Meeting with an Expert

Today, I was finally able to get started on my homepage! By doing so, I had to meet with someone who knew a thing or two about the software Dreamweaver CS5 to help me get started. When I first got there, I told him about my background and the fact that I am very inexperienced in creating a website, but I needed and wanted to take on this challenge. He affirmed that with a desire to do it, I will, so we got started. He first showed me that there is a free 30-day trial for the software that I can download on my computer to work on it at home. I know I will eventually have to buy the monthly/yearly subscriptions and eventually the software download itself, but this was good enough for now.  He explained to me the importance of having correct dimensions for the composition of each page layout of the homepage and website pages so that there is no unnecessary white space below all of my type/images on a page, for example. Additonally, he showed me the distorted form that an image will be shown as on a page if these dimensions are incorrect. Knowing the exact coding in order to keep the correct dimensions when editing my pages was the issue I was nervous about. But, I wrote on a Word Document the coding sequences I should know in order to prevent the previous issue. He also taught me what an XHTML markup is which is the type of Dreamweaver text file, or document that is composed of tags, the elements that define the parts of a web page, including paragraphs, headings, lists, images, links, etc. An example of a coding sequence is as follows:

<h3>Interests</h3>

This is an h3 (heading 3) element. <h3> is the start tag, Interests is the text, and </h3> is the end tag.

He also taught me how to make content active so that people could click on the “link” to bring them to that specific page. He even created one for me so I have a start-off point. The one note that I found very vital for me was organization. I made folders for the pages that would be holding images, the pages that would be other websites I look at for inspiration for my artwork, and the pages that would have my resume and information about myself. I learned a lot from him this first time meeting and we plan to meet this week as well!


Feeling “Unlucky” on Chat Roulette

I was curious to see if Chat Roulette was still filled with the same people as it used to be, for I hadn’t visited the site in at least a few years. I was not pleased to find that it was. I was greeted on my first chat with a naked man, followed by sounds of pornography in the background. I was completely offended and had to exit the page, before I got the courage to go back on again.

My second experience was a little less frightening. It consisted of a hello and me pretending I was from London with a British accent,  followed by me hiding my face from the camera. For some reason I felt more comfortable putting on an act than actually participating in the site. I think I am uncomfortable with the fact of strangers seeing my face and being able to do whatever they want, because they are in the privacy of their own homes.

The concept of Chat Roulette is both interesting and creepy at the same time. As I revisited this site many years after I used it for entertainment, I still say to myself “There is absolutely no way I am the only normal person on this thing”,but I always seem to be. There was not one comfortable experience I had on Chat Roulette. I see how it is considered a moral panic because it can make people feel violated and uneasy. While I am sure that many people have had a decent experience on this website, I have not. I guess that’s the “gamble” about it, there is a good chance you will get a creep. Overall, I can say that this is my last time using Chat Roulette. Ever.


Chatroulette scares me

I chose to check out Chatroulette for this blog post since I have been on the site before.  The last time and the only time that I was on the site, was about two years ago with my roommates freshman year.

Seeing the site again made me realize why I never went back.  The whole prospect of chatting with someone/seeing people that you do not know creeps me out.  I get the appeal of meeting interesting (mostly strange) new people, but for me, it just made me uneasy.  Being that the first time I visited the site I was unfortunate enough to have an older man flash my friends and I, I was actually pretty nervous that I would see something inappropriate again round 2.

Fortunately, this time on Chatroulette I was spared the nudity, and I mostly just had 2 second conversations with other people. It was a very short conversation consisting of “Hi what’s your name” and I surprisingly wasn’t the one who exed out of the chat a lot of the time.  I thought I would experience creepy groups of people and immediately get turned off from the chat, but they seemed to be turned off from me.  Perhaps once they saw that I wasn’t a group of guys throwing back some beers, or a couple of giggling teenage girls, or a perverted older man, they were not very interested in talking to me.

All in all, I do understand the appeal of Chatroulette as a one-time deal, just to see what all the hype is about.  But as far as being a persistent user of the site, I’m not sure I could handle that.  The site was probably intended for g-rated content, and meeting new people through a different means than what was previous available on the internet.  Unfortunately, it has gone to a different, sometimes r-rated, creepy place.  I do not intend to return!


Chatroulette is Creepy

My experience with Chatroulette was a different one. In the five minutes I was on it I saw about 10 people and attempted to chat with 2 or 3 before it just creped me out. Maybe it’s an age thing. I know my little brother and his friends spend like hours on it randomly just messing around like high school kids do sometimes. All I know is it is for sure not for me.

I’ve heard some Chatroulette “horror stories”, if you will, from my brother and his friends, luckily my experience was not that dramatic. I’ve also read some other classmates experience with it and was not looking forward to checking it out. I would click and some random person would pop up on my screen. A couple of times I couldn’t understand what the other person was saying. On one hand I can see why people may like it because of the surprise element. On the other hand I’m sure there are a lot of people out there bringing a lot of x-rate content and that is a little scary. Overall, it was a different experience that I probably wouldn’t try again. However, it is kind of interesting to think that there is website  like this that pairs you with a person that could be on the other side of the world and that so many people are interested it something like this.


I-Dosing

I was really excited to see what exactly I-Dosing was and how I could give it a try myself. Apparently, I-Dosing is a new trend amid kids online wanting to get “high” off of audio sound waves. The “music” is typically loud and consists of a two-tone technique that allegedly alters brain waves, creating a sense of induced awareness. For a more technical description on how this binaural mix creates this sensation through different frequencies, refer to Mike’s post, 2 posts below this one.

There is the foundation for I-Dosing. Now the next part was to explore it’s effects for myself. I went to YouTube and found a video called “Gate of Hades,” one of the more well-known I-dosing videos. Part one of the video was 15 minutes long, so naturally I didn’t stick around for the entire show. This may have reduced the effects of this music, but I doubt it, for I felt virtually nothing after sampling the video. Perhaps I am high while typing this now, but I would definitely need some convincing. Arguably, I felt a sense of hyper-awareness after listening, but I would compare this feeling to the emotions felt after listening to a dissonant, contemporary classical work. After sitting for an extended period of time, trying to focus all of your attention on something that you would normally avoid listening to, you feel a different sentiment than you would feel on a normal basis.

I would agree that parents have a legitimate concern if their kids are experimenting with this new phenomenon, but the issue isn’t so much with I-Dosing as as it is with what I-Dosing represents. If your kid is looking to get high, this might be something you would want to address as a parent, as it could obviously lead to an actual addiction to an actual drug. Overall, I have come to the conclusion that I-Dosing is harmless, and I wish I could say I was surprised. People freak out with any mention of children getting “high,” and since the older generation is less tech-saavy, they tend to fear anything on the internet. Combine these two things, and you have a recipe for overreaction.


Second Chance to LambdaMOO…

If you read my last post, you’re probably aware that I was less than thrilled to be using LambdaMOO, the first text-based MUD (multi-user domain), as it was very hard to figure out the downloading process.  I don’t like quitting, though, so I decided to give a second chance to LambdaMOO.  After a little bit of web surfing, I found that I was supposed to download an application called TelNet.  This is actually a separate part of the internet than the world wide web, which is still crazy to me, because I feel like I am only familiar with the web as the internet.

Once I downloaded TelNet, I was able to sign on to LambdaMOO as a guest, and I had to sign up for a character, which I would be able to receive in a day or two.  This seemed so weird to me, because when I think of the internet, I think of things happening at the click of a bottom, or the stroke of a key.  It takes about 30 seconds to get a Facebook profile, or a few minutes to get an e-mail account, but a whole day (maybe even longer) to get a character seemed very different to me.

As I explored the world as a guest, I found that I was limited to only a certain map (see image).  At one point I tried to go off the edge of the map and found the text telling me I was only a guest and it didn’t matter that I wanted to go off the map, I wasn’t allowed (when I tried to go off the map as an actual character I found that I could lose my LambdaMOO privileges for three months, and tiptoed my way back to Lambda Street).  The reason I bring the guest rules up is that this text-based world does have rules, and if you are a member, it seems as though you are more committed to the world.  Guests may be people from other MUDs that have just chosen to browse this world.

It is all still somewhat a blur to me, but now I have gotten a character, started talking with people, and learned more commands in navigating this domain.  And I can’t wait to share this all with you in my next post!


i-dosing and binaural beats

Having been aware of the danger of spending more than 5 minutes on chat roulette, I decided to take a look at the  less dangerous threat of i-dosing! Reports suggested that kids may be trying to get high on the internet by listening to binaural beats on stereo headphones. While binaural beats do not chemically alter your brain in the same way taking drugs, some parents and educators were worried that the effects these beats have on children could potentially act as a gateway to using drugs.

Hemi-sync, a company that produces binaural beats, among other things, lays out a brief synopsis of how the beats work in sync with your brain. Each side of a stereo headphone produces a frequency that is very similar to the other-say one side 40Hz and the other 41Hz. Since they are so close to each other in Hz, they essentially sound the same. However, since they are actually producing the different wavelengths, a pattern (beat) emerges. Your brain automatically combines these two frequencies into the binaural beat. The Hemi-sync webbsite reports that “binaural beats originate in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the site of contralateral integration of auditory input.” This then initiates brainwave activity that equalizes the frequency that your brain is working on. Binaural beats have been used for therapeutic treatment and generally helps people to relax.

I think it is funny that people would see this as a threat to children. Heaven forbid children have access to something that can relax them and stimulate creative thinking-and its not drugs!


MMORPG

Ok, so let me start with the basics. MMORPG is an acronym for “massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” I was really intrigued by this topic, mostly because I have never been a part of this type of an online experience before. Everyone’s heard of World of Warcraft, probably the most popular MMORPG on the net right now, and I was eager to see what all the hype was about under the guise of “doing research,” as it seems to be a somewhat nerdier hobby. I started everything with this website, http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/, which is where I downloaded the game on to my computer (an approximately FIVE HOUR undertaking) and self-taught myself the basics of the game. There’s a lot that goes into WOW, and I’m nowhere near understanding it in its entirety, but this is the general idea:

World of Warcraft is a place where users can create avatars and interact with other people in the world of Azeroth. Since everyone cannot fit into one world, they have broken Azeroth into smaller “worlds,” where players’ main goals are to complete quests, given out by computer avatars. Through quest completion, gifts and rewards are bestowed upon the player along with level promotion. In the upgraded version of WOW, users can play past level 20, but with the free trial version, which I felt was more in my budget range, one can only reach level 20. This is the basis of the game, although there are many, many details I’m still trying to sift through.

So far, I have created a number of avatars, as it is quite enjoyable. The main character I have been playing with is a human I named Pumpernickle, but I’ve also tried playing as a blue thing with the computer-generated name of Ghertus(?). So far, I have killed moths for their blood, delivered messages, and asked a lot of people questions about things I don’t understand.  I still don’t have any friends, which, other than being depressing, means I might have trouble completing some of the bigger quests that require multiple people to work together. Thus far, it has been a fantastic experience, and I’m enjoying it much more than I probably should be…

So there you have it, an up-to-date summary of my online gaming experience. For further reading on the specifics of WOW and how to get started, here’s the link I used to educate myself: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/game/guide/


the start of my practicum…Internet users: Social or political activism

So I have to admit that I wasn’t 100% thrilled about my practicum assignment. I mean of course I would love to have an excuse to tweet or play a game for multiple hours. Social/ political activism certainly has an implied seriousness to it and would require a bit of thought and digging on my part. But after putting in just a bit of time, I am more excited about the prospects of this assignment and look forward to getting more involved and educated about important social issues. Having a lot of political/ social beliefs myself a number of organizations and causes popped into my head.

One organization that has been on my mind lately is Amnesty International. I’d had exposure to the organization in high school as we had an Amnesty International Club and I’d recently been hearing from the organization in regards to the execution of Troy Davis. I began my exploration of the organization on their website, amnesty.org. Their homepage is honestly quite busy and I was initially overwhelmed with the diversity and amount of content. Content includes recent news (including a special category for ‘good news’ which I thought was a nice spot of optimism), information on the organization and information on how you can get involved. How does the organization answer the question of “who they are”?:

  • Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations.

The website provides links to their facebook group and twitter which I immediately ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ knowing that these would be great avenues to get involved in discussions and make my presence in the organization known. I made sure to ‘tweet’ @amnestyinternational and I also started following @alertnet, a humanitarian newswebsite. (see image). Amnesty International’s homepage also has links to their youtube channel and flickr account, which provide videos and photos covering a wide array of news on human rights abuses around the world. The photos and videos I viewed were indeed very powerful. It is very clear that Amnesty International wants to be accessible and connect with and convey their message through a variety of media, a smart approach for garnering the most attention and support possible. In the future I plan to interact more with the organization and it’s members, particularly through posing questions and comments via the facebook group and twitter.

Now that I am connected to Amnesty International through a variety of avenues and following AlertNet on twitter, my next goal is to establish my presence/ involvement in a smaller, more specified activist organization to provide insight into a group that operates a much smaller scale with a narrower focus. I think being a part of two groups on different ends of the spectrum will be helpful for comparative purposes. Do large organizations with a broad scope use the internet differently than smaller organizations with a narrower aim? Now taking suggestions on social or political activism groups to look into….Nothing tea party -esque!


i-dosing…trippy??

Fearful to venture into the world of chatroulette and unsure of where to start on myspace, my curiousity was peaked by the phenomenon known as “i-dosing”. Initially unsure of what i-dosing was I naturally had to do the first thing one ever does when beginning research: I googled. Google returned a lot of information, but an article on the Smoking Jacket summed it up quite nicely: http://www.thesmokingjacket.com/entertainment/tsj-investigates-will-i-dosing-get-you-high. To sum it up for you, the idea behind i-dosing is that certain music, when listened to, can alter your brainwaves to stimulate the effects of various illicit drugs. I can certainly see why many people, particularly teens, have become excited over the prospect that simply by downloading an mp3 and listening through headphones, one can get “high”. It is important to use headphones because two different tones (binaural beats) are played in each ear but through headphones are perceived by the brain as a single pulsating noise. I-dosing websites offer beats whose effects apparently range from those of  “aspirin” to “marijuana” to “heroin” and “The gates of Hades”…uhhhh….

Call me a skeptic on this whole i-dosing trend…but I guess I’ll have to try it out now. The website I am on warns me to lie down in a comfortable place. I chose to see if I can have an “out of body experience” which they describe as:

  • You will be able to leave your physical body and start exploring our world and others. OBEs can spontaneously occur during a near death experience, such as through car accident, an operation, and clinical death. The person experiencing this state will suddenly see his or her own body, as if he or she is standing next to it or floating above it. The sensation is like that of being an observer. You will be able to float in any direction you wish and move through walls. Most importantly, you will remember everything and in great detail. The “Out Of Body” track helps you to achieve an OBE while lying in the comfort of your bed. By using high Beta waves, the recording will guide your brainwaves directly to an OBE state, allowing you to leave your body and start exploring new levels of consciousness.

Unforunately the full version is between $10 and 15$ so the sample will have to do. Let’s hope I’m not too incapacitated to finish the rest of my blog post….

Well I did feel very relaxed and sleepy for that one-minute sample, but no crazy effects yet. It’s a very cool idea that sounds could have such a significant effect on one’s body-mind state but I am not sure I buy it. To be fair, I didn’t get the full experience. I would be curious to hear if anyone else has had a more intense experience with i-dosing. While I believe that sounds, music in particular, have the power to shape and change mood I don’t know if they can induce such powerful physical states. I won’t be trading in my coffee for the “coffee break/ energy” beat anytime soon.