Chinatown Rapids (journal)

October 20th, 2010

Judging from the readings of Hundley and White and the movie Chinatown, the relationship between the establishment and continued social development of American civilization and water is as relevant today as it was during the age of Lewis & Clark, especially when it comes to human labor. Jobs today may be highly specialized and subdivided as opposed to hundreds of years ago, but as Chinatown reveals, water still plays a very important, even if indirect role in many occupations or in social and occupational mobility. In the film, the farmers were more directly reliant on the water for irrigation to keep their jobs. And near the end of the film, it’s revealed that through control of the Los Angeles’s water supply, Noah Cross’s now figuratively, if not literally owns the city including its police, one of which was promoted to lieutenant thanks to him. This reflects White’s discussion of labor relations and social rankings as influenced by the energy it takes to work around or against the Columbia river depending on which part. It demonstrates how influence can be exerted by those who have a degree or form of control over a basic necessity of life.

Thing 15: Photos & Images

June 15th, 2010

Uploading and sharing images on web is something that my mother is FAR more inclined to doing than I, since she loves sharing family photos with friends and relatives. But I do tend to post my fair share of images – none of which have anything to do with me or my family – on my most frequented internet forums. Still, I gave the it the old college try with Flickr. Or at least I was going to when I found that I needed a Yahoo account first. And a Yahoo account required  me to have an email address on Yahoo, Ymail or Rocketmail, none of which I had said address on. Not wanting to go through the hassle of setting up a new email address, I turned to Photobucket instead. When I signed up, I found that I was required to provide my zip code and had the option of providing my cell phone number, which was strange to me. I’m still guessing as to why that was necessary. But anyway, I completed the sign up process with no trouble at all. Then, I decided to test out my new account by uploading a picture from Flickr’s Library of Congress page. The image I chose was an antiquated photograph of Bishop Peel of Mombasa. I titled it “old guy from the past” with the description, “Hell if I know.”, and gave it the tag, “old photograph”. I then decided to share it on my Twitter page using photobucket’s sharing function. It was quick and easy. Since I provided very little information about myself and don’t have any sensitive personal images on my Photobucket account, I don’t have to worry about any hackers even if they were to break in to my account.

Thing 14: Awareness Tools

June 14th, 2010

Since this marks my first time with Awareness tools, I was a bit intimidated. But I got over it quickly when I found out how simple it was. For my experiment with Google Alerts, I set up one alert for the query “University of Mary Washington” programmed to email me updates on the “as it happens” setting. I set up another for “UMW” programmed for “once a day”. To my surprise, only one minute after setting these alerts, I received a new email alert for the latter query. But, ironically none of the results in it had anything to do with our university, save for one link that only led straight to fellow classmate Lindsay’s CPSC blog. Despite that, I was more concerned that the “once a day” setting I chose might have been confused for the “as it happens” setting instead. But then, I realized that the alert was showing me the new results from earlier in the day. I mistakenly thought that it was going to email me new emails every 24 hours starting from the point when I first set up the alert. With that in mind I set up my third alert to email me about “PS3”  “once a week” in hopes of receiving most or all of the search results from earlier this week. The PS3 (Playstation 3) is a gaming console manufactured by Sony that I own, and since this year’s Sony’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) conference is only days away, I felt it was an ideal subject for a trial run since I enjoy video games immensely and there was plenty of recent news about PS3 circulating on the web at the time. With this fact and the large time frame I chose  in mind, I chose to have the alert set to return 50 results maximum, the highest available option. The first alert arrived 9 minutes afterward. As expected, there were many results to choose from which were evenly split between the “News” and “Blogs” sections. Of these, what caught my interest was a news article about an anticipated game being formatted for 3D televisions. I tried submitting this news (just reported at time) to digg.com but unfortunately, two users already did so. Indeed Digg is a harsh place, as the following image shows……

Finally, my first “University of Mary Washington” arrived just 12 minutes after my first PS3 alert (38 minutes since creating it). It took the longest, but I was still astonished. Given the chosen time setting and the relative obscurity of the Mary Washington-related content found on Google, I expected it to to come much later. The two results found in the email were both relevant news articles: one about future UMW president Rick Hurley and the contractual salary he will receive for his upcoming job; the other about one Douglas Viehman, his promotion to Development Director at Concord Eastridge’s office in Arlington, VA, and his directing the development of Eagle Village, a new urban/retail center that will be adjoined to the UMW campus. . I’m not one who normally cares about being updated to new information online, but I did enjoy the convenience.

Thing 13: Forums & Web Boards

June 9th, 2010

I’ve participated on internet forums and boards for a long time now. My two favorite ones to socialize in are those on Gamespot and CBR. Sometimes, I pay IMDB‘s message board a visit as well. There, amazingly, each page about a particular movie  has its own sub-forum. Of the three forums I’ve listed, Gamespot’s is the one where I get into the most heated arguments with other users. That’s partly due to my fan bias (also known as “fanboyism”) for my gaming console over others. It even got to the point where I was suspended a few times. Fortunately I wasn’t banned. On CBR’s forum, I’m more “close” with with the users there than with those on the other forums. It’s probably because, less users have rarely left for long periods of time or permanently than those on other forums. Therefore, it’s easier to bond with them over time.

It was only today that I finally created and hosted and hosted my own forum using one of the sites Mr. Ackermann recommended. I doubt it’ll be a hit with users, but at least I learned the basics of how to make one. It was fairly simple though ran into some confusion when designing the categories. Ironically, they didn’t appear on my forum I designated them under the “Category” title. I then deleted and redid them only this time designated them under “Forum” which worked. All three categories then finally showed up on my main forum page. I’ll keep on an eye on it from time to time, to see if anyone comes wandering in to it.

Thing 12: Sharing Documents in the Cloud

June 9th, 2010

I remember when I first used Google Documents at Germanna Community College. It was for a group project about a assigned novel we read. In teams of two, we used Google Docs to prepare a Powerpoint presentation about a certain motif from the novel using examples from it and information from outside sources. What amazed me was how easy it was for me and my assigned partner to work on the same project from  two separate computers. Google Docs’s near instant automatic updating for every new thing we typed or inserted in  made the work as smooth as could be. And since it is an account-based service, me and my partner could access our work from any computer with an online connection It is a program I definitely wouldn’t mind using again for future academic projects or reports. Also, i find that it could come in handy for a number other things, such as having to work while constantly traveling without your own laptop. Document sharing’s controversial partner, file sharing is something I understand why copyright holders are trying to regulate, but I think their methods as it stands now are ultimately futile. The internet is a vast place where so much information circulates freely that it’s virtually impossible to keep an eye on everything to try and prevent or stop piracy using programs such as Limewire. The the traditional rules of copyright may need to be overhauled in order to adapt to this relatively recent overwhelming  medium. May they have the best of luck.

Thing 11: RSS

June 8th, 2010

When I first read about RSS,  I was immediately reminded of my experience on Twitter where I decided to “follow” the official twitter pages of a few sites including Cracked.com. After doing so, my twitter page was automatically updating with new reports or articles from them. So I guessed that RSS more or less functions the same way, only this time, the browser itself (independent of what site you’re on) or a site of your choosing is what provides it. To see for  myself, I set up my own account at Bloglines. It was while I was doing this that I realized its seemingly limitless potential to keep me up to date on all kinds of events in the most convenient way possible in this day and age. After subscribing to several of my fellow students’ blogs and a few sites including Anthropology.net (based on my college major) and ABC, an Australian news site, I put it all up here on my blog with little trouble. It’s pretty nifty, but since I’m hardly concerned about keeping up with current events, I probably won’t be using it much at all in my free time. I’d feel like one of those extremely obsessed businessmen on Wall Street staring unblinkingly at a giant screen constantly revealing the latest stock figures. I really don’t need to be inundated with the most current information and/or data all at once, though that may change out of necessity depending on what career I ultimately settle into. If so, at least I wouldn’t have a hard time adjusting if what I’ve learned from this RSS exercise is any indication.

Thing 10: Social Bookmarking and Tagging

June 7th, 2010

Given that I take my laptop with me wherever I plan to go for an extended period of time, I currently have little interest in social bookmarking. Even without my laptop, I wouldn’t use social bookmarking much, if at all because most of my favorite and most used sites I know by heart. Plus I  I have even less desired use of the features sites like Delicious and Diigo have to offer. Though the bibliographic feature of Connotea may be of use to me academically, if not Zotero. I can understand, though, the appeal of social bookmarking to internet users, especially to those away from home and their own computers who have a tough time remembering the URLs of their favorite web pages. It also makes for a more “personal” alternative to the dime-a-dozen search engines found all over the web. By relying on the tastes of different users instead of some harshly automated system, manipulated by sponsors, you may find more ideal sites for the queries or tags you input depending on how much the user who provides shares your particular likes when it comes to websites and media. If the day ever comes when I finally get fed up with Google, I may “convert” to a social bookmarking site. And  it probably won’t be difficult for me to choose which one to use. The one with the most users sharing their tags online obviously would present me with the most options for which users to rely on for resources. Reminds me a little of internet dating sites, only you’re searching for that special someone to share your sites and online media with.

Thing 9: Videos

June 3rd, 2010

I didn’t think that enabling oneself to screen capture videos would be as simple is downloading free software off the internet, but I was surprised to be wrong. Jing proved to be a very easy tool to use in order to capture screens off my PC and upload them. I made a short movie where I captured myself surfing the internet on my browser and then uploaded it to Screencast’s website. Remixing them, however seems to require a seperate editing tool/program. Of three suggested, two of them cost money and the third appeared to rely too much on XP software which my newer computer with Windows 7 might not have. So I skipped that part, but not before at least checking out what Creative Commons offers for material to use in videos. Turns out that you can even download certain whole musical albums at once with no potential legal ramifications. I downloaded one of ambient music from an obscure band called Re-Lab. On a forum which I frequently visit, I can see now how some users can quickly put together the funny videos in their signatures that I’ve seen over time. It’s definitely provides ample opportunities for humor. But it also may come in handy for presentations, kind of like Powerpoint. I probably wouldn’t use it for that purpose though, at least not without more experience with the software first. Then I could make a more “unique” class presentation with it. I just hope it doesn’t become mandatory in any assigned college presentations though……..Maybe it’s best if Prof. Ackermann doesn’t read what I just wrote.

Presentation 1

June 2nd, 2010

 In this day and age, anyone with a good internet connection is able to buy just about anything even to the point of splurging like you’re at the mall, only without the inconvenience of navigating through traffic and parking. Instead of going to the store, the store comes to you. But is this really a heavy influence in today’s economy or is it just a small shopping subculture with no real impact on the economy? The Nielson Company, an American marketing and advertising research company, active in over 100 countries, strongly suggests the former:

“Even with the weakening economy, an unstable stock market and a rising unemployment rate, Black Friday traffic to online retail sites grew at a double digit rate this year,” – Ken Cassar, vice president, industry insights, Nielsen Online. (November 2009)

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, was one such beneficiary. That should give you some idea of where online shopping is heading. But, since it’s a given that sales tend to increase during the holiday season and that the economic downturn was well underway at that time, you may think that it is solely the result of this regular boom in spite of the wavering economy. But consider that Nielson Online reported that Black Friday traffic to the eShopping index has been growing by 10 percent year over year from 28.8 million unique visitors in 2007 to 31.7 million in 2008 across more than 120 representative online retailers. Also consider that from the past five years up until 2008, the growth of electronic commerce (e-commerce), despite coming mostly from increased sales to existing online shoppers, has been higher than overall retail sales growth which had remained at 6 percent over that period. Even in 2008, when economic downturn significantly slowed the growth of e-commerce, it was still higher than retail (13.4 percent during the first quarter of the year as opposed to the 19.8 percent growth it experienced in 2007 over 2006).

That said, the phenomenon that is online shopping shows no signs of dying anytime soon. And the mindset of even retail businesses abroad have been affected by this kind of trend as this Australian news interview indicates.

Thing 7: Virtual Worlds

May 28th, 2010

I understand that a lot of people seek a refuge or escape from the monotony or tedium of their day-to-day lives and/or careers. Thus, I can see why many are hooked on MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft or Everquest. But Second Life in particular has me stumped. All it seems to be is a “pretend society” where you just socialize and do mostly ordinary things with other people’s avatars. At least with Everquest and W.O.W, you do things that are out of the ordinary like perform magic or go on quests for treasure while battling hordes of monsters. But with Second Life, you make your avatar do things that you wouldn’t have too much trouble doing in real life such as dancing at clubs or hanging out in cafes. If I had to guess at what makes it so appealing, I’d say that its the myriad of options for houses and clothing that make these players turn their noses up at their “inferior” real world living spaces and fashions. Second Life makes these people feel as if they can finally live the exact way they want. Actually, I think the more accurate thing to say is that they feel as if they finally have a decent chance at living the way they want. There are houses, land (needed for you to have a house), and other “digital commodities” that actually have to be paid for with REAL money. When your real money is STILL a concern in a fake world, that kind of eliminates the point about living out your fantasy life in this game.