Categories
Fun Media Technology

Telling History Digitally

Photo by Detroiturbex.cm
Photo by Detroiturbex.com

Recently I have taken an interest in using digital means to recount history. The thing that has taken me most is the use of old photos that are either cut into or superimposed over new photos. The results really give an insight into the history of our modern urban landscape.

The Mail Online has a fantastic example of how photos from World War 2 can be superimposed upon photos of modern France, the effect really makes you think. This article has one of the original photos, the new photo and then one upon the other. So we see soldiers battling through the rubble of the town of Cherbourg in 1944, followed by the same shot taken today and then the two merged.

The obviously new addition of the cycle paths and modern signs  in some way makes the photos even more dramatic, as it brings to life the reality of how we live today with the ghost of war ever present.

Photo taken from the Mail Online
Photo taken from the Mail Online

There are 11 fully merged photos to follow, and they all tell their own story.

Another site that offers a wealth of photos and an incredible history lesson is called Detroiturbex. The opening photo above is taken from their website.  As we might imagine the project involves documenting the history of Detroit, and features photos of the city throughout its history, with a large section of connected, re-made and superimposed photos that recount the rise and fall of one of Americas largest industrial cities.

To give you an idea of what has happened to this great city in recent history, in 1950 it had almost 2 million inhabitants, but today only a third of that population remains. This means that more than 80,000 buildings lay derelict. The city has been declared bankrupt so there is no money to maintain any of the structures, and the results are there for all to see.

Basketball taken from the website
Basketball taken from the website

This is a big site, but a look at the index will guide you through a fantastic collection of photos, with the Now and Then section offering the matched and superimposed images. It is well worth a half hour to browse them all though, another reality of the American dream.

Flickr has a group called Looking into the Past that contains hundreds of images similar to those described above, which leads me to believe that it must be quite an easy thing to do. They certainly present an interesting historical perspective upon everyday modern life.

A quick search will find you plenty of others, including old postcards held over the original locations, very effective and absolutely DIY for those of us who like the analogue approach to life.

Categories
Business Computers Internet News Smartphones

Taxing the Smartphone

On Monday a report was released in France that contained the suggestion that a tax should be levied on Internet devices in order to raise money to promote and protect French cultural production.

A Tax Paid Phone
A Tax Paid Phone

For several years France has had a policy of taxing broadcasters and spending the money on supporting its own film and entertainment industries, but revenues are falling. The problem seems to be that many more people are accessing their entertainment via the Internet and therefore not contributing to its production cost.

The Lescure report as it is known suggests a tax of between 1 and 4% on any Internet capable devices (smartphones, eBook readers and games consoles included), but as we might imagine many of the producers of these devices are not happy about the proposal.

Money has to be raised to maintain the entertainment industries, but many of the companies that provide access to this entertainment are not based in France and do not contribute. They probably don’t want to either, and so we come across the same problem that I wrote about last week, collecting national taxes from international corporations based in another state is never easy, and borders are porous.

The proposed tax would replace one already in existence upon storage devices. Currently tax is levied on blank CD’s and memory sticks as well as computers with hard discs.

The manufacturers complain that the price of the devices would rise leading to fewer sales, although the author of the report argues that such a small percentage increase would make little difference, and would not even effect the home job market because most of these devices are assembled overseas. A 1% tax would raise something of the order of 90 million Euro a year.

The problem remains though. As our sources of entertainment move away from pay TV, publicity funded channels and national subscription systems such as the BBC, money is taken away from the producers and associations that represent and fund these industries. Some see the fact that Google and Apple amongst others are operating outside the tax system and are not contributing to the industries that they make their money from as unfair, and hope that this change in tax law will go some way to evening out the field.

The Wall Street Journal goes into a little more depth on the matter in its free online edition.

I wonder if France takes this step if others in the EU will follow. There are many different ways of making money through so called free downloads as we all know, but the money ends up in the pockets of the provider and not the producer and the industries involved are feeling the pinch. Maybe this needs to change.

Categories
Festive Fun Internet

Track Santa this Christmas Eve with NORAD

Today is Christmas Eve, which means that billions of people around the world will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow. Different people of different cultures celebrate Christmas in different ways; some celebrate today, many tomorrow, and others over a twelve day period.

About Santa

If you live in the Britain, France, the USA, Russia, Germany, Canada, Australia, or a (big) handful of other countries around the world, then you are probably familiar with the character of Santa Clause, or Father Christmas.

Christindl, Pere Noel, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or whatever you call him, is a man who lives at the North Pole and sets out to deliver presents to good children across the world on Christmas Eve.

Good children will go to sleep on Christmas Eve and in the morning awake to find their stocking full and presents underneath the Christmas tree, courtesy of Santa. In return Santa asks only that children are good, and he uses information that robins relay to him to decide whether a child should go on the naughty list, or the nice list – he checks each list twice, just to be sure!

Track Santa With NORAD

This year, why not track Santa on his journey around the world with NORAD? Every year, the US military undergo a massive operation involving countless jets, radars and satellites to follow Santa on his journey, for the benefit of children everywhere, and to make sure that he doesn’t run into any difficulties.

NORAD Track Santa logoFrom December the 24th every year, you can track Santa thanks to NORAD. You can follow his route, watch videos as he completes parts of his journey, and learn about the different places he visits. As I write this Santa is over New Zealand, and has just visited Christchurch.

What are you waiting for? Track Santa now!

Remember this Christmas Eve to put the fire out before you go to bed, and to leave some milk/bear and a mince pie out for Santa, and maybe some sprouts or a carrot for the reindeer.

Merry Christmas all 🙂

Categories
Blogging

Good blogging practice – publishing reliable information

The web is massive bank of data, which is far too big to be regulated. Because the web can’t be regulated, it is very easy for false information to spread – fast.

If you are a blogger, it is really important that you publish information which is reliable and trustworthy. Don’t copy what the crowd says unless you know they are right, as this is not only misleading to your readers, but can also see you get penalties dished out from search engines. If you get a reputation for publishing unreliable content, the likelyhood is that your readership will fall.

When you publish something that you have found out elsewhere, you need to make sure that it is accurate and reliable, before you publish it.

How to Mythbust Rumours

When you find information, on the web, in order to ensure that it is reliable, it is always a good idea to check that it appears elsewhere. A general rule of thumb is to check that what you are reading is the same on 3 other sites, one of which is a highly reputable site.

So what is a reputable website?

Government Websites

There are a few way so to identify if a site is reputable or not. One way is to see if it is a government website. Any site which is government run is likely to be very reputable. Government websites usually end in their own unique domain name extension. If you live in the USA, government sites end in .gov or .fed.us, in the UK .gov.uk, in France .gouv.fr, .gc.ca for Canada, India’s extension is .gov.in and the list goes on.

Major News Corporations

Government sites won’t always report things that you want to verify though, so there are other ways to tell a reputable sites. Big news websites like BBC.co.uk/News and Guardian.co.uk will usually only publish information that is factual and accurate, so you can usually trust them.

The Guardian's logoThe information they publish is likely to be accurate, however it may not be impartial, so that is something to watch out for. Often news firms will take a political side, and therefore report news in a certain way – and may only publish part of a story.

High PageRank Sites

Google PageRank is calculated largely by the number of backlinks a page or site has. If a website has a very high PageRank (6+) then it is likely that it has a lot of other sites linking to it, most probably because it publishes a lot of high quality content, which people find useful and therefore link back to. High PageRank sites aren’t always trustworthy, but the higher up the spectrum of PageRank you go, the less likely it is that a site is going to be providing false information.

If a website is a PageRank 8, 9 0r 10, unless they have manipulated Google’s algorithm (through black hat SEO, which will only work for a short while, before Google catches them) then the site is likely to be extremely reliable and reputable, therefore you should be able to trust the information, data and facts that they produce.

1,000,000 to 1

If 1 highly reputable site is saying one thing, but 1 million other (not reputable) sites are saying another another, then the chances are that the 1,000,000 sites are just recycling the same false information, creating a massive bank of false information. This is one reason why you should be really careful who you trust on the web, and also make sure that you verify information with at least one reputable site. Be careful who you trust.

Academic Research

Verifying information with at least 3 sources, one of which is reputable is something which is also advised in academic research. Therefore if you use the same standards on your blog, you can’t go wrong! Search engines and readers alike will respect you for providing good quality, highly reputable content.

Technology Bloggers Policy

Every time I write an article and quote information/statistics etc. I always try to follow the 3 and 1 rule: check the information appears on 3 other sites, at least one of which is ‘reputable’. This means that everything I write should be reputable.

The post guidelines ask all writers to ensure they use the 3 and 1 rule, however we cannot guarantee that all writers do. In our Privacy Policy, we state how we try to ensure all content is true and factual, however it is always advisable to independently verify information for yourself.

Do You Verify Your Content?

Do you always try to ensure that you use the 3 and 1 rule when publishing information? That not only applies to blog posts, but also to comments. If not what measures do you use, or don’t you think it really matters?

Categories
Gadgets Internet

Could You Benefit From An iPhone VPN?

If you need a secure connection on your iPhone, then you may find an  need an iPhone VPN.

It is important that you sign up with a trusted VPN provider. With a trusted iPhone VPN provider, you will get the best service and most reliable connections. The best VPN providers write all of their own software and can therefore offer the fastest service worldwide.

What Does an iPhone VPN Do?

Simply put, an iPhone VPN protects your privacy. When you have a VPN for your smartphone, you have access to four primary advantages over standard internet browsing:

  • Stop ISP Inspections. Prevent your internet service provider from throttling, prioritizing, and inspecting the data that goes in and out of your iPhone.
  • Protect the Activities That You Do Online. A VPN is a secure “tunnel” that takes you to the internet. With a VPN, you get to cruise the internet your way, not someone else’s way.
  • Protect Your IP Address. With an iPhone VPN, the only thing websites will see is the server’s communications.
  • Prevent Location Identification. With a VPN, your IP address is substituted for one that is not based on your location. This prevents location-based ads from affecting your internet experience.

An iPhone VPN Allows Access to Country Specific Sites

Some people feel that an iPhone VPN is actually very limiting. With a VPN tunnel, you can access country specific sites, but not sites outside that country.

If you have a US VPN, for example, you would be able to visit US sites, but not Canadian sites. The same rules apply for every country’s VPN connections.

Though limiting, this type of connection provides the greatest amount of security for the end user. That is why you should use a global VPN provider for your iPhone VPN needs. Global VPN providers have servers located around the world and allow you to access your favorite websites from anywhere. If you need to access a secure site in France, but you live in Canada, you can log into the French VPN and have a high speed connection.

An iPhone VPN Provider Should Provide You Many IP Addresses

One of the difficulties that VPN providers face is limited resources and a reliance on third parties. If you are choosing an iPhone VPN provider, you should look for one that can provide you with many IP addresses. For the most reliable connections the provider should write their own server software, own their own hardware, and manage their own network.

Why Is A 256 Bit Encryption Better?

A 128 bit encryption module is not as secure as it used to be. That’s why the best iPhone VPN providers utilize 256 bit encryption to provide highest level of security possible. You should have access to multiple protocols like PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPsec to secure all of your devices.

Encripted data
VPN can offer safer surfing, thanks to network encryption

Summary of Benefits

An iPhone VPN is not a substitute for your mobile provider, as you need internet in order to access the VPN server. Once you have logged into your secure tunnel, however, you get the added security benefits that a VPN provides.

When you want a secure solution to browse the internet from your iPhone, then a VPN is often safer. Bypass location based IP blocking, avoid geographical restrictions, and access your favorite websites from home or abroad.

Categories
Fun Gadgets News Technology

England out of the World Cup 3 times in two years!

Just to let you know this is article number 50!
What a fantastic milestone!
🙂

South Africa 2010, England was knocked out of the FIFA Men’s World Cup by Germany being beaten 4-1 – although goal line technology would have shown that it was 4-2.


On Sunday, England was knocked out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to France on penalties.

The final blow for England came as its UK team was knocked out of the 2011 RoboCup in the group stages just a few days ago.

The RoboCup took place in Istanbul on Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of July.

There were many entrants from a whole range of different countries. The game played was four-a-side football, but only humanoid robots were allowed to compete.

RoboCup Humanoid Football
Some robots playing football to try and win the RoboCup

The UK squad was designed by a team from Edinburgh University. The team’s coach said that they were down by they weren’t out, and that they would be returning next year!

The teams loss was blamed on system bugs, all of which the team thought could have been eradicated, but they just didn’t have the time to fix them before the game.

Next year the UK is going to have a much better team

Assistant professor at the School of Informatics, Dr Subramanian Ramamoorthy, stated that if the UK had had an internal RoboCup before hand, to select the best robots and fine tune the hardware, software and strategy, then the team could have performed much better.

2011 was the first year that the UK entered a team, but at the Mexico City RoboCup next year it is hoped that the team will perform much better!