This morning before coming to work, I was desperately trying to make some apple pies. Everything was becoming one sticky mess, and I was running out of time. I eventually gave everything up, left the unbaked crusts and half-finished pie filling behind, and ran out the door–after some hurried instructions to my mother to please do something with them ’til I got home. On the way to work, Mom I talked on the phone and she told me what I probably did wrong and that the pie crusts would be ok, but I want to throw them away!
This reminded me of my attempt only a few days ago to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies. I did everything I thought would make them special, but no. They ended up raising straight up and tasting dry and thick, instead of spreading out into large, round, chewy morsels of delight–like the ones My mom made last night! *sigh* Maybe I’m not a baker after all.
While I was picking sticky pie dough off of my hands and the rolling pin and getting flour all over the floor, my mom was at the computer, trying to check her email. Now that I think back it makes me laugh. Mom was yelling from the office, asking me why the Internet isn’t working, and why the shortcut I made for her email is bringing up an error message, and I was in the kitchen yelling “what am I supposed to put in this next?!” We were both trying to do something the other was good at, and not being there to teach the other how to do what was common sense to us.
And then I realized that as many times as I want to roll my eyes that my mother can’t remember which icon to double-click, I will never remember the five (or maybe it’s six?) ingredients that go into pie crust dough! Everyone has skills, talents, and experience in different areas. So whether it’s tech supporting Internet services, or making pies and cookies, we all need each other and our smarts!
I think our society often pushes the older generations into a corner and pities them for not being able to keep up with the fast-moving technologically advancing world we are living in today. We forget that they knew enough to raise us and give us good advice, and that they have years on us of experience on how to lead, provide, communicate, and overcome obstacles. Their stories might sound different, but their life lessons are ones that still apply today. Lets give these “technologically-backward” folks another chance!
I read an interesting article today in response to another controversial article about the “death of email”. I find it humorous that the poor woman who was nearly persecuted for her article, never said email was dying, just losing popularity and prominence. I guess there’s still some dispute on that idea. But I disgress.
I think it’s interesting that no matter how wonderful and revolutionizing a new technological advancement is, four groups of people emerge. *Note: Sometimes this does not happen because this advancement dies off before adoption by the majority takes place.
1. There’s a small group of activists who are overly excited about how wonderful and convenient this new *fill in the blank* is, how it will dramatically change how we communicate/entertain ourselves/do business/whatever else you can think of! And before you know it, <normal device that is working perfectly fine right now> will be completely replaced by this new *fill in the blank*!!!
2. There is a larger group of people who are interested, skeptical, briefly fascinated, or bored who try this New Big Thing and make up their mind about it. And, regardless of whether they use it or not, still use the old way or the other way of doing things for some time. The adoption rate by this group is usually the deciding factor of whether this technological development will become commonplace.
3. There is an equally large (usually) group of people who know very little about this so called New Big Thing that everyone who’s anyone is using and don’t really care about it, and wait to adopt the trend when the hype (and often the price) goes down. They adopt this technological advancement after several years when all the kinks have been ironed out, and when they discover this is a more efficient method of doing what they do.
4. There is a small group of people who are utterly clueless and will continue using their “extremely out of date and oh-so-not popular” method of doing things and will be perfectly content with it. This group only adopts the thing when their technologically advanced friends or relatives coerce them into updating or their local provider no longer offers the old way.
Nuff said. This happened for cars, telephones, and tv’s and is still happening to today with broadband Internet services, smartphones, blue-ray and facebook.
Because of group 3, and especially 4, there are still people using rotary phones, dial-up, and hand-written letters.
If it wasn’t for group 2, and especially 1, we wouldn’t know about some great conveniences that have truly improved our lives.
The truth is, the new big thing has its place for the people who like new things and need the change. But there will always be room for the good old days and the traditional forms of transportation, communication, education, and entertainmentation… *ahem* I mean… (hehe!)
I still remember in middle school, the first time that my little world was shattered by a Group 1 futuristic hopeful who told me that telephones would soon no longer be used anymore. But by now these future-thinkers don’t phase me. So lets not get our undies in a bundle! Email isn’t going anywhere! Just like radio, newspapers, dial-up, and telephones. They still have a purpose to serve.
So… what group are you in?
I have always enjoyed art–painting, drawing, sculpting–even music and drama. Now that I have graduated college and work full time, I try to keep the arts in my life. I also enjoy teaching, but try as I might, I don’t have a very commanding presence, so it’s hard for me to keep the attention of a large group of kids. You know how those teachers growing up were either so likeable or so scary that you listened when they talked? That’s my theory. They had the commanding presence, I don’t.
So, I never pursued teaching, but I still can do one on one or teach very small groups. I asked my aunt who homeschools her two children if I could teach them art as a part of her curriculum. She was very excited and, to my slight dismay, volunteered me to teach the children of three more homeschool families she knew.
I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this, but I accepted. Now to come up with an art project. I remembered a “ocean life” art class from my middle school involving chalk and stencils of sea creatures.
I couldn’t find said stencils anywhere (ok, I didn’t look very hard!) but I decided I preferred making my own stencils. Enter Internet Services! I just did a Google search for sea animal stencils. I found the most fascinating and widest variety of sharks, dolphins, shells, and fish. It was so easy! And free! I then printed them out and tranferred the shapes to pieces of cardboard. Voila!
The class turned out very well! Part of that was probably because half of the kids didn’t show up. <_< But even so, we all had fun and I’m looking forward to next month’s class. I even think I’ll be able to handle all four families. In the meantime, I must say, the Internet’s vast resources never cease to amaze me!
Ok, I have to admit, I’m beginning to think that the government would have some grounds to give a few billion dollars to get broadband to the underserved in the US (see my previous post for more details). After all, even at our best, we are years behind other countries for their normal Internet services. Furthermore, at this point in time, the best way to resolve the need for broadband services is to move. So… there is an argument there that bringing broadband to a desolate rural community would boost its economy.
Sure, I’ll allow myself to see the point to it all, granted that these communities are actually being helped in the best way (here’s a previous post on how well the government is accomplishing this so far!). I’m keeping my ears and eyes open for news about the broadband stimilus plans. The FCC has had a few things to say. I want to see what other people are saying and where we’re going with this. This is all I’m getting:
They’re taking surveys! They are asking people if they want broadband. Well of course they do! If you walked up to 100 people who had to walk to work every day and asked them if they would prefer to drive a car to work, 95 percent of them would probably say yes! Who wouldn’t be a fan of the speed, comfort, and convenience of a car? Do we really need to pay people to go around asking these people this and writing us a pretty report about it?
Ask these same people if they want to buy a new car, and that they’ll only get to pick from two types of cars, and that it will be quite an increase on their monthly expenses, and that they will have to wait 5 years to get the car available in their area, they’d probably say, “Forget it! I’ll keep walking!”
These rural people are getting all excited and writing articles in their local papers about how wonderful this broadband access will be, but has anyone told them that they will have to pay a fortune for it and that it will take years for all of this to happen? Do they know that this 7.6 billion dollars from the government won’t even cover half of the necessary expenses? You won’t read that in the news!
Some of these stimulus funds will be used to take more surveys and create awareness about broadband (wow…). These digital communications companies are asking for grants to make maps of the greatest need for broadband (more surveys), and submit plans of actions, etc., etc., etc.
People. Isn’t there a better way? There’s enough surveying and reports and grant requests and more surveys to keep us busy for the next two years! And with every “act” and “program” the government establishes, that billion dollar budget is looking smaller and smaller. Don’t hold your breath people. Nobody’s going to be digging any holes, setting up any towers, or doing any other real work towards spreading broadband for a long time.
Along with the evolution of Internet and Internet services, the way we make websites has dramatically changed! Where we used to have text, a few colors, and clipart, we now have dynamic graphics, multimedia features, interactive banners, and so much more!
Did you know you can see what websites used to look like? I just discovered this today. Check out the Wayback Machine! How cool is this?
The following pictures were from right around a decade ago. It’s fascinating to see how different they look today! From 1996, here’s MSN.com:
And… Yahoo.com! (or should I say Yahoo! .com…)
Isn’t that precious?! And here’s Google.com circa 1998…
And, I know this is only four years ago… but just think about how much this site has changed!
Remember when Facebook.com was just for college students?
Check out more great memories at archive.org!
If you heard about the government stimulus package that plans to spend over 7 billion to get broadband in rural areas, don’t get too excited. This is the government we’re talking about afterall.
Here’s a few things we need to keep in mind.
- The current halt on afforable broadband service to rural areas is due to lack of interest for companies and for customers. Basically, it costs way too much money to get broadband way out to the boonies when not everyone wants to pay for it even if they did!
- Anytime the government hands out money, it has to jump so many hurdles and run through so much legislation that by the time they get around to it, we could probably have done it faster on our own with a big garage sale! Ok, ok… slight exaggeration. Anyway.
- There are a lot of big companies involved that will all be lobbying for their interests, and a lot of them are more concerned about their pockets than a few rural farmers waving their arms for a broadband bailout.
Here’s some of the things we dial-up users in the sticks have to look forward to:
So anyway… The FCC has been given until February to (get this!) define “broadband” so the government can properly dole out the funds. Yes February. As in next year. If you can’t guess, it’s going to take at least several years for this promised broadband to reach your rural little computer.
Why do we need to define broadband? Well because all these “high-speed” companies are giving customers such low-quality service that it’s hardly fast enough to be considered fast in today’s age. Check this out:
*Satellite services can drop your connection speed to that equivalent to dial-up as a penalty for using the service excessively.
*Wireless can become so overcrowded with users that it is actually slower and more unreliable than dial-up.
*Many ”low-cost” DSL plans have connection speeds that are no more than 10 times faster than dial-up (keep in mind that advertised speeds are not guaranteed actual speeds).
You might as well just stay with dial-up at that rate! Oh and get this!
*Our fastest connection speeds here in the U.S. is much slower than the normal connection speed in other countries. So much for being an advanced country!
So now the FCC is asking some of these Internet services providers to help them decide how fast broadband should be (or how else to determine what makes broadband what it is–long story), and phone companies like AT&T are trying their hardest to keep the standards low. They want broadband to be defined as being able to achieve basic tasks (like web page loading) and not even including video streaming and gaming capabilites!
Guess what? That, my friends, is dial-up. And we already have that. Yes, this is going to take a while. Looks like I’m going to keep going to the library to get videos… But I’m ok with that. I never had my hopes up from day one anyway.
The Internet is a wonderful–and sometimes terrible thing. While subscribing to Internet services is like a virtual gateway to the world and all the things it offers, I sometimes wonder how it has changed our lives and our thinking.
About a month ago I decided to investigate the top Google searches. This was not as easy as I imagined. But I did find some interesting things that you might find entertaining.
Enter Google Zeitgeist. Zeit means “time”, and geist means “spirit”, so it’s pretty much a summary of the “intectual, moral, and cultural climate” over a period of time. I decided to share some of the things that can be found here (and my comments) today.
Fastest Rising Searches Globally of 2008:
Vice presidential candidate beats President for fastest rising search term globally… but not in the US.
…Apparently people in the US don’t know how to type an address in the address bar. And although Obama beat Palin in the US for general searches, “Sarah Palin” was number one for both Google News and Google Images–no Obama on either list.
Google Trends is another feature that shows popular searches–it’s for the current year and broken down to each day. Here’s the top searched query for the last week:
- Monday: boyles furniture (company was celebrating 60 anniversary, featured on the Today Show)
- Tuesday: notehall (website where college lecture notes and study guides can be bought and sold–appeared on ABC show “Shark Tank”)
- Wednesday: wanda sykes wife (lesbian comedian who spoke on HBO about her wife and politics)
- Thursday: brooke astor (American socialite whose son was found guilty of stealing from her)
- Friday: obama nobel peace prize (kinda self-explanatory)
- Saturday: stephen gately (Bandmember of Boyzone died that day)
- Sunday: army wives season 4 (Season 3 ended that night)
My verdict: We care about whatever’s on TV that night…
You might want to check out Google Trends. I have to forwarn you, they are completely different from one day to another and most of them have to do with celebrity gossip and deaths. And you will probably start searching the terms about just to see what the fuss was about!
And, last but not least, enter Google Suggest. This is great. I guess Google fills in the blank based on similar searches from other people–or at least what Google considers to be a pressing concern for most Internet searchers. Here are a few that I found entertaining (warning: this is addicting!):
*Start typing “should my” and the first suggestion is “should my poop float”! Other suggestions include “should my muscles be sore after a workout” and “should my girlfriend hang out with other guys”
*Start typing “what if my” and you find out there’s really only three things that people must worry about: their dogs, poop (again? really?), and periods.
*Start typing “can you g” and EVERY suggestion has to do with pregnancy (especially in concern with periods) except “can you get mono twice”.
*Start typing “why do” and apparently the number one question on people’s minds is “why do men have nipples”. Other pressing issues have to do with dogs, cats, and various bodily functions.
Last but not least… if you ever need to know why…
It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
I finally downloaded Opera 10.00 on my computer. This is a browser like I haven’t seen before. Of course, I am into features and learning about all the bells and whistles, so if you’re the “just download and use it” kind of person, you might be confused about how to get certain things to work or not notice much of a difference from any other browser. Regardless, there are some things you may like about Opera even if all you want is a basic browser.
The download itself is 6.6 MB. This should only take about 25 minutes on a dial-up connection, maybe more if you have a particularly slow one. Either way, definitely not a problem for dial-up. The installation, like most programs, is very simple to do. No worries!
There’s a lot of features that Opera has that are similar to other browsers: tabbed browsing, offering to save passwords, and an interactive address bar that shows suggestions from history, etc. But Opera has gone a step further where other browsers, especially Internet Explorer have not ventured. Here are a few things you won’t find on IE:
Transformed Speed Dial—a page of thumbnails to your favorite sites. This is great for big surfers who go to multiple sites frequently. It’s better than a favorites lists! You may have seen this on Chrome and Firefox, but on Chrome, the sites are chosen for you based on your browsing habits. On Firefox, you can only have 9 that you can manually enter. On Opera, you can enter up to 25 websites and load a personalized background picture! The speed dial page appears every time you open a new tab.
More Choices Upon Arrival. Instead of just an option of opening to the homepage, or several home pages, like on IE, Opera allows you to reopen the last session, open your home page, or open your Speed Dial page.
Interactive tabs. If you like surfing on multiple sites at once, you can really benefit from these features. 1, Hover over each tab to get a small window showing a preview of that page. 2, click and drag under a tab to expand the tabs into small preview windows for all your tabs. 3. Right click on your tab bar for more tab options, including moving the tabs (or preview windows) to the left, right, or bottom of your browser! Beat that IE!
…and, for dial-up Internet services users (and anyone else who needs to get things done quickly), check out these shortcuts and time-savers!
Turbo Mode! Click the little speedometer icon in the lower left corner of the browser to enable the turbo feature. It compresses pictures (it makes them slightly blurrier), allowing webpages to come up much faster than regular mode.
Image Options. This feature (located in the bottom right of the browser) lets you choose how images are loaded on the website. You can choose to view no images, cached images, or all images for your protection and for faster browsing. Choosing “no images” is handy for making quick payment online, where you just need the pages to load to complete the transaction and seeing that logo or background images is the least of your concerns.
Awesome Search Options. In the address bar, type “g running shoes” and you will be taken to a page of Google search results for the keywords running shoes. What a great way to save time! There are also shortcuts for Amazon, Ebay, Wiki, and more! Check out the preferences for the whole list.
Auto-fill Form Entries. This is genius! You can add your name, address, email, and phone numbers in your preferences, and Opera will fill out all those online forms for you! This will save time when signing up for memberships and online shopping.
There are other options that may interest you. This will be a lot to take in if you’ve never used Opera. Be forewarned, other browsers will seem slow, boring, and restrictive after this! Just go to opera.com and click on the green “Download Opera” button to get started! I highly recommend this for dial-up users! While you’re on the website, be sure to read the features listed for Opera browser. It will help you understand how Opera works and enable you to maximize its benefits to you.
In recent posts, I have been discussing my opinion of the stimulus money being designated to the spread of broadband to “underserved” rural areas. I live in said area and I’m not jumping up and down for joy. It seems to me that it’s going to be more work and money and time than the government can handle. And I’m not convinced that installing broadband should be the government’s priority.
Regardless, one aspect that I haven’t delved into as thoroughly is the economics of pushing broadband to rural areas. Supporters of this broadband initiative says the financial outcomes will be well worth the money the government is spending and the profits will be enormous.
I recently came across a blog post by Shane Greenstein, a Professor at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. This post and many others Greenstein wrote in his blog, Virulent Word of Mouse, are based on his experience is a professional researcher and economist.
I had the opportunity of discussing these posts and his work further in an interview with Prof. Greenstein. His interest in the economics in relation to broadband began three years ago, during “a project to update statistics about the diffusion of broadband and dial-up,” Greenstein said. “There is not a lot of data measuring the economic impact of broadband, so that allows for the survival of a wide range of passionately held beliefs,” including those have made extravagant claims about the profits gained from pushing broadband to rural areas.
Over about 18 months, Greenstein collected data and wrote a research paper with the help of colleague Prof. Ryan McDevitt, The Broadband Bonus: Accounting for Broadband Internet’s Impact on U.S. GDP. The study was presented to various organizations, including the National Bureau of Economic Research. Several of his blog posts I read included facts based on the data shared in this paper. Clearly, this guy knows what he’s talking about!
The post I referenced above is not opposing the stimulus plan, but advocating reason among the lofty claims of a supposed ‘economic transformation’ that will take place from getting broadband to rural areas. Greenstein basically explained a realistic summary of the benefits (and disadvantages) of this broadband initiative. Those who make up the rural population who do not have any access to conventional broadband access are so few (about 5 percent of the U.S. population) that the economic impact will be small.
In addition to detailing the feasible profits gained directly and indirectly from increased Internet services, Greenstein mentioned other factors negatively effecting the success of this initiative. The lack of broadband adoption (just because its available doesn’t mean everyone will want it), the costs of equipment and work needed, and the loss that some local businesses (including newspapers and post offices) will experience from their customers shopping online to save money are a few of the losses that must be considered when calculating the profit that can be had from spreading broadband.
Greenstein has not opposed to the stimulus bill since was first announced. “We were in the midst of the worse downturn since the great depression,” he explains. “ In principle, there was nothing else for the administration to do except something like a stimulus bill.” Greenstein didn’t really seem concerned with taking sides, but is interest to see how the push for broadband will turn out.
You can read Greenstein’s posts and others he linked to if you are more interested. I found these posts to be easy to understand, yet informative and supportive of previous opinions I have given on my own blog. Let me know what you think!