Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Internet and Learning Foreign Languages

There are dozens of languages that people use to communicate with each other on the Internet. In the past, you always had to pay to learn foreign languages. It was obvious that if you want to learn to speak and write Italian or Spanish you had to take a course and pay for it. Today, the reality is different. With the widespread access to the Internet many services became free, and you no longer have to spend money on them. There are free courses on the Internet that are 100% legit and can help you learn and understand a foreign language. I know that BBC offers such courses, and if you are interested you can check their site for more details. Apart from regular courses there are also other ways of learning foreign languages. You can, for example, visit a chat where people speak the language you wish to learn. You can then practice such language by talking with people who speak the language of your choice. This is in fact a very effective way of learning. While English is the most widely used language on The Internet is the Western world, the truth is that there are many valuable websites in other languages.

You can Go to Jail for Spamming

Jeremy Jaynes from North Carolina was a man who clearly wanted to get rich. He abused the fact that it is so easy to send emails to people, and he has sent spam email to millions of people across the world. He was earning around half million dollars per month from this “business”, and earned at least twenty five million dollars in total. It seemed that everything was working very well for Jeremy, but that was until he got accused of illegal spamming. While spamming under certain conditions is allowed, it is not legal, for example, to falsify message headers, which Jeremy was doing. Basically, he earned his fortune by lying to people, so no wonder that he will spend nine years in prison for sending illegal spam. I think it proves that you can go to jail for spamming.

This is just an example that spammers are eventually going to be punished. The society is not going to tolerate spammers because most of us waste a lot of time deleting spam from our mail folders. Spamming has to stop but it seems that the only thing that really works is to send some spammers to jail. This sets an example to other spammers who will need to realize that their actions will not get unpunished.

Scanning Books

Some time ago Microsoft decided that it will abandon the plan to scan books in libraries in order to make their contents searchable on the Internet. The books that Microsoft was scanning were in the public domain and no copyright books were used without the permission of the author. On the other hand, Google not only is still scanning books, but it scans books protected under copyright law. In my opinion, it is always a good thing if people have access to knowledge and making books available online would be a step in this direction. It is unclear to me why Microsoft decided to abandon the project, but I hope that Google is not going to make the same choice, as it has a chance to contribute to the society by allowing people to have access to knowledge.

It seems that these days more and more people decide to scan their documents and pictures. Scanners are becoming more accessible each day and more people realize how useful they are. Overall, scanners are also more accurate each year so no wonder that they are so popular. If someone wants a high quality scanner he will no longer need to spend a lot of money on it.

Finding Cheap Gas

There are a lot of things Google Maps can be useful for. I am sure that are some things that you may not know about, even if you are familiar with the software. Did you know that you can use Google Maps in order to find cheap gas? Do you know how this can be possible? You can accomplish this by using the GasBuddy extension to Google Maps. GasBuddy can help you locate all of the nearest gas stations, and allows people to leave notes such as gas prices or availability of regular or premium gas. It is hard not to notice the high gas prices, but fortunately this program will help you save some money, especially if you use your car a lot. We might not be able to influence the price of gas, but at least we should try to buy reasonably priced gas. GasBuddy currently allows you to find cheap gas prices in USA and Canada. Since it has a network of over 180 websites, it probably has the most comprehensive listings of gas prices anywhere. It is interesting to stipulate what would happen if all consumers had instant access to gas prices in their city. Would all of the service stations ultimately offer gas at the same price?

Dealing with Spam Comments

Spam is becoming a very dangerous issue these days. Did you recently notice a few spam comments on your blog, and decided to do something about it? Many blog platforms offer a CAPTCHA system to combat spammers. The way it works is that a commentator will have to input alphanumerical characters in a box that he sees in an image above. Since most spam comes from automated software that cannot pass this test, it is a good way to reduce the number of spam comments left on your blog. You can enable CAPTCHAs on blogger blogs by going to the comments tab and ticking “show word verification for comments”. On the other hand, if you have a WordPress blog you may simply wish to install a plug-in for this purpose. Some bloggers even decide to disallow comments simply because they receive so much spam on their blog. In my opinion, it might be a better idea to simply utilize CAPTCHA and this way allow your visitors to contribute to your blog. The WordPress platform also offers Akismet, which is a great tool to combat spam, but unfortunately Akismet is not able to detect all spam comments. That is why bloggers will need to consider using other methods to combat spam.

Video Games Become Obsolete

I am aware of the fact that the title of this post might be a little bit misleading. However, I did it on purpose. I do not think that in general video games are becoming obsolete. It is quite on the contrary, because they become more and more popular compared to others forms of entertainment. The thing is that with games taking usually a few years to develop, they start becoming outdated very soon. The graphics that might have been considered to be very high quality during the first stages of a game design, might not look so appealing after the game’s release. What we observe is that very soon after the release of the game, other games are released as well which might have better graphics and might be more innovative. I am wondering if in the future we will reach a time when it will be impossible to create any better graphics. If that was ever the case then this would prevent many games from getting outdated. Of course, graphics is not the only element that can be improved, so I believe that there will always be some room for innovation. What do you think about it? What else can get improved?

Students Do Not Wish To Be Alerted

Due to the massacre that took place at Virginia Tech in 2007, many have taken steps to improve the security systems in colleges. However, students do not seem very interested. One solution that would help to alert the students of any dangers would be to send them text messages to their cell phones. As attractive and effective as it may sound, the solution did not find many advocates as students are not interested in enrolling for the service, even in an age when they consider their mobile phones to be indispensable. For example, Omnilert, a company that provides an emergency alert system to more than 500 campuses reported that less than 40 percent of students enroll for the alerts. There are a lot of people that seem to be alarmed because of the lack of interest in such campaigns among US students. Hopefully, the awareness of the existing danger will increase the enrollment rate among students and faculty. Another thing that could possibly help is offering email alerts. Students these days check their email very often, and such alerts could be as effective as sending an SMS message. A lot of people have a program on their desktop which immediately notifies them of any new email, even if they have email boxes that have to be accessed by browsers.

Bluetooth Devices

Bluetooth technology has been around for some time, and there have been some interesting devices released that take advantage out of this technology. For example, integrating Bluetooth with PCs and Pocket PCs allows for convenient wireless synchronization and data transfer. This makes both Pocket PCs and desktop PCs more useful. It is also important to realize that Pocket PCs equipped with Bluetooth can work along a GPS device and help drivers all around the world. There are also many accessories for computers such as wireless mouses and keyboards with a range of up to 30 feet. This is a longer range compared to RF devices that have a range up to six feet. This long range makes it possible to sit far away from your computer and still be able to use a keyboard or mouse. Printers that have a Bluetooth adapter are compatible with PCs, Pocket PCs, and mobile phones. This means that there is no need for any wires or special configurations. This is one of the reasons Bluetooth became so popular. I think that it is safe to say that in the future most devices will be wireless. Perhaps Bluetooth technology will even gain more on popularity as people will no longer want to buy devices that require connecting many cables.

Have You Participated in Social Networking?

The Internet serves many different purposes, and that is why people use it for many different purposes. Some only play online games, some only browse forums, some engage in chats. But how about social networking like MySpace? Apart from dangers that might await you there, there are many benefits that you can gain from participating in social networking. First and foremost, you have a chance like you never had before to meet the people that share the same interests as you. This cannot be usually achieve in a place where you live, because what is the probability that somebody in your workplace enjoys, for example, horse riding? If you have never tried social networking, I recommend that you give it a try to at least get a feeling of what it is like.

Solar Devices

We see sun every day, but very often we do not realize its full potential. I am not only talking about its health benefits, but rather how we can use modern technologies to take advantage out of it. Solar powered devices have been around for quite some time now, but such devices are still not very popular. What makes solar powered devices so attractive is that solar power is renewable. We will never run out of it, so taking advantage out of it is a great idea. The sun will keep shining anyway, whether we use this energy or not. A very interesting concept that comes to mind would be a solar powered iPhone. Actually, it is not only a concept anymore as Apple has applied for a patent which proves that they are considering such device. It seems like such an iPhone would have an ingenious design, and would have the solar panels hidden under the LCD display. I have not seen anything like that and wish luck to Apple in developing this technology, as I like the idea of it. There are already solar powered iPhone chargers which can charge your phone in just a few hours, but a solar powered iPhone is obviously a completely different design.