Tag Archives: #Passion

I Can Hear the Changes


I raised my voice in a conversation the other day with a friend’s grandfather when he started talking about his recently acquire hearing aid (it was obvious he really did have difficulty hearing). Then he adjusted the volume on the hearing aid, as he mentioned its miraculous nature, and got me thinking about such a helpful technology which most people seldom take notice of. Everyday new forms of technology force us to take notice of them; we cannot escape them. So frequent we come across them we don’t even realize many of the other forms of smaller, but still useful, technologies that have been developed, and improved, to help people in their daily lives: like hearing aids. The Center for Hearing and Communication reports that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss. So, most-likely, each one of us knows someone currently using a hearing aid, but many people may not know just how significantly hearing aids have been improved since they first came to market in 1987, particularly in the past 2-3 years, in various ways to identify and amplify desired sounds like the human voice while muting background noise. On top of the newer, aesthetically-pleasing, choice between from behind-the-ear (BTE) to completely-in-the-canal (CIC) variations of hearing aids, recently there have been significant improvements that are listed below.

1. Increased Comfort
Related to the introduction of Digital Signal Processing (DSP), one of the primary benefits is the potential for increased audibility of sounds of interest without discomfort resulting from high intensity sounds. The greatly increased flexibility and control of compression processing provided by DSP can lead to improved audibility with less clinician effort. Expansion, the opposite of compression, has also been introduced in digital hearing aids. This processing can lead to greater listener satisfaction by reducing the intensity of low-level environmental sounds and microphone noise that otherwise may have been annoying to the user, thus it grants your loved one using this more of an enjoyable experience when they try listening to you speak.

2. Improved Sound

Digital Feedback Reduction (DFR), the first factor in improving a user’s sound reduces moderate feedback through the use of a cancellation system or notch filtering. DFR can substantially benefit users who experience occasional interfering feedback, such as that associated with jaw movement and close proximity to objects.

Digital Noise Reduction (DNR), the second factor which improves sound, is a processing intended to reduce gain, either in the low frequencies or in specific bands, when noise is detected. The DNR reduces annoyance and possibly improve speech recognition in the presence of non-fluctuating noise. All in all these two improvements can enhance the listening experience for any hearing aid wearer.

3. Improved Speaking
Another new accomplishment is Digital Speech Enhancement (DSE); these systems act to increase the relative intensity of some segments of speech. Current DSE processing identifies and enhances speech based either on temporal, or more recently, spectral content. DSE in hearing aids is still relatively new, but its effectiveness is large.
Also, the ability of directional hearing aids to improve the effective signal-to-noise ratio has become well established. In some cases combining DSP (mentioned earlier) with directional microphones can act to further enhance this benefit. In some hearing aids DSP is used to calibrate microphones, control the shape of the directional pattern, automatically switch between directional and omnidirectional modes, and reduce additional circuit noise generated by directional microphones. All of these combine to produce well processed sound and capability to increase accuracy of not only hearing, but speaking as well (seeing as speaking is basically hearing yourself)


Remote-Controlled Animals?


Besides just Iphones and general technology that is used daily, what else is there?  There are some really cool things that have been invented by new developing technologies–some very much like things you’d find in a Sci-Fi book or film: the one I’m covering today, is remote controlled animals and how they can be used for our benefit and whether of not this is actually ethical.

The first animal scientists started with was the rat.  By implanting electrode into the rat’s brain– “one in the brain region that senses reward or pleasure, and one each in areas that process signals from the rat’s left and right whisker bundles”–they can control the rat’s movements from up to 1,640 feet (500 meters) away.  So why would we ever need such a concept? Well, it could potentially save lives.  Since rats are relatively small they would be sent into the wreckage of a disaster, with a camera attached to them in order to locate missing persons.

Another development in this field is that scientists have done the same thing with pigeons.


Scientists accomplished this pigeon experiment by implanting micro-electrodes into their brains, just like they did with the rats. The remote control bird experiment follows was completed by the same team in which white mice with implanted micro electrodes were guided, because of this now some of the US military are considering using this technology to use birds to spy on their enemies. the US navy also hopes one day to use such implants to exploit sharks’ natural ability to sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails left by a vessel. A Telegraph article claims, “Swimming in a ship’s wake, a remote-controlled shark could track an enemy vessel’s movements without being noticed, and under its own power.”

It’s really amazing all the kinds of things technology can accomplish. In the future we may be able to use this technology with animals in order to help and even save soldiers or missing people; the only point against this is whether or not it is ethical to the animals. But, regardless of if it is or not, it remains astounding what we can do with technology.




A World Always Talking: Did Fahrenheit 451 Predict the Future?

“Nobody listens anymore. I can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at me, I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

Routine acts influenced by this new era of rapidly growing technology have created habits which turn our world into one that’s always talking, just like Bradbury writes about in his renowned fictional society from the book Fahrenheit 451.  His world is a fast-paced society with fast cars, wall-sized televisions, seashells (ear-buds), electronic surveillance, and people paying more attention to the screens around them than physical life.  This book that was published over fifty years ago made realistic predictions of our current day; it makes one ponder exactly how fictional Bradbury’s world is.  Could elements of this world other than technology–such as relationship dynamics and ideals–have also been predicted in his book?


Not unlike the apathetic relationship between the main character, Guy Montag, and his wife, Mildred, of the book Fahrenheit 451, an overuse of technology has been seen to negatively alter what might other-wise be healthy relationships.  We’ve even gotten to the point where children are forced to compete with technology for attention since many parents neglect to give their children enough.  When, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, “young people ages 8 to 18 now spend nearly every waking moment when they are not in school using media”, family members are propelled to screens for entertainment and company: everyone is growing more and more detached from reality.  This is very much in the same way that Mildred, Montag’s wife, becomes.  She frequently blocks out the world as described here:

“And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time” (Bradbury 76)

Some irony resides in the unnatural manner in which she blocks out the world around her.  The characters call them seashells, but their function is anything but natural.  It even gets to a point where Montag can barely maintain a relationship with his wife because of it.

As well, Bradbury’s story predicts the dumbing-down of society through the media which is channeled through excessive use of unavoidable screens.  At one particular point in the book Mildred and a couple of her friends are discussing politics and how they decide who to vote for.  How do they choose who to elect? Based on appearance, they choose whoever looks best.  In a way, doesn’t that resemble how we pick who our leaders are, how they appear?  Though many people fact-check political candidates and the ads that represent them, a large majority still believe what they are told.  So, if one candidate has more negative ads against the other candidate, their odds of winning might just be a tad higher.  Even if a candidate physically appears more attractive or trustworthy to the general public they also gain positive reputation for that.

Lastly, in Bradbury’s book, the world emanates apathy as if all the technology has sucked up all emotional quality like a vacuum.  People do not want to feel.  People like Mildred would rather block out the world and block out their feelings, barricading any harm from getting to them whilst barricading any positive emotions as well. There has been a decrease in sincerity in our world too.  Subtle feelings like the hesitant, fearful feeling of actually calling someone screams of the decrease in the willingness to converse directly.  There lacks voice inflection and facial expression in texting or chatting, to hint at the true intent of the speaker; it breaks stable foundations of sincerity, leaving us wondering whether or not the person means what they “say”.    Recognition of genuine sincerity is lost, what it means is lost, and what it’s worth to give full time and attention to another individual is lost.  With it we may possibly lose most quality of all emotion.

“Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores.”― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451



Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print

“Is Technology Ruining the English Language?” Destruction –. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2014.

Richtel, Matt. Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature.  The New York Times.  June 7, 2010. www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0  

To Tweet or Not To Tweet

When faced with the decision of whether or not I would participate in Tweeting for this semester’s RCL class–a choice we all had to make–the concept of it really bothered me.  Though I’m sure most of the class instantly loved the idea, from my perspective Twitter is used for time-wasting: following celebrities who will never follow you back, and posting short tidbits most people will scroll over etc.  The physical set up of Twitter seems to appeal to many people, but not to me; out of all the time-wasting sites, I prefer Facebook and it’s layout–where you are not limited on how much you can say.  Also, someone please tell me, when did the pound sign/number sign become a “hash-tag”? (Who came up with that name?)


But, all hash put aside, after considering it, I chose to go along with this new Tweeting part of class for multiple reasons: I didn’t see why I shouldn’t.  Having been previously pestered by some of my friends I created my Twitter account a little less than a year ago, figuring that I should try it once before I judge.  Up until this semester’s class I really hadn’t used it much but, considering I already had an account, why shouldn’t I participate?

Then the thoughts about distraction intruded on my decision process.  I thought, if everyone is preoccupied–even more-so than they might otherwise be–Tweeting on their Smartphones and computers they will obtain less of the information discussed in class.  Maybe it would be better for me not to participate so I can obtain as much information as I can?  Sadly though, I realized, this distraction does not solely apply to those students using a device; it also applies to anyone who may be sitting near them.  According to a new Canadian study, those who used only paper/pencil during class scored significantly less when they were seated near someone multitasking on a laptop–this goes for Smartphones as well.  One of the researchers in this experiment, Faria Sana, says “You might not be multitasking but if you have a clear view of someone else who is multitasking, your performance is still going to be impaired.” This impairment critically reduces grades, “it can change your grade from a B+ to a B-“.  Studies such as this prompted my conclusion that my decision would have no effect on distraction, because even with me choosing to not participate I’d still be surrounded by people who were.


I would not gain anything by not participating, and I would not lose anything by participating.  Factoring all the risks, it was brought to my attention the assignment which would have to be completed if my decision was no.  I hate to admit, but laziness was also a factor.  Should I pick the continuous assignment of posting (limited) tweets, or the other option which would most-likely consume more of my time?  Certainly the latter did not appeal to me, even though my annoyance with the promotion of such a superficial, distracting, site remains.

On a separate note, could this new classroom experiment give more substance to Twitter?  Could our voices possibly break past the bashing of Miley Cyrus, or cute animal pictures, or the winy complaints from people about how bad their life is?  I’m sure everyone notices all of these things I’m talking about, the stuff that doesn’t matter–time-wasting content.  Twitter constitutes the last thing I’d ever want to preoccupy my time with in a world filled with much more urgent and deep content.  If this experiment could possibly give a little more depth or purpose to the pointless void that is Twitter, then why not? For me, this might actually give me a reason to tweet.









Second Semester Passion Blog

I’ve decided I want to stick with my previous theme–a broad theme–of technology and how it’s rapid growth impacts us.  Last semester I mainly talked about all the things I dislike about some of the new forms of technology, but I feel like it was mostly just me ranting: not very appealing at all.  Though the theme will stay the same–because it’s pretty limitless regarding sub-topics to write about and is very relevant to our current time–this time I aim to write more about technology by utilizing, not solely my opinion, but more opinions of technology found in literature, articles, and such.  This way I can connect my topic to more aspects of the community than just things happening and my opinion.  This way too, I can connect the past and present through different texts and opinions of others.  I can start utilizing more examples of technological growth by examining more developments in this area that are happening around us; maybe I’ll even write a post regarding our class’ new Twitter endeavor (pros and cons).  Occasionally last semester I found my tone–in my opinion– to be too, maybe, pessimistic/rant-like.  This semester I want to give it a more open and analytically approach that will be less biased as to bring more appeal to my blog.  As well, I have changed the name of my blog to fit this new feel/tone.

Darn You Auto-tune


Auto-tune, I may not know much about it, except that it sticks out like a watermelon in a cabbage patch because of it’s obvious electronic modifications of the vocals or instruments in a song.  This new technology has taken off and can be found in many songs today.  I have nothing against auto-tune but, like anything, too much of a good thing can be bad–an sound really fake. (cough cough Nicki Manaj)

After doing some research I found, not-surprisingly, auto-tune was created solely for the purpose of clearing out any off-tune vocals, hence the name.  Then the music industry slowly figured out they could also use it to mess with, change up, and experiment with the sounds in the music (which is actually really cool) I think auto tune usually doesn’t sounds good, in some cases it can, but most cases it can’t and doesn’t. Also it takes away any talent from the people who can actually sing. If anyone can use auto-tune to sound like an angel those who can sing well won’t get recognized.

So, I’m going to go over when I can and can’t tolerate auto-tuned music.  Generally I believe if the only contribution auto-tune makes is a fake sound, no.  But, if it’s maybe more subtle and enhances a certain feel the song is going for, then I can.  Such as in the song “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” by Chromatics: there use of auto-tune is successful in that it isn’t over done and imprints a lasting almost haunting feel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hYPk5m6uuM

I know there are more examples, but an example of a song that has been beat dead by auto-tune (in my opinion) is a song most of us know “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP6XpLQM2Cs  I guess if she (or the record company) couldn’t achieve the sound they were going for without auto-tune, I guess I can slightly understand.  Who would ever want their voice to sound like Ke$ha’s I don’t know. She just doesn’t need to be that obviously auto tuned.

I guess, also one thing that bothers me is that these songs are the ones played on the radio often and I just don’t see the appeal to it.  Shouldn’t the songs with actual talent in them be play more often? Instead we are fed rigged sounds enhanced  by computers.







Englsh 2 Netsp33k



The spread of texting and netspeak, instant messaging (IM), and spell checks (like auto correct)  has transformed our competent language into an almost new language in itself–except there exists no boundary between English and this new language.  People, mostly younger people such as teenagers, often forget to separate texting lingo from actual speaking/writing.  Netspeak and texting lingo being found in kids’ school homework proves this mesh.  An article from “technologyandlanguage.weebly.com”, regarding this, reports,  “a girl in Scotland famously wrote an entire essay in lingo indecipherable even to the Internet-savvy: ‘My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2 go 2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :-@ kds FTF. ILNY, its gr8.'” (Ward).   This could be the outcome of our frequent use of technology.  I know whenever I write an essay–or even this blog–red squiggles appear underneath the words I’ve miss-spelled, so I don’t even really have to think about spelling, it’s the same with auto-correct on Iphones; even though half the time auto-corrects corrects incorrectly it has conditioned many people with Iphones to not write as carefully and rely on spell-checks.  When you grow, or stop being, used to something it’s hard to prevent it happening.

In addition, the change in the way people talk/write (like the girl seen above) comes about by the convenience of texting lingo and netspeak: shortening words like “you” to “U” in order to save time and money.  Since this lingo has become so prevalent in our daily lives it eventually becomes natural for us to sometimes, even accidentally, write this way in a normal circumstance, which in the long run decrease our ability to separate formal English from informal English.  The decline of formal English to some people brings with it a fear of the destruction of the language as a whole.  In this article Humphrys, a full-fledged journalist, writes  “vandals are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbors eight hundred years ago.  They are destroying it: pillaging our punctuation; savaging our sentences; raping our vocabulary.  And they must be stopped”  With the spread of new technologies come with it the spread of abundant errors and the possible diminishing of our language.

Now, with many people worrying about this change, is it really something we should be concerned about?  Some may say no but I believe, seeing the many people who aren’t worried about this, that our concern is valid and maybe we should do something about it.  We don’t have to go on a ban of Iphones, but maybe, just maybe, when we are texting we could use less lingo as to not get accustomed to it, and as well we can write more carefully, consciously aware of the differences between texting and not.  It’s our choice: do we want to risk the extinction of our language’s uniqueness?  Or will we sit by and watch it be destroyed?




Surviving the (Insomnia) Zombie Apocalypse


A heightened need for coffee, contagious yawns, and the notable, blank, soot-eyed, faces:  this is invasion of the insomniacs induced by–not brainwashing or mutation, but the corruption of our sleep cycle by bright, active, screens.  It’s not just in America either, this phenomena is world-wide.  Florence Cardinal, “World of Technology Disrupts Sleep” says in her article, “Children in New Zealand are suffering from sleep deprivation caused by the technological world we live in.”  Clearly this is happening almost everywhere for that’s where it’s sources have spread; technology has spread almost everywhere.

“I’m going to bed soon”, we tell ourselves right before finishing “one last text” or “one more episode”.   Two hours later, and what has happened? We’ve allowed the lit screen to entrap our attention like a  bug drawn to those electric lanterns which end up killing them.  Sure, it may seem harmless.  Then, as most of us know, after we finally turn off our devices we struggle with falling asleep.  It’s one AM, we know we should go to sleep, but lying in bed something about our mind keeps us slightly more alert then we should be.  But what is it that flips the switch, turning us into insomniacs?  My opinion, supported by studies, is that it’s the disruption of our natural circadian rhythm.

Our circadian rhythm is our body’s natural sleep/awake clock which becomes activated/deactivated through sunlight as controlled by our hypothalamus.  It’s how we innately know to wake up in the morning and feel tired at night.  When we are exposed to less light, out brain produces the hormone melatonin, which makes us drowsy. Dr. John Herman, a sleep expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, reports that “the flashing lights on the games and TV shows may be resetting the circadian rhythm, changing the body’s internal clocks so kids want to stay awake and get up later each day.” This makes sense being that our alertness doesn’t have to be triggered by natural light; often times in our modern world light from man-made sources, such as televisions/computers/cellphones, etc. inhibit the production of melatonin and acts as a “sunlight” which tells our brain it’s time to be awake just when we need malatonin the most.

It may not be all due to corruption of our circadian rhythm, but also the fact that texting and scrolling and watching tv activates our brain, we are processing and thinking when our brain just needs to wind down.   This is why many people suggest cutting off technology at least a half-hour before sleep, so our brain and mind are actually ready for sleep when the time come–and we don’t have to go through our next day like a sleep-deprived zombie.




Maybe We’ll Have Robot Teachers in the Future

It’s not a secret that technology has become a bigger part of learning in schools these days; many assignments and quizzes teachers place online instead of requiring them to be done on paper.  This can save paper and ink, and since most everyone has a laptop/computer the pros usually outnumber the cons: students can easily access school materials and complete their work in a timely fashion.  There is however a question to ask–as technology is ever growing within our school systems–how far do we go? When is it too much and when will the pros stop outweighing the cons?

These questions are ones being currently asked like in cases where many people are debating whether or not younger children should be given Ipads in schools.  In such places like Belmont Hills Elementary in Lower Merion Pennsylvania, and Auburn school district in Maine–school officials here say they are the first public school district in the country to give every kindergartener an iPad–kids as young as kindergarten were supplied by the schools with Ipads.  Though some studies claim too much screen time can lead to psychological problems and trouble interacting with people, many of the school districts that have adopted the Ipads state it will lead to an increased engagement in the children since they interact more with the Ipads.  The teacher are such though to assure the children don’t lose sight of reality with the screens, but use them to enhance the learning and hopefully raise test scores.  Are these devices necessary? Does it matter if they are necessary?

I think from my point of view, going to the extent of giving five-year-olds Ipads is a bit extreme and introduces a dependence of technology at a young age, which may or may not be a bad thing–especially in the direction jobs are going, where it’s rare to find a job that does not utilize technology.  I believe the teacher is what makes the class, not the technology.  So, maybe in these school districts the test scores could be improved by better/more engaging teachers and/or methods of teaching. Sure, little things like projectors for power-points, and occasional laptop use (mainly for older kids)  are very useful and beneficial.  But, what happened to the days when we didn’t even need to consider using outside resources to strengthen children’s engagement in schools? Has technology changed the way teachers teach?article-1375427-0B91388000000578-761_468x302

Cites: http://www.necn.com/09/12/11/Kindergarteners-get-iPads-for-school/landing_scitech.html?blockID=563064 http://balacynwyd.patch.com/groups/schools/p/all-kindergartners-getting-ipads-in-lower-merion

The Technological Key to Insincerity

Routine acts create unconscious–containing almost no awareness– insincere habits: like wearing a watch everyday or being around one scent, eventually the stimulus, or act, appears to fade.  Our habits influenced by sporadic texting and tweeting have turned into the norm.  We’ve gotten to the point where many parents even neglect to give their children enough attention, which forces kids to compete with technology for attention.   According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, “young people ages 8 to 18 now spend nearly every waking moment when they are not in school using media — more than 7.5 hours a day.”  Imagine all that could be accomplished in all that time, anything from getting extra sleep (something people complain about not having), to hobbies.

It has also been proven a good number of people prefer digital interactions than face-to-face.  Over-time this has lead to an increase in lessened face-to-face communication which can ultimately, but not necessarily, weaken our social skills.  Many of us know the hesitant, or fearful feeling when you actually have to talk to someone through the phone as opposed to your usual texting.  But, not only does it decrease our willingness to converse directly but it also decreases emotion; we can perfectly well type out “I’m sorry”, “I’m okay”, and “I love you” but typing it isn’t the same as saying it, in typing we can mask our true feelings and the person on the other end can’t know the different. There are no voice inflections or facial expressions to hint at the true intent of the speaker–in this case, texter.

This breaks down all stable foundations of sincerity  and honesty, it leaves us wondering whether or not the person means what they “say”.  We can even become confused or offended in texting conversations because to some people, texting may be equivalent to a regular conversation where no one suddenly stops responding, so when that happens it messes with the sincerity a conversation is supposed to have.  Then, when in real life when people are having a supposedly sincere conversation, occasionally one person will whip out their phone and start texting away at another person, taking away their full attention of the person they are actually with.  The person who texts while with someone else fails to even attempt to see from their perspective, they assume texting is the “norm” and the person won’t be offended. Sometimes people–including me, who has been in this situation many times–who are trying to construct a sincere and meaningful conversation are hurt with a worthless meaningless feeling that the person, who started absently conversing someone else, believe you’re not worth their full attention.  All in all we lose recognition of genuine sincerity and what it means and what it’s worth to give all of ourselves (and all of our time and attention) to another individual: maybe that’s why so many relationships end so frequently or why some relationships fall under the crushing weight of fighting and/or miss-communication.  There is strength in patient, sincere, humility. 22-images3