A Chance, Not Worth Taking!

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Meet Carrie.

A devoted and well-loved: teacher, community leader, mother, family member, and citizen. Her story is tragic but her message is clear: No Text Message Is Worth a Life.

Driven to Distraction: What Is It?

According to the Canadian Automobile Association distracted driving commonly involves driving while:

  • using technological devices such as cell phones, computers, and GPS ,
  • eating and or drinking,
  • changing a CD,
  • fiddling with radio dials,
  • talking to passengers,
  • attending to children,
  • personal grooming,
  • experiencing emotional distress, to even
  • looking at billboards and/or other vehicles on the road

Whatever it may be, distracted driving is the diversion of a driver’s attention off the road, even for a second or two. Some tasks can be physical in nature which require drivers to take their hands off the wheel; others can be cognitive in which a driver’s mind wanders off of the road; and even worse, some can be a combination of both in which a driver’s eyes and mind shift away from the road.

Caution! Distracted driving is not okay and should be avoided at all costs. If it is not a matter of life or death, minimize its use! 

Car Mode? Why Isn’t There An APP for That?!

By now, we are all aware of the dangers surrounding hand-held devices and the consquences it can have while one’s attention is diverted instead of focused solely on attending to traffic and obeying to the rules of the road. Why, then, haven’t our genious creaters of some of our favorite smartphones not created an app for Car Mode? In this recent Globe and Mail article, we are brought into an interesting read that undoubtedly links us to a thought provoking solution that could potentially aid in resolving many of the statistics surrounding collisions and accidents occuring on our roads from drivers who attempt to multi-task.

Know The Statistics!

According to Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving, in 2010, 3092 people were killed in crashes involving distraction and 416,000 people were injured.

  • CAA reports the summary of the 2006, US National Highway Traffic Safety study which concluded an estimated 4 million crashes per year (or 8 out of every 10 accidents) were caused by distracted driving.
  • Furthermore, reports suggest that texting while driving can increase one’s chances of a crash by 23 times more than for those who are not texting while driving.
  • Studies have also shown that sending and receiving messages can divert a driver’s attention away from the road for an average of 5 seconds!
  • In a research report, written by Marcel Adam Just, Timothy Keller, and Jacquelyn Cynkar (2008), it was found that driving while using a cellphone can reduce the amount of brain activity needed for driving by 37%.
  • Additionally, studies have shown that even when knowing the risks, people will still continue their habits. “They become like zombies, slaves to their electronic equipment,” OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor said.

With some now terming distracted driving as the new DUI, these statistics and facts are absolutely startling.

Insane Comparison Between Drunk Driving and Text Driving

Presented below is a list created to summarize and provide additionally critical reasons why distracted driving needs and should be avoided:

List 1: Reasons AGAINST Using Technologies While Driving
  • Can cause accidents—minor, serious, even fatal
    • When attention becomes diverged and divided, one has slower reaction times and can miss important stops, have difficultly maneuvering around obstacles, etc.
  • Collisions of any kind can create property damage to vehicles that can add up and be costly! Any accident can lead to crazy traffic buildups and more problems for others
    • Health care costs,
    • Insurance costs,
    • Lost work time, and
    • Litigation costs to name a few.
  • Ripple Effect
    • Victims lives are forever changed/impaired and offenders can be forever impacted with shame, guilt, and remorse
      • ….So why risk it?!

Why Do We Continue To Do It? Good People, Making Stupid Mistakes.

As we can see driving while using technological devices such as cell phones, computers, and GPS is quite a heated issue, that certainly has its associated detrimental costs. Generally speaking, I have been indifferent on the subject matter. Often believing I am a ‘smart driver’ so-to-speak.

However, with that being said, I would be lying if I claimed never to have used my cell phone to either make/receive calls or texts while driving.

The core surrounding my belief about being a ‘smart driver’ is that I, like many other people, often think it’s okay to use such devices when it is safe and appropriate to do so, i.e.when there is little to no cars on the road and in emergency situations.

In other words, reasons why people continue to use devices while driving can be a result of the mere fact that nothing truly tragic has happened to them; therefore their behaviour is reinforced. And interestingly enough, in the search to answer this question, I have sat down and contemplated a list, shown below, in which I found it particularly easy to recall more incentives for using the devices described above than agaisnt:

List 2: Reasons FOR Using Technologies While Driving
  • Personal Benefits:
    • In constant contact with family, friends, and work
    • Avoid unnecessary trips back and forth to run errands, etc.
    • Improves mental alertness (from long boring drives, talking to someone can help)
    • Contributes to security and peace of mind
      • Especially while driving at night,
      • Letting parents, friends, etc. know when you will be late
    • As such, a simple call or text can help reduce the risk of speeding to get to places and appointments
    • Obtaining directions when in need
  • Work Benefits:
    • Can book/verify meetings and appointments
    • Check emails
    • Make calls
    • Come home early by completing tasks on the go
    • Expands productivity for commuter
  • Social Networking:
    • Always in contact with the world, staying connected and in touch, never easier than a click of a simple app

What Now?

However, upon analyzing the rationales for and against the use of technologies while driving it’s clear there are several severe costs that far outweigh any apparent benefit that may have been conjured. Thus, undoubtedly, my opinion and position on this matter has forever changed.  In particular, this superficial need that society has created requiring constant ‘staying in touch’ and ‘in contact’ with the world is overrated, especially when we can no longer concentrate or function without ‘checking in.’

Furthermore, the whole notion surrounding ‘time is money,’ that a simple commute cannot be done without simultaneously conducting several other tasks (such as checking/responding to emails, making client phone calls, verifying appointments, etc.) truly seems mind-boggling. 

Though, there have been several efforts made by policy makers to control the use of hand-held devices while driving, such as the creation of Ontario’s hands-free law that has been intact since October of 2009 and comes with a stiff fine that can range from $500.00 to $1,000 for violation. This ban has allowed for other things such as Bluetooth technology and speakerphone to come into play.  And this, however, still does not solve or account for many of the collisions and problems that can arise when one carries forth in distracted driving. For instance, studies have shown that the type of conversation that participants are engaging in during their calls can also play a pivotal role. More serious or upsetting subjects that require the driver to react not only diverts attention from the road but it can also lead one to miss/delay both reaction time and traffic signals.

If this does not frighten anyone, I have no idea what would…

Making a Difference: It Can Be Done!

Not only do we, as a society, need to create awareness and realize that in order to protect ourselves we have to be wise and use our common sense, but it is equally essential to acknowledge that we have the safety of others, both on and off the road, in our hands.

As such, it is amazing how future directions being looked at are progressing.  With the potential introduction of the “It Can Wait” computer simulators, this innovation shows promise.  With the hopes of providing a virtual experience that aims to facilitate driving education courses,  students are given the opportunity to see first hand what consequences and dangers involved in distracted driving are; even with a very brief glance away from the road.

With positive strides to address this epidemic and our basic knowledge, it seems we are on the right track. In Canada, an educational prevention program has been initiated, more specifically referred to as, Drop It And Drive (D.I.A.D). This program, unlike any other currently available, provides powerful, reality-based, interactive, mutli-speaker presentations with energetic and passionate individuals whom advocate about the dangers surrounding distracted driving. Going across the country and touching the lives of many with their personal stories and experiences, founder of D.I.A.D proudly reports their high success,  especially in their first annual review showing the dramatic increases in visitor viewing of their website from 2010 to 2011 alone.

On a final note, Transport Canada provides several tips one can follow while driving (and even being the passenger) in a car to prevent accidents from occurring. Though these tips may seem very obvious, they are here to remind us how simple it is to avoid taking risks that are not worth taking at all.

Until Next Time,

-H.A.

Flash!

June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ready…

One… Two… Three. Say “Cheese” everyone!

“Cheeeeseee” and FLASH!

Just like that, memories that last a lifetime have just been created.

Looking back at pictures taken from my tenth birthday, I still remember my friends and I splashing around, giggling and screaming, as our laughter fills the air. I remember seeing my beautiful princess-inspired cake being placed on a table off to the side in our backyard. It was a pool party. With balloons and streamers decked around I remember how happy I was, grinning from ear to ear.  The toys, I cannot possibly forget all toys that were everywhere!  This was, by far, one of my favourite childhood memories…

And thanks to digital cameras, it was one I would never forget, having captured so many shots from so many different angles—instantly knowing whether they were good or bad—there was not a single moment missed; my parents captured it all!

This blog shall discuss how the introduction of Digital Photography has impacted and changed society for the better, as well as, the directions it has taken.

BUT FIRST, WHAT EXACTLY DOES DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY ENTAIL? 

Digital Photography has revolutionized the way we produce, store, and view images. Shifting its availability to mainstream society and at more affordable prices than ever before, switching from analog to digital, in a nutshell, has never been more convenient. Being one of the most popular hobbies to date, digital photography has enabled so many the gift of documenting the good, the bad, and the ugly. From major milestones, scenic views, and revelations into the mind’s creativity, it evident digital cameras have changed the way mainstream society views life as they venture through it. With approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide owning one, digital photography is beaming.

Essentially, according to the authors of Digital Basics, Digital Photography “…is the reproduction of an external image (i.e. your grandma) through the use of a medium such as a digital slr camera (dslr), digital compact camera, or some other digital capture device such as a web-cam, cell phone, capable of reproducing/storing an image digitally.”

Depicts the Changes over time from: Analog to Digital

IT’S CHANGED SOCIETY: THROUGH THE GOOD!

Digital photography has opened the doors to a new way of communication; a new way of thinking. This article provides a summary of such lasting impacts, some of which include:

  • The ability to instantly capture many shots, view them, and then discard any unwanted photos, something which prior to digital technologies, was not available.
  • The ability to take pictures at virtually no additional costs as a result of films and developing of printouts via black rooms are no longer necessary.
  • The ability to alter images even easier than ever before, which has been perfectly depicted in the fashion and magazine industries.
  • The ability to take more pictures and select the best ones to touch up has also become easier than ever, with many cameras now offering such in-camera editing functions.
  • The ability to change the way we communicate with family and friends all over the world; dwindling any distance with our new capability to instantly send a vast amount of images simultaneously.
  • The ability to help buy and sell items online (via eBay for example), including ourselves (through online dating websites),
  • It has even had the ability to play a powerful role in influencing news and political agendas. Particularly shown through the classic examples of  the Abu Ghraib and Tami Silicio uproars.

The awesome power of lightning combined with digital photography.  Picture taken and edited by: Amy Renfrey

IT’S CHANGED SOCIETY: AND THE BAD!

While this all sounds pretty amazing–especially for amateur photographers–this technology has drastically impacted the lives of some in negative ways. In particular, this development has hurt professional photographers.  In a field that was once flourishing, now find its self destructing, with little chance for mobility. In fact, newspapers and magazine which once held major assignments for professionals to shoot ads, now find themselves in 41 percent declines thanks to the Internet and it’s availability to find and license stock photos with a few quick clicks.

SO WHERE HAS THIS TAKEN US TO DATE?

The rise of ‘smartphonography!’ Okay, so although this word is made up, it definitely helps term a phenomenon taking the world by storm. Averaging at an estimated increase of 27 percent, smart phones with built-in cameras are redirecting digital photography into a different realm. For instance,  Apple’s iPhone 4S ranging at 8 megapixels, which provides 60 percent more pixels than its pervious generation, has certainly given digital cameras some competition.

A run for their money! The above picture depicts a comparison of the same photo taken by an iPhone 4S (on the left) vs. the Canon 20D (on the right).

CAUTION!

DISCLAIMER: A myth which surrounds megapixels exists: higher pixels equals higher quality photos? NO! It does not.

However, with that being said, the convenience of  having both a phone and bulit-in camera has become abundantly clear,  users are now able to take reasonably well photos  and upload them into emails or widely popular social networking sites, such as Facebook, as it happens and within a matter of seconds…

No matter where they are!

Additionally, there is also an array of free apps are available for download onto smart phones that can allow for editing and even the integration of special effects (such as vintage setting, black and white, animated sketches, etc.) to enhance one’s beautifully captured images.

 And all this can be accomplished WITHOUT the need to connect onto a computer!

OTHER INTERESTING ADVANCEMENTS: 

Another promising direction digital photography has led us into surrounds the medical realm, where it has become a magnetic tool that has altered the way physicians perform, read, and communicate to patients, colleagues, and  the general public.

Digital Doubles?

Programmers are innovatively coming up with services in which users can manage and store the images taken by themselves and others from an endless list of  websites that allow its members to upload and share their photographs. This service generates an automatic digital double of their pictures into one place, their own dropbox.

The video below describes how this service works:

WHAT NOW? 

All in all, I think it’s safe to say digital technology has dramatically transformed our lives. Whether its implications to society’s longterm susbsistence is for the better or the worse is still unclear. So, I suppose all we can do is stay tuned and embrace this journey we embark on, one flash at a time!

Until next time!

Cheers,

H.A.

Private? Not So Much!

June 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Innocence. Connection. Relevance.

What do these three words all have in common? Many of you may be sitting in front of your computers wondering the very same thing I once did while trying to come up with these words. Well, the answer is easy…

Facebook!

Ahh, now I imagine you are making the connections…  

To me, Facebook was an innocent, entertainingly fun way to connect with people I knew and loved from all over the world! Whether they were friends, family, or even coworkers staying in touch had never become so easy! With just one click I was instantaneously updated with the things that mattered most to the people in my very own network or ‘community’ so-to-speak. I could read about their relevant transactions as they progress through their day-to-day lives. Just like that, with a couple more clicks: wall posts, status updates, pictures, videos, games, etc. could all be captured and  then shared with the rest of the world!  Some of one’s most memorable, inspiring, and interesting moments have and continue to be uploaded and talked about right now as I sit here writing this blog. I mean how does that not sound amazing?! It certainly is…or was…

Until slowly, I began to realize that staying in touch and connected with everyone comes with a price.

Privacy. Or, should I say, lack thereof?

Watching the video below, of  Jon Friedman, a Marketwatch Media columnist, we see a simple yet ever-so-true message being presented: Facebook is not private and never will be. People need to get over it.

& That’s just it! Facebook is a social network site, which believe it or not, is a place where people have the intention to broadcast their existence for everyone else (in their social bubble and beyond) to know about. Particularly, what they are doing, where they are going, and with whom they are spending their time. However, what we fail to realize is that other, personal information such as one’s place of work, intimate interests, age, exactly whom their friends and family are, and even down to the very small detail of what school they go to can essentially all be found and revealed on Facebook.  As such, I think it’s safe to say, nothing about Facebook is private! Especially with the introduction of the new TimeLine layout that Facebook has created–and will soon be enforcing upon all it’s users–it seems one’s digital footprint of everything they have done, said, and been too since creation of their account will soon be neatly organized according to the year, month, and specific day and time!

Facebook’s Privacy Erosion Strategy from Matt McKeon. Shaded areas went from Private (by default) in 2005 to Public (by default) in 2010.   Scary huh?!

Nevertheless, with that being said, it’s also fair to say, that we do live in a world where privacy IS important to us. Therefore, I want to make it clear that I am by no means saying we have NO control over how to protect ourselves while online and ‘innocently’ attempting to entertain ourselves. In fact, there are several ways in which one can help protect their privacy while on Facebook. Consumer Report.org offers some great tips worthy of looking at that aim to help control what others see and know about you.

*Furthermore, and this cannot be stressed enough, if someone is looking for ultimate privacy,

then choosing to have a Facebook account is probably NOT the way to go!*

On a final note, deciding to remain broadcasting one’s life on such a massive social-networking platform, like  Facebook, was never enforced upon us and as we all can see, with it’s many advantages comes some serious limitations. Thus, it has become abundantly clear, when we clicked  ‘activate account’ it meant we were giving up ‘ultimate security and privacy.’ Entering us into an era like no other–where employers can know what you’re doing in and out of work (and even fire you for it); where stalkers and predators can gain insight into your personal information and whereabouts so easily; and ultimately a place where we to choose ignorantly disregard the scary truth.

This was a gamble we choose to partake and a crazy load of issues we will just have to deal with.
Until next time.

Cheers,

-H.A.