Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Facebook isn't Technological Determinism

In basic terms, technological determinism is defined based on the premises that societies are forced to adapt to technologies. Technological determinism does not have a definite outcome or solution. Rather, the social change aspect is driven by means of goals of rationality and efficiency. To further illustrate this point, I found an article on the News Scientist website which basically gives the assumption that Facebook will take over the world in the means of socialization. The article describes that Facebook will be the medium to the largest means of communication, thus, society will be forced to use Facebook to gather information rather it be news, advertisements, social networking, etc.

A few counter arguments I am going to illuminate are: people’s desire for lots of friends, mass production of advertising, and the benefits of a fast paced environment. To start with, back in the day before Facebook became popular I use to be a Myspace account. I would notice that many people would have competitions to see who could get the most friends. Some of the reasons people would do this I because the media and society preach that it is important to have as many friends as possible for networking purposes and for relationships. This means that Facebook isn’t changing the way we make friends, but it is a means to creating a mass amount of “them”, even if they are just Internet friends. Technology (in reference to Facebook) isn’t causing forcing society to adapt; rather it is society adopting it.

Secondly, another example would be that Facebook allows for a mass production to mass audiences. For instance, if someone were throwing a birthday party, they wouldn’t have to buy cards, stamps, invites, envelopes, and take the time to put all them together to be mailed to the recipients. Since Facebook allows someone to create a group or advertising which will be shown to many, it eliminates a plethora of financial difficulties and time consumption. In this case, Facebook is not causing the “taking over of the world”, but it is society that chooses to utilize the functions of Facebook. Facebook isn’t changing social norms, but once again, society is choosing to adopt the technology, not society being forced to adapt to it.

My final counter example is going to have a pivot point around society and it fast paced, day-to-day, jam packed schedules. When walking through many the streets of the city’s downtown, you may see many people in business suits and talking on their Blackberry. Whenever you ask them a question, they act as if they have no time for you. Well, society in general revolves around a fast paced environment so then we must compensate by having tools that can help us keep up with the pace. This is where society uses Facebook as a means of instant communication. A couple of the features of Facebook include an instant messenger, private messages, wall-to-wall posting, and tagging which all provide people/businesses with instant access their audiences. This drastically diminishes face-to-face communication but it is not Facebook that is causing it. It solely lies on the people choosing to make Facebook their means of communication.

Facebook isn’t changing the world; people have not been forced to adapt to it, but rather society has adopted it for means of creating new friends, advertising to a mass audience, and also to help with the fast paced environment.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blackberry 8520 vs. Droid 2 vs. iPhone

Well, many of you already know that I am a cell phone enthusiastic. Over the past years I have had probably 30+ phones and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. While my cell phone fetish so to speak changes just about every month, but if I truly like the phone, every other month. I am a person who likes to see new technology evolve and I want the newest gadget.

I have had just about all the major top selling phones on the market including the iPhone for AT&T, Motorola i1 for Boost Mobile (I hate that it runs off the Sprint network because it has a lot of potential), Blackberry 8520 for T-mobile, and my favorite thus far, the Droid 2 from Verizon Wireless. I have had many carries and many different types of smartphones so I have an omni-directional scope of the pros and cons of both.

One of the greatest perks of the iPhone is the fact that it is very intuitive and was the first to hit the market. Apple forced all other cellular companies to bow at their feet until they were able to come up with a phone that would start to match their technology in the iPhone. I would say that when the iPhone first came out, I thought it was amazing due to the fact that it was referred to as the "Jesus Phone" and other names along those lines. In retrospect, it sort of was. It could do just about anything and everything but it had a major flaw, it was so proprietorial so that it was very difficult to get apps loaded into the market and it is even worse today.

When I had the iPhone which was twice (the 2G & the 3G), I really enjoy how the on screen typing was so streamlined and amazingly fast with suburb accuracy. When I had the Motorola i1 on the other hand, it was absolutely horrible trying to use the on screen keyboard. It was very inconsistent and it would add words that were not even remotely in the dictionary. This was a major flaw but it did have a feature that I had never seen in a phone before that I wish all phones had, Portal. Well, what is "Portal"? It basically provides you with access to text messaging and gallery via the Web. All you have to do is be on a Wifi network and start the Portal. It gives you a local IP address where you can log into and be able to text and see all your pictures instantaneously.

Even though I loved this feature enough to keep it for about 3 months, the negatives of the phone and Boost Mobile outweighed the positives. One of the flaws were that anytime I had sent a text message, it went though as urgent and there was no way to remove it. I had called customer service and they didn't know why it was happening and provided no solution. No matter when I had called them, I usually received horrible customer service. What the major flaw was though was that the reception was absolutely horrible. I had the Motorola i1 for a week while I also had the Blackberry 8520 with T-mobile. When I had put the phones side by side at almost any location, there would be 2-4 more bars on the Blackberry.

Now on to my favorite, the Droid dos. This phone is by far the coolest, fastest phone I have ever had. As soon as I opened it and had it running, I was able to open up 10 applications without any notice of it slowing down. I would switch between the free Navigation application which offers turn by turn directions for free, to other apps like Facebook, Droid Market, Youtube and several others. The 1 GHz processor is absolutely perfect for this phone. The QWERTY is phenomenal because each key is slightly raised and very nicely spaced apart even for my big fingers. Another amazing feature is that it is so heavily integrated with Google. I am able to use my Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Voice, Google Calendar, Google Web History and so many others. One thing I cannot leave out is the 3G on the phone. It is without a doubt amazingly faster than the Blackberry or any other phone I have ever had.

I would highly recommend someone having the Droid 2 over any other phone on the market right now. What will come next in the revolution of smartphones? Not many know but I am excited to find out.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

People Can.... I Mean Are Sicking!

I consider myself to be a pretty nice guy. When someone needs help, I will go above and beyond to make sure I do my part in helping them with whatever they need. Whenever someone has called me and has a problem, I take the time to listen to them and offer advice straight from my heart with 100% honesty.

I have done lots of things for people including: physical labor, computer training, personal problems, loaning money, running random errands, taking drunk friends home so they don't get arrested, free tutoring, and so much more. I do not do these things for any type of recognition whatsoever but rather as a personal favor to myself.

When I help someone out doing whatever the chore maybe, I feel satisfied and I feel like I have done a good deed. More than not, people are grateful and they come back later for additional help and advice which assures me that I am doing a good job and hopefully being the best friend that I can be.

Slightly shifting subjects, what bothers me the most is that no matter how good you can be to a person, or how much you can do for someone, or how good of a friend you are to a person, you can still be taken advantage for all your worth. I know people work very hard for their belongings, and to have them stolen from you can be a horrible experience.

I recently had my motorcycle stolen and it has put so many things into perspective for me now. It affirms me that you really cannot trust anyone whatsoever in this world. I mean I trust my family with my life, but I know many sons and daughters who have told me that they would not trust their parents with a single thing. Either because they are always infringing upon their personal space or have shared information with others that they should have kept within the family.

Since my motorcycle has been stolen from me, I have taken many actions to make sure I can help prevent this from happening again. In my opinion, it is sad that I have taken so many actions just to prevent my property from being stolen. I recommend people taking the same actions that I have done.

Since I am in a college town, I really never thought someone would steal my motorcycle just 6" from my door when I was not home. The horrible thing is that I had asked for Comprehensive insurance which would have covered the theft but they neglected to add it to my insurance. So to help this from ever happening again, I have taken many steps to help prevent this from happening again. If you would like to know to to make sure your property and vehicles are well protected, let me know and I will inform you on some methods to take.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Campus Candy, the Movies, and More.

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I have written a blog.

It has been a long summer and many things have happened that are going to change my life forever. Some including getting promoted at work, meeting some amazing new friends and co-workers, and getting a few extra credit hours out of the way. Classes are now starting in a couple days but looking back on it now, I am not quite ready. Since I have been working all summer and going to class, I would love to have a little break to just sleep and do whatever I want to. Maybe a little Madden '11 or catch up on some truly missed Call of Duty.

Well, since I have paid for my textbooks (which I will most likely not read), I guess the realism of classes starting in 3 more days is ever more inevitable. I received a few books today from Chegg and I opened them just to see what I have coming to me in the fall and all I have to say is, WOW. Like, I am not someone who likes to read in general but my books this year are THICK. I will just be a good college student and suck-it-up. It will be a busy semester for me because I will be a full time student (with 16 or 18 credit hours), work as a Consultant Supervisor for Technology Center Consulting, work as a Web Coordinator for the SRSC, and I have also been offered a job to be an Undergraduate Instructor for an introductory course for Computer Science majors. What does this mean? Well, I guess I am going to have a very limited social life but my main goal is to have a resume that will land me that perfect job at Google.

Well, let me get back to the title of my blog here. I want to start with by saying I feel everyone should boycott the movie theaters. They complain how Netflix is taking all their business but I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever now. I went there to see Inception (absolutely amazing movie by the way) and it was $10. My mind was absolutely blown because I could not believe that it is cheaper to have a months worth of unlimited movies for cheaper than a single movie. But Wait, there's more... Just to have a tub of pop corn and two cokes, it was an additional $20. How and why would you expect for someone to go to the movies when they can clearly do it for literally a small fraction of the price.

Another thing I want to vent about are these candy shops. One of my favorite foods are actually candy (and it shows) but I can only get the good stuff at retail places like Walmart and the gas stations. I have been to several candy shops, one including Campus Candy which is near IU and one in the College Mall. They literally charge over $10 per pound of candy. If you were to purchase one bag of skittles and a small bag of something else from Walmart for around $1, it would be over 10x as much at one of these candy stores. I can see why so many businesses are having so much trouble staying open. It is because they are pricing themselves out of the market.

Well, this will sum up this blog. Let me know what you think.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Underage Drinking in High School

Underage Drinking in High Schools
by: Brandon Mitchell

Why is it that those who are not allowed to drink actually drink the most? This is the question many school officials and government officers have tried to figure out. Underage drinking in high schools has been a problem for many years, and will continue for many more unless something is done. The United States says that a citizen is not allowed to drink until their 21st birthday, but this law is disobeyed every day. A survey from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health states, “In 2006, more than one in four persons aged 12 to 20 in the United States, or about 10.8 million persons, drank alcohol in the past month.” A Connecticut School Health Survey conducted in 2005 states “more than half of 12th graders, or 59 percent, said they had used alcohol during the month, along with 48 percent of 11th graders, 42 percent of 10th graders and 35 percent of 9th graders” (Silverman). As shown by the statistics, this problem is getting out of control. Yet, before you can solve any problem, you must be able to discern the root of the problem. Three particular motivations serve as an impetus for underage drinking: the need to act out that rebellious nature that is inherent in all teenagers, the need to escape reality, and the need to fit in socially.

When you were young and your mother said that you could not get into the cabinets, what was the first thing you did? You probably made it a point to sneak into that cabinet. You knew your actions went against what an authority figure dictated, but your curiosity outweighed any loyalty you previously had. Yearning is described as “a tender or urgent longing” (Merriam-Webster) which implies that the desired act is prohibited. In understanding this psychological precept, we may also understand why so many American high school students engage in underage drinking. In making it illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21, we have created this forbidden aura that naturally causes those who are forbidden to drink it to want it even more. When you are told over and over again by parents, school officials, police, or anyone else that you are not allowed to have something, then you wonder why you are not allowed to have it. The student’s mentality naturally is to wonder why the substance is forbidden in the first place. The students have heard from their friends that drinking is a lot of fun and it does not harm you, but adults just make it that this is something that is life threatening and could potentially ruin their lives. The need to experiment and figure things out by oneself is endemic to the process of becoming an adult, thus entailing that alcohol consumption is naturally associated with establishing ones individuality.

While the forbidden aura associated with alcohol is one reason so many high school students engage in underage drinking, another plausible cause is the need to escape reality. Just being a student in high school can be complicated which can make it difficult mentally to handle for an inexperienced student. Learning to deal with problems as you begin entering into real life can be a difficult process, and for some, it can seem practically impossible. So how does a high school student deal with the feeling? For some, alcohol is the easiest way to cope with the problems typically associated with high school; it is an easy way out. Most teens tend to take the easy route to solve the problems when other methods should be implemented. “Alcohol use disorders have been linked to psychiatric illness such as depression and anxiety, resulting in a potential ‘self-medication’ phenomenon” (Deas, and Clark 679-680). As the quote above states, alcohol becomes the medication that the student consumes in order to temporarily maneuver around the problem(s) facing them. Instead of dealing with their problems head on, many students result to alcohol because it alters their reality by changing their perception.

So what problems can a student have that would cause them to drink alcohol? Well, a few examples of issues that high school students may face which would possibly result to the consumption of alcohol include but are not limited to: problems at home, abuse, peer pressure, low grades, and self-esteem. High school students think that when they consume alcohol they will magically escape reality when in fact alcohol only temporarily sets aside the problem at hand while simultaneously endangering the students.

Yet, while some students use alcohol to cope with stress others use it as a bonding tool. What is a party without a keg or a refrigerator full of Bud Light? Some high school students would answer this question by saying that it is not a party at all. Alcohol becomes necessary at parties as it allows for a sense of unity. Thus, many high school parties are centered on the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol creates a more relaxed environment allowing the students to have fun and bond. Who wants to go outside and play football or play the newest video game sober when you can do it even more relaxed while drunk? This is the philosophy of students who want to fit in or want to have the reputation as a “partier.” Some students only drink at parties to fit in with their peers. When you are at a party and you do not drink, people begin to questions your “coolness” or “reputation.” You start to drink because you do not want to be labeled as the chicken who is scared to drink a small sip of beer. On the other hand, the growing mind of another student may say that since everyone else is doing it, then it is okay if he or she does it. In their mind it becomes okay to drink thus allowing them to drink alcohol because everyone else is doing it. No one wants to be the individual that never gets invited to any of the parties. So what started out as a temporary aid for socialization can potentially result in becoming an alcoholic.

Some may argue that underage drinking is not the ramification of various psychological phenomena but more simply linked to taste buds. Is it so difficult to believe that some students are consuming alcohol simply because they like the taste? A student does not necessarily have to engage in underage drinking due to a psychological defect but simply because it is a pleasurable experience. In the end, this explanation does not explain why someone would result to alcohol consumption in the beginning; the need to act out, the need to escape reality, and the need to be accepted, better explain why students engage in underage drinking.

The problem of underage high school drinking can trace its roots to many motivations. For some, alcohol is the easiest way to maneuver around difficult situations. For others, drinking is more of a manifestation of their inner teen. And even still for some, drinking is merely a way of fitting in. Ultimately though, all three motivations fail to take in account the future and solely consider the present implications. What started out as a drinking game with two friends or as just one bottle to sooth the nerves before a test quickly spirals into an addiction. Underage high school drinking is a serious problem that can have serious consequences. If a high school student anticipating a scholarship gets caught drinking, everything they would have worked for have become futile. The student then sacrifices thousands of dollars and a hopeful future for a $2.50 bottle of Bud Light and an ephemeral happiness.

Work Cited

"Underage Alcohol Use: Where Do Young People Drink?." National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 28 Aug 2008. The NSDUH Report, 20 Oct 2009. .

"Yearning." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. 20
October 2009

Silverman, Fran "A Different Kind of Student Exam." New York Times 30 Mar. 2008: 1.
Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. 20 Oct. 2009.

Deas, Debra Dr., and Andrew Dr. Clark. "Youth Binge Drinking: Progress Made and Remaining Challenges." Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 48.7 (2009): 679-680. 20 Oct 2009.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Analog Games vs. Digital Games

From the day when the computer was first invented, there have been many changes that the world that can’t be reversed. When the computer was invented it was just a new invention but it wasn’t known for a few years. My guess is that people thought that it was amazing but they most likely didn’t believe that they would become a dependant source for the future.

My opinion of analog versus digital is unbiased. I personally prefer whichever one is better or makes life easier. Not because I am lazy just because it will give me more time to do something else. When I think about the comparison of analog to digital, I think about games. I remember when I was young I always played card games like solitaire and euchre because they were fun and amusing. Well, now many people have stopped playing the “analog” version of card games and play them on the Internet with the rest of the world. I cannot say that I have not done this but I still love the social aspect of the “analog” card playing.

Video games have evolved a revolutionary amount ranging from the original Atari to the newest XBOX 360 or Playstation 3 (http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101050523/console_timeline/). In today’s society, people would rather have the digital games that are played on the television or should I say, the 72” high definition, plasma television. I play the XBOX 360 all the time so I am not going to be hypocritical but I sometimes prefer the analog aspect of video games because you get more of a personal appeal compared to digital where it is more fun but you lose a lot of social interaction. I read a quote once from a Christian book that was comparing objects and it said something along the lines that when the television was first invented, people thought that it was going to fade away in six months or less. Well, they were more than just wrong in that aspect.