Archive for April, 2012

What now?

If you are an ISU student, I expect you are busy thinking about all the things you need to finish up by the end of the term. But it would be a good idea to save a little room in your brain for the things you have been reading about here, and how all this will affect your own future.

The main point is simple: you will probably be better off if you are IT-savvy. You will be better off if you can do more with IT than being a simple user of technology provided by others.

I urge you to think seriously about fitting some IT course work into your schedule before you graduate. Maybe even explore an IT minor. And, yes, maybe even an IT major.

ISU offers you many options along these lines. To find out more, click on this link. It will take you to a pdf that provides a short summary.

And, while you’re at it, you might be interested in some survey data about compensation typically achieved by various majors, drawn from You can visit the Payscale site yourself, but to make things easier, I’ve edited their data to focus on majors offered at ISU, and I’ve posted it here. You never should choose a major based solely on money; if you want to flourish, you have to choose something you care about and find exciting. However, the Payscale data clearly demonstrates that there is a huge demand for people with strong IT skills. (In fact, there is a growing shortage of such people.)

My best wishes to all our readers. If you find this blog interesting, keep on reading. The blog will take the summer off, but will be back in the fall, probably early September.

Kenton Machina




April 26, 2012 at 7:24 am 2 comments

More Than Just Extra Credit

Hello MAT 120!

I hope everyone’s semester is ending on a great note, and I thank you again for reading the blog throughout this semester. I hope you gained more than just the occasional extra credit points from the blog. After reading the blogs, I hope you learned that when we speak of technology we are not strictly speaking of the latest smartphone or computer programming.   Technology has integrated its way into every industry in some way, shape, or form. Whether you like it or not you will need technology to preform your job effectively someday!

As a Business Information Systems major, I am privileged to be at the center stage of where industries and technologies meet in a variety of environments. Over the summer, I interned in an IT department at  McDonald’s headquarters, I currently assist with launching exciting new systems for Illinois State in the Business Intelligence and Technologies Solutions unit on campus, and I have accepted a full-time position as an IT analyst for Caterpillar starting in June.

While quick service restaurants,  higher education, and construction do not have a lot in common, they all need talented individuals willing to solve complex problems. I highly encourage you to at least check out some of the aspects of IT that are relevant to the career you are pursuing and I guarantee you will discover amazing things!

In closing, thank you again for reading this semester. I highly encourage each and every one of you to stay in contact with me and I have included my e-mail address below.

Have a great rest of your semester!

Paul Timmermann
BIS Club, President

April 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

Thanks for Reading!

Well the semester is almost done! Can you believe it? Hopefully you are not stressing out too much with end of the semester projects and exams. I just wanted to say, thanks for taking some time out of your day, and reading our blog! All of our writers have worked hard this semester to find things that would be interesting to read about, so we all hope you enjoyed our posts! Personally, I had so much fun writing my blogs. I actually learned a lot from them, and I hope you did too.

Well, I would like to wish you all luck on your final exams! Try not to stress too much because remember summer is right around the corner!

Thanks so much for reading! Good luck on the rest of your semester, and have a wonderful summer!


(No quiz with this post)

April 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment

Something to think about

Assuming that you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might be thinking that there are some pretty interesting things going on in the world of IT. You might even wonder what “they” might come up with next.

But WHO is the THEY that comes up with these ideas? Why not imagine YOURSELF as one of those creative, interesting people who makes a contribution to the world by helping to develop or support IT?

There are huge opportunities in IT for people with many different backgrounds. Good-paying, interesting, fun jobs can be had for those with the skills and knowledge. In fact, many job openings in IT right now and for the foreseeable future are going begging–employers can’t fill these openings because there are not enough college students taking IT courses.

These job openings vary widely. People with artistic skill are needed for Web design. People with strong logical skill and the ability to think mathematically are needed to create software. People who understand education, or science, or business, or engineering, are needed to serve on teams that develop new ways to use IT — but these people need to know something about IT in addition to their main area of expertise.

Think about it. Is there maybe a place for YOU to get involved in IT?

I’ll be writing again in a few days with more info. Today, I just want to get you to think for maybe 30 seconds — about whether it might be a good idea for YOU to plan on exploring some IT course work.

(No quiz on this post.)

Kenton Machina

April 18, 2012 at 9:06 am Leave a comment

Google’s Augmented Reality Project

Hello again.  As long as we’re discussing recent projects by Google, you may have seen their new video online or in the news recently.  First released on Wednesday, April 4, this video announces Google’s intent to develop a set of augmented reality glasses.  They call it Project Glass.


The project is in its very early stages, and the photographs we can see now are only “design photos,” as opposed to working prototypes.

At this point in development, researchers are interested mainly in getting feedback on the design of the glasses. A group of Google X employees including Babak Parviz, Steve Lee and Sebastian Thrun posted, “We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input.  So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do. …What would you like to see from Project Glass?”

Some features shown in the video include checking the weather, exchanging messages with contacts, finding directions and details on transportation availability, taking photos of something the wearer is looking at, and video chatting.  All of these features are controlled by voice recognition; the wearer can give commands simply by speaking.

Of course, from the information presented in the video, there are some observable things that could become problematic for users.  Examples might include background noise being picked up by the microphone, errors in speech recognition, the possibility of diminished privacy because the glasses see everything the user sees, and the fact that the video chat feature is not actually face-to-face.  One issue that will need to be solved is whether people who already wear prescription glasses can wear Google’s augmented reality glasses as well – this one is being addressed now, and you can read more here.

But with that said, it remains an interesting concept – after all, to have brought the project this far, Google’s engineers must have put some extensive thought into the design.  Despite an earlier report, there are no plans for a release in 2012; it will be necessary to get more feedback and revise the design while the project is in its early stages of development.  As of now, the release date (if Google continues to move forward) is yet to be known.  I don’t think I’d ever wear them on a regular basis, personally, but I’m curious to know whether a working prototype will be developed and released in the next year or two.  Those interested will just have to follow it and see how things develop.

April 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

A Legally Blind Man Drives a Car?!?!

From the title of this blog, you are probably wondering how is that possible or is that even safe for a blind man to drive a car? Well actually, Steven Mahan, who is legally blind, was driven by a car. Thanks to Google’s self-driving car, Mahan, who has lost 95% of his vision, was able to go  run a few errands.

Google first announced their self-driving car project in 2010. However, Mahan was Google’s first customer to sit behind the wheel of their self-driving car. Google created this self-driving, robotic car by equipping a Toyota Prius with a couple different types of technologies like a radar, lasers, and cameras. Because of this combination of technologies, the car was able to maneuver Mahan from his home through the neighborhood. It was even able to drive him through a Taco Bell drive through and park in front of Mahan’s dry cleaners.

Mahan’s drive was organized by Google’s team through a carefully programmed route. Google hopes to one day perfect the self-driving car’s technology so it can meet the safety standards. Google also stated that they began developing this car to “make driving safer, more enjoyable and more efficient.”

This self-driving car won’t be on the market anytime soon, still more research and testing needs to be done. Although, one state has made Google’s dream come closer to reality. Just a month ago, Nevada became the first state to approve self-driving cars. In California, a state senator is working on a similar bill. One day, hopefully, Google’s car will be on everyone’s driveways, but technology takes time.

If you would like to read more check out both these links: PCmag and cnet.

Don’t forget the quiz!


April 12, 2012 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Where’s My Autonomous Car?

Hello MAT 120!

I can’t believe we are nearing the end of the semester, and I thank you for checking out the blog! This week I wanted to discuss a topic I am sure we have all heard about at some point in time: the autonomous car.

The recent video about Google’s autonomous car driving Steve Mahan around town posted below has been viral lately. Steve Mahan has lost 95% of his vision, but Google’s autonomous car allows him to “drive” to complete all of his errands.

This video makes it pretty clear that Google’s autonomous car project is fairly successful at this point, so why don’t we see autonomous car’s everywhere? A recent interview conducted by Wired Magazine with many autonomous car experts provided some insights to this very question.

Wired asked the panel of experts, first what needs to happen in order for consumers to see more autonomous cars on the road. Sven Beiker, co-director, Center for Automotive Research, Stanford University explained that the day where we give complete control to cars is still at least a decade away. Beiker points out that even airplanes with “autopilot” still have two experts in the cockpit review all of the gauges and flight schedules the entire flight.

Stefan Liske, an auto industry consultant at PCH discussed how the technology within the autonomous cars will lead to vast efficiency in heavily traveled areas such as Los Angles. Autonomous vehicles drive at an efficiency which can drastically reduce pollution and commute times, but As Liske points out cities must develop roads and infrastructure that supports autonomous vehicles. Liske points out the development costs of preparing cities for autonomous vehicles as a major factor in the consumer adoption of the new technology.

With this idea in mind some communities are starting their development plans to support the future influx of autonomous cars. One such place in Babcock Ranch Florida, which has created a road map for an extremely futuristic community. Visit their website to learn more about their three phase project to include autonomous cars as the main for of transportation through the community.

Wired later asked the panel what are the risks involved with giving the autonomous car full control and received a mixed bag of answers. Donald Norman, consultant and author of The Design of Future Things, points out that when an airplane’s autopilot fails pilots often have a couple of minutes to correct the issue as the plane will not immediately crash. Pilots are also trained experts who are experienced in that specific type of situation. In contrast, in the world of autonomous vehicles if an object we to suddenly appear in front of an autonomous car the untrained driver would have very little time to react, which is a major risk.

Beiker also discusses how the drivers are very used to the ability to speed and break minor traffic laws. The world of autonomous vehicles would prevent this from happening. It will take sometime for drivers to adapt to this new safe driving style.

Overall, significant progress has been made in the world of autonomous cars and many of the features that are involved in a successful drive in a Google Prius are found in many new cars today: lane departure alert, auto parking, adaptive cruise control and all semi-autonomous features. I personally foresee that we will slowly adapt to these autonomous features and one day will be driving autonomous cars without even knowing it!

I hope you enjoyed the article!



April 5, 2012 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

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