This I Believe Pt. 2

My name is Andrew Danis, and to me writing is a way I can express myself, and one way I do that is through music and lyrics I write. Growing up, music had always been an escape for me. It started with just listening, and then around 12 or 13 I picked up a guitar. Whenever I needed to relieve stress or just vibe, listening to or playing music was always there for me. As I got older and my music tastes grew, I started experimenting with different vocal styles. In high school, some friends and I started a band, and I found myself as the front man preforming vocals. It was around that time that I found writing lyrics was one of my favorite ways to get everything that was going on in my head out on paper. I would sit and write for hours, and I always looked forward to the weekend band practice to put together my lyrics with the rest of the music. One of the most satisfying things to experience is to see your hard work, personal struggle, and determination come together to form something you’re proud of. Without music and the ability to convey my thoughts through writing music, I don’t know what my life would be like today.

One of the best ways to grow as a musician is by listening to music. All the different styles and sounds can help you develop when you write music, but it also changes you as a person. In the last 5 years, my musical tastes and genres I listen to have grown exponentially. Certain moods I’m in determines what music I listen to, and even the music I listen to will decide my mood. The same goes for writing in a way. One of the best ways to become a better writer is by reading. Maybe you know a certain authors writing style you enjoy, and wish to emulate it, just how a musician may want to emulate a style of music/vocals by a certain artist. Maybe the book you’re reading and an event that occurs in that book influences your mood that day. Besides just writing music, or lyrics, or an essay, something I grew to appreciate more is just being a student of the art, and taking time to really listen to a song, or read a certain literature.

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Final Project- Cell Phone Addiction

Did you know 60% of college students admit they may be addicted to their phones? As we progress technologically as a society, more and more of the information we can view, as well as the tools we use every day become more accessible from a mobile standpoint. This continued reliance on our cell phones and excessive use is causing us to become addicted- on top of that, phones increase stress levels, cause vision issues, and can even affect our sleep.

With phones causing effects such as anxiety, loss of sleep, stress, and even damaging relationships, are they really worth it? While our social connect increases online, the social disconnect continues in real life. Everything has become about texting, followers, and likes. Society has become so dependent on our phones; we can’t be without them for even a moment without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This just emphasizes how truly addicted society has become.

Show Analysis: Music in the Series Chuck

Background:

Chuck, the main character, is a Stanford dropout, who after being wrongfully accused of cheating, was expelled from the university. Years later, he now lives with his sister and her boyfriend, and is head of the “Nerd Heard” a Geek-Squad like group in a store called the Buy More. One day he receives an email from his old roommate, containing a video that burns thousands of government secrets into his brain. Chuck ends up becoming an asset to the CIA, and must accompany agents Sarah Walker and John Casey on missions to identify and take down bad guys.

Music and sound effects in general add significantly to TV shows and movies. It can add suspense, feelings of joy, sorrow, anger, and more. Many of the episodes of Chuck start with Chuck and the employees of the Buy More at the store, in different goofy dialogue or activities. It is here where a typical upbeat, happy track is played softly in the background to associate a sense of joy, happiness, or just normality. The scene is usually interrupted by agent Casey or Walker pulling Chuck away to inform him of a mission. Right before it cuts to the next scene, the serious dialogue of the mission is usually accompanied by fitting music to build some suspense. Action scenes during the middle of the episode are accompanied by some suspenseful or upbeat music as well. Agent Sarah Walker and Chuck develop a on-again-off again relationship during the show, and as the show winds down and Chuck and Sarah are in an intimate conversation, it is usually coupled with a soft acoustic track or another form of emotionally driving music piece. These types of consistencies are found in almost every episode. They are usually placed towards the beginning or end of a scene right before the transition to the next. It can happen almost subconsciously, and you may not even actively think about it after many episodes, as it becomes second nature. The music, especially the emotional tracks, really helps pull you into the show, and along with the dialog allows you to establish a connection with the characters.

The Science of Shopping

The Science of Shopping-Fry’s Food and Drug

Fry’s Food and Drug, located prominently in Arizona, as well as all over the west coast, is owned by the company Kroger. On top of a grocery store, they also operate a Fry’s electronics, which sells a wide variety of electronics and other technological devices. All sorts of people shop at Fry’s. Parents, single men and women, and most obvious at the Fry’s on West Baseline, college students, all shop at Fry’s. However what most do not notice is the techniques Fry’s, as well as most grocery stores, use to subconsciously get you to buy certain items.

On the outside, Fry’s looks like any ordinary supermarket. However, as soon as a customer walks through the front door, they are immediately blasted with subliminal marketing strategy. Just 15 paces in, they are greeted by the main display. There are balloons, chips, drinks, cupcakes, and other Super Bowl themed goods all on display on a grand stand. A perfect time for a display of this kind, considering the super bowl is a week away. As noted, the first display was 15 paces away from the entrance of the store, According to Malcolm Gladwell’s, The Science of Shopping, that is exactly how many paces it takes to “adjust to the light and refocus and gear down from walking speed to shopping speed.” This area of empty space where the consumer adjusts to the inside light is called the Decompression Zone. Most businesses never place “anything of value in that zone- not shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays- because no one is going to see it.” In fact, customer interaction with promotional displays/items-when placed just outside that 15 pace range- increase by at least thirty percent.  Another thing consumers do when entering a store is-turn right. Yes, that is right. Upon entering any store, no matter which store it is, the “shopper invariably and reflexively turns to the right.” This is noted in Gladwell’s article, and there are thousands of tapes that prove it. In fact, when tested in Fry’s at 2pm on January 25th, nine out of eleven shoppers walked right upon entering the store.

 

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(Main display upon entering)

The traits people exhibited while shopping was another well noted observation. Eight out of ten shoppers observed stopped at merchandise they were interested in, picked it up, inspected it and read labels, and then either placed it back on the shelf or in their cart. Nagging children were also another factor that usually pressured the parents into buying them sugary items.

Most, if not all stores implement these tactics, not just Fry’s! One thing a consumer can do the next time they are in a store is check themselves. How man paces in was that first display? Was the first instinct to walk to the left or right? What signs, displays, or people are influencing purchases? These are things to note when in a store, and may save a shopper some money. All of these tactics and more are used by retailers in order to maximize profit.

 (Fry’s Food & Drug in Phoenix, AZ)

References

Gladwell, M. (1996, November 4). The Science of Shopping. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from http://gladwell.com/the-science-of-shopping/

I Learned Goodly This Semester

When I started English this year at UAT, I assumed I was just in for another typical year of (sigh) “English”. However I found myself somewhat pleasantly surprised, and took away a lot more than I thought I would.

One of the first assignments we were tasked to do this semester was create a blog via WordPress. I thought this was a great mix of technology and well suited considering this is a technology school. I have a background in web design and that made doing this much more engaging for me, as well as not being too difficult. This blog is a place for students to express how they’re feeling (if they desire) as well as a way to share their assignments with Yvonne and other classmates. Applying the mix of tech and writing together motivated me a bit more to get the assignments done and posted online. My favorite assignment for the blog had to be blog post three, in which I wrote about a microphone whilst on tour being used by musicians around the world. This microphone, specifically in the metalcore genre, gets quite used. It is spun, thrown, dropped, spit on, and more. This assignment was easy and fun to write about and combined tons of imagery with a story/perspective that was easy to convey for me having a background in music and concerts.

Personally, I don’t think I changed too much as a writer this semester. I would say it was just easier for me to write compared to high school because we were free in the topics we could write about. In high school writing is focused on literature we read that we may or may not be interested in. Being able to write about music, network security, or another passion makes writing interesting and less of a chore. I don’t feel limited to what I have to say, and a blank sheet of paper turns from just a piece of paper into a blank canvas of art. While I as a writer may not have changed drastically, I did learn in formal writing pieces how hard it was to eliminate the “I’s” and “you.” Maybe that’s why I’m having a much easier time with this assignment. It was something I struggled with for a while, finding myself writing an entire paper on network security, and then having to revise the entire thing and changing sentences with any “I” or “you”.

I don’t think any specific assignment was too difficult to write. The only exception may be the research paper due to pure time put into research and finding the quotes in some documents with 10+ pages of text. However since the research paper was on anonymity on the internet, a controversial subject on its own (not to mention one I am deeply invested in) I found it quite easy to write about. (Hopefully I earned a good grade as I’m writing this just after submission of the paper!) I think writing in English should always be on something you’re passionate about, and never forced.
Overall, I was fairly proud of how I preformed this semester. Some assignments and discussions I could have done better on, but with the stress of assignments in other classes I found myself without time to re-write them to the best of my ability. I was able to implement my love for technology, music, and my home life into my assignments, making writing much more enjoyable, and less of a burden. I enjoyed this English course more than any other in high school and am looking forward to next semester, and the rest of my time here at UAT.

Research Paper: Anonymity on the Internet; Who’s Watching You Online?

Who’s Watching You Online?

Andrew Danis

University of Advancing Technology

Who’s Watching You Online?

Does the government have a right to watch not just Americans, but the whole world’s internet traffic as well? In 2014, where the majority of our time is spent on the internet, is it right for the government to “watch” what internet users do online? All of this info is important where cyber warfare is the new combat, and more and more information about its users is being put and stored online. Perhaps these peering eyes will make the world safer from things like terrorism, drugs, child pornography, and other criminal and illegal activity.

The difference between anonymity and privacy seems to be commonly misconstrued. There’s a large difference when fighting for internet privacy, vs. internet anonymity. Louise Bennett, chair of the Security Community of Expertise, states, “I think there are really significant differences between privacy and anonymity. I would say that on the internet, anonymity is the ability to perform actions without them being traced to a person; they can trace them to the thing, but not the person. I think privacy overlaps security; they go hand-in-hand and what advocates for privacy really want is security for the individual from the intrusion into their personal life or targeted action.” Anonymity is the ability to not have an act or data traced back to the user. The user is essentially hiding their identity. With privacy, the user isn’t attempting to hide their identity in any way; they just want their information to be secure, and private. They simply do not want their personal life or information readily available or for sale. In the fight for internet privacy, the government should be no concern. They’re looking through users internet traffic to identify threats related to national security. What those in the fight for privacy should be fighting against is the corporations and websites who collect user’s information, and then in turn sell it to other companies who try and cater their advertising to them. If the user is doing nothing wrong, what do they have to be worried about? The user’s traffic will not be flagged and most likely never even seen or reviewed.

With anonymity, comes many different positives, as well as negatives.  Anonymity can “ensure individuals have the right to free speech without fearing the repercussions”. It also provides protection for “whistleblowers who unveil wrongdoings of powerful individuals or organizations” as well as protect individuals [who wish to] avoid discrimination, escape abusive relationships and regimes, and start a new life.” (Bennett) However, anonymity can also provide more negatives than one might think.  It can provide a means for “individuals [to] stalk, masquerade as others, [and] get into organizations to steal and defraud. Anonymous terrorists can plan, radicalize and perform cyber-attacks and activists can compromise businesses and publish confidential information.” (Bennett) Anonymity is a blessing, as well as a curse. Anonymity provides activists and whistleblowers the ability to expose information for the greater good or wrongdoings by powerful people/organizations. This can help people avoid potential harm, and is a case of something positive anonymity provides. However, what anonymity is mostly used for online happens to be quite the opposite. It provides criminals, hackers and wrongdoers a means to escape law enforcement. Anonymity can hide those buying/selling drugs, credit cards or personal information, and even child pornography. Anonymity in certain situations is helpful; however what we see it being used for mostly now is a way to avoid law enforcement. This ability to hide users online in the end encourages crime and illegal activity.

It is commonly speculated how exactly these users, good or bad, are staying anonymous. There are many methods to staying hidden online. One of the most common and popular software’s is “an onion routing service [called] the Tor network”. (Gibbs) This enables a user to easily stay anonymous through a browser interface, just like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. Just install it and anything the user does through the browser is anonymous. The traffic is encrypted and sent through multiple nodes all across the world. There are other ways to stay anonymous like proxy chains (similar to Tor but more technical to set up), or a Virtual Private Network. (VPN) In the case of those who commit crime online, some ask why electronic payments cannot simply be traced. There is now a new form of electronic currency called Bitcoins, which is not owned by any sort of organization, and all transactions are sent to another person’s “Bitcoin wallet”, which is untraceable. Anonymous traffic and anonymous payment causes for quite the difficult task when hunting down a criminal online.

Tracing a payment is usually the best bet law enforcement has at identifying a buyer/seller, but now with anonymous transactions that makes law enforcements job just that much more difficult. This enables and feeds more criminal activity online and is definitely a negative when it comes to online anonymity. Anonymity and Privacy are two different things. All people should be entitled to their privacy. They should even be entitled to anonymity in cases where it concerns their safety. However we have seen more negatives than positives with online anonymity. It is taken advantage of and used for malicious and illegal activity, preventing law enforcement from finding those committing these crimes, and enabling future illegal activity. Anonymity for the most part is a detriment. If a user has nothing to hide, they should not be worried about government surveillance. The government is targeting users committing crime and anything that threatens national security. What most don’t know is that it is the large companies, corporations, and websites that are collecting user’s information and passing it around in order to make a profit.

Recourses

Bennett, L. (2013, October 3). Do you want to be private or anonymous on the net? Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://www.lexisnexis.com/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?lni=59H3-HM31-DYXB-S408&csi=270944,270077,11059,8411&hl=t&hv=t&hnsd=f&hns=t&hgn=t&oc=00240&perma=true

Gibbs, M. (2011, August 12). Who are you? Non? Anon? Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://www.lexisnexis.com/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?oc=00240&hnsd=f&hgn=t&lni=53JJ-KF81-DYTC-900C&hns=t&perma=true&hv=t&hl=t&csi=270944,270077,11059,8411&secondRedirectIndicator=true

Blog Post 4

1. Some “symbols” I use to define myself amongst others are my tattoos. I have three of them. One is a music note on my thumb. On the outside, it displays my love for music, and to me, means a little bit more. Besides representing my love for music, to me it is something that got me through the worst parts of my life, and continues to be a source of happiness, a hobby, and a lifestyle to me.

note

 

2. My second tattoo is a line of computer code on my wrist. In code, it computers to an infinite loop, and never ends. On the outside, most people don’t know what it even is. So I always explain it. For one, it is a joke on the stereotype of girls who get infinity signs tattooed on their wrists. It also just represents my love for technology, and without it, I would have no idea what I wold be pursuing in college.

2014-07-18_1405701933

 

My third tattoo is the numbers “301”, and inside the numbers is the flag of the state of Maryland. 301 is my area code back in my city, and the flag represents Maryland, where I was born and raised. It is a constant reminder of home, my friends, my family, and all the memories there.

301

 

2. I agree with Kohn’s assessment. Our possessions make us feel at home, whether we work hard to buy them, or are gifted them, they hold some value to us emotionally. If they are taken away or destroyed, most would be extremely upset. I know I would. It’s unfortunate that we are emotionally attached to them, because most possessions come and go. They face wear and tear, become obsolete, or are even lost or stolen. No one likes feeling the loss of something they hold dear. It makes us feel weak and vulnerable when we do. But I believe loss is what makes us stronger as people.

3.This is my dorm! (The first day or so, it’s too messy for sight now!)
I’m not really sure what it communicates about me, that varies based on the person. However to my eye, I would simply say it shows my love for video games, with my Xbox and laptop on my desk. It also shows my love for Maryland because of the flag above my bed. I love black and gray, and that’s the colors of my sheets and comforter. I think it shows im simple, I don’t need to over decorate. I don’t have a ton, but it’s valuable to me.

dorm

Blog Post 3: A Publish Roundup-Network Security

In this article by PCWorld, Lucian Constantin gives some insight to the near 400Gbps DDoS attack that hit one of Cloudflare’s (A company that provides website content delivery and DDos mitigation services) customers. According to Cloudflare’s policies, we don’t know who the attackers were targeting, but we do know that this was the largest attack in internet history.

cloudlfare

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2096720/attackers-use-ntp-reflection-in-huge-ddos-attack.html

As we move into the future, cyber-attacks are becoming the new version of physical war. World War III may be right around the corner, but this time it will be in cyber space. This article published by the Washington Post addresses the FBI’s warning to U.S. Companies and other government agencies that a group of highly skilled Chinese hackers are in the process of a campaign against them to steal valuable data. These attacks are state sponsored, and despite obvious information the attacks are originating from China, Chinese officials continue to deny such activities. These attacks and others all across the globe can be publicly viewed at http://map.ipviking.com/.

china

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldier stands guard in front of ‘Unit 61398’ in the outskirts of Shanghai. The unit is believed to be behind a series of hacking attacks, a U.S. computer security companysaid, prompting a strong denial by China and accusations that it was in fact the victim of U.S. hacking. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-warns-industry-of-chinese-cyber-campaign/2014/10/15/0349a00a-54b0-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month. In this newsletter by SANS institute, they discuss the Five Key Steps you can follow to help stay secure. These steps involve things like making sure your Operating Systems and software is updated, as well as the best ways to generate your own passwords/safely store them with password managing software.

Capture1

http://www.securingthehuman.org/newsletters/ouch/issues/OUCH-201410_en.pdf

Blog Post 3. I’m on a R.A.F.T.

Role: A microphone on tour
Audience: Vocalists in metal core bands.
Format: Memorandum
Topic: Plea for better treatment

Microphones are important to you vocalists. Without us, you are nothing! No one could hear you over the rest of the instruments! You know this to be true! If we’re so important, why do you treat us so poorly?

We know how the tour life can be, when you just start up as a band, you’re eating Taco Bell every night cause its the cheapest thing you can buy. You’re sleeping in a van. Showers are substituted by baby wipes, unless you’re lucky enough to find a place that has access to public showers. We’re right along with you, shoved in a dark hot case, thrown in a trailer hooked to the back of the van. It isn’t all that great getting tossed around on every turn, you know. There’s no breaks. You have shows almost every day. During the shows, we’re spit on, swung around in the air, thrown into the crowd, hundreds of grubby hands trying to grab us. We’re dropped and thrown until we start denting. The luckier of us get to sit on stands during the show.

Don’t get us wrong. We love seeing the world with you guys. We love that we can project your words; your voice. That we can help deliver a message that resonates with thousands of kids wherever you go. Many of you deliver a message of hope. A message that can knowingly or unknowingly save lives. We’re all for this. It’s what helps us get through the day and do our jobs, much like yourselves. All we’re asking is for a little help! Don’t drop us. When you’re done, put us back on the stand, if there isn’t on, place us on top of a speaker or something! Wipe us with one of those baby wipes! We help you do your job, help us do ours by taking care of us.

My Way of Life

Most of our neighborhood was built around 1998 and 1999. A good amount of childhood friends lived there, as well as went to school with me, but many of them moved away. Families come and go, however none that we were close with. Everyone we’re friends with have mostly been here since the neighborhood was built. One family I bird-sit for frequently has over 20 different kinds of birds, all of different sizes and kinds! Another a police officer, whose sons played football for the University of Maryland, and another family who owns their own local restaurant, and whose son has his pilots license at 19! When the neighborhood was being built, a new elementary school was also to be built. But that school never came. Then a few years ago, “The Hill”, as me and my friends called it, an area that kids constantly frequented to sled, was fenced off, and began to get plowed. It was a spot even kids from other neighborhoods came to sled! As time went on, the hill was slowly plowed into flat land. Finally one day at the homeowners meeting it was announced that elementary school would finally go in! (Only ten years late, and a landmark to kids destroyed) When the school finally opened however, it was like new life had been introduced to our neighborhood. A nice new building, and tons of young kids always out playing Every morning and afternoon kids walk home from school, usually by parents, siblings, or grandparents. Middle and high school kids now use the schools basketball courts for pickup games all the time. In the ashes of “The Hill”, a new spot, “Gibbs” was created.

Another big year was around 2007 or so. But it wasn’t as happy of an event as the school was a few years after. At the neighborhood pool, a young boy Rodell Lee, a classmate of my brother, had drowned. My family was at the pool that day. Everything happened so fast. The pool was cleared, and lifeguards were running to the edge of the pool. A lifeguard was giving him CPR, but by the time he got the the hospital, he had passed away. He had choked on his own vomit. He didn’t know how to swim either, and we were surprised whoever was supervising him (his uncle I believe) would let him near the deeper end of the pool. He was 8 years old. It was a big eye opener to the neighborhood and families who attended the pool. Ever since then our pool has required swim tests for any patrons of the pool, or guests.

Most recently, a longtime school friends house was broken into, while they were home, by drug dealers. Now, they weren’t the intended house. The ever intelligent people meant to get the house a little farther down, to rob someone who owned them money. That night there were cops all over the neighborhood as well as a helicopter circling over the area. They got away with the family’s phones, some jewelry and some money/credit cards. The father was assaulted by the robbers, as well as the son (15) who actually shot one of them with a BB gun. Unfortunately to my knowledge the intruders were not caught.

There’s much more to my neighborhood, like the shopping center my friends and I visited much too frequently for food, snacks, drinks, and just to walk around for fun. The Water’s House, which belonged to the family who owned all the land our neighborhood was built on. They passed away many years ago but their house still stands, a landmark to the state. Their graves also are sectioned off to a small area in between houses in the neighborhood! The house is naturally the tale of many ghost stories. The Cider Barrel, also now a landmark, which was a small little place designed like a barrel that sold apples, food and of course, cider.

There’s more for me to discuss, but that’s enough for this post. (I have other homework!!)