Learning from Digital Media

25 Feb

A casual chat with a single parent left me with much amazement.

He has a five year old son who is autistic, with poor hand-eye coordination and well as the inability to speak. Miraculously, he managed to cure his son’s poor hand-eye coordination in less than a year without any professional help.

This is the amazing part. He did it using the iPad!!

He never thought the iPad would be so beneficial to his child, and it was purely accidental! His son, K, loves watching cartoons. In order to watch his cartoons on Daddy’s iPad, he had to flick through pages of apps, click on the YouTube app and hit the search bar. This series of actions eventually cured his problem of poor hand-eye coordination.

This gave me the inspiration to write today’s post, and a quick google search provided me so much optimism that there is a possible cure for K’s inability to speak. There are many apps which are being developed to help autistic children learn how to speak. These apps help autistic children build sentences using relevant images, giving them a ‘voice’ to speak for the first time.

One significant example I would like to share is Proloquo2Go. This app has been recommended by speech therapists and it is currently under testing in a school for autistic children in Ireland. It might be a solution to teach autistic children how to speak. Like most apple apps, it can be used on the iTouch, iPhone or iPad, making it extremely convenient to bring around.

At the homepage, there are many categories a child can choose from, depending on what he or she might want to communicate across to the other party.

The above is an example of how a child can form his sentences using the app. In addition, the app is extremely user friendly and works in real time. It can be customized to the individual child using their picture and photo vocabulary.

Watch the video for an introduction to how the app works!

There are many opportunities the digital media (in this case, the iPhone, iTouch or iPad) can provide for learning, whether or not it is for people with or without disability.  I believe so much more can be done, and it is only a matter of time before these opportunities get explored.

I am definitely going to recommend this app to K’s father, and cross my fingers that a few months down the road he would be able to tell me that K has learnt the ability to speak in full sentences!


1) http://www.wellsphere.com/autism-autism-spectrum-article/mobile-app-helps-children-with-autism-communicate/738642

2) http://www.gadgetsdna.com/10-revolutionary-ipad-apps-to-help-autistic-children/5522/

3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vomkNSluWW4


E-Commerce Security

18 Feb

For most, the internet has benefited and changed their lives for the better. The global market on the internet provides access to goods, services and business worldwide, making it possible to buy anything and everything online. Sadly, criminals are not left out from this apparent convenience.

For criminals, the internet has created new and lucrative ways for them to steal from more than 1 billion consumers! Imagine the opportunities! Furthermore, the ability to remain anonymous online gives the perfect climate for cybercriminals to strike.  Actions of cybercriminals are costly for both businesses and consumers, who are then subjected to higher prices and additional security measures. Hence as consumers or merchants, it is important to ensure a secure commercial transaction so as to protect individuals and organizations from unexpected behavior in the e-commerce marketplace.

So, what exactly is good e-commerce security?

1) Integrity

We have to ensure that information has not been altered in any way by an unauthorized party. Take for example, a cybercriminal may alter the contents of an online communication, causing a  redirection a bank wire transfer into a different account. Also, merchants may claim the authenticity of their products, but mail you a replica or imitation product instead.

2) Nonrepudiation

This is this ability to ensure that e-commerce participants do not deny their online actions. Setting up an email account is easy, and we do not even need to provide any real information about ourselves. This makes it easy for people to order merchandise online, and then deny doing so. Credit card companies by default, have to side with the customer because the merchant has no physical copy of a signature and hence, no legal valid proof that the customer ordered the merchandise.

3) Authenticity

When we’re doing transactions online, we have to be sure who exactly are we dealing with. Is the person on the website we are communicating with really who we think he/she is? Spoofing is common, and we really have to be on our guards.

An example of a spoof website, thewhitehouse.org

4) Confidentially & Privacy

In my opinion, I believe this is the most important dimension in e-commerce security. We have to ensure that messages and data we send, is only available to those who are authorized to view them. We also must ensure we have control over the use of information about him or herself to the e-commerce merchant. This is especially so for credit card and personal information. Hacking to gain these information violates confidentially of data and the privacy of individuals who supplied the information.

Are your mails and communication records really safe?

5) Availability

This refers to the ability to ensure that the e-commerce site continues to function as intended. Imagine purchasing products from a website, only to have the entire site gone and deleted without a trace before receiving your items!

Who would you buy from? eBay at 80% of the price, or a shabby blogspot at 40% of the price? Too many a time, many of us are attracted by the low prices provided by some online merchants.

It is important to note that before we make our decision, we have to decide if the deal is really indeed, too good to be true!


12 Feb

When I think of social networking, the first few sites that comes into my mind are Facebook, Twitter & Friendster. However for the people in France, Spain, Italy & Latin America, I’m pretty sure Badoo will be tops in their list!

What exactly is Badoo & why is the site useful?

Badoo is a multilingual social networking site. The pushing force of Badoo is to meet people from different countries and cultures.  People are able to share their lives and work globally and locally, but at the same time embrace their own local unique culture.

The site also provides instant messaging and lightning quick ability to upload photos and videos. There is also a feature to rate the pictures of members. Also, the ability to see who views your account (or any other account for that matter) is transparent. Also, settings on how visible your account can be adjusted. The site also includes a geographical proximity feature, allowing users to identify each others’ location & check out who’s in their area. This is allows members to meet potential friends or lovers who are in close proximity. According to Badoo’s website info, they are the “world’s biggest and best social dating site”.

Like many social networking sites, Badoo shares similar features/advantages with Facebook. This includes sharing of pictures/videos, sending messages, extensive reach, ease of use etc. Hence, I shall not go into details of it’s similarity.

So, why is Badoo different from Facebook?

1) No advertisements!

Imagine a nice & clean profile page! ! I like :D.  Their business model is different from that of Facebook, and they rely on their members for earnings.  To make their profile more noticeable, members can pay a small price to have their profiles on the front page (screenshot below). Prices are as follows. America: 1 dollar, Europe: 1 euro, UK: 1 pound. Also, if members see a potential friend/lover they are interested in, they have to pay to actually meet these people.

Badoo’s front page, with all the members who paid to have their profiles there.

2) No ‘adding of friends’ or ‘liking’ feature

Users are not restricted from any information because they are not ‘friends’ with the person, or because they did not ‘like’ the page.  This makes their reach more extensive, but the drawbacks is that privacy is almost non-existent. In a peer-reviewed study, Badoo was given the lowest score for privacy among 45 social networking sites examined.

3)  Voting of pictures

There is a section for voting other people’s photographs. Although Facebook has something similar, that is only an app and not the feature of the website itself. Members can choose if they want to see pictures of only women, only men or both genders. Pictures will then appear and people can select a rating from one to ten.

4) No groups or communites

Badoo does not have groups or communities that gathers people with similar interests together. Members look for potential friends/dates/lovers mostly through pictures/appearance which I feel is really superficial.

5) Ability to access from Facebook

Badoo has a dating app on Facebook! The app is the second-largest dating app on Facebook, according to our AppData tracking service.

Screenshot of Badoo’s dating app on Facebook
Also, users can log into Badoo, using their Facebook account! Treating your competitor as your friend. Hmmm, smart move!
Screenshot of Badoo’s login page

6) Age limit

Badoo’s minimum age limit is 18, whereas Facebook’s age limit is 13. This shows that Badoo’s targeted users are of a more mature age group.

Even though Badoo is not as popular as Facebook, they have over 12 million members and was labelled ‘the second fasting rising company’ by Google, and this is even ahead of Facebook! Also, according to Alexa stats they are in the top 100 most visited sites, which shows that its popularity is increasing.

Who knows what potential Badoo has?


1) http://www.viralblog.com/social-media/badoo-the-new-challenger-to-facebooks-crown/

2) http://orangecopper.com/blog/list-of-the-best-social-networking-websites-2011

3) http://www.shvoong.com/internet-and-technologies/websites/2068533-www-badoo-com/

4) http://www.badoo.com

5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badoo

Dial-up Internet

22 Jan

Remember this? (:

I vividly remember the day my parents brought home a dial-up modem. Each time during dial-up, my sister and I would turn up the volume of the speakers do a silly dance to it, much to the annoyance of my parents. My sister even made me believe that it was a form of communication with the aliens and we would be scolded for eavesdropping. This was kinda ‘proven’ because each time I lifted up the phone receiver, I would hear the weird noise for a few seconds before my mother screamed at me to put the receiver back down because she had lost connection. Nostalgic.

So what exactly is the peculiar sound made during dial-up?

After some research, I found out that when a connection is initiated, dial-up networking directs your modem to dial the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) phone number. This is answered by another modem at the other end. Both modems then send signals back and forth to determine the fastest connection.

The process whereby the computer is connecting to another modem at your Internet Service Provider (ISP), with signals being transmitted back and forth is called” handshaking”. For each set of data transmitted, a tone is made. The screeching heard when your modem first connects is the sound of your modem and the ISP’s modem harmonizing the connection and deciding on a speed to use. Once the fastest speed connection between the two modems is established, the noise switches off.

So let’s take for example, the dial-up modem my family used is the typical 56 kbps modem (this was the maximum transfer speed!! :S). Simply put, this is what happens.

During the early years of the Internet, dial-up was the standard way of connection. However, because the connection is established over the phone line, an interruption made by an incoming phone call or when someone picks up the phone (refer to my mum’s case above), the service may be disconnected. Also, the bandwidth for dial-up connection is very limited and the ability for the modem to send and receive just ONE megabyte of data can take up to five minutes!

Aren’t you ever so thankful for cable and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line or Dedicated Service Line)?

😀 😀 😀


1) http://www.techterms.com/definition/dialup

2) http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-dial-up-internet-access.htm

3) http://www.pcworld.com/article/48467/how_it_works_dialup_networking.html

4) youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0&feature=related


How It Works: Dial-Up Networking

We explain the method most people use to connect to the Internet.

Dial-up networking: the set of protocols and software used to connect a computer to an Internet service provider, an online service, or a remote computer through an analog modem and POTS (plain old telephone system).

Dial-up networking is the most widely used type of computer connection to the Internet. By the end of 2000, over a quarter of a billion subscribers were dialing in to the Internet–more than four times the number of users of other popular access methods, namely broadband DSL, cable, and ISDN modems. Here are the facts you need to know:


  • Dial-up networking uses a modem as the interface between a single PC and a network such as the Internet; the modems are typically capable of speeds up to 56 kbps.
  • Dialing up with a modem is still the cheapest and most widely available way to connect to the Internet, but because it offers comparatively slow connection speeds, graphics-intensive Web sites can take a long time to load.
  • The maximum speed at which you can download data using dial-up networking is limited by the telephone system’s analog bandwidth, the line quality, and the Internet traffic load.
  • Dial-up networking usually communicates with the ISP using the Point to Point Protocol standard.

While broadband services such as DSL, cable modems, and satellite Internet are rapidly becoming available to more areas around the nation, dial-up networking continues to grow. It’s estimated that wireless connectivity will pose the biggest challenge to dial-up networking in terms of subscribers sometime in the future. But analysts predict that, as of the end of 2001, more than twice as many people will continue to use dial-up networking than will use broadband services to connect to the Internet. In 2003 the gap will close, but dial-up networking will still be the most popular method by one and one-half times.

What’s in a Handshake?

Dial-up networking is the simplest way to connect to the Internet: You just connect over the phone line using your modem, once you’ve subscribed to an ISP. For the most part, the software tools you need come built into Windows; some ISPs, such as EarthLink, furnish a user interface that makes setup even easier. Whichever method is used, dial-up customers usually only need to enter a user name and password, as well as the ISP’s phone number, into a dialog box. The dial-up networking software uses that information to make the connection with the ISP and does all the rest of the work. After the initial setup, all that most customers need to do to make a connection is double-click an icon.

When you initiate the process, dial-up networking first directs your modem to dial the ISP’s phone number, which is answered by another modem at the other end. For a few seconds the modems send control signals back and forth to determine how fast each can connect. The familiar screeching you hear when your modem first connects is the sound of your modem and the ISP’s modem harmonizing the connection and deciding on a speed to use.