Commons Connect

think globally, act locally

Combat censorship with ‘PirateBrowser’

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The Pirate Bay recently celebrated their 10th birthday this past Saturday by announcing a new gift for internet users — PirateBrowser:

“a simple one-click browser that circumvents censorship and blockades and makes the site instantly available and accessible.”

browser
screenshot via the PirateBrowser

PirateBrowser is downloadable via bitTorrent and is available to anyone with access to the world wide web. It was created to allow citizens from countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland to browse the internet unopposed. While it was created to “circumvent censorship,” and I can envision the tremendously positive affect it will have on internet freedom, the Debbie Downer in me is thinking about potential implications for terrorists and child pornographers. Not to mention having to worry that I won’t be able to block certain stuff from my daughter if/when she finds out about this. Ack! (P.S. — No, I don’t let my second grader browse the internet unsupervised; and yes, she does have a newer iPad than me. Le Sigh.)

What does it mean?

According to their FAQ, PirateBrowser doesn’t allow users to surf the net anonymously, but it does link to a service that does. Am I taking the whole think globally, act locally blog tagline a bit too far?? What do you think of Pirate Bay’s latest gift to their users?

screenshot of pirate bay

Related posts:

Social Media App Spotlight: Selective Tweet Status

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Hello Commons Community,

With the recent roll out of Google+ this may be a moot point, but I just wanted to share a new (to me) discovery for those who use Twitter and Facebook. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a lot of folks ending their tweets with the hashtag: #fb. I assumed it was some type of reference to Facebook, perhaps notifying their twitter followers that they also had a Facebook account. I admit, I thought it a little strange that there never was a link to the person’s Facebook profile. Anyway, I decided that today was the day that I would find out exactly what the #fb hashtag was all about.

After a little searching around on the interwebs I found out that the hashtag is linked to a Facebook application called Selective Tweet Status that enables you to post a Twitter status update to your Facebook profile by adding the #fb hashtag to the end of your tweet. I thought this was a nice alternative to using a time-saving social media dashboard like Hootsuite or Seesmic or having to log into both Facebook and Twitter in order to post the same thing.

If you’re interested in using this app here’s how you do it:

  1. Log into Facebook.
  2. Enter “Selective Tweets” into the Facebook search bar and select the application.
  3. On the application page, enter your Twitter username and select Save.
  4. Allow the application to access your basic information and post to your wall.
  5. You’re golden!

Now, whenever you want to post to both Twitter and Facebook, all you need to do is include the #fb hashtag at the end of your tweet.

If you have a helpful interweb tool that you want others to know about please feel free to post about it in the comments below or add it to the Kitchen Sink Utilities wiki page.

These are a few of MY FAVORITE(S) things…

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Well it’s officially November — do you know what that means? A new project of mine called MY FAVORITES of the Week — a series of posts and podcasts which will highlight my favorite things happening on the CUNY Academic Commons.

My Favorite things — a familiar term, not simply because you’ve memorized all the lyrics from The Sound of Music movie, but because MY FAVORITES is a feature on the CUNY Academic Commons! Watch the video below to learn more about this time-saving aggregating plug-in…

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Be sure to check back this weekend for my first MY FAVORITES of the Week post!

MY FAVORITES of the Week

6 Degrees of Open Access

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I have to admit that prior to my attendance of the Digital University Conference on April 21, 2010, my understanding of “open access” was essentially non-existent. After attending the afternoon panel, A Digital Future?, my grasp of open access and academic publishing started coming into clearer focus. As someone who has not (yet) published an academic article, I had no idea about the politics of knowledge access in addition to its relation to a faculty member’s tenure track.

Digital University Conference- photo courtesy of Andrea Vasquez

After searching for information about open access on the Commons, I came across Scott Voth’s (@scottvoth) Wiki Wrangler post about his creation of the new wiki page Open Access Publishing. Scott points out that, “As the cost of journals continues to skyrocket, OA needs to be on our minds.” This was certainly on the mind of Jill Cirasella (@cirasella), who created the public group: Open Access Publishing Network @ CUNY (OaPN @ CUNY) a couple of months ago after being inspired by Maura A. Smale (@msmale).

Maura was more than willing to contribute to the group she inspired Jill to create, replying to the forum topic Stephen Francoeur (@stephenfrancoeur) started: Library and info science journals that are OA. Scott used Maura’s comphrensive list of OA journals to create a new wiki page: OA Journals in Library and Information Science, which he tagged under Open Access (OA) and Library Science for easy access.

Most recently, George Otte (@gotte) posted a new blog entitled “An Immodest Proposal“ where he discusses the need to create an online journal, suggesting that those who are interested post to the Open Access group’s forum thread: Starting an online journal. With 5 comments on George’s blog post and 21 posts in the forum, the conversation of open access publishing at CUNY has begun. We also learned that Steve Brier (@sbrier) has plans to start an online, open source journal to publish the works of doctoral students in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy program. With many willing contributors and Scott Voth’s direction for logical platforms and various models, I am certainly looking forward to seeing how this new model of academic publishing unfolds at CUNY.

Want to add your thoughts to the conversation or offer assistance? Jump in here!

6 Degrees of the iPad

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Last week, the Commons bought a few iPads for the Community Team to experiment with and after spending some one-on-one time with an iPad and reading some great resources I wanted to write a review — 6 degrees style. *This is an overview of my experience thus far, incorporating information from member’s posts as well as outside resources and opinion. 

When it comes to the iPad everyone has an opinion. The last time I used an Apple product, I was a Media Arts student at USC so I am not that familiar with the iPhone and I’m new to the whole Apple App Store thing. Either way, I will try to present a review that is as objective as possible. My first thought as I held the iPad in my hands was this… 

image credits: http://gizmodo.com

Matt Gold (@admin) posted this flowchart on the Academic Commons Project Management Base Camp back in April as a visual resource for creating new help documents on the Commons. Luckily, I’ve been beating the odds of this flowchart, but I often think of it as I eagerly await the back-ordered case! 

Holy Credit Card Batman!

Why does Apple need my credit card information?? I use my Zune and Zune Pass to satisfy my music needs (in addition to Pandora), so I was a little disappointed that I had to download iTunes on my computer again in order to start the iPad. I had to create an account and give my credit card information… which I did … because I didn’t really have a choice. After forking over some personal information I was finally ready to see what this iPad thing was all about and why Obama wasn’t a fan

Apps

There are a lot of them. A lot of apps seem useless, as Obama suggested in his commencement speech at Hampton University. Obama claimed that with new technologies such as the iPad, “information becomes a distraction”.  This is how most headlines read, but what these commentators overlooked is that Obama said they can be used as “tool(s) of empowerment… the means of emancipation”. I’m going to give Obama the benefit of the doubt here about his understanding of technology, especially after @kdelorenzo said: 

“…during the inauguration Obama is reported to have greeted Aretha with “You’re on my iPod!” so maybe he was fibbing a bit. Or maybe his younger daughter programs and syncs it for him.” 

On this topic, I would have to agree with Bill Maher’s take that Obama is putting on a cutesy political act. Obama says he doesn’t know how to use an iPod because “Americans conflate out-of-touch with adorable”. Lest he forget the power of the Internet during his presidential campaign! OK, back to iPad apps… 

In addition to @omanreagan’s ipad posts from his blog about Apple technology, Michael has also written a blog post about “religion applications available for the iPad” from his blog about interdisciplinary studies in Religion. Talk about a ‘tools of empowerment’ – good stuff Michael, thanks for sharing! 

Other apps that I consider to be tools of empowerment include: 

  • Calendar (pre-installed) This is your basic calendar. I’m able to keep myself on a tight schedule with reminders and repeating events. It’s not as customizable as I was hoping for (no task organizer).
  • Mail (pre-installed) I’m able to sync multiple Gmail accounts as well as my CUNY email. Bonus.
  • Videos>Podcasts (pre-installed>downloaded via iTunes)  I’m currently learning how to fix redeye from the Photoshop//Power Tips & Tricks Podcast. I wish the iPad had the ability to go outside of iTunes… non-jailbreaking style.
  • Notes (pre-installed) I’m able to quickly take notes from a meeting. I can tag notes to find them quickly and email them to myself, but there’s no ability for bold, italic, color, underlining, etc…
  • Todo ($4.99)  While I was hoping this app was going to be free (or included within the Calendar app) I am glad I downloaded it! Todo helps me keep track of multiple projects both at home and at work and can send reminders via email. Highly recommended.
  • Pages ($9.99) Mac’s version of Microsoft Word. You can use templates and have greater control over the layout and font style than you can with Notes.
  • Keynote ($9.99) Syncs great with Mac Keynotes. I am able to edit presentations (with limited capabilities). 
  • iBooks (free) I was able to download a lot of free books by typing “free” into the search bar.
  • Free Books (free) The name says it all — good stuff!
  • Pandora (free) I can  listen to a custom generated mix (unfortunately not while doing anything else on the iPad… without jailbreaking it).
  • Pocket Pond (free) Watching goldfish swim and interacting with them is extremely calming after a long day at the office.
  • Disney Digital Books: Toy Story (free) I am able to multitask – I can some work done at home while providing interactive entertainment for my pre-schooler!
  • Siri (free) Possibly my favorite app thus far! (see video below). The speech recognition and overall intuitive nature of this app is incredible! My favorite part is when you say “remember,…” and it will send your speech to your email… or saying “tweet” and your twitter status update bar is brought up for you to do just that. This was originally created for the iPhone.

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Thanks to Adam S. Wandt’s post we also now know how to shop for our groceries in under two minutes using the Fresh Direct app!

In non-iPad app related news I also share @awandt’s feelings of disappointment that the iPad has no forward facing camera and wouldn’t be surprised if AT&T network-related concerns were at the root of this decision. This camera (or lack-there-of) news was also revealed in @jugoretz’s post: Early iPod Thoughts.

There are some great aspects of the iPad and the overall intuitive nature is very user-friendly. There are also many features that fall short of what a truly innovative tool the iPad should be.

Lastly, the question that everyone is asking … or perhaps just @brianfoote WILL IT BLEND???

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Yes, yes it will.

Extra, Extra Tweet All About It!

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dital

I was checking out the agenda on the website for the Digital University Conference (planned by the The Digital University Conference Planning Committee Group on the Academic Commons) and stumbled across “Conference hashtag: #du10” on the right-hand side of the page. I clicked on the hyperlink, which introduced me to another great web2.0 tool Twapper Keeper. What a great find!

hashtag

For those who don’t know what Twapper Keeper is, it’s basically an archive service for Twitter that keeps track of #hashtags, keywords, and @people. Ok, so what??

Well, that means you can follow a conversation (as either an immediate conversation or extended ongoing conversation). If you want to know all there is to know about Twitter, I recommend checking out Mashable’s Twitter Guidebook.

After I finished reading some of the blog posts on the Digital University website, I read through @MattGold’s email message to those registered for the conference. This email also mentions the Digital University Conference hashtag #du10. Web 2.0 tools like Twapper Keeper act as a conduit for ongoing conversation and collaboration by keeping everything on file. Thanks to whoever found this source in the first place and for Matt explaining how to use it. This is what the Commons is all about!

mattemail

By ‘this is what it’s all about’ I not simply referring to new technology. I’m referring to the understanding of that technology through ongoing conversation and collaboration for the betterment of all CUNY campuses.

OK, let me step off my soap-box now…

After I read through that email I decided to try out some other hash tags in Twapper Keeper and came across the Commons hashtag #cunycommons!!  This hashtag is a great way to preserve an ongoing conversation about the CUNY Academic Commons. Do you have a resource or information you would like to share with the Commons community?? Just tag that tweet as #cunycommons and it will show up here!

Twitter tracker, twitter tracker, twitter tracker! Speaking of which, did you happen to notice the word mention in the same sentence as @mattgold?? Spoiler alert!!

mymentions

The new face of the Academic Commons is almost upon us. The latest version of Buddypress includes some great new features such as the Mention System, where members can be brought into conversations simply by putting the @ symbol in front of their username. This new filterable activity feed makes a member’s page more interactive (somewhat like Facebook), merging Status Updates with Wire Posts.

So get Twitter crazy at the #du10 Conference and get ready for some more Twitter-like features on the Commons. OK, that is all for now, but don’t worry there is more to come — and we will tag our tweets with the #cunycommons hashtag!

If you’re interesting in learning how to use sitewide tags on your Academic Commons blog check out Making Sitewide Tags Work on the the CUNY Academic Commons Development Blog.

6 Degrees of the Commons

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6I was just browsing through the Commons and came across a new blog: HunterGraduateSocialResearch. This peaked my interest not only because I’m interested in sociology (like these fellow members), but because I had recently checked out Hunter’s website for the MA in Applied Research when considering getting back into school.

After reading through the blog I figured I’d check it out Hunter’s website again and clicked on “Thinking about a Master’s Degree in Sociology or Social Research?”. Not only was the article interesting from the perspective of a prospective student, but I was just introduced to the publication Footnotes — an ASA online publication. (not to be confused with our community facilitator Brian Foote’s blog: Footenotes).

What I really liked about my new source is where I read under Changes at Footnotes! that they were making the online edition the official version that would be downloadable as a pdf (which means I’m probably getting access to material I wouldn’t have been able to access during snail-mail only times). This new change reminded me of our recently updated wiki Open Access Publishing. Through a little exploring on the Commons I noticed it was also related to the Academic Commons’ groups: Open Education at CUNY and CUNY Law Green Coalition. Folks it doesn’t end there!… I was also able to find relevant material in the blog posts: Print is Dead…Now What? and Convince Me To Go Green, both from the blog: York College Comm Tech.

*That reminds me, if you have a video that you would like to enter in the Sustainable CUNY Shorts Video Contest, please remember:

“Your submission can be in any form, skit, demonstration, song, short film, etc., but must be submitted to the Sustainable CUNY YouTube channel by April 21, 2010. The judging will be done based on both content and views, so make sure to get your videos up quickly and tell everyone you know to watch it.”

And that folks, is 6 Degrees (or more) of the Academic Commons.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us…

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Sorry for the Zero Wing reference, but I was wondering which category the game would go under for CUNY Games Network’s discussion on Categorizing Video Games??  I kid, hopefully no students are playing that game as it was poorly translated when imported from Japan — in the 1980′s!

This topic was posted earlier today by Eva Fernandez, who is working with Michelle Faboni on an upcoming student survey at Queens College about technologies students use in and out of school. This discussion got 1o replies in less than 5 hours and not just to the author, but to each other! Feedback was built upon through open collaboration, which is exactly why the CUNY Academic Commons was created. Resources such as The Civil Potential of Video Games (White Paper), from the Pew Research Center, are now accessable to members from different academic backgrounds. All because a member with this resource was able to share it through a hyperlink on their forum post (yay)!

Since CUNY Games Network is a public group, members throughout the CUNY Academic Commons Community and visitors alike can access this information. While some groups on the Commons were created specifically with private/hidden membership in mind, group administrators should be aware of the positive collaborative aspects of public group access.

The Categorizing Video Games discussion is just getting warmed up, so tap into your inner gamer and post your thoughts!

Discount Gym Memberships @ Baruch for GC Students…

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After not keeping my new year’s resolution to eat right and exercise I figured joining a gym might help a little in the motivation department…

Upon researching some cheap gym memberships within the 5 boroughs I came a pdf that might interest Graduate Center students that are looking to join a gym. According to the membership information page from Baruch College’s Athletics & Recreation Complex website, students can use the facilities within the Complex between September 1st and August 31st for only $100.  If you aren’t a student at the Graduate Center fear not! – CUNY faculty members can also join the Complex for a discounted rate of $400 per year. Compared with other gym membership prices this seems totally reasonable. So if you decide to join Baruch’s Althletics & Recreation Complex keep a look out for me swimming laps!!

Baruch's ARC Facilities Natatorium (Pool)

Baruch's ARC Facilities Natatorium (Pool)

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