I spend about 25 percent of my day looking at a computer screen. I also spend about 37.4 percent of my day fighting luchadors. One of those statements is false, but illustrates the unique power of the Internet. In the past decade, all different types of media have been finding a digital counterpart to be distributed online, causing changes in the fabric of human interaction that have never been faced before. The Internet gives platform, although a very different kind, to anyone who wishes to speak, regardless of what they have to say.
Take knowledge for instance. Never before have so many people had access to so much free information through a little device in their pocket. Hyperlinking has become the new way of hyperwarping through different thoughts and ideas.
But as a computer science major in the year 2013, I can’t help but wonder what effect technology will have on people’s knowledge and understanding. Some claim that relying on technology to instantly and effortlessly answer questions makes people dumber. In a recent talk by Ken Jennings, the reigning jeopardy champion, he shares about how he feels when IBM’s supercomputer named Watson rendered him obsolete.
However, despite the images of robot apocalypse and other futuristic ideas portrayed by movies and novels, the future doesn’t have look like that. Technology is not something that should be feared, but understood.
Technology is fluid in the sense that it is always changing, and the person who understands how to use it has an advantage over the person who doesn’t. Being tech savvy means knowing how to creatively use technology to build new platforms and present new perspectives. Being tech savvy then, by definition, is a tendency to bend the rules, and even break them under some occasions. It means adding a whole other dimension of thinking and communication to life, one that is virtually limitless.
Of course, that means that people must remain knowledgeable enough about technology so that they can use the technology instead of the technology using them. Google shouldn’t be seen as a life force, but merely a supplement. The moment that people assume that technology is smarter than them is the moment that we resign ourselves to a place of servitude.
The only way that technology will make people dumber is if people use it as a substitute to learning instead of a supplement.
If you are reading this in 2013, I am willing to bet $20 that you haven’t used a floppy disk within the last week.
But even if you haven’t used one in years, the floppy disk is an image that is universally recognized, and will most likely never be forgotten. To kids currently learning to use computers, the floppy disk is no longer a physical data storage device, it’s an icon to click on in order to save a file.
The floppy disk is an obsolete artifact of the past, an illustration of what happens when people become accustomed to something that change becomes nearly impossible. The floppy disk represents tradition, something of the past that is no longer relevant today, but still lingers within culture.
To the entrepreneur, tradition is nothing more than an opportunity for change; a challenge to do things better rather than submit to the way things have always been done. Instead of blindly accepting artifacts of culture, the entrepreneur questions and thinks critically about things that can be changed.
Thus, to the creative, traditions are not seen as guidelines to stay within, but boundaries to advance and explore outside of. Creativity comes when a person thinks differently, creating something that has never existed before.
No matter how new an innovation is, or how many problems a new invention solves, the creative mind always thinks about it one step further, and is not satisfied with the current level of innovation. While this may seem like a never-ending treadmill of hard thinking, the life in being creative is not the end product, but the process it took to get there.
When you hear a past innovator talk about how things were like back in “their day”, they’re reminiscing on the process it took to bringing new innovation in, and how creativity changed their lifestyle.
That is why we aren’t carrying around black squares for data storage anymore.
If you’re anything like me and come across talks on YouTube that are hours long on a regular basis, speeding up playback is a great way to get through them faster and have greater focus.
I like to watch videos at 1.5x speed, which is slow enough so I can still understand (usually), but fast enough so my mind can’t get distracted.
Enabling variable speed control on YouTube requires you to enter their beta HTML5 player trial, which you can find here. Keep in mind that your browser will need to meet certain requirements, and the video player may feel slightly different after you enable it.
After you’ve signed up for the HTML5 trial, clicking the little gear button on basically any video will bring up a selection of choices for playback. You can choose to play videos faster or slower.
Surprisingly, I found that when I started listening to talks at 1.5x speed, I ended up comprehending more of the talk than I did at slower speeds. I’m no cognitive expert, but it seems that playing the video faster causes me to pay much more attention.
Basically, if you are unfamiliar with either service, both provide a way to manage mailing lists by allowing people to subscribe/unsubscribe to email updates whenever you send them. Phplist, while it got the job done, just wasn’t very friendly to the average user.
Phplist is an php application which needs to be installed on a server, because phplist only provides the application, and not the server.
Then I found MailChimp. Finding MailChimp was like finding the perfect match to what I was looking for. It allowed me to create a custom subscribe page and easily manage and email subscribers.
At first, I was skeptical that something like this would be easily integrable with a custom-designed existing website. But after the initial registration process, I found that it was very possible to integrate it with a custom html page with a simple php form action. I also found the page customization feature on MailChimp very easy to use.
I was a bit confused when I saw the term “campaign” used instead of something more clear, like “message” or “update”. But after I figured that a campaign was simply an email update to all the subscribers on a list, I quickly began playing around with the settings. The campaign editor has a huge variety of designs to choose from, which can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t have a particular color scheme in mind. The built-in email WYSIWYG editor is very coherent and easy to use.
This feature of Mailchimp impressed me the most. It gives you realtime, constantly updated statistics as to how many people have opened and read your campaign, as well as the statistics of clicks on links you may have provided in your campaign. This data can be very valuable for determining the reach and popularity of each of your updates.
MailChimp is definitely a very powerful, polished web-application that helps you maintain and stay connected with a group of subscribers. It’s got great features and a smooth interface that is unobtrusive and easy to use.
Since one of my most viewed posts to date has been about finding a laptop for college, I have decided to write a post about my own setup.
I use a Lenovo Thinkpad R400 for traversing the Internet and being productive on a daily basis. The computer is about two years old, but I have been constantly upgrading hardware and software elements to keep it running in top shape. I have upgraded the RAM a couple of times, as well as equipped it with a Solid State Drive.
Hardware Specs: 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 8GB RAM, 256GB Crucial m4 SSD, 500GB Toshiba HDD
Personally, I’m a fan of the Thinkpad series for a variety of reasons, including their durability, “upgrade-ability”, comfortable keyboard and trackpoint, among other things. The ability to have a dock is also notoriously useful. When I’m at home, I generally will dock my laptop into the dock, instantly connecting it to my dual monitor setup, keyboard, mouse, tablet, printer, and other peripherals. That way, it feels almost like a desktop computer when I’m at home.
Being an older thinkpad model, it isn’t the lightest nor thinnest computer out there, but it’s manageable in terms of size and weight. Battery life runs about 4 hours on average off of my 6-cell battery pack, so not terribly impressive there either.
In terms of software, I use a combination of Windows 7 and Ubuntu depending on the task at hand. Windows is used for the more casual emailing / chatting / browsing, while Ubuntu is dedicated to the programming side of things. (Who doesn’t love the linux terminal?)
What are you using? Feel free to comment if you have any questions.
I often hear people saying that waiting for the laptop battery to reach 0% before recharging will prolong the lifespan of the battery. The sad reality is, regularly discharging lithium-ion batteries to 0% will not necessarily make your battery last longer.
This used to be true when batteries were made of Ni-Cd, due to the memory effect of such chemistry, but Li-Ion maintenance is different.
Generally, keeping lithium-ion batteries charged between 40%-80% is the best for the battery.
The real killers of battery life include keeping it charged at 100% for extended periods of time (weeks or longer) and / or exposing the battery to hot temperatures: Batteries should be kept in a cool, dry place for maximum lifespan.
But no matter what you do to your lithium ion batteries, they will die in a few years no matter how you treat them, so there’s no need to be too uptight about your charging habits.
Check out this link for more information.