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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Our Share in the Attention Economy

Attention is a natural thing people crave. It’s why we share photos, posts, other information on social media. We want people to know about us, even if they don’t want to. Not only do we crave that attention but so do companies. Our attention is mostly directed to our phones and computers. For the generation before, they were mostly directed towards the television. The shift in the mediums has changed drastically. There’s no telling where we will be looking at next.

Who has the power?

Power is who has our attention. May it be apps, articles or people. While it is said that we vote with our dollar, the same can be said with our attention. In the perspective of a company, it’s where the money is. If everyone is focused on some specific thing, there’s a company thats finding a way to profit from it. Sites like YouTube found new ways to incorporate capital gains into the content. Companies will sponsor content and pay for the expenses needed to make videos. They may even send our promotional products to contributors that have large followings. This is a clever tactic. It’s allows them to feed us their products aside from traditional ads and commercials.  As a society, we are driving the demand for such things. Companies are seemingly getting better at making us think that it was our idea all along.

Social Media and Empowerment 

Social media has empowered people to take matters into their own hands. It allows us to bring attention to matters that might have gone unnoticed. These tools might not have been intended for this. I doubt twitter was ever actively seeking to become apart of a social revolution.  Instances such as the Flint Water Crisis or the Dakota Access Pipeline have created this following that would be hard to reach without social media. It gained so much exposure that people were forced to confront the issues. There was no way of hiding it now that millions of people were apart of the following.

Attention vs Acceptance

Another thing we crave more than attention is acceptance. We like to know we belong. It’s part of us to want to be apart of a group. In the Attention Economy, they’re using it against us. This dependency of acceptance makes us conform the the majority. If other people feel so passionately, then so should I! It’s with this herd mentality that we’re giving them exactly what they want. We feel so compelled to feel apart of something that we get sucked up into something more without knowing it. Is it right that we forgo our individuality for acceptance?






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Brief Intro of Disinformation

In the digital age, we’re exposed to a wealth of knowledge that is more than we ever imagined. Information is seemingly endless. With this endless stream of information, there’s bound to be some loose ends. We can’t always trust what we read on the internet. It’s also not likely that this is the first time you’re hearing this. It’s easy to just type whatever is on your mind into Google. Your search results come in the matter of seconds. Typically, we define false information as misinformation. Misinformation may be the result of poor education on a subject. While deliberately falsifying information to sway opinion is the intent of disinformation.

How does this happen?

Disinformation can be easily disguised through social networking channels like facebook or twitter. Articles or even other blogs are able to spread the information. There’s even an interactive map of how disinformation spreads via social network.

The popular choice of weapon is BOTS! These crafty fellows were created to decive, but there are typical signs to spot them out.

Look for:

  • Newly-created accounts

These accounts can spring up at anytime. Few times people create an account to just discuss the matter, and only talk about the one subject.

  • Stolen images/content

It’s a lot easier to steal the information rather than creating it themselves.

  • Interesting account names

These account names are sometimes mixes of letters and numbers after a real name or celebrity name.

Keeping yourself on top

It’s important that we get the right information -even when we have to take action in our own hands. Fact checking is a great way to test the waters yourself.


  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Read laterally.[1] Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, or hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.


This is just small sample of what we can do to avoid the spread of false information, intentional or not.

Have any other tips? Comment below!


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