Thoughts on the CES - Consumer Electronics Show

For the last assignment of the class, we were invited to explore the Consumer Electronics Show. It was a little nostalgic to go the CES website and look at what’s going on this year. I lived in Las Vegas for several years and I went to a few of the conventions and usually left with a hypothetical shopping wish list that was way too long and too expensive. So I looked through the site and I will admit that I giggled as my shopping list was a lot lower. I live in a small building off the grid without running water and so thinking about air conditioners, cameras, phones and video gaming as potential purchases seemed a bit out of reality. I don’t think I would want most of them even if I did have the money. So I decided to look up Blackberry as that is the phone I used to use and I really do like using their products.

I looked at a few links and then I went to this one. http://www.cnet.com/news/blackberry-ceo-we-will-survive-as-a-company/

I was pleased to see that it looks like Blackberry will survive its financial crunch and I looked at other sites afterwards and saw a new blackberry that looks wonderful- I will admit that $599 is a little out of my price range though ;) It looked a lot easier to use and still has a keyboard which I am in love with- hence why I prefer Blackberrys over so many other phones. I thought the review was helpful, but also a sales pitch so it worked as I want one of the phones, but doesn’t tell me how much better or useful than the one I have.

When I went into the Smartphone category, I saw lots of links about using fingerprint technology and eyescanners and how some companies were really interested in the technology and other companies were interested but wanted to wait until the technology was more proven and less difficult or prone to problem- that seemed like a cautious and prudent idea. I also liked reading about the bigger phones and tablets and I found myself pretty interested in them as well. AS most tablets are touch screen but big enough so I feel like I can use them, one of the ‘phablets’ seemed like a potential idea for a large phone that I would like. I tend to not like to hold my phone up to my ear and use the speakerphone feature so that is nice as well. http://www.cnet.com/news/all-hail-the-phablet-jumbo-phones-finally-going-mainstream/

On a side note, I saw the link in the category car tech for ‘Doc Brown and his Delorean’ showing up CES 2014 and that was funny. http://www.cnet.com/pictures/doc-brown-appears-in-his-delorean-at-ces-2014/

I am interested to see what other people thought was interesting on the site, especially people who use technology more than me. I’m pretty curious to see what other people find and find interesting....


Thoughts on Kevin Kelly and Predictions on Technology

*For this discussion, we started by watching a youtube video that war filmed in 2007 that you can find here. I highly recommend it! It is a video by Kevin Kelly about predictions on technology and computers.

This was a really interesting video and I am really impressed with Kevin Kelly and his research. He certainly made a quite a few predictions that are true today and I am interested to see how his predictions for the future turn out… it appears he will be pretty on there as well. One thing that I thought was interesting and I have spent some time chewing on is that the more transparent we are on personal things, the more we can gain. I am still a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology- mostly because I just can’t afford it- and I do share some things that are personal on Facebook and through email but I am still really learning about all of this. And even when saying that, I really that I am codependent on my technology that I do use. So is my place of work, my school, and most places that I go to. I was thinking about it and I see benefits to being so dependent on machines and also some downsides. I think that everything in life has some benefits and not so good things… anyone who has kids knows that ;) I like being able to get personalized recommendations and to be able to research and do things that so much more easily, but I also do not like being inundated with ads and other useless things. Thinking of the web as a living breathing beast was a metaphor that really did seem to work for me and thinking about how we are teaching machines to see and think for us and eventually being able to do it much better than us collectively (I think we are there now actually) is an image I do not think I will lose soon.

One last thing that I thought about was how ‘we cannot imagine ourselves without writing or alphabets’. That is really true. I love reading and do it as much as I can. I love writing and consider it one of my best talents. I can’t imagine a life without that and it is a pleasure to hold a book in my hand and sometimes I wake up with that same book there. But I also wake up with a phone next to be to so that I can check my email, etc… So I am changing slowly but adding technology when I can. I feel sad that so many books are not being read on a computer but it also makes books more available for people to read and that’s a great thing. How can I be upset about that? So it is interesting to think about how we are embodying machines with our characteristics and anchoring our lives around them as well.


Thoughts on Ted.com.... and the Intelligence of Crows

So I searched the Ted site for a bit before I found one that I really wanted to watch. I started with a video on vultures that you can find here…. Which was wonderful! It was called “Why I love vultures and the talk was given by Munir Virani and lasted 6:38 minutes. If you are feeling cynical about politicians and politics these days, watch the first few minutes of it for a great laugh. :) I didn’t know that vultures were endangered as I have thought they really sort of had a niche in the environmental. Knowing that we as human beings are poisoning them feels a little sad and weird. I felt a little motivated to do something, but I also wasn’t really sure what I could do besides maybe writing a letter. I saw a turkey vulture by the side of the road a few months ago and it was the highlight of my day. While they are not the prettiest little things, they are pretty cool.

The next one I watched for fun was given by Joshua Klein and was on the intelligence of crows. It was ten minutes long…. Joshua studied crows for years and he built a vending machine for crows. It’s really quite cool and I want one because I look watching crows. We had a pet crow for a little while when he was injured in the wild and I have a short video of it if anyone wants to see it. The video was fourth down on the same page as posted above and he talked about how a lot of the animal conversations these days tend to focus on animals that are becoming endangered and not on animals that are hyper adaptive and are doing well with us in their environments and in fact have adapted to use us in their environments. Talking about developing mutual beneficial systems and ideas on it was great and I have posted the video to my Facebook page.

Here is the page I found both of these on. I am going to watch some more of them. I think this is a site I will visit more over time...

What are your experiences with this site? I even found John Dehlin on it.... it has alot!


Thoughts on a Typing Adventure.....!

This assignment was really interesting with a few websites to explore. I tried all four websites for the typing skills and I found varied responses when using each one. I do not know how to touch type very well and I am much faster typing with my three fingers and looking at the keyboard. I found that my typing was either slower or faster depending on the site and how it arranged its tests. I found some challenges figuring out how to work some of the tests as well so I did spent a lot of time just figuring out how the tests worked on each of the different sites. Here are my thoughts:

1. Typingtest.com – The first thing about this site was that I got lost within a few minutes of getting to the page. I found myself not sure of how to proceed and would click on the sponsored links which would then take me to the same subject on different web sites or offer me a lot of other options and I would realize I had made a wrong turn. Once I figured out what I was doing, I did the typing test a few times, both with the ‘Aesop’s fables’ as a base and the ‘Enchanted typewriter’. I found my average typing speed was fluent or average (between 37-47 words per minute. I tried some of the tutorials and I didn’t enjoy them very much and didn’t find that helpful, however, I suspect that trying to change my typing style now would be difficult and so that was part of the problem. Sitting my fingers in ways that do not feel comfortable to me may be a significant setback on trying to relearn to type, especially if I do not feel really motivated to do it.

2. Mrkent.com – I didn’t enjoy this site very much. I struggles through most of the tutorials and felt a bit like a failure at the end of it. My average was six correct words a minute between the lines of jumbled letters and numbers and I found the totals only got worse the more annoyed I got and the faster I tried to be. The Mosquito Revenge Typing Game was pretty fun though and I found I ‘splatted’ a lot. My son thought that was great! So he will probably keep using the site as he was much more successful than I was. A few of the other links on the home page were pretty neat and I made my ex a ‘word find’ puzzle for fun (Don’t worry, professor! I am on good terms with him and we are dating again so the puzzle was full of nice words! ;)

3. Powertyping.com – I liked this site. I found it frustrating to start with, but as I figured out how to use it, I enjoyed a lot of the games. I started with the “Calvin and Hobbes’ image and typed in the words first on beginner with animals and was very successful. The amount of success I had was gauged on how quickly I was able to pick up on everything. As it got faster, I was less successful, but I didn’t feel as stressed or let down with these games so I think this website is the one I like the most.

4. Typingweb.com – I thought this site was fun, but was also a site I did really poorly at. I couldn’t keep up well or would try to rush and did poorly, but since I am not a touch typist, I suspect quite a few people would struggle with typing ‘zachory, zabba, zaman, zaxy, zavvy, zamn’ pretty quickly. Especially since they spelled ‘zachory’ wrong- I had do look back and change it as my mind automatically corrected the spelling. It was fun, but I wasn’t very successful.

So this week felt like a little bit of a mixed bag but, I think that most of that comes from my pretty poor typing skills. After all you are never going to like a site that tells you through its test that you can only type six words a minutes when you recognize that is partially you but also the test itself. I think I just typed the last few lines in a minute period of time and there are a few more words than six ;) I did find one site I really liked and two that were ‘ok’ so my son can learn how to type correctly and we can have fun together with it. I also will keep in mind some of the other functions for word finds, etc… which can come in handy for church activities, etc…

So, did you give any of these a try? What are your thoughts? Were any of the above sites useful to you?


Thoughts on Google Voice…

* a link to the site.... :)

This discussion question was a sigh of fresh air because I have actually heard of and used the website suggested before! Until a year or so ago, I had a Google voice number and I found that it was helpful in a few ways. It offered me a second number to put on resumes and you can have the voice mails left on it forwarded to your 'original' number. You can also- I am not sure how as my ex did all that- set it up so that it will transcribe the message and send it to your email. It you have a limited cell phone plan and no house phone, a google voice number can really save you some minutes because you get the message without using any minutes to check the voice mail and it helps you to be able to only use your minutes for the important calls you wish to make. My cell company also had a way online to put a few numbers as family and frequent call numbers that would allow anyone to call those numbers and not use minutes... or I could use it and not use minutes. Our family and close friends would always call us on the Google voice number and so we were able to use the minimum phone plan with very few minutes but not really feel any kind of a pinch or too limited. It also would keep records of the calls which ended up being really helpful sometimes. I never used it to make calls straight from the computer because that option wasn't one that I needed, but I do like the program nonetheless as it was so useful in other ways. The only reason I let the number lapse was that I have an unlimited plan now and since I didn't use it on the computer, it was a small hassle to keep. But I would cheerfully sign up again if needed. It was great! Only downside that I saw was that the transcription would sometimes have problems based on ways that words could be pronounced or with accents... so I might need to make small translations of the translation myself- very rarely was the translation so off that I needed to listen to the message to figure it out. It would transcribe things like Harry Beattie to 'Harry Baby' due to his accent. Minor things like that really weren't an issue and did make me giggle.

So I watched the videos- there were twelve that seemed to be the starter ones. And I feel like I learned a few things and I remembered a few things that I loved about it like the personalized greetings. I had a few of those in the past and I really liked those... at least I had fun with them. I also learned about blocking calls- I didn't know you could do that nor did I know about the option for conference calls. This project has sort of convinced me to possibly sign up again. :)

Have you used it before? What are your thoughts?


Thoughts on the Khan Academy...

I started this assignment by looking at the Khan Academy website and watching the video about Saloman Khan and how he started his videos for family use and then eventually developed a public site. Two things struck me right away. First, I used my home laptop at the school and since I was logged into my Facebook account, the home page for the academy told me that three of my 'friends' were also 'friends' with them. That felt a little intrusive and odd that this site I had never heard of had figured out 'who I was' before I even set up an account. I also discovered pretty quickly that I couldn't watch any other videos without opening an account. While I appreciate that the site allows you to sign up for free and then you have full access to all of it, but I am very careful with how I give out my info and I felt a bit trapped at that point. I needed to watch a video or two for the discussion, but couldn't do so without giving my name, email address, and my birth date. I went ahead and did so, but I still feel a little uncomfortable with that.

The video that I started with – the interview with Salam Khan- was really interesting. I liked listening to his journey of the opportunity and the desire to help his nephews learn and how those few videos he put out that seemed to be so useful that he branched out and they eventually became the website that I just visited. I love the fact that it’s free- cost can be such an impediment for some groups of people. I know for me I am much more likely to take the time to check it out if I do not have to shell out money to do so. I next decided to try a few things that I knew to see what I thought about them. I have been teaching BLS for over a decade so I looked up CPR and they have a program for it. The program tries to teach body position and arm angles and hand placement and as soon as I figured out how the program worked I has able to successfully do it. I thought it was interesting but I wonder how much can be really learned when you are using one finger to do it. One of the things we do in class is the do the ‘maneuvers’ several times over a class to try and develop a body memory so that if you cannot mentally remember what to do, maybe your body will. I think this was a great introduction to the topic and gave you a few good ideas so I thought it was useful. I wonder if any users have felt compelled to take a real class from using the program on the site... I would love to know that answer.

I next went to a few medical videos and watch those. I worked for Mercy ambulance in a big city out west for a decade and I saw a few abdominal aortic aneurysms in people- some who survived and some who didn’t. So I did watch the video on the site about it here. I thought it was very accurate and pretty interesting. Covered all the facts I knew and two that I didn’t. I do recommend it for everyone to watch for informational purposes because many people have to have the AAA burst before they recognize they have it and makes it more challenging for medical staff to fix. The video didn’t cover all the ways to recognize them, but an aneurism is a hard thing to recognize because it depends on where they are in the body. But it covered quite a bit and all the testing that doctors do to diagnose it.

The next one I watched was on breathing and asthma that can be found here: It was just awesome and I am going to recommend it to the current teacher of the medical assistant program. I thought it was really helpful and reinforced what I knew and I gained some knowledge as well. I think I might be start using this site as a permanent feature of my education… even if they do track me and my friends ;)

What are your thoughts?


Thoughts on Gcflearnfree....

At the site gcflearnfree.org, I checked out a few tutorials on some things that interested me. This was another site that I hadn't heard of before and after some time on it, I had a little bit of a mixed opinion. Since I struggle hard core with math in my personal life, I thought I would start there. The math portion was divided into sections that covered the basics and a little bit of fourth grade math (fractions), but except for some basics it didn't really do much for me. For instance, it gives practice problems, but doesn’t give a way to check your answers to see if you understood- if they do I couldn't find it. There was a zombie game in that section which I tried and that would allow you to do the math problem and let you know whether you arrived at the right answer or not and it was a little fun, but I thought it might also be stressful because you have to 'rush' the answers or the zombie will 'get you'. That said I realized that I was better at addition in my head than I thought ;)

I glanced through “All the Topics” next and I found that there were a lot of good topics, but not many that interested me right now. I looked at reading because it is one of my favorite things to do and I thought the exercises were great- only thing I would have changed is except for the 'grammar' section, there wasn't much on writing. (I suspect that is because writing is much too complex to put in small bites – at least that's how I see writing.) I also looked at the Microsoft office section because I am currently taking a beginner's computer class and that is something that we are learning about. I found that the topics I already understood well I could understand clearly in the exercises, but I did struggle a little with trying to figure them out if I didn't already have some understanding of the concept discussed.

I think that this might be a site that I would use again, but I didn't feel completed grabbed by the site in such a way that I will be more likely to use it on a regular basis. It was good to learn about and I am interested to see what other people thought of it. I think if I was in a position to be able to use the internet more and to need the information it provided I would be more interested in using it more often. Anyway, it's good to know! :)

What do you think? Have you tried it? On a semi weird note, when I first saw the website title I read it so fast that I thought it was about gluten free stuff and I was really excited... and then confused for the first few seconds of looking at the site... You can't tell what's always in my head, can ya? :D


Thoughts on Onguardline.gov….

** Please visit this federal government site to learn about internet fraud, computer security, and how to protect your personal information if needed***

I was excited to start this week looking at onguardline.gov. I found this topic really interesting, especially due to the recent news about Home Depot’s computers being hacked with a large data loss. On my computer I use a few programs to help me try to protect my data. I use LastPass for my password vault and HTTPS-Everywhere on my computer when I am searching or using the web and that has been the extent of my computer protection with the exception of virus protection.

So when I looked at the site I started with ‘Tips for Using Public Wi-FI Networks’. In one of the tips it mentioned the secure internet program I am using and with few exceptions, I have really enjoyed using it. I haven’t had any problems over the last few years. (Knock on wood!)

I do have a cell phone but I am woefully ignorant on mobile apps for I went to the ‘Understanding Mobile Apps' next. I had heard about being able to use wi-fi with my home instead of just my data plan and I had forgotten about it. The reading reminded me of it- and also reminded me that using it might be a bit risky- and so I left the sight to look up how to do that on my phone and ten minutes later I have finally figured it out. (If anyone wondered why I am taking a computer class, this is why… Even the programs that I have used to secure things were decided and downloaded by my ex. :) I only have two apps on my phone for two things and do not have any other ones, but I did find myself a little more interested in looking to see what options I might have. I am really cheap so I don’t know, but I may look at the ‘app store’ this weekend and look. I do not have a security app on my phone so I should look and see what is out there. The advice on kids and mobile apps was very timely too because my son is starting to show interest in a cell phone and we have started the conversation in the family. I feel like I got some more information to take home and talk with my ex-husband and son about while we are trying to make our decision. The ‘Protect Kids Online’ section which I went to next was a little eye opening. I went next to the video on protecting kids online and then decided I’d made enough notes and questions to take home.

I didn’t know about this site and was glad to be introduced to it. Looking forward to more sites!

Did you give it at try? Have you used it in the past? What are your thoughts....


Thoughts on HealthyComputing.com….

I think this site would be very useful for people who do not know a lot about computer and body ergonomics and if you are having some problems that you think are based on using your computer, check it out.... :)

I spent forty minutes looking over the site http://www.healthycomputing.com. My first inclination was to not find the site very interesting. I am having some significant health issues right now so the first section I checked out was the ‘Your Health’ section and I didn't find anything that seemed to fit me very well. I looked at all four sections and I copied out the stretches- I think that I have accidentally been doing those stretches pretty often over the last few years, but I thought I would put the copy on my fridge and remind myself about doing them more often. Under 'conditions and treatments' only one thing really was pertinent to me and has been pertinent since I was a wee child and that was myopia with slight astigmatism. I am extremely blind/ near sighted without my glasses and so it was interesting to read that my eyesight could be getting worse due to computer use. I haven’t found that it’s really getting worse over the last several years and I do use the computer a lot, but I know that my near vision should be changing soon simply due to age. When human beings reach their forties, the lens in the eye loses its ability to perform ‘accommodation’ which makes the near vision more challenging or harder to use… hence bifocals or reading glasses. Did I mention I am not looking forward to that?!?!?!

I also looked at 'Causes of Discomfort' but I didn’t see any that I tend to have troubles with over the several sections in it. I’m grateful for that! So I didn’t find this site terrible useful, but only because I have already been fairly well educated in the topic. I am determined to not need carpel tunnel surgery for as long as possible. So to sum up, I found the stretching information very interesting and printed it out for future use, but didn't find much of the rest of the information pertinent to me. :)

How about you?


Thoughts on eHow....

This was the first website I was introduced to in the class: http://www.ehow.com I searched for some topics that I was interested in and … so without further ado, I will move on to the discussion. :)

I have never used the website 'eHow' and so I took the opportunity to really check it out. I read some of the articles and watched a few of the videos. The first two I watched were as follows:

“Learning to Drive a Car” by Casey Atkinson – length of 1.01 minutes

“How to Change a Fuel Filter” by Richard Goms – length of 3:39 minutes

I choose these few to start with because I have been interested in learning to do a few things with my car and so I thought this might be an opportunity. I watched the videos and for the most part didn't feel like they were helpful. I felt like if I already knew most of the information, then I could learn something, but if I knew very little then I felt like I watched something, but didn't really feel like I learned anything. I realized after looking at my car that his instructions wouldn't really work for my brand of vehicle. So I wondered if the articles might be more helpful, and so I looked at a few of them. They were as follows:

“Want to Display Your Favorite Knives? Do it in Style on a DIY Rustic Wall Rack” by Tim and Mary Vidra

“How to Make Healthy Cat Food” by Sunny Griffis

“How to Give CPR” by an eHow contributor

For the most part, I felt the same way about the articles. I have been a BLS instructor for over a decade and didn't find anything factually incorrect, but I also didn't feel like I would have learned much from it. I guess that when I looked at the articles and the videos I had so many questions and I couldn't get them answered. I found that a little ironic because I like online classes for their flexibility, but I also recognize that I prefer the give and take of the real classroom and being able to look at the person I am speaking to and to ask questions when I have them. I did make the cat food and found that very easy and it was appreciated by my crew, but as someone who cooks a lot and understands that process more... I think that I pretty much just used the recipe and just 'did it'.

I am not sure whether the time I spent on the videos was worthwhile in any sense other than the curiosity I was able to use and to decide whether the site would be useful or not. I don't think I will actively use it again unless I need to for an assignment but I don't consider my time wasted trying to make that decision. I do not think I will recommend it to anyone because I think that many other people would have the same problems that I had with the information; either too little information or the inability to have things explained in a different way and questions answered. At least for me, I do not think this site would help me learn much that I didn't already have some decent knowledge in. I asked my ex-husband to watch a few and he felt like he could learn a few things so I think that maybe the ways that I learn are not compatible with many of the ways that the sites uses to teach. Just my thoughts.

For any of you guys who have used this site… what were your thoughts?


“Introduction to Computing 101” – Introduction to April’s Topic

There will not be very many posts for this class that I can actually put on my blog. I have used a computer for years but I haven’t ever really had any formal training in using many programs and have simply just worked my way along. I took the class for a few reasons; to try and cement some basic knowledge and learn more about the programs that I currently use, to learn more about programs I know very little about but would be very helpful in the workplace, and to see what other resources and programs are out there that I might want to use if I knew how. I knew that this class couldn’t entirely give me everything that I was seeking, but I did get quite a bit out of it and even know how to make some snazzy posters now. :)

What I would like to post about since I can’t post most of my work and it wouldn’t be very interesting to look at is to post about different resources that I was introduced to and my reactions to them. That way I can also introduce my readers to some of these websites that they may not know about which could be helpful to them. I wish I had been able to use some of these sites when I was a few decades younger. So the posts will be pretty short and sweet but hope they will be useful interspersed with the personal postings. Enjoy!

pictures from: http://globe-views.com/dreams/computer.html