• Texas State grad uses social media to inspire students to dream big

    Russ Garcia, 25, set up boards on the UT campus to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com, and encouraged students to write down their wildest dream. He plans to follow his dream of traveling around South America with nothing but a backpack (Photo Credit: Angela Bumstead).
    Russ Garcia, 25, set up boards on the UT campus to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com, and encouraged students to write down their wildest dream. He plans to follow his dream of traveling around South America with nothing but a backpack (Photo Credit: Angela Bumstead).

    Dance in the Boston Ballet. Play in the New York Philharmonic. Cure cancer. Become the first woman president. Write a book. Open a restaurant. These were few of the hundreds of ambitions that were scrawled across a board by UT students last week. Many hesitated to write down their deepest passions, maybe in fear of receiving judgmental looks or believing that their goals were simply ridiculous and unreachable.

    On October 3 and 4, 25-year-old Russ Garcia visited the UT campus in hopes of encouraging students that their dreams were in fact obtainable. He presented four 4’x8’ boards that displayed the quote: “If you could pursue your dream with no fear of failure, what would you do?” The board, which took Garcia nearly two weeks to construct, encouraged students to write down dreams and visions of their ideal future.

    “The boards are just a way of sharing the message that whatever it is that is important to your dream and passion, then that is what you should make sacrifices towards pursuing,” Garcia stated.

    Over the past month, Garcia visited Texas State, where he graduated from two years ago, and UTSA to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com. The website was launched in May shortly after he decided to drop everything—his marketing job and long-term girlfriend— to pursue his aspiration of volunteering and backpacking across South America.

    “I’m not going to do something that doesn’t allow me to grow and challenge myself and be the person that I would like to be,” said Garcia. “I knew I had the desire to do something else for a reason.”

    Last week, Garcia’s project was also featured on two San Antonio morning news shows, San Antonio Living and Great Day SA.

    Garcia plans to post video and photo updates on the website of his backpacking trip, which will begin in Lima, Peru on October 11. For the first month and a half, cameraman Darren Fitch, a graduate of the USC film school, will accompany Garcia on his expedition. After that, Garcia will be traveling solo.

    Garcia lives by the motto, “Sometimes, you just gotta jump”, which is also featured on the website as well as his T-Shirts that people can buy to help support his dream adventure. Garcia hopes his example will be an inspiration for students to take risks to achieve their ultimate goals.

    “I would rather have a life of ‘oh well’s’ than a life of ‘what if’s,’” Garcia said.

    Garcia also plans to type up the thousands of entries that students wrote on the boards across the three campuses and turn it into a blog series titled, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” after the John Lennon song.

    Garcia has faith that his trip will help him grow both personally and creatively. He is eager to learn Spanish and Portuguese, be immersed in new cultures, and volunteer with those who are in need.

    “I believe that being out of one's comfort zone forces them to grow, just out of sheer necessity to adapt,” Garcia said. “That type of growth can only be achieved by pushing one's boundaries.”

    Garcia had one final message that he wanted to get across.

    “Life is too short to not pursue [your dream]. You’re going to be doing something, so you might as well do what you want to, risk, and take a little bit of a leap. If not that, then what?”

  • Vaccaro defends comments about DKR

    Did you like our social media mashup about The Daily Texan news boxes last week? Similarly, a Daily Texan article in which Longhorn safety Kenny Vaccaro was asked whether he likes playing on the road better than at home has gone viral. What started as an honest opinion by Longhorn safety Kenny Vaccaro ended up as a Twitter rally.

    To see how the story unfolded on twitter view "Vacarro defends comments about DKR" on The Daily Texan's Storify

  • Digital media fights for its roots

    News of the new media building outcasting old media was spread Thursday morning perhaps ironically through new media.

    After a request to put a Daily Texan box in front of the Belo Center for New Media was denied, an online firestorm resulted in backlash for the College of Communication. The Dean announced Thursday afternoon the college would design and place a Daily Texan box somewhere on site.

    But first, Twitter blew up with hundreds of tweets. The story also got more than 4,000 hits before noon of the morning it was published and was picked up by Poynter, College Media Matters and JimRomenesko.com.

    Patrick George, reporter for the Austin-American Statesman, first tweeted the story from The Daily Texan:

    So The Daily Texan's Twitter account asked its followers what they thought of the Belo Center for New Media not placing any news boxes in front of the building that houses the School of Journalism:


    The issue was not just about news boxes. College of Communication administration had cited concerns that the presence of news boxes would attract litter to a building that was striving to be as enviornmentally friendly as possible. However, faculty from the School of Journalism found it to be a mistake that there were no student newspapers outside the building that houses the School of Journalism.

    Meanwhile, people online at Facebook, Twitter and The Daily Texan's comment section debated the greater significance of this issue:

    Soon, users expressed varying degrees of disapproval:

    College of Communication administrators' concerns about the environment stemmed from the fact that the Belo Center for New Media is striving to get the "silver certification" from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. People weighed in on the environmental impacts:

    And the College of Communication was further concerned the news boxes would take away a "certain look" from the plaza. Some supported the effort for mantaining the aesthetic:

    And others did not:

    The College of Communication further argued that there are boxes right across the street, which some people sympathized with. Others also believed physical papers are no longer relevant in today's world of journalism.

    But while some people think we should stop old media and kill it in its tracks, others believe we should nicely help the old guy across the street. Glenn Frankel, director of the School of Journalism, said the support online shows a support for print media.

    "It does not surprise me that people react strongly when print media is taken away," said Frankel. "I think there is still a lot of support out there in the world of journalism and news for traditional legacy media, and legacy platforms like print."

    After several hours of online backlash, the Dean of the College of Communication emailed The Daily Texan that it would place a newly designed Texan news box in front of the Belo Center for New Media.

    Following the announcement, Twitter users celebrated the "power of the press" that restored print media and kept a strong bridge between digital media and its roots:

    At the end of the day, the story was printed in traditional journalism. But it was spread most heavily via digital media, i.e. new media. Instead of leaving him behind, new media fought for grandpa.

    Additional reporting by Bobby Blanchard.

  • Prevalent malware shakes Mac's credibility

    For many Mac lovers around the world, the unthinkable has happened. The Flashback malware, manifesting itself primarily as a fake Flash Player update, has infected over 600,000 Mac OS X users worldwide since its onset in September 2011, making it the most pandemic of Mac viruses thus far.

    This incident seems particularly catastrophic because Apple has given off the vibe in their advertisements that Mac users simply need not worry about viruses. Are Macs’ security features actually impenetrable?

    There are significantly fewer known viruses for Macs than for PCs: 200 compared to PC’s 140,000 last year. But there are also fewer Macs than PCs in existence, suggesting that Apple may be garnering much of their defense from a ‘security by minority’ strategy. Less users ultimately means less chance for the spread of malware and less profit for malware creators. An increase in Mac ownership could lead to a decrease in security.

    As of January, Macs still only made up about 11.6 percent of the personal computer market share, but they are inching dangerously close to the predicted 16 percent market share ownership that would motivate profit-driven virus creators to capitalize on Mac OS X malware creation as more than just a niche market. In the meantime, how should Mac users remove the Flashback malware and protect their Macs from further security breaches?

    Few will criticize Apple’s ability to churn out updates. The update issued on April 3 mends the security flaw in Java that allowed Flashback to latch on, but it is only for Mac OS X v 10.6 and higher. Companies like F-secure have released free automatic removal tools, as well as manual removal instructions, the only sure fire method according to UT’s IT department, that should also be accompanied by an anti-virus software for future protection.

    This unforeseen incident probably isn’t reason enough alone to abandon hope in Apple, especially for loyal fans, but it does warrant extra precaution when using your Mac.

  • Several sites strive to celebrate April Fool's

    View of the UT Tower from the April Fool's Day 8-bit version of Google Maps (Photo Courtesy of Google Maps).
    View of the UT Tower from the April Fool's Day 8-bit version of Google Maps (Photo Courtesy of Google Maps).

    In what has become a sort of Internet tradition, popular sites across the Web played April Fools’ Day pranks on their users. The tomfoolery varied in scope and cleverness, but few sites failed to sneak their own little joke in.

    Google stole the show, with nearly every branch of the site seeming to have its own dedicated joke. Google Maps introduced a new platform to its arsenal: the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Curious users could trial the “Quest Mode” on the maps page, which rendered the world accurately in amusingly dated 2-D graphics. Google’s Chrome browser trotted out a multitask feature where you can use two mice at once to double your productivity.

    Not to be outdone, Google’s child company, YouTube, introduced a feature long in-demand: the ability to order the entire “YouTube Collection” of videos on DVD, so that when your Internet connection goes down yet again, you won’t have to wait for it to come back to see your favorite funny cat videos.

    Funny cats were also the subject of Kodak’s and AdBlock’s pranks. Kodak offered a new “print-a-kitten” kiosk, while AdBlock, rather than making ads disappear, replaced them with pictures of adorable cats.

    Popular content-sharing website Reddit introduced a Facebook-esque “Timeline” feature, where users could see Reddit posts from the distant past — and the future. ThinkGeek brought out a series of new “products” including an Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass, a Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Perfume and more.

    Disappointing though it may be to realize these features aren’t real, the Internet’s efforts to one-up itself in silliness and humor at each April’s start are ceaselessly amusing.