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23 posts from December 2008

December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Here is A Green Family Newsletter

Familypic5 

(this picture will be explained at the bottom of this post..)

Last night while looking at the stack of amazing holiday cards we received I decided it was time... time to (shriek, gasp, choke) do a family holiday newsletter.. The last time we did a printed holiday card was 5 years ago - just after we had the twins. We have been quite busy since. Being a techie, it should be easy to do a holiday email newsletter, right?

Not so....

I went to CNET Downloads because they test the sites they recommend for spyware. I downloaded 4 different free newsletter programs - and none were flexible enough for me. I have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop - but I needed something quick (it was December 30 and I wanted to send out Dec. 31)..

Then I went back to what I use on a daily basis: Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word has newsletter templates you can download and then add in your own information. With Microsoft 2007 there is an insert tab that allows you to insert pictures and "text boxes" for text. You can change the color of the background with text boxes or shapes.

Continue reading "Happy New Year, Here is A Green Family Newsletter" »

December 30, 2008

What - No Stewart or Colbert? Viacom Threatens To Yank Programming

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Read more of the Los Angeles Times article.


The Wall Street Journal published a video about the controversy:

So - some families may need to go without Dora or Spongebob to provide some screen time for the kids? Parents won't get to have their daily laughs while watching Steven Colbert or the John Stewart Daily Show? Interesting to see how this plays out, especially because while I do enjoy watching cable daily, I also watch some shows online.

for more details, CLICK HERE to read the press release/statement I somehow received via email on the issue tonight.

Continue reading "What - No Stewart or Colbert? Viacom Threatens To Yank Programming" »

December 28, 2008

Resolving Audio Problems With PC's, Or "Help - I Can't Hear Anything!"

Just as we were about to put the boys to bed tonight, I decided to show a video to my older son on my notebook. Well, what do you know but the sound did not work. When I informed my husband that I needed to troubleshoot, he knew that he would be putting the boys to bed tonight. I am lucky to have a husband who supports his wife's troubleshooting obsession. We share a love of geekiness between us, except he (Neil Blecherman) is a green geek.

Just in case other moms or dads have a "sudden" audio problem that stops them from hearing any sounds from their computer (for those with built-in speakers) - here are some troubleshooting hints:

1. CHECK YOUR AUDIO DRIVER: It is important for the first step to be determining the actual sound problem. Most computers have a "speaker" icon on the toolbar. Right click to see if the speakers are working. You can also check the audio by looking at control panel>device manager>sound video & games controllers. You should be able to "click" on the sound controller. If you don't see it, that may be an important hint.

With my problem it actually said "device not installed" when I knew I had an audio driver installed (I had been hearing sound beforehand).

2. INSTALL A NEW AUDIO DRIVER: After you have decided that the problem is related to the audio driver, then it either is corrupt or "uninstalled" for some reason. To solve this, go to the support website for your computer and follow these steps:
a. Go to "computer" on your sidebar and then right click and choose "properties". This will show you the correct model number for your desktop or PC which is important.
b. At the computer manufacturer's support website (my notebook is made by HP, so I went to the HP Customer Care website). Type the model number and search for "audio driver". Find the right driver for your computer and re-install.

I reinstalled my audio driver - and suddenly I can hear sound again from my PC!! Yeah!!

Vista Users (I am one of them..) - I found the following information (CLICK HERE) on the HP Website about resolving audio problems. I am sure each computer manufacturer website has similar information on resolving audio problems.

Please share any other audio problem stories with me. I would be really interested to hear from any APPLE users - this post only covers Windows PC's.

December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays, Here is Some Malware

I received a couple of emails from people that had malware attack their computer recently so I decided to look into ways that malware creeps into computers. Here are some interesting techie tidbits:

Overall, I try not to open any email attachment from someone I don't know (or looks suspicious) and download any program unless it is from the original source. I do run spyware and keep up to date with updates. I never answer any email from ANY financial institution. I reguarly clear private data and cookies. And always stay paranoid!

What is your malware prevention strategy?

December 25, 2008

NeedTech HELP? Go Online

Two days ago I was having a mommy meltdown moment - not because of the usual things but because I had done a Windows update and my RESOLUTION was reset. In normal circumstances I would have just checked the control panel display settings to reset my resolution. But I had run the updates while entertaining my twin 5 year old boys (bad idea) so I did not have a quiet moment.. I checked the DPI settings in the Windows Vista personalization first and tried to reset it. I had some screaming in the background so I reset it to "large". This turned my normally organized icon and folder desktop into a giant wonderland with big letters and huge monster icons.

Soooo Scary..

Now - it seems like it would be easy to just reset it back to normal.. But NO!  The fonts were so large that I could not click on the "OK" button to reset. I was stuck.

So I went to my trusty Google Search and typed "can't click on dpi font size button". Well, one of the search engine links was to this amazing website that simply stated to "use the tab button to tab over to the "OK" and hit enter if you can't see the button".

Duhh...

I tried that and it worked. Then the kids stopped screaming and I finally realized that I needed to go to control panel>personalization>display settings and change the monitor resolution back to 1280x800 pixels (that I had to start with). That worked, problem fixed..

I hope this post helps anyone that had the same problem and is searching the internet..

And in a cosmic episode of timing, the New York Times published an article today called "There’s Lots of Tech Help, Yes, on the Internet ". READ IT, really. It has links to some great tech help sites on the internet (other then mine of course) such as CNET TV How To Videos, CNET's MacFixIt.comFixya.com, TechIMO and more..

CLICK HERE (or above) to read the New York Times article: "There’s Lots of Tech Help, Yes, on the Internet "

December 24, 2008

Dell Computer Goes Artsy and does a giveaway (WINNER)!

I just used Random.org and put each comment in as one entry. For those that twittered or posted got another entry.. AND THE WINNER OF THE $100 GIFT CERTIFICATE IS:

Leticia- Tech Savvy Mama

True Random Number Service

List Randomizer

Here they are in random order:

  1. Leticia- Tech Savvy Mama
  2. Janel
  3. zmama
  4. Bill
  5. Thien-Kim

(I just showed the top five listed..)

Happy Holidays to ALL...

*******************************************************************************

Continue reading "Dell Computer Goes Artsy and does a giveaway (WINNER)!" »

December 23, 2008

Little And Big Boys Love Nerf Guns

Yesterday I had to make an emergency visit to Laser Quest to entertain my 10 year old son and his friend on a rainy, cold day.. My son and his friend were using my 6 year old twin boys for target practice with a Nerf gun that snuck into our house as a holiday gift. I was disappointed that the Nerf gun was such a magnet for our boys, who enjoy so many other activities.

Then I happened to see this video clip  while reading one of my favorite geek blogs Engadget - which made me think little boys never grow up...

Click here to see the engadget post

Click here to see the full details in my post at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

Don't try this at HOME! It is dangerous and the Nerf gun melted after this experiment..

YouTube Video from post:


 

This post is not sponsored in any way or form, just saw this video on YouTube that reminded me of how I feel every day as a mom of three boys!

December 22, 2008

Disney Donates Books To Kids In Need, And Has Books For Techies

I saw a tweet from Chris Brogan about a "call to action" post at the BookMark blog and wanted to share with my readers.  Here are the details from the post:

Now through December 25, post a comment below about your favorite bedtime story or memory and, in your honor, Disney will donate one new book to a child in need – just for commenting!

Please click over and comment! I commented that we read the Dr. Seuss sleep book before bedtime for many years between my three boys.

Currently, I am reading a Disney book to my twin 6 year old and 9 year sons that not only appeals to kids, but appeals to anyone who enjoy hearing about the "behind the scenes" and is interested in animation. The book is called: The Alchemy of Animation, Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age by Don Hahn.
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Here are details about the book from the Disney website:
The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age is a step-by-step introduction to animated filmmaking from one of the foremost producers of animated features. By drawing upon more than seven decades of Disney's classic and beloved animated films, this stunning book explores the role of the directors, story artists, songwriters, and animators who each play an integral role in the creation of an animated feature. This book includes a special focus on the digital

The website (http://www.alchemyofanimation.com/) has audio, video and images from the book.

KidZui, A Safe Browser For Kids

This information was sent to TechMamas by KidZui with some wish list tage summaries as of late November. Maybe I can get an update after the holiday seasons to see the final results. Here is some information from their about us page:
"The KidZui browser was designed to offer kids the same expansive experience adults have on the web. KidZui brought together a team of over 200 teachers and/or parents to scour the web in search of the best content for kids."

FROM KIDZUI:

This holiday season, parents don’t need to fret about where or how to find the right gift for their kids. KidZui, The Internet for Kids (www.kidzui.com), has its finger on the pulse of exactly what kids want this year. KidZui lets kids ages 3-12 rate content with tags like cool, lame, best, worst and yummy. Now kids can tag content with a Wish List tag, helping parents identify what their children are interested in.

Did you know that the Barbie Jam Keyboard is the most popular item on the KidZui Wish List for kids 6 and under? The ever popular didn’t even make the lists. iPod nanos are the number one item for both boys and girls 7 and older. Kung Fu Panda wasn’t just a hit at the Box Office, it came in at number 5 for boys 7 and older.

More than 21,000 Wish List tags have been placed on KidZui and the results are in. Following are the top five tagged items voted on by kids and broken down by age and gender that will help you get your child the perfect gift this year.

Kids 6 and under: 5,907 tags:

Continue reading "KidZui, A Safe Browser For Kids" »

Grown Up Digital: The Book

57963445_a The New York Times reviewed a book relevant to discussions I have on a daily basis:

"Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World" by Don Tapscott.

My discussions center around computer use for my own kids and for kids in general. I have some friends that believe that kids should "stay away" from technology, as if the computer itself is a bad influence on their kids.

But in my own experience it seems my children view computer use as a window into knowledge, experiences and for homework support when needed. We don't have a family computer yet (they use my and my husband's laptops) but I have finally decided that a computer is a tool they "need" - so I am looking into getting one. My older son does not like to hand write essays, but when he uses a computer to type he can write endlessly. He wants to start writing music so we are looking into software for that. Although I call myself a techie, watching him use the computer teaches me a few things.  My Kindergarten age twins feel it is a treat to go on PBS.org and enjoy playing their learning games, even asking me to print out the "printables" after they go online.

The New York Times review pointed out the eight norms of the Net Generation explained in the book Grown Up Digital:

  1. They prize freedom
  2. They want to customize things
  3. They enjoy collaboration
  4. They scrutinize everything
  5. They insist on integrity in institutions and corporations
  6. they want to have fun even at work
  7. They believe that spend in technology and all else is normal
  8. They regard constant innovation as a fact of life

Watching my fourth grader use a computer has confirmed these norms, the computer is one of the things he uses to explore himself and the world.  Every child needs to learn limits on computer use just as they learn about healthy eating or other life skills.

But in my son's future, computer knowledge will be one of the most important life skills...

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