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Greenville College IT department purchases new VX6 module

Posted Friday, April 1st, 2011

With a gracious grant from the Technology for Students Foundation, the Greenville College Information Technology department was able to purchase a slightly used VX6 module from the United States Government “old tech” auction.  With this new piece of technical equipment, the IT department will be able to increase the computational limits on all campus computers as well as process work orders up to 3 times as fast.

VX6 front end

VX modules (VX stands for Volt Xoccula) have been crucial pieces of technology in the evolution of technology on the whole.  For the uninitiated, the VX6 module may sound like a load of techno-babble, but understanding a bit about this module is fundamental in the evolution of computers and technology.   The first VX module (VX1) developed by a team Dutch engineers, led by Dr. Hans Rudolphus Knopflemeier, was designed to systematically draw correlations between various active points in a statistically unbalanced chemical markup, in order to reduce reactivity in its final solution. This is done by using deltas. The higher the delta the machine can function on, the more efficiently it can draw correlations based on corroborating separate inconsistencies in pressurized environments. In order to do this without failure, the machine must achieve its prime vector. Of course, it can also be used to solve physical logic problems, or make music and light displays from scratch.  The productions of these delta waves have been used for a wide variety of situations and experiments in the world of Engineering and the Computational sciences, such as the discovery of Yalgeth’s limit (.88 Delta), the Hans-Rodenheim Law of Vectoral Momentum, and of course the Armistan Codex.

The previously purchased VX6 module may seem like a looming mystery, but actually, the interworking’s of the device are simple enough.  The VX6 module has the aesthetics of a large computer with several interchangeable commercial parts.  The VX6 module purchased by Greenville College IT is a model XL-D430 Alpha and comes with several interesting instruments such as an Alpha Refraction Caulculator, Deconstituational Flux Valve, and most importantly, the Seperational R-Regulator (which runs at a steady 53,000 TSI).

Deconstituational Flux Valve

It is the goal of the Greenville College IT Department to use the newly purchased VX6 module as a teaching tool as well as a productive piece of the college’s infrastructure.  When the  VX6 is in use, it will  be at all times producing a minimum of .35 delta and at most .88 delta (don’t worry, silicone disruptor chip is double shielded to prevent leakage.)  Due to the standard safety procedures provided in the VX6 safety manual (V.4.1.16), authorized by the the Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf Engineering department, the VX6 module can only run for a total of 98,000 cycles before it needs to have the regulatory shutdown schedule completed and the cooling mechanism cleaned.  In this down time Computer science and pre-engineering students will have the chance to observe the regulatory sanitization to the J-filter on the port side of the module.

decontinental Flux Drive

Finally, the VX6 module will provide Greenville College with a variety of new opportunities to advance scientifically and technologically.  With the VX6 module, students will be able to learn real world skills concerning the VX6 modules workability and gain experience with Marginal Spectrum Analyzer and the Telescopic Reactor Drive.  Students, make sure to sign up for available time slots for your chance at hitting .88 Delta!

 

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Dropbox, A New Way to Share Documents

Posted Monday, March 28th, 2011

Do you often times have problems transferring documents between computers?  Do you constantly email documents to yourself so that you can access your files from various computers?   Instead, try an application called Dropbox.  Dropbox is an online storage service that allows you to store data online and sync your data between computers.  The free version of Dropbox allows the user to upload 2 gigs of data to be synced between computers.

Dropbox offers a secure and easy way to transfer and backup documents between computers.  The sync can be set up between two computers or several computers; so that you and colleagues can all collaborate and be kept up to date with various revisions and updates to files.  In addition, you won’t even have to worry about always transferring the newest copy to Dropbox, because Dropbox will automatically sync whenever there is a new or recently changed file.

However, when sharing documents across a network, there is always the possibility of weighing down the network with large transfers.  Dropbox offers a great solution to this problem.  Dropbox efficiently syncs your documents with the wellbeing of your greater network in mind.  When a file is changed and synced in Dropbox, only the pieces of the file that have been changed are synced.  Also, if you are extremely conscientious with your bandwith usage, you can manually set bandwith limits within dropbox.

Dropbox is available for a variety of platforms; it can be used with and between Macs, Windows, and there is even an Iphone Dropbox app.   Or instead of using the Dropbox application you can even visit the Dropbox website and view your files online.  Dropbox offers a variety of ways you can access your files so that you can have all of your important documents with you no matter where you are!

You can download Dropbox here

 

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Foucault and the Power of Media.

Posted Friday, March 25th, 2011

On the topic of television and media in general the French Philosopher, Michel Foucault, puts forth

“What bothers me is the quality of French television. It’s true! It is one of the best in the world unfortunately!… What bothers and irritates me horribly in France, is that you are obliged to look at the program in advance to know what you can’t miss, and you have to arrange your evening as a result. And then there is Le Pain Noir on Mondays. Result: every Monday is booked up… It is this, which is the strength of television. People end up living according to its schedules. The news has been delayed by a quarter of an hour: well, you know that restaurants will see their diners arrive a quarter of an hour later.”[1]

What Foucault is getting at here, is that our society is one that is oriented by media.  Now, this quote is a bit anachronistic because rarely does one wait for a program to be aired on television anymore.  With innovations like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and controversial technologies like BitTorrent waiting for television programs or movies to be aired has become something done by those who are less technologically savvy than us Netflix/Hulu/iTunes users.  With the aforementioned technologies, we may think that we have broken the spell the media had over us.  It may seem like now, with things like Netflix that we have the choice of when we want to watch our favorite programs.  We don’t have to wait until Sunday night to watch Doctor Who or wait until Monday night to watch How I Met Your Mother Though, I think exactly the opposite has happened, no longer does one have to wait on the television schedule that has been produced by executives of television corporations.  If anything, the incorporation of these media distribution technologies have only tightened the grip media has over our lives.

Instead of waiting for our favorite programs one can now “binge watch”[2] a series and complete the entire series in only several sittings.  Let me elaborate on the term “binge watch,” using it in a sentence will be helpful in understanding the full meaning of the phrase: “I feel like crap today, I shouldn’t have stayed up till 4:00 a.m. watching the entire season two of Battlestar Gallactica.”[3] Or “Well, I guess I could be a productive human being, but all of the seasons of Lost were just moved to instant play!”[4]

Despite the pitfalls that often come with these services, many people (i.e. me) have abandoned cable for Netflix or Hulu.  Why would one want cable when one can get the programs one wants for a lower price and no commercials?  Netflix is even pursuing producing its own original programing.[5] This will surely grow the Netflix user base as well as challenge the traditional forms of media distribution. (e.g. cable, satellite, etc)

Still, one may put forth that at least now we are consuming media on our own time.  While this occasionally may be the case, I would suggest that these various means of media distribution have permeated into avenues of distribution that transcend the comfort of one’s own couch and affect the world in several socio-economical ways.  For example, apps have been developed for smart phones, tablet computers, etc. that allow Netflix and the iTunes store to stream videos anywhere a sufficient internet connection can be found, (e.g. everywhere) or one just has to have a data plan that allows for video streaming.

It isn’t that companies like Netflix are solely responsible for this cultural change, but rather there is a complex and interwoven set of technological advances and ideological changes that have been accepted and adopted to get us where we are today. Smart Phones and tablet computers, like Netflix, are just one piece in all of this. In the quote above from Foucault, he mentions that if the news delays its broadcast, then restaurants can count on their patrons being that much later.  Now, with the constant connection that we allow ourselves to have to the internet, there is no need to wait for the news to air, just set the push notifications on your smart phone accordingly and you’ll be updated automatically.

Then, what does this mean for us?  In the style of Foucault we think of what all this means with relation to power and control.  The first thing one might notice is that by subscribing to a media distribution service like Netflix, one pays a fraction of the cost of what they would for cable television and they get no advertisements.  This may result in more consumption of media over a short period, but less influence from corporations wanting to sell their products.  However, this is not to say that consuming media and less influence from advertisements is better, just less intrusive.  This kind of consumption left unchecked can surely inhibit one’s relationship with friends and family.  The technology of being a couch potato at the professional level has developed and it has and will continue to change the way we consume media. Economically speaking, a Netflix type model of media distribution eliminates the demand for movie rental stores as well as movie theatres.  This has already had a noticeable effect on companies such as Blockbuster.

Parenthetically, this is not to say that watching media at all is bad, on the contrary, many of the programs that we watch are the ways our culture shares stories and are entertained.  These stories are produced, become popular, and become normative pieces of our cultural narrative.  One can often find a sort of genealogy through the various traces referring back to previous programs.

Finally, the way media is distributed is important and shapes the way we live and operate. Media consumption isn’t bad, rather it’s inevitable, but practicing temperance and paying attention to what we’re consuming and how it’s being distributed to us.  Even though it’s entirely possible, binge watching allows us to become detached, lazy, and irresponsible with our time and would be best avoided for the most part.

Footnotes


[1] Foucault, Michel (1994) [1975] ‘A quoi rêvent les philosophes?’. In Dits et Ecrits vol. II. Paris: Gallimard, p. 705. This passage translated by Clare O’Farrell.

[3] You should totally do this.

[4] Once again, a worthwhile pursuit.

 

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10 Reasons “The Social Network” Matters

Posted Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 Tagged:

This past weekend I made the jump. Through the magic of Netflix, I had The Social Network delivered to my door like a hot pizza on a lazy Friday night so that I could consider the buzz and hype for myself.  I had resisted watching it up to that point. After all, how good could a movie be about a website that consumes, or at least occupies the lives of over 500 million users (facebook.com, 2011)?  Can all the elements of “poking”, “liking”, Farmville, and status updates combine to produce a film worthy of a Best Picture nod by the Academy?

Settled on the sofa with a Dr. Pepper and some Girl Scout cookies (Samoans win the award for “Best Cookie Ever”), I was quickly drawn in.  I use Facebook daily and the story unfolding on the screen grabbed my attention with its quick pace and backstory of the mega-company’s humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm room. Mark Zuckerberg’s character, played by Jesse Eisenberg, was amusing with his snarky attitude and brutally honest quips fired off at friend and foe devoid of any tact. And as the credits rolled, I found myself satisfied, entertained, and my interest piqued to investigate the story further.

Did this cinematic endeavor deserve an Oscar nomination for the coveted category of filmmakers? That is a debate to be hashed out in the octagon by film critics and Hollywood. And just like every other movie inspired by real-life events, we know it was polished and embellished with the true story residing somewhere between this big-screen version, and Zuckerberg’s ho-hum, self-loathing demeanor. I do not intend to dive into these questions and the artistic merits of the motion picture within this post, but I do believe “The Social Network” is important and should be viewed.

The most enjoyable movies for me have been those that invaded my thinking space the next day beckoning me to contemplate the story, or pour over the questions raised. No Country for Old Men by the Cohen Brothers was one such film, as was Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List. Each project had a unique touchpoint. “The Social Network” was similar.

Long after the final scene I was hitting the rewind button in my gray matter. But it was not the performances, the musical score, the cinematography, or great existential questions that struck me about this film. At the end of the day, it was a pretty good movie, though nothing spectacular. It didn’t expose any great injustices, nor did it share the story of great valor or bravery. Yet it is an important motion picture and I want to offer ten reasons why I think this film deserves a viewing. It is a story that lives in our neighborhoods and one we interact with each day.

1. Disruptive Technology

With over 500 million users, Facebook is a juggernaut tool that has been changing the landscape of our culture since its inception. It is one of the formidable disruptive technologies (that is another article) to emerge in the past decade, one that has affected pop culture, relationships, employment, politics, religion, education, and business. Understanding the history of Facebook and the foundations of the company can help us identify and contemplate the next disruptive technology that might permeate our lives.

2. Business Ethics

It stirs the pot of business ethics. While we can agree that the movie may shade the details and nudge the story in certain directions, we do know that the lawsuits levied against Zuckerberg actually happened (Los Angeles Times, 2011). Great questions are posed: What is right and wrong? When does the issue at hand just become a matter of opinion, or tactfulness? And this doesn’t even begin to address the fact that Zuckerberg’s groundwork for Facebook included hacking into Harvard’s computer network to gather student pictures (Kaplan, 2003).

3. Business Partnerships

Business partnerships are a central theme in this flick. In an emerging world of embraced freelance and where entrepreneurship is endeared, this movie should trigger some interesting conversations concerning the value of verbal agreements, contracts in writing, incorporation versus sole proprietorship or partnerships, terms for mediation, and overall business plans.

4. Intellectual Rights

This film also broaches the subject of intellectual rights.  One of the lawsuits handed down to Zuckerberg is by two Harvard classmates that had recruited him to work on a social website. They allege idea theft once Facebook goes live. A central question evolves pertinent to today’s explosion of innovative ideas: With so many people working to solve real-world problems or address perceived needs, what are the parameters of intellectual property?

5. University Involvement

In the context of school projects that lead to business realities, this movie skims the question of when colleges and universities step in to mediate in cases of disagreements over stolen ideas or works. On the coattails of intellectual rights, it seems cloudy on whether digital or ideological theft violates honor codes and lifestyle statements, thus prompting administrators to get involved. Additionally, as business incubators expand it begs the question of who owns the initiatives and proposals developed in the arena of education. Does the school have a stake in a million dollar idea? Should non-disclosure agreements be used in any real-life scenario lab? Or do institutions release students to the wind, on their own to draft any protective contracts?

6. Business Networking

The power of networking catapulted Facebook into the limelight where it attracted users like flies to a picnic.  Peter Thiel (PayPal co-founder) was an early investor and Sean Parker (Napster co-founder) became the first Facebook president after a period of informally advising Zuckerberg and business partner, Eduardo Saverin. This story illustrates how savvy networking and who you know can unlock a good idea and expose it for nurturing and cultivation.

7. Political Impact

While not directly dealt with in the movie, the full political impact of Facebook has probably not been witnessed. We come to understand from the film that the purpose of Facebook was to allow its users to connect, communicate, and share. In recent years, American politicians have effectively used the site to communicate their views, organize rallies, and strategically empower online street teams to get their policies and views before the voters. Recently we witnessed the power of the site to bring about significant change as Egyptian protesters utilized the service to plan rallies and make their views known.

8. Privacy

The pre-cursor to Facebook was Zuckerberg’s Facemash website that allowed users to rank classmates based on attractiveness. Zuckerberg came under fire and appeared before Harvard administrators after posting the pictures without permission (Kaplan, 2003). Privacy has continued to be an issue for Facebook and will certainly be a dominant topic as more of our personal lives go online. This is certain to be one of the most relevant issues in the years to come as people utilize social networks and cloud services.  Financial institutions, lawyers, and politicians will undoubtedly be scrambling to keep up with the changing landscape. Is anyone nervous about trusting personal information to a company founded by a practicing hacker?

9. Relationships

Facebook re-defines the word “friend.” In the social network world this title is attributed to any acquaintance and even strangers that you might connect with on the site. Are digital friendships really friendship?  Do our relationships suffer as physical interactions dissipate?  And how much is too much? In the movie, Zuckerberg said Facebook would always be evolving, just like technology. How much more technology can we absorb into our lives without disrupting the balance of living?

10. Business Models

While the training wheels were still on, Facebook was an exclusive service reserved for a select group of colleges and universities.  As popularity grew, they began to expand until the buzz had preceded availability and everyone wanted in. This is an interesting model to be studied. Did it succeed because it moved from exclusive to available and people wanted in? Is it a techno-fad? Was it because Facebook’s support and growth matched the proportions of their user base? Or was it simply because it was a great idea that met the needs and wants of its users at just the right time in history?

 

Works Cited

facebook.com. (2011, March 7). Statistics. Retrieved March 7, 2011, from facebook.com: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics#!/press/info.php?statistics

Kaplan, K. A. (2003, November Wednesday, November 19). Facemash Creator Survives Ad Board. Retrieved March Tuesday, March 8, 2011, from The Harvard Crimson: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2003/11/19/facemash-creator-survives-ad-board-the/

Los Angeles Times. (2011, February 28). Zuckerber’s former classmates press on with suit against Facebook. Retrieved March 7, 2011, from www.kansascity.com: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/28/2687423/zuckerbergs-former-classmates.html

Yin, S. (2011, February 9). Despite Lawsuit, Winklevoss Twins Tell CNN They Are Active Facebook Users. Retrieved March 7, 2011, from pcmag.com: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2379896,00.asp

 

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Welcome to the IT Blog

Posted Monday, March 14th, 2011

Welcome to the Greenville College IT Department blog.  Periodically we will post articles and other technology related information that may be of interest to you. See you soon!

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