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Dwight D Eisenhower Final Project

Here is a link to my final project: http://kyledavid91.wix.com/eisenhower

The project took many hours of research and required me to apply skills I learned in class such as basic HTML coding, how to create a Wordle, and how to create interactive Google maps. I found the project to be a great learning experience and hope you enjoy the final result.

Scratch

Scratch is basic software designed by MIT students, that makes it easy for people to explore different kinds of digital projects such as creating a video game. I frequently enjoy playing games on addictinggames.com and other websites that feature relatively simple, yet fun flash based games. I’ve always thought it would be cool to create a similar game; however I do not possess the programming language skills necessary to complete such a project. This is where Scratch comes into play. Although it may be limited in the depth, it is the perfect tool for someone like me and the most interesting part of the software is the simplicity of it.

While playing with the software I started by making a circle move left and right. I then decided that I would create a maze and by using the arrow keys I was able to direct the circle through the maze. It was very interesting to play around with software like this and get an idea on how video games are designed. Something I would have liked to been able to do would have been to design the game so that when the circle touches the sides of the maze, that the game would start over again. However this proved pretty difficult to do in application.

Personal Archiving

The article “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era” discusses the idea of what is important to preserve and what is not. As we mentioned in class Twitter is now being archived. I feel that in the future we will likely have so many things archived that it will in a way make historians jobs more difficult because they will have to cipher through that many more records many of which will likely be less relevant and reliable then records of the past. We may also be archiving the wrong things. As the article mentions many government records since the 1980’s have not been being saved and government workers are often confused about whether they should archive things. Although technology is a wonderful tool that has made research easier, more efficient and more accessible to the masses, we as a society have to be careful of over dependence and understand that sometimes it is important to have physical versions of items.

Who hasn’t had music or pictures disappear forever after a computer crashed? The importance of backing up data continues to grow as we continue to depend on digital sources to store these personal items. After doing the assigned reading, I like that the library of congress has an online guide about personal archiving. Although it doesn’t address specific problems that people can run into.

For example I have lost probably around 500 dollars worth of iTunes music. The reason being is that Itunes only allows users to copy songs on up to five computers and from the time that I first made an account (roughly 10 years ago) until now I have had more than 5 computers and so much of the music has been lost. I could have copied the entire library onto CDs but that is a very long and tedious process. Apples strict licensing has caused me to move away from there service and begin to use Spotify a monthly subscription service that for 10 dollars a month gives me access to unlimited music on my phone, computer and tablet both online and offline. Although now I do not “own” the music I do not mind because I have access to such a larger collection and if I were to ever terminate could very quickly and easily gain back whatever I wanted to listen to as soon as the song popped into my head.

The Quest for Knowledge

Dan Cohen’s article From “Babel to Knowledge: Data Mining Large Digital Collections” begins by discussing the plot of a short story entitled “The Library of Babel” in which the main character is searching through an endless sea of books in search of enlightenment. This concept reminded me greatly of The Laurentian Library in Florence. Italy The library is nearly 500 years old and was commissioned by the Ruling Medici Family to share there vast collection of manuscripts and books which at the time was one of the largest in the world. The library was constructed in the architectural style known as mannerism and features many individual elements designed by the legendary artist Michelangelo.

The reason I bring up the Laurentian Library is because of one of its most distinguishing architectural elements is the grand staircase that serves as the entrance way to the library. The staircase which was designed by Michelangelo forces the visitor to walk upwards and then make a sharp right turn in order to gain access to the library. This is symbolic of the arduous journey to obtain knowledge. When exiting the patron can exit in a straight path down the same staircase, symbolic of the enlightenment the individual achieves from research.

Research today as Dan Cohen points out as been dramatically modernized with technological integration which allows the once tedious task of research to be done much more easily. In particular the article addresses API’s or application programming interfaces which interestingly allow programmers “Query their databases directly (from server to server without using their web interfaces).” These interesting technological concepts will indeed make intellectual enlightenment a faster and more efficient process than it was during the height of the Renaissance in Italy.

Effects of PowerPoint

In “PowerPoint is Evil” by Edward Tufte he criticizes PowerPoint stating that the average PowerPoint elevates format over content and is turning presentations into sales pitches. He then goes on to argue that this infection is not just plaguing the corporate world but that it also negatively affects the education system in the United States. He asserts the idea that children are being taught not how to write sentences but rather how to formulate client pitches.

My response: so what? It is important that when educating students schools provide them with skills that can be applied to the real world. Having a thorough understanding of how to use Microsoft office and effectively create a power point presentation is an important quality that many prospective employers look for and is useful in higher education as well. The author seems to have a problem with PowerPoint’s stating that they are sales pitches, well so are persuasive essays. Mastering the art of persuading people is a very valuable skill crucial in fields like sales, law, politics, business and more. Even an engineer proposing a public works project before a city council needs to be able to persuasively explain why building a new damn in the town reservoir can be done cost effectively and is crucial to the towns safety because the current damn possesses a flawed design. In my opinion whatever delivers the desired result, do it. An entrepreneur has to convince his investors that his cause is worthwhile, if that means sacrificing content for format than it should be done because the ultimate goal is to convince the other party why your side is right and important. The key is to have the most effective visual example possible in many cases a chart or diagram, and to then supplement that visual presentation with a powerful oral argument. The sales pitch aspect the author claims is being taught, requires both factors to be effective. As long as the duality is taught, I see no problem with the troubling trend the author seems to interpret .

One Year At A Time

I found the Feltron Biennial Report to pretty interesting yet a bit OCD. At first I was a bit confused as to what I was looking at but after exploring the website I realized that this was about a guy who logged everything he does ranging from the average time he had a beer, to how many places he visited in a year. I think it would be very cool to have data like this about me for a year, although I would be a bit afraid of what the results might show.  For example I would probably be disgusted to learn how many hours a week I log on to Facebook.  I also don’t know if I would have the self-discipline to log all of that information. The reading is a good example of how to use graphs and charts to display information.

This article reminded me in particular of a video I watched on YouTube in English 100 my freshman year of college. The video shows somebody who took a picture of themselves every morning for six years. Although the medium of presentation is quite different, they both show events over the course of years in a very interesting medium and in a way that most people wouldn’t think of.

Week of October 21st

The article we were assigned to read “The Differences Slavery Made: A Close Analysis of Two American Communities” uses a case study to explain digital scholarship and the advantages that electronic media can provide historians. The case study centers around the issue of slavery along the Mason Dixon line and the debate between those who think ideologies about slavery were shared between North and South and those who believed the north was simply more modern and progressive than the South who was resistant to the change. The article concludes by saying that there was no direct relationship between slaveholding and social identity and the way that somebody voted in the election.

I found the article to be a bit difficult to understand, specifically the way in which they were applying technology. The introduction summarizes saying that  “ For analysis, we turn in particular to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to understand the way social structures were arranged spatially. For presentation, we rely on Extensible Markup Language (XML) to connect large amounts of evidence with detailed discussions of the historiography on slavery in the United States on the eve of the American Civil War.” After digging deeper and reading the section that discussing GIS many of my questions were answered such as how they knew whether people were slaveholders or not (they used detailed census records form 1860.)

Although I found this reading to be one of the most confusing of all of the readings we have been assigned I also found it to be very interesting. It is amazing that D.H. Davidson created the Franklin map which features 4,000 households and 2,000 named structures such as churches, schools and mills. The fact that there were detailed census records and maps from this period made this type of historical analysis possible which is probably a more unique example in history. For example I don’t believe they would be able to do a similar experiment applied to the hundred year’s war. A period in history where there was no census and maps were not nearly as accurate as the second half of the nineteenth century.

In addition to the reading when I was exploring hypercities a project by UCLA, I could not figure out how to use the software. When I would slide the time bar back in time in New York City for example nothing on the map changed. The George Washington Bridge, Empire State Building, and Flat Iron Building were all still there. Perhaps I do not understand what the map is supposed to do? I assumed that it would change depending on what point in history you put it to show what the city’s geography looked like during that year.

An Update

Last week we did not have a blog assignment because we had off of class on Tuesday for Columbus Day and Thursday was a midterm. There was no assigned reading for this week to blog about but we were tasked with familiarizing ourselves with Google Maps, KML, and Google Docs which it says we will be using in the upcoming weeks. I found Google Docs to be the easiest to use since I have used it in a previous job I held and when I started reading about it and exploring Google website I found out they updated the feature to “Google Drive” a program I downloaded onto my computer and now I have all of my documents from my computer synced with my g mail account with the click of a button. Very cool.

 

I found the description on KML to be extremely confusing and very specific for someone who doesn’t know much about what it was. I hope that this concept will be explained more thoroughly in class if it is going to come up again later in the course.

 

As for Google Maps I feel I was already pretty familiar with the program but played with it a little bit to refresh myself on how to use it and found that some of its features had been updated since I last used it.

 

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/10/13/browse-like-bond-how-to-surf-web-like-spy/?intcmp=features

Over the weekend I came across this interesting article which talks about internet security and relates it to James Bond. Considering we just covered internet security I found the article interesting and would highly recommend it to others.

 

Passwords Under Assault: The Ongoing Battle Between Networks and Hackers

A response to Passwords under Assault

http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/08/passwords-under-assault/

The article begins by citing a specific incident that took place in December of 2010 where 1.3 million of the users on Gawker servers had their account information compromised which in turn caused a chain reaction for users who used the same email and passwords for other accounts. After obtaining the login credentials the hackers used botnets to send spam over twitter and had success accessing Amazon and Yahoo.

According to the article the average web user maintains 25 separate accounts with just 6.5 passwords to protect them. This creates a problem because users often use the same names as there email accounts as login ids and then repeat passwords so by having the information for one account it can often cause a chain reaction. I can certainly see how this would be true since I personally use around 8 or 9 passwords for all of my different online accounts of which I probably have thirty. However I don’t use the same combination of user names and password on any two websites that I can think of and my usernames are often different than my email accounts, both things that often caused multiple accounts to be hacked for web users.

Cyber security is a growing threat that I believe will only continue to increase as more and more personal information is accessible through various online accounts. Many people store everything from bank account information to pictures of their dogs on different web accounts with the blind trust that the information will be safe since it is password protected. This leaves many people vulnerable to both theft and identity fraud. Beyond personal liabilities corporations and the government also have a lot of information that is accessible through the internet and are vulnerable to hackers.

From my knowledge of the growing threat I would compare the relationship between hacker and target to that of shooter and target. As offensive capabilities of weapons such as rifles become more powerful over time so do the defensive capabilities of the targets i.e. improved Kevlar technology (bulletproof vests) Networks are going to continue to get harder to penetrate while hackers continue to get better at hacking. It’s an ongoing cycle that I don’t personally see an end for. Hopefully there will not be an extended period where the hacker is superior over the defensive capabilities of networks because the results could be disastrous.

Weekly Reading Response

I found the most interesting of this weeks assigned readings/viewings to be Chapter 7 “Owning the Past”  As a low school bound undergraduate reading about how copyright law is an ever evolving set of principles was particularly interesting. The article discusses the idea that the law needs to be balanced to protect both consumers and producers.

I found that the article tended to side with the consumer stating that ” To see intellectual work entirely as “property” undercuts the norms of sharing and collaboration that are integral to a field like history.” The article argues that instead this should be viewed as a “commons” to be shared with some protective limitations. In my opinion the article strives away from what would be legally sound advice and instead asserts it’s own opinions which in the realm of the legal system are merely opinions and therefore do not have any sort of legal substance. They state that “we depart from the conventional wisdom of dozens of copyright guides, whose favorite phrases are “do not,” “ask permission,” and “err on the side of caution.”” Although from a policy standpoint I might agree that as we advance into the digital age copyright laws can be invasive and often annoying. I think we all have attempted to watch a youtube video and thought the sound choice was odd only to realize that the original audio was removed due to copy right infringement. However from a legal standpoint personal opinion ceases to matter and the law prevails. I think it’s important that we realize who writes the article when we read things like this especially since  the author acknowledges that he is not a lawyer and that it is not sound legal advice.

Although I felt the author was overstepping by asserting legal opinions I did enjoy reading about the history of copyright law. “Noah Webster, who was trying to protect the revenues flowing from his best-selling American Spelling Book, successfully lobbied the Connecticut State Legislature to pass the new nation’s first copyright law in 1783. It gave authors control over the printing and publishing of their work for fourteen years with the option of a fourteen-year renewal” Although it was first implemented over two hundred years ago in many ways the principles behind the application of the law haven’t changed. Publishers today still copyright published materials for the same reasons and in the same medium although with the invention of the internet there are now more mediums to patrol.