It’s hard to imagine the world as we know it without including the internet. Commerce, communication, and even socialization have been irrevocably changed since the internet came to prominence. At the same time, for most people, the internet is just something that’s there for most people. We take it for granted, particularly those of us who grew up with the internet. Few people understand how the internet actually works – how we can access that information from home or a mobile device.
The internet depends upon both protocols and physical servers. A server is essentially a computer that houses the files available on the internet. For instance, a website is made up of files that include the images, art, text, etc… All of those files are housed on a computer called a server that is connected to a network of other computers: the internet.
When you open a browser like internet explorer, firefox, or chrome and type in a web address, the browser looks for the files associated with the address. A web address includes the domain name, plus any folders and files. For example: www.domain.com/folder_name/specific_page_file
Each domain has some records associated with it. The first of those records is the WHOIS record. That record includes contact information on the owner of the domain. The next record is the name server or NS record. The NS record tells your browser which server to find certain other records on. Those records are the A and MX records, and they are contained within a file called a DNS zone file. The A records tell your browser where to find the actual site files. The MX record describes where any associated email accounts are housed. So, to sum up:
- You type in a web address.
- Your browser looks for the domain and finds the associated NS record.
- The NS record directs your browser to a file that has directions to the site files.
- Those directions, the A records, take you to the actual site files, where they are housed on a server.
- Your browser then displays the site to you.
All of that takes seconds or less. Isn’t that amazing?
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 sharing, interoperability, user-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.
Are you reading this on a computer, smartphone, or tablet? If it is a computer, is it a desktop, laptop, or netbook?
Studies consistently show that chronic back and shoulder pain is on the increase. The culprit is likely the increased use of technology. Specifically, it is the increasingly mobile technology that is causing the problem. Poor posture pulls your body out of its correct alignment. Even five, ten years ago, posture was better and related chronic pain was less common. This is because as America tranwsitions to more mobile solutions like laptops, netbooks, and tablets, we crane our necks further and further. Desktops, while not perfect, at least put the screen closer to eye-level, reducing neck strain.
This is not to say that one shouldn’t use these technologies; the trick is to use the with awareness. Pay attention to your posture. Make a point of getting up and walking around every hour or so. Physical activities and stretching can also help.
If all else fails, try a more ergonomically correct office arrangement – a better chair, better keyboard, a mouse that fits better, or maybe a monitor stand/riser to bring the screen up to eye level.
As technology is becoming more and more prevalent in both our society and our school systems, students and teachers are integrating computer use into most every aspect of learning. Since the advent of affordable computers for individuals, there have been studies focusing on the impact these resources have on the students.
- In 1994, Jame Kulik found that students who used computer-based instruction scores at the 64th percentile, compared to students in control conditions without computers, who scored in the 50th percentile.
- He also found that students learn more when instruction incorporates technology, and students have a more positive attitude when classes include computer-based learning.
- In 1998, Jay Sivin-Kachala found that students saw a positive impact on all major subject areas when in technology rich environments. This increased achievement occurred from pre-school to high school and in both regular and special ed classrooms, though the depth of impact depended upon many factors.
- He, like Kulik, noted that student’s attitudes improved when computers were used for instruction.
- Dale Mann conducted a study of the West Virginia Basic Skills/ Computer Education initiative in 199, and found that participation in computer eduction raised students’ scores on standard tests. The largest improvement was seen in low-achievement students.
- He also found that girls and boys benefited equally from computer access.
- Moreover, Mann found that computer education was more cost effective than reducing class size, increasing instructional time, and cross age tutoring programs.
- Findings by Harold Wenglinsky in 1998 are supportive of the above findings, as they relate to fourth- and eighth-grade students. His study was controlled for socioeconomics, class sizes, and teacher characteristics to ensure accuracy and significance of the findings pertaining to technology.
- These references are from an article, “The Impact of Education Technology on Student Achievement” by John Schacter.
Speaking of criss-crossing the map, Chester Creek is traveling to Taipei! Next week, three of our diligent workers will be hopping on a much-too-long flight over a little water in order to attend the world’s second largest computer exhibition (second only to CeBit)! In fact, the show takes up not one or two but five full conference halls! Since it is not open to the public, that is a lot of tech professionals.
Computex Taipei is an annual show that sees tens of thousands of foreign buyers, including Chester Creek. In addition to buyers, this conference also attracts hordes of journalists, analysts, observers, and others. This show will also be the platform from which some of the most important and possibly revolutionizing products of the year are unveiled. Many of these products will not be consumer ready for several months, however. Check out some of the great new products on display at the conference here!
Look for our report on the conference in the weeks to come!
produces computer keyboards, mice, and accessories that are available world wide. We ship right here in Duluth all the way to the land down under. But we could never do it without help. It’s time to give some credit where credit is due. We’re going to start off with our nearest neighbors to the North: Canada, eh?
Chester Creek has a handful of distributors in the great white North that is Canada, but today, we are going to focus on just three. Special Needs Computer Solutions offers their consumers the nicest and newest assistive technology. With hundreds of items ranging from ergonomic work stations to portable Braille printers to large-print keyboards (you already knew that part, didn’t you?). Special Needs Computer Solution puts the focus on support, including consultation and training for the products they carry. Check them out online here
Aroga has been providing assistive technologies to their consumers for twenty-three years. Look to Aroga for vision aids, communication aids, physical access products, and education tools. Not only do they offer a variety of products, they also offer a variety of resources. Aroga provides information on training, events, and the latest low-vision news. Find all this and more here
Last but not least is Bridges. Bridges brings together a team of professions to bring their customers great assistive technology. They offer direct sales as well as professional developement in both English and French. As their vision statement says, Bridges aims to:
Take a look at their offerings here.
Of course, the one thing all these companies have in common is a devotion to bringing their consumers the best new products and the most reliable old favorites – including an array of Chester Creek products.
As Apple rolls out its new iPad 2, competition waits anxiously. While the first iPad faced virtually no competition in the tablet market, its predecessor is diving into churning waters. The new device boasts two cameras, a slimmer build, video streaming to AppleTVs, and many of the features the iPhone4 included.
However, in order to be successful, this tablet will have to not only convince new buyers of its superiority, but also sway current iPad users to upgrade.
Competition includes the Motorola Xoom, Galaxy Tab, LG Slate, Acer Iconia, Dell Streak, HTC Flyer, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Playstation tablet, all of which bring something different to the table. And what’s more, many of these have been on the market for a while. Certainly Android, the competing operating system, has a leg up with so many devices running its software.
What do you think? Do you have a preferred OS, hardware manufacturer, or specific tablet?
Do you think these devices had a place in schools? How about for assistive tech?
I was having a hard time coming up with a topic to write about today, so I took to browsing the internet – my solution to a wide variety of quandaries. Among ideas like “Great things about my community” and “When I feel frustrated…,” I found this topic. It’s true. My mother is on Facebook (all the time). My Grandmother has a Facebook, too. And my Grandfather. My mom’s best friend. My best friend’s mom. My aunt. My elementary school office lady. While Facebook definitely began as a network for peers, it has grown into so much more. Facebook has five hundred million active users. 500,000,000. On any given day, half of those users log on.
It is not just the younger generation surfing the net these days. While older users are busily learning the ins and outs of the world wide web, they are also learning how to interface with the hardware that gets them there. For a lot of these users, however, this presents problems. They may have never learned to type, and hunt-and-peck for every letter. They may not have the eyesight to read the monitor or the keyboard. Arthritis may make typing or even using a mouse increasingly difficult.
That’s where some basic assistive technology devices come in. For virtually every stumbling block to access, there is a tool to get past it. Chester Creek specializes in this arena. We are here to offer you, your mother, your grandmother, your grandfather, your mom’s best friend, your best friend’s mom, your aunt, and your elementary school office lady everything we can, to help you do what you want to do with a computer, from typing away on email correspondence to hitting level 47 on Farmville. Come stop by the Creek
and take a look around; I can virtually guarantee there is something you will look at and say “That would be perfect for ___!”
And speaking of Grandmothers, happy birthday to our favorite pay-roll/accountant/accounts payable/accounts receivable lady, Karen!
Typing can be the ideal solution for those with learning or motor impairments that prevent them from easily expressing themselves with pen (or pencil) and paper, for school work, correspondence, or any one of a number of needs. The problem is that standard keyboards are boring, hard to read, and feature small keys.
Our large-key keyboards feature large print, high visibility, and 1” keys. This makes typing significantly easier for those with sight or dexterity limitations. The VisionBoards, for instance, comes in three color arrangements: white on black, black on white, and a special black on yellow color scheme that has proven very useful for individuals with macular degeneration. We also offer large-key keyboards for kids with bight, fun, color-coded keys to help kids locate letters and stay interested. All of our large-key keyboards eliminate unnecessary and confusing hot keys and are available with or without F-keys.
We also offer a great key-guard made to fit snugly over our large-key keyboards. This is a metal guard that prevents a user from accidentally pushing wrong or multiple buttons. The guard can also aid in use by individuals pushing the keys with a tool.
Our small mice are also a wonderful solution for special needs or dexterity impaired users. Many find the smaller size of a Chester Mouse, TinyMouse, or LittleMouse easier to grip and manipulate. The Chester is a one-button mouse, for added ease of use.
Chester Creek is working on a great new product called TextSpeak, designed to help vocally impaired individuals communicate. Look for more on this later in the week.
Technology as it is used by consumers is evolving at a break-neck pace these days.
Fancy new hard ware includes smartphones, touch screens, and tablets, among other, less mainstream, items.
More impressive is the boom in software and applciations that we are seeing right now. Even in just the last week I have seen an explosion of articles about new versions and new products.
Google, for instance, is the creator of the Android operating system for smart phones. One of the characteristics that sets Android apart on the market is that Google has a more open-source take on technology. This means that they will let anyone create programs, change things, tinker, explore. Their new App Inventor allows users to create their own apps for the Android system. They have a new maps program, too, which shows the landscape and buildings in three dimensions. Google has also rolled out some beta devides running their new Chrome OS. Chrome is also the name of their internet browser, and the OS is very similar. With Chrome, all of a user’s files would be stored in the cloud and accesible on any device. It boasts lightning quick boot times and ease of use. Google is also working on or has recently unveiled a music locker, google books, video productions, and place search.
In the same vein, Mac is launching an App store in the next month, Facebook has unveiled a facial recognition technology, search engine Bing is incorporating all new features, browser Opera just realeased version 11, with stackable tabs and extension support, and private users are hacking the Kinect to do some amazing things including a self-directed hovercraft that uses Kinect technology to “see” the world around it.
What crazy new technology are you excited about?