Archive for January, 2010

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Child tracking devices?

January 27, 2010

The mother of one of my elementary school friends has worked for a pretty wealthy family for quite a long time. Through that family, she got a dog named Holly that I wasn’t even really afraid of. (Did I mention my fear of dogs yet? Well, there that is.) I was fascinated by Holly because not only was she a very well-behaved, beautiful dog — sorry I don’t know breeds — but she was also pretty tech-savvy. Holly had something like puppy LoJack installed by her tail.

If you felt near her rear, you could feel a rather small computer chip that used GPS technology to track her down if she was ever stolen or ran away. At the time, it was unheard of and I thought that as long as it didn’t hurt the dogs then it was a really great idea. Now it is more commonly used, and has helped many sad pet owners to happily reunite with their furry friends.

The idea of embedding computer chips into humans has been around for some time. It was referenced in the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic (Johnny was a data courier, with the information stored in a brain chip) and more recently in the television show Fringe (Walter Bishop implants a tracking chip into his neck so his son Peter can find him if he wanders off). A current Google search reveals more than a million results for articles, blog entries, etc., related to making this practice more common.

Why, you might ask, would I bring this random idea up? I read a piece recently discussing the pros and cons of using GPS technology to keep tabs on children (leaving a tracking device in their bag or something, not embedded in their skin).

Personally, I am not thrilled with this idea. Of course, I can understand parents’ fears about their child getting abducted, abused or worse. I watch SVU; I know what’s out there. But while it could provide some peace of mind in that sense, there are so many other things that could happen to kids that a GPS could never detect.

Really, my biggest issue with the whole kiddy GPS thing is that you are taking away your child’s privacy. A kindergarten student doesn’t need much alone time, and their parents or guardians should keep tabs on them. But as that child with a chip in their backpack grows up, they will know that they are being monitored. They may feel that they aren’t trusted, or that they need to act or live a certain way because they are being watched. It could dramatically affect their personality and inhibit them in a way that a lack of GPS technology wouldn’t. 

As I said, I do see both the benefits and the downsides to monitoring children in this way. However, I am definitely more con than pro.

What do you think about this technology? Would you ever consider planting a tracking device on your child?

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I don’t get it

January 27, 2010

 

Apple's latest - the iPad

Apple's latest - the iPad

 

Sorry for the delay in new posts. I took a mental break apparently, but will try to get back on track.

Even if you don’t want to be, I am sure that you will be bombarded with news today about Apple’s latest creation, the iPad. Everyone is talking about it (here’s NYTimes, CNET, Wired and TechTalk, just to pull a few from my RSS feeds), and I watched the demo video just a short while ago.

Now before I give my opinion, I would like to establish my relationship with Apple products. I had a first generation iPod shuffle that still works perfectly and currently have an iPod classic that I rarely leave home without. I have a 2 1/2-year-old MacBook Pro that I use at work and home which I adore (here are the new models). I work on iMacs every day here with the students, and think they are fantastic. One day, when we have some disposable income, I would love to have a Mac at home.

For the record, Jesse does not share my affinity for Apple products; he despises the iPod for only playing m4a files (while his Zune will play any audio files) and generally trashes Macs (unless, of course, he wants to use my laptop).

So after reading all about the new iPad, watching the video and hearing countless others weigh in, I really need to put this out there – I don’t get it.

Is it just me who thinks this wonderful, shiny new innovation looks really awkward? You have to sit with your knees up to balance it on your legs, or stare straight down at your lap or a tabletop to work on it. It appears significantly larger than a Kindle and even some of the new smaller laptops (here’s s Dell example). It appears to be a big brother of the iPod Touch, with a few new bells & whistles. And since so many people ran out to get a new MacBook, iPod Touch or iPhone, are these people now going to trade those in for a new, larger device that can really do pretty much everything they already have covered?

Unless someone can tell me something that would completely revolutionize my world, I really do not see a point to the iPad other than it being an excuse for tech geeks to snag themselves a new toy.

Thoughts? Comments? Lay it on me.

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The lifesaving app

January 21, 2010

 

Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS

 

By now, everyone knows that the iPhone has an app for just about everything. You can keep up with the President’s latest doings, play super popular video games, and even use it as your remote control. But who would have thought that this device, seemingly designed as a primarily entertainment-driven gadget, could literally be a lifesaver.

I first read about this story yesterday in Wired, where they referenced this MSNBC piece. Dan Woolley lay under piles of rubble from his Haitian hotel, expecting his life to end following the January 12 earthquake. As he frantically wrote goodbye notes to his wife and children, he used a first-aid application on his iPhone to treat some of his wounds and set his phone alarm to go off every 20 minutes in an effort to avoid slipping into a coma or losing consciousness. He then waited 65 hours until he was miraculously rescued.

Um, hello Apple? Yea, I think you have a new spokesperson. What other phone manufacturer can make the claim that its product kept a man alive during an intense natural disaster? Not likely, Samsung. Fat chance, Motorola.

This is truly an amazing and wonderful story to hear about, especially in the midst of all the sorrow coming from this event. 

Has hearing this story changed your perception of the iPhone? Are you more inclined to get one, or to recommend it to others if you are already an owner?

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New approach to college recruiting

January 19, 2010

This is perhaps the strangest, silliest, most absurd and most brilliant ideas in the recent history of college recruiting. I read about it today, and had to share it.

It seems that Yale University is taking a more theatrical approach to attracting future graduates. Andrew Johnson, an ’06 alum who now works in the Admissions Office, wanted to shake things up by creating a musical recruitment video. Check it out below.

Is that not ridiculous? While I don’t think a classy place like Yale needs to use such gimmicks, you certainly can’t blame them for putting this out there. It’s definitely going to get people’s attention. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s almost nice to see what some people may view as a stuffy Ivy League school letting it’s hair down a bit.

What do you think of this video? Do you think it was below the Yale standard, or was it a fresh idea from an established institution?

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More downsides of 3-D TV

January 19, 2010

It is so comforting to know that I’m not the only one concerned about this whole 3-D television scenario.

The good people at Wired magazine (one of my fav RSS feeds, as you can tell from my many links to them) laid out four reasons why 3-D TV may not be all it’s cracked up to be. If I was nervous about this before, I’m extra anxious now.

As a person who requires eyeglasses in order to function – how I wish I was joking – 3-D movies (and possibly TV) is an issue for me. Trying to layer the special glasses over my own glasses is annoying. I also feel that my anti-reflective, UV coating thing somehow creates a weird viewing situation for me. I don’t always seem to see what other folks see in 3-D.

Eye strain is a huge factor in today’s society. So many people spend all day staring at a computer screen, which is already harsh on their eyes. If those same folks were to come home and have to focus in on the special images coming across their television, I think I can safely predict more migraines, eye problems and even more people needing corrective lenses than currently do.

What are your thoughts on 3-D TV? Do you think the benefits outweigh the negatives? Have you read anything else on this topic? Share it with the group!

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This Wii just got even better!

January 13, 2010

Attention Wii owners who are also Netflix subscribers – this Spring, Netflix streaming will be available for free on the Wii! I just read about this, and have already reserved my free CD. This is very exciting!

I’ve been a Netflix member since 2005 and absolutely love it. Once Netflix began streaming content online, I started to watch movies and any of their content available online. It will be glorious to have that content on my television screen instead of my lovely but small 15′ Macbook Pro monitor. 

And I just had a brainstorm… I wonder if, using the Wii’s Internet access, I can watch the TV episodes I stream online on my television set. I must try this when I get home! I will report back after my experiment with my success or failure.

Update Jan. 19 – sadly, the Wii runs the Opera browser, which is not supported by Fox, ABC and hulu’s online players. But you can watch YouTube clips, so I guess that’s something!

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Bursting with GLEE!

January 12, 2010

 

Glee logo

Glee!

 

Yes, this post will talk about the fabulous TV show Glee, among other things. How awesome is this show, seriously? I am so excited to hear that Fox gave the official go ahead for season two. Yay! Even cooler is that they are holding audition to get 3 new cast members. Check out the details at the show’s official site.

When I first heard about the show, I was skeptical. I didn’t watch it until Jesse and my friend/coworker Dana told me I needed to get onboard. So I sat down and watched the first 3 episodes online (which is, by the way, pretty much the only way I watch TV). The first one didn’t wow me, but I saw potential. With every new episode I watched, I was pulled deeper and deeper into William McKinley High. I love it!

You already knew of my love for musical theater, so this just brings that love into my home. I can’t wait for it to come back from hiatus in April! If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend either renting season 1, volume 1 (road to sectionals) or watching it online. These are talented folks, and it’s a wonderfully fun, sweet, emotional, adorable show. Give it a shot.

I am also gleeful because just a short while ago I saw the rough cut of a segment of our wedding video! Yay! These guys are truly fabulous, and I’m so glad we decided to go with them. They are also QU grads and friends of mine, and it was great to see friendly faces on our special day. I look forward to seeing what else they have in store for us, as well as the gorgeous pictures that are sure to come from our incredible photographer. 😀

Do you have any thoughts on Glee? Who is your favorite character? (I’m torn – I love a bunch of them!)