24 April 2014

Genome Editing

This article is about a breakthrough event of genome editing that happened in Kunming, China. This breakthrough event was the successful manipulation and subsequent healthy birth of two macaque primates who had been altered genetically. These two primates had their genes manipulated so as to replicate certain genetic orders (that are not disclosed), and the impact this has made is both and advancement and a fear. It has enabled scientists to further understand successful genome editing and possibly hints at manipulating humans' genomes to counter disorders, but it also brings up the ethical issue. Is it alright to test on primates? Is it animal cruelty to put possible disorders upon animals that would otherwise of not had them? The questions are out there, and as we advance forward the pressure and tension on bioethics will only rise.

Here's the link:

Dropbox Releases "Carousel"

Dropbox has produced a new mobile app called "Carousel" for storing pictures. With this app, Dropbox is hoping to gain users and in turn gain users that upgrade to paying for Dropbox. This app allows users to share the pictures they have in their Dropbox, and if they download the app they get 3gb more of space. It is used to also help organize pictures, which is a problem in this day and age because of all the various places we store photos. A problem with the app is that it puts all of the un-dated pictures into one huge dump folder. Another issue is that most users have more than 3gb of photos collaborated on their phones, laptops, facebook accounts, and other photo accounts.

For more information about this app, click here

Agile Robots

This article is about the advancement of technology in the aspect of robot engineering, in which "computer scientists have created machines that have the balance and agility to walk and run across rough and uneven terrain, making them far more useful in navigating human environments". The company Boston Dynamics has created a humanoid robot named Atlas that is able to walk and maneuver around on altered and uneven ground at a decent speed. This could be a huge step forward in making legitimate robots, and this will help humans in the way that these robots will be able to go into emergency areas that humans can't go (like nuclear spills in nuclear power plants). Who knows, in the next century we could be living with robots.

Here is the link:

Hearbleed Bug (Be careful with your information)

Hello people,

Have you guys ever heard of a computer bug called Heartbleed?
Basically, it's a security bug in the open-source OpenSSL crytography library.
The reason why I am stressing the significance of Heartbleed bug is that your personal information could potentially be in danger. Numerous companies are now checking their own information technology systems to prevent any holes to reassure customers that they have nothing to fear. Hackers are using this bug to attack large corporations to access private networks and to decrypt the passwords of users.

Recently, three researchers discovered that Android mobile apps may be vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug too. An example would be hijacking game information to access your information on Facebook or Twitter. Apple fans also can't relax since the Apple released software updates for the iPhone and iPad to fix vulnerabilities on the same day the Android findings were discovered.

I will attach two sources that could help you better understand the gravity of this problem.

The articles can be found here:

Heartbleed Bug on Android mobile apps: http://recode.net/2014/04/23/heartbleed-flaw-lurks-in-android-apps-downloaded-by-millions/

Attack on Corporations: http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/hackers-use-heartbleed-bug-attack-major-corporation-n84521

Revolution in Business

Hey y'all,

I recently found an interesting article about how business is flourishing due to the emergence of new information technologies. I am pretty sure there are some students in our class who are interested in becoming IT consultants in the future, and I hope this article provides insightful notes about business revolution!



Solar-powered Airplane

Hi guys
I'd like to share an interesting article about a solar-powered airplane.
The team at Solar Flight is developing the Sun-Seeker Duo, the airplane that can carry two people.
The team says that the Sun-Seeker Duo can cruise for 12 hours with two people inside with the solar power!
They had been working hard on the design and technology and the test flight was successful.
The plane will be ready for passenger flight by this summer.

The article can be found HERE

Pay to Play: The Death of Net Neutrality?

Today all web traffic is seen as web providers when it comes to how fast the internet is provided. Every web-based company from a small start-up company in a San Jose garage to web powerhouses like Google have their web traffic prioritized and sped up equally provided that they used the same internet provider. This equality in the eyes of internet providers is called net neutrality. According to some critics, a recent FCC ruling could change this and give big companies paid-for internet "fast lanes", which would leave smaller, less wealthy companies in the dust. For example, powerful companies like Netflix and Disney could pay for sped-up internet, while less powerful entertainment companies might not be able to pay for this speed increase, which would cause them major problems when competing with Netflix and Disney. Some worry that this could create a glass ceiling where large, powerful companies get more powerful and have less competition, while smaller companies try to survive with slower internet speeds. Supporters of the FCC's proposal to allow for these fast lanes state that the FCC also would require companies to disclose who they offer these fast lanes to and why. In addition, the FCC's proposal would supposedly step in to ensure that companies could not act inappropriately towards consumers or competition. Opponents of this proposal still say that these additions that will supposedly protect consumers and small competitors are vague and weak. They claim that we may be moving towards an unfair pay-to-play internet which could act contrary to consumers' interests. The FCC's proposal is not entirely complete and it is still pending public comments. So, it would be wise to keep an eye on this issue in the future.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=0

23 April 2014

More 3-D Printing

When we discussed 3-D printing a few weeks ago in class, I found that subject pretty interesting so I looked for an article talking about different stuff researchers are trying to do with 3-D printers. In an article I found on the MIT Technology Review, some scientists at Harvard are printing things with many different materials.  Until now, most 3-D printing only involves one type of material, which is usually plastic.  Jennifer Lewis and her team at Harvard have even printed tiny lithium-ion batteries by printing with microscopic electrodes and other components.  They have also printed biological tissue interwoven with a complex network of blood vessels.  I just think this is really cool and I foresee that one day could help almost any industry.

Heres the link to the article: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/526521/microscale-3-d-printing/

Google Street View Now Lets You Go Back In Time

Hey guys,

If you use google maps, you would be amazed at the newly added feature.  Google's street view cars capture data and publishes them on regular intervals at least twice per year.  Now they have added a small clock icon on the page for you to go back in history back to 2007, the year Google launched street view feature.  Now you can visualize and compare old versus new view of the street, as well as different seasons!

Here is the link to the article: Google Street View Now Lets You Go Back In Time

22 April 2014

A/B split testing is a type of testing done on different variations of a web page, to see which one is more appealing. I thought this was a pretty cool idea, seeing as everyone has individual visual preferences. The metrics used to judge the usability are micro conversions and macro conversions. I don't truly understand what micro conversions are, but some examples are number of page clicks and page views. Macro conversions deal with outcomes of the website, such as product orders. A/B testing is being improved, but there are still three main issues:
  1. The variation doesn’t do justice to the concept. Poor design can lead to poor conversions—that’s clear. However, each design is an implementation of a concept and it is foolish to judge the merit of a concept via a single design implementation. Often it takes several design attempts to adequately serve a concept. For example, you may theorize that adding a description to an option will increase adoption of that option. However, if the description is presented in a manner which makes it look like an advertisement, it might be ignored by users. The concept is not bad, but the implementation is. It’s vital that the concept and the implementation are clearly differentiated.
  2. The variation doesn’t address actual causes of issues. Making incorrect assumptions about what caused an issue translates to a design variation that doesn’t actually address the problem. Tweaks to this variation will never solve the problem because the design is a response to an invalid cause. For example, you may guess that the reason for poor loan application submission is that the process involves too many screens, so you condense it into one screen, but you still don’t see a lift. Instead, the real issue is that users cannot find loan interest rates and the only reason they end up on the application page is because they assume they will find it there.
  3. Variations are based on guesses.With A/B testing you only find the best option from among theavailable variations. And if the variations are only based on internal experience and opinion, who’s to say that the testing includes the most optimal design?
The rest of this article can be found at: AlertBox

Starters for second presentations session

  1. Googled - Free PowerPoint Templates. Over time we have built up a collection of 435 free PowerPoint templates and themes. We have made available a wide range of these designs for you to download for free.
  2. Radio - so many places to go, so little time. But you can use internet radio to keep you in touch with your home town. For example, you have two great jazz choices here in the local area and you can listen to them worldwide.
    • WNCU, jazz from North Carolina Central
    • WSHA, jazz from Shaw University in Raleigh
  3. Newsletters - Exploring Time. This particular section is part of their larger "Explore" online collection, and it draws on their the British Museum's vast holdings to look into this scientific, cultural, and historical phenomenon. The site includes five sections, including Measuring and Keeping Time, Personal Time, and The Effects of Time. The Measuring and Keeping Time area is quite arresting, and it includes images of a Native American 'winter counts' cloth which served as a recorder of events that took place between 1785 and 1901. Moving on, The Effects of Time area is rather remarkable as well, as it contains material on how humans have attempted to stop or slow down the passage of time via techniques like retaining a youthful portrait of an aging ruler on coins and paper money.[ScoutReport]
  4. Interesting - Information R/evolution - another YouTube from the Digital Ethnography program at Kansas State

  5. Economist - Slaves to the smartphone: The horrors of hyperconnectivity—and how to restore a degree of freedom Mar 10th 2012 | from the print edition. But for most people the servant has become the master. Not long ago only doctors were on call all the time. Now everybody is. Bosses think nothing of invading their employees’ free time. Work invades the home far more than domestic chores invade the office. Otherwise-sane people check their smartphones obsessively,[you can also read this via UNC Libraries' e-journals]
  6. Economist - Tips for travellers: Advice for the innocent abroad Mar 29th 2011, 14:59 You may well be traveling in your near future. Some suggestions about how to do it smartly
  7. Issues to ponder - Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality ... The Web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity—and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending By Tim Berners-Lee November 22, 2010 Scientific American
  8. just for fun - Animator vs. Animation

Starters for presentation session


  • 100 Powerpoint Ideas ... contains a collection of ideas and visuals that can help when you're brainstorming
  • BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | The problem with PowerPoint 19 AUG 09 If you have worked in an office in the Western world in the past 25 years, you will probably have sat through a PowerPoint presentation. But there's a problem. They're often boring, writes presentation expert Max Atkinson.


if you were planning a road trip, you might want to listen to these stations in the car, but you can also listen online
  1. heading west on I-40 WNCW, eclectic music from Isothermal Community College in Spindale, North Carolina
  2. WEVL, community radio from Memphis, Tennessee
  3. cruising along I-10 on the Gulf Coast KBON, Louisiana Proud Radio is a locally owned Louisiana Music powerhouse situated in the heart of Cajun Country, Eunice Louisiana
  4. WWOZ, New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage Station
  5. heading south on I-35 KYSM, from San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas
  6. KNBT, Radio New Braunfels in New Braunfels, Texas
  7. and if you make it to the West Coast
  8. KCRW, all kinds of good stuff from Santa Monica Junior College in Los Angeles, California


Windows 8 Officially Sucks. But So Does Every Other PC Interface Usability expert Jakob Nielsen pans Windows 8's redesign. But has a truly intuitive desktop UI ever existed? [Technology Review]


Are You Totally Improbable Or Totally Inevitable? by Robert Krulwich on NPR. Look at the graphic and ask yourself if you are a miracle.


Daily Charts, Maps, and Graphics. More ways to think about things and visualize them for presentations [you can also read this via UNC Libraries' e-journals]

Issues to consider

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet. By Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, August

Data Display

23. If the World’s Population Lived in One City


Starters for second queries session



more language learning tools. learn French online with Radio France International. Le journal en fran├žais facile - you can also listen to the news in a form of French tailored to the language learner


Where Good Ideas Come From. New search technologies can identify influential documents without relying on links. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2010 BY ERICA NAONE [TechReview]


WIRED MAGAZINE Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker's Library By Steven Levy 09.22.08


Johnson: Do different languages confer different personalities? Nov 5th 2013, 12:06 by R.L.G. | BERLIN. Benjamin Lee Whorf, an American linguist who died in 1941, held that each language encodes a worldview that significantly influences its speakers. Often called “Whorfianism”, this idea has its sceptics, including The Economist, which hosted a debate on the subject in 2010. But there are still good reasons to believe language shapes thought.

Issues to ponder

Defining Open standards By trond-arne.undheim on September 7, 2010 8:20 PM Open standards are developed in accountable and transparent processes that are open to all stakeholders; open to multiple implementation paradigms including open source; and standards text is available at no cost to all interested parties. Open standards, as a fundamental building block of innovation, become widely implemented because they are supported by all major stakeholders.

Data Display

26. The 7000 Rivers that Feed into the Mississippi River


Google Module Smartphone

Module Ideas, not app ideas wanted:

Here is an interesting article about the potential future of smartphones from Google. It is a handset composed of thin, removable squares that each represent a different function that can be swapped out without even turning the phone off. It was designed and prototyped by an 18-year-old college student from Rochester, NY names Garrett Kinsman.

The goal is to create an inexpensive smartphone that users can customize and upgrade to their needs and budgets. Examples of different modules include a second battery to get better battery life or a different camera to take better shots. Additionally, they are pairing with other developers to turn their App ideas into Modules instead--like a satellite communications module that would let hikers in remote areas alert loved ones of their location.

Google is hoping to have the first device roll out early next year.

Here's the article: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/526791/for-project-ara-its-module-not-app-ideas-wanted/

A Dropbox for the Internet of Things

A new application has been created, Freeboard, that allows the creator to collect data about the users. The platform that Freeboard was built was about simplicity. In theory, anything could be connected that has a GPS coordinate. The website gives information such as the tilt of the computer, mouse coordinate, and actual GPS coordinates. These can than be published and people can see this information. The information is also collected by the company at dweet.io.


RIP Flash: Why HTML5 will finally take over video and web this year


I found this article to be very interesting and relevant to some of the discussions we have had in class. It seems that building a website in HTML5 has become the new standard due to many advantages that it has over Flash. It seems that the mobile internet age has pushed Flash out of the picture and many companies are converting to HTML5 for the ability to allow users to see information on their websites from a mobile device. A page built in HTML5 also has the advantage of being able to be searched through by a web crawler, allowing for the use of interactive video searching that was not possible before with flash. Although HTML5 is somewhat new and is more difficult to create some things like videos, games, and other graphics in, it is becoming the new standard for web pages to be constructed with.

Facebook's ability to match faces is human level

Hi guys
I want to share an interesting article about Facebook's ability to match people's faces.
The software that Facebook recently developed has reduced error in matching people's faces by over 25%.
This significant improvement could be achieved through its new software called DeepFace.
The software first change the angle of the face in a photo using 3D model to face forward and then learn the face using the numerical description of the reoriented face.
The humans generally have 97.53% accuracy of recognizing faces.
With this technology, the Facebook soon will have 97.25% accuracy of recognizing faces.

Click here for the Article and the Video

21 April 2014

Case with Touch Screen Buttons

I found this article as I was reading MIT Technology Review over the weekend. The article discusses new touch screen technology developed by Tactus Technology. The technology is used through a case for touch screen devices that will create buttons on the surface of the screen when the user enables the keyboard. The article mentions it could be released by the end of this calendar year and would be an iPad mini case. I think this is interesting because if people become comfortable typing on tablets, it could change how much they are used and also impact their demand.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/526641/shape-shifting-touch-screen-buttons-head-to-market/

Side effects of the Google Glass

I came across with this article on web, saying the Google Glass would cause severe distraction while the public is using it. Also, it might breach the privacy by recording the public without their permission. Find more about these side-effects from the article given below.


Task 04 gradesheets have been posted

Except for the very few of you all who have not yet pointed me to your web pages so I can download your tasks, you all now have grades for task 04 - spreadsheets. If I gave you less than full points for a component, I should have provided some reasoning on the gradesheet. If it was easier to show you a correct example, I copied the relevant worksheet from your assignment and added them (suitably modified) to your gradesheet so you can see what I was talking about..

19 April 2014

Why Selling Teslas in China Will Not Help Environment

Hey class,
I am studying abroad in China in May, thus I have been learning some about China and specifically Beijing and Shanghai. If you are interested in sustainability, foreign markets, or China in general this article might interest you like it did to me. You have probably heard about Tesla, the new electric car company that has had great success so far. Electric cars are very rare in China even though the government has put incentives in place for the use of electric cars to increase. In my China class I have been learning about the pollution problems in China and how poor the air quality is due to the high numbers of cars and especially the high use of burning coal for heat. At first glance, the idea of using electric cars in a country that is fighting terrible air pollution sounds great. But once you realize that over 70% of China's electricity is produced by burning coal, the electric car is not actually helping the environment. In fact, it might be hurting the environment because it needs electricity to charge the batteries in the car, but the energy source producing that electricity is the dirty coal.

It's a really short article and here it is:

17 April 2014


I was reading an article on MIT Technology Review titled, "Why Google's smartphone may actually succeed". This article talks about modular smartphones and how Google thinks that modular phones will succeed despite many critics saying otherwise. While reading the article I came across a couple of you tube videos that really explains the concept of modular phones, and how this concept could reduce electronic waste and help to protect the enviornment. Check out the videos!



Laura Priest

Beginning of the Invisible Car

Hi guys!
I believe some people already have seen it,
but I thought it's worth pointing out here.
It is such a great start in building an invisible car.
Combining grille cameras and head-up display technology,
it was be able to create virtual overlay.
Thus, the driver can see through the bonnet to the ground.

Here is the VIDEO

Storing the sun

A new kind of battery invented by Jay Whitacre, a professor of materials science at Carnegie Mellon University.

This new battery will be very useful in poor regions where it is very difficult to get an energy from oil and electricity.

This battery will gather energy from solar panel and any other renewable energy sources and will provide much cheaper 24-hours energy to rural areas.

Check this out article to read more about this topic and this awesome technology.


Does messaging apps useful?

This article is saying that messaging apps are really helpful to add assistants to the conversation.


The app called Emu became one of messaging apps only operates in Apple phones.

This app acts really smart.

For instance, when you make an appointment with your friends you could directly mark this the date and place to your google calendar by holding a bubble on your messaging screens.

But they failed to increase their markets.

Why is that?

There are several reasons to explain this situation, I'll introduce the most predominant reason in this blog posting.

They are failed to make this app usable on Android systems.

It was released on Android phones during the month of October, however, it was too complicated and fragmented to open the app. So the customers cease to use it.

Startup Makes One App Run on Many Screens

I read this article while I was surfing through MIT Technology Review website. Experts are making apps that can operate through different kinds of gadgets simultaneously.  Until now,  Samsung and apple apps only run in their own corporation's products and only few are interchangeable. Therefore, such products like Google Glass is not cost efficient and many customers are hesitant to buy those gadgets. Since they are developing apps that could operate in different OS systems, we are one step closer to see Google Glass often in the street.  Here is the link for this article and I would really want to share it with you guys.

Resources for Coding

Hello again everyone!

Here is a little more detail on the three resources I showed you this morning.


This is my personal favorite of the three resources, though Code School is a close second.  The intention behind Treehouse is teaching people with little to no skills in HTML, CSS, and other web development tools to learn them effectively for future jobs.  One of the best parts of this site is the interactive workspace.  They just recently revamped the entire HTML/CSS track to focus on building responsive webpages, something that is really important in our current technological climate where smartphones, tablets, and computers all access the web.

The format of lessons is very interactive, and you can code along with the video tutorial, then take quizzes and code challenges periodically to test your learning.

Code School

Code School is a great resource if you want to get your feet wet with a lot of different options.  They offer courses in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and other languages with more in the works.  The first section of each course is totally free, and if you create an account you might get some emails with discount offers too.  The format is similar to Treehouse, with videos and then interactive code challenges, however, I feel that Treehouse is somewhat more comprehensive and tries to teach you how to move beyond the specific project of the class and get into your own projects.  But if you want a quick introduction, Code School is a great resource.


This is a really useful free resource that can give you a basic knowledge of many different languages and tools that are useful in making websites, apps, and other programs.  I did the basic JavaScript track and the HTML/CSS track and they are great for getting the basics down pretty well.  If you want to move on, though, I would move onto one of the other resources mentioned here or in class, because I think those options help you understand more how to use the knowledge you have gained for your own projects.

I hope these resources will be helpful to you, especially those of you who want to learn on your own time and at your own pace.

Lindsey Smith

16 April 2014

State of the Union

State of the Union is an interactive data visualization of State of the Union addresses (1790 to 2014) that uses statistical methods to analyze and represent lexical content. The visualization illustrates attributes such as absolute and relative term frequency within the document as well across time, and provides additional statistical information besides. The webmaster invites viewers to "explore how specific words gain and lose prominence over time, and to link to information on the historical context for their use... You are invited to try and understand from this information the connection between politics and language–between the state we are in, and the language which names it and calls it into being."

Developments in Geographical Information Systems

New algorithm aids in both robot navigation and scene understanding

"Suppose you're trying to navigate an unfamiliar section of a big city, and you're using a particular cluster of skyscrapers as a reference point. Traffic and one-way streets force you to take some odd turns, and for a while you lose sight of your landmarks. When they reappear, in order to use them for navigation, you have to be able to identify them as the same buildings you were tracking before -- as well as your orientation relative to them. A new algorithm for determining the orientation of objects could aid robots in navigation, scene understanding."

"Disabled and elderly people could find it easier to navigate around town and city centers with a new hand-held computer being developed by a geographical information systems."

"A computer science engineering team has developed an indoor navigation system for people with visual impairments. The researchers have explained how a combination of human-computer interaction and motion-planning research was used to build a low-cost accessible navigation system, called Navatar, which can run on a standard smartphone."

In all three of these articles, it is apparent that Geographical Information Systems are becoming more sophisticated. The field is developing more precise and detail-oriented systems to aid those with special circumstances. 

What A Time To Be Alive!

The future is now! We finally have a portable computer printer robot! It works via Bluetooth wireless technology. At this stage in the products development, it is approximately 10.5 centimeters around and it only prints in black ink. It is arguably the smallest printer to date and has the propensity to decrease the amount of materials used to create it, helping the environment. 

Check it out in the link above.

Biometrics, Facial Scanning, and Databases

Computerized Face Recognition Software Can Rapidly See Through Disguises

With increases in computer power, A new milestone in biometrics has been reached. Facial recognition software used for security systems is overcoming some of the obstacles that once plagued the system's ability to function properly. By using more precise distinctive markers of one's face, they have been able to identify people more accurately in light of variance in angle, lighting, and obstructions.  

"The team tested the performance of their new algorithm on a standard database of 400 images of 40 subjects. Images are grey scale and just 92 x 112 pixels in size. They found that their technique is not only faster and works with low resolution images, such as those produced by standard CCTV cameras, but also solves the variation problems caused by different light levels and shadows, viewing direction, pose, and facial expressions. It can even see through certain types of disguises such as facial hair and glasses."

Check out the article.

Putting Your Trust In Your Computer

One of the pillars of Information Science analyzes the "Human-Comupter Interaction". An article from Science Daily expresses that consumers are more likely to partake in a risky business endeavor if technology is involved. 

"When individuals engage in risky business transactions with each other, they may end up being disappointed. This is why they'd rather leave the decision on how to divvy up jointly-owned monies to a computer than to their business partner. This subconscious strategy seems to help them avoid the negative emotions associated with any breaches of trust. This is the result of a study by scientists from the University of Bonn and US peers. They are presenting their findings in the scientific journal "Proceedings of the Royal Society B." "

However, In light of the recent heartbleed virus (as seen in posts below), technology is not always trustworthy. It's important to remember that computer and internet technology is a tool developed and used by people so it works to serve the interests of it's developer/user. A risky business deal is still a risky business deal, regardless of the format.