a stomp on stomp!

I think one of the things Singapore is notorious for is STOMP: a website dedicated to the “public shaming” of people who sit in the reserved seats on the MRT or teens who kiss in void decks.

STOMP first started out as a project by Singapore Press Holdings to encourage citizens to report on events that journalists may have missed out on and to provide real-time updates when reporters can’t be there to cover the scene.

However, it has become, in my opinion, a hellhole of meaningless posts where we tsk-tsk a little here and there on innocent citizens who acted a little out of social norms and were caught at the wrong time. Let’s be serious here, most of the articles posted on STOMP include some form of complaint against “ungracious citizens“, hawkers who can’t bear to part with a little chilli sauce or just really random photos found on the internet. Just look at this post dated 17 November (yeah, I time-travelled!):

First thought that went through my mind were: What?! How can this even be considered journalism! There’s no substance in this article at all. Which editor even allowed such an article to be published? Judging by the feedback the article has garnered, it is clear that I’m not alone on this opinion.

I’m not bashing citizen journalism though. I believe it has its benefits. For example, #OWS (Occupy Wall Street) would not have reached such a scale as this:

if not for the transmission of photos and videos to news sites. Neither would Anti-SOPA (Anti-Stop Online Piracy Act) have gotten this much press if not for the many bloggers writing about it:

American Tumblr users had all their images, text and video content censored with a large banner encouraging them to stop SOPA.

Banner shown after clicking on link to stop SOPA – users then directed to call their statesmen about how they feel about this issue.

However, the instantaneity of content publishing has made journalism on the internet very trivial. There is no self-censorship when it comes to publishing to content and it has driven some users to post whatever they feel will generate buzz and talk. Also, most of these posts usually have a narrow-minded point of view and are “reported” on from a distance (i.e., taking a photo of two uncles on a bus fighting from a distance away instead of asking them directly what started the fight, etc.), which means that they are likely to be biased and not carry the full story.

I believe there will be no way that the quality we receive from traditional media will ever be replaced by online news site totally run by citizens. There’s no doubt that STOMP provides comic relief from some of the more depressing news we get in regular journalism. But until citizens are able to provide posts that actually make me ponder the future of my country or financial woes, I will look upon STOMP as Singapore’s biggest kaypoh neighbours gossip mag.

iPolitics

In 2006, I was a first year polytechnic student. We had a general election that year but I didn’t know who won – PAP, obviously, but who won what seats, I had no idea. Basically, I had a strong lack of interest in politics in Singapore.

This year, I was a first year university student. We had a general election this year too but instead, I knew who won (again, PAP) but more than that, who won what seats.

So what’s the difference between now and five years ago? Obviously, I’m older now, and much more mature. Plus, I got to vote and I didn’t want to make an unwise decision. But then, I know people who are in their first year in polytechnic who were just as interested in this year’s general elections as I was.

I would, however, attribute the younger generation’s growing interest in politics to the internet. The internet has made it possible for the online public to set an agenda. For example, if it trends on Twitter, you’re bound to be sure that Twitter users would at least be curious enough to check why a certain #hashtag or topic is trending.

For our 2011 GE, the hashtag, #SGElections was a trending topic in Singapore in the month leading up to the elections. Everything election related – news, opinions, beliefs, etc. – was bound to be posted on any Singaporean’s Faccebook page or Twitter. It got people talking, no doubt.

According Chi-Loong on TechGoondu, there were close to 78,000 unique tweets and another 111,000 retweets that contained #SGElections (Here, for more statistics). Needless to say, the general election was a hot topic.

But what is the extent of power social media had in this election? Although we had people talking, especially opinion leaders like Mr BrownTommy Wee (Twitter) and The Online Citizen putting in their two cents, and even politicians such as George YeoNicole Seah and PM Lee Hsien Loong all on Facebook as a way to reach out to the internet generation, it wasn’t enough.

It’s naiive to think that social media had no part to play in its influence in this election. However, a study done by IPS showed that 30% of voters turned to the internet for political information but most voters still found mainstream media to be a more reliable source for political news than the internet. IPS, however, also stated that those who turned to the internet for political news had a better understanding of politics and were less politically-cynical (TODAYonline, 2011).

Overseas, President Barack Obama showed competency in social media during the 2008 presidential elections. He used every social networking platform available to reach out to as many people as he could. His reach included TwitterFacebook and Youtube and such media were very popular with tech-savvy youth. For next year’s re-election campaign, Obama has already begun campaigning on his main platforms but has also added Tumblr to the list.

His addition of Tumblr is a smart decision as the political discussion community on Tumblr is large and growing. Tracking the ‘politics’ tag shows up thousands of posts written by concerned citizens about#OccupyWallStreetwhere to vote and other news articles. Obama uses his Tumblr as a way to connect with Americans. He allows other users to submit their stories about things they’re worried about, such as not being able to get a stable job despite having a good degree from a respectable university (here). It’s things like these that make the President a little more approachable.

The limitations the internet has on politics, though, are that there still are a lot of people with no access to it. While the young are thriving in their internet use, some of the older generation still have not turned to the internet as a news source. Also, politicians on social media may lessen their credibility.

For example, the post “supposedly” written by Tin Pei Ling’s friend on Facebook on cooling off day came off as unprofessional, petty and a little immature. Regardless of who it is written by, it was still posted using Pei Ling’s name and that may be a limitation to campaigning on the internet.

We still have many more elections to go and the internet will only play a bigger role in the future. So let’s not diss it but embrace the things the internet has for us!

a little bit of this, a little bit of that

Multimedia. The word alone sparks up images of lasers, loud beating bass,  flashing lights and other cool stuff you might find at some rock concert or another. But did you know that most of the websites you’re browsing through right now have multimedia embedded in them?

Wikipedia’s comprehensive article states that multimedia is media content that incorporates different forms of media. Some of the different types of media include: text, audio, video, .gif animation and INTERACTION.

“Wait, what?? Doesn’t that sound like Web 2.0??”

YES! THAT’S EXACTLY IT!

Web 2.0 allows for different forms of media to be embedded into a single page. And most importantly, it includes the element of interaction. As we have learnt in COM125, interaction can come in the form of audience participation, such as posting a comment or even filming a video response.

Finding a brand that incorporates multimedia in their website isn’t too hard these days. Most brands would include a Facebook fanpage of sorts or a Twitter account in order to be connected to their customers. Lots of websites also encompass a mix of Adobe Flash and HTML content for more audience interaction. Some even use old school Javascript where viewers can input a command of some sort.

One particular website that I like that incorporates multimedia is Pottermore. Pottermore is an extension to the popular Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling.

Pottermore is still currently under Beta mode and is only open to those who managed to sign up during its opening some time ago. I was lucky enough to be able to get a Pottermore account and a few weeks ago, it was ready!

Upon entering Pottermore

JK Rowling’s video prelude to the ‘Sorting Hat’ chapter

Answering questions during my turn to get sorted

I’ve been sorted into RAVENCLAW! Notice that the overhead banner has changed to suit the house?

Exciting stuff! The rest of Pottermore includes a deeper look into various chapters, biographies of characters and histories of places. Players can also hunt around for ‘easter eggs’ – hidden items around the website that can be added to your trunk.

Pottermore is slated to open sometime in November.

I find, though, that the most creative use of multimedia can be found in advertising. I love it when advertisers go way outside the box in coming up with creative ways to get people talking about a product. After all, nothing beats free publicity than word of mouth.

Unfortunately (?), there aren’t a lot of good advertising campaigns in Singapore – none that have really caught my eye anyway. But I came across an interesting ad earlier this year from Malaysia that really sparked my curiosity and interest. The following pictures are from Cheeserland.com unless otherwise tagged.🙂 See if you can guess what this ad is for!

Looks like any normal website featuring some Malaysian celebrities. This was also shown on TV where they invited viewers to log onto their website to find out what these ladies were up to.

Picked this celebrity (Adibah) – she’s trying out drifting for the first time!

At the end of the video, Adibah has to make a decision on another fun thing she’d like to try

And who does she asks to help make the decision? YOU!

You’re invited to enter your phone number onto this page (not available any longer or maybe just Singaporeans)

Then the video changes to her calling you!
According to Cheesie, her phone
actually starts ringing and she asks you to pick between choices 1 and 2. After deciding on 1, this is what she saw next:

A video of Adibah petting a lion. WOW!

What a way to get people involved in the advertisement! It combined traditional media, new media and even telecommunications to come up with this amazing ad campaign. And the product that they were advertising?

Libresse sanitary napkins and pantyliners for girls

Honestly, I’m sold.

You can check out the rest of the stunts the girls do at the Libresse Try New Things site here.

all your base are belong to us

Think of all your accounts on the internet – are they safe? What’s your password for these accounts? The uninspired ‘password’ or your birthdate? Are your passwords the same for all these accounts?

Cybercrime has been on the rise in Singpore and these criminals are getting more aggressive, according to TODAY (2011). Most of these criminals are motivated in getting money for stolen identities and can do so by just buying a hackers’ toolkit.

Recently, a case of password ‘phishing’ came into the news. OCBC, DBS and Citibank customers were under attack of a a malicious trojan called SpyEye (AsiaOne, 2011). A trojan usually disguises itself as a safe application but runs and installs software into your computer that can access your data from a remote computer. SpyEye attacks bank accounts and gathers information like, passwords, bank transactions, etc. If you’ve recently done a transaction online or logged onto your iBanking account and see this picture:

Image courtesy of OCBC

STOP RIGHT NOW and do the following steps:

1. Contact your bank! Even if you’ve done iBanking before and this page looks familiar to you, this is one of the telltale signs of SpyEye, that is, asking you to wait as they verify your information. Otherwise,  you have been attacked by SpyEye!

2. Clean up SpyEye!
Most websites suggest running an up-to-date anti-virus software, such as, AVG or Avast!, that are available for free for Windows computers. For Mac users, you’re safe! SpyEye is Windows only (may be a good time to switch over, eh?) and comes in forms like these below:
. cleansweep.exe
. windowsweep.exe
. systemhost.exe
They all sound very harmless but are very deadly (MalwareHelp.org, 2011).

3. Change your passwords!
It’s quite likely that having SpyEye in your computer means that someone out there has gotten hold of your personal information. This might include your address, social security or identity card number, bank statements and definitely, your passwords stored on your laptop. Changing your passwords can stop the hackers who have a hold on your accounts from further doing anything. But of course, make sure your passwords aren’t pieces of your personal information that the hackers have already gotten hold of!

Choosing passwords are such a chore. And trying to remember them is even harder!

The general rules of thumb for strong passwords is that they are at least 8 characters, contain a symbol, like these: `~!@#$%^&*()_ and have a good mix of numbers and UPPER and lower case letters. But these passwords are hard to remember. Lifehacker has a good way of remembering them by first creating a base password and adjusting this to fit any account you may have (2006). You can also change certain letters into symbols, like ‘@’ to replace ‘a’, ‘$’ to replace ‘s’, etc (MakeUseOf.com, 2008). For example, if my base password is UBUB#1, my Gmail password can be UBgMa1!UB#1 (just so you know, this is NOT my password).

4. Link accounts to one-time passwords (OTP) services. Verification through your mobile phone is readily available for Google accounts and even for Facebook. This way, if someone tries to access your account, you’d be able to immediately know about it and at least stop it before it gains access into anything else.

5. Finally, Digital Inspiration suggests running trial mock “hackings” with your most important accounts in the event that you forget your passwords or lose your mobile phone. This lets you test password recovery systems, etc. (2001). The rest of the article also gives great tips and other ideas on how to protect your passwords and accounts and is definitely worth the read.

Hopefully with these tips, you’ll be able to keep your accounts safe and none of your data will “belong” to anyone.🙂

got the mov(i)es like spielberg?

The assignment this week was to make a video and upload it onto a video-sharing website, such as Youtube or Dailymotion.

Video-making isn’t exactly new to me. I’ve done simple videos that include short films to news broadcast pieces. I’ve also made birthday videos for friends:

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150127114377948

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150444324675416

Videos aren’t embeddable, sorry!

But they’re all really simple cut+join editing. I use iMovie that comes with every Mac you buy. There are two versions that I have – iMovie HD (from iLife ’08) and iMovie  ’09.

iMovie HD

iMovie ’09

I, personally, find iMovie HD a lot easier to use than iMovie ’09. But this time round, I decided to use both as HD and ’09 have their own benefits.

I decided to make a little fan-made music video using TVXQ!’s Before U Go monologue track. I wanted something that could bring meaning to the words they spoke. The track is in Korean, so I took the english translation from ‘s Youtube video.

I did change some of the wordings, just so that the flow would be better. But other than that, major credit does go out to her for the translations!🙂

So here’s what I did! I downloaded a bunch of videos – thankfully, TVXQ! has a good eight years worth of videos I could choose from so finding music videos with similar themes wasn’t too difficult. Then these videos were imported into iMovie ’09. Next, I tried to import the track I wanted to use; this was where I met my first problem.

In iMovie HD, you can have two tracks for sound and you’re able to clearly see the sound waves, which makes it easy to edit. The waves would have helped me figure out which line of the song is at what timing, which I would then be able to match the timing of a clip to that timing. I also wanted to combine two tracks – the instrumental and the original so that the front part would not contain a line of words I didn’t want. However, in iMovie ’09, I couldn’t do that at all. All you could do was drag your song onto the working area but you couldn’t edit it the way I had wanted to. In the end, I used Garageband to edit and cut my song.

Song editing!

Next, was cutting out all the clips I wanted. Turns out, I didn’t have enough to meet the 2:22 time I needed for the whole song so I decided to slow down the clips. Some of the clips were a little fast-paced so I slowed those down by a bit, although while doing so, I ran the risk of jerky movements (which did happen!). I also threw in a bunch of black frames (for a “dramatic effect”!) and lots of crossfading to make the movie slightly longer.🙂

I also found out that iMovie ’09 wasn’t very good at precision cutting. With iMovie HD, I’m able to cut clips to the exact frame that I want. Sometimes I just want a part of a clip that is half a second long (about 12 frames) but iMovie ’09 couldn’t execute that move.

To fix that, I eventually went back to trusty iMovie HD to cut all those minute half-second clips I needed and exported it back to iMovie ’09 for more editing.

All my clips ready to go!

Finally, I had to add in all the subtitles. I had initially wanted to use iMovie HD as it is easy to fix how long you want your subtitles to be and where you want them pretty accurately. However, when I exported and re-imported the video into HD, the quality of the video dropped by at least 300% and I didn’t want to compromise on that just for the subtitles. So, instead, I stayed with ’09 even though I had to gauge where each line started – and this was confusing as I’m not that fluent in Korean. What I did love about ’09 though, was that there was no need to render the video each time you changed the subtitle.

Subtitling! Last stage!

Andddddddddd here it is! The final product!

There isn’t much of a storyline, actually. Basically, it is about a few different relationships.

The “player”

The first is about a guy, who is a well-known player, who seduces a girl who is in a relationship. In the past, his girlfriend broke up with him because of that. He later on regrets it as he starts recalling all the great girls he’s given up.

The insecure guy

The second is about a guy who had really great relationships but for some reason or another (insecurities?), he breaks up with them. And yes, the guy in the second relationship broke up with his girlfriend because he thought that she was in lover with the player from before.

Things I learnt from this assignment:
Firstly, making a compilation video like this is really time consuming. There was a lot of time spent just waiting for the clips to finish importing and the subtitling took ages. My sister subs videos for some international Korean fansites and she agrees that the translating and subtitling really takes a lot of effort. Secondly, I’ve come to appreciate iMovie ’09 for its video quality. I like that my videos remain practically the same as the ones I’ve downloaded. However, I still do like the slightly more professional touch iMovie HD gives and would like to see that included in future releases of iMovie.

I had a lot of fun making this but in the future, I’m probably not going to embark on such an ambitious project for an assignment!

Major thanks goes out to the following people:
bOwstitChmE for the english translations
HDBSK for the HD TVXQ! videos
SM Entertainment for the song and videos

_

—//Mr Choy, please ignore the below message!//—

PS! TVXQ! fans should not worry about me calling Changmin a player. I’m pretty sure he isn’t. This is just an illustration. Also, as to whether or not they (Changmin and Yunho) are in relationships in real life or if this is how they really are – I do not know. And yes, if your eyes are sharp enough, you did see Yoochun for a split second there.

next level learning skills

“Hey, do you know the meaning of this word?”

“No; check it on Dictionary.com?”

“I need to research on e-learning for COM125!”

“Google it lah!”

Sounds familiar? It should. Looking things up on the internet is second nature to most of us born in the web generation. With the vast amount of information there is on the web, practically no question can be left unanswered now. Want to know about quantum physics? It’s there. How about North Korean culture? Here it is. Even if you’re looking for something more profound, like, “what is the meaning of life?” Google gives about 250 million answers for this question that has had philosophers stumped for centuries.

The only “problem” there is with the old way of searching up stuff on the web is that it’s getting boring. Pages and pages of text with the occasional picture accompaniment is so old school. Today, there are so many advances in technology that has increased the experience of learning available online. Here are a few of some of the more interesting things I’ve found that I feel benefits the way I learn.

1. Top Hat Monocle
Introduced to me during my PSY351 course during the summer, Monocle is an online interactive quiz board where lecturers can upload their own questions and students can answer them. The cool thing about it is that it allows for live participation, meaning students can send a text message or log on to answer a quiz question during a lesson. Monocle is a great tool for both lecturers and students to use as lecturers can track who’s participating in class and students can check how much they know in a particular chapter, etc.

Unfortunately, the text-in option is for schools in America only. However, an international version should be coming out soon. Another disadvantage is that it’s not free. Students pay in instalments of a term (four months – US$20), five years (US$99) or a lifetime subscription (US$120). I feel that it’s only worth the money if many lecturers are using it. Also, as my course was only six weeks long, I felt it unnecessary to pay for four months worth of Monocle.

I would like to see more lecturers use Monocle in the future though. I like the idea of the in-class quizzes as it motivates you to stay awake (for one) and to actually participate (for two), especially since the latter is a big problem in Singapore institutions.

2. Evernote
This is by far my favourite note-taking tool available. Evernote is not only available for download for your computer but also for Android or iOS supported smartphones. This tool makes it easy to take down notes anywhere you go. I’ve been using mine to take down notes during sermons on Sundays.

Evernote on Mac

Evernote on Android 2.2

Notes on your phone are easily synced to your notes on your laptop so you’re able to access them anywhere.

Evernote isn’t a regular notebook where you’re limited to basic functions like bold, underline and italics. You can take snapshots of lecture slides or audio recordings of an interview for example.

Also, Evernote gives you the option of creating multiple notebooks, so that you may have one for each subject or project. Notebooks can even be shared with others such that collaborating becomes a breeze.

3. Endnote
In university, we’re required to write research papers. And as credible writers, we’re expected to give proper credit to our research materials when due. UB is lucky in the sense that we’ve received good training in ESL407 and ESL408 in learning how to do proper citations and referencing in APA format.

But for those who’ve become rusty in citing, here’s a useful piece of software that can end your referencing woes!

I like how Endnote helps keeps track of all your references that you’ve collected. This is extremely useful, especially if you’re writing a dissertation that includes countless references. I find that when I write research papers, my biggest problem is the alphabetising. It’s not that I have a problem with the alphabet (I don’t!) but having to rearrange 20 or so references can get a bit confusing at times and when you have multiple works by the same author – it can get plenty perplexing when you are working on a tight deadline. With Endnote, at least the menial task of formatting isn’t too much of a chore, although it does take a little bit of effort.

Although these three tools can help in making learning more fun, I believe that lecturers can do their part too in helping students learn better by making lectures more interesting. When a lecturer uses videos to reinforce a point, I tend to understand the concepts better. Better yet, lecturers can maybe take a leaf out of this teacher’s book and really get students interested in what they’re learning.

These certainly make learning fun and as more things get developed, I’m sure the future of learning will not just be confined to Googling anymore.

revivaldotcom

In the 90’s, the world was abuzz with people working from the comfort of their homes and being their own bosses. These ‘dotcom’ businesses thrived from providing services and goods to their customers through the internet. But this didn’t last long and most of these online businesses closed down or even went bankrupt by the early ‘00.

However, online businesses seem to be gaining in popularity once again, especially in Singapore. A couple of years back, loads of young girls took to the internet to sell their used clothing (cleverly disguised as ‘pre-loved items’). Livejournal was the blog site of choice and ‘Communities’ were formed on LJ. Popular ones like sgselltrade saw about 70+ unique posts by members a day.

Some ambitious and enterprising girls broadened their scope to include selling clothes from wholesale manufacturers. Thus, online blogshops were born! Familiar names include Love, Bonito (formerly Bonito Chico), Tracyeinny and Her Velvet Vase. These three big names have grown from self-taken photos of themselves wearing their own merchandise to having their own flagship stores in Singapore and with some even launching their own clothing label, designed by themselves.

What makes these three blogshops popular where others have not been as successful? These are my opinions on why these e-commerce businesses have lasted this long and why they have paved the way for anyone who would like to set up their own online shop.

1. Knowing what the customers want
The first rule in owning a business is to know your target audience. That’s the first thing you learn in any marketing/business course. This information is crucial in knowing what suits your customers, in terms of products, presentation and promotion. Having this knowledge can help cut down time on choosing products and presenting them in a way that is appealing to customers.

I guess this is the most important factor for these blogshop owners. When these shops first started selling clothes from wholesale manufacturers, they did the smart thing by only introducing pieces that were in fashion and very wearable at low prices. Being youths themselves, this would probably be easy. The weather in Singapore eliminates the need for heavy sweaters and coats and anything found in any Spring/Summer collection could be brought in for sale. Also, as these clothes were brought in by manufacturers, clothes could be sold for much cheaper. An entire outfit, inclusive of a dress, shoes and accessories, can all be bought for about $50~ on one of these shops.

2. Catering to a sizeable market
It’s not enough to just know what customers want. It’s also important to be able to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. In business, I believe being a Jack-of-all-trades will not help much in protecting customer loyalty.

For these blogshops, their main focus is on clothes for women but they have been smart enough to make sure that they do not sell the same things as the other blogshops. For example, Love, Bonito has many clothes that fit daywear and eveningwear. They have also added a new Bridesmaid category where they will be selling good quality dresses that aren’t expensive (*Update: they have introduced a special ‘convertible’ dress that is able to transform into a few designs – value for money!). Her Velvet Vase has more clothes that fit those in the work field and Tracyeinny has a good mix of both casual and formal wear.

Markets that are too niche often fail due to mismanagement of stocks or a lack of a strong customer base. For example, if you’re interested in selling bottles of sand from various countries, the market wouldn’t be very big and not many people would be willing to fork out $30+shipping for sand that could have been found in the seller’s backyard.

3. Simplicity is key
The last reason I feel these blogshops have managed to succeed in what they do is the design of their webpages. After all, this is e-commerce and a good web design makes things so much easier to navigate.



In all three examples, clothes are categorised neatly into Dresses, Tops, Bottoms, etc. Searching for a particular design is easy as well. They also have a good system for their shopping carts, making it easy to check stock, colour, price and quantity of items. Overall, all three have made it such that information is easy to find and that no page is overly cluttered with excessive graphics or multiple font usage.

These three points are what I believe can help anyone who would like to try out e-commerce. However, one should note that these points are not exhaustive in what is good. Here are three more examples that could revolutionise e-commerce.

1. Groupon
The concept of Groupon takes something that we’re all familiar with and ‘upgrading’ it into something that’s very convenient. The idea of downloading coupons or paying for vouchers online for use in real life makes a lot of sense, especially since there are so many people who use smartphones these days. Groupon gets you great deals from massages, to restaurants, to holiday packages. The deals on Groupon are absolutely worth it too. Most deals will get you at least a 50% discount and some, up to 90% discount. Since most of these deals are usually for big-ticket items that most people would not spend on, using Groupon allows for you to splurge on yourself.

2. G-Market
Originally from South Korea, G-Market is an online market for anyone with an account. Users are able to buy merchandise from sellers in a way quite similar to blogshops. The difference, however, is in the variety of items for sale. There are the usual fashion and beauty products that can be found on most shops but there are also digital devices like memory cards, and cameras and even cars for sale. Reviews on sellers make it safe for buyers such that you’re able to check if a certain seller is reputable.

My only gripe with G-Market is its over-complex checkout system. While trying to buy polaroid film, I found the price system confusing and messy.

Moreover, how the prices are listed gives a false impression on buyers.

3. Home Shopping NetworkOnline version!
Everyone’s familiar with HSN. I’ve spent many a days watching it on TV, being fascinated by the ridiculous sharpness of Ginsu knives and the cleaning power of OxyClean. We haven’t seen much of home shopping in Singapore lately (only on Channel U before regular broadcasting) but it’s still a huge industry in the US. Recently, HSN has started uploading videos of their products on Youtube and you’re actually able to buy these items just like you would while watching the demonstrations on regular TV.

This gives the products more ‘air-time’ and people who have missed out on certain deals can still catch them as long as they’re available through the HSN Youtube channel.

As the internet advances into Web 3.0 in the future, it’ll be exciting to see how those developments can help heighten our shopping experience online. What would you like to see in the future of shopping?

trying out google+!

This week, I tried out Google+ – the new interactive social networking site from Google. It’s Google’s answer to Facebook and it comes after other (failed/not so popular) SNS from Google like Buzz and Wave.

I received an invitation for Google+ quite some time back but never really had the chance to explore it until now! Image-heavy post. Be warned!

So here’s what Google+ looks like! So far, I’m liking the clean interface. It looks a lot like Facebook with a lot of similar features. For example, a feed down the middle with updates from friends and suggestions on who to add from your gmail account on the right.

Let’s check out a few of the features:

One of the first few things I heard about Google+ that was different from Facebook was the introduction of ‘Circles’. Circles are a nifty way of categorising everyone that you’ve added. This is extremely useful especially since we have so many people adding us on SNS everyday. How many of these people are really our friends and even so, are we even still close to some of these people that we can still call them friends? Circles on Google+ allows the categorisation so that you’re able to keep track of who’s an old classmate from primary school to that potential business acquaintance you met at a bar last week.

Circles not only help keep track of where you’ve met a person but they also provide a good way of ‘uncluttering’ the news feed. For example, if you’d just like to check out only what your family is doing, clicking on the ‘Family’ list allows to see what all family members are doing. The same goes for other Circles.

Another great feature of Circles is that friends can sometimes overlap categories:

Finally, the last benefit of Circles is the control of who you want to see specific updates, photos, etc. How often have we regretted having that picture of us throwing up after a night of heavy drinking being found by parents or a potential employer.

With a few clicks, photos can be hidden and statuses blocked from the people you don’t want them to see.

The only problem I really had in Google+ though, was the need of a working Gmail account. I have a few Gmail accounts (had a tough time choosing the perfect user name) that I use simultaneously. The good thing is that Gmail allows all these accounts to be linked and opened from one main Gmail account. You would think that this would be incorporated into Google+ but this has not been so.

Also, I’ve had my Hotmail email account since 2001 (10 years!) and have had all my SNS accounts linked to Hotmail. I only made the switch to Gmail for professional reasons so there’s a significant lack of real life friends on my Gmail account. I was surprised at the ‘Find friends from these emails’ button BUT

The Hotmail button didn’t work but it could’ve been my browser.

Currently, I rate Google+ 3 stars (***). It has the potential to be just as good as Facebook but I don’t think it will replace Facebook anytime soon. I predict that Facebook will eventually come up with their own version of Circles and the two SNS will continue competing to be the best SNS. Google+ still has very few users since it’s still in beta testing but once it’s open to the public, I assume most people would jump on the Google+ bandwagon for awhile. It will be interesting to see how Google+ plays it up in the future as SNS get more competitive. One feature I’d love to see would be a unique URL system like the one Facebook has. That would make finding friends much easier instead of having to connect through the Gmail account. A major peeve I have with Facebook is that they keep changing the interface once you get used to it. It might come to a point whereby the constant changes on Facebook might push users towards the cleaner Google+.

Have you tried out Google+ yet? What did you like or not like about it? Leave a comment below!

*[UPDATE]: Google+ is NOW OPEN TO THE ENTIRE PUBLIC!

And also, Facebook changed its interface yet again.😡

the end of your social life

I thought that it’d be a good idea to write/talk more about Tumblr since it is still a relatively new social media site. Although I do risk being hacked to death by Tumblr-ers (we are a very non-inclusive family :/), it’s for an assignment after all (I promise not to divulge too many secrets, fellow Tumblr-ers).

First things first, like all social media websites, you need to sign up for an account first. Secondly, and this is crucial, you need to start following some Tumblrs. Huffington Post has a list of Tumblrs that you “must” follow but that’s totally up to you.

How to follow:
Easy, right? Alright, now that you’ve followed a whole bunch of people, where do you go to view their posts? Like Twitter, posts on Tumblr are automatically updated onto your feed. We call this feed, ‘DASHBOARD‘.

Some basic features of the Dasboard include:
. The top bar: where you’ll be able to find all your Tumblogs, messages (if any), settings and help.
. The create bar: create different types of posts – text, audio, video and chat even.
. The side bar: people you’ve followed and posts you like.
. And of course, where you’ll be able to find the people you’ve followed. Just scroll down to see everybody’s posts!

As I mentioned in the previous post, Tumblr if most famous for its reblogging feature, which is very similar to Twitter’s retweeting feature. Except, there is no character limit.

Go ahead and hit that ‘reblog’ button. Tip: Open in a new tab so that you won’t disrupt your scrolling on your Dashboard (optional. I just prefer it that way).

Sometimes, you may not want to reblog a post but you like it anyway. No problem! Tumblr has a solution for that.

And there you go! The basics of Tumblr. Here are a couple more “tips” that you can take note of when using Tumblr.

1. Secondary Tumblrs
Many people create second and third Tumblrs for separate interests. For example, I have one solely for cupcake recipes I’ve found on Tumblr. Instead of creating new accounts for this other Tumblog, Tumblr allows you to create other Tumblrs using the same account!

2. Post queuing
Sometimes, reblogging a whole bunch of stuff really clutters up your followers’ Dashboards. Some may not even share the same interests as you, especially if you have in real life friends who follow you on Tumblr, and it isn’t nice to flood their eyes with what you like. That’s like forcing your beliefs down other people’s throats. When creating a new post or reblogging, Tumblr allows you to ‘queue’ your posts at different time intervals (eg, once every hour) so that your followers aren’t spammed with 927091 pictures of some guy in a band.

3. F*ck yeahs!
Mind the language. We don’t mean to be rude! F*ckyeah blogs are meant to celebrate the things we love. Really into sharks? Then F*CK, YEAH! SHARKS! How about unicorns? F*CK, YEAH! UNICORNS! There’re a couple of variations to f*ckyeahs, such as the less vulgar ‘fyeah’ blogs, like F YEAH! TATTOOS! Basically, if you have something you’re interested in, just add a ‘f*ckyeah’ (spelt out fully) in front of the thing you like.

Have fun playing around with Tumblr! I guarantee that once you get hooked, you’re NEVER going to look back.🙂

haveeeeee you met the internet?

HIIIIII!~~~ヾ(^∇^)

I’ve been trying to write this entry for 10298301923 hours now but have been procrastinating for the past 10298301923 hours because I was distracted by – the irony of ironies – the internet!

The internet is, by far, my most favourite invention after air-conditioning and the TV. Developed somewhere around the 1960s, the internet has gone from being a simple military communication device to a complex system of funny cat pictures, Facebook and memes that has helped passed my time very fruitfully.

However, the internet that we know and use now is more accurately known as the World Wide Web. In particularly, Web2.0, which is what allows me to blog about my learning journey to the introduction of the internet in COM125 with the extremely hilarious Mr Abel Choy.

Instead of boring the whole world with what entails Web2.0, I will be sharing two radically life-changing features of Web2.0 that I feel has greatly benefited the way we own, produce and publish our own media content.

1. Blogging

Websites include: Blogger, WordPress, Livejournal.

Blogging isn’t something new – blog platforms have been around for more than a decade (since 1997). They have evolved from the slightly voyeuristic nature of a public diary to the more satirical subject-specific blogs that cover politics, fashion and food.

Nowadays, blogs serve as more than just a way to reach out to friends and family that we want to keep in contact and updated with, with our lives. Be it in the form of a rant, a thoughtfully worded critique on the government, or even a sudden declaration of love for pancakes, blogging is one of the easiest ways that we are able to get a message across to the world. Updates can occur at any time of the day and are available 24/7. There’s no need to constantly remind yourself to pick up the latest issue since archives are easily accessible.


Under the umbrella of blogging comes TWO new features – microblogging and reblogging. Microblogging (Twitter) is the faster and tinier cousin of regular blogging whereby short posts by various people are updated onto a ‘feed’ that one can subscribe to. Microblogging allows a centralised area of multiple updates without having to visit individual blogs all the time. Reblogging is relatively new and can be found on Tumblr. The idea behind reblogging follows Twitter’s retweeting feature where people are able to send the same tweet while maintaining the original Tweeter’s credibility. On Tumblr, one can produce and publish their own content and people who like their content and would like to have it on their own blog can reblog it onto their own. In this way, content is quickly shared over many users without much use of complicated tools.

2. Social Networking Sites (SNS)

Websites include: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn.

While social-networking DOES include Twitter as well, I have decided to focus solely on those that specialise in connecting friends/colleagues.

SNS has enabled even the socially-challenged to have some sort of social activity. By adding friends, whether you know them or not, one does feel a certain sense of connection to these people. Finding out what your friends like or even what they did over the weekend is easy and doesn’t even require that awkwardness of actually asking.

I think that’s the real beauty about SNS – the lack of awkwardness. Sure, there will be a few occasions where you’re not sure whether or not to strike up a conversation with that pretty girl you just added on FB chat but even if she doesn’t reply, no one has to know! And as someone who is the epitome of all things awkward, Facebook has at least helped me add people as friends I would never have even approached in real life at all.

Facebook et al., have moved past the basic convention of just adding friends. These days, it isn’t uncommon to have receive party invites or to be a part of an exclusive group that buys and sells used textbooks. Sharing music, videos or other interesting things you’ve found on the internet can be made on a more “intimate” level with just these few select, privileged friends that blogging just can’t.

__

Obviously, my list of features isn’t very exhaustive. There are many more things about the internet that I could possibly write about but there’re many more weeks of this class left for me to do so.

Until then!

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