08Mar
0

Just over a decade ago, not many experts could have seen how vital the Internet would become in the everyday lives of human beings. From work to politics to social networking, the Internet has helped to globalize world economies and culture, and enhance the amount of information the average person has access to.

However, consumption is a central issue when it comes to the Internet. Many advocates argue that too many regions of the U.S. lack adequate access to the ’net. In addition, the web access that’s available can be of low quality due to market forces.

Key political and commerce issues

In the early 2000s, administrators at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented rules that deregulated the Internet provider market. The FCC believed that market forces would create better, more efficient Internet service to a wider range of people.

But many companies chose to merge and consolidated their control of local markets. This meant that Internet providers could become “the only game in town” in many regions, which left customers no choice but to work with that provider.

Net neutrality

In response, the FCC tried to correct some rules in the late 2000s. One centered on net neutrality, which says an Internet provider cannot censor content that a consumer desires because of competition issues between the provider and the content curator.

For example, if a consumer wanted to watch television programs through a particular website that did not pay for services through the Internet provider, the latter might intentionally put the brakes on download speed for all consumers who visited that site.

The issue becomes more serious when it relates to political opinion and discourse. Internet providers could potentially censor content that the provider believes is against its interests.

What is the Internet? No one knows

One Internet provider, Verizon, sued the FCC in federal court over net neutrality rules. On January 14th, 2014, the DC Court of Appeals found in favor of Verizon, and ruled that the FCC could not enforce net neutrality.

A key issue in the case was whether Internet providers are common carriers or information services. Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Congress stated that Internet providers must maintain the flow of information from the web to all consumers.

However, Internet providers argued in federal courts that these rules place an onerous burden on them.

The central issue

At issue today is whether Internet service in the 2010s is a utility that requires a level of regulation, or it’s a luxury provided by a private firm to the consumer. If it’s a utility, government needs to regulate these companies to ensure they provide the service at fair market rates.

If Internet service is a luxury, then providers are offering a good to the consumer for a price, and the provider can direct certain specifications to consumer.

The Internet is not a luxury; it is like a highway

Activist and law professor Susan Crawford uses the analogy of a railroad or highway to discuss the Internet. Railroads and highways became economic centerpieces to the economy — so much so that businesses and consumers would suffer if they could not use these services.

The Internet has turned into something similar, according to Crawford. People need access to the Internet for job opportunities, news, and information, and to communicate with other people.

Constant access to the Internet is a professional necessity for many jobs in the 21st century. Children are expected to have access to the Internet to support their studies. Major financial and health decisions that families need to make, such as banking or health care, are conducted through the Internet.

As happened with highways, a market-oriented mentality, which would treat the Internet as a luxury one may buy (or not), cannot continue. This path would lead to further monopolization and pushing poorer people away from equitable access.

What can be done?

Monopolistic practices by Internet service providers and their ability to negate what a consumer can view on the web (because of the federal court ruling on net neutrality) are impeding telecommunication progress in the U.S., according to Crawford.

Her prescription includes setting a national standard for telecommunications in this country: access to high-speed, fiber optic cable Internet across the country. If that’s not possible, a more local approach is an option: allowing municipalities, regions, or counties to establish their own fiber optic networks to provide Internet service to their residents.

Whichever prescription one might follow, most activists and commentators firmly believe something must be done to make the Internet a common good.

08Mar
0

From DJs to new music artists, some of the best artists today are known to only a devoted following. In the upcoming year, these following seven artists are the people to watch in the music industry. Prepare for some of the best albums of the upcoming year and innovative new takes on a global industry.

Lulu James

Unlike many musicians, Lulu James was born into a noteworthy life. She began her life at the base of Kilimanjaro and grew up to create her own unique sound. Unlike ice-coll R&B, her sound is funky and has a mixture of both flamboyant and soulful sounds. Her eclectic music is almost as unusual as her clothing style. Known for her leotards and unusual get-ups, Lulu James first signed with Black Butter in 2012 and has transitioned to working with RCA Records.

Maya Jane Coles

Talented and enigmatic, Maya Jane Coles does all of the writing and production for her albums. This DJ mixes her songs and careful engineers each piece. From the artwork to the arrangement, she is in charge of the entire sound of her album. Her debut album, “Comfort”, offered a glimpse into a new style that is set to change the entire sound of club DJs.

FKA Twigs

Outside of acting and dancing, FKA Twigs is known for her trip-hop sound and R&B music. Nicknamed twig because of the cracking of her bones, FKA Twigs grew up in the United Kingdom. Her birth name was Tahliah Barnett, but she operates under the stage name of FKA Twigs. She has worked with producers like Arca and released albums that have compelling videos. Each track explores the empty space between notes and creates a haunting listening experience.

Betty Who

Known for tracks like, “Somebody Loves You”, Betty Who was born in Australia. As she grew up in New York, she became increasingly interested in music. After the success of one of her songs in a proposal video, Betty Who caught the eye of major record labels. She is expected to release her second album in 2014 with RCA Records.

Sophie

After exploding on the United Kingdom’s dance music scene, Sophie has gone on to experiment with the post-dubstep movement. Sophie uses songs like “Bipp” to mix synthetic sounds, high vocals and poppy tracks.

Gina Turner

Native to New York City, Gina Turner is one of the hottest DJs in New York City. She has worked with radio channels like Underground FG and Sirius XM. Through her career, she has collaborated with artists like Steve Aoki, Diplo and Soulwax. Due to her signature sound, she has managed to become a fixture within dance music in the United States.

Banks

Only 25 years old, Banks manages to push the limits of R&B. Her first showing in the United Kingdom sold out within hours of ticket sales opening and her electronica sound has placed her on the radar of artists to watch. Blending pain and passion effortlessly, her boundary-pushing sound is quickly starting to make waves within the industry.

These artists are breaking ground and setting the stage for future generations of musicians and producers who are currently learning to create precise and technical tracks using a slew of modern tools. The new tools provided by technology, used to create music of the music listed above, have revolutionized the product and distribution in an irreversible way, something these artists have taken advantage of, much to the delite of their growing audiences.

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05Mar
0

Our pets are beloved members of the family. Naturally, we want to care for them in the best ways possible. Fortunately, technology can help; more than ever, developers are creating apps for people that love their animals. You can even find entertainment and games designed for pet lovers.

Here’s a list of fun apps that pet lovers will appreciate.

MyPetED – Pet Health Center

This app is great for tips on taking care of your animal. Input a profile with all the pet’s vitals, track appointments and vaccinations, and keep a record of any animal caretaker’s information. There are resources for finding a vet or lost pet, as well as adoption information. There is also a library of articles concerning pets and pet health.

Pet Playpen

Virtual pets aren’t as much fun as the real thing, but they are a great way to pass the time. This app lets you own up to three virtual pets that you can play with, feed, and care for. It allows you to maintain stats for your pets, and has a cool virtual store with an inventory of treats that can be bought for your pets.

iKibble Free

This is a practical app for owners that tend to feed their pet from the table; people food. It features a database featuring tons of foods which are okay for your dog to eat, and allows you to search food by name or health rating. You can also seek out recipes that can be shared with your dog. This is a free app supported by ads, but you can get rid of the ads with the paid version.

Dog Translator

This is a fun and free app that claims it can help you understand what your dog is barking. Here’s how it works: Record the dog barking, then let the app analyze and translate the barks into English. While purely for entertainment purposes, you’ll get a kick out of knowing what channel the dog wants to watch.

petcentric

This app is for pet lovers averse to leaving their animal at home while they travel. It can locate pet-friendly restaurants, hotels and bars. It will also help find animal-friendly parks, local vets, shelters, pet sitters, groomers, kennels, and a lot more. Users can add pet-friendly locales to the database, and they can also upload and view pet photos, videos, and read articles.

Pet First Aid

This app helps you keep the best care for dogs, cats, kittens and puppies right on your device. There’s information on dealing with bruises and chokes, CPR and choking, all through helpful and easy to follow video and illustrations. The app also lets you track the pet’s medical info. Not only can you keep records of what you do, but keep track of vet appointments and when vaccinations are due or have been given.

Pet Names

In addition to a cool soundboard that replicates animal noises, this app allows you to cull through thousands of names for an animal. Go alphabetical, popular, or by type of animal, but you will find the perfect name for any dog, cat, ferret, lizard or even pet spider. One particularly awesome name is Izzy Taylor; check out her story here for more fun.

05Mar
0

From big business executives to stay-at-home bloggers, cloud computing is skyrocketing in popularity around the world for its convenience and ease of use. But while many people have heard of “the cloud”, they are not entirely sure what it is or how it benefits them. Bloggers, in particular, can benefit greatly from cloud computing and cloud storage. Why is cloud computing is so beneficial to bloggers. and how can they go about using cloud storage to improve their own work? Read on.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the use of one Internet-based network or server that stores and processes different types of data and programs. Users can instantly access this information by logging into an online host via a software or app. The term “cloud” is simply a reference to Internet storage. Instead of downloading a variety of data and software onto an internal or external hard drive, all of this information is stored on a hard drive within a data center housed by another company.

Many people already use cloud programs without even realizing it. For example, Google Drive is one free cloud-based program used daily by Gmail users. Dropbox is used by many for file sharing and storage. PC Mag’s article on cloud computing can be found here, and it provides valuable information for people who are new to “the cloud”.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing for Bloggers

According to this Mashable.com article on cloud hosting for beginners, many businesses’ primary reason for implementing cloud computing is cost effectiveness. This is true for bloggers, too. Instead of investing in hardware equipment, cloud storage can be used just as effectively. The amount of storage available for bloggers is virtually limitless. Bloggers can easily share data across cloud storage, too. A simple hyperlinklink can give multiple bloggers access to the same content, data and programs. This makes remote work a breeze for all parties involved in content creation and publication.

How Can I Use Cloud Computing?

There are many cloud computing services that are free to use, and many free services provide as much as 2 to 5 GB of free storage. Additional storage can be purchased for competitive rates that depend on the service provider. Programs like Dropbox and Google Drive are free to use and easy to sign up with. Dropbox uses a simple “drag and drop” method of transferring data from your desktop to the cloud host. Google Drive comes with all Gmail accounts, so many bloggers have instant access to this program. Comparing different programs to see what they offer is typically the best way to find the right program.

More Information and Resources

For more information on cloud computing, see this Webinar, which covers how to automate and adapt in the cloud era regarding process-driven application integration. It’s a great starting point for those looking to move to — and realize — the power and benefits of the cloud.

05Mar
0

The effects of computer burnout are clear, and fatigue can cause both physical and mental stress over time. One of the most obvious signs include eye strain and a lack of energy or motivation. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has also been linked to heavy computer usage without frequent breaks. Although these might sound dire, there are many treatment and prevention options available, including several mobile applications that can provide respite during at a moment’s notice.

Reducing fatigue efficiently

There are many apps that can provide essential break times throughout your work schedule. These tools can add an element of fun to any task while simultaneously keeping your health in check.

Eyeleo

Eyeleo works in the background while you work. The application reminds us to take a break and rest our eyes periodically. It provides a series of timely exercises to ensure that your eyes remain rested and fresh. The settings can be customized to extend breaks or shorten them. Breaks are divided up into short or long breaks, dimming the monitor periodically when needed.

PC Work Break

Reducing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a common computer-work-related risk. According to a new study, your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. PC WorkBreak produces reminders for various breaks and exercises throughout the day. Micro-breaks, eye exercises, and stretch exercises are included with the custom settings.

Simplicity is key

Not all applications need bells and whistles to be effective. Some of the most basic apps get the message across by keeping tasks short and to the point. It is a myth that the human brain can truly ‘multitask’. According to a research study, the human brain can only focus on thing at full effect, at a time. Adding other thoughts to mix only causes us to switch back and forth too rapidly. Some apps are designed to remedy that.

Pause

Pause is available on both Android and iOS devices. The application turns breaks into a game by tracking the time your phone is in airplane mode. Pause encourages users to break away from digital addiction and track how much time you spend on an activity. There is an online community of record keepers who make it a habit to increase the amount of “offline” time. The application is very simple, but has a very intuitive interface that encourages engaging in other activities to reduce fatigue.

Unplug and Reconnect

Unplug and Reconnect is available for Google Play and Android devices. Tech-free time is scheduled for the user to silence your phone on scheduled periods of time. There is no need to worry about missed calls. The device alerts others that you have officially unplugged from the virtual world temporarily. A simple text message alerts callers on your current status or other delay.

For more ideas on how to get away from technology and relax a bit, see “How to get away from your inbox and still keep your job.” It’s a tough skill to master, but a necessary one to keep your sanity, reduce your stress, and improve your outlook on life.

04Mar
0

Stride Gum knows the benefit of going from sour to sweet. To promote their newest Sour Patch Gum, they’ve taken over a convenience store and played jokes on unsuspecting customers. In this prank, they’ve gotten the best of customers with a card declined message. Embarrassing, yes, but what happens next is pretty sweet.

11Feb
0

In what has to be one of the greatest and silliest mashups of all time, Toyota brings together Terry Crews and The Muppets in their 2014 Highlander. The result? Anything but mundane. Terry Crews normal life gets shaken up by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and clearly he’ll never be the same. Witness the craziness below:

Muppets Most Wanted releases in theaters March 14, 2014.

09Feb
0

Sometimes you just need to blow off some steam after a major exam or mid-semester project. College parties can be a great way to unwind, but they can also lead to health, legal, and social problems down the road, especially when students don’t party safely.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself at a college party without putting yourself and others at risk. Consider these five ways to maximize your fun while reducing risk.

1. Party off campus

Before you pop open those bottles, think about whether you want to deal with the consequences of drinking on campus. Most colleges have strict regulations regarding alcohol and substances on campus.

Even if you aren’t participating directly in the revelry, just being present at a party can lead to housing and legal repercussions, if events lead to a nuisance or emergency situation.

Smaller infractions can affect your housing status and lead to disciplinary consequences imposed by your college.

2. Use public transit

Look into the bus and subway options in your area before you head out to a party. This can reduce the temptation to drive under the influence.

One of the most common mistakes college students make is underestimating the effect alcohol has on them before they get into a car. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1,825 students die each year due to injuries sustained while under the influence.

If you must drive to a party, make sure to arrange alternate transportation home. This can greatly reduce your risk of a car accident, severe injuries, and legal difficulties.

3. Carry your ID and insurance card

Your ID might prove to be very useful to get into a venue, especially if your friends decide to go clubbing or barhopping before or after a party. However, these two cards can also play a significant role if you get injured during the night’s events.

If you should require medical attention or assistance from authorities, your ID and insurance cards will be invaluable.

4. Bring a phone charger

You might leave the house with a cell phone, but what good is it if the battery dies? It’s easy to forget about your phone’s battery level, but a dead device can become a major obstacle when you need to call a taxi, contact a friend, or get directions to a destination.

College students should consider taking their phone charger with them, just so you can get a small boost while you’re at a party. There are also portable battery devices that can give your smartphone a mini charge while you’re on the go, if you don’t have access to a wall outlet.

5. Don’t leave drinks unattended

Unfortunately, college parties sometimes draw predators, who can lose themselves in large crowds of strangers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 15,000 Americans ended up in the hospital in 2009 after being drugged against their will.

Err on the side of caution and follow someone who wants to buy you a drink. Never leave your glass unattended, unless you have a trustworthy friend who can watch it.

08Feb
0

CHARGE!

Dogs have always been considered brave animals. They’ve been known to take on larger animals such as bears and wild cats. Some breeds will not back down to humans. There are even those who have been trained to run into burning buildings or assist soldiers in warzones.

Of course, vehicles should pose a different problem altogether. You might have a pooch that would chase a Dodge Charger down the road, but what about a dog that would charge at an oncoming tank? As you can see in this image, it’s definitely possible.

CHARGE!

03Feb
0

Have you been neglecting your hair lately? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. You may spend hours in front of the mirror trying to get your hair just right, but it you haven’t been taking proper care of it, styling will be even more challenging.
What’s the solution? Here are four great, easy tips for restoring the natural luster of your flowing locks.

1) Use the right products

Want healthy, glossy hair? Then start with your products. Take a critical look at what you’re using. Are there cheap shampoos, tons of styling gels and creams? They may not be doing you any favors. If you really want to improve the look of your hair, choose your products wisely – and think about your specific hair issues. For instance, boost lifeless hair with an anti-aging shampoo. If you’re craving stronger hair, opt for a shampoo and conditioner with advanced moisturizing properties. Or if your hair feels like it can never get really clean, a clarifying shampoo will be your new best friend.

2) Try vitamin supplements

Certain vitamins and nutrients help promote hair growth as well as give you shinier and stronger locks. Proteins such as those found in fish give you healthier looking hair, as does vitamin C. Biotin, on the other hand, makes your hair grow faster and stronger. This substance is found in both plant and animal sources, including peanuts, eggs, walnuts, carrots and sweet potatoes. Including the right vitamins in your diet can make a world of difference.

3) Avoid heat styling when possible

Heat tools are wonderful things. In just a few minutes you can straighten, curl, or dry your hair. Unfortunately, the heat can also cause damage. It may be tempting to blow dry your hair every morning, but it’s not necessarily good for you. Using heat styling tools more than a few times a week can give you dry and broken hair. Limit how often you use these tools – or wear a high-quality wig instead when you want to dramatically change your look.

4) Get haircuts regularly

It’s easy to put off a trip to the salon – you’re busy and cash is tight – but it’s not a good idea. Stylists agree that getting your hair cut every six weeks can be beneficial. It removes split ends and promotes hair growth. That means pampering yourself once in a while will make you feel great – and look great, too.

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