Is This The Demise of the 3.5mm Audio Jack?

The 3.5mm jack has become one of the most basic pieces of technology in the digital world today with almost everyone knowing what it is and what it is used for. The audio jack first came about in the late 19th century when people operated the telephone switchboards. These original, large designs were one-quarter of an inch (or 6.35mm) and are still in use today but they are less common than the widely used approximately one-eighth of an inch 3.5mm audio jack (Grover, 2015). This technology was revolutionary at the time as it allowed people to get in contact with each other with the help of the people in the telephone exchange who used these 6.35mm jacks to connect callers. Since this time, this type of audio jack has grown immensely in popularity.

Sony Walkman TPS-L2

The introduction of Sony’s first Walkman, the TPS-L2, saw the 3.5mm jack connected to a pair of headphones became a necessary piece of electronics for the masses as the companies new product gained popularity (Wells, 2016). In the years that followed many other companies added 3.5mm audio ports to their products. The number of products with these ports only increased with the introduction of the MP3 player and later mobile phones that had the capability to hold music and therefore play this through headphones. While many companies tried to rival this design with their own audio ports, such as Samsung with their 20-pin connector and Sony Ericsson with their own FastPort (Eden, 2016), the 3.5mm audio jack and port design held strong to be one of the most used audio connectors within many electronics worldwide due to its universal nature.

Although this technology has been around for nearly two centuries, it seems that it may be losing traction in today’s constantly advancing world. With the likes of multi-national companies such as Apple announcing that their new flagship phone, the iPhone 7, does not have a conventional audio port but instead uses the Lightning Port or wireless Bluetooth connection for headphones (Thielman, 2016), it’s clear that the 3.5 audio port my be fighting a losing battle. Also, with USB-IF, the group behind the USB connector standard, having recently announced the Audio Device Class 3.0 specification which offers a more specific set of instruction on how to transfer audio over USB Type-C ports which has over taken micro USB ports in many new Android phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, it could be possible that Android phones could be the next pieces of technology to rid themselves of the audio port to achieve a slimmer design (Triggs, 2016).

This seems to be the first time in it’s lifetime that the humble 3.5mm jack has truly been rivalled. This truly could be the end of this type of audio connection.



Reading in a World Dominated by Technology – Close and Hyper

Over the past few decades, the way  we read as humans has changed exorbitantly. In a time where people have all the information in the world in the palm of their hands it’s not surprising that the way we read has altered somewhat. With such a large volume of information to take in it cannot be surprising that people often resort to skimming pieces of material to get the general idea of the content instead of solely focusing all their energy on it. Recently, reading has been broken down into different categories within the world of Digital Humanities which are Close and Hyper Reading.

Close reading has been described as “a word-by-word examination of a text’s linguistic techniques” (Hayles, 2010). This is the idea that one sits down and focuses solely on the text at hand, following each line word for word. This is rare nowadays with so many sources to read such as online articles and magazines and it would seem that reading such as this is often left only to academic work in which a focus such as this is necessary so that one can take in all the information on offer and not just the important points.


Unlike Close Reading, Hyper Reading is the act of skimming a text to isolate the most important parts and gain an overall understanding of the text instead of examining it word for word. N. Katherine Hayles referred to Hyper Reading as “sporadic sampling” of a text, picking out certain parts and bringing these all together to find a general meaning behind the text in front of a person (Hayles, 2010). However, this act of sampling a text is limited just to academic texts but also to everyday browsing. This type of reading has only increased since the introduction of smartphones and online media outlets producing stories that are often referred to as “clickbait”. Clickbait is the act of releasing a headline on social media that is somewhat misleading causing people to click on the link to your site creating ad revenue and increase site views (Escher and Ha, 2016). This has caused people to skim online news posts and articles online almost out of habit to see if this content is of any interest to them and therefore, created a rise in Hyper Reading.

It would seem that through the rise of Hyper Reading in comparison to Close Reading that a certain discipline and skill is being lost upon younger people. Less people will focus on a book nowadays but instead will travel to social media to read a poorly written article and at that not even read it, just glance through. This could possibly have detrimental effects on future scholars as their ability to concentrate solely on a particular topic may be lost as they were not taught these skills from a young age.



Virtual Reality – Life Changing or Just Another Fad?

Virtual Reality (or VR as it’s more widely known) has been a topic that any technologically minded person has thought about in their lifetime, albeit it’s often pushed to the back of one’s mind. Since the first real advancements in VR technology with products such as Morton Heilig’s “Sensorama” in the 1950s people have had a fascination with this type of entertainment (VRS, 2015). This particular product allowed people to fully immerse themselves in a short film using a box which the viewer would put their head into and this allowed the stimulation of their senses while watching the film by using stereo speakers, a vibrating chair, a 3D display, and smell generators (VRS, 2015).


As time has gone on, many companies have come along with their own ideas relating to VR such as VR gaming. However, not many of these took off as they contained many flaws within their design and pricing causing them to fail after hitting the market. An example of such a product was Nintendo’s “Virtual Boy” which was released in 1995 (Edwards, 2015). Despite what Nintendo was trying to achieve this was not true VR. It was originally designed as a headset but this never panned out and instead became a visor of sorts on stilts. The display for this product was in red and black which people complained caused headaches which also contributed to the discontinuation of this product. This idea, it would seem, was beyond its time as the technology 20 years ago could not produce the immersive effect that VR is supposed to offer and after only a few months on the market with disappointing sales it was discontinued (Edwards, 2015).

For the early parts of the 21st century, VR seemed to somewhat fade into the background but in recent years many advancements have been made such as the rise of the Oculus VR company which was bought by Mark Zuckerburg’s Facebook group in March 2014 for $2 billion (Soloman, 2014). Oculus have since released the Oculus Rift that has amassed a rather large following of people interested in VR gaming. While being rather expensive at around $599, the Rift has gained a lot of popularity with its ability to be able to hooked up to the player’s Xbox One to provide a more immersive gaming experience (Oculus, 2016). This has caused many other companies to follow suit in creating their own VR headsets such as Sony with their Playstation VR headset which is due to be released on the 13th October this year (Playstation, 2016) and HTC with their “Vive” headset with is a partnership with the popular gaming company, Valve, with will run their Steam technology on the headset (Vive, 2016).

Overall, the future seems bright for VR technology with lots of large companies investing money in this medium. This is a truly exciting time for VR enthusiasts.


Textual Humanities – Visualising Data – The Quran

The Quran is the central religious text of Islam and it is widely regarded as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language (Wikipedia, 2016). With this in mind and due to the bad press this piece of text has been getting lately, I chose to analyse it using the online visualisation tool, Voyant, as I felt it would be interesting to understand what is said in the text a little bit more.


Voyant is a web-based environment that allows users to read and analyse digital texts (Voyant, 2016). I chose this tool as it is simple to use and I believe it offers the most functionality out of a lot of the data visualisation tools that can be found online and that us as a class group have been shown in lectures.

I acquired a text file of the Quran from the website, which had an English translation of the book (Khan, 2016), copied the text straight from this file into the appropriate box in Voyant’s homepage and clicked the reveal button so that text could be broken down and be made easier to analyse. As the text came straight from a text file no cleaning of the piece was necessary. The main things I was looking to find out were what were the main words said throughout the text and if there was any reoccurring words of a particular nature such as peace or violence as many people have been debating this lately.

I chose this text as there are a lot of questions that can be answered through analysing it in this way especially because it is such a large text that would take a long time to go through and get information from it without a tool such as Voyant.

quran main page

After inputting the text into the tool, the main words said throughout the text were split into a word cloud with a list of these most common words underneath. There was also an option to pick a certain word and see the frequency at which the words come up in the text. These options within the tool proved very useful as they break the text down and allow the user to easily navigate through and search and chose words which they would like to know more about within the text such as how many times they occurred and where in the text they occurred.


From looking at the word cloud, it is obvious to see the most common words in the text with words such as Allah, Lord, and people protruding through the mass of other words in the cloud. This gives the user a brief outline of the most common words in the text making it easier for them to analyse it. This is convenient as the reader would not get this kind of useful information if he/she were to read the text in a conventional manner.

As well as the word cloud, the ability to see the frequency of the most common words in the text in a list manner allows users to quickly see the exact frequency at which a word is used in the text. I used this to analyse the most common words used throughout the Quran and quickly assessed whether the words used were ones of positivity and peace or that of anger and violence. From my assessment, I found that the words used seemed to mostly positive ones that seemed to breed no hatred of others and spread the message of peace and love. This was evident through the words peace being seen 403 times in the text and Allah being seen 2665 times showing the book speaks of the love the people from this faith have for their god and the message of peace they are trying to spread. While words such as punishment and hell can also be seen in this list, I feel they do not take away from the overall message of peace that this book preaches.

The use of graphs in this tool to represent a chosen words frequency was useful as it highlighted at what points of the text the words were most common giving the user a general idea where a particular ideology is in place. I chose the words Allah and peace to analyse on a graph and I found that the word Allah is seen more at the start of the text and starts to decrease as it progresses while the word peace can be seen as having two high points throughout the text, near the start and then again at the end. While this feature didn’t add much to my knowledge of the text, I found it interesting to see where certain words showed up in the text and I believe that this feature would have a practical use in a different situation.


crit2 - you alone are the holy one.....

I also scanned through the text using the tool’s ability to search words and also by reading passages. While reading these I didn’t find any source of hatred towards other faiths except obvious statements of total love for Allah and while reference to Allah’s punishment is made this is not justification enough to say that this text preaches words of violence. However, I feel that the words of Allah’s punishment on non-believers could be in fact misinterpreted by on-lookers and this is why they may have certain thoughts about the Quran and what it says.

crit3 - not thretening towards other fates, although could be misinterpreted


It is clear from a search of the word Christians that there is no hatred towards this group within this text and while the people of this faith do not agree with their choice of faith they have no anger or rage towards them.

Overall, through my examining of the text using the Voyant text analyser, I discovered that the Quran was a fascinating piece of literature and learned a lot of new information that I did not know before. Through using the tool, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the text as I could analyse the frequency of certain words and display them in a visual format that is much easier to grasp than that of a simple text format. From my analysing of the text, I found that the Quran was predominately a piece of literature that spread peace and highlighted a love for the Islamic faith.



  • Khan, A, R. (2016). Quran Translations. Available at: [Accessed 7 April 2016].
  • Rockwell, G. (2016). voyant.png. [image] Available at: [Accessed 7 April 2016].
  • Voyant (2016). Voyant. Available at: [Accessed 7 April 2016].
  • Wikipedia (2016). Quran. Available at: [Accessed 7 April 2016].

OpenStreetMap – Open Source’s Answer to Google Maps

OpenStreetMap is a community driven, open source tool launched in 2004 by its creator, Steve Coast, in a bid to provide users with a free, editable map of the world (Wikipedia, 2016).  Initially the main focus of the site was to map the UK but in 2006 the OpenStreetMap Foundation was set up to to encourage growth and development of this tool worldwide (OpenStreetMap Wiki, 2016). Nowadays, the tool has over one million users each mapping and validating parts of their own area and areas from all over the world from the comfort of their own computers (OpenStreetMap Wiki, 2016).

I chose to undertake a humanitarian mapping task while testing out this tool. After looking through the wide array of humanitarian tasks on offer, I settled on an appeal set out by the Peace Corps stationed in Manyaana, Zambia asking people to help map out the roads and buildings in the surrounding area so that a more comprehensive map could be made for the health services in the area so that they can conduct a basic public health analysis. Each of the humanitarian tasks that are posted are placed in a rank order type system to highlight their importance. This system ranges from low to medium to high and finally, to urgent. The task I chose to add to had a high importance level showing that this task needed to be completed at a fast pace. This system helps classify whether the task at hand is a relatively unimportant task that people would like to have completed to a task that needs to be done as soon as possible so that help can find its way to affected area after a natural disaster. 

For every humanitarian task that is created, a set of instructions from the tasks owner are supplied alongside it telling the volunteers what they want done on the map in the area. In Manyaana, the instructions stated that the volunteers should map the roads they could see to the best of their ability and also mark out any buildings in the area and provided them with a building tag. These clear instructions prevent the maps from becoming cluttered and difficult to read. I completed three tiles in this area marking out the roads and specifying whether they were tertiary or residential roads or even just a track and also, marking out buildings where they could be seen.                      

Tile No. 1

Tile No.2

Tile No.3

I found the task to be a relatively simple and while it was time consuming to map out every individual line on the map it was also very enjoyable. The tools interface was very easy to use with it allowing the user to do what they please on the map with minimal effort. This simplistic point and click methodical approach to mapping is what I feel makes this attractive to people. There is no particular skillset necessary to take part in this, you just make an account and the user is free to map any area they like throughout the whole world. While this tool can be a massive time-sink, it also allows the user to apply their free time to something meaningful and useful to other people all over the globe.


While using the tool, I enjoyed the freedom given to users so that they can validate tiles that others have created. This allows users to critique other people’s work ad if they feel there is more to do on the tile or simply that it wasn’t done correctly they have the freedom to invalidate it. When a tile is marked as done by a user it turns a yellow colour showing users that the tile is up to be reviewed and when it is validated it then turns green so that the users know the tile has been completed. I chose to validate a tile in Figi as the tiles in the area I was mapping hadn’t been marked as complete yet as the task was relatively new. I found the ability for the user to go to the map and assess it was a very good feature which prevented the tool from being abused by people who wouldn’t take the tasks seriously.


I also had the chance to invalidate a box in the area I was mapping in Zambia. When I checked the tile there was very little done and it wasn’t near completion so I chose to invalidate the box so that others could come along and add more to the tile. I feel that the feature for users being able to invalidate a tile is very helpful as it makes sure that the best quality maps are being created for the people who need it most.

box 3 prob sat image

While I thoroughly enjoyed the tool, I often ran into problems in relation to the maps such as discolouration where two satellite images have been sewn together. Of course, it’s impossible to get one continuous image of a large landscape but the difference in colour sometimes made it difficult to see where roads began and ended and made the task of mapping somewhat trivial at times. However, I do realise that this is no fault of OpenStreetMap as the maps are provided by Bing.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with OpenStreetMap and the ease at which I and others are able to map our own areas and areas in far off lands from the comfort of our own homes while using this tool. While it may seem like an enjoyable way to pass the time for somebody sitting at home, the maps that we create may just be helping rescue efforts in an area after a natural disaster or simply just help somebody get around an area they aren’t native to. I believe this tool may be useful to me in the future as if I am ever representing data from an area it would be convenient to have an open source way of representing the area in a visual form.

In conclusion, I found the use of OpenStreetMap to be an eye-opening experience as it highlighted the effect that us as the next generation of web users can have on people all over the world wherever we may be by just using simple tools such as this.



  • OpenStreetMap Wiki (2016). History of OpenStreetMap. Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2016].
  • OSM Tasking Manager (2016). #1568 – Peace Corps Zambia – Manyaana. Available at: [Accessed 6 March 2016].
  • OSM Tasking Manager (2016). #1623 – Fiji – Cyclone Winston – Vanua Levu 10 – Lekutu to Naduri. Available at: [Accessed 6 March 2016].
  • OSM Tasking Manager (2016). Projects. Available at: [Accessed 6 March 2016].
  • Rund ums Rad (2016). logo-osm.jpg. [image] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2016].
  • Wikipedia (2016). OpenStreetMap. Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2016].

Timetoast and Timeline JS – A Review

I decided to do my review of a Digital Humanities tool on a data visualisation tool as these are useful for representing data in a bright, interesting manner and may be useful to me in the future for portraying my data. I chose to do a comparison of two tools, Timetoast and Timeline JS, as both tools are similar timeline tools that show the data in a linear fashion.

Timetoast is a web based tool that can be found at and it is a data representation tool that takes the data that one inputs and represents it in a timeline fashion. The site is split into three main plans ranging from “Free” with no charge which allows you create timelines, have one user, and has banner ads on the page, “Basic” which costs $5.99 a month and includes no advertisements, option for up to five users, ability to create groups, and the ability to create timelines, and also, a “Pro” plan which costs $8.99 a month and allows all the same features as the “Basic” plan but you are allowed up to 35 users on this plan (Timetoast, 2016). There were many articles online from people giving their reviews of Timetoast with some saying that the site was a positive with it being a useful classroom tool and study resource as you could have multiple users all using it a same time and being involved in one group (TeachersFirst, 2016) while other opinions were also shown saying that the simplicity of the site could often cause problems for people who want to make more of their data with colour changes as you cannot deviate from the stock format (Terrachino, 2015). After reading these articles, I found that this particular tool would be useful to me in future projects as if I want to represent data I wouldn’t want it to be too flashy and I would be relatively happy with a nice looking stock format.

There wasn’t a roadmap available for this tool online but Timetoast did have a blog that has been operational since 2014 that included information about site updates such as server upgrades so that you could keep track of recent updates on the site (Todd, 2015). From using the tool and creating my own timeline, I found that Timetoast was relatively stable and simple to use with features that I enjoyed such as the ability to turn the timeline into a list format by just clicking a switch. However, while using the tool it was apparent that if you had too many points in the one area the timeline began to become clustered and cumbersome to use as each point was too close together and this made it difficult to click on the point within the timeline that you wanted. Also, the fact that you had to put in the exact date of something happening was rather awkward as if you only had the year of when something happened and not the exact date there was no option to put in just the year leaving the person to put in a random date instead. Other than this, the tool worked very well and there were no other apparent bugs.

Timetoast was first released in April 2008 (Timetoast, 2016) and it would seem that the tool has quite a positive following with many new timelines being posted each day by its users. Timetoast is not an open-source data visualisation software but it does include some very useful features for no cost at all if you choose to take the “Free” plan. Once one has created their timeline by inputting their data they can then take the timeline and embed it on their website or just copy the link straight if they do not want to embed it. This makes it very easy for others to access the timeline without having a Timetoast account.

After using this tool, I believe that I know how to use it and I feel that it will be very useful in future projects for represented research data in a linear form such as showing how certain step were carried out within the project.

I created a timeline using Timetoast on a brief “History of Computers” with information sourced from (Zimmermann, 2015) which can be seen here; Timetoast History of Computers

Timeline JS is a free, open-source web based tool created by Knight Labs which allows the user to easily input data in an excel style template which is provided with all the necessary headings for you and grants the user the ability to create a well-structured piece of visualised data in a linear form. In order to use this tool you must have a Google account as the data you input is saved in your Google Drive and a Google spreadsheet is used to bring your data to life. If you are a more advanced user you can use JavaScript to customise your timelines further. This tool supports many different media types and users of Timeline JS from all around the world have helped translate it into more than 40 languages including Chinese, Arabic, and Russian (Timeline JS, 2013). After searching, I couldn’t find many articles relating to this tool which I believe is because it is still in its early stages but the reviews I did find related back to the tool as being “a powerful piece of software” with many customisation options (School of Data, 2016). From what I found while researching the tool, both on the website itself and online, I believe that it will be very useful to me in future research.

While there is not a road-map online for this tool, there is an about section on the site relating to the major upgrades they’ve had since the tool was launched such as the ability to embed the timelines into other webpages and the addition of many more languages from all throughout the world with the help of their users (Timeline JS, 2013). From my use of the tool, I found it to be very stable with no apparent bugs and with a really simple interface that allows the user to create a stunning piece of visualised data. I found no problems with the tool that are worth noting, the slideshow type manner in which the timeline is presented is very impressive looking visually as well as being very simple to operate and the timeline underneath the slideshow allows the user to see exactly where a certain point took place in relation to the other points on the timeline. This along with the immensely easy to use spreadsheet data inputting system makes this a fantastic tool for anybody to use.

The tool was released to the public in April 2012 (Timeline JS, 2013) and has gained quite a following since with over one thousand likes on the companies Facebook page (Facebook, 2016) and over seven thousand followers on Twitter (Twitter, 2016) highlighting the community surrounding it. However, the tool is still in its early stages meaning that it hasn’t gained as much of a following as some of the other tools on the web. Its simplicity is one reason why the tool has gained the community that it has based around it such as the ease at which after the user has created their timeline they can save it and view it through a link or embed it on webpage. After one has saved the spreadsheet with their data that was used to create the timeline it is saved to their Google Drive account so they can refer back to it at a later date.

After my use of this tool, I feel that I understand how the tool works in a basic sense but I’m sure there are more things that this tool can achieve when I learn how to use it in a more in-depth manner. In the future, I believe that this tool will be highly useful when I am trying to represent data in a linear form with its clean cut design and simple usability features.

I created a timeline using Timeline JS on a brief “History of Computers” with information sourced from (Zimmermann, 2015) which can be seen here; Timeline JS History of Computers

In conclusion, after using the two tools, Timetoast and Timeline JS, I found them both to be simplistic digital tools that allow the user to visualise their data in a timeline for no cost with limited effort on the user’s part. Timetoast is a great tool and while it has limited customisation options it still presents data in a way that is pleasing to the eye. The only faults I had with this tool was the inability to just enter in a year for your data instead of a complete date and the fact if one had too many points on the timeline it became clustered and cumbersome to navigate. Other than these minor faults, I found the tool to be very easy to use and I felt it displayed the data very well. After using Timeline JS, I found that I had no faults whatsoever with the tool. It was simple to use with well guided instructions and allowed the user to customise the timeline in accordance with their own skills such as changing font and colour schemes and if you needed something more advanced you could alter the code to suit you. This along with the tool’s ability to add many points to the timeline with it still being tidy and not clustered is where Timeline JS shines where Timetoast falls down. However, I still found both tools to be great at visualising data with each one having different features that the other lacks.




Creative Commons – Protecting Our Creations

Creative Commons is a really interesting concept in which an artist, a writer, or a creator of anything really can take out a free license that allows them to protect their work and highlight the ways in which they deem suitable for it to be shared, altered, reinvented if the person even allows this at all. This allows people who create their own work to post it online without fear of it being stolen or plagiarised.

Before Creative Commons was around Copyright law ran everything. Copyright is an automatic right (due to the Berne Convention) that a person’s work is to be identified as theirs (WIPO, 2016). Most copyright holders have licenses in which someone can pay a lot of money to reproduce copies of material be it music or extracts from a book or journal article (Hall, 2013). The licenses for the most part are only to be used by one person/company and the licensee must ask the person who holds the copyright license for their permission and then proceed to pay them for the right to use their work (Hall, 2013).

However, some copyright holders realise that there is a hassle involved in asking the licencor for permission each time they want to use the person’s work and some just would rather see their work to spread around instead of being paid for this. These are referred to as “open access” materials. This is where Creative Commons licenses come into play. The person who wants to use the other person’s work can do so without asking the person and without paying as long as they reference the source.


With a Creative Commons license the owner of the source can allow people to use their work for free but they can impose different restrictions if they so please. There are six licenses and each license is made up of a combination of these restrictions. These restrictions are;

1. Attribution (BY) – This states that you can use the work but you must refer back to the author of the work.
2. No Derivative Works (ND) – This states that you can use the work but only as it is, separations or modifications are not allowed.
3. Share Alike (SA) – If you create anything based on the work you must share your work under the same license.
4. Non-Commercial (NC) – This work or anything based on this work must not be used for commercial purposes.
(Creative Commons, 2016).

The beauty of a Creative Commons license is that you get to choose your own terms on how your work is to be shared but you also have the protection of Copyright. According to Lane (2015), “Creative Commons is actually a license that is applied to a work that is protected by copyright. It’s not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work”.

Also, if someone breaks the terms of your Creative Commons license, the license for that person terminates automatically meaning that they are committing copyright infringement and you can take legal action against them in the same way you’d take action against someone who committed copyright infringement not under a Creative Commons license (Lane, 2015).

Overall, Creative Commons is a perfect way for one to protect their work if they want to spread it freely among people online and offers all the protection someone would need for their creations.


  • Creative Commons, (2016). About The Licenses. Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2016].
  • Hall, M. (2013). What is Creative Commons?. Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2016].
  • Lane, K. (2015). What’s the Difference Between Copyright and Creative Commons?. Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2016].
  • Porter, M. (2008). creative commons. [image] Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2016].
  • progressor, (2015). Creative Commons Licenses Icons. [image] Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2016].
  • WIPO, (2016). Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2016].