Category Archives: Featured Articles

The featured articles at Techie Buzz

[Editorial] Aaron Swartz, Uncommon Crusader for the Common Man

A federal case involving an unrelenting prosecutor and a brilliant  young prodigy has ended in tragedy. 26 year old Aaron Swartz, the subject of the federal case, has taken his life and a bright star’s light has gone dim in the world. If you’re like me, you may not be familiar with the name right away, but the impact this young man had on the world during his short life merits our pause and reflection. He was humble and shy and the federal case against him has mostly been overshadowed by mass shootings and political malarchy over the past couple of years.

Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons of which he was a champion)

The Making of a Genius

Aaron Swartz was born in Chicago, Illinois in November 1986. His father was a computer programmer and founder of his own computer company. Thus, the early spark of interest for all things computing was born in Aaron. By the time he was 13 years old he was recognized for his technological achievements by winning the ArsDigita Prize which recognized young people for developing “useful, educational, and collaborative” non-commercial Web sites. As a result of that win he was able to visit MIT to meet some dignitaries of the internet. By the time he was 18, he was working on the team that developed RSS 1.o. For those who may not be familiar with that term, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a standard used by many news organizations and blogs to send news feeds to their readers. He also played a strong role in the founding of Creative Commons which seeks to make creative works accessible to the public.

In more recent days, Swartz championed the cause of free information. It is probably safe to say he is the Robin Hood of information as he pressed for the free flow of information to the public, particularly the academic journals which are housed in large University databases that require fees to access. He co-founded a group called Demand Progress whose efforts are attributed to stopping the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) from passing. Below, you can watch a keynote address Swartz gave at the F2C: Freedom to Connect 2012 event in Washington, D.C.

Criminal Mind?

Swartz unfortunately, found himself on the wrong side of the law back in 2009 when he downloaded a massive amount of documents housed in the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts’ database, PACER. The PACER system houses the electronic documents of the courts and users of the system were charged 8 cents per page to access these documents. This did not set well with Swartz and his colleagues, so using a free trial license that was being offered to University libraries back then, he downloaded nearly 20 million pages before the government shut him out. The FBI investigated the issue but he was never charged.

In 2011, Swartz found himself the subject of a much more serious case as a result of him “fraudulently” downloading 4 million academic journals from the JSTOR database. He apparently gained access to a utility closet at MIT and attached a laptop computer to their network. He used this computer to download millions of academic journals with the intention of making them readily available to the public before MIT police caught him in the act. This made him the target of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz who along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Stephen P. Heymann and Scott L. Garland, pursued him fiercely. Many in the academic arena felt the case against Swartz was blown out of proportion and that the laws Ortiz was citing in her case were meant to be used against cyber bank robbers and the like. Swartz didn’t set out to gain anything from his actions but rather, allow free access to University research,  much of which is publicly funded. Even JSTOR, the alleged victim in this case, “regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge”. You can read their full statement regarding Aaron Swartz here.

2012 Google Doodle Roundup

2012 Google Doodle

Can you believe it is the last day of 2012? It’s amazing the difference 365 days makes isn’t. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how it went by so quickly. For many, New Year’s Eve is a day of reflection and a time to reminisce. Google has created a way to help you reminisce with its 2012 doodle. The doodle looks like a party. The cool thing about this doodle is that each element of the doodle represents a previous Google doodle from 2012.

Star Trek Doodle

In the first picture above, you will notice what looks like a painting of the Star Ship Enterprise hanging on the wall. If you click that picture, you will be taken to the page pictured directly above. This shows the 46th anniversary of Star Trek doodle that was done back in September. If you missed this doodle, you have to go to Google today and try it out. It is an absolutely hilarious doodle. Probably one of the most memorable of the year for me. Take some time to click through the individual elements on the Google doodle to see other interesting doodles.

The best part of today’s doodle is that you actually get the doodle artist’s take on what they were thinking when they created the various doodles throughout the year. It is really interesting and sometimes comical to hear what they have to say. There is also an interesting link at the bottom of the doodle that will take you to Google Zeitgeist. This page will show you the top trends people were searching for world wide. Take a moment to watch the video below.

[Video Link]

2012 had its share of ups and downs. I especially hope that 2013 will be a year of peace for our world and that humanity learns to value the short time we have here on this earth. As you reflect on the year ahead, I hope you find peace and prosperity in all that you do. Happy New Year! Thanks for reading Techie Buzz.

Outlook.com Puts Productivity at Your Fingertips

Microsoft Outlook.com is the modern approach to email. This new service combines all the elements one would expect from a first rate email service and so much more. It connects you to your social networks like Twitter and Facebook. You can also work smarter with online versions of Office web apps and SkyDrive storage for your documents. Outlook.com is so much more than an email client. It literally puts the power of Microsoft Office in your web browser anywhere you can access the web.

Outlook.com Menu

Let’s say you’re at a friend’s house and you decide to jump on their computer to check your email. You get an email from your study partner reminding you of a PowerPoint presentation that the two of you are collaborating on. It’s one of those moments where you smack your forehead because you realize you totally forgot about the assignment. Fortunately for you, Outlook.com gives you all the power of Microsoft Office right there in your browser. In the image below, you can see an example of the PowerPoint presentation that was sent. Notice the large PowerPoint icon in the middle of the screen. You have several options here. If you click the PowerPoint icon title, it will automatically download the presentation down to your computer. What if you don’t have Microsoft Office on that computer? That’s where the handy “View online” button will help. You see, with Outlook.com, you don’t have to Microsoft Office to be able to edit presentations. It comes with Office Web Apps which allows you to edit your presentation right there in your browser.

attachment

Notice in the image below, how viewing the presentation online looks very similar to what you would see in desktop application of PowerPoint. This is the view you see when you choose to edit the presentation online. You will notice the standard ribbon toolbar that you are used to seeing in PowerPoint. You also have many of the same elements of the desktop application of PowerPoint like the slide thumbnails and the toolbar buttons.

powerpoint

If you click the “New Slide” button, you will get the dialog box pictured below. Choosing the “Picture with Caption” option will allow you to upload a picture onto the slide. You also can add titles and text just like the full version of PowerPoint.

slide-templates

Below, you can see an example of the picture slide with a caption and title. However, that is not where the Office Web Apps’ capabilities end. If you click on the picture, you get the contextual “Format” tab at the top of the ribbon toolbar. Notice all the frame options in the image below.

frames

Once you have completed your presentation, there’s no need to worry about saving. Outlook.com automatically saves the presentation as you go. Another fantastic feature is versioning. You can literally revert back to an earlier version of the document if you mess something up. When you close the presentation, Outlook.com automatically asks you whether you want to send the updated presentation back to the sender. It shows how well the Outlook.com team thought out its features–and this is just PowerPoint.  The other Office Web apps work similarly with the features you’ve used for years.

This is just one example of how Outlook.com is truly a modern approach to email. I could literally write dozens of tutorials based on the new features built in to Outlook.com. No other service I know of integrates so well with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You can literally write posts on your Facebook friends’ walls directly from Outlook.com. Email storage is virtually limitless as well. As long as you’re not spamming the world or abusing the service, Outlook.com does not put quotas on your account. This barely scratches the surface of the new capabilities built-in to the new Outlook.com. I highly recommend taking a moment to visit their preview website at Outlookpreview.com and learn more about this great service.

Outlook.com is a preview of modern email from Microsoft. It has a fresh and intuitive design, connects your email to useful information from Facebook and Twitter, and gives you a smarter inbox with the power of Office and SkyDrive. Visit Outlookpreview.com to learn more and connect with us at @Outlook on Twitter.

Full Disclosure: This was a paid review of Outlook.com and its services. More information can be found about Outlook.com via http://outlookpreview.com

Declutter Your Email Experience with Outlook.com

Microsoft is currently previewing its new modern approach to email called Microsoft Outlook.com. This new service combines all the elements one would expect from a first rate email service. Outlook.com connects you to your social networks like Twitter and Facebook. You can work smarter with online versions of Office web apps and SkyDrive storage for your documents. This does not require you to have a local version of Microsoft Office, by the way. It also sports the fresh Windows 8 tiled design which is very clean and intuitive to use. Outlook.com is a great way to declutter your email experience.

inbox

Pictured in the image above, you will notice the new Outlook.com interface. If you look across the top of the image, you will probably notice what isn’t there. As you can see, there is only a small icon labeled “New” with a plus sign beside it. One of the first things the Outlook.com team set out to do was declutter the user interface. The bar at the top is contextual, meaning it doesn’t show you unnecessary options. However, if you click on an email you will be given a set of options at that time. An example of these options is pictured below. You will also notice how nicely all the menu items and individual emails are spaced. This really makes the visual experience of using Outlook.com much easier on the eyes.

sweep

Organizing messages in the new Outlook.com is extremely easy. If you look at the picture above, you will notice one of my favorite Outlook.com tools – “Sweep”. The “Sweep” tool has incredible inbox cleaning capabilities. Let’ say for instance, you select a message from a newsletter subscription. Using “Sweep” you can automatically select and delete all similar messages from your inbox. You can also use it to move these messages to a particular folder, or delete all of the old messages and keep only the current one.

ads

One last feature I am totally impressed with is the way Outlook.com handles ads. I know that may be the last thing one would consider, but I consider it a great feature for two reasons. First of all, the ads are very low key and blend in nicely with the rest of the Outlook.com theme. This is truly a “customer’s first” approach to advertising if you ask me. Look at the area highlighted in red in the picture above and you will see what I mean. This is the one of only two places you will see ads in your email. The other is when you view an email that is not a personal contact. They don’t splash pictures everywhere and try to force you into accidental clicks to look at their ads. There is no doubt in my mind that this will affect ad revenue for Microsoft which is why I say this is a “customer’s first” approach.

The second thing that impresses me about Outlook.com’s ads is the way they go about contextualizing the ads for their users. “Why is this so important?” you ask. You may not realize that many online email providers actually read every word of your emails to gather specific information about you. They use this information to target ads toward you. While this is largely done in an automated way, if you’re like me, you have to be concerned about privacy and security. Outlook.com has taken the approach that it will only use the information you give it. As much, or as little, information that you are willing to put on your Outlook.com profile is what is used to generate the context for ads. Outlook.com does not read your emails to gather information about you. This, to me, is a huge benefit for the end user, especially if they are security conscious.

As you can see, there are some great benefits to switching to the new Outlook.com. Take a moment to visit their website and take advantage of their preview.

Outlook.com is a preview of modern email from Microsoft. It has a fresh and intuitive design, connects your email to useful information from Facebook and Twitter, and gives you a smarter inbox with the power of Office and SkyDrive. Visit Outlookpreview.com to learn more and connect with us at @Outlook on Twitter.

Full Disclosure: This was a paid review of Outlook.com and its services. More information can be found about Outlook.com via http://outlookpreview.com.

Google’s 2012 Halloween Doodle

Haunted House

Halloween is usually a fun time at Google and this year is no exception. If you arrive at the search giant’s website today, you will notice a really cool Halloween doodle. The doodle is animated and if you look to the lower right corner of the image, you will see a little button where you can add sound. To me, the scene is reminiscent of Sesame Street except a little spookier. This would be a really good doodle to get your kids and let them enjoy the animation. I don’t want to spoil all the surprises, but I will let you know that you need to click around the different elements as they do special things.

Last year, I wrote about Google’s massive undertaking when they used 1000 pound pumpkins to carve out the letters for Google. I thought it might be a good time to show the behind the scenes video they produced from last year. It is pretty neat if you didn’t get to see it.

Halloween in the U.S. has become a major holiday. I’m amazed at how much it has grown even since I was a kid. One of the major differences I have seen is the outdoor decorations and lighting that is available now. I am also amazed by how many adults dress up now and have costume parties. I guess Halloween is one of those holidays that brings out the kids in all of us. Speaking of kids, if you’re taking out your little trick-or-treaters, make sure that they have something reflective on their clothing to make them more visible to cars. A lot of costumes are dark colored and with the days being shorter this time of year, visibility during trick-or-treat time is hindered. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!

Google Honors Bob Ross with Doodle

Bob Ross Doodle

Google is honoring the 70th birthday of Bob Ross with a beautiful doodle on its search page. The doodle truly reflects what so many appreciated about Ross. His gentle nature is represented by the squirrel’s confidence in sitting on his shoulder. His appreciation for nature is portrayed on the canvas with his signature “happy trees”. His amazing eye for color is represented by the wet pallet that he so masterfully used to recreate the living colors of nature.

Bob Ross is best known for his decade-long PBS show “The Joy of Painting”. In this series, he introduced thousands, if not millions, of people to the art of painting. In particular, he used a wet-on-wet oil technique which produced quicker results on the canvas. Ross was so easy to relate to. His calm demeanor and relaxed approach to art really drew people to his show and made art more accessible to the common man. Statements like “there are no mistakes, only happy accidents” and “happy trees” made learning from him enjoyable and seemed effortless.

Ross wasn’t always the easy going painter that many saw on TV. In fact, he had a pretty successful career in the U.S. Air Force where he retired as a Master Sargeant after 20 years of service. During his stint in the Air Force, he was stationed in Alaska which turned out to be a very inspiring force for his paintings. According to Wikipedia, once he retired he lamented having to be “mean and tough,” …”the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work”. He apparently vowed to never scream again after retirement.

Unfortunately for all of us, Ross’ life was cut short due to lymphoma in 1995. His legacy still lives on at Bob Ross, Inc. where you can still find a variety of products and tutorials bearing his image. Ross has a personal spot in my heart as I remember when I was younger, my Grandmother was inspired by his show to paint. It was amazing to see the beautiful landscapes that she painted. I have also been personally inspired by his show and have even used his wet-on-wet techniques with acrylics and loved the results. Hopefully we can all take a moment today to learn more about this brilliant and humble man. He is truly missed.

Editorial: How Much Would You Pay to Get Facebook Friends’ Attention?

Facebook announced this past Wednesday that they were testing a new feature in the U.S. called ‘Promoted Posts”. Apparently, they have been running this test in New Zealand since May. Below, is a quote from their announcement:

Every day, news feed delivers your posts to your friends. Sometimes a particular friend might not notice your post, especially if a lot of their friends have been posting recently and your story isn’t near the top of their feed.

That being said, what Facebook is proposing with these “promoted posts” is to allow you to pay a dollar amount to have your posts get noticed by more of your friends. Below, you can see an example of a promoted post on Facebook’s newsroom article. In this instance, a couple wanted to make sure everyone knew about their recent engagement. By clicking the “promote” button, they were given the option to pay a little extra to reach a wider audience of friends. When you do this, your Facebook post will have the words “sponsored” at the bottom of it. You also have the ability to check how much extra reach the paid ad is giving you as opposed to just regular newsfeed views.

Promoted Post
Courtesy Facebook.com

Pictured below, you can see the options that are available to you when you hit the promote button. Notice the price. For $7 you can make sure your friends know about that big party you’re having, or big charity fundraiser. So I have to ask the question, “How much are you willing to pay to get your friend’s attention on Facebook?”

Pricing

Has Facebook Jumped the Shark?

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term “jumping the shark”, it stems from an episode of the American hit TV show Happy Days, where the show’s main character, the Fonz, jumped over a confined shark tank on water skis. Since that time the term has been used in the entertainment industry to note the point where a TV series uses a gimmick that blatantly shows desperation and an almost certain soon-to-be demise for that show. Ever since Facebook went public, it seems like they have used every gimmick in the book to try to force revenue out of its users. In my humble opinion, things like this come across as acts of desperation and I believe are really unnecessary for Facebook to do.

I will not go so far as to say that Facebook has jumped the shark. One reason I say this is because of their recent announcement that they have reached the 1 billion monthly active user base. However, I will say that Facebook needs to get out of desperation mode and reach out for some better leadership at the top. One of the things I hate about companies that go public is that they so often they forget who got them where they are and who will take them where they want to go. There is no doubt in my mind that this newest offering will generate some money for Facebook, but seriously, isn’t $7 a little steep for a personal post? I personally loved a statement one of my friends posted about this new feature, which I believe says it all: (I will keep him anonymous to protect his identity)

Great feature. Thrilled to pay money to tell people what I had for lunch (bologna sandwich). [dripping with sarcasm] :)

I believe that statement not only drips with sarcasm, it drips with a lot of truth. Facebook better learn to listen to its user base. Business 101 says come up with a product that people want at a price the market can bear. $7 is an awful high price for something that used to work for free!

Know Your Users

Mr. Zuckerberg, you came up with a fantastic idea and history says it was almost an accident of being in the right place at the right time with the right idea. People really do want to connect. Personally, I believe that I am a product of every encounter with every friend, family member, and acquaintance I have ever known. That is why I have so many “friends” on Facebook. Not that I am extremely close to every one of them, but they have all left some mark on the pages of my life’s book. For me, Facebook is all about people. So I make this plea to the decision makers at Facebook, get to know your people. Make an attempt to connect with this giant user base you have at your disposal and figure out a way to make some money without marginalizing them. Consider the Timeline fiasco. Personally, I like the Timeline feature of Facebook, but the way Facebook implemented this new feature was asinine. To this day, I still hear people complaining about the Timeline feature. Why? I believe it was because they felt slighted. Here they had to relearn how to use this chronological mess where everything looked different and not to forget the privacy issues that were exposed by the little live feed on the right side of the screen. In a business that was created on connecting people, Facebook seems completely incapable or unwilling to do the same.

Opinion: Goodbye September, You Sucked!

Here I sit at my PC at the end of September 2012 and wonder where all the time went. Looking back on this past month, “lackluster” is the only thing I can come up with to describe it. Maybe I am just a little extra grumpy today and if that is the case, please accept my apologies up front. However, I can’t help but look at this past month and not wonder what good came from it. My colleagues and I have conversed back and forth several times about how dry the news cycles seem to be in regards to the tech industry. Not that there isn’t any news, but most of it lacks any pizzazz or appeal for our audience. This could be the result of an abysmal global economy. However, I believe there is a greater underlying issue and the wretched economy is merely a symptom of that issue. The issue I speak of is the severe lack of INNOVATION! Google search defines innovate:

 Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

We’ve had no shortage of press releases from high tech vendors touting their innovation, but I ask you, which of those supposed innovations has made you want to dump out your pocketbook and go shopping? To be honest, this reality isn’t all bad, that is if you have the ability to think creatively and the guts to take a risk in this market.

Exhibit A

In my case against the tech industry, let me introduce exhibit A, Apple. Go to Apple’s website, http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/, and see “what’s new”. Notice, I went ahead and put the entire URL there because I want you to see that Apple literally put the words “whats-new” in the link. Now glance down the page and tell me what is the first thing you see listed. Here’s what I see, “Maps Take a Whole New Turn”. Seriously I don’t even know where to begin here. Let’s start with their original logic. You’re telling me that with all the genius that resides in the headquarters of Apple, the most innovative new thing they could add to their IOS was a map? Please let me jump off the couch, go trade in my iPhone 4S, which by the way, many AT&T users have found that their upgrades aren’t available for upgrade to the iPhone 5 yet, and shell out massive dough for an upgrade. Of course, if you have the iPhone 4S, you can upgrade its IOS to 6 for free, but then you’ll probably end up like my boss who came to me freaking out because he no longer has Google Maps anymore. But Apple gave you a map, right? Yeah and unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you know by now that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, had to write a public apology for the horrid piece of work their map turned out to be. Now, to my second question. Why in the world is that stupid map still listed as your number one addition on your IOS 6 “what’s new” page? Unfortunately, the lack of innovation doesn’t stop there. Siri gets some tweaks by adding additional languages and letting you ask for sports scores. Facebook is much more integrated into IOS 6. Yet with all these lackluster features, people are flocking to get their iPhone 5’s. This to me, is beyond all logic and speaks volumes about the cult that is Apple. Now there are some who believe Apple is going to pull us out of the recession. Folks I don’t know if you realize that kicking out Google Maps and YouTube from Apple makes them more of a closed system. A closed system stands to help no one besides the ones inside that closed system.

Opinion: Google Hammers the Final Nail in XP’s Coffin

Windows XP has had a good run. It was released on October 25, 2001. Oddly enough, Microsoft plans to unveil Windows 8 on that same date here in a few short weeks. There is no question that Windows XP was a raging success. Compared to earlier versions of Windows, XP was simply a much more stable workhorse. It kind of reminds me of the old Volkswagen Beetles. Those old 60’s and 70’s models are still running the roads today. Though Windows 7 very recently took the top spot away, XP was certainly a testament to a well designed and flexible system. Did it have flaws? Of course it did, but it worked and quite frankly, I believe it worked pretty darn well. Unfortunately, there is a time and a season for everything under the sun and XP, I am sad to say, has run its course. If you’re like me, you’re probably not completely happy about this because from a business productivity standpoint, Windows 7 just doesn’t offer that much more than XP did. Windows 8 is probably going to be a lot of fun for tablet users, but I don’t see it doing for business what XP did. However, 11 years is a long time for a car to run and 11 years is an awful long time for an OS to run. That has been a major problem for Microsoft whose Windows 7 OS, until recently, was essentially competing against its older brother XP. Why is this a problem? First of all, Microsoft exists to make money. Second, you can’t exist as a business with no cash flow. Now I do realize that Microsoft has other products, but they have lost significant revenue over the years due to the fact that they just couldn’t get users to switch from XP.

RIP XP

Google Driving the Nail

All this being said you would think that Microsoft would be the one pounding the final nail in Windows XP’s coffin. The first major sign that XP started dying on the vine was when Internet Explorer 9 was released but wasn’t supported on Windows XP. As it stands however, Microsoft does intend to support Windows XP until April of 2014. Just don’t expect anything significant to be developed for it. The odd news however, is that a recent announcement by Google may be the final nail in the coffin for XP. Here’s a tidbit from their recent blog post:

Internet Explorer 10 launches on 10/26/2012, and as a result, we will discontinue support for Internet Explorer 8 shortly afterwards, on 11/15/2012. After this date users accessing Google Apps services using Internet Explorer 8 will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser.

This is truly an interesting move on Google’s part and the timing may really play in Microsoft’s favor. Don’t get me wrong, Google is no doubt being opportunistic here. They began the aforementioned blog post with the bragging point that Google Chrome browser automatically updates itself to the most recent version so you never have to worry about things like this. Their timing is impeccable. As any successful business person knows, timing is everything. Now this policy is not something new. Google posted the following in June of last year:

As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely.

With this information in mind, I am not going to sit here and accuse Google of some evil scheme, nor am I saying that they are in cahoots with Microsoft by trying to force XP users to make the switch. However, the unintended consequence of this may just be that users will finally clue in that it is time to say goodbye to XP.

Bing Commemorates Constitution Day

Microsoft’s premiere search engine, Bing, celebrates the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution with a beautiful graphic of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Bing Ellis Island
Screenshot of Bing’s Ellis Island Tribute

225 years ago today, our founding fathers ratified the U.S. Constitution. It was the end result of a laborious process taken on by brave and pioneering men, who tirelessly argued in favor and against each other until they were able to pen document to “form a more perfect union”. The U.S. Constitution was created to replace its weaker predecessor, the Articles of the Confederation, which failed to provide for many things like an executive or judicial branch of government. In May 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened to essentially edit the Articles, but it became abundantly clear that a new document needed to be drawn. This was no easy task. There were many who didn’t believe the federal government should have power over the states. In fact, Rhode Island didn’t even send representatives to the convention because of their opposition. In the end, a great compromise prevailed and a framework for liberty and freedom was penned that has stood strong these 225 years.

The U.S. has endured many trials since those days. As a mingling of people and cultures from all over the world, it truly is amazing what the U.S. has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. While mistakes have been made along the way, such as the participation of many in our nation in slave trading, there have also been redeeming acts performed along the way, such as many who fought and died so that the slaves could be set free. It seems appropriate that Bing would picture Ellis Island, which stood for so long as the representation of the open door America had for the immigrants of the world. How many brave souls walked through those doors, being from a foreign land, and having no idea what was in store for them.

In 2004, Senator Robert Byrd created a bill to make Constitution Day a national observance. He said, “”Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world.” The law requires the teaching of the Constitution in all federally funded schools and agencies. He recognized that all citizens need to be informed about the Constitution. Below, I have included the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It is my sincere hope that we Americans can someday live up to the standard set forth in the Constitution and that we can someday return to the spirit of mutual respect and compromise that was so evident among the founding fathers of this nation. If you would like to learn more about the U.S. Constitution, check out these resources:

You can also visit Bing’s page, which is full of informational tidbits at http://bing.com.