Posted by: tylerjd | March 14, 2008

Essay 4: OLPC project

             Throughout the course of this quarter we have learned the importance of equal access to digital technology, and the internets influential power. Undoubtedly there is a digital divide between those who are fortunate and those who are not. Although we see the digital divide within our own country, we frequent users of computers and mobile devices, take our easy access for granted. Digital technology and the Internet are far less prevalent in developing nations and third world countries. The development of the One Lap Top Per Child program and device have sought to make digital access a reality for those who have never experienced the resources that Internet enabled computers can provide. The program’s mission is innovative and I understand that computer devices provide an endless amount of education and connection to the outside world, but I question third world government spending on the OLPC and where computers fall on the priority list in the larger picture of benefiting those who are living in poverty.

            On the surface, this project appears to be favorable, but taking time to understand the implications, I would not participate in this program if I was the leader of a third world country. Priced at only $188 dollars, these computers may seem like a bargain, but it is important to note that this price does not include the cost of setup, maintenance, and Internet access. Those of us who have owned computers for quiet some time understand that computers can be costly to keep functioning properly and connected to the internet. Critiques have also brought up this idea of “Affodability and scalability over high-tech solutions”. Pointing out that “a $2,000 library can serve 400 children, costing just $5 a child to bring access to a wide range of books in the local languages and English; also, a $10,000 school can serve 400–500 children ($20–$25 a child)”, said John Wood, founder of Room to Read (Wikipedia). This is a very important point to make, because although internet technology aids us in our everyday lives, we must first provide the necessities that sustain a reasonable quality of life.

               The lack of necessities is especially a reality for many people who reside in less fortunate African nations. At a UN conference African officials not only question the motives of the project, but also made it clear that, “the project demonstrated misplaced priorities, stating that clean water and schools were more important for African women would not have time to use the computers to research new crops to grow” (Wikipedia). Without the support of the leaders of these nations that many would consider the neediest, I do not see this project being popularly excepted. When considering this project, we must take into consideration that these are individuals that do not see the importance of computers in their lives because they have never used them. Once these people are provided with the essentials, they should then be introduced to the technology we enjoy. Once they are educated on the use of computers and their importance, then large scale investment in OLPC type devices will have a much larger benefit for these individuals and their societies.

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Posted by: tylerjd | March 10, 2008

Group Project Post 3

      After reviewing the six news websites, I have concluded that I prefer simplicity over the presence of multimedia. Sites such as The Seattle Times and CNN do a good job at remaining up to date with social technology, without cluttering their homepages with multimedia and photo headline links. In my opinion news sites that do not advertise as much on their homepages are able to get away with the presence of more photos and other visual media. The Arkansas Democrat was my least favorite news site due to the fact that they had lots of advertisement and visuals which made finding interesting news very confusing. In my opinion, if users want to view multimedia, they can click on a multimedia tab or small homepage link that takes them to a page where all the multimedia is located. The most important part of these sites is the news itself, thus in my opinion text headline links are just fine without a picture to go along. 

       The local news organizations I reviewed  were effective in providing useful information for those who reside or visit the cities which the paper caters to. It was nice to have weather and traffic information on these homepages, as well as simple drop down tabs that break down news by county and or specific areas of the city. I was also surprised to see that all of these sites have implemented RSS technology. The majority of the sites I reviewed offer a wide variety of RSS feeds. For someone who just learned what an RSS feed is a couple months ago, it was interesting to find that the majority of news sites are on top of keeping their technology current. The RSS feeds are a very useful way to gain information from these news organizations, that specifically pertains to your interest. This helps manage the wide variety of news available on the web.

Posted by: tylerjd | March 10, 2008

VoIP Providers: Vonage vs. Speakeasy (EC)

         Although I myself do not have a home phone at my house in the U-District, I used my other Mercer Island address and home phone number to search for these services. After navigating the Vonage and Speakeasy websites, I found that both VoIP providers service in my area and would allow me to keep my current phone number.

         Vonage offers two main residential VoIP plans. The first being their premium unlimited residential plan for $24.99 per month. This plan includes all the advanced features of a home phone (voice mail, call waiting, caller ID, 3-way etc.) as well as unlimited local and long distance calls anywhere in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select European countries. This includes free calls to Europe – Italy, France, Spain, UK and Ireland and about 1cent a minute for basically all other countries. Their alternative home plan would be a Residential Basic 500 Minutes Plan for $14.99 per month which includes the same advanced phone features, unlimited incoming minutes, 500 outgoing minutes a month anytime to anywhere in the US (including Puerto Rico) & Canada, and 3.9 cents for each additional minute. With both of these plans, the Vonage VoIP phone adapter is included when you sign up for service directly with Vonage.

   Speakeasy VoIP on the other hand, requires a Speakeasy broadband connection as well. Thus Speakeasy VoIP and Broadband will run you $83.90 per month for in home service. This plan includes Speakeasy broadband internet, and VoIP phone service with all basic and advanced calling features. Also including Unlimited calls within the U.S.and Canada, excluding Alaska and Hawaii (.10 per min). The same plan also includes free worldwide calling to 22 countries including: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and different cent per minute rates depending on other countries and locations. I found it interesting that calls to mobile phones are not included in the free worldwide calling, and that calls to mobile phones within outside countries are much more expensive per minute than land lines. I found it difficult to find a clear answer as to whether or not hardware was included in the purchasing of Speakeasy monthly service.

            I thought it was very interesting how both these companies take a different approach in providing VoIP service to intended customers. Speakeasy requires users to subscribe to their own Speakeasy broadband, which they claim is to ensure a “crystal clear” connection. Although this may or may not insure a high quality connection, this turned me off in terms of the service they provide. I would be less likely as a user to sign up for Speakeasy, due to the fact that I would have to change broadband companies, without knowing the true quality of the internet service they provide. The Vonage website is also much more clear when explaining exactly what their plans include and at what cost. I found it very easy to understand Vonage’s services, but was confused when looking into Speakeasy. I would consider Vonage due to its low price and portability, if I was intending on doing substantial nation wide or global travel for long periods of time. Vonage seems to be very portable and even offers a small USB device that allows you to utilize VoIP anywhere a computer is available. All this being said I still do not see myself purchasing either of these services in the near future. If I was to travel, I would look at other VoIP service such as Skype, which seem more convenient for shorter periods of use such as traveling or studying abroad.

Posted by: tylerjd | March 10, 2008

3/10 Reading Reflection Post: VoIP

After Reading the “How VoIP Works” article, it was interesting to learn about the technology itself and what still needs to be done to make VoIP practical enough for everyday phone usage. The article states that “perhaps the biggest draws to VoIP for the home users that are making the switch are price and flexibility”. I am somewhat sceptical that VoIP will have a large impact on home phone usage, due to the fact that current generations hardly or never use home phones. Businesses on the other hand, may levitate toward VoIP usage in order to cut costs, but I do not see this happening on a large scale until the VoIP network and devices become as reliable as traditional telephone networks. Although traditional cellphones that do not use VoIP may cost the user a decent amount of money,  they do not rely on an Internet connection, and can be used almost anywhere in the world.  Modern cellphone networks provide signals in areas where it would be less practical for VoIP users to connect a laptop to the Internet. Most people have grown to rely on their cellphone and network provider for reliable service that I do not foresee changing unless VoIP network signals are able to be projected at much larger radius. As long as I can remember having Internet in my home, there has always been times where the Internet connection will cut out or slow. As the article points out, with current technology VoIP users are susceptible to any problems your broadband connection faces. I would hate to be trying to use the phone on a day my Internet is acting up, and have important calls dropped or signal strength weaken when relying on VoIP. VoIP is a very innovative technology that if refined to provide equal service quality that users are currently provided by traditional phone networks, has the potential to change the way we communicate amongst each other. Digitizing analog audio signals and utilizing packet switching is efficient and less costly, but I do not see the VoIP taking over traditional analog networks until users can rely on a VoIP  service that performs at the level they currently are provided by major networks.  

 -Are you willing to utilize current VoIP technology for your phone usage? why or why not?

 -What do you consider to be the major pros and cons to VoIP enabled devices at this time?

-What improvements would you want to see made or questioned answered before adopting VoIP in your home or on your cellphone?

Posted by: tylerjd | March 7, 2008

Group Project Post 2

After reviewing four news websites (Seattle Times, LA Daily News, CNN, and St. Paul Pioneer Press), all four seem to have fairly similar presentation style and layout. Out of the four sites, I would say that CNN was surprisingly the least social. Although you are able to share and email stories, there are no little links to sites such as Digg, De.licio.us , etc. You are unable to comment on CNN stories as well. I disliked the LA Daily News site because of its overuse of multimedia (pictures, vids, etc) in my opinion. After reviewing these four I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy traditional and simple news sites, with text based links to stories, rather than pictures. I would liken the St. Paul Pioneer Press site to the type of content found on The Seattle Times site. Both had up to date news coverage on local issues, including sports, politics, traffic, weather, etc. Although the two provide similar local information, The Seattle Times seemed to have more national and international news stories. This is most likely a result of the major corporations which reside in the Seattle area, that often have an impact nationally as well as internationally.

            For international and national news I would definitely go to CNN.com over the other three sites I reviewed. Both the Seattle Times and Pioneer Press sites did a great job fulfilling all the needs of a local news reader. The LA Daily News had adequate amounts of information, but I did not favor the cluttered nature of the site.

Posted by: tylerjd | March 2, 2008

3/3/08 Reading Response: Universal Access

I enjoyed the MIT article on Universal access and would like to see their hopes for affordable and convenient universal access as a reality in the near future. In this article, three main critical necessities are outlined in order to make this movement a success. I believe the most important and hardest achievement will not be developing the correct technology, but instead will lie on a supportive public policy with governments willing to accept the terms of the movement toward affordable universal internet access. As the article touched upon, “initial trials of the corDECT system have demonstrated that networks for voice and high-bandwidth data can be deployed over hundreds of kilometers, at costs currently under USD 50,000”. Which would put per-subscriber costs at about USD 300, rather than the USD 1000 average present with current systems. This shows us that the technology is almost there, it will just be integrating and adapting the current way networks and societies interact with the internet. This is where the relationship between universal access and economic/political/cultural may be rocky. Not all cultures and governments are ready to accept the internet and its influence into their societies. With freedom of expression not being present in many countries, the internet may serve as a threat to governments and regimes in power. At the same time, governments of third world countries, whether they allow freedom of information/expression or not, may not accept the idea of allocating significant dollars to universal access systems/technology. This has been a common subject of debate in regards to the fate of the OLPC project as well. Even advanced countries such as us, may have a government that does not except the drastic movement toward universal access right away. The major media companies and internet providers often have a large influence on politics which can influence policies and bills that could hinder universal access worldwide.  1. How important do you feel the availability of Internet connectivity is in sustaining a successful society?   2. How might the presence of Internet in countries with limited freedoms of expression benefit their societies? 3.  What do you feel will be the deciding factor in the success of universal access to Internet, and why?

Posted by: tylerjd | March 2, 2008

Discussion Leader

I enjoyed the experience of leading the discussion in class on wedsday, and everything that went into preparing to present. I found the powerpoint was not only a great way to visually express our content, but also was a great way to organize my intended thoughts and words. When creating a PowerPoint, I find it important to not place lengthy facts, sentences, paragraphs, etc. on the slides. When I have made the mistake of doing so in the past, It has caused me to rely to much on the screen for my presentation. When this happens, the presenter sounds like they are just reading a piece of paper the entire time, which should be avoided. I also enjoyed my first experience of placing a slide show on the Slideshare website. When I created this slide show, I had a very good understanding of my topic and was able to rely on my slide show just to organize my presentation. Uploading to Slideshare was very simple and easy. This is a cool way to add your media content to the Internet. Although at first I was not looking forward to my discussion week, I found that once I started preparing, I enjoyed getting an in depth look at my topic and sharing my thoughts and concerns with the class groups as well.  

Posted by: tylerjd | February 29, 2008

Essay 3: Websites-Democrat Vs. Republican-

      As web design technology has evolved over the years, we have witnessed changes and advancement in major functions and features. Although some users may prefer the simplicity of websites of the past, modern Internet users hold professional website builders to a new standard that integrates advanced features and presentation.  Although professional web builders have the same wealth of tools to use, they do not always end up with the same creations. Websites often differ based on the focus of their purpose and user preferences. I decided to compare the Republican and Democratic Party websites in order to find out how two parties with opposing viewpoints differ in regards to important features, function, design, and overall focus.

           The information available on the Democratic and Republican party websites is almost identical when you dig in deep and have ventured outside of their homepages, but on the surface they differ in terms of homepage content and features. They both offer the standard toolbar tabs that offer important information such as news, blogs, agenda, issues, etc. Most of these tabs have the dropdown feature that breaks the tab into sub categories when the mouse has scrolled onto the intended tab. Both sites also offer the ability to view the website in Espanol, which can be selected at the top of both sites. Although the donate button on the Republican Party website is larger, one of the major elements of both sites is making it easy for supporters to donate. Both sites have multiple buttons that allow you to do so, on their homepages. The major focus of both websites that initially catches your eye is their large links that look to discredit their opposing presidential candidate front runners. The first thing you see on the Republican website is a large picture of Obama and a tagline that states “Dropping the Ball: Obama Says U.S. Took Its “Eye Off The Ball” In Afghanistan, But His Record Shows A Lack Of Attention And Interest In The Issue”. On the Democratic website, the first thing seen is a picture of McCain with a link to a press release titled “DNC to File Complaint Against McCain Campaign for Ignoring FEC Law”. I found it interesting that the major focus of both sites seemed to be discrediting those that represent the other party. The Democratic homepage opposes McCain and President Bush as well. The Republican Party however focuses only on opposing Obama. I was surprised to see that there was absolutely nothing on the Republican homepage that talked about Hilary. This may be a sign that media mediums have convinced the public that she does not stand a chance, thus the Republicans have focused their efforts on discrediting who they feel is the greatest threat.

            The overall design and presentation of the Republican website seems to focus more so on visual aspects. There are more picture links, larger visual buttons, and other visually linked features.  The Democratic website on the other hand appears much like traditional news websites, presenting information on the homepage with a greater amount of text based links. One element on the Republican homepage that I did not find on the Democratic website at all was a box titled “GOP Networks”. This box includes visual links to sites like del.icio.us, facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube, digg, reddit, and others. I found it interesting that the Republic website took as much space to provide this box to its users, whereas the Democratic website had no information on these networks what so ever.

                The information presented on the Democratic and Republican websites succeeds in serving the overall purpose of informing hopeful supporters and swaying public opinion in their favor. Although they are both successful in that regard, I found it interesting to see how these sites overall presentation differed. I tend to favor more traditional websites with less visual presentation, thus I would favor the Democratic website. The Republicans use of larger photos, visual buttons, and networking icons looks pretty, but limits the amount of space on the homepage for text that better informs users of interesting news, issues, blogs, etc. In the end, this sort of visually dominated presentation hinders users from quickly and easily selecting interesting information without digging in deeper into toolbar tabs. Whether it be a political, personal, retail, or educational website, I feel the less I have to venture off a homepage to find what I am interested in, the better the site.

Posted by: tylerjd | February 27, 2008

2/27 Class Question: Quality Websites

What do I consider a quality website?

 -I tend to prefer websites that are user friendly and simple. I believe the move toward multimedia placement on websites, often clutters sites and masks the information or products I actually intend to find. For example, Craigslist.com has a very simple website design and appearance. the site does not include advertisements and the homepage is simple and easy to use. I believe craigslist has been a very successful site because of the way their website is designed and ran. Depending on the business or content the website is set up for, changes what I would like the website to include in terms of appearance and features. I absolutely hate retail websites that have flash driven intros with photos, video, music, etc.  Not only do these sites often run slower than traditional sites, but they often make it much harder to navigate through products.

Posted by: tylerjd | February 27, 2008

Discussion Leader

Article Abstract: In real world commerce, product verification and problem resolution is quick. You drive to a store to buy an item. You bring it home, try it out. If it doesn’t work or it’s not what you expected, you can drive back to the store for a replacement or refund, a turnaround process usually measured in hours.

In online commerce, product verification and problem resolution is slower – there are several days shipping time between when you buy an item and its arrival. If the item doesn’t work or isn’t what you expected, you have to pack up the item and ship it back to the business for a replacement (more shipping days) or a refund.

The dark side of online shopping reveals itself when things go wrong: A product doesn’t arrive, a product arrives defective, what comes isn’t what was promised or you change your mind about the purchase.

Citation:

Online is great, but physical is powerful. (2007, December 10). Bismarck Tribune,p. B1-B6.  Retrieved February 27, 2008, from ProQuest Newsstand database. (Document ID: 1396104501).

Presentation

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