Quick Thoughts: Media Literacy Should Be Taught To Children (and Parents)

Kids (and, surprisingly, babies) nowadays have their hands on smartphones, tablets, computers, and/or gaming systems with social media sharing. They’re exposed to much more information than I ever was when I was a kid! (I’m a post-millennial, by the way.)

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Should Hollywood Movies and TV Shows Be More Scientifically Accurate?

Two years ago, my Physics I professor mentioned the movie “Gravity” when talking about torque, velocity, and other basic physics concepts… because the movie’s writers got them all wrong. He warned his students that the way Hollywood depicts physics will make it more difficult for us to understand real-world physics.

In a way, he’s right. We watch movies and TV shows “believing” (or getting used to the idea) that huge explosions can result from minor collisions, people can jump across huge gaps, people can stand up after getting hit by a heavy object… Yeah, in the back of our minds we know that cinematic effects are added to scenes to make on-screen stories seem more interesting than everyday life. But some subtle unrealistic depictions in movies and TV shows can seem realistic… so realistic that we choose to believe them without question.

“The most frequent sci-fi physics sin is, without a doubt, the incredible sounds emitted by all those zooming spacecraft, all those exploding planets, all those laser beams whizzing by. As every student learns very early on, sound waves need a medium through which to pass in the form of vibrations to be heard. Air, water, the membrane of your eardrum–all are sufficient media to transmit these vibrations. And as we all know, the cold vacuum of space is unfortunately devoid of anything substantial enough to serve as a transmissive medium. It’s true, however, that those unfortunate enough to have their spacecraft destroyed be in a spaceship while it was exploding would certainly hear quite a racket for a few split seconds from inside, as the sound vibrations passed through the ship itself and into what was left of the cockpit’s pressurized atmosphere as it broke up. But once the damage was done, we’d be back to space’s normal, somber silence. But hey, I guess all those sound designers and THX-equipped theaters need to be used for something, right?” (Source: PopSci)

On the other hand, sci-fi films and shows like “Star Trek” have inspired future STEMists. A lot of techies and “Star Trek” fans love to talk about how the show introduced the idea of the cellphone, but there are, of course, other inventive concepts that the show introduced such as the tablet.

Remember when the iPhone was revealed back in 2007? There were rumors about how Apple will compete with cellphone companies, but no one expected Apple to introduce a “button-less cellphone”.

The iPhone gained popularity SLOWLY. Today, a lot of people (especially young adults, teenagers, and pre-teens) are obsessed with using touchscreen smartphones for gaming, messaging, camera, news, shopping, and social media apps. But back then, can you believe that few people realized how valuable the iPhone’s multi-functional capabilities are, let alone how a “button-less phone” is possible?

So, should movies and TV shows be more scientifically accurate?

In some ways, yes. Movies that try to tell more believable stories like “Gravity” should get their scripts reviewed by scientists. Fun fact: Neil deGrasse Tyson (the iconic guy behind the “We got a badass over here” meme) complained about how the stars in the night skies shown in “Titanic” were inaccurate, and James Cameron updated the scenes after hearing Tyson’s complaint because he loves science.

In other ways, sci-fi should still be promoted in the entertainment industry.

One of my favorite sci-fi scenes of all time is from the movie “Blade Runner”, starring Harrison Ford. That movie’s villain, Roy Batty, is an AI robot who said one of the most emotional movie quotes of all time – his “Tears In Rain” monologue:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

You don’t really have to understand what that movie’s about. Those two things I mentioned about the villain can make some viewers think about a future of “Astro Boys”, robot ethics, innovative things, … etc.

A lot of things that seem unrealistic in Hollywood films now may end up becoming real in the future.

What if, in the future, someone invented special listening devices to hear sounds in outer space? That’s a far-fetched thought, but I guess it’s an interesting thought.

I read Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” when I was in elementary school, and little did I know that Jules Verne is regarded as an influential man for many inventions that characterize the 20th-century. I’ve seen Leonardo da Vinci’s odd sketches of planes and tanks when I was a kid too, and little did I know that he imagined those vehicles before someone built them.

It’s pretty evident that some people come up with creative ideas and solutions that are related or inspired by unrealistic phenomena depicted in films. So, because of that, I’m against the idea of making movies “more scientifically accurate”.

Instead, I’d like to see more STEM educators teach students about biology, technology, physics, etc. through analyzing popular films that students have most likely seen. That should keep students interested in STEM, and help them better understand abstract STEM concepts.

SnapChat Stories, Facebook Updates, … & Now YouTube Vlogs: Instagram Is More Than Just A Square Album Now

Three days ago (6/20/18), I noticed a new icon on the top-right corner of my Instagram homepage. It’s… a TV?

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Since this feature is called IGTV, I had a feeling that it’s meant for people to post long videos on the platform. And sure enough, I was right.

It’s strange for Instagram to have that feature, but not really.

For one, Instagram has been and is mostly known for its square albums and images.

When Instagram implemented SnapChat’s Story feature, the platform took on a new image as a storytelling, vlogging, and lively platform. I say “lively” because videos bring liveliness to a platform that’s full of still images. And I say “vlogging” because the Story feature is essentially a feature for people to vlog.

And for those of you who don’t know this: Facebook owns Instagram and allows user to share their Instagram pictures on Facebook and Twitter posts.

So how will IGTV be used? Why was it added to Instagram?

Since Instagram has become a popular hub for bloggers and vloggers, the IGTV will allow users to upload longer vlogs – which is something that users couldn’t really do with Instagram Stories unless they upload a series of images and clips together, or compile them in a Highlights reel.

More importantly, studies show that video content tend to attract users more than still images. (There are a lot of studies on that, so you can look those up. They’re quite interesting to read.)

What makes Instagram an interesting social media platform is how it displays and organizes graphic content.

  • Users judge other users by the content in their square albums.
  • Stories can be previewed by tapping on a user’s profile image that contains a gradient ring.
  • A user’s Stories won’t be featured on another user’s homepage unless he/she is being followed by that other user.
  • Highlights of Stories can be added to a user’s profile so that profile visitors can replay Story content that are separated into topics or categories.

Yes, there are some negative thing to say about how Instagram displays content. For instance, the replacement of chronological display with curated content based on the kind of content users interact with has been heavily criticized by users who wish to see their friends’ content displayed before the content of other more popular (and sponsored) bloggers on the platform.

But overall, Instagram’s graphic platform makes it “win” over other social media platforms.

Facebook heavily relies on textual posts, the news media, and its emergency geo-location updates to make engaging content (because the news media has pretty much taken over the platform); Twitter relies on short textual posts to make engaging content (even though they increased their character limit from 140 to 280); and SnapChat relies on their disappearing feature to make engaging content (even though they added a save feature that totally goes against how some people don’t want their posts to be permanent).

Instagram doesn’t show any text unless a user wants to view the description of a post, the comments section, or a Story post that contains text. Nowadays, people are so lazy to read text that we love to rely on images and videos to receive information. And that’s exactly why Instagram is performing so well as a social media platform – because people can quickly glance over content and decide whether or not it’s worth their time.

So, is IGTV going to replace YouTube?

No. YouTube will always be the ultimate online-TV platform because of how many YouTubers, the music industry, and the movie industry rely on the platform’s popularity and accessibility through smartphones, computers, and smart TVs. Also, YouTube is known for their landscape videos and thumbnails.

Instagram promotes the portrait orientation because of how landscape content are pixelated when they’re previewed as squares. I haven’t tried the new IGTV feature yet, but I imagine that it promotes portrait videos instead of the traditional landscape videos.

Will IGTV be made available on smart TVs?

Probably. Because Instagram now allows people to upload pre-recorded videos instead of videos that are recorded through the platform’s camera, IGTV will probably have videos recorded from high-quality cameras, and edited from video-editing software. And, since phone cameras are becoming increasingly better in quality, we can expect more quality video uploads from amateur videographers on Instagram.

What’s the future of Instagram?

Instagram will continue to promote Facebook’s existence.

Maybe Instagram will have a “square magazine” (which will be different from the Carousel feature) 😂.

If Instagram becomes a news media hub… well actually, it’s HIGHLY UNLIKELY that Instagram will become a news media hub like Facebook and SnapChat. Why? Again, it’s because of how Instagram’s graphic platform doesn’t really promote textual content. The news media like to provide informational descriptions with their photographs. And because of Instagram’s layout, (negative) photographs from the news media won’t really stand out among other people’s (positive and personal) travel and selfie pictures. Facebook (Instagram’s owner) has learned from their mistakes that news content is re-postable and engaging, but not exactly appealing in a positive way.

Somehow, Instagram has maintained itself as a mostly positive (and narcissistic content) for any user to easily get addicted to the platform. A lot of YouTube vloggers who make “simple” personal videos will probably migrate to Instagram because of that, while YouTubers who make videos that make more cinematic videos will most likely stay on YouTube.

Singers and talk show hosts will most likely continue to rely on YouTube because of Vevo and how YouTube’s algorithm always favors celebrities (huge paid promotions) over small content creators.

Last, but not least, WILL MORE PEOPLE GET MONETIZED ON INSTAGRAM?

Highly doubt it. Instagram won’t shut down like Vine. I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation why though.

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“The Incredibles 2” Movie Review [First Impressions & SPOILERS]

 

I just came from the movie theater, and wow, “The Incredibles 2” is… INCREDIBLE (of course).

Continue reading ““The Incredibles 2” Movie Review [First Impressions & SPOILERS]”

“Things I Learned In College” (#1): How To Use My Smartphone

I can’t stop thinking about the funny and hard things I learned at my previous college.

Sometimes, I wish I learned these things earlier.

*Sigh* Well, at least it’s a good thing that I learned them.


 

#1 How to use a smartphone

No joke. I got a smartphone as my high school graduation present.

At first, the smartphone felt huuuge in my small hands compared to my first cellphone.

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New phone (Samsung) vs. old phone (Nokia)

It took me forever (the entire freshman year of college) to learn how to use a smartphone. (And I’m still learning how to use it as I continue to update it.)

I feel bad for all my family and friends who had to put-up with me trying to use my phone. My family would have a tough-time communicating with me because of long-distance calls, while my friends and I were really into texting each other.

It’s frustrating. Smartphones have so many features, and it’s difficult to manage all of them.

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Here are some of the things I learned (because I feel like listing them, and looking back at this post with giggles):

1.) There are different volume settings for ringtone, media, notifications, system, and calling.

2.) Make sure you completely mute your phone whenever you need to. (Make sure you manually adjust all the volume bars for the ringtone, media, and calling modes.)

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3.) If you call someone with a low calling volume, and you tell them that you can’t hear them when they can hear you on their end, then they’ll think you’re crazy (and most likely try calling you again to get the same results).

4.) If you call someone and they sound muffled even though your calling volume is fine, then either you, the person you’re calling, or both of you are not in a calling-friendly setting.

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5.) It’s hard to use the touchscreen when you’re in calling-mode because the touchscreen automatically turns-off and blacks-out in that mode.

6.) You need to download an emoji keyboard from the app store because your default keyboard doesn’t always have the emoji option in all the messaging apps.

7.) You don’t have to use the default wallpaper and screensaver options.

8.) Don’t use live wallpapers and screensavers even though they’re so cool and your old cellphone never had those options.

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9.) A “butt-dial” means that you accidentally made a phone call, regardless of whether or not your butt was the cause of it.

10.) You can lock your phone so that you don’t accidentally touch any applications (and accidentally “butt-dial” people).

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11.) Use your (then-new) Facebook account to keep yourself updated with college events and news.

12.) Facebook Messenger (supposedly) has a clearer-sounding calling feature than my default phone app.

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13.) Don’t keep any apps running in the background because they use up your 4G, and consequentially slow down the loading-time for your apps.

14.) Just turn-off your phone whenever you travel. I always remember to turn-on “Airplane Mode”, but I usually forget to turn it off.

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15.) You can delay message sending.

16.) Don’t delay message sending anymore. This feature causes a lot of problems, including failed message sending. (My messages don’t always send at the predicted time. They either don’t send at all, or get sent much, much later.)

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And last, but not least…

17.) It’s okay. You were trying to get accustomed to new technology. Some of the problems you had were either due to the manufacturer, the not-so-calling-friendly environment, or just your clumsiness. Just thank God that this isn’t your phone:

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A burned Samsung Galaxy S6. Samsung is known for their burning smartphones (especially the infamous Note 7).

First Impression of the “Nintendo NX”

The Nintendo NX has a stunning design, but there are some things about it that make me lean more towards not buying it.

 


 

Three days ago, I saw the reveal trailer of the Nintendo Switch (a.k.a. the “NX”).

I was stunned by the console’s innovative design. It definitely beats the Playstation console and the PSP hands-down because of how gamers can effortlessly switch between playing a game on the television to playing that same game on a handheld device.

Although the console is pretty cool, some of its questionable characteristics make me lean more towards not buying it.

 


 

1.) Incompatible with other Nintendo consoles

I’m disappointed to know that gamers have to insert a new cartridge into the Switch, since I don’t want my Wii and WiiU games to collect dust. Moreover, Super Smash Bros. 4 – the game my brother, friends, and I prefer to play with together – will never be compatible with the Switch. If Nintendo was able to make the 2004 DS and 2006 DS Lite capable of playing Game Boy Advance cartridges and DS game cards, then they should’ve been able to do the same thing for the Switch , Wii and WiiU.

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2.) Battery Life

This feature was never described in Switch’s debut trailer, but I have a feeling that the console’s battery life will be pretty short. The WiiU GamePad’s battery lasts betweent three to five hours, and it has a 6.2 inch (13.7 cm), 480p, single-touch display. The Switch’s display will be the same size, but instead be multi-touch and have a 720p resolution. So, the Switch’s batter may either last as long as or shorter than the WiiU GamePad’s battery.

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3.) Detachable controllers

Although the main selling points of the Switch are the detachable controllers and the console’s adabtability from a television screen to a touchscreen and vice-versa, those controllers look like they’re easy to lose. If a gamer didn’t attach one or both of the controllers to the touchscreen and ended up losing the controller(s), will the Switch still be playable? Nintendo accessories are pretty expensive with the original Wii controller selling for around $13 USD and the WiiU Pro Controller being approximately $50 USD. With those prices in mind, it’s easy to imagine how much money you’d have to cough up for each Switch controller you lose.

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4.) Small, narrow controllers

I prefer playing with large wide controllers because not only does it feel more comfortable in my hands, but it includes better vibration and sound features that enhance the gaming experience. I assume that the Switch controllers will have similar vibration and sound features as the original Wii remote, which I think are no match to the same features found in the PS4 and Xbox One controllers.

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5.) The rectangular shape

From my experience playing with the WiiU GamePad, the handheld Switch’s shape doesn’t look comfortable to hold. When I first played with the GamePad, it felt extremely bulky. Then, after a few weeks of trying to get used to holding it, I gave up. The GamePad currently sits in front of my brother’s television collecting dust, ergo I’m pretty sure the same thing will happen to the handheld Switch if I get one.

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6.) Switch Pro Controller

Because of #3, #4 and #5, if I were to purchase the Switch, I would really want to play with the Switch Pro Controller. Unfortunately, because of how expensive the controller will most likley be, I’d rather not spend the extra money. With that said, the cost of making the Switch Pro Controller should’ve gone to improving the handheld Switch so that it’s curvier; has slightly bigger controllers; and has a 1080p resolution display.

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7.) Large size

Instead of playing with the handheld Switch, why not just play with the small, foldable Nintendo SP and DS? The handheld Switch looks too big to fit in my small purses, and I definitely don’t want to carry a backpack around everytime I feel like bringing the device out of my house.

 

Smart Bra

Ladies, ditch the Fitbit and Apple Watch for this stylish, techy bra. Guys, feel free to do that too.

The OMbra is a smart bra that can measure a woman’s biometrics – heart rate, breathing rate, calories burned, and other metrics. The data is recorded is recorded through a sensor located in the lower band of the bra that runs along the rib cage. That data is then wirelessly transferred to the OmSignal mobile app. That app has a feature called OmRun that measures distance, pace, breathing rhythm, and fatigue levels during cardio workouts. The bra is available for $150.