Posts tagged Tech in the News
The International Consumer Electronics Show (C.E.S. 2010) is going on right now in Las Vegas. Today the 6th grade took to YouTube to learn about some of the cool new gadgets that have been released or demonstrated.
In looking at these new devices, we had conversations about the idea of technological evolution vs. revolution. There is some amount of opinion when it comes to using these labels with tech – and we had some great debates.
- Evolution - a natural next step for a device. (E.g., more megapixels in a camera)
- Revolution - a completely new gadget that has never been seen before and does something totally new. (E.g., the first satellite)
Our favorite new device of the day: Microsoft’s Project Natal
7th grade has been using tech all year to support LA and Science…today was a day to kick back and talk about all the amazing things that happen in the world of technology.
Today we talked about the mighty battle between Verizon and AT&T. AT&T has the iPhone, and pays Apple money for the right to have this cool device on their network only. Verizon has the best customer satisfaction rating for service (according to Consumer Reports) as well as a much larger 3G network in the USA. AT&T is mad about Verizon ads that point this out, so they are suing Verizon and they also made some new tv commercials starring Luke Wilson that say “AT&T is better”.
We talked about tons of interesting marketing ploys, competitive negotiations, and operating system constraints. The most lively discussions focused on:
- Cell phone companies have claimed colors as their own – Sprint=Yellow, T-Mobile=Pink, Verizon=Red, AT&T=Blue&Orange
- Cell phone companies are really becoming data service companies – most people use their phones for way more than just making calls
- Verizon just introduced Droid, a new phone that is supposed to compete with the iPhone. It runs Google’s Android 2.0 operating system.
Verizon attacks AT&T’s 3G service coverage
AT&T fights back
First day back to tech and the 6th grade tackled what turns out to be a difficult question: Are Google and Apple friends?
Students agreed that Apple is a computing company and Google is an advertising company. They don’t compete for hardware (iPhone, computers, iPod, etc) but they DO fight for software users (Apple sells software, Google gives it away).
Students pointed out that Google’s web browser (Chrome) only works on PC, not on Apple computers. This makes us think that Apple and Google will work together to steal users from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
However, on January 5th, Google released a piece of software called Picasa for Mac, a direct competitor to iPhoto (the most popular free Mac photo organization/editing software). What does this mean? Is Google attacking Apple?
The 6th grade thinks that this will be a tough fight for Google. Apple computers come with iPhoto already installed, and for people that already use iPhoto, there isn’t a lot of reason to switch.
I did research on Ask Eraser, a part of the Ask.com search engine that disables the engine’s ability to gather personal info from users. Without Ask Eraser engaged the engine could place cookies (pieces of software that a website puts on your computer), find out your personal info such as your name, and phone number, address, age, IP address (the location, or “call number” of your computer on the internet) It could possibly even take info such as credit card number, social security number or bank account number.
This sort of information would go into your digital identity, the trail of ones and zeros you leave behind every day you use tech. It can be used to find out something as harmless as what you ate for lunch or something as malignant as the aid to a murder (don’t go nuts, the chances of that are about one million to one) but you need to be careful.
On most search engines every time you type something in and press enter it automatically records your IP address and what you’re searching for. This info is usually kept inside a database and not read by anyone, but if it’s there there’s always some risk of info leakage.
Unfortunately Ask Eraser comes at a price, the second article states that when you go to Ask.Com, Ask Eraser itself places session cookies (identifying “name tag” cookies that enable websites to remember you) to record your preference of having Ask Eraser on. With these cookies in effect it could also extract identifying information from your computer without your knowledge.
With that on the table it really comes down to you, pick your poison. Do you trust Ask.com in default or Ask Eraser mode, both? Nether? Both of them have the downside of putting your personal info at risk. When I first wrote my thesis I only saw one side of the argument that Ask Eraser helps to prevent internet crime. But as I did more research the size of the catch 22 really became apparent. I do not recommend Ask Eraser simply because it implements the very thing it supposedly targets. This can rightfully classify it’s creators as un-trustworthy hypocrites.
Digital identity is when you give information of your self or people give information about them selves and put it up some where so others can read it. People often lie about their digital identity on places like MySpace and Facebook so they don’t get stalked. People also are careful about the pictures and information they put on the internet.
People that use Facebook are getting stalked even after they leave the site. Facebook is using a program called Beacon that traces your activity and where you go after you leave the Facebook site. It is not really a predator or stalker but it’s the people who monitor and make Facebook who watch you. That is not good because those people can watch where you go and if they want to they could post stuff about where you went and then the people who help you with stalker could be stalking you.
People on MySpace are getting stalked because they are not careful about their information that they put up. If you don’t set your settings right anyone in the world can see your pictures, comments and writing and will be able to figure out stuff about you. I think people should be more careful about the information and the pictures they put on because people could find out more about you.
Beacon could also be good to find out what kind of things you like. For example, web sites that you like and stuff like that. But they could also just have a survey that asks what kind of sites you go to and it wouldn’t be a problem because people wouldn’t get stalked. Everybody would be safer if they used a user friendly tracking device.
People are not checking their security and more careful about their posted information. The result of this is that people are getting stalked. People are also getting stalked be the website itself. Facebook is using a program to find out where people are going after their done using their website. I think it could be of some use to find out what people like to make the website better but I don’t think their using it for that. If they are using it for that then they should prove that they are or just get rid of it. Over all I think it is a bad program and they shouldn’t use it.
Tech in the News
Microsoft, owner of one of the top 3 search engines in the world, is interested in buying Yahoo! (it’s closest competitor) in an effort to bulk up for a head-to-head competition with Google.
The 7th grade spent our class together discussing the implications of both of these potential events. For the Microsoft merge, we discussed why MS would be interested in buying Yahoo!, how search engines generate revenue from advertising, and the implications of having less choices for search engines.
When talking about the News Corp. deal, we went discussed freedom of the press, the building of communications conglomerates and the effect of monopolization on competition and freedom of choice.
Students ended class in small groups. Each group chose an industry (fashion, booksellers, ski resorts, to name a few) and imagined what things would look like if a single company took over that entire industry. Some discussion highlights:
- Maya and Becky suggested that if there was only a single clothing retailer, people’s economic status wouldn’t be reflected in their clothing but that people would lose their ability to express their individuality through dress.
- Owen pointed out that if Barnes & Noble were the only bookseller, they could drastically reduce the amount of stores needed in any geographic area, thus reducing costs.
- Nava, Savannah & Isaac hypothesized that if Papaya made and sold all the clothing in the country, the price of clothing could be reduced and garment workers could be paid a fair living wage.
- Sam, Tristan & Stephan said that if all the ski areas were owned by a single company, then that organization could raise and lower the prices of lift tickets at all resorts simultaneously knowing that there weren’t better deals in the area.
Today we focused on Tech in the News. The two biggest stories of the last week are:
Microsoft buys stake in Facebook for $240 million dollars. We used this topic to learn about social networking services, how they rely on large adoption to be successful and how they leverage their customer base to create revenue from advertising.
Apple releases new operating system. From this article, we defined the term “operating system” as software that has a set of instructions that tells a computer’s hardware how to talk to each other and tells other software how to talk to the computer. We talked about Apple’s marketing, how they focus on the uses of their products (not necessarily just the hardware specifications) and how they work to generate “coolness”. We watched clips from a 20 minutes introductory video, produced by Apple, and discussed whether the new features were revolutionary, evolutionary, or just good-looking.
Students in one class had enough time to actually play with Leopard and tested Spaces, explored Safari 3 and looked at the new finder, dock and Coverflow features.
Students read and discussed one of four articles: