Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Things I'm excited and fearful of

Technology has been and is continuing to advance at an amazing speed. Undoubtedly society will experience much change in the coming years as a result, but whether these changes will be positive or negative remains to be seen.

For example, A.I. is a prominent technology that has seen great advances in recent times. News of Facebook's use of A.I. to prevent suicides, and the A.I. Sophia's acquisition of citizenship in Saudi Arabia are just a few instances of recent developments. The technology's growth may excite some, including myself, but it can also be a cause for worry. After all, movies of A.I. overlords and their opposition against humans are a popular topic in Hollywood, and prominent figures in society such as Elon Musk have also publicly announced their concern. As a popular science fiction topic, and can be hard to take seriously for some, and perhaps harder to imagine in the current reality. When it comes to the future, however, people can be very confident and very wrong, and this includes the topic of emerging technologies.

Augmented reality and virtual reality is another technology that is rising in prominence. In gaming, VR systems like the Oculus Rift or HTC Hive are especially popular products that make use of the technology. Although some may be worried that over time people will want to spend more time in a virtual world than the real one, as a gamer I can't help but be excited for the possibilities. In the future, as the technology becomes more advanced and, by extension, is able to produce more immersive experiences, the potential worlds to explore become infinite. Going on an adventure in a medieval setting that is often depicted in story books and movies or undergoing an exploration through space potentially meeting new alien species, all of this can be possible one day. And I will be waiting for that day with great anticipation.

Change can be either exciting or scary (or both), depending on the individual. Regardless, what is probably certain is that the effect of the coming advancements in technology will change society in some way. Although we will only truly know the consequences once that future is here, for now I think it is best to wait and observe with cautious anticipation. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thoughts on Convergence

Over time computers, the internet, and the web have evolved and become integrated with everyday life in society. At first, people had the thought the internet and web would simply remain a platform for publishing. It didn’t take long, however, before the technology moved beyond books and into business.

At the end of the day, e-commerce was what became huge on the platform. The ability to reach people from across the world would prove to be an attractive asset for businesses. Products would be sold directly to customers on the web, from software and books to even hot sauce and coffee. Today, computers are used for almost everything, but money transactions remains one of the most (if not the most) prominent.

Of course, many technological advancements needed to be made in order to reach this point. Technology for computational power, cables, data throughput, memory and storage, and simple access to all of it needed to improve through many stages, which continues even to this day (is Moore’s law dead yet?). After all, there’s no way you’re loading up an Amazon page on an ENIAC. With advancements, however, the proliferation of high speed personal computers among the general public became possible.

Although I can still see computers continue to improve into the future, further integration with our lives is becoming increasingly harder to imagine. Today, we see computers everywhere, from methods our mode of transportation like cars, to methods of communication like smart phones and email, and recently even to our own perception of the world through virtual reality. Soon, perhaps cars will no longer need human input, perhaps we’ll constantly have a computer right to our face (like Google glasses), perhaps computers will be woven into our clothes, and perhaps the method by which we obtain knowledge will be through brain-chip installation. It certainly seems unreal now, but our way of life today probably seems equally (or maybe more) unreal to someone from 500 years ago, 200 years ago, or even 100 years ago. It’s both exciting and a little frightening to think about how technology may change life even 50 years from now. Let’s hope that change doesn’t include any A.I. overlords.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Project Topic Interest in Augmented Reality

I'm most excited for the technology of augmented reality. Although a complete virtual reality where all six senses are manipulated to mentally send you to other places would be most exciting, I think augmented reality would also be interesting from a utility standpoint for everyday life.

When I think of augmented reality, I think of a user interface similar to what you would find in video games today. Health information could be present in one corner of your vision, and information on things that you see would be readily view-able in a "pop-up" box or text. For example, perhaps you were walking around downtown looking for a restaurant to eat at. Instead of searching a restaurant's name up on your phone, simply looking at the restaurant in front of you text would appear, showing you information such as it's yelp review score, opening and closing time, and other useful information that would help you make an informed decision.

Eventually I would like to see the technology get to a point where augmented reality technology can be integrated with what would at least visually resemble ordinary glasses. Further into the future as computers become more advanced, augmented reality seen through contacts would be an exciting new norm. I have always been a fan of wearable technology, and the more seamlessly it can be integrated with everyday life, the better more convenient the improvement to quality of life.

Today we often hear about the progress being made in virtual technology, and I feel that this overshadows augmented reality in part because of how much more "flashier" VR appears to be over augmented reality. After all, why partially manipulate your surroundings when you can go experience multiple surroundings entirely different from your own? In contrast, I feel that because augmented reality is much closer to becoming useful in many ways compared to VR technology (given its current capabilities), it would be the more interesting topic to explore in a class project.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Class guest speaker and CEO of cloudPWR

We had the pleasure of having Shadrach White, CEO of cloudPWR, speak on the subject of cloud computing and the business involved with it. Although some of the more technical aspects were more difficult to follow, there were also points which stood out to me above others.

One such point was the idea of cloud computing actually circling back to mainframe computing, which had been an older method. This had come as a surprise to me. Although I knew little about cloud computing, I had always viewed technology advancement as a forward moving process that centered on replacing old ideas with better, more efficient ones. I learned technological progress is not so simple.

Mr. White had emphasized the importance of valuing and taking advantage of our education, which he tied to the tech industry and its desire for not just programmers, but people of many other majors. I thought this was a clever move, considering the diversity of fields present in the class. He touches on business, education and captures everyone's attention by incorporating them into his business's field. Everyone has a place here, he essentially said, as long as you focus on your education and work hard. This message parallels his own description of his journey, from 2 year technical college student to founding his own company through bootstrapping and successfully running it to this day.

He also touched on other topics, like competitors who "pretend" that their product utilizes cloud computing when in reality the product doesn't truly doesn't. Indeed, what a bunch of cloud wash-ers.

Mr. White also drew attention to features that probably helped them pass that Service Organization Control 2 report. The most important of course being security. After all, one of their main customers for their service Airlift is actually the government, who is in possession of no small amount of sensitive information.

Also, Mr. White described the process by which his company starts off using other product to help run the business, but overtime develops their own tools to replace these products. This reverse-dogfooding allows cloudPWR to get a feel for what they need and how they can go about creating solutions for these needs, all while cutting down on costs.

Finally (the last important term I should mention) their service Airlift involves designing user interfaces (UI) in order to streamline and help make work more efficient for its users. Yes, with this even government might become more efficient and fulfill the promise old govWorks.com failed to see through. 





Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thoughts on Startup.com

I found Startup.com enlightening on the subject of the .com boom and bust. Being able to see the events unfold through the eyes of hopeful entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of the technology gave the historic occurrence a human touch that highlighted the motivations and feelings that drove these individuals.

The elation and momentum that the two rode off of at the beginning was understandable, given their accomplishments. Kaleil and Tom were living the dream of many; they were young, worth millions, and famous. If I had not already known what was coming, I would be quite envious of their position. Not only were they doing well, but Kaleil and Tom just happened to be around at the time that the world wide web was still a recent technology, and they decided to take advantage of it.

Nowadays people are coming up with and working on ideas for new technology everyday. That said, I don't think any of them quite rival the world wide web and the potential that it carried. It's great occurrences like this that you read about, and how those that took advantage of such events became very successful.

In the end, there fall was made all the more sad to see after having seen them climb so high. Although some were lucky to have made wealth out of the situation, like the third founder that wasn't focused on, the fact that Kaleil and Tom did not was a little disappointing. Despite all the hard work, and all of the conflict that they had to go through, the company was gone. That said, however, their drive to continue in the business world was a hopeful footnote to the tale of govWorks and the two founders. Perhaps their perseverance will help inspire others who find themselves defeated, to get back up and continue the fight.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Experience creating first HTML page

Creating the page was surprisingly easier than I thought. Based on how the professor described the assignment, I expected many headaches similar to my first programming class using Java. This, however, actually took maybe 15 minutes or less, pain-free.

That said, one of the early tasks did give pause. The step that required me to establish the web title was initially confusing because I was not sure what to put as the title. Wording of the step would suggest that an example text would have followed, yet none did. Thus, I decided to look at the sample on the back of the second instruction sheet for guidance. That’s how I decided on “My Web-page”.

I spent a minute trying to decide between blue and white as the color for my background. After determining that some people do not even consider white to be a color, I opted to go with the former. 

I recalled the significance of "Hello World" for first time programmers so I thought it would be interesting to select that phrase for my website's line of text. 

After determining the background color to be blue, I decided that the image should be something that would make sense on a blue background. I looked to nature for inspiration, and eventually settled on a cloud. 

The concept of "closing" was easy to understand. I assumed bad things would happen, and stuff would stop working should I fail to close, so I finished without issue after triple checking every line. 

Not sure how to insert the link for this, so here's the code....
<html>
<head>
<title>My Web-page</title>
</head>
<body style="background-color:blue">
<marquee>HELLO WORLD</marquee>
<img src="http://pngimg.com/uploads/cloud/cloud_PNG16.png">
</body>
</html>


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Differences between Email and Post offices

There are a few differences between email and post offices, some more obvious than others. For example, the delivery of email is near instantaneous while physical mail via the post office can take days or longer depending on how far the destination is. Another difference is you don’t need to buy stamps in order to send email. You’re also limited to sending digital items via email, while you’re limited to physical goods (which may also contain digital in them like USBs) through post offices. Also, the manpower required to run a post office may surpass the manpower required to maintain the servers and routers involved in the email system. That said, emails can be sent anytime while post offices will open and close at certain times of the day.  

Furthermore, there is an assumption that post offices are for older people. Probably by association with technology being difficult for older people to adopt. During my most recent visit to the post office, I found this assumption to be somewhat true.

I had been away from the house when the UPS came by my house with a package that required my signature. Thus, I was required to go to the post office to retrieve my package. Once I had arrived, I took my place in line. Not everyone in line was old, but some were, and the oldest gentleman made his presence the most felt. In response to the speed of the line, I could hear him behind me exclaim “What’s taking so long? Don’t these people have jobs?” Although I would like to think he was referring to the post office workers, he seemed to be facing everyone else, so perhaps not.


Of course there are also similarities which exist between email and post offices. Just like how mail must go through multiple post offices before it reaches its destination, email must go through multiple points before reaching its destination. Also, Post office mail and Email usually requires knowledge of written language during some part of the delivery, reception, or reading of the mail.