Friday, April 11, 2008


I heard of RSS (Rich Site Summary) before, and I have even taken notice of the RSS logos, asking if I wanted to subscribe to uploads, that are at most of my favorite websites. But having never given the time to learn about RSS, I always thought it was just something for tech obsessed people which would only further complicate my life. I was wrong! Being forced to research and experiment with RSS in this class has led to my enlightenment on the matter; using RSS makes life far less complex. You actually end up saving time.

RSS is a formate for syndicating news and other online content. Basically, it acts as an organizer, delivering regularly changing web content, of which you are subscribed, to you through e-mail, a website, or straight to your desktop. Many news-like websites, weblogs, and practically anything that can, as Mark Pilgrim of writes, "be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated via RSS."

Here are some of the popular RSS providers Lee LeFever ( recommends users to choose from:;;; myYahoo!.

Since most of my classmates went with Google, I wanted to try something new. First I went to myYahoo! since I already had an account there and checked it out. At Yahoo, I couldn't seem to figure out what I was doing, but then, after much fooling around, I figured out that myYahoo! uses RSS to send updates directly to your myYahoo! online page, not your e-mail. I didn't like this, so I went to

Even though I couldn't figure out how to get the updates of my subscriptions sent directly to my e-mail, I liked newsgator a lot. Like myYahoo!, It allows you to create an online page for your RSS feeds to go to, but it also lets you do a free and fast download that allows easy access to your subscribed website updates from your desktop.

I spent a lot of time today experimenting with RSS. So far all of my website subscriptions are to news-related sites like BBC, CNN, MaxBoxing, and a handful of others; however, when time allows, I definitely want to add some blogs and other websites now that I, because of RSS and newsgator, will have the time to read them. To be honest, I am incredibly excited about this new time saving program I have on my desktop and will be sure to tell others to start using RSS as soon as possible.

Now that I know a little about RSS, I have no doubt that it will play a major role in the future of the internet. By allowing everyone to be a potential news provider, RSS makes it easier for web users to get high-quality relevant news in a timely manner, which, I think, is what everyone wants; and in the future with RSS services, as Andrew B. King writes in "Introduction to RSS," providing "user-rated channels, cool RSS site of the day, build your own topic-specific portal, and highly relevant search engines," I see it becoming a necessity for many web users.


Introduction to RSS (Last updated April 4, 2003). Retrieved April 11, 2008 from

LeFever, Lee (Last updated 2007, April 23). RSS in plain English You Tube. Retrieved April 11, 2008 from

Pilgrim, Mark (Last updated Dec 18, 2002). Retrieved April 11, 2008 from

What Is RSS? (Last updated 30 July, 2007). Retrieved April 11, 2008 from

Sunday, April 6, 2008


"EverCrack," called EverQuest by some, was the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that I experienced. Even though, according to, "The first MMORPG is believed to have shown up in 1996," and EverQuest itself was released back in 1999, I didn't start playing until 2001. My dad was actually the one that brought it home and got me to play. A friend of his from work was heavily into it and was the one who recommended it.

Being completely new to the whole online gaming experience, not to mention MMORPGs, I didn't know what to expect, and I must say that I was not ready for the "EverCrack." After I spent several hours creating my character, which involved choosing a race, class, and the appearance--everything from hair and skin color, to size and sex had to be picked--I then entered the world.

Since my chosen race was Dark Elf and my class was Rogue, I started out in the creepy city of Neriak. There were many fellow Dark Elves running about, killing and looting in hopes of leveling up. Leveling up is the goal of every player. I think there were a total of 60 levels, each of which takes longer and longer to get to--with a 59 level player having to spend nearly a year of daily playing just to make it to 60. With each level comes power, and attaining power, which makes the gaming experience more enjoyable, is the goal of every player.

For the first few weeks of playing, I just explored and slowly gained levels and made friends (making friends is the secondary goal of EverQuest). Since I was still a low level, I didn't dare stary too far from Neriak, my home. If I had tried, powerful creatures--run my the computer--would come from a bush, cave, or some other element of the incredibly detailed landscapes and kill my character, which takes points--making it harder to level-up.

After a few months passed and I reached level 10 or so by killing small snakes, wolves, and the occasional zombie, I was then able to really experience the game; I was able to leave my city and the woods that surrounded it in search of other lands and far away places. And boy were there places to see: jungles, mountains, islands, caves...and cities, golden plated cities, tree cities, magical cities, forbidden cities. There were also thousands of other players to meet (Wikipedia says that in the early 2000s there were "subscription numbers close to 450,000"), of whom made the gaming experience more social, and thus more enjoyable.

I played the game obsessively from about 2001 to early 2003. My character got more powerful (I think I got him to level 30 or so), and I even got a few of my friends to join in on the fun. I often remember skipping dinner because I was in the midsts of making some great trade--maybe my old rusted sword for an enchanted earing, or something like that. There were so many. I also remember pulling all-nighters in the middle of the week, on a day of a test, in order to beat some dragon or powerful rock monster. Oh, the memories!

But I started to realize I was addicted (check out this youtube video if you don't believe me (: to the "EverCrack"; I was going out less and less, hating school more and more, and making my virtiual, fake EverQuest character an important part of my real life. So, I slowly weened myself off. And eventually, though it was hard, I was a free man; I started skateboarding with my friends again, going out with girls again, and doing my homework again.

So, anyway, that was my MMORG experience. I have not touched the stuff since--clean and sober for almost 5 years. I do, however, still have cravings. I mean, how can I not? These games are amazing and can be great entertainment for a mature person able to make boundaries for him/her self. But that I am not one of those people. Maybe some day I will be, but for now I need to concentrate on more important things in my REAL life.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Web 2.0

The exact meaning of Web 2.0 is not concrete. Some define it as a totally new internet. Others dispute it has any meaning at all. Most, however, agree with how the page at describes it: “Web 2.0 is a trend in World Wide Web technology, and web design, a second generation of web-based communities and hosted services such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies, which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users.”

Websites incorporating these Web 2.0 ideals give internet users a chance to do more than just retrieve information. These sites are often based on what is called an “Architecture of participation,” which relies on users to contribute to in addition to retrieving information. According to, which itself is a product of Web 2.0, “This stands in contrast to very old traditional websites, the sort which limited visitors to viewing and whose content only the site’s owner could modify.”

Paul Graham, wrote at his site,, in an essay entitled “Web 2.0,” that Web 2.0 is nothing new at all, that it is merely a term meant to label the treads websites are currently applying. He writes that “The ‘trends’ we’re seeing now are simply the inherent nature of the web emerging from under the broken models that got imposed on it during the Bubble.”

Even before the term Web 2.0 was created, as points out, sites such as already featured many similar ideas, such as allowing users to “write reviews and consumer guides…in a form of self-publishing.”

Whether Web 2.0 is nothing more than a term labeling the current internet trends which support user collaboration and contribution or if it is actually a totally new version of the World Wide Web is uncertain. It is too early to tell. What is certain is that this new democratic way of doing things on the internet is here to stay. The popularity of sites such as,, and make this evident.

Here is a list of websites made in the new tradition of Web 2.0:

One the lesser known and most innovative sites from the above list is The site incorporates nearly every aspect of what Web 2.0 is all about. Its main purpose is to catalogue your personal library of books. After making an account—a free one allows 200 books and a paid account allows an infinite amount—one is able to import books, and their information, from one of the dozen of online book dealers on the net, such as The user can then rate, comment, and provide other information and insight on the imported books. Each individual’s library, which can be updated at anytime, then acts—using tagging, clouds, and other Web 2.0 innovations—to make connections with other readers of similar interests. The site also has its own blogs, message boards, and countless other Web 2.0 creations to strength the community. Here is my library:

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I had heard of USENET before this class but was never sure of what it was. In the first week of this class, however, when reading about the history and development of the internet, I got a little better feeling for it and its purpose. Then, in this week, I not only did some more reading on the subject but also got experience using it.

Using Google Groups to connect, I cautiously browsed my way through USENET, just trying to get comfortable, before joining or posting in any specific group. I clicked on a few different categories and looked at some of the more popular groups. The variety of topics the groups covered impressed me. There seemed to be a group for everyone to discuss everything. I clicked on a few of the more interesting ones and just browsed their content. One of these interesting ones was on the subject of "spanking," in a sexual sense. My curiosity allowed me to enter the group and read a few of the posts, but I couldn't stay long. It was just too weird for me.

Upon leaving the "Spanking" group, I was a little hesitant to continue my random browsing, so I went ahead and started to search for groups that I knew would be of some interest to me. The first subject I searched, since I had just finished a session, was those related to hookah smoking. I did this but had little luck. There was only one group dedicated to the hookah and it only had a few members. Next, since I am currently reading a book by him, I decided to search for a Kurt Vonnegut group. Although, like the hookah groups, there was little to be seen, I did find a small membered group about Vonnegut that actually had a interesting topic relating to a new book that is supposedly to be published this year. I responded to the topic, and that was that. It properly, because of the lack of activity, be read for months.

I did some more searches, hoping for better luck, but found the same: lots of groups but all with low activity. Maybe I was expecting too much, but my experience with USENET was disappointing. Being, as Wikipedia says, one of "the oldest computer network communications systems still in widespread use," I was expecting something awe inspiring. What I saw in the place of my grand expectations was thousands of inactive, spam ridden, groups connected by a horribly confusing categorical search interface.

After my USENET experience, I doubt I will ever return. With plenty of new, more user friendly and active discussion boards popping up all over the net, I really don't see the purpose of USENET groups. For example, a newer site,, offers, in addition to its main purpose of book cataloging, an abundance of very active groups on hundreds of topics. Unlike USENET, most of these newer sites are easy to navigate and learn.

So, although I give credit to USENET for creating the starting point for internet communities, with members across the world, to communicate affectively in a timely manner, I think its days are done. More specialized and organized discussion boards, webpages, and blogs will take its place.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Missing children who are not missing, a warning of e-mail postage fees, human viruses spread by blue sponges—these are all hoaxes. Hoaxes, lies, tricks, tall-tales, urban legends, or whatever name one chooses to call them, have been a part of human civilization from the beginning. From ‘the little girl who cried wolf’ to the promised apocalypse in the year 2000, people have, in the past, been fooled, entertained, and scared by hoaxes; but now, in this modern age of the internet, hoaxes have reached a new height. The internet has made is far easier for a hoax to be made and also to be spread. Whereas in the past they were relatively harmless and small because of the lack of communication, these days anyone with access to the internet can create and spread an elaborate hoax in a matter of minuets to tens of thousands of people.

Sure, some, such as the hoax reported a—a hoax detecting website—about the man who dies in his sleep from his own farts, seem innocent enough. Some might even get you a free laugh; but besides giving you the occasional laugh, most of those harmless ones usually turn out to be nothing more than junk-mail.

The more serious hoaxes can be more than junk-mail: they can evoke fear in you. There are many such hoaxes being spread across the internet this very moment. For example Walt Howe, on his webpage “Hoaxes and Urban Legends,” writes about the “Shampoos Cause Cancer” chain letters. He says they are “going around warning about shampoos containing the foaming agent sodium laureth sulfate, claimed to be a carcinogen. Its pseudo-scientific text claims that cancer rates have increased from 1 in 8000 to 1 in 3 in 10 years, which is not true, and it refers to stopping the nonexistent ‘cancer virus’.” Reading such and email—if not knowing it to be false—could cause a life altering level of fear: one would probably stop purchasing and using shampoo, and then start smelling, leading to unemployment and divorce!

In addition to being scared into life altering changes, some internet hoaxes can lead money loss and financial difficulties for the victim. According to, phishing, a term referring to “the on-line imitation of a company….with the intent of fooling unsuspecting users into divulging personal information,” can be devastating to the bank-account of a victim of such a hoax. Some of the information taken from the victim of a phishing hoax includes passwords, credit card numbers, and PINs. Luckily sites such as warns people of such danger. They even have a list of the most common phishing hoaxes currently in circulation. Here they are:

  • Citibank
    E-mail claims your Citibank ATM/Debit card PIN must be updated due to "a large number of identity theft attempts."
  • eBay
    E-mail claims auction site eBay is sending out suspension notices via e-mail and asking customers to verify their account information.

E-mail claims auction site eBay is sending out notices requesting that users update their account information.

  • FDIC
    E-mail claims the FDIC insurance on your bank account has been cancelled by the Department of Homeland Security for violations of the Patriot Act.
  • IRS
    E-mail pretends to be the IRS sending out e-mails directing taxpayers to a web form to use to obtain tax refunds.

E-mail from the IRS offers $80 to recipients who complete "member satisfaction surveys."

  • U.S. Bank
    E-mail claims your account at U.S. Bank has been suspended.

E-mail claims your account at U.S. Bank needs to be reactivated due to a technical update.

  • SunTrust Bank
    E-mail claims SunTrust Bank is asking customers to verify their account details due to "a large number of identity theft attempts."
  • Wells Fargo
    E-mail claims Wells Fargo is sending out e-mails requesting personal information as part of their "regular update and verification of the Wells Fargo ATM Service."
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
    E-mail claims the Social Security Administration is requiring benefits recipients to register for passwords and provide their banking information.

Sites such as are crucial in helping unknowing internet users in identifying and avoiding hoaxes that invoke fear, steal money, and pollute e-mails. In addition to listing the popular and widely spread hoaxes currently in circulation, such websites also provide advice in spotting hoaxes that may not yet be listed. For example, at, a site, like, dedicated to spotting hoaxes, says:

1) If you get a message, or see a posting on Usenet that seems like it should be shared with LOTS of people, **DON`T SEND IT** unless either you KNOW the message is true, you can authenticate their identity (through PGP or some other system), or you know the sender personally, and know they would have written this message. The more urgent it sounds, the more skeptical you should be. Even if you think it might be true, let someone else spread it.

2) If you really want to send it, **ALWAYS CHECK WITH THE ORIGINATOR** before forwarding it! This is the best way to tell a hoax or a prank. Just reply to the first sender, and ask them if it is true. If they can't tell you, then don't send it! Most pranks and hoaxes have forged headers and signatures, and when you try and verify the validity of the message, you will find that the address is not valid. Even if the originator is the prankster, and tells you to go ahead, at least they can be caught and dealt with. If this seems like too much of a bother, than it is not that important and you should not send it anyway.

3) If the message tells you to do something, especially if that something involves changing in your account or sending a file or message over the network, **CHECK WITH SOMEONE KNOWLEDGEABLE THAT YOU CAN TRUST**. Imagine you received a package in your real homes mailbox asking you to place your house keys in the return envelope provided, and mail them to a post office box. Would you comply? People fall for the computer version of this all the time.

4) If you see or get something that really makes you angry, remember *** YOU CAN'T BE SURE WHO SENT IT!!** It is very very easy to frame someone with an e-mail message or Usenet post. All someone has to do is sit at their computer when the victim is away from the keyboard. But hackers can be much more sophisticated. They can forge any message to make it appear from anyone.

5)Chain e-mail and Pyramid posts on Usenet are a scam, and most often, they are a crime. ANY SCHEME THAT INVOLVES REAL MAIL AT ANY POINT CAN BE ILLEGAL. If you forward one, you will be blasted with hundreds of angry messages in reply. But if you see one, remember that you can't really be sure who sent it!

6)Finally, note that when April 1st comes up, the Net will be awash in phony messages, forged return addresses, pranks, and general amusing nonsense. The best thing to do is to read them and have a good laugh. Baring that, ignore any message from anyone you don't know, and ignore any message from anyone that asks you to do something.”

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Netiquette is perhaps the newest form, or category, of etiquette, which, according to, is the “conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.” The exact rules or codes that make up these “conventional requirements” of “social behavior” in which etiquette dictates are not concrete; they vary widely between each society, social class, and group. And even those rules and codes that are agreed upon and enforced can, and usually do, evolve and change as time passes.

But though most rules of etiquette do indeed change and evolve with time, certain beliefs are deeply engrained in a society or community as being good and desirable; for example, keeping quiet in libraries and chewing food with closed mouths are two rules that are widely taught and embraced in the society we all currently live in. Netiquette, which are the codes and rules present in the online community, also has its own rules of conduct in which every member of its community is expected to follow and abide by.

According to Wikipedia’s entry on the topic, some of the basic rules and codes that are expected to be followed by all those who use the internet include the avoidance of flamewars, spam, and “typing in ALL CAPS, which is considered shouting or yelling. The Wikipedia entry goes on to say that “Other commonly shared points, such as remembering that one's posts are (or can easily be made) public, are generally intuitively understood.” Following such basic ground rules will ensure a well received online presence.

After getting a good grip on the essentials of netiquette that are expected in all corners of the net, one can then make efforts to further develop in the area. It has already been stated that different websites, communities, and groups within the online community might have their own specific rules and codes of what behavior is acceptable and what is not. For example a discussion board or blog that is considered scholarly or professional will require proper grammar and punctuation, but other more laid back environments or forms, such as e-mails to friends, one can, as Mary Flynn writes in her article for CNN, “remain polite by using abbreviations and short hand.” Here are the popular Acronyms Flynn used as examples:

BTW = By The Way
LOL = Laughing Out Loud
ROTFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
TTFN = Ta-Ta For Now
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
BBFN = Bye Bye For Now
IYKWIMAITYD = If You Know What I Mean And I Think You Do
JK = Just Kidding
NP = No Problem
WBS = Write Back Soon

Flynn, Mary. Mind your Netiquette. CNNdotCom. July 21, 2000. Received January 30, 2008. http: //

"Etiquette." Received January 30, 2008.

"Netiquette." Wikipedia the free encylcopedia. January 31, 2008. Received January 28, 2008.