Censorship : Canada at the Opposite end of the Spectrum

Part 2

In many respects, we are lucky to live in Canada because of our unrestrictive government and our right to free speech. Although it may be controversial at times, I am glad they we can speak what is on our mind instead of worrying about censorship like a 21 year old student in China does. I feel fortunate because even though I may dread writing a blog about censorship, at least I have the opportunity to do so. If I was in other countries in the world, I would not have the opportunity to do so based on their regulations and what they classify as sensitive information too. In this final segment we will be looking at some of the most restrictive countries regarding censorship.

China : The Great Firewall

As we have learned so far, China is one of the most censored countries in the world ranked in the pervasive category by the Open Net Initiative. The Chinese government is particularly strict on political content searched on the internet. Political websites are considered sensitive information and they are implications if you are caught. As an example on April 1, 2012, 16 blogs were shutdown resulting in 6 arrests by Chinese police. Coming from a Canadian perspective , we would find this outrageous because our society are based on different values than China. I can not imagine a situation where you would be arrested in Canada over blog content unless is was racially derogatory or something along that nature.  A second example of how strict the Chinese government is, was demonstrated in February 2012 when the government cut off access in parts of Tibet where protests were occurring. Again compared to Canada, we are able to demonstrate our opinions not only through the internet but through peaceful protests as well. Cutting out the internet is one way the Chinese government cuts down on these types of uprisings.

This youtube video puts China’s censorship practices into perspective quite well:

Even though the government has a strangle hold on the internet and its domestic users, they seem to have increasingly difficulty reigning in the mircobloggers of the country. China seems to do a nice job at phasing out western influences such as social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook but the microblogging site Weibo is where the Chinese people seem to be getting their social media fix. It is still censored but with over 300 million users, it is hard to prevent information exchanges happening about a wide range of topics including politics. In an interesting article by The Guardian, Michel Bonnin describes the role of Weibo in China by saying “Weibo plays a much more important role in China than Twitter does in the west, because of the heavy censorship imposed by the regime on the other media.Weibo is also censored and cannot be considered a free public sphere but it is still the place where exchange of information is the most developed in China, and even traditional and official media are forced to go through it to have a real impact on the public. it is also the only place where the receptors of information can react and influence the circulation of information.” As we can see, China is one of the most internet savy countries in the world and they know how to use it to their benefit even if we in Canada don’t view it as correct.

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Iran

Internet usage in Iran has increased over the past couple of years making them one of the leaders in active internet users in the Middle East. With this being said, Iran continues to also be a leader in extensive internet filtration of websites they consider detrimental to their religion. Over the past couple of years, they have broadened their filtration criteria to include anything to do with human rights groups, women’s rights and political opposition. They re route all pages through proxy servers which enables the government to search for various key words and subsequently block anything them deem to be sensitive. Curbing anything to do with women’s rights has been a big priority of of the government in recent years  and the Iranian government maintains a blacklist considered to be one of the biggest in the world. Online media outlets, human rights activists and bloggers are considered to be an online voice for the people making them a target of government resulting in arrests, imprisonment and even torture in some cases. In 2009, the blocking of Facebook became a major source of conflict as many believe supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were behind the decision. The opposition had been using the social media website for political campaigning and due to an uproar, the site was unblocked for a short time before being blocked yet again. We seem to be seeing a trend when it comes to heavily censored countries, that social media appears to be an enemy. As we can see in Canada, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter allow for people to have a voice; letting their opinion count. In my opinion, I think that these countries are threatened by this sense of individualism, thinking that it may result in something more. Overall, Iran continues to be among the world leaders when it comes to censorship making it not a very desirable destination from the viewpoint of Canadians. Iran-internet-censorship-380x300

Overall, life in Canada compared to the rest of the world is very different in the sense that we don’t have to worry about a lot of the things, citizens of other countries do such as censorship. As we have found out in this two part series, countries such as China and Iran are among the two most pervasive in the world as sensitive topics are heavily censored. Strict punishments can come if these rules are broke as they are considered as a an attempt to over throw the regime. In Canada, we do not have to worry about these types of problems because of our civil rights. Personally, I am very thankful that these problems do no come up in my everyday life like they do for others around the world. One thing Ive learned is that we are very lucky to live in this beautiful country we call home.

Censorship : Canada at the Opposite end of the Spectrum

Over the next couple of days, I will be completing a two part series on the role of censorship and freedom of speech as it relates to the internet as well as its affects on Canada and other countries around the world.

Part 1

Here in Canada, we often take for granted many little things that people in other countries would give anything for such as the right to free speech. The right to freedom of speech is something that no one can truly put a value on because it is fundamental to our way of living here in North America. Most of us Canadian’s couldn’t imagine our lives where we couldn’t speak our mind because of the repercussions that would follow. Unfortunately this is a reality for many people living in countries such as China and Cuba because their governments regulate and control what can be said and read. For example, the governments of Cuba and North Korea make it virtually impossible for citizens to communicate with people all over the world via internet because of their censorship laws.

What is Censorship?

Censorship is defined by wikipedia as the “suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet or other controlling body.” In Canada, we view censorship as a negative act by an intrusive government because we don’t have to deal with that burden on a daily basis. This unfortunately is a reality and a way of life in other countries simply because their government is controlling. I don’t think is right in any respect because everyone has a right to their opinion and should be able to express it through what ever outlet they see fit. Of course most will argue that I only think this way because I have grown up in a Western society which contributes to my point of views, which in a sense I would say is correct. I like to think of it, as having respect for human beings and repeating everyone’s fundamental rights that are brought alone with being born onto this planet. Now, seeing as how I have grown up in Canada I have been exposed to many Western aspects of life such as social media. Social media has consumed the vast majority of the population as many people not only use it but depend on it throughout the day. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter act as outlets in which we are able to express our opinions and thoughts with our peers. I for one, use Facebook on a daily basis for just about anything from status updates to posting photos of the weekend because I like the social interaction with my friends. If I were to live in countries such as China, Cuba or North Korea, not only would I not be allowed to post status updates, but I could forget about using social media sites all together. These types of sites are banned by their government because they are not approved. A form of social media has come to fruition in China though even with the strict censorship laws. Sina’s Weibo is a mircoblogging website which basically boils down to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. It has roughly 200 millions users and growing in popularity across China. This new platform allows citizens of China to express different ideas even though it is highly scrutinized by Chinese censors. It is not only China that bands these kinds of sites as we can see from the world map below. This map outlines every country and their level of censorship from extremely high to none at all. As you can see, North America including Canada are extremely lucky to not have censorship weigh into our daily lives. From the map we can also see that countries such as Australia are in a state of change with regards to censorship giving hope to other countries.

Level of Censorship Worldwide

Levels of Censorship Worldwide

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We are able to dissect and obtain this data solely because of the work the OpenNet Initiative has done. Countries censor information through internet filtration services which block content deemed to be sensitive by the government. Sensitive information could be anything from pornography, gay rights pages, or social media. In the case of China, they block any content to do with Tibetan independence, freedom of speech, and police brutality to name a few. To put this into perspective, Australia is in a state of change but they still block some content such as hardcore pornography. This seems pretty lenient in comparison to China’s censorship and all of this is can be determined by the OpenNet Initiative as they classify the magnitude to which a country censors information. They classify these magnitudes into 5 categories which read as the following:

Pervasive: A large portion of content in several categories is blocked.

Substantial: A number of categories are subject to a medium level of filtering or many categories are subject to a low level of filtering.

Selective: A small number of specific sites are blocked or filtering targets a small number of categories or issues.

Suspected: It is suspected, but not confirmed, that Web sites are being blocked.

No evidence: No evidence of blocked Web sites, although other forms of controls may exist.

Peer To Peer Networks

Ever since the internet was created, people have been finding new and unique ways of sharing information. The internet is a whole other world, in which you can find or search just about anything. Whether it be how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies or how to change the font in Microsoft Word, the answers are all there, readily available to be consumed. It’s human nature to want to share your knowledge with others and the internet is one of the easiest platforms to do so.

How Peer to Peer Networks Work

A peer to peer network allows two people using the same program to connect and share information in the form of data files, from one another’s hard drive’s. These files could be anything from music, movies, photo’s and even applications. Peer to peer networks facilitate these data transfers by allowing access to the host’s computer. They are able to diagnose and determine which connection is considered the best based of off internet speed, and number of router hop’s needed to facilitate the exchange. I had always been skeptical about using peer-to-peer networks in the past because I had heard about horror stories about people obtaining viruses from files received and completely crashing their computers. That was the last thing I needed in my university years as I could barely afford to eat let alone pay for a new computer. Once I started living with my roommates, I suddenly realized that it was more common than I thought. It wasn’t just the 40 year old living with their parent’s basement streaming the new spiderman movie anymore, it was normal 20 year olds such as my self, tormenting their textbooks in order to get ahead. They quickly showed me the ropes and before I knew it, I was off and running, downloading anything I wanted.  I quickly realized that there are many different sites to choose from in order to get your desired files. Sites such as Pirate Bay, isoHunt and many more offer torrents uploaded by other users. Once you download a torrent to your computer, you can then put the torrent into a program such as uTorrent which will extract the encrypted files for you.

This is an example of a downloaded torrent using uTorrent. The file in the picture is the movie We're The Millers released earlier this year

This is an example of a downloaded torrent using uTorrent. The file in the picture is the movie, We’re The Millers released earlier this year.

BitTorrent

One glaring problem with peer to peer networks is that the rate in which the transfer occurs is generally at the speed of an upload. In other words its very slow, So Bram Cohen developed BitTorrent in order to curb this problem. BitTorrent takes a file and breaks it down into little pieces which allow for faster downloading speeds. When you think about it, its makes perfect sense. In order to create faster download speeds, break up a massive file into smaller segments. Another feature that makes BitTorrent unique is that the program offers higher download rates to users who allow the downloaded file to seed. Seeding means that the downloader allows the file to be shared with other users. This is entices users to seed which produces  increased download rates. The video below does a nice job of explaining BitTorrent.

Legality of Peer to Peer Networks

There are many questions surrounding the legality of peer to peer networks and file sharing. The legal issues come into play when sharing copyrighted content without the consent of the artist or owner. A copyright protects the artist over various mediums such as a CD, DVD or the internet. So if I were to share Avicii’s new album over a peer to peer network without the consent of himself, it would be considered illegal. Although everyone does it, including myself from time to time, this is not a valid excuse to use. There are many platforms in which we can obtain our media legally. These outlets range from iTunes to Beatport and only cost around a dollar a song on average. A main reason why I think people, especially students, use these peer sharing networks is because we do not have the disposable income to throw away at a cost of a dollar per song when it is so easy to rip one off of a peer network. Although it is not the ethical thing to do, until laws become steeper and more strict, I don’t see anything changing with regards to piracy and peer networks. It’s just too easy. This notion is reinforced by this CBC news article stating that tougher laws won’t stop internet piracy.

Overall, as a generation we are finding new ways to share information with each other, using tools such as peer to peer networks to do so. As the internet evolves, so too will different programs and applications which will allow us to share anything we want. With this being said, it is up to us to determine what is ethically appropriate and what is not.

Breaking Trust on the Internet

Many of us resort to the internet in order to meet people, check our email or buy that new shirt you’ve had your eye on but have you ever thought of the risks associated with using the internet for these simple tasks? When you think about it, how many things do you use the internet for? Personally speaking I know I download all of my music, shop online, and do my banking online. All of this accumulates to having an electronic trail and ultimately an online identity. When I’m purchasing that new shirt online, I never feel as though I need to take precautions to protect myself from hackers or thieves when in reality maybe I should. It happens every day. People have their identity stolen, bank information stolen or valuable passwords stolen. Maybe it’s because we’re naive  but regardless, there are associated risks involved anytime you do anything on the internet. Put simply, the internet is written ink and there’s no whiteout readily available if we slip up. The emerging dominance of the internet on our lives requires us to rethink how we go about our business and take the necessary precautions to avoid being a victim of misguided internet trust.

Online Shopping

Shopping online is one of many North American’s great pastimes because going to the store is so 2000′s but seriously its an effective alternative to braving the elements. It offers you a chance to browse through thousands of stores all from the comfort of your couch. A popular online platform for online shopping is Ebayebay_logo

An auction site which allows you to bid on various items. Even though it’s so convenient, there are always risks involved. You are basically putting good faith forward that the item is in it’s described quality and that the seller will in fact ship it to you. Many people are skeptical about Ebay because there have been countless instances where a seller has not sent the item and essentially ‘scammed’ the buyer. I personally have never had a problem with online shopping or with Ebay for that matter because I look for reputable sellers or companies to purchase items from. An effective way to avoid being scammed, is to stick to reputable sellers or companies such as Walmart ect. Forbes.com provided an interesting acronym to avoid being suckered into identify theft or being scammed:

Stingy about giving out personal information such as debit or credit card information buy

Check your financial information on a regular basis to make sure your transactions match up

Ask for a copy of your credit report

Maintain and protect your banking information and records

Online Banking

Another way I am able to make the internet my convenient for myself is through online banking. I’ve been using this service for over 6 years now and is basically the only way I’ll handle my banking unless I physically need to deposit a cheque. You are able to transfer money to different account within seconds and again, all from the comfort of your couch. Unfortunately, this is another area to watch out for hackers because they could have access to your account in seconds.  Which.co.uk describes different types of hacks designed to access your personal funds. It is scary to think that someone could inflict a Trojan virus on your computer and with out even knowing it, you are sending them money. These types of attacks are commonly referred to as Man-in-the-Browser attacks. Once the Trojan virus has entered your computer, the hacker is able to change the destination of your bills being paid online. It will look as though the money is going to Rogers for your phone bill when in reality its going straight into a separate account of the hacker. It is these malicious attacks that can lead to identity theft and credit issues. Another popular form of hacking is called keylogging. It is the process of recording your keystrokes such as passwords which enable the hacker to gain access to valuables such as your bank account. As I continue to write this blog, I become increasing fascinated yet very disturbed at the amount of control someone could have over my personal information or money.

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Ways To Reduce The Risk’s of Online Banking

1. First of all, make sure your password is a combination of numbers, letters and symbols because this increases the difficulty for someone trying to intrude

2. Make sure you change your password every so often so that you don’t fall into a false sense of security

3. Maintain a record and check your transactions on a regular basis. If anything doesn’t look right, contact your bank immediatly

*For more ways to reduce the risks of online banking click here

Online Dating

In my opinion, one of the most dangerous things you can do on the internet is online dating. Sure, its great to meet new people but when you meet up for dinner with the person and realize there profile picture was from 10 years ago or she’s actually a he…. well then maybe its time to be a little more stingy with your screening process. Many relationships blossom from online dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com but there are also many that do not work. As I’m sure you, there are major risks with online dating. Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix is quoted during a press release as saying:

“Unfortunately, the online dating market not only attracts people genuinely looking to meet, it also attracts cybercriminals, both foreign and domestic, who use fake profiles to steal personal and financial information. Recognizing the huge profits in online dating, cybercriminals have found several sophisticated ways to target innocent users. To prevent attacks, consumers must be vigilant of the information they share with online suitors, and commercial dating sites should make cybersecurity a top priority by implementing an integrated device identification and malware prevention solution.”

As Alisdair Faulkner stated, online dating sites are playgrounds for cybercriminals whose sole goal is to obtain your personal information for their own gain. These are also prime places for sex offenders or convicted rapist’s to lurk. In order to reduce your chances of being a victim of an online dating crime, you must screen out anyone or anything that makes you suspicious. It’s simply not worth it.

Overall, the internet is wonderful place that makes our lives a little easier but regardless of what you do on the internet, whether it be shopping, bankings or online dating, there are risks associated. Bottom line is that you have to use #commonsense when participating in these activities and trust no one. I hope anyone reading this will be just that more careful from now on and have now become more aware of online risks.

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Internet & Computer Addiction”s

Back in first grade, I can remember the first time I was introduced to a computer. Needless to say, my life would be forever changed as I sat before a tope coloured electronic machine. I remember being confused, yet so utterly amazed at how many button’s there were to click and play with. As you can imagine, being a first grader, I naturally gravitated towards the paint program and proceeded to draw squiggly, colourful lines. Little did I know that there was an untapped world just waiting to be discovered through a little program called Internet Explorer. A world where you can essentially transform yourself into anyone or anything you like. Whether you chose to escape through a virtual online game or purchase a new pair of shoes off of Amazon, there are countless things to do on the internet. It may be this very fact that has lead doctor’s to believe that a new form of addiction is on the rise; internet addiction.

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What Classifies as an Internet or Computer Addiction?

Seeing as how the internet has a multitude of ways to keep you occupied, they’re are different sub-categories of internet addictions.

  • Cybersex Addiction : Someone who suffers from this kind of internet addiction excessively uses pornography, or uses adult chatrooms for sexual pleasure which ultimately leads to diminishing physical sexual relationships.
  • Cyber Relationship Addiction : Someone who suffers from this kind of addiction will depend heavily on internet relationships via social media rather than real-life relationships
  • Net Compulsions : Someone who suffers from this type of internet addiction will have problems with online gambling, trading of stocks, or auction sites such as Ebay or Quibids
  • Information Overload : Someone who will extensively search data bases and information based sites constantly
  • Computer Addiction : This addiction deals with the online gaming side of the internet. Excessive game play leading to deterioration of all real world relationships

Personally I think that all of the sub-categories listed above are equally addictive but the most common one that pops up in our minds when we here computer addiction would be online gaming. I never really got into online games (besides NHL 98, which I continually played until the disc finally gave out) but I can see how they could be addicting, spending countless hours, working towards set goals installed throughout the game. computer addiction 2

Social Media & It’s Role In Computer Addictions

Grade 9 geography class. Thats where I was first introduced to Facebook. I was sitting in front of this girl I had liked when she tapped me on the shoulder suddenly and asked if I had Facebook? I was perplexed because not only could I believe she was talking to me but I had no idea what she was talking about. She began to tell me how the site works, with everyone having an online profile and being able to upload photos/ videos as well as share status updates of what they’re doing. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the end of the day to rush home so I could make my account and start my cyber life like most of my classmates had already done. When I look back on it all, I wonder how everything would have turned out if Facebook wasn’t around? I mean, we use it for almost everything from sharing pictures, new songs, or even companies advertising through it. It has almost become an extension of ourselves; another limb if you will. Well, because basically that’s what it is. If someone deactivated your Facebook account one day against your will, you would feel almost lost as if you had lost a leg. It has become our crutch to stay in touch with people half way across the world or half way down the street. I don’t think anyone had the slightest idea (besides Mark Zuckerberg) how big Facebook would get, or the the branches that would extend from it. New social media avenues are popping up over night it seems with Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat only to name a few. We inadvertently have created a separate version of ourselves online through social media but the sad part is that some people prefer to live through the online version of themselves only.

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In order to put into perspective the effect social media has had on our world since its rise, this youtube video has some amazing facts that will surely make you go “huh”.

Ways To Prevent / Fight Computer Addictions

1. Sit Down With the Person In Question and Show Concern

One of the best ways to help a person dealing with an internet or computer addiction is to let them know that they have support behind them and that they are not alone. This is becoming a more prevalent issue day by day. By showing them that they have support, they may open up to you and explain why they feel the need to indulge in excessive online activities.

2. Take up a Non-Online Hobby

By taking up a hobby that doesn’t involve the internet or electronics such as sports, hiking, scrapbooking or whatever it may be, this will elevate some of the pressure associated with not being online.

3. Set a Timeframe for how Long Electronics are allowed to be Used

By setting a time limit per day as to how long electronics are to be used, it will allow for new opportunities to unfold helping in the disconnect of online addictions.

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6 Month Review of the iPhone 5: Pro’s and Con’s

Upon reaching my 20th birthday, I had been patiently waiting for 3 years to be released from the jail that embodied in the form of a cellphone contract. To anyone who has a cell phone, once you sign on the dotted line, you feel as though you have signed your soul over to the devil because of the impending series of anger, disappointment and frustration you will undoubtedly endure over the duration of the contract.  In the early stages, everything is sunshine and gumdrops because for at least a short instance in time, you own the latest must-have electronic that seemed so unattainable such a short time ago. If I remember correctly, I went through 4 Blackberry’s in the span of my last contract, each one causing more and more frustration than the last. Randomly shutting down when you need it the most or my “P” button falling off of my keyboard there by shrinking my vocabulary considerably. To anyone who has owned a cellphone, I’m surely preaching to the choir but these are the small inconvenience’s we deal with on a daily basis only because of the joy these small, stunning devices can give us out weigh the latter.  I decided to jump of the sinking ship that was Blackberry and on to the iPhone bandwagon, purchasing my very own iPhone 5 but at the same time selling my soul for another 3 years. It was nice while it lasted but now being out of the honeymoon phase with my smartphone, I decided to look back on the last six months and give a review of my experience with the iPhone 5 thus far.

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Price and Capacity

Across different carriers prices will vary but if you were going to purchase a new iPhone 5 from the Apple store, depending on the capacity of the phone, the prices vary. The iPhone comes in either black or white and ranges from 16gb to 64gb. I chose to go with the black 32gb because its not too little space for all my music but its neither exceedingly large. The perfect fit, so I am able to grow with the phone as I accumulate more music and apps. Currently I’ve used about 14gb, so just under half which is perfect. The following shows the varying price points relative to the capacity of the phone:

  • 16GB – $699
  • 32GB – $799 (Best value in my opinion) 
  • 64GB – $899

Specs

Now, I’m not a ‘techy’ by any means, but the iPhone 5 is one of the fastest phones I have ever used. It takes approximately 20 seconds to start up which is lightyears ahead of my previous Blackberry. This is thanks largely in part to Apple’s invention of the A6 chip, newly put into all iPhone 5’s. As engadget describes, the new A6 chips allows for 2x more power and 2x better graphics all while consuming less energy than the iPhone 4’s A5 processing chip. As with any new technology, there is going to be some bumps in the road such as applications crashing. Thankfully Apple, eliminated these bumps by issuing updates that correct these problems, therefore making it a non issue. Overall, the flow and speed in which the iPhone 5 operates with is unparalleled to any phone I’ve used.306876

Camera

I have never had a better camera on a smartphone before because quite frankly, this camera could beat some of the point and shoot camera’s on the market. As you can see below, The iPhone 5 camera was also stepped up from the previous iPhone model’s being headlined by a 4-inch retina display.original-1

The colours that you can see in the iPhone 5 picture, are more vibrant and true to reality. Another very cool feature Apple decided to include on the iPhone 5 is panorama. This allows you to capture a 360 degree photo, by letting the camera take multiple shots as you move the phone around the desired scene. Once finished, it pieces all of the photos together giving you this wide lense, fish-eye type of photo, amazing for landscapes or from my own experience concerts ext. Overall I am very pleased with the camera because it exceeded my expectations. You can see a demonstration of how to use the panorama feature here .

                                 

Design

Apple decided to go in a whole new direction when they created the iPhone 5 as opposed to the previous models. Thanks to the previously mentioned A6 chip, it allowed Apple to make it slimmer and lighter in the process. Holding the phone in your hand it feels light but not so light that you have zero control over it. It really contours to your hand and by increasing the height of the phone it increases the screen size. Now I am able to hold it in one hand and my thumb is able to reach the top opposite corner without any troubles. From a pure aesthetic view, this phone is a work or art. Polished aluminium highlights the newly redesigned iPhone 5. It comes in both white and black but I opted for the black because A. It’s more masculine and B. I think it would hide the scratches and dents better. Which brings me to my next point, the durability of this phone leaves something to be desired. I dropped it on thin carpet (sans case) and it dented the bottom corner of the phone like it was nothing. I was expecting a little more durability with drops and such which would be my biggest concern about the smartphone. On the other hand, a major knock on iPhone’s previously was that the screen seemed to break or scratch all the time but I’ve found that with the new addition of Gorilla Glass, it really seems to stand up to keys or just about anything you can throw at it (not literally of course).

Unexpected Surprise

When I bought the iPhone I was presently surprised when I opened the box only to find a pair of newly redesigned headphones. Apple really took everything into consideration when launching the new iPhone, even the headphones. They are more round to fit into your ear better and from personal experience they make your ears ache after an hour either as the previous ones did. Also the sound quality is head and shoulders above the previous model mostly because they increased the bass as well as decreased the amount of out noise allowed through. This results in a nice crisp sound with noise cancelling qualities.

Overall Scoring

  1. Specs-  speed, start up time, speed of switching applications =  9/10
  2. Camera- resolution, features, zoom = 10/10
  3. Design- looks, feel, materials, durability = 8/10
  4. Price- cost of each model depending on capacity = 8/10

Would I recommend to someone else? I would defiantly say that even with its flaws, no smartphone you purchase is going to be perfect in every aspect so I would put this at the top of the list for anyone looking to upgrade their phone.

iPads: Fad or the Real Deal?

July 2, 2011. I didn’t know it at the time but my life would be forever changed and I’m not talking about the first time you realized that peanut butter and jam go hand in hand like Batman & Robin, this was monumental. My mom had just bought the family an iPad and I was overjoyed. Even more so than a 8 year old peering down the stairs on Christmas morning, only to see a shinny red bicycle resting underneath the tree. This was a big deal because the last time there was any family excitement surrounding a piece of technology was circa 1998 when my sister and I were introduced to a computer. That computer was so big and bulky, not like the iPad. No sir, this thing was built with one thing in mind; to make you say WOW. The sleek silver design, apple outdid themselves. I was instantly addicted because of everything you can do on them from playing Angry Birds to checking my email. Fast forward two years and Ive realized that everyone else had that exact same experience as I did because they are so common in todays society. Everyone from grandparents (yes grandparents) to young toddlers are using an iPad on a regular basis.

What to do on an iPad: Endless Possibilities

What can’t you do on an iPad, really? When first toying around with the iPad, I was astounded at how many things I could do on it. I would constantly be loading the latest tweets or checking if I’ve gotten any recent pokes on Facebook. I was pretty hesitant about the full

iLifetouch key board which is a common fear most people have when first using a full touch product. Once I was familiar with the key board, is was cool runnings from there on out. I even got the hang of Garageband which is part of Apple’s iLife applications. Garageband allows me to play the piano on my iPad and I must say it sounded amazing. No where near the sound a baby grand can produce but Apple did it justice.

iPhoto is another instalment in the iLife series and is one of the best photo sharing applications on the market. iPhoto allows you to edit and enhance all your photos with the simplicity of a tap on the screen. I actually used this the other week to crop some of the photos I took over reading week. As I mentioned earlier, toddlers and grandparents are using iPads, primarily because they are so user friendly. I don’t expect a toddler to be editing photos in iPhoto or creating a masterpiece in Garageband but you understand.

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I also use my iPad to work on presentations and essays when I need a break from my computer. They cant have a series of apps for this can they? Come on, its Apple guys. The iWork line has an application called pages which is a word processing app.

As if you would expect anything else, it is very user friendly and simple. You can also create presentations using the Keynote application. It is Apple’s answer to powerpoint just as the whole iWork line is the biggest competition for Microsoft Office. Speaking from experience in both, I must say I love all of the iWork products more based on there overall simplicity and refinement.

iwork

If you’re not into creating music or working on new presentation’s you can always curl up with a nice book found in iBook. You basically have a Chapters bookstore at your finger tips which is absolutely astounding. You can download any book you can think of directly to your iPad, whether it be a romance or mystery novel. Another underrated feature of Apple based iPad applications is that all the trim within the app is inspired by there real life counter parts. iBook for example, displays all of your books on a wooden bookcase just as if the hard copy was sitting on your wooden bookcase in your living room.

ibooks_hero

Safe for Children?

Speaking of hard copies sitting in your living room, there are in increasing amount of people using the iPad to read their novels instead of actually reading the paper copy. This has drawn a significant amount of debate on whether iPads are a positive thing, mainly for children. The age at which a child starts using technology is has increased from when I was a child. I didn’t even know that I could text on my cell phone until grade 9 and I see kids bringing their iPads to elementary school, like my cousin for example. It boggles my mind the the reality is that the age is only to go down from here. Kids are now using their iPads to play games as opposed to drawing or playing road hockey outside. Although this criticism is not supported by all, the article “What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out With an iPad” explores parental views of their kids using iPads instead of TV. Most of the parents give direct support to the iPad because they claim it engages their child and stimulates their minds. I have to say, I don’t disagree with her because there are so many apps on the market aimed towards young kids, they could be amused for hours while learning at the same time.

baby-with-ipad

All of the hype around the iPad when it first came out, in my opinion, has been warranted and if I were to take a guess I don’t think it is going anywhere in the near future. As long as people are still producing the reactions I gave when first using an iPad, they will continue to thrive. New applications are constantly being produced, allowing endless opportunities to change the idea of what an iPad can do.