Sunday, October 9, 2011

This is Gold Dust!

One of the hard things to learn is how to put into words your website design ideas. In this article, taken from Photoshop User magazine, three graphic designers explain how and why they created a redesign of an existing web site. Their choice of words are excellent examples that you can use in the WACE exam.
(the download is 30Mb, may take some time)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Online Trial Exam

The Curriculum Council is trialling an online version of the WACE examination. Currently this is only for stage 2, but it can be a useful revision exercise for stage 3 students. To access the online exam go to and click on AITPractise1. This will allocate you an username and password so that you can login.
©Curriculum Council

Friday, September 16, 2011

Revision Time

Listed below are links to web based quizzes and games that will add some variety to your revision. Not all of the questions are relevant to our syllabus, but your general computing knowledge should enable to complete the tasks.

1. Battleships - whenever you hit an enemy ship you have to answer a question. Based on Computer Ethics.

2. Challenge Quiz - choose your level of difficulty. Based on Computer and Internet Terminology.

3.  Rags to Riches: Answer questions in a quest for fame and fortune. 

4. Networks - multi-choice test 

5. Hangman - Intergrating Technology and Internet Use 

6. Columns - Design Elements and Principles

Monday, August 29, 2011

Apple cult really makes me shudder

WHY is it, a friend of mine once pondered, that Microsoft is "evil" and Apple is "lovely" when the guy who started Microsoft was now doing his utmost to eradicate malaria, and the guy who started Apple was still in charge of an enormous, all-pervasive company that does its utmost to screw you six times before breakfast?

It was a good question, and the answer isn't just "because people are morons".

On Thursday, Steve Jobs, the company's chief executive and co-founder, announced he was standing down for health reasons. If only this were just a business story. But Jobs was not just the man at the top of Apple - he also embodied it. Neatly bearded, usually in a black poloneck, with no visible buttons, he even looks like the sort of thing you'd buy in one of his shops. Jobs's resignation made the market value of Apple fall by $US16 billion ($15bn), but it will also have made people cry. I'm going to try to explain why without sneering, although it's not going to be easy. I don't hate Apple. I actually quite like Apple. But I hate people who love Apple. Because this is not what love is for.

Look. Apple isn't an unusually nice company. It just isn't. It's an entirely conventional, ruthlessly capitalist company that has identified itself so closely with its beloved products that people pretend not to notice. There were stories the other month about a rash of fake Apple shops in China. Remember that? Terrible, said everybody. But stop. Wait. Think a moment. What the hell is a fake shop? Think about the overnight queues outside every real Apple Store whenever a new iThing comes out. Think about the way all those people could stop queueing if they'd just go next door to PC World. It makes me want to weep. I'd love to know what Douglas Adams would have made of Apple if he were alive today. He was an Apple devotee, but that was in the days before all this "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" nonsense. Adams was at his most withering on cults. He could never have been in one.

Petty gripes, maybe, but once you've bought your Apple product, in your Apple store, you
have to go to the Apple App Store or Apple's iTunes to make purchases that Apple has approved, from which Apple then takes a cut.

Think about the fuss people made about the prospect of Rupert Murdoch owning all of BSkyB because of the control this would - theoretically, potentially - have given him over the content reaching people's homes.

Apple's control over content is already of a far, far greater magnitude than that ever could have been. And yet people love Steve Jobs. Even people who read The Guardian. Especially them, in fact. Why? It's not just blind hypocrisy, although that does come into it. It's also about the bond between people and products, and the products and him. The triumph of the things that Jobs has sold - by which I don't just mean the hardware, but all of it - is that they do exactly what most people want them to do, excellently. And nothing else.

For a town without corners, Apple would build a car without a steering wheel. Microsoft wouldn't have the balls. Microsoft, of course, hardly ever builds anything. Its products run on things built by other people. The closed system of Apple - the exact thing I was moaning about above - is also precisely why everything works so damn well. Your Mac might not be able to do as much as your PC, but it very rarely has to stop and think about it for a minute and a half.

The iPad, which does even less, barely thinks at all. Reduce the choice, reduce the rage. Microsoft always reckoned the rage was your problem. Apple knew better.

Apple Inc has thrived in exactly the same way. It is what it sells. You take your executives out of suits because suits cause rage. You build nice shops because nasty shops cause rage, too.

All companies have ugly innards, but Apple's - the bits that squabble, and make design mistakes, and have embarrassing links to Chinese sweatshops, and are rich, rich, hahaha, rich - are hidden behind a shiny exterior. It has worked, formidably, but it won't for ever. With or without Jobs, the company has hit a wall.

The first problem is the key product. Brilliant, yes, but starting to look a bit dated. You'll be bristling at that, you Apple freaks, but you know I'm right. Technology changes quickly, and the iPhone looks much like it did five years ago. Smartphone technology may plateau, but as the (admittedly chaotic) rival Android platform has already shown, it's not going to plateau here. But what to do? Make fundamental changes, and you alienate 100 million iPhone users. Don't, and you end up like Nokia. The second problem is that the whole image just doesn't work at the top. Under Jobs, Apple always thrived on the basis of what it wasn't. The internet crawls with Steve Jobs quotes that only make sense as the underdog. "Why join the navy when you can be a pirate?" he once said.

Bill Gates's problem, he also said, was that the Microsoft founder had never "dropped acid or spent time on an ashram". As the pin-up of self-loathing salarymen who want the chicks in Starbucks to think they might be writing a novel, that sort of thing probably goes down pretty well. But as the head of the biggest technology company in the world? Less so.

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me" is another fine Jobs quote, also in reference to Gates. "Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful," he continues, "that's what matters to me."

This was a comment made before Gates started pouring his money into vaccinations, obviously. Still, there's something about it that goes right to the heart of why the Apple cult makes me shudder.
These are phones and computers we're talking about. Trinkets and things. Is it right that our wonder should be so lightly spent?

Well, maybe. And maybe, in a world where information saves lives just as much as vaccinations do, inventing something like the iPhone is, indeed, doing something wonderful in every sense. But buying one isn't. I'm not sure for how much longer Apple will get away with blurring the two.

Article in the The Australian August 27, 2011

St Mary's students: (and others who want to revise this part of the syllabus)

Test 3 - It is time to replace the home computer and as the chosen family expert you have to put together a two page document comparing the Microsoft and Apple platforms.

Points to consider are;
1. Hardware choices and costs
2. Software choices and costs
3. Ease of use - what can you do and how can you do it
4. Support and training
5. Upgades and peripheral items
6. Other problems and issues.

The report is to be emailed to Mr B. by  Monday 5 September

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Fonts to consider

50 Fresh and Beautiful Fonts From 2011

As you are now in the design stage of task 2 this site will help you to find the perfect font

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Google Wallet

In the semester 1 exam the production section proses a way of paying for purchases via a mobile phone. This is now a reality.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Great site for Emerging/Future Trends in Website Design

The production section of the WACE exam will probably contain a question about emerging and future trends in the design of websites. This is an excellent article to help you answer this question.

second site discussing emerging trends

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Useful web design information

In part 4 of the WACE exam you will have to analyze a design layout (possibly a web page)  and use those ideas in your own design. This article is worth reading as it contains information on what is good and bad design; 

If you are interested in web design (and hopefully you are) the whole book is available to read online at;

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Networks - Multiple Choice Test

Please attempt this online test - (some parts may not be included in our syllabus, but have a go and see if you can work out the answer)

Then go to: "End of Chapter - Student Study Guide" 
When you have finished select: "Submit answers for Grading" and email your results to your teacher

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Apps in Education
This blog lists a number of apps for iPhone and iPad that may help with your studies

Monday, June 13, 2011

Learn about Networks

 This English site is designed for students studying the GCSE exam. It contains information, and quizzes relevant to our AIT course.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Communications Quiz (only for SMAGS)

This is a great American site aimed mainly at teachers but also containing lots of useful stuff for AIT students

Hard to find iPhone apps for schools

This list of apps will amaze you!

CSIRO's Louise van der Werff says smart bandage can change colour to prevent infections

This article relates to Task 3 of the 3A unit you have just completed

smart bandage
A smart bandage that changes colour when a wound is infected could lead to more effective treatment of wounds. Picture: AAP Source: AAP
smart bandage
CSIRO scientists are working on a fibre that could be knitted into a smart bandage. Picture: AAP Source: AAP
  • Bandage fibre made out of liquid crystals
  • Changes from red to blue with temperature
  • Could prevent infections from getting worse
AUSTRALIAN researchers have developed a "smart" bandage that changes colour as a wound worsens or improves, potentially leading to the better treatment of ailments such as leg ulcers.
Lead inventor Louise van der Werff, a materials scientist at the CSIRO, said the dressing would change from red to blue depending on the temperature of the wound.

"If the wound becomes infected then it typically gets warmer. It would get cooler if there were, for example, a compromised blood supply," she said.

She said wound changes were not always obvious and the fibre she helped devise, using liquid crystals which react to different temperatures, could show changes of less than half a degree Celsius.

"A temperature is sort of an obvious indication - if they can see that through a colour change then hopefully it can help a lot," she said.

Van der Werff, who is completing her doctorate at Monash University in Melbourne, said plans were under way to incorporate the colour-changing fibre into a textile which could then be woven or knitted into a wound dressing.

"Our main target is for chronic wound care - the elderly, obese and people with diabetes who can get wounds like leg ulcers and pressure ulcers and things like that which can really last a long time without healing properly," she said.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

iCloud - The future of Computing?

iCloud stores your music, photos, apps, calendars, documents, and more. 
And wirelessly pushes them to all your devices — automatically. 
It’s the easiest way to manage your content.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cisco predicts internet device boom

Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

  The number of internet connected devices is set to explode in the next four years to over 15 billion - twice the world's population by 2015.
Technology giant Cisco predicts the proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, connected appliances and other smart machines will drive this growth. The company said consumer video will continue to dominate internet traffic. It predicts that by 2015, one million minutes of video will be watched online every second.
Cisco's Visual Networking Index also estimated that at the same time more than 40% of the world's projected population will be online, a total of nearly three billion people.
The networking giant forecast that by 2015 internet traffic will reach 966 exabytes a year.
An exabyte is equal to one quintillion bytes. In 2004, global monthly internet traffic passed one exabyte for the first time.
But Cisco said alongside this quadrupling of traffic comes a number of very real concerns.
"What you are seeing is this massive growth in devices, the way devices are being used and are connected to the internet and what users expect them to do," said Suraj Shetty, Cisco vice president for global marketing.
"All this is putting a lot of pressure on the internet and the next generation internet faces issues handling not just the proliferation of these devices but how they are going to grow and be intelligent enough to be connected to you.
"The most important question we face is how to manage all this traffic intelligently," Mr Shetty added.
Cisco's report underlines a very real problem the internet as a whole faces as it runs out of what is known as internet protocol version 4 or IPv4 addresses.
Every device needs one of these IPv4 addresses to send and receive data online.
When IPv4 was created in 1977, it was thought that its pool of 4.3 billion addresses would be enough to go around.
The rise in the number of mobile devices, laptops and connected machines has helped exhaust that stock.
In February, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority handed out the last batch of these addresses. Industry experts believe they could be all used up as early as August.
The solution is an alternative addressing standard approved in 1998 called IPv6.
There are trillions of these addresses but persuading companies to move to IPv6 has been a slow process.
"We are running out of IPv4 addresses and the adoption of IPv6 is going to be front and centre of everything for the next several years," Mr Shetty told BBC News.
  As we adopt more internet-enabled devices in the home, addresses for each item are quickly running out
"The implication for vendors like Cisco is that we have to come up with a platform that can help scale the internet to handle a lot of the traffic and to do it smartly.
"If you want to keep adding billions and billions of devices, the only answer is IPv6."
On 8 June, on what has been dubbed World IPv6 Day, Cisco will be joined by telecom giant Verizon, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, TimeWarner, Comcast and many others in testing IPv6.
This will allow everyone to check out the compatibility of websites and associated networking technologies with IPv6.
"It is clear that the move to IPv6 will be critical in supporting the total number of devices on the global internet going forward and it will be crucial for service providers and enterprises to start migrating to IPv6," said Ed Horely, co-chair of the California IPv6 task force.
"They need to do this to be able to meet the needs and demands of all the existing devices like cell phones, iPads and PC's but also all the future devices that we will want connected to the internet.
"IPv6 will be critical in avoiding the potential consumer riot due to lack of internet addresses for their portable devices to gain access to the internet and many of the cloud services being deployed today," Mr Horely said.

Targeted cyber attacks an 'epidemic'

Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley
The targeted attack used by hackers to compromise e-mail accounts of top US officials is reaching 'epidemic' proportions, say security experts.
The scam, known as spear phishing, was used in a bid to get passwords of Gmail accounts so they could be monitored. Via a small number of customised messages it tries to trick people into visiting a web page that looks genuine so users type in login names. Such attacks are often aimed at top officials or chief executives.
Such attacks are not new, say security professionals, but they are becoming more commonplace.
"What is happening more and more is the targeting of a couple of high value individuals with the one goal of acquiring valuable information and valuable data," said Dan Kaminsky, chief scientist at security firm DKH.
"The most interesting information is concentrated in the accounts of a few people," he said. "Attackers using information to impersonate the users is at epidemic proportions and why computer security is in the state it is in."
In March, security firm RSA was hit by a sophisticated spear-phishing attack that succeeded despite only two attacking e-mails being sent. The phishing e-mail had the subject line "2011 Recruitment Plan" and contained a booby-trapped spreadsheet.
Google said it uncovered the deception through a combination of cloud based security measures, abuse detections systems and user reports. Google said that among those targeted were senior US government officials, military personnel, journalists, Chinese political activists and officials in several Asian countries, predominately South Korea.
Cyber attacks originating in China have become common in recent years, said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer at telecoms firm BT.
"It's not just the Chinese government," he said. "It's independent actors within China who are working with the tacit approval of the government."defence firm Lockheed Martin was also hit by a cyber attack aimed at stealing secrets
China has said repeatedly it does not condone hacking, which remains a popular hobby in the country, with numerous websites offering cheap courses to learn the basics.
In 2010 Google was the victim what it called a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China" that it said resulted in the theft of intellectual property.
Security experts said spear phishing attacks were easy to perpetrate because of the amount of information people put on the internet about themselves on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The mountain of data lets canny hackers piece together enough information to make e-mails they concoct appear convincing and genuine.
In this attack, some Gmail users received a message that looked like it came from a work colleague or was linked to a work project.
"It makes sense these bad guys would go that way given the amount of time, effort and investment they have to make in orchestrating an attack," said Dr Hugh Thompson, chief security strategist at People Security who also teaches at Columbia University.
People tend to trust messages that look like they come from people bearing details of where they last met or what they did, he said.
"I can then point you to a site that looks very much like Gmail and you are not going to question that because I already have your trust," he said.
Steve Durbin, head of the Information Security Forum, said phishing attacks were a well-established attack method and e-mail had long been a favourite among criminals keen to winkle out saleable data.
"Whether you are a government official with access to sensitive or secret information, or the average e-mail user, everyone must be on their guard and become more security savvy," he said.
Organisations needed to educate users about the real and potential risks they face.
Mr Kaminsky said some of the fault for such security lapses lay at the feet of the outdated technologies we use.
"Passwords don't work as an authentication technology," said Mr Kaminsky.
"They are too flexible, too transferable and too easy to steal," he said. "However, we are stuck with them for now due to technical limitations and because users find them easy to use."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beware online "filter bubbles"

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

A next-generation digital book

Software developer Mike Matas demos the first full-length interactive book for the iPad -- with clever, swipeable video and graphics and some very cool data visualizations to play with. The book is "Our Choice," Al Gore's sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth."