Archive for April, 2013

The End!

This is my last blog for the semester and I’d like to thank you so much for being supportive of these! Anyways, I would love to continue to emphasize the importance of technology to our daily lives and how wonderful of a career it is. I hope you at least picked up a little bit of knowledge from this, even if technology isn’t your cup of tea.

I randomly stumbled upon a computer game today and it made me think of something. I’m sure everyone would wonder how this said computer game is made. To answer that question, you would need people to code the program in order for it to be able to be displayed on the internet browser. Of course, much more than that is required into the creation of this game!

I’m sure everyone knows what the Nintendo Super Mario Bros. game is. This game wouldn’t exist without the power of technology and advancement in video game platforms. Whether it’s from designing the shape of the video game systems to actually making the game display on the screen, it needs technology in order to be possible. Everything requires some form of technology in order to be created.

Here is the link to the game:

http://www.brainbashersgames.com/games/unfairmario.asp

If you have some extra free time on your hands, feel free to give this game a whirl!

In terms of how wonderful of a career technology is, I figured out that I can integrate all of my passions, psychology, music, and technology into one profession. I interned at McDonald’s Corporation this past summer as a business analyst/tester and loved it. I enjoyed being able to work with a wide variety of people who are all quite intelligent. I was curious to try something besides programming as an intern and came to realize I wanted to be a developer. Even females can be developers and utilize creativity in the technology field. With that being said, I landed a wonderful job as a front end application developer/android OS developer at Northern Trust and I am beyond excited to be working with the areas of technology I am the strongest in. I hope this encourages all of you women out there to pursue a career in technology and hopefully you will be excited as I am to be working in the field!

I also participated in the Mobile Application Development contest this semester with a dear friend of mine and won second place! I enjoyed it and loved being the only female in the pool of finalists. For more information on this, visit this website:

http://stories.illinoisstate.edu/2013/04/magazine/illinois-state/state-side/students-craft-custom-mobile-apps-for-it-competition/

To all Math120 students, NO QUIZ! I hope you enjoyed my posts and if you have any questions, you can shoot me an email at raduxl2@ilstu.edu! If you want to get involved in the IT department (such as with the AITP club) or have any questions about the IT department in general, feel free to email me and I will be more than happy to answer your questions about anything! Being the president of the AITP club has opened many doors and helped me evolve into the woman I am today. Have a FANTASTIC rest of the semester and keep following your dreams and working hard! YOU WILL find your passion! I promise you!

April 28, 2013 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

Link to 3D Printer Video

Link to 3D Printer Video

Hey guys, this is the last post I will be doing. It was fun being able to think of things you guys might enjoy reading. I hope that you have used this opportunity to think about being technology majors. There are a lot of jobs that are looking for technology majors and they pay nicely. Enjoy!

Over the past week, I have been hearing about a printer that can do wonders. This printer that cost more than any printer in the world, is able to print 2-D or 3-D objects. I thought that my friends were joking about it, so I had to look it up to see if it was true and well… it is. You are able to print anything you can think of that is a solid object. Not only is the printer able to print the object you asked of it, you are actually able to use the item. In the link above, they decided to print off a wrench. You will see that the guy is able to use the wrench as well. This is the coolest creation that I have ever seen.  There was so much technology that was used to create this idea, that it makes you wonder what else can you create using technology. We never think about how much our world relies on technology because we were born in the technology time period. Without these ideas that came from using technology, we wouldn’t have the things we rely so much on. Watch the video by clicking on the words that say “Link to 3D Printer Video” above . Maybe watching this will inspire you to create something that others would pay millions to have.

Math 120 student’s good luck on finals and have a great rest of the semester. No quiz!

April 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm 1 comment

How Tech Classes Can Help You In Nearly Any Job

When I graduated from ISU in 2010 and got a job with a large company, one of the first things I noticed when I got there was how much people use Excel; nearly everyone uses it in some capacity. The second thing I noticed was that the overwhelming majority of people have an extremely limited view of what the software can do, and how they can use it to make their jobs easier. Despite everyone having different responsibilities and educational backgrounds, we all need to use the same tools to do our jobs.

While many companies offer training opportunities to better learn these tools, few will be as comprehensive as a formal class. Furthermore, having an advanced knowledge of these tools before entering the work force puts you at an advantage right from the start. A portion of my job requires me to pull information from a computer-generated spreadsheet and convert the information in to a more easily readable format.  Usually there are a few hundred entries in the spreadsheet I am working on. Another part of this is that I have to go through a list and figure out which department is responsible for the items on that list.

If I hadn’t taken any tech classes during my time at ISU, that task would have taken me forever to do manually. Fortunately, in those classes we went over Excel, and there were units which worked out how to automate this sort of thing. Rather than have to go through each data field one at a time and format everything the way it needs to be, I can simply copy and paste the data in to a spreadsheet that is set up with a few formulas and scripts which allow the new spreadsheet to automatically interpret the data from the old one. The new spreadsheet will then pretty much fill itself out and be ready to go in just a few seconds. The beauty of Excel is that it can interpret information from databases. Because Excel is such a powerful tool for interpreting data, you’re able to tell each cell exactly what to do. One of the awesome time-saving ways I use this feature is that I have a list of tasks that need to be done, and I have a list of departments who have to do them. Some departments have 3 of the tasks, some have 50. Doing this manually is very tedious.

I set up my spreadsheet to look through the entire list of tasks, and output which department is responsible for the task in the list. Doing this required me to have over 100 nested If/Or statements in each cell of the output column. Setting up the spreadsheet the first time did take a bit of time, but now the process is super fast.

Having taken advantage of the opportunity to better learn how to use this software, I was able to save a lot of time doing this task and it gave me time to gain other responsibilities at work. Having a solid understanding of the tools you will need to use in most jobs will set you apart from your peers. I absolutely recommend taking a few tech classes during your time here at ISU. Even if you don’t end up in a tech related job, you’ll still be able to use what you learned in most other jobs, or even in your personal life for finances, etc.

 

There won’t be a quiz for this article, so I hope everyone had a great weekend!

 

Nick

April 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Privatized Internet Through Tor

As secure as you think you might be while browsing the internet, you are still able to be tracked. When you visit a website, talk over Skype, use an instant messenger, or stream music from Spotify, whatever services you’re connecting to are able to see who you are through your IP address. Your IP address is basically an address back to your network, where you can be traced back to. If Facebook or Spotify can see who you are, that doesn’t really matter. Right?

Say you’re living in China and want to go to Facebook and interact with your friends. Nope, cannot do. China blocks Facebook with their firewall; no one in the country is able to access the site. What about if you are a journalist in Iran that wants to expose some big news but don’t want it to be tracked back to you? How would you privatize who you are? One of the best ways to do that is to use a program called Tor. Tor is a proxy service that routes your internet traffic through six different computers on the Tor network. So, when you make a request to http://www.facebook.com, your connection to Facebook is encrypted, sent through three random computers on the Tor network, unencrypted at the exit node (the third computer), and sent to Facebook. When Facebook sends back the page you request, it is encrypted and sent back to you through three other random computers on the Tor network. This way your traffic is  totally encrypted and your source IP is hidden (except when you connect to the first Tor node and when the request makes it all the way back to you from the sixth node).

Tor

There are plenty of good and bad reasons as to why you would want to stay anonymous on the internet. If you’re a journalist in an unstable country that has an overpowering government, you would probably want to stay hidden. But the Tor network is highly used by hackers to keep themselves hidden as well. The Tor network is a double-edged sword in that fact.

Because of the nature of the Tor network, they need a huge amount of support from the community. The organization that makes Tor doesn’t run all the nodes on the network–they are run by people running software on their computers, who want to help out. A list of these computers are in an address book on the Tor site so the clients know who to connect to when routing traffic. There are also computers called Bridges, which bridge the Tor network onto the actual internet. The address list for Bridges is more privatized because of the nature of what they do. If someone in an oppressive country like Iran is found to be running a Bridge, they could face trouble from their government since they are allowing users to hide themselves and stay in secret. Because of this, the amount of Bridges is highly dropping and the Tor community is desperately asking for help to get more up and running.

Well, with that I’ll be ending my last blog posting here on the site. I’m going to be graduating in a few weeks and I must admit, I’m excited but it’s a bittersweet feeling. I had a great time writing for you guys this semester and last, I hope I was able to get some people more interested in information technology. Good luck on finals you guys, and hope you have a fantastic summer!

(Oh by the way, don’t forget to take the quiz!)

April 18, 2013 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Cellphones and the Technology Boom

Mobile device have become a staple in all aspects of our generation to a point where there are more cell phones than toilets in the world. Out of about 7 billion people in the world, 6 billion people have cell phones and 4.5 billion have access to toilets. Not only are phones a faster way of communicating, but provide us with some of the newest technologies. You can even use your cellphone as a mini TV or a mini computer.

Back in the day, cellphones used to be giant blocks that only displayed black and white. They never had games, internet access, and crazy apps. They were only meant for talking. Some of the first phones even weighed a whopping 21 pounds. They had huge antennas, poor reception, and you even sometimes had to carry a box around with you. Later, they began to look like your cordless phones that you have at home. You soon got to choose between many different colors of phones that were able to fit into your pocket. In 2001, cellphones began having color displays. After that, you began having camera phones and flip phones that allowed you to text. After that, it went from the Razor phone, to music player phones, IPhones, and now, your modern day smart phone.

Do you want to be responsible for being a part of the technology boom and make a noticeable difference in the world? Not only can you do everything from the palm of your hands, more cellphone technology also means more jobs. Mobile development is a new trend that programmers want to follow. You can also make a lot of money making apps on your own time. Now that many companies, such as banks, want to enable customers to use their programs on a phone, this opens up more jobs for developers. Some schools teach classes for IOS programming (programming for IPhones), and most schools, such as ISU, teach Java programming to students for an introductory level class. Some classes at ISU also cover Android OS programming as well (which is in Java and XML — more programming languages). Since the IT field is unfortunately very competitive (I know from personal experience), learning mobile programming will help you enter into one of the less competitive areas of IT that has a very large demand during the technology boom.

If you want to learn how to create Android OS applications, you can download the “Eclipse IDE” (if you don’t know what an IDE is, it’s where you type out and test your code) from http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/

When you are learning how to develop applications, there are many websites online, such as developer.android.com where you can teach yourself how to program. If you are someone who enjoys self direction, learning, and teaching yourself how to create things, this is the perfect way to do it! You can eventually even get your applications on the market and maybe even make some serious $$$! There are also online forums where many people will be willing to answer your questions as well!

All MATH120 students should go on ReggieNet and take the quiz!

April 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

What now?

ISU MAT 120 students —

OK, so it’s getting close to the end of the semester, and you’re busy thinking about how to get everything done. But what happens once the semester is over? Next semester? Next year? Five years from now?

How do you plan to distinguish yourself from this friendly critter? Smiley chimp

As you plan for your future, remember: The path of least resistance leads slowly downhill. Maybe it’s time to dig in, get going, really take advantage of the educational opportunities ISU has to offer. Find some course of study that you care about, that leads to an interesting life, not just a job.

While you’re thinking about this, consider that there are a great many interesting, creative, well-paying opportunities open to people who have significant IT knowledge and skill, simply because IT is becoming more and more embedded in every field. Want to be a detective? Learn as much as you can about IT. Want to be a health care professional? Learn as much as you can about IT. Maybe you hope to be an entrepreneur? Most start-ups these days center on IT. … You get my point.

There are many IT-related jobs open in the US because employers cannot find qualified applicants. Estimates are that only about half of the IT professional jobs in the US can be filled by US college graduates as things currently stand. These are not just pud jobs. Salaries, perks, and benefits are often very good. Some offer flex time, work-from-wherever opportunities, and a strong future path. Most involve working in teams to create new things, or to maintain and improve existing things, so IT folks are not stuck in some dark basement, coding away.

Why not check it out?

But, you ask, what specifically can you do about all this? Some possible answers:

1) Take some IT courses that relate to your fields of interest. Fit them in somewhere. JUST DO IT.

2) Add an IT-related minor to your existing major. Several are available at ISU.

3) Try out an IT-related major. Or jump right in, and declare one. (You can always change your mind later.)
Your successful completion of MAT 120 is a good first step. MAT 120 can be counted toward all but one of the six IT majors offered at ISU.

Here are some beginning IT courses to consider:

School of Information Technology:

IT 189.03 PYTHON FOR BEGINNERS (1 credit hour); first offered, Fall ‘12).
Introduction to programming and computer problems solving using the
Python language. Teaches programming concepts using pictures, videos, and
sounds. [ Note: This class tends to fill up quickly. If it’s full, try contacting the School adviser to get on a waiting list.]

IT 168: STRUCTURED PROBLEM-SOLVING USING THE COMPUTER
Designing carefully structured sets of instructions for a computer to follow in order to reach a desired outcome. (Designed for future Computer Science majors. MAT 120 does not satisfy the requirements for the Computer Science major.)

IT 177: PROBLEM-SOLVING FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Introduction in how to get a computer to meet the needs of users by creating step-by-step instructions for the computer to follow. (Designed for future Information Systems majors, and Telecommunications majors. MAT 120 can be used toward these majors.)

Technology Department:

TEC 151: INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY
Basic methods, software (including simple programming), and equipment used in computer applications for imaging, graphics, and communications.

College of Business:

ACC 255: ELECTRONIC BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
ACC 260: COMPUTER PROGRAMMING FOR BUSINESS
ACC 261: BUSINESS SYSTEMS ANALYSIS

Although the above courses are labeled as Accounting courses, they are actually courses in creating and managing business information systems, and should be thought of as courses for College of Business students seeking a good background in business IT.

Mathematics:

MAT 160: ELEMENTARY DISCRETE MATHEMATICS
Mathematical ideas used in all types of computer operations, such as basic logic, and construction of correct step-by-step procedures for producing desired results.

——————-

IT-RELATED MAJORS (MINORS) at ISU

School of Information Technology offers:
Computer Science
Information Systems, in several flavors, such as Security, Web Application Development, Systems Analyst
Network and Telecommunication Management

Department of Technology offers:
Computer Systems Technology

College of Business (via the Accounting deparment) offers:
Accounting Information Systems (a version of the Accounting major)
Business Information Systems (a distinct major, not a version of the Accounting major)

MAT 120 counts toward all of these majors except Computer Science, so you are already on your way, if you complete MAT 120 successfully.

———

Yes, there is a quiz available for this post. By the way, if none of this interests you in the least, sorry to bore you.

Questions? Contact me,

Kenton Machina

April 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

Today the Cell Phone’s 40th Birthday

Forty years ago today, engineer at Motorola Marty Cooper made the first phone call on a cellular phone. So, of course, be sure to treat your cell phone nicely today, give it a hug and feed it some cake!

Phone Cake

The call that Marty Cooper first made was to a rival engineer at Bell Labs, Joel Engel, saying “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone.” Imagine being Joel, researching the same technology, and hearing that what you were working to accomplish was just accomplished, and you received the first call from a cell phone ever. That just blows my mind. Over forty years, how many cell phone calls do you think have been made? Even think about yourself, how many cell phone calls have you made in your lifetime? For most of you reading this, and myself included, we have been alive for only half the life of the cell phone. My mind is officially blown.

Now I want you guys to think about how far the cell phone has gone and how much it has grown. The call that Marty made was on a big Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, which weights a whole 2.5 pounds. Now you walk around with your phone in your pocket or purse, and it is virtually weightless. Imagine texting using this big phone, your arms might get tired holding this thing up if you are a constant texter.

Now on our nice and slim phones, we basically are carrying around mini computers. We can access the internet, we can take pictures, we’re totally plugged in. We can use apps to stay in contact and always be on Facebook and Twitter, we can receive our emails right when we get them (how nice was that waking up to the snow day email in the morning!), and we can have tons of conversations at the same time though text messaging. If I wanted to, I could develop my own apps for Android, iOS, or Windows phones, I would just have to download some software, do some research, and get to coding. If I wanted to make a small security app that notifies me whenever my door is opened in my house, I would be able to do that with not a whole lot of work. Trying something like that forty years ago would basically mean that I would have to be an electron engineer with a ton of knowledge in the field.

So, today of all days, be sure to thank your phone for everything it has done for you. It keeps you connected to your social media, you are able to play Angry Birds and Fun Run, make sure you get all of your welcome “WARNING: Your ULID password expires in X day(s)” emails, and stay in constant contact with all of your friends. Happy 40th birthday, cell phones. ISU students, don’t forget to take the quiz on ReggieNet after reading this!

April 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment


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