Guide to Media Literacy for Teens, Seniors and everyone in between.
Nov 2016
18

Media Literacy for Parents, Teens and Seniors

I am not exactly part of the “Sandwich Generation” because I do not care for elderly relatives, but we have been in charge of our parentals’ technology for at least a decade… and while our 14-year-old son is starting to compete with our knowledge on the subject, we have been on his case for years about understanding the media he was consuming from the very minute he got an iPhone. Media literacy has been a crucial part of our parenting strategies, for sure.

Dex used to love this app called iFunny. It pretty much just shares goofy memes all day long, thus the name. But he would tell me something he read there as “fact” almost every day… so we continually – and I mean continually – would ask him, “Did you look that up? How do you know that is true?”

Finally, he would bring things up differently.

“I haven’t had a chance to research it, but this is interesting…”

“I verified this already; check out this story about x, y, x…”

So, yeah, I have had this post brewing for over a year, at least.

Learn about Media Literacy and how to apply it on social media to avoid fake news.

What’s The Deal With Fake News?

Part of the fallout from the 2016 election has been calls (or rants, as the case may be) from tech leaders to be more responsible for the news we share, and how we digest it. Facebook and Google launched a new initiative this week to battle “fake news” sites (that is a kind word for it) and then a mastermind of spreading lies spoke to the Washington Post about his effect on the presidency.

You have seen them. Some crazy headline like Goldie Hawn has passed away, but when you click through it’s merely a blog post selling skin cream (more specifically, an ad pretending to be editorial, much like the ones in print magazines that were forced to have a huge “ADVERTISEMENT” headline added to the top).

In the case of the election, there were misleading and downright untrue “news stories” that flew around social media like wildfire. At one point my aunt said to me, “how do you even keep track of it all?”

It’s difficult. Continue reading…

iPhone Developers gather in Denver for the 360 iDev Conference
Sep 2016
14

Hard Code and Soft Skills at 360iDev Conference in Denver

At the end of August, I took some time to attend the 360iDev conference here in Denver. 360iDev is the leading indie iOS/Mac developer conference in the U.S. and possibly the world. Over 4 days, iOS/Mac developers gather in Denver to share tips and techniques on everything topics like Xcode tricks, connecting iOS devices with Azure, and getting started with AudioKit.

Why go to the 360iDev iPhone Developer Conference?

To be honest, I’m not actually an iOS/Mac developer. I have a few projects that I’m working on, but I have a full-time day job that I took time off from to attend this conference. I love the tools and work with them when I can, but it’s not my primary thing.

So why would I want to attend a conference that doesn’t totally apply to me? The first reason is simple: I know the organizers from the Denver tech community. Denver Startup Week (happening right now), Denver Open Coffee Club, and multitudes of meet-ups, unconferences, co-working spaces, and happy hours introduced me to an amazing community of talent and experience. I’m always up for a chance to be around this group and learn more, and I want to support them in any way I can.

The second reason is the reputation of the conference. Friends have gone in past years, and it gave them a new perspective on the tech industry. They told me the speakers and sessions weren’t just about the code and optimization techniques – there was always something more about how what developers create can have a larger impact beyond just their applications. Continue reading…

Jul 2016
18

Have a Strong Computer Backup Plan (Please Please Please)

Last week, something really bad happened. Well, separate of all the horrible things in the news, which is a huge reality check – because the happenings around the globe right now are much worse than what I am about to talk about.

But… I had an external drive fail.

To be fair to the drive, it was at least seven years old, which is one of my failings in this story – not paying attention to the age of my drives and computer backup. I always write the date of purchase on my photo cards, and I will be doing so for external drives as well from now on. How long a drive will last is variable, but it’s something to pay attention to.

I have almost everything from the drive, actually, backed up to the cloud. But I discovered there was a small hole in the way I was importing photos which left a few weeks of recent photos exposed and those are what I lost.

In the end, my husband and I sat down and drew out a map (literally, on paper) of how where my data is, what my workflow is, and how it is being backed up. Then we figured out a way to make sure that EVERYTHING is being backed up both to a local external drive as well as to the cloud. Continue reading…

Snapchat Guide For Parents
May 2016
09

Snapchat Guide For Parents

Is your teen on Snapchat? Are you on Snapchat to keep up with your kids?

(That is what happened to us.)

We proclaimed last year that this newest, super hip social media app was off limits for our son, until *we* were more ready. There are lots of reason to be wary, and to be paying attention.

The name is perfect, because interactions are very quick. A “snap” – whether it be a photo, video or text – only stays up for a few seconds, which of course, can lead to the sharing of super inappropriate things. After the snap is gone, it’s gone, poof! Friends who have been on it since the beginning say the lurid behavior on Snapchat has chilled out, but it’s still a good reason – as with all social networks – to keep tabs on who your kid is interacting with and how.

Having said all that, I am starting to get my head around Snapchat and its appeal. It’s fun! My son describes it as “Twitter for YouTubers.” What he means by that is he’s heard me call Twitter a micro-blogging site, meaning we write these long-winded posts on our own blogs and then share little blips of life on Twitter. Snapchat does the same, in multiple formats. Continue reading…

Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality are coming!
Mar 2016
21

Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality Are Coming

I admit it. I’m crazy excited about virtual reality and mixed reality. It’s the evolution of the day dreams I’ve had since I was a kid reading Tom Swift books. To see that we are on the path to all this becoming actual reality in my lifetime is like all my sci fi books coming to life all at once.

Terms to Remember:
360-Degree Video, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality


360-degree video: In the most basic terms, this is live video that is shot with cameras that have lenses pointing in all directions. To get the idea, imagine that you are watching a movie but you can look all around the scene: right, left, above, below, and even behind you. Most often you are a viewer, not a participant. Google Cardboard is an inexpensive tool that let’s you view 360-degree videos with a smart phone.

Virtual reality: Abbreviated to VR, this is most often a fully simulated experience controlling 100% of the viewer’s sight and hearing. The simplest comparison is to imagine you are dropped into a video game and can participate as one of the characters, actively interacting with the things you see and hear. Usually this experience takes some sort of head mounted screen (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung GearVR) and other gadgets like cameras or gloves to make you feel immersed in the experience.

Mixed reality: Also called augmented reality, MR combines aspects of your real word with additional graphics or information. If you’ve seen movies where the character sees the real world through a screen that provides additional data (Iron Man, Terminator), that’s what we’re talking about. The big difference here is that MR has an awareness of where you are, either through a camera, GPS, or other sensor technology. Mixed reality can happen with a smart phone, a more advanced system like Microsoft Hololens, or not-quite-real technology that recognizes you when you walk in the room. Continue reading…