Tag Archives: Online

Anonymous Online

There are countless websites and apps that will let people say whatever they want without revealing themselves. They do this through the use of usernames (which can be almost anything) or by allowing the option for people to remain anonymous. It is a popular feature that many companies and/or websites use to encourage conversation and use of their product. After all, there are no real consequences of typing out a message; people are more open to talking and saying things they wouldn’t normally say if they know they can walk away without anyone ever realizing it’s them. But, that is part of the problem, isn’t it?

Conceptually, being anonymous online is a good idea; it makes for a much more relaxed and stress free environment. People can discuss things that might be unpopular, and having that feeling of freedom can make things easier. But when this idea is put into practice, and real life people get involved, it gets much messier and the worst in people tends to come out. Without the fear of punishment, what’s to stop a person from saying terrible things to anyone and everyone?

cyberbullying
“Without the fear of punishment, what’s to stop a person from saying terrible things to anyone and everyone?” Photo from: http://highstermobile.co/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cyberbullying.jpg

Let’s face it, the reality of the situation is that online, people can say things that are racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic, which are just a few examples in a long list. It’s because people with those kinds of views have a mask and a wall to hide behind. They can go about their lives without anyone knowing that they have been spouting hate. If someone started shouting racist slurs in public, then there is a legitimate fear of retaliation, be it physical or legal. Many of these kinds of people are aware that what they are saying is offensive and derogatory. They say it with the intent to hurt and infuriate but they also know that doing so could get them into trouble. Which is why becoming an anonymous figure online is their tool of choice.

Anonymous online posting can be a good thing, but it is a dangerous two edged sword. It often seems to be hurting just as much as it is helping. At the end of the day, it poses an interesting question: how much online freedom is too much? On one hand, it’s rarely a good idea to give up freedom for the sake of security/policing, as that leads to tyranny. But give people too much freedom, and that leads to anarchy. Not to mention, you have to make sure all of these rules are enforced equally. It wouldn’t be right or fair to consistently accuse one group of doing the wrong thing while ignoring another group that is actually committing the action.

A Right to Online Privacy

With the recent House bill that would allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell anyone’s private browsing history, it is a good time to discuss people’s right to online privacy, as well as the serious breach of net neutrality. Originally, ISP had to obtain your permission to sell your online history to anyone, but soon they will be able to sell it to whoever they want to, whenever they want to. Which, frankly, is a massive invasion of privacy.

cyber criminals
“ISP will be able to track your every move online as soon as you make it. They can, essentially, stalk you online.” Photo from: https://www.fbi.gov/image-repository/cyber-crime.jpg/@@images/image/high

What you do online is private information, unless you choose to make it public. But until you make that choice, it is a private matter. However that boundary is about to be crossed and soon it’ll be open season for every internet user. The least of it is that individual targeted ad campaigns will become the norm. Companies will analyze the data and try their best to get you to buy their product, likely at a higher rate. While that is annoying, it is not the most serious issue. ISP will be able to track your every move online as soon as you make it. They can, essentially, stalk you online. With this kind of information and power at their fingertips, the internet will no longer be a neutral entity and instead become just another method of exploitation.

There is also the fact that ISP will be taking advantage of you and making money off you, and you won’t see a dime of it. Think about it – the product they will be selling is your internet browsing history, something they wouldn’t have if you did not go online. You make the product, and they sell it off to the highest bidder. All you get are more ads to inconvenience you. Even if we ignore the invasion of privacy that is occurring here, this still isn’t a fair deal. This bill allows ISP to sell your private information and make money off something you create. All the while, you get harassed by a large amount of ads, and they profit off of you.

Real or Virtual Classrooms?

The world is constantly evolving and growing as the level of technology increases and new technology becomes readily available. It seems like every day there is a new technological development that helps us in our daily lives. One of these developments is the rise of online classrooms.

It is becoming more popular to make college or high school courses available online, removing the need for students to be present inside of a classroom. The main reasons for these (relatively) new online classes are their accessibility and convenience. Some students are stay at home parents, some cannot afford both the tuition and campus housing, and some have jobs that prevent them from having a normal class schedule. There are many reasons for people to make use of online courses; they are helpful and they allow many people who could not otherwise manage to get a college degree to do so. But people can also miss out on the experience and knowledge that comes with having an actual class that isn’t just an assignment on a screen.

computer
“There are many reasons for people to make use of online courses; they are helpful and they allow many people who could not otherwise manage to get a college degree to do so.” Photo from: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/sites/default/files/images/students-looking-at-computer.jpg

In traditional classrooms, there is a greater opportunity for discussion among the students. People can ask questions and ask for further explanation if they do not understand the material. With most online classes, you get an assigned reading, a worksheet and/or assignment, and maybe a video explaining what you need to do. The issue is that this method does not provide many, if any, actual teaching moments. If learning was as simple as opening up a textbook and reading it, then we wouldn’t need teachers, or even actual classes. Learning isn’t as simple as reading the material and then taking a test on it.

None of this is to say that online classes are bad or that we should do away with them, but they certainly shouldn’t become the primary method of teaching. We should stick primarily with traditional classrooms and supplement education with online classes. Keep online classrooms, improve them, encourage them, but don’t let them become the main method of teaching.

Modern day piracy: Steal from the rich and give to the …?

Online piracy has been featured in the media spotlight recently via the exploits of the notorious Kim
Dotcom, the creator of Megaupload. In its heyday, the site was one of the most popular on the internet.
The idea behind Megaupload was that users could store files on servers that could be accessed by
anyone on the Internet. This business model yielded tens of millions of dollars in advertising profits
primarily due to the popularity of the content being transmitted on the site — copyrighted material that
is. Continue reading Modern day piracy: Steal from the rich and give to the …?

Journalism gets digital

Carole Tarrant, editor of The Roanoke Times, recently came to Radford University for the School of Communication’s third annual Communications Week. A room of almost 100 chattering students’ faces illuminated by their cellphones filled the room to hear about, “Journalism in the Digital Age.”

With technology advancing quickly, sometimes it’s difficult to stay up to date on the newest evolution of bigger and better technology, no matter how hard the world tries. Continue reading Journalism gets digital

More Badass Than A Badass Skag Borderlands

Borderlands opens with a story, about treasure, women, guns, money and all that good stuff. How does one obtain this untold wealth? The hidden vault of alien technology, which is stored somewhere on the planet of Pandora. You get your choice of four characters to play and seek out the treasure that awaits you on Pandora.

Game Play

Borderlands is sort of difficult to explain. At its most basic level it is a first person shooter that incorporates the loot based and mission aspect of a role playing game. At times, though, Borderlands seems as though it could branch off into its own entirely separate genre. The intense fast game play mixes well with the slow moments in the game, though slow moments are far and few between. The graphic style of the game and its cell shading tends to lure players into a false sense of security, only to be moments later attacked by a random enemy. Towns are no safe haven from attack, as your enemies will follow you right into town and continue attacking. This just adds to the fast and sometimes panicked game play, which adds to the experience.

Players get to choose one of four characters to start the game. These characters are each members of a different job class. The classes are Hunter, Siren, Solider, and Berserker each class offers players a different and unique way to play the game. Hunter class specializes in snipers and magnums as such the hunter skill tree reflects that. The Siren class focuses more on increasing the chance of inflicting specialized effects such as corrosion and burn. The Solider is more of an utility class though it does have some specialization with automatic weapons and shotguns. The majority of the Solider’s skill tree is devoted to its special ability. Berserker class is the final and most powerful of the classes available in the game. Its skills focus on both its special ability and increasing the damage it does with explosives.

Along with their built-in specialized focus, each class has a special ability. These abilities are extremely useful in a pinch. The Hunter class’ ability is to call upon Bloodwing, a pet falcon that attacks your enemies from afar. The skill upgrades for this ability increase the amount of damage Bloodwing does or increases the drop rates on weapons and money for an enemy killed by Bloodwing. Sirens have the ability to phase walk. The phase walk ability allows Sirens to turn invisible and sneak up on enemies. When you come out of phase walk an elemental blast is let off creating a radius of damage around your character. The skill tree ties into this ability by decreasing cool-down time between its usage and other odds and ends to tweak this ability. Soldier class’ ability is to throw out a portable automated gun turret. The turret provides cover fire as well as a built-in shield, allowing players to hide behind while their own shields recharge. The skill tree works with the turret ability, giving players the option to have the turret regenerate health or ammo while nearby. Also one branch of the skill tree focuses on making the turret more powerful.

The controls for the game are fairly basic and feel rather natural to pick up. There is a bit of a learning curve but not much of one. The game takes time to make an obvious effort to explain the controls and other information to the player, forcing you read the information by not allowing you to exit out of those information boxes immediately.

Co-op mode truly transforms this game into a different sort of beast. Outside of co-op the game is a rather decent shooter, fun but a bit of a grinder. In co-op mode the game really opens up, allowing players to push the envelope as the game adapts to enemies becoming harder and the drops becoming better. Co-op mode allows for players to try out different tactics to accomplish missions that otherwise would be extremely difficult to manage alone.

The Good

The game developers half way through production decided to go back and change their graphics. This usually spells disaster for a game. That is not the case with borderlands. Developers displeased with how they had strayed from the concept art went back to the original style and it was a great choice. The art for the game has a definite graphic novel feel that is only enhanced by the choice to use cell shading. In the process, they created one of the more visually stunning games of the year, while it does not have photo-realistic graphics it doesn’t need it. The game’s current almost cartoon-like graphics fit amazingly well with the story, not taking away from game play at all.

Dialogue in the game is amazingly funny. In co-op mode characters will talk to each other, often times complaining if you take too much time to heal or shouting out warnings. Some of the bandits will shout phrases such as, “I’ll make you sorry you ever came here,” usually as they are being shredded to pieces with machine gun fire. It’s not what one would call the most in-depth dialogue, and in truth it does little to add to the overall story, but it is still a rather amusing plus.

The Bad

Weapons. It doesn’t seem that the game can even be mentioned without talking about its massive amount of weapons. For many people this was a major selling point for the game and it was what was pushed the hardest, but while there are plenty of different weapons there isn’t much variety in actual design. The majority of the weapons look similar, just having different status effects or colors. So for those who were looking forward to seeing millions of different styles of gun, this a definite downside.

Bugs. The game on its release is and was one of the buggiest games. There are plenty of bugs which are exploited to the benefit of the players and just as many that are extremely detrimental to the players. Co-op mode, truly the shinning gem of this game, suffers the worst of the bugs. There are occasions where players lose their skill points upon logging out of the game. Gearbox is currently working on a solution.

Final Thoughts

Borderlands is an example of what games can be. It is very much a rejection of the more and more realistic games. The cartoonish art style and the comical interchanges between yourself and the other people of Pandora both build an interesting web that keeps you trapped within this game. It is among one of the most addictive and entrancing games of the 2009 year. It is a game I would definitely suggest to those who savor and enjoy co-op play, as this is when the game shines its brightest. While the game falls somewhat short in its variety of weapon designs there are still plenty of weapons, many of which will have you giggling like a madman as you watch them destroy your enemies. You have to love a game that labels the strongest of the normal enemies as badass. It is a definite must-have.

Whim Rating 4.5

Check out the intense trailer:

Game Play

Images from:

inglorio.us/

www.incgamers.com/

gawker.com

www.borderlandsthegame.com/

video from outside source.