Feed on

Category Archive for 'Uncategorized'

The location I chose for my historical map overlay is the city of Kenai, AK. I chose Kenai because it had one of the better-quality historical maps I could find of an Alaskan city (I found that searching for older maps of Alaskan cities was difficult, as many of them were topology maps). I also chose Kenai due to its mix of roads and waterways to be overlaid.

The historical map was created by the US Geographical Survey (USGS) in 1959 (with some revisions in 1987 (I don’t know what those revisions are)) (1):

Here is the Google Earth satellite image of Kenai with the USGS map overlaid:


Performing this exercise has made me think about the accuracy of maps over time, especially with the advent of satellite imagery. I noticed how accurate the USGS map was in comparison to the satellite image as I was able to locate and match up the roads and waterways easily. However, I can’t say for sure that Kenai didn’t change between 1959 and the present day because I was able to find a difference in the depiction of Beaver Loop Road.


Beaver Loop Road is marked in a thin white line by Google Earth and is marked in a think white line (black on the edges) by the USGS map. The first difference I noticed, circled in red, has Beaver Loop Road on the USGS map closer to the Kenai River, while the road on Google Earth is away from the river. The next difference, circled in blue, is the direct opposite as the road on the USGS map is now away from the river, while the road is closer to the river on Google Earth.

I am not sure why Beaver Loop Road is depicted differently on the map and satellite image while the other parts of the map, as far as I could see, were accurate to the satellite image. Perhaps the road was modified since 1959? I can’t imagine it being modified for safety reasons as the road is moved closer to the river the satellite image. Perhaps the USGS map isn’t as accurate as I though it was? The map was made over 50 years ago, so it’s understandable if it has some inaccuracies. What about the map’s revision in 1987? Should have some of its inaccuracies been fixed then? Anywho, the overall accuracy the USGS map does show that historical maps can be quite reliable, even in the age of satellite imagery.


(1) USGS. Map of Kenai Area. 1959, 1987. Alaska Climate Research Center.

Historical websites use all sorts of visualizations to better explain the past. For instance, these websites may use charts, diagrams, photos, or artworks to help discuss certain aspects of the past. Maps, old and new, are also part of the list of visualizations historical websites use to explain the past. But the maps used by these websites are not just used to mark where an event took place. Websites like Hypercities, Experience Cleveland, and Philaplace use interactive maps as the basis of their sites where information is given in a way that static maps cannot. And though these websites use maps to help explain history, they do so in very different ways.

To start, Hypercities uses new and historical maps to show how cities around the world grew or changed overtime. Users have the ability to overlay historical maps over newer maps to compare and gain a sense of how cities changed overtime. Hypercities also lets users see how people of the past used maps to obtain information. For example, in the historic maps for Los Angeles, there is a map created by the US Census Bureau in 1940 tracking the distribution of the city’s Filipino population. Another example is used in Ollantaytambo, Peru, where a map is used in 2008 to track urban growth patterns.

Next, Experience Cleveland, created by Cleveland State University, is a website with an interactive map which is situated along Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue, or the Euclid Corridor.  The website uses the map to highlight specific locations on Euclid Ave. and emphasizes on what these places once were. For example, the website showcases the Arcades, located in the first section of the Euclid Corridor. With a short overview of the building’s history and historic photographs, the website informs users how places like the Arcades were used and what they meant to people in the past.

Philaplace, created by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, also uses an interactive map, but to show the historical significance of places in the city of the Philadelphia. For example, the website features the significance of the many historic buildings in Philadelphia, like the Rieger & Gretz Brewery Smokestack. With detailed overviews, photos (old and new), and the exact location of where the buildings and other places can be found, the user will see why the location is significant in Philadelphia’s history and understand Philadelphia’s contributions to history as a whole.

The use of interactive maps in historical websites, such as those mentioned above, help explain the past in many ways and not just by showing where events took place. They can show how places changed overtime, what places once were, and its historical significance. Interactive maps help dissect the past in a new way and bring a form of clarity to many subjects that are vague in history.

My Map and Chart

Here is the map I created using Google Maps. I decided to make a map based on the trip I took to the Baltimore Harbor this summer. I walked around the Harbor, stopping to see many attractions and enjoying the weather.  To my surprise, I enjoyed creating the map, though I did have a difficult time using the line tool to create the path I walked in the Harbor.


View Baltimore Trip- 12 Aug 2012 in a larger map

Below is the chart I created using the Google Chart Editor. For my chart, I decided to use data I collected from a shopping center near my home. I wanted to show the types of vehicles parked at the shopping center in the evening (Oct. 15).  I counted:

  • 104 Sedans
  • 61 Trucks/SUVs
  • 12 Vans/ Mini vans
  • 8 Crossovers/ Station wagons

Though the chart seemed simple to use during Prof. Cohen’s demonstration in class, I became a bit confused as to how it worked when I used it and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a beta. I first had problems getting my data to display on the chart. For some reason, this web app would not let me input single numbers, so I had to type in two numbers for it to display right (i.e. 0, 104 rather than just 104). I then had problems getting the bar on the chart to display the number 104 (for the number of sedans in the lot). This is where I had to remind myself that this app was not in its final form, as that app  would only display numbers up to 100. Even though I could change the X-axis range from 0-104, the bar would only stop at 100, making the rest of the bars on the chart incorrect.


Vehicle Types in the South Lakes Shopping Center Parking Lot at 7:30 pm


Though these web apps (especially the Chart app) may still have a ways to go before reaching perfection, I do find that they can become valuable tools in our world today. The Google Maps interface can be used  easily to share and teach people about specific locations in the world and to  learn about the important events that happened there. The Chart Editor can be used to display information in minutes without the use of expensive computer software and can quickly be shared over the net.  These web apps will have a good futures once they are improved upon.

I would like to say that do follow good digital security practices. I update my virus scanner. I create hard passwords no one else should know. I back up files I find very important to me. I don’t open suspicious attachments or use my email address on questionable websites.  Even though I follow these practices diligently, I noticed that there are some more things I can do to make my digital information more secure than it is now.

To start, though I think I do make difficult-to-guess passwords (even I sometimes forget them!), I noticed that many of them are short and don’t contain other variables to make them hard to crack. I may try to create longer passwords and include capitals and numbers (and if possible symbols) to not make them easy to crack. I should also try not to make my passwords similar to one another (i.e. cobra164 and cobra316) so they will not be predictable.

Next, though I do not keep important or personal files (photos, art, writings) on my laptop hard drive (in case it gets stolen or catches a virus… crashes) and place them in my 200 GB external hard drive, I actually do not back up my school work. Now that I think about it, it would be devastating for me to rewrite all my papers if my laptop crashed and it simply would  be  because I didn’t make a back up copy. I can easily back up my school work on my external drive or send a copy to my email address. I should also consider purchasing another external hard drive to back up the one I have now.

One more thing I can do to better secure my digital information is to acquire (somehow!) a new antivirus program. Though I am able to update the definition list on my current program (Symantec AntiVirus 2006), I really should try to get a newer program to increase my protection against viruses and the like.

Reading the articles for this week really made me think about my own digital security practices and what I can do to change my ways. Creating stronger passwords, backing up all important files (and that includes school work), and making sure my computer is up to date (though I should probably save for a new computer now!) will make my experiences on the net more secure.

Mat Honan states in his article, How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking, that he was mad at himself for allowing his digital life to be compromised. He wrote:

“In many ways, this was all my fault. My accounts were daisy-chained together… [and if I had]  been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos… or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location. Those security lapses are my fault, and I deeply, deeply regret them.” (1)

Honan also wrote that he was mad at himself for placing his trust into the digital services, namely Google, Amazon, and Apple, to secure his data (1). Though I do believe Honan could have been more diligent and took better care to protect his digital life, I don’t think his hacking was entirely his fault. Google, Amazon, and Apple should be at fault for not having a more secure system for their users and for themselves.

After reading the methods described by Honan as to how his accounts were hacked, I found that all the digital services mentioned need stronger authentication systems to better identify accounts owners from account hackers. Though Google does give users the option to use the 2-Step Verification system, they could also have other methods to protect users from being hacked. It is possible for others to find out one’s phone number or even steal one’s phone to potentially gain access to a Google account. So, along with 2-Step, Google could also provide a second password or a PIN system for users to protect their accounts from being hacked. Amazon should have a better authentication process to protect users from getting their accounts hacked for information. Phone calls and online inquiries could have security questions to deter hackers from accessing information. Amazon could also hide all the digits of user credit cards and password-protect to deter hackers. Apple could stop using the last four digits of user credit card numbers as a step to authenticate an account. It could use security questions or a second password for users to gain access to their accounts. This method could also be used for accounts using the AppleID to authenticate each separate account.

Having stronger authentication systems will provide protection for users and the digital services themselves from hackers trying to compromise digital information. Though Honan mostly blamed himself for the hacking of his accounts, digital services should also be at fault and try to make an effort to provide better protection for their users and deter hackers.


(1) Mat Honan. “How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking”. Gadget Lab- Wired.com.  6 Aug 2012.

Created by Prof. Mark Davies of Brigham Young University, the Time Magazine Corpus is a database that categorizes the words found in Time Magazine. The website, which uses words directly from Time magazine articles, has the ability to show how frequently words were used and how they have changed over time. Though the Corpus acts as a big encyclopedia to look up the words used in  Time Magazine, the question is raised as to whether the website’s use of the terms in the magazines are legal. After reviewing the website, I have determined that it is within the Copyright Law as it strictly follows the Fair Use Policy.

One reason the Corpus is within the Fair Use Policy is because of its educational value. According to the Corpus website, the Corpus allows the user:

“To quickly and easily search more than 100 million words of text of American English from 1923 to the present, as found in TIME magazine. You can see how words, phrases and grammatical constructions have increased or decreased in frequency and see how words have changed meaning over time.”(1)


Because of the ability to see how words have changed over time, Time Magazine has become an example for others to learn about how these changes took place overtime.

Other reason the Corpus is within the Fair Use Policy is because of its extent of use. The Corpus does not contain full Time Magazine articles on their website. The Corpus states that it:

“…contain hundreds of millions of words of copyrighted material. The only way that their use is legal is because of the limited “Keyword in Context” (KWIC) displays… They retrieve and index billions of words of copyright material, but they only allow end users to access “snippets” of this data from their servers.”(2)


Because the Corpus uses a very limited amount of text on their site, and does not contain full articles, the user will only be able to access the full articles through the Time Magazine Archive website, which also requires a membership account to fully access it.

And so, since the corpus is very respectful to the copyright holder of the articles and is not using the articles to make a profit, to take claim to the creation of the articles, and is linking the articles back to the original source, I find the Corpus to be within the bounds of the Copyright Law. It is also within the limits of the Fair Use Policy as the website is educational, noncommercial, and it extent of use. The Corpus places Time Magazine and its Archive in a good light and shows that it can be used for educational purposes. A more detailed explanation of their following of the Fair Use Policy can be found here.


(1) http://corpus.byu.edu/time/

(2) http://corpus.byu.edu/faq.asp#x11

Conflicting Rights

After watching the video Copyright Criminals, I have come to understand that the copyright law is working for and against music makers (and for artists, writers, etc). Based on what I understood from the video, today’s music makers have the problem of protecting what they create and also having the freedom to create. For instance, there are music artists who create something original and would like to protect their work for whatever reason (from illegal distribution, profit, etc). By law, these artists have the right to protect their works. But then, you have music artists who create something original by using samples from other music, and also wanting to protect their original creations.

I have an understanding now as to why some people would like the copyright laws to be less stringent. The copyright law, though it protects original works, also destroys the creativity of future, original works. I am an artist and I have learned to draw by watching animated films, such as Balto (1):

Would it be fair if I could not create an original character based off some elements of the Balto character design? I learned a lot about drawing animals from this film and it would definitely stop my ability to create new works if I had to pay Universal a boat-load of money in order to use their property for me to learn. Many music artists are asking the same thing for when it comes to creating original works.

Unfortunately, people, including myself, cannot magically change the copyright law. Though people do stay on the good side of the law, either by asking permission (and maybe paying) to use copyrighted work or giving credit to the creator, there will always be those who will create what they feel they need to create, using any material they see fit, regardless of the law. I don’t think these people are necessarily bad, but it does show that for creativity to flourish, people need to be influenced by what came before them so they can create something new to be cherished by those after them .


(1) SweetFurAmy. Balto Trailer. Online Video. 2 mins 13 secs. 27 May 2007.

As a college student, I have been taught not to use Wikipedia as a direct source for information when researching a historical topic. Due to the website’s ability to let anyone add or edit information in its articles, it may not be the most reliable source for information. Though Wikipedia may not the best website to use for a research paper, I have found it quite useful for getting a grasp on historical topics before conducting harder research. For instance, I found Wikipedia to be a good website to get a grasp on the 1991 Gulf War.

I found the article on the Gulf War very informative. Because of the many prior events that would lead up this war, the article gave a thorough background on the war, along with detailed summaries on the Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the creation of coalition forces, and some of the battles that were fought there. The article explained the casualties, media coverage, and the controversies of the war. It also contained photo, detailed maps, and a long list of bibliographic sources that may be useful for further research (many were recent sources, though I was surprised there were not many from the 1990s).

But as informative as the article was, there were some things that challenged the reliability of the article. For example, Wikipedia pointed out where there were sections with sources that were not clearly defined, such as the sections about the Iraqi missile launches and the ground campaigns. And though the article as a large bibliography, I did not find the article’s external links to be very trustworthy, as I expected for there to be more links to ~.edu and ~.org sites on the War.

Though Wikipedia has a lot of information on a variety of historical topics, I still do not think it is good to use information from it directly. Because of the ability to change articles freely and, as described for the Gulf War article, the questionable sources and external links, Wikipedia may not be the most reliable source to use for a research paper, but it is good to use it to learn the basics of a topic.

True Intentions

Errol Morris, the author of the article Photography as a Weapon, wrote that the Iran missile launch photo was made with “the intention to deceive”. True, the Iranians did deceive the world into thinking that they successfully launched four missiles instead of three. But I don’t think this was the original intention of the photograph. Just as the title of Morris’ article implies, photographs, even those that were altered, are used as powerful tools to share information and raise awareness. When seen in a different perspective, I find that the Iranian missile launch photo was created for other, bigger purposes and not just purpose to deceive people.


In one perspective, the purpose is to strike fear or to show superiority over other nations. The photo lets Iran say “don’t mess with us” and shows proof that they have the power to defend themselves and attack if necessary. It also shows that Iran’s opponents shouldn’t antagonize them or they will face the consequences. In another perspective, the purpose of the photo is to boost the moral of the Iranian people. The photo shows that the government has the funds and resources to properly defend the country. Iranians will feel secure and have faith that their government will protect them from hostile nations. In one more perspective, the purpose of the photo is used to ridicule other nations. Iran could be saying “fools, were just as powerful as you”, stating that it would be a mistake to believe that Iran does not possess that same capabilities as the United States or Great Britain.

And so, when seen in a different perspective, the Iranian missile launch photo was not made to deceive. All photographs, whether altered or not, can be used as powerful tools to carry important messages or information. It should be kept in mind that, even though the missile launch photo was proven to be altered, that the original message, the original intention of the photograph, was to let the world know that Iran should not be taken lightly.


(1) Striped-bass.com

Through this week’s assignment, I found out rather quickly that in order to find something you don’t know about it helps to study the question and think about the most likely place you would find an answer.

For the first item, which was an op-ed on labor disputes involving teachers before the 1970s, I knew that op-ed articles were likely to be found in newspapers, and since the article had to be found before 1970, I chose ProQuest- Historical Newspapers to start my research. I first searched for “(labor disputes) AND (teachers)” in the years before 1970, but it was too broad. I decided to be more specific for the kind of document I want to be searched, so I narrowed down the document types to be searched to editorials. I then added “AND (public schools)” and narrowed the years down to 1960-1969 and found this article. I find this article to be a good answer for this item as it is an opinion on what the dispute is really about and how it should be handled.

The second item was about the first documented use of solar power in the United States. Since the question is about solar power’s first use, I knew the answer had to be historical. And since this also had to take place in America, I decided to use the Ebsco site America: History and Life, which is a database holding recent journals about American’s past. I didn’t exactly find my answer at Ebsco, but it did give ideas for where to look. First, at Ebsco, I searched for “(solar power) AND (first) AND (use)”, and found this article. I read the abstract, and learned that experiments with solar power dated back to 1883. The abstract also mentioned Bell Laboratories for creating a device that used solar power. I thought that a device like this would be a big deal and would have to have been reported to the media. So I went back to ProQuest to find newspapers on any solar powered devices created by Bell Labs [(solar power) AND (bell laboratories)]. Though I did find some articles referring to Bell Labs, I noticed that many of the articles were dated to the 1950s, and since solar power has been tinkered with since the late 1800s, I knew there had to be some earlier documentation on its use before the Bell Labs devices. I then typed in “(solar power) AND (history)” and found this article dating back to 1901. I also found the same article on Harper’s Weekly (though it dates to 1903).

The third and final item was about the history of California voter initiatives, which I had a difficult time finding through databases. I used ProQuest- Government Periodicals Index and ProQuest- Congressional but found nothing on the item. I still did not understand the meaning behind “ballot initiative”, so I looked up the words on Google and stumbled upon this website, featuring the history of California initiatives form 1912-2012 (who’d thought?). Still not understand what a “ballot initiative” is, I go to this Wiki for more information, but looking at its external links, I find this website (and this one), which leads me to a PDF file with a detailed, historical listing of CA initiatives.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »