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Showing posts from December, 2016

Family Tech: "Some Thoughts for the coming year" - December 30, 2016

Don’t we all start the New Year with optimism?  It is the time of the year the gyms fill up, only to dwindle back to normal traffic by late February.
And while our thoughts today may go to parties, soon practical thoughts intrude. Like getting ready to do our taxes, paying off those Christmas bills and organizing ourselves a little bit better the coming year.
I started using an app lately that helps me keep things straight.  It is a journaling app. There are any number in the Google Play and Apple App stores. I have not looked at many.  The one I’m using is not syncing right, so I’ll find another.  Even so, I’ve been impressed with its usefulness.
With it I can jot a quick note. If I choose, it also records my location and the current weather.Soon after I started using it, I had my once-every-10-years lower back spasm. I tracked when I took pain meds with it.
I also track significant events in my day so that I can jog my memory to them later on.
You could use it as a journal is meant to be…
It’s tough ending a 22-year relationship. Trust was broken not once, but at least twice. And while ultimately confessions were made, it was not until years later -- after it was too late to repair the damage.
Thankfully I had ultimately moved on to something younger and flashier. I’m talking about Yahoo. In September they confessed they had been hacked, and half a billion accounts were exposed. If that wasn’t bad enough, they confessed the penetration had occurred two years earlier in 2014. And then just last week, they announced a possible one billion more accounts had been violated. Worse, that penetration had occurred in 2013 and Yahoo didn’t find out until the U.S. government found out and let them know last month. 
From both hacks, hackers stole names, birthdates, phone numbers and even passwords that were encrypted with a weak encryption technique.
Are you one of the one billion monthly users of Yahoo?  I am. I started using Yahoo soon after they began in 1994.  The web was sm…

Family Tech: "The tech revolution is keeping us healthier" - December 16, 2016

High tech home medical technology used to be a thermometer.  If you were lucky, it was oral.
Today, a lot of technology you would only find in a doctor’s office or hospital has come home.  And what you find in the hospital today is truly futuristic.
At the hospital, we have robot surgical knives like the Davinci machine that can hold a scalpel rock steady. A few inches movement of the controller by the surgeon might move the scalpel a millimeter.  A tiny camera inserted into the incision along with the scalpel gives the surgeon a view he could not get without opening up a much larger incision.  This minimally invasive surgery allows faster recovery and safer surgery.
What’s even more amazing is the controller unit and the patient do not have to be in the same room.  Theoretically, this could allow a surgeon in New York to operate on a patient in Bangladesh, or on the Space Station.
Even more futuristic is IBM’s Watson.  Readers may remember Watson as IBM’s supercomputer that triumphed aga…

"Let's Call it What it is: propaganda" - December 12, 2016

Fake news has been all over the news recently. Let’s call it what it really is: propaganda.

Why are we talking about this in a column about technology for families? Anyone online is inundated with information. Before the internet, there were certain filters in place when we got our information from newspapers, magazines, books and broadcasting.

It was expensive to print and distribute or to broadcast. The publishers and broadcasters had limits of how much content they could put out, so they were discriminating in their selection. And they had to reach a large audience to be economically viable, so they could not alienate a large portion of their audience by being unfair.

I do not mean to suggest propaganda techniques were not used, just that there were some filters in place. Today there are none. Anyone can publish to the net for only the cost of an internet connection. The only filter between publisher and audience is what the individual audience member provides for himself.

I learn…

Family Tech : "You might want to be a kid again when you see these toys" - December 2, 2016

Last time we talked about gifts for adults.  What about younger people fascinated with technology? What gifts can nurture an interest or spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM? 
Or best of all, show off the wonder of the world?
I’ll champion high tech gifts in a bit, but for showing off the wonders of the universe there is no better gift than a telescope. You can find entry-level telescopes starting at about $40.  I still recall my first view of the moon through a telescope as a life-shaping event. So much of what I had learned in school became much clearer.  Today, you can use a phone app to help point your telescope at planets and other celestial bodies.
Looking the other direction at the universe of life --in a drop of water-- is even easier today. There are microscopes that hook into a PC and let you manipulate them through software, as well as capture images.
Of course, links for these, and all the items we are going to talk about here are in this…