Why Twitter is the Ultimate Information Source (of the Future)

November20

Many of you have been posting about news reports and articles, reflecting on their design, structure, etc. However, one of the things we’ve been talking about in class is the importance of conciseness of the information that’s being communicated. The post on The Future of Television hinted at the fact that getting news from TV has become rather inconvenient and pretty time consuming. Most people I’ve come to interact with, both at school and at work, have at some point voiced their preference to keeping themselves informed on the news through sources other than TV and newspapers (seriously, why do we STILL print newspapers?!?!).

However, while it’s nice to sit back and read a lengthy article about 5 Healthiest Foods or 21 Ways to Braid Your Hair, most of the times, I find myself simply not having the time to read the darn thing. Let’s face it, reading news articles is just as time-consuming as watching TV. Let alone constantly having to resist the impulse to click the “Related Topic” link.

And then there’s Twitter. Oh Twitter, how I love thee! It has revolutionized the way I personally get news. With Twitter, instead of having to read the whole article, I can just read its summary that’s been skillfully shoved into the up-to-140-character post. Here’s a list of some of the benefits one can get from following their favorite news sources on Twitter:

  • First of all, EVERYONE’s on Twitter. Whoever your interest may be: news reporters, independent journalists, national TV anchors, sports reporters, stock market wizards, government entities, foreign government entities, technology enthusiasts, religious spokespeople, members of the royal family, DIY experts, blogging supermoms, cat lovers…. everyone.
  • Second, it takes some real skill to make your voice heard in <= 140 chars, but it’s possible. And the more someone is trying to make their voices heard (like Fox News, for example), the more creative they get in communicating their message loud and clear, despite the limitation.
  • Still, you’re not missing out on much detail, as every one of the respectable tweet-ers posts a link to accompany their summation of an article.
  • Hashtagging is another great invention. With its help, if you want to read on a topic from several different perspectives, just click the hashtag, and you may find two completely opposing reports (which is always fun).
  • Finally, on average, it takes 6.6 seconds to read a single tweet.

So there. If you do it right (and by that I mean if you follow only the people/entities you’re genuinely interested in, and not your entire high school graduating class), you’re reducing the daily time spent reading by ~500% (assuming it takes roughly 5 min to read a full-length article). Therefore, your 5 minutes can now be used to read even more tweets, single out the ones that talk about something really important to you, and read the linked full length articles related to the topic. This is a quick and efficient way to catch up on all the relevant news for the day.

Category: Uncategorized

What’s the future of television

November18

Nowadays, television gets less and less popularity, as the result of development of computer and internet. Television has got its advantages, such as high graph quality and fluency. But there are many constraints as well. For example, TV shows are played only in a fixed time, and advertisements are almost everywhere. I personally watch TV only for sport matches and occasionally for news. In the future internet will be faster and even cheaper. And more people will choose to watch TV series online. I’m not talking about the future of TV set, since it can also be used for watching movie or used with PS4 and Xbox360. I’m talking about the future of television industry. If people can watch anything on internet, television will sure loses its popularity.

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T-Mobile’s Delayed Process Caused an Ethical Problem in U.K.

November18

New technology should have its advantage of quick reactions. Unfortunately, sometimes the delay causes some ethical problems which we don’t want to see. And T-Mobile seemed to forget this advantage in U.K. and caused an ethical problem with a widow, which is reported by the Telegraph on 16 Nov. 2014.

A widow, Maria Raybould from Cardiff, finally took her husband’s ashes to a T-Mobile store to cancel her husband’s monthly contract after being refused by T-Mobile several times. She was also threatened from bailiffs for the late fees of the contract of her husband’s. Her husband actually died from cancer several months ago. She brought the death certificate and funeral bills to the store and contact the managers, but they still refused to cancel the contract. Then she had to bring the ashes of her husband’s to T-Mobile.

This apparently hurts the widow’s heart after her losing spouse, which caused a severe ethical problem with the procedure of cancelling the contract. A famous and well developed mobile company should have abilities to update its customers’ new information as soon as possible and the company also requires its customers to do so. T-Mobile clearly didn’t achieve the agreement. This is very ridiculous for a people to show his ashes to cancel the contract. Modern companies have high-tech tools to update their data and this becomes much easier than before. What they want to do is only keep an eye on the new information to update. One the update is not on time, it always causes loss for the companies which they don’t want to see. The least thing companies don’t want to see is causing some ethical problems as this may damage the companies’ images.

Now T-Mobile has apologized for this entire accident. But this has already left bad impressions on some customers. T-Mobile should pay more attentions to prevent such accidents to happen again but not make up after accidents happen.

About the ethical problems about the technical communications, what level do you think it should be placed in the importance when a company has been established to serve customers? What else should a company, unfortunately when it meets an ethical problem, do to make up for its customers?

Category: Uncategorized

Obama’s Health Law: Who Was Helped Most

November18

I read this article about the effect of Obama’s Health Law. The article contains several visualizations (2 map charts and 8 bar graphs) to provide a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But I do not agree with the way they are visualized.

 

Improper labels for the first map chart

On the top, the first map chart shows how much the rate of people who have insurance increased from 2013 to 2014. If I put the mouse pointer on a city, it pops up the label of the city.

The problem is that a label shows the uninsured rates although the visualization shows the increase of insured people. Additionally, it puts the recent year first (2014 in the first line and 2013 in the second line).

This is really confusing. For example, after reading the second line (Uninsured rate in 2013), I have to go back to the first line (Uninsured rate in 2014). And then I have to find it out that the rate of uninsured people is higher in 2013 and lower in 2014, so conversely, the rate of insured people is higher in 2014 and the gap is the same.

If labels just show the insured rate in 2013 first and 2014 later, I can just simply catch how much the rate increased from 2013 to 2014. This way may be more simple and intuitive.

 

Inconsistency of visualized data of the first and last map chart

While the first map chart (on the top)shows the change between insured rates in 2013 and 2014, the last map chart (on the bottom) shows just uninsured rates. Actually, I think this is more intuitive because I can literally see percentages of people remaining uninsured for each city at a glimpse.

But the problem is that it still shows us labels describing uninsured rate in 2014 and 2013. Now I am confused again which one is more important between the change of rates and percentages of people remaining insured or uninsured. Both can be important but if the writer wanted to emphasize the different between rates in 2014 and 2013, I think visualization should be based on the change of rates. Or, the first visualization on the top would better show just the percentage of insured people in 2014.

 

Color of bar in bar graphs

It has eight bar graphs. Seven bar graphs have more than one bar. Among them, five bar graphs use different colors to represent several bars.

However, other two bar graphs, ‘People who live in states that…’ and ‘By gender,’ use only one color although they contain two different bars. Even if there are only two bars so people may not be confused, I think it is still better to use different colors to represent different categories because it can be more distinguishable.

There is another problem in other bat graphs too. In bar graphs ‘By age’ and ‘By Urban and rural,’ the graphs have two bars of the same color. It can produce unnecessary confusion such as nonexistent correlation between bars of the same color. I also thought there is a correlation between AGES 35 TO 44 and AGES 45 to 54 in the ‘By age’ graph and between RURAL AREAS and SMALL CITIES in the ‘Urban and rural’ graph. But there are no explanations about the correlation. So I am still not sure about if there are such relation between those.

 

Labeling of bar in bar graphs

Except for the first bar graph, ‘Overall change in uninsured Americans, 2013-14,’ there is no labels indicating years. Also, all bar graphs do not have explanation about the used data, i.e., the insured rate or uninsured rate). When I forget which rate decreased from when to when, I could not interpret a graph and had to go back to the first graph.

People may be able to get what graphs mean by reading corresponding paragraphs. But because we can still make people get all information they need from graph by labeling properly, I cannot say these visualizations are good.

 

Categorizing data

In ‘By age’ graph, the ranges of ages for each bar are not consistent. The size of the first range is 16 while others are 10. Each category would better have the same range or the first bar should be thicker. Or, it can distort the information. For example, people could possibly think populations for each category are the same.

 

Alternative graphs

Above all that I have stated before, I think column graph or line graph is better than bar graph with arrow bars to show the changes between the rates in 2013 and 2014.

Bar graph ‘Urban and rural’ can be represented as the following column graph.

Untitled0

We do not need to be confused about years anymore. It is also more intuitive because the recent year (2014) is right of the previous year (2013) as usual. We do not care about the direction of arrow too. We can get information more easily and directly.

Bar graph ‘By age’ can be represented as the following line graph.

Untitled

Not only can we see the differences between each age more clearly, but also we can see how the rate changes through different ages. Lastly, it will not generate distortion like that population is distributed evenly over categories because the graph simply shows the ages instead of the ranges of ages.

Category: Uncategorized

Misleading Graphs

November17

Visual representations of data are very important. Not only does it shorten the time it takes to understand the data, it shows comparisons between data sets. Although it is easy to go the lazy route and not put much thought into which graphic you might use or how you show your comparison, it is vital.

Fox news this year made a big mistake with their graphic they made to represent obamacare signups. In the video Fox shows a graph with overly exaggerated gap between actual signups and the goal. The graph could have easily been represented properly. The problem either lies with how they wanted the news to be perceived or just pure laziness.

The takeaway of course is to be careful with your data visualizations. What other common mistakes can you make with a simple graphic?

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Android Photography

November17

Android was originally intended to be a digital camera OS. In recent years, Android has dominated the phone market as one of the world’s most popular mobile OS’s.

Despite its heritage, not much has improved in its image processing and capturing capabilities. The stock camera, while useable, is extremely limited. As more and more people are moving towards mobile photography, Android’s inflexible point-and-shoot model is becoming a problem.

Revitalizing Android’s Camera

Earlier this month, Google has released the latest version of their mobile operating system. With it, comes thousands of new APIs. Android Lolipop marks the introduction of the new android.hardware.camera2 API. Using these new interfaces, camera software will be able to expose functionality that a serious photographer might need:

Manual Focus

In the days of the original Android phone, the Android camera had the ability to choose its focus mode. The choice was eitherAuto-focus to have the camera focus the object in the center of the viewfinder, Infinity to set the camera’s focus to a distance of infinity, and Macro which focused on things close to the lens..

Having the choice was great. Unfortunately, Google has taken some backward steps in attempt to simplify user experience. In later iterations of the camera software, Auto-focus became the sole method to focus an image.

The problem with relying only on Auto-focus was that Auto-focus was not always reliable. The software has trouble bringing an image into focus when conditions are not ideal. Low light, low contrast subjects and close up shots all cause problems with Android’s Auto-focus mechanism. Many times, even if the camera hardware itself were physically capable of bringing an image to focus, the software could not handle the task.

When software alone can not handle a task, a sensible next step would be to allow for the user to adjust the focus themself. That is exactly what Google has enabled in their latest release.

Manual Exposure Settings

Google has tried its best to obsolete camera exposure settings for the average user. The camera automatically adjusts the exposure settings and white balance depending on the subject in the photograph. The Google Camera even has an HDR+ modewhich increases the dynamic range, allowing a higher range of light and dark to show clearly in a photograph.

While these are neat tools, the automation makes it difficult for a photographer to capture a photo exactly the way they want. In fact, many techniques in photography can only be done by manipulating the exposure settings.

Burst Mode

Shooting a photo has never been instantaneous. Google’s release of the Galaxy Nexus introduced zero shutter lag to their platform. While significantly faster, it still struggled with capturing movement as smoothly as a low framerate video.

This new mode would enable cameras to capture photos at 30 frames per second. That is like recording a video clip with each frame at the camera’s maximum resolution.

Category: Uncategorized

OpenStack Operations

November17

What is OpenStack? OpenStack, a new concept of an open community come into people’s community. The long term version for OpenStack is to produce a ubiquitous open source cloud computing platform. This computing form meets the needs of public and private cloud providers. What I knew about OpenStack is that it is an open source. open design, open development, open community that encourages participation by everyone of us.

As a result of team building, OpenStack docs changes a lot. It becomes cleaner, better writing, as well as better technical content. In their group, teams have core reviewers, and it is mandatory that requires two core reviewers must approve a change before the doc file gets built to published site. This makes all the files maintained on the server neat and clean, since technical group goes through the document thoroughly and carefully.

As for using the OpenStack, users do not really need to build a cloud. The cloud services that OpenStack provides is similar to accessing the publicly available Amazon Web Services.  However, it does allow us to roll our own OpenStack, it provide something fantastic to those different audience. Some people are seeking flexibility from the OpenStack framwork by conducting do-it-yourself solutions. With this feature, people are easily to add new compute, network, and storage resources to grow personal cloud over time. Besides that, many orgnizations also provide some large scale private clouds.

The advantage of OpenStack is that it allows us integrate a number of dfferent technologies to construct a cloud. That might be another reason why it is popular now.

 

Category: Uncategorized

Have you heard about Apple pay?

November17

I have heard about Apple payment recently from a lot of news and blogs. This  article well explained about Apple pay. Apple company has been trying to change every payment stuff to digital things, not like real credit card, bill, check, and so on. Also, this payment system is a clever marketing method because customer must have apple iphone with this payment system. This is kind of big innovation about payment system. Since smartphone industry has developed, the other  indurstries have lost location such as navigation industry, digital camera industry, and game industry.

Now, Apple is trying to expand payment business area. Of course, there is a lot of benefits to come with this apple pay. Their moto is that “wallet without wallet.” that means the avoiding wasted moment to find right credit card and bill. And, more secure payment system with their technology it is called touch ID function. Moreover, apple pay instead of using user actual credit card numbers when users add their card. An unique device number is assigned, and securely stored in the iphone. At this point, I wonder what kind of problems will come with this payment system. what do you guys expect disadvantages? what do you think about?

 

Category: Uncategorized

A New Battery Using Renewable Energy

November17

This article introduces a new kind of battery that hits the market. This battery can use solar and wind energy in a cheap and clean way. There are many advantages of this battery. First of all, it’s cheap, clean and long-lived, so it’s affordable to promote it. Secondly, it uses renewable energy, which is sustainable. What’s more, it can help people in remote areas where there is no reliable electricity. However, the major downside is that the batteries are large and they operate slowly.

As a report to introduce a new product, this article does a good job. Firstly, there are not many obscure scientific terms which would confuse average tech-article readers. Secondly, in order to make the readers understand this battery, the author compared it with the widely used lead-acid battery, which gives a better sense of the battery’s life and power. Thirdly, there is a photo of battery module which gives readers a realistic impression of this new product. However, the author seemed to have put most effort in promoting the battery but forgotten to introduce more about its downside. There’s only one sentence in the article talking about it, which is not enough. Overall, this is a good tech-article to read.

Category: Uncategorized

Skype Helping Break Language Barriers?

November17

I found this article that describes how technology is being used to help break down the barriers of a foreign language. It goes into depth about how such technologies as translators are being used to help people learn new languages faster. The article states that mobile apps such as dictionaries and language translators are starting to become very popular on mobile devices. It states that it gives the potential to help people learn a new language on the go at a very fast rate.

The Article’s primary focus is on the real time translator Skype will be releasing in the near future. It will give the ability to translate almost any language into text in real time. This offers great opportunities for many groups of people. It can help students learn a new language from a native speaker over the internet with the use of Skype.   As time progress this technology will become more advanced. So my question is what opportunities does this new technology offer to Technical communication? What type of applications should use this type of application to help convey technical communication better? Will it help relay important technical information to larger masses of people more easily?

 

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