History of Educational Technology

There is no written evidence which can tell us exactly who has coined the phrase educational technology. Different educationists, scientists and philosophers at different time intervals have put forwarded different definitions of Educational Technology. Educational technology is a multifaceted and integrated process involving people, procedure, ideas, devices, and organization, where technology from different fields of science is borrowed as per the need and requirement of education for implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning.

Educational technology, broadly speaking, has passed through five stages.

The first stage of educational technology is coupled with the use of aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as synonyms to audio-visual aids.

The second stage of educational technology is associated with the ‘electronic revolution’ with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Use of various audio-visual aids like projector, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio and television brought a revolutionary change in the educational scenario. Accordingly, educational technology concept was taken in terms of these sophisticated instruments and equipments for effective presentation of instructional materials.

The third stage of educational technology is linked with the development of mass media which in turn led to ‘communication revolution’ for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) used for education since 1950s also became popular during this era.

The fourth stage of educational technology is discernible by the individualized process of instruction. The invention of programmed learning and programmed instruction provided a new dimension to educational technology. A system of self-learning based on self-instructional materials and teaching machines emerged.

The latest concept of educational technology is influenced by the concept of system engineering or system approach which focuses on language laboratories, teaching machines, programmed instruction, multimedia technologies and the use of the computer in instruction. According to it, educational technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out and evaluating the total process of teaching and learning in terms of specific objectives based on research.

Educational technology during the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age
Educational technology, despite the uncertainty of the origin of the term, can be traced back to the time of the three-age system periodization of human prehistory; namely the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

Duringthe Stone Age, ignition of fire by rubbing stones, manufacture of various handmade weapon and utensils from stones and clothing practice were some of the simple technological developments of utmost importance. A fraction of Stone Age people developed ocean-worthy outrigger canoe ship technology to migrate from one place to another across the Ocean, by which they developed their first informal education of knowledge of the ocean currents, weather conditions, sailing practice, astronavigation, and star maps. During the later Stone Age period (Neolithic period),for agricultural practice, polished stone tools were made from a variety of hard rocks largely by digging underground tunnels, which can be considered as the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were so effective that even after appearance of bronze and iron; people used it for clearing forest and the establishment of crop farming.

Although Stone Age cultures left no written records, but archaeological evidences proved their shift from nomadic life to agricultural settlement. Ancient tools conserved in different museums, cave paintings like Altamira Cave in Spain, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf, Mother Goddess from Laussel, France etc. are some of the evidences in favour of their cultures.

Neolithic Revolution of Stone Age resulted into the appearance of Bronze Age with development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. For these practices Bronze Age people further developed metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of their choice.

The Iron Age people replaced bronze and developed the knowledge of iron smelting technology to lower the cost of living since iron utensils were stronger and cheaper than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last period before the development of written scripts.

Educational technology during the period of Ancient civilizations
According to Paul Saettler, 2004, Educational technology can be traced back to the time when tribal priests systematized bodies of knowledge and ancient cultures invented pictographs or sign writing to record and transmit information. In every stage of human civilization, one can find an instructional technique or set of procedures intended to implement a particular culture which were also supported by number of investigations and evidences. The more advanced the culture, the more complex became the technology of instruction designed to reflect particular ways of individual and social behaviour intended to run an educated society. Over centuries, each significant shift in educational values, goals or objectives led to diverse technologies of instruction.

The greatest advances in technology and engineering came with the rise of the ancient civilizations. These advances stimulated and educated other societies in the world to adopt new ways of living and governance.

The Indus Valley Civilization was an early Bronze Age civilization which was located in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. The civilization was primarily flourished around the Indus River basin of the Indus and the Punjab region, extending upto the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, (most of the part is under today’s Pakistan and the western states of modern-day India as well as some part of the civilization extending upto southeastern Afghanistan, and the easternmost part of Balochistan, Iran).

There is a long term controversy to be sure about the language that the Harappan people spoke. It is assumed that their writing was at least seems to be or a pictographic script. The script appears to have had about 400 basic signs, with lots of variations. People write their script with the direction generally from right to left. Most of the writing was found on seals and sealings which were probably used in trade and official & administrative work.

Harappan people had the knowledge of the measuring tools of length, mass, and time. They were the first in the world to develop a system of uniform weights and measures.

In a study carried out by P. N. Rao et al. in 2009, published in Science, computer scientists found that the Indus script’s pattern is closer to that of spoken words, which supported the proposed hypothesis that it codes for an as-yet-unknown language.

According to the Chinese Civilization, some of the major techno-offerings from China include paper, early seismological detectors, toilet paper, matches, iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, the wheelbarrow, the parachute, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the blast furnace, the propeller, the crossbow, the South Pointing Chariot, and gun powder. With the invent of paper they have given their first step towards developments of educational technology by further culturing different handmade products of paper as means of visual aids.

Ancient Egyptian language was at one point one of the longest surviving and used languages in the world. Their script was made up of pictures of the real things like birds, animals, different tools, etc. These pictures are popularly called hieroglyph. Their language was made up of above 500 hieroglyphs which are known as hieroglyphics. On the stone monuments or tombs which were discovered and rescued latter on provides the evidence of existence of many forms of artistic hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.

Educational technology during Medieval and Modern Period
Paper and the pulp papermaking process which was developed in China during the early 2nd century AD, was carried to the Middle East and was spread to Mediterranean by the Muslim conquests. Evidences support that a paper mill was also established in Sicily in the 12th century. The discovery of spinning wheel increased the productivity of thread making process to a great extent and when Lynn White added the spinning wheel with increasing supply of rags, this led to the production of cheap paper, which was a prime factor in the development of printing technology.

The invention of the printing press was taken place in approximately 1450 AD, by Johannes Gutenburg, a German inventor. The invention of printing press was a prime developmental factor in the history of educational technology to convey the instruction as per the need of the complex and advanced-technology cultured society.

In the pre-industrial phases, while industry was simply the handwork at artisan level, the instructional processes were relied heavily upon simple things like the slate, the horn book, the blackboard, and chalk. It was limited to a single text book with a few illustrations. Educational technology was considered synonymous to simple aids like charts and pictures.

The year 1873 may be considered a landmark in the early history of technology of education or audio-visual education. An exhibition was held in Vienna at international level in which an American school won the admiration of the educators for the exhibition of maps, charts, textbooks and other equipments.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952), internationally renowned child educator and the originator of Montessori Method exerted a dynamic impact on educational technology through her development of graded materials designed to provide for the proper sequencing of subject matter for each individual learner. Modern educational technology suggests many extension of Montessori’s idea of prepared child centered environment.

In1833, Charles Babbage’s design of a general purpose computing device laid the foundation of the modern computer and in 1943, the first computing machine as per hi design was constructed by International Business Machines Corporation in USA. The Computer Assisted instruction (CAI) in which the computer functions essentially as a tutor as well as the Talking Type writer was developed by O.K. Moore in 1966. Since 1974, computers are interestingly used in education in schools, colleges and universities.

In the beginning of the 19th century, there were noteworthy changes in the field of education. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), right from its start of school broadcasts in 1920 had maintained rapid pace in making sound contribution to formal education. In the USA, by 1952, 20 states had the provision for educational broadcasting. Parallel to this time about 98% of the schools in United Kingdom were equipped with radios and there were regular daily programmes.

Sidney L. Pressey, a psychologist of Ohio state university developed a self-teaching machine called ‘Drum Tutor’ in 1920. Professor Skinner, however, in his famous article ‘Science of Learning and art of Teaching’ published in 1945 pleaded for the application of the knowledge derived from behavioral psychology to classroom procedures and suggested automated teaching devices as means of doing so.

Although the first practical use of Regular television broadcasts was in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic Games in Berlin were broadcasted through television stations in Berlin, Open circuit television began to be used primarily for broadcasting programmes for entertainment in 1950. Since 1960, television is used for educational purposes.

In 1950, Brynmor, in England, used educational technological steps for the first time. It is to be cared that in 1960, as a result of industrial revolution in America and Russia, other countries also started progressing in the filed of educational technology. In this way, the beginning of educational technology took place in 1960 from America and Russia and now it has reached England, Europe and India.

During the time of around 1950s, new technocracy was turning it attraction to educations when there was a steep shortage of teachers in America and therefore an urgent need of educational technology was felt. Dr. Alvin C. Eurich and a little later his associate, Dr. Alexander J. Stoddard introduced mass production technology in America.

Team teaching had its origin in America in the mid of 1950’s and was first started in the year 1955 at Harvard University as a part of internship plan.

In the year 1956, Benjamin Bloom from USA introduced the taxonomy of educational objectives through his publication, “The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain”.

Using 40% of Your Software?

No one ever buys anything with the intent of using a small percentage of the product. Generally, when one makes a major purchase there is a good amount of research involved and desired features are scrutinized for efficiency and effectiveness. There may be yes/no checklists involved, various conversations with the vendor and many product demonstrations. People do this because they are planning on using the features that they will be paying for. Why is it then that most companies only use 40% of the features their software contains?

Software is the core of any competitive staffing company. How well the company utilizes the software is imperative to success in business today. Too often when assessing software decision makers are blown away by colorful presentations that mean nothing to core business processes. Functionality should be the basis for any software decision and not colorful diagrams or how the screen looks. Software should also contain a basic workflow that stabilizes the way in which the firm will utilize the product to accomplish tasks.

How can software productivity be measured? First, you must be able to report on the amount of time employees spend accomplishing specific tasks. Next, there should be reporting for the individual employees so that they can self-assess their productivity and plan tasks. Third, assess the time employees take to respond to customer orders and inquiries. Last, the ratio of revenue, profitability and output to employee expenses and time spent on tasks must be measured. In order to accomplish all of this you must be utilizing a fully operational CRM Model.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the most misunderstood term in the industry. The true meaning of CRM is the ability to measure success across the board from Marketing to Sales, Operations and Back Office. This model can only be implemented with a fully integrated front and back office model. The various departments within a firm must share information in order to be effective. This means that invoices should be viewable from front office. Collection calls must be viewable from front office. Software is a company communication project.

Once the software model is in place and contains everything needed to run the company, it is imperative that a Software Policy Manual be created and reviewed with all employees in the company. A Software Policy Manual describes all of the major tasks that need to be completed utilizing the software and how the tasks are to be completed. It should contain “best practices” for the specific organization as every company’s process is different.

Typically, when new software is put into place the users go through a basic training. This is generally a cookie-cutter course that the vendor uses to train all of its new customers. At times the course is tailored toward the type of staffing being done. A course like this is necessary and is enough to begin the journey to software success.

If an extensive software suite is selected, and it should be, the software will contain many more features than can be covered during a basic training course. It would not make sense to include everything as users will normally absorb about 50% of basic training, often walking away a bit dazed after a couple of days of training. If more than the basics were covered it would most certainly cause user brain freeze.

The initial basic training experience can be improved in 3 ways: 1) The basic course should feature “hand-on” training; 2) No interruptions should be allowed during the training; 3) Users must begin practicing what was learned immediately after training. For new software, users should be trained as close to the live date as possible, ideally while the final data migration is being completed. The Software Policy Manual should be complete and available for reference on the “live date”.

Once users have begun utilizing software a common mistake is to stop training. Staffing is a high turnover business so chances are that 50% of the initial staff that was trained may be gone after the first year or two – maybe sooner. That speaks to the necessity of a formal training process for new hires. The class can be an internal training program if you have someone on staff that can dedicate time to formal training. If you don’t want to be in the software training business, solicit this service from your staffing software vendor. Too often formal new hire training is skipped, resulting in users that have no clue how to use the software effectively.

Another area often overlooked is ongoing user training. Remember that basic class that: 1) doesn’t cover everything and 2) users will forget 50% of? Once users begin to use the software and complete tasks, you will want users to become “power users”. “Power use” should not be relegated to a certain few who take the initiative to advance their knowledge on the software. Every user should be a power user but they can only attain this status if they are offered advanced training. This is what makes the difference between a successful software implementation that offers monetary benefits/competitive advantage and a mediocre implementation that everyone complains about.

There are several ways a user can get advanced training. The best route is to get regular training from your software vendor. Your vendor will have experienced trainers that know the software. Unless you have the resources to have a dedicated trainer on staff that does nothing but focus on the software you will not be able to duplicate a vendor training.

On-line help is always available if you are using a leading software product. Familiarize all users with how to use this very important tool. Generally vendors keep this type of information on-line as hardcopy user manuals are for the most part a thing of the past.

The Top Facebook Games of 2010

Facebook games have shown a lot of popularity during the past year. As Facebook adds more games to its already huge entertainment menu you may be wondering which games are the best and most fun to play. This article will give separate game reviews for each of the twenty five top Facebook games for 2010.

To start the Facebook Game reviews, we will begin by taking a look at the number one game on Facebook called FarmVille. FarmVille which is made by Zynga currently has approximately 73,800,000 monthly users and is growing at a steady upward pace. FarmVille is a game in which you can become a farmer. FarmVille allows you to interact with your friends and even become neighbors with them. Basically you will do everything a farmer does while playing FarmVille. Planting, plowing, harvesting and growing a successful farm. Just make sure when playing this game that you harvest your plants on time. Different plants have different times for harvesting and if you don’t harvest in time the plants will die. By taking care of your farm you will get more points and go up in level.

Birthday Cards holds the place of second most popular game of 2010. Birthday Cards is made by RockYou and has approximately 32,000,000 users per month. When using the Birthday Cards game you can customize and send free cards, use a birthday calendar, have a personal birthday list and personal reminders. The game also allows you too start your own birthday zoo. This is popular for those who want to remember their friend’s birthdays and send cards on Facebook.

The third most popular game on Facebook is Café World which is made by Zynga. Café World has approximately 31,000,000 active users per month. Café world is a fun game to play if you ever dreamed of owning your own restaurant. When playing this game you can cook, bake sauté and make anything you want when playing Café World. When playing Café World you are the cook and the restaurant owner therefore you will have to hire servers. When hiring a server on Café World you can select one of your Facebook friends. Make sure to always have plenty of food ready for your guests.

The fourth most popular game on Facebook is Happy Aquarium which is made by CrowdStar. Happy Aquarium has approximately 27,000,000 active users per month. When playing Happy Aquarium on Facebook you will be able to set up your own fish tank. This can be done by purchasing fish and other creatures. Make sure to always feed your fish when playing Happy Aquarium because the fish can die just like in real life. This is a fun game for those who love wish and wish they had an aquarium in their home. The bad thing about this game is that you can’t feed your friends fish if you notice that they are dying.

The fifth most popular game on Facebook is FishVille which is made by Zynga. FishVille has approximately 24,000,000 active users per month. FishVille is very similar to Happy Aquarium in which you set up your own fish tank and care for the fish. When you’re done raising your fish you can sell them for coins and points. Like Happy Aquarium you will maintain your fish tank or your poor creatures will die.

The sixth most popular game on Facebook is Mafia Wars which is made by Zynga. Mafia Wars has approximately 24,000,000 active users per month. The goal of playing Mafia Wars is to grow your Mafia family. This can be done by inviting your Facebook friends to join you at Mafia Wars. Another goal is to increase your group’s wealth and supply your friends with weapons. What it comes down to is whoever has the biggest and the strongest Mafia is the group that comes out on top.

The seventh most popular game on Facebook is Texas HoldEm Poker which is also made by Zynga. Texas HoldEm Poker for Facebook has approximately 22,000,000 active users per month. When playing Texas HoldEm Poker on Facebook it’s pretty much the same as playing the game in life. Before starting get familiar with the rules on how to play Texas HoldEm. Texas HoldEm Poker on Facebook can be played between friends.

The eighth most popular game on Facebook is Pet Society which is made by Playfish; Pet society has approximately 21,000,000 active users per month. Pet Society on Facebook is a very cute game for the animal lover. When playing Pet Society you can decorate your house and go to your friend’s house with presents. This is a very cute and fun game.

The ninth most popular game on Facebook is Petville which is made by Zynga. Petville has approximately 17,000,000 active users per month. This is another adorable pet lover’s game. When playing this game you will take care of your own pet. When you first become a player of Petville you will be asked to create your own pet. The options are endless and the end result is an adorable virtual pet. The goal is to keep your pet clean, well fed, walked and loved. This in turn will create a happy Petville pet for you. This game is very similar to Playfishes Pet Society and other pet based games.

The tenth most popular game on Facebook is YoVille which is made by Zynga. YoVille has approximately 17,000,000 active users per month. When playing YoVille you will be living a virtual life. This game is pretty similar to the extremely popular Sims game for personal computers. While playing YoVille you will be building a virtual life. When playing you can work, socialize; decorate your house or anything else you may desire. This is a fun game for those who like the escape of a virtual world.

The eleventh most popular game on Facebook is Farm Town which is made by Slashkey. Farm Town has approximately 16,000,000 active users per month. Farm Town is very similar to the Facebook game FarmVille. When playing this game you will take care of your own farm. In order to advance to higher levels you will need to plant and harvest crops, invite friends to join you and hire workers to help you with the farm. This is a fun game for those who want to be farmers but live in the city.

The twelfth most popular game on Facebook is Restaurant City which is made by PlayFish. Restaurant City has approximately 15,000,000 active users per month. Restaurant City is very similar to Café Town. When playing Restaurant City you will own a restaurant, create the menu and hire workers. This is a fun game if you are interested in how a restaurant operates. This is a social game and you will be able to interact with your Facebook friends.

The thirteenth most popular game on Facebook is MindJolt Games which is made by MindJolt. MindJolt games have approximately 14,000,000 active users per month. When playing MindJolt you can play over 500 games. The games are arcade style, puzzles, strategy, and so much more. MindJolt is fun for those who want a little gaming variety.

The fourteenth most popular game on Facebook is Happy Pets which is made by CrowdStar. Happy Pets has approximately 12,000,000 active users per month on Facebook. When playing Happy Pets you will grow your kitten into an adult. The object of the game is to take care of as many cats as you can. How many happy cats can you take care of on Happy Pets? If you end up feeling overwhelmed by having too many pets to care for don’t be tempted to sell your cats. Happy Pets doesn’t like those who sell their kitties.

The fifteenth most popular game on Facebook is RCK which is made by Zynga. RCK has approximately 11,000,000 active users per month on Facebook. This is a fun Facebook game in which you can create your own rock band. Ask your Facebook friends to join and help you create a rocking band. This is a fun game to play for any music lover.

The sixteenth most popular game on Facebook is Zoo World which is made by RockYou. Zoo World has approximately 10,000,000 active users per month. When playing Zoo World on Facebook you will take care of zoo animals and Zoo World cash. When earning your Zoo World cash you can purchase new zoo animals and place them in your zoo. This is a fun way to pass time if you enjoy zoo animals.

The seventeenth most popular game on Facebook is Bejeweled Blitz which is made by Popcap games. Bejeweled Blitz has approximately 10,000,000 active users per month. Bejeweled Blitz is an easy to master puzzle game. The fun thing about this game is that you can compete with your Facebook friends. Many people will spend hours out of there day playing Bejeweled Blitz.

The eighteenth most popular game on Facebook is Fish World which is made by Tall Tree Games. Fish World has approximately 9,000,000 active users per month. Fish World is very similar to Happy Aquarium. When playing Fish World you will care for your very own virtual fish. Make sure to feed them and take care of them so they stay alive. Selling your Fish World fish are a common part of the game.

The nineteenth most popular game on Facebook is Pillow Fight which is made by Shikha. Pillow Fight has approximately 8,000,000 active users per month. Pillow fight is a fun game if you enjoy hitting your friends with pillows. The pillows come in different materials and your friends can accept being hit by pillows are choose not to. The pillow that you choose to use will be posted on your friends Facebook page.

The twentieth most popular game on Facebook is (Lil) Farm Life which is made by Playdom. (Lil) Farm Life has approximately 6,000,000 active users per month. This is another game that is a lot like FarmVille and Farm Town. When playing this game you will create your own farm with crops, animals and buildings. This is another fun game for those who tire of Farmville and Farm Town.

The Twenty first most popular game on Facebook is Sorority Life which is made by Playdom. Sorority Life has approximately 6,000,000 active users per month. When playing this game you can create your own sorority. When signing up for sorority life you can invite friends to join your sorority. Another feature is that you can dress and accessorize however you want. This is a fun game for those who miss their college sorority lifestyle.

The Twenty second most popular game on Facebook is Island Paradise which is made by Meteor Games. Island Paradise has approximately 6,000,000 active users per month. This is a fun game in which you create your own island paradise. When creating your island you can grow crops, add animals or whatever you want on your island. When playing island paradise you can stop by and visit your friends. This is similar to Farmville but for those who love the island life.

The twenty third most popular game on Facebook is Country Life which is made by Country Life. Country life has approximately 5,000,000 active users per month. This game is another one that is a lot like Farmville. When playing this game you take care of crops, the only difference from Farmville is that you can create your own bread for more profit.

The twenty fourth most popular game on Facebook is Country Story which is made by Playfish. Country Story has approximately 5,000,000 active users per month. This is another farm themed Facebook game. This game is great for those who like FarmVille or Farm Town and want to play something different.

The twenty fifth most popular game on Facebook is Happy Island which is made by CrowdStar. Happy Island has approximately 5,000,000 active users per month. When playing this game you can create your own island. The more attractions you add to your island the more your island will earn. This is similar to Island Paradise but with more buying and selling involved.

Gaming Keyboards – Why Are They Confusing?

Firstly, what we need to look at is what do the words “gaming keyboard” actually mean. Well I will tell you that it is exactly what you think it is. It is a keyboard for gaming. Now with most people it stops there because they think that just because it is a gaming keyboard it can only be used for gaming and nothing else. They don’t realise that a gaming keyboard can be used for much more than just gaming. So this article is aimed at giving some advice in regards to choosing the right gaming keyboard for you. I remember my first programmable gaming keyboard (the Logitech G15) and how I struggled with it. The only reason why I wanted it, was because it was the best on the market at the time and I felt for that reason I needed to own one. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it or what I was going to use it for. I did however, almost add another feature to it’s already impressive list of pre-installed features by illustrating just how effective the keyboard can be in a game of cricket or anything involving a bat. It really irritated me because I did not need it for all the functions and because they were there, I felt I had to use them all. I did use them all in the end, but that was only because I advanced my game play and in doing so required more functions out of the keyboard.

So let’s take a look at some of the aspects that we will have to deal with when looking at gaming keyboards.

  • The features installed on a gaming keyboard and what they actually do
  • The terminology used in gaming keyboards
  • What are the best types of gaming keyboards
  • How do we know which is the right type of gaming keyboard for us

Now many people are already gamers, serious or not and know exactly what the features are and what they can do. But there are as many people out there that don’t know what the features are supposed to do and whether the features are in fact what they actually need. So I have put together a list of the features that you will find on gaming keyboards and below I will explain each one of them more clearly.

Here is a list of the features that you will find installed on gaming keyboards. I would like to add, that not every gaming keyboard has all of the features mentioned below installed on them at the same time.

  1. LCD Display screen
  2. Programmable G-keys (for macros and macros on the fly)
  3. Back Lighting
  4. Anti-Ghosting
  5. In game mode switch
  6. Media controls
  7. Detachable Key Pad
  8. High Speed USB Ports
  9. Automatic Profile Switching
  10. Cruise Control

Now as we can see there are many features that you will find installed on a gaming keyboard, but the important thing now is to know what they can do and when to use them. Let’s take a closer look at the features and see how they can be used for gaming but also for outside of gaming.

The LCD Display screen is a screen at the top of the keyboard (typically in the middle) which displays a host of information to you during game play. An example of the information displayed is; vital game statistics, system statistics, VOIP communication data and you can even see what server your friends are playing certain games on, such as World of Warcraft. You can also watch photo slide shows on the screen as well as YouTube videos (this feature is only on the Logitech G19). So there we can see how good the LCD screen is. Outside of gaming you can still see system statistics displayed, but only on the Logitech G19 can you watch videos and photo slide shows.

Programmable G-Keys (or game keys) are keys that can be programmed to execute certain commands. You can program multiple keys to be executed with a single keypress. So in other words, if you have a command which you would like to execute but it has more than one keystroke required then you would program a G-key to perform all those keypresses for you. Now this is vital in game playing, especially in strategy and role-playing games. But programmable keys can also be used in everyday computing. I own the Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard and I use the programmable key feature to program my passwords and small snippets of text which is normally login information. This is a great feature for those that work with databases or anything where numerous logins are required. It is also good for designers and editors where numerous keypresses are sometimes required.

Back Lighting is a really cool feature. This is standard on all gaming keyboards irrespective of all the other features mentioned above. Basically what this feature does is illuminate the keys from underneath. There are typically three levels of brightness for the back lighting, however all though back lighting is standard on gaming keyboards not all of them have the same colours or as many colours as others do. The Logitech G19 and G510 are gaming keyboards with a host of different colours, whereas others have only three or just one. This is not only good for gaming especially if games are played in low lighted or even dark areas, but also a great asset to changing the style of your workstation. There are people out there that just want a new look for their workstation and backlit keyboards do the trick.

Anti-Ghosting is a feature whereby missed keypresses are in fact actually recorded and not voided. This happens with multiple keypresses albeit not frequently but without anti-ghosting the keypresses won’t be recognized.

In game mode switch is a feature which disables the Windows/Context key during gameplay, so you don’t accidentally get kicked out of your game. Which I am sure has happened to all of us at some point.

Media controls, this feature is great as you can control volume, playback and mute from the keyboard itself. This feature works for headsets that are connected to the keyboard and also for the sound emitting from the computer itself. So there is no need to find the controls on the screen if you want to quickly turn down the volume.

Detachable Key Pad. This is also a really neat feature as you can move the keypad to either the left or the right side, depending which hand you are more comfortable using for operating. Again, this feature is another feature you can use outside of gaming.

High Speed USB Ports are a great advantage as you can Plug and Play with comfort. Also through this feature you can transfer data between devices, such as MP3 Players and Flash Drives and you can do all this while charging your devices that are battery-powered. Another great feature that can be used outside of gaming.

Automatic Profile Switching is a feature that allows you to automatically or manually change the profile you are in or want to be in. With the automatic function, the keyboard detects the application you are running and automatically applies the profile that you previously set for that application. Really cool feature especially if you like to play in different modes (Microsoft Sidewinder X6 had this feature).

The cruise control feature is also a really handy feature to have as it allows you to continue an action without having to hold down all the different keys required to perform the action. You can even use the cruise control function for up to four keypresses (installed on the Microsoft Sidewinder X6)

So as we can see all the features that are installed on a gaming keyboard can also be used for everyday computing, although the obvious design factor was initially for gamers in the first place. Another thing we must look at is the structural design of the keyboard. First thing we will notice is that some of the keyboards are slightly bulkier than a standard keyboard. Now this is to be expected as the keyboard itself houses more keys, requires more space for electrical components and other hardware utilities that are required for game play. But what is also great about the design of gaming keyboards, is that they are designed for ergonomic purposes. This is because gamers spend a lot of time in front of their keyboards and they are more prone to wrist, arm and hand discomfort than users of a standard keyboard. So the idea behind ergonomically designed gaming keyboards is to install some features that will reduce the risk of wrist discomfort overall. These features include; detachable and adjustable wrist wrest, keyboards with zero slope designs, different keyboard feet lengths for effective raising or lowering of keyboards for comfort and also keys that can accommodate softer keypresses.

Now I am not sure how familiar you are with the terminology that is used in the gaming keyboard field, but below is a list words that you will come across with regards to gaming keyboards.

WSAD – This is the four keys that you use to control movement which is typically your W, S, A & D keys.

ANTI-GHOSTING – Typically in a standard keyboard (or dome switch keyboard), the design is in such a way that the keyboard uses columns and rows of wires. Through this design the results that occur can be inaccurate when lots of keys are pressed at once. When this happens the dropped keys become “ghosts”. With keyboards that have anti-ghosting capabilities, they use a small dab of carbon at each switch site to prevent the contact of the keys from shorting the rows or columns of wires. In doing so, this allows the keyboard to decode each key press separately.

MACROS – A macro is a collection of operations and property values that can be applied to an existing visualization or visualizations. So in other words macros are not linked to the objects or visualizations to which they are applied but when they are used, the operations or property settings will be applied to the objects currently selected. This means that property settings can be applied to multiple visualization types, unlike property settings in styles.

OPTICAL – Optical is basically a device used for producing or controlling light. So if you took an optical mouse for example, it would be a mouse that produces light and in doing so uses the light to register it’s movement on your computer.

ULTRA POLLING – Ultra-polling in gaming mice increases the amount of times the firmware on a mouse reports it’s tracking data to the computer to 1ms (1000hz). In doing so, it reduces the interval between each transmission of movement calculations and therefore giving the cursor on the screen a smoother and more precise feel with increased responsiveness.

HYPER RESPONSE – On a hyper response button, there are two stages that go into the development of the button. This is basically to ensure that it can always be actuated no matter where it is pressed and also how quickly is it pressed. So therefore if you don’t completely press down on a button or don’t press hard enough, the button will still actuate and you will not lose response time.

ON-THE-FLY – This is basically just when you doing something in a hurry or to create something quickly when needed.

G-KEYS – These are basically game keys. The keys that you can program with macros.

ERGONOMICS – This is basically a study to see how things interact with the human body. So if you were to take a pen for example; holding it for long periods of time and writing with it could eventually cause discomfort to the hand and wrist. By making the design of the pen more ergonomically, it would allow for long periods of use without causing discomfort. This study is applied to everything that interacts or can interact with the human body

Now the only answer I can give you about which gaming keyboard is the best is simple. It depends entirely on what you want to use the keyboard for. The industry is lead to believe the Logitech G19 Programmable Gaming Keyboard is the best on the market and to a certain degree it is. It has all the features that other keyboards have but more advanced and it is designed with serious gamers in mind, therefore lending itself to being classed as the best gaming keyboard ever. But in my opinion a gaming keyboard, or anything for that matter is only as good as what you need it for. If you don’t need it for a lot of things then don’t buy one that can do everything.

With regards to what gaming keyboard is best for you, well again that depends on what you want out of it. If you are a novice gamer with little experience with programmable keyboards, then it is probably better to take a gaming keyboard with either no programmable keys or a keyboard with a limited number of programmable keys. However in saying that, many of the gaming keyboards have really good instruction manuals and CDs. But again, if you only need a few keys that can be programmed then don’t buy a gaming keyboard with massive amounts of programmable options. So it all boils down to what you need it for. If you take the time to think clearly about what will you want to get from a gaming keyboard and read all the reviews on the different types of gaming keyboards, then your decision won’t be wrong.

Secrets to an Amazing Role-Playing Game

Role-playing games are a very specialist type of game that really need a far greater attention to detail than other less immersive genres. As the computerized version of the genre took off there were a lot of money hungry companies who decided to storm into the genre without really trying to understand what the vital elements of a role-playing game are. In some cases, these companies have actually had the audacity to buy out smaller companies who did know the genre and they destroyed long-held legacies of great traditional games.

Considering that this may have an impact on the future of computerized role-playing games I have felt it to be of importance to educate these gaming giants in an effort to help them understand the only thing that matters to them. In order to sell role-playing games you need an audience willing to buy the product and if a company consistently puts out dodgy shooters in the guise of apparent role-playing games they’ll only destroy their reputation and go bankrupt. I know that the word bankrupt is a word that these money hungry companies recognises and so I emphasise one point, try to sell dodgy shooters to role-playing fans and you will go bankrupt!

Personally, I have been a role-playing gamer for about thirty years and I fell in love with only two systems that I probably can’t name because of article writing guidelines. What I can say is that very few game producing companies have come even close to the pen and paper versions of the best role-playing games on the market, you know, the ones that people actually enjoy playing. I will say that I rejoiced when role-playing games became computerized as it meant I could do my role-playing without the need to hunt for people with similar tastes and even though some games have risen to become great role-playing games, they are sadly few and far between. On that note, of the styles of role-playing games that include pen and paper, computerized games and online games, there is only one type that can meet the fully immersive needs of a role-player and I’ll reveal why later.

Okay, what are the elements of a great role-playing game then? I’ll give you one at a time but the very most important piece of advice to keep in mind during this whole discussion is immersion. To be a truly great role-playing game, it has to grab the players attention and not deliver diversions that allow the player to slip back into the reality of the real world. The player must be kept in the fictional world if they are to feel that they have experienced a great role-playing game.

One of the most vital elements of immersion is a storyline; a really believable and yet gripping storyline. A role player doesn’t want to load up the newest game and find to their dismay that storyline consists of the flimsy idea that they have to kill heaps of things to get enough experience to kill the apparent bad guy. Who wants to play a game where the bad guy is designated the bad guy without good reason? Have you played a game where you are part of one group of people and you’ve been chosen to defeat the other group of people but there’s no actual evidence that shows why the other group is bad? The worst of these are the recent thug games where one criminal organisation wants to defeat another criminal organisation and you’re the hitman. Who is really that stupid to fall for such a terrible storyline? It’s certainly not for intelligent role-players.

A good storyline can’t be a shallow excuse for a war and it has to be something you’d want to be a part of. The storyline also has to be included in the gameplay itself and delivered in a way that doesn’t interrupt the reality of the gameplay either. There’s nothing worse than a big cut-scene that drops into the middle of the game and makes you sit idle for more than a minute or two. For role-play gamers, the immersion of the game comes from being the character, not from watching the cut-scenes as if you were watching television. What’s next… advertisements?

Another part of a great game play experience is being aware that you have been a part of the fictional world since you were born. This is conveyed by knowing where things are in the world and knowing who the current leaders are, along with knowing current events. This can be done cleverly by feeding snippets of information in a natural manner during conversations with non-player characters. Some extremely vital information can be revealed in otherwise meaningless banter, just like in the world you’re immersed in right now.

One thing that will jolt a role player out of a game is a sudden unwanted conversation with a hastily introduced character who explains where the next local town is and that you have to be careful because there’s a war on or some such thing. This is only done in games where the maps are updated as you discover places of interest. Making a major city that lies not ten miles from your current position something that you have to discover is ridiculous at best and only suits scenarios where you’ve been teleported into a new reality or you’ve lost your memory although the latter should be used sparingly as there are already too many games out there that rely on the character having amnesia. Discovery can be implemented in far more subtle ways by having secret areas within already well-known places and it is this that gives a role-player a sense of discovery.

Another immersion problem is the introduction of a love interest in a game without any participation on your part. You’re playing away, minding your own business and then all of a sudden, one of the infatuated characters that you never knew existed, has an impact on gameplay because of a supposed vital role they play in the group you’re a part of. They should, at the least, allow a bit of flirting in the conversation paths before a love interest is thrust into the mix. For me, someone suddenly having that kind of interest is an immersion breaker because there was nothing at all that prompted a relationship. If there is a love interest possibility in the game, then it needs to be introduced in a believable way and shouldn’t be out of the characters control.

There was one game in which this happened and the involvement of two love interests was the excuse for one of the non-player characters to do worse at being a support while the other became a great support. Sure, the idea was novel but it was also very childish because it assumed that these two love interests were so enamoured with the player that neither could do without him. It was worse than watching Baywatch or Desperate Housewives.

I’m only going to add one more element to the mix because I just wouldn’t reach a conclusion if I allowed myself to point out every requirement of the best role-playing games. As I stated before, the important factor is immersion. A real deal breaker for me is the inability to develop the type of character I want. I’ve encountered this more often than not in games where you have no choice over the skills that you character can develop. Of course, this is the worst scenario and there are many games that allow limited development but there are only a handful of games that allow a real sense of development.

A truly great role-playing game has to allow players to develop in any direction and compensate for this flexibility by incorporating multiple paths through the game. There’s no point in creating a computerized role-playing game if the character does the same thing in every single play through of the game. The most annoying of these issues is a game where you can have a spell wielding character but they develop the exact same spells at exactly the same point in every run of the game. It’s a little more forgivable for warrior types but even in this case there are many games which allow for dozens of different fighting styles.

Now, if I were to continue with this discussion I’d add other topics like the renaming of attributes with no good cause, allowing for more than one quest to be given at a time, real world purchase requirements during the game and other ridiculous practices.

I did promise to show which game type was the best for role-playing games though so, here it is. Non-online computerized games are the only games that allow for full immersion and I’ll explain why.

Unlike table-top games, you aren’t interrupted by the requirement to physically reach out and move pieces which takes you out of the role of the piece itself. Compared to pen and paper games, you aren’t required to look up tables or enter long boring discussions on how rules should be interpreted. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games don’t meet the requirements either and I know some of you will be surprised but when was the last time you were playing a computerized role-playing game and one of the other players had to leave because they had to go to work and they informed you it was a different time in their part of the world.

Computerized role-playing games are the only role-playing game type where the characters stay in the game, you don’t have to suddenly work out if something is allowable by the rules and the user interface stays consistent so that the immersion is most efficient.

In conclusion, the best role-playing games are stand-alone home computer based and don’t involve interaction with other real world people who will throw a spanner in the immersion works. The storyline must be solid and delivered in a natural manner, a deliverable assumption that your character already knows the fictional world, no instant love interests out of nowhere and the ability to develop your character in any direction seamlessly along with plot paths that allow for these developments.

I only hope that the gaming companies pay attention to this and realise that they are making role-playing games for role-players and if they’re not in the market for role-players, then they should call their games by a different genre.

Are We Too Dependent on Computers?

A computer has been one of mankind’s greatest invention among other inventions ever since the foundation of science began. Its development was a result of years and years of long experiments spanning a hundred or so years conducted not just by one man, but many. Development of computers as it is today is a continuous process and it will ever be. Computers, however simple they may seem now to the computer literate, has a complex set of system underneath. It takes multiple disciplines in both computer studies and electronics to fully understand them. After all, computer in itself is subdivided into branches as is science itself.

While other technological inventions may have had already been developed prior to the foundation of science, “technology” is not yet a proper term for such. The word technology, after all, is always correlated with science and both science and technology are mutually inclusive to one another, strictly speaking in terminologies. Computers of today, however advanced they may seem, have had its origins in humble beginnings.

How did computer began?

Abacus, the earliest form of calculator, has been recorded to be in use since the early civilizations estimated to be around 1000 and 500 B.C., only to be adopted elsewhere in the world. The idea on how the algorithm of a computer does its arithmetic was based on this, in logic. Soon after, for as early as 1820’s, in the personification of Charles Babbage, dubbed to be one of the fathers of modern computer, developed ideas on how computers should do its math, initially known as the difference engine, it developed later after to become what is known as the analytical engine. While Charles Babbage, due to funding issues, didn’t get to see his ideas into fruition during his lifetime, it is his youngest son, Henry Babbage, who did so in 1910 based on his. However, this primitive form of computer is not as advanced as how we see on computers of today.

The idea of the need to do the computation on our behalf as man, hence the word ‘computer,’ came out of the need to handle complex problems and perform complex computations that is both difficult and takes longer time for man to handle. Especially true during the times of the industrialization era and great world war where the need for such arose. How a computer behaves is what’s in a library of a computer.

The development of computer grew by a lot since laying the foundation by Charles Babbage as was inspired by existing “technologies” of its time. From names of people of the past significant in the foundation of computers such as Ada Lovelace, Konrad Zuse, Alan Turing, John Atanasoff & Clifford Berry, Howard Aiken & Grace Hopper, so on and so forth, up to the present computer giant names such as William Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs, among others, computers of today are bigger in functions than they are their sizes and have found a spot in every people’s lives in both commercial and personal usage.

How do people use computers in their daily lives?

Modern day computers laid out the foundation on how we perform duties of today. It is a lot more efficient and makes the work done in shorter times. From a simple household leisure such is playing games or running multimedia programs, to doing office works, to a more difficult developing programs, up to a more complex computations such is done in NASA, computers made all this possible — all in a single box. What once takes a long time to finish in groups as in seen in companies without computers, can now be finished in shorter times with those.

Computers taking over the world

Also one of the most popular usage of computers is the internet. What once was the trend for telephones and telegrams, has become internet’s – and it is worldwide. Literally, computers taking over the world.
Although initially used for military purposes concurrent to the development of the computer, the internet grew up to become commercialized as it is used today. The internet, in conjunction to and other than the previous means, made communication around the world possible which also gave rise to communication tools such as the social media. To date, billions of people use computers with the internet every day.

Are we really too dependent on computers?

We may be are dependent on computers in relation to the internet given the information age we are in, since the computer age began. But such dependency was initially for a good intention – that is, to keep up with the demands of progress through the efficiency and rate the work demanded is done with computers as both our aid and tools. Let’s face it, there are complex works out there that can only be efficiently done if and only if we have computers. However, one should also ask whether such dependency is good for us. What if, by some chance, this technology called computers and the things it can do were taken from us? What then? Just like a bad addiction, computer dependency outside of our needs and moderation can be harmful for us, its users. An ideal tool for tyrants. While it may sound like it is out of context, it is not. In fact, we are as capable workers as our ancestors were without computers. Although obviously at a cost of the efficiency and ease we’ve known on how we do things with computers. These are not statements about abandoning computers as we know and use them, we’re just waking up with the idea of who we are without computers and who are ancestors were without those. No, we are not worthless without computers – we are not just as capable as someone who does and we alone are not capable as what a complex computer does as a computing machine. But do not be fooled, we are still the ones who made computers as they are today. In a way, we as a mankind is still superior to machines.

Now to the question, “are we too dependent on computers?” — the answer is, we are, at both misuse and discretion. Ultimately, how we use computer, as a technology, in our everyday lives weighs down on how we use it and for what purpose. Is it for the common good? Is it beneficial? In fact, these are questions also answerable by our own selves, as its users.