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Another good week of learning. I’m loving the way this course is making me dissect what I think I already know and look at it from another angle.

It is now 10.45pm and I’m exhausted after another massive weekend with Ned. We had The Wiggles gig yesterday morning that ended with me having to carry Ned all the way home from Homebush just after the show started because it was all too much for him. He loved his first train ride but my back is now killing me because he wouldn’t walk any of the distance between the arena and the station and then the station and home.

Later yesterday afternoon we went along to a Christmas party at my sister’s home which was excellent fun until Neddy’s sugar rush from the lollies that she gave him turned into two year old tantrums and I thought we better leave the revellers to their party.

Today has seen us up and out the door at 8.30am to check out a friend’s market stall and then for a run around the park.

Neddy finally went down for an afternoon nap at 3pm, sleeping through to 5pm, giving me time do so some more uni work. So here it is. Week 3’s Blackboard entries.

Thinking back…

What were your first experiences with the Web?

My first experience with the WWW was in 1997 when I was working for a small broking firm in Sydney. I was so excited to finally have a go. That job wasn’t very busy so I had loads of time to just surf around and check it out. I don’t remember specifically what I looked at. I do remember the dancing baby craze in those early days I was online. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_baby. I remember thinking it was so amazing!

Was it difficult to adjust to the Web’s associative, non-linear style of navigation?

I don’t remember having any trouble adjusting to using the Web. The first computer I used was in 1984 when my dad bought us an Apple Mac and then I learnt Microsoft Office (Word 2.0 and Works) packages in school in the early 90s so I was pretty used to using a mouse and clicking on buttons on the screen to check out what would happen. Working as a secretary since leaving school in 1992 I spent so much of my day on computers that when I finally got online it seemed pretty self explanatory.

Do you think the model of ‘the Information Superhighway’ or ‘surfing the Web’ is more appropriate for understanding the Web today? Or do neither of these analogies fit? Why?

I think both are appropriate. ‘The Information Superhighway’ conjures up images of enormous amounts of data racing along a massively complicated highway system that goes back and forth and all over the place at a rapid pace and I guess that is just what is happening.

‘Surfing the Web’ is also appropriate because that’s what you can do. Click from page to page, from link to link in a non-linear fashion. I know when I surf the web I can get completely into ‘flow’ where I don’t have any concept of time or place because I am so into what I’m reading or doing online. I become so absorbed into the Web. Much like I imagine a surfer gets into flow when they are riding a massive barrel.

Hypertext

Do you prefer linear or non-linear narratives? Do you find one way of reading more ‘natural’ than the other? Why?

After reading the examples of hypertext narratives I found that I prefer reading in a linear fashion from a hardcopy book than from the screen, jumping from section to section without a specific order. It is more natural to me to read from page one and carry through in the correct order, as intended by the author, to the end of the story. The samples of non-linear online books remind me of the “Choose your own adventure” novels from when I was young. I didn’t much like those then either.

It’s probably crazy but I find that jumping from one section of a story to another makes me anxious that I’m going to miss something crucial. Also, when I’m on my laptop I have stacks of windows open and I jump from task to task, article to article and I find it hard to focus on the one thing for very long. With a book on the other hand, I just have the book in my hand. My concentration is focused solely on reading the words on the page, whereas on the my screen there are little notifications popping up all the time telling me somebody had sent me an email, or tweeted or updated their status on Facebook.

Saying that though, if I was reading a non-fiction book online that had a dynamic table of contents so I could move around from chapter to chapter in a non-sequential order then that would be ok as long as I didn’t need to read one chapter to understand the next like we need to with a fiction novel.

Why do you think hypertext-based storytelling didn’t take the form that Nelson and Engelbart initially imagined it would?

Do you think reading on the Web is a fundamentally different experience from reading a book? Why?

I think reading on the Web is fundamentally different to reading the book as described by Landow:

“…instead of encountering it in a paper copy, you read it on a computer screen. Contemporary screens, which have neither the portability nor the tactility of printed books, make the act of reading somewhat more difficult. For those people like myself who do a large portion of their reading reclining on a bed or couch, screens also appear less convenient.”

I know times have changed significantly since 1992 with the advent of web readers like Kindle and the iPad (neither of which I have used) I still I prefer to purchase and hold a hardcopy novel to read (as Landow has described above). Although, I felt the same about the way I collected music. I stubbornly purchased CDs up until about 2007 because I felt I needed to have and hold the album in my hands to admire the cover art, etc, but these days I’m very happy to download all the music I purchase… it sure saves a lot of space on the shelves!

I generally don’t like reading large amounts of text on my laptop. For example, I have printed off all the course work for this unit. I find it tiring and it causes my eyes to strain. Maybe it would be better with a web reader. I’m sure I’ll make the switch one day but when I do, I’ll still want to read a novel from beginning to end without clicking through to other windows taking the story on strange tangents.

I think these two factors that are the main reasons why hypertext-based storytelling didn’t take off as first thought by Nelson and Engelbart.

References

Landow, George P. 1992. Reading and Writing in a Hypertext Environment, http://www.cyberartsweb.org/cpace/ht/jhup/htreading.html (accessed 19 December 2010)

HTML and going way back

Were you surprised to see how HTML works ‘behind the scenes’ on webpages? What is the relationship between HTML documents and Web browsers?

No, I wasn’t surprised to see how HTML worked behind the scene because I have studied HTML and CSS at TAFE.

Web browsers are like the windows that the HTML is viewed through. The HTML just tells the browser how to display information.

How were early webpages different from webpages today? What do you think accounts for these differences?

Webpages are much more different today. They are more richly designed now with Flash, php, JavaScript, etc. Back then the Web was really two dimensional and static whereas now webpages are more interactive and dynamic. Old webpages were really daggy (very technical term I know!) with flashing gif files and banners and with lots of text that could sometimes scroll forever.

The changes have come about with the advancement of technology and the evolution of the languages used to code the Web. Also, so much research has now been done regarding the usability of the Web and into the psychology of how we use it so that cleverly designed pages will hold our attention for as long as possible. Also the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has gone some way to standardise the way webpages are coded, although across the main browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera) they can still throw up code with varied results which is extremely frustrating for developers and users alike!

 

Until tomorrow.

V.

I don’t want to be boring and start every post saying its been busy, busy, busy, but it has been. It sure is the silly season, to use another cliché, but the Christmas shopping has now been done, Christmas cards have been mailed and the only Christmas party I have to go to (my son’s day care party) is on this afternoon.

But the festivities don’t stop there. Next week we are celebrating Ned’s birthday so there’ll be cakes to be made and two more parties to organise (one with his little friends and one with the family in the evening).

I have cut back my uni workload from two subjects to just doing WEB101 and I’m much relieved. Now I can concentrate on doing this subject really well rather than rushing maniacally through two subjects pretty badly.

For one of our assessments we need to keep a ‘learning portfolio’. I have been keeping my discussion points and activities that I add to Blackboard (Curtin’s online study area) in a Word document but I thought it would also be useful to include it here in this blog.

I am a bit behind but better late than never. Here are my entries so far:

Week 1

1 December 2010

Introduction

My name is Vanessa and I am enrolled in WEB101 and NET102. I have just spent the last year doing units for both a cert IV and diploma in web design and development at TAFE. I loved studying the internet, but was not so crash hot on coding – especially JavaScript, which is why I am now so pleased to have found this course.

I love everything to do with the internet and spend an enormous part of everyday online facebooking, tweeting, blogging, etc. My most important job though is looking after my gorgeous almost 2 year old son Ned. I am a single mum, in my mid 30s and we live in right in the city of Sydney.

I gave up my career as an executive assistant when I took a redundancy during the peak of the GFC and I’m now hoping to move into a role within the online space.

5 December 2010

1. How many of you have used email this week?

I use email every single day.

2. How many have used a social networking site in the last week? (Facebook, MySpace, CyWorld)

I am constantly on Facebook and Twitter, either from my laptop at home or via my iPhone.

3. How many of you have watched video content online in the last week? (YouTube, Facebook Video, etc.)

I watched video showing a sneak preview of next week’s Dexter episode on YouTube.

4. How many of you have created media in the past week? (Shared a photo you took, video, posted to a blog, or Twitter, etc?)

I have a blog that I update at least 3 times per week. I also comment on loads of other blogs that I follow. This week I have also uploaded a video on to Facebook via my iPhone and added a new photo album, I’ve updated my status on Facebook several times, and tweeted heaps. I also usually use Foursquare and GetGlue to show my location or what I am watching on TV.

Week 2

10 December 2010

Topic 1.1: What is the Internet?

Thinking back…

What was your first experience of the Internet? Has it changed over time?

I remember the first time I had heard about the internet was on the show ‘Beyond 2000’. I vaguely remember the presenter talking about internet cafes sweeping the UK and the US and I was absolutely enthralled. I’m not sure when that episode would have aired but it wasn’t until the end of 1997 that I actually got to use the internet for the first time and I loved it. That connection with the outside world really excited me. That was the year I finally worked for a company that had email that wasn’t just internal. I remember looking at a lot joke sites but not having a lot of friends on email to send jokes to!

The next company I worked for only had the internet on one computer which was in the library. In 1998 we had email on each PC. We could send emails internally instantly but the modem was only switched on every twenty minutes to push new emails in or out of the office so there was nothing instantaneous about it. Back then I was working for retail economists and I remember the guy I worked for wrote a report (which I had to type) on online shopping and what he predicted the uptake would be in Australia. I remember thinking there was no way I’d buy something without seeing and touching it first.

It was also that year I bought a computer for home with a 56k modem which was excruciatingly slow. A friend had told me about ICQ and I tried chat on there but wasn’t really taken to it. The first random stranger I chatted to was from Norway and I remember thinking that was just amazing. His name was Henning. I only chatted to him the once, but for some reason I remember it. Probably because at the time it seemed so momentous. I was talking to a stranger on the other side of the world in real time. After ICQ another friend introduced me to Yahoo Chat and I was on there all the time! Then came Napster and waiting for one individual track to take about 15-20 minutes to download.

The internet certainly has changed over time. It is faster, better, stronger and nowadays I use it every day. The credit union I have banked with for over ten years doesn’t even have a branch in Sydney – everything is done online. How perfect is that? No queuing at the bank!

I have used many dating websites (both here and in the UK – with no success I might add, but I have some funny stories!), I have bought and sold on eBay, I buy my groceries online, CDs, clothes, TVs, cosmetics, shoes, furniture, baby equipment, holidays – even my laptop. I have bet and won on the Melbourne Cup online while living in London. I download music and movies and audio books. I use Skype to chat with friends in London or just to Skype my parents who are 2 hours drive away so they can talk to their grandson over the weekend. I write a blog about my life on Blogger (and another one on WordPress) and I share photos and videos of my life on Facebook. And I now study online.

I also have an iPhone so I can check emails, tweets and Facebook updates whenever I am away from my laptop.

I love being connected!

The routing trail

Where did your routing trail take you? Were there any surprises?

Activity 1 – Routing in action

Using the Proxy Trace website (http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/visual-tracert/) I found the geographical location of the headquarters of:

Wikipedia.org                            wikimedia.org, Saint Petersburg, FL, United State

Amazon.com                             comcast.net, Pompano Beach, FL, United States

I noticed the result I got for Amazon.com was different from most other students’ so I did the trace several times. Each time the tool returned this same result. Does anyone know why?

Flickr.com                                  yahoo.com, Sunnyvale, CA, United States

The website I found that was not hosted in Australia or the US was louvre.fr. It is hosted at telia.net in Europe (exact address came up as ‘unknown’). I was very surprised by the route it took through Australia, Honk Kong and the US before finally settling in Europe. I was actually surprised by all the routes taken, that each one was bounced all over the place before finally getting to the appropriate location.

Activity 2 – Who owns what?

Using the autowhois website (http://hexillion.com/asp/samples/AutoWhois.vbs.asp) I found the following information:

Site                                            Owned by
Flickr.com                               Yahoo! Inc

Youtube.com                         Google Inc

Mickey.com                            Melbourne IT, Ltd. D/B/A Internet Names Worldwide

Gooogle.com                          Google Inc

Yaho.com                                Yahoo! Inc

The last two domain names would be owned by Google and Yahoo! respectively so that if a user accidentally does a typo they are redirected to the correct address. It also stops anyone from taking those site names to try to leverage off either Google or Yahoo! Inc’s reputation to get people to go to their own site. I recently learnt about this in my Copyright & Ethics class I completed this semester at TAFE. The term is ‘typo squatting’.

Let’s talk broadband

The final discussion point for Week 2 was regarding the National Broadband Network. I am opposed to the current proposal by the Government. This is because of the enormous cost that they are proposing and quite frankly I don’t trust this government to be able to manage such a huge and expensive project given their recent record of rorting and waste on the school halls scheme and with the home insulation debacle. I’d like to look further into this issue and will endeavour to follow it throughout this study.

Everyday is an action packed day for me these days. Thank goodness I don’t have a job too. I just don’t know where I would find the time for it right now.

Today is usually a study day for me and Ned is normally in day care but I had a special Christmas treat organised months ago for him. We were up early and out the door to go and see Dorothy the Dinosaur at the Dee Why RSL Club. Ned hated it. He found it completely freaky that some of his favourite TV characters (Captain Feathersword, Rags, Henry, Dorothy) would be live on stage dancing around in front of him. Excellent (note sarcasm!). I am now regretting buying special Visa presale “Hot Potato” front row tickets to see The Wiggles next week at Acer Arena. They were twice the price of normal tickets. I think at the time I got over excited and forgot it was not a rock concert or festival I was buying tickets for but a kids show.

The rest of the day was taken up Christmas shopping and playing with Ned, feeding Ned, cleaning up after Ned… the usual caper that goes on around a two year old (well two in 13 days).

After a particularly difficult hour trying to get him to settle to sleep I was finally able to get to my laptop to do some uni work by 9pm tonight. It is now 10.45 and I’m buggered.

For WEB101 I’ve watched Tama’s second lecture, written up some notes, read some Blackboard posts and added all available fellow students’ blogs to my subscription list on WordPress.

Thankfully Ned is back at daycare tomorrow and I will have the entire day to work.

Good night for now.

V.

It is already week two of Study Period (SP) 4 and I feel extremely overwhelmed. There is a lot to read and do. This blog is for one of my assessments for WEB101 – Web Communications. I already have a blog over at blogger (http://the-babbling-bandit.blogspot.com/) but alas it will have to take second place to this one as I cannot use an already established blog for my assignment.

So far I have found that Blogger is a lot more user friendly than WordPress. I just thought I would use WordPress for this blog so I could gain a good understanding of both platforms. Maybe after I’ve spent some time on this site I will change my mind, but so far I am still a Blogger fan.

This post will be short and sweet. We are leaving early in the morning to see Dorothy the Dinosaur so I must get some sleep before the onslaught.

Good night.

V.