A Reflection On The Semester

Sunset

With this week, it is now the end of my second semester here at UAT. I think, since I have gotten more experience and am more used to the college environment, that it was a lot better than my first semester. I did much more of my homework, had more help from teachers and other people, and got mostly better grades overall.

In the past 15 weeks, I feel that my writing has improved. If you look at the differences between my “Where I’m From” blog post and my “Net Neutrality” post, there are a lot of subtle differences. I do not have a passion for writing poetry at all. I do, however, have a passion for the Net Neutrality movement. I essentially cobbled together random things for the “Where I’m From” poem, but I spent a lot of time working on my “Net Neutrality” post. When something is interesting to me, that is when I pursue it to the fullest extent. If something is not interesting to me, I essentially treat it as if it does not exist. That is something I will continue to work on next semester in English 102.

My strengths as a writer, as I said in the last paragraph, come from when I am interested in a topic and style of writing. If I am bored or uninterested in a topic, it is very difficult for me to be motivated to write about it, much less in a good way. For the ad dissection I did on the second Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer and the MacBook POV posts, I was very engaged in them. However, the “Where I’m From” topic was one I was not very interested in, and it suffered as a result.

As per texts, I did not really read anything created by my peers. I know it may sound rude, but I have better things to do with my time. I also did not read any books, as literature bores me. During the semester, I only saw 1 movie, which was Kingsman: The Secret Service. As I watched it, besides thinking it was excellent, the script was very well done. It was sharp, witty, and all the actors did a great job with their roles. If anyone has not seen it, they really should once it comes out for rent or purchase. For TV shows, during the semester I watched Agent Carter, The Simpsons, Agents Of SHIELD, and Daredevil. All were very well done, but Agent Carter really stuck out to me as the best. In it, it is 1947, just after the end of World War 2. The main character is Peggy Carter, who is a woman working in a predominantly man’s dominated world. They handled it very well, even if it was a little overdone at times. She pretty much helped save the day, while other characters just sort of helped or did nothing. It was very well done and an excellent period piece. Daredevil was also amazing, since most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is bright and cheerful. This show was the polar opposite, being very dark. There was a lot of violence, which I can’t really say as those are all spoilers. But if you have Netflix and have watched the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s other properties, you should definitely watch this show. And none of those movies or TV shows are optional, as they’re all connected.

The one assignment that was probably the most challenging was the “Where I’m From” blog post. As I have said elsewhere in this essay, I was not heavily invested in the idea of poetry, so I did not do very well on it. I did very well on my “Net Neutrality” post however, as I am very interested in that topic. If someone asked me what my favorite post was, it was probably my “Net Neutrality” post, as it was my best piece of work.

I still publish a blog. I have a private blog (of a link to which I will not expose) and I also write for The Droid Guy. My private blog is not updated very often, so I mostly just keep the domain around these days. however, The Droid Guy is primarily where I write non-school related work (other than on social media). I also get paid to write on that website. When I write a lot and make a good paycheck, it feels very good. It is also fun, as it is about the cell phone carriers, new phones and tablets, and other related topics. I have done peer review on that site about once or twice, but only if I am writing a big story, such as when I reviewed the third-party app Tweedle for Twitter and when I tested out the Galaxy S5 in a Best Buy store about a month before it was released in 2014. Those blog posts may be old, but I still look back at them fondly.

So I think my second semester went a lot better than my first semester did. I reached out more for help, did more work, and did better work as a result. I hope to continue this trend into the third semester and beyond, for as long as I am in English classes.

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Net Neutrality

What if a website wasn’t just slow because of Internet speeds, but the ISP themselves were slowing it down on purpose? That is the potential future of the Internet of the policy of Net Neutrality is not adopted. Net Neutrality has a long history which has inspired innovation, legal battles, and much more. To make sure the Internet remains open and free for innovation, Net Neutrality must be in place.

Net Neutrality, is the idea that ISPs “should treat all internet traffic equally” (Vox, year).  For example, an ISP such as Comcast cannot favor their own traffic, such as NBC’s website, over a competing platforms, such as Netflix. Data cannot be throttled, blocked, or affected in any way. As Heuvel states, this promotes an “equality of opportunity” for people who may otherwise not have a voice. A website with a different political viewpoint than an ISP cannot be affected to make people turn to a different source more in line with their views. However, there are certain players that want to ensure that Net Neutrality does not come to light.

Since Net Neutrality promotes services like Netflix and YouTube, which are not a revenue source for ISPs such as Comcast, it is obvious that they do not want to have to abide by any rules. If Comcast, who owns NBC, wanted to stop Netflix from growing more than it is today, they could slow down the service dramatically, causing more people to look for alternatives that are not being slowed down. For companies such as AT&T, who also have a landline phone service, it would be in their best interest to slow down services such as Skype, which is much cheaper and easier to use. Other opponents include politicians such as Ted Cruz, who has called it “Obamacare for the Internet.” (The Washington Post) This is a gross misunderstanding of Net Neutrality, as it does not change how companies price the Internet, merely how they treat data going across it. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure the survival of Net Neutrality.

The FCC has already voted 3-2 in favor of Net Neutrality last month and President Obama is backing them, so their agencies do not need to be contacted. However, some congressmen such as Ted Cruz, are against the idea of Net Neutrality. However, consumers can express their support by contacting their senators and representatives is through both phone calls and emails. While they may not personally respond, they should be listening to their constituents. If they are taking money from the ISPs however, it might be more difficult to get them onboard. Consumers who do not know how to contact Congressional representatives, may work with organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Fight for The Future (FFTF). Both of these organizations have excellent track records when it comes to issues such as Net Neutrality and Government Surveillance. Once residential addresses are entered, the representative is automatically determined. When an issue is selected by a visitor to the website, it will automatically create an email to be sent to the Congressional representatives that a person’s region has. Together, Net Neutrality can be achieved.

Net Neutrality as a concept is very simple. All legal data going across the Internet must be treated equally by Internet Service Providers, regardless of its source. There are opponents to Net Neutrality, such as the ISPs themselves and politicians such as Ted Cruz. Fortunately, there are proponents as well, such as FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and President Obama. With a little help from organizations such as the EFF and FFTF, Net Neutrality is an obtainable strategy to preserve the Internet as we know it.

My Dorm Room

Dorm Room

My dorm room very much defines who I am. I have many possessions, ranging from the computer on my desk, to the Wii U below it. My room (organization of some possessions on desk notwithstanding) is very clean, which may cause people to assume that I am generally a neat person. I even have a small trash can next to my desk, exemplifying that I believe that is something is trash, it goes into the trash.

My Wii U and various Mario posters around my dorm room clearly state that I have an interest in video games and, more specifically, Super Mario games. The Wii U is the only console on the market that plays Nintendo games. With the Wii U gamepad placed onto a stand on my desk, people who look at my room will know that I am proud of that particular possession (which I acquired almost two months ago) and the entertainment it brings.

The most prominent thing on my desk is my computer. I have had this device since the fall of 2013, when it was released. It has travelled all over the country with me and gone under a lot of stress, as seen by the dirty screen, dust, and bottom feet falling off. With this machine on my desk, people will assume that I love it very much and use it quite often.

Then there is my bed. It is not folded and set up properly, indicating that I use it rather than sleeping on the floor. The most notable thing on  my bed is the blue neck pillow. People will no doubt be confused of its purpose before I explain it, but then they will probably get it. I am unable to sleep without it (my neck is too used to it) and it is a necessity for me to have anywhere I go. It is yet another possession I am glad to own.

This is just a reflection on a small amount of the items in my room. I could have written about many others, but these are the most prominent in my life. There are many items out there, but only these are distinctly mine.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Ad (Trailer)

Ultron

In the discussion thread, I discussed the poster for Marvel’s movie “Avengers: Age Of Ultron.” Here, I will be dissecting the trailer.

The one thing that can be definitely be thought by viewers of this trailer is that the movie will be dark. A light movie that could be used as an example is the original Avengers, while a dark movie is The Dark Knight.

The movie can be considered dark due to the ominous piano overtones and the scenes where the heroes are constantly under attack, angry, or nervous. James Spader, from the TV show “The Blacklist” narrates over a large portion of this trailer. With the words, “Everyone creates the thing they dread” and “I’m gonna tear you apart… from the inside,” absolutely implies that Ultron will be a very bad villain who will attack them psychologically, along with physically. When mental attacks are brought into play, movies are generally very dark.

The trailer also shows action scenes, most notably of the fight between the Hulkbuster (of which Iron Man is inside) and the Hulk. These scenes are in there to convince people that this movie will be action-heavy and leans towards people who like that genre. Since the original Avengers movie in 2012 made over $1 billion, the new sequel is on track to make even more.

The hype for this movie is so high, that the first trailer was leaked online a week early. That is how badly people want to see this movie. Someone at Disney is willing to sacrifice their job to service Marvel’s fans.

Net Neutrality

net-neutrality

 

The image above is a representation of what could possibly happen if the FCC does not pass regulation that states the ISPs cannot throttle websites or charge extra to visit them over their own. This has already happened in one instance, with Comcast and Netflix. If the FCC does not pass Title 2 regulation on February 26th, the ISPs will be free to control the Internet and change it forever.

For those unfamiliar, Net Neutrality is the concept that ISPs cannot slow down a website for any reason, namely competition. Comcast owns NBC, so they would very much like it if they could throttle other sites not owned by them, such as Netflix and YouTube. Here are three different sources of media where information about Net Neutrality can be found.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – HBO

While this website is part of a TV show on HBO, no Net Neutrality debate is complete without John Oliver explaining it to his viewers. Since the first episode of his show aired in April of 2014, it has increasingly gained in popularity. For his 5th episode, John Oliver attacked the issue of Net Neutrality. Due to his TV show directing people to send a message to the FCC on their website, the FCC’s website crashed multiple times over the course of a week. More than 4 million comments were submitted to the FCC to lead up to the vote this Thursday over last summer, many of which were probably due to John Oliver calling people to action. I have embedded the specific Net Neutrality videos here. If you also like hearing about the lottery, salmon cannons, and more, check out his show at 11 PM on Sundays. Or wait for the main parts of the episodes to hit on Monday morning.

Vox

Vox is a relatively new news organization, having only launched in April of 2014. Vox was founded by Vox Media, who also owns The Verge, SB Nation, Polygon, Curbed, Eater, and Racked. However, just because Vox is new, doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their job. Vox has done stories on many things, ranging from racism in the United States, to cannibalism. Since they are on this list, they also do many articles on Net Neutrality. Through Vox, I have learned many things, such as which companies want and do not want Net Neutrality, the basics of the new Net Neutrality proposal to soon be voted on, and which companies have the worst customer service when dealing with customers. Through Vox, many other people have the potential to learn about this issue too.

The Washington Post

Last, but not least, we have The Washington Post. The Washington Post is old media, being founded in 1877. However, that doesn’t mean they should be counted out. They have done great work on the subject since it first started becoming an issue in 2005. Articles older than 2005 require a payment, but newer articles should suffice. In 2010, the FCC first tried to pass net neutrality legislation, but many ISPs sued the government, causing the rules to be deemed illegal. The Washington Post has continued to follow the subject to the present day, with two very interesting articles, seen here and here.

Net Neutrality is one of the most pressing issues the Internet has faced in recent years. Through these forms of media, both video and text, I have learned a lot and have also acted on it. I have filed many petitions with the EFF and many other organizations. I hope that with these sources of information about the topic, that others will also act on this sensitive issue and see to it that the ISPs cannot make the Internet how they want it to be, with paid prioritization and other limits.

MacBook POV

MacBook Pro

Role: A MacBook Pro

Audience: My User

Format: Memorandum

Topic: Request For Time Off

To: My User

From: A MacBook Pro

Date: February 8, 2015

Re: Request For Vacation

My name is MacBook, MacBook Pro. I have been on my job since October 22, 2013 and I need at least a week of vacation. To help you consider my request for a vacation, you need to understand how much work I do for you during my time of service. I am the most-used electronic device you have. My average life expectancy is only 3-5 years. By comparison, some TVs have life expectancies of up to 20 years!

My journey to you began as many parts across many different continents before I was assembled together in Shenzhen, China at Foxconn. I was one of the first computers of my model off the assembly line, just after Apple formally announced my existence. I then left China, bound for the Apple Store in Walnut Creek, California. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was actually scheduled to be picked up by you, instead of sitting in the back, waiting. The first time I saw American light was when you opened my box. While I thought my job would mostly consist of document editing and light web browsing, it has actually been much harder.

I have worked very hard with running Netflix, YouTube, high-end games like Portal 2, and I even dual-boot between my familiar Mac OS X software and Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 software. I was even running the beta version of OS X Yosemite, which was not fun. You saw me crash multiple times and I was very thankful when you removed the beta software for something more stable. My fan is almost constantly running from flash videos or games. All but one of the black feet have fallen off me and soon the last one will go, leaving all of my bottom half exposed to dirt or other gunk that could get sucked into my fan.

I desperately need a break from the constant wear and tear you put on me. You may have AppleCare and be able to fix certain parts of me, but that runs out in October of 2016. I might run out then too, if I don’t get a break. Would you consider getting an iPad for non-gaming needs? You just got a Wii U, which would be perfect for most of your video-watching habits. Heck, play games on the Wii U too. If I don’t get a break, I will die. Will you please consider giving me a break for a little while?

Sincerely,

Your MacBook Pro

A Way Of Life

Val Vista Picnic Areas

The neighborhood where I’m from is not ancient, but was not recently developed either. My neighborhood was built in the mid 1970’s, so I guess someone could say it is moderately old in this era of 2015. Because of the creation of my neighborhood, nearly everything I remember from my childhood exists, including a park and my elementary school.

People with knowledge of my town from long ago, such as some teachers, have described what is now my neighborhood as just unclaimed land, with a lot of dirt just sitting there. There was just one road that leads to my high school, which existed then as well as now. The freeway that is next to my neighborhood also was around back then, as well as the compact creek next to it.

Now, of course, my neighborhood is no longer just many acres of earth, but is now a filled to capacity with homes, my elementary school, and the Lucky’s supermarket. The supermarket is located in a strip mall, with two of my favorite restaurants inside, being De La Torre’s Trattoria and Chicago’s Metropolitan Deli. I have gone to De La Torre’s for many occasions, most commonly from out-of-town visitors and birthdays. Chicago’s is great anytime, and my brother and I commonly used it as a celebration spot of the school year being over.

Every day from 7:45 to about 8:30 and again from 2:15 until 3:45, there’s traffic all over due to the elementary school opening and closing for the day. Everyone is trying to get their children to school in all types of cars, from the old ones to the latest Hondas. But because I live so close to my elementary school, I was able to walk there and not deal with the traffic. If not for the fact that the school sealed it off, my neighbor used to have a gate that I would have used go into the back lawn of the elementary school.

Across the street from the backside of the school is my neighborhood park. There’s a small softball field, in case someone wants to stay in the neighborhood instead of going to another park. There are a few play structures, and even a water area. The water area is closed during the winter, but during the summer it is great to have.

Behind that is another playground and a body of water. After the park went through a remodel around 2005 or so, everyone was playing in it. But after a few months, the city shut that down and banned people from swimming in the water. I don’t know why, but it was probably for sanitary and health reasons.

Behind that area is a parking lot, which stretches all the way to the end. But to the left of that area is the creek I wrote about earlier in this blog post. It’s completely closed off and definitely not safe to swim in, but there is a pathway for bikers if they choose to use it. That stretches all along that side of town.

Once you walk for ten minutes past the few dozen soccer fields, you have wound up at the skate park and the roller hockey rink. There’s all sorts of stuff to jump on and slide across. In the roller hockey rink, many people play, from children to adults in leagues. That marks the end of the park and neighborhood on one end. At that point you have reached the main street, which is near the I-680 freeway.

For the rest of the neighborhood, that is where everyone lives. Most of the homes are one story, but there are a few two story homes. While I have lived in my neighborhood, I have not seen any 3 story homes, and they are not common in the rest of my town either. All the homes in my neighborhood have a front lawn, a back lawn, and room for 1-2 cars to park in front of the homes.

In the supermarket’s area, there are just a few shops. There’s a convenience store, a nail and hair place, and the two restaurants I listed up above. But for the sake of knowledge, they are De La Torre’s Trattoria and Chicago’s Metropolitan Deli.

De La Torre’s is a more formal restaurant that serves Italian food such as bread, pizza, meatballs, etc. Chicago’s is where you want to go if you want to hang out with friends, as it’s a very casual American place. They have chicken, sandwiches, hamburger, fries, sodas, and more. I have gone to both places many times and the food is always great.

That is about it for my neighborhood. There’s good restaurants, a good school, and great people in their homes. If you’re ever in Pleasanton, go ahead and stop by.