Category Archives: Technology

Nina Barnes talks about social media professionalism

by Anna Christenson

You might know Facebook as the place to post all your vacation photos, or the site to scroll through during a boring class. However, it could be more than a way to keep up with friends; it could be the thing that keeps you from getting your dream job.

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Nina Barnes, Director of Human Resources at UNWSP

According to Nina Barnes, director of Human Resources at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul (UNW), it is standard practice for employers to scope out applicant’s personal Facebook pages during the hiring process. She said employers are essentially looking for the candidate’s values and judgment.

“If I’m applying for a job at an organization,” Barnes began, “what I have to realize is that I’m representing that organization. Part of that organization’s responsibility is to hire people who will represent them well. For example, if someone is applying at UNW, the immediate thing that someone at Northwestern would look for are any photos that would make anyone question that person’s commitment to the mission of Northwestern or the Declaration of Christian Community.”

Even still, there are some things that should not be posted on Facebook, regardless of who the potential employer is, Christian or not.

“A pretty general statement would be not have pictures of people with lots of alcohol around them,” Barnes stated. “The issue is not the drinking itself. The issue is the celebration of the culture around alcohol, which could be more questionable.” She also recommended evaluating links and posts, saying, “We’ve all seen a post where someone thought the picture was good, but they didn’t look at who posted the picture, or it was full of profanity and now that’s on their Facebook page.”

Barnes continued, “What that might say to an employer, is that this person wasn’t careful enough. They might ask, when they come and work for me, are they going to be detail-oriented? Are they going to look carefully? Even in a secular or [a] very progressive organization, seeing a picture of someone surrounded by alcohol or participating in some questionable activity makes that employer cautious. There’s a risk factor there.”

In addition to monitoring content on a Facebook page, Barnes recommended  keeping privacy settings in place. “While you’re doing your search, lock down your privacy settings. Don’t let your page be viewed by friends of friends or the general public.”

Barnes also recommends that students consider having someone else review your Facebook page’s content. “Choose someone who may be outside of your own social setting or who works in an organization similar to the one you’re applying at.” When in doubt, deactivating an account for the duration of the job search is always an option as well.

Overall, Barnes recognizes the value of Facebook and believes that students should be able to use it to connect with friends, stating “People should be able to have a social media presence. It is a way that people connect, and it is not going to go away. There’s just a wisdom that needs to surround it.”

A Word from the Editor: Afterlight

Afterlight: The photo editing app of your dreams

by Lauren Schwabe

Executive Editor

The Afterlight app is

With a 4.5 star rating, the Afterlight app has risen to the top of the photo editing application world.

When one logs onto Instagram, it’s become increasingly rare to see a photo posted with the hastag #nofilter or to see photos not resized to include the white bars on the sides. It seems like everyone has happily joined the photo editing application bandwagon, whether they export from another app or use the built-in Instagram features. These days, anyone can be a “good photographer” if they know how to edit well.

In a more positive light, photo editing for social media is exciting because it allows each person to not only capture a unique photo, but project their own style and personality on it by editing it however they desire. We’ve taken the photo-uploading process one step farther and made it an art form available to anyone with the desire to put their own spin on their photos.

Not long Instagram was first released in the fall of 2010, users quickly left behind the small selection of Instagram filters in search of more options for their photo editing. Looking back editing apps such as VSCOcam, Snapspeed, Afterlight and Mextures have all been instrumental in this process. However, a 4.5 star rating in the App store, it is Afterlight that has quickly risen to the top of the photo editing application world.

Offering 74 unique filters in addition to giving the users control of basic edits such as contrast, crop, brightness and saturation—but also highlight, shadow, and mid-tone controls—all the filters, texture, frames and editing tools are slider-adjustable, allowing the editor to customize their photos down to the smallest details.

The application offers in-app purchases including the Instant Film Pack ($0.99) and the Wallpaper Pack ($0.99) but isn’t pushy about them. Afterlight itself costs $0.99, but because of all the features it offers and how user-friendly it is, the app is well worth the small price. And no longer will you need SquareReady or InstaSize to make sure your horizontal and vertical photos don’t get cropped unseeingly by Instagram’s square frames- Afterlight offers the same square frame options in the form of adjustable white bars on either side of the photo being edited.

The first review on the Afterlight’s download page in the app store store claims “…this is probably the best editing app you will ever download. It has everything and more that you would want for your photos. Edits are available for all styles of social media profiles…[I’m] absolutely in love with this app.” So if you’re looking to up your Instagram editing game- download Afterlight and see why so many other people love it.


 

Three features that make Afterlight stand out:

Filters

The sheer amount of filters this app offers can seem a bit overwhelming, but after a while of use, it’s easy to choose favorites. Offered in the format of three sections, “Original,” “Guest” and “Seasons,” about 20 filters are offered in each folder. I tend to gravitate toward the softer, more natural looking options such as Finn, Russ and Leila. Afterlight also offers four preset black and white filters or you can customize your own using the basic editing tools.

Texture Overlays

In addition to nearly 80 filter options, Afterlight also boasts texture filters. Dusty, Light Leak and Wander all add their own unique elements to a photo and their strength settings can be adjusted so it doesn’t overwhelm the filters you may have already added. 

Frames

As a photo editor who always uses the white bars to avoid Instagram’s square cropping, I absolutely loved that I could use Afterlight to edit my photos and also add the bars (and adjust the width!) all within one app rather than editing in one app and then exporting to another in orderto resize the photo. Afterlight offers a whopping 128 frames. This includes ones that shape your photo into a circle, rectangle, a person’s profile, capital letter, star, lowercase cursive letter, hexagon and many others. Though the average user may not take advantage of these with every edit, it’s a nice option to have and allows the user to creatively switch up the photo shape. All the frames are also available as wall papers.

8 Tips for Taking Better Smartphone Photos

by Ka Vang

Ben Garvin is an award-winning photojournalist—receiving the 2007 Minnesota Photographer of the Year and the 2011 Journalist of the Year awards. The multimedia journalist for KARE 11, Garvin shared some tips for taking excellent smartphone photos:

1) Don’t zoom: The zoom adjustment on your phone actually does not really zoom; rather, it just enlarges the photo, making it more pixelated. Instead of zooming, take a full frame shot and crop it later.

2) Less flash is better: Your phone’s flash actually is not a flash but rather an LED light that can cause a quick fire flash and red eyes. Instead of using a flash, have a friend shine a flashlight from the side as you shoot.

3) Shoot with your volume button: Pressing the volume button with your hand results in a steadier hand rather than trying to tap a screen.

4) Hold your camera straight: Do not tilt your camera to an angle.

5) Keep your lens clean: Your phone is often tucked away in your pockets of lint and dirt. Clean your lens from buildup. The slightest dust can affect your photography.

6) Use HDR (High Dynamic Range): Select HDR on iPhone settings to capture beautiful landscapes and sceneries. HDR captures three quick shots: dark, medium and light, adding them together into one take, emphasizing on shadows, highlights and details.

7) Get a clip-on-lens: Purchase a lens to attach onto your phone for a macro-lens capability advantage. This can give your photos an instant upgrade in phone photography.

8) Be cautious of the background: When taking a photo, you don’t want the background to negatively impact your photo or make an illusion that is unintentional.

Keeping in touch with technology: Google’s Project Tango maps 3D space and motion

by Nathan Grizzle
Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Nathan Grizzle is a sophomore professional writing major who loves all things Apple.

Nathan Grizzle is a sophomore professional writing major who loves all things Apple.

“The future is awesome. We can build it faster together.”

It is with these words that Google presented to the world Project Tango on February 20, a smartphone prototype designed to more efficiently map the world around it. According to Google, the goal of Project Tango is “to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”

Project Tango is still in the research phase. This is not something that is ready to enter the hands of consumers. Similarly to Google Glass, Project Tango is being released in small batches at Google’s discretion. However, Tango is even more exclusive: Google has declared they are only releasing 200 units for the first run.

Project Tango may not look like much more than an ordinary smartphone. Its white, blocky shell and five-inch screen are pretty typical of today’s phones. What makes Project Tango special is what’s on the inside. Crack it open, and you’ll find it is packed with amazing innovations.

The phone is equipped with dual cameras for capturing three-dimensional imagery, as well as sensors that enable it to detect motion and depth. This hardware, and the software built into it, allow it to make over a quarter million measurements a second. The phone can then combine this data to create a 3D map of the world around it in real time.

Prototype devices can sometimes seem to exist with no particular purpose. However, Google offers up some potential real-life applications for Project Tango’s motion-sensing and mapping capabilities.

On the practical side of things, they suggest Project Tango would be a useful tool for measuring physical spaces like rooms. “You could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping,” says Google on their Project Tango webpage.

Another application of indoor mapping is getting indoor turn-by-turn directions, something not possible with current GPS technology. Google suggests this could be used to assist the visually impaired in navigating unfamiliar buildings or direct consumers to a product’s exact location in a very large store.

Of course, with every new technology there is a fun side to things. Google asserts that Project Tango would make an excellent system for augmented reality. Augmented reality is a way of creating an interactive world by projecting computer-generated objects into an on-screen view of the real world.

By viewing the world through Project Tango’s screen, users could turn reality into a game. “[Imagine] transforming the hallways [of your house] into a tree-lined path… or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world,” says Google’s Project Tango site.

Google describes Project Tango as a “focused exploration of what might be possible in a mobile platform,” and not something ready for release to the general public yet. However, consumers can still be excited for the advances that the technology may bring to the world.

Whether Project Tango reaches consumers in nearly the same form as its prototype, or the three-dimensional sensing technology manifests itself in some other way, we can all agree with Google. The future is awesome.

Keeping in touch with technology: the rising call of Flappy Bird

Nathan Grizzle is a sophomore professional writing major who loves all things Apple.

Nathan Grizzle is a sophomore professional writing major who loves all things Apple.

by Nathan Grizzle
Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Every once in a while, a new app comes along to dominate the smartphone gaming market. First, we had Angry Birds. Now, we have Flappy Bird. Or at least we did for a while.

Flappy Bird hit the App Store back in May 2013, but the application’s launch was hardly notable. The app had not seen widespread downloads until recently, when it skyrocketed to the number one slot in the App Store in a matter of days.

Apparently unhappy with the application’s popularity, the developer declared on Twitter that he would be removing Flappy Bird from the App Store. On Feb. 9, it was indeed pulled and is no longer available for download.

The rapid rise and fall of Flappy Bird made me rather curious. I spent some time playing Flappy Bird in hopes of discovering what made it so popular.

The game revolves around tapping the touch screen to propel a bird into the air. Players must maneuver the bird between sets of green pipes, which appear to have been ripped straight out of Super Mario Bros. One point is awarded for each set of pipes cleared. Touch one of the pipes, or the ground and it’s game over. Sounds easy, right?

Wrong. The game is simple in appearance, but nearly impossible in practice. Mediocre controls are the culprit here. When the player stops tapping, the bird (we’ll call him Flappy) drops like a rock. A single tap causes Flappy to move upwards rather sharply. The challenge comes from balancing the steep climbs and the sharp drops to navigate the pipes. For a game that demands finesse, it offers players almost no fine control over Flappy.

The game is also woefully unforgiving. Upon starting, players are given a few seconds in open air to acclimate to Flappy’s flight controls. After that, it’s game on. The first pipes you’re presented with aren’t spaced any farther apart than the rest, meaning that it’s very possible for a first-time player to get a score of zero. In fact, this is exactly what happened to me on my first few runs. My high score currently sits at a rather pathetic 17.

By all rights, this game should not be good. It doesn’t feel like it belonged at the number one slot in the App Store. It lacks the polish that is typical of a top-tier smartphone game like Tiny Wings or Angry Birds. (What is it with the bird-themed games, anyway?) Yet somehow, even amidst the appearance of poor quality, Flappy Bird manages to be entertaining and challenging.

The game does get easier with practice, but it’s still brutal. Each failure of mine brought forth a burst of momentary rage, coupled with the feeling of wanting to throw my phone. Strangely enough, this anger was immediately followed with an intense desire to try again.

That’s where the addicting nature of Flappy Bird lies. The game is a simple one to pick up and play. There is only one control to worry about: tap the screen. It’s deceptively simple, however. Quite the challenge awaits those who stick around for more.

It is a game which appears easy, yet demands skillful play to master. That, perhaps, is what so many found appealing in Flappy Bird. It may be why it held the top spot in both the App Store and Google Play store. It would probably still be up there had the developer not pulled it.

Flappy Bird may be gone, but it will be missed. Those who didn’t get a chance to pick up the game can hope that it makes a return one day. Those who did can continue to enjoy the rage-inducing challenge.

Flap on.

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