Remembering September 11th: How Social Media has Changed the Way We Communicate

This week is the 14th anniversary of one of the most memorable events of this century. It’s amazing to think how differently things would have been with the technology we have now and how advanced our communication has become.

(c) Can Stock Photo
(c) Can Stock Photo

The debate continues on whether social media is a waste of time or an advertising powerhouse, but the truth is, it’s a powerful communication medium. In fact, according to Pew Research, more than 60% of Facebook and Twitter users use the social sites as a news source. It’s also where people go when major, newsworthy events happen so they can connect with friends and family and access breaking news.

September 11, 2001 – Pullman, WA

I remember exactly how I was woken up on September 11, 2001. I’m sure most Americans who were school-age or older at the time remember the details of that day quite vividly. I was a senior in college at Washington State University in eastern Washington and shared an apartment with my friend Megan.

I woke up to our phone ringing a little after 6am.  This was not completely unusual as Megan had early morning classes, so friends would sometimes call to meet up with her to go to class together. I had bulked up on classes my first three years to make my senior year as easy as possible, with only two difficult classes twice a week, PE classes twice a week and Fridays off. September 11th fell upon my dance class day.

I answered the phone. It was our friend Kenneth. I could hardly understand a word he was saying, but I knew it was bad from the panicked tone of this usually well-composed broadcasting major. This is the moment when I recall the trivial appointment of when we were scheduled to have our cable hooked up: September 12, 2001.

We had internet, but back then, it was mainly used for emailing, chatting or updating my Encyclopaedia Britannica software. Google existed, but many of us preferred Yahoo! or MSN, neither of which could handle the sudden rush of traffic from everyone trying to find out what was going on. YouTube was still a few years out and live streaming video wasn’t something the average person was equipped to do, as Periscope and Meerkat do now. I had a cell phone, but many of my friends didn’t, and it was long-distance for most of my friends to call me. The phone lines were busy anyway and no one I knew texted back then.

I remember turning the radio to a news station to find out what was going on. The broadcast is fuzzy in my memory, but I recall standing in the shower, crying because I had no idea what was going on and was 300 miles away from my parents. It made me think of stories I had heard from my parents and grandparents about war times, and how they had panicked every time they heard airplanes overhead.

Still unsure of the immensity of the attacks going on, I suited up and showed up at the gym for dance class. It had been cancelled, but there really was no easy way of getting the word out. I remained in a fog most of the day, listening to the radio and attempting to contact any of my friends in the affected areas. The phone lines were busy and we were instructed to leave phone lines open for those in emergency situations and their family members.

That afternoon, I visited my aunt and uncle, who lived just a couple minutes away. We watched the news together. That was the first time I was able to attempt to understand the magnitude of what had happened that day. I was not prepared for what I saw that day: people jumping out of the burning Twin Towers as they were crumbling down. This was not the America I knew. These kinds of things didn’t happen. It was terrifying.

Social Media Now

I think of how much technology has changed since 9/11/01 and how different things would have been. We’ve unfortunately seen how social media has played a part in communication during more recent attacks like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The Boston Marathon comes to mind first, because one of my friends was running it. I remember seeing a short post from her on Facebook letting everyone know she was safe, although she had passed the bomb site mere minutes before it went off. A bathroom break could have cost her a limb or her life. That post was followed by a few more explaining where she was and what was going on.

Imagine having that technology during 9/11. Chances are not everyone would be able to easily access their mobile devices and update their Facebook statuses, but those that could would be able to start building a framework of who had been affected. Maybe Joe had left his phone behind, but Dave had his and could let Joe’s friends and family know he was safe. Updates could let searchers prioritize where to look first. Maybe a few people were trapped in an area, but none were hurt so they could let rescuers know their whereabouts, but send them to those in immediate danger.

Here’s a few ways that we can find out what’s going on right now, especially during emergencies:

Facebook Safety Check: Did you know Facebook has a safety check feature? It notifies those who may be in disaster areas about what’s going on and offers a quick way to check in and let friends and family know you’re okay or that you’re not in the affected area. One tap of a button to notify your whole network.

Twitter Trending Topics: If you use Twitter, you’re very likely familiar with trending topics. On the left side of your Twitter feed is a list of local or global trends based upon your settings. A more light-hearted example is when there was a report of a loose tiger in a nearby city and #PuyallupTiger started trending. It was easy to follow any updates on the “tiger” and even the local news and police departments tweeted about it. Trending topics makes it very easy to find out what’s going on and quickly access all the updates on that topic.

Live Video Broadcasting: Periscope and Meerkat are two apps that allow users to live-stream video to an audience. Excitingly enough, my first Periscope was storm chasing in Kansas City with my coworker, Carolyn. While these apps can be used for fun or educational purposes, they can also be used during disasters so viewers can see things as they are happening.

Social Media: Ensuring We Never Forget

I’m sure there are many memories from that day that I no longer recall. When I think back to that day, I remember being trapped in a fog of confusion and uncertainty, not really knowing what was going on and not having the kind of access to current events that we have now.

For more recent events, we get annual reminders from Facebook of what we were doing that day. Is that something we want? Would we really want Facebook reminding us what we were doing “on this day” 14 years ago? Do we want to re-live that terror every anniversary of 9/11? And will our memories be as vivid now that we have devices and social media to remember it for us?

While it’s important to have documentation of events for historical purposes, perhaps we don’t always want to re-live every socially documented moment. It’s hard to say. Social media has become yet one more way to ensure we never forget.


Copy & Paste Not Working on Your iPhone? 4 Easy Steps That Worked for Me!

IMG_7565.PNGWhile the IOS 8.0.2 update seemed to fix the plethora of problems presented in IOS 8.0.1, one problem I’ve been having on my iPhone has been the ability to copy and paste. After Googling this problem, I saw that many others were having the same problem on their i-devices.

Device: iPhone 4S 16GB, IOS 8.0.2
Specific Issue: I’ve been trying to copy & paste a quote from Facebook, Safari and Google apps into LinkedIn. I’ve been able to highlight and copy, however, when I go to paste, nothing will come up.

I read through several forums to find suggestions of what worked for people and tried several of them. After performing the following 4 steps  I managed to get it to work:

  1. I freed up some storage space & memory by deleting some photos & apps, closing all my Safari browser windows and open apps
  2. I made sure everything loaded when I opened Settings > General > About (before, it wouldn’t load the number of songs, etc; I had in there and someone else mentioned this)
  3. I installed the free app iClear & ran it to clear my clipboard, even though it showed nothing on my clipboard
  4. I did a hard restart (holding the power & home buttons down at the same time until the phone shut down & restarted)

After those 4 steps, I went into Safari, copied the quote and successfully pasted it into my LinkedIn app. Then I went back into Safari, copied another quote and pasted it into Twitter. The Paste bubble was a little slow to show, so when trying to paste, be patient for a few seconds to see if it will eventually show. You shouldn’t have to wait more than 3 seconds.

Some forum posters tried to solve the problem by setting their device back to factory settings, however I did not find that to be necessary, but it’s possible that could be an additional step you could take to try to resolve the problem.

If you try these steps, please let me know in the comments if you have success. Also, if you’ve done something else to fix this problem, please let me know in the comments.

How to Perform a Reverse Image Search in Google Chrome [with video]

There’s many reasons why you might want to perform a reverse image search to find out whether images have been taken off the internet:

  • You want to find out if your work has been posted online without your permission
  • You want to find an original source of an image
  • You think someone is passing off another’s images as their own
  • You want to find similar images (i.e. different perspective of a vacation spot or similar design ideas)

Whatever the reason, Google Chrome makes it very easy to do this simply by right-clicking on an image. In the video below, I’ll show you exactly how to do this.

Please note this feature is currently not available in Internet Explorer.

Reminders Not Working on Your iPhone? This Easy Fix Just Might do the Trick!

I love my iPhone 4S because it helps me get through the day. It tracks my sleep patterns. It tells me who’s singing that song playing on the radio right now or whether that guy on Oz was also on the Cosby Show.

It also helps me remember things. Well, more like helped me.

After one of the many recent updates (one of which failed miserably and set my phone back to it’s original settings—pretty sure that was a user error, but frustrating nonetheless) my phone downright refused to keep any reminders for me. She had no explanation why, just plain refusal.

I put a bandaid on the situation by still asking her to remember stuff for me then taking a screenshot of it before she rejected my request, but come on, I just need my reminders to work.

The solution ended up being stupid simple, but not in an obvious setting location. Apparently during an update, I had neglected to turn my reminders on in iCloud.

Here’s how: Settings > iCloud > Reminders (make sure the button is in the on position).

I turned reminders on in the iCloud then opened my reminders and there they were! Now I can get back to being productive!

Millions of Devices With Android Version 4.1.1 “Jellybean” Vulnerable to Heartbleed

 Wikimedia Commons image

Wikimedia Commons image

We know by now that many popular sites were recently affected by the Heartbleed bug vulnerability, but according to an announcement by Google on April 9, 2014, devices running Android 4.1.1 (aka “Jellybean”) are not immune to the vulnerability. According to Christopher Katsaros, spokesperson for Google, there are millions of Android 4.1.1 devices.

The affected version was released in 2012 and is estimated to be running on more than a third of Android devices, according to Android.

Verizon spokesperson Albert Aydin reported in an email that “other mobile operating systems we offer are not affected by this vulnerability” and they have “no reason to believe that the issue has resulted in any compromise of Verizon customer accounts, websites, or data.”

Microsoft Corp. has reported that Windows and Windows Phone operating systems and most services are not impacted by Heartbleed.

How to Check Your Device

Go to Settings ->About Phone to confirm your version and check for updates. An app is also available to scan your device for the vulnerability.

According to Google’s announcement, “patching information for Android 4.1.1 is being distributed to Android partners.” While Google has provided a patch, it is up to handset makers and wireless carriers to update the devices.

Yahoo: Heartbleed Bug Patched

Yahoo was one of the sites affected by the Heartbleed bug discovered earlier this month. In an article posted in Yahoo Help Central, and last updated on April 11, 2014, they report their “ team has successfully made the appropriate corrections across our entire platform.” 

While they did not suggest users change their passwords as an added security and they do not mention whether or not a security breach was detected, they include a link with instructions on changing passwords below the article for those concerned about security.

An article posted in the Yahoo help section claims the Hertbleed bug was patched, but users may want to change their passwords for added security.

An article posted in Yahoo Help Central claims the Heartbleed bug was patched, but users may want to change their passwords for added security.

Several other sites including Pinterest and Tumblr contacted users by email to notify them of the vulnerability and suggested users change their passwords as an added security. It is unclear whether Yahoo contacted any users regarding the vulnerability, however, as with all other affected sites and maintaining account security, it is a good idea to change your passwords as an added security.

Dropbox: Heartbleed Bug Patched, Change Your Password

DropBox was one of the sites affected by the Heartbleed bug vulnerability reported last week. According to the site, the vulnerability was patched within hours of notification and while they report accounts are safe, they recommend changing passwords for added protection.

DropBox has reported that the Heartbleed vulnerability is patched, recommends changing passwords

DropBox has reported that the Heartbleed vulnerability is patched, recommends changing passwords

Box reports they “have found no evidence of breaches or attacks during the time the vulnerability was live for Box users” and that they “recommend that users reset their Box passwords as an additional security measure.”

For more information, check out their blog.