Make Time to Power Down

A recent study by those from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California, San Diego, and Disney Research proved how just having your phone near you can affect your brain.  The researchers conducted two lab experiments with 800 participants. One experiment included the participants being presented with incomplete image patterns and were asked to complete each pattern.  This was to test their reasoning and problem solving skills. The other experiment ask participants to complete math problems while memorizing random letters. This experiment was to test their capacity of being able to multitask.

Next, they divided the group and asked some people to power down their phones or put them on silent. Some phones were left on the desks in front of the participants, others were stored in their pockets or bags, and the rest put their phones in another room.  The study showed those who performed worst on the tasks were those who had their phones out in front of them during the experiment. Those who performed best had left their phones in another room.

From the experiment, researchers found that those whose phones were close by lead to a diminished ability to learn and develop creative ideas.  This goes to show that the presence of our cell phones affects our ability to get work done. Obviously, smartphones have their pros and cons. They are great at making our life more convenient and efficient, but it important to power down every now and then, especially around bedtime. As with everything, moderation is key.

Can TSA Search Travelers’ Cell Phones and Electronic Devices?

After a federal lawsuit on Monday, it has been brought to the public’s attention that the Transportation Security Administration is now searching and documenting what they find on passengers’ phones and other devices. Apparently, TSA is requesting to search people’s devices without reason. Last year, according to a NBC News report, the number of passengers’ cell phones that were being searched was shocking to even Homeland Security lawyers. Although that report included that it was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducting the searches, the number of travelers traveling within the United States being searched was rapidly increasing as well.

Through investigation, it was announced in June of 2017 that Homeland Security was conducting enhanced screening which allowed them to search passengers of flights headed outside of the United States. However, screening for domestic flights started in October of last year. Vasudha Talla, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, has been involved with this lawsuit against TSA. She claims a warrant is needed in order to go through our digital data. The lawsuit included many records from the TSA field office in San Francisco and the headquarters in Virginia. Many of these records look into the details of training and conducting these types of searches. All this information is being used in the suit against the Transportation Security Administration .

The issue comes down to privacy versus security. TSA may be conducting these searches in order to protect travelers, but in order to do that, the passengers give up some amount of privacy.  In my opinion, these searches seem uncalled for. The TSA, having only general suspicion of people’s cell phones, should not be allowed to access them and look around.  It seems unprofessional that there is no reason to whose phone they choose to search, why they choose to search it, or for what information. I believe this is an invasion of privacy on many levels. I can see why this search may be necessary for some passengers traveling outside of the United States, but for those domestic passengers, it seems like TSA is just snooping around.


Doge Meme Transformed

An Australian marketer, Jackson Palmer, made a joke back in 2013, when the Doge meme was most popular.  For those who have not seen it, it consists of a picture of the face a Shiba Inus dog.  Palmer’s joke suggested combining cryptocurrency and the Doge.  He tweeted about the next big thing being an investment in Dogecoin.

Dogecoin, like bitcoin, is a digital form of money that can be transferred across a decentralized network.  After numerous retweets, favorites, and replies, Palmer took the joke a step further and bought a domain name to a website.  Then he uploaded a picture of a digital coin with a picture of a Shiba Inus dog on it.  Billy Markus, a software developer at IBM, decided to contact Palmer about this idea he had going.  Markus decided to start working on the new cryptocurrency before Palmer got back to him.  Markus, wasting no time at all, said it only took him about three hours before he set it live; he used bitcoin as a template, changing certain things here and there.  To Palmer, this was all still a joke, but Markus decided to set it and mine for Dogecoin.

From that point on, things began to progress and it became very popular very quickly.  The talk about the cryptocurrency on Reddit was what sent the popularity through the roof.  Users were making transactions left and right.  Unfortunately, Palmer and Markus made a wrong turn somewhere, lost most money they invested, and the whole thing came crashing down.  Instead of working with it, both Markus and Palmer decided to bail, and that was practically the end of Dogecoin.