Category Archives: General

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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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

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

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.

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.

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

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

The official news source for the College of IST.

Other Great Twitter People To Follow

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.

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

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.

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


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


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


•    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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The Best iPod Touch Applications Part I

Hello there.  I’ve had my second generation iPod Touch for a few months now and have been testing out different applications as they come out.  Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t paid for a single application.  The post you are currently reading includes a few paid apps, but the rest that I talk about are free.  You’ll find applications on this list that span multiple categories/genres.  If you have a question, please let me know.  Expect to see a post similar to this periodically when I find good apps.

Facebook (Free)

Like most college students, I’m at least partially addicted to Facebook.  I had originally downloaded an older version of the Facebook app when I first got my Touch.  The original version was terrible and you couldn’t really do anything with it.  Thankfully, Facebook decided to fix the original version and release a new version with a large smattering of new features.  At the time of this post, the Facebook app can do about 75% of what the full browser version can do.  I suspect that in the coming months, we’ll see a nearly feature complete version of the Facebook iPod Touch app.  The only thing that bothers me about this version is that fact that the app reports that every update was 3 hours ago, even though I know it wasn’t.  This is definitely some kind of bug that everyone I know that has this app has problems with.  Nice thing is that it doesn’t take away any functionality.

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Posted by on January 5, 2009 in General


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The Best iPod Touch Applications Part II

This post is my second installment of the best iPod Touch applications category, and it covers all free apps.

Twitter Fon (Free)

I’ve become a big fan of Twitter recently and I have been itching to find the best Twitter app for the iPod Touch.  After using apps like Twitterific and Twittelator, I still wasn’t satisfied.  Thank goodness I found Twitter Fon.  It delivers a simple interface that delivers tweets in an organized fashion.  It breaks your tweets down into your general stream of tweets from people you follow, people that @ reply you, personal messages and a search tool.  Better yet, it loads fast and tells you how many new messages you have gotten since you last updated the software.  Twitter Fon has been slowly climbing in popularity, and I strongly recommend downloading this application.

Urbanspoon (Free)

I don’t really use this app a lot since I’m away at school most of the time.  The point of this application is to help you find a place to eat by selecting a few preferences.  You pick what “genre” of food you want to eat, what price you want to pay and what location is most convenient to you.  The best part is that you are able to lock any or all of these options to completely customize the search.  As I hinted at before, this app is most effective in large cities.  Urbanspoon appears to constantly update their list of major cities and metropolitan areas.  You can even go online and request that you city be included in an future update of Urbanspoon. (Free)

I just downloaded the first mobile version of is a fantastic online tool for tracking your finances.  It takes data from your accounts (bank accounts, investments funds, etc.) and process the information into manageable chunks that are easy to digest.  Mint manages to accrue all of this data in a completely security way.  Unsurprisingly, Mint’s dedication to secure their services carries over to their iPod Touch app.  Although the functionality of this application is somewhat limited, it has incredible potential- especially building upon its security features.  Keep up with future releases of this application to see what great things they come up with.  If you haven’t tried the normal, I certainly encourage you check it out.

Seadragon (Free)

Seadragon is Microsoft’s first iPod Touch application.  I can’t say that it is useful, but it sure is cool.  What Seadragon touts is a substantial image library in which you can zoom into pictures near infinitely.  My favorite photos are the ones of galaxies that I can explore with the tip of my finger.  If nothing else, download Seadragon just for its coolness factor.  I would also recommend using a wi-fi connection rather than 3G since wi-fi is substantially faster.

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Posted by on January 5, 2009 in General


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