Tag Archives: technology

Et tu, Zuckerberg?

16 Jul

Oh, and speaking of Google+, can we say “irony?”

I really didn’t think this was real when I first searched his name just out of curiosity. (As you would expect, countless fakes also appear.) But according to an article I recently found, it turns out Mr. Zuckerberg is actually the most-followed person on Google+ so far.

I get a kick out of that. I suppose he had to check out the competition. Curiosity killed the cat … just sayin’. (In my experience, Google+ is still pretty lonely.)

I may have lived under a rock …

14 Jul

I just found out my little sister recently got an iPod Touch. She’s 10. This isn’t terribly uncommon anymore, but I find it funny because I just got one a couple years ago. I couldn’t help but think about what my life was like when I was 10, even beyond. I was technologically lame.

I thought back on how I stretched the Ethernet cord across the entire family room to the phone jack to connect to the dial-up Internet my family had until I was 14 or 15. I’m pretty sure I could never have dreamed of such things as iPod touches. Granted, I lived in rural North Dakota — not necessarily a technology hub.

I searched long and hard for a picture of an Ethernet cord stretched across someone's room like I remember it. Apparently no one else did that ... Or they didn't want documentation that they did.

I remember junior high Kaitlin timidly asking my parents if I could use our dinosaur 1993 Compaq Presario to IM my friends. There was no use saying I was just playing Solitaire; that darn dial-up cord was unmistakable. We did finally get a new Dell desktop in 2004, when I was 14. My family still has it. (Although they did upgrade to a laptop too a couple years ago.)

This was our good ol' model.

I remember 14 year-old Kaitlin getting her first cell phone. I was so excited until I realized how lame it was. It didn’t even have a color screen, just those pixel numbers. I remember going to sleepovers with my overnight bag and my friends joking that it was my cell phone case. The emotional scars are still healing.

There she is. Only mine was red. That's how the screen actually looked.

I remember getting my first mp3 player as a sophomore in high school. I carefully peeled off the reindeer wrapping paper that Christmas Eve (I always carefully unwrap — You might be able to repurpose it!) to find a small rod-shaped device. I had no idea what it was, but my parents said it sounded “right up my alley.” It was a 512 MB mp3 player, and it cost them $50. I was the coolest kid on the bus for a while, though. Very few of my peers knew what an mp3 player was either. Were there iPods circa 2006, or were we just so isolated up here that we were out of the loop?

It was something like these ones, only these might even be a little advanced.

Maybe that’s why I’m now glued to my phone and addicted to my laptop. But I always get a kick out of thinking back on the days when now-obsolete pieces of technology were the coolest thing since the last now-obsolete piece of technology.

Google+: The coolest kid on the social networking block

12 Jul

I’m not gonna lie, I’m feeling pretty savvy and exclusive right now. I just got on Google+. Sure, I realize Google recently reopened invites in hopes to “double” the numbers of people using the service in its “field trial,” and that millions of people are now on it (see the end of this post) but as someone who’s constantly connected and loves anything new in the form of social networking, I’m loving the chance to be a part of it. Plus, I’m still a couple weeks ahead of the curve, with the expected public release of Google+ speculated to be July 31.

Just to prove it -- I made sure to add that the welsh corgis thing in the screenshot. That way you KNOW it's me. And don't judge my circle names haha.

Of course, it’s not exactly a Facebook killer yet, for me at least, since I only have like five friends in my Circles. A friend who invited me to Google+ was discussing with me whether it could be a Facebook killer in the future. It’s hard to say. Here’s why:

Circles — The strict privacy settings, while awesome, inhibit creeping: the name of the game on Facebook. Your account comes with four predetermined Circles: Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following. When you connect with new people, you have the option of placing them in as many Circles as they belong in (and you have the ability to create new circles to fit your personalized needs). Your friends will never see the Circle you placed them in, only that you’ve added them to your Circles. So, say you find your high school’s prom queen, with whom you never particularly got along. Of course, you’re going to want to creep on her to see if karma’s bitten her in the butt yet, but you don’t exactly want her to see everything you’re doing. If you place her in a Circle with limited visibility to your online antics entitled, “People Who Suck,” she’ll never know the difference. Keep in mind, she can do the same to you, rendering your attempt at creeping futile.

It's as easy as drag and drop.

I always try to keep my personal Facebook profile as private and squeaky clean to those who might use information against me as possible. (Not that I do terrible things, but sometimes I have whiny, venting statuses. Sometimes I post “inappropriate” humor. I don’t need future employers to see that.) But they’ve made the privacy settings such a labyrinth to try to navigate that it’s become physically impossible to heighten my privacy to a level it was before they made all their changes. This is where Google+ comes in — While Facebook says you can control exactly who sees everything you post, they’re not taking into account that you might not have known to do three backflips and drink a glass of chocolate milk upside down, a necessary step to ensure the change goes into effect. I’ve seen people’s comments on statuses of people I’m not even friends with. Granted, I am a seasoned creeper. If I could do it for a living, I would. I’ve found ways to get information I want on even the most private of profiles. I don’t think Google+ will allow me to do that, but we’ll see once my circles grow a little.

Facebook's privacy setting options -- Although many users don't even know how to get to this page. Facebook seems to bury the option.

Photos — Google+’s photo uploading capabilities are both awesome and terrifying. You have the potential to set up instant and automatic uploads from your phone’s photo gallery. Yeah, don’t freak out. All the photos go to a private album associated with your Google+ account on Picasa (which I’ll talk about a little later). You can then decide who you share your photos with, if anyone at all. This feature still freaks me out a little bit. I don’t want to end up accidentally seeing pictures of my friends that were meant for significant others only, if you know what I mean. Hopefully everyone will use their power of privacy control wisely in this area. I can’t say much about my personal use of the feature — It worked well to upload my existing photos from my phone. I like the idea that they go to Picasa, too, where you can easily store them on your computer in folders and edit them before sharing.

This is what it looks like when you start uploading photos instantly from your phone. They're visible only to me (except this screenshot) until I click share and select the Circles I'd like to share individual photos with.

Speaking of Picasa, word is that with the public launch of Google+, Google plans to retire the non-Googley sounding names of Picasa and Blogger, their popular photo sharing and blogging platforms. In an effort for Google accounts to be streamlined and have a distinct Google identity, rumor is they will change the names of the services to Google Photos and Google Blogs. The services themselves won’t be dismantled, just streamlined. It’s been speculated that other Google brands with non-Google names will be affected, but YouTube will remain YouTube. (Cue collective sigh of relief.)

Seamlessness — Come on, Facebook has been flopping a little lately. First their initially widely-buzzed-about-but-rarely-used e-mail service, and just last week, the “something awesome” Zuckerberg was getting everyone hyped about turned out to be Skype integration into Facebook’s preexisting chat feature, and a sidebar on the right side of the screen shoving everyone you talk to most at you. Google+ has something similar and more.

Huddles and hangouts are Google+’s ways to connect with friends. Huddles are “super fast group messaging for your circles” according to the Huddle app that comes with your Google+ app download. It’s basically like a group chat (or it could be a one-on-one chat, I suppose), only Google+ will actually notify you on your phone if someone messages you from a Huddle when you’re away from the computer. Facebook’s app has been notorious for automatically showing you as available to chat, and then not notifying you on your phone (or later on the site) when you receive a message. So, basically, people think you’re ignoring them. Can we say drama starter? Google+ huddles not only notify you, but let you respond quickly and efficiently from your phone just like texting. Sounds like it’ll be awesome once I get a few more friends to huddle with.

Hangouts are almost exactly like Facebook’s new video message integration, only not through Skype. The only problem I have with these features is that my computer doesn’t have a built in webcam, so my lack of enthusiasm about them may be a result of my bitterness.

You can start a hangout of your own or join one of your friends'.

Besides the perfection of these features, Google is a proven brand on many levels — Gmail, Docs, Calendar, etc. All of these accounts are streamlined in one place when you sign in on Google+. Convenience to the max.

According to census data from Ancentry.com’s founder Paul Allen, Google+ is growing exponentially, and probably has somewhere near 5 million users even in its field trial stage. He based his estimate on the amount of people with certain last names who had profiles on Google+. In fact, since I initially drafted this post about an hour ago, that number has skyrocketed to an estimated 10 million Google+ users by the end of the day Tuesday. To this information, Mark Zuckerberg retorted that Facebook recently reached 750 million users, but didn’t proclaim the milestone because it doesn’t matter how many users they have anymore. Rawr hiss.

All in all, Google has a solid product with Google+, but only time will tell where that will get them. Personally, I can only handle having one primary social networking presence. I have a Twitter, but I rarely post on it (mainly because it’s basically got to be public, or else why even have one?). I think Google+ could have the power to overthrow Facebook, but it’s all about who joins. People will go where their friends are. Maybe we’ll be watching The [New] Social Network: Google+ Edition in a few years. But who am I to say? I used MySpace as my primary social network until my first semester of college in 2008.

Who’s your Doggelganger?

22 Jun

The “people who look like their pets” joke has been a longstanding one  that never really seems to die off. After all, who can get enough of looking at pictures like this?

Yeah. Not me.

But a website put together by the Pedigree Adoption Drive has added an interactive degree to the idea. On the Doggelganger website (such a clever name!) you can upload a photo of yourself and have it analyzed against available dogs up for adoption. Doggelganger will then match you up with your canine doppelganger, based on similar facial features.

Yeah, just had to do one more of those. :)

After seeing your results, if you think that you and your Doggelganger are a match made in heaven, you can make contact with the dog’s foster home and arrange an adoption, which I think is really awesome.

I found it impossible to resist the urge to try it. I’ve wanted a corgi for years now, so I was just praying to be matched up with a corgi. Unfortunately, I do not have the characteristics of a cute and cuddly corgi. In fact, I was a little surprised by the match-ups I was getting using my Gravatar image. I’m admittedly a little squinty in the picture but, hey, it was a natural smile on a bright day. I guess my natural smile has a lot in common with the facial structure of mastiffs and pit bulls.  Not necessarily a big confidence booster, but I was willingly comparing myself to a dog, so I guess what did I expect?

I see the resemblance in the eyes, I guess. I wish I would have saved one of them for my screenshot -- Its eyes were completely closed. Ok, Pedigree, I can take a hint.

Then again, the technology may be pretty solidly grounded in your exact features in the photo. Once I switched my picture, I was consistently getting results that looked more like this:

A little closer to a corgi!

I’m not going to lie, this is a really fun site to toy around with. Plus, it’s for a great cause — If it can set up even a few homeless dogs with new, loving, forever homes, that makes it even better. And I’m sure this site pairs up more than just a few people with furry companions. Still, no matter what Doggelganger tells me, I’m still going to end up with a stubby, wiggly, little sausage dog sooner or later!

Love.

.com is so 2000.

20 Jun

Ever since the inception of the Internet, we’ve been trained to recognize web sites by their addresses, usually ending in .com, .net., .org, or .gov, although there are more than 300 Internet domain suffixes currently in existence. But today, the board controlling Internet web site names approved the ability for companies and individual users to create and register thousands of new Internet suffixes.

Some of the most buzzed about changes are Apple’s projected use of the suffix .apple, and potentially .ipad, .ipod, and .iphone. The camera company Canon has reportedly already announced its plans to apply for a .canon suffix. Others include big banks using a .bank suffix and major cities using their names for their suffixes, such as .london, .nyc, and .berlin.

A few months ago, Internet regulators approved the use of a .xxx domain suffix for pornography sites, which spurred a flurry of controversy. Although approval of the .xxx suffix was delayed many times over several years, this widespread freedom domain suffix plan has been in the works for over six years. Hmm. In any case, the sites with .xxx suffixes were expected to launch this summer, but not much has been said about them since late March.

A proponent of the .xxx domain suffix's logo

With .com domain names selling for extraordinary amounts, this change could change the market of web hosting, giving the opportunity for more domains with more unique names at potentially cheaper prices. A domain name belongs to whoever happens to register it first. And Apple wasn’t quite quick enough on the draw for iPad.com. But you can bet the owners of that domain wouldn’t give that up for a reasonable price. Maybe this change would get around situations like that. Would that be a good thing?

We probably won’t see this new system go into effect until late next year. But personally, once it’s implemented, I think it will confuse the heck out of me. I don’t recognize a string of words as a URL unless it has the familiar URL-y suffixes tagging behind it. To be honest, I just got used to the idea of not having to type in the “www.” when navigating to a website. But this web suffix change, the most radical change in the Internet’s naming system since .com was introduced over 25 years ago, leaves me feeling like it’ll take some getting used to. And I consider myself to be pretty computer savvy.

What do you think? Necessary, cool, or “a solution without a problem?”

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