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COM125 – INTRODUCTION TO INTERNET

Week 12 – Twelve Weeks & Twelve Posts

Twelve weeks. Twelve posts.

We have finally come to the end of this! Yay!

I am so glad that this is finally over. I didn’t like to do blog posts regarding internet and its technologies as I do not have much interest in this field (even though I am using internet almost every other day). But nevertheless, throughout this period of studying this module (Introduction to Internet) and doing all these blog posts allowed me to gain further insights of the Internet and its technologies.

Now, let me summarize what I had been posting over these past few weeks:

In my very first post, I talked about how the Internet is so prevalent such that because of its availability, it allows everyone have the freedom to express themselves. As such all governments struggle to monitor people’s online behaviors and to deal with serious issues such as hate speech, security and child safety. But often, these concerns are serve as convenient pretext to engage in censorship or surveillance of the Internet which violates the rights and privacy of Internet’s users and threatens the free flow of information; defeating the purpose of having openness and universal access on which the net was built for.

On the second week, I posted about Rich Site Summary (RSS) and how to utilize it. Basically, RSS is a technology that allows web users to keep track of their desired/subscribed web sites where one will receive his/her latest update(s) of the particular sites in the RSS Reader. To do so, one has to find a site that one would like to follow-up and click on the RSS button and follow the instructions to subscribe using the feed reader of one’s choice.

Moving on to my third post, I talked about Twitter and its uses while highlighting different real life examples. 1) Twitter can get one out of trouble. A graduate student from the University of California-Berkeley, was arrested in in Egypt, and he managed to tweet a single word – “ARRESTED” – which got picked up around the world, which quickly led to his release. 2) Twitter can get one in trouble where Joshua Cryer was convicted after posting a series of racist tweets aimed at footballer Stan Collymore. 3) Help one find a job. Annabel Brown was offered an internship with Ogilvy Public Relations after a senior PR account manager saw her job-searching-tweet. 4) Twitter can ruin one chance of getting a job. 41% of UK’s HR Managers have rejected a candidate after viewing their online profile. 5) Twitter can help to raise funds for charity and support a cause. A very good example is Twestival which is a single day global charity event.

In my fourth post, I suggested 6 key factors for successful e-commerce. 1) Create a consumer centric approach. In e-business, one has to recognize that power is shifting to the consumers. It is important to serve customers with custom-made service based on the interaction with these individuals. 2) Using typography and colors to influence. When designing for a retail website, always keep in mind that the ones visiting the site are your customers. On the top of your priority list in this case is that creating a site which allows the consumers to have the urge to buy your product(s) while navigating and reading the site with ease. 3) Product line. Having a niche product line is a very important. What makes your product so outstanding and different from the other similar products? What can you do to generates repeat orders? 4) Building your relations. You need to carefully develop a “social media plan”. You can start by focusing on taking small steps to develop your website as a social hub. To do so, you can ask your customers for their feedback and giving them incentives to refer others to your sites, and of course, to genuinely listen to what they have to say. Devote yourself to a blog, Facebook, or Twitter, or Youtube for your company. 5) Visibility. Major strategies for attracting potential consumers are both online and offline advertising, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social networking and print advertising media (flyers, news letters, etc). 6) Website’s Interface. Design your site such that it is clear and concise to a consumer where to find items. Also, your home page should be visually enhanced, showcasing several highlights of your sites.

In my fifth post, I wrote about future of e-learning where the future will be more interactive, flexible and personalized for individuals. E-learning may be moving towards multi-channel platforms that encompass social and mobile technologies to reach the learners where they are which also may allow individual to assume a more active role in planning his or her own learning.  Furthermore, the contents and modes of e-learning may be personalized to suit each and every individuals’ learning pace and environments.

And my sixth post, I blogged about Google Sketchup and my experiences of using it. Also I have recorded down the process of me using Google Sketchup (shown in the self-made video). The new version of Sketchup is a big improvement. It has lots of awesome features. Trimble 3D Warehouse is one of the features which I really liked. It is a collection of 3D models of buildings, bridges, cars, spaceships, furnitures, dinosaurs and EVERYTHING ELSE. It could have made my design school life so much easier!!!!

Then in my seventh post, I wrote about computer viruses and how to protect your computer/laptops against it. And I shared a little on my experience with computer viruses. Just like humans, computers are prone to get virus(es). There are various types of computer viruses ranging from email viruses to worms and Trojans. In order for a computer virus to pass from computer to computer, the computer virus has to “hitch” on top of some other program or document to launch its attack. Seeing that how vulnerable computers are to viruses, we as Windows users, should protect ourselves against these viruses with a few simple steps: 1) Change your windows computer to a Mac one. Because Mac operating system represents only a small part of the market such that they are targeted by fewer viruses than the Windows operating system. 2)  Install a virus protection software such as Norton or any other anti-virus which is available online. 3) Never open or click on suspicious email attachments or links, especially sent by those who you do not know. Be aware of downloading files online too. 4) Try to stick with commercial software purchased officially in legal stores. It’s much safer.

In my eighth post, I talked about augmented reality.  It is a blend of virtual with  reality. As such, it blurs the line between what is real and what is virtual by enhancing what we see and hear. Augmented reality basically adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback to the real world via a digital device, making it a very fascinating and interactive application. Everyone can benefit from the ability to place computer-generated graphics in their field of vision. Many of these include commercials. Advertising are going on a whole new interactive level with the use of augmented reality. With this technology, augmented reality is changing the way we view the world – or at least the way its users see the world; it is as if as they had enter an entirely different yet familiar world. These enhancements will amplify their everyday experiences with technology.

In week nine, I posted about social media and politics in Singapore. Politicians in Singapore are turning to social media to garner more supports and votes; reaching out to a wider audiences, especially the youths. It allows politicians to inform the public with the relevant party’s agenda but also often include critical news. Social media have become one of the important sources in Singapore’s political discourse in which the new media could have a considerable impact on voter’s opinions and choices. Just as much as the social media could swing the votes to the opposition, it could also swing the votes to the PAP.

In the tenth post, I blogged about citizen journalism. People are reporting on events that they believe have either been excluded from corporate media broadcasting, or events that they deem to have not been accurately depicted by the media, or simply just to voice their opinions on certain issues. As such, they are changing the ways we get our news. However, citizen journalism is often criticized for being too subjective, lacking in quality and content, and unregulated. Compared to the mainstream mass media, citizen journalism are not credible enough. We should be mindful as we read those citizen journalists’ articles and constantly question ourselves: how credible is their information? Who are these people who claim themselves as having the knowledge, the sources, and the qualifications to write informed and accurate broadcasts about particular events? And on the other hand, as a citizen journalist, one should be responsible for what one say and type online.

And finally, in my eleventh post, I talked about how I think internet would be like in the near future. I believed that we can expect that the virtual world would overlap with our reality world (and being prevalent in our lives), making our internet experience a more interactive one. And an example I have taken is from the manga 1/2 Prince where they have high tech online virtual reality role-playing game.

Before I end this post [and this entire com125 blog], I would like to share this link: http://comic.naver.com/webtoon/detail.nhn?titleId=350217&no=31&weekday=tue.

For those with weak heart and are particularly afraid of any horror materials, you are advice not to click on the link. Be warn! Click on your own risk!

I had received this link in the middle of the night from a friend of mine last year. Some of you might have come across it before. It is a Korean horror manga (comic). Recalling this, it still sends shivers down my spine. Nevertheless, I am impressed by its graphics, animations and sound effects. Yes, animations and sound effects in a manga! Believe it or not! You can try clicking the link and read on til the very end of the comic! It is really surprising and impressive to see what Internet and its technologies are able to do!

P.S. Found a forum where people are discussing about the manga: http://www.batoto.net/comic/_/comics/bongcheon-dong-ghost-r3992

Week 11 – Future of the Net

Internet and its technologies are constantly evolving to cater to our needs (and probably wants too!). From the Windows 90s pcs to the current Windows 8, ipads and other stuffs (sorry, I am not a tech savy; doesn’t really know what’s the “in” things for tech stuffs), we can see that within all these years, Internet and its technologies have improved tremendously. And now, we can look forward to what the future of Internet holds for us.

If you ask me what could Internet be like in the future, I can tell you that one of the answers to this can be found in a manga called 1/2 Prince. Written by Yu Wo, the novel was translated into a manga in 2006. It tells a story about a 19-year old girl, Feng Lan, who was challenged by her twin brother to play an online virtual reality role-playing game called “Second Life”.

Be assured this is not the “Second Life” that we know of right now. In the manga, it is stated that “Second Life” is a virtual reality game where players travel around the virtual world, defeating monsters and developing their characters’ skills and abilities (just like any other typical role-playing games). However, there are differences.

In this game, players get to be in the game itself where “the realism level of the game is 99%. Even the slightest wind, the buzz of insects and the chirping of birds seem life-like”. And due to such a high realism of the game, players would experience 30% of the pain (in their real life) which their characters endured in the game. In addition, the character’s appearance and gender come from the player’s actual look and gender. Cool isn’t it? [And before I forget…] Players have to put on a “dreams gaming device” in order to play the game while sleeping/napping. Here’s how it looked like in the manga:

And below are two pictures from the manga showing Feng Lan playing the virtual reality game:

*With regards to her gender, because she was the first to log onto the game, she was given special privilege to change it.*

Perhaps, we can expect something like this in the near future of the internet where virtual and reality worlds overlap, making our internet experience a more interactive one.

Week 10 – Citizen Journalists and the Internet

With the rise of the Internet and social media,  it gave everyone the freedom to express themselves online at any time and from any place. With such freedom, it has given rise to citizen journalism.

Mark Glaser, a freelance journalist who frequently writes on new media issues, said in 2006, “The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others.”

These citizen journalists are reporting on events that they believe have either been excluded from corporate media broadcasting, or events that they deem to have not been accurately depicted by the media, or simply just to voice their opinions on certain issues. As such, they are changing the ways we get our news.

Now, we are able to gain access to a much “unfiltered” (depending on the writer), user-generated news online. And due to the connectedness, the availability, and the speed of Internet, posting and reading news are just a click away. This allows citizen journalists to report breaking news much quickier than traditional media reporters.

However, citizen journalism is often criticized for being too subjective, lacking in quality and content, and unregulated. Compared to the mainstream mass media, citizen journalism are not credible enough and should to be taken with a pinch of salt. As a result, the influence(s) of citizen journalism is/are often questioned. How much influence(s) does/do citizen journalism have on us in contrast with the influence(s) of the mainstream mass media?

I believed that in Singapore, citizen journalism has its influence to a certain extent and the influence of mainstream mass media is still dominating us. For the instance, mainstream mass media such as Straits Times are credible and resourceful in providing topics with depth and value, thus we are relying on it as our main news source. Whereas on the other hand, citizen journalism reflects the journalist’s perception to a certain matter which allow readers to consider his/her point of view. However, more than often, most topics on citizen journalism websites such as STOMP, are insignificant and valueless. I guess, there is still a long way to go for citizen journalism in Singapore to inflict a significant influence on its society.

Nevertheless, we should be mindful as we read those citizen journalists’ articles and constantly question ourselves: how credible is their information? Who are these people who claim themselves as having the knowledge, the sources, and the qualifications to write informed and accurate broadcasts about particular events? And on the other hand, as a citizen journalist, one should be responsible for what one say and type online.

Week 9 – The Power of Social Media in Politics

Nowadays, with the social media so prevalent in our lives, the employment of social media has become part of everyone’s imperative online communication tool. Often, individuals are continuously engaging in all kinds of online social networking activities such as twittering, youtubing, and facebooking for communication and entertainment. Hence, it is not a surprise that politicians would turn to social media to garner more supports and votes.

In Singapore, People’s Action Party (PAP) are increasingly being contested online , over social media like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Pushed by the what-thought-to-be pro-PAP bias of the mainstream media, Singapore’s opposition parties are using various new media to communicate with voters and expressing their dissenting views. At these sites, they are not only updated with the relevant party’s agenda but also often include critical news that they believe have either been excluded by the mainstream media, or that they deem to have not been accurately depicted by the media.

On the other hand, PAP too, had gone on social media to join in the “online competition”.  With the aid of the mainstream mass media together with their social networking sites (such as Facebook and Twitter), PAP are able to reach out to a wider audiences, especially the youths. This goes for the opposition parties too.

As a result, social media have become one of the important sources in Singapore’s political discourse in which the new media could have a considerable impact on voter’s opinions and choices. Just as much as the social media could swing the votes to the opposition, it could also swing the votes to the PAP.

Week 8 – The Wonders of Augmented Reality

With today’s graphics and technologies, researchers and engineers are integrating graphics from television screens and computer displays into our real-world environments; it is a blend of virtual with  reality. As such, it blurs the line between what is real and what is virtual by enhancing what we see and hear. This technology is known as augmented reality.

Augmented reality basically adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback to the real world via a digital device (and for some, via certain applications with a hand-held digital device), making it a very fascinating and interactive application. It seems that both video games and cell phones are the main forces which drives the development of augmented reality.

Everyone can benefit from the ability to place computer-generated graphics in their field of vision. Many of these include commercials. Advertising are going on a whole new interactive level with the use of augmented reality. For example, advertisers are  bring their products closer to their consumers while others involves interactive games or information to engage with their consumers. Here are some videos to illustrate this:

With this technology, augmented reality is changing the way we view the world – or at least the way its users see the world. With augmented-reality displays, what users will see is the informative or interactive graphics together with an audio which coincide with whatever they see via their digital devices; it is as if as they had enter an entirely different yet familiar world. These enhancements will amplify their everyday experiences with technology. And I shall end off this post with this video:

Week 7 – Beware of Computer Viruses!

Just like humans, computers (WINDOWS computers/laptops in particular) are prone to get virus(es). A computer virus can have a devastating effect, disrupting productivity and doing serious damages to your digital device. There are various types of computer viruses ranging from email viruses to worms and Trojans. In order for a computer virus to pass from computer to computer, the computer virus has to “hitch” on top of some other program or document to launch its attack. Once a computer virus is running, it can infect other programs or documents.

I have my fair share of experiences in getting my laptop infected by computer viruses. It was a few years back when I was studying in a polytechnic. Back then, the plotting room was popularly visited by students (because it’s free to plot our stuffs there). And there, they have a few computers, but out of those, one was the most commonly used. That particular one was often infected by computer virus(es). Probably because some student had his/her thumb drive/hard disk infected by one and unknowingly plugged into the computer to print their stuff(s). Thereafter, the computer virus began to spread from one user to many others’ storage devices who used that computer.

More than often, the infected users would only realized when their computers/laptops were infected by their storage devices. That’s how the virus started spreading from one computer to many others. It was particularly stressed for the infected users as we have to deal with the virus(es) in our devices and our assignments deadlines. Those whose hard disks had been wiped out by the virus had it even worse (they were almost to the verge of losing all hopes because they have to redo everything from scratch with an even tighter deadline).

Seeing that how vulnerable computers are to viruses, we as Windows users, should protect ourselves against these viruses with a few simple steps:

1) Change your windows computer to a Mac one. Because Mac operating system represents only a small part of the market such that they are targeted by fewer viruses than the Windows operating system. One will be safer on “the Mac side”.

If you insisted on using a Windows like me,  you should…

2) Install a virus protection software such as Norton or any other anti-virus which is available online.

3) Never open or click on suspicious email attachments or links, especially sent by those who you do not know. Be aware of downloading files online too.

4) Try to stick with commercial software purchased officially in legal stores. It’s much safer.

By following these steps, you should be able to remain virus-free 🙂

Week 6 Part 2 – Self-Made Video

To show the process of modelling a kitchen in Google Sketchup (shown in my previous post), I recorded the process using Screenr and compiled it together with Windows Live Movie Maker. For me, this isn’ t my first time using Windows Live Movie Maker. I can say that it is relatively easy to use for a beginner with no prior knowledge of video editing skills. I guess, all one need is to youtube how to use Windows Live Movie Maker, and there, after watching the youtude video, one will know how to edit video(s) on a Windows Movie Maker 🙂

On the other hand, I had problems recording what is going on on my screen. At first, I was using CamStudio to record my computer screen but I kept having problems with it; either the process is not recorded or the record video’s quality is really really bad. And after sharing the incident with my friend, she told me that I wasn’t suppose to minimize the recording file while recording. But oh well, what’s done is done. Enjoy watching my video!

Week 6 – 3D Model Making: Google Sketchup 8

For years, Google Sketchup is one of the most popular 3D model-making tools. Back in my polytechnic days, many architecture students often utilized this tool in their 3D model-making process. Me, on the other hand, did not use Google Sketchup. At that point of time, I preferred using 3D Max (another 3D model-making software) because of certain features it can offers while Google Sketchup can’t. But, to be honest, this isn’t my first time using Google Sketchup. In fact, the first time I tried using Google Sketchup was during my second year in polytechnic where I created a washing machine. Don’t ask me why I created the washing machine; I have no idea why I did that. The other time when I got to use Google Sketchup was during my internship. It was just a brief moment as I tried to “build” a hotel lobby out of the autocad drawing (I was just getting started when they (my seniors) called for a change in plan). Oh well, anyway, I have decided to explore Google Sketchup 8 as a part of my assignment for this week’s post.

This new version of Sketchup is a big improvement. Compare to the previous versions, Google Sketchup 8 has a lot of new awesome features. First of all, they have built maps right into SketchUp which adds a geo-location to your model in one-app process. And with the snapshot you get when you add a geo-location to your model, it includes 3D terrain data which is more accurate, and — for the first time — aerial imagery in color. Google also adds in powerful new editing tools such as Union (adds together two or more shapes) and Trim (tells one shape to take a bite out of the other – without deleting the first shape). *although these editing features can be found in 3D Max already* Oh yes, not forgetting the Trimble 3D Warehouse!!!! It is a collection of 3D models of buildings, bridges, cars, spaceships, furnitures, dinosaurs and EVERYTHING ELSE. Most important of all, it is completely FREE for everyone to use!!!! Now, we can get templates of 3D models as and when we need!!! It would have made my design school life so much easier!!!! Here is a video on the new features of Google Sketchup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eytIbyXzCMQ

So, I have downloaded the Google Sketchup 8 (which is completely free) and tried to play with it by creating a kitchen from scratch. I find that Google Sketchup is easy to use due to Google Sketchup’s simplified interface (and probably due to my previous knowledge of Sketchup and 3D max). It is simple to draw boxes, cylinders, and other basic objects and extrude (Push/Pull) them into the desired direction/dimension. However, one problem that I faced was the direction cues and snap points offered by Sketchup (which behave somewhat like CAD programs). It makes it difficult for me to tell whether the object is being moved/rotated in the desired direction. I wished that I could customized direction cues and snap points just like in AutoCad.

Here’s my video, but due to technical errors during the recordings, the video below only shows half of the process of building the kitchen:

Perspective taken with IRender nXt (due to time constraint, I wasn’t able to fully utilize its lighting and rendering features).

Week 5 – E-learning and its Future

Whenever e-learning is mentioned, what usually comes to my mind is all the online educational tutorials which students are to access while being at home (or anywhere else). It is a program which allows learners to gain access to learning at any time and at any place.

I have not had much experience with e-learning. Probably because my previous schools were much comfortable with the traditional classroom settings then. The only time I had to went through e-learning was during the period of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) where the schools were closing for certain health safety measures. Sad to say, I had forgotten much of those memories.

Anyway, e-learning is basically based on the idea that the teachers and the learners need not to be in the same location or even at the same time. In general, e-learning uses networks and computer systems to impart knowledge. This can include Web-based tutorials, computer-based tutorials, and Internet-based tutorials. It is somewhat like a virtual classroom, where place and time is no constraint (self-paced learning). Lessons and tutorials are available to one with just a click of the mouse.

With the internet constantly evolving, and as we are moving towards a more integrated web 3.0 (which focused on semantic web and personalization), we can expect that  the future of e-learning will be more interactive, flexible and personalized for individuals.

For instance, with the current availability of social media tools, individuals are already managing their informal learning, and this trend will be more integrated and developed in the future as social interactivity brings together educational content from different contexts and sources of learning. With this as an ongoing process through creating and sharing information, it provides a record of lifelong learning, capable of expression in different forms. In addition, e-learning may be moving towards multi-channel platforms that encompass social and mobile technologies to reach the learners where they are which also may allow individual to assume a more active role in planning his or her own learning.  Furthermore, the contents and modes of e-learning may be personalized to suit each and every individuals’ learning pace and environments.

Hence, we should look forward to what e-learning can bring to us in the near future.

Week 4 – Cash The Net: 6 Key Factors For Successful E-Commerce

Today, doing business online is very prevalent with blog shops springing out every now and then. Have you ever wondered why some business online succeeded and others don’t? Here’s 6 key factors for successful e-commerce.

1) Create a consumer centric approach

In e-business, one has to recognize that power is shifting to the consumers. It is important to serve customers with custom-made service based on the interaction with these individuals. Thus, engaging with e-commerce along with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategies assist organizations to retrieve detailed customer information and to create opportunities for dynamic, real-time reaction. Consequently, integrating customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention with a strategy to move from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach is critical in order for e-commerce to be implemented successfully.

2) Using typography and colors to influence 

When designing for a retail website, always keep in mind that the ones visiting the site are your customers. You are trying to convince these  potential consumers to click on your promotions and products to buy whatever you are selling. Making sure your headers, sub-headings and body copy are consistent across your website while creating a well-defined style. A website’s style should be evolving as your company and brand grows. Although here, we are trying to tell you to use typography and colors to influence, never go overboard with it. On the top of your priority list in this case is that creating a site which allows the consumers to have the urge to buy your product(s) while navigating and reading the site with ease. You can also consider using fun and creative liners.

3) Product line

Having a niche product line is a very important. What makes your product so outstanding and different from the other similar products? What can you do to generates repeat orders? With a focused product line, a commitment to connect closely with customers, and intelligent use of available technologies, you can stay ahead of the curve and build a strong, sustainable e-business.

4) Building your relations

You need to carefully develop a “social media plan”. You can start by focusing on taking small steps to develop your website as a social hub. To do so, you can ask your customers for their feedback and giving them incentives to refer others to your sites, and of course, to genuinely listen to what they have to say. This way, you are able to build strong bonds with your consumers. And if you have the time, devote yourself to a blog, Facebook, or Twitter, or Youtube for your company. With these social media, you are able to update and feature relevant interesting articles about your company and your products for your consumers. In turn, connecting and building trust with your customers.

5) Visibility

With so many similar e-commerce sites online, how can you “drive the traffic” to your site? The major strategies for attracting potential consumers are both online and offline advertising, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social networking and print advertising media (flyers, news letters, etc). Out of all these strategies, print advertising is the most expensive. On the other hand, using SEO requires technical knowledge, but can eventually yield free, long-lasting traffic.

6) Website’s Interface

Design your site such that it is clear and concise to a consumer where to find items. Each page should lead them to complete the next step in the purchase process with simple instructions like “click here” or “register now.”  Also, your home page should be visually enhanced, showcasing several highlights of your sites which can consist of your latest product promotions, new arrivals, hot selling items and your social networking sites.

Read more about how to set up a successful e-commerce here!

References:

http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/1303-Six-Success-Factors-for-Small-Ecommerce-Businesses

http://www.ehow.com/info_8433453_key-success-factors-ecommerce.html

http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/28223/45745438.pdf

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