13 June 2014

Alternatives to MS PowerPoint: OpenOffice Impress

In case anyone is interested, I found this tutorial from Apache OpenOffice that describes how to make the most of the features of OpenOffice Impress, the equivalent to Microsoft's PowerPoint. This tutorial is a relatively long PDF that goes through formatting your slides, adding slide transitions, adding image animations, importing your own custom logo, and changing the background of your presentation in Impress. The last page, page 54, outlines the differences between PowerPoint and OpenOffice. I would recommend looking over that list to see if you'd prefer to use PowerPoint. If you can live without the features listed on that page that are absent in Impress, then feel free to download the OpenOffice suite and try Impress. If you have any questions about the software while you're using it, post a comment here or check the wiki for FAQs or tutorials pertaining to your issue.

12 June 2014

Privacy and data

Since we are in a class that deals with data representation I thought this article was one that would be of interest to those of you that find data representation interesting.  The article is about how computers are becoming better then humans at telling if someone is lying through facial recognition.  The scary part is that a research team at the University of California, San Diego are developing an app for Google Glass that will have this feature in it.  The article goes on to say that if we combine the facial recognition capabilities with voice recognition, we could have portable lie detectors. Good, right? Well not so much, because white lies are what have been used for years for social cohesion.  The article goes on to say this could very well be the biggest invasion of privacy ever.  Not only will it be available to government and police, but also to the consumer market.  Imagine going to a job interview and knowing that this is the technology you face.  Who hasn't padded their resume? 

Changing the Way We Interact With Touchscreens

In the age of ubiquitous touchscreens, we are surprisingly limited in the way we now interact with our ever increasing arsenal of technologies.  In 2007, Steve Jobs first presented the iPhone, but maybe more importantly, he introduced a new type of touchscreen and way of interacting with it.  

Now, a new start up called Qeexo’s is looking to make a change to that paradigm.  We used to have multiple keys and a mouse and much finer control over our devices.  And now, with more advanced and a more diverse system of electronics, we have limited much of our interface interaction to just a finger.  Now, companies have done a lot to extend the usefulness of our finger tool, but it still cannot compare to the usefulness of "old-style" input tools like full keyboards and mice.  

Qeexo's goal is create software that allows us to use our screens with more than just our fingertips.  The software called FingerSense, is supposed to differentiate between the fingertip, knuckle, fingernail, and external stylus.  Each of these input tools can extend the capability of your touch-enabled devices.  

A challenge that they face however, is standardization.  The beauty of the keyboard and mouse is everyone knew how to use them.  There is no variation between different companies implementation of the keyboard.  One can expect that they can type on the keys and produce the same thing across all platforms.  

Towards the future, Qeexo's hopes to extend the interface to wall and surface control as well as body input for the new trend in wearable tech. 

For an extended article on Qeexo's mission, future plans, and more details, this link to a Wired.com breakdown is really useful.

11 June 2014

Starters for first queries session


SQL.org. As it says on their site, their goal is to build a resource that will help those using or wanting to make use of an SQL database find the resources and reference materials they are looking for: an sql tutorial, manual, introduction, SQL hosting provider, or someone to help them out


Learning From a Native Speaker, Without Leaving Home. By Anne Eisenberg, New York Times, 17 February 2008. The best way to learn a foreign language may be to surround yourself with native speakers. But if you can’t manage a trip abroad the Internet and a broadband computer connection may do the job, too, bringing native speakers within electronic reach for hours of practice.


Digital Dictionaries of South Asia Based at the University of Chicago, the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia (DDSA) project was funded with monies provided by the Office of International Education and Graduate Programs at the US Department of Education. The goal of the project was bring together a range of South Asian dictionaries for scholars and others working with documents of all types. Currently, there are over 25 dictionaries available on the site, and visitors can look over a list of available titles on the homepage. Some of the languages covered here include Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, and Urdu. [Scout Report]


ISBN numbers Book-keeping Digital publishing may doom yet another analogue standard Mar 2nd 2013 |From the print edition. ... publishing is changing. Self-published writers are booming; sales of their books increased by a third in America in 2011. Digital self-publishing was up by 129%. This ends the distinction between publisher, distributor and bookshop, making ISBNs less necessary.Alternatives are appearing, too. Amazon has introduced the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN). Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) tag articles in academic journals. Walmart, an American supermarket chain, has a Universal Product Code (UPC) for everything it stocks—including books. Humans are also getting labels: the Open Researcher and Contributor ID system (ORCID) identifies academics by codes, not their names. And ISBNs are not mandatory at Google Books.


Monitor:What would Jesus hack? Cybertheology: Just how much does Christian doctrine have in common with the open-source software movement? 11 Sep 2011

Issues to ponder

Thinking Thoughts No One Has Thunk, by Robert Krulwich, NPR, 06 Jul 2011

Data Display

31. Earth’s Population by Latitude and Longitude

Photograph by mrgeng on Reddit

10 June 2014

How to open files in the Virtual Lab

Hey guys,

If you're a Mac user who got stuck (like me) trying to open files in the Virtual Lab, the full instructions on how to open and save files are here.

The short version is: when the "Open" window pops up, click Local Disk (C:) in My Computer.

You'll get a popup about accessing files -- click "read and write" so that you can both open and save files.

Then you just click the "Users" folder and from there you can select your file from wherever you downloaded it--Documents, Downloads, Desktop, etc.

Hope that helps anyone that was still struggling with the Mac/Access issue!

09 June 2014

Help with Lookups and Relationships

If you are having trouble with figuring out how to set the Lookups, try reading through this additional chapter from the Access 2007: The Missing Manual book:

Chapter 4: Blocking Bad Data


Then take a look again at Chapter 5: Linking Relationships:


Another option for CCI Macs

If you purchased your Mac laptop from CCI, it should have Windows (and therefore Access) installed on it as well. To get to it, restart your computer and hold down the 'option' key. There should be two icons of harddrives, one of them labeled Windows.

I had never used the Windows side of my computer before, and it is off-putting after being so accustomed to a Mac OS, but I can use Access 2013 with the file I downloaded from my email and continue to work on it.

If you want to get back to the Mac side of your computer, just repeat the process above--restart, hold down the option key, and select the appropriate icon.

This option may be more involved and annoying than using the VCL, but I thought I'd put it out there in case anyone is interested. I haven't tried out the Virtual Computing Lab yet, so I'm going to try that next.

Use Access on Mac via Virtual Lab

For those of us that cannot download access for mac (although this method works for any operating system), we can use the UNC VirtualLab to use Access from our Macs at home.

1. Go to this link: citrix.com/receiver and download the receiver for your device.
2. Go to virtuallab.unc.edu and sign in using your onyen and password.
3. Click the plus button on the left side of the screen and scroll down to Microsoft office, then add Access to your applications. Note: both the 2010 and the 2013 version are available.
4. Click the Access icon to open it inside the virtual machine, then you can open a local file on your computer and work on your database.

To get your database file onto your mac just email it to yourself and then right click it in the email and hit save.

Hope this helps!

Feel free to email me with any questions: sclewis@live.unc.edu

Sam Lewis

04 June 2014

What is this all about?: The uphill battle of learning to program

Since I'm not sure who many in our class have had exposure to programming and since we just built our first websites, I thought this article was applicable to our collective situation.  While, some of us may have taken a programming course or two, I have talk to some in our class that have no real exposure to programming. The question that is often brought up by many that are learning to program is: How do I know if I'm really learning this stuff?  I felt like this article gives those new to programming so insight into that question.

03 June 2014

An interesting site: Future Timeline

Future Timeline

Future Timeline is a website that provides speculation on future developments in technology, medicine, climate, and major political happenings. It's a collaborative project with contributions from many different people spanning many fields.  The predictions are based on analysis of current trends and Moore's Law.  Resources are included when available.

Moore's Law:

"Moore’s Law is a computing term which originated around 1970; the simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years."

"The limitation which exists is that once transistors can be created as small as atomic particles, then there will be no more room for growth in the CPU market where speeds are concerned"

Moore's Law

Also,  current consumer trends may serve as an abatement.  With the advent of cloud computing and increased popularity of smaller electronic computing devices, the average user may not desire or require a computer with super advanced processing power.  The 'burden' of processing and data storage, for some of the most commonly performed tasks, is shared by many computers that form a network or by a system of networks.  With less demand for speedier processors, microprocessor manufacturers may have less incentive to develop them. 

While the average consumer may not have a need or real use for smaller, and faster processors, other agencies and entities outside of the commercial sector, will benefit from them (e.g government agencies, military , research facilities, production facilities and specialized markets).

More on Moore's Law

A few interesting predictions:

2018:  Consumer devices with 100 Gbit/s transfer speeds
  • New form of data transfer called "Thunderbolt" will replace USB as the standard 
  • USB 3.0 allows transfer speeds of 4.8 Gbit/s. Thunderbolt's speed will allow 100 Gbit/s--enough to transfer an entire Blue Ray in 3 seconds 
  •  Smaller connectors and the cables are thinner and longer making Thunderbolt more flexible
  • A single cable can run multiple multiple protocols simultaneously
 light peak intel 2018 technology

2025: Intelligent advertising is widespread
  • Customized advertisements tailored to an individual's interests and lifestyle
  •  This info is obtained by micro-sensors embedded in outdoor media (i.e posters, billboards), which read microchips in the individual's personal items (credit cards, mobile phone, etc)
  • Advertisement updates to entice the targeted individual
  • For broadcasted advertisements, ultrasonic beams deliver a localized sound message which only the targeted individual can hear

How Google's New "Right To Be Forgotten" Form Works: An Explainer

Google has posted a webform to enable web users in the EU to request the "right to be forgotten".  There are lots of articles out in the news right now about this -- here is one of the more informative articles on the topic. It includes an image of the form, the fields in the form, and an fictious of what a Google SERP (search engine results page) would look like if this request were done on the U.S.-based Google search engine.  Here's the link?

How Google's New "Right To Be Forgotten" Form Works: An Explainer