2015/04/23

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....

2015/04/21

Thoughts on Kate 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.

2015/04/19

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!

2015/04/17

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?

2015/04/15

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?