Recap of the Course

I’ve learned quite a few technical skills in taking this course.  I now feel a lot more confident in managing my own blog.  This will come in handy in the future; I have several projects that will involve managing a blog.  One blog will follow my escapades in my favorite online video game, and the other blog will be dedicated to my dollhouse hobby (see my Financial Analysis page if you have no idea what I am talking about).  I’ve also picked up some needed skills, like placing images in my web pages.  I found the majority of topics covered in this class to be very interesting.  I found cyborgs fascinating, and I also liked the discussion that followed the introduction of fusing art and technology.

I enjoyed the class so much that I recommended it to my friend.  She will be taking it this summer.  She’s spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder while I worked on many of the projects; she’s very excited!

It’s been a great ride!

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Further Activism Involving Production of USB Flash Drives

When conducting research for my Gender Lens project, I found it insanely difficult to find information regarding how USB flash drives are produced and what sort of materials go into their construction.  I did, however, find several blogs that expressed people’s concern over the chance that these companies are using harsh chemicals in an environment not safe for the workers.  I also found several sources confirming that USB flash drives are insanely difficult to recycle, which is why many advocate for their reuse instead.  One organization is looking into reformatting old USB flash drives into educational devices for children (check my project for more!).

I think that manufacturing companies need to be more transparent to the public about the kinds of materials they use and what sort of conditions their workers are subjected to.  Many of these plants exist outside the United States and are subjected to lower standards in regards to worker safety.  If companies are more honest about their practices in manufacturing USB flash drives, I think it would open a new market for creating new flash drives made out of “friendlier” materials or ones that are produced in a plant where workers are treated fairly.

In looking forward toward the Financial Analysis project, one of my biggest dreams right now is to own my own place.  In the condominium that I currently live in, I have the option to rent-to-own.  I’d be interested in learning more about this option, and figuring out what kind of budget I would have to follow.

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The Gender Lens Project is now Live!

I’m excited to say that the Gender Lens project is now up on the blog.  Keep in mind that it will receive massive editing in the next week, and feel free to leave your constructive criticism.  The hardest part of this project for me was finding information on biological and political factors of USB flash drives.  I still have not found information on these topics.  I knew that biological and political factors would be the hardest to research about, so I asked an OSU librarian for help.  I’m sorry to say I still have not heard back.  Hopefully, I will soon.

In the next week, I will be adding media to the webpages.  I have a lot planned: schematics, diagrams, educational images, and more!   I’ve even found a video on making USB flash drives!  I hope you all are excited.

As for acquiring new skills, I’d say that I didn’t really learn anything new skill-wise on this project.  Most of what I have learned was during the Cultural Research project.  I did definitely learn a lot more about USB flash drives.  I didn’t realize such a simple device has such complex social factors.  It didn’t really occur to me how far-reaching the issue of spreading viruses and other dangerous files really is.  I also had no idea there was so much involved in the production of USB flash drives.  I’m excited to learn more in the coming week!

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The Gender Lens Project: USB Flash Drives!

I have made some very good first steps in completing the Gender Lens project!  I chose the USB flash drive as my focus, because it seemed like a relatively mysterious product that many demographics take for granted.  The use of “USB sticks” is banned at Oregon State due to the chance of people downloading viruses to computers, but I remember the product’s prevalence in high school.  It was extremely useful to have a small stick of memory available that allowed me to transfer homework assignments between school and personal computers.

I was very pleased to stumble across the patent info which is available online.  This document will be instrumental in describing the design of the flash drive as well as providing numerous diagrams for my project to help illustrate how the little device works.  I also came across a video on how USB flash drives are produced in the Kensington factory.  Finally, I emailed the engineering librarian at OSU to get more help in finding resources to address the various social factors involving the USB flash drive.  I am waiting to hear back.

So far, so good!

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The Cultural Research Project is Complete! Plus: A Look Ahead

Wow!  What a week it’s been.  I’m happy to announce that my cultural research project on Cher Wang is complete.  I’m thrilled with how it turned out.  I’ve had lots of help from peers, OSU librarians, and the instructor to bring it all together.  The easiest part of the project was gathering information and images.  There seems to be an abundance of information on Cher Wang because the amount of recent interviews with her and articles published in her business decisions.  Of course, this meant I had the task of sifting through all this information and deciding what deserved a place on my web pages.  Prepping the images was easy.  I plan on starting up a blog this summer to mark my progress through my favorite video game, so having experience with uploading media will be good to have.

The hardest part of the project was formatting and determining what information went where.  I had a difficult time distinguishing between what belonged in the culture and trend sections of the project.  After looking at some examples and asking the instructor for help, I think I’ve figured it out.

This project gave me a lot of new experiences in regards to writing a paper.  Up until now, I’ve never used the OSU librarians for help.  I didn’t even know I could email them and ask them for help in finding resources for a paper.  I almost felt like I was cheating.  This exercise really helped though; I was able to write most of my culture and trend sections using the three articles provided to me.  I also had never used SafeAssign before.  My experience with it for this project is pretty small; after submitting my paper, the database came back telling me it didn’t have enough entries on my subject to provide me with useful feedback.  I think writing instructors should make SafeAssign more prominent in their courses so students can add to the database and expand its capabilities.

Finally, I had my first experience using the Online Writing Lab at OSU to provide feedback on my paper.  I had heard about this, but for some reason had never considered using it.  The feedback I was given was incredible!  Jaime was able to point out some past and present tense issues in my biography section, and she also suggested places I could expand if I wanted to.  She confirmed that my organization and ‘voice’ of the paper were clear.  Now it’s time to take a sneak peek into what I’ll be working on next week: the gender lens project.  I shall now relate to you my experiences with LEGOs as a child.

When I was very little, I received two gifts for my birthday.  My parents gave me a large box of LEGOs, and my grandmother gave me a themed Barbie set (I think it was Barbie Dentist or something like that).  I was immediately drawn to LEGOs, while poor Barbie sat on my shelf and collected dust.  My grandmother, thinking I didn’t have enough Barbie sets to compliment my Dentist Barbie, bought be a Barbie Dreamhouse (again, names are approximate).  After that, I only played with Barbie when I had friends over who wanted to play with her.  I always preferred LEGOs.  I guess I always liked the fact that my imagination was the only limitation on what I could do with them.  Even as I entered middle school and high school, I kept them around (until my junior year actually).  I continued to purchase sets so I could have access to specialized pieces, and then I would build large extravagant mansions and vehicles.  I would customize my own little LEGO person, and then my best friend and I would roleplay a variety of situations where we would trade stuff, build additions to our mansions, or go on crazy adventures.  I could sit on the floor for hours with LEGOs.  It’s one of the best childhood memories I have.

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The Cultural Research Project is Live!

After several days of intense researching and writing, my cultural research project on Cher Wang and her Taiwanese culture is now live.  Please keep in mind that the content is under review and only a rough draft; content and functionality of the pages are likely to change in the upcoming weeks.

The hardest part of this process for me was organizing the research into the four pages that comprise the project.  I had an abundance of sources to take research from; the most difficult part was deciding what was relevant and where it belonged.  I was a bit perplexed for quite some time what the differences were between the Culture and Trend pages of projects.  After looking at projects from previous years and emailing the instructor, I think I’ve got a good grasp on it.  I’m very please with the way everything turned out, and I’m looking forward to taking the next couple of days to make everything perfect!

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Cultural Research: Help from a Librarian

This week was dedicated to more research on Cher Wang and her culture.

I’m really quite excited about this project because of the implications it has both for me and  other female engineers/scientists.  There aren’t many female role models in the STEM fields for young girls to look up to and wish to emulate.  Part of the reason is the lack of girls taking up these fields, but I believe another part of it is that females who are in these fields are relatively unknown.  I hope that by writing about Cher Wang, I bring another role model to the front of readers’ minds.  There ARE women out there; you simply have to look for them.

With that aside, I contacted an OSU librarian this week to receive help on my project.  I contacted Natalia Fernandez, the multicultural librarian, because I wanted more perspective on what it would be like to be a female technologist in Taiwan.  Many studies conducted on why there are so few women in these fields focus on the United States and the Western world in general.  I was eager to gain insight into what it would be like in the East.  Natalia happily obliged by sending me two articles and a link pertinent to my topic as well as tips on what databases to use in the future and the kinds of key words I should be using.

The first article is titled “Women Scientists in Tawain”; while I haven’t had the opportunity to read the article all the way through, a quick skim revealed this is exactly what I was looking for.  The article essentially compiles data from several studies about women technologists in Taiwan, including a compilation of statistics and responses quoted from interviews.  It really gives me a glimpse into the Taiwanese perspective of women in STEM fields, and it will prove invaluable in writing about the cultural perspective.

The next article, titled “Why Aren’t women Sticking with Science in Taiwan?” is also extremely pertinent to the cultural aspect of my project.  This paper explores the factors that cause women to leave the science fields and why men dominate the top positions in this area.  The paper’s abstract mentions the pervasive masculine culture that Taiwan has, so I’m very excited about what I can gain from reading it.

Finally, Natalia sent me a link about gender bias in the IT industry.  This paper is more general, but it helps illustrate what women have had to do to get around persistent gender bias in their fields.  I’m hoping to gain a general perspective from this paper and use it to begin my cultural analysis for my project.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with my interactions with Natalia.  She gave me some great advice and provided three resources that will prove invaluable.  Even as a sophomore, I never realized what great resources were available to students conducting research at Oregon State.  I admit I’m somewhat ashamed I haven’t taken advantage of these sooner.  From now on, I will make a point of it.

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Cultural Research: Cher Wang

I am very excited to be doing my Cultural Research project on Cher Wang.

Cher Wang is the CEO and chairwoman of HTC Corp., the Taiwanese tech giant and maker of tablets and smartphones (like the HTC Incredible, Thunderbolt, and Evo 4G) (Entrepreneur).  Cher founded this company in 1997 (All Things Digital), and since then the company has grown immensely.  Currently, HTC has partnerships with Google and Microsoft to produce mobile devices utilizing the partners’ mobile operating systems (Android and Windows Phone, respectively) (Entrepreneur).

Cher got her start in selling computer chips, but became tired of lugging around large computer systems to show customers the performance of her products (All Things Digital).  Instead, she dreamed of mobile devices that could do all the things computers do but in the palm of the consumer’s hand.  Cher says the one thing that helped her the most in breaking through the technology business was a relentless focus on meeting the needs of the customers (Entrepreneur).  She says, “Since the beginning, HTC has focused on developing strong research and development capabilities and keeping a close eye on consumer, market, and technology trends” (Entrepreneur).

In her native Taiwan, the Wang family is considered a “technology dynasty” (New York Times).  Her late father, Wan Yung-Ching, founded Formosa Plastics Group, which focused on petrochemicals and plastics (New York Times).  According to Forbes magazine, he was the second richest man in Taiwan (New York Times).  Cher Wang is also chairwoman of VIA Technologies, which develops silicon chip technology; her husband, Wen Chi Chen, has been chief executive there since 1992 (New York Times).  Even though she came from a rich background, Cher has decided not to let her wealth (either her family’s or her own accumulated riches) define who she is. She came from a strict upbringing, and was encouraged by her father to study abroad (New York Times).  This is how she came to Silicon Valley and received her Masters in economics at Berkeley (New York Times).

I originally decided to do my cultural research project on Cher Wang because she’s the chairwoman of HTC, and I’ve had an HTC cellphone for quite a while.  Despite pursuing chemical engineering, electronics design and engineering has always fascinated me.  The more I learn about Cher Wang, the more I realize she could be such a great role model.  I’m excited to learn more about her personal life and her philanthropic ventures.


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Week 2 Recap

I also found this week’s blog setup to be quite easy.  Having previous blogging experience really helps, and the WordPress interface is quite easy.  Setting up the new pages and categories for future projects in this course has me very excited; I love research projects!  I’m also immensely enjoying reading all the articles each week and responding to posts on Blackboard.  I’m considering writing extra blog posts each week to summarize all that I’ve read so I have it available in the future.

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Week 1 Recap

I am very excited to blog about my progress for WS 320: Gender & Technology.  I’ve blogged before; I used to blog about my experiences in an online role-playing game (World of Warcraft).  I am happy to be blogging once again.  I am quite familiar with WordPress and have found its interface to be quite easy to follow.  I had no difficulty in setting up my blog space within, and I found writing my first post to be quite fun.  Setting up an email signature was also quite easy.  When I first created my personal Gmail account, I used to change my signature quite frequently.  I still use the Gmail client to look at email (both personal and ONID), so I had no problems adding a signature to my ONID address.  I also decided to try out the text-to-speech application provided by Windows for reading webpages, but decided I liked reading them the old-fashioned way.  I may continue messing around with text-to-speech if I have free time, but I couldn’t immediately figure out how to get the application to only read what’s on the webpage (rather than including web addresses, keystrokes, and other annoying extras).

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