EID100: Final Project Time!

I have a confession: I’ve been cheating on this blog with Tumblr.

That’s right, for our final project for EID 100, Sydney Wong and I have made a Tumblr blog on social media, and it’s effective, for a high-school audience in Toronto! Go check it at http://artofsocialmedia.tumblr.com/

It’s been a wonderful semester this year, and I’ve had great fun working with Sydney and on all these projects!

All references are found in individual posts.

Mobile Analytics: A Visual Adaptation of Occam’s Razor

Avinash Kaushik is a very popular web analyst and author of the blog “Occam’s Razor” – a compendium of perspectives, tips and tricks about the crucial process of web analytics. When developing a website, one has to make sure that it’s useful, or else it just wastes company (or personal) time and resource. Equally important is the process of mobile analytics, since most digital traffic now is from smartphones and tablets.

I’ve compiled Kaushik’s recommendations for mobile analytics (see http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/mobile-site-app-analytics-reports-metrics-how-to/) into a helpful infographic.

Take a look for yourself: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/3608077-mobile-analytics

 

NOTE: all information, as well as the media consumption chart, is from Avinash Kaushik. The graphics are default piktochart features.

Codecademy: Teaching Me Some CSS

This week’s coding assignment was a piece of cake! Since I have some (fragmented) experience with HTML, but haven’t done CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) before, I decided to give it a try. Codecademy’s website has a great user interface and simple but not condescending instructions. After my CSS course, here’s the code I wound up with:

HTML code: the structure of the webpage

HTML code: the structure of the webpage

CSS code: describes the style of the HTML

CSS code: describes the style of the HTML

As a way to quantify success, Codecademy makes use of small “badges”. They’re easy to earn in bulk just by completing the assignments. Here’s what i got for the above lesson and project:

7 Badges from my CSS course

7 Badges from my CSS course

Conclusions: while it was slow going, I enjoyed my foray into the land of HTML. I might look into coding again in the future, and it will likely prove useful, but I probably won’t make coding the next Facebook my main aspiration in life.

Beware the Malware! New PSA with Sydney Wong

As a public service announcement (PSA) about the dangers of Malware and some tips for your protection, Sydney Wong and I made a short video, using free-to-use content from the web and some of our own creations. Check it out here: 

Sources list:

Brian Senic. (n.d.). “Checking emails – scrolling through hundreds of emails”. Shutterstock license: http://www.shutterstock.com/video/license/standard/current/. Altered: cut. Retrieved from: http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-4929320-stock-footage-checking-emails-scrolling-through-hundreds-of-emails.html?src=rel/3739535:9/gg

Kārlis Dambrāns. (September 27, 2013). “Macbook Pro 15 Retina” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Altered : background removed, layers added, vignette added. Retrieved from (shortened url): http://goo.gl/5Jv6FI

LIFEOFVIDS. (October 2014). “Keyboarding Side View”. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Altered: cut. Retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/108425305

r. nial bradshaw. (August 3, 2013). “hand-shower-glass-women.jpeg” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Altered: made translucent, warped, layers added. Retrieved from (shortened url): http://goo.gl/ECuQYO

Tawheed Manzoor. (March 3, 2008). “key to the open door” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Unaltered; used in video. Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tawheedmanzoor/2309847575/

TechyTutorials. (Jun 25, 2012). “Loading Progress Bar Intro/Effect – Free Download (Sony Vegas Pro 11/12 Template + Video File)”. Used with Author Permission: free to use video, not audio, for personal or commercial use, but cannot re-distribute solely for money. Altered: cut. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3kqx10A9Hc

Blank Youtube page made by Meaghan Hutchison; computer ghost video made by Meaghan Hutchison. Keyboard clack, door closing, background music all iMovie defaults.

Kitchen Buddy: My New App!

Kitchen Buddy Mobile Icon

Kitchen Buddy Mobile Icon

Yes, folks, it’s KITCHEN BUDDY, your personal helper in the kitchen, right on your mobile device! Important information like cooking times, cooking methods, and flavour combinations, all at your fingertips. It’s FREE, and comes with three free recipes, two of which are my family favorites. For a paltry sum, additional sets of recipes could be purchased through the app store. Download now!

Well, not really. It’s only a simulation. But it’s a full-fledged simulation, looking just like it would appear on the screen of your mobile device! Check it out here: http://apps.appypie.com/marketplace/iphone-android/kitchen-buddy

As a side note, regrettably, the Appy Pie engine I created the app on thought my icon was too big, and you can’t see it in the thumbnail. Sorry about that.

Reference list disclaimers: Icon and background are self-made in Photoshop CS6. All other images are found on Flickr and are Creative-Commons licensed. Scrambled eggs recipe is from personal knowledge – while I certainly learned it somewhere, it was a long time ago and I can’t remember where. The Macaroni hot-pot is a favorite of my dad’s, and I’m sure he found it somewhere, too, but we’ve been making it so long, that source has been lost. Other cooking knowledge mostly obtained through watching the Food Network show, “Good Eats”, now off the air. Specific episodes are not cited, as I absorbed the knowledge and accepted it as general, though I have cited the show itself in the references. Additionally, I used Google’s URL shortening tool (https://goo.gl/) to shorten the Flickr URLs so my references page wasn’t as long as the human genome sequence.

References:

Apiaceae. (5 October 2014). Retrieved November 2, 2014 from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apiaceae

Carle, M., & Carle, J. (2004). Teens cook: How to cook what you want to eat. New York: Ten Speed Press.

Category: Cooking techniques. (22 October 2014). I Retrieved November 2, 2014 from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Cooking_techniques

Government of Canada. (Oct 2, 2014). Safe internal cooking temperatures. In Food and Nutrition (Food safety). Retrieved from http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/safety-salubrite/cook-temperatures-cuisson-eng.php

Mirepoix (cuisine). (20 September 2014). Retrieved November 2, 2014 from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirepoix_(cuisine)#Italian_Soffritto

Poaching (cooking). (15 September 2014). Retrieved November 3, 2014 from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poaching_(cooking)

Popoff, D., & Brown, D. (Producers). (2000-2010). Good Eats [Television series]. New York City, NY: Food Network.

Shao Z. (July 1, 2014). Chinese Aromatics 101: The Mild and Aromatic Ginger, Scallion, and Garlic Flavor Base [web log entry]. Retrieved from http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/07/chinese-aromatics-101-mild-ginger-scallion-garlic.html

Image References

Aaron Stidwell. (November 7, 2009). “fry it up in a pan” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/MEe07n

Casey Fleser. (March 27, 2009). “Eleven Herbs &Spices (86/365)” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/somegeekintn/3397198946/

Edkohler. (September 25, 2008). “Food Thermometer” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/esmrA1

Elizabeth McClay. (April 25, 2010). “Pepper, Salt” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/XNq6O2

Joy. (June 11, 2010). “Mirepoix ingredients plus garlic” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/hARjSZ

Larry & Teddy Page. (April 3, 2010). “Lunch 4/3/2010” [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/4pgcqo

Miran Rijavec. (January 28, 2011). “Steam cooking witlof (Belgian endive).//Deutscher Chicorée”  [image]. Under Creative Commons license, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/HqPQho

Shamaasa. (February 21, 2013). “Macaroni pasta” [image]. Under Creative Commons licence, free to share and adapt. Credit to: http://www.pdpics.com/. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/67003333@N02/8517018491/

Steven Depolo. (June 21, 2009). “Sausage and Egg Casserole – Father’s Day Food 6-21-09 4” [image]. Flickr. Under Creative Commons licence, free to share and adapt. Retrieved from (shortened link) http://goo.gl/C755kq

Healthy Information Consumption is Like Brewing Coffee: Impossible Without Filters

With increased access to information, comes increased risk of information overload. We are drowning in a sea of irrelevant, misinformed wikis, rants and cat videos. Without some sort of filter to dredge this sea, it can be difficult to find valid information. But with too much filtering, your sources for information can be limited and you could lock yourself in a filter bubble of single viewpoints.

Tweetdeck application showing my info filters - Digital Innovation/News, #DigitalMerketing, DIY, and #steampunk

Tweetdeck application showing my info filters – Digital Innovation/News, #DigitalMarketing, DIY, and #steampunk

Self-curating services like Tweetdeck allow you to create your own topic-centered stores of information, by filtering incoming information by user or hashtag. As you see, I’m looking at Digital Innovation and searching for #DigitalMarketing, and DIYers, with #Steampunk, a popular crafting genre, as my search. When looking at a very specific interest, having Tweetdeck sort your incoming tweets in this way is very useful. However, especially with the user-searches, there’s still potential for “information cocoons” – getting stuck in one way of thinking because that particular viewpoint is the only one you see (EID100 Notes). The hashtag search is better at countering this, because searching for a topic can still give you dissenting opinions. I’ve found this curation very helpful for my specific topics – instead of looking around, I can have my newsfeed tailored to my interests. But it’s important not to just look at your Tweetdeck feed – it’s essential to exercise one’s curiosity by searching for new topics. And if I’m looking for a specific bit of data, it is also much easier to search for it specifically than to try and find it in my Twitter feed.

Overall opinion: Tweetdeck is great for efficient filtering of information by topic, but receiving all one’s news there is NOT recommended, for the sake of opinion diversity.

Resources Used:

Lecture notes from EID 100

They’re After my Cookies!

The internet would not reasonably function without cookies.

Cookies, small pieces of data inserted by a website onto a user’s hard drive (“Cookie FAQ”), allow websites to recognize you as a separate user from other users. Imagine if you were browsing Facebook, and every time you clicked on a link you had to enter your name and password again? It would be awful. It’s darn good that these first-party cookies exist.

However, third-party “tracking” cookies are a little more devious. The same sections of code are put on your computer by advertising companies to track your search history so the companies can target your desires. I installed Firefox and ran the add-on Lightbeam, which visualises this tracking network.

Lightbeam screencap

Wow. Check out that spider-web of Big Data. Circles are visited sites, and triangles are connected sites. Interestingly, the only site I “visited” was Google, my preferred search engine.

Look at all those websites! I visited 13 sites altogether, including Gmail, Popsugar (that big one), and the Toronto Zoo. That’s 13 sites visited voluntarily – so what’s with the other 218? Social media widgets and advertising sites tracked my progress through the web. Now, when I use Firefox, I’ll probably get ads for aquariums and recipes and Halloween stores.

It is a little unnerving having my personal data tracked by ad companies like this. The fact that someone out there can see what you’re surfing is definitely eerie, and it could be argued that these ad websites violate the privacy I’m entitled to by doing so – but, after all, they don’t track my name, my age, or where I live. So, I really have no problem with cookies, but if they creep you out, you can clear them by following the handy instructions here: http://www.aboutcookies.org/Default.aspx?page=2. I like having Google remember my most recent sites, so I’m not in the habit of clearing mine.

Now, I have heard frightening tales of users clicking on what appeared to be an ad, only to find they had accidentally downloaded malware instead and their whole system was knackered. This doesn’t really have anything to do with cookies, and the risk can be successfully minimized.

  1. Use either Chrome or Firefox to browse.
  2. Use antivirus software. ALWAYS.
  3. Just don’t click on ads – seriously. If you want a product, search for it.

To end on a happy note, I think we can all agree these cookies are fantastic:

Cookies

Mmmmmm.

Resources:

“Cookie FAQ”. About Cookies.org. Pinsent Masons LLP, n.d. Web. 25 September 2014. http://www.aboutcookies.org/default.aspx?page=5

“How to Delete Cookies”. About Cookies.org. Pinsent Masons LLP, n.d. Web. 25 September 2014. http://www.aboutcookies.org/Default.aspx?page=2

First image is a screencap of Lightbeam on Firefox; the cookies are mine (they were quite tasty).

How to Speak Google

Who ever looks on the second page of Google Search? Most often, the answers you’re looking for can be found on the first one, or even in the top three hits. Google’s page-crawling spiders are highly efficient at finding pages within their index that match your keywords. But here’s the problem: sometimes commands get lost in translation, as Google’s first language is Google-speak, not colloquial English. You can help Google find what you want faster by using the best and most appropriate Google syntax. Here are some examples:

  1. How would you search for an exact word or phrase?
    • We’ve probably all had this one: you’re looking for, say, the song you just heard on the radio, but you can only remember one line. If you type in that line, Google will find a whole bunch of pages about those words, but not the song you’re looking for. To tell Google “look for this specific phrase”, enclose the exact word or phrase in double quotes. Example: “tell the tale of Passchendaele” will get you to the Iron Maiden song faster than typing it without quotes, which first brings up a Wikipedia page on the famous battle (Russel).
  2. How would you search for something on a specific site?
    • If you’re looking for information about pandas, but only want information from National Geographic’s website, add an Operator – the “site” operator – site:siteyouwant.com. MAKE SURE there is no space between “site” and the colon. So, your panda search would look like: pandas site:nationalgeographic.com (Russel).
  3. How would you correctly search for a definition?
    • Easier than telling Google to find you a dictionary. First, put the word “Define”, followed by a space, then your search word. If using a phrase, the entire phrase will be defined. For example, “Define Raining cats and dogs” would define that expression, not provide separate definitions for “raining”, “cat”, and “dog” (Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).
  4. How would you search for a specific product available within a specific price range?
    • State the product, then a space, then a dollar sign with the lower price, followed by two dots, then a dollar sign and the highest price. For example, if looking for a new 17-inch computer monitor between $40 and 100$, type in the query ‘17-inch monitor $40..$100′ (Alford).
  5. How would you search for a specific filetype?
    • This would come in handy if, for example, you need a pdf of something for downloading. Once again, it makes use of an operator. The operator is filetype:type. For example, “pandas filetype:pdf” (Russell).
  6. How would you include or ignore words in your search?
    • Let’s say you’re looking for information on the mythology of the Greek goddess “Nike”, but nothing about the athletic company. You can tell Google to ignore selected words by placing a -, with no space, in front of the term or terms you don’t want. So, your search for Nike might look like “Greek Nike –sports” (Russell).
    • You can include other related search terms by having the term OR (always in capitols) between the terms. For example, if you wanted to also get information about the Roman equivalent of Nike, but chiefly wanted information about the Greeks, your search might look like “Greek Nike OR Roman” (Russell; Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).
  7. How would you find related pages?
    • If you’ve found a site on something fascinating, and want other sites like it so you have more information, there is another handy operator you can use. Type in “related:”, followed by the site name. For example, “related:nationalgeographic.com” for more sites about pandas (Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).
  8. How would you find pages containing one of several words you are interested in, though not all of them?
    • If you are trying to get information on a subject, with a bunch of related words but one really important one, you can have your search terms as normal but also use the Operator intext:, which searches ONLY websites that ALSO have that SPECIFIC WORD on them somewhere. For example, if looking for information on plate tectonics, and specifically how it relates to the Andes mountain range, you might search “plate tectonics intext:Andes” (Russell).
  9. How would you find the time in another country?
    • Google itself has many handy quick-search functions, including calculations, definitions, and conversions. One of these is timezones. Just type “time (space) place-name” (not in quotes) and the answer will appear at the top of the page, like, “time Brussels” to get the current time in Brussels, Belgium (Russell).
  10. How would you find out how many Egyptian pounds you get for $20 Canadian dollars?
    • This is a simple one. Google has an automatic conversion/calculation machine. Type in (number – units in units), like, ’20 Canadian dollars in Egyptian pounds’. This function can also be used for converting between measurements, making it particularly useful for adjusting recipes or finding how many centimeters something measured in inches is (Russell, Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).

References used:

Alford, Latisha. “How To Product Search For A Specific Price Range On Google Search Engine”. Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube, 1 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IeEls4ir84

Russell, Daniel. Power Searching with Google. Google Inside Search, Sept. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.  http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/course/ps/course.html

“Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience”. Google. Google, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.  http://www.google.ca/intl/en/help/features.html#top

 

Social Media and Netiquette – Conflicting Messages?

When reflecting on Social Media and one’s presence on the internet, I always think back to the instruction in digital etiquette that I received in mid- and high-school. I remember being given only two talks from grades eight to twelve. Both contained the same advice: you should not be on the internet because there are creepy people out there that will find you and stalk you and steal your stuff. Such advice is somewhat relevant, particularly for those who are barely legally old enough to be using social media. For example, we were specifically told many times to never put our real names or location on the internet. This would be beneficial to, say, a 13-year-old girl wanting to connect with friends and to avoid stalkers. But once one begins to move towards a career, it is imperative that one can be found on the internet as their true self (Business Know-How). Good netiquette involves more than making a password a mile long and not posting nude photos – it is about presenting your best, truest face for the entire world to see. The interconnected, collaborative nature of the new web can be a powerful tool for creation and empowerment, but only if you are not afraid to present your true self to the world.

As students move into high school, and move towards future careers, they should be taught to present their true self on the web, to network politely and in an engaged manner with friends, family and future employers. A focus on security and the protection of privacy is fine for younger teens, but as youths mature, they must move away from total isolation if they are to set themselves up for a successful future with social media.

Highlighting the difference in priorities for business and kids’ social media etiquette:

1) MediaSmarts – Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy. http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/tipsheet/TipSheet_Social_Media_Rules.pdf

2) Business Know-How; written by Lydia Ramsey. http://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/socialmediaetiquette.htm