Sunday, November 25, 2012

Perspective on Christianity and Politics

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Does Technology Inhibit Productivity Academically?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Usability of iPad Apps and Websites: Is it THAT Interesting?

In this study, by the Nielsen Norman Group, there is an examination of the usability of the iPad through various apps and websites. It seems that the purpose of this study, beyond usability of the iPad, is also the integration of apps and websites for an iPad interface in comparison to what people are used to-- like desktops or phones.

First Studies and Issues with Methodology: How Age and Demographic Matter with Usability
The first studies conducted by the researchers compared brief iPhone usability, but focused on comparisons in a general negative sense. Things like screen size and visibility were commented on, and not necessarily important for the study. However, a part of the methodology was the biggest part that I had concern with. Upon first reading, I had no idea the ages or types of test subjects that were being used. Not until I found a methodology section was I informed of parts of these subjects (Pg.86). I firstly believe that the sample size was too small and did not get a good representation of age groups. I think that one person does not help understand an age range. Furthermore, there is no mention of education level or income level, all valid areas in determining how some people might or might not have access to certain technologies.
I also might have been inclined to ask to see a brief layout of their technology proficiency. Even though these subjects are said to be iPhone users, what about other technology like usage of both Apple and Windows products, certain common applications like Word or Powerpoint, and even possible advanced computer usage (programming, formatting, etc.). These different factors could lead to have someone is inclined to use an iPad.

My Own Usage of the iPhone compared to iPad Usability
Being an iPhone user for the past year, as well as a Macbook user has inclined me to the usage of Apple products. Some people have suggested that the Apple realm has become a cult and no matter anything about the usability or interface, there will always be mass amounts of people willing to buy these products. This is suggested by various ad campaigns on some attack style ads. For instance the Galaxy S3 phone by Samsung uses the iPhone's popularity and cult following to play to the people who keep expecting certain features but never get them.
I mean to bring up my own usage because of what it might mean in relation to other who could think like me. I used to not see the necessity for creating something like the iPad and thought that most technology will fall around just computers (desktops and laptops) and phones (smart or otherwise). However, I begin to see that the iPad opens a whole new market of how we use and create technology, and I believe many other people feel the same way. Though I do not own or plan to get an iPad, I have used them and understand the appeal. It is extremely similar to the iPhone, but differs in the way we can now think of how to use them.
In my own opinion I see the iPad as an extreme pleasure item. All of these features can be found either in the iPhone or Macbooks and Mac desktops. There is no uniquely new type of technology here, except for the way it is being presented. So, much of the usability is mimicked and should not be new to "experienced iPhone users".

Inconsistency and What YOU Really Want to Accomplish
It seems as though the largest complaint of the whole research was to deal with inconsistency amongst moving app to app, app to website, or vice versa. People were confused on what touching something entailed. Because apps do not have set guidelines on what images or text have to be (at least in the sense of touching it) there is a usability error. The study brought up that by touching a picture it could produce five different results, "nothing happens, enlarging the picture, hyperlinking to a more detailed page about that item, flipping the image to reveal additional pictures in the same place (metaphorically, these new pictures are "on the back side" of the original picture, and popping up a set of navigation choices". Because a person experienced using some of these functions in a previous app, they thought it would carry over to the next website or app, but unfortunately, there is a usability error.
This error is continued through how one can swipe through text, providing there is scroll boxes or even somewhere to swipe to.
I can see how this is confusing and somewhat irritating, but I do not believe that it is a problem. Many users of the iPad and various other tablet-like devices, tend to be 30 or under, though some studies are showing many older subjects beginning to buy these devices. The younger generation seems to be adapting much quicker and figuring out how to use these apps and website controls without even having to think about it. Controls like double-tapping, holding a tap, and knowing where to tap is just inherent within them. And this study is definitely not representative of any age groups, much less able to document any generalizations.

Websites on the iPad
A big part of the iPad is also being able to use websites and compared to the iPhone, websites are much easier and look appeasing on the iPad. Instead of using the mobile version like iPhones would recommend, the full site can be used because of the obvious amount of space and still look presentable and usable. On iPhones many people preferred to use the app version of the site in comparison to the actual site because of navigation, but now with the iPad the usability has changed-- to actually using the site. One of the points brought up by the Nielsen group was the zoom functionality. There is still an unclear way of how to sometimes use the zoom feature (pinching the screen) because of certain page additives like maps. When pinching the screen you can zoom the page, but what about zooming the map? This can be confusing especially when the maps have no option to zoom in by tapping a button or using a zoom-scroll.

If You Want an iPad, Then Get One!
This study is extremely exhausting and is partially making the iPad seem like an inconsistent choice. However, this is completely dealt within the apps that they decide to sample. There is consistency throughout the entirety of the iPad until an app from a second or third party is installed. If there was consistency between usability I think this would severely limit how one could market and use these apps, therefore the inconsistency prevails on how people want to use them.
I am not exactly sure this study aims to find the correct problem. They are more showing how different apps are in fact different, and I think most people know this. And in reality, these apps do not take long to figure out how to use if you are confused. Most even have helpful tutorials. The usage between apps and websites is entirely subjective and depends on the persons want on how to use the iPad in general.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Implications of the Digital Divide from Participation Gaps and the affect of Mobility in Future Years

Personally, I believe that there is a "digital divide" because of a past generational "participation gap" that has lingered over to following generations. The "digital divide" is extremely evident in parts of society today and is sometimes seen through people and companies capitalizing on it. This ability to adapt on certain technologies is in our nature and something that should not be resisted. But unfortunately, there has been "outcasts" to what is considered normal (though abstractly) and those tended to be the worse off in history. In short, what I am trying to say is that this digital divide will lead/ is leading to a bigger participation gap and will most likely make people more unemployed and on the lower side of socio-economic status.
It is already evident that much of the participation gap has set in just by the evolving characteristics of everyday life. We have single mothers and fathers, grandparents raising grandchildren, and other circumstances that do not always allow a ready access to technology. This can be for either monetary or time reasons. It seems as though your socio-economic status directly effects how you use the internet and other mobile or technological devices. 
Depending on how the next three to five years go for our economy I could see the gap and divide shrink or widen in certain aspects. In relation to what I read, The State of the 2012 Election- Mobile Politics by the PEW Research Center, there is going to be a definite change in how people use mobility towards not only their life, but also politics and elections.
In the research, it was found that 88% of all registered voters have a cell phone and about 75% use texting and about 50% have a smartphone. These remarkably high percentages suggest that cell phone usage has surpassed a certain point where it can be used in politics. Because of the amount of people that have a cell phone and can receive texts or other media on their phone, it serves as a new outlet for politics.
But the prime thing that I believe will change in the next 3-5 years is the usage and implementation of smartphones. Though only about half of all registered voters have a smartphone, there is an undeniable shift occurring that is making the primary phone be only smart and not basic. In the market, for instance, all advertising and push for products is toward smartphones. It seems as though basic cell phones are being produced less and less to almost force a buyer to purchase a smartphone. This has major implications for the participation gap. Due to money, people might not be able to afford smartphones and thus, miss out on a new and evolving part of political campaigns and elections. These people are the same who already have disparities through computers and other technologies, and most likely living situations as well. Though the usage and implementation of technology is seen as a positive to pioneer the future, it is sometimes forgotten that not everyone can adapt and be a part of this creation.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pioneering Privacy

On May 2, 2012, Martin O'Malley signed S.B. 433 in to law. This relatively new law takes on a portion of privacy control never really discussed before-- online privacy and the workplace. What S.B. 433 is prohibit employers from requesting the social media passwords or accessing the social media accounts of prospective and current employees. This is the first law of its type to be passed in any state, making Maryland a pioneer in civil liberties. The law, which was just enacted October 1st, 2012, will spare prospective or current employees from forking over their personal information such as anything to do with, “computers, telephones, personal digital assistants, and other similar devices,” but does not limit employers from looking at internal system accounts to do with their own company (SHRM).

This began when a Maryland employee was asked by his former employer to provide his Facebook username and password in order to be reinstated. After this incident that he filed with the ACLU against his employer, there was soon a new law that was in the making. He described the incidence as "been violated" and "disrespected".

From this groundbreaking stance on user privacy, it has become a hot-button topic in many other states where the same issues are taking place. Though this new law is being modeled after in other states on how to deal with this in the workplace, there is still the issue of how more and more instances are coming up in other, unprecedented situations. For instance, some schools are requiring students and/or student athletes to friend a teacher or coach in order to modify their behaviors and interactions. This is also happening with some companies where they require you to friend an HR page that you cannot hide settings from. Does this not also cut into personal user privacy?

In my own opinion, there should be a strict line between what is and what is not privacy. Unfortunately, there is always some sort of situation that blurs the boundaries and calls for a much more in-depth look as to what privacy entails.

In an age where the internet is growing rapidly and social media has a major grasp on our lives, it seems that privacy would be of utmost importance to people. Yet, you would be surprised at how many peoples Facebook and Twitter pages are out and open for the stalking and gathering of information.
Even if people see that there are laws protecting there privacy in situations like these, do they understand what privacy really is? Or if they, or all of us, even have any?