Sunday, November 24, 2013

#Week 12: Overview and Reflection

So that’s it here comes the end of 2013 Fall Semester.
Personally, I’ve had great experiences with COM125. With a background of surfing the web and chatting with friends on an hourly basis, well…the online world is sort of familiar to me. However, COM125 has helped me realize what I have been doing the whole time is just simply stretching the surface. For the first time, I’ve finally come to understand and appreciate the significant impact of the internet upon our society. The internet does not only allow us to communicate in ways that have never been before, but also plays a crucial part on altering our perspective with regards to the world.  Just thinking of how weird it is for an individual not to adopt any kind of social networking in this digital era, or how common it is for one to abandon newspaper and instead adopt online articles you would get what I meant.

After 12 weeks with COM125, my most favourite lecture would be on "politics and the internet". Even though I know how powerful the internet is, I have never been that aware when it comes to taking advantage of social networking platforms such as Facebook or YouTube to efficiently promote something that so national and critical as political campaigns (President Barack Obama used it and he was successful!). In addition, "journalism and the internet" is another concept that I have found interested in. After that lecture, I can finally see how technology has been and is about to shape journalism. Nowadays, with the growth of internet and changing customer demands, old methods on how news are gathered and delivers have no longer been in practice. And citizen journalism, which remarkably sharps the transformation from traditional to digital journalism, have caught my attention the most.

Even though I hate to say how much I am sick of doing group research paper, my group work experience on COM125 surprisingly turned out not to be that bad. In fact, it was fun! Since my group chose Online Dating, which was quite a cool topic to present on, I was so much motivated to go online and research about it. Unlike the other courses where lecturers usually assign students to focus on several boring topics, COM125’s group project was different as we got to decide anything we really wanted, anything! Isn’t is awesomeee!! Learning from other groups’ presentation is another great experience that I’d love to thank Mr. Choy for. I felt super relaxed while listening to my friends’ speeches; presentation lectures are one of the best moments for me!

Last but not least, I’m grateful as this course has offered me precious opportunities to learn interesting concepts which I would never be able to study on my own. This module does not only make me realize how superficial my knowledge is, but prepare me with tons of experiences that are needed for my future. And of course, my com125 journey wouldn’t have been that great if it’s not for Mr. Choy’s dedication and kindness. Thank you and I love you! 
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#Week 11: Future of the Internet

One of the most visible forms of the Internet of Everything, at least from my perspective, is the advent of wearable computing devices. In the essence, wearable devices are just another connected mobile devices taking on a different, wearable shape compared to the smartphone. Thanks to the technological breakthrough in recent years, it’s tough to escape from not being exposed to discussions on the future of internet and technology, the future of wearable devices.

And today, let me again, be a news reporter, to share several interesting insights on one of the most expected wearable devices:

Google Glass

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Created by Google’s Project Glass, these futuristic glasses provide augmented reality for users by visually connecting them to an Android-run heads up display. The information displayed will be in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands. Basically, Google Glass functions not only as a smartphone but also as a way to share experiences. In other words, with Google Glass technology, users are allowed to merge the physical and digital world. Even though head-worn displays for augmented reality are not a new idea, the project has drawn media attention primarily due to its backing by Google. In addition, Google Glass’ prototype design is also a potential indicator for Google’s success as it is slimmer, smaller, and more wearable in public than previous designs of other companies. Rumours have spread that Google Glass may appear like a concept without practical application, however, it can’t be denied that Google has the chance to change the way the world thinks about communication.


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Having gained popularity via numerous technological devices such as iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple is getting ready to join stiff competitions with other giants in designing futuristic gadgets by announcing iWatch. Even though iWatch has yet to be launched, this device will open a whole new chapter in wearable technology as it will not simply be an extension of our iPhone but a multipurpose gateway in allowing customers to control their home automation (i.e.: heating/cooling, lights, audio, video, etc.). Other than that, iWatch features may also include maps, weather predictions, Passbook organizer. Therefore, its potential customers will be much broader and not limited in those using iPhone.

Microsoft’s wearable products and its competition with Apple and Google
Observing its two major nemesis Apple and Google developing futuristic techs, of course, Microsoft could not stand still.  In fact, Microsoft is reportedly working on its own version of Google Glass, with necessary components have been ordered from Asian manufactures. More interestingly, rumours have spread that Microsoft is also developing a smart-watch, putting it in direct competition with Google Glass and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. Even though it was warned that these devices may never reach mass production, it can’t be denied that wearable technology is sensational and it is what every tech giant is aiming for. Hence, as a tech geek and a fashion lover, I am so excited and looking forward to the future of wearable technology.

#Week 10: Journalism and The Internet

While the elements that constitute news have remained unaltered, the reception and delivery of news has dramatically changed over the past few decades. Many years ago, journalism was about waiting for daily newspaper every early morning and TV news every evening. However, with the emergence of wireless connectivity and mobile devices such as laptops or smartphones, news can be transmitted and read even within a blink of an eye. In addition, it is not uncommon for today’s reporters to integrate several images and videos with their pre-existing written contents. Though this clearly made every articles more entertaining to read, have you ever thought having images attached within each article has become our “norm”, something that’s considered a must? Having said that, it’s safe to conclude the technology has been and will not only be shaping our perspective of the world, but journalism in particular. However, the question remains, how technology and the internet influence journalism?

Social media revolutionizes another information source.

It can’t be denied that technology has improved the processes of identifying stories that are newsworthy. In the tradition world, people seemed to be content with every available piece of information gathered by media corporations as being able to get access to another source of information was impossible. However, with the rise of technology, simply making information available is not enough for today’s public and the mass media no longer necessarily functions as an agenda setting agent. Audiences of digital era expect to be able to choose what they read, to even contribute contents and opinions themselves via social media platforms such as blogs, and Facebook or Twitter posts. In fact, feeds from Facebook or Twitter have proven to be useful and informative as they provide snapshots or events happening around the globe from the viewpoint of first-hand witnesses. Unlike micro-blogging tools, blog has also provided another world for those who wish to carefully read analyzed news. Personally, I love to update news from these social media platforms as they are fun and inspiring to read!

Long form reading: a thing of the past?

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There is a declining shift in the number of people engaging in long form reading. Today, even though much of our time is occupied by a substantial amount of workload, to get updated and to know a bit of everything, still, are fundamental and necessary. Acknowledging this tendency, many publishers have chosen to shorten their articles’ length and include more photos or videos in order to increase media consumption. In fact, many researches on journalism have concluded that 75-word captions in a 10-image slideshow have the power to catch readers’ attention and deliver more information to more readers than a 2500-word article. Interestingly, researches also suggested today’s journalism schools have their teaching methods altered: they teach fact-dense and engaging short-form writing in addition to long-form skills. So ironically, long form reading may become more of a specialized skill with the rise of digital advancement!

In a nutshell, the Internet’s impact on journalism industry is huge. Forget reporters, readers, column inches, press runs, and broadsheets, today - it’s all about content creators, posts, RSS feeds, social networking sites, and page views. Isn’t it fascinating to look at those changes that the Internet have brought so far? Well, to me, it’s amazing and I’m really excited thinking about the future of technology. Stay tuned and wait for my updates! 

#Week 9: The Impact of Internet on Political Matters

In the 19th century, new railroads made fast moving-whistles-stop campaign tours possible. Things later changed when Kennedy/Nixon debate was first televised in 1960 that gave rise to a new era of media optics. Then, with the advancement in modern technology, the world has, once again, witnessed another significant shift in the way political leaders are chosen. Understanding the increasing power of the Internet, many politicians have been embracing digital strategies as the new form of communication within their political campaigns, especially Barack Obama.

Even though many may argue that were it not for Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, Barack Obama would never have been able to be a nominee or even won over his party in 2008’s election. However, we can’t deny Obama’s success as his historic victory has significantly transformed global political landscape. So what’s that about new media technologies that were the major driven forces to Obama’s achievement? Via interactive Web 2.0 tools, Obama’s campaign was able to reach, for the first time, millions of young voters who are most likely to have a low degree of involvement in political matters. Eventually, more votes were obtained and Obama has finally bucked the trend of lacking young supporters that other candidates had been encountered. Even more significant, the Internet also helped Obama in terms of breaking down various financial barriers that are commonly associated with an upstart presidential campaign. To be more specific, Obama took advantage of YouTube for free advertising. Traditionally, it would have cost an estimated $47 million if Obama had chosen to run 14.5-million-hours videos on broadcast television, but adopting YouTube as a central platform allowed him to advertise for free. In fact, those videos were more effective than television ads as viewers could still view Obama’s videos without having their television shows interrupted. However, what makes Obama’s campaign one of the best-financed campaigns in history lies in his ability to raise fund from individual donors online.

On the other hand, there has also been a considerable change in fact-checking, with citizens using the Internet to find past speeches that prove a politician wrong and then using the Web to alert their fellows citizens. This had made numerous politicians anxious since they need to watch their tongue before uploading any new video or even before delivering any speech. In other words, unlike television for the most part demanded edited or even fake content, the new medium demands authenticity which many politicians haven’t been used to, resulting in several unfortunate incidents that the world has witnessed. In addition, while the Internet brings greater access to information, there’s no guarantee that information found online is true. Without the standards of professional journalism commonly associated with traditional news source, unscrupulous bloggers may promote spurious arguments or lies that significantly affect a candidate’s reputation without fear of consequences. Having said that, it is important for viewers to be aware when it comes to evaluate any presidential campaign.

In a nutshell, it is difficult to predict how the Internet will evolve and take the realm of politics to the next level. However, one thing for sure is that the Internet really holds the power to significantly influence the political landscape when being used correctly and creatively. Furthermore, it is important to note that as journalism in digital era guarantees no piece of information to be 100% accurate, we should be considerate with our vote.

#Week 8: Bravo Augmented Reality

Hi guys, welcome back
Augmented reality is an old concept. It is a combination of two words: “augmented”, which means enhanced or increased, and “reality”. So, augmented reality simply means enhanced reality! To understand what “enhanced reality” really means, instead of explaining it in details, I am going show you some examples of augmented reality that you can actually use.
I. Kinect
Everyone knows Kinect. Yes. It is awesome when you own an Xbox with Kinect, right? It totally changes the way we play games, watch TV or movies because we can use our bodies as the remote controller. When playing games, we can now jump, kick, punch, dance… instead of tapping those buttons on the controllers. If you have never tried a Kinect before, watch this ad and buy one to experience yourself.

Have you ever wondered how Kinect works? The innovative technology behind Kinect is a combination of hardware and state-of-the-art software contained within the Kinect. For the hardware part, there are three main components:
+ A video camera: used for facial recognition and other detection, a depth sensor
+ A combination of an infrared projector and a monochrome camera working together to help Kinect “see” the world in 3-D
+ A multi array microphone: used to isolate the players’ voices from other noises in the room.

Kinect really changed and enhanced the way we play games. However, there is something else about it. The use of Kinect isn’t just for gaming or entertaining. It can be used in many fields, for example: medical. In this video, the Microsoft Cambridge Research team built a system using Kinect to help brain surgeons visualize 3D brain scans. Using this system, neurosurgeons can prepare for surgery by looking inside a patient's brain before they cut it open. Doctors can see the skeleton, brain, blood vessels, and the targeted tumor on a tablet—which they can move around the patient's head—helping them to plot the best brain surgery path. Cool, right?

II. Wearable devices
The most famous wearable augmented reality device is the Google Glass.

Google Glass is a small computer that attaches to your eyeglasses frame. It communicates with the Internet via natural language voice command and display information from your smartphone on an optical head-mounted display. Google Glass can do a lot of things. Here are just a few of them:
+ Texting: you can send text messages to anyone, just by talking to Google Glass.
+ Taking pictures and recording videos, hands-free. To do that, just say “take a picture” and your Google Glass will do the job for you.

+ Video calling is so much better since the receivers see what you’re seeing, from your perspective, not from your phone’s or camera’s. Cool, huh?

+ Navigating: it has never been easier!

+ Translating: it’s like having a personal interpreter who knows every single language on Earth with you wherever you go

Now, let’s see it in action

*You may not know*
This is the ancestor of Google Glass and all digital wearable devices: the Sword of Damocles, which was created in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland.

Another approache to augmented reality wearable device is the Meta Spaceglass.

Let’s check it out:

III. Smartphone Apps
Last but not least: apps on your phones. These apps are awesome and really usable. You should check it out and indulge yourself in the future of technology!!!
1) iOnRoad Augmented Driving
Have you dreamed of a car that can actually “see” the road in front of you and be able to warn you possible collision threats like you are driving too close to other cars or getting off the road?
Your dream came true. However, it is not your car that alerts you, it is your smartphone instead. Simply mounts your phone on the dashboard and iOnRoad starts automatically as you move. iOnRoad shows your current speed, direction and your distance to the vehicle in front of you (in seconds).
2) AcrossAir apps
They are wonderful 3D navigator apps for you phone. Each version supports different location. It simply tells you nearest subway stations, in what direction and how far away they are from your current location.

AcrossAir also has some other augmented reality apps like Twitter AR or Nearest Place. These apps use your phone’s camera and compass to show places like hotels, restaurants, banks, supermarkets… or people tweeting around you.

3) Golfscape GPS Rangefinder
This is an augmented reality range finder for Golf lovers, covering 35K+ courses around the world. It uses GPS to pinpoint your location of the golf course and shows to distances to the targets. In addition, it also shows the hazards that you might want to know about.  Golfscape GPS Rangefinder is a handy app for those who love golf.

#Week 7: Internet Security

            Do you use iCloud? Gmail? Did you setup secondary email address for your Gmail or iCloud? So, if somehow you lost your password or if someone “stole” your email account, you can reset your Gmail/iCloud password from the secondary email. You think you are safe now, is that correct? It turned out you might be wrong.
            Today, I am going to share a story about how cloud service destroyed a tech writer’s digital life and what you can do to protect yourself from bad people on the Internet.
            As we all know, cloud service is an Internet tool that has gradually become an indispensible part of our digital life. It has lots of benefits: accessing your files and data from anywhere in the world and from any device, from your computer, your phone to your tablet; saving space on your hard drive; synchronizing between devices and sharing data becomes much easier and much more. However, it also has major downsides…
The Poor Writer
            Our story starts with Mat Honan, a senior writer at

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In the afternoon of Friday, August 3, 2012, while Mat Honan was playing with his daughter in her bedroom, his iPhone shut down. At the beginning, he believed it was just either a software glitch and the phone automatically restarted like it used to be or the battery died. However, when he plugged in the phone, he got the “activate your phone” screen. Then, he got to his MacBook and unfortunately, it powered itself off. The same happened to his iPad.
What happened to him? He was hacked? Correct! His Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple account was hacked too.
How did it happen? Honan used different password for different account and all of them were combinations of at least 7-character long and lots of specials characters, for example Je7Io@$8!. Did the hacker “guessed” Honan’s password? No! It turned out that the hacker, identified himself as Phobia, got access to the accounts quite easily and effortlessly.
The hack began with Honan’s Twitter account, where Phobia found Honan’s personal webpage, from which he found our poor writer’s personal Gmail address. Then, Phobia went to Google’s account recovery page and it showed that Honan’s Gmail address was associated with another email from Apple: a email. This was where things got interesting.
As a hacker, Phobia knew that to request a temporary password Apple’s AppleCare telephone support, he just needed Honan’s billing address and the last four digit of his credit card number. Okay, billing address? Easy as cake. Phobia found it via Honan’s registered domain name. Last four digit of the credit card? Not so hard. He used a loophole from Amazon. Firstly, Phobia called Amazon and told them he was the account holder and wanted to add a (fake) credit card number to his account. All he needed was his name (checked), the email address (checked), and the billing address (checked). Then, he hung up. Secondly, he called Amazon again. This time, he told Amazon’s customer service that he lost access to the account. Upon providing the name, the billing address and a credit card number on the account, which was the one he just added, he was able to add a new email address to Honan’s Amazon account. From there, Phobia was able to see all of Honan’s credit card numbers! It must have been magic!
Headed back to Apple, Phobia called AppleCare telephone support line, provided them with the information and he was granted a temporary password to Honan’s email address. Next, he went on and remotely wiped Honan’s iPhone, iPad and Macbook, thanks to the Find My iPhone and Find My Mac feature.

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The tragedy happened to Honan was that he lost all of his photos, covering the entire lifespan of his daughter, all of the documents and e-mails that he stored in no location other than his MacBook. Furthermore, Phobia deleted the Gmail account containing eight years of emails and messages. In the next few weeks, Honan was able to recover most of the photos and his Gmail account, but it also came with a cost since data didn’t come cheap: $1690 USD. 
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Honan and his one month-old daughter
Nowadays, since we are all relied so much on cloud services and we do not usually pay enough attention to security features, it is those cloud services that may be used to hurt us. In Honan’s case, you didn’t need to be a hacker with a bachelor degree in computer science to do what Phobia did. A pizza deliveryman could do the same. He got your name, your billing address and sometimes your last for credit card number on the pizza order that you made online!

So how to protect yourself on the Internet?

1. Use a strong password
You can use a combination of at least 6-8 uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters as your password. For example, instead of using “BadPassword” as your password, you should use “B@dP@$$w0rd!”. You should use some strong password generators such as or

2. Use different password for different website/account
It is always better and safer to use different password for different website. However, it is also hard to remember every single one. There are several solutions to this problem
  • Low-tech (and for grandma/grandpa :D): write it on a small piece of paper. It is actually a good idea if you can keep it somewhere safe. Or, you can write it on a card and keep it in your wallet. This also works well until one day… your wallet is lost or stolen :D.
  • Medium-tech: instead writing it on a small piece of paper, store it in the Notes app on you phone instead. This is quite safe if you lock your phone with a good passcode. If someone borrows your phone and copies your note, then those strong passwords are as good as dead. This is why I recommend you to use the next method.
  • High-tech: use one of the many tools that encrypt your passwords and store them securely. Then, the only password you should remember is the master password. These tools can create and save super strong passwords for each website. The next time you log into those website, these tools will automatically enter those password for you. The most popular tool is 1Password ( It may be a bit pricey but it works seamlessly between Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. In addition, it can also store your driver license number, credit cards, passport, bank accounts… If you don’t want to spend 50 bucks for 1Password, you have other options like iCloud keychain, KeePass, LastPass…
3. Using two-step verification (or two-factor verification)

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By enabling two-step verification, whenever you sign into your Gmail, Dropbox, Twitter… you have to enter your password and a randomly changed code, which you can get only via text, phone call or apps on your phone. So, in case someone got your password, they are still unable to log into your accounts. Stay up-to-date
Keep your anti-virus software updated. Use the latest version of your web browser. Install software and system updates as soon as they are ready to install. I know everyone hates windows update but trust me, you are not safe if you click postpone or cancel everytime :).

4. Shop safely
If you plan to buy something from an online store, please make sure that the website uses secure technology. When you are at the check out page, verify that the web address begins with “https” and there is a tiny locked padlock symbol. In addition, look for security Technology Company’s logo at the bottom of the check out page to ensure you are safe.

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#Week 6: Google - the King of Internet Tools

Google is amazing. It has the most incredible collection of internet tools, which I really love. Just imagine a day of an ordinary college student without Gmail to exchange project information, Google Docs to compile works with group mates, Google Search to look up for ideas and inspiration, or Google Translate (well…perhaps just for me!) to understand English words…Oh Gosh, it must be horrible!

Hence, it can't be denied that internet tools have become a significant part of our daily life. And it’s also important to notice that Google is a giant in developing or acquiring numerous internet-related products, some of which have really amazed me.

Google Image Search: Okay I’ve recently acknowledged that you may have encountered this tool at least several times. However, this is a total brand new concept to me *cry*! What I like about it is this time, we don’t need to type in keywords to find correspondent images but use images to search for images. Wow! In a nutshell, Google Image Search is an image search engine, with results based on the filename of the image, the link text pointing to the image and text adjacent to the image. We can also make a search by uploading a picture from our computer. When searching, a thumbnail of each matching image is displayed. Isn’t it awesome! Thanks to Google Image, our pool of possible results once type in the keyword has been remarkably expanded. Google Image Search has allowed us to explore the web in an entirely new way!

Google Shopping: Hey shopaholic fellows, welcome Google Shopping. Google Shopping, formerly called Google Product Search, Google Products and Froogle, is a Google service created by Craig Nevill-Manning which allows users to search for products on online shopping websites and compare prices between different vendors. Recently, Google Shopping has changed its policy to only show paid results where merchants have to pay Google to list their products on the service, with results influenced by both relevance and the bid amounts they pay. Even though it creates a controversial among small businesses who wish to promote their products but worry about their ability to compete with larger companies, we as customers still benefit from this tool as it provides us with a whole new shopping experience. Am I correct?

3.       Google Moon, Google Mars, and Google Sky: First thing first, they are Google directory tools that allow users to view objects beyond the globe: the moon, the stars and galaxies at night times. Awesome! Generally, these services are created in response to the popularity of Google Earth but they go a step further of showing NASA imagery of the moon and the sky via Google Maps interface. Even though I’m not that much interested with viewing celestial objects, aren’t these concepts of providing visual tours to the outer space cool and inspiring?

To wrap up today’s blog entry, here’s my fan-made music video posted via YouTube which has recently become a member of Google family! In this music video, I was in charge of writing plot and direct, meaning you will not see me that much in this video as I was not one of the actors. Teehee. However, for those who would like to spot me, I was wearing an orange dress/long shirt (well, I only wear it at home, please don’t judge why I look so bad!). And one more thing, please watch for the sake of watching as I bet many of you guys may not understand: first, the storyline will not be smooth as I was a mediocre writer; second, it’s a Vietnamese song – no English sub… So, GOOD LUCK and have a nice day! I’ll see you in my next post!