Corona Virus Apps

With the Corona Virus outbreak, many have had their eyes glued to their phone screens for the past few days eager for updated news on the issue. The internet is flooded with data on what countries shut their borders, where the disease is spreading, and how the virus can be prevented. Information is important and desired, and we must make sure that the public has access to the correct information. Fake news is common and many fail to notice them. It is said to be false information that caused people to stock up of consumables such as water and toilet paper. With this, it is clear how significant an effect that information can have of the action of people. Especially as information technology is very developed nowadays, information of all kinds spreads rapidly. 


Because of this, there is a policy that bans any COVID 19 related applications that are not approved by the government. While the App Store and the Playstore work to remove these apps off the market, some apps managed to get hundreds of thousand downloads before it got deleted. Some of the deleted apps were said to have fake news which would add to the already bad enough confusion in the world right now. We can not completely assume that all unapproved applications are bad, though it is safe to do so since we must have people know only the correct information when they need it. Thomas Brewsters writes about these deleted apps on the online magazine Forbes. In the article, he showcases the different apps that were subject to the ban. It is clear that some of these apps were rather popular and showed a live map of where the disease was spreading. Though it is better to stay safe for now than to risk false information spreading. In times like now, I would say that these app stores made the correct choice to ensure that people have access to correct information to prevent confusion.

Onboard Wifi

With the COVID 19 outbreak, the US is restricting traveling and Japan enforces 2 weeks of self-quarantine after returning from a foreign country. Hearing this news, last week I managed to get a flight back to Japan from SCE to NGO, and successfully made it back. My flight from Detroit to Narita was 13 hours, and with flights this long it makes me depressed just sitting there in discomfort. I killed time watching movies while texting!! I was shocked when I knew they provide free SMS texting on board. This was the first time my flight had this, and it is amazing to think that they make wifi possible miles above the ground, especially when they fly over the nothingness of Alaska and Siberia. Though many of you wouldn’t be flying anytime soon with the situation we are in, I would like you to try this next time. This made me wonder about how technology is changing our flight experiences and what the future waits to bring. Letting my curiosity take me forward, I found an article on how they make internet connection possible on board. 


There are two ways in which this is possible, the “air to ground” method and the satellite-based system. The air to ground system works similar to 4G LTE on the ground, where the mobile towers for people on the ground send signals downwards, the onboard wifi towers send them upwards. The second method is quite obvious from the name, they receive signals from satellites flying above the plane. Because my flight went over the ocean for the most part and also flew over northern Russia, Canada and Alaska, I would say they utilized the satellite method for the most part. Right now, I will need to pay around 10 – 60 dollars to get access to stronger Wifi for browsing the internet and so on, I feel like there will soon come a day where I can do this for much cheaper or even for free. I think that this is similar to how we started getting free wifi almost anywhere in large cities and public institutions. Along with this, I think that airplanes will start to become faster, making the entire idea of air travel less of a special occasion to us. I hope that more changes will come drastically changing the experience miles above.  

IoT hacking

Before knowing anything about the IST major, what I imagined people in this major to be doing after graduating was becoming a hacker. Though I do know now that it is not the case, I still find this topic relevant to this class and also interesting. Where technology helps and assists humans with their daily lives, it is used for much more than this on a larger scale. New forms of crime now exist because of technology, and every single invention brings its own different goods and bads. Browsing the internet, I found an article about a new cyberweapon that can hack into IoT devices. 


Zak Hoffman writes this article by Forbes about how this hacking program ordered by the security service of Russia. IoT devices are said to be less secure than other forms of technology, and this is used to the program’s advantage. The issue here is actually much larger than it seems because the goal for this hacking program is not to spy on and gain information of IoT devices in factories, but rather to use this as a botnet to target much larger, such as major US and European internet platforms. Because of how technology has improved nowadays, the possibilities seem to be unlimited in both spectra. We can either choose to use technology for further development of the humankind, or for a crime like this.

50$ toilet paper roll?!

With the spread of the Coronavirus, we are facing many issues that are outside anywhere close to what we would normally expect. The fact that the Virus is killing tens of thousands of people is scary and the core of the issue, though this is rather obvious. What I want to get to is more of the external effect of the virus. On a big scale, the pandemic is causing economies to crash and businesses to file bankruptcy. Fewer and fewer people are willing to travel now and airports around the globe are empty. But the real issues are the ones that hurt and bother are peaceful daily lives. For some reason, people have concluded to going to the store and buying all the toilet paper they can possibly obtain. With this people are unable to buy toilet paper for a reasonable price. The reason such thing has occurred in the first place is due to the availability of information. People can obtain and share information freely, causing such an issue. Though the specific aspect that I want to go through today is how people have started to sell rolls of toilet paper for ridiculous prices online. 


Paige Cushman writes an article about how a man from Arkansas was selling half a roll of toilet paper for 50$. After hearing this you man not be surprised about others who are selling rolls for 10, 15 and 20 dollars. Toilet paper is a must-have an item on a daily basis, and I would say is an issue that should be taken much more seriously. Because all of this can be done behind a screen, it happens so often. Reading about this, I felt that it is times like now, that we must cooperate the most.

Machine learning in entertainment industry

Music has existed since the start of human civilization and has remained at the top of the hierarchy pyramid of entertainment in modern society. With numerous music streaming services growing in popularity, more and more people now have access to music for an accessible price. Though new music is being produced every day, music from 30, 40 and 50 years ago still remains popular and remains in the industry as a genre of its own. These songs were most likely the top hits of its time and are the reason why it still is accepted under modern music taste. Though have you ever wondered, what makes these popular music “good” and why is it that these songs are this widely known and listened to? Do these songs have something in common that we yet have not noticed? Murray Stassen writes about how modern machine learning technology may be able to predict the songs that will end up gaining popularity. 


By developing then incorporating this technology in the music industry, music producers will be able to identify the future potential of their creators. This would make the music market much more competitive and will change the entire system that they are currently moving under. To add on, Amazon is planning to release a technology that allows just this with not only music but with movies, games, books and other forms of entertainment. This technology would mean a great change in the entirety of the entertainment industry. Though we yet have to wait until we would be able to see this technology in that it is still in the process of development. Reading this, it made me think about the moral and ethics behind the development of this technology. As with any other AI and machine learning related technology, I feel that a machine can never get to the same level of complexity as a human being, and therefore jobs like this should be left for human beings. 


What I mean is that by leaving machine learning to judge and filter media, it would kill diversity in music. There are songs out there that did not end up gaining popularity that I may like, and even if I like it you may not. This goes the same with the other forms of entertainment I mentioned earlier. With such technology coming into play, I believe that we are slowly taking away from the natural creativity of humans. To maintain the diversity of content in the entertainment industry, we must reconsider the development of such technology.



I` m a heavy user of Youtube, because of the infinite entertaining content that it offers. Though the one thing that bugs me is the long unskippable ads that I have to wait and sit through. I understand that this is what allows these content creators to provide us free entertainment, but can not stand the annoyance these cause. This fact goes for any other website and is an inevitable fact that we are exposed to all kinds of ads on all kinds of websites daily. To counteract this issue, there are tools called “adblockers” that makes it so ads do not appear on the websites you browse. This is something very common nowadays and I am sure that a good handful of the IST students here at Penn State are currently using this. Though such tools are tempting and would take a large burden off of our internet use, the increase in popularity of these ad blockers is causing a detrimental effect on website operators. 


Stephen Shankland writes an article on the Cnet news on how these adblockers are mobile devices as well as computers. At this point, it is estimated to be that 15 to 30 percent of internet trafficking is of people using adblockers. After the widespread of smartphones, many of our daily internet browsings moved towards our mobile devices in that is much easier to do so. Therefore as more and more people start to block advertisements on their mobile devices, it is all up to time for this “30%” to increase to a “40”, “50” and further up. The significance of this fact lies in the fact that there are content providers on the internet that relies on this to continue their operation. Ads do not only annoy us by wasting our time and effort, but they drain the battery and also use up extra data. Therefore, it is completely natural for people to want to use these adblockers disregarding the issue it is causing.


Reading this article made me think about the situation before the existence of the internet. As of now, the internet has become such a common field for media and I would say there are no better places for industries to advertise on. Though before we had the internet, these ads that we now see on websites were in newspapers, posters, magazines, television and out in the streets which were the source of popular media back then. Though we still do have advertisements in such forms, industries have noticed that the internet is a much better platform to spread information on. It would be impossible for there to be ways to block our selves from being in contact with these types of advertisements. I feel that the internet has both brought in and blocked out new possibilities and old norms.


Facial Recognition Ban


Facial recognition technology has ingrained itself in our lives being used in the newest phones and tablets. I find this technology to be very useful, especially because I hate remembering passwords and I always have sweaty hands making the fingerprint recognition useless at times. I must say that this technology should become used more and more in our society. But, have you ever thought of the bad that this technology could bring? Portland is recently debating on the official ban on the use of facial recognition technology. This ban points to facial recognition software being used in public, such as a store that used this in its entrance. Facial recognition software searched through its databases of people’s faces in order to identify the individual. The reason for the ban is because it infringes on people’s civil privacy rights. The question that arises is, does Portland have a point here, and should we actually ban the use of this technology?


Everton Bailey Jr. of The Oregonian writes about this ban. To go deeper into the details here, the ban will not affect the Face ID of iPhones and such and will apply to both business usage and government usage. I along with many others feel that Portland should reconsider this ban to be more specific towards certain uses of this technology rather than an overall ban. There are places where this technology is being used for good. Such a ban is over the top we should allow this technology to flow in the society for further practical use.

Practical use of VR technology

Have you ever tried on a pair of virtual reality glasses? I’m sure that if I would have asked this question 5 or 6 years back, much less would have replied “yes”. With the top-selling gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and the SONY PlayStation releasing games that support VR, it is becoming easier for the average citizen to get the chance to experience VR. When I tried on the VR glasses for the first time about a year ago, I remember it costing me 9 dollars for only a single game of Mario Kart™. This gets to show how VR has started to enter the commercial market, though it seems that we will have to wait a few more years until this would become cheaper. As you may have noticed from my examples, we yet have not seen the VR technology in use outside the gaming industry. It is now time that we allow this technology to step out and find use in other industries. 


The article by David Winter showcases how people succeeded in using VR to help solve crimes and accidents. A highway patrol Sgt Fred Cook was made responsible for gathering and analyzing the evidence in a car crash which resulted in the death of the driver. Where we would imagine him to take photographs of the car, examine the skid marks and level of destruction, he instead took a 3D laser scanner and started creating a 3D model of the scene. This data along with security camera footages are used to recreate the scene. This technology is still new and in the process of further improvement, but will make crime scene perseverance unnecessary since we can relive the scene as it originally was, through virtual reality. 


I feel that we should use this example as a stepping stone to further widen the use of this new technology to other fields. As a student who never got the chance to visit Penn state before coming due to geographical reasons, I would like this technology to be used to allow future Penn State students to tour the Penn State campus via VR. Other potential uses are in the entertainment industry, by creating an online version of museums, and art galleries to motivate people to experience these institutions much easier. This would even come to use in education because we would be able to allow students to virtually travel to historical sites, outer space and other places which would cost much more time, money and effort to do so in real life. I feel like I could go on forever with the close to infinite possibilities that VR technology holds. For this to happen, VR technology needs much more improvement, and our society needs to start to get used to VR.

Is Technology really Trustable?

Are you the type of person who trusts technology? I would say I rely on technology and am a complete believer in the convenience and accuracy of technological devices. I would say that technology is much more consistent and accurate than humans, and is the reason it is this widely accepted in our society. This is why we have calculators do complex calculations for us, and robots and machines are used in most processes of mass production, to restrict the output product from having varying quality. Although, the truth is that we are still at a point in technological development where technology experience flaws now and then. This is a big reason why we have yet not been able to leave complex and life-threatening responsibilities to the hands of technology. This is why technology such as automatic driving yet requires further development. Although we are slowly but surely making more and more of driving automatic. As automatic driving technology develops, a big flaw was found with the 2016 Tesla Model X and Model S.  


Researchers have found out that there is a big flaw in the EyeQ3 system on the car allowing the car to accelerate an extra 50 miles per hour above the speed limit where it would be definitely unsafe to do so. Patrick Howell O’Neill writes about this on the MIT Technology Review, and this incident was picked up by many other top news articles. The EyeQ3 system is a camera attached to the front of cars that reads the speed limit signs and uses this data for the Teslas auto cruise system. A demonstration was taken place by the cybersecurity firm McAfee to show how this system can easily be manipulated to cause complete chaos. Researchers put a small sticker on a speed limit sign reading 35 in order to make the computer misread this as 85. I am sure it is rather easy to imagine what would happen if a car would drive at 85mph at a road meant for 35mph. This result showed technicians how machine-learning systems as such can easily be manipulated resulting in life-threatening results. 


Using this research result as a start line, different experiments were taken place to look into the limits of how these cars can be fooled. A UC Berkeley professor tricked a Self-Driving car into reading a stop sign as a 45 mph sign. Hackers made an automatic car veer into the wrong lane using stickers on the road. What we need to understand is that technology can have such flaws that can lead to us losing our life. By acknowledging these weaknesses, technicians can work to fix these so that a day would come when automatic driving cars become a common part of our lives.

Smart Table to Improve Your Table Tennis

I am sure that many of you have a favorite sport. In the states, many would answer football, soccer, baseball or basketball. Whatever sport you favor, athletes not only undergo tough training but research and analyze their and opponent’s performance in order to identify their strengths and more importantly their weaknesses. It is starting to become far less uncommon for athletes to incorporate technology into this process, making it much more accurate and efficient. Such technology has been around and used in popular sports such as football, where a microchip in the ball helps identify when it is a goal, and in badminton where the players can challenge judge’s decision by using technology that identifies when the shuttle is in our out. As long as sports remains to be a popular form of entertainment in our society, technology will join this field for the better. 

My favorite sport table tennis has finally got its turn to get some of the benefits that technology could bring to the sport. Being played in such a small court, it required precision much more than any other sport, and just a few centimeters or a few milliseconds of error could mean a big difference. Therefore, this was something that most if not all table tennis fans were looking for. As of now, the international table tennis federation uses its numerous cameras in order to get data on the spin and speed of the balls so that the viewers can get a numerical sense of the intensity of the player’s performance. Although more advanced and practical technology is demanded by the table tennis community which I hope to see regularly be imputed and used by athletes. 

Zhong Lin Wang has been playing table tennis for 4 years and is a material scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His passion for table tennis sport leads to him succeeding in inventing a table that detects where the ball landed, where it is heading, and its velocity. Stephen Orens writes an article showcasing this new technology. The table does not require a battery of any sort and is designed so that the ball hitting the table creates a wave of reactions sending an electric signal to the computer analyzing the data. Wang states how this technology can be used to analyze the behavior and habits of a player. This technology will be useful for players of any level. When used by a developing player, the player can analyze his or her play to remove any dangerous habits from the start to develop a flawless form straight from the beginning. Advanced players can use this to perfect their strokes and to find ways to get their balls a head or two above the rest whether through spin, speed or placement. The point is that we could rely on technology to collect and analyze data that athletes could interpret to understand what it is that they need to improve on and change. At this level, it is still up to us to determine the further use of the data collected by this new technology. In the future, more and more data collection and analysis are said to be automated and all fields including sports.

Ornes, Stephen. “Self-Powered Surface May Evaluate Table-Tennis Play.” Science News for Students, 14 Jan. 2020, 6:45 AM,