Category Archives: Current Events

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) at UW – Madison

Classrooms have been changing over the past 20 years as new technologies become available, but they may come with consequences that affect students and faculty alike.

The University of Wisconsin is following the lead of top-tier schools like Berkeley, MIT and Stanford in offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) that any person with a computer and an Internet connection can access for free.

“Right now, we are treating the pilots like an experiment,” said Dr. John Hawks, a professor in social sciences who will be teaching a MOOC in January. “After the first round of courses is done, we will meet and decide whether they have met desired outcomes.”

Some of these desired outcomes include the number of students who follow through the class to completion, how the University is able to support it, and how professors feel about teaching them. Continue reading

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Anonymous Threatens Zynga With Release of Games

Anonymous is a collective of unknown, unnamed people associated through the internet, and in this case the term refers to an organization of hackers who claim they safeguard the public good. Zynga is a video gaming company famous for its Facebook-based game Farmville.

Anonymous released a statement on AnonNews.org detailing a wonderfully dramatic kind of blackmail that could save almost 800 jobs. I’m not a fan of small groups claiming to represent the greater majority, but this is suggestive of an epic battle along the lines of Clark Kent versus Lex Luthor. Anonymous has apparently hacked into Zynga’s servers and extracted games that normally cost money, threatening to release them to the public for free unless the company “will cease immediately the plan.”

Continue reading

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Presidential Visit to the University of Wisconsin

A note to all readers: unlike my other posts, this one is entirely opinion-based (not related to technology whatsoever) and should be read as such. As always, comments are expected and encouraged.

As I write this, I am taking shelter from the impending rain in a cafe outside the University of Wisconsin’s communications building, sipping a double espresso and watching crowds of liberal voters walk by. The vast majority of them are headed to Bascom hill to see the ‘leader of the free world’ give a speech about why he should be reelected.  Continue reading

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Apple’s iPhone 5: ‘The Biggest Thing to Happen to iPhone Since iPhone’? (EDITED)

iPhone 5 Dimensions. Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.

In 2007, thousands upon thousands of people stood in line for hours to witness the advent of Apple’s first iPhone. It was considered to be revolutionary (and marketed as such). Being only 15 years old at this point, I remained unenthused. To begin with, I didn’t have an income to afford such a luxury. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with my SideKick 3, but I knew that only the richest students in my school would buy the iPhone. Few would, especially knowing there would be connectivity/signal problems given how isolated we were, nestled between the mesas in Sedona, Arizona. I didn’t give in to the pressure of everyone around me using the same technology provided by the iPhone until I finally asked for the iPhone 4 as a birthday gift from my mother nearly two years ago. I am not much for following ‘fads’, but I quite like my iPhone. The question now becomes: Will the iPhone 5 be worth the switch? Continue reading

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Wartime Journalism in the Digital Age

On April 19th, 2009, the New York Times published an audio slideshow online. The narrator was a soldier stationed in Afghanistan who spoke of one particular experience in which he and his company were ambushed. During the firefight, one soldier was shot and killed. After they had come back to find their lost companion, the narrator mentioned that they were relieved in spite of the fact that he was dead, if only because they knew he where he was and that he had not been captured.

View Article.

I think that one of the benefits of having this kind of media to portray a story like this is that it does feel very personal. Photos of the soldiers moving through wooded areas and sliding down slippery slopes were taken such that you almost feel you were there. This story was told almost from the bottom up, as the narrator mentioned a few specific facts before giving a bigger overview of what happened. Personally, however, I prefer the ‘inverted triangle’ of reporting. I think that it makes the story clearer to start out with the broader details and, building on specificity, so that readers who are more interested can read on and find out the more definite details. Continue reading

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Facebook’s Stock- Why did it fall apart?

Lately there has been a lot of buzz about Facebook’s stock and it’s dropping value. One possible explanation has to do with inconsistencies in ad space. Facebook makes money through ads on every page. These ads are tailored to the person using the page based on browser history and even subjects mentioned on the site itself. Most of the people who use Facebook, however, access their profiles on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets through Android or iOS applications. There are many third-party applications that can do this, but only one is sponsored by Facebook itself. Continue reading

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