18 November 2006

Space Travel

http://www.kuffner.org/james/gallery/raytracing/earth_from_space/ earth_lens_flare_test.jpg When you hear someone speak about space travel, do you get excited? Do shuttles, rockets, and spacecrafts sound the same to you? Do you generally want to know more about Space Travel?” http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/02144/home.htm this is the way in which some of the many site attract its visitors. However, taking a closer look at the possibility of space travel, we can conclude that space travel is not such an sci-fi concept. On the one hand, space travel price decreased recently and if someone is willing to pay now 5,250 GBP, and before the flying moment “another small” amount of … GBP 13 million, the would-be astronaut could enjoy the landscape offered by viewing Earth form space. However, this would not be like a walk in the park, because the would-be astronaut will have to train somewhere in Russia before taking off http://www.etravelblackboard.com/index.asp?id=58194&nav=105. On the other hand, Nikolai Sevastyanov said that the price for space travel rose form $20milion to $21milion because the cost of materials and components increased http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Price_Of_Space_Tourist_Flight_To_ISS_Raised_ By_One_Million_Dollars_999.html. Forthermore, two people returned from space Dennis Tito, and Anousheh Ansari, and there is another person in preparing to take the trip, Charles Simonyi http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Price_Of_Space_Tourist_Flight_To_ISS_Raised_ By_One_Million_Dollars_999.html. In addition, soon instead of going to Europe or to Hawai some of us will be booking our flight to space. Virgin Galactic takes into consideration this possibility. Alex Tai, Virgin Galactic, vice president mentioned that “ticket sales for sub orbital flights at $200,000 a seat are tallying up “ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15654772/, so looks like the competition kicks in. Furthermore, he mentioned that the “business plan is for 50,000 people to visit space over a 10-year time period … For the $200,000 tab, the passenger will receive an all-accommodations three-day package, hotel, training and transport to and from the spaceport site. We’ll throw in meals and champagne” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15654772/. Sounds exciting, and much more encouraging than 13 million GBP or the recently increased price of $ 21 million. Thus, in ten years or so prepare yourselves to go and watch the earth form outer space. Interesting experience, I can hardly wait. http://csjava.occ.cccd.edu/~tmurphy/ucigsa/images/earth%20from%20space.jpg

11 November 2006

Then Now Then

I was talking today with my friend, how much progress has been made in these ten years. On the one hand, comparing now with ten years ago revels both good and bad things. On the one hand, ten years ago every morning people were going out to buy the newspaper, or to get it from the front porch. On the other hand, today people prepare their coffee and sit in front of the computer reading their favorite news from the (e-)newspaper. Furthermore, ten years ago people were going to travel agencies and bought plane tickets. They were paying large amounts of money for them, however now people make a phone call or use the Internet to book a flight. Today in some cases people do not even receive a physical plane ticket till entering on the terminal, now we use e-tickets. Furthermore, the costs for plane travel decreased because of the increased demand, and competition. Today we are talking about the future of flying cars, and their features. We are faced with the possibility to purchase a small helicopter, for about $500,000. Maybe ten years form now for many of us taking the drivers license test will be almost history and will remember the test laughing, because our flying cars will already know where to get us. http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=nation_world&id=4728269 On the other hand, technology and all the commodities eliminate some needs. One of the needs that is eliminated is the need for socialization. Today, unlike ten years ago we are using messenger to talk to our neighbors, or our friend that lives in the next neighborhood. Today, we receive the last movies at home, seldom going out to see a movie. Furthermore, today we shop through the Internet. All these reasons underline the fact that we increasingly isolate from each other. One may argue that having messenger in our lives brought about only good things, but did it really?, While I believe it did, it brought about some serious issues as well. Some researchers underlining the fact that face-to-face interaction is a feature that is an important component of our lives, but lately this occurs so seldom (Timmerman & Scott, 2006) http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/(5l44lbb0j0tdb355ry40bx45)/app/home/contributi on.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,5,5;journal,3,22;linkingpublicationresults,1:1093 95,1. In addition, thinking ten years from now, how will our society transform? Will people go out of the house to get to work or will the majority of them do teleworking? Another thing that I really appreciate but I do not know if is necessarily beneficial. Today, go out on the street and take a look around you, how many people do you see walking and talking together, and how many people do you see listening to their Mp3 players with the head phones in their ears? , my answer to this question is that more the 50 percent of the people that you’re seeing today, are listening to their Mp3 players and less than 50 percent of the people will be together with somebody. Thus, seems that there is an increased tendency to develop individualism, and the people that enter the society assimilate these values and become like everybody else. Thus, while the development of technology brought many good things, without which life today seems impossible, there are also shortcomings to this development. In addition, given the fast rhythm on how technology is developing we do not know what to expect from tomorrow. What does technology prepare for us in the future?

04 November 2006

Travel + Technology = Time Travel Machine

I believe many of us enjoyed time travel movies, or books, I know I did. Who wouldn’t want to be in the main character’s shoes in the movie “Time machine” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268695/? For many of us is unthinkable that such an experience, as the one described in the movie, can surpass the limits of fantasy. However, time traveling in not such an impossible and unachievable goal as many of us might think. For example, browsing through the Internet I found people that make contracts/funds to bring you back to life in 500 years, promising you a good life in the future, and all that costs only 10$ and some restrictions. With all the respect to those people, I found that web page an entertaining oneJ. Check it out at http://www.timetravelfund.com/, I still find myself smiling. Now moving from the funny to the real, it seems that people were driven to discover/build the time machine centuries ago. For example, Newton “ showed that the force causing apples to fall is the same force that drives planetary motions and produces tides …[but] was puzzled by the fact that gravity seemed to operate instantaneously at a distance. He admitted he could only describe it without understanding how it worked. “http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/time/through.html. Few hundred years passed and then “Albert Einstein released his theory of special relativity, he laid the foundation for the theoretical possibility of time travel. As we all know, no one has successfully demonstrated time travel, but no one has been able to rule it out either.” http://www.howstuffworks.com/time-travel.htm. Furthermore, “the theory of relativity states that as the velocity of an object nears the speed of light, time slows down. Scientists have discovered that even at the speeds of the space shuttle, astronauts can travel a few nanoseconds into the future“ http://www.howstuffworks.com/time-travel.htm. Hopefully, there will not be necessary for another couple of hundred years to pass until the time machine will be created and functional. Professor Ronald Mallet, is optimistic about that fact that time traveling might occur this century http://www.physorg.com/news63371210.html. Now everything sounds promising and not as impossible as before. However, there are laws governing time travel. One of the laws that arises in many sites is the “Grandfather Paradox” : “what would happen if a time traveler went back and killed one of his or her ancestors before the traveler was born? If the person killed his or her grandfather, then how could that person be alive to go back and kill his or her grandfather? If we could change the past, it would create an infinite number of paradoxes“ or in other words “if you were to travel back in time and kill one of your ancestors, you've only killed that person in one universe, which is no longer the universe that you exist in. And if you then try to travel back to your own time, you may end up in another parallel universe and never be able to get back to the universe you started in.” http://www.howstuffworks.com/time-travel.htm, sounds complicated. As an example, I found this small story illustrating the concept of time travel, http://www.strangemag.com/highstrangenesstimetrav.html. It is a very interesting story happening in the 1969; two friends drive on the highway, all of a sudden they see an old car moving very slowly ahead of them. The care had number plates from 1940. Maybe you should see for yourselves what the story is about. Thus, from entertaining sites to the real ones, time travel is not as impossible as it may look at a first glance. The future may one day be a possible destination... http://www.howstuffworks.com/time-travel.htm

28 October 2006

When free is expensive

I am going to explore the problems that technology poses in today’s life.

Development of technology brought with it many facilities. If in the past we were going to buy the paper to know what was going on around us, today we use computers to find the latest news. If we are very interested in an event, we are waiting for news updates and check the computer at least twice a day. If the past in order to talk to a friend we had to go and visit him/her, today we are turning on the computer and use chats to talk to our friends. Furthermore, do you remember the times when people were apart and they used letters to communicate their feelings and their thoughts? Well those times are gone, today we are using webcams to see and talk to each other, no matter how far one is from the other. As an example, I was in Romania and my husband was here, now imagine us sending letters to each other, it is impossible. We used videoconferencing to see / talk to each other at least once a day. Thus, technology helped us a lot. Alternatively, I am using technology to see what is happening in the city where I grew up http://www.canal7.ro/webcam/webcam.html.

Many of us embraced technology and were happy that many things became easier. For example, from my point of view; I was happy when I found out that I could read the newspaper from the Internet and not have to go outside in the morning to get it. Furthermore, not all the news from a newspaper are interesting so on the Internet I could choose what I wanted to read. In addition, there were many sources available and I could choose among them. In short, newspapers on the Internet were the best choice.

Now let’s look a little at the drawbacks that the development of technology brought. For example, in the past it was a little more difficult for people to modify photographs, because in order to modify them one had to know how to work in the dark room and how to handle the photo camera, and photo cameras were not that cheap either. Nowadays, photo cameras are affordable and good. In addition, almost everybody with access to a computer can download and alter pictures. Thus, each of us can take pictures and alter them. When these pictures become beauty standards than we ought to ask ourselves the question: Is this what we were looking for? As an example, follow the link (I do not want to advertise anything but, I liked how they posed the problem) http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/home_films_evolution_v2.swf.

Furthermore, another problem arises with the development of technology. Yes, we have access to the latest news and do not pay for them, we do put pressure on the journalists to keep us informed, BUT what do we get in return? For example, when we subscribe to different newspapers to receive the latest and hottest news, we give away personal information (address, phone number and so on) and then the “cookies” are activated. I did not know what cookies meant until recently when listening to Professor’s Pavlik e-seminar http://cero.columbia.edu/0801/web/s6/s6_1_5.html about cookies I found out that cookies can monitor every move that you make on your computer. Well I thought well now I am not going to subscribe to newspapers and I’m going to look for news on Google news or some other news outlets (and shared this view with some of my colleagues). The answer came quickly. Google does not solve the problem, in fact the situation looks even worse. Read http://www.google-watch.org/bigbro.html (Thanks Shefali!).

Thus, as many people ahead of me/us found out, indeed in life nothing is free. If we want something, we need to pay for it in a way or another. We want news up to date, without paying for them if this is possible. But, how much are we willing to pay for these “free” news?

21 October 2006

Well, here I am updating the blog. I was thinking that last week was a little history and theory with media and technology, but this week let’s travel. “How?”, some of you might ask. I’d say “Well very easy”. Let’s use the virtual tours. Thus, make yourself comfortable we are about to begin. No plane ticket is required not even train or bus ticket just sit comfortable and play some nice music.

We’ll start in Europe, we might as well start wherever we want, but this time Europe comes first. Mmm, let’s start in Rome, Italy: http://rome.arounder.com/fullscreen.html . Today we’re going to start at Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), the only difference that I notice is that there are many people every time, and many of them throwing coins in the fountain and making wishes. Now it looks like that http://roma.arounder.com/category/fullscreen/IT000005665.htmlHowever, during the day looks more like this: http://www.stat.ucla.edu/~abarbu/pics/Roma/Excursie1_0327.html

Then go to the Coliseum (The Roman Colosseum), unluckly before I did not have a chance to get in and to visit it but looks like now is our chance: http://roma.arounder.com/colosseo/fullscreen.html

After that come to the Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) http://roma.arounder.com/santa_maria_maggiore/fullscreen.html and enjoy the magnificent Sistine Chapel. And, go see Pope Pio IX’s praying statue. As an advice, do not try to visit, physically the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, because after 1:00 pm is closed, and when you visit churches in Italy, be ready to cover your shoulders and have long pants/skirts.

And of course Piazza di Spagna is a must when visiting Italy, either physically or taking a virtual tour. http://roma.arounder.com/category/fullscreen/IT000005657.html

Let’s take another virtual tour, this time let’s go in a place that recently became famous thanks to Dan Brown’s novel, “The da Vinci Code”, let’s visit Rosslyn Chapel http://vrm.vrway.com/issue25/THE_DA_VINCI_CODE_S_ROSSLYN_CHAPEL.html . Or Why not Paris’s Louvre? http://www.louvre.or.jp/louvre/QTVR/anglais/

If you want to visit more places go to: http://www.arounder.com/ and enjoy.

Indeed technology accomplished great things. Thanks to technology developments, today, we are visiting places with the help of the computer, just sitting at our desk, no additional charges. Furthermore, even if you would be there imagine yourselves without a video camera or worse without a photo camera. Unimaginable, isn’t it?

All these places are great places to visit and sometimes people do not get the chance to see them in a lifetime for various reasons. However, technology is here to stay and it is only going to improve. Technology can indeed offer us a substitute for travel. But, is this enough?

14 October 2006

Short History

Today I am going to discuss in short the development of technology, newspaper and communication.

I set up this blog in an attempt to emphasize the changes that technology brought to media and travel. In a world of continuous changes, people might not notice the changes from one day to another. We sometimes have the tendency to take everything for granted and to think that everything that happens is a natural effect of the interconnectedness of the things around us.

I set up this blog in an attempt to emphasize the changing nature of things and tools around us. I would like to mention, by posting to this blog, the gradual and sometimes unperceived changes.

If in the past people were learning the news from their neighbors, then from the printed press or TV, today there is an increased tendency to learn the news from the Internet. If in the past people were making decisions what paper to buy in order to be best keep up to date with the news and the events that happened around them, today people are choosing among the best news outlets or among the best news engines. Furthermore, if people before were concerned with “what?” happens around them, today they are concerned with “why?” certain things happen. In other words, human society evolved so much that people learn that contexts are as important and useful as the actual news are.

Let us take a quick look at the history. In Sumer, 3500 B.C. appeared pictographs of accounts written on clay tablets; 2600 B.C. In Egypt, appeared first scribes; by 2400 B.C. in India, writers identified engraved seals; 2200 B.C. was the date of the oldest surviving document written on papyrus; in 1500 B.C. appeared first alphabet, Phoenician; by 200 B.C. appeared Tipao gazettes distributed among Chinese officials; in 59 Julius Caesar orders publication of first daily news sheet. In 600A.D. books written by monastic scribes develop. In 1454, Johannes Gutenberg invented mechanical printing revolutionizing the book printing. Finally, the twentieth century brings the advent of Internet. (John Pavlik&Shawn McIntosh, Converging Media).

Furthermore, today information is like bread for most of us. This is one of the reasons why people use and developed various means of communication. For example, mobile phones transformed in palms (PDAs) to enable people communication as well as connect to Internet. The catholic tube used for TV sets is almost history, today people have the LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays) flat and safe TV sets, and in the near future the LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology will be one of the most valuable on the market. People are not using maps anymore; they are using GPS (Global Positioning System) tools and satellites in order to reach a certain destination.

With all these being mentioned, I reached the final part of the posting. In today world when every piece of news that we need can be found on the Internet. When, every place on the earth had been documented and described in pictures and/or movies, every story about every place was/is told, Do we need to travel? Or is it enough to read the newspapers, explore all the comments that somebody put on the Internet and view all the pictures and/or movies about a certain place in order to say “ Yeah, this was/is a great place!”

30 September 2006

My First Adventure

I was wondering for some days now. Do we need to travel or can we just stay in front of the computer and enjoy other’s experiences by reading their bolgs or viewing their photos?

Right now my answer is travel is a must in order to gain experience and to be more prepared to face whatever life throes at you. I love to travel and I have been very lucky to have this chance.

I’d like to share with you one of my experiences that I had. This happened three years ago. I was heading for France, first time on my own. I was so excited and so anxious to get there that I forgot to plan the return home trip. (Note: I took the bus from my hometown to Budapest/Hungary and then the plane to Paris). Anyway, I reached Paris and we spend 4 rainy but wonderful days there (it was October, do not visit Paris in October). Afterwards we headed for Nice, South of France (Cote d’Azur) we spent there 6 sunny and wonderful days (I believe that that place is beautiful no matter when you are visiting).

Then the moment came to take the plane back to Budapest. I was again on my own. I arrived in Budapest Ferihegy Airport, but as I told you I forgot to plan my trip back to my hometown. And there I was waiting for the bus to come, which did not happen, because I did not make a reservation. It was already 8 pm. My English at that time was really creepy. I took the airport bus to the train station hopping that in this way I might find some buses that might leave for Romania. But, I was already to late and the only solution was to spend the night at some hotel and the next day to find buses to take me home. Imagine an empty trains station, with dim lights, homeless people and some taxi drivers and me in the middle of them, with two big pieces of luggage. Some might call me an easy prayJ.

Out of nowhere appears a guy and asks me if I need a taxi, I said yes. I was scared and trembling and almost crying. I give him an address to one hotel, which I took from the airport. However, the irony was that in order to get to this hotel the taxi driver had to drive through some forest, at least that is what I saw. There is no need to tell you that I was very scared. At a certain point the taxi driver stops and tell me that we reached the destination (in German, he spoke only Hungarian and German). I looked around and did not see the hotel sign or anything. I was scared. He opens the door and then I saw that in fact he stopped in front of the hotel. I have no words to tell you how happy I was that I got there safe and sound. The rest was easy. I slept at the hotel, next day I took the subway to the train station and then headed home.

This was my first adventure and I learned a very valuable lesson. Thus, plan every trip very carefully, so that you will not end up like me that night. :)