30 posts categorized "Conferences"

March 14, 2009

TechMama at SXSW 09

I am thrilled to be at my first SXSW starting today. For those wondering what SXSW is, the about page has a good quote from the National Post "SXSW ...reflects, discusses and showcases trends in culture and media but also often creates them.". I submitted a request for a panel months ago and was thrilled to have a core conversation approved. I asked Shireen Mitchell to co-lead the discussion with me because of her valuable perspective. Our "Moms Who Tech" session will discuss that moms have become power users of technology and social networking. The discussion will examine the gadgets and social media that they use to manage their careers, families and friendships. 

I just got in late last night and am jet lagged but excited to jump on board. I have already twittered with recommendations for interesting panels/conversations to attend (or read about for those not here). So I am not only here just for my session, but to network and learn from the amazing group here in attendence.. More to come!

For now I am off to the Pepsico Booth to do a podcast for their Digital Speak Easy series via BlogTalkRadio. My podcast will be at 3:40pm (Austin time)..

March 04, 2009

DEMO09 - SmartyCard "Educational" Online Gaming

There are so many different online gaming and virtual worlds available, that many parents are confused about which sites are safe. Taking it to the next level, if the site is safe in regards to content - the next issue is if the website is just "sugar" and addicting with no learning experiences involved. As parents, how do we allow our children to have some screen time that is just fun but also provide some with learning experiences? And if we find that solution, how do we get our kids to buy in?

My solution for my 6 year old twin boys seems easier then for my 10 year son. For my twins, they enjoy spending time on educational websites for their "screen" time.  So while I have been able to engage my 6 year olds in educational websites, I have not been able to with my ten year old. He is very bright but feels that after he goes to school, does homework and outside sports then he is done for the day. He does not want to do additional activities that may be deemed *gasp* learning activities other then reading (which he loves).

The issue was that my fourth grade son (like most students) needs practice with math facts and other areas outside of schoolwork. My problem was that the "nagging" was not working. Paper workbooks and some of the educational sites for older kids did not engage him. I had a point system but was not consistent in carrying it out. My ten year old has limits on his screen time, but when he does have a few moments - he goes to game sites that have the word "addicting" in the name.

Homepage **Enter my opportunity to test out the beta of an online (educational) gaming site called SmaryCard for 3 - 6 graders**

I was given the opportunity to log onto the beta website for SmartyCard before heading to DEMO09 (where they were launching). So I decided to give the site the ultimate test and see if my rebel 10 year old son would engage.

Here is a the explanation of SmartyCard from their website:

"SmartyCard provides children grades 3-through-6 with bite-sized learning activities in subjects such as reading, writing, math, social studies and science. Children earn points that can be redeemed for their favorite play time rewards - toys, DVDs, video games, books, iTunes downloads, Club Penguin™ and other virtual world subscriptions, and much more.

SmartyCard offers child-friendly, parent-approved learning activities available from some of the world's most respected and popular education content providers, including Learning.com, LearnStar and Ignite Learning
. "

During my testing on one Sunday afternoon when my 10 year old was allowed to have his screen time - he was using SmartyCard.com to practice *gasp* math and spelling, excited to be earning points.

Here is an interview with Chris Carvalho, General Manager of SmartyCard (and father of 3 boys!) -using my Flip Mino:

Children can only sign up after their parents sign up and "activate" them. The point system is applied to the educational games - after the child gets 7 out of 10 right - they earn a specific amount of points based on the level of difficulty of the question. Hints and input are given to help the child learn as the go. Points are listed on the left side of the screen so children and parents can keep track of progress. Parent account has "Fund My Child's Account" - Add points, Change acct settings and buy a smarty card. From parent account you view "play history" and "purchase history" for all of your kid's accounts.

Children can only buy items if Parents have entered their credit card information into the account, and emails are sent after every purchase. SmartyCard vetted the list of reward items offered and the website is COPPA compliant. There is no cost to register and try out SmartyCard but unfunded accounts have limited access library of learning activities, and points earned with unfunded accounts cannot be redeemed for rewards. Points can be added to a free account for as little as $10.

If kids try to "game" the system and fake their parents email address for signup - then they won't have access to redeem points (because no credit card information would be entered). 

The first question I had was "why should I give my child points that they can redeem for items to play an online game"? After I used SmartyCard, I realized that the points were providing the incentive for my son to participate in supplemental education. Because I already had a point system and my son was able to save up for things like iTunes cards or a RipStiK (which they happen to have in their reward list already) - I realized this would fit in with our current incentive program. Best yet, I was so frustrated trying to redeem iTunes cards - that just providing easy access to redeem those was a plus for me in itself!

Every family has different needs, but I found that the digital world is here to stay. Children interact with media rich environments on a daily basis - and it has become part of how their interact socially. I am a big supporter of parents educating themselves and their children on the digital world, make educated decisions for how and what websites your children interact with - then have fun. SmartyCard falls in the supplemental education, incentive and "have fun" boxes for me. I also appreciate the graphic rich environment that adds to the experience.

Listed below are some screen shots from SmartyCard and a link to the press release:

Continue reading "DEMO09 - SmartyCard "Educational" Online Gaming" »

March 03, 2009

DEMO09 - Social Entrepreneurship Panel

I exchanged emails with Suneet Bhatt of DreamVillage and met Efe Osagle from Lead Now Fellows at DEMO09, but missed the DEMO Social Entrepreneurship panel. Happily, I found the video at the DEMO video library and VIEWED IT. Social Entrepreneurship is a term used to describe "someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change".

As a mother, I think social entrepreneurship can provide great lessons to children/tweens/teens to show that businesses can also help with social issues to make an impact on society. Information on the Dream Village website gave an interesting explanation of their goal: "Our goal is to operate as a for-profit social enterprise, promising a substantive donation to charitable causes, while also generating a sound return for interested investors."

Suneet Bhatt will be emailing me more information about his organization for me to post on TechMamas.com. Moderator was Ami Kassar from Advanta and IdeaBlob.  But for now, here are the links to the speakers organizations:

Continue reading "DEMO09 - Social Entrepreneurship Panel" »

DEMO09 - View Live Or From Video Library

Now that I am back in Silicon Valley from going to Day 1 of DEMO09 (kids happily  - or unhappily - dropped off at school) I am now watching the DEMO Livefeed via Facebook/BitGravity (CLICK HERE FOR LIVE FEED, feed valid only during live presenations).  For those that missed the presentations, they can all be also viewed via video at the DEMO website (CLICK HERE TO SEE DEMO VIDEOS).

The availablity of videos from conferences are a great tool for busy parents who don't have the opportunity to attend as many conferences as they would wish to (or have the funding to). Most conferences now publish videos from key presentations on the conference websites.

March 02, 2009

DEMO09 - Vue™ Personal Video Network For Families

Vue_Front_Hero_clip Internal computer webcams are great for some communications, but when it comes to family communication - trying to fit everyone in front of the webcam can be difficult and limit participants to a confined area.

At DEMO09 I saw a product called Vue™ Personal Video Network by Avaak, a wire-free video system that allows families to communicate from virtually anywhere in the house. There are "no cords to connect, no software to download or home networks to configure" - the system utilizes the existing home wireless system. The Vue™ enables simple recording with one click. The video's can be shared or families can communicate with family and friends who also have the video system. Moms or dads on business trips can view videos and families can hold live video events. One of the demonstrators showed a video of her son doing karate, which made me think of my boys (who I have not see since Sunday morning). Funny enough, karate and wrestling seems to be the first thing my boys do when they wake up in the morning.

UPDATE 3/309 Here is the video presentation by Avaak, Inc at DEMO09:

There are two parts of the product: personal video network hardware and a online software web interface.

Product-shot1. Personal Video Network hardware: A Gateway (attaches to the home wireless router), two cameras and 4 wall mounts in the kit. Additional camera's can be purchased. The cameras have a range of 300 feet and can be moved easily.  An estimated one million frames can be transmitted from a single battery (which is about one year under normal use). The wall mounts are "peel and stick" but the camera's can be moved anywhere. Repeaters can be purchased for those locations too far away from the Gateway.

2. Software Web interface (my.vuezone.com) for online viewing, sharing and recording. To register, a username and password must be created.  After logging on, videos can be shared with family and friends.Two gigabytes of storage online is included in the service plan.

InfoWorld published a post that with an interesting discussion about the security. Instead of modifying current home firewalls, the Gateway makes a secure "outbound" connection to my.vuezone.com. The home firewall "sees it just like another computer on your home network". The key control is to only give access profiles to trusted family and friends.

The Vue™ Personal Video Network price is $299 per system, $99 for additional cameras and repeaters are available separately. 2gb of secure private storage with service plans for expanding. The gateway can support up to 50 cameras. The product will begin shipping in early summer 2009. Pre-orders can be placed now on Avaak's Web site at http://www.VueZone.com.

Relevant Links: PRESS RELEASE - Avaak Launches Vue Personal Video Network; Camera System to Enhance Consumers' Lives

TechMama - Live at DEMO

I decided to go to DEMO to cover the companies with products relevant to moms/families. I will be posting throughout the day as I hear the presentations. At DEMO, the press (yeah, I am now in that list) was given a list of the companies presenting here but it was under embargo until the day of the companies presentation (a list of companies was allowed to be printed on Friday Feb. 27). Here are a few links to posts from someone I sat next to at the press dinner and a blogger buddy of mine. I will post details about the companies as I see their presentations today.

Ubergizmo published a list of companies and CNET with 5 launces to watch. More to come as I see the demostrators today.

Here are the companies for Day 1 of DEMO:

Continue reading "TechMama - Live at DEMO" »

February 15, 2009

Come To The SXSW 2009 Session "Moms Who Tech"

I am excited to be co-leading a session with Shireen Mitchell at SXSW 2009 called "Moms Who Tech". The session is on the "core conversation" track and here is the link for more details:

Moms Who Tech

Sunday, March 15th 2009

11:30 am

Moms are power users of technology and social networking. This discussion examines the gadgets and social media that they use to manage their careers, families and friendships.

Laptop Magazine published in their August 2008 issue: "manufacturers can’t discount the $90 billion women spend on gadgets, or the fact that they influence 61 percent of all consumer-electronics purchases, an increase of 4 percent since 2004."

Pass the word! I will post more details soon. For those coming to not-to-be-missed SXSW 2009, add "Moms Who Tech" to your SXSW schedule.

February 06, 2009

Wired Post on TED Conference: MIT Students Go Tech With Sixth Sense

The post on Wired titled "TED: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense -- Video" caught my eye not only because it sounded interesting - but it was MIT students at TED! Here is what they developed via the Wired post:

"Students at the MIT Media Lab have developed a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen. The wearer can summon virtual gadgets and internet data at will, then dispel them like smoke when they're done.

Pattie Maes of the lab's Fluid Interfaces group said the research is aimed at creating a new digital "sixth sense" for humans."

I already getting excited about touch screens, but "wearable computing" just sends me over the top. Instead of printing my sons homework, could he load it to his wearable computer jacket to display to his class? Or instead of booting up a computer or watching a small screen, could I project a movie on the back on my jacket while my kids and I are waiting in line at the grocery store? Forget about a sheet in the back yard and an expensive project, movie night can be anywhere anytime?

Maybe I am getting carried away, but it is an exciting development. Here is the video:

Past the fact that a wearable computing system has so many amazing applications, it was a bunch of students that developed it. As a mom of one (an maybe more) geeks to be - this is very inspiring. One of my sons is an out of the box thinking that creates the most amazing things. The other day he hooked wireless iPod speakers up with a boombox and then to a computer to make a home theatre extraordinaire (the YouTube videos come to life).

TED is one of the most dynamic and interesting conferences because it is brings together people from technology, entertainment and design. The MIT Lab designs technology for people to create a better future. Just a quick look at the MIT Lab website and I saw an article from Feb. 3rd that discussed a Chameleon Guitar that mixes wood and old fashioned electronics.

This is a tribute to TED for highlighting the MIT students, to the MIT students for their discoveries and for moms all around the world with young out of the box thinker kids to tell them to keep dreaming and creating, someday you may end up speaking at TED...

January 12, 2009

Blogs Covering CES 2009

I am getting the energy up to write my CES posts but I thought I would start with alittle linkylove. It was a gadget-palooza at CES and there is lots to share. I will have the posts up during the next week, but for now here are some links to other blogs covering CES (other then TechMamas.com of course):

Many companies like HP, Intel, Microsoft and many others will have links to their CES press kits on their websites. Dell blog has info about CES with a nice link to my post at the bottom where I covered one of their press conferences.

There are also lots of juicy tech tidbits over at the CES website. I am sure I missed lots but this is a good start.

Most of all, don't forget to check out my fellow CES Lovesac bus bloggers. After spending lots of time with them on the bus I can say they are some of the most knowledge social media bloggers out there!

January 09, 2009

CES 09 - Dell Offering Inspiron Mini 9 for $99 (after rebate) with AT&T Laptop Connect

UPDATED 1/10 PRESS RELEASE FROM DELL on special offer for the $99 Inspiron Mini

Updated 1/10 - Preview of the soon to be released Dell Inspiron Mini 10" will be posted on Techmamas.com later tonight. I now call the Inspiron Mini 10" the must buy for moblie computing and media playing.

I am currently at CES visiting the Dell Suites to hear their announcements for the day. Engadget is sitting next to me, they blogged about the new Adamo. I decided to take the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for a test drive, using it to blog about another exciting announcement that came out today:


Announced via press release:

Dell and AT&T "energizes on-the-go lifestyles with special select offer - Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for $99 after $350 Dell Mail-in rebate - regularly $449. Systems available only with purchase of a qualifying two-year AT&T LaptopConnect Agreement. Offer EXPIRES Jan. 31, 2009."

Dell also committed to introduce a 10-inch Mini in the near future.

Mini notebooks are not only light enough to carry in a handbag, but offers computing and entertainment on the go. The AT&T LaptopConnect (and other broadband cards) enables Internet access on the road without depending on finding Wi-Fi connections.

Here are the details for the special offer:

1. Purchase the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 by January 31, 2009 and save $100 (regularly $549 - cost of $449 with instant savings).

2. Eligible for an additional $350 mail-in rebate with 2 year activation of AT&T LaptopConnect. That offer expires: Thursday, February 19, 2009.

And to summarize it all:

 $549 Starting price for the Dell Inspiron Mini 9

-$100  Instant rebate (if purchase by Jan. 31, 2009)

 $449  Subtotal

-$350 Mail in rebate after purchasing AT&T LaptopConnect  by Thursday, February 19, 2009 (separate cost for that service which varies by device and plan).

 $99 Total cost of Dell Inspiron Mini 9.

To answer questions on the cost of the AT&T LaptopConnect that I have received, the Dell press release quoted this:

"Requires the purchase of a two-year AT&T Laptop Connect agreement for $60 per month. Additional fees apply."



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