Archive for February, 2013

Staying Connected Even Faster with Google Fiber

What is Google Fiber, you may ask? Is it a health supplement from Google to increase your fiber intake? Nope, good guess though. Google Fiber is an experimental broadband internet service provider to utilize fiber-optic technology. That is a lot of technological mumbo-jumbo, so what does it mean exactly?

Google Fiber Logo

Do you know what your current internet speed is? Let’s do an experiment really quick to understand the impact of how cool Fiber is. Go to SpeedTest.net and run a speed test to find out how fast your internet connection is. If you’re on campus or in the dorms, you’re going to have some pretty decent speeds (imagine campus internet over the summer when no one is here, it’s fantastic). The download speed for my house is 20Mbps, a respectable speed. Now let’s compare to what Google Fiber will provide. Their free plan will allow for a download speed of 5Mbps, which is 75% slower than what I’m currently running. That’s nothing too impressive, so why is Google Fiber such a big deal? If you move up to their next plan, you get download speeds of 1Gbps! That’s a lot! If you don’t know the comparison between Mbps and Gbps, my 20Mbps would equal 0.02Gbps. The speed increase would be beyond ridiculous, just imagine being able to watch videos without needing to buffer or have a flawless connection through Skype. This, my friends, is the future of the Internet Service Provider.

Even though Google Fiber is really cool, currently it is still experimental and limited to certain cities. Various cities across the nation put in a bid to have Google Fiber be put in their town, some being more ridiculous than others. On March 30th, 2011, Kansas City, Kansas was selected to have Google Fiber, and seventeen days later Kansas City, Missouri also was decided on to have Google Fiber. Since April 2011, engineers have been hard at work bringing Google Fiber to the various Kansas Cities, and on September 2012 the residences were able to experience the mind blowing connection speeds.

I don’t know about you, but I’m half way ready to pack up and move to Kansas City just so I can have my own gigabit internet connection. These are the kind of connections that corporate businesses and large datacenters have, it’s never been available to the consumer at the magnitude that is is now, and it’s only going to keep on growing. If you’re wanting to study networking and telecommunication, Google Fiber is definitely something to keep tabs on, it’s a real exciting new technology that is going to expand exponentially within the next few years.

I hope you all enjoyed the read, and ISU students be sure to take the quiz on ReggieNet!

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February 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Colorblindness Corrected

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Out of all the people you know, how many are colorblind? What would you do if you had the option to be able to see color again?  Well it turns out that Mark Changizi and Tim Barber have made the option of buying $300 glasses that will correct colorblindness.

Mark Changizi came up with the idea that humans’ ability to see colors evolved to detect oxygenation and hemoglobin changes in the skin so they could tell if someone was scared, uncomfortable or unhealthy. With this idea both made the connection between color vision and blood physiology. Mark and Tim decided to develop the 02Amps which are a lens that adjusts the color signal that hits the human eye.

02Amps reads the changes in skin tone brought by flush, bruise, or blanch. Three different lenses were used to help create the product. Oxy-Amp helped boost the general perception of blood oxygenation under the skin, Oxy-lso that isolates and enhances the red-green part of the spectrum, and Hemo-lso that enhances variations along the yellow-blue dimension i.e. veins.

Within two years, they were able to make the glasses by going through a manufacturer, costing $300, which is available at Amazon.com. They wanted to not rely on grants, which is why they went straight to the manufacturers and started to advertise themselves. They have talked with Oakley and Ray-Ban for sunglasses having the technology. Other options include indoor lighting to windows for hospitals and face creams.

Here is the link to the actual page: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/amazing-story-300-glasses-can-cure-colorblindness

For all Math 120 students, don’t forget to take the quiz!!!

February 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm 1 comment

Ethics… Who Needs Those Anyways?

When you think of computer ethics, what is the first you think of?

Redo Meme

Do you think that ethics is just following a bunch of silly rules? The main way to define computer ethics is a set of moral principles on how one should govern his or herself online. They are not considered illegal, but are viewed as being a code of conduct with a version established by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). Think of normal ethical issues that aren’t “illegal”, such as lying, cheating, and stealing. If you take those to the next level (ex taking a giant TV from Wal-Mart) or in terms of in the Internet, copyright infringement, you are crossing the line into the illegal side. However, the fine line between an ethical (legal) and illegal action is very broad.

In regards to the actual ethics, a reason that ethics may be compromised is because people aren’t interacting in person and feel like they don’t have to follow rules and act virtuous. Although there aren’t many computer ethics classes out there, all programmers and people who have to often use the computer should be required to take at least a brief ethics class in order to know the basics and the fine line between ethical and unethical. That way, people can be more familiar of the fine line between ethical, rude, and illegal.

On social networking sites, there can be issues of breeching ethics because of posting information and having others steal it and use it to make money. Also, people download music for free without paying for it sites such as isohunt.com, which is known as piracy. What do you think of that if you were the artist and having people download your music improperly?

A couple of major ethical issues are the protection of intellectual property, as well as personal information such as social security numbers. What would you do if yours or your company’s important information got LEAKED? That’s what Internet control is for… sort of. Your information is NOT safe… People can make these “malicious programs”, called malware, designed to hack your computer. Unfortunately, hacking isn’t necessarily considered illegal because it’s technically known as social engineering, or manipulating a file to be harmful to one’s computer. Did you know that you could write programs to bypass encryption? What that means is if you need to enter a password to access a list of 500 people’s social security numbers at a bank, you would basically skip the password screen and have full access to classified data.

One way to help prevent hacks is to continuously update your software and not “X” out of the software updates because you don’t feel like “wasting time” installing them. When you update the software, you install patches that make your software more secure. Without new software updates, it is like you’re basically running your car on a recalled engine. If your engine doesn’t work properly, a series of other problems can occur. If your computer doesn’t have the new patches, you are very susceptible to malware. If a fortune 500 company gets hacked or the data is compromised, a plethora of issues will occur, such as losing employees, scandals, legal issues, and spending tons of money on having a third party company check to make sure you have all of the data.  That’s why you need to be very careful with all personal information, data, music, and everything else you have on your computers. You never know what can happen.

Don’t forget to take the quiz if you’re in Math120!

February 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

Future First World Problems: Will We Lose Our Jobs to Advancing Technology?

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For decades, stories have been written about the impending doom of humanity at the hands of our own advancing technology. Classic films like The Terminator and The Matrix paint bleak pictures of mankind’s future with machines. The outlooks presented in these movies were likely difficult to imagine for most at the times of their release, but that is probably less true today. (more…)

February 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

Watson, Big Data, and Doctors

Who remembers in 2011 when IBM’s super-computer named Watson took on Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a match against the “brains” on Jeopardy? Watson, using practically the entire internet, was able to beat both contestants in an exhibition game. Months prior Watson was analyzing texts throughout the internet, including all of the text on Wikipedia, creating a database of knowledge of over four terabytes. According to Wikipedia, Watson is based on IBM’s DeepQA technology for “hypothesis generation, massive evidence gathering, analysis, and scoring”. You ask Watson a question and it goes through a step by step process to figure out its answer. It first analyzes the question, breaking it up into various parts that can be used to more easily search its database. It queries its candidate answer database to find its preliminary answers. Then it takes the answers and compares them against their evidence database so that it could back its answer up. Finally, it ranks its answers with the best evidence in order to determine which one it wants to return as its final answer. This process, combined with the amount of big data that Watson has analyzed and indexed, is how it was able to win the Jeopardy $1,000,000 first prize. Now after Jeopardy, IBM and Watson have been up to a lot of work. The two biggest improvements to Watson is that now it’s a lot smaller and has had a huge speed improvement. Before, Watson was so big it’d take up a small bedroom with all the equipment. Now Watson is has slimmed down and lost some weight so that it could fit into a regular sized server rack. Processing speed has also increased 240%, so now you can lose at Jeopardy against it just that much faster.

IBM has also been in contact with a number of other companies, mostly in the health field. Watson has been doing a lot of analysis of various medical materials and cancer treatments, among other things. Because of all the research that has been happening, Watsons first real job is going to be assisting medical professionals in the field. With the amount of knowledge stored in its database and with how fast it can be processed, Watson is going to be helping make tough medical decisions with the doctors and nurses. In the heat of the moment they can interface with Watson using an iPad, and it’ll help them make faster and smarter decisions. With IBM and health care professional WellPoint, it is planned to have Watson interfacing with 1,600 health care providers by end of 2013. Watson isn’t just going to be a cool question and answer machine to showcase on Jeopardy, it’s going to be helping out medical professionals all throughout the world making bigger and better decisions.

February 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Will ‘Bionic Bodies’ Offer High-Tech Hope to The Disabled?

Hi all! My name is Meagan, senior Accounting/BIS major. I plan to graduate in December of 2013 and I can’t wait. This is my first time with the blogging project, so please go easy on me. Hopefully you find what I have posted interesting. To start off, here is a video that holds the question: Will Bionic Bodies Offer High-Tech Hope to the Disabled?

Before you watch the video above, let me give you a brief overview of what it’s about. Besides the obvious title, the video gives the idea behind how technology can help disabled people. This research and overall idea had helped disabled people interact and do activities with friends and family again. There will be more than one person who has a bionic body part and the research that went into creating that specific part. It is a very interesting video and is about 11 minutes long. Enjoy!

For all of the ISU Math 120 students, don’t forget to take the quiz on ReggieNet!

February 11, 2013 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Why Windows 8 is SUCH a Pain

Hello all you lovely people! My name is Rebecca Duxler and I’m a senior, majoring in Information Systems – Web Development (same major as Chris) with a Business Administration minor, which gives me the best of both worlds. I have been a part of the IT/AITP club for the past 3 years and served as the secretary last year. Right now, I am the president of the AITP club and love every second of it! I currently work for a professor in the IT department, mainly doing research on IT and music can work together in an online song mixing forum. I have been in band since I was in 5th grade (and still am) and attend concerts frequently (but not your typical pop or country music). I am a Tri Sigma for life! I am also very fascinated by how the mind works. Writing has always been a hobby of mine and I’ve been actively writing for about 7 years, but is my first time blogging on here. When I’m not doing all of this, I love music (of course), programming, exploring creativity, going on adventures, helping people, and spending time with my friends.

I’m sure all of you have heard about Windows 8. It is is definitely not your standard desktop interface at all; most of my friends who have it don’t really like it. When Windows 7 came out back in the day, it had similar upgrades to what most operating systems would have. If you have no idea what an operating system (OS) is, it’s the software that supports basic functions, such as running applications and scheduling tasks. In your typical OS upgrade, you have faster processors, more memory, upgraded look and feel, new features (ex ones that enhance your graphics), better performance and security, and much more.

With Windows 8, everything turned into a tablet interface. Since I am into psychology and taking a user interface class, here are three reasons why people may DISLIKE Windows 8:

1. With a brand new operating system, there are many, many bugs. What that means is that not all of your programs will work correctly. They will frequently crash. At times, the entire computer would crash and need to be restarted. People who are trying to be productive would grow very irritated and dislike inefficiency, causing people to get into moods to throw his or her computer out the window (don’t do that). The more bugs and errors the system has, the less people will trust Microsoft and the better their competitors will do in the market.

2. Many people aren’t a huge fan of drastic changes. They like upgrades, but fear change and often resist it. Why do people dislike change? It has the potential to cause failures, loss of production, producing lesser quantity, etc. No one likes failure. Because everything is completely different, people who aren’t as experienced with computers may not know how to use Windows 8 very efficiently and wouldn’t want to buy/use it. Reviews say that Windows 8 is like looking for the treasure without a map, but having a general idea where it is. It isn’t too difficult to figure out, but some people may think so. For example, it even took me a little bit to figure out how to get to the desktop (there’s an icon on the start screen).

3. There is a loss of control. What that means is, when there is unsolicited change, people wouldn’t want to have to change their plans. Many people didn’t expect the interface to be completely different (and neither did I). The interface is meant for a touchscreen; you can’t do this with all laptops and desktops. With the main focus being touchscreens, which tablets and some computers have, you have to figure out how to make your non-touchscreen monitor act like a touchscreen (by using the touchpad). With the loss of control creates more work. People usually assume that software updates will make less work; thanks to the larger than life learning curve, it is actually more work. Even figuring out how to go “file, print” is a pain.

“Your software should not make anyone feel like an idiot” –> Software upgrades should make things more productive NOT less productive…

For all of you ISU Math 120 students, don’t forget to take the quiz on Reggienet 🙂

February 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm 4 comments

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