Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Free!

When you give things away for free, you make money (given a good business model).

Why do you think Google, Yahoo, and AOL have been so successful?

Well, this Saturday AOL has decided to offer over 30 movies that you can choose from to download for free.

Normally, AOL prices their videos from $9.99-$19.99 so Saturday everyone should take advantage of their FREE ones.

(it's limited to one download per person, but not computer)

Thanks, AOL!

Free 411?

The thing I hate most about dialing 411 is that it costs so much. Godforbid I forget a number somewhere, I just might have to sell my soul.

And then came 1-800-FREE411. Yes, there is a free directory assistance out there giving us all the phone numbers we ever hoped or wished for.



So don't dial 411 anymore. Dial 1-800-Free411. On cell? You'll only be charged for normal airtime minutes, nothing more.

Not near your phone? go to Free411.com.

They make their money off of advertisements so call away!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

i wanna be like...

If you're into fashion and read magazines solely for that purpose, you'll love this website called Like.com.

Like.com is largely based on a visual search engine, using image search. What does this mean?

It means that if you like something that a celebrity is wearing, say...Fergie, for instance, Like.com will produce search results finding products that look exactly like that product (and, for way cheaper prices).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The holiday season is coming up--Like.com is a perfect portal to use for all of those great fashion accessories you've seen, but couldn't find. You know you like it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

YouTube & Verizon Team Up


YouTube and Verizon have teamed up to provide Verizon's mobile customers access to video clips on Vcast for $15/month. Customers will also be able to upload videos from their phone to YouTube with this new service.

Customers will have the chance to view "select" video clips, which could mean that users may only have access to content that has been approved by the companies. Selecting videos that users have access to may not be such a good idea considering the very characteristic that has given YouTube all of its success is how organic and "untouched" it is.

Another thing that may not be such a good idea is to charge $15/month for the service when you can use it online for free.

This is one of the many stunts that we have seen and will continue to see from large corporations. A lot of big companies are teaming up with or buying out web 2.0-type companies to make themselves more relevant in the digital age. In the process, these big companies are over-complicating products that were, in their original form, successful.

Expect more of this-- there is plenty more of the YouTube pie to go around.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Where am I?

I'm sure by now you've heard of those fancy cars with GPS systems giving its drivers directions based on where they are. Well, systems like those aren't limited to cars, cell phones, or people who can afford to buy those devices. You can actually get a virtual GPS tool for your computer that performs location based searches and it's called Loki. Best of all, IT'S FREE!

How does it work?
First, you download Loki.
(Note: only WiFi-equipped portable computers with a Microsoft Operating System can use this tool)

Now that the software is on your computer it uses the wireless signals from the WiFi wireless network system you are in and based on the signals, tells you where you are (in case you didn't know). It's like a mini global positioning system right from the comfort of your home, or wherever you are.

How can you use it?
  • Don't know where you are? You can pinpoint just where you stand on a map.
  • Use it to find the nearest location of anything you are looking for based on where you are.
  • Use it to get directions from where you are to anywhere.
  • Share your location with anyone - if you want to, that is.

In other words, Loki is an application that helps you find...you.

*Special Thanks to Josh G. for pointing out this cool, new technology*

Got Holiday Road Rage?



It's time to make that long haul to Granny's house or wherever the turkey may be. We all know what that means, right? Well, besides great food, family and friends, and a great football game there is just one thing you can't forget: HOLIDAY TRAFFIC.

Everyone has a place to go and whether you know it or not, you're in the way. How can anyone get into the holiday spirit when you've been cut off or flipped off? Well, if you've experienced road rage, I have some advice for you: don't get mad, get EVEN.

How?

Well, besides running someone off of the road, there is one healthy alternative to road rage and it's platewire.com.

All you have to do is remember the license plate number of the culprit, go to platewire.com, and flag this bad driver.

Platewire is basically a repository of driver's complaints or reports of the way other people drive. You may even go on to see that the person that cut you off has done it thousands of times to other helpless drivers. You may even go on to find that someone has something to say about YOUR driving.

Funnel your road rage frustrations in a healthy, meaningful way. It's just another way that information technology brings people together: making people better drivers, one post at a time.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You've Been Googled

Have you ever typed your name into Google to see what comes up? If so, you're not alone. Your boss has, too. Don't have a boss? Well, if you're a soon-to-be grad who will be in the job market soon, a prospective employer will Google you. If they do not Google you, they will check you on Myspace, Facebook, or any social networking site and will determine based on what they see if they will hire you or not--no matter how stellar your resume really is.

Let's consider a hypothetical situation. Nick, for instance, is a senior in college. Nick's friends catch him doing something funny and post it on YouTube:

Nick laughs. His friends laugh. Eight months later, when this video is long forgotten, a prospective employer Nick has just interviewed with sees the video after finding it on Nick's Myspace page. The employer is not laughing--and neither is Nick, since he just lost a great job.

Google and basically any social-networking site have become a new way for employers to perform background checks. Whether a potential job candidate has incriminating photos or videos on the internet or information that relegates a person's credibility to earn the position, it is important to remember that Myspace or any of those sites are not just a "place for friends." Any type of information on the internet is accessible to anyone who knows how to find it and they may use this information at their discretion.

So before you decide to post a picture of you doing a kegstand at that last party or of you in that scantily clad outfit, try to take some of the following precautions:

  • Don't post anything incriminating
  • Don't do anything incriminating (yeah, right)
  • Make your profile(s) private
  • Change your name (just kidding)

We know employers are real people and have probably taken the same pictures you have and posted the same things on their own myspace accounts (improbable, but likely), don't assume they know the difference between Friday nights and Monday mornings. It's a competitive job market out there; employers will figure out a way to weed people out.



**Special thanks to Nick for the YouTube clip--you should probably take that video down before graduation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flying home for Thanksgiving?


I just found this cool, new website called farecast.com, which recommends when to buy airfare based on 60 billion records of past airfare prices. So instead of just waiting around to buy airfare, this website will tell you if the price is going to go up or down over the next seven days of purchasing the ticket.

Since the site is new it only has 55 cities that it can predict airfare prices for. However, the site also has features that allow you to predict when the best time to travel is if you don't have an exact date or where the best place to travel is based on prices.

Farecast's predictions are accurate about 70-75% of the time. The site also offers RSS feeds for tracking airfare for destinations over time so you can test it out before you actually use it.

Farecast also offers a feature called Fareguard which allows you to lock in the lowest price you find for a week for only a $1-- so if the price happens to go up you can still purchase it for the low price it predicted. The company is now offering to lock in ticket prices against an increase for one week for $1.

Since Farecast is in its beta version it is still being tested and the $1 Fareguard fee won't last so try it out before the deal ends!

If you're thinking about booking your spring break soon, this is definitely a site worth visiting.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

RIAA: Screwing YOU since 1952

So have you ever heard about those grossly excessive fines people receive if they are caught downloading music?





Good news! The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) was recently questioned in court about how constitutional their absurd $750/song-uploaded fines were.

$750.00 per song? Last time I checked, songs on iTunes are under a dollar.

Earlier this year, Marie Lindor was being sued in court by Universal Music Group (UMG) for illegal file sharing. As part of her defense, Lindor is calling to question the excessiveness of RIAA's fines ($750-per-song). Lindor also provided a scholarly paper and other evidence that supports the claim of over-excessive fines by RIAA. Even though the RIAA objected, the Court refuted, claiming Lindor had provided substantial evidence to support her position, and the RIAA, well, didn't.

So what does this mean?


  • The RIAA finally has to justify their obscene charges
  • They will have to present and clarify their fuzzy math
  • They may finally be held accountable...for once

So what does this mean for you?

In the past, it seems that the RIAA unfairly targets young people. Especially college kids. They know you're sitting in your dorm room downloading songs on Limewire and they're ready to nab you with a $750 fine for every song illegally downloaded.

Why? Because we don't have any money to fight back. If a student gets caught, they offer the student the chance to quickly settle outside of court for a few thousand dollars without ever having to prove that they were really illegally downloading. If Marie Lindor wins her case against UMG, this not only means that the RIAA will have to lower their fines, but it will bruise that big ego of theirs.

At the end of the day, the fact is that the people who accuse us for stealing are charging those who illegally download $750 for something that only costs $1.

Who's really stealing here, huh?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Net Neutrality & The Internet

userfriendly.org

Say you go to Google to do some web surfing and for some reason, it's taking forever to load. Or you try to go to YouTube a thousand times and for some reason, have no access. Perhaps you attempt to download some MP3's and Comcast is your knight and shining armor and lets you download music in an instant, but it takes forever to get to your otherwise favorite music sites.

That, my friends, is what life would be like WITHOUT net neutrality.

The picture painted above is something that could quite possibly happen in the near future if Congress doesn't intervene.

Assuming you have internet access, you know that we pay a small or a large fee for the connection of internet we want each month so that we can go to Google, YouTube, or any website of our choice, whenever we please. WELL, the same companies that provide us the internet access to get to these sites think that if we are paying to get to these content providers then these content providers should pay to have access to their customers. This means that these big communication companies are the bridge between us (the customers) and them (Google, YouTube, whatever you fancy). Preposterous. They didn't invent the internet, they don't OWN it. But they're charging everyone involved for providing access both ways.

Well, this guy Tim Berners-Lee wove the world wide web (Net Neutrality--this is serious) and he says, "When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission." The internet is what it is today because we control the information we want to see and have; we get the content we want on demand. There should not be any reason for big companies like Verizon, Bell South, or AT&T to act as the gatekeepers of something that was somewhat 'free' to us in the first place (in the sense that we only have to pay for access to do whatever we want.)

In order for the internet to stay as 'free' as it is without any gatekeepers, the government needs to step in. I know that by the government stepping in it is considered regulation and perhaps makes them the new gatekeeper, but if their regulation means preserving the very internet we know and love, then sobeit.

If you ever had something to fight for, this should be one of them. Do it for your favorite website. Do it for Google. Damn it, do it for Facebook and its creepy news feed.

So in summary,

Read about Net Neutrality
But be informed, see the what Opponents of Net Neutrality have to say.

Then, If you so desire,
Sign the petition to preserve Net Neutrality or
E-mail your local Congress Representative

And happy surfing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Diebold Voting Machine

Happy Election Day everyone!

But wait, no one is happy.

Could it be because at this very moment the design of our congress is being determined and facilitated by a trivial and flawed machine?

Perhaps.

Quick recap.

The Diebold Voting Machine is a fairly new voting technology designed to provide accurate and reliable results, accessibility to disabled or handicapped voters, and leading security during elections. Most importantly, the machine facilitates easy and quick election results, which might be the reason the government has outsourced to Diebold. Or, perhaps, for other reasons unbeknownst to us, at least admittedly.

So everything seems amazing for Diebold, that is until...

The secret code to the software of the voting machine was discovered by activists in 2003 basically just laying around on the internet-- the very same machine who is 'leading in security.'

The voting machine was infiltrated by Princeton University Professor Edward Felten and two students who were able to infect the voting machine with a virus that alters votes in less than a minute.

In 2003, Diebold's last CEO Walden O'Dell wrote to fellow Bush supporters in a fundraising letter ensuring that Diebold would "help Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President (Gimbel, 2006)."

Since then there seems to be 'rage against the [voting] machine.' That's to be expected: when a private company starts doing business with the government, things have the potential to get ugly.

It is understandable that e-voting with the Diebold voting machine or any machine for that matter exists to make democracy a little bit easier and accurate, but at any rate one must wonder if the costs of losing meaningful votes is worth the total volume of counted votes brought to us by e-voting? Can you put a price on democracy?

Technology has served us better in the past. With the proof that has been presented, it seems that the government could at least do more to ensure a truly democratic election seeing as how they have the resources and certainly the ability to design a more secure voting machine. It is a little suspect that the country's elections are reliant on a private company with seemingly questionable political ties.

Let it be known that not everyone has to vote using these voting machines; paper ballots and absentee ballots were offered as well. As to what method one should choose? Well, I guess that is solely dependent on which candidate you support and just how many times you want your vote to count.

And for your entertainment pleasure, a parody of a Diebold ad:





(source: nogw)

Next up: Net Neutrality: where internet might soon be for the haves, not the have-nots

Sunday, November 05, 2006

IT 4 LIFE

Hey, guys~ I'm Nicole and thanks for visiting my blog. Before I get started, let me just first introduce myself:



  • I am a senior Organizational Communication, Learning & Design major at Ithaca College with a minor in Business Administration.
  • I am the Senior Class Secretary who has been charged with the mission of creating quality programming for the Class of '07ers here at IC.
  • I am a Student Government Association Senior Class Senator.
  • I am from Long Island, NY.
  • I just am.

So what's this blog about?


Well, I entered this contest to win a job shadow at Digg.com! Here's how it goes: I have to write a blog about technology for 20 days among 4 other contestants and whoever has the most readers, wins!

So why am I interested?

For me, This is an opportunity of a lifetime! If victorious, it would give me a chance to get my hands dirty with a company who is at the forefront of innovative and interactive technology today. Digg.com, for those of you who may not know, is a website about user-generated content, where a user submits their own articles and other users go on to rate it. What interests me about Digg is that user-generated content is taking over the internet--whether it’s from Myspace, Facebook, YouTube, or blogging--Users are out there dictating the future of the web, and what they say, goes. This experience would allow me to learn first hand what people behind the scenes deal with day to day in regard to planning, researching, programming, and finding innovative ways to interact with its users.

But really, my internship experiences are what triggered my interest in information technology. I've had experience working with an information architect this past summer (which focused on user experience and design on the web from start to finish) at 141 Worldwide, a creative advertising network of Ogilvy & Mather. Additionally, I helped employees learn about important organizational changes associated with a new technology at AOL the summer before last. I am also a communications major who is continuously searching for new ways for users to communicate or use tools to create shared meaning, because of this, IT has become a passion. Information Technology has and is continuously changing the way we all communicate and has become an intrinsic component of our everyday lives—this is true to the point that if you were asked to imagine a life without the internet or your favorite website, you couldn't. Either that or you'd be really upset--I know I would be. I mean, who could live without facebook and its fantastically creepy news feed? No one.

The fact is that information technology is here and is not leaving anytime soon. Therefore, my passion has become thinking of ways to make it easier for users to incorporate technology into their everyday lives--making it natural, necessary, friendly, and easy. The effects that this sort of technology has on people and the workplace is what interests me--how intoxicated we have become and how it has become so attached to our daily routines. People support what they help create; information technology makes this possible.

What you can expect to see in this blog is a college student’s perspective on technology news today. As some might expect, young people may or may not be as informed or interested in the technological trends that occur everyday. It's either we have too much going on in our lives or its just too much to digest. We need our information fast, we need it to be interesting and most importantly, relevant to our lives. Therefore, the purpose of this blog will be to synthesize information and news on technology in a way that makes it easy and quick for anyone to keep up to date on technology news and trends.

So if you're a soon-to-be grad, tune in. (If not, you should read it anyway!)

What sets most students a part from others when competing for a job is how in-the-know they are…especially with technology, which changes everyday.

Next up: Diebold voting machines: Can you put a price on democracy?