Week 13 – Summary

It’s finally the last week of blogging! Woohoo!

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To be honest, initially when I found out that we had to do weekly blogs for this module, I wasn’t really into it.

But I guess, oh well, since it is part of the assignment and I kinda like writing, I might as well just make the most out of it and enjoy, right?

After religiously blogging every week for the past 13 weeks, I must say that I’ve actually enjoyed the process of blogging! Through blogging, I was able to hone my writing skills and show a bit of my creativity. I guess those are my biggest takeaways from this module, besides learning a bit more about the Internet.

I’m feeling a tad bittersweet as I’m writing this; I’m happy and relieved that I’ve finally finished the blogging assignment, but sad that this would be my last post on this blog.

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So anyway, here’s a recap of what I’ve learnt from the module for the past 13 weeks.

Week 1: realised that there’s so many things that I didn’t know about the Internet, including the fact that Internet (back then known as ARPANET) first went live in 1969.

Week 2: the benefits and risks of social media

Week 3: discovered social media management tools such as Buffer. I really didn’t know about the existence of these tools until that week.

Week 4:  e-commerce and its potential.

Week 5:  the various e-learning resources, such as Khan Academy.

Week 6 & 7:  the various Internet tools and edited a video.

Week 8: Internet security, such as learning what distributed denial of service (DDOS) really is.

Week 9: functions and characteristics of multimedia apps, including the cool VR and AR apps.

Week 10: what the Internet could be like in the future.

Week 11: characteristics of various Internet of Things, such as Fitbits. (Side note: I’m still wondering if we really need all these smart gadgets though, apart from smartphones.)

Week 12: more about Internet innovations, including what Google, Microsoft and Apple have been working on.

Through this course, I realised that the Internet is a double-edged sword. It provides so many benefits, but at the same time risks still exist, such as getting hacked. I guess as of now, it’s a relief that the benefits offered by the Internet outweigh its risks.

To end off things, here’s a compilation of funny vines (RIP Vine) that reminds us how entertaining the Internet can be.

Week 12 – Case Study on Internet Innovators (Google)

For this week, we’re supposed to blog on either Google, Apple or Microsoft. (Or maybe we could do on all of them?)

Anyway, I’ve chosen to focus on Google as I feel that it has the most power and influence on us.

We can tell that Google probably has the highest influence on us through its market share in web browser usage.

In the month of March 2017, the latest version of Google Chrome 56.0 itself leads the pack with 36.75% of the desktop web browser market share. This is followed by Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.0 with 12.47%. In the mean time, Apple Safari 10.0 only has 2.04% of the market share.

Likewise for tablet and mobile browser usage, in the month of March 2017, the latest version of Google Chrome holds the largest market share at 27.5%. This is followed by Safari 10.0’s market share of 15.17%. Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.0 Mobile only has 0.79%.

This clearly indicates that the majority of us prefers to use Chrome to search the Internet. This also translates that Google probably has a huge influence in the way we use the Internet.

Most of us use Chrome as it is fast and easy to use. Most of us are also using Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps and other Internet tools from Google.

Most of us are also familiar with the advantages of using these Google tools.

However, many of us (including myself) do not realise something:

IT RECORDS EVERYTHING YOU SEARCH FOR

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Oh well, maybe this doesn’t really surprise us.

Google records what we search for and use it to tailor ads and suggestions according to our tastes and preferences. On one hand, it’s cool and smart of our browser to know what we like and don’t like. But one thing for sure, the idea that Google records everything we search for is scary and creepy.

I’m not very good at generating memes but oh well, hopefully you get the idea. 

It’s not that Apple and Microsoft do not do this though.

Despite all that surveillance, it’s nice to know that Google has a setting that allows you to opt out from the information sharing; you can control the data that Google shares with companies. To do so, you can go to your Google account and go to the personal info and privacy page. From there, you can manage your ads and content settings.

Of course, Apple and Microsoft also have this function. But according to this article, Google does a better job than Microsoft and Apple at handling our data as it notifies us before our data actually gets shared with companies.

I feel that this consumer focus by Google makes it have the highest influence on us as it makes us trust it and use it more.

But the fact still remains; whether you’re using Google, Microsoft or Apple internet services, we are under surveillance more than ever. We can try to control and reduce it through managing our privacy controls. Or maybe we’ll just have to get used to the surveillance.

Hopefully, any of these companies (or the future in general) will not end up to be like this:

Source:

https://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=2&qpcustomd=1

https://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=2&qpcustomd=0

http://www.t3.com/features/what-google-knows-about-you

https://decentralize.today/apple-vs-google-vs-microsoft-which-company-handles-your-data-better-a7022bd452b1

Week 11 – Internet of Things

FitBits, Philips Hue light bulbs and Google driverless cars.

These are examples of Internet of Things (IOT). These are things that are connected to the Internet, can be recognised by other devices, can collect data and upload them on to the online database.

For instance, FitBit tracks and collects data, such as the number of steps walked, calories burned and amount of food consumed. The data collected can be synced to the user’s smartphone or tablet, allowing the user to keep track of his/her activities and the amount of food consumed.

Well, FitBits are not supposed to be used in this way…

Philips Hue light bulbs are smart light bulbs that users can control from anywhere using their smartphones. Users can control the brightness of their lights without having to get up from their couch to do so as they can do it with a touch on their smartphones. In addition, users can also switch on the lights through their smartphones to make it seem like they are at home when they are not. This helps in keeping their homes safe and potentially avoid from getting robbed.

Besides these objects, IOT has other applications in other industries, such as agriculture and retail. For instance, Amazon Go is a supermarket that has no cashiers.

Not only is it convenient, saves time from queuing at the check out, but also saves operation costs for Amazon.

IOT has its advantages, such as the ability to track one’s fitness, keeping your home safely when you’re out of town and saving time spent on queuing at the grocery store.

However, there are also disadvantages of IOT. These smart techs make us become more reliant on them. For instance, we are becoming more reliant on our smartphones to do a lot of things, including keeping track of our agenda.

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Admit it, friends. This is us when we drop our phones and the screens crack. 

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With the implementation of IOT to manage inventory and self check-out counters in the retail industry, people who used to work in these areas will also lose their jobs.

In addition, privacy might be compromised as people’s data are increasingly uploaded on to the Internet. We are losing control of our data and how they should be used.

Last but not least, connecting things to the Internet makes us more susceptible to hacking. For instance, our smartphones collect our personal information and since they are connected to the Internet, our data become more susceptible to getting leaked out through hacking.

The video below explains clearly why making things smart may not be a very smart thing to do after all.

Ultimately, I feel that we should not connect every little thing (such as a hairbrush) to the Internet. Not every gadget makes our lives better when it is connected to the Internet.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2017/04/10/what-is-the-internet-of-things-a-complete-beginners-guide-in-2017/#376498935982

http://www2.meethue.com/en-sg/about-hue/

http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/5/13842592/amazon-go-new-cashier-less-convenience-store

https://e27.co/advantages-disadvantages-internet-things-20160615/

http://www.rfwireless-world.com/Terminology/Advantages-and-Disadvantages-of-IoT-Internet-Of-Things.html

Week 10 – Future of Internet

Having one’s consciousness uploaded onto the Internet, as depicted in the movie Transcendence, is one possible future of the Internet.

When I think about what the future of the Internet will be like, I imagine that the Internet browser will be a form of a hologram and we can surf the Internet by moving our hands across the hologram.

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Maybe surfing the Internet will be something like this in the future.

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But is the future of the Internet really like the ones described above? As mentioned in a  BBC article, there are two extreme possibilities.

1. A promising future

Not only will people have access to various types of data, they will also have control over their own data. Wouldn’t it be great if you do not have to worry about buying the wrong gift for your friend’s birthday? Because you have access to your friend’s data on his/her preferences, you would know exactly what sort of present to buy for him/her!

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And your friend will be so pleased with you for getting the right present!

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Data privacy issues will also be a thing of the past and we will have more control over our own data. As said by information security expert Bruce Schneier, concerns about data privacy and mismanaging data will be “tidied up by 2040“.

2. A bleak future

On the other end of the spectrum, Internet might become more like the dark web. It will be filled with cybercrime and maintaining Internet security becomes more and more expensive to the extent that only the rich will be able to access a safe Internet.

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Due to this access, the rich might instead use the Internet and its data to further supervise the poorer and less powerful people.

3. The middle ground

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I guess it’s safe to say that no matter what happens, just like the current circumstances, good and bad things will be present on the Internet in the future.

As Sir Tim Berners-Lee said, rules and regulation can be implemented to prohibit people from committing cybercrime. At other times, when things are beyond the law’s reach, “the market will work well where things are transparent enough for people to vote with their feet and go to a different website.”

Here’s a video about the future of the Internet:

Source:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141015-will-we-fear-tomorrows-internet

Week 9 – AR & VR apps

Still swiping up and down on your phone screen to manoeuvre and throw the Pokeball to catch a Charmander?

In case you have been living under a rock, the game described above is called Pokemon Go. It is a type of Augmented Reality (AR) app. AR is a kind of technology that overlays digital media such as pictures and videos on to the camera view of the smartphone, tablet, PC or any other AR compatible devices.

It is currently used mainly for games such as Pokemon Go, navigation, medical and education purposes.

Here are 3 AR apps other than Pokemon Go that you should check out:

1. Wikitude

Have you ever come across a really unique building that you wanted to find out more about while sight-seeing in a foreign country? Well, with Wikitude, you can point your smartphone and use its camera to scan the building to discover more information about it! In addition, it also provides you with information on the nearest places such as restaurants and train stations.

2. Geocaching

Its concept is pretty much like Pokemon Go; it makes you get up and go to places that you’ve never been to before to hunt for treasures. Except that with Geocaching, you can actually collect and trade with real things! Hopefully the things available for collection are useful.

3. Anatomy 4D

This app allows you to discover the different parts of the human body in 3D. It is pretty interactive as it allows you to rotate and zoom in on an organ, such as the heart. With this app, you can also see how the inside of the organs are like!

Moving on, Virtual Reality (VR) is another kind of technology that has been gaining traction these days. VR is a kind of technology that lets you immerse in a different (and artificial) reality.

While AR apps superimpose a digital media over a real environment, VR devices put you into a virtual environment.

Uses of VR these days include entertainment, design and education.

There are different types of VR devices, such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and Sony PlayStation VR.

Both Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR work with your smartphone to provide the VR experience.

Here are 3 VR apps for Google Cardboard (because it is the cheapest) that you should check out:

1. YouTube

This allows you to watch YouTube videos in 360-degree, such as this video of a Gorilla who isn’t Harambe. Just enter “360 video” on the search box and you’ll get a wide variety of them.

2. Bohemian Rhapsody Experience 

Here’s a VR experience claiming that it allows you to experience “through frontman Freddie Mercury’s subconscious mind” … because why not?

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This was my honest reaction to the claim that the VR app could really let you experience through Freddie’s subconcious mind.

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Oh well, you should check it out and be the judge.

3. Sisters: A Mobile VR Ghost Story

As the name suggests, it is a horror game. Play it only if you dare.

Sources:

http://www.t3.com/features/10-best-augmented-reality-apps-that-are-out-of-this-world

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-augmented-reality-apps/2/

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/138267-sick-of-pokemon-go-here-are-12-other-augmented-reality-apps-to-try

https://edshelf.com/tool/anatomy-4d/

https://www.verizonwireless.com/archive/mobile-living/tech-smarts/best-augmented-reality-apps/

https://www.cnet.com/special-reports/vr101/

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/13/best-virtual-reality-apps-smartphone-iphone-android-vr

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/best-vr-apps-google-cardboard/