Sunday, November 15, 2009

e-Reading to save paper

Everytime I visit, the newest and best Kindle model is always advertised. The Kindle is something I would never buy as a student. To me, books and newspapers are easier while read in my hand rather than from a screen. When I want to read, I aim to get away from my computer screen for a little while.

However, it is very possible that this screen technology may save newspapers and magazines, and, ultimately, trees.

Magazines and newspapers create tons of paper waste. A new technology, which takes the Kindle idea and literally expands it to the size of a newspaper could be the answer. First of all, it saves the newspapers and magazines a lot of money in printing costs while still allowing them to charge subscriptions and advertising.

The technology is a little behind in this area. The New York Times ran an article in May '09 discussing the current problems with a large-screened Kindle type of gadget. It has been researched and proven that if the NYT could buy every one of their current subscribers a Kindle, stop printing, and continue to charge subscriptions, they would save thousands of dollars a year. This is an incredible idea.

As with everything new, the social adaptations to this new media would be extensive because of the traditional nature of flipping through a magazine or unfolding a paper and reading through it. But, the fact is that this technology may improve society in the form of saving paper, costs, and in turn the environment.

Read the New York Times article about big screen e-Readers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The issue: texting while driving

I would like to make some personal comments concerning the current issue in Pennsylvania of texting while driving.

I have a new phone--a Blackberry Curve 8900. This phone is definitely a hazard while driving. I know this first hand, I'll admit. My "old" phone was a Pantech duo. It may be "old", but this phone was much more safe to drive with. It is becoming well-known that the QWERTY keyboard features of current phones are to blame. QWERTY keyboards resemble computer keyboards, and have most definitely revolutionized the cell phone. T9 was, no doubt, brilliant, but QWERTY is much more functional for most.

I enjoyed my Pantech duo, however, due to the fact that it was a "duo" keyboard. I could flip it up for the numbers and T9 or over for a QWERTY. Truthfully, I never used the QWERTY feature. I love the fact that I could text T9 without looking. Herein is the issue. I could text while driving. Yes, I had to use one hand, that is given. But, I did not have to look down and that is the issue, literally, at hand.

A young woman at Lebanon Valley College lost her life this past August due to the fact that a driver looked down. She was not texting; she was reaching for her iPod. But, the issue is taking your eyes off of the road. We have known this for a long time. The people who look in their mirrors to put on makeup, fix their hair; people who eat, look at others in the car, etc. That is the issue and hasn't changed since the invention of the car. In order to operate the machine in a safe way, you cannot take your eyes from the road.

I enjoy my Blackberry. But, I realize that it is a real hazard. I loved to text while driving with my old phone. It's a great way to communicate, it's easy, and it was safer with my old phone. I certainly miss being able to text quickly while driving, and I will miss it even more if a law is passed. But, I realize as everyone should, that it is a real hazard with cell phones the way they are these days.

Touch screens and QWERTY keyboards are the new thing. Along with these "easier" ways to text, come hazards as well. As mentioned in an earlier post, with technological advances come risks. Change will always be scary at first. We must adapt to it, even if it means refraining from using it while operating a vehicle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good things for Google

The Google conglomerate is beginning to resemble the Virgin brand as they take on another technological sector.

The free search engine that was recommended to me at age 12 or 13 is taking over the world of technology, and just because it's still free, doesn't mean Google stock is worthless. It is, in fact, rising due to a recent deal with the start-up mobile ad company, AdMob.

AdMob was created in 2006 and claims to reach "52% of mobile internet users in the U.S." currently ( Mobile advertising is quickly growing as cell phone users are turning to their palm instead of their lap.

Good for Google, but it's not what makes Google an unstoppable giant in the industry. Like Virgin with its record company, airliners, and mobile line, Google has broken into the cell phone market with the Android or "Droid" and other mobile phones using Google-based software. The Android is in direct competition with Apple and Blackberry on this one. But, the giant is large competition in other areas, such as GPS Garmin and TomTom devices. The weapon at the moment is the mobile industry. Google's phones have free GPS capabilities.

Like all things Google, it is free for users, but will be driven by advertisements in the future. Google has a leg in the door on mobile advertising with AdMob. What a coincidence.

Google won't lose momentum as long as people appreciate the software, which comes for free. I have studied their business model in many classes. It has yet to fail.

Read the announcement about AdMob in this article from

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It all began with the light bulb...

Last Thursday, Ernest Freeburg, PhD. from the University of Tennessee visited LVC to speak as part of the College's Colloquium series, "Wired". He is author of the book "Incandescent America: Cultural History of the Lightbulb", which discusses the importance of invention starting with Edison's light bulb.

Freeburg's discussion was very interesting and relevant to my blog in that it deals with the cultural adaptations that technological inventions bring about. Freeburg is a historian who realizes that invention and the power of technology in the past few hundred years is very central to our civilization and our social history.

He said that in today's world, invention in technology is ongoing and constantly changing. The first important defining invention in history was the telegraph in the 1940's. This began our "wired world".

1940 was only 70 years ago now, and we all know that technology has taken us very far beyond a telegraph message. The rate at which inventions in technology are occurring is astounding and sometimes overlooked. Therefore, the real effects on society and our culture cannot be fully known sometimes until much later on.

The effects of invention on society was riveting to hear about. Freeburg said, "We made the light bulb, but it also made us", and to think about all the things the lightbulb allowed us to do as a society is extraordinary. It completely changed a way of life, starting with the simple fact that people could stay up later and do things in the light, which began to change sleep patterns, etc. Freeburg said people's sleeping patterns changed, so that eventually we began less to lose touch with our dreams and nature (ie the stars and moonlight patterns), and the world around us.

Edison, of course, said that the lightbulb improved societal aspects such as literacy rate, since people read more, and that it encouraged economic activity. His invention, as many have, also invited excitement, fear, and anxiety in the public. At one point, the lampshade was invented in order to save people's eyes from the dangers of the light.

Freeburg stated that inventions are only a link in a chain of many more to come. But, they always come at a price. The environment took a hit from the electricity, and socially people had to adapt. But, also, with every new invention an old one must be sacrificed.

The most important comment Freeburg made was that we shape every invention socially. There are creative minds out there, but only the public can make their ideas successful.

Monday, November 2, 2009

iPhone vs. Blackberry: a personal preference

As my poll has ended, the results are tied. Although only two people voted, I believe this shows the way cell phone buyers are divided over the iPhone and Blackberry debate.

I had personal interest in this poll as I was trying to decide which type of new phone to get. I have AT&T and was limited to certain Blackberry models, but was debating over the iPhone 3Gs or Blackberry Curve 8900.

Due to the price, I ended up buying the Blackberry. My decision was also based on the fact that I have an iPod touch. I have everything an iPhone has without the phone features. I read several reviews on and other reputable sites about the debate, and asked around.

The main issue I found with getting an iPhone is that the apps and games which you undoubtedly use almost daily, really drain the battery. My iPod touch showed me that also. Another issue was the distraction factor. Blackberries have "traditionally" been phones for people who "get it done". Some people wrote in the reviews that they could get as much done with the iPhone, but that the games and apps distracted them at times.

The Blackberry App store is definitely smaller than the iPhone's, but I find that I can get the apps I am most interested in; the ones that are most helpful to me, anyway. My favorite Blackberry feature which trumps Apple is the ability to run different applications at the same time, or "in the background". This is helpful when copying and pasting addresses and contacts. It's also great if you're a multi-tasker, which I happen to be.

We could extend this debate in that the iPhone is Apple and, therefore, associated with Macs while the Blackberry is associated with PCs. This preference truly depends on what you are most comfortable with, or have experience with, in my opinion.

But, in reality, it comes down to personal preference. The editor of posted an article about the competition, saying, "No matter what the criteria or rating scale, the two inevitably end in a dead heat. Most industry experts say that, by any rational measure, iPhone and Blackberry perform equally well. The experts concede the choice finally comes down to personal preference, and then they caution, “But stay tuned for Google's Android."
(Original article).

The coming "Android" has recently been seen on TV directly competing with the iPhone's capabilites in its commercials. Google has definitely become a large contender, and for them to come out with a cell phone will indeed be interesting.

The debate does come down to personal preference. I am "on the go" a lot, so having any phone where I can access my email, contacts, and text messages in a quick way is good enough for me. There are enough apps and features such as a 3.2 megapixel camera, video, and wifi capabilities on my new phone to keep me occupied for at least a year. I have already been accused of being attached to my "crackberry", but I welcome the change to my everyday life, and it is still exciting to see what comes next.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Social networking also improving universal charity

The internet is connecting the world for good once again, but this time in a place where its presence is quite unnoticed.

A small town in Iowa called Quad City is responsible for financing 12 new wells in Sierra Leone, Africa. Through blogging sites, Facebook, and Twitter, $59,000 was raised for this cause. Amazingly, only $20 can provide one African a water supply for 20 years.

Jody and Andy Landers are from Quad City. They adopted twins from Sierra Leone and could not believe the water shortages there. This encouraged them to get their community involved. In the northeast, a nightclub promoter traveled to Liberia for spiritual fulfillment, which encouraged him to raise money for wells there. Both parties decided to use the internet as a tool for their own charity. They aren’t celebrities, they’re Facebookers and bloggers.

It is impressive and extraordinary how the internet is working for good causes, even for people who do not have the luxury of computers. Awareness for causes is spread everyday through social networking sites and thousands of dollars can be raised. On Facebook alone, users can donate to many causes such as Darfur, global poverty, animal abuse, suicide, and addiction. Many causes are advertised by an saying that they will donate $1 for every person who joins the group.

This social media of blogging and tweeting is new to society, but just as photographs in newspapers began to do during the Vietnam War, social networking sites are promoting and exposing the public to global issues, which is a great use of the technology and social networks at hand.

Original article from the Huffington Post online, here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bob Rios, a local graphic designer

On Thursday, October 22nd, local graphic designer Bob Rios came to have a conversation with the Digital Communications majors here at LVC.

Bob Rios has been a freelance designer in Lebanon county for six years. Originally from Philadelphia, he graduated from the Philadelphia Art Institute in 1991. He works with local businesses to revamp their advertising publications and schemes through his visual communication and graphic design skills. He has worked for many local companies including The Nieman Group, Laudermilk Meats, and G.F. Bowman.

I asked Bob about what it was like to graduate in 1991 and have to deal with all the changes in technology for his job, which is an issue for all graphic designers due to the ever-changing software that comes out.

In this video, he explains how he watched the computer change into a tool for advertising and design in the 90's and how staying local may allow for a fulfilling career.

Visit to see some of his work.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Real-Time news coming from Twitter and Bing

The Bing search engine is attempting to compete with Google once more by incorporating social media sites into their engine.

The deal is working closely with Twitter, while Facebook should follow suit. Bing will allow searches of live twitter updates in an effort to get in on the "emerging hot area of real-time information".

Brilliant. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, Facebook and Twitter, or real people if you will, are the ones bringing the latest news to the public first. As I mentioned during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, I was able to hear about what was going on from that snippet of a Facebook post.

Twitter has been supposedly working with both Google and Microsoft (Bing) on this. Google's search results have not been "live" yet, while Bing's have been.

This feature of Bing will allow for more real-time news, communication, and social progress. Although I personally don't like Bing and will always use Google, this is another outlet to find the news I want to, real-time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Attached to your cell phone? has announced that a watch which coincides with your Blackberry phone is coming to the market. Do we really need another watch? Maybe not, but this is not just a watch, and you may find it to be of use to you.

While sitting in meetings, for example, or riding your bike, it is difficult and rude at times to pull out your phone. This is where the watch comes in handy. It is not a “watch phone” as LG tried to create, and cannot send messages. It is all about receiving, not replacing the Blackberry, but allowing you to preview messages and missed calls, then decide if you need to pull out the phone to reply that minute, or maybe wait.

I find this especially good for business people who do not want to be rude in a meeting, but need constant updates from the home office, or even for emergencies. Anyone who does not have their phone with them while exercising or whoever is literally “on-the-go” will definitely find this useful. It may, perhaps, take care of the issue surrounding texting and calling while driving.

It is difficult to speculate as this has not even been released yet, and did not know of its actual release until yesterday at 2 p.m. According to the photos they were sent, they speculate that it will be called the inPulse.

A third-party Blackberry accessory manufacturer is selling the watch. Although the Blackberry name will not be on it, it is for use exclusively with Blackberry phones as of now. Techies hope that soon after it is available and released, the manufacturers will open it up to other devices and applications such as Facebook.

Read’s announcement and see an image of the watch here:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Videos help out rural practices

Technology is all about communication today. The world is getting smaller and, for some, this fact may save their life.

Doctors practicing in rural hospitals are starting to use video conferencing as a way for their serious patients to see and talk to specialists, who are usually stationed in cities. The regional and local facilities are literally connected to larger medical centers when it is necessary. This involves a large TV, a video camera, and internet-connected medical equipment. Patients can receive the timely care they need and may not have to transfer to specialists.

Of course, the billing and insurance of this video consulting is still up in the air. Because the network is not large enough, and the lines between a true "video consultation" and a regular visit are blurry, insurance providers are not covering practices for the costs of this technology. Trends do show that once a technology is more widely accepted, insurance and other businesses are more willing to pitch in with the efforts.

Hopefully in the future this technology will be covered, so that people can tap into expertise when there are emergencies. For example, many babies who have difficulties after childbirth are transferred while, in many cases, a mother must stay behind to recover. This is difficult for everyone involved, and could be eased with the help of a simple "telemed" conference.

Video conferencing is a somewhat newer technology which has caught on with many corporations that are spread across the country to cut down on business trip expenses. It is great that the field of medicine can catch on.

This idea of bringing together great minds from different areas of one expertise, and combining knowledge is extremely brilliant. There is nothing better than collaborating with colleagues from all over the world who may teach you, guide you, or help you save another person's life.

See the article mentioned by The Wall Street Journal's Ben Worthon here.

This video advertises video conferencing at Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu. The conferences save mothers with complicated pregnancies the expense and time of flying to specialists on the on other Hawaiian islands, or to the mainland U.S.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

iPhone vs. Blackberry: the debate

While I'm on the subject, let me relay another personal experience. I've recently been intrigued by the competition which has gradually arisen between Apple and Blackberry because of the iPhone and the Blackberry line of smart phones.

I am in the market to upgrade my cell phone, and after going to several AT&T stores and surfing all over the Web, I am very interested by this competition and what is going for each phone itself.

If you walk into AT&T and give the hint that you're in the market, the iPhone mysteriously lands in your hands. In most cases, the iPhone (especially the new iPhone with 3GS network) is pushed a bit harder than the three to five Blackberry models in the store. It doesn't take a genius to know why: the iPhone price is higher than the Blackberry. They are only being good salesmen.

But, I want to know what the differences between them are. Why do we choose an iPhone over a Blackberry? Is it the touch screen? The app feature? The "fun" of it? The sheer popularity?

If you Google "iphone vs. blackberry" you will get a plethora of results. Many bloggers have debated the differences. Sites like and, notorious technology sites, have covered the debate as well as the site that is simply "", which involves an open forum for debate.

If you, too, are trying to understand the difference between the world's current top leaders in the cell phone industry, I suggest this "experiment" from the Wall Street Journal that had iPhone and Blackberry users swap phones and log their qualms and revelations.

The Joys, Pains of Switching Smart Phones by Walter S. Mossberg of "The Mossberg Solution" from the

iPhone appears in other brand's TV commercials

I have been noticing recently a trend in TV commercials which relates to my new poll question.

I was watching TV for a bit, and saw in three different commercials how the iPhone was also advertised, as well as the main product being shown.

Pizza Hut commercials air all the time, and at the end there is a picture of an iPhone with the Pizza Hut logo on the screen. As mentioned previously, the iPhone is well-known and loved for its many application abilities. The Pizza Hut application for the iPhone allows you to order pizza on the go. Some may think this is ironic, since you can always just call the nearest Pizza Hut, but this "app" features a game to play while you wait and alerts, as in flying pizza toppings, arise if you order too many toppings. Pizza Hut's rival, Dominoes simply allows iPhone users to go on their Webpage and order as if from a computer.

John Rivera's blog further discusses the marketing trends Pizza Hut and Dominoes are branching out to, and includes many different companies now turning to the iPhone app marketing tool, such as the Starbucks app which now allows customers to "build" their favorite drink and show it to the employee when they get to the counter instead of speaking.

Another one I couldn't believe was a Miller Lite commercial where a man at a table holds up his iPhone with the app "Beer Time" shown and how many beers they need at their table. This app deals with the struggle people have of getting beer refills in a crowded bar. As a waitress, I don't think this would make me very happy, but the fact that there is an app for it is almost ridiculous. Read about this app here.

I'm not sure what app they will think of next, of course. But, I would like to know how our culture will adapt to this new form of communication. We simply show the worker our iPhone and, without a word, get what we want? This seems bizarre to me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Facebook poll results

My poll has closed. Only 11 people voted, so I hope for more votes for the next one!

The results are that four of these 11 people keep Facebook up in the background of their computer constantly. I can only assume these people are students.

I have found myself combatting a "Facebook addiction" since freshman year and it only gets worse as time goes on. Facebook has never been more popular and it is not slowing down. As I've written before, Facebook now spans the globe and includes all generations and cultures. It is incredible. I believe even more so than Myspace, which has suffered much defeat since 2004.

Not only are students distracted by Facebook on their laptops or desktops, while trying to finish a paper or any homework assignment, but we are now able to access Facebook on any new cell phone or iPod touch, almost everywhere.

As many students can probably sympathize, I find myself typing that site into my browser more than any other, possibly more than my Gmail. I know it is ridiculous, but it is a true addiction and very difficult to put my foot down and get to work. I could spend hours jumping from person to person through mutual friends and wall posts, and on and on. It is almost mind numbing, and that is what is needed sometimes for students. "Distractions welcome...oh, hello, Facebook."

I must applaud the three out of 11 people who log onto Facebook 0-1 hours per day. I assume it's just not "your thing". For those of you who actually struggle with the Facebook addiction and absolutely cannot get your work done, Naomi Rockler-Gladen writes an article telling students that we "should not overestimate [our] multi-tasking skills." When you're on Facebook or texing a friend, you really can't listen to that professor or write that paper in a decent fashion.

"To combat Facebook and MySpace addiction, try enforcing some rules on yourself. Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to use your account. Perhaps you can use a Facebook visit as a reward for finishing that long reading assignment. If you really can't resist, consider disabling your account during finals week and other busy times."

Monday, October 12, 2009

The U.S. lags behind the smarter chip

On the ever-changing topic of new technology comes something from the financial sector which has been slow to compete with the personal side. Or is it personal?

How often has your wallet changed in the past five years? Ok, you get a new card every few years from your bank. Does it ever look different? Yes, maybe a new color or design, but ever something revolutionary? No.

The U.S. is completely behind in one realm of technology, and that is the credit card or ATM card. Once again Europe is beating us and it is because of their not-so-new “smart chip technology”.

While studying abroad in London last fall, I realized that cashiers did not know how to handle my card at first, and it definitely scared me. Every time I went to buy something, it was met with a dumbfounded look to which I said, “I’m from the U.S.?” Yes, my magnetic strip is a decades-old technology. Embarrassing.

Fortunately, they were able to complete my purchase overseas because most merchants still have the ability to swipe a card. But, many of these merchants are changing over, and smaller shops and businesses cannot accept a swipe card.

The smart chip credit cards have smart chips instead of magnetic strips which hold the owner’s information. When a purchase is made, the chip side of the card is inserted into the device’s slot. When the person puts their four-digit pin number in, the chip is read, and the transaction is made. It takes a matter of seconds for a receipt to print.

Many of these devices are hand-held and wireless, so waiters may bring them to tables in restaurants. I was intrigued by this in Europe. Not only are they convenient, they prevent fraud better than the strips can. It is difficult to forge a pin, and the device does not require the internet because the terminal itself verifies that the card is authentic and not stolen.

The issue remains for Americans travelling abroad in Europe, Asia, and South America. Canada has recently announced that they will be switching by 2010. American cards are still able to be used abroad, but we are now definitely falling behind in terms of this secure financial technology. published a story online on October 1st about the issue of our older technology:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Upgrade me

Speaking of technology becoming outdated, Windows is releasing Windows 7 this month. October 22nd is when Windows can finally try to redeem Windows Vista.

But, just think, Windows put XP on the shelves in 2001. They updated to Vista in 2007. Now Windows 7 will be available. The first upgrade took six years, and, although the dissatisfaction with Vista was high, this time the upgrade took two years.

Again, should we even buy new laptops? I will personally need to purchase one after graduation and it will have Windows 7 on it by then, but when will the new Windows be out? True, the price to upgrade is only over a hundred dollars but will this upgrading ever get annoying? Maybe not. People love the craze that an upgrade creates. You must get the newer and better. No excuses.

Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade will cost $119.99 compared to the current Vista price of $129.99. The new package costs $199.99, while Vista costs $239.99 now.

So, that is the good news. Upgrading is not going to cease, but upgrade prices seem to come down in most sectors.

If you go to you can take a virtual tour of what “7” will look like and how it will make using your computer for everyday things “simpler and easier”. We hope, Microsoft.

To Mac users, I hope you enjoy your $29 upgrade from Mac OS X Leopard to Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Your phone is old

I was looking at my phone at work the other day and was told alarmingly by a coworker that, “I have an old phone.”

I said, “It’s really not that old. Maybe two years…”

“Is it that one that slides one way and the other way? Yeah, that’s old. I have the iPhone.”

The iPhone craze, as mentioned, is not close to being over. I can’t personally afford one that would have enough gigs to suit me, at the moment. But, I did get an iPod Touch this summer, and can understand what the iPhone and “app” craze is about. It is nice technology.

However, you must all face the fact that the phone you are using is old, even if you just bought it. The lifetime of cell phones, and I don’t mean battery life, is outrageously low. You may buy the “new” Blackberry Storm last year, but the Storm II is coming out on October 14th. That is less than a year to update a particular model of a phone, while you still have the Blackberry Tour, Pearl, Bold, and Curve models to compete with.

You had to know that even Blackberry would have to change its look to keep up with everyone else.

The iPhone threw a huge curve ball into the cell phone market, and immediately touch screens were everywhere. But, I have my bones to pick with touch screens. The Storm has reportedly had many problems with its touch screen technology, where the Storm II is set out to fix these problems. I’m just a fan of being able to use my phone without looking at it, sadly. I don’t want to search for where to touch. I’m just conditioned that way, and maybe I could be conditioned with a touch screen. After all, that is where technology seems to be heading.

But my main issue with buying a “new” phone is that it will be old within a few days, and that is just the way it is going to be. In my humble opinion, why not wait a few more days…see what the world of technology has to offer?

People used to think they couldn’t keep up with technology. “Oh, a cell phone with a camera, what will they think of next?!” They’ll think of something smaller and better, but chances are, they’ve already thought of it. ran an article about cell phone market life in February. According to the article, this is just a phase in the U.S. Replacement frequency in places like Japan has since dropped and phones are not changing for periods of a few years.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A job opportunity in a niche mobile technology market

Just when we believed we were at the worst stage of being attached to our cell phones, Apple introduced the iPhone. They began with the basics and, once they'd added the necessary applications, thought of the "app". If we have a built-in, default alarm clock, why can’t we create a simple application which can utilize the iPhone’s WiFi and download your choice of an alarm clock? Not just any alarm clock, but one where you can choose your own alarm from a library of "tranquil" sounds such as wind chimes or ocean waves?

Even better, let's charge $.99 per download. Everyone wants a tranquil sounding alarm clock, especially for $.99.

Instead of going "bigger and better", we are simply going "smaller and better". This is a mobile, internet-connected, call and email receiving, hand-held machine. This is also rapidly becoming a successful niche-market business; cell phone sales are down, but smart phone sales are up.

Phone applications, more lovingly known as "apps" is where the newest job boom will occur, announced the September 23, 2009 edition of USA Today.

And, you don’t have to be “tech savvy” to get in on this. Just think of an idea for an app! If you invest a mere $99 fee in order to create, test and distribute an application, you are on your way. It may be worth the chance of hundreds of dollars a day—for life. There are about 66,000 independent developers of iPhone apps who are cashing in on the $343 billion consumers spent on them this year alone. In 2013, this number is expected to rise to $4.2 billion. The average smart phone user downloads about 20 apps per year.

See this story about locals in Bethesda, MD hoping to share in this niche market:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Emergency Texting, again...

Speaking of the emergency communications technology the University of Pitt used over the weekend, a similar mishap occured even closer to home: at Messiah College.

At 1 a.m. last Saturday, September 19th, a student was walking along Messiah's many wooded trail areas and was accosted by a man wearing a ski mask. Fortunately, the student was able to scream and struggle to get away successfully.

For the rest of the weekend, students kept walking the trails around campus, having no idea that this had happened or that the perpetrator was at large. On Tuesday, the college sent an email regarding the situation. This has students perturbed. Why not sooner? Messiah has a emergency texting system, so why wasn't a text sent out to students?

Apparently, Upper Allen Police did not want to "compromise their investigation," while they proceeded to compromise every student's safety.

This is an example where the technology is there. Students do not necessarily check e-mail, but have their phone on them almost 24/7 these days. A text to registered cell phones is extremely necessary, and would not threaten an investigation, but would keep students safe.

LVC has a similar "e-text" alert system in place. The college here will actually perform a test of the emergency alerts next Monday, October 5th. Students have to sign up for text alerts, but the college has every student's e-mail in case of emergency.

LVC's Emergency Plan is outline at this Website:

Students: sign up for the e-text alert! When you are out on the weekends, without a computer, LVC can alert you to an emergency situation. We all know that texting is the quickest and most "guaranteed" form of communication today.

Be sure to sign up here:

(This story was found on at:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mobile Journalism from Pittsburgh

Last night, a girl who went to high school with me, now attending Pitt, posted a Facebook status update which unknowingly began a small research project on my part. She was simply saying that she received an emergency text message from her university stating, “Conditions may be deteriorating in Oakland. Students are advised to remain near their residences.”

This Facebook post, sent from her phone, was the most recent update I could find online anywhere. The fact that the University sent this message about “conditions deteriorating,” I figured it wasn’t good. Online journalists hadn’t written as of yet about the crowd situation at night. The text peaked my interest, and I stayed by my computer to see who would be next to report.

Of course, I’m sure the newscasters in Pittsburgh were reporting, but I was not in Pittsburgh.

I was not in a classroom at Virginia Tech hearing gunshots.

I was not on the streets of Iran watching an innocent woman die.

As professor Bob Vucic is known to say, “If you have a Blackberry, you are a journalist”. The girl in Pittsburgh was probably saying it to complain that she couldn’t go out on a Friday night, but she was a journalist. She communicated the first information I could find about what was going on in Pittsburgh last night. It came from a student who was warned by her University to stay out of the streets.

That is real time. That is real life, able to be communicated instantly to millions with a simple factual text message.

Soon, I was able to see a YouTube video which was made by simply videotaping the Channel 11 news in Pittsburgh. This video (linked below) showed Pittsburgh at night: protestors on bikes being herded away by police with riot gear. A girl throws her bicycle at a policeman and is taken down to the ground by four policemen. I want to thank the person who thought to film their evening news, to share with the world, and me.

Who knew that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would be the choice for the G-20 summit, and that many of the people I know would be able to watch the same type of aftermath that London, England witnessed due to the G-20 summit.

This is a 'thank-you' once again to mobile technology. We are only beginning to see its effects on society as we know it.

Video source:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The baby boomer generation and Facebook

The ever popular Facebook social networking site has grown tremendously this year for a new group of people: the “baby boomers”. A study from, published in July of this year, showed how different generations are using Facebook. Sixty-two percent of baby boomer users have Facebook to keep in touch with friends, and 47% of them “to keep in touch with family”. (This chart can be found:

While Myspace is still the first choice for musicians who want to broadcast their music, Facebook is the ultimate social network, for all ages. I believe it has become so popular because of the use of real first and last names, instead of an anonymous Myspace username, allowing for accurate friend searches. In the beginning, one had to have an e-mail address from a college or university to join. I remember getting ready to go to college and the excitement of getting my e-mail address so that I could follow my best friend’s advice: “You need to get a Facebook, Kristin.” At first it was an annoyance to get one since I already had Myspace, but it helped me meet people freshman year and went on to completely revolutionize everyone’s college experience.

Now, anyone can have a Facebook and belong to any school, city, or company network. Recently, my mom, who belongs to the baby boomer generation, had me set up a Facebook account for her. Not to be my friend, but to find old friends from high school and college. While setting it up, she was able to see a list of people she “may know” from high school and college, which excited her to no end. People she hadn’t talked to in years showed up in a picture icon, and it thrilled her. “Oh, I went to a Grand Funk Railroad concert with him! He looks so different!” she exclaimed. It was truly an experience just to watch her find people who she would otherwise never have spoken to again.

Now, this older generation can forget as we have about the days where phone calls, letters, and even e-mails connected families and friends through pictures and messages. It is a small world, after all, especially now. It takes seconds to log on and get updates, sometimes without even directly messaging or communicating with one another. To call this revolutionary is truly an understatement. I am glad to keep in touch over Facebook with people I graduated high school with, even as a senior in college. So, I can only imagine how my parents’ generation of users must feel.

My mom now has about ten friends and checks her account once a week, but it amazes her every time. Getting a wall post makes her day, like a child at Christmas. I add photos for her and her friends comment. It is a great new aspect of this generation’s lives. We can’t even imagine not having Facebook to get us through college, to see people we know graduate and move on from college via pictures and posts. But the new generation on Facebook must catch up, and they are, quite quickly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How did we ever watch the VMAs without tweeting?

Before Twitter’s 140-character update tools, we had to watch the VMAs and comment and converse with the people sitting next to us, or the people we were “friends” with on Facebook—people who we actually knew.

Last night was different, of course. As mentioned by MTV News during their post-VMA report, over one million people with anonymous Twitter accounts “tweeted” about the VMAs: the drama, the performances, the winners. That is a lot of people, but, “so”?

Twitter is talked about in the news more than ever these days, and it is mainly due to the famous people who are using it. Anyone can follow celebrities on Twitter. You don’t even need a Twitter account to see what they’re “tweeting”. This is better than any tabloid, this is an instant connection to the stars. It is also deemed by the public to be truly published material, with Twitter-verified celebrity accounts and tweets such as “I’m about to go on stage”.

Yes, sometimes Twitter is used to talk about a tour or an album release, but these actors, singers, athletes, and reality stars are people, too. They can tweet without being professional about it. So, when the millions of anonymous Twitter users started flooding Twitter with their instant opinion about the surprise encounter on stage between Kanye and Taylor Swift, I waited to watch for the opinions of those in the industry, those who are fortunate to be on the stage, or in the immediate audience, just as I did during the MTV Music Awards in January—which was the same day that I discovered Twitter.

This is not post-published rumors complete with bad photos and speculation. This is live TV paired up with instant, true, opinionated posts from the people themselves.

I was drawn to Twitter by this aspect, actually. I was curious to see what celebrities, in their chaotic and famous lives, had to tweet about, perhaps hoping to see even more into their everyday lives. What people often fail to miss is that these celebrity Twitter pages are being followed by millions of people. I am not their “friend”, only a “follower”. Herein lies the difference between Twitter and Facebook. Anonymity has always been a great aspect of the Internet, but most people prefer actually knowing their “followers”. That is why Facebook has done so well.

However, Twitter for celebrities is “brilliant” as Lily Allen would put it. Lily Allen would know. She tweets more than she could ever sing, and she stirs things up by fighting off nay-sayers daily. In the same boat is Katy Perry who tweeted, “F*** U, Kanye. It’s like u stepped on a kitten” as a direct response to the way Kanye stole Taylor’s award moment at the VMAs. I’m not surprised, as most of Allen’s and Perry’s tweets that I read are yelling at or about another person.

Celebrities never liked tabloids, so now they have a direct connection to fans and can say whatever they want. Is it better? I’d think agents would put some sort of censorship on it, as many of these tweets could become terrible P.R. moves, in my opinion. Defending yourself and entitlement to your opinion is one thing, but when a few tweets stain your entire public image, that is another.

Following the famous is fun but the instant “drama” gets somewhat exasperating. What was our life like before famous people could tweet? Are we just now realizing that they are not more than human, with fingers to type and tweet, and shame themselves?

Most people use Facebook and, according to Tuesday’s USA Today, Twitter is very annoying to a good size of the population. It must not be a coincidence that the word “twit” became a popular British slang word in the 1950’s and 60’s, meaning “foolish, stupid, and ineffectual person.”

I can see where Twitter got its strange name. It is appropriate. I can also see why “normal” people with Twitters may feel inferior to the celebs with a million followers, but it doesn’t stop them from tweeting about the most mundane events such as “loving [a] chocolate mocha”. I hardly use my Twitter. If I do, it is to read the tweets of my friends and, when curious, the celebrities. I usually have more to say than 140 words allow, anyway.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome to the Internet

So, here we have it, and you see it. La Vie is finally online and available to the world.
( for those of you not coming from that site.

Now there are videos, newscasts, blogs, pictures, comments, links, Twitter, and Facebook pages and updates available to students, as well as everyone else. Lebanon Valley College is embracing an online medium for their newspaper, La Vie Collegienne, and the staff is very excited, as they should be.

Colleges across the U.S. have had online newspapers for years now, and La Vie is proud to join the ranks. Bryan Murley recently wrote a blog article on PBS’s “MediaShift” site based on the fact that many colleges still do not have a Web presence, and how backward he finds it to be. He does, however, realize that these print-only school papers have their reasons. He lists some issues college papers find with online environments:

· Technology difficulties

· College students publishing any mistakes, or distributing any “bad news” about the campus to be found by anyone online

· College donors being upset in any way by the type of advertisements or content online

The newspaper staff had struggled a bit concerning the correct content management system to use in this endeavor, and who would make it possible. La Vie has been truly fortunate to Justin Weaver, a computer science major at LVC, for taking on the project of finding the best management system and applying it to La Vie’s goals. By taking time out of his summer, Justin has graced us with a system using Google’s free Blogspot format (a very popular system among smaller colleges) allowing content uploading to be quite easy for the staff. As the staff is mostly English majors, having a person with different expertise to step in and help requires many thanks.

As for printing mistakes to the world, this can happen in the print edition and may continue into the online articles to some degree. However, as Murley recognizes, College is still a place for learning and that includes making mistakes. LVC must protect its image as an educational institution, but also continue to recognize the students’ right to free speech. La Vie will continue to strive for excellence in this online environment, just as it has in the print edition.

For donors to continue to donate to a respectable institution, going online is a way to keep La Vie and the student voices of LVC from withering. In this environment, the institution can receive more feedback and reach out to alumni on a much larger scale. The bottom line, as Murley reiterates, is that staying offline is a disservice to student journalists would not have any experience with online tools now prevalent in the industry. “A student who can't put material online can't really understand the impact of social networks like Twitter or Facebook to spread news. They can't really understand what it is to create a personal brand. And they can't really understand the challenges of multimedia production,” Murley states. As students have learned, the print industry is losing jobs and interest, while the online environment is opening up as it never has before.

La Vie Online has already proven to us that this medium brings together many different majors and students at this college who have different areas of expertise, such as Digital Communications, Art, Video production, and our widespread musical talent at this institution. By adding .mp3s and .mp4s, as well as text, we are including more of the college, the community, and our alumni.

Welcome to La Vie Online!

*You may find the article here: