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Will the Bitcoin Bubble Burst? If So When? There May be a Tool to Help

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Many people that own Bitcoins ask themselves "How much more can it grow?" With Bitcoins projected to be worth over $11,000 at present this seems like a reasonable question and was worth 30 cents in 2010.

Bitcoins are a form of crypto-currency that are given value much like paper money, people say it has value. If any of this worries you and you own bitcoins or are looking into purchasing a bitcoin, which is doubtful due to there extreme price for one, there is now an A.I. that was presented at the Disrupt Berlin Hackathon that is made to predict the burst of the bitcoin bubble. It is called Bitcoin Bubble Burst. It takes the form of a regular subscription newsletter that collates the information it’s found. If a certain threshold of warning signs is reached, its creators claim it will also allow you to know first — so you can cash in your savings before there’s a run on the virtual bank.

This software could save some people from losing large investments if it works and could be a very useful tool in projecting the value of the seemingly unstoppable crypto-currency.

Net Neutrality, and Why You Should Care

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Recently, one of my Colleagues briefly wrote about what Net Neutrality is and why it has been in the news so much recently. I figured I would expand upon it more by explaining why we should all be against the Federal Communication Commission's efforts to repeal net neutrality. Disclaimer: This article contains my personal opinions on net neutrality, and my opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of Harding University.

Like Garrett wrote, under current legislation, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to abide by Net Neutrality. This means that they have to treat all data sent over the internet the same and cannot slow or speed up connections to certain websites for whatever reason. If Net Neutrality is repealed, ISPs will have free reign to speed up or slow down connections to whichever website they please. This might not seem too bad. Besides, maybe your ISP would decide to speed up connection to Netflix. However, it won't work like that. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will have the power to demand serious amounts of money from large companies that need fast connections. Since most ISPs (DirecTV, Comcast, Verizon, and others) provide internet as well as cable TV and are in direct competition with companies like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube, you can bet your bottom dollar that ISPs will make media streaming companies pay top dollar for a fast connection to users. 

Those companies mentioned before won't have any trouble paying the premium for a quick connection, but all of that extra cost will be directed straight to us as consumers. Netflix would be forced to raise prices for consumers in order to remain profitable. On top of that, small businesses that rely on internet sales would be forced to stay in the slow lane of the internet, unable to pay for a premium connection. Additionally, we as consumers could be forced to pay for each aspect of the internet that we want access to. Presently, we pay a flat rate for connection to all of the internet and pay more or less based on the speed we want. Without net neutrality, we could have to purchase different internet packages. Want connection to social media sites? That'll be 11.99 a month. Want connection to Media streaming? That's another 11.99 a month, on top of already paying for the subscription to whichever media streamer you want to use. Some estimates show that internet could end up costing around twice as much as before. 

 Repealing Net Neutrality favors Large Companies over small businesses and consumers. The government should be protecting the desires of the greater good, not granting favor to whoever has the most money. It has been uplifting to watch the battle take place over net neutrality. It is encouraging to see the people's voices heard whenever they feel passionate about an issue. If the FCC wins and net neutrality is somehow repealed, I will be deeply discouraged. That loss would represent a massive amount of corruption within our country, as the loss of net neutrality seems to only favor large businesses which could be contributing money to lawmakers in order to sway the vote in their favor. Don't just take my word for it, do your own research and decide how you feel about Net Neutrality. 

Firefox Quantum: Will it make a difference?

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Source: W3Counter, November 2017's report.

In early November, Mozilla released a heavy update for their internet browser: Firefox. The developer named the update Quantum, accompanied by advertising double the speed, yet 30% lighter than Google's Chrome. Most internet users depend on Google's Chrome browser or Apple's Safari. Other competitors such as Microsoft's Edge, Mozilla's Firefox Quantum, and the opensource Opera browser (used mostly by Linux users) .

What does Quantum really offer?
  • Despite the advertising campaign, the Quantum update has actually doubled the browser's speed based on multiple outsourced speed tests. 
  • “The Photon Design” a new look that has improved the over all aesthetic and brings the aged browser up to a "2017" feel and look.
  • Improved many functionalities, including new extension protocols.
  • Browsers, Chrome especially, use your computer's RAM and processor to quickly launch tabs and extensions. Chrome takes as much as it can to keep itself lightning fast. However, Firefox now has a setting to choose how much processing you want to dedicate to support the browser.

My experience:
I use Google Chrome 99% of the time, so I decided to give Firefox Quantum a test run for about a day. Because I am a student, most of my browsing time is spent researching, reading, or watching/listening. Sometimes, using the least amount of power is not the most convenient. Firefox is much faster then when I have used it in the past, becoming an admirable opponent to Chrome. However, Firefox is missing one competitive advantage: Accounts. Firefox has an account system with free syncing, like Chrome, yet Google has a major amount of users tied into their own account system. The problem: It's easier to consolidate, all of my apps, contacts, pictures, google drive, etc. syncs with Google Chrome. This aspect makes it difficult, inconvenient, to move to Firefox especially when Chrome is pre-installed on most mobile Android devices.      

The new Firefox is definitely a huge step in the right direct for Mozilla, time will tell if they increase their user base with Quantum. 

Take a Picture To Help Fight Against Sex Trafficking

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As a whole, most of society uses their technology to solve individual problems. Boredom, curiosities, planning, these are all common uses for apps and the internet. Now I am not saying that using our devices for these purposes is inherently bad: technology is designed in order to make our lives easier. But what if we could use our devices in more helpful ways? Ways that can help drastically improve the lives of others?

Sex Trafficking is a very real problem, with over 300,000 children in the US and 1.2 million worldwide being trafficked every year. This problem is not localized to children, but that is a startling statistic, and so is the fact that most of these children are recruited between ages 12-14. These children are forced into doing acts that no pre-teen/teen should be required to do, and for other peoples gain no less, which will in most cases lead to extremely negative side effects.

Problems like this unfortunately exist in our broken world, but from the minds of good people come ways to combat these problems. The traffickers who move the children around typically will post photos for online ads, photos which can then be used as evidence to find and prosecute these people and set the children free. However, unless the investigators know where the photo was taken, it cannot be used as evidence.

This is where TraffickCam comes in. TraffickCam is available in website form and as an app for both Android and iOS. It operates under the simple idea that there are many people who travel on a regular basis. These people need only take a few pictures of the room they're staying in and upload it to the TraffickCam database. By having reference imagery to compare with, authorities can figure out where the traffickers are using simple image matching technology: four images and a correct location is all it takes. Some hotels are even freely offering up images of their rooms in order to help the effort.

These kinds of problems can be difficult to process, but they are happening whether we try and think about them or not. If we all band together we can stop problems like this from happening. Next time you're travelling or decide to get away to a hotel for a quick escape, consider using TraffickCam and you might just save someone's life.

The Latest News on Virtual Reality

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In a previous post, I wrote about the advances of Virtual Reality, namely in video games. However, companies are choosing far more practical applications for VR, and the possibilities are exciting.

If you haven't already read about it, Disney recently invested in VR through its Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR experience, and the game will open at both Disney parks by January. The game uses a real-life, custom-made environment so that the users feel like they are actually on Mustafar fighting as Stormtroopers. More and more companies are creating similar environments, syncing the game under the headset with the real world in order to provide a more real experience.

Also, HTC, the company that created the Vive headset for use with Steam video games, started its Vive X program in April 2016, which encourages Virtual Reality development with its headset, has invested in 40 VR startups, and plans on adding 26 more, including Neurable, which is currently working on a brain-computer interface that would make controllers, or even gloves a thing of the past for Virtual Reality. HTC also hopes to achieve wireless VR, and it sounds like these startups are the right step towards that goal.

Furthermore, VR is arriving in other circles of interest. There is a push for experiences similar to IMAX where VR would be available to the public in location-based venues. In education, people have considered the possibilities when implementing VR into teaching anatomy or countless other areas of study, especially in the medical field. Even Gevenchy, a French fashion company, has created fashionable "VR glasses" for those who want to look good while experiencing augmented reality.

With the increase in availability of these headsets for developers, I believe we can expect the world of Virtual Reality to quickly expand into more areas than just Skyrim.

Net Neutrality

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What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is a principle that states ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like Verizon, AT&T, Windstream, Google, or Ritter are required to treat all internet traffic equally. This means that if your internet is provided by Google, then they cannot purposefully slow your connection to, or speed up your connection to Or in the case of Verizon, they cannot say, "Google, if you want connections to your website to be faster than yahoo, give us $250 million a year." So far, this practice has been required by law, but more recently, this has come up for debate.

What is happening now?

The FCC's (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman, Ajit Pai, has recently been pushing plans to dismantle the net neutrality regulations. This has been met with both public and commercial retaliation, including a letter signed by 200 companies like Reddit and Twitter. There will be a vote on December 14th that decides the fate of net neutrality.

What side do you fall on?

Vote on Net Neutrality Here