What Representation Means to Me

Majority of my life I’ve struggled with self identity. I was born to an Asian mother and a Caucasian father. I’m often told I look more Asian than white. I’m also told the stereotypical “But really, what are you?” Usually, it’s easy to brush off but sometimes it gets under my skin. Being in a world divided by race and how you look affects how people will interact with you. It’s our ugly truth.

During my senior year of high school, I remember getting nervous about applications. They had me choose what race I identified as. I was conflicted about how it would affect my acceptances. It wasn’t the fact that I had a great GPA or test score. It was the fact that I wasn’t as smart as the other Asians in my grade. My acceptance to college was one of the proudest moments for myself and my family. I’m first generation, meaning I’m the first in my family to go to college. It was always plugged into me that I was going no matter what. I had never thought about not going.

In the beginning, my college career was no short of a hot mess. While being accepted to Mary Washington and attending, I had no interest in actually being there. My original intended major was BIT – business information technology. UMW only had BIS – business information systems. I figured I would work towards what the school had and would transfer out eventually to a school that had what I wanted. When the time came to declare my major, I had decided to stay at UMW and complete my degree. Coming to my advising appointment, I was excited! Everything was falling into place…Then I found out the school had gotten rid of the program. My general advisor steered me towards pursuing a computer science major. I had no interest in a general business degree. I was really thinking to myself “Why would I be going into computers?”

One of my major personal push backs of becoming a computer science major was not being smart enough. I never had the courage in myself to believe I was able to become successful in my career or let alone graduate. I was intimidated. Nobody in my family was into any sort of tech. I knew no one to guide me. I had no role models. It was me and I was alone.

At least that’s what I had thought.

Walking into my classes, I was outnumbered. I was maybe one of two other girls in attendance. My classmates has seemed like they already knew what was going on even before the professor had said anything. Even in my beginning coding class, I felt stupid and left behind. I found refuge in the internet. I found communities of other college women who were struggling just like me. Sharing my struggles opened up a new world. I began to feel confident. I realized that the other students in my classes weren’t that much more advanced than I was. It was just how they made it seem to be. Coming closer to completing my degree, more and more girls were leaving the program. They were smart and talented but they didn’t continue. Looking back, I wish I had a stronger sense of community earlier. If I had established that group within my own school’s program, then maybe some of the others wouldn’t have left.

UMW CPSC at CAPWIC 2017 at Georgetown U

During this past spring semester, I had attended CAPWIC – Capital Area Women in Computing Conference with some other women in the department. In the short weekend, I was surrounded by others just like me. The others and I wondered “How can we feel like this all the time?” Eventually this came to the idea of starting our own group. In the end, we created DiverCS (said like diverse). We wanted to create a sense of community in the computer science department surrounded by the idea that we are diverse, yet united. There is no exclusion. You are welcome no matter who you are. When push comes to shove, sometimes you need to take charge. Make your own home. Don’t wait around for someone else to do it for you.

 

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Adtech Analysis

Advertisements on the internet are ever evolving. The ads I used to see were nothing compared to what I see now. I remember seeing the same generic ads on every webpage. They were hardly tailored to what I was interested. Now I feel as if they know too much of what I’m interested in. I’ve noticed that if I browse a website and click on an item, that item will appear in my ads.

Using Bill Fitzgerald’s guide to intercepting internet proxy, I investigated what exactly was being collected while browsing. I took a look using OWASP ZAP at Reddit and Twitter. These are my typical most looked at sites.

Right off the bat, I noticed in the 3rd ID that Reddit had known I was using a Mac with OS X 10.11. I previously mentioned in my advertiser profile post about how I noticed it that Facebook knew as well. I can see now exactly where they get that information from.

 I also noticed I got a request from ad.doubleclick.net who Fitzgerald had also mentioned in a article of his. as well as googlesyndication.

From Twitter, I found similar results on them being able to find out the type of machine I was using. I also found out that twitter uses twimg.com for their ad tech. That popped up a lot more than anything else when it was collecting.

After taking a slight look into this, I am well creeped out. I had previously done packet sniffing but I wasn’t exactly looking for ad information. The fact that this is all happening behind the scenes is what scares me the most. I would’ve probably been blind to this my entire life until someone had told me about it. Knowing this is that we’re not always private. You may think you’re doing harmless browsing but this could bite you in the butt eventually. Be wary. Be informed.

 

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Brief Intro to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a form of Internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It just means that instead of having your stuff on a hard drive, it’s stored on the internet! Through the use of cloud computing, users have easy and simple access to servers, storage and databases.

Pros of Cloud Computing

1.Easy access

You only need a connect to the internet to access your data! It’s simple as that.

2.Increased speed

Having everything on the internet stream lines everything.

3.Adjustable capacity

Capacity is seemingly limitless. You have the choice of how much or how little space you want to use.There’s no hard limit on the amount of space you have access to.

Cons

1.Internet access is required

internet access isn’t available everywhere. you’re sorta S.O.L if you need something and there’s no internet

2.Downtime

sometimes outages happen! it’s not always guaranteed that there will be no outages. Sometimes things go wrong and it is out of your control.

3.Security

nothing is totally secure. everyone is still vulnerable.

Types of Cloud Computing

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

   Businesses will use this as a web infrastructure like servers and storage their own works.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

   By providing a platform, users are able to maintain, develop and run. The complexity and work needed is taken away. They are delivered by as a public cloud service or by networks.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Users are able to gain information from the use of application softwares and databases. Sometimes these services are provided by a subscription. Applications such as Microsoft Office 365 are SaaS! UMW uses it to provide us email addresses as well as the popular applications like Word or Excel.

You’re probably already familiar with cloud computing. Tools such as Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud are both examples of cloud computing.

 

Check out these sites for more information

Amazon. PC World. Microsoft.

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Censorship

In Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas, he writes “Censorship is usually thought of as a dichotomous concept: some- thing is either censored or not, often by a centralized gatekeeper, such as governments or mass media.” This is exactly what I think when I hear the word, censorship. We live in world where censorship is becoming more prevalent.

Countries like China are banning topics such as LGBT from the the internet. They’ve given it the name “The Great Firewall of China.” Lu Wei is the the head of the Propaganda Department for the Communist Republic of China. He credits their success of censorship but “striking the correct balance between “freedom and order” and between “openness and autonomy.” You can justify giving up some freedom for security. Similar to the Social Contract Theory, people are willing to do this. They believe that their form of government will protect them. But is it really worth it? Would you rather give up the freedom of all knowledge to protect yourself? Personally, I don’t think so. I’d like to know everything I possibly could. I wouldn’t want knowledge to be left out. We can learn so much from others and their experiences. Censoring them could hurt us in the long run. Just as history can repeat itself, we shouldn’t keep this information away. While it may seem like a good idea to hide information that may be harmful, we’re loosing out on all aspects of outlook.

In other ways, this can hit home easily. Currently we’re experiencing our own form of government censorship. It’s net neutrality. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. Given the opportunity, we could have the same fate as China. This puts the power into the hands of corporations and not the people. We could have to pay extra money to visit websites or just not be able to go to certain sites if a company deems them unfavorable. This is happening right before us and people seem to not as care. In person, I hardly hear it come up in conversation. It’s not the hot topic but it very well should be. As someone who uses the internet and future career revolves around tech, this is incredibly important to me.

Take a look at the video from Jon Oliver about Net Neutrality:

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Internet Protocols

Some days the internet can look like this magical being that nobody understands how it works but – it just does. Before becoming a computer science major, I had no idea how anything worked in terms of the internet. This past spring I took an internet security course and learned the deep roots of how the internet is possible. A HUGE player in that is the use of internet protocols! An internet protocol is a method of transferring data from one computer to another. Another name for them is IP.

There are a bunch of different types of internet protocols that have simple, yet important jobs that we use everyday. Sometimes protocols have higher reliability such as TCP. TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol. This is the foundation for connection. TCP allows for reliable stream transfer. You rarely have to worry about losing something when it’s being transported.  Learning these protocols were interesting and sometimes hard to learn from a book or an article.

An IP can sometimes seem useless as it is unreliable and connectionless. You’re not guaranteed any sorta successful transfer. The length of the datagram can vary but it contains the header and data. The actual length of the header can be anywhere from 20 to 60 bytes. In the header you will find the routing and delivery information of the packet. 

There are others such as User Datagram Protocol(UDP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) or like you may already know Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTPS). These small parts build what we know today.

Check out the video below for a better intro than what I can do! I referenced this video frequently when learning about protocols!

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Mindfulness and Social Media Consumption

Since Monday I had been logging the times I used social media for total of 3 days. It was going to be interesting to see what I actually do during the day. Checking social media on my phone is like second nature to me now. I hardly have to think about it. Sometimes I catch myself not even wanting to check Facebook on my phone, yet the app is open and I’m scrolling.

When I had first purchased my first laptop in middle school – I was addicted to the internet. I stayed up for hours just looking at what there was. There I found my love of music, but I also found out how little sleep I could get. I remember falling asleep in class or worse I would just sleep through my bus stop. The internet was so new and interesting to me. Sometimes I feel like I never got away from that. Only now the internet is just my crutch.

Through my findings, it was no surprise that I was checking facebook the most. I hardly post on it, but I am constantly scrolling to see what other people are up to. Twitter came in second. I post on it slightly more that anything else. Instagram and Reddit were about tied for third most used app. Most of my social media consumption is just purely browsing. I hardly post but I’m always looking. I had caught myself checking these even when I was with friends. It’s not like it was boring, I was just so used to this routine of checking something when there was pause in the conversation. Knowing this now, I’d like to think I want to stop away from having these apps on my phone. A refresh of this would be great. Let’s see how that goes!

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My Digital Identity

I decided to google myself.  Turns out that I’m basically off the grid.  Google Images showed mostly pictures of another Tiffany Lower who plays softball for the UCF Knights.  The actual search results kept my identity hidden fairly well.  Maybe it’s just the fact that my name is pretty common… either way, I’ve tried making a short biography of myself.

Tiffany Lower is a person known only on the internet as a student at the University of Mary Washington.  She happens to also be the president of the university’s Field Hockey club.  Otherwise, she has a dark and mysterious past.

It’s interesting to me that such little information about me exists.  I figured some of my more frequented websites (reddit, facebook, instagram) would give way to some information on me, but that’s not true in reality. I spend a lot of time during the day on my phone browsing and responding to other people, most likely around two hours each day total.  Even with this in mind, I think the fact that I do self-censor personal information and remove questionable content keeps me off the grid. I realized early that some things shouldn’t be on the internet and could easily come back against me.

Tiffany Lower of the Univ of Central Florida

 

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The Value of Copyright

When originality is scarce, people rely on their ideas and works to be protected. Works such as songs, paintings, videos and software can all be copyrighted. While ideas may not be copyrighted. These things need to be original and must have been created by the author. Any work published after 1977 will have a copyright that lasts the life of the author plus 70 years.

Why is this important? 

Creatives need to be able to protect what is theirs. Typically if an individual wants to capitalize on their new ideas, they want to protect it so others may not copy their ideas. This prevents fraudulent works from potentially existing.

Since the development of the internet, the copyright system has changed drastically to accommodate for new forms of creative work. When copyright laws were created, they lacked the knowledge of the the future technology we would eventually create. They’ve adapted to fit cd’s and video games. It also begs to ask the question, are these laws outdated?

Lawrence Lessig discusses the idea of how copyright could be creating less creativity. While many things are hardly original, they’re all remixed and redone over and over again. While copyrights may protect the author, how is it hurting us? Personally, I think about all of the different things we could be missing if people got past the copyright issue. We are easily hung up on something that we’re missing the ever growing picture. Today, it’s hard to see something completely original.

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The Digital Divide

Today, we can sometimes take the internet for granted. For those lucky enough, we don’t have any trouble accessing these resources. We can easily complain how the internet is too slow today. Or that this coffee shop doesn’t provide free wifi. Sadly, there are others in this world that don’t have the same privileges as us.

Growing up I can always remember having a computer. My family was a little more tech savvy than some of my friends and their families. My friends would always want to come over to visit the Cartoon Network site and want to play games for hours. I never gave it a second thought until recently. Some of my friends didn’t have access to the internet in their home. I would go with them to the library to play games if they didn’t come to mine. Coming into middle school, I was lucky enough to have my own laptop. My family always wanted me to have the best opportunities for my education. Even I have taken that for granted.

Recently, I can across the term- digital divide. TechTarget defines the digital divide as the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access. We can think of this as a similar situation as world hunger. Not having it is a disadvantage and may prevent someone the same opportunities as someone else.

As of 2015, 84% of Americans are using the internet. What about the other 16% of Americans? It makes us think about how much of that 16% are those who aren’t able to afford any sort of personal internet. Or who may use internet from other places such as libraries.

What can we do? 

I’m a firm believer that everyone should have access to the internet. Since it has become such a huge factor into our everyday lives, we need a wider range of audience.  No Child Left Behind is a great example of how we are able to help others. By providing internet access to everyone who wants it will benefit them. This doesn’t mean that they must use it, but rather it is there for when they need it. Everything in our time is being streamlined into the internet. Job applications, shopping and booking appointments have all be pushed online for ease. Potentially, we could never have anything on paper again!

In the mean time, we need to take charge and push for more accessibility. There are libraries that will provide internet to those who have a library card free of charge. These resources also include printing and browsing. Other libraries are providing classes on the internet.

While the internet is seemingly becoming a basic human right, we as a society have a duty in helping so.

 

 

 

 

 

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What My Advertiser Profile Says About Me

If you didn’t know, you can totally check out what your facebook says about you. Facebook will use this data and this allows advertisers to target their products toward you. I took a peek about what facebook knew about myself and how this determined the types of ads I got.

 

I put little on my pages as it goes for personal information. I am surprised that they did know that I’m only using iOS devices. I own both an iPhone 7 and a MacBook which would be the only devices I would be using to access facebook. It seems that a HUGE portion of the categories are relating to my devices and internet access. (seven to be specific!)  In terms of my birthday month, I’m not really sure what it would mean to my advertisers. Are there products that would cater to my birthday month? I can understand seasonal products, but wouldn’t they be advertised to everyone?

My current living location is my college town in Fredericksburg and  had specified it was different from my hometown. The only family that is connected on my profile is actually not family at all besides my one sister. Everyone else is friends that we jokingly added as siblings or other relatives. None of them currently live near me.

Most of this data is what I had added to my profile willingly. I’m not surprised facebook would use these pieces of information. I don’t have that big of an issue that they are using the information that I opted into putting there. Some of the information I am not exactly sure how they got it such as knowing I am using an 4G connection. I would always like an option to opt-out of selling my data to companies. That being said, anything that I am willing to put out there is what I am comfortable with.

How to keep your information private: 

1.Be careful about the information you do decide to put out

Keep in mind what you want to be sharing. I like to use the general rule “Would your grandma be comfortable with this?”

2.Don’t overshare

Less is more. Don’t put out anything unnecessary. Sometimes we can get carried away and are caught up in it all.

3.Consider turning off location services

Companies like to use your location to serve more location appropriate advertisement. Opt out by turning off your GPS or stop sharing your location.

Consider these other articles on information privacy: McAfee |CNET 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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