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9 posts from December 2007

December 30, 2007

Some Kids Received Suprises Instead of Gadgets For Holiday Gifts

And in the "I was waiting for this to happen" category, two kids received surprises instead of technology gadgets when they opened their holiday gifts.

  • CrunchGear posted on one girl that received a strange viral message in her box instead of an iPod.
  • Engadget posted about the boy who opened a box that was supposed to contain a PlayStation 3 and instead contained a phone book!

Is the lesson learned for the parents to open the boxes of holiday gifts before wrapping them? May be a good idea....And keep those receipts in a safe place.

December 29, 2007

NYT David Pogue's Son Reviews Wii Table Tennis

David Pogue from the New York Times is someone high on the list of my personal review team. This morning I saw the he published a review by his 10-year-old son. Bravo! Even better then take your kid to work day is to let you son publish an article in a New York Times blog!

So, here on TechMamas I present to you a link to the to-be famous writer Fifth Grader Kelly Pogue:

"A Fifth Grader’s Review of Wii Table Tennis"

Funny, because I have been trying to get my almost 9-year-old to do a review of the Nintendo DS Lite that he completely adores.... He gave me all the feedback for the mention of the DS Lite on my TechMamas Holiday Gift Guide. But I think it is time to take it a step further and follow in the big steps of Kelly Pogue and publish his own review... More to come...

December 28, 2007

The Top Space Saving Family Desktops: Dell XPS One And iMAC

I have my wonderful Yahoo Home Page filled with RSS Feeds from my personal technology team. Walt Mossberg, tech columnist from the Wall Street Journal has a blog called All Things Digital that is one of my team members. On December 27 he posted with his review of the Dell XPS One, which rivals the iMac. There was an interesting debate on the comments of his blog worth reading, one of them stating how inexpensive it is to update the computers RAM (I think the more RAM the better with multi-tasking on a computer).

TechMeme (another member of my review team) was all a-buzz about Walt Mossberg's review because he is a big Apple fan. The funniest post award goes to CrunchGear - which called him "Uncle Walt" and guessed at what type of celebration the Dell Marketing Team must be having (check the post for the details....). I think I can also start calling him Uncle Walt because I read his column so much I feel like he is part of my family...

I have used Dell PC's for years and overall have been happy with them. I also have tried the MAC line and the HP. For me, what I find attractive about the iMAC and Dell XPS One is summed up with Uncle Walt's view:

Like Apple’s iconic iMac, the XPS One looks like it’s simply a sleek, flat-panel monitor. The guts of the computer have been stuffed into the back of the screen.

Having a family desktop that only consists of a flat screen and a keyboard opens up many space options. Because both the Dell XPS One and the iMAC are both packed full of features, the decision should really be MAC Operating System versus Windows. I personally feel that right now Windows XP is the better operating system then Vista, but that would not hold me back. But Apple computers/operating systems are really easy to use. But many, like myself, are happy with using Windows/Dell.  So if you are looking for a space saving family desktop, luckily you have two front runners in the line-up.

And I happened to have already included both in my TechMama's Holiday Gift Guide.

 

December 20, 2007

TechMama's Holiday And Overall Cool Technology Gift Guide For Families

Tm_hgg_turquoisev2 While my other blogger friends were busy putting their holiday guides out before Thanksgiving, I was busy making my garage into a playroom to get ready for the winter. Well, the good news is that our garage is now a playroom - but the bad news is that my holiday guide is out very close to "the" holidays. So I am going to call this the TechMama Holiday/Last Minute Shopping/Overall Cool Technology to Buy Guide. The other good news is that after holiday sales are coming soon...

First I will provide a summary (the lowdown for mom gadgets and more..) and then below I discuss some of my favorite family technology picks. There has been so much debate about kids and technology use, but my final word is wait until your child shows an interest, set up limits on screen time, take time to educate yourself and your child on the technology/ internet safety issues - then HAVE SOME FUN (click here to see my full post on this topic)!

This is a time where elementary school students are social networking online with Webkinz and using technology at school every day, tweens have their own blogs and highschool students are starting to use Facebook.  Just check out this post from Mashable (Oct. 2007) that lists 350+ social networking sites available. While I am against baby computer toys, I do feel that parents need to get on board with technology and become part of the education process (technology safety is the new "birds & bees" talk).  Especially with online privacy.  I don't suggest buying all sorts of gadgets, as I said above - wait until they show an interest and then invest in the right technology. The holidays (and after holiday sales) are the perfect time to buy technology for families.

Here is the summary (or lowdown):

Continue reading "TechMama's Holiday And Overall Cool Technology Gift Guide For Families" »

December 15, 2007

Your Own Personal Technology Review Team

Instead of having a team of people to help me review products like some organizations, I need to fit in writing about technology between school drop off and pick-up. So, I put my own team of experts together and they are called "review sites" and "tech columnists" and "tech magazines". It is mind blowing how much information review information is available.  Here are the details for the strategy I used to find my personal technology review team, and I suggest those seeking technology advice should also put their own team together (see the bottom of this post for my technology team).

My strategy is to pick the outlets I feel provide good information, understand that each has their own slant and then take all the information and try to see what pops out for me. For example, one of the most popular sites for digital camera reviews is dpreview.com.  Yet they are very technical in nature, so some may want to add visits to CNET reviews, Digital Camera HQ and your favorite tech columnists like David Pogue from the New York Times, Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal or Yahoo Tech.

I was also delighted to find a New York Times article along the sames lines of this post (that I started writing weeks ago..). The article is titled "A Universe of Gadget Advice" and gives a great example of John Boutin's (the reporter) strategy for finding the right technical information online. Overall, I find this time of year the best time to obtain reviews on technology because of the holiday gift guides. These guides can be useful not only for the holidays, but to choose items for the after holiday sales and any items that were on the "buy" list for the rest of the year.

When you find the sites you like, I suggest setting up online subscriptions or "RSS Feeds" to review the headlines for these sites on a regular basis. You can have the feeds loaded to an aggregator like Bloglines or to your email homepage with Google or Yahoo. RSS Feeds can be used for specific categories like technology feed for CNN or for the whole blog feed similar to the blend of all Yahoo Tech advisors feed. To set up the RSS feeds, just look for the word "subscribe" or "RSS Feed" on the website that you want to add, the instructions are usually easy to follow.

I also suggest setting up print subscriptions for your favorite newspaper or tech magazines. I still enjoy looking over the New York Times or Wall Street Journal as well as some of my favorite tech magazines in print. And there is something about reading the print edition that goes best with my cup of coffee in the morning.

Ok, that last point was in my dreams because lately it seems that my mornings are consumed with feeding and getting my three boys ready for school. So if you are a mom in my position, still keep the print subscription for quiet moments, RSS feeds to your homepage for when the kids go to sleep and email RSS subscriptions to read the information from your email or on your smartphone. Look for email subscriptions that are sent from the publisher with no header from the feed service (like offered by Feedburner) and that also offer plain text or html emails. I find these their feeds are easy to read on my BlackBerry Curve.

TechMama's Personal Technology Team:

Holiday Gift Guides:

Blogger Holiday Guides:

Tech Columnists:

Technology Review Sites:

Knowledgebase (there are no solid guarantees that all knowledgbase info is 100% correct, some sites are user driven so find the resource that fits your needs and keep looking if the answer does not seem correct):

Did I miss any? Please comment to add your favorites....

December 10, 2007

Free My Phone, Says Walt Mossberg

I just came across an interesting post by one of my favorite tech columnists: Walt Mossberg. He writes for the Wall Street Journal in his column "Mossberg Solution". He also has a blog called 'All Things Digital". It was on the blog that I found a post titled "Free My Phone". I have been frustrated for a long time about how cell phones are sold in the United States: hardware, software and the "network" is all bundled together - so the consumer is a slave to the cell phone companies.

I was using one cell phone service - but really wanted to upgrade my phone to the BlackBerry Pearl. The cell phone carrier I was using did not carry the BlackBerry Pearl (and was not going to that I knew). So I had to CANCEL my account with the first carrier (and pay a closing fee). Then move over to a second cell phone carrier - just to get a different piece of hardware (the BlackBerry Pearl). I am also not happy with the overall internet surfing capabilities of any of the carriers and I think that may all be tied into wheeling and dealing that is going on....

Here is Walt Mossberg's comment on what is needed:

"But, in my view, they shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose what phones run on their networks, and what software and services run on those phones. We need a wireless mobile device ecosystem that mirrors the PC/Internet ecosystem, one where the consumers’ purchase of network capacity is separate from their purchase of the hardware and software they use on that network. It will take government action, or some disruptive technology or business innovation, to get us there."

Here Here!

Online Gambling Addiction - With Kids??

Addiction seems to be a hot discussion item lately.....I was watching E! this morning while blogging and a Dec. 2006 repeat titled "THS Investigates Online Nightmares" came one. The New York Post published their thoughts on the show (Cyber House Rules).

While situations like those are not an epidemic, it is important for parents to understand that online addiction is a reality for some families. Here is a interesting link to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery that has a page specific to Youth Gambling Addition: (http://www.addictionrecov.org/youthgam.htm) .

They also list the signs to watch out for:

  • Unexplained need for money
  • Money or possessions missing from the home
  • Unexplained charges on credit card bills
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Missing school or classes
  • Frequent anxiety, depression or mood swings
  • Dropping of outside activities and interests
  • Excessive watching of TV sports
  • Undue upset at the outcome of a sports match
  • Late night calls

There is a toll free number to call if you suspect someone is having an addiction problem: 1-800-522-3784

I called the number to see if it was valid, and a live person answered the phone - confirming the line is active.

Because addictive behaviors can also lead to suicidal thoughts, the show also offered these websites as resources:
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.com
www.hopeline.com
www.afsp.org
www.sprc.org

And these two help lines:
1-800-273-talk
1-800-suicide

December 03, 2007

To Treat Online Networking Addiction - Try "live" Networking

After getting three kids ready for school, dropping them off and stopping by the grocery store I was actually looking forward to coming home and turning on my computer. I was in my sweats, the perfect outfit to blog and do online social networking. Then I remembered that a friend had invited me to a coffee at her house with some other moms. So I had to make the choice, do I stay in my sweats and turn on the computer at home or go to socialize with some other moms - live?

The situation made me think back to my own warnings on monitoring kids addiction to online networking. If I don't socialize "live" on a regular basis - then I could be going down the path of my own addiction. So I jumped in the shower and headed off to do some live networking. Then I came home and turned on the computer.... The best of both worlds...

Anyone can add live "meetups" to their weekly schedule so they always know what is upcoming. My favorite recent live networking meet-ups (and great opportunity for gal geeks) have been with She's Geeky, any BlogHer conference, Webgrrls and most of all any event with my blog sisters in Silicon Valley, DC Metro, Chicago and New York City.

December 02, 2007

TechMama's Perspective: Kids, Parents and Use of Technology

I was brainstorming on the best way to start out my Techmama's holiday gift guide, and my first thought was to put the use of technology and kids in the right perspective. Instead of just saying "here are the hottest holiday gift gadgets for kids" I really want to say "wait until your children ask for technology, educate yourself and your child on the technology, set limits - and then HAVE FUN!". So, lets go into each area in more detail:

WAIT UNTIL YOUR CHILD ASKS FOR TECHNOLOGY: This may be shocking, but we do not own a family computer. When my son was in 2nd grade, I gave him my old laptop - with Internet Controls. But only when he starting asking to go on the computer. My twins are close to 5 and the only exposure they have to computers is when they go to the Apple Store with me and sit in the kids computer section. Or when their older brother shows them an approved You Tube video. Now that my twins are heading into Kindergarten and my eldest is close to 9, I am now looking for a family computer.

So, does this mean I am suggesting everyone also keep their young kids away from computers? In another shocking statement - I say NO! When it comes to technology, the best way to judge whether your child is ready is to wait until they ask you. A great example is a friend who's son wanted to start programming basic in 1st grade! In that case, I say that child is ready to start using a computer.

Continue reading "TechMama's Perspective: Kids, Parents and Use of Technology" »

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