Taking a break from technology; almost impossible (for Generation Z)

Netizens discussed a lot about zombie apocalypse.. Do the majority of us realize it has already sort of happened?Image

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Technology blackout; is that possible?

Let’s start simple. When I woke up in the morning the first thing I would check would be my cellphone. It’s straightforward, really. It started with innocent intention of wanting to know what time it is; but one thing DEFINITELY led to another. When the screen is turned on, there would be notifications! I guess you could see where I’m going with this.
I mean, come on. In the past, our ancestors did not have weather app, but they survived. They could check the news on TV for weather, and other alternatives.

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Is it dangerous?

35% of American reports that they sleep less than 7 hours everyday, and 63% reports that their sleep needs are not being met during the week. What could be the cause? Exactly. Many experts believe that it is the result of excessive use of technology. They believe night time light exposure suppressed the production of melatonin hormone. Reduction in melatonin production is correlated to sleeplessness. However, it is also directly connected to “increase the risk of cancer, impair immune system function, and possibly lead to cardiometabolic consequences such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease.
Therefore usage of cellphone, tablet or computer before sleep would be really dangerous for your psychological and physical health. For example, inflammation of tendons and articular degeneration of in the thumb joint and index fingers have been reported, due to excessive texting.
Many people do not realize this, but even the exposure of house light after the sun is set is already disruptive for our natural melatonin production. However, the electronic devices just make it worse. A solution suggested was installing f.lux on your devices, as it helps the devices to adjust the blue light, which is emitted by electronic devices. Blue light, or short-wavelength is the most suppressive for melatonin production, and by extension, even more dangerous for your health.
Research also found that alone time would benefit our psychological health. Once in a while, we need that alone time, just to get away from the never ending phone-buzzes. Even the most socialite person would eventually need their alone time. People say, solitude aims to attain happiness from the inside.
Overexposure of technology is even more dangerous for developing children. They are still in the developing stage, and technology would hinder the development. Their developing sensory, motor, and attachment system is not biologically ready for the sedentary life that electronic devices may cause. Additionally, it also may lead to obesity, due to the inactivity period when they are engaged in their games.
For high schoolers, it is also getting dangerous at a slightly less alarming level.TVgraphicCHARTS-1523887
Admittedly, I’m far luckier than today’s kids. My first cellphone was given to me when I was in Grade 8, but then, its function was limited to texting and calling; not to mention it was really pricey too. I was already in Grade 10 when I got my first laptop. Smartphone? Sometime around Grade 11.
With the early overexposure of technology in today’s kids, would solitude extinct? Older people who grew up in the more conventional way would yearn the quiet that once was a part of their life, but with today’s technology’s pervasiveness, would kids be able to take a break from technology? Technology certainly has made our lives easier, but again, is it really worth the risk it carries?

Do good. Do charity

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UNICEF created a challenge for cellphone owners; for the minutes they resisted on checking their phone, UNICEF’s sponsor would donate a certain amount of money that will be used towards supplies of clean water to the countries in need. It is not exactly a technology blackout, it is more like a social media blackout. This website would reward the people in need when the cellphone owners when they refrained from checking their Facebook, text messages, or emails.

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Is it possible to eradicate piracy?

In this age of technology, is it a wonder that piracy is gaining more popularity and more difficult to eradicate? Could you imagine, a little over a decade ago, there were less than a quarter of internet users compared to today?

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And my favorite part, the speed.

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Here is the full list of comparisons.

We have come a long way, and from the development of Internet itself, the common occurrence of online piracy should not even be a question.

Who is pirating?

Students would be the first to come to mind. With the piling student loans, would anyone actually want to spend money on something that they could obtain for free? Maybe some hardcore fans, but not everyone.

Another cause might be those people who do not live in North America, or Europe. Many games would be released first in those two regions. How about those who do not reside in either of the regions? They would have to wait for months for the official version to be released. Those companies who offered shipping are not helping either; some of the games would not be playable, due to the regional restriction. In my opinion, those companies are the one to blame for encouraging piracy, by applying regional restrictions on their product.

Another example would be movies. The release dates of some movies, in the theatre or on DVD; also differ based on region. And again, usually those in North America or Europe are at an advantage. To summarize my point, those companies that made it difficult for the consumers are the ones to blame.

What have they done to combat piracy? 

Undeniably, they have done a lot. However, there was one bill that caused a major spur among netizens; called SOPA. In late 2011, SOPA was introduced by the U.S. Representative, Lamar Smith.

What is SOPA?

Basically, it stands for Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). It was an attempt to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeited goods. If the bill managed to pass, it might actually alter the whole cyber world. It ended up failing miserably; a lot of the major websites protested against it.

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Good concept, but not really well-thought out..

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However, in early 2012, a major file-sharing website was shut down. It was a huge shock to the people. At one point in everyone’s life, I’m certain that everyone had downloaded at least one file from Megaupload before. It did not require peer-to-peer connections, and it was solely dependent on the internet speed. Even though it was not completely free, as they encouraged people to buy their subscriptions, there were choices for those who wanted to download for free.

To this day, I’m still not sure why would they shut down Megaupload. Rumour has it Megaupload was planning to launch Megabox, a feature that would cut off the need of middle-men (record companies) to sell the artists’ work. It was planned to share music for free (and legally!).

“UMG [Universal Music Group] knows that we are going to compete with them via our own music venture called Megabox.com, a site that will soon allow artists to sell their creations directly to consumers while allowing artists to keep 90 percent of earnings,” said MegaUpload founder Kim dotcom.

“We have a solution called the Megakey that will allow artists to earn income from users who download music for free,” Dotcom said. “Yes that’s right, we will pay artists even for free downloads.  The Megakey business model has been tested with over a million users and it works.”

That seemed to be a plausible explanation, but again, we would never know. To be fair, there is also www.4shared.com, that certainly offers a similar service to Megaupload, but why is it still there? Why was Megaupload the only one being targeted? In my very personal opinion, I believe they might have intercepted with FBI’s work. The founder and three of his colleagues were extradited from New Zealand at the time of arrest.

After reading all these, I believe shutting down piracy could be as easy as snapping one’s fingers. The officials might be just clueless on how to deal with angry netizens (or how to punish them). Realistically, almost everyone have downloaded something from the internet, and arresting all of them would definitely be ludicrous.

Are we ready for a change?

I could see that netizens are, but maybe not for the entertainment industry. They clearly are still hung up on the olden days where distribution of artists’ work was still tight on their grasp. In the past, consumers were controlled by these companies, and today the roles have been reversed.

iTunes embraced the change and succeeded to fit in today’s society. Remember the older days when we were forced to buy the whole cassette, or CD just for the sake of one song that caught our attention? iTunes introduced the alternative to music purchasing, and allowed the consumers to purchase the songs individually or per album, whatever tickled the consumers’ fancy.

In spite of the acceptance received by Apple, Netflix and Redbox, who are on the same side with the movie studios are being pushed to the edge. They are actually a great solution to the studios problem on peer-to-peer movie piracy. Instead, they would prefer to have their DVDs sold, and decided to fight Netflix and Redbox, making it difficult for them to stream movies legally.

Netflix is not allowed to expand their membership to Australia, which is absurd. With the advancement of technology, there is another alternative to non-USA resident who wants to purchase Netflix’s subscriptions. It’s a subscription based service that would allow users to watch Netflix outside of USA.

Again, I believe piracy is pretty much immortal, unless those industries could come up with something that would be able to replace the conveniency of pirating (or major brainwashing could work too!). Instead of pining over online piracy, these companies could focus on selling merchandise, or organizing more fan meetings.

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Are you safe?

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What will your first thought be when you heard about online safety?

Did it ever occur to you that not all of the customer service you have your private information stored on are that hell-bent on guarding your private information?

Their story:

Just sometime around last week, I stumbled upon this interesting article that has made me becoming more cautious in regards of my online privacy. There is this one Japanese guy, Naoki Hiroshima, who lost his single alphabet twitter username (@N), through extortion. He wrote a detailed article here. Basically, the attacker managed to take over his GoDaddy account by using the last four digit of his credit card as the identity verification. He managed to obtain that particular information from Paypal. Thanks to this article, now I know that the distribution of certain information is permitted. Long story short, the attacker threatened to “tinker” with his other websites if he insisted on keeping his twitter username. He then decided to give it up, after remembering what happened a year earlier to another guy whose digital life was completely annihilated.

And then, there is this another guy, Mat Honan, with a similar story, and he was a victim of Amazon and Apple security flaws. Mat had his MacBook, iPhone and iPad remotely erased through the iCloud function. The hacker obtained the last four digit of his credit card number through Amazon, and then took over his Apple account with that information to confirm his identity. The iCloud function, might be both a blessing and a curse to Apple users. When the access all of your devices is within your fingertips, that means people with your id and password could easily obtain the same access. You are pretty much done for.

And finally, there is this last guy with Twitter and Instagram username of jb (It’s famous ’cause of Justin Bieber/Jonas Brothers/etc) who barely managed to fend off the hacker. The hacker tried to look up his information online, and whined to one of Amazon customer service representatives about losing access to his account. From what he wrote, shopping site’s customer service would be easy to convince. In his case, Amazon provided the bridge for the hack to occur. It was a pure luck that he was online, and managed to secure his online accounts, as the change was not completed.

My story:

I’ve never exactly experienced a hacking incidents, but I have had my Facebook account accessed from strange locations. Fortunately, I’ve never stored any sort of payment to my Facebook account, and I’m guessing that might the reason why the hackers decided to leave my account alone. I used to use the backward of my name as my password. It did not work really well, even though it was a huge improvement from my previous password,which was my own name. Noob.

To-do list:

I am aware that neither me or my username are popular, but again, it is quite worrisome to see how easy it is to get your digital life screwed over. After reading their story, I made a list of what I should do. It’s alarming to see how different companies use different measure for identity verification..

1) Use your cellphone as extra layer of protection. Some website would send a confirmation code to your cellphone via text message before letting anyone access your account.

2) If you have a Paypal account, create a 6-digit Customer Service PIN for identity confirmation. For Apple IDs, don’t store Credit Card information in them. Just purchase the gift card and store it to your account.

3) If you have an Apple ID, try using an entirely different email address from the one you regularly use. From Mat’s experience, don’t connect your Mac laptops to iCloud. It’d be much safer to back up your data locally.

4) Never use iCloud Keychain feature. Losing access to your iCloud would compromise the whole dynamic of your digital life.

5) The idea of having one username and password across different platform is preposterous. So does using another email address as a back up means to recover your account.