Monthly Archives: August 2011

No more goofin’ guilt

How many of you ever get bored at work?  Be honest, I won’t tell.  Sometimes we all need a break.  A recent study means you shouldn’t feel so guilty about that.

According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal this month, recreational web surfing during work actually increases productivity.  Web browsing like that, taking a mini break, is usually to sites that we enjoy.  No one sneaks a break from actual work to do something they dislike.  According to the study, taking a break to do something like respond to emails does not have the same beneficial effects.  Correspondence it not always enjoyable, even though it may be a break from the tasks at hand.  The recreational browsing can refresh a worker and increase their focus once they return to work, allowing them to more than make up for the time spent.

So the next time you’re at your desk, glance around, and navigate to angry birds, don’t feel so bad.  Just make sure you get back to work sooner rather than later.

Happy Birthday, Technology!

 

My first CD was the soundtrack to Titanic.  Interestingly enough, my fiancée’s first CD was also a soundtrack – the Matrix.  Do you remember your first CD? (or record, or cassette, or 8-track?)  Our first CD’s were from 1997 and 1998, respectively.  Yup.  CD’s that are now over 12 years old, which to me sounds old.  Have we really been using compact disks that long?  Whatever happened to cassettes and floppies?  I don’t remember my first of either of those, but I definitely had them.  Matter of fact, I still have an old tower at home that reads floppies.  I think the system backups are on floppies for it.

But even so, 12 years.  The first CD to ever roll off the line (of the factory, not just a test) was The Visitors album from ABBA.  That was in 1982, almost 29 years ago exactly.

Have we really been using compact disks for twenty-nine years?  What?

And now, we have not just the USB port for data transfer, but the USB 2.0.  And the Thunderbolt, previously mentioned, which may eventually usurp the USB’s throne.

How fast the world changes…

Sinister Squirrels Secretly Sabotage

A bunch of optical fibers

Optical Fibers

Fiber optic communicationis an exciting alternative to traditional electrical transmission.  Using fiber optics, we can transmit information at even greater rates than with copper wiring that is often common.  Information is transmitted through fiber optical cable by sending pulses of light, which forms an electromagnetic wave.  These waves are formulated to carry information.  Once the light pulses reach their destination, it is converted into an electrical signal.    The bandwidth available over fiber optics is staggering, but limited by the distance information must travel.  Lately, we’ve noticed large spools of fiber optics being put in along the roads near where I grew up.  This is even more exciting because like many areas in the region, the only internet service currently available there is dial-up.  I know.  Terrifying.

Squirrel eatin' a peanut

Sinister Squirrel eats his peanut

How do you feel about squirrels?  They’re pretty cute, huh?  All furry and chittery, eating their acorns and stuff.  Not so much if you grew up in the country.  Squirrels are noisy.  They get into everything.  They eat the brid seed.  They eat your one change at escaping dial-up…

That’s right, these diurnal rodents are responsible for a large amount of the damage to fiber optics cables, causing extensive and expensive destruction to the cables.  This not only costs the fiber optics companies money, it also slow the spread of the fiber optics network.

If I had any sympathy for squirrels after they infested my grandparent’s basement one winter, it’s certainly gone now.


Images from Wikipedia

The World Wide Web turns 20

Last week was the web’s twentieth birthday. I’m a little sorry I missed it.  Now when I say the web, I don’t mean the internet.  Not today, I don’t.  While these terms are generally thought of as synonymous, this was not always the case.  The internet refers to a global system of connected networks, which generally follow a standard set of protocols.  When you are on the internet, you are surfing the web, right?  Technically yes, but they are not the same.  The web, or world wide web, refers to the way the data on these servers is organized.  On the internet as we know if, everything is linked by, well, links.  That is what defines the web.  It is literally a web of interconnected points, tied together with hypertext links.  This is where the “www” in web addresses comes from.  Without the advent of the web, the internet would have no real organization.  Search engines wouldn’t really be workable, as we understand them now.  Imagine trying to find a recipe or some such!  The way the web is all linked together is really the most impressive thing about it, defining of the entire internet, making it usable for passive information sharing, rather than just active communication.

While the internet predates the web (see wiki article here), dating back as far as the 1950′s, the world wide web counted its 20th birthday the first week of August.  The world’s first website is still available as an archived set of pages here.  I’m sure you can forgive their typos, as they were busy making the interwebs happen.

Web 2.0

You have probably heard the phrase “Web 2.0″ thrown around a lot.  Its used frequently by the tech-savvy to describe a trend in technology that has grown ever more prominent since the rise of the internet – particularly in the last five years or so.


Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:

A term associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharinginteroperabilityuser-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. 

Web 1.0, therefore, represents a time when websites were generally used to throw information out there, to be retrieved by anyone who wanted it.  Today, users and creators are one and the same.  It no longer takes a tech or an IT department to create a website, build a blog, or publish a video.  As users became creators, the line between the two has blurred such that most current websites are interactive.  Sites have surveys, forms, games, etc. that allow users to both receive and send information, interacting with a dynamic webpage.  At the very least, a good many of the companies with a grounded web presence offer links to social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn in an effort to engage users.  Engaged users are not only more likely to keep coming back, but they can help you to continually adapt the site to bring in more users.


This give and take of information and ideas is key in the world of online business, building a web presence, and even politics.  Social media and Web 2.0 have molded our world in ways subtle and obvious.  It was not terribly long ago that Twitter helped civilians coordinate a revolution in Egypt, after all, and though some claim Web 2.0 is a fad, this seems to me to be more of an evolution.

Thunderbolt!

Thunderbolt (originally codenamed Light Peak) is an interface for connecting peripheral devices to a computer via an expansion bus.  (Wikipedia)

Thunderbolt was explained to me as being the replacement for the USB.  It is a technology that allows super high speed transfer of data, which can also be daisy-chained between multiple devices.

With the 10 Gbps performance of Thunderbolt products you can (Per Intel)

  • Transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds
  • Backup 1 year of continuous MP3 playback in just over 10 minutes
This technology was developed by Intel, and brought to market through collaboration with Apple.  This technology allows transfer of nearly all types of data.  You can daisy chain up to six devices by connecting them one to the other, and connecting to devices of various levels of performance will not slow the performance of any of the faster devices.
Check out the following links for more info:
Downsides to Thunderbolt
Make Tech Easier

Why we love the internet

The internet.   The tubes.  The interblag.  The bloggosphere.  The webnet.  The intertubes.  The webberblog.  The blagonet.

From Wikipedia:

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet can also be defined as a worldwide interconnection of computers and computer networks that facilitate the sharing or exchange of information among users. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support electronic mail.

It goes by many names, but what is the internet to you?

A way to connect

  • Sharing pictures with your family, see your grandkids decorating the Christmas tree that day.
  • Getting recipes or tips from message boards, any time night or day.
  • Ordering prescriptions for pick up from the comfort of your couch and getting a notification on your phone when they’re ready.
  • Paying bank statements online
  • Shopping online
  • Playing games from World of Warcraft to Cribbage.
  • Catching up on reading – ebooks are cheap and accessible almost anywhere
  • Chat with friends on the other side of the country (My pen pal is in Washington state)
  • Learn!  There’s so much information out there!
What do you use the internet for?