You know where I am, right?

Google Plus Check-in

I was sitting at a Starbucks and wanting to try out the Check-in thing we talked in class this morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t own any smart devices and I deactivated my Facebook while ago, so I decided to use Google Plus to “track” my location. Oh weel, the “boss” Google did a good job tracked down the exact address of the Starbucks I was at! Creepy…
I have never been a fan of “check-in.” I have seen a lot of my friends on Facebook constantly checking in the places they are at, uhm, even laundry (?). Really? I think some of them were being under the social pressure and wanted to let others know that they were socially active by going to these “cool” places. However, the “check-in” feature does not always truly reflect that part of social activities because a person can check into other places nearby. That’s what my best friend did when we went to an ice cream shop in Houston. Instead of checking into the ice cream shop, she checked in to other places close by such as Sugar land Mall, Bowling, etc. Her reason was that the stalker would go all over places to look for us, but not the actual place we were at. It was a joke, but the check-in was really creepy and dangerous sometimes to those who are not aware of location tracking on their smart devices.
Even though the “check-in” feature has been a part of promoting a business such as restaurants, bars, etc., it still fails to convince me that “check-in” is helpful and “cool.” That “stalking” connotation that it carries always hinders me from actually enjoying using it as a part of my social networking sites.

Access Issues?

In last class, I got a chance to try the Accessibility feature on a Macintosh, which I don’t use. To be honest, it was very annoying with the voice-over going on all the time every time I moved the mouse. I don’t know if the disabled would be at ease, or their frustration would be built up like mine did. Why? Because I didn’t find the Accessibility feature helpful at all.

When I started the Voice-over on Mac, a slow, creepy voice went on and on whenever my mouse was moved. The voice described my activities on the screen, yet its pace was too slow to keep up with my mouse. Moreover, the description was not detailed enough. When I clicked on my Gmail tab, it just said, “main page,” “edit text,” etc. Those were too general and confusing to the disabled. I went on to try the Ease of Access on my laptop, which was a window. Uhm what can I say? It was horrible and annoying. I clicked on one of the tabs about Google Maps; it described the whole name on and on. Even though I jumped to my YouTube tab, the voice describing Google Maps still went on until it finished the long name. If I was a visual disabled, I would be very confused.

I think if we want to make it easier for the disabled to access the technology, there should be a special computer for them. For example, when websites are opened on those special computers, their description should appear to be shortened and condensed, so the disabled can catch up with the description voice. It is just my two cents; overall, I am not a tech savvy, so I am not sure if it even makes any sense.


Guess what? I spent a week without digital devices!

No, the title is misleading because there is no way I can go a week without digital device. It is not because I am a technology addict, but it is because 100 percent of my school work is based heavily online. Now I wonder how my parents went through college without a computer… To be honest, I actually didn’t have access to the Internet until high school. Sometimes I wish I had had interacted with a computer in my early age, so I don’t have to suffer from being a non-tech savvy nowadays. However, upon recalling the time without a computer when I was in middle school, I realized I actually enjoyed my time back then.

“The Better-Off Online,” I do not argue with that article, but personally, I prefer to spend my time offline. Seeing my little cousins who spend most of their time on a computer and T.V. really annoys me. Back then when I didn’t have a computer, I created my own toys and played with them all day without getting bored. Back then when parents didn’t have to work with computers, they spent more time with my sister and me. Back then when we didn’t have interaction with any digital divides, we actually spent more time enjoying life.

It actually saddens me to see the younger generation getting into the vicious circles of life. They spend more than 73 percent of their online time on social network sites, and that distances the relationships among them and others (Pew Research). They take things for granted and they want more and more. They get bored easily without a computer. Not mentioning teenagers, even I have the same situation. Internet is down? I don’t know what to do even though the rest of my computer still functions well. Irony!


How did Red Velvet Cupcakes Become Bulls?

I have kept some blogs before, but to be honest, I had never used tags or categories in them. I think it was because I did not take my blogs seriously and I thought no one would ever visit my blogs. Plus, I was not a tech savvy to even care what tags and categories were. The funny thing is I actually have been interacting with them the whole time and I don’t even notice. From searching a video on YouTube or browsing blogs, everything I do involves with tagging and categories.

YouTube tag

Recently did I start posting on our group’s food blog, I made some videos and uploaded them on YouTube, and YouTube suggested “tags” on my videos. My videos were about making desserts, and it was funny how YouTube just suggested tags related to nothing about desserts. For example, in my “Red Velvet Cupcakes” video, they suggested “bull”. I guess it was because I put UT Dallas in my tag tab. I wonder what people would think when they search for “bull”, and my video comes up. “Oh, this is so misleading!” I bet they’d say so. This also reminds me of the differences between folkxonomies and traditional taxonomies that I learned in class. The suggested tags that I saw were somewhat related or alternative to the tags I put in my video because “UT Dallas” is located in Dallas, Texas, which carries the connotations of “cowboy,” “bulls,” “Yeehaw,” etc. While in traditional taxonomies, I am required to have certain knowledge on certain subjects to search for the tags I want. It would be funny if YouTube makes me put a proper tag for my video; maybe it would be “bakerology” (No, it’s a made-up word).


I actually love the usability of folksonomies because it gives me an ease looking for things that I am not sure of. Once, I tried to find the recipe of tiramisu, but I couldn’t remember or spell “tiramisu.” I went on Google and searched for “Italian desserts,” and on looking for it, the most popular recipe list, I found “tiramisu!” I assume that “tiramisu” is the word that many people look for, so its recipe is put in the popular recipe, and it works the same way as popular tags. The folksonomies has been a great help when I look for things since I am not a know-everything savvy.

Filtering Sources

Over the weekend, I did an assignment about adding sources on Wikipedia articles. After reading Identify Reliable Sources and looking through Articles with Unsourced Statements, I decided to choose Paper Recycling and Keep America Beautiful to add sources to them. To be honest, looking for sources was not difficult, but making sure if the sources were reliable was the challenging part.

Paper Recycling

One of the articles I chose was Paper Recycling, and the statement that needed source was “Recycling one ton of newsprint saves about 1 ton of wood while recycling 1 ton of printing or copier paper saves slightly more than 2 tons of wood.” To look for the source, I actually copied the whole sentence and pasted it in Google. I found quite a lot of sources that had exactly the same statements, but most of them were business and did not cite any sources such as Jemmett Fox Recycling, Gentle Earth Recycling Blog, etc. However, while scrolling down, I found a link of Green Press Initiative’s article, which sounded very reliable to me. Thus I did a quick research on this organization. Green Press Initiative is a non-profit organization whose passion is to “work with book and newspaper industry stakeholders to conserve natural resources, preserve endangered forests, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize impacts on indigenous communities” (About Us). Moreover, this organization is featured in an article of PBS, Web Leads, Print Pubs Improve Environmental Impact.

PBS article

Another article that I looked at was Keep America Beautiful, and the statement that was “Keep America Beautiful was founded in 1953 by consortium of American businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and concerned individuals.” I did the same step as previous article. Google had showed a lot of results involving with the founded date. I decided to look at Keep American Beautiful Website  since this is a well-known organization and it is featured in many other credible organizations such as Boy Scout of AmericaClean Sweep USA, etc. Therefore, I decided to choose KAB website even though it was not a secondary source.

This assignment makes me realize that not all the sources are reliable. When I did my research before, I trusted Google with the top results because I thought Google wouldn’t make them on top if they were unreliable, but I was wrong. Now, I am more aware that doing research is not only about looking for sources but also researching about those sources.

Google and Filtering

“Hey what is the capital of Switzerland?”

“I don’t know. Google it.”

Since when has “Google” become a verb? I don’t know. No one knows, but one sure thing that Google not only has become the most influencing search, but also a “mafia” cloud that covers almost all the activities we perform online. From Gmail to Google Books, we go to Google to look for everything little thing because we trust Google with its result; however, the amount of information that Google holds goes beyond surprising (of course).

My participation and interaction with the Internet is daily, no, hourly, but I am not always aware that all my activities can be found through Google. I once searched my email, and it shocked me how all my social network accounts associating with that email could be found easily, even some old accounts I created back in middle school. Not only that, my pictures and friends in those accounts were showed as well, which a little was disturbing to me because I never knew they could be seen in public. However, when I searched my full name “thi le”, the results were totally different from the first one. None of the results was about me, but a British singer named Chris Thile. Phew, so people cannot stalk me if they search for my name (just kidding!).

I wondered how remove my information from Google, but I realized it was impossible unless I deleted my accounts. I then think about how Google manages the information it holds and how it is regulated. Google is powerful and it seems almost like a monopolistic to me. No one can control Google but itself (or the people running Google). The government hasn’t had any specific laws about the Internet regulation, so the responsibility ball is in Google’s court, and it’s up to Google to make it what it is.

Parents always blame the Internet for being a dangerous place where their kids learn bad things, but to be honest, Internet is not dangerous if you play smart. I agree that Google has used its power to control the bad websites such as pornography or malware potential websites, but it is our responsibility to navigate from those websites. If you really want to go to a pornography website, Google cannot stop you; even your mother can’t. Do not blame the Internet for all the viruses you get when you’re not having an anti-virus software on your computer. Overall, it’s called the practice of safe hex.


Filter filter filter

Most of my classes’ work is based heavily online, so I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen, and filtering experience is inevitable in this case. It has been a habit (or addition) to check my Gmail first because it is where I get all the notifications from my social network sites. I have also noticed the ads on Gmail somewhat respond to the content of my emails. For example, a friend sent me an email saying that he was in Cancun, and there was an ad on the side bar advertising about cheap packages to Cancun. This has been getting on my nerves because how they can read my private messages to generate the ads responding to my emails.

I am not a big fan of Facebook or any social network platforms anymore, so I barely go on there unless I get an email notification or I want to share something on there. I have more than 300 “friends” on Facebook, and it is overwhelming to check all the updates, so I only go to the profiles of people’s who I want to look at. I have recently used Twitter because it is required for school, and I like it! However, I don’t want to go through all the tweets of the people I follow, so I search the hash tag of the classes to update what is going on. I think I get distracted most from the news gadget I put on my iGoogle homepage. I put several gadgets on iGoogle such as weather, translator, maps, etc. so I can quickly access to those I use the most without opening another tab. The news gadget is the Vietnamese news feed I put on in order to keep track with what is happening in my home country, and it is very tempting not to check those feeds. I always get carried away whenever I click on those because once an article pops up, there will also be links connecting other interesting articles that I want to read.

Overall, I have pretty good control on filtering what I need to take in and what I need to ignore. I realize it is a good thing that I do not like Facebook because it would take away some hours of mine doing nothing on their but staring at people’s updates (Smiley face)!

Filter Journal:

Gmail: I never click on the ads on my Gmail.

Facebook: Go directly to the profiles I want to check.

Twitter: Search hash tag, but sometimes scroll down to see all the tweets.

iGoogle: Check weather, check news feed and zone out.

iGoogle homepage