News on MySpace, Blackberry (aka Crackberry for its addictive qualities) Skype and more. Read on...
--Jennifer Turchi and Jim Witte
If you didn't see Barry Wellman's link to danah boyd's interview in Wired News about MySpace, you probably have seen all of the commercials on television from 60 minutes, Date Line, and the such, about this new phenomena with young people. MySpace is a site that lets people (young and old) build a “personal page”. It is a fun and quick way to catch up with old friends and to make new ones. There is growing concern, however, among parents and adults: where is the security? Reutors reports sites such as MySpace and Facebook are perfect meeting sites for sexual predators. Young people are putting way too much personal information on the sites and thus opening themselves up for trouble (http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6041322.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed). Another incident surrounding MySpace came at the end of last week. A student in Denver was arrested after posting troubling comments on his MySpace profile. Pictures of the boy surrounded by guns and statements such as “Angel o’death on wings o’lead” alerted his teachers and other parents in the community (The Associated Press,http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-MySpace-Guns.html). If you are not already a member of Facebook join yourself, all the time you will see students giving out things such as home address and phone numbers. If you are truly concerned, I recommend reading Danah Boyd’s article about MySpace. She provides a positive outlook to a space she claims “kids have made their own.” (http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70287-0.html?tw=rss.index).
Something else that is pretty prevalent in the technology world right now is the NTP/RIM patent case. In the latest news, Judge Spencer did not issue an injunction on Friday, but still some believe it is coming. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office handed down a final rejection on one of the five patents under fire. The interesting thing about all of this is that 1) RIM hasn’t settled and 2) if Judge Spencer does in fact issue an injunction, there will be some exceptions—government officials. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? I have a feeling we will be hearing about this case for some time yet.
And a personal plug for a competitor: I find my Audiovox 6700 to be very cool. I've got pretty fast web service using Verizon in the Upstate of SC, where voice service is often pretty shaky. I had it in Atlanta last week and was cooking with gas. It runs Windows Mobile, a crisp color display that goes from portrait to landscape orientation when you slide out the keyboard. And the keyboard puts many other cellphone/PDAs to shame. All in a package that fits neatly in my front pocket. But don't just take my word for it. Look at: http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=783571&page=1&pp=15 If you don't know HowardForums, it's a great resource for any and all cellphone related techy questions. One more note: if you're about to take the smartphone plunge be sure to check your University's vendors. I saved over $100 over the best price I could find independently.
Getting back to the Internet, if you are reading this blog on a bi-weekly basis, I have to assume you have heard of Skype. Well, Skype just got better. Now you can purchase a “The Call Center”, which is a cute little black box from VoSKY. This little black box allows you to make phone calls to regular phones. You can also have incoming Skype calls forwarded to another phone line. Bottom line—this technology is making it easier and easier to keep in touch with friends, family, co-workers, etc. What else is technology supposed to be doing these days? (John Biggs, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/23/technology/circuits/23phone.html).
Researchers are seeing indications of Internet subscriptions slowing down. Elizabeth Millard writes that Parks Assoc. found that 36 % of 1000 households interviewed did not have access to the Internet. Several respondents gave reasons such as “I have access at work; I’m just not interested; I’m not really sure how to use the Internet”. Researchers are afraid that there will only be about a 1% increase in connections throughout 2006. A shock? Is the digital divide raising its profile once again? Are we seeing the emergence of a digital underclass? (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20060227/bs_nf/41812 ).
According to Michael Kanellos, for the first time, residents of the West African Country of Mali will be able to send family members, friends, or whoever e-mails. How, you might ask? It’s quite simple—through radio waves. The new program will work as follows: if someone would like to send a message, he/she must go to the radio station and dictate an e-mail to the DJ. The DJ will then send the message off to the closest radio station to the person who is supposed to receive the e-mail. That DJ will then deliver the message to the intended individual. Some might say this is a bigger hassle than what it is worth, but try telling that to someone that would otherwise have to spend several days traveling by bus just to send a message. The company hosting this service is called GeekCorps. They are looking for volunteers to man the radio stations and are willing to pay travel expenses, housing and even send family with you. People are calling GeekCorps “a Peace Corp with a focus on PC’s” (http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6043635.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed).
Finally, for all you gamers out there, good news! How many of you remember as kids sitting around the Dungeon and Dragons game board at the kitchen table or down in the basement with friends? How many of you older CITASAlers remember your kids doing this? Well, now you can have that experience again, and where else but online. For the bargain price of $15/month all you gamers out there can get back in touch with the inner child yearning to escape for those lost hours immersed in a fantasy land of exploring murky dungeons and slaying fire-breathing dragons (Seth Schiesel, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/27/arts/27drag.html).