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.