Category Archives: School

All of the old posts from when I first started this blog for school in 2009/2010.

Forwards

Some people send me a ton of forwards, and for over a year I’ve been letting them accumulate in a folder in my email.  Over the last month I’ve been going through them; I’m down from about 800 to 150.  If I read one that’s really funny, I pass it on to a few select people.  If I see something really stupid, I usually delete it without a thought.  But every now and then I come across one that is in really bad taste, making me wonder why it was sent to me.  Here is an email I just encountered which falls into the latter category:

A New  Mouse for Women
 

  
  After years of  research, scientists have discovered that women do  not like the standard  mouse given away with PC’s. Scientists found that  there is not a physical  reason for their aversion; It is more of a Psychological problem.
 
Some women  reported that their mouse ‘just didn’t feel right’ in  their hands. Based on  the research,a new mouse has been designed  especially for women.
 
Various field tests  have been carried out on the  new  design:

Julie from  Hounslow  said:-

 
‘It  feels so much  better. More comfortable, more like how it’s supposed to  be’
 
  
 
 Susan from  Chelmsford  added:-

‘I think mice were  originally designed just  for men, but this new type  is definitely made for  women. It fits right in with  my lifestyle’


Hillary from  
Kent :said  –

‘I took to  it like  a duck to water, every woman should have one’!

 
Sally From London Said –

It feels so natural
 

Now I know it’s supposed to be something stupid that you read quickly and then ignore, but I don’t want to let this one go.  This email is problematic because it is perpetuating stereotypes about women.  It’s women who are supposedly having this “psychological problem.”  Yet I know of some guys who are more apt to iron something than I am.  Why should they be excluded from this mouse which is supposedly just for women?  And why should this mouse be designed especially for me because I am a woman, even though I do not iron clothes?  I think I’ll stick to a normal mouse, thank you! 

Here is an example of another mouse I found.  You can bet money that this one wasn’t designed with women in mind:

There is nothing “natural” about the feeling of an iron in your hand, be you male or female.  But by saying it is natural for women to be using an iron is perpetuating stereotypes about women being the ones to take care of the domestic work in a house.  But really, why should I complain?  Women can have their iron-shaped mice, and guys can have their sports-car shaped mice, right?  This is another good example of just how robust patriarchy is.  Both of these mice are stereotyping people, women as domestics and men as car guys.  There is nothing wrong with a woman liking cars and a man liking ironing. 

We need to be aware of such stereotypes and try to keep them from spreading. 

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End of the School Year Procrastination

Here I am, sitting on my bed, my laptop humming away beside me.  I’ve got a mess on my floor made up of clothes, books (mostly novels that I want to read for fun) and random other papers.  There’s a notebook opened on my right side, a text book on my left.  I have one short paper left to write, an exam to study for and a little bit of marking left.  And what am I up to?  Nothing.  I just finished playing some video games and now I’m spacing off.  Sounds like another productive day at the end of the year.

I always find this time of year to be the worst.  In December you’re ready for a break, but you’re still motivated come the new year.  When April hits, you’re finished.  Maybe you have some motivation for the first paper or exam that you have, but when it’s time to get ready for the last one, boom!  You’re done.  You just want summer to be here now. 

This year’s even worse than most years.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I haven’t had a break since Christmas.  Oh, that’s right: I DIDN’T have a break since Christmas.  This is the first year where Study Week happened and I actually studied all week.  So it’s understandable that my motivation is at zero right now. 

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Like I said, I have only three things left to do, and they should all be finished by Tuesday.  And then it’s celebrating time!  I just need to find the motivation to finish everything off.

Thank goodness I don’t have any summer courses!!!!

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Aliens and Copyright

In class on Tuesday I said that school has killed my creativity.  Some people replied that they are more creative during class and not less.  I used to also be relatively creative during class, but this year has been both tiring and demanding, leaving me with little energy left for more creative pursuits.  Luckily there is light at the end of the tunnel, and even now my creativity is starting to return.  So in honour of our final assignment, here is the first story I have written since late December.  If I have a bit of time, I’ll post pictures this weekend as well.  Enjoy!

*

You see, the reason I don’t have my essay is a funny story.  I was walking towards my car with my essay physically in hand when all of a sudden I felt a tap on my right shoulder.  I turned and found myself face to face with a green alien, complete with a spaceship.  He peered at me from eyes on weird stalks, blue eyes that swivelled to take in his surroundings.  He was feathered with a large hooked beak.  He looked like he once had wings, but those wings had long since evolved hands with long, thin fingers and opposable thumbs.  After the initial shock, all I could think was birds look better without pants.

“My name is Tekna.  I am here to ask you about Canadian copyright laws,” he said in a strange, robotic voice; I think he must have had something translating his speech.  I know, it’s the weirdest thing!  I mean, why would he care about copyright laws?  And why was he specifically interested in Canadian copyright laws? 

“Well, you’re in luck, as I just wrote an assignment on copyright in the age of the internet,” I said, waving the papers I held.  Tekna snatched my assignment from me.  “Hey!  I need that!”

“This assignment may prove useful.”  He turned towards his ship, a rounded saucer that reminded me of a bird’s nest.  After fiddling around with some controls, he fed the paper into a strange computer, which immediately projected some strange symbols into the air.  They reminded me of musical notation.  He studied these symbols for a moment.  “What is CBC?”

“That’s the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.”

“According to your assignment, this CBC says copyright is ‘a bundle of rights granted by the Copyright Act, which prescribes when a person can enjoy exclusive rights in a work, which works merit protection and which activities a copyright owner can prevent others from engaging in1.’  Why would you want these rights?” 

That was when it dawned on me: his ship must have translated my essay into his language!  “Well, as Wikipedia says, it protects a person’s intellectual property from being reproduced without permission2.  Copyright was created once it was easy to write down and reproduce ides.  It is a way for people and corporations to ensure they make the money from reproducing a work.  They do not want anyone else reproducing something and selling it for profit.”

“But it says here that copyright has to be rethought because of the internet.  Why?”

“Do you even know what the internet is?” 

“That is not important.”

“Well, the internet is complicating the issue because information is available for free1.  So now people can easily make copies.  And they are missing the distinction between free to use and free to copy1 by freely making copies when they shouldn’t.  Oh, and people are now taking existing materials and changing them into something new.  But copyright is criminalizing this new kind of creativity that emerged with the internet.  Under our existing copyright laws, this is a criminal act3.  So we need to find a way to decriminalize the remixing of media while still protecting the economic rights of the original creators.”

“That sounds like a challenge to negotiate.”

“It will be.  Like I said, we need to balance the rights of everyone because both sides are equally important3.  We do not want creators of the new, remixed media to be criminals.  But we need to make sure people are still paid for creating their own original content.”

“And what sort of digital copyright law do you think will best serve your academy?”

This was definitely the weirdest question of all!  It made me think Tekna was some sort of weird test you must have cooked up for all of us students.

Anyway, I had to think about this one for a moment.  “I think that students still need to respect the ideas of other people with proper documentation.  But I agree with Michael Geist4.  Research that results from publicly granted funds should be freely available to the public.  The public is funding it, so they should not be denied access to whatever their money has bought.”

“That sounds like a good assessment.  Thank you for this information.  You have provided some excellent insights that will help my people in our own struggle with copyright laws.”

And with that he hopped back into his spacecraft and flew away.  It was only after I watched him take-off that I realized he still had my assignment.  Even more mysteriously, when I ran back inside to reprint the essay, the entire file was gone!  And that’s why I wasn’t able to hand my assignment in today. 

So can I please have an extension?

*

Notes

1. “Copyright and the Web.”  CBC.ca.  CBC, 22 Sept. 2006.  Web.  23 March 2010.

2. “Copyright.”  Wikipedia the Free Encyclopaedia.  Web.  23 March 2010.

3. Lessig, Larry.  “Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity.”  TED.com.  TED, March 2007.  Posted Nov 2007.  Web.  23 March 2010.

4. Geist, Michael.  “Canadian Universities Too Close Minded on Open Access.”  Michaelgeist.ca.  19 Oct. 2009.  Web.  23 March 2010.

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Be Kind Rewind

*Spoiler Alert*

All of this talk about copyright law reminds me of the movie Be Kind Rewind.  The basic premise is that all of the VHS tapes from a video rental store are erased.  One loyal customer insists on seeing Ghostbusters, so to make her happy, Jerry and Mike make their own version of the film.  Soon, others find out about their movie, and the two start remaking everything from Robocop to the Lion King.  Here’s the YouTube version of Robocop:

Soon the whole town is helping to make these movies.  But eventually, the FBI gets wind of this and Jerry and Mike then find themselves in trouble because of copyright infringement, even though their films are not remakes of the originals (again, see Robocop).  I thought Be Kind Rewind was a great movie that touches on the thorny issues we discussed in class.

But another thing that Be Kind Rewind encourages is user generated content through “sweding” movies.  “Sweded” is the term Mike and Jerry come up with for their parodies.  It’s been awhile since I saw the movie, so I had to pull the exact definition off of Wikipedia: “These remakes are unedited with only a single take per scene. The tapes are described as having come from Sweden as an excuse for higher rental fees and longer wait times [within the movie].”  After the movie was released, it encouraged people to Swede their own movies.  Unfortunately, one of the funniest ones (Star Wars: a Card Board Hope) is no longer available on YouTube, so here’s one of my other favourites (the Princess Bride Sweded in 5 Minutes):

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Piracy on Wikipedia

We talked briefly in class today about piracy on wikipedia.  Whenever I think about people editing wiki pages, I am reminded of this cartoon:

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Digital Natives

Over the last few classes, Dr. Pound has called all of us students digital natives.  My understanding of the term is that a digital native is someone who has grown up with all of the new media; they are contrasted with the digital immigrants who grew up before new media and had to adapt to them.  I feel like I live in a unique position, which is somewhere between the two: I can use the new technologies like a digital native, but I didn’t really grow up with them.  We had a computer when I was growing up but it wasn’t connected to the internet until part way through elementary school.  Unlike people born within the last say 10-15 years, who have really grown up with the internet in their household, I did not.

With this in mind, I decided to look into just what qualifies someone to be a digital native.  Wikipedia says digital natives are people “for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence [have] grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s.”  Digital natives are contrasted with digital immigrants, or people “who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later.”  Based off of these general definitions, I would say I am more of a digital immigrant.  The internet, mobile phones and MP3s were not things that I grew up with, especially not the latter two (in point of fact, I got my first cell phone only a few years ago and it is not a cyborg part of me.  Even today I left it at home and didn’t care).

But Wikipedia continues, saying that “In the widest sense, this [term, ie digital native] can refer to people born from the late 1970s and beyond, as the Digital Age did begin at this time, but generally, the term focuses on those who grew up with 21st Century technology.”  With this caveat added, I most definitely am a digital native; while I did not grow up with the 21st Century tehnologies (such as MP3s and cell phones), I did grow up within the Digital Age.  This might also explain why I was able to adapt to the new medias so easily: growing up with rapidly changing technologies means you either adapt or get left behind.  And I have seen a lot of change!  When I was younger, we had both a VHS and a Beta machine.  I’ve played video games on most of the systems from the Atari all the way up to the Xbox 360 and Wii.  Even with regards to diabetes care, I have seen some amazing advances.  I went from insulin injections with syringes, to using an insulin pump.  My first blood glucose meter, a One Touch 2 took a ton of blood and took forever to give you results (if you’re interested, here’s a One Touch Basic, which was my second meter.  They were similar in size and took the same test strips, but I think the Basic had a larger memory for test results).  I am now using a One Touch Ultra, which is way smaller, takes way less blood, and gives you results in 5 seconds, which is fantastic compared to the Basic which took 45 seconds to give you your result. 

A One Touch Profile (approximately the same size as the One Touch 2 and Basic) next to a One Touch Ultra 2. I don't have any strips left for the Profile, so I put the check strip into the picture for the size comparison.

Realistically, it doesn’t really matter whether I am a true digital native or not.  I can use all of the new media and I can learn how to use all of the new devices that come out.  And after holding my Profile meter in my hand again, I am extremely greatful to be living in the Digital Age!

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Baudrillard and The Matrix

When I first heard that we got to write about the connection between The Matrix and Jean Baudrillard’s theory I was really excited.  I knew that the connection between the two was there, and I thought it would be both fun and interesting to write about them.  Unfortunately, this really wasn’t the case for me.  It felt like a lot of what I wanted to write was too obvious, so I ran out of things to say.  I kept looking back at the assignment but that didn’t help either: it also made everything seem too obvious to write about. 

So I kept looking back at the readings and my notes.  I watched a couple of scenes a few more times.  I stared at my computer screen and surfed the internet.  I wrote, rearranged, changed my mind and put things back, then rearranged some more.  In the end I was left with something that seems to work.  Yes, lots of it still seems obvious (I mean, the Matrix is obviously a simulacrum with no basis in reality), but I have a pretty good blend of Baudrillard and examples from the film to make a coherent essay.  I might not be saying anything ground breaking, but at least I’m happy with what I am saying.

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