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Author Archives: Steve S

How To Turn Off Google Buzz

I decided I wasn’t really ready to give Google more of my information today. I also decided I didn’t need another social networking outlet in my life.

So I turned off Google Buzz.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to your Gmail inbox.
  2. Scroll to the footer at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click “Turn off buzz”. (See photo below)
  4. There are no more steps, but check out the photo below if you are a visual learner.

How To Turn Off Google Buzz

Thank me and your privacy later.

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Posted by on February 11, 2010 in General

 

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Onward State

Picture 1As you can see, I haven’t written a new post for Digital Frontier for a long time.  This is because I started writing for another blog in late December 2008.  Onward State is a blog focused on Penn State news and events.  Since I started at Onward State, we have seen an explosion in the numbers of visitors to the site.

You can click here to view the articles I’ve written on Onward State.  The page updates itself when I write something new so be sure to visit again.

The homepage for the new blog can be found here.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2009 in General

 

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Consumer Watch: Verizon

As a Security and Risk Analysis major, I like to keep an eye out for shady things that corporations and governments do.  While not exactly Penn State specific, I wanted to shed some light on an interesting situation with Verizon Wireless.  I’m going to try to keep this post short, as the details are slightly boring.  Here is what you need to know:

  1. If you are a Verizon Wireless customer, Verizon will (or possibly already has) sent you a small brochure with lots of small, fine print that you’ll probably never want to read.
  2. What the small, fine print says is that if you don’t take any action within 45 days of receiving the letter, you are giving Verizon permission to share your personal data with any companies that Verizon is affiliated with.
  3. This personal data includes information about services you have purchased, info about calls you make and receive, billing information and location information.

If alarms aren’t going off in your head signaling that this is a little slimy and a breach of privacy, we should probably talk.

So if you are concerned about this (which you should be) do the following things:

  1. Sign into your “My Verizon” account
  2. Click on “My Profile”
  3. Click on “View/Edit Privacy (CPNI) Settings” under the Phone Controls section
  4. Select the button for “Don’t Share My CPNI” for all cell phone numbers
  5. Click “Submit”
  6. Congratulations, you are done

So tell your Friends, tell your Dad, tell your Mom.  Free Credit Report.com Seriously though, tell your family.  They probably don’t read the fine print either.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2009 in Security, Tech News

 

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The New and Improved Facebook

Most Facebook users have noticed a notification at the top of their homepage which appeared a few weeks ago that linked to a page with information about the new layout design. For those of you that haven’t seen it, you can find the link to the information page here.

In the history of the Internet, websites have proceeded to transition from text to images to music and finally to video. Since social networks are inherently a hub of text, pictures, music and video, designers must figure out the best way to organize all of the information. Social networks must also fight to stay competitive in the packed market of social networks.

logo_facebookTo do this, they must offer their users something that other social networks can’t. Facebook’s edge over the competition has always been a clean interface and continued expansion of features. As of the publish date of this article, Facebook has registered over 175 million active users, a staggering 2.5 % of the world’s population. With their growth, Facebook has upgraded their user interface while relying on the underlying foundation of their social network- people’s connections to each other. Most interface changes have gone relatively smoothly and have not drastically changed aspects of navigation or user experience.

Facebook is currently rolling out updates to their layout, which means that your profile will upgrade to the new version automatically within the next few days. If this layout design goes anything like the last time they redesigned Facebook, there are bound to be lots of angry people. To me, this anger is extremely unfounded. Since the beginning of Facebook, the social network has kept with its theme of a clean interface. The gray, blue and white color scheme keeps things simple while navigation between pages has remained very easy and clear. In fact, one of the main reasons I use Facebook is that I can’t stand Myspace profiles. Sure, Myspace prides itself on letting the user configure their profile, but how many Myspace profiles are truly hideous? In my experience, the answer is easy: too damn many.

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Posted by on March 14, 2009 in General

 

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Twitter & Penn State

What are you doing?  One million-plus Twitter users certainly want to know.  I discovered the increasingly popular social network after I noticed a few coworkers at my summer internship using the service.  Initially, I used the service to keep in touch with them after I came back to school.  Then things got a lot more interesting.  I began to discover people from all across the Penn State community.  It turns out that fellow students, professors, alumni and even Penn State services all have Twitter accounts.

The best way to describe Twitter is that it is like Facebook status updates- but better.  Messages are limited to 140 characters at a time, which gives just enough space for short and easily digestible information.  You can use the service from your cellphone, through a web browser and through any number of mobile devices.  To further explain the simple social network, I’ll test your SAT skills with a nice analogy: Followers are to Twitter what Friends are to Facebook.  Followers are people that have elected to see your updates in real time.  The “Following” category of your account lists the Twitter users that you follow, and therefore receive their updates.  Below you will find a list containing some of my favorite Twitter users around Penn State, as well as some other members of the Twitterverse.

Penn State People

@BlueBandSteve
Naturally, you should all follow me.  Like the name suggests, I am in the Penn State Marching Blue Band and my name is most certainly Steve.  During football games, I’ll post updates via cellphone about the score/conditions of the game.  During the Rose Bowl on Jan 1, I gave updates about the pep rallies before the game, the Parade of Roses and the Rose Bowl game.  Outside of football season, I tweet links to new blogs posts and cool stories around the internet.

@shcdean and @targuman
The Dean of the Honors College here at PSU has a Twitter account.  Although the @shcdean account isn’t really active, he does post more actively on the @targuman account.

Penn State Clubs/Services/Things

@PennStateLive
This Twitter account is great to keep up with Penn State News.  Penn State Live is the official online news outlet for Penn State.  Everything from research to events are covered on this website.  Following Penn State Live on Twitter is a great way to keep up to date on all your official Penn State News.

@PalmerMuseum
The museum you always pass on the way to class (but have never been in) has a Twitter account to keep followers updated on new exhibits and events.  Sidenote: It is definitely worth it to take a trip to the museum.  It is free and pretty cool.

@sraclub
The SRA Club (Security & Risk Analysis Club) keep followers abreast about the next cool event that they are hosting.

@OnwardState
The Onward State Twitter account updates you with the latest and greatest news and events around the Penn State community.

@IST2U
The official news source for the College of IST.

Other Great Twitter People To Follow

@BarackObama
The official Twitter account of President Obama.  This account remains the most followed Twitter account to date.  Though the account was most active during the campaign, I hope the President uses Twitter in the future as an avenue of news and conversation.

@CNNBRK
CNN Breaking News posts on this Twitter account when something groundbreaking happens somewhere in the world.

@NASA
To keep up with NASA missions, follow this Twitter account.  They post pictures, videos and other info from the space program.  If you every wanted to be an astronaut (or a space shuttle), follow NASA.

@MarsScienceLab
This account represents the mission to mars in 2011.  They were scheduled to launch a few months ago, but technical difficulties prevented a launch.  As this mission explores Mars, they will update the Twitter account on the fly.  Check out @MarsPhoenix for comparison.  When they found evidence of ice/water on Mars, the people following @MarsPhoenix heard first!  Pretty cool stuff.

A Final Note

I encourage you to sign up for a Twitter account.  To sign up, click here.  It is free and really simple to do.  Start following some of the above Twitter accounts to start your experience, and before long you will have a following of your own.  Be especially sure to follow @BlueBandSteve and @OnwardState.  If you have suggestions for cool Twitter users to follow, leave a comment below and I will update this post.  If you have questions, let me know in the comments.

This post originally aired on the blog Onward State on 2-3-09.

 

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University Park By The Numbers

As a connoisseur of useless facts and information, I was pleased to find an OPP website entirely devoted to stats about the University Park campus.   I thought I might pass on some of the more interesting statistics for those of you that enjoy extraneous information.  You can find the original page here and I credit the OPP for all of this information.

Real Estate

•    Penn State UP resides on 15,984 acres of beautiful Pennsylvania land.
•    758 buildings
•    49 rental buildings
•    15.5 million square feet total
•    Worth about 1.921 billion dollars

Building Details

•    79 acres of roof
•    10,010 exterior doors
•    2,262 classrooms and laboratories
•    7,123 offices
•    300 elevators

Transportation

•    14,000 parking spaces
•    31 miles of paved roads and streets
•    23 miles of paved walkways
•    1,810 streetlights

Flora

•    11,000 trees
•    25,000 flowers planted annually

Utilities

•    50 miles of water pipes
•    2.7 million gallons of water are produced/consumed daily
•    17 miles of steam pipes
•    218 fire hydrants
•    2,091 fire extinguishers

You want one more interesting fact?  Here it is (with proof):
The Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. Senate has the power to arrest the President if he violates the rules of the Senate.

Note: This piece debuted on Onward State on 2-5-09.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2009 in General, Penn State Events

 

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Inauguration Tech Coverage

Yesterday, our country celebrated the inauguration of our 44th President.  During the entire day, a few stories popped up on some of my favorite blogs regarding the technology and security that was showcased during this historic event.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces of technology:

Bomb Containment Truck

It probably goes without saying that many of the agencies and forces assigned to protect Washington D.C. and attendees of the inauguration brought out some serious equipment.  What you see below {Source} is a sphere that can safely transport an explosive device.  What is even cooler is the fact that an explosive can even go off inside the sphere without harming bystanders.

Bomb Containment Truck

Hi-Res Satellite Photo of D.C. During Inauguration

The following image comes from GeoEye, a satellite that takes ultra-high resolution imagery from space.  It currently orbits at 423 miles above the surface of the Earth, taking pictures at astounding resolutions of 41 cm.  The U.S. Government prevents publicly released imagery from being at that high of a resolution, so it is limited to 50 cm or worse.  Click on the image below to get an ultra high resolution version that you can pan around and see the National Mall in extreme detail.  Another interesting factoid is that Google owns the rights to the imagery taken by the high-flying satellite and plans to utilize the photos in their Google Earth and Google Maps applications.

The clumps of people are groups viewing jumbotrons displaying the inaugural events.  You can even see Marine 1 (Presidential Helicopter) immediately to the right of the Capitol Building.

The clumps of people are groups viewing jumbotrons displaying the inaugural events. You can even see Marine 1 (Presidential Helicopter) immediately to the right of the Capitol Building.

Bulletproof (President) Obama

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Posted by on January 22, 2009 in Security, Tech News

 

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