Photoshop on Your Phone? A Review of Photoshop Mix

Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly powerful software that allows users to manipulate photos and create graphic images. Initially a computer-based technology, Adobe has resized Photoshop to fit on the iPhone. The iOS app Photoshop Mix is the mobile incarnation of Photoshop, and it does not disappoint. Personally, I use Photoshop to make graphics and edit pictures for my business, The Supreme Saint. Aside from my business, I have always been interested in this tool because I take a lot of pictures and find it entertaining to edit them. After spending some time testing Photoshop Mix, I found that it is incredibly powerful for an iPhone app, but it does have some significant limitations.

Photoshop Mix has many of the tools that can be found on its computer-based brother. Sliders that regulate contrast, highlights, saturation, and other adjustments give users the ability to quickly and easily change the aesthetic of their pictures. If users do not want to adjust their pictures themselves, Photoshop Mix provides them with a series of “looks,” or pre-made filters that take any trouble out of the editing process. In addition to the aesthetic changes, users can use the various cut out tools to select and remove parts of their work. This tool helps people who want to get creative in the editing process. They can cut out figures and place them onto different backgrounds, for example. Users are not limited to working with one picture at a time, however; they can blend two or more images together. The blend tool produces amazing results as it overlaps pictures to create one surreal image. Another useful capability is the liquify feature, which users can employ to manipulate the sizes of certain parts of their picture. The other tools are not as significant as they relate mostly to straightening the angle of the picture and other minor changes.

While Photoshop Mix has truly astonishing capabilities, it does not compare to the computer version of Photoshop. On the desktop version, editors have an infinite number of ways to manipulate their work. They can paint, draw shapes, overlay text, and perform countless other things that are not supported on the app version. Perhaps the two are not meant to be compared because the app version is meant to provide users with only the basic tools they need to produce nice results. However, Photoshop Mix’s limitations make it somewhat unnecessary because most of its tools are already present in the iPhone’s native photo app. The liquify, cut out, and blend tools are really the only things that differentiate it from the capabilities that come with the iPhone. By the same token, this app hosts all of these tools in an organized, user-friendly way. Maybe in the future, Adobe will expand Photoshop Mix’s abilities, so that it becomes closer to its  computer-based counterpart.

The Battle to Preserve Net Neutrality

Since its inception, the internet has been an open forum on which to exchange information. The internet’s uniqueness comes not only from its revolutionizing nature and globalizing effects but also its democratic essence that gives every user the same access. In a 2003 paper, Columbia law professor Tim Wu coined the term “net neutrality” and defined the principle as “a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. This allows the network to carry every form of information and support every kind of application.” Originally articulated as a technological concept, net neutrality has become a hotly political debate that has pinned supporters of the status quo against the companies that seek to upend it. President Obama defined the topic very simply when giving his take on it: “No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee.” Internet service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, have long advocated for net neutrality’s end, but its demise would represent a significant step towards virtual authoritarianism.

Under net neutrality regulations, internet service providers (ISPs) have to treat all of the content hosted on the internet as the same. In other words, a small business’ website uses the internet and pays the same dues as does a media conglomerate like Netflix or Facebook. Ending net neutrality would, however, give ISPs the power to “throttle certain content, slowing down the delivery of that content—or even blocking it—so that it would not cause congestion and hinder other kinds of service.” Throttling would essentially turn the internet into an auction house with content providers offering money in exchange for preferential treatment. Large internet-based companies would obviously be keen to pay the connectivity fees that provide the fast service speeds. A 2014 deal between Netflix and Comcast demonstrates the real-world implications of this pay-for-play scheme. According to a New York Times article, Netflix agreed to pay for a fast lane on Comcast’s broadband network after it experienced continuously slow speeds. Many experts characterized this exchange as a violation of net neutrality because it countered the principle that all content should be treated equally.

The financial implications of net neutrality’s demise affect more than just web-based companies—ordinary internet users would suffer as well. The connectivity fees that websites would have to pay ISPs would almost certainly be dispersed among the websites’ consumer base. Though diffusing the costs across many consumers would lessen the financial burden to individuals, they would see increased costs under this scheme. Many other countries with easily manipulated net neutrality rules show the onerous costs of unregulated systems. An LA Times article points out that the Portuguese service provider MEO offers several different internet packages each with a different cost. The ISP charges a flat fee for a basic internet package and provides a series of additions for more money. These upgrades include access to social media, video streaming, messaging, music, and so on. The strength of the United States’ net neutrality laws have protected Americans from paying extra for basic services that would otherwise be included in their flat fee.

Net neutrality’s weakening or disappearance would not only impose heavy financial burdens on ordinary content consumers but also incur significant social costs. The current internet permits the free exchange of ideas and content with minimal barriers to entry. The Internet’s openness has provided minorities with an alternative to the traditional media and political organizations that have misrepresented and ignored them. In her article on minorities’ stake in net neutrality, Sara Kamal writes that many minorities “have turned to the open Internet as a soundboard for their underrepresented voices.” Increased barriers to entry would rob minorities of this valuable asset. Kamal goes on to argue that “companies that have to pay more for faster speeds will pass on the costs to consumers, many of who can hardly afford the Internet as is.” These financial burdens would effectively silence minorities as it would arguably take away their most important communication and organizing system. If ISPs were to take their unregulated power to the extreme, they may even restrict certain types of political speech on the Internet. This Orwellian world may seem unrealistic, but a permanent end of net neutrality could bring about unknown and dangerous consequences.

While net neutrality protects minorities’ interests, it also helps upcoming small businesses gain recognition. Because the open Internet treats all content the same, the speeds of sites for big and small companies are the same. Furthermore, their equal treatment means that they both get exposure, though bigger companies tend to be nearer to the top of search engine results. Throttling and discrimination would give more exposure to the big businesses that can afford to pay for faster speeds. As a U.S. News article puts it: “These increased costs for content providers may also make it harder for startup media companies, which can’t afford to pay for priority speeds, to become competitors.” Smaller businesses would be relegated to the corners of the Internet where they would not receive the sunlight needed to grow. In turn, competition would be decreased, which could increase prices of the products and services provided by big businesses.

To understand the current state of net neutrality, it is important to trace the history of it: here is a timeline. In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications act of 1996, which classified the internet as a telecommunication service. This law gave the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) the power to regulate the Internet. In a pivotal 2005 case, the Supreme Court undermined the 1996 law by defining the internet as an information service, removing it from the FCC’s jurisdiction. After the ruling, several internet service providers, notably Comcast and Verizon, began throttling and discriminating internet access. The FCC responded to this development in 2010 with the passage of the Open Internet Order, which required internet providers to treat all traffic equally and be more forthcoming about their practices. Not surprisingly, Verizon sued the FCC because it claimed the Committee did not have the right to regulate internet providers because of the 2005 case. Between 2005 and 2015, the strength of net neutrality fluctuated, and internet service providers experimented with throttling and  In 2015, Chairman Tom Wheeler reasserted the FCC’s ability to legally regulate ISPs by reclassifying them as “common carriers.” Wheeler used his newfound regulatory power to impose strict net neutrality rules.

Much has changed since 2015, and net neutrality is now facing the biggest recent threat to its existence. Previously, the threat came from angry internet service providers that fought an intense legal battle against the U.S. government. Now, it is the FCC itself that is endangering net neutrality. The commissioners and chairman of the FCC are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. This process results in the body generally supporting the policies and viewpoint that the president’s party promotes. At the start of his term, President Trump appointed Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, to be the Commissioner of the FCC. Pai has sided with the broadband internet companies in the net neutrality debate, and he is strongly considering declassifying them as “common carriers.” This move would, in turn, relinquish the FCC’s power over the internet providers and end net neutrality.

At the core of the net neutrality debate are the questions of who controls the internet and what rights does the owner(s) have. The internet service providers claim that they are entitled to regulate the internet as they so please because they are the ones who built it. Without them, they argue, there would be no internet, so they should have control over it. AT&T’s Ed Whitacre phrased it candidly: “The internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.” He is essentially arguing that internet-based companies should have to pay additional fees because they are generating income from a platform that they did not help create. In a recent interview, Chairman Pai argued that “by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on Internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out Internet access to a lot of parts of the country.” His argument is essentially that ISPs have little motivation to expand Internet access under the current rules because they are not making enough money off of it. Underpinning this position is the assertion that repealing net neutrality would bring in more money for ISPs. This money would almost certainly come from throttling and discrimination.

On the flip side, content suppliers argue that the construction of the Internet has little to do with their right to use it fairly. After all, nobody is asking Internet service providers to give them access for free—they are simply asking that every site and every user be treated equally. Net neutrality has maintained the Internet’s status as an open and fair domain that can raise the voices of the marginalized and grow new businesses. The future for this democratic system is under siege by the very people tasked with defending it, and the consequences will be grave. Throttling, discrimination, and censorship will replace equity, fairness, and freedom. For these reasons, net neutrality must be upheld and attacks on it must be thwarted. Internet service providers make too much money already to strip the American people of one of the last remaining bastions of free speech and fairness.

A Missing Digital Activity: Video Tutorials

The internet has revolutionized the way we access information in nearly every facet of our lives. Education has been particularly democratized by the rise of the internet. Websites like Khan Academy, foreign language apps, video tutorials, and countless other tools have fallen into students’ hands to be used for academic pursuits. To explore another one of the internet’s educational uses, I would have appreciated doing a digital activity on video tutorials. Though commonly used by students, video tutorials vary greatly in their quality, so this digital activity could have required us to find the most informative, effective videos.

Digital activities are designed to give students digital resources that can help them learn, so video tutorials would fit very well into this program. The video tutorial activity could have required students to watch several short instructional videos on various topics and write about which ones they learned the most from. In their analyses, students could discuss what they thought made some videos better than others and what things they would look for in the future to avoid watching a poor video. They could, for example, compare one of John Greene’s history lessons with an ACDC Economics video to discern what qualities have made these two visual educational tools so popular. One possible analysis may be that both John Greene and ACDC edit their videos slickly, speak quickly, include jokes, and have recurring gimmicks. These little features combines to make their content more digestible and learnable. Some students may find that these videos go through the material too quickly, so they may prefer the longer, more detailed videos of organizations like Khan Academy.

This would be a pretty simple activity to complete. Students would be provided with a short list of different video tutorials, watch them, and write their opinions on each. In addition to their opinions, they could describe how they would use these resources in conjunction with their other digital tools. One of the goals of these digital activities is to help students control their digital world, and this one about video tutorials would help students in this task. Controlling our digital worlds means that knowing how to employ our digital resources to maximize our educational experiences, of which video tutorials are a potentially very useful tool. Because of this, students should take some time to learn about these videos. Not only do these instructional videos provide sources of new knowledge, but they also allow students to go over concepts that they may need refreshers on or a more in-depth understanding. In this capacity, these videos fill in the gaps within students’ notes and knowledge without requiring the professor to reteach the material. Therefore, a digital activity on video tutorials would expose students to a new educational tool, or, at the very least, have them explore the ways in which they can make use of it.

A Tipping Point to Look Forward to: Vision As The New Interface

Of all the tipping points listed in the article, I find vision as the new interface, shift 3, the most interesting. Vision as the new interface means infusing internet and communication capabilities into traditional glasses. The glasses would give wearers the ability to use their vision to access information, communicate with others, and perceive an augmented reality. This technology would allow users to quickly gather information that could improve their performance of tasks and inform their decision making. Additionally, it would give people additional ways to interact with the world, which could improve the lives of disabled people. As with any technology, this development would have some negative impacts. It would increase our dependence on technology, distract us more than we already are, and unleash potential horrors from augmented reality. It also includes some unknowns: its affect on the media landscape and the consequences of increased immediate information consumption. This last point is especially interesting because the increased flood of information has both its benefits and its costs, as it hastes our decision making but also provides us with more information during that process. No matter how much data is available, people still need time to process it.

Google has been a leader in this bold new endeavor. A few years ago, the company released “Google Glass,” a pair of glasses that had a camera, internet access, and virtual reality capabilities. Despite a lot of hype around the product, it quickly failed. Quirks in its design and concerns about privacy intrusion contributed to its inability to succeed. There was also a sense that it was not needed or that it was for tech nerds, so it did not attract a large mainstream consumer base. A few years later, a Wired Magazine article has written about how Google has reinvented its glasses to fit the needs of workers, rather than the average people it sought at first. Google Glass Enterprise Edition is a new incarnation of Google Glass that is now somewhat common in businesses, like industrial plants and medical practices. This technology has eased the workers’ jobs and, in turn, increased productivity. While it Google Glass failed as a consumer product, Google Glass EE has had remarkable success as a business tool.

Despite the failure of vision to become the new interface thus far, investors and tech gurus are still anticipating a day when everyone is wearing these sophisticated glasses. Add Robertson, a journalist for http://TheVerge.com, writes that companies like Google, Alibaba, and the investment branch of J.P. Morgan recently 502 million dollars to the company Magic Leap. This start-up has been developing augmented reality glasses that it expects to be used by ordinary people. This lofty goal has not been backed up by any product release, but hopes remain high for it. This shows that the titans of the tech industry view virtual reality glasses as the future, and they are willing to put a ton of money into it. According to World Economic Forum report, 86% of people believe that this technology will be popular by 2025, so the developers of it better get to work.

Links:

https://www.wired.com/story/google-glass-2-is-here/

https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/22/16505430/magic-leap-augmented-reality-temasek-funding-investment-why

My Experience with an Infographic!

I used Infogram to make my infographic about net neutrality, and I found it to be a very good experience. Infographics are a fun, simple way of expressing what may otherwise be a boring concept. The brevity of the text, the nice color scheme, and the images allow the viewers to enjoyably learn about whatever topic is being presented. I thought that Infographic made the creation of my infographic very easy and straightforward. The site provides a template into which you simply plug in your information and images. It also allows you to resize the text, move around images, change background colors, and many more customizable features that give each infographic some originality. The most difficult part of the task was finding images that fit well into the infographic’s aesthetic. With respect to Infogram, I did not like that you had to pay to download the infographic. Aside from this criticism, I enjoyed making my infographic and appreciate Infogram for making it easy to do so.

https://infogram.com/net-neutrality-1hkv2njxkd5n6x3

Spirit v. Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s classic song “Stairway to Heaven” was at the center of a recent legal battle between the band and the estate of Randy Wolfe, a guitarist for the band Spirit. The lawyer for the estate, Francis Malofiy, argued that the guitar introduction on “Stairway to Heaven” was borrowed from Spirit’s 1968 song “Taurus.” Like Led Zeppelin’s song, “Taurus” had a mystical, ambient guitar sound. Malofiy argued that the similarities between the two were due to more than mere coincidence. Before writing “Stairway to Heaven,” Led Zeppelin had played two sets at concerts at which Spirit was performing. Malofiy used these two instances to suggest that the members of Led Zeppelin must have been familiar with the song “Taurus” and that they lifted its guitar part, inadvertently or intentionally. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, the musicians behind “Stairway,” fought back against this claim by denying that either of them had ever heard “Taurus” until the start of this trial in 2014. The musicians went on to explain that they wrote their song by piecing together different riffs and ideas they had developed independently over a series of years. Malofiy sought $40 million dollars to resolve the case.

The jury charged with deciding the outcome of Spirit v. Led Zeppelin ruled that there was insufficient evidence that Led Zeppelin stole Wolfe’s guitar instrumental. The case entered trial on shaky ground, as the judge who permitted it to go on to trial was not convinced that Led Zeppelin had infringed on Wolfe’s work. At the heart of this case was the issue of copyrights. Musicians own the copyrights to the music they produce and have the right to sue anybody who copies, uses, or distributes their work without authorization. Therefore, if Led Zeppelin had in fact repurposed “Taurus” in “Stairway,” they would have infringed on Wolfe’s copyright. This case had an extra layer of complexity because there was a dispute over who even owned the copyright to “Taurus”: Wolfe’s estate or his son. The judge decided that Wolfe’s estate owned the copyright, but the fact that this came up as an issue attests to the complexity of copyright law. Because the jury ruled that there was no infringement, Led Zeppelin did not have to pay any fines or damages.

Spirit v. Led Zeppelin is a historic case in the music industry. On the one hand, this case gave artists new room to create and be inspired without fearing legal retribution. On the other, it may deny copyright owners an effective way to enforce their legal rights. A recently settled case about the 2013 song “Blurred Lines” required Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to pay millions of dollars to Marvin Gaye’s descendants because the song borrowed the vibe of one of his songs. This precedent obviously made many artists worried that they too would become embroiled in legal battles over copyright infringement, but Spirit v. Led Zeppelin gives them some protection. With sampling and borrowing becoming more and more popular in music, this case will certainly help define the line between similarity and infringement.

The Business of Streetwear: A Summary

Over the course of the semester, I have written blog posts about the origins, development, and business of streetwear. With the end of the year quickly approaching, now is the time to recap the various entrepreneurial and economic components of the streetwear industry. Streetwear began as fashion of, by, and for the people. It filled the gap between luxurious high fashion and practical garb, as it provided people with affordable yet attractive pieces of clothing. This apparel was also designed to suit the needs of common people: warm bomber jackets for the winter, lightweight graphic tees for the summer, and so on. This synthesis of trendy design with practicality represented a seismic departure from high fashion’s prioritization of form over function. This combination makes the appeal of streetwear clear.

Combining practicality and style, demand for streetwear quickly rose in the 1990s and 2000s. Streetwear companies manipulated this demand further by limiting the amount of supply they provided for the market. Brands including Supreme and The Hundreds would release small quantities of normally priced but highly demanded goods, which would obviously create a large disparity in the market. As a result, people began to want goods not because of their appearance or quality but because of their exclusivity and the hype around them. The lack of equilibrium between supply and demand birthed a massive resale market for many of these brands’ products. A Supreme t-shirt that may have had a retail price of $40 may attract prices of four to five times that in the resale market. This phenomenon is pretty unique to the streetwear industry because normal companies try to sell of their products as much as they can. Therefore, this business model suggests that streetwear brands prioritize maintaining their longterm demand than generating massive profits in the short term. The resale market has also led to the creation of many spinoff businesses that verify the authenticity and safe sale of these goods, so its implications are quite profound.

Streetwear would not be streetwear if it were not for celebrity endorsements and collaborations. The style gained popularity alongside the acceptance of rap into the mainstream, in part because rappers brought it with them. Most early rappers came from the urban areas where streetwear was ubiquitous, so their rise in prominence brought with it a popularization of the styles that had already existed for years in their communities. Jerseys, bomber jackets, chains, and graphic t-shirts had existed in the margins of society for a long time before artists like Jay Z and Tupac brought them to the forefront of popular culture. As time went on, rappers and basketball players replaced movie stars and singers at the top of America’s celebrity totem pole, and they used their newfound preeminence to collaborate with major brands and create a streetwear-high fashion hybrid. This phenomenon is best exemplified by Kanye West’s collaborations with Adidas and Nike and Supreme’s recent one with Louis Vuitton. These collaborations have not only merged the worlds of streetwear and high fashion but also affirmed streetwear’s place as a genuine force in fashion and culture. The question for the future is whether or not streetwear can retain its authenticity in the face of cooptation from luxury brands.

An Overview of Copyrights

Copyrights are an important legal instrument used to protect the creative, intellectual, and entrepreneurial works of an individual. Copyrights are often used interchangeably or in conjunction with other forms of intellectual property protections like patents or trademarks. They are unique in the sense that they provide protection for less physical works, including books, poetry, visual arts, music, et cetera. Patents and trademarks, on the other hand, deal with technological inventions and slogans or names, respectively. To become copyrighted, the work must be in a tangible form. This means that the work cannot simply be an idea or a mere abstraction—it must be in a tangible form. For example, an artist must have an actual painting to get copyright protection for it. Copyrights only go so far though, as they do not protect the idea or concept behind a given work. Though Picasso’s La Guernica may have been copyrighted, other artists could still use cubism and distortion.

The purpose of a copyright is to protect the intellectual or creative effort of an individual from theft or overt imitation. Without copyrights, creators of great works would be ripped off and stolen from. The protection granted by copyrights extends not only to the initial matter but all related works. The Harry Potter franchise exemplifies the usefulness of copyrights. J.K. Rowling, the author of the book series, holds the rights to all of the books she has written, and nobody else can write a story using her characters or plot. Importantly, copyright owners have the discretion to sell the rights to their work. In the case of J.K. Rowling, she sold the rights of the Harry Potter books to movie studios, who turned it into a series of movies. Not all creators hold the copyrights to their own work, however. When a person produces material as part of their job, their work is owned by their employer, not themselves. Who holds the copyright is obviously very important because it determines who controls the production, display, and distribution of the work.

Copyright protections are relevant to the business world because they ensure variation and competition. Because copyrights bar people from explicitly copying other works, they give rise to more creative ideas and publications. Because of the copyright protections barring the reproduction of Superman related products or works, for example, people have had to think of new, original stories that circumvent any potential legal hurdles. This example is one of many that shows how copyrights encourage more creativity, in turning producing more competition. Copyrights only last for 70 years after the death of the original creator, at which point works become part of the public domain or are sometimes passed around to different people or companies. During the time of that the copyright does exist, the owner of it can sue anybody that infringes on it, which disincentives anyone from trying to do so. Therefore, copyrights are not simply formal recognition of ownership, but effective tools in fending off intellectual property theft.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/copyright.asp

http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/intellectual-property/what-is-copyright.html

How Star Power Illuminated Streetwear!

As we have discussed in previous blog posts, streetwear began as a fashion style that reflected the mood and tastes of people in urban communities. It combined practicality with some cool, or “fresh,” details to make a useable yet attractive garment. This balance began to tilt  more towards the detailed, aesthetically-concerned side as celebrities co-opted and popularized streetwear. Rappers, basketball players, and other famous people have brought streetwear from the streets of New York and Los Angeles to the runways of Milan and Paris. Because of their influence and cultural relevancy, celebrities claim much responsibility in taking streetwear into the mainstream.

Rappers have probably been the most influential celebrities when it comes to changing fashion. They often come from the neighborhoods where streetwear originated, so they did not so much change their own fashion as reveal it to a larger audience. Jay Z, for example, began his career sporting jerseys and headbands that had been popular for a long time in the Brooklyn area where he was from. His fame helped catapult these wardrobe pieces into regular use. More broadly, rappers popularized the sagging pants look that reveals the wearer’s underwear. This way of wearing pants had been popular in urban communities for many years, but it did not break into the mainstream until rappers brought it there. Rappers like Lil Wayne and 50 Cent would perform on nationally televised awards programs with their pants sagging, which was probably the first time many people had seen this style. Nowadays, however, jerseys and sagging pants are commonly worn by a diverse group of people.

Basketball players share a place in popularizing and innovating streetwear. Basketball’s main contribution to streetwear is the basketball sneaker, which has become so popular that it might as well simply be called “the sneaker.” Basketball players have been wearing these types of shoes for a long time, but the style attracted interest from common people as the sport increasingly took a centerstage position in pop culture. While most players gave people fashion inspiration, Michael Jordan took it to the next level and invented the “Air Jordan” in collaboration with Nike. The Air Jordan provided consumers with a quality piece of basketball culture that was coupled with the legendary Jordan name. This combination led to an explosion of popularity and demand for Air Jordans that continues through today.

Michael Jordan’s joint effort with Nike to design and produce his own version of a streetwear classic inspired and paved the way for countless other celebrities to create their own fashion lines. Now, a number of basketball players, including Lebron James, have their own shoe companies that elicit widespread acclaim and demand. From P. Diddy to Kanye West, rappers have also capitalized on the streetwear phenomenon they helped create by developing their own lines and products. A common theme in celebrity-led streetwear brands is their dependence on collaborations with larger retailers like Nike and Adidas. This, however, does not indicate that these celebrities are not powerful enough on their own, but that their influence attracts even the biggest, most established names in fashion.

Grammar Bytes vs. Grammarly: The Advantages of Both

As the internet becomes more ubiquitous in our education system, students have more and more resources at their fingertips. Information that was once confined to the classroom is now available on students’ phones and computers wherever they may be. Two of these resources are Grammar Bytes and Grammarly. I explored and tested both to see the advantages of each and their value to students like myself.

Grammar Bytes is a website with a very vast library of grammar-related terms, examples, instructional videos, and activities. The most basic feature is the dictionary of grammar terms. The dictionary carefully defines about 75 terms and provides numerous examples of each concept to clarify any confusion that may still exist after reading the definition. Some of the more complicated ideas are linked to videos in which an instructor goes over the intricacies of the application in detail. I found this dictionary extremely helpful and clear, especially as compared to the dryness of other sites like OWL.

In addition to its dictionary, Grammar Bytes provides students with a large number of activities that further develop their grammar skills. Grammar Bytes divides up the activities into different categories that each relate to a topic that was individually defined in the term library. This makes all of the site’s content inter-related and clear. Furthermore, each of these categories has five activities with differing levels of difficulty, which gives students a vast array of options to improve their grammar skills. The exercises are interactive and provide immediate feedback, so students can learn from their mistakes as they do their work. After submitting your answer, a screen with a witty graphic and saying pops up that adds a sense of fun to doing what may otherwise be boring practice. For students who do not have time to do all of the activities, Grammar Bytes provides short “tips and rules” that quickly go over the fundamentals of the different grammar concepts.

While Grammar Bytes teaches you grammar, Grammarly corrects your grammar. Grammarly is a service that corrects your grammar as you type like a sort of grammar spell check. I downloaded this extension on my computer to discover its capabilities, and I was not disappointed. The service works all the time, regardless of what kind of writing you may be doing. This means that it is equally as effective in correcting the grammar of social media posts as it is in correcting the grammar of academic paper. This feature is kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I find that Grammarly does do a good job of fixing pretty much all of my grammar mistakes, which ensures that my writing is proper and my grades will be good. On the other hand, however, it offers corrections without explaining the reasoning behind them. Therefore, Grammarly is far less of a teaching tool than Grammar Byte, but it does have its role to play. I would suggest that students serious about learning grammar use Grammar Byte, and those who just want to double-check their work use Grammarly.