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Foldable Phones

The e-life innovation coming out now that I am most excited about is the foldable phone. This invention will not necessarily radically change web design, because we are already doing responsive design based on screen size. But they will change how many people interact with online content, for two reasons.

Firstly, I want to note that there are two types of “foldable phone” that are coming onto the market. The first is exemplified by the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo, and the second by the new Moto Razr and the the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. Basically, the first category of foldable phones have a traditional post IPhone smartphone form factor in your pocket, and can be used as a traditional smartphone on the go. But they also fold out into a tablet for more extended use. The second category of device is a compact square or near square in your pocket that folds out for use as a traditional smartphone – it really can’t be interacted with when folded.

The first type of foldable phone is what I’m really interested in. The second type of phone is probably more comfortable in your pocket, and certainly the screen is less likely to get damaged by your keys. Though who knows what damage angrily hanging up by slamming the phone closed will do. But it wont change the way you interact with the web or your apps in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, the simple addition of a 7-9 inch tablet that folds into something you can put in your pocket means that you no longer need to switch devices to fill in an online form or read an eBook. I can say from experience that even a 7 inch tablet is more comfortable than a 6.5 inch phone, in part because 6.5 inch phablets are often long and narrow, harder to read than their official rated size would suggest. On the other hand, most small tablets have budget specs and are often WiFi only. The foldable phones are fast, with flagship specs, and even old eyes will find the folded out screen easy to read. The foldable phone replaces a standard smartphone and a tablet perfectly. It isn’t an ideal replacement for an ereader or computer proper, but for less tech savvy users it may be a good enough for them to do what they did with a computer or ereader.

Finally, app creators will realize the potential of a half folded foldable phone. Especially game developers.

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App Comparison: Instagram and Snapchat

Instagram and SnapChat are two social media apps. They belong to the third generation of social media, and as such they are native phone apps. Instagram does have a web interface, but SnapChat’s site is purely an add for the app.

Both apps are driven by photographs and short videos, and were developed as mobile phone cameras proliferated. Both of these apps tend to appeal to a younger demographic, though Snapchat’s demographic is even younger than Instagram’s.

One big difference between the core functions of Instagram and Snapchat is that Instagram photos remain online and are visible to all your followers, while Snapchat photos disappear after you view them once or twice, and are sent to a specific individual or group of individuals. Snapchat also offers stories, which also disappear after a single viewing, but are visible to all of your friends. Instagram added a similar story mode in 2013, after Snapchat’s owners turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook.

By contrast, the founders of Instagram accepted a buyout from Facebook in 2012. Facebook actually let the app develop mostly independently until 2017, when declining revenue in the main product caused Mike Zuckerberg to take a heavier hand, and the original founders of Instagram departed. Since then, Instagram’s messages have been integrated with WhatsApp and Facebook Messanger, and disappearing photos have been added to all three apps.

In appearance, Snapchat is sillier than Instagram, with a plethora of fun filters and customizable emojis. Facebook/Instagram have tried to imitate these features of Snapchat, but without much success.

Instagram remains larger and more profitable than Snapchat, though Snapchat is certainly successful enough to make its creators rich. The Snapchat team believes on a new approach to social media, one with fewer but more intimate relationships.

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Top 5 CMS in 2020

As of late December of last year the top 5 CMS, in order, were WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Joomla!, and Shopify.

WordPress.org is the most popular CMS, with 27 million live websites, 54% CMS market share, and 36% of the entire Web. This is not without reason. The WordPress CMS is free and open source, but can be deployed by someone who does not know how to code, though I wouldn’t expect a complete technical beginner to deploy it successfully. My mother, for instance, could absolutely make posts and pages on a WordPress site, but she’d need my help to deploy WordPress on the site and set up the theme and plugins.

WordPress has many themes, and all of them are customizable, either through the “additional CSS” option or by tweaking the theme’s style sheet itself. WordPress is mobile friendly and responsive.

WordPress is great for blogging, but can be used for almost any website of up to medium size and complexity. There is a robust ecosystem of plugins, both free and paid, to do anything you want a website to do. WordPress.org is on-premise software. It must normally be downloaded as an archive from the wordpress.org website, then uploaded and unzipped to your domain via the FTP offered by your hosting provider. Some hosting providers have work-arounds to help you with this. Note that WordPress.org is distinct from, and more robust than, WordPress.com, which is not open source, and sill focused strictly on blogging.

Wix is a paid website builder that’s deployed on 3.8 million websites, capturing 7.8% of the CMS market share. I have not personally used Wix yet, so this is a review based on other reviews, not personal knowledge. Wix is paid, with the cheapest plan starting at $13/month, but this is an all inclusive price and . Wix is marketed to small businesses that need a website, but don’t have anyone on staff who’s capable of deploying WordPress, and who don’t want to hire (or can’t afford) a freelance web designer like me. Wix is simple enough for a complete beginner to figure out and use. They have a large number of very good looking, responsive templates, but you aren’t going to get behind the scenes and tweak them like you can with WordPress.org. Wix appears to be a software-as-service platform. They offer a free, non-time-limited option, but your site will be at their domain and host their adds.

Squarespace is a drag and drop CMS that is offered as software-as-a-service. It is attractive, and very easy to learn, but hard to use if your computer or your internet connection is slow. The Robins Hunter Museum website was built in Squarespace. It is paid and closed source, and unlike Wix, they don’t offer a feature-limited free option, just a time-limited free trial. Squarespace is probably the easiest to use CMS that I have personally encountered, provided that your computer and internet are both reasonably fast. Reviewers note that their template selection is a bit more limited than Wix or WordPress, with a minimalist aesthetic involving significant white space. Squarespace’s eCommerce options were perfectly suited to the museum’s needs. They do allow you to insert custom HTML blocks and add custom CSS code into your site. Squarespace powers 1.8 million websites, 1.4 million of them in the US, and has a 4% market share.

Joomala! is an advanced CMS that lets you do more than you could do with WordPress or any other popular CMS, but it is also harder to use. Joomala powers 1.8 million websites worldwide, but only 400,000 of them are in the United States, and it has a 3.5% market share. My experience with Joomala is limited and consists only of classroom exercises, but I hope to change that this fall. Literally any kind of website can be built with Joomala, but it is better for more complex web sites, including apps, and a bit worse for blogs. Like WordPress, Joomala is free and open source, and like WordPress, you must download it, upload it, unzip it, and install it on your server. It is a bigger file than WordPress if I recall correctly.

Finally, the fifth most popular CMS, and the most popular “specialized” CMS is Shopify. It is a closed-source, “software as service” CMS that is specialized for the creation of Amazon-like stores and nothing else. SSL is built in, which is very important given its purpose. I have no personal experince with this CMS, but it powers 1.1 million websites, though that amounts to less than 1% of the market share. But that’s a bigger share than Moodle or any other specialized CMS.

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Cloud Services

Like most Americans I know, the two cloud computing services I use most often are those provided by Microsoft and Google. I try to use both more or less equally for different reasons so that I do not become too dependent on any one corporation.

As a designer, I am also entangled with Adobe’s “Creative Cloud”, which is how they now deliver their creative suite.

Both clouds offer storage (Google drive, OneDrive), and a suite of office productivity apps. The google apps, including Google Drive, can generally only be accessed on a computer via browser, though there are native apps for Android and IOS. Microsoft, OTOH, offers native apps for desktop users, both Windows and Mac. The desktop OneDrive app integrates seamlessly with your computer’s native storage, even on a Mac!

The consumer Google cloud is generally free to the end user, while the Microsoft cloud generally requires a paid subscription, though it may be included with the purchase of hardware. This is a mixed blessing for the user, however, since Google is making their money by tracking you. Microsoft products are expensive, but the fact that they make their money from me is actually reassuring. They also have better support.

In general, I prefer Google for Email, and for collaborative work on documents and presentations, but Microsoft for more or less everything else.

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Reliable Sources

When I am looking for a reliable source of information on HTML and CSS, the number one source I turn to is W3Schools. I was under the impression that it was affiliated with the W3C, the nonprofit consortium that is responsible for web standards, but that was actually a mistaken impression. W3Schools is actually the creation of a Norwegian web development firm called Refsnes Data. Now that I know this, I will no longer treat their answers as authoritative. Nevertheless, their information is based on current web standards and regularly updated.

For insights into WYSIWIG or Adobe Suite problems, I do a google search, and often what pops up is Stack Exchange, usually UX, Graphic Design, or Webmaster’s stack exchange. This is a site where questions and answers are up-voted by the community. I only just recently registered myself, because I finally feel confident enough to participate in the community.

Finally, Adobe itself has tutorials and forums that are sometimes helpful. I tend to use stack exchange first, because the up-voting mechanic moves the most helpful answers to the top, but the official forums sometimes have answers that aren’t on stack exchange. Having official answers and the ability to get the company’s attention is helpful, though of course the official way is not always the best way. Sometimes users figure out how to do something with a piece of software the developers never intended.

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A Content Management System

A content management system is what I’m typing this on right now. It’s a system that allows someone to create a website without, in theory, writing any code. The CMS I have personal experience with are WordPress, Joomala, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Sites, Moodle LMS, and Squarespace.

Content management systems changed web design by separating web design and web development. They allowed amateurs to create at least semi-decent websites, and they allowed professional web designers to focus on designing, with coding becoming a secondary skill. It’s still important to know how to code in HTML, so that you aren’t stuck when the CMS doesn’t want to play nice and something needs to look just so.

At the same time, the web developers became actual programmers who made websites do more and more things that they hadn’t been able to do before, giving us web designers more toys to play with.

Creating a site in Dreamweaver means building it more or less from the ground up, in HTML and CSS. It’s rewarding to know that you can make a site from scratch, but it’s also usually not the best way to do things in 2020. For most sites a CMS will let you build a more attractive site faster.

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3rd Exercise for DMD – 107

Professor Jaric’s Assignment

For this assignment, put yourself in the role of an executive at a small to medium-sized corporation… Let’s say it’s a gourmet food retailer with three stores and an online e-commerce marketplace. You sell approximately $1 million in goods each year; you have more than 35,000 customers, 100 retail employees and 35 corporate employees.

You are the CIO or the IT supervisor, and you’ve been tasked with helping your organization prevent and manage cyber threats. These threats can come from a variety of sources, and they can impact many aspects of your business. Your job in this assignment is to identify potential threats, assess your organization’s vulnerabilities, and provide advice on how to minimize digitally-induced disaster.

In a 500+ word blog post, address the following:

1. Know your enemy: As of Summer 2020, what are 5 sources/types of potential digital threats to your organization. Examples include external malicious actors or internal human error. Provide a thorough description and examples; be specific. 

2. Know yourself: Identify at least 5 digital processes, systems, and/or functions your company has in place. Importantly, address how could those be exploited or manipulated in order to gain access to valuable corporate or customer data?

3. Develop your strategy: As the chief technology executive, make 5 recommendations that your company should adopt to be more safe, secure, and reliable. Again, consider hardware, software, networks, and human policies and procedures. (e.g., appropriate use policy on corporate computers; firewall; SSL/web encryption; backup/retention)

My Answers

Question 1: The number one security threat to my company is lazy, stupid, and horny employees. They check their personal email, surf the web starting at Reddit, and even use the company WIFI to watch porn on their phones in the restroom. Of course, phishing and other forms of social engineering are a perennial threat, and the higher up you go on the food chain, the more sophisticated the social engineering becomes. I’ve had social engineers arrange fake dates with VPs. But not every social engineering threat has to be sophisticated to work, some employees will click on that link from “paypal” and fill in their details without any due diligence at all 🙄. Then there are the idiots who put passwords on a post-it note on their monitor. I don’t require super-sophisticated passwords no human can remember, and I don’t require periodic password changes, so everyone should be able to have their password memorized. Of course, data breaches can happen because of disgruntled employees leaving the company. And finally, with COVID 19, I’ve had to think a lot about our VPN, and how to keep it secure.

Question 2- The things we have in place are:

  1. Our website. It’s attractive and well maintained, and it has our e-commerce operations on it. This has become particularly vital, because our brick and mortar locations were shut down for two months and are still only allowing one family of customers in at a time. Naturally this could be hacked, either to put graffiti on the site, or, more seriously, to steal customer data.
  2. Our VPN, which has been vital to our office operations during COVID-19. If a bad actor has access to an employee’s VPN key, they have access to everything the employee does. This is why we try to keep the VPN secure. Before COVID-19, only company-issued devices could access the VPN, but now we’ve had to allow BYOD because we couldn’t afford universal issue of company laptops and tablets.
  3. Our server holds the website and a bunch of other data. It’s a big rack in our main office, with all the usual accessories. Physical access to it is strictly controlled, but the office has been deserted for days during the COVID crisis. In April I only went in once a week.
  4. Our brick and mortar point of sale system. This is not a huge security concern since when it’s up a cashier is always there, and the machines are on Ethernet cable not WiFi and only have access to our intranet, not the internet.
  5. Our corporate intranet does a lot of things. It’s where everyone with a white collar job stores files that multiple people need to access, for instance. It’s where the sales figures from our POS system and eCommerce meet, too.

Question 3: Of course we use SSL for anything networked. It is 2020 and I am not an idiot. Likewise, we have a firewall- we’ve implemented an enterprise solution from Norton. The guest wifi for employee’s personal devices in our offices is soloed and separate from the company wifi used by company issued devices, which have a corporate certificate installed on them and are subject to man-in-the-middle inspection by our office. The open customer wifi for our brick and mortar stores is even more strictly separate. As I said, we used to require company issued devices for work from home. That’s not practical anymore but we do require the use of a virtual machine to keep our data seperate from employee’s personal data. The company certificate is on the VM but not on our employees personal profiles. The VMs and company issued devices are backed up to our server, once again this is an off the shelf solution we purchased from Norton.

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Understanding Social Media Demographics

According to Statistia, the top three social media sites are Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp. But WhatsApp and Messenger are both owned by Facebook, so really the third most popular independent social media site in the world is the Chinese site WeChat.

Facebook, with 2.5 billion users, is primarily intended as a site for keeping up with people you know in real life, your friends and family, but it has also become a major site for talking about news, politics, and hobbies, and for conducting virtual garage sales. They’re trying to compete with YouTube in the online video business, but remain second to YouTube. It was founded and remains the property of Mark Zuckerberg.

YouTube, with 2 billion users, began as a place where people could share videos they’d made, without any real social aspects. But as features like comments were added, YouTube became more and more social. It features profiles, called channels, comments and likes on videos, and recently added text-only posts and short, mobile-only videos. YouTube is trying very hard to be a full fledged social media site, but most users are still there to watch videos – I personally do 90% of my YouTube browsing on my Roku Smart TV.

WeChat is a posting, messaging, ride-hailing, mobile payment and casual gaming app created by the Chinese tech giant Tencent. It is very much a mobile-first, app first experience. It has a web interface, but you must scan a QR code from your phone to log into the website (though there are also desktop apps for Windows and Mac OS). This social media and much more app has over a billion users but is virtually unknown in the West.

Demographics are the statistics on what kind of person is most likely to use a particular social network. They are important because advertisers use demographics to target what adds you would run on a particular social network. There would be little point to running political adds that reach people too young to vote.

Facebook Demographics: Facebook is a bit more female than male and a bit more mobile than desktop, but those are small differences. 69% of American adults are on Facebook. Contrary to it’s reputation as a hangout for senior citizens, Facebook is in fact popular with all ages of adult, and a larger percentage (89%) of 18-29 year olds have a Facebook account than adults over 65(62%). Perhaps the perception that Facebook is for older people comes more from their absence on other social networking sites rather than a disproportionate presence on Facebook.

YouTube is the most popular social media site in America, a bit more popular than Facebook in the US (but less popular abroad.) very popular with literal children and teenagers. Statistics on children under 13 are hard to come by because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection act, which YT has been dinged by the government for violating. But 85% of teens age 13-17 are on YouTube, compared to around 50% on Facebook. YouTube is also slightly more male than female, the reverse of Facebook.

WeChat has essentially no market share in the US, so even though it has over one billion users worldwide it is irrelevant to American marketing unless you’re marketing specifically to Chinese-Americans and Chinese expats. In China, despite its reputation for omnipresence, WeChat is markedly more popular with young and middle aged adults than children or the elderly.

The average user spend 11 minutes and 34 seconds on YouTube, 38 minutes on Facebook, and 30 on WeChat.

The fastest growing social network is Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and ranks just behind WeChat.

As I said, a small majority of Facebook use is on mobile, WeChat is apparently primarily for mobile use, and I can’t find good information about YouTube.

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Week 2 Research Assignment: E-Life, The Evolving Web

1. Today, do more people access the web using computers or mobile devices? Provide a resource that supports your answer. 

A small majority of all worldwide internet use is mobile. Asia(62%) and Africa (60%) are leading this trend, and are leading this trend. On our continent 52% of internet traffic is still from computers, 48% is mobile. South Americans are the least likely to use a smartphone or tablet – only 35% of traffic from South America is mobile

2 . Who controls the World Wide Web? What is it made up of?

No-one controls the World Wide Web, that’s the beauty of it. The internet is a interconnected network of billions of servers. The Internet Engineering Task Force sets voluntary web standards that make sure websites and browsers are compatible. That way things don’t go back to how they were when I was in high school and half the websites only worked with Internet Explorer. ICANN is the top level authority for registering domains and IP addresses, but they subcontract much of their work.

3. Who is Tim Berners Lee? What is he best known for?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

He is the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a Web standards organization founded in 1994 which develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. He is a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation which was launched in 2009 to coordinate efforts to further the potential of the Web to benefit humanity.

A graduate of Oxford University, Sir Tim invented the Web while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in 1989. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. His specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined as Web technology spread.

https://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/

4. What is a blog? What is it used for?

This is a blog, it is used for sharing my thoughts about web design. My personal blog is used for my thoughts on politics, religion, food, and drink. More broadly, a blog, originally a contraction of “Web Log” is a public diary posted on the internet.

5. What is a “responsive” website design? 

Responsive web designs are designs that change depending on the device the person is using (ideally, on its screen size), so that they are good looking, or at least legible, on phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop.

6. Why are “responsive” website designs necessary? 

Because, no matter where you are in the world, a sizable percentage large amount of internet traffic is mobile, and a sizable percentage is not. Coding only for computer or only for mobile means that at least a third of your users will have an ugly and difficult experience.

7. What is SEO, and why should website owners/managers be concerned with SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and the better your SEO is the more people can find you using Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. (Please, people, stop just using Google, they shouldn’t have a monopoly.)

8. What is dynamic content? 

Dynamic content (aka adaptive content) refers to web content that changes based on the behavior, preferences, and interests of the user. It refers to websites as well as e-mail content and is generated at the moment a user requests a page.

https://www.omniconvert.com/what-is/dynamic-content/

9. What is a content management system? You work with one, what is it’s name?

A content management system (CMS) is any program that lets you create a more-or-less fully featured website without being able to code HTML. This site is created in the WordPress CMS. Other CMSes are Google Sites, Joomala (more advanced, less user friendly), SharePoint, and Squarespace(more user friendly, less powerful). There are also specialized CMSes like Moodle for educational institutions or MailChimp for HTML emails.

10. What is a youtube channel? Who might want to start one?

A youtube channel comes free with any gmail account, you don’t need to do anything special to open one. It is an account that you can use to post videos or comments on YouTube. Anyone who wants to share videos of some kind with the public should use their YouTube channel actively. Trinity Episcopal Church has started an active YouTube account for posting services during the lockdown and will continue streaming our worship after we re-open.
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Another Fillable PDF by Me