32 posts categorized "Sites for Parents"

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 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.

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 02, 2007

A visit to PTO Today's Back2School 2007.com

When someone from PTO Today's Back2School.com contacted me to provide feedback on kid's computers and cell phones, I did not realize how interesting the research would end up being. I found out that most 6th graders in my son's Silicon Valley school district have cell phones, use the Internet and software applications like Microsoft Excel, Word and Powerpoint for homework. Even some 3rd graders are using Word or Excel for their homework. And the Apple Store offers educational discounts that include homeschoolers and PTO board members.

Here are the links to the PTO Today website Back2School 2007:

Question 1: "My 12-year-old has been lobbying for a cell phone. Are there any guidelines to keep it from turning into a toy, a distraction, and a drain on the budget?

Question 2: "
Should we get our children their own laptops? How high-end do they really need to be?”

Question 3: "Does my child need his own portable USB drive? What other technology do we need to think about?

Here are the corresponding Techmamas posts:
"What Tech Gadgets do K-8 grader students need?"

"Mom in a minivan shops for PCs and Cell Phones"

Any thoughts on cell phone and computer use in your school district?

May 24, 2007

A Visit to Social Computing Magazine

This morning I received an email on my BlackBerry while I was cooking breakfast and making lunch for my three boys. It was from Jeremy Geelan who is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Social Computing Magazine. He asked if it was ok to include my post titled "Social Computing for Kids Around The World" in the magazine. I emailed back saying "Of course!", while packing up my son's lunch. Next thing I know, I received an email back saying that the post is up.

All of this before 8am in the morning. I can't imagine that the rest of my day will be as exciting.

Update from this post's comment by Jeremy Geelan (or web scoop as it is stated):  Dion Hinchcliffe is the new Editor in Chief of Social Computing (as of today). I checked out his blog and found a very interesting post on how the Web 2.0 software models are evolving.  I will be tuning into Social Computing Magazine and their blogs more often for the great insights.

May 10, 2007

A Virtual Sign from OpenTable.com - "Go Out to Eat on Mother's Day!"

Dinner I was just pondering if I am going to attempt to cook on Mother's Day or if we should go out. My Mother, brother and sister-in-law/family will be coming over around dinner time. Then I thought that it is Mother's Day so WHY SHOULD I COOK"!  My husband is always open to cooking. But with that I would have to do the shopping and help clean-up; on Mother's Day, the one day a year when all mothers should have a day of leisure.

Then I received an email from OpenTable.com with a link to restaurants in the area that have Mother's Day menus. I knew that was my virtual sign to go out to dinner. I could hear the virtual voices say "Go out.... go out....let someone else cook and clean..... just do it"!

April 26, 2007

Top Ten Ways Alienated Dads Can Communicate With Their Kids

Miss_you_3 In honor of Alec Baldwin calling his daughter a "rude, thoughtless pig" because she did not answer his phone call (when he called at a pre-arranged time), I am presenting some low-tech and high-tech options for alieniated dads to help them communicate with their kids. I discussed my own personal thoughts about this on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.


10. READ SOME BOOKS ON COMMUNICATION WITH KIDS - The low tech solution is to read some books to understand how to talk to kids in the first place. For younger kids the book "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" can help with communication. Or buy "Kidisms: What They Say and What They Really Mean" for yourself and "Dadisms: What He Says And What He Really Means" for your kidsThis will help find alternatives to the word "pig" when communicating with your child.  Unless you are talking about a farm.

9. USE SOCIAL NETWORKING: If you have college or adult kids, ask nicely if they participate in any of the online social networks. For those Dads who don't know what internet social networking is - read  Wikipedia, the Red Herring article and look at the site Hitwise that recently published a list of Internet social networking sites used.

If they use social networking, ask if you can be added to their "friends" or just read their blog if it is public.  Many will list their interests, blurbs and what they are up to. Again, don't use any rude language if they say no. But if they do, comment on their blog or send their profile a message mentioning how "cool" their site is. Ask nicely that they do not post too much personal information on the social networking sites or meet with strangers. And if they restrict access only to their friends or use passwords. Say that you ask because you love them (not that you do not trust them).

8. TWITTER OR INSTANT MESSAGE WITH YOUR KIDS: See if you child wants to add you as their Twitter friend (for kids over 13). Then you can see what they doing every moment of the day, just like when they were young. Be careful not to enter your own twitter judgements like "I sitting at home worried that my daughter is going on a date with a guy that seems irresponsible". That deserves a phone call at least. Which goes on to the next point, if they don't use Twitter ask them if you can instant message or text them on their phone. And say that a one word text response is fine if they are busy. Tell them you know about the instant message text abbreviations <grin> <smirk> <chuckle>.

7. GET SOME EXAMPLE QUOTES: Look at BrainyQuotes to get an example of what Dads are quoted as saying. See which type of Dad you want to be in quotes. For some creative alternatives, look at what William Shakespeare said. I don't think he said the word "pig".

6. EMAIL (including E-Cards):  Ask for their email address and say they can get back to you when they have time.  But remember, emails are permanent documentation so if you get upset they have not replied, deal with it by keeping it to yourself. You can even email them cute electronic cards saying you miss them. Here is a good example of animated Amazon E-cards that show you miss your child without using bad words....

: Well, Skype is free and can be used around the world. Send your child a video camera and you can both use Skype to video conference. But, if they use social networking sending a video camera can be dangerous.

4. GET THEM A PHONE CARD: Get them a phone card and ask that they use it somewhat regularly. Promise that the call will just be a quick hi (and keep your promise unless they want to talk).   Don't leave any messages reminding them that they have not called. That does not work.

3. SEND THEM A DIGITAL CAMERA AND ASK THAT THEY SHARE SOME PICTURES WITH YOU: A picture is worth a few words at least. Help them find a good online photo sharing site if they don't have a blog or want to use email to send the pictures.

2. SEND THEM AN AIRLINE GIFT CARD (If they live far away). Say they can use the airline gift card when they want, or you can fly to see them. If they say they don't want to see you, ask them if you can socialize online with the other options listed. If that does not work.....

THE NUMBER 1 WAY FOR ALIENATED DADS TO COMMUNICATE WITH THEIR KIDS:  HAVE AN HONEST TALK (AND BE PATIENT). Just say you miss them, you want to see them and that you can make it happen when they are ready. No technology needed.

April 08, 2007

TripAdvisor: Hotels Read It!

Travel A friend of mine, her hubby and kids were on a vacation recently, but the house they rented has no hot water. She tried to contact the landlord, but got no response. Then she mentioned that she should report it to TripAdvisor.com. That is the first time I heard of that site so I decided to take a look.

TripAdvisor.com has the following info in their about section:

"TripAdvisor® is the largest travel community in the world, with more than 5 million unbiased reviews and opinions, covering 250,000+ hotels and attractions. With more than 20 million unique monthly visitors worldwide (source: comScore Media Metrix, July 2006), TripAdvisor® features real advice from real travelers and easy access to major online travel sites, including Expedia.com®, Orbitz, Hotels.com® and American Airlines, for great deals."

The site even has a humor section that is made up of a blog with snippets of the reviews from the site:

"But what do we really talk about over lunch at TripAdvisor? The stuff we can’t publish. Whether it’s funny, rude, bizarre, potentially libelous, incomprehensible, or all of the above, we love it, and we think you will too."

But does it really work? For those customers who report issues with vacations - does the site help them get it resolved? Well, I happened to be reading the New York Times travel section today and my question was answered in an article titled " The Web Gives Hotel Guests The Last Word":

"Nearly every morning, over his second cup of coffee, Tom Brady, general manager at the Affinia Chicago, logs onto his computer and surfs over to TripAdvisor.com to see if there are any new postings about his hotel.

“It’s an obsession,” he said. If the review is positive he moves on. If it’s unfavorable — like the complaint posted in March from a guest who had received a $90 parking ticket because of a valet’s error — he’s on it immediately. In that case, he marched straight out to the valet to find out what had happened. After identifying the guest, he made sure that the company issued an apology and a reimbursement for the ticket."

Funny, because I just stayed at the Affinia Manhattan and was very impressed with the customer service. So, maybe the hotels with good customer service read their reviews.  Who knows, but it does make me want to come back to this site the next time I travel. I always like to mix professional travel reviews with those from real customers to get information on my travel destinations. Traveling with kids is hard enough, so the more information I can get - the better.

April 07, 2007

Map Making using Google My Maps - So Easy a Parent Could Do It?

Google announced My Maps on a post from the Official Google Blog:

"a new feature that makes it quick and easy to create your own custom Google Maps just by pointing and clicking. You can add placemarks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos and videos -- all using a simple drag and drop interface. Your map automatically gets a public URL that you can share with your friends and family, or you can also publish your map for inclusion in Google Maps search results."

The title of the post is Map-making: So easy a caveman could do it, but is it so easy that parents can do it? I took a look at the user instructions and set out to take a test drive.

I decided to pretend that I was on a luxurious vacation to La Jolla, CA with my family. I would plan to meet-up with friends at La Jolla Cove Beach, 1100 Coast Blvd. , La Jolla, CA at 10am that morning. Then, we would meet up at Brockton Villa for a fancy lunch to celebrate someone's birthday. If one of the friends could not meet up at the beach, then they could meet at the restaurant. Instead of sending instructions via email, I decided to create a Google "My Map" to visually show where everything is. I realized that this will also save time; the invitees will not need to go to google maps after you send them the text directions -the map is already linked in the email.

In the Google Maps main page there are two tabs, one for to search map locations and one for your "my map". I went to the search map to see where the Brockton Villa is located, since I saw it listed as a great place to go for lunch near La Jolla Cove. Google Maps showed me that it was not far from La Jolla Cove, so I added that location to my map by using the "placemark tool".   I then hit "email" and it provided me with the link. The URL was also displayed if I chose "link to this page".  I could of been really fancy and added rich text, photos or videos but decided to keep it simple the first time around.

I set my map as private so it can just be viewed by my friends/family. Here are the details for the public versus private listings for My Map:

"Public maps are maps that you want to publish and share with everyone. Public maps will be included in the search results on Google Maps and Earth.      

Unlisted maps are maps that you only want to share with a few select people. Unlisted maps will not be included in the search results, so they are accessible much like an unlisted phone number -- anyone who knows the specific URL of the map can view it, but there's no directory or search for finding unlisted maps."

I sent the link I created to my wonderful What_i_see_3brother (a willing participant to my test drive). Here is what he received when he clicked on the link.  I covered my browser and his email details for this picture.  The email address listed on the map is the person who is clicking on the link.

My Map worked and it was easy to use. Caveman or not. And no one can complain that they did not get directions...

MORE TECHIE DETAILS: This is what in the Web 2.0 world is called a "mash-up". You can impress your friends by throwing that word out. There are some great examples of how My Maps can be used, one of which is following a presidential election. Here is an example of the red state/blue state link to the 2004 election.

April 04, 2007

Dooce: Un-blocked

So I was reading one of my favorite bloggers (State of Grace) post called "Geek Terrorism" on cyberbullying. Then I clicked over to the link behind the words SAHM/stay-at-home-mother/sh*t-*ss-ho-motherf*cker and it was queen-o-mom bloggers Dooce (what self-respecting mom would not click over for that tantalizing link). But my parental control software would not let me get to the post because it was labeled under:

"Category Blocked

The site you tried to visit belongs to a category that this computer is set to block.

http://www.dooce.com/archives/daily/03_15_2007.html   is blocked because it is currently categorized as Adult/Mature Content   and Blogs/Newsgroups.

If you feel the categorization is INCORRECT, pleases report   it.........."


Ok, the whole thing was ironic because Dooce was talking about her experiences with hate mail. I must say that I have been very happy with K9 Web Protection, I can leave my son in the other room on my computer and don't have to worry where he is going on the Internet. It is easy to use, and well - FREE! I should have nothing to complain about......

Dooce, oh Dooce - I did the administrative override and you are back on my view list. Yeah.

April 02, 2007

Social Networking For Sports Fans

If I were a sports fan I would be very interested in this new social networking site I just read about in TechCrunch. The site is called Ballhype and here is a link to the about page with their description of how it works:

"What Ballhype does: First, we pull in content from thousands of sports blogs. (Think we're missing one? Tell us and we'll check it out.) If other writers are linking to a story, it gets surfaced to the top of the list as newsworthy. If enough Ballhype users hype it up, the story will make it to the home page.   You can also write your own post or submit a story that you think should be required reading. We make it incredibly easy to find good stuff to submit. Just check out the Hot Topics (posts grouped by topic) or Latest Posts (all posts written by any blog we track filtered by tag). 

Ballhype CommunityWe think that being a fan should be fun. You can hang out on Ballhype without submitting content or voting — lurk, even — but we get more out of watching the Warriors lose if there's even one other fan in the room. So Hype it up, add Friends, leave Sticky Notes, make Game Picks, create or join Groups. You should get your friends to join Ballhype, if only to have bragging rights over your pick ranking."

The site terms of service also state that all users must be older then 13 years of age. As always, check out the privacy policy to make sure you are comfortable with it. Ballhype does have functions to add a person as a "friend" and that friend can then deny/accept that invititation.  Here is a link to the sections for site faqs, about page and  Ballhype blog for more information. 



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