Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Advances in computer technology have changed all that. In doing the paper for my Public International Law subject, I found myself doing the reverse of what I used to do while in college. Instead of drafting and finalizing the paper by long hand, I found myself drafting the paper using the computer instead. Only after that did I transcribe the draft long hand.
This is just an example of changes in the way we do thing that occurred with the advent of computer technology. There are many more and changes will continue to occur as technology further improves.
However, most, if not all, of us are not very conscious of the ramifications of these changes in our everyday life. When I was still in the corporate world and we were rapidly switching to e-mails as the main mode of communicating with clients, I was very worried about paper trails to evidence transactions. The evidence, so to speak, is lodged somewhere in the hard drive and could be lost either due to a computer virus through the inadvertent or wilful use of the delete key. A system had to be designed and implemented to preserve these important documents just to be safe.
While it is impossible to anticipate the changes that will be brought about in the future by technological innovations, it would be disastrous if we do not acknowledge that these changes may affect our individual rights and duties which need to be protected or enforced at all times. We must therefore be even more vigilant in preserving these rights as the unstoppable developments in computer technology continue.
At first, a MOPyfish’s tank came bare – nothing but darkness and seeming depth. But points could be acquired with printouts (hence the MOP in MOPy which meant Multiple Original Printouts). When I reached a point threshold, I’d get MOPyfish paraphernalia like a plant or aphrodisiac which made Christina hyper and give me a kiss. Eventually I learned you could download a rip for the software without a need for printouts.
The realization that Christina’s lifelikeness was both a boon and a bane came later. I was on vacation with my father for a month and when I came back, the first thing I did was to rush to my computer to check on Christina. I was horrified when I found her floating on the “water surface” with her belly on the side, looking every inch like a real dead fish! It was so realistic I could almost smell the stench and my stomach lurched at the thought that a dead fish had been floating inside my computer for a month.
For virtual reality, some say the more realistic, the better. In terms of virtual fish as pets, that may not always be the case. And Christina’s lifelikeness did more than just scare the socks off my toes. She bore a hole in my pocket and cost me a lot of ink. Back then, I should have realized there was indeed something fishy behind that kiss.
It's been such a boom that several friends, all with MDs, have joined the bandwagon and have become editors or encoders for the booming industry.
But something has been bothering me with all this hoopla about the phenomenon of medical transcription.
It appears that there has been little talk about the issue of doctor-patient confidentiality. Of people from another continent having access to medical information of people half way around the world. Now undoubtably this seems trivial seeing that there is little chance that they would ever meet but with the increasing connectivity of our world and the increasing sophistication of our society, it is becoming more and more apparent that physical meeting is no longer such a big issue.
What is becoming a graver concern is the possibility of using the information to initiate and perpetuate social security scams as well as HMO claims scams..... all from a distance...
Of course, there are obvious safeguards currently in place. Using secure websites and ensuring that the names of the patients as well as their social security numbers are edited out before the entries are sent to the third party transcriptionist probably being the most obvious. But being from a medical background, I know that you don't really need those in order to commit fraud. After all, what are the phishing websites and identity theft rings there for but a good source of those edited out portions of the transcrition. Meanwhile, the medical history, laboratory tests, course in the ward and outcome are ripe for the picking and later mixing and matching to the proper name and social security or HMO number.
Furthermore, an inadvertent slip or error in removing the said identification would open up a patient to potentially damaging or embarassing information being made available over the net. Afterall, who doesn't have a facebook, friendster, or multiply account nowadays. And finding out who someone is is a matter of a few keystrokes in the search function of our favorite social networking site. Imagine the embarassment of having someone post on your wall that you had been treated for STDs. (Then again Philippine celebrities sometimes admit to this in live TV so maybe it's not such a big deal after all...)
But eventually, it all boils down to trust. Is your doctor betraying your trust by using a medical transcription company? Legally... probably not, because I'm sure that in the spirit of defensive medicine, he has made sure that a clause has been inserted in the consent for treatment that allows him to utilize the said service.
But fundamentally, I'm not quite so sure anymore.
I used to work in a non-profit organization called Adaptive Technology for the Rehabilitation, Integration, and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV). Their main aim is to promote the use of adaptive technology (or access technology) to educate blind and low-vision people and open up mainstream job opportunities for them. Having acquired basic computer skills, many of ATRIEV's graduates go on to obtain college degrees from regular universities, often in ICT-related fields. Some of them are now successfully employed in call centers, medical transcription companies, or web-based businesses.
My friends Jay and Rene are quintessential geeks, with one interesting difference: they surf the Internet, use computers and access all their features through a special text-to-speech software. With their virtuoso touch-typing skills and sometimes with the monitor turned off (they don't need it anyway!), they have become expert programmers and have even experimented with web design and adapting compatible open-source software for use with text-to-speech programs. Jay is the first totally blind Computer Science graduate in the Philippines and works from home as a web content writer, and Rene now instructs other low-vision students as a member of ATRIEV's staff. Both of them have attended and given training sessions and specialized courses on adaptive technology locally and abroad.
Although the Philippines has a Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (RA 7277) and has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) just last year, information on adaptive technology has yet to be widely disseminated among educators, legislators, policymakers, and other stakeholders. ATRIEV and other organizations working for the rights and welfare of PWDs are still contending with misconceptions and resistance to change. Schools and companies often think they have to buy expensive equipment or make extensive technical and logistical adjustments to accommodate PWDs. As pointed out by blind architect Jaime Silva, buildings and public transportation facilities do not even comply with basic legal requirements such as providing wheelchair ramps or granting discounted fares to people with disabilities. Technology, however, is constantly opening up new doors for people like my cool, talented visually impaired friends. I certainly hope that the digital divide may yet be bridged not just for the economically disadvantaged, but that ICT may help to break down the barriers caused by physical limitations as well.
Monday, June 29, 2009
I am one of the many members of my generation who fights battles online-- political struggles, quests for equality, justice and fairness, and wars against evil, crime and corruption.
Some people may not consider it enough. I, however, gain much satisfaction from attending virtual rallies, signing online petitions and joining causes on Facebook. Be it for something of global magnitude (Make Poverty History) or local significance (Stop Con Ass Now), or something frivolous (No to the Philippine version of Twilight!), my online participation shows the world that I know what’s going on and, more importantly, that I care.
In a world where news can travel faster than a speeding bullet, where transactions are made with just a couple of clicks, and where politicians form part of your social network, why can’t cyberactivism be considered a legitimate platform for social upheavals? E-activists are not any less real than the color-coordinated people shouting in the streets. Our sentiments are just as genuine. We just opt to meet in a more convenient venue where we can pool our thoughts and resources, exchange ideas 24/7 and from all over the world, and let even the youngest caring members of society take a stand with the rest of us. We both adhere to the old adage “there is strength in numbers,” although our numbers choose to express personal convictions without shedding much sweat and blood. All that our method requires is an internet connection and a concerned heart. Nothing wrong with that.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Commentator: And they’re off! Cable Television makes a strong start, while Radio follows closely behind. Newspaper is trailing last. But look! The Internet zooms by and it just passed Newspaper, Radio and Cable Television! They’re all eating The Internet’s dust! What an incredible finish by The Internet!
In reality, the speed of news travel depends on one’s choice of media. When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 at 1900 GMT (or at 1:00 am, June 26, 2009 Philippine time), most Filipinos were already sleeping (as I were). Thus, I knew about Michael Jackson's death just before our ICT class. Emil was surfing the Web when he chanced upon the news. That was nine-ish in the morning on June 26, 2009. Had I been surfing that night, I would’ve known beforehand. And look, if I had no Internet, no TV, no Radio, I would’ve known that he’s dead only on the papers.
As an aside, my brother texted me this: “Ate! Huhu! Jacko’s dead na! I’m so depressed! :(” and he was serious. He’s a big fan. When he was in grade school, he even chose to sing “Give Love on Christmas Day” for a school musical.
Rest in Peace Michael Jackson. You will live forever through your music.
The computer hardware that I first encountered was a huge machine which cost a lot of money and needed a fully air-conditioned room. The size was dictated more by the fact that these machines employed cathode ray tubes which radiated a lot of heat. Their computing power and also data storage capacity was considered huge at that time. Hence, it was the huge entities like the United States Census office which first utilized them.
The input data were contained in what were referred to then as “punch cards”. They were so named because the cards were in fact punched with holes to represent the data. Once these punch cards have outlived their usefulness, the children of those times converted them into toys. I recall having made a belt out of these punch cards myself.
From these gigantic machines, personal computers were developed due to innovations with the use of silicon chips. However, the capability of these machines were also quite limited when compared with the latest generation of computers. The very first personal computer I purchased was an Apple IIe. I remember paying $3,000 for the privilege of owning one. I used this computer in preparing the budget of the offshore operations of PCIBank in
The first portable computer was introduced sometime in 1984 by IBM. these machines were called transportables and they were the size of the largest hand carry luggage as we know them now. The computer screen was about a foot measured diagonally. I had one of those too. But at the end of the day, I found it ridiculous lugging the transportable whenever I had to travel because of its size and weight.
Things sure have changed over the past twenty seven years. The computing power and the ability to have data stored right inside the computer of a single laptop have exceed those of the old mainframes. The change was made very apparent to me when I revisited the UP
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I bet that these books would be pricey and too steep for my pockets if they’re even available in Philippine bookstores or through Amazon. But, if I’m truly desperate, I can attempt to brave the musky-smelling UP library. Borrow and read the book inside the room since it would probably be located in the reserved section. Truly, the fact that these Ebooks can be accessed online is a blessing in disguise for Third World students of life such as me.
Despite the Internet's benefits to society I think it has really caused a huge decline in face-to-face communication. Now, people simply prefer to write e-mails or log-in Facebook or Friendster to "connect" with friends and family. Although I recognize the convenience of doing so, this has negatively impacted our ability to personally interact with other people. Now, the formation of interpersonal "bonds" has been reduced to simply clicking "Add as Friend" in various online communities. Without realizing so, human beings are slowly becoming devoid of face to face contact with others.
Even if I recognize and admit the benefits of the Internet, we all should, once in a while, take a step back and communicate with others through traditional means.
The developments in technology, coupled with these perceived benefits, have fueled the growth of telecommuting. Connectivity and availability are some of the essential areas of telecommuting which have to be fulfilled. Technology has fulfilled these requirements. Cellular phones allow a person to be reached at any time and in any place. Correspondence is also enhanced through the Internet. Aside from merely sending and receiving messages, it allows for discussions and information exchange. Wireless communication has also been enhanced with the emergence of PDAs and laptops. People can now work in the comfort of their homes since all the information and communication tools they need are within their reach.
Telecommuting is not without certain limitations and apprehensions. In the first place, management styles have been based on traditional work environments of employees being in one specific place within a particular time period. This lends a sense of security to top management since they are assured that the other members of the company are all within reach.
With telecommuting, this security is somewhat breached. Sometimes technology fails such as when the equipment breaks down or the connections are disrupted. It also becomes difficult to sometimes monitor the work habits and quality of output of employees. In addition, communication through technology cannot fully replace actual dialogue.
a kid with down syndrome was being bullied by some teenagers. this they recorded. and this they uploaded in google video europe.
it took a while before the video was removed by google - a long enough while for it to be noticed by an italian advocacy group for people with down syndrome. the result of this was a law suit.
the video should not have been uploaded. that is given. and the law suit in effect is saying is that google should have made sure that it had enough safeguards to ensure that such appalling videos are blocked from being shown. google didn't refute the illness of the video's content nor the fact that it was uploaded and shown. they say that it would be hard for them to do so much filtering. and that amount of filtering runs contrast to the idea of the internet.
so we have decency on one hand and an open and free internet environment on the other.
i go with decency. and because it's the image they want to project, im sure so does google... but they just don't want to pay.
The article was about a Senate bill that would give the US President the power to shut down public and private computer networks, including Internet traffic to and from critical information systems, in the event of a national "cybersecurity emergency."
Online security and hacking, it seems, has emerged as the quintessential 21st-century dilemma not just for us ordinary netizens, but even for the Pentagon too. This thought came to mind again yesterday, as we were preparing for a performance at a protest poetry event, and a friend mentioned that he has become paranoid about whom he approves as Facebook contacts. There hasn't been any equivalent proposal in the Philippines as far as we know, but do those of us who count such controversial figures as left-leaning Congresspersons and militant labor leaders among our Facebook friends have any cause for alarm (or at the very least, a cause of action for a writ of habeas data petition)? Could we perhaps be arrested out of the blue because of the "subversive" literary works that we keep posting on our blogs?
Considering the number of members that online causes are able to attract, it's pretty obvious that the Internet has become an important venue not just for free speech in general, but for political dissent and activism -- or for consciousness-raising, at the very least. Not surprisingly, legal measures like the US Cybersecurity Bill -- and any similar statutes that may crop up in the Philippine Congress -- are bound to draw much criticism.
Control over ICT infrastructures and electronic data inevitably raises such highly political issues as: who exercises control, and who decides when to invoke such power? Who defines these "cyber-emergencies," and what implications do they have for ordinary citizens? National security concerns have been used to justify everything from the Human Security Act to Senate hearings-turned-national embarrassments. If we're going to be taken offline because we (or some clever geeks hacking into Malacanang files) supposedly endanger the political integrity or territorial sovereignty of this Republic, there'd better be a really good explanation...if not free Wi-fi for life once the power re-starts.
Considering that our Supreme Court has always been cautious in implementing new rules concerning technology, the fact that they have recognized a new means of service is surprising. Our courts have been so attached to having everything on paper (read: physical manifestation), that their recognition of the possibility of a paperless court is a welcome convenience.
Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a new search engine called “Blackle”. She asked me if I’d already heard about it and I said I haven’t and added in jest that the name sounded like that of a dog’s- “Blacky.” Pardon the pun, but the search engines I’m familiar with are the ones I often use, which are Google, and Yahoo.
She proceeded to show me the site and as the name had it, the entire screen went dark. The background was, of course, black and the font was in white or gray.
Yay, it’s the black version of Google! The gods have finally heard my prayers! (My eyes are sensitive to the color white.) Not only did I find it neat, it served a purpose. It saves energy- 750-megawatt hours a year to be exact.
How? It is said that it takes more power to display a white screen than a dark screen. Imagine the amount of energy we shall save by converting our homepages into it. With this, we can actually go “green” not just by recycling but by going virtually “black” too.
Visit and switch your homepage to Blackle.com. Let us (as their tag line puts it) start saving energy “one search at a time.”
And no, I’m not a paid endorser of the site. I’m just a fan. =)
Today, or rather the other day, I saw a professor post a note announcing that he’ll be conducting classes via facebook and has invited others to “sit in” and observe. I have been sitting in as I am curious how his class will turn out. So far a few students have already recited (posted comments). Good thing for them the professor gives class recitation grades because there seems to be little participation from the class. I’m having fun“sitting in” their class while playing poker on facebook. I bet the class members are having loads of fun attending their facebook class from while taking care of cows at Farmtown and shopping at Yoville or while betting the farm at a table here at Texas HoldEm Poker .
This innovation in learning and teaching surely breaks boundaries, both time and distance( and stage fright of students).
I wonder if they can superpoke their professor. lol
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
OUCH! Something to think about: will our courts ever rule against a local like this? Scary thought right?
"MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KABC) -- A Minnesota mother of four is facing a nearly $2 million fine for illegally sharing music she downloaded on her computer.
A jury ruled that 32-year-old Jammie Thomas-Rasset owes $1.92 million to four major music labels after she downloaded and shared 24 songs by artists such as Green Day, Janet Jackson, Godsmack and Richard Marx.
The jury decision amounts to $80,000 per song.
Thomas was found guilty of similar charges in 2007 and fined $220,000 in damages. But that verdict was thrown out because an error in jury instructions, paving the way for a retrial and Thursday's ruling."
One of the most-watched videos on YouTube of late is the one of Neda Agha-Soltan’s death. I don’t subscribe to YouTube. I mean, sure, I watch videos on it, but I never signed up. Not until today, that is, when I tried to watch this particular video because YouTube wanted to make sure I am 18 years old or older to watch the disturbing clip taken from a phone cam.
I don’t know her or her politics but I cried. Neda was shot in the chest during a rally protesting the results of the recent elections in Iran. During that time, there was close surveillance on internet activities. The person who took the video couldn’t post it directly on YouTube without endangering his family. So he emailed it to a friend, who forwarded it to other friends, until it found its way to YouTube. CNN picked it up from there.
If the Iranian government wanted total internet silence, it should have completely shut-off the internet. Fortunately for the protest movement and for free speech, the government could not unplug itself from cyberspace. Whatever its reasons, it allowed limited access to the internet.
The internet has been a powerful tool for protest movements. But it takes but little imagination to say that if protesters can use the internet, so can the government.
The email message said, “Please let the world know.” The world knows. Censor that!
This advice took root somewhere. She was nixed by two potential employers, and is now paying a private company good money to clean up, mainly because of her pages in Facebook.
Let’s just say her account had several photos and comments that showed lack of judgment. Let’s add that she and her co-workers from her previous job exchanged posts that cast her former employer in a bad light. Throw in a line from her profile that says she usually sleeps in late and prefers the afternoon as her optimal time of day.
Maybe she thought the photos were funny, or that the posts were harmless, as she was no longer with the company anyway. But then again, maybe the two bosses that considered her application had concerns, so they decided to do a background check. How convenient it is that those two bosses had internet access. Google is, after all, user friendly.
Here we were thinking the internet could help us build social networks, and so we put almost every aspect of our lives in public display. Little do we recognize it could also pull us down. In most cases, all it takes is a Google page, our name, and a click.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Six years ago I reluctantly joined friendster with the primary goal of gathering intelligence on women friends and guy enemies. Through friendster I managed to gather a lot of information on potential enemies and potential dates. Si vis pacem, para bellum.
I realized then that I now had a "virtual life" through which I kept connected with friends adrift at sea or just bumming around in the states. I valued comments and testimonials of friends like a permanent yearbook that I could readily show to anyone who checks out my profile.
Checking out profiles became a hobby until friendster decided to incorporate the "who's viewed me" feature in which case I just decided that it is more important to know people who are viewing me that to view profiles anonymously.
Until last summer. An unknown person emailed me threats and whatnot, sending me messages on friendster, and even showed me my pictures which I later realized came from friendster and facebook. I realized the potentiality of this happening long ago so I set my profile parameters as secure as I can, but apparently kung gusto may paraan.
So I decided to kill my virtual self by deleting my friendster and facebook accounts. Although I could always reactivate my facebook account and play mafia wars again, I lost my friendster profile along with all the testimonials and the far-away-friend-connections I had. Fortunately friendster did not delete my blog there, although I could never update that blog again.
The unknown person turned out to be a woman scorned of which hell knew not such fury. Although presently a peace has been declared, I am still jogged by the thought that a virtual fight or war can now be fought and that my virtual life was a willing casualty.
Why? Because I don’t want to own the words I published. I don’t want random people or mere acquaintances to think that they know me so well just because they’ve read my blog. I don’t want to open myself up to liability, for defamation or otherwise. At the end of the day, I’m just a private person, who only turned to blogs because she lost the key to her desk drawer and has nowhere to keep her old-school journal.
Now won’t you just let me stay veiled and comfortable behind my computer screen?
No, really. I think the internet is wonderful for allowing me and countless others to just put things out there—to have a voice (even when I don’t want others to recognize it), and an audience (who probably don’t find any sense in my writing anyway). And I am actually thinking of putting up a blog with my name on display after this and write about things that matter, things I want to discuss with everyone else. Nothing too personal though. The vastness of the world wide web still scares me.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Naturally, what I did was to Google several websites using “IP address” and “find people” as my search parameters. For my agenda, I have chosen this user-friendly website, http://whatismyipaddress.com (which happens to be the first one on the list - yes, computers make us lazy.)
I tried it out first with my own IP address.
I typed it in.
I hit enter.
My eyes became as large as saucers.
Forget the site's caveat: “Geolocation technology can never be 100% accurate in providing the location of an IP address.” Pfft. Really now, it was only off by few miles. Thanks to this Geo-Location map (powered by Google, of course), a satellite view of my village (and our house) can be seen. Zoom in closer and you’d see our dog licking its balls.