband internet connection, as well as a disappointing $24.99 monthly service fee, but it this product shows to be a must have for those who love to video chat with friends around the world.

Umi puts good use to Voice over Internet Protocol providing clear call and video quality and has the ability to receive calls from friends and family using other VoIP video calling applications, such as Google Video Chat.  Some other interesting features include the ability to block callers and also lock the Umi system so that others may not use it when you are gone.

I think that Cisco is on the right track for finding a popular new way to communicate, but unfortunately might be a little out of luck with this technology.  Cisco announced starting November 14th of this year, you will see Umi hit the shelves at Best Buys around the country.  The hardware alone will cost $599, and then tack on the monthly service fee.  The final blow was said by Skype’s Jonathan Christensen who stated at the end of the article, “…spending at the top-end can be like throwing money away, especially if you are buying a video calling system and there is no one else to call.

I would love to be able to try Umi out sometime just to see the quality.  And it would be pretty awesome if I could video chat in HD with my friends & family around the country/world, but at 600 bucks and a full semester, I can see how this would be quite a fee for some of us.  What do you all think?  Do you like this idea and feel it might take off?

Thanks for reading, here’s the link to the original article, as well as a pretty cool promo for Umi.  Don’t forget the quiz!!

Mike

October 24, 2010 at 11:44 pm 3 comments

Dead Sea Scrolls: History Meets the Future

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced yesterday that the dead sea scrolls are going to be scanned and made available on the internet for free. To many of us, this doesn’t seem like a topic of interest….but it should be.

Why? A little background knowledge to help explain…

Most of the dead sea scrolls are dated between 150 BCE and 70 CE. That means that many of them have reached or are close to reaching their 2,000th birthday. Given that they are slightly old, it’s not surprising that they are extremely fragile. There are only four trained people at the Israel Museum that are authorized to handle the documents. Even when they are handled, they are kept in a dark, temperature-controlled room. Oh, yeah, and there are over 900 manuscripts that are broken into over 30,000 pieces.

So, you decided to visit Israel and you want to see the scrolls? Not likely. A request must be filed with the IAA and the viewing time scheduled. This might not seem like an impressive feat, but it gets more complicated. Only two people are allowed to be in the room with the scrolls at a time. This includes the person trained to handle the documents. On top of that, you can only see a limited portion of the documents (which you indicate in your request to IAA) and you can only see them for up to three hours. The exclusivity of viewing the scrolls arises out of conflicting schedules along with the need for permission from IAA.

The solution to this problem? Bring in Google and MegaVision. After three years of research, the IAA identified the infrared imaging technology at MegaVision to be safe enough to scan all the documents. MegaVision will supply the imaging system, which will be used by the museum workers to obtain high resolution, multi spectra images of every document in the collection. The image quality will be equivalent to seeing the scrolls in person, which will remove the need to view the original documents and will help in the preservation of the scrolls. In some cases, the infrared scanning may enhance the quality of viewing by rediscovering writing that may have vanished over time.

After the documents have been scanned, the files will be handed over to the Google Research and Development Center in Israel. From there, Google will provide the images for viewing online by anyone anywhere and for free. Does Google stop there? Absolutely not! In addition to providing the images, they will also be providing transcriptions and translations of the documents and allowing for searches on the documents in many different languages. The result of all of this effort will be a huge library of information on the Dead Sea Scrolls available to the public. After completion of this project, the Dead Sea Scrolls will be forever immortalized.  Way to go, Google and MegaVision!

Be sure to keep an eye out! The scanners are going to be installed in early 2011. Soon enough, the Dead Sea Scrolls will be a mouse click away!

Check out http://www.devicemag.com/2010/10/19/google-to-make-dead-sea-scrolls-available-online-for-free-leon-levy-dead-sea-scrolls-digital-library-comes-to-life-soon/ for more information.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to head over to Blackboard for the quiz!

~Sarah

October 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm 3 comments

WiFi White Space

Sick of having a slow internet connection due to the location of your wireless router?   Do you ever wish that you  could walk anywhere in your house and not have to worry about not having a strong wireless signal?  The FCC may have just made a ruling to help solve all of your problems!

Just weeks ago the FCC unanimously passed a vote (5-0) in favor of making certain airwaves formally reserved for television and radio channels now available for wireless internet usage.  They have placed certain guidelines and restrictions on the uses of these frequencies which has opened up a brand new market for wireless connectivity.  Using these new frequencies will allow signals to go through walls with no problems as well as giving a signal that is twice as fast and twice as strong.  Many people have referred to the new concept as “WiFi 2.0” or “WiFi on steroids” because of its advantages over traditional WiFi.  As you can imagine, developers of the new technology are currently working very hard to get these new products into the hands of consumers as soon as possible.  One article from Google shows their interests in the new technology and the possibilities that it has to offer.  Other big companies such as Dell, Microsoft, and HP have all shown their support for the FCC’s decision as well.

What does all of this mean for you?  Not only does this allow the option for newer routers with more power and faster capabilities but this also has the potential of blanketing entire cities with WiFi hotspots.  Just as you can hear and see radio and television stations over the airwaves throughout a large metropolitan area, there is now the potential to have your internet do the same thing.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go anywhere with a phone or say maybe an iPod Touch or an iPad  and be able to access the internet anywhere for free.  Even in smaller, more rural areas there can be access points that make availability to the internet much higher for the local population.  Since the FCC passed these new rules and regulations and opened up these airwaves for public use without the need for registration, there are going to be many changes in the ways our phone carriers and ISPs run their businesses!

For more information please refer to the link right here for the original article.

Don’t forget to take the quiz!

–JP

October 18, 2010 at 2:22 am Leave a comment

The Virtual Child

It is safe to assume this blog reaches a variety of different majors.  This diversity helps make Illinois State a successful university.  A faculty member outside of the technology departments at Illinois State has recently branched out of a comfort zone and implemented new technology to benefit the classroom.  Dr. Bill Anderson is a faculty member in the Family and Consumer Sciences department.  He received a B.A in music, a M.C.M in music, a M.S in Human Environmental Science, and finally a Ph.D in Educational Psychology.  His focus is on “family dynamics in the presence of parental chronic illness, principally multiple sclerosis,” which makes technology far from his interests.  So what technology did he introduce to his classroom? A Virtual Child.

The Virtual Child simulates raising a child from birth to age 18 with a student as its parent.  First, a personality test is taken by a student, and their traits combined with pre-programmed traits, creates the Virtual Child and gives it a personality and uniqueness.  Throughout the semester the Virtual Child grows up and crucial decisions by the “parents” alter its life path.  Some of the most important decisions faced by students are breastfeeding or using formula, whether or not to spank, concerns about alcohol, drug use, violence, and running away from home in the later years.  How situations are handled show the effects of parenting decisions over time.

The Virtual Child is an “interactive web-based simulation”.  The website, designed by Frank Manis of University of Southern California, makes each child specific to each user.  Dr. Anderson describes how “many students become emotionally involved with their virtual child.”  Ashley Gerber, a Family and Consumer Sciences major, found the website “easy and fun to use”.  She liked the immediate reactions and surprises the Virtual Child presented as one day her child “came home from school smelling like pot”.  The Virtual Child is only one example of new technology entering the classroom.  The students enjoy new opportunities and with very user friendly interfaces teachers even without lots of technical experience can enjoy them.  So even if you do not take any ISU tech classes, keep an eye out for new technology in the classroom and let us know!!

http://mediarelations.illinoisstate.edu/report/0910/feb16/child.asp

Cheers!  Take the quiz.

October 14, 2010 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

The 4G Network Behind Sprint’s EVO

This summer, we witnessed the release of a new level of wireless network communications.  Since there really only was one, I’m of course talking about Sprint’s release of their 4G network.  Since it’s getting closer and closer to my graduation date, as well as the time where I (hopefully) get a job, I’ve been looking at some possible new paths to choose when it comes to my cell phone provider.  Okay, the real reason is because I was told I’m going to have to leave the family plan, but that’s beside the point.  Well, I have a guilty obsession with high end technology and have been leaning towards going with a provider who has 4G.  Now this isn’t to say that I necessarily want to go with Sprint, but since they are currently the only cell phone company who offers 4G support, they happen to be the majority topic of discussion online.

While I was browsing for some info, I came across this interesting video from CNN on the 4G technology Sprint implemented this summer.  Now, this video came out sometime in the spring, so the technology is already available, which I’m sure you’re all aware of, but the video does give a nice showing of the 4G networks behind the scenes.  Enjoy and don’t forget to take the quiz on the video!

Click here to see the video.

Mike

 

October 12, 2010 at 10:24 am Leave a comment

Information Technology: Completely Misunderstood

I’m a normal person…as normal as we come. I have friends. I have a significant other. I lead a pretty busy and tiring, but normal, life. If I told you that I was a Computer Science Major, what would your first response be? For most of you, I’d guess it would be “Ewww! How nerdy!” or “Wow, that must be hard!” or maybe one of the other responses from this super humorous pie chart.

How many times have I been asked if I can fix someone’s computer? If I had a nickel for every time, I’d probably be richer than…..well, richer than I am.

If you weren’t going to respond with one of these responses, I’m betting you’ve had at least a little exposure to the field of Information Technology. Either way, today I’d like to remove some of the fog surrounding this field. It’s not a scary subject.

No, really. It’s not.

Today, I found a top 10 list on www.computerschools.com that I think highlights how not scary (and super easy!) Information Technology really is.

Top 10 Qualities of Information Technologists

1.  Excellent Analytical Skills – Can you solve puzzles? Can you problem solve?

2.  An Attention to Detail – Do you do things thoroughly? Do you think things through fully?

3.  A Commitment to Learning – Do you like to learn new things?

4.  Good Communication Skills – Do people generally have a confused look on their face when you are talking to them? That is not the effect you should be looking for.

5.  An Aptitude for Math – Are you good at math?

6.  Ability to Learn Programming Languages – Can you memorize rules? It’s like learning a foreign language, but the best part is that it has no exceptions to rules…unlike every natural language! No i before e except after c!

7.  Ability to Handle Multitasking – It used to be that some people couldn’t walk and talk at the same time, but we’re tech savvy nowadays. I see people walking across campus, while texting and chatting with friends, everyday with no collisions!

8.  Solid Troubleshooting Capabilities – Can you figure out why something isn’t working? Let’s assume you know how it works in the first place.

9.  Technical Writing Skills – Can you convey ideas on paper professionally and comprehensibly?

10.  Versatility – You’re already halfway through another major? Awesome! You can use that knowledge to be even more valuable in Information Technology.

In all seriousness, my goal in this post is just to show you that Information Technology capitalizes on common skills. I started out as an Actuarial Science major at ISU. I love problem solving (see top 10 #1), but I had zero computer experience other than the basic usage of Microsoft Office, internet surfing, etc. For me, Information Technology was not a field that I had even considered for a future profession. My judgment was clouded by the misunderstanding that it was a difficult, elite field. Then, I took an introductory programming course for my Actuarial Science major and LOVED IT! I changed my major that semester and have never looked back.

Students with many of these top ten qualities will find Information Technology to be a very rewarding field. On top of the fun they will be having (and they will be having fun!), they will have great job prospects. According to the US Department of Labor, two of the five fastest growing careers are in the field of Information Technology. Since I am graduating in December, I have been doing some serious job searching and can add that my job options are tremendous!

All in all, Information Technology is a viable career option, which many people have not taken the time to consider for whatever reason. It should not be an intimidating profession. After all, it’s not rocket science. Literally.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to head over to Blackboard and take the quiz!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sarah

October 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment


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