The revolutionary app phenomenon

We’re all familiar with the ‘app’ phenomenon only after the production and release of the first Apple iPhone, but do you know that one of the first apps were actually launched way back in 1998? However, because technology then lacked a device which could support these apps, they never really gained popularity until 2007 (along with the craze that accompanied that of the iPhone). Before today’s all-familiar Apple App Store, apps were initially only available through Safari. Apple only launched the App Store in 2008 to tackle developers, who created their very own unofficial App Store and third-party apps downloaded through what they called “Installer“.

Apple’s AppStore gradually grew and grew, reaching a total of about 500,000 apps available for download. Moreover, with Android phones and iPads joining the market, people have grown so dependent on it. Besides the entertaining action games and mind-boggling puzzles, there’s an app for almost anything! An app to wake you up, to monitor women’s menstrual cycles or pregnancy, to remind you of appointments and groceries to stock up on, to edit your photos and keep yourself updated on all social networking sites.

Being an iPhone user myself, i’m going to introduce (if you don’t already know) and recommend three of what i think are the most useful apps that i have come across:

1. Shazam

Ever encountered a situation where you walk into a club or just a random retail store and they’re playing a catchy tune which got you thinking “I need that on my playlist”, but you have no way to find out what song that is unless a) you walk up to the salesgirl/DJ and ask for its title or b) you quickly struggle to make out the lyrics of the song and search it on Google? Well, since Shazam, i have never had to feel like that again.

All you have to do is put your phone near the source of the music that you like, record about 20 seconds of it and then BAAM!, the title, artist, album and lyrics of the song is all yours, safely stored in the “Tags” category of the app. I guess this app would appeal to people who, like me, think “NO MUSIC, NO LIFE!”

2. Flipboard

Before hearing about Flipboard from a close friend of mine, i used to have to browse through a crazy number of apps a day just to keep myself updated on every social networking site, newspaper and magazine app. Now Flipboard is just amazing because it offers the integration of all these information into one platform. By “flipping” the board, i can access Facebook updates, tweets, daily news (even backdated ones), my favourite fashion magazines and daily horoscope updates either altogether in one, or by category. I know, it’s quite hard to understand my explanations but i guess a preview of the app will make it easier for you to understand.

With the convenience of having everything in one, the ease of just “flipping” with one finger to skip to the next page and the attractive and user-friendly layout, i think Flipboard is just amazing!

3. My Timetable

Now this is exclusively handy for students who like keep things organised and viewing their class timetables in a proper, practical and colourful format instead of just jotting it down on a piece of paper or saving it on their phones. Or maybe could cater to just anybody who keeps a routine, lacks time management or likes keeping their upcoming days or weeks organised. This app cost me $0.99 but i actually thought it was worth paying for. My Timetable allows you to keep an endless list of timetables and even have those emailed to you as an emergency backup. It might not appeal to the majority and people might find it ridiculous to pay for an app like this but among all other timetable apps that i have downloaded, i found this the easiest to adapt to and the least dull and boring to view from.

With the prevalence and the certain continuing development of apps like these, phones with the ability to support this technology have become a necessity to a lot of people around the world. I, myself, have become very dependent on my iPhone to not only manage my time and keep myself organised but also get me through the boring, time-consuming train rides with informational and fun apps. With more companies and organisations starting to involve themselves in this phenomenon with the creation of an app for themselves, the world would definitely be more connected and integrated that accessing official websites through web browsers wouldn’t be necessary anymore. How convenient! 🙂

Zombies blog too!


Through research using my RSS Feeds subscriptions, i have found a guide to killing your blog by Clay Morgan (@UndeadClay), basically listing things you shouldn’t be doing if you don’t want to shoo readers and potential subscribers away. Morgan, a writer, teacher and speaker from Pittsburgh, also the author of Undead: Revived, Resuscisated, and Reborn, started off his first blog in 2009 which he used as a space to write without any planning or strategy. Just a few months ago, he had the blog shut down and created a new one, but of course, left behind his past blogging mistakes.

Here is a list of bloggers who’d most usually fail at keeping their readers hooked, what Clay Morgan calls “undead bloggers”:

1.   The Vampire Blogger

Vampire bloggers take but rarely have give, offering minimum value in their entries. A selfish, “me-first” value is not going to get your online career anywhere.

2.   The Ghost Blogger

Ghost bloggers are bloggers who have no real presence in their websites. They barely reply to comments or feedbacks of their visitors and are inconsistent in posting up entries. A reply to every single comment is not necessary, but visitors should need a leader to “rally around”. Keep a consistent posting schedule, because if the blogger vanishes, so will his readers.

 3.   The Mummy Blogger

Ancient Egyptians had most organs removed from the dead during the mummifying process but always left the heart because it was deemed “a person’s core, emotional seat, and mind”. Mummy bloggers, who shouldn’t be confused with mom bloggers, are bloggers who blog with no passion or drive. Don’t bore your readers by being boring yourself.

 4.   The Werewolf Blogger

Werewolf bloggers are total opposites of Mummy Bloggers. They blog with extreme heart and passion that they forget to filter their thoughts or hold back taboos, which would most likely lead to a crumbling reputation. You should always think before reacting to people who have offended your beliefs or principles.

5.   The Frankenstein Blogger

Frankenstein bloggers lack flow in their blog entries and would piece together content with no relevance. Branding is key to blogging because you want to avoid confusing readers. It’s difficult for readers to keep up with a messy train of thoughts and might be quite agitating. Choose a topic, focus on that, and stick to that throughout!

Hopefully we all learn from the mistakes of the “undead bloggers” and blog with life, passion and direction.

GOOD LUCK!

Doubting Castle 3: Where good ideas come from?

Hi! I just watched Steven Johnson’s lecture on what and how spaces lead to unusual rates of creativity and innovation. It was an incredibly interesting video and very fun to watch as there were illustration while the whole idea was being explained. The video ended as what i think looks like a shape of a light bulb which is a universal symbol of an idea.

Johnson believes that there are recurring patterns in all systems that are essential to creating an environment for innovation. One of them, what he calls the “slow hunch”, is where an idea almost never comes in a moment of great insight but instead takes a long time to evolve into something better, bigger. He said that ideas usually spend a long time dormant in the background until it suddenly becomes accessible or useful to us.

“Good ideas usually come from the collision between smaller hunches

so that they form something bigger than themselves”.  -Steven Johnson

He used the example of the creation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee as an example to prove that good ideas come from the combination of smaller ideas. His project, initially a side project to organise his own data, only evolved into the full vision of the WWW after ten years of innovation.

Johnson said that ideas spend a lot of time in the hunch form and need to collide with other hunches in order to turn in something big and important. This means, thinking of ways to create systems that will help hunches come together will aid people with half an idea to find its other half to form something big and important.

What i learned from this lecture is that before the emergence of a good idea, a space for people to easily mingle and swap ideas must  exist. I agree completely that whatever we have today almost never comes from the idea of one person. I think it’s totally true that it is the combination of “small hunches” that will lead to something big, important and maybe even life-changing.

So, maybe that is why there are always debates about who invented what.

CHANCE FAVOURS THE CONNECTED MIND. 

Doubting Castle 2: How Social Media Can Make History

Hi, I just watched Clay Shirky’s presentation on the transformed media landscape. It was very interesting to listen to as he uses real-life stories to explain the transformation. His examples given on China’s earthquake, the Great Firewall of China and Video the Vote 2008 basically demonstrated how social media has helped citizens in suppressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censorship and how this changes the nature of politics. His lecture was a real eye opener to how social media has played an important factor in much bigger systems than just the obvious ease of connectivity between people all around the world.

Shirky lays out the three big changes from the media landscape:

  • the internet allowed the many-to-many pattern of communication
  • the internet is the motive carriage for all other medium
  • the internet allows for members of the former audience to be producers and not just consumers (because the same equipment let you consume and produce — phones, laptops etc.)

“Media is increasingly less just a source of information,

and is increasingly more a site of coordination.” -Clay Shirky

This is one of my favourite quotes in his lecture as i cannot agree more with what he said. Media was primarily a source of information, but with immense developments and advancements in technology, media has also created a space for people to interact, cooperate, and work together. However, it is true that “innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we’re all in this together”.

Shirky’s example on the China earthquake clearly demonstrated how social media has changed the way news is being spread. He mentioned that China’s government took 3 months to even admit that an earthquake has happened but that the government had no opportunity to even hide the recent earthquake because their own citizens already “beat them to the punch” by tweeting about it. This shows that new media and technologies have enabled new types of cooperative constructions to bloom in business, science and other industries that i believe will lead to a tremendous change in the system of many governments and organisations.

Doubting Castle 1: Internet of Things

Dan Rowinski’s article, “Internet of Things” depicted a revolutionary future where the Internet will be about connecting things. The  Internet of Things is a network of things where anything — cars, tables, coffee machines, lights etc. — can be monitored by the Internet. I’m trying to imagine this situation and i’m thinking one thing.. INCREDIBLE! We would usually only see this amazing degree of advanced technology in the movies, but having it in real life would make life a breeze and so much more convenient than it already is now.

Rowinski explains that in order for this technology to work, all these things would either need their own individual IP address on the Internet or to have the ability to connect to the Internet without one. With, for instance, microwaves or coffee machines having the ability to be programmed by you without physically being there, you can actually have a meal pre-prepared and save all that unnecessary waiting time.

This article has showed me things way beyond my imagination of the possible advancements of technology. The Internet of Things would have an impact on infrastructure, consumer, health care and businesses. One interesting fact is its potential to monitor our vital organs and our blood count and with this data, patients and doctors could aid sicknesses with ways of prevention or better prepare for an occurrence or relapse. Amazing, just amazing.

I found this a real eye-opener. I completely agree and can see why this development might actually take time. This of course doesn’t only take effort from the Internet but also requires improvements from telecommunication companies and manufacturers of appliances who would have to install sensors into every single thing. With this overload of data, there has to be a stable system to be able to contain and organise the data.

This article was inspiring and i have learned the potential of technology in the future as well as how it would work (IP addresses and etc.). If i could live in that day and age, i can only imagine how smoothly things would go. But then of course there would also be the possibilities of malfunction. The more complex things are, the more room for errors!

Comparing search engines

Hello! I did a search on child genius using three different search engines this morning — Google, DuckDuckGo and Instagrok.

Google presented its results in organised lists where text, images and videos were categorised properly. You can choose to show results in the form of images or videos only, which could accomodate to showing more accurate results. Google has thumbnail previews of each result so it’s easy to know what to expect from each search. With Google’s recent update, you can even narrow down your search by choosing if you want your results coming from Yahoo, Twitter, Tumblr, eBay, Amazon, WordPress and many more other websites. This search engines is one of the most easily adaptable as it uses a layout that is simple, organised and easy to read from.

DuckDuckGo showed similar results to that of Google but wasn’t as organised. It didn’t have category in tabs or much visual, which made it quite boring to research from. Results in the forms of text, images and videos were all jumbled up and it was hard to tell or to differentiate what form they were in or which website they were from. DuckDuckGo only shows thumbnail previews for text results but no previews at all for images and videos, even if the result is from a well-known website like YouTube. However, i did like the fact that right at the top of the results would always automatically be a definition of your search, followed by social networking sites (if available) of your search.

Instagrok is vastly different from both Google and DuckDuckGo. This search engine has a unique way of presenting their results. It presented the results of my search in a graph consisting of key terms which i can choose from to further specify and narrow down my search. So, in my case, “child genius” branched out into words like “age”, “brain”, “piano”, “memory” and then these words, when clicked on, would further branch out into more key terms. It looked very organised at first but after exploring this search engine, i feel that it is more difficult to do research. Sometimes people who do research prefer to have a broader and wider finding to get a general view on a particular topic. With Instagrok trying to narrow down things, it is a big possibility that we miss out on some things that could have been useful information just because it was in another category.

 

I personally would still prefer using Google when doing any kind of search because it is always in order. Google, to me, is the easiest to locate the information i am looking for.

Google alert

ONE: Dogs, Human Think, Act Alike

I just read a news article today about one of my favourite animals, dogs! According to research published in the journal of Animal Cognition, dogs are found to truly be man’s best friend if a person is upset, even if the person is a stranger. Having a dog myself, i’ve found that it is precise that they do know whenever people are upset. Something about the aura we give out and how they’re highly sensitive to that.

“I think there is good reason to suspect dogs would be more sensitive to human emotion than other species. We have domesticated dogs over a long period of time. We have selectively bred them to act as our companions.” -Deborah Custance, 2012

An experiment was done by Custance and colleague Jennifer Mayer from the Department of Psychology at the University London Goldsmiths College where 18 dogs, representing different ages and breeds, were exposed to four separate 20-second human encounters. The participants included the pet’s owner as well as strangers.

It is interesting that the dogs showed signs of comfort when the individual pretended to cry, regardless of whether they were their owners or mere strangers.

In another experiment, Matthew Campbell, an assistant professor in Georgia State University’s Department of Psychology claimed, “Dogs show contagious yawning to human yawns.”

Tried this on my pup and she proved the experiment right too!

TWO: Cheers, Furbs!

Google Alert led me to a blog talking about dogs, again. But this time not only do dogs act alike when humans are upset or yawning, humans have a fetish for beer too (just like some of us alcoholics). Like many of the other pet lovers, I’ve always thought that beer, like chocolate and onions, would be bad for these little creatures. However, I’ve been proved wrong!

“It won’t really harm the pet to give him/her a small amount, but just like anyone, a dog can also get alcohol poisoning from over consumption. The other problem, and this is really serious, is that dogs can turn into alcoholics faster than humans.” –Wiki Answers

Just remember:

  • Give in extreme moderation
  • They’re little, so it takes much less to get them tipsy!

So I guess it wasn’t such a serious act, giving Furby the occasional pamper of beer.

Here’s a picture of my beloved and her guilty pleasure:

Furby the alcoholic.

THREE: MERDEKA55

3 days ago was Malaysia’s 55th Independence Day. Sadly, i wasn’t back home to celebrate along with the rest of the Malaysians 😦 One of the alerts led me to an article saying that Malaysians had 3.6 million tweets posted using the hashtag #merdeka55 (Merdeka meaning independence in Malay) on Malaysia’s Independence Day’s celebration held on August 31.

“Malaysia believes it set a new world twitter record for the most number of twitter messages sent in one hour” – Jerrenn Lam.

Here is a screenshot of a few of the many tweets posted on Twitter:

It is interesting to see a multicultural country participating as one in the publishing of tweets. Social media could possibly bring people together! 🙂