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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Category: Tech Talk

Well, it’s finally happened: Google stands up to the Chinese!

Google announced today that they will NOT censor the Chinese search results as requested by the government. This is a very important and needed step in the assurance that the information on the web be freely available, not filtered through some narrow ideology. There are implications for both global politics and censorship itself…

What do you think on this issue? Leave a comment and let me know…


The Global Implications of Google’s Stand Against Chinese Censorship 

Google dropped a bombshell today, declaring that it won’t censor Chinese search results after sophisticated attacks on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human activists. This opens the door not only for China to kick Google out of its country, but for a renewal of the battle over censorship and government oppression in China.

I’m going to divide this analysis of the ramifications of Google’s (Google) decision into three sections: what this means for China, the impact of the decision on global politics, and its potential effect on censorship itself.

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Facebook’s New Privacy Changes…

Are the new Privacy Policy changes for the interest of the users or are they intended to advance another agenda? From this and other reports, it would seem that Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg thinks that the only way to compete with Twitter is to change access: everyone is your friend.

Do you agree that Facebook & Twitter are serving the same purpose? Let me know…


Why Facebook’s Privacy Changes are Detrimental to Users 

Facebook’s recent privacy changes mean users have less control over the publication of actions like joining groups. Here’s why this may deter certain uses of the network.

Though Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says that public is the new “social norm,” many members who use the social network for professional and business reasons have lost the ability to conduct certain actions privately as a result of changes made to the settings.

And despite this being a reflection and a catalyst of our social activities becoming more public through the likes of Twitter and other sites, not having the option to control certain aspects in some ways is detrimental to the way we use the site and has the potential to deter users from using the site freely.

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Sharing with Everyone or only with Friends?

This is a question addressed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a recent interview. Has the public expectation really changed that much away from protecting personal security and privacy? Or is this just a ploy to compete with Twitter? It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter serve two different functions; why do we want one that does everything? Anyone remember AppleWorks?

What do you think? Leave a comment…

Facebook Founder on Privacy: Public is the New “Social Norm” 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claims that if Facebook was starting out now, sharing with everybody would be the starting point, rather than with a small group of friends. Is this more about reflecting social norms or changing them to help Facebook compete with Twitter?

The statement, made during a livestream of the Crunchies awards, hits on a hot button issue for Facebook: it recently notified users of privacy changes via a pop-up notification. While the message claimed that Facebook was displaying the message to give users more privacy controls, blindly clicking “next” was a way to make much of your data public. And in fact, some data like the Friends List has become more public without any settings changes by users.

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Facebook Users Guide Online — Thanks to Mashable

This is a good, quick reference guide to the features of Facebook for the beginner or more advanced user as well. Take a look at it and enjoy it…

You can access it at:


safe_image.php Facebook is the world’s leading social network, with over 300 million users and more than 900 employees. But how do you get the most out of it?

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3 Ways Educators can use Social Media…

Yes, social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and other sites have taken hold on the student population of today. But as teachers learn to use these technologies in the classroom to help promote learning, they might be harnessed to facilitate learning rather than detracting from it…

What do you think? Leave a comment…

3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology 

Schools are finding it tougher than ever to keep students engaged. Social media has become a valuable and free educational tool for those who have embraced it. Here are 3 great examples.

The modern American school faces rough challenges. Budget cuts have caused ballooning class sizes,  many teachers struggle with poorly motivated students, and in many schools a war is being waged on distracting technologies. In response, innovative educators are embracing social media to fight back against the onslaught of problems. Technologies such as Twitter and Skype offer ideal solutions as inexpensive tools of team-based education.

Pockets of experimentation are emerging all around the world, and I hope to inspire my fellow teachers with some stories of success. From cell phones to social media, below are three schools that have chosen to go with the flow of popular technology to turn the tide for education.

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"They’re" at it again…

Hackers try to take down our business infrastructure. Hackers have launched a DDoS attack (one that tries to take down critical servers) was launched yesterday against the DNS server used by Amazon, Wal-Mart, and other resulting in disruption of service at these eCommerce sites.

The Jurassic Park principle, "You don’t need to do something just because you can," applies here. In this season of inclimate weather makes eCommerce a necessary option.

What do you think? Leave a comment…


DDoS Attack Takes Down Amazon, Wal-Mart 

If you’ve been doing some last minute Amazon holiday shopping on Wednesday evening, you’ve probably noticed that Amazon’s web site was sluggish and, at times, completely down. The same fate greeted Wal-Mart, Expedia, and a number of smaller sites. The reason? A severe DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on the servers of Neustar, the company that offers DNS services to many major companies under the name UltraDNS.

The attack that started at 4:45 p.m. PST lasted for about an hour, but it was quite severe, especially because it also affected Amazon’s S3 and EC2 services (upon which many other web services rely), as tweeted by Amazon’s lead Web Evangelist, Jeff Barr. Currently, Amazon’s Service Health Dashboard shows that their services are working normally.


Good news or Bad new? You pick…

Slashdot has announced that hackers have cracked the DRM of the Kindle eBooks. That may be good when it allows us to backup and use purchased books on our own devices (Kindle and others)… But it may, as stated in this article, hurt the already besieged publishing industry.

Time will tell, but the new environments of eBooks will force us to make adjustments in our views of things.

What do you think? Is this a step in the right direction? Leave a comment…


Holy Krow They Kracked the Kindle – Techland – 

This via Slashdot: "hackers" have broken the DRM on the Kindle’s proprietary e-book format.

Interesting. Yay, says the anti-DRM, pro-freedom-of-information part of me. Boo, says the book-writing part of me, who fears widespread piracy will further cripple an already challenged publishing industry.

Crawl back into your anti-deluvian luddite tide-pool and stick to stuff you understand, you throwback! replies the anti-DRM part. DRM has never been an effective deterrent to piracy, it merely criminalizes legitimate consumers. Go on, git! And write us another damn book while you’re down there. I want a hot tub!


Will we be able to continue to purchase Word?

A court has ordered Microsoft to stop selling its Microsoft Word because of the claims of a Canadian firm who claims ownership to the XML engine used by Word. Microsoft is saying it will have a fix out in time, but we all know the track record of Microsoft in releasing new, WORKING products!

What do you think? Let me know with a comment…


Microsoft Word sale prohibited as of Jan. 11, fix promised : Christopher Null : Yahoo! Tech 


Microsoft Word thumbnail

Office workers of America, enjoy your Christmas break. Because come the new year, things could get a little hairy around the office. Microsoft Word is now scheduled to be prohibited from sale beginning January 11, 2010. That’s less than three weeks away. The good news: Microsoft has promised a fix, one which will be rolled out before the deadline arrives.

If you don’t understand, you might have simply missed this story, or dismissed it as something that Microsoft would ultimately use its considerable clout to have pushed under a legal rug.

But it’s no joke. In August of this year, a court sided with a small Canadian company called i4i that holds a 1998 patent on the way the XML language is implemented, finding that Microsoft was in violation of that patent. The result: Microsoft was told to license the code in question from i4i or reprogram it, or else Microsoft Word would have to be removed from sale in the market. The original ruling gave Microsoft until October to get its legal affairs in order, but appeals pushed that out a bit.


Social Media has invaded our lives…

But is Facebook responsible for an increase in divorces, as the Telegraph reports in the UK? Doubtful… This article is based on the results from one law firm. It would be interesting to see if the same findings would hold for a larger sample of law firms or especially here in the U.S. When will the public start to learn that the easiest way to lie with statistics is to use small sample sizes which will undoubtedly differ from the "reality" of the phenomenon…

What do you think? Let me know with a comment…


Facebook Is Destroying the Sanctity of Marriage [REPORT] 

Stop the digital presses: People use Facebook to cheat on their spouses and said cheating leads to d-i-v-o-r-c-e (in case there are kids in the room), or so says a rather reactionary piece in the Telegraph.

The British paper seeks to cast Facebook as a enemy to the sanctity of marriage, citing evidence along the lines of:

“One law firm, which specialises in divorce, claimed almost one in five petitions they processed cited Facebook.”

Although the ratio of one in five is staggering, the fact that the reporter only mentions a single law firm is wholly unconvincing. I’m sorry, Telegraph, but one law firm does not a trend make.


For better or worse, Technology has changed childhood…

This article suggests ten technologies, including Facebook, that have changed our children. Another ten technologies, especially online games, that parents could have done without. These technologies have forever changed the environment in which children grow up. Unfortunately, this is probably not the end of the changes that will be brought on be technologies that we are not even aware of at this time…

What do you think? Make a comment with your ideas…


The Digital Decade: 20 Things That Forever Changed Childhood – Parenting on Shine 


Consider this: At the turn of the millennium, what technology issue worried us? Y2K. Our kids listened to CDs on portable players. Laptops and lap dogs weighed about the same. If you wanted to watch a TV show after it aired, you had to program a VCR. AOL ruled email, which most of us accessed through dial-up. Kids surfed the ocean, not the Web; they played games on Game Boys and used their phones to talk, not text; and social networking happened at the mall.

The first decade of the 21st century has been packed with innovations and entertainment that have forever changed childhood — and parenting. Some of these have been fabulous. Others? Not so great. But all have revolutionized how our kids communicate, create, learn, and play.

Here, in no particular order, are the best and worst of the last decade — the stuff that we at Common Sense Media feel has truly rocked our kids’ world.