ITC501

Information Technology in Context 501

What Do Mirrors Give You?

goodwp.com_30377

http://www.goodwp.com – 06/06/2016

Wow, what a crazy few months, so far in my blogs I ‘ve covered everything from how we, as IT professionals, should communicate to the new ways every “thing” in the world will potentially be communicating in the future. I’ve now been asked to pick 3 entries that I could call my favourite and explain why, so, in no particular order and without further ado, here goes, my 3 favourite blogs so far.

 

Proprietize | Pirate Ties | Pirate Lies (Copyleft – Clare Atkins)

online-piracy

http://half-decent.com – 07/05/2016

It’s hard to pinpoint what I enjoyed more about this blog, what I learned while researching for it or actually just writing it, either way, I found everything about this topic extremely engaging, the topic itself, Clare’s presentation of it and all of the interesting things I learnt while researching it.

I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much is because we were given this blog straight off the back of Marks “Copyright” blog and, until then, Copyright was something that I had relatively limited knowledge about, but, upon researching both Copyright and then Copyleft, I found that I connected much more strongly with the Copyleft side of the argument which brought me to produce a piece of work that even I could stand back and be proud of, and for that, I will remember this topic fondly.

Read Proprietize | Pirate Ties| Pirate Lies

 

The Internet’s Own Boy (Craig Nicoll)

the-internets-own-boy-the-story-of-aaron-swartz

http://wickedgeeks.com – 30/03/2016

I had watched this documentary on a friend’s recommendation almost a year before we were given this topic, I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it even more so this time because instead of just watching it for the hell of it, I was asking myself questions the whole time and thinking much more deeply about the message behind the film.

I really enjoyed answering the questions that Craig gave us and with it being such a good documentary I would highly recommend everyone to watch it.

Read my blog on The Internet’s Own Boy

 

Internet of Things (Todd Cochrane)

I found researching this topic extremely interesting, it had me reminiscing about multiple things, like buying my first wireless router and how impressed I was that I no longer needed a USB drive or a Crossover Cable to transfer files from one computer to another, I could simply use the raw power of my 802.11b/g router. It also had me thinking about how much more connected devices have become over the years but more importantly how little I think about it.

If someone had of told me 6 years ago that I’d be able to start watching something on my phone and with the tap a single button it would not only turn my TV and stereo on but start playing what I was watching on the TV as well, I would have thought they were dreaming, however, this is something that I now do almost every day without thinking.

It was both fascinating and scary learning about what else is currently available, what people are working on and what might be possible in the future.

Read my blog on The Internet of Things

 

Honourable Mentions

With so many great topics to choose from it was hard to pick only 3, I only managed to narrow it down to 6 and unfortunately these 3 lost the game of Eeny, meany, miny, moe. However, I felt that they still deserved at least a mention, even if it is only their titles:

Overall I think there has been a great range of topics covered in this class and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Internet Of Things

Things, Things, Things ALL the Things! Think I’ve used the word “thing” too much already? Well, strap in and prepare yourself because there’s a lot more things coming in this blog. To be exact there’re 70 things in this blog, everything from thingception, strings of things, things about data and some more things, and all of these things are about, the Internet of Things.

 

What are these “Things”

internet_of_things

http://arduinoarts.com – 01/06/2016

The Internet of Things in itself sounds like a relatively loose term, I mean “things” really? Just “things”? But in its own right, considering the concept, it’s also a very descriptive term. There is no way to describe what specific things are or will be internet things because the list of things that could make up the internet of things is virtually limitless, any-thing that can be considered a thing could potentially also be an internet-thing. With this in mind, coupled with an understanding of what makes some-thing an internet-thing, you’ll begin to realise that the only real limit on what these “things” are, is your imagination.

 

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” (http://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things-IoT – 01/06/2016)

 

What Makes a Regular Thing an Internet Thing?

The above quote outlines, in my opinion, two of the three main characteristics something requires to make it an Internet-thing. The ability to transfer data over a network and the ability to transfer that data without interaction or, in other words, it has the initiative to do it without being told to.

Those two characteristics are pretty cool but there’s just one small problem, on their own they’re worthless. The most important part of this ‘IoT trio’ is Purpose, what these “things” are actually for, what they actually do with the data is really what transforms a regular thing into an internet thing.

 

The Driving Force of Things

So we know these things need data and we know they need to use that data in some way but the burning question is, where do these things get the data from? Well, there’s actually multiple answers to that question, all of which deserve mention. One answer is quite simply, you.

 

Data Mining

Many of these things will constantly be collecting data about you, everything from your favourite pastimes to your blood type, heart rate and breathing patterns, they will then reference that data against some sort of database and use the results in a helpful way or simply send that data to important parties, such as your healthcare provider. Not everything will be, or needs to be, so ‘intimate’ with you though, some things will simply use a database for their information and use that to be helpful, like an umbrella that tells you when it’s forecast to rain or a building that notifies you when it’s structural integrity is degrading, and some other things will not need to reference a database at all, such as curtains that open and close for you depending on your presence and the time.

If you’re worried about all of your personal information being collected and stored then you need to realize that it’s already happening, in fact, there’re entire videos on the type of data Microsoft is collecting about you with Windows 10 and how to disable it, that’s just one example out of the hundreds, even thousands of ways multiple companies are collecting data about you.

But thinking about all of this data and databases poses even more questions, such as where will these things store all of the data they collect? and what databases will they be referencing against? Which are both, once again, questions that have multiple answers. One of the most popular answers to both is everything will be on “the cloud”.

 

The Cloud

Ahhh “The Cloud” the, oh so wonderful, ginormous mystical database that floats around in the sky, or huge server rooms dotted all over the globe that some people actually think float in the sky… Either way you want to look at it, the technicalities are not important, what is important however is the INSANELY MASSIVE amounts of data these things store.

According to Cisco’s estimate, by 2019 “Internet of Things” devices will be creating roughly 507.5 Zettabytes (ZB) of data per year, to put that into perspective, if you don’t know what a Zettabyte is, that’s 507.5 billion Terabytes (TB) of data per year.

This is important for the Internet of Things because being able to store this information in a global database that can be referenced anonymously by every “thing” that uses it means there is much more data to referenced which, in turn, will yield a much more accurate or useful result.

Although every one of these “things” could, in theory, use the cloud and, for the purposes of centralisation, ease of use, anywhere access, lower costs, arguably better security for the average user and a more seamless interaction between these things and you, using the cloud just makes sense but, at the same time, not every “thing” would necessarily need to be connected to thee cloud nor would they need constant access to such large amounts of data to operate.

 

Personal Clouds and Home Networks

This brings me back to my point about how “The Internet of Things” is a relatively loose term, when using a term like “The Internet” most people would automatically assume that all of these things would need to connect to the global internet but that is simply not the case, many devices, even those that need to store large amounts of data, would be able to operate purely within a Local Home Network.

When many people think of the cloud they seem to think of a miraculous storage solution but all the cloud really is, in essence, is a form of Network Attached Storage (NAS) only instead of being located in your house, connected to you home network, it’s connected to a server located somewhere else in the world. What this means is that for things that only need to log and save data, such as sensors in your garden that are logging the condition of your soil, wouldn’t need to send that data to thee cloud but could simply send that data to your home cloud, or NAS.

Furthermore, things such as “Smart” ovens that notify you when your food needs turning or is ready to eat would not need to store that information on the cloud, unless of course knowing that in 60 years from now your grandchildren can look back and see that you had roast lamb and vegetables for tea on the 26th of June 2015 at 8:42pm GMT +12 (Auckland/Wellington) makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, but in all seriousness, unless you’re strictly tracking your diet, that information doesn’t even need to be saved let alone leave the house, it could just be sent to your phone over in-home WiFi.

 

Internet of Things Videos, Ideas and Technologies

The Next 5000 Days of The Web

 

I found this video rather interesting, particularly the way he compared the web to a human brain and how he described our current devices (Computers, Tablets, Cell Phones, etc.) as little ‘windows’ into that brain, the brain of the web. It really helped to explain one take on the ideas behind of IoT devices, that we need to stop thinking about what new ‘windows’ we can make and start thinking about what already exists around us that we could use to turn our entire world into the ‘window’. What is also interesting is the fact that this video is now 7 and half years’ old, we’re over half way through the 5000 days already and the number of internet connected devices being created and adopted is rapidly increasing year on year.

 

Swarm Bots Are They IoT?

 

The Swarm Bots link was broken so I don’t know exactly what I was supposed to be looking at, mostly I found that Swarm Bots were self-assembling robots that, through programming, could re-organise themselves into different shapes on the 2 dimensional plane, as there are other technologies, such as HyperCells that are able to self-assemble themselves into entire, structurally sound, buildings and they hope to eventually have entire townships built from HyperCells that will be able to independently change location, depending on climate changes, I would say that HyperCells are a much more viable IoT device than Swarm Bots, at least going off the information that I found out about them anyway.

 

Is the Amazon Button an IoT device?

 

To answer the question in the title, in my opinion, yes it kind of is but at the same time no it’s kind of not, to explain further, it has two of (my) three IoT characteristics, it can send and receive data and it has purpose however what is doesn’t have is initiative, it still requires user interaction to set it up, if it could connect to your IoT soap dispenser and automatically order more soap when you were running low, then it would be a true IoT device.

 

Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) Protocols?

WINSOC

https://www.amrita.edu – 01/06/2016

Things connecting to things through a network of other things, for many IoT applications a Wireless Sensor Network is most likely going to be the best solution, particularly for large groups of things that need to connect outside of the home, such as this theoretical example of linking cars via a WSN for traffic control, however WSNs are probably not the be all and end all solution for everything, for most home applications it would make just as much sense to use your in-home WiFi.

 

Conclusion

We’re moving into a new age, the Information Age, some belive we’re already in the middle of it but in the whole scheme of things it’s only been 20 years and we have barely begun to scratch the surface, when The Internet of Things surrounds us it seems like it will be a major step forward, but like all things it will eventually become outdated, I’m not sure whether that will happen in my lifetime but still my question is, what comes next?

Which Way to go

crossroads

http://cesletter.com – 24/05/2016

No matter which career path you take in life you will have to navigate multiple crossroads, times where you must decide which action is most ethical, which one will mean the lesser of two evils. As a builder this could be the choice between fixing the 20mm mistake you made or leaving it for the owners to find 10 years later when they go to renovate their house, in terms of Information Technology however, this will most likely relate to the solutions you offer your client or employer and the data you work with.

 

The Lesser of Two Evils

Where I have been working for the last 8 and a half years we have a large customer database and it is essential for our operation that we can access this information upon request, it is not uncommon for someone to ask us to access information about someone else, this is usually someone claiming to be their husband, wife, partner or sibling, but it is against both privacy laws and our company policy to divulge this information to anyone other than the account holder without prior consent, this can be a frustrating inconvenience to the genuine people but these laws and policies are in place to protect the sensitive information we store about the account holder and for good reason, as I learnt the hard way while I was still in my first week of being a trainee.

I once had a client ask me to search for an invoice for ‘their’ product to see if it was still inside of warranty, being new to the business and oblivious to the laws, policies and procedures I was happy to oblige and even though he could not provide a phone number (the easiest way to search the database) I managed to find the invoice via the surname he provided me, only the invoice was under a female’s name, the man reassured me that it was his wife’s name.

This is where I would now inform the client about the privacy laws and tell them I need consent from her first but being unaware of the laws and eager to be helpful I printed him the invoice at which time he noted that the address was ‘incorrect’ and asked which address and phone number we had in the system, I then told him what we had on file and he wrote them down, this was the first sign of something fishy, even for a newbie, I mean who has to write down their own address? It was very shortly after that I was made aware about why he would write it down and the gravity of the mistake I had made.

One of my colleges at the time knew both the man and his wife personally and although they were still legally married they had separated, badly. I learnt that the man had just been released from a 3-month prison term which he had earned by physically assaulting her multiple times, she had moved house and changed phone numbers so that he could not get in contact with her after his release, and with my lack of care and knowledge I had ruined that. I also learnt that the man was later arrested for breaching his bail conditions and vandalising not only his wife’s new house but her car as well.

To exactly what extent the vandalism was I still do not know but, being that her car was written off and replaced under her insurance, I can imagine it was fairly severe. I was lucky not to have any action taken against me personally but I remember feeling absolutely terrible and even being the immature 15-year-old that I was, I thought I should have known better.

I believe this experience falls into multiple categories, working with information, learning laws, making mistakes and learning to work with clients. I often deal with clients who become irritated and angry because I cannot provide them with the information they’re asking for, for some people this could become an ethical dilemma, knowing that you have the information right in front of you, there’s a 90% chance they’re honest and giving it to them would save them some time, do you help the person or continue telling them that you can’t? In times like this I reflect upon the experience I explained above and this ‘dilemma’ quickly becomes a no-brainer, no matter how much of a scene they make, how angry they get with me or how loud they yell.

 

How my Experience Relates to The Institute of Information Technology Professionals Tenets

jobs

http://www.hospa.org – 24/05/2016

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals in New Zealand have eight ethical tenets:

Good faith – Members shall treat people with dignity, good faith and equality; without discrimination; and have consideration for the values and cultural sensitivities of all groups within the community affected by their work;

Integrity – Members shall act in the execution of their profession with integrity, dignity and honour to merit the trust of the community and the profession, and apply honesty, skill, judgement and initiative to contribute positively to the well-being of society;

Community-focus – Members’ responsibility for the welfare and rights of the community shall come before their responsibility to their profession, sectional or private interests or to other members;

Skills – Members shall apply their skills and knowledge in the interests of their clients or employers for whom they will act without compromising any other of these Tenets;

Continuous Development – Members shall develop their knowledge, skills and expertise continuously through their careers, contribute to the collective wisdom of the profession, and actively encourage their associates to do likewise;

Informed Consent – Members shall take reasonable steps to inform themselves, their clients or employers of the economic, social, environmental or legal consequences which may arise from their actions;

Managed Conflicts of Interest – Members shall inform their clients or employers of any interest which may be, or may be perceived as being, in conflict with the interests of their clients or employers, or which may affect the quality of service or impartial judgement;

Competence – Members shall follow recognised professional practice, and provide services and advice carefully and diligently only within their areas of competence.”

(http://iitp.nz/about/ethics – 24/05/2016)

I feel that my experience relates to the “Good Faith”, “Integrity”, “Community-focus” and “Informed Consent” tenets.

 

Which of These Tenets Are Most Important to Me?

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals (IITP) tenets are not listed in order of importance; I have been asked to list the three that I think are most important so in no particular order this is what I think and why.

 

Continuous Development

I believe this is extremely important in any industry and even more so in industries that are as fast paced as Technology and IT, one of my colleges completed their Bachelor of IT 5 years ago and the one piece of advice he threw at me over and over, and over, after he learnt I was going to study for my own Bachelor, was that I would need to continuously keep on top of the latest technologies and developments if I wanted to keep my qualification relevant, along with outlining the fact that almost everything he learnt during his studies is now obsolete.

 

Competence

As Simon mentioned, when it comes to family functions he is known as “the IT guy” and I can relate to this heavily, coming from a family where over 85 people can be considered “close relatives” there is only two of us, a cousin who lives in China and myself, who have, for as long as I can remember, been considered the “IT Guys” in the family. What the others do not quite understand is that asking someone like my cousin, who is a Project Manager, or myself who is, in their words, “good with computers” to fix the broken screen on their iPad is similar to asking an Auto Electrician to rewire their house, sure we have knowledge that kind of relates and we could probably figure it out, but it would still probably be best to talk to a technician/electrician.

For this reason, I think that it is important, for us as IT professionals, to be able to keep the “I can do anything” part of our egos in check and to be confident in drawing the line by telling people that the IT industry is much larger than they know along with advising them if something is beyond our abilities.

 

Good Faith

This should be self-explanatory, I think as humans this should be engrained into our nature at the very heart of our basic morals, I cannot claim to be a saint but over time and through many regrettable mistakes I have learnt that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, good faith and equality.

 

The IITP and NMIT

NMIT and the IITP are, in a way, interconnected. Mary Proctor, Manager of Digital Technologies at NMIT is a part of the IITP – Nelson Committee, along with this the Bachelor of IT (BIT) at NMIT has been accredited by the IITP. Because the IITP are aligned with IT institutions from 54 other countries all students that graduate the BIT programme will receive an internationally recognised qualification, meaning their qualification will be valid in many different countries so they can travel and work in different countries all over the world.

Bring es zum Laufen

maxresdefault

https://i.ytimg.com – 13/05/2016

I have no idea what the title of this blog actually means, perhaps Matthias can enlighten me, but this is what Google Translate spat out in an attempt to convert the English phrase “Make it Work” into German, many of us would take this translation as gospel, I mean it came from Google how could it be wrong? right?

What happens, however, if we search these translated words in Google and do another translation from German back to English? Suddenly “Bring es zum Laufen” apparently means “Bring it to work” but despite this new translation, all of the search results are about going for a run.

This is just one example of why, particularly online, interlingual communication is still far from perfect but even if translation between languages was perfect there is more to consider than just directly translating words if you want to avoid miscommunications.

Locales are very important to consider when doing translations as well. Understanding a places locale will identify their different cultural formatting and involves everything from phrasing to date, time and currency formatting. Often the reason direct translation does not work is because a phrase that means one thing where you are from could mean something completely different somewhere else. Date, time, and currency formats are also very important to consider as Matthias explained when he told us about the program he wrote that stopped working due to the system being configured to use a dot instead of a comma.

It is important to have an understanding of all of these factors if you are considering internationalization.

 

What is Internationalization?

flags

https://www.bibb.de – 13/05/2016

Internationalization is extremely important especially in modern society but, quite often, it’s something that’s overlooked, it involves taking something, be it a business, a website, software or a product, pretty much anything, and making it available worldwide, in the various different languages and, possibly more importantly, in different cultural formats, otherwise known as locales. In some cases, this is done well but a lot of the time…

It is done very, very poorly.

This is really unfortunate and, although we’ve come a long way in recent years, translations like this go to show just how far away we are from truly being able to seamlessly integrate our different languages and cultures. However, being that in the world there are over 6500 spoken languages spread across 196 countries, many of which have multiple different locales, seamlessly translating between all of them is a monumental task, one that will probably take many more generations to accomplish, if it ever gets accomplished at all.

 

Why is it important and who does it Benefit?

120725_HRK_Flaggen_140_-_340_13

https://www.hrk.de – 13/05/2016

Internationalization, done well, will benefit any person, business or company that wants to expand their market from local to international because the level to which they achieve internationalization will generally impact how well they perform in the international market.

 

Businesses that would benefit the most

I think almost any form of IT related business will stand to benefit the most from internationalization. Businesses involved with software and web development are obvious but also hardware manufacturers and even many IT workers, especially for those like myself who hope to travel and work in many different countries in the future.

Within IT, software development is one area in particular that would benefit the most because, due to the internet making them readily available globally, many programs are used worldwide even if they were not written or designed to be, this often leaves people fumbling around a program trying to understand all of the menus and buttons that are, all or in part, being displayed in a foreign language. If software developers perfected internationalization it would not only benefit the users but also the developers because it would, undoubtedly, increase the number of users their programs have.

In many cases web development could benefit greatly as well. For any business that operates worldwide having a website that translates well into different languages and locales is imperative to leaving a good and lasting impression of their company, that good impression could lead to increased turnover and possibly better international relationships.

 

Countries that would benefit the most

With nearly 1.2 billion speakers, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world and yet, largely due to there being more than 13 different variations of Mandarin, it’s often the language that has the worst translations so I think any countries that have some or many variations of Mandarin as their primary language(s) would benefit the most from internationalization, especially because many of them are large exporting countries.

 

Proprietize | Pirate Ties | Pirate Lies

What comes to mind when you hear the word “pirate”? Some of us may in-vision eye patches, hooks for hands, peg legs and violent sword-wielding thieves of the sea, someone who robs, plunders, pillages and steals while taking over a ship in a brutal manner, someone whom, undoubtedly, causes serious harm in doing so.

However, contrary to the vision we may have associated with the word in our head, at the time of writing this blog, the results that are displayed when Google searching the word Pirate could crush our childhood dreams and show us that, in this day and age, a pirate may not be what we’ve been brought up to believe at all. There is no definition provided, no subtlety to the blow, simply the top three results relate to something we have probably all done some point; downloading Music, Movies, Games, and Software.

piratesearch

Google – 05/07/2016

But is doing this actually that harmful? Does it really deserve to be condemned with a label as harsh as piracy?

 

What makes a “Pirate?”

Pirate – “a person who attacks and robs ships at sea.” – (Google 07/05/2016)

Luckily, when searching for “pirate definition”, the first result is still true to the original definition, the one we were brought up with, however, there is a newer definition:

Pirate – “use or reproduce (another’s work) for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright.” – (Google 07/05/2016)

But there are some key words used in this definition, for profit. While the people running these websites are surely making a profit from the advertising on the pages, in most cases the people that actually made the copies and the people downloading the copies are not making any form of profit, so, by definition, if you download any of these things for personal use you shouldn’t really be labelled a “Pirate” this is, however, still technically a form of theft.

 

Not a Pirate but still a Thief, Sort of

maxresdefault

https://i.ytimg.com – 05/07/2016

Although most people don’t download these things with the intention to make a profit for themselves, this action is still breaching Copyright and it does have repercussions. In 2007, it was estimated that the US economy alone was losing roughly US$58 billion per year due to illegal downloads, no matter how large the companies are that’s no small sum and that number has been growing year on year.

When you look at it that way it’s easy to see why corporate entities would call it theft, by downloading something this way you are effectively robbing these companies, and their employees, of money that they will never see. In this instance I’d have to agree, this is a form of theft. One argument though is that these companies are greedy and simply want too much, being that these industries collectively turned over approximately US$1.74 trillion in 2014, I would tend to agree with this argument also.

In taking this “corporate” view you can also begin to see why they’re scrambling to push through new laws and coming up with extreme measures to prevent this copying from happening, but their solution is not the only one and it’s certainly not the best one either. In fact, when looking back at the history of Copyright laws, and prior, it becomes more and more obvious that this approach has nothing to do with protecting creators but is, above all else, designed to save their own skins (profits) with a complete disregard for the creativity it could potentially snuff out.

 

Way Back When

There is a brilliant article on questioncopyright.org, written by Karl Fogel, that explains the history of Copyright laws, I felt it fitting to include a link to it in this blog because it strikes at the very heart of this topic and explains how Copyright has transformed over the centuries from a censorship law, first born out of fear, into the monstrous corporate business that it is today.

Copyright could, in theory, be used as a means to protect content creators who do not want to openly share their works for free, the problem is, it was not originally designed to do that and it is generally not used in that manner either. Copyright was initially designed by publishers for publishers and, to this day, they are still the primary advocates for it, not to mention some of the only people that can truly afford to press charges for an infringement.

In this day and age, however, anyone with access to a computer and the internet can be their own publisher with little to no cost at all and potentially have their works reach even more people than they would as a physical medium. Artists and creators are getting smarter and this is something that more and more of them are beginning to discover, particularly newer creators who have been brought up with the internet, this also opens up channels that allow people to pay them directly and I for one have and always will feel much happier about paying an artist directly as opposed to paying a publisher.

 

When Copying is or is not Theft

So far I have covered copying files that are owned by publishers or corporate entities and have explained why I think that is theft, theft from the publishers that is, not the creators, but what if we could remove these corporate entities from the equation? This brings up a few more things to think about.

Without the thought of corporate entities looming, whether or not copying is, or should be, considered theft depends entirely on how the creator feels about you copying it. There are many creators who simply want their creations to be seen, they want them to reach people, anybody, and everybody everywhere, and subsequently they do not care how that happens. In this instance making a copy of one of their creations, be it literature, video, software or music, should not be considered theft but flattery instead.

On the other hand, there are still many creators who either expect or rely on receiving payment first, I think that whether or not copying from these creators is theft depends on your intentions. If you copy one of their creations without any intention of paying then, in my opinion, if you keep that copy, yes, that is theft but this is where I think the lines start to blur a bit.

Take music as an example, this is something I have been guilty of in the past and maybe I’m just trying to self-justify my actions but this is my opinion, if you download a song or an album to listen to before you pay for it then, if you delete it because you do not like it or you keep it with the full intention of paying for it at a later date then I think this is more alike to hearing a song on the radio and deciding whether you like it enough to buy it or not and I view the time between paying for the music you do keep more like a “deferred hire purchase” rather than outright theft, after all, they still get paid in the end.

All of this relates to copying things that you do not own but what about making copies of something you’ve already bought and paid for?

 

More ways to Copy

Backups

This is a rather shady part of the law and whether making a copy of something, for the purpose of a backup or personal versatility, is considered legal or not often depends on what it is you’re copying and also who you ask.

Under the current New Zealand law there have been amendments that allow you to legally create copies of albums that you own, providing they are for personal use and you do not make more than one copy per device, I agree with this, I think it’s only fair and a great way to take something you own in a vulnerable semi-obsolete format and transform it into a much more modern and convenient one, this is something I’ve done for years and I’m better off for it, I once possessed hundreds of CDs, right up until an unfortunate incident with an ex-girlfriend left almost all of them unreadable, now all that’s left are the files I have backed up on my computer.

Although this has been made legal for music the same cannot be said for books and movies. Right now it is still illegal to make backups of DVDs, Blu-rays and even most legally downloaded files that you own, furthermore, hardware protection and software protection are making this increasingly harder to do successfully. I think this is ridiculous, if you’ve paid for them I don’t see any reason why it should be illegal to make backup copies and, in the case of DRM “protected” files (including eBooks and music) restrict the devices you’re able to use them on or, even worse, remove any guarantee that these files will continue to work in the future.

 

Covered, Modified, Remixed, and Sampled

As we all know, or should know, copying is not limited to simply making an exact copy of something, copying also involves recreating the same thing yourself, turning an original into something else, using something in a way that differs from the original or taking part or parts of something and mixing it with other things.

This type of copying has been happening for centuries or possibly much, much longer than that and many people, including myself, would argue that this form of copying is ingrained in our nature and can lead to some of the greatest forms of advancement, expansion, and creativity, in all fields.

Unfortunately, unless permission has been granted by the Copyright holder, which in many cases is not even the creator, this form of copying is quite often labelled “piracy” or a form of theft due to it “breaching Copyright”, if the person shares this as a means to make money then, in a way, I agree that this should not be allowed unless the creator (not the current Copyright holder) deems it okay to do so, but, if this creativity is merely shared as an idea, something for other people to build upon and improve, then I don’t see any reason for this to be condemned with such a label or punished so harshly.

This is part of what many anti-copyright activists are fighting for, the freedom that allows open sharing for the purpose of productive creativity and freedom of expression.

“The dam has burst, we live in the post-sampling era, we take the things that we love and we build on them, that’s just how it goes…

When we really add something significant and original, and we merge our musical journey with this then we have a chance to be a part of the evolution of that music that we love.”

— Mark Ronson, 2014

(http://www.npr.org/2014/06/27/322721353/why-would-more-than-500-artists-sample-the-same-song 07/05/2016)

 

Pro-Sharing Rights, Pro-Creativity

maxresdefault

https://i.ytimg.com – 07/05/2016

There are many people and groups fighting to either abolish, change or adapt Copyright in a variety of different ways. One such person is Lawrence (Larry) Lessig.

Larry Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School and is also one of the geniuses that cofounded/co-created Creative Commons (CC) Licensing. This form of licensing is aimed at adapting existing Copyright laws to the digital age. It gives artists and creators an easy way to open their works up to free sharing, to be built upon and improved, with an option to include or omit commercial uses, it also gives them a way to “feed” the modern remix culture without constantly having to approve the use of their work.

Creative Commons Licensing is gaining traction and is becoming increasingly popular for new creators to use on their works, this easy way of sharing could really open the world up to new and amazing advances and opportunities by leveraging one of the greatest intellectual feats of the human mind: Ideas in, newer ideas out.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples, then you and I will still each have one apple.

But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

— George Bernard Shaw, Autor, 1856 – 1950

(https://entropia.de/images/c/c8/StealThisTalk.pdf 07/05/2016)

 

Conclusion

Sharing does not make you a pirate, although copying, at this point in time, can be considered theft in some instances it is important to understand that this is not always the case, it is also more important to realise that sharing is in our nature and it can be truly empowering.

We have been living in a world with wolves pulling wool over our eyes, we have been branded and labelled as something we are not by those who would try to control us purely to feed their own back pockets, many people already realise that if they were to release this control we could flourish and thrive on a much greater level, the sooner those holding power realise this as well, the better off all of us will be.

“The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.

The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves, and the rest of humanity.”

— Captain Jean-Luc Picard

(https://entropia.de/images/c/c8/StealThisTalk.pdf 07/05/2016)

Links of Interest

A TED Talk Radio Hour on Creativity and Originality – http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/321797073/what-is-original?showDate=2016-04-08

Another TED Talk Radio Hour on Open Source – http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/449179937/open-source-world?showDate=2015-10-23

Another link to the article on QuestionCopyright.org, because it’s that good – http://questioncopyright.org/promise

Another good article if you like reading – https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/3716/en/the-right-to-share:-principles-on-freedom-of-expression-and-copyright-in-the-digital-age

© All righty…

Everyone likes to get something for free right? But if you think about it nothing in this world is truly free. If you follow it back far enough, somewhere along the line, one way or another, someone or something is having to pay, keep in mind that I’m not just talking about with money here. Whether you’re downloading an MP3 you were supposed to pay for or simply taking a shit, someone has to pay. I’ll leave you to ponder that last one while I get back on topic, so let’s take a look at Copyright.

 

The Good and Bad of Copyright

Fuzzy Stuff

From my point of view, Copyright is both good and bad, the law itself and, more importantly, the idea behind it, is good. At its most basic level, Copyright is there to prevent someone from taking your creations and claiming them as their own. Copyright is an easy way of claiming ownership over something that also ensures your recognition for it, but, in a way, this is where the line between good and bad begin to blur.

Copyright is also designed to prevent the copying and distribution of your creations without given consent and, the clincher, payment. The payment part is where things often get out of hand, particularly when it comes to infringement. Although it does happen, this is not something that is commonly heard of within New Zealand but, regardless of what country you live in, being charged with infringement is a potentially life-ruining experience.

The reason this can be life ruining is that whoever is charging you with the infringement can usually claim copious amounts in compensation and damages, so much so, you could find yourself in debt for the rest of your life and could even pass the remainder of that debt onto your children after you pass. In a lot of cases, they can make a claim for far more than the original creation was even worth and, to make it worse, they can do this regardless of whether your infringement was intentional or just a genuine mistake.

All of this, regardless of your intent, is based on their claim that you have used their “original” content without permission, but in this day and age how can you really define original? Finding something that’s truly original is extremely rare, some would even say it’s impossible, because the inspiration and ideas behind everything being created; Art, Photography, Music, Movies, Games, Technology, the list goes on, have almost undoubtedly sprung from something that came before it. This is an issue that can cause confusion about how we define Fair Dealing and who should hold the Copyright in the first place.

 

Digging Deeper

Although the above summarizes, in my opinion, some of the good and bad aspects of Copyright, from my perspective there is still one major problem with the Copyright Law, or should I say, Laws.

By far the largest issue I see with Copyright is that it really hasn’t ‘caught up’ to the digital age yet, we now live in a world where the amount of Copyrighted/Pay For material available to copy or download for free is not only immense but it’s so damn easy to access, and even though the entire world is now interconnected, there is no singular Copyright Law that has been internationally decided upon. There are basic guidelines but every country still has their own independent laws which can cause issues with inter-country sharing.

Governments have proposed multiple bills designed to strengthen the enforcement of Copyright Laws in attempts to “adapt” the old laws to the digital age, using direct approaches with things like SOPA or PIPA and even much broader approaches with the likes of ACTA or the TPPA. But is creating new laws to strengthen the old ones even necessary? Take the case of Megaupload as an example, they didn’t need any of these new laws to take that down, did they?

At least they’re trying to do something but overall, to me, they’re half-assed solutions mainly designed to give large corporations more rights. There’s so much opposition to these laws because they don’t seem at all designed with the general public in mind. The design of SOPA and PIPA threatened to transform the internet from a plethora of knowledge and open sharing into a dangerous place where sharing could see you or the web host seriously penalised and the TPPA has potential to be much, much worse than that.

 

Why do people breach Copyright?

In reality, before we really start looking for solutions we need to figure out just why people breach Copyright in the first place.

 

I did what now?

With the digital world being such a vast repository of material that is constantly being shared, re-shared, re-engineered and then re-shared again, it’s my personal belief that the number one reason people breach Copyright in this day and age is quite simple, they actually just have no idea they’re even doing it. Most people don’t realise that they actually need permission from the original artist before they can publish something and that simply stating “No Copyright Intended” is not enough.

 

What Value?

The second most common reason, in my opinion, is that people just don’t see the value in things anymore and they simply can’t justify the cost. Why pay $3.00 for an MP3 when you can just as easily get it in the same or better quality, for free? Why pay $18.00 to go to the movies when you can get that movie for free and watch it in the comfort of your own home without the annoying people surrounding you?

Another example is Photoshop, this is one of the most pirated pieces of software in history, once again this is a “why pay” question, even though it’s a piece of software that people should be able to put value on quite easily, they still ask the question: why pay $1500 for Photoshop to use it maybe once a month when you can just get it for free?

Whether it’s Music, Movies, Software or Games, people do this without thinking about the consequences for the people that produced them, they just think “I’m only one person” or “they get paid enough already” and don’t realize just how many other people are thinking this way and what the real impact of this is on the creators.

 

How would I fix this?

My approach would be two pronged and directed at alleviating the two issues above, firstly by giving everyone greater access for lower prices and secondly have all countries collaborate to create a new, globally agreed upon, Copyright Law that is also designed to allow more leniency towards using material for the purposes of non-profit creativity.

 

Lower Prices

This part of my solution is something we have already started to see with many companies beginning to introduce limited time, or subscription, licencing. I mentioned above about Photoshop being one of the most pirated pieces of software ever made, I believe this was mainly because of its price, now however, you can gain unlimited private use of the latest version of Photoshop, Photoshop CC, for a mere NZ$11.08 (13th April 2016) per month. By Adobe doing this, all of a sudden, their “overpriced” software is completely affordable to the average user, I mean really, how many full-time workers in the “developed” world can’t afford NZ$2.77 a week? Microsoft’s Office 365 is another example of this type of licencing being used for software.

When it comes to videography (TV Series, Movies, Documentaries, etc.) there are a number of companies working towards this goal but, at the moment, the major player is Netflix. At only NZ$12.99 per month for “all you can eat” streaming, it’s extremely affordable and it’s easy to see why many people are ditching SKY in favour of Netflix because, for the most part, it gives them more convenient access to all the content they really want.

This approach is not limited to Video either, Spotify is an example of another great step forward for the Music Industry and this can even be used for free, if you don’t mind the ads and limitations, otherwise, once again it’s only $12.99 per month for their premium “all you can eat” streaming and, in many cases, the premium service is included as part of your mobile plan. I personally know multiple people who have basically replaced the stock music app on their phones with Spotify.

The greatest limitation with Netflix and Spotify at this point in time is that, mainly due to conflicts with Copyright and licensing, not everything is available everywhere, this is where the second part of my solution, a globalised Copyright Law, would come in.

 

Globalised Copyright Law

This is probably way too much to ask of the world, I mean seriously, just getting all of us to agree on not killing or bombing each other still seems like a massive pipe dream, so when it comes to thinking about getting all of us to agree on a single law that we would all abide by, well, for the sake of this blog, let’s just hypothesize.

When you compare the content available on Netflix between countries such as America and New Zealand, you will find that, in comparison, America have much greater access to content. This is mostly due to varying license agreements related to different Copyright Laws between these countries, it’s possible to use VPN and DNS “hacks” to gain access to another countries service but by doing this you’re actually breaching Copyright, even though you’re paying and that money is still going to the rightful license holders, crazy right? Unifying the Copyright Laws could grant all countries access to the exact same content without the licensing complications.

Simply unifying the laws wouldn’t be enough though, not for the ever-expanding use of the internet. Think about the number of people who remix videos and songs for nothing more than their own entertainment or even just practice, many of these people only share these works to receive feedback on how they can improve, if the use is not for profit then I don’t feel this should be classed as infringement, especially when the remix quite often draws more interest to the original artist.

This is where I think something similar to the Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial license should be mandatory for anything being shared on the internet (let’s face it, what isn’t these days?) and instead of licensing being hidden in the fine print, it should be displayed clearly. Doing this would make it simple for people to identify if the creator is happy to have their work modified and re-shared freely or not.

This solution, however, would only work to reduce the amount of piracy and unintentional infringements because, I believe, no matter what laws are introduced or how affordable you make something, there is always going to be someone who cannot justify the cost and, therefore, piracy will probably always exist in some form. Another point to note is that, as I said above, for this solution to even stand a chance, the whole world would have to be able to agree not to kill or bomb each other first.

Maybe the problem is you

Everyone knows what a bias is right? Even my 8-year-old niece knows how to explain the basic concept, but what about all the different types of bias? I for one had no idea there was so many! And every single one of them can affect your ability to make decisions or solve problems. But it’s not just your biases that can affect your decision-making and problem-solving skills, your natural method of thinking can play a large role as well, is the devil in the details or, are details everything?

In this post, I will be covering how both of these aspects affect me personally.

 

You can do better, it will drive you mad though.

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licdn.com – 07/04/2016

I decided to read through the list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia to get ideas and while going through this list I noticed a large number of them that I think apply to me. I noticed even more of them which made me think “I’d never be like that!” but that’s the interesting thing about having a confirmation bias, my ability to determine whether I have a bias or not could be affected by the perception I have of myself and my own beliefs.

While going through this list however, there was one that really stuck out at me, one that I am beyond certain I have, one that affects me every day, even right now as I’m writing this post. I’m talking about The Worse-Than-Average Effect.

The Worse-Than-Average Effect is a negative bias towards oneself, a mind state that causes you to judge yourself in an overly harsh manner, this type of self-judgement makes you underestimate yourself or your abilities and feel like other people can or will do a better job of something. In most instances this bias is highly counterproductive but in some cases it can actually work to my advantage.

Problem solving in a group or just sharing my ideas in general is where this is most counterproductive, although I may have a really good idea or even multiple good ideas the first thing I do is judge them in my mind and, because of this bias, my natural assumption is that anyone else’s idea will be better than mine so, instead of sharing them, I keep them to myself.

When it comes to completing some tasks this type of self-judging can actually lead me to be more productive because, generally, it forces me to complete said tasks to a much higher standard than I would have initially. As much as the end result can be a good thing, the reason behind it can also be negative, the primary driver for this extra productivity is that, to me, nothing is ever good enough to compete and so, everything always requires more work, meaning that nothing is ever finished.

 

The Overall vs The Nitty Gritty

ideas2011

amazonaws.com – 04/07/2016

Big Picture or Detail focused? This is something I’ve never put a considerable amount of thought into, and the more I’ve thought about it and researched the two types of thinking, the more confused I have become about how I could possibly place myself into a single one of these categories.

After doing my own research, reading and completing some quizzes I started to think I actually use a mixture of both. There is a large number of books and articles explaining the main characteristics of each style which, for the most part, are all pretty similar. This should have made it easy for me to determine, but it didn’t. I found I could only fit myself into half of each style, meanwhile, the other half seemed nothing like me.

I began to wonder if this may be due to a confirmation bias so I decided to try some quizzes, I was reluctant to do this at first because, when it comes to online quizzes, there’s no guarantee of their credibility and after doing more than one I realised they served no purpose but to confuse me even further, the first quiz told me I was detail orientated but the second quiz told me I was a big picture person and finally, the third quiz said I’m a 50/50 split, confusing stuff!

Marks demonstration of “Two Little Dickie Birds” could be used as a measure to determine which category you fall into, depending on whether you saw him change fingers or not, so after profoundly confusing myself with books, quizzes, and the Internet, I’m going to assume that I’m primarily a Big Picture thinker for literally no other reason apart from the fact that I noticed the change in his fingers. I still think I pay great attention to detail as well though.

The reason I think this is because, as attributed to Big Picture thinkers, I often come up with elaborate plans and ideas but, as attributed to Detail Orientated thinkers, I’m usually also the one who picks all of the holes in them by thinking about the finer details and it’s only after I’ve done this that I will actually support and follow through with my own idea.

 

Slow and Steady

too-many-thoughts

http://swanwaters.com – 07/04/2016

Now as you can probably imagine all of this extra thinking takes time, and it does. Problem-solving is not a fast or easy process for me and, as you can probably also imagine, this lends itself to many problems, particularly when it comes to situations that require fast paced thinking which is, well, almost every situation in life. When you add the Worse-Than-Average effect on top of this, it makes the process even worse.

An example of how this affects me is when the statement “Let’s go around the room and share our ideas” is used, I absolutely DREAD this, usually not because I have no ideas but because I tend to have too many. While everyone is busy rattling off their ideas, I’m busy trying to sort through all of my bigger ideas, breaking each one down into details then analysing those details all the while searching for a reason that idea is not good enough before moving onto the next one, by the time it gets to my turn to share I either share nothing or I simply share whichever idea I’m currently in the middle of overthinking, either way, I end up feeling as though I’ve made myself look much less intelligent than I actually am, which in turn contributes even more to the hold my Worse-Than-Average bias has on me.

 

To wrap things up

CONDOMwrapperFINAL

shopify.com – 07/04/2016

In conclusion, your personal biases and way of thinking can have a major impact on your ability to solve problems and make decisions, although being able to think Big Picture and in Detail is often a desirable trait I have learnt that finding a way to let go of my worst bias and learning to control my thinking more efficiently or tailoring it to each situation could enhance my ability to problem solve tremendously.

The Road to Reshaping Reality

headache-puppy-m

painscience.com – 07/04/2016

When Clare said “Prepare for a bit of brain-ache” I don’t think she was kidding. Out of all the posts so far, this post has probably been the hardest for me to complete (apart from maybe the treaty post), mainly because it beckons me to attempt answering an age old question that, so far, has no conceivable or singular answer but also because it involves something I have a fairly negative and pessimistic view about. On the plus side, however, it also involves something that’s really caught my attention and makes me truly excited about the future of IT.

 

So what is REAL, Really?

There is no ‘real’ answer to this question, no answer is right but at the same time, no answer is wrong. Being that I’m person who likes things in black and white you could say when it comes to answering this question, for me, the struggle is real.

Perception – “the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.” (Google – 01/04/2016)

Reality – “the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” (Google – 01/04/2016)

So what is real? Such a complicated question deserves an equally complicated answer, I believe that ‘real’ is merely your perception of reality. Everyone is different and consequently, everyone will perceive things differently from one another, therefore, everything is real but, at the same time, nothing is real.

What is my perception? I honestly don’t know, this is a question I’ve been asking myself for as long as I can remember, you’d think by now I should have a pretty good answer but, in all honesty, I don’t. I could say I think evolution is a real process, I could say I think emotions are real, I think what I can see, smell, hear, touch and taste are real but as it was so elegantly put in The Matrix:

“If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/quotes – 01/04/2016)

If our reality is actually nothing more than a process within our brains then I believe now, more than ever, those processes are beginning to be manipulated and challenged in pursuit of a technology that can truly reshape our perception of reality.

“Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

Neo: There is no spoon?

Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/quotes – 01/04/2016)

 

Answering the Third Question Second

Oculus Rift: The next big thing! Or is it?

stamp-895383_640-624x167

mandybrasher.com – 07/04/2016

In my opinion, no. This is a piece of technology that, for some reason, has a lot of people really excited. I say ‘for some reason’ because personally, I just don’t see what all the fuss is about, at least for general consumers anyway. I was lucky enough to try an Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR through my work but honestly, even before I tried them, they did nothing at all to ‘spin my wheels’

“most people won’t want to stumble around in their extremely confined space filled with sharp-edged furniture wearing a cumbersome blindfold, trying to stave off motion sickness long enough to shoot an alien.” (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/06/17/editorial-why-vr-is-going-to-be-an-enormous-flop/ – 01/04/2016)

I implore you to also read the article I took this quote from, not only is it entertaining and informative but it also explains all of my feelings towards VR headsets in general and more. Though for me, the worst part about feeling this way is, because of where I work, I’m expected to sell these products.

However, this point of view is aimed purely at the use of these products in the domestic market because I can definitely see it having much greater potential in the commercial market from businesses doing things such as video conferences to education providers using it in the classroom.

 

Back to the real question

Do I think the Oculus Rift will have a life outside of games? For the domestic market, once again, no. Personally, I don’t think the Oculus Rift will have a life in the future at all. Does this mean I don’t think virtual reality, in general, won’t have a place in the future either? Not necessarily, in fact, I believe it does has very real potential to become an integral part of our everyday lives, I’m just not convinced that these types of VR Headsets will be the technology to make that happen.

Even though I can see how the Oculus Rift could and probably will have commercial uses, the reason I don’t think it will really take off in these areas either is because what I’m about to cover in the next section will, in my opinion, be able to do a much better job of it.

 

Microsoft HoloLens

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img.com – 07/04/2016

Now this is a technology that’s had me really excited from the moment I first saw one of the concept videos, my mind immediately started running wild with ideas about its future potential and, in my opinion, this is the first step towards ‘VR done right’ this type of Augmented Reality just looks like conventional VR on steroids, combining the ‘real’ world with the virtual one and allowing you to interact with both, simultaneously.

I say it’s only the first step though because, as amazing as the concept looks from the outside, after seeing multiple reviews about the actual experience, while still seemingly impressive, like many new technologies it does not sound like it’s actually as amazing as it was initially made out to be. On the plus side, they can all see the very real potential and with further refinement, this kind of technology could really define computing in our future.

But what if HoloLens actually was to see widespread use?

 

The Good Stuff

Freedom!

Facebook-like

digiday.com – 07/04/2016

No longer would we be confined to sitting down to use our computers and isolating ourselves from those around us when we stare at our screens. With HoloLens our computing could be done from literally anywhere, picture this:

‘You’re sitting in your lounge writing a blog post, you look outside and it’s a beautiful sunny day, you need to keep working but you decide you would much rather be outside in the sunshine, so, you get up and walk outside and on your way out, your work follows you, floating in your peripheral vision, then once you’re outside bathing in that glorious sunlight you ‘pin’ your work to the side of your house and carry on. Suddenly a message from your friend appears, they’re asking to hang out so you can study together, you’ve both been drinking so neither of you can drive, but that’s not a problem you can virtually teleport to each other, instantly they’re standing right next to you, you can both talk freely to each other, you can even draw your ideas in the air and pass them back and forward.’

This is just one example relating to the new level of freedom we could take advantage of with this type of technology, which leads me straight to my next idea…

 

Health benefits

This might seem like an oddball idea but think about it, the number of health issues we can develop as a direct result of spending too much time sitting in general, let alone hunched over a computer, is phenomenal, a major one is poor posture which can lead to multiple problems with our backs, necks, and shoulders, it can even cause serious respiratory issues, among many other things. Sitting too much has actually also been linked to developing Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, it can even take years off your life!

Some of these issues are not just a result of being confined to sitting at a computer either, many similar issues can be developed with the use of smartphones and tablets as well

“Looking down at your smartphone, with your chin to your chest, can put about [27 Kilograms] of force on your neck” (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/03/text-neck-is-smartphone-use-causing-your-neck-pain/ 01/04/2016)

If HoloLens became our primary method of computing it could really help to negate these ever increasing health issues by giving us the freedom we need to get up out of our seats, keep our heads held high, get our bodies moving and truly start working on the go.

 

The not so Good Stuff

Health… issues?

facebook-dislike

socialmediasun.com – 07/04/2016

This is purely speculation on my part but as much as I can see potential health benefits of HoloLens, I can also see potential health issues, more specifically, problems developing with our eyes

 “Users wearing HoloLens will be able to see holographic images overlaid onto real objects in front of them (which are projected by laser directly into their eyes).” (http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/132945-best-vr-headsets-to-buy-in-2016-whatever-your-budget – 01/04/2016)

I don’t know about you but to me, the idea of having lasers directed straight into my eyes sounds pretty nasty. I’m positive they’re putting a lot of effort and research into making sure this is as safe and healthy as currently possible for our eyesight but even so, without prolonged widespread use it’s really hard to say what these lasers might do to our vision in the long run.

 

Increased Isolation

In the world we live in today we have never been so connected with other people, but as much as we are connected we often find ourselves much more isolated. The Holoportation feature of the HoloLens appears to be designed to bridge the gap between traditional communication and the digital communication that often leaves us so isolated, however, this technology could actually prove to make this gap even wider.

I would pose this question to you: if given the choice of going to visit someone at their house for a conversation or simply Holoporting them to your house, which would you choose?

I personally know quite a few people who would choose the latter. These people already do everything they can to not leave their houses, they work from home and all their purchasing is online with delivery, including their groceries! Even though the Holoportation experience would be more personal than a text message or phone call, ultimately it would leave most of them alone more often than they are already and for some of them, well, they would probably never leave the house, at all.

 

Theatre Time

This is a video that covers multiple aspects of AR technology including current uses such as in cars, what’s in development that could implement this technology more directly into our everyday lives such as the HoloLens and another company called Magic Leap who are using Digital Light Field Technology instead of stereoscopic 3D to bring AR into our worlds, but most importantly it covers what might be possible in the future.

The reasons I picked this video are all in the description, I love cars and the ‘Heads up Display’ shown in this video is similar to something I’ve actually seen before and it is fricken AWESOME! It also shows an alternative technology to the HoloLens which, by description, sounds much more advanced and potentially more powerful, even though this is still only in the concept stages it could be another major step forward to more realism with AR. Finally, what we could see in the future, what’s being researched right now, a potential solution to the largest problem with all of the technologies above… Contact Lenses, this concept above anything else is what really gets me excited about this technology, if this is successfully developed it could fix the fundamental issue that could see all of these current technologies fail: Plain and simple, people don’t like wearing **** on their face.

 

Just for fun

More from Microsoft

 

And Magic Leap in Action

The Internet’s Own Boy

In this post, I will be covering a documentary called “The Internet’s Own Boy” which is about a man named Aaron Swartz and the triumphs he experienced but also the “crime” he committed which led to massive criminal charges being laid against him and ultimately drove him to take his own life.

 

What did he do that got him into trouble?

Aaron was caught on camera using a script he had written and his Acer laptop, which he had hardwired to the MIT network, to download the entire archive of academic records from JSTOR. He was caught and arrested on the 6th of January 2011

 

What were the possible motives mentioned in the film for his so-called “crime”?

There were three main motives that were mentioned:

  1. To start a new website to compete with JSTOR and sell the files for profit.
  2. To liberate the information for the developing world, or simply make the information free to access for everyone. As he suggests it should be in his “Gorilla Open Access Manifesto” blog post
  3. For a personal research project, to analyse the database in search of a connection between corporately funded research and biased results, much like he had done previously with the West Law Legal Database

 

What does each motive imply from a MOREL and LEGAL point of view?

Competing Website

I believe, starting a competing website for profit would be wrong both morally and legally, I would see this as morally wrong for the same reason I find the idea of JSTOR morally wrong, I share Aarons belief that this information should be free and open to access for anyone in the world, I feel that effectively this information has already been stolen from the people that actually created it and the idea of copying that information just to sell it on for his own profit is disgusting, however, I strongly disagree that he was trying to do this.

From a legal standpoint, like any of the other motives, this is considered theft, he stole the “property” of JSTOR, and if he had the intention to sell it he would be selling fraudulent copies of stolen files. Even so the legal charges against him were ridiculously harsh.

 

Liberation

I feel that liberating the information for everyone is not morally wrong at all and that it should not be legally wrong either but unfortunately, it is still considered illegal.

“Money is a means to get wealth, not the wealth itself.” – Akala (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh03JO6EFjo – 29/03/2016)

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.” – Aaron Swartz (https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt – 29/03/2016)

Above are two quotes that, in my opinion, outline this problem from my personal moral standpoint. If we look at the first quote, the idea behind it is that true wealth is really knowledge, so, money is a means to get knowledge, not the knowledge itself. Now if we combine these quotes and consider that knowledge can only be gained through information, knowledge is also power, but in the world we live in, we need money to gain access to the information required to increase our knowledge, and lots of it. My personal belief is that the world should not operate this way, I think we would be a much more advanced civilisation by now if everyone had open access to the wealth of information that is currently being held by these large corporations. Especially if you consider the fact that, if we stop overthinking with a biased mind, many advanced problems can be solved with a surprisingly simple solution and these simple solutions are often initially thought of by people that have no experience in the field. I could probably write an entire novel on my point of view surrounding this subject but for the sake of Craig’s eyes and keeping this post as short as possible I will leave my moral views on this motive at that.

As I outlined in the “Competing website” section, I believe this is really a sub-crime that has been committed against the real thief’s who have, in my opinion, stolen these files not only from their creators but from the world. Unfortunately, however, JSTOR have the legal rights to these files and, from a legal standpoint, what Aaron did is still considered theft of their property with intent to distribute fraudulent copies of it. Once again, however, I feel the charges were too great for the “crime”.

 

Personal Research

From a moral standpoint, I believe this motive sits somewhat between the other two and in a way it would seem this is what Aaron believed as well

“Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.” (https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt – 29/03/2016)

This would imply that if he truly intended not to share any of those files, and planned to keep all of them to himself for personal research, by his own words he would have to call himself someone who was blinded by greed and once again, by his own words

“But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative.” (https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt – 29/03/2016)

He would be going against his own morals. This may have been what led prosecutors to react (or overreact) the way they did but as I stated above, I agree with Aaron wholeheartedly, these files should be shared freely with everyone.

From a legal standpoint however, once again regardless of the motive this is considered theft in the eyes of the law, gaining illegal access to paid documents, but from a moral standpoint on the legal side this motive served to be the least harmful (if harmful at all) to JSTOR, meaning the decision to prosecute should have been in the hands of JSTOR, not the government, but from JSTORs statement:

“It was the government’s decision whether to prosecute, not JSTOR’s. As noted previously, our interest was in securing the content. Once this was achieved, we had no interest in this becoming an ongoing legal matter.” (http://about.jstor.org/news/jstor-statement-misuse-incident-and-criminal-case – 29/03/2016)

We can see that this was not the case and if it was, the charges should have been dropped.

 

Why was understanding his motives so important?

While all of the charges, in my opinion, were well beyond reason, understanding his motives could have affected the charges that were being laid against him, or potentially dismissed them altogether.

 

How many charges did this end up giving him?

If you approach an idea with a biased mind, you’ll get a biased result. This is the approach the prosecutors took with Aarons case and subsequently they aimed to prosecute him with the most charges they could, decided by their way of thinking, that the first motive was the only possible motive.

This had Aaron facing a total of 13 charges, 2 charges of Wire Fraud and 11 charges for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 1986 (CFAA) which could have landed him up to 35 years imprisonment and a fine of up to one million US dollars.

 

What was wrong with the SOPA bill?

It threatened to violate our human rights, particularly relating to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression. It also would have given law enforcement the power to disable or cut off entire websites for one small breach of copyright on a single page. In short, it had the potential to literally break the internet.

 

Why did it look like the bill would be impossible to stop from passing?

In America the passing of a bill is usually decided by the financial support behind it rather than what actually matters, the people’s opinion and the amount of political and economic support for the bill was much greater than that of the opposition.

 

What were some of the significant factors that helped raise awareness for dismissing the SOPA bill?

The “Demand Progress” website was a great first step which gave people an easy way to sign the petition against the bill and also gave them an easy way to contact congress via “Voice over IP (VoIP)” and share their opinion.

Another significant factor was the media coverage and the ridicule some presenters gave the members of congress who supported the bill even though they had no idea what it could do.

The media coverage and “Demand Progress” website was a good start but one of the most significant factors that led to the bill failing to pass was the coordinated “Service Blackout” on January 18, 2012. The main website that was mentioned in the documentary was Wikipedia and there was a short clip displaying Reddit’s blackout page, and although not mentioned in the documentary, another major website that got onboard with the blackout was internet giant Google, not to the same extent mind you. There was also approximately another 7000 websites that participated in the blackout. All of the websites involved in the blackout helped direct people to sign the petition against the SOPA bill.

 

What’s the important message about this victory to those of us in the “new world”?

In a way, it’s a David and Goliath message. It doesn’t matter how big your opponent is if you have the heart and the drive you can take them down. It really goes to show that if you feel strongly enough about something you can make a difference if you try, and more people should stand up for what they believe in.

 

“Bringing public access to the public domain”, “books are our cultural legacy”.  What do these statements have to do with Aaron Swartz’s passion?

I will re-use a quote from above

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.” – Aaron Swartz (https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt – 29/03/2016)

Aaron loved reading, he knew reading was a great way to gain information and he believed information is power. What was most important however was that he also believed this information should be free and open to access for everyone.

 

What does this question have to do with Jack Andraka?

The above clip of an article explains it all. If it had not been for his free access to academic research journals Jack Andraka would not have been able to develop his early pancreatic cancer test. If Aaron’s vision was to come true and everyone had free access to all of the online journals currently available this kind of breakthrough could potentially be happening Every. Single. Day.

 

What’s the most important question on this list? Why?

This is a hard question to answer because, personally, I think they are all important. If I really had to pick one I would say that the most important question on the list is actually this one, why? Because it’s the one question that really implores us to think about every other question in more detail, it’s the question that makes all of us ask ourselves a whole host of extra questions about all of the others, like; why is this question important?, what is it that actually makes this question so important? And, is it really the question itself or is it the answer that truly makes it important?

 

If this question doesn’t count as an answer then one of my next choices would be “Why was understanding his motives so important” because, although the overall outcome was good with the introduction of “Aarons Law” the events that led to this were tragic and a horrific display of injustice, if his real motive had been determined and was subsequently considered while laying the charges, the same end result could have been achieved except without the loss of such a great mind and inspirational person.

 

In a tied equal I think the question “what does this question have to do with Jack Andraka” is very important, partly because my answer supports my own beliefs but also because Andraka appears to support Aarons beliefs regarding free access to information, which is something I feel that we should all strive for.

“My research should serve as a testament to free online research (…) it was hard to get what I needed without the costs. People should take note and because of this project, we should make a move toward more inexpensive or free online research” – Jack Andraka (http://www.vancouverobserver.com/world/how-aaron-swartz-paved-way-jack-andrakas-revolutionary-cancer-test – 29/03/2016)

Throw away your RAM!

IMG_8055

wikispaces.com 23/03/2016

What would you say if I told you that an average computer having Terabytes of RAM may not be as impossible or ridiculous as it sounds? Personally, my first reaction would be that although probably not impossible it would still be ridiculous, being that most consumers don’t even need 8 Gigabytes of RAM, to say that consumers having Terabytes of RAM is INSANE overkill, would be a major understatement.

But what if I told you that computers of the future may not even need RAM at all? Now that’s a crazy idea but it’s a crazy idea that Intel and Micron’s new 3D Xpoint Technology (pronounced 3D cross-point) has the potential to turn into a reality.

 

 

Before we go any further

Anyone that knows about computer hardware will understand why RAM has been a fundamental component in computer operation, basically, since the very beginning of computer architecture. Not everyone has this understanding though so before explaining how Intel’s new technology may soon make RAM obsolete let me explain the current purpose of RAM.

 

So why do we currently need RAM?

hqdefault

i.ytimg.com 23/06/2016

Answering this question in its entirety could make my post very large, super technical and hard to understand, to avoid that I will explain in laymen’s terms, RAM is like the middleman between a CPU and the storage media, to make a computer work a CPU must communicate with the storage media, the problem is, CPUs, especially modern ones, are super-fast but in comparison all current storage media is extremely slow, even the fastest SSD on the market pales in comparison to the speed of a modern CPU, this is where RAM comes in.

 

 

1c5f3bd1ae7d265412fe2387faee05e0

examiner.com 23/03/2016

Without RAM, your computer would be frustratingly slow, instead of waiting seconds you could be waiting minutes (possible estimation or exaggeration) to do just about anything. That’s why we need RAM, it’s a really fast type of storage that interacts between your super-fast CPU and your slow HDD/SSD. So to make your computer nice and snappy everything you “open” is copied from your slow storage to your RAM and run from there, every file, every program, even your Operating System, so when you’re waiting for a program to “open” or your operating system to “boot up” you’re actually just waiting for it to be copied to your RAM.

 

 

The problems with RAM

Vol

intel.com 23/03/2016

One problem is that it’s a type of memory called volatile which means in order to keep anything stored it needs to have an electrical current running through it, without non-volatile storage shutting your computer down would mean losing all your data, that’s why we currently need HDD’s and SSD’s, they’re really there just to store everything while our computers are turned off.

Another problem with RAM is that it’s really expensive to manufacture, especially in large capacities, for example in March 2016 the price of a 128GB SSD generally starts at under $90NZD but the cheapest 128GB RAM kit is almost $2000NZD! So in terms of capacity, RAM is around 22 times more expensive than storage!

 

To back up this information regarding what RAM does you could ask Neil who teaches us this in CSA501, you could read this article (which I haven’t actually read but am pretty sure will cover most of what I have), OR you could rely on my years of experience selling computers and having to answer this question on a daily basis, I’ll leave that up to you =)

 

What if there was a memory just as fast as RAM but high capacity, non-volatile AND cheap to manufacture?

Xpoint

intel.com 23/03/2016

Take the spotlight, 3D Xpoint. In my opinion, this is a truly innovative form of memory that has the potential to completely revolutionize the way computers will operate in the future.

 

Speed

3D Xpoint has been estimated to be able to operate at speeds in excess of 20 Gigabytes per second (GB/s), Yes Gigabytes, not Gigabits. When you consider that consumer grade RAM usually operates at somewhere between 9GB/s and 20GB/s, and the fastest SSD available operates at a mere 2.5GB/s, it’s safe to say that 3D Xpoint is bloody fast!

(See Here and Here)

 

Capacity

branchcap

epaathsala.com 23/03/2016

I mentioned above about a $2000NZD 128GB RAM kit, well this kit is actually made up of eight separate 16GB DIMMs. A company called SK Hynix do manufacture a single DIMM with a 128GB capacity but unless you can afford to sacrifice both of your kidneys, lungs and your liver you’ll probably never afford one, amazingly however 3D Xpoint stands to make 128GB look small!

How? Well with 3D Xpoint 128GB will be the capacity of a single die and being that you can fit multiple dies on a single DIMM… well, you should be able to guess what that means. At Storage Visions 2016, Intel and Micron claimed that so far this technology will allow for up to 6TB of system memory in a single system.

 

Cost

So far no pricing has been announced, all that’s been stated is that from a “dollar per gigabyte” perspective 3D Xpoint will be cheaper to manufacture than current system memory solutions, making the cost somewhere between RAM and SSD’s. Though, it seems we won’t have to wait much longer to find out, Intel plan to release the first version to market sometime this year (2016) in the form of an SSD.

 

 

Theoretical Implications

In knowing the purpose of RAM what would it mean if we could cut out the middleman? What if storage was truly fast enough to interact with the CPU directly? It would mean more speed, A LOT more speed, in fact you’d never have to wait for a program or file to “open” ever again because, technically, everything would be “open” and ready to go, all the time, even the largest programs would “snap” on screen instantly. It would also mean that “booting up” and “shutting down” could be redefined to simply “on” or “off”.

Another major advantage of working from non-volatile memory is that an unexpected power cut would no longer mean losing everything you’ve done since your last save, once the power come back on you would be able to pick up exactly where you left off, instantly. In fact, the idea of having to “save” your work every 30 seconds “just in case” could even become irrelevant.

 

As the old saying goes, this is the biggest thing since sliced NAND

Or is it bread? Oh well, the saying is not really important, what is important is exactly why this is such an innovative and revolutionary technology. Apart from the fact that it stands to change the entire architecture of computers as we know it, this is the first major breakthrough in computer memory the world has seen in over 25 years! The last major breakthrough was “NAND flash memory” which was first introduced way back in 1989 by Dr. Fujio Masuoka.

History.PNG

intel.com 23/03/2016

 

The problem with NAND is that even though it’s been around for almost 3 decades and has been extensively researched to make it much faster and a lot cheaper, in comparison to RAM it is still incredibly slow and although it has definitely come down in price (particularly over the last 3 years) it is still relatively expensive to manufacture. 3D Xpoint, on the other hand, is proclaimed to be the holy grail of memory in modern computing, because, it meets the 3 ultimate goals of a memory standard: super-fast, cheap to manufacture and non-volatile. While, in the past, other memory solutions (Such as DRAM and NAND) have managed to meet one or two of these goals, creating a single memory solution that meets all three has been all but impossible, until now.

 

So maybe I’m getting ahead of myself

As an aspiring IT professional, it’s in my best interest to be aware of technological breakthroughs in the industry and to my benefit, or possibly my downfall, all of these breakthroughs tend to excite me, quite a lot. I’m particularly excited about this technology because it could fundamentally change the dynamics of how a PC works, which is something that hasn’t really changed very much for as long as I can remember.

The problem with my personal excitement about this technology is that it could be clouding my perception of it, especially taking into consideration that it hasn’t even been released yet and as we know technology is often over-hyped prior to release which usually leads to a lot of disappointment when it finally launches, and even with the pre-release hype it’s not without its flaws or potential problems.

 

It sounds so amazing, what could possibly go wrong!?

Well, a lot actually. In this section, I’ll explain some of the potential issues I can see.

 

History often repeats itself

history

govhack.org 23/03/2016

Anyone that’s been around long enough to remember (I haven’t but, in this case, it’s lucky that the Internet never forgets) Intel has been in the memory market before, producing a memory called RDRAM, the largest problem that eventually led to the downfall of this standard was the proprietary design which meant higher costs and relatively low adoption, especially in comparison to the much cheaper and more common DRAM, which is actually what we still use today.

So far Intel seems poised to make exactly the same mistake as they plan to keep 3D Xpoint proprietary as well. It’s yet to be seen whether this will mean 3D Xpoint fails in the same way RDRAM did but it’s definitely a possibility. One that hinges on how willing other companies are to jump on board this time around.

 

Everything would have to change

Every Operating System, every program, literally every piece of code has been designed and written to work with the current architecture, even when using a RAMDisk the data is still copied to the other portion of the RAM to be read by the CPU. In order to really combine storage and RAM, everything would have to be re-written to work that way, apart from the fact that not many people would want to do this, many people are completely unsure about how it would even work. The limitations of current designs and conventional thinking make this seem like a daunting or even impossible task.

 

At the moment, there are only two types of connection that can handle the speed of 3D Xpoint, one of them is PCIe, however, the current version will be pushed to its limits, which would make speed increases for 3D Xpoint dependant on new versions of PCIe. Another problem with PCIe would be latency. The second connection type is DDR4, it has plenty of headroom to play with, very low latency and it would stick with the theme of combining storage with RAM, however, this would be unconventional and probably require changes to the current DDR4 framework. The only other option would be to develop an entirely new connection but the amount of extra research required to do that would be phenomenal.

 

It’s fast… but can they make it fast enough?

he__s_not_gonna_make_it____by_soulaura777-d1xuusb

deviantart.com 23/03/2016

Ordinary RAM is constantly getting faster, most notably for me over the last 4 years RAM has made some incredible advances, in this time I have been working in electronics retail and have watched the average RAM found in a consumer machine more than double in speed (not to mention capacity) and it is definitely set to continue improving. Although 3D Xpoint can match the speeds of RAM now, whether or not it will be able to keep up, or even surpass them, is another story and potentially another reason it will never replace RAM.

 

 

There’s a lot of confusion, theories, and speculation

nobody_o_861872

memecdn.com 23/03/2016

There are so many thoughts and ideas about what this technology could be used for, in fact, most of this post consists of my personal opinion about what 3D Xpoint could be capable of in the future, but apart from Intel and Micron, nobody actually knows what the end goal is. Will it be a new form of SSD, will it be a new form of RAM, will they remain two separate products or will it truly be able to combine the two? All we know is that it will only be available as an SSD at first but Intel and Micron are working on DDR4 DIMMs, what they have not told us is whether these DIMMs will replace the SSD’s or be an entirely separate product.

 

 

Conclusion

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staticflickr.com 23/03/2016

In conclusion, we are potentially on the verge of a groundbreaking new technology, if it can live up to the hype that’s been created around it that is, but whether it will truly be able to live up to its expectations is still yet to be seen. All I know is that, personally, I won’t be ditching my RAM just yet.

 

 

Some links to look at

https://www.micron.com/about/emerging-technologies/3d-xpoint-technology

https://newsroom.intel.com/news-releases/intel-and-micron-produce-breakthrough-memory-technology/

https://newsroom.intel.com/press-kits/introducing-intel-optane-technology-bringing-3d-xpoint-memory-to-storage-and-memory-products/

http://www.intelsalestraining.com/memorytimeline/?_ga=1.180331300.1020121886.1458532559

http://www.intelsalestraining.com/memorytimeline/?_ga=1.184977065.1020121886.1458532559

http://www.nextplatform.com/2015/10/28/intel-shows-off-3d-xpoint-memory-performance/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2953816/storage/what-3d-xpoint-says-about-the-pc-of-the-future.html