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Coming from a small island in the Caribbean where Thanksgiving is not part of our yearly calendar had me reflecting a lot on the meaning of Thanksgiving. For years the television led me to believe that Thanksgiving is all about family. A time for family members to come together and share a meal. A time where turkey’s were cooked and topped with cranberry and everyone laughed and chatted for hours.

Yet it seems that family time is slowly fading away or is it? Has Cyber deals taken over? Has Thanksgiving become more commercial than family? I sat back and looked at all the ads advertising deals and reduced prices for various stores. I went through my email and was amazed at the number of emails. Twitter was blowing up. All media sources seemed to be more about the sales and the deals than the family. I drove past Best Buy and Walmart and there was almost no parking! I wondered; isn’t tonight thanksgiving? Why are so many people outside waiting to devour the deals instead of being inside devouring turkey? Then came along Cyber Monday.More social media letting us know about the latest new prices. And we went crazy again looking for deals. Its amazing to me how persons would stand in line for hours just to buy a TV which was reduced by only $100! Don’t get me wrong; saving $100 is amazing when you think of how far that money could go. But standing in line for two hours just to pay for the TV and then another two just to pick it up? It cannot be that serious!

The Internet really does impact our lives even in the simplest ways. It is now slowly but surely creeping into what should be family time. But do we blame the Internet or do we blame the sales outlets or do we blame ourselves? Depends on your perspective I guess. Whichever way we look at it, I must say that sitting at home while munching on some turkey and cyber shopping Thanksgiving deals was amazing!!

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We are all aware of the many social media sites that exist. From Facebook to Twitter to RSS Feeds we are constantly and daily bombarded with social media. It is almost as if we cannot get away from it. Truthfully? You can’t!

Social media tools are the largest tool kit that one can buy. Most times we don’t even have to buy it! With a few clicks and a few entering of information we are well on our way to becoming a media tool guru. But how do you use it? How does it incooperate into your daily life? Do you use it everyday? Once a week? What do you use these tools for: good or bad or just for fun or is it for work? So many questions so many diverse answers. Maybe if I tell you how I use social media tools you will get an insight into them all and can then correctly evaluate yourself.

Prior to my Internet and Society class, I had many of these media tools. From LinkedIn to Twitter I was part of this world. Come to think of it, I’ll be honest: my email address was part of these tools sites not me! Yet during this semester I realized just how beneficial these tools are! Take Word Press for example. I have used it before as the Chair of CSO’s Newsletter Committee yet I never used it personally to blog. I had Twitter because one night I was bored and playing around with my Android smartphone. Google + I had because I wanted to see what it was like. Facebook..well…everyone has one but to me I had exhausted myself off of Facebook. The changes on there no longer made it appealing to me. LinkedIn..hmmm..yes I had one but I never even built a profile. I was just another empty page with only my name. As a teaching assistant I realized, flash drives can get lost or I could get so busy with classes that I forget to type up a quiz. Thank goodness for Google Docs! I could sit in class or on the bus or having lunch and type a document right off my phone and know that it will still be there when I got to a computer! Tech geek? maybe! Inspired? Oh yea!

My Internet and Society class also helped me to go beyond being just an email address on these internet tool sites. I am now a fan! I have developed a knack for blogging. I constantly look for ways to change up my Word Press blog. I go through Twitter looking for interesting articles and finding new persons or accounts that interest me. Then let’s not mention all the updates on what’s happening in the world! I sit in the morning and go through my RSS feed looking at news items that I would not otherwise have seen since I am at school.

Keeping the line of communication open is an amazing experience. Finding new ways to grow in a world gone tech savvy is so beneficial. Everything is online! So how does these tools benefit your life? How do you use them?

PS: Did anyone else notice how the interface of Word Press changed?? Awesome!

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With the invention of the Internet there is so much that can be done. So much to do on there that it sometimes feel like there is very little time! It sometimes feel like some persons attempt to reach the “end of the Internet!” But what happens when technology intertwines with the workplace? Is it okay for us to take a “technology break” every now and again?

As I’ve pointed out before, technology has greatly advanced the workplace and society. It has made life much easier for us and has allowed tasks which would have been long and tiring a lot shorter and more efficient and accurate. technology has also greatly improved communication skills and the ease at which one can communicate with others globally. So props to all the inventors and hard working technology gurus who have graced us with such luxury. Without these luxuries life would seem dull and tiresome. Well maybe not since we would never have experienced the ease. But who knows!

But what happens when employees at companies begin to abuse the use of technology? How much does checking our Facebook, buying online or just surfing the internet affect the outcome of our work? Let’s not even start talking about the amount of times a day we pause to check our phones! Text messaging, Twitter, Whatsapp and the list goes on all seem to be intertwined in our daily lives. Granted, or at least in my opinion, we all need a “break from work.” But when a break becomes to constant or too long and begin affecting our ability to perform efficiently in the work environment we need to check ourselves. Like Heather Toley says in her article Personal Internet Usage in the Workplace – a Serious Epidemic if we know what we are doing is wrong why do it? She made this statement in relation to employees who hurriedly toggle or minimize browsing pages when they hear footsteps behind them. It is obvious that they know that they are doing something wrong yet they do it anyway!

Technology can be our best friend but we need to be always aware of how we use it in the workplace. Companies often time blame the overuse of the Internet and phones as the reason why profits are low. Why? Because employees are to busy “taking technology breaks” and not working up to their potential. As a result the companies may suffer financially. As young persons who will soon be heading out into the work environment and even those who are already working, be always aware of how much you utilize the Internet and your phone when at work: your employer may be watching! Don’t be the students today who text all through class or use their tablets and computers while the professor is teaching and then blame the professor when they don’t understand what he just taught!! Guilty aren’t you! 🙂

 

 

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Technology plays a huge role in today’s society. But where do we draw the line on how we open ourselves to it. In the past weeks I have gone on and on about openly giving off information on social media sites. So I decided to take a break and take a new route while still keeping with the internet and society.

One of my favorite shows on TV is Law & Order Special Victims Unit. Apart from all the cool tech stuff and the health based parts of the show, I find it intriguing for a totally different reason: children and their protection. It is one thing to be raped as an adult but to me it is a totally different issue when it is done to a child. Cyber stalkers exist everywhere even when we try to turn a blind eye to it. Pedophiles are real even when we don’t know of a real life situation close to us.

Does anyone remember the 2010 Facebook ‘campaign’ which asked that persons change their profile pictures to their favorite cartoon characters? Many persons went straight into doing that. Barbie, Tom & Jerry, Dora and the list goes on all seemed to appear overnight. Indeed it was really cool to see those pictures and reminisce on the “old” days of “good” cartoons. Then the “rumors” started. First it was said that it was a children’s advocacy group who started it. Then came the scary part: that it was started by a pedophile group! Facebook denied that it was started by pedophiles but no one really knew who started it do they?

Some may think that it’s not such a “big deal” to see the cartoon characters and “what harm can it cause?” Really?? Let’s think about it. Many young children have Facebook profiles. Facebook has the ability to chat with persons. Many children don’t know how to manipulate the privacy options on Facebook. See the link yet? Using cartoon characters as a Facebook picture (like what happened in 2010) opens up the door for pedophiles. Hiding behind these cartoon characters they are better able to interact with kids starting so easily by talking about the characters. Before you know it, they have found out so much about these children. Why? Because they pretend to be kids themselves! It is only a matter of time before one of these children become a victim of a pedophile. But how can we prevent it?

How about we start with not letting young children have Facebook profiles!! I may be old school but what happened to being a child until you are not a child anymore? Does an 11 year old need a Facebook or any other social media account? NO! Parents are given the responsibility to protect children from these Cyber stalkers. Sometimes being a parent means being with your children, teaching them to play games, have family time and not letting them sit in front of the television or a computer. Technology is a great tool in today’s society but it also leads to invasion of our homes and security.

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Have you ever opened an email from your bank telling you that your account shows a fraudulent activity so “click here”to rectify it? Did you even look twice before clicking? Two days later did the money on your account suddenly disappear? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you have been a victim of cyber crime and more specifically phishing.
Now don’t get confused..I did not make a typo and meant to write fishing! Even if technically that is exactly what cyber criminals are doing: fishing on unsuspecting victims and taking all they have. Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords and credit card information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.  In other words they use emails and even phone calls and text, make it seem so real that you don’t even think twice about following instructions.

Throughout the week I wondered how best do I write a blog on phishing. And then it struck me: I was almost a victim of phishing myself only one week before learning about phishing! I was lying in bed on a lazy Saturday morning when my phone rang. I looked at the strange number: Texas area code, the next three numbers looked like those from a company that called me just that same week; seemed real enough. So I answered. The voice on the other line said they were calling from Bank of America and that a hold had been put on my account ending 7304. I was instructed to press 1 in order to speak to a representative in order to rectify the situation. I was taken aback and felt like I needed to hear the recording again. So I waited a few seconds; waiting for the recording to be repeated or to give me the option of pressing another number to repeat. Nothing! Then to my surprise the call suddenly ended. I was confused but decided I would call my banker or even go to the bank to find out what was going on. Then it struck me: the numbers did not sound like my bank account number! But I decided to double check anyway. Lo and behold my number was not even close to the four digits the call told me about! I wondered what would have happened if I had gone ahead and pressed 1. Then I remembered that I was told just two days prior to be aware of fake emails claiming to be from Bank of America! Imagine that huh!

Cyber crime affects millions of persons every day around the world. Unsuspecting persons click anxiously on links which promise them money, or tell them that their accounts have been compromised so click to rectify. Many lose their life savings because they tend not to pay close attention to the emails they receive or even attempt to verify with the bank or company that the email claims to have come from. In the modern age of technology where everything is computerized, this makes it so much easier for cyber crimes to take place. Hackers sit at their computers and look for flaws in the financial systems of banks, retail companies etc or even in simple ways such as how they send emails to their customers. They also use links to lure the unsuspecting to go to sites masqueraded as shopping sites so that these consumers enter credit card information. With the card information now in the hands of the cyber criminals, consumers now lose all their savings or run up credit card debts even before they could call their banks or even realize what happened. After gathering information these Hackees now use this knowledge on many unsuspecting persons.

Cyber crimes appear like they will never end as long as technology continues to be at the forefront of our everyday lives. Persons now need to be more aware of emails and phone calls which they receive. Many sites have now put in place many security systems which are aimed at allowing their customers to surf, use credit cards or access bank accounts in a secure environment. Customers are usually made aware of these security measures to look for when they use the sites. Software companies have now increased the complexity of their online security software before selling it to their consumers. Phishing awareness has picked up greatly in the last few years. But many persons still become victims of cyber criminals. all because they are not cautious or do not pay enough attention. So the next time you hit the waters of the internet for a little fun time, always be careful where you phish!

Want to know more about what to look for when it comes to phishing? Click here! http://1.usa.gov/2M5L0L (Don’t worry it’s safe 🙂 )

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On Twitter this week I searched #fairuse and was amazed by the number of tweets I found! One particular tweet caught my attention since it took me to a link of a court case whose contents will bewilder many of you. But first, let’s define what is fair use. According to http://www.expertlaw.com, fair use doctrine provides a set of guidelines pursuant to which researchers, educators, scholars, and others may use copyrighted works without seeking permission or paying royalties. Going deeper into what is fair use, I found that there are four factors which come into play when determining whether use can be considered fair use. These are: the purpose and character of use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion of the copyrighted material as a whole and the effect of the use upon the potential market or value of the copyrighted

I took into consideration all these factors as I read the article Dancing Baby Video Battle Back in Court. Reading the news item’s title, I wondered what could this video possibly have to do with fair use? Upon reading, however, I was unsure whether to remain in shock or laugh out loud!

So here goes.

A brief summary of the case (taken from the site) comes down to: Stephanie Lenz first posted the video to share with family and friends. In the 29-second clip, Lenz’s young son is dancing in the family kitchen to “Let’s Go Crazy,” which is playing on a stereo in the background. Remarkably, Universal Music Publishing Group claimed that the video violated copyright law, and had the video yanked from YouTube.

I can see that you are going through the same dilemma that I went through! It’s like “are you kidding me!”

On a serious note, however, I see no reason why the video should have been taken down. Looking back at the four factors which defines fair use we can see that at least three of the factors are covered in this case. Firstly, the video is only 29 seconds long which means that only 29 seconds of a four minutes thirty four seconds song was recorded. Secondly, the aim behind the making of the video was simply to share with family members and not for commercial use. Besides the song was playing in the background; probably even from the radio! It was not one of those instances where a video was made and the song attached to it or played over pictures. (Many of us technology people have probably done a video of pictures and added a song to it!) Thirdly, there is no possible way that such a short video, which did not intentionally broadcast the song, could affect its value or market potential. So once again, is it right that a big company should shut down a mother’s video? A video which was made simply as a way of keeping a memory?

When it comes to fair use we constantly have to be aware of how we use copyrighted intellectual property. Many times we are unaware that how we use another person’s property actually goes against fair use. Sometimes we are aware but we seem to think that we are but one small person in a world of billions and we are to miniscule to be caught. While this may be true to some extent we never know when we are going to be that one small person who is made an example of. Fair use not only protects others intellectual property but it also protects us from being jn trouble with the law. It also helps in the long term since using copyrighted material fairly reduces harsher restrictions in the society in which we live.
So use fairly my friends!

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Another week has passed. Closer and closer we get to the middle of the semester. This week we learned about Intellectual Property and “Fair use” of copyrighted property. All week I wondered what would I post about and then tragedy set off a light bulb.

On Friday October 5th, I lost a friend in a very tragic way. It hurt but ironically it allowed me to in-cooperate what I learnt this week with a tribute to him. I am an avid music fan, always listening to music, dancing to music. I see music as a form of comfort and fun. I love going to parties and listening to the art of the DJ as they ‘mix’ the tunes. My friend was a DJ. I have been to so many parties he played at; got so many mix-tapes from him. But I ask myself: all the fun I had listening to his mixes was it fair use what he did as part of his living?

I think that many of the DJ’s out there do in fact use copyrighted music fairly. Many create “mixtapes” not just for the benefit of their fans listening pleasure. Many do not request any form of payment for their work. Links are always being put out by DJs so that the public can download their latest work. They do it unselfishly.

Well maybe not. 🙂

Many aspire to be the best DJ in their area so by putting these tapes out they create a fan base and let themselves be known. Many use the parties and clubs at which they play as a trial on how the public accepts it. Would all of this be considered unfair use of copyrighted material? I think not! Many times only a few parts or lines of a song is used; other times only the beat is used. Isn’t that fair use seeing it’s only a small portion?

Although many times artists may complain that their material is being used without permission, it also serves as a way to market their property. Indirectly, I believe that this is a win win for all parties involved. As a music fan, I appreciate the hard work and extreme creative talent of everyone who remixes music or videos. It’s great to view and to dance to! Win win!

Enjoy Dj Earworm – United State of Pop 2009 !

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