Module 4 – Lightbeam









This week I was tasked to install and use “Lightbeam” while surfing the ‘net for 20 minutes. I was surprised by my findings for so many reasons.

Firstly, I’m not a “surfer” per se. Twenty minutes was an eternity to mindlessly visit sites! I made sure to access a couple of social media sites (Facebook and LinkedIn), a couple of entertainment sites (People and for the television listings) and Workopolis to search job postings.

Secondly, I was and was not surprised at the results that Lightbeam returned. Facebook and the numerous tentacles that it had branching out was in itself not surprising as Facebook is well known for its data mining, targeted advertising and tracking. The third party sites that Facebook, and all the other sites, were connecting to were sites that collect data on user’s habits.

Facebook earns revenue on click-through advertising, not through passive users. It’s the selling of personal data which augments Facebook’s revenue which why it didn’t surprise me that the more data they can collect regarding their users, the more money they can earn. The challenge with Facebook selling data is that some of the organizations purchasing the data are involved in phishing and malware scams.

I will admit to being disappointed that LinkedIn had so many of these third party sites dedicated to user tracking associated with them as I was under the impression that their revenue was earned through organizations membership dues. It is my understanding that LinkedIn does not sell user data however I question why they need so many “connections” to third party sites.

This exercise has further confirmed that keeping my identity intact is going to be an ongoing challenge. There is new legislation on the horizon that is going to limit the “tracking” of users which may limit the collection of data. Whether this translates into greater security for the end user, I doubt it. Fraudsters and big business will find alternative means to reach the same end result.


Google Searches

How would you search for an exact word or phrase?

  • To search for an exact word or phrase use ” ” around the word/words. For example I want to find Google search terms, I would enter “Google search terms”.

How would you search for something on a specific site?

  • To search a specific site, start the search with what you want to find, then define the site you wish to search. For example: knitting

How would you correctly search for a definition?

  • To find a definition you would add “definition” before the word in question. For example: define car

How would you search for a specific product available within a specific price range?

  • If you were looking for products within a specific price range you would use .. between the high and low value. For example: digital camera $100..$200

How would you search for a specific filetype?

  • To find a specific file type use the ‘Advanced Search” options where you can select the file type in the filter options.

How would you include or ignore words in your search?

  • To ignore words within your search place a dash (-) before the word you would like to exclude. For example: If I wanted to find information on domesticated cats you could type the following search: cats -wild

How would you find related pages?

  • To find related pages you would enter related:followed by the site you would like to find the related materials on. For example:

How would you find a topic, searching all available synonyms of a word?

  • To find all of the available synonyms of a word, simply add “synonym”  in front of the word you are inquiring about. For example: synonym easy.

How would you find the time in another country?

  • To find the time in another country just add the word “time” before the country name. For example: time india, this will display the local time in India at the moment of the search.

How would you find out how many Egyptian pounds you get for $20 Canadian dollars?

  • To find the exchange rate type in the amount to convert followed by the desired currency. For example: 20 dollars in Egyptian pounds. The results defaulted in using US dollars, however you can either select CAD from the drop down menu. 



With the evolution of online environments and the creation of virtual communities a need has arisen to create a set of “rules of the road” for peoples conduct within these spaces. These rules, or best practices, are critical as these communities may, more likely than not, cross several geographical and demographic boundaries.

Due to the diversity that these environments a new set of norms needs to be created in order to minimize unpleasant, unprofessional, inappropriate and uncomfortable situations. These norms create a level set of expectations that are universally understood. The common term for these practices is “netiquette”.

The University of Oregon posted a short piece on what they deem to be the best practices. While some of the items appear to be good common sense, such as; don’t publicly criticize other users.  While it is common sense not to do this within a  public area, like school or work, it is sometimes difficult to remember that online spaces contain all sort of people as users are often just staring at a screen with no face, or voice to remind us that there is a living, breathing individual there.

Other items included in the “netiquette” article were the following:

  • Learn the lingo. There are many common abbreviations and wording conventions that are commonly used link OMG, BRB, BTW and FYI. Learn what these, and others, mean.
  • Don’t SHOUT. Using all capitals conveys the message that the author is shouting.
  • Use clear and concise language. A lot of people are inundated with messages and information. Make the best use of their limited time to get your message across.
  • Provide a means for individuals to respond or contact you by including your email address, and lastly
  • Use descriptive titles and ensure to use humor, irony and sarcasm carefully.