Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Student Loans

As I tried to make a payment on my student loans earlier this month, I came across difficulties setting up automatic payments. My loan provider would not let me make a payment without first signing up for a checking account through them. I already have a checking account, and thought this was quite ridiculous. Not only is it difficult to make payments on a private loan, but my federal loans are in a completely different place and need to be managed separately. It dawned on me that a great business idea would be to replicate the functionality of for student debt. However, a Tuition.IO already appears to be doing that. Neither of these websites solve the core problem of having to separate all of your loan payments. Wouldn't it be great if you could view, manage, and make payments to all of your student debts at the same time?

Any recent graduates from computer science programs feel this way? We should do it on our own if nobody else will!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Exponential Advertising: Social Media

After Monday's lecture on social media, the power of social media was starting to become more clear to me. I knew that millions of people used Facebook and MySpace and Youtube, etc. but I never really thought about how information is spread through the use of those channels. One image that stood out to me from the lecture was this:

This image demonstrates how quickly and exponentially information, advertisements, ideas, etc. can be spread by utilizing social media. It is also a great depiction of how a Youtube video can go viral, propelling its creator to fame, even it is often short lived. When applying the concept to business, it is clear how a good business idea such as Starbucks receiving customer suggestions and ideas can spread so rapidly. A good idea will spark interest and interest will lead to sharing. With so many users on sites such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, the sharing occurs at an incredibly fast rate.

I've also noticed lately that a lot of television commercials have moved from including a company website such as "" to a link to a social media site such as "". Another interesting thing I noticed on TV the other night was that on the new Comedy Central show with Norm Macdonald, there is a #sportsshow constantly in the corner in an attempt to spread word of the show using Twitter hash tags.

Privacy Invasion!

So last week I created a Prezi describing a breach in security for the Google's Android Marketplace. It is estimated that about 50 applications were affected by malware known as DroidDream. The malware carried the capability to send sensitive information from infected phones to remote servers. Obviously, this was a major invasion of people's privacy. However, Google took quick action once the malware was discovered by the smartphone security company, Lookout. The first thing Google did was identify the users responsible for uploading the infected applications and discovered that the developers used the names Kingmall2010, Myournet, and we20090202. After they identified the developers and the applications, Google quickly removed the applications from the marketplace. Since the applications were downloaded by many users and not all of them could be notified of the breach, Google began remotely removing the applications from phones after several days. While they appear to have the breach under control, it raised a big question to me: If Google can remotely access and alter data on your phone, how do we know that they are not invading our privacy? While this question may cause a lot of concern for some people, I personally choose to trust Google, because I don't see a motive for them to put their business in jeopardy like that. It is very interesting to thing about, though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Disruptive technologies - How the DVR killed the VCR and changed the way we watch TV

A disruptive innovation is defined as an innovation that disrupts an existing market. Disruptive innovations are the driving force behind technological advancement because if there were no new products to replace older, obsolete ones then technology would never change. The 1970s saw the release of the videocassette recorder or VCR which enabled people to record television programs onto a VHS tape to watch later. It allowed people to do other things during live TV without having to miss the program. VCRs made a good run and controlled the market for nearly 30 years. Then, in 1999 the DVR was introduced to the world. The digital video recorder performed the same task as a VCR, but had greater capacity and quality and boasted an extensive amount of extra features. The most popular early DVR was the TiVo, which allowed users to schedule recordings, store many hours of programs in one place (compared to around a 4-hour max for each VHS tape), and to pause and rewind live TV. As TiVos and other DVR devices gained popularity, cable providers began to offer their own DVR boxes as well as On-Demand services for added monthly fees. With this introduction, people no longer needed to conform to the schedules of broadcasters. Now if you can't watch a TV show you can just DVR it with one click, and if you for some reason can't DVR it then you can just watch it On-Demand whenever you please.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Showdown: GoogleDocs vs. MS Office

Will cloud computing be the way of the future? How long can Microsoft hold on to its large market share of document processing software? It's hard to tell at the moment but Google is certainly going to make Microsoft rethink their strategy. GoogleDocs gives people the option for a free, online office suite to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Other than being free, Google's other advantage is that they offer storage space so that your saved files can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. Add in simple to use features, real time collaboration, and peace of mind knowing you won't lose your files and GoogleDocs seems like a great alternative to dropping several hundred dollars on Microsoft Office. Microsoft isn't going down without a fight though. They introduced the Live Workspace a couple years ago that allows users to upload their files and store them on the cloud. However, this feature of Office doesn't allow for online collaboration and lacks several other features that GoogleDocs offers. Ultimately, I believe Office will reign supreme for several more years based on that their software has such extensive features that most businesses and institutions will continue to purchase large license agreements from Microsoft. However, the average user who cannot afford or does not require all the features of Office will move towards GoogleDocs and its free services.

The Nerd Effect - Famous nerd from history

So I was going to write this blog about a famous nerd from history. The problem is, I can't really think of a famous nerd. The fact that Google returns almost no useful results for a search of "famous nerds in history"speaks volumes about the "Nerd Effect". Most people who aren't nerds tend to stay away from nerd culture and ignore those individuals that they consider to be nerds. This could partially explain why it is difficult to find a nerd from non-recent history. What I really want to talk about though is why it seems that nerds have such a tough time fitting into normal social situations. When I think about some nerd activities the first things that come to mind are: video games, computers, and the Internet. These are all things that I personally enjoy using too, though I do not consider myself a nerd. Why then, do nerds who like many of the same things as everyone else nowadays not fit in? Nearly every college student seems to have a smartphone and a laptop that they rely on for everyday tasks. Why is it then that nerds have the same interests but still don't fit in? My opinion is that the difference between nerds and non-nerds is not so much their interests but rather their personalities. Nerds just don't have the desire to be socially accepted or wear trendy clothes. They are kind of like hippies in that they have their own separated group and culture, only they are very interested in technology and knowledge instead of hugging trees. Either way, I believe the trend in this country is moving towards nerds who are also capable of interacting with other people in the workplace and society due to the growing popularity of technology use.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


For a company that was started by two graduate students roughly 13 years ago, Google has become the leader in internet searches and technology. Google owes much of its success to the business philosophy that they follow. There is a list of ten things on Googles corporate page that make up what can be described as the Ten Google Commandments. Two that popped out to me were: "Focus on the user and all else will follow" and "You can make money without doing evil." The first is probably the biggest contributor to Google's success because of its similarity to Web 2.0 theories. By pledging to not do evil, Google looks much better in the eyes of its users and businesses are more likely to advertise with them because of their fairness. Although Google now has many different offerings their search algorithm remains at its core. By building around the success of the search engine with PageRank and AdSense Google has generated billions of dollars of revenue. A groundbreaking company like Google continues to innovate and encourages creativity from its employees by allowing them to have fun and enjoy being at work. Pictures of Google offices will probably make you feel like a little kid again. They have everything from indoor slides to gondola offices. Needless to say, you would have to be crazy to not want to work for Google