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12 posts from June 2007

June 30, 2007

My June 2007 Perfect Post Award Nomination

Ppmay07 I enjoy participating in Suburban Turmoil's Perfect Post awards. This month, I was inspired by a writer in the Chicago Moms Blog. As a Silicon Valley Moms Blogger, I was so happy to have two new sister sites Chicago and New York City. We are just getting New York up and running, but our Chicago Moms Bloggers have been prolific bloggers. I really enjoy reading about life in Chicago, but feel one post for this month sums it up.

Jessica Ashley, who also blogs on Sassafrass, That’s Fit, and Strollerderby, created a post called "Dear Oprah". I happen to be a big Oprah TV show, Oprah.com and Oprah magazine fan. When I read or watch the show, every time I think "yeah - I can relate"and learn a tip or two. This month I was excited to read about Sarah Jessica Parker's new fashion line.

Jessica's post
did a great job of showing how mom bloggers also have great "kickass" stories of survival and mama chic. So I guess you can say I am also a big fan of mom bloggers, they always post about things I can "relate" to and (as a bonus gift) I get some great tips.

I do need to throw in this post at Suburban Turmoil because of it's complete, over the top, don't mind saying cute because it is so darn cute post. Can I nominate two posts??

June 29, 2007

Mom in a Minivan Hangs with the Palo Alto iPhone Groupies....

Cp_ipod_iphone_070629 As I am writing this (6pm June 29th) those waiting in the long line at the Apple Store in Palo Alto, some for 24 hours or more, are getting their new iPhone.

After reading the reviews, most recently by David Pogue of the New York Times, I see that there are many advantages and some challenges for the iPhone. The most important advantage (from a Mom's standpoint) seems to be the ease of use and amazing graphics. Everything from the keyboard, web browser and email is controlled by a touch screen. The graphics allow a user to see a newspaper page on their iPhone while scrolling with their fingertips (and double tap to enlarge). The challenge from the reviews seems to be response time. When iPhone users are at a Wi-Fi hotspot, the reviewers say the response time is fast. But, as David Poque said, "otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow." David Pogue also has an interesting graphical tour of the iPhone. Techmeme was all a-buzzing iPhone talk today.

Overall I agree the iPhone is revolutionary, and so did all the people waiting in line today. I happen to be in downtown Palo Alto touching base with LaBelle, Vivre, Mantra and Romi regarding the results of our mom makeover contest. On the way back, I thought I would drive by the Apple Store to see if anyone is waiting in line. I knew there were lines all over the country, but in Palo Alto? I should have known better, this is Silicon Valley after all!

Robert Scoble (pictured on the left) posted on his blog Scobleizer.com "Report from the line". He happened to be second in line when I went to the front. Now, if I were a real reporter I would of had a pen and paper so I could have written down all the nice peoples' names (who agreed to have their picture taken for a moms blog). But, I am just a mom in a minivan that happened to be on the way to pick her son up from camp so I was lucky to have my camera in the car.

Here is Robert Scoble's son (pictured on the right) who was "number one"in line. He said he has been in line since 9:30am YESTERDAY! They were also featured in the Palo Alto Daily News.

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The NBC News crew was around the corner. They were getting ready to film a story, but kindly agreed to have their picture taken. Wow, lots of excitement in downtown Palo Alto!

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Continue reading "Mom in a Minivan Hangs with the Palo Alto iPhone Groupies...." »

June 21, 2007

NYT - David Pogue Linklove: Digital SLR's, File Transfering and Cell Phones for Kids

Circuis I recieve feeds from the New York Times Thursday Circuits section to my email. Today had an link to an interesting article on File transfering by David Pogue. He said (on flight during a business trip) that his "brain turns to mush when I have to wake up too early. I'd forgotten the two-gigabyte folder of photos."  I was so happy to see that because being a parent means that your brain regularly turns to mush. So any advice he can give would be helpful. His article discussed the different ways to do file transfers (using chat programs or FTP). And information on a program called "Pando".

Then I went over to his main site (Pogues Pages) and found another great article on Digital SLR's. Being a blogger and a parent means that taking pictures is a must - and having a good camera really makes a difference in picture quality.

I also found a video he made on "Cell Phones for Kids". I did my own review so it was great to have a chance to see his perspective. Take a look! He somehow got a tiny toddler to answer the phone saying "hello" and a teenage girl that said "A cell phone where I can ONLY call my parents, yeah....". Funny, because I got the same response from my 8 year old when I asked him about a phone that could only call us ("you mean I can't call my friends....).

June 20, 2007

Video Games - For Teens With Cancer

Wp1 Yahoo News published an article on fighting Cancer with Video Games. I had to go check it out. The program is called "Re-Mission". Re-Mission.net is a community for teens and young adults with cancer. The site has a section for the Re-Mission video game and community & content. This is a very interesting way to provide support and an online community for teens with cancer.

June 18, 2007

Attack of the Computer Phishers and Zombie Hordes

Security Have you ever received an "email" from a "bank" or "credit card company" requesting personal information? I delete any email from any bank or credit card company right away without reading them, but some people may not know to do that. I mean, come on, what institution in their right mind would send an email requesting personal information anyway? I called my financial institutions and they confirmed that they NEVER send emails requesting personal information. If you receive that type of email and still think it is for real, I say give the institution a call (the number you have on your records).

Criminals use something called "Phishing" to obtain personal information from unsuspecting people. The Anti-Phishing working group is committed to "wiping out Internet scams and frauds".  Here is their definition of Phishing:

"What is Phishing and Pharming? Phishing attacks use both social engineering and technical subterfuge to steal consumers'   personal identity data and financial account credentials. Social-engineering schemes use 'spoofed' e-mails to lead consumers to counterfeit websites designed to trick recipients into divulging financial data such as      credit card numbers, account usernames, passwords and social security numbers. Hijacking brand names of banks, e-retailers and credit card companies, phishers often convince recipients to respond. Technical subterfuge schemes plant crimeware onto PCs to steal credentials directly, often using Trojan keylogger spyware. Pharming crimeware misdirects users to fraudulent sites or proxy servers, typically through DNS hijacking or poisoning."

The site also has information on how to avoid phishing scams.  The phishers set up mirror websites of those used by consumers as a way to falsely collect personal information. I looked on one of the phishing emails I recieved and although it was suppposed to be a popular bank, the URL was something I did not recognize (hint, hint). 

Amazon.com has a section in their help area with information on identifying phishing and spoofed emails. PayPal also has a Phishing Guide. The Federal Trade Commission has a section on Web Scams (and a warning about false emails). Banks like Wells Fargo also have sections on how to protect yourself against online security fraud and info on fraudulent emails and websites. Here is an example of a fraudulent email from the Wells Fargo Website:

"Subject:  Notification for Customer of e-mail address change

E-MAIL CHANGE NOTIFICATION

Dear Customer!Thank you for banking online at wellsfargo.com. Our records indicate that you recently added or made a change to one of your email address(es). This notification is to confirm that you initiated this change. If you feel you have received this email in error and did not add or change your email address(es), please click here.Sincerely,

Online Banking Team"

Just in case you were wondering, DO NOT CLICK THERE! Or as the FTC says: *Don’t open the attachment. * Delete the e-mail. * Empty the deleted items folder.

I saw on Yahoo Tech a post that also identified another Internet security risk: innocent computers being hijacked to use for sending out spamBBC News reported that "the FBI is contacting more than one million PC owners who have had their computers hijacked by cyber criminals". The hijacked home computers are called "Zombies".  Another post from Yahoo Tech also discusses the ways to beat spyware (Step 1 and Step 2). All I say is that it is very important to have anti-virus and anti-spyware modules running active on your computer. Symantec has a full suite of products, McAfee and software called BitDefender (which is reasonably priced).

I am interested in what other people have used to protect themselves against computer viruses and spyware? Any other lessons learned?

June 17, 2007

Give Dad the Gift of Links Linklove

It's Father's Day and like many moms you either:

A. Have a gift purchased and wrapped in nice wrapping paper with a design of your husband's hobby. The gift was purchased weeks ago.
B. Have hand made crafts from the kids with cute little hand written notes.
--OR--
C. (Like me) Are too busy surviving each day to even attempt to think about a gift. Already worked out a "priceless" gift of having your husband sleep in with breakfast in bed. That is, with what is available in your refrigerator since you have not had to a chance to go shopping. Why? Well, with all the end of school parties and now the kids are out of school you don't even have a chance to sit down so how dare anyone even ask you to think about gifts for your husband..... <end of rant>

For those other "C" moms, here is a list of gift suggestions. When your kids ask what daddy's gifts are, you can say "I picked out a couple of things but I want daddy to choose". Then you can email the links to your husband's smart-phone so he can review them over the family dinner (which you will allow on father's day). There is still time to make early dinner reservations out if needed.

FATHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE FOR BUSY MOMS WHO HAVE NO TIME TO SHOP SO WILL USE LINKS TO SUGGESTED GIFTS INSTEAD:

PC Magazine has a gift guide for the Family SysAdmin Dad, The Young and Hip DadThe Sporty and Outdoorsy Dad, The Tech Newbie Dad and the Executive Traveler Dad.

Amazon has gift guides including sections for the Well-Read Dad, Do-It Himself Dad, Well-Groomed Dad and Playful Dad.

MSNBC said forget the tie and give your husband a weekend. MSN Shopping showed a digital photo keychain and a motorized grill brush.

Action_sports_hands_free_camera Gifts.com has creative Father's Day gadget suggestions such as action sports handsIpod_doc_for_bathroom free camera, wireless grilling thermometers, remote control key locators, voice activated remote control, usb beverage warmer, multi gadget charging station and a ipod dock for the bathroom (the first of many bathroom gifts I found...).

Strollerderby listed their last minute gift ideas that included a urinal thingie. I may ask for that as a present for my sons' bathroom.

Dory Devlin from Yahoo Tech posted on the most popular dad item: a TV remote. This one is an advanced Harmony universal remote control. Yahoo Tech writers' Christopher Null listed his own Fathers Day wish list and Gina Hughes listed the Soccer Dads gift guide

For reviews on tech products, CNET has Dads and Grads gift guide and New Egg has lots-o-juicy review tidbits.

Peter Hartlaub from the San Francisco Chronicle listed the "Worlds Greatest Dad" tee shirt in his article titled "World's worst gifts for world's best dads".  He brought up a very important question: "...And what happens when two fathers wearing the World's Greatest Dad T-shirt run into each other? Do they have to fight to the death? "Irock_3

Super_papa But don't give up hope, there are some cool tee shirts out there. The BlackBeary for BlackBerry addicted Dads, Cafe Press has a super papa shirt (I may need to get one for the chief of my 3Superheroes) or for ex-rockers turned dads the "I Rock" tee shirt (ha, ha). Even better, make your own tee shirt using a tee shirt transfer with a family picture, printer and an iron. Or he can design his own tee-shirts to sell at Goodstorm.com.

The Find suggests items to prepare the family for the beach and shoes for dads.

Jobmom suggested 5 blogs for dads and Father's Day Gift Ideas with Tips From a Dad. Talking about blogs for dads, MetroDad has a previous post on the The Eight Types of Playground Parents that can be used for some Father's Day humor.

Over at Maya's Mom I found a Father's Day Gift Guide from Mamanista, book recommendations from Mir and Father's Day dream gifts from crazedparent.

If nothing looks interesting, there is always virtual gift cards.

In the end, I think GeekDad helped put the meaning of father's day in perspective. Dan Olsen posted on an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Tony Woodlief (a dad of three boys) titled "Boys to Men". Having three boys myself, I found it refreshing to hear his thoughts on being a good father:

"The good father, then, needs to nurture his son's moral and spiritual core, and equip him with the skills he'll need to act on the moral impulse that we call courage.....Not only do I believe that trying to take the wildness out of boys is a doomed social experiment, but I'm certain that genetic scientists will eventually discover that males carry the Cowboy Gene. That's my name for whatever is responsible for all the wrestling in my house, and the dunking during bath time, and my 5-year-old's insistence on wearing his silver six-shooters to Wal-Mart in order to protect our grocery cart. I only pray that when the Cowboy Gene is discovered, some well-meaning utopian doesn't try to transform it into a Tea Party Gene".

If none of the links were a good fit, just tell your husband he is a "good father".

Cross Posted on Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

June 11, 2007

Keeping Track of Online IDs with OnXiam

Oniaxm_3 The wired world has made keeping track on ID's across multiple applications complicated. Even if you use the same ID, you have to remember what applications you signed up for and even worse - your passwords. Being from an application security background, it is important to have secure alphnumeric passwords, which end up being hard to remember at times.

I was visiting Techcrunch, that posted about a blog called Daily Tech Talk (dTt). When I went to take a look at this blog (very interesting, I added it to my tech sites typelist) I saw the most interesting section on his about page. The section listed all of his ID's across multiple online apps such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. The site he used to organize this information is called onXiam.

I decided to add myself. I chose one site that I am just starting to add information to (LinkedIn). All identities added are public by default, but you can choose to have some of your identities remain private. The onXiam FAQ page explains the details.

This is a great service for moms, because just keeping track of your child's schedule is hard enough without remembering ID's.

June 07, 2007

9 Year Old Video Game Circuit Star?

The New York Times reported on Victor M. De Leon III, a 9 year old that has won thousands of dollars in prizes, has a national corporate sponsor, a publicist, featured on 60 minutes and has a Web site....

"..he is set to be among 2,500 competitors in the three-day Major League Gaming Pro Circuit Event at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, battling for titles like the titan on the Xbox game Halo 2 and prizes up to $20,000."

And best yet, his father uses parental  controls "to block excessive gore and offensive language".  Yikes, I don't know what to say. Is being a video game circuit winner any different then traveling the spelling bee circuit? Probably. What if he enjoys playing video games and being in the competitions? Is it ok, or not so because it is video games? What about kids that compete in robotics competitions? Where should parents draw the line for what is acceptable?

June 06, 2007

Online Photo Sharing

Now that many families have digital cameras, they want to start to share their pictures online with relatives and friends. I have tons of digital pictures (not printed yet) that are stored on external hard drive but my family has not seen them yet. What shall I do?

I was happy to see a review in the New York Times by one of my favorite tech columnists (David Pogue) titled "Photo Sharing Even for the Folks". It is always helpful when a journalist does the research for me. The article reviewed:

I found his explanation of each website informative. David Pogue recommended Snapfish, Kodak Gallery and Picasa Web Albums. My friends with Macs are very happy with iPhoto. I think I will stick with using flickr to share pictures with my blogger buddies, Google Picasa for web albums and VOX for a family newsletter blog.

One of the open issues were loading pictures in bulk. To solve that in Flickr I found tools that assist in uploading and downloading pictures in bulk. I was pleased with Flickr uploadr, it made uploading the pictures for my post on the Nordstrom's Spring 207 Fashions Trends much quicker then before. The Flickr tools menu has a section for using photos to build a badge similar to the one below and other utilities. I found directions on loading the badge using the Flickr help forum.

www.flickr.com
This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Nordstrom Spring 2007 Trend. Make your own badge here.

I also found that converting .jpgs to .gifs are very helpful to make loading quicker (.gif files are much smaller then .jpgs).  The New York Times has an article explaining different file formats (Wading Through Formats: JPEG, TIFF and Friends). Many of the photo editing software allows conversion of files to the "web", which usually means a .gif file format. Wikipedia has a summary of the different graphic file formats.

My next project is to organize some family photo albums in Google Picasa and finally get my family VOX newsletter online.

Related Links:
CNET Top 3 ways to share photos online and Create a online photo album

June 05, 2007

A Visit to JobMom

I was honored to be interviewed by Charlene Prince Birkeland for JobMom, a blog about the journey to find family-work-life balance. I enjoy reading her posts that bring up topics like managing work life balance when a spouse travels, from Mom to Mompreneur and paying the price to follow your dreams.

Being a working mom is such a unique experience, it is great to hear other voices like Charlene's to see different perspectives on common issues. I completely related to the summer scheduling challenges from her post "Schools Out, What Now". Especially when she said "My flexible, freelance schedule is a dream come true -- until summer vacation hits". I am trying to schedule my three boys in camps they will enjoy so I can also have time to work, yet have still have time for summer roadtrips.  It does give new meaning to the word "vacation". I think I may just use Charlene's strategy of spending the afternoons together.

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