Skip to main content

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 week’s Link Post at FamilyTechOnline.com.

For younger kids, there is the Code a Pillar, from Fisher-Price. It is a toy caterpillar. Kids build it by attaching its segments in different orders. For example, if the first segment is go forward, then the second is turn to the left, and the next is go forward, the caterpillar will move forward, turn and then move some more.  By playing, kids are learning the fundamentals of programming.

For the  Star Wars  fans, there is Sphero’s BB8 robot. Controlled from the phone, you can control your own piece of the Star Wars universe.

Doll houses have gone high tech with Barbi’s Hello Dream House. Children control it with over 100 voice commands to make the lights work, decorate for Christmas and even have the stairs turn into a slide.

The coolest technology gift I found this year is the Piper Computer Kit. It lets a person build a computer case and install a Raspberry Pi 3 computer along with sensors and peripherals.  When it is complete, they can play Minecraft on it. 

Read the rest at www.FamilyTechOnline.com


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Using Automagic to get around a bug in Android Auto

I recently purchased a Google Pixel XL 32g phone. It is by far the best phone I've owned.

It is great company on my daily commute. The Android Auto app warns me of traffic, plays my podcasts for me, and lets me dictate text messages.  I've combined it with ReadItToMe so that my incoming text messages are read aloud.

I noticed on my first afternoon commute though the Do Not Disturb icon was turned on on my Android watch. At the next traffic light I discovered that Do Not Disturb was on on the phone as well.

A Google search at home found I was not alone in noticing/suffering this.  The Android Product Forum had mention of it.

People first reported this back in November 2016, so hopefully a fix will be coming.

Meanwhile, I worked out a workaround using AutoMagic.

The flow below detects the launch of Android Auto and then turns off Do Not Disturb by setting the Ringer on, and turning the audio volume up. I have tested it briefly here at home, but not yet on a commute.



Update: 3/10/…

Recording your own notes with Google Voice

Note :   April 2016:  Frankly I don't know if this works anymore.  It is 7 years old.

I stopped using this when Google Now became useful on my phone, and I could dictate reminders using it.



I found a way a while ago to use Google Voice to record a personal note, transcribe it, and email it to me. A recent Lifehacker post "Five Things We'd Like to See in Google Voice" lists that need as their #5 request, so I realized what I'd figured out is not common knowledge.

In GV's Contacts, create a Group "Special Transcription"

To avoid listening to my standard voice mail when I call, I recorded a short voice mail greeting for this group simply saying "Record note now"

I added a contact with my own cell phone number as the only number, and made it the sole member of this group.

In GV's phone settings, I edited the settings for my cell phone. In the section "Direct access to voicemail when calling your Google number from this phone?" I se…

Your First Day with Evernote

I've written many times before about Evernote.  I love this program.  It is my brain's memory on steroids.  I have over 6000 notes in it now.  And I keep finding ever more uses for it.

While originally written in 2009, this post has been frequently updated.


New January 2012:  If you like what I write about Evernote, check out my 136 page e-book,
 "Get Productive Fast with Evernote".  Just $10.

Sunday October 11, 2009 I wrote about Evernote in my print column, Family Tech. If you are wondering what is Evernote, and why would I want to use it, start with the column.

I promised in that column this post to help new users get efficient fast with Evernote.

I thought I'd write a quick plan for someone's first day with Evernote. This is really meant for after you've installed the client to your computer, so this picks up after you've gone to  Evernote's Get Started Page and created an account and downloaded and installed a client for your primary computer.