The change in information consumption

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are traditionally considered connected devices, because each device connects to and interacts with the Internet. However, HDTVs, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles are also connected products, as a high percentage of their functionality performs on the Internet. Each of these gadgets offers a means of communicating and consuming content.

    Where information was previously compiled manually, it can now be accessed remotely. Information consumption, in turn, is changing, because the avenues in which that content can be found are evolving. With an increase in connectivity, finding specific information is as easy as performing a Google search. So, how does increased connectedness change the way we consume content?

Faster Access of Information

    Finding information is almost instantaneous, and can be done from a wide variety of locations. You don’t no longer need to be tied down to a hardwired computer; content can be accessed through your phone or tablet via WiFi or 3G. Now, researching and accessing content is a process that only consumes a few moments. The speed at which we now consume content is greater than it has ever been because locating that information takes almost no time at all.

Faster Generation of Information

    The connectedness that exists between devices is one that goes both ways. While content is easy to find, it is also easy to generate. You can upload a video to YouTube, post a blog on WordPress or update your status on Facebook, all from a connected device. The speed in which content can be generated is astounding, as millions of gigabytes of information are uploaded to the Internet every day.

High Rate of Communication 

    Connected devices allow for content to be passed along at an extremely high rate. A notification on a smartphone can trigger an n email to a tablet user, which triggers to a post to Facebook that is then reposted by a fan or follower and so on. This phenomenon is called “going viral” and is the process by which content is communicated to a large audience over a short period of time.  Thanks to connected devices, information has the ability to travel and travel quickly.

    Our increased connectivity has changed the way we consume content. The main difference, if you hadn’t already guessed, is speed. Like most technological advancements, it’s difficult to determine the value of this change. Information can be gathered, created and shared faster than ever before. How we choose to use that information is entirely up to us.

Being Connected and Being Censored

As access to information worldwide grows, governments and authorities fear how uncensored access will impact the people they govern. Because of this fear governing authorities develop different procedures to deal with this. Some choose to monitor or restrict access to certain sites; others choose to completely control all varieties of communication-technology in order to regulate the content people are exposed to.

The countries below have varying levels of severity for censoring and restricting the Internet, cell phones, and other communication technologies.

The United States – It is illegal in the US for civilians to use cell phone jammers but in some instances, federal officials may. Recently, the issue of censorship vs. free speech was brought into focus in America. San Francisco transit officials prevented the use of all cell phones on the BART system by cutting off electrical power to cellular towers. They effectively prevented an anti-police brutality protest, but also enraged the public and precipitated a federal investigation into the legality of their actions.

China – Individual private screens and chat room are highly monitored and quite a few websites are blocked in China due to their content. See if your favorite websites are blocked in China on this website.

North Korea – One of the more technologically censored countries in the world, North Korean grants access to only three websites of academic information. There are a few heavily monitored chat rooms hosted on a closed system that are permissible. The North Korean Internet is more like an Intranet. The high degree of censorship has created a huge black market for cell phones in North Korea.

The reasons governments give for censoring communication technologies are as varied as the degrees of strictness. Here are a few reasons that are commonly given:

Reasons why censorship is necessary

  • Censorship can protect the safety of the public
  • Censorship can prevent youths from being exposed to inappropriate content
  • Censorship can protect social unity and national glory
  • Censorship can prevent disturbing the social order
  • Censorship can protect national security

Reasons why censorship can be dangerous

  • Censorship violates the natural right of self-expression
  • Censorship can prevent people who have an emergency from getting help
  • Censorship can lead to ignorance of the world and other cultures
  • Extreme censorship can lead to social upheaval
  • Extreme censorship can lead to an oppressed and uneducated society

A definitive study of the geography of Internet censorship, written by Professor Barney Warf, was published in the 2010 December issue of GeoJournal. His conclusion is that the more globalized a country becomes, the more difficult it is to monitor and control information. The worldwide debate of whether technological censorship is right or wrong will continue as we become more and more connected. Issues will arise and it will become increasingly difficult for governments to censor what the content their citizens are exposed to.

You can read this article to learn more about Professor Barney Warf and his study.

The Pros and Cons of Internet Anonymity

Google has recently received a small amount of press because of their restriction of users creating profiles under pseudonyms. Currently, Google doesn’t allow fake names, and this has some people upset. One of the appealing things about the Internet is that is seems to offer blanket anonymity. Anyone can be whomever they choose, but is that necessarily a good thing? To answer this question, we first have to take into account the pros and cons of being anonymous.

Pros

    There aren’t many sites that mandate you to use your real name, or even have any means of verifying that the name you provide is real or not. This allows you to assume numerous personalities, crafting a new version of yourself every time you log on. This can provide a layer of safety when providing your full identity can be dangerous. Consider users who have been the victims of abuse or stalking, the freedom to be anonymous on the Internet helps them to be less accessible and therefore less vulnerable. Anonymity comes with a certain level of freedom.

Cons

    Many problems caused on the Internet begin with a misuse of anonymity. Email scams, social media spam and profile hacks begin with the creation of a fake Internet identity. While tactics such as IP address tracing and validating the information given when setting up Internet profiles can provide the true identity of any Internet user, creating a fake profile is the easiest way to scam someone else. While being anonymous on the Internet is often a plus, it’s important to consider the negatives that complete anonymity can create.

    The moral value of total Internet anonymity is a matter of personal responsibility. It is only as good as the person who uses it. Anonymity being good or bad is not a matter of anonymity itself, but rather, a matter of the users of the Internet. When considering if you are for or against it, first reflect on how you use it.

Tech That Remains the Foundation of Computer Science

We see new technologies come into our lives everyday. It feels like the moment we invest in a new computer, an even better, more robust version is released. It is hard to stay ahead of the technology curve. You might not be aware that there are a few technologies that have with stood the test of time.

What features does a technology need to accomplish this? Adaptability is at the top of the list, as well as versatility and configurability. Here are a few which have stuck around for more then a few decades.

Virtual Memory – 1962 – This allows systems to use hardware memory more efficiently by recycling space used for memory. This concept led to time-sharing or the ability for systems to multi-task.

MOS Chip – 1967 – Metal-oxide semiconductor. This technology is employed today to make computer chips and is termed CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor). The technology has changed a bit with time so adaptability is one trait that has kept it alive.

C programming language – 1969 – Developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs, C is the most popular and widely used programming language on the planet. When you get something right why change it?

It is quite incredible that technologies invented over 50 years ago still make up the foundation of those we use today. While our machines get thinner, faster, sleeker, and more user friendly, the core technology that makes it all possible is strong enough to withstand the pressures of the machines we dare to dream up.

You can find more technologies which have withstood the test of time here: http://www.osnews.com/thread?484715

How to recover from a hacked email

No matter how challenging your email password is, there is always a chance that a hacker will find a way to decipher your information and gain access to your digital personality. So what do you do once you’ve realized that your personal email account has been jeopardized? It is important to be proactive in this type of situation. Taking the appropriate steps can help you repair any damage done by a hacker as well as help prevent future hacks from being successful. Here are some important steps to take.

Notify Webmail Provider

    Letting your webmail provider know that your account has been compromised is an important step that many email users might not think of. When you notify your webmail provider of a problem it gives them the chance to rectify the situation and further strengthen their security against potential hacks. Your specific hack could be a part of a much larger security breach, letting your webmail provider know about it gives them the opportunity to fix it.

Change Password

    This is most likely the most important thing to do once you’ve regained control of your email account. Doing so will prevent whomever hacked your account from taking over again or from selling your password to another hacker. Make sure to make your password completely different and, if possible, make sure it shares no characters with your previous password. Also, remember to make it complex. The hacker who broke into your account may have personal information, like your birthday, that would help them decipher any new password you created that was too simple.

Notify your contact list

    One of the main reasons hackers break into personal email accounts is to send out well disguised spam. A spam email is more likely to be successful if it is sent to a victim through a recognized account. Letting your contact list know that your account has been compromised can warn them against these attempts and likely prevent the transfer of viruses or a successful scam. Make sure and relay the message clearly in your subject line, so that your contacts will know that you’ve regained control over your account without needing to open your email.

No one likes having his or her personal information compromised. It’s important to remember that, if your email has been hacked, your online banking and other Internet managed services may also be compromised. If you’d like additional information on what you should with a hacked email, please take a look at this article.

Goal Setting Leads to A More Involved and Happy Team

Having life goals keeps us motivated. The issues we overcome make us stronger and as we reach each goal we should set new goals. Every step moves us towards the lives we want. We apply this to our very own lives but do we apply it to our professional lives?

We spend approximately 30% of our lives at work. For many people a significant amount of this time is unfulfilling. Redundancy in our jobs can cause us to feel like we have no control over how we spend our day. We repeat the same tasks day after day i.e. monitor our inbox, file paperwork, return phone calls, and wait to get off work. This leads to an uninspiring work surroundings and employees who feel detached from the business and constantly watch the clock. Setting goals can keep things fresh and help combat the rut that people are stuck in at work.

  1. Set or Assess Goals Every 3-6 Months – Schedule a meeting or set time aside dedicated to setting goals. This timeframe will keep the goals fresh and it will be easier to celebrate achievements.
  2. Write Goals Down – Records helps to solidify the goals in your mind and provides a reference point for inspiration or redirection.
  3. Aim High – Set goals a little outside your comfort zone. This can lead to learning new skills and finding pride in one’s work. Remember, don’t set your goals so high that it is an extreme burden or difficult for you or your team.
  4. Find a System to Measure Performance – By breaking goals down into smaller ones and determining the skills that need to be perfected, you can more easily measure the progress toward the finalization of the goal.
  5. Celebrate Each Achievement – Whether working independently or with a team, be sure to celebrate each step that has been reached that supports the larger goal. Positive reinforcement goes a long way and it can be as simple as a word of acknowledgment.
  6. Schedule the Next Goal Setting Meeting Ahead of Time – You may lose perspective and drive if you do not refresh your goals. Goals keep us feeling excited and accomplished and that leads to job satisfaction.

Feeling pride in our work and feeling like we contribute is valuable to everyone. Setting and reaching goals reminds us of the important part we play in the larger goal.

Attributes of Good Apps

An app is only as valuable as it’s function. There are certain things that can determine the value of the function, whether or not the app is useful, whether or not the app works accurately or even whether or not the app is fun. Take ‘Angry Birds,’ for instance. This app has value because of the universal level of entertainment it offers. But a good idea doesn’t necessarily translate to a effective app. So what key features do all good apps have in common? Here are three common features found in highly functional and valuable apps.

Stability and Reliability 

    A good app should go through rigorous testing prior to a launch date.  The developer should be confident that the app will still have value under a wide range of different conditions including disabled WIFI, impaired cellular data and smartphones set to airplane mode. Even if the base function of the app is creative and useful, if it doesn’t work under a variety of conditions then the app loses much of its value. A excellent way to determine value in an app is to research the amount of testing that went into development.

Consumer Consideration

    Any app well worth it’s price is going to provide worthy functionality. However, the developer needs to consider the consumer in the design of the app and understand that no one wants a surprise overage charge on his or her monthly bill. A good app shouldn’t consume too much data as many cellphone plans include monthly data caps. Before downloading an app, make sure and research the amount of data it costs to use the app.

A Well Designed API

    API stands for application programming interface. Basically, it’s the way in which applications communicate with one another. For example, if you have an app that makes posts to Facebook, that app does so by communicating with Facebook’s API.  This is a very important part of app development because most apps, in one way or another, communicate with other apps. Nothing is more disheartening than realizing your Twitter app has made duplicate posts. A good app will have a well-constructed API to insure that the right information is being communicated.

    While an app’s worth can be of objective determination, there will always be numerous key elements to look for when searching for that perfect new download. For more tips on finding great apps, take a look a this article.

Training Day – August 5th

In order to continue improving our services, Servcom USA will be conducting a training day for our technicians and employees on Friday, August 5th. Please be aware that our technicians will be limited in their availability to respond to non-emergency service calls during regular business hours. As always, please call our office to report service disruptions, or go online to our Client Access Portal and submit a ticket.

3 cool tools for summer

It would seem that there are endless electronic instruments designed to make our lives easier, especially in the summer time. We are all familiar with air conditioners and ice machines, technological standards that make high summer temperatures bearable while we wait for the more pleasant seasons of spring and autumn. What else does technology offer to help us stay cool? Here is a quick look at a few innovative devices designed to help beat the heat. 

The Bedfan

Getting up sweaty is never ideal. However, many of us sleep best while under covers. The Bedfan is designed to help bridge that gap, making sleeping under a blanket bearable even if the temperature is high. The Bedfan hooks to the end of your bed and a thin vent is inserted just at the foot of your covers gently blowing cool air in between the sheets. This increased ventilation under a heavy coverlet adds a cool breeze to your favorite blanket. To read more about the Bedfan, check out this link.

The BEX Runner

Keeping your body cool during exercise is important. The BEX Runner, filled with a proprietary gel that claims to stay cool for up to an hour of use, is intended to draw heat from different parts of your body. It’s essentially a wearable core-cooling device that conducts and holds heat. For a closer look, check this review.

The iPocket Fan

Want to stay cool with a hip pocket fan? Well of course there’s an app for that. The iPocket fan is a small pocket fan that is controlled by your iPhone. The fan itself is connected to a charging dock for your iPhone and, when in use, an animated display of a desk fan appears on your screen. You can then make the blades spin faster or slower with a flick of your finger. True, this may not give you the gusty breeze of a full sized fan, but it sure is a cool way to cool off. For a look at what the iPocket Fan actually looks like, check out the website.

Keeping cool is easy with the right gadgets. Make sure and beat the heat this summer by moderating your temperature. If you’d like to read up on some more cooling gadgets, take a look at this article.