Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Good and The Bad

What are the best things about the internet? What are the worst things about the internet?
It's impossible to pinpoint one thing because it is all a matter of perspective. Some people may say that the worst thing is social networks that steal your information, but others may say social networks are the best thing because it allows you to connect to anyone in the world. While I am not going to discuss that, I am going to bring up what I think is the best and the worst part of the internet. I think the best thing about the internet is torrents and the worst thing about the internet is torrents. Also Google is probably one of the worst and best things about the internet.

For those of you know don't know a torrent is a file that allows you to gain access (through a torrent client) to access a network of computers that have portions of the file you want to download. For example, someone may want to download a movie or a song. By downloading the torrent file, their computer is given directions on where to download portions of the file from torrenting community. Then the file is put together and becomes playable.

In short this is, in many cases, pirating but many companies also use this for legitimate use. Because there is not one uploader and it is impossible to track where the files are being sent, it has become impossible for governments, or companies to find who is downloading what. In any digital media market this has become a major problem because people are torrenting programs, movies, and songs rather then buying them at the store. Many have tried to write their software to not work if not bought with a product key but with the wealth of knowledge from so many hackers in the world, the safe guards by companies are easily bypassed.

For some industries this is obviously one of the worst things that can happen to them.

Not to mention the insanely high risk of virus and malware infection from downloading a random file. Unless you get a torrent from a known and respected site or a closed torrent community, you most likely will invite a Trojan into you digital life.

On the other hand, torrenting is one of the best things on the internet. It allows for quick spreading of documents within international companies, freeware, free songs and many other things. As a student sometimes buying Microsoft office is too expensive and searching the web for freeware can become difficult with all the shady sites that want you to enter some personal info before you can download. By getting a torrent for a Microsoft office like program, within minutes you can have all the tools you need to do your assignments.

One thing that I love torrents for is the sharing of my own videos,not not DVDs I burned on my computer, but the videos I take when I ride my bike. Because I film in HD, my videos can be upwards of 30 gigs in its raw format. The only way to be able to transfer that much data is through a torrent client. I live in Tokyo and have many videos of my bike rides to beautiful mountains, urban hot spots and tourist area. On average, a compressed edited video is still about 7 gigs of information. Unless I send a few DVDs with parts of the video on it, there is no other way for my parents to download the video unless it is from a torrent that I sent them.

Torrenting can connect families, communities, companies and even countries. With the wealth of information in the world, being connected and sharing will help us all grown. If kept within legal boundaries, Torrenting is like the Big Think Project. It is a way for humans to connect and expand our thoughts.

Unfortunately when people think of torrenting they instantly think of media pirates and the 12 year old girl who was being targeted for a  $150,000  lawsuit for downloading music from a torrenting site. But besides all the bad press, torrenting is one of the most useful tools that has been introduced to the internet.

On to talking about Google. Google is the largest and most widely know search engine in the digital world. They have mapped the earth, can find anything, do anything and allow people to share documents. As a matter of fact our class is connected by Google. Using google documents we could see what was going on in our class without really having to be there. By using shared documents we could detail anything and everything about our class and see editing in real time.

Google started out as just a regular search engine but has grown to be an empire of its own. Street view allows people to walk the cities of the world from their desktop. People have even been able to find themselves on street view. All major cites have been mapped and slowly but surely the great wilderness in the world are also being mapped. Google has made it's business to know everything. But what if it knows too much?

Like all social networks, the start up of Google+ has been a way to connect people but also a way to collect information. If you go to facebook, youtube or just about any social site you can link things from google with a click of a button. Google is able to tell your location at anytime with you have a smart phone. For example when you search for a cafe from your smart phone using the google application, it will know exactly where you are and send you results. Creepy right?

In an article by Ian Paul, Does Google Know Too Much About You, he discusses how google may have more dirt on you than you think. Your daily activities, you email address book, shopping habits, search habits, everything..... It put Google into perspective, not as the know all resource for college students, but as any other slimy corporation trying to find new ways to control information and use it for possible profit. What is worse is that it is not regulated by the government to keep top secrets under wraps. Does this remind you of the Wikileaks incident?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Share the Wealth, Creative commons

With the invention of the internet, the ability to copy or protect an item has become really easy or really difficult. Some people or companies the put copyrights on their work and upload it to the internet, naively thinking that it is safe. Well they are completely wrong. It is so easy to copy anything from the internet and use it for personal use. videos, photos, documents, programs, anything is free game on the internet as far as I am concerned. If your web designer and IT guy can properly protect it before its uploaded, then it is too late. It will be downloaded and it will be used.

The creative commons license however is something that I respect and I would hope all other net explorers would respect as well. Creative commons licenses generally allow one to download legally a document from the internet and use it for personal or non-commercial use. Because there is no rule saying that you can't download it, that takes away 90% of the people who would normally only try to pirate something because they want to "fight the system", "stick it to the man" and call them self a hacker (though I doubt copying an image from a Google search counts as being a hacker).

Looking at the creative commons license from a student point of view, I find that it is awesome that people are selfless enough to upload their books or photos to allow students and schools to use them for educational purposes. As you may not find any school in Japan suffering from a lack of funding, you will most definitely find that school in America or any 3rd world country. There are schools that stress over how to get enough money for text books and supplies to last that school year. Letting the internet be a free source of knowledge is probably the best thing that we can do for mankind. The more knowledge we share the more innovations and advancements we can make as a species. If Memes can become a new international method of communication, then creative commons can be a new international method of education.

Here's a question. On Flickr, what does the creative commons license allow for someone to be able to do with someone else's photo?

Oh Noriko

Noriko is one of my friends girlfriends. She is a Japanese girl that was raised in the States for a bit before being moved back to Japan. She is unreliable, untrustworthy, lazy and lies all the time, but she is the funniest, most relaxed, and real person on earth that I know. She like weed and isn't afraid to tell anyone that she does. One day when she was visiting her boyfriend's family in California she put a picture up of herself when she was really tired. I thought she looked high and decided to make a new picture for her to post.

Basically that face is her morning face.... try not to be alarmed!

Once again I used Adobe Photoshop for this!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My First JCRC Tour of Japan race!

November 13th I participated in my first JCRC race. Located at the foot of Mt. Fuji, there was beautiful scenery with the changing leaf colors and the snow capped Mt. Fuji. It was very cold in the morning, but the sun was out and as the morning progressed it got to a very decent temperature. 11月13日に僕は初めてのJCRC自転車大会参加しました! 富士山の西湖でJCRCステージ5に走りました!観光はとてもきれい! 紅葉がきれいで、雪が富士山の上にあった! 朝はちょっと寒いですけど天気は晴れだった。 少したつと暖かくなって良いレーシング日和だった! I raced in the X-Class, an open class for first time riders. Depending on how an X-class rider finishes, they get placed into ranked classes (SS-S-A-B-C-D-E-F). In an X-class race you don't really know what to expect. There are riders with no expirience and riders with a lot of expirience. I have been told by many riders that the X-class is full of crashes because people don't know how to ride in a peleton (large group of riders). Riding with other cyclists 2 centimeters away from you at high speeds is very scary for the first time and because of that many people panic and cause a crash. 僕はX-クラスに出ました。X-クラスはビギナークラスです。 レースの結果によってランキングもらいます(SS-S-A-B-C-D-E-F)。 X-クラスは皆、ビギナーだから、何が起こるか分からないです。 X-クラスで事故がいぱいあると聞いた。 経験がないですから、みんなとラインを合わせられなくて、ぶつかって事故が起こります。 My race went very fast. The race was 20 km long and I finished just over 29 minutes, placing 14th overall. As you will see in the video I was at the front for most of the race until the last 2 kilometers. The race ended in a bunch sprint, which I am not strong at. I am more suited for long stages where endurance is important. But with a 14th out of 120 finish, I was very happy with the results for my first race! 僕のレースはとても速かった。 20キロで29分過ぎ終わりました! 120人で14番目に完了しました! とても嬉しかった! 最後でスプリントがあった。僕は強くないスプリンターですけどよく出来ましたと思う! また、来年やりたい!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Malicious Malware

Anyone who has been on the internet has probably been infected. No, not you body but your computer. Malware is everywhere and it spreads faster than germs at a McDonald's play place. You could be downloading an innocent email from a friend and all of a sudden you get infected. You may not know it at first but maybe days or months later you will realize your computer is running a bit weird. Your anti-virus picks up the scent of Malware and tries to delete it but its too late. Not only have files been corrupted or stolen, the virus has learned how to defend itself from anti-virus attempts at deleting it. One that I have personally fought with was a Trojan that I received when downloading from Steam, an online video game store that allows you to download full games and save your game data at their site. The Trojan was easily detected but the anti-virus could not delete it because it was appearing as a system critical process. I found out that when I located the file manually, it had blocked the Administrator (me) from doing anything to the file but reading it. The only way to get rid of it was to change owners of the file and then delete it.

Malware has now spread from computers to your cell phones and GPS units taking all your personal data. I use GPS and an iPhone to navigate the countryside of Japan but now I am afraid that one day my gadgets will fail me when I am lost. I found that my GPS had a virus similar to the one infecting Tom Tom where when I plugged into my computer, a back door was trying to be opened by some tiny bit of code. Thankfully it wasn't too complex and was quickly deleted.

Now I am just wondering, who the hell are these jerk offs that want to steal my info or destroy my PC files. Do they not realize how many hours it takes to get all items and challenges beat on Call of Duty?! This blog will seem more like a rant rather then informational but how do these dusche bags even justify what they are doing? Have they just been bullied at school too much and are retaliating? Are they getting their influence from movies and video games? Most of these people watch the movies Hackers and want to be cool like it's 1995 again? All I want is to be able to surf the web, play online games, and use my GPS with out fear of having it get hacked and infected... what's wrong with that?

Bike love

Bike Love Haiku

"Lindy in the Rain" by Bruce Turner

The rain now has come.
Wear a swimsuit and ride.
Road bike love.
I wrote this Haiku because I ride in any weather. Unless there is a snow storm and it's -10 degrees,
you will probably find me on my bike. One day, while getting ready to ride to work, I realized that my clothes would be soaked before I even got 2 blocks down the street. So on that day I decided to try something new. It was a relatively warm day for a Japanese November so I put on my swimsuit and rode to work. Everyone I passed on the road thought I was crazy. It was raining like a typhoon and here I am cruizing down the road in a helmet and swimsuit. When I got to work my messenger bag was still dry on the inside thankfully and my work clothes were all dry and warm. My manager was not to pleased when I strolled into work with my soaking wet attire. He thought I had planned to work that day in my swimsuit, dripping wet. He was really relieved when I told him I had more clothes but I got a laugh out of his reaction to seeing me first walk in the store.