Archive for July, 2008

Blogging ABC’s

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Sometimes people just think this BLOG thing is a fad and I really cannot blame them for wishing it to be so in some ways. Maybe if you wait long enough it will fade away like that avocado refrigerator you had in your kitchen growing up.

In some areas of the country blogging is a way of life when it comes to stuff going on in your kids school, scout troop, or things that a person might be interested in. My sister-in-law knits. Like REALLY knits. She reads several blogs that she finds are very helpful to her and brings her into this tight community of people that have same interests that she has. Her online “Stitch and Bitch” session.

That really is what blogging is. There is no mystery to it.

I also have a friend with cancer. She blogs with people around the world for support and suggestions on things she is going through and strangers help each other deal with the daily trials of a fight for life.

But how do you start? I wrote something in the Sephone blog about this very thing and there is a demo if you are interested in starting your own and these tools are all free and out there for the world to use. I also read a blog from one of the social media guru Chris Brogan that also had some very interesting perspective.

Personally, I started with the basics. Somebody told me about TWITTER. Here is a very easy way to learn about what is happening in an interest you may have. Twitter is about individual entries or “tweets” (see very non-techie cute) about what’s happening. The question at the top of the screen is “What are you doing? “ People fill it in and it posts to all the people that are following that individual automatically. If you click on the above link, you can go to mine and look at who I follow and see if there is someone on that list that you may want to follow or search for a topic. It is like a bulletin board with lots of links on it from people you choose to follow and if you see something tweeted, that takes you into directions onto other sites that you never heard about or never even thought about searching for.

iVillage is popular and mentioned on the Today Show a lot. It is a lifestyle blog that seems to be clued into young professionals, stay at home moms, families etc. I read it occasionally, but since I have no children and that seems to be central, it isn’t one that I check often.

One of the frustrating things I must say with some of these “social network types .” They are so busy cross-selling you on their latest book, seminar or whatever, it can be a bit much. Also the social networking “gurus” can be a bit intimidating because of the jargon they use. The first thing I say to myself is, “Well obviously they aren’t talking to me!”

But I am talking to you. And if you are a beginner, this advice is for you. Get a twitter account (again free) and try it. You’ll be surprised at what you may learn from complete strangers or the connections you can make around the world.

Facebook, Myspace and other things you should understand "For the Children!"

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

If you have children that spend time on the computer, no one can tell you enough that there are weirdos lurking on the internet and it is up to you to parent and know the details of where your kids are going when they are on line, just like you know the details when they are going out on a Friday night with their friends.

Computers in bedrooms where kids can remain on line for hours with little or no supervision is a bad idea no matter how SAFE the computer is. Kids need to interact with humans – person to person and not use the “tube” as a playmate. Also, there could be bullying on line from someone at school and you need to know that too! (The preceding link helps you understand issues with cyberbullying.)

Software subscriptions may be purchased (just like virus subscriptions) and here is a link to a website that gives you reviews of the different kinds available and how they work. Don’t forget before you choose one to buy, make sure you know if you want it on a PC or a MAC or if you use Internet Explorer or Firefox, as these matter.

Also remember that your kids may have Myspace accounts, or other social networking sites or even aol’s instant messenger, that you may want to watch and understand how they use it and who their friends are. Just when you think your kids Super Mario game is safe, did you know that Nintendo DS is a wireless gaming center that predators or bullies can instant message your kid from across a playground!

You can be sure of two things: Your kids will know more about how these work than you do, and the predators will know more than they do.

Text Messaging – What do those "words" mean?

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I have no children, but I do hear horror stories from my friends that have them about the text messaging phenomena. This post is not about how bad your cell phone bill is or if Johnny or Suzy got into trouble in math class because they were “text-ting” their friends.

This post is how to understand what they are saying to each other when they text. If your child tells you they cannot learn Spanish or French while their fingers are flying on the keys of their cell phones, they are just NOT motivated to learn it. Text messaging is just like a foreign language or a type of shorthand and they are motivated to learn that because there friends are all doing it and they want to be in the loop.

You don’t have to learn all the words, but wouldn’t it be good to know if your kids are talking about a party and someone’s parents leaving town? My fathers biggest fear was having to learn Aerosmith on an 8 Track, boy have things changed!!

I found a pretty neat page on internet.com that has a list of all the terms. Click here to check it out. It even includes what all the smiley (emoticons) faces mean.

But if you are looking for a word specifically, click on this link and you can type it in and it is pretty good on finding the word what means for you.

So click away and take a look, once you get the pattern it will be more natural than you think and if you really want to throw your kids for a loop, text them yourselves and keep them guessing as to how much YOU know!!

Keeping up with "THE NEWS" with Google Reader

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

We are in a 24 hour news cycle and have been for a while, so even tho I am pretty used to all that “noise,” I like to sift through what I like and don’t like to listen to, watch and definitely what I have TIME to READ!

Most nights, I was driving home and I say, “SHOOT! I needed to look that up!” Of course by the time I could I had forgotten it all ready.

What I was finding was that the list was becoming endless and I was becoming more frustrated. One of the guys in my office suggested “Google Reader” which of course they got the trademark blank stare, “HUH?” from me. There are others and certainly tell us if you like certain ones by commenting.

They showed me how to sign up (pretty painless) and I must say I am “hooked” so at that time, I put it on the Sephone blog, here is a link back to an “ABC’s” page that may help complete with screen shots.

I made this post short so you can go back to that link and sign up yourself! You can start putting your favorite news sources (this includes blogs) in one place that you can log into each day and see what is happening!

Why Ipods and Podcasts aren’t JUST "for kids"

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Your kids or maybe your niece or nephew have them. Or maybe that intense guy at the gym on the treadmill, but you dont need an Ipod…or do you?

Ipods are great tools and not toys — no kidding. You don’t need to own a mac to have one. You also don’t need to own a mac to subscribe to Itunes which is the most robust and complete music, audiobook and podcast service there is, I also think it is fun to use.

So that being said, listen to – oops read this:

1. You can have an Ipod or mp3 player to play music for your personal use with head phones, sure. But you can also buy an inexpensive adapter to plug it into your car sound system to play your songs, because you are tired of the same stuff radio. Some adapters allow you to charge your Ipod at the same time!

2. You can download audiobooks so you can listen to those books you never have time to read or learn how to speak spanish on the way to work, all by using your Ipod, plugged into your car!

3. You can subscribe to podcasts (almost always free) of your favorite subjects or your favorite NPR program like Car Talk, Deadliest Catch, Fresh Air or something like that. I download them when I know I will miss a show so I can listen later.

There is always something new and it is so easy – believe me, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be telling you about it!! There are all types of players, I had an mp3 player that frustrated me so much I cannot recommend that anyone go out and buy one. But if you have an abandon one around, go for it, why not?

I like Ipods. You can use them one handed when you are listening or browsing your selections AND they are easy to link up and transfer files when you have them plugged into your computer. There are many different sizes – by different sizes, I mean how much information they can hold. If you can spring for the video Ipod it is worth it and it really puts everything in to ONE thing. PLUS, the Deadliest Catch is my favorite thing and those extra episodes not aired on TV are fun to watch at camp on the weekend!

Folks in my office have the Ipod Touch which is a whiz bang rig, but I am not ready to go that far yet, but you can start small and work your way into what is most comfortable for you.


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