What to do in self isolation

Most of the world is self isolating or in lockdown because we don’t want the coronavirus to spread. We are keeping ourselves safe and others safe. For an introvert that is not a problem. They no longer have to make up excuses not to see people and do things. For most it is a shock. The routine of work and school provide a structure and often overload to the day. Clubs, sport, social groups fill in the time. We are now having to recreate a life without much external stimulus and without scaffolding.

It means for many they are confronted with their lack of technology skills because someone could always help. Now they are not there or you can’t reach them easily. If that is the case then learning something to do with technology each day will help. YouTube, Udemy and web searches will all help. Tina Yong , in the video , suggests MasterClass but that has a paid monthly or annual subscription. You may or may not be able to afford it. Look for the free options. People like Tina Yong are starting to put up videos of how to manage being at home in isolation or quarantine. Some are not helpful, others give some sound and practical ideas. More will appear online and more things will be available online. This is a chance to improve what is offered online, to contribute and also to consume for your own purposes. Connectivity means we can quickly circulate ideas and we are. We can structure them more now as people are starting to understand what this all means. Lifelong learning is how we shall do this.

Aust Federal Govt apps for COVID-19

Yesterday the Australian Federal Government announced its new digital apps support so we can manage the COVID-19. Part of that is a notifications capability on WhatsApp. Bear in mind WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook. The video shows you how to download the app and use its features. I had it on my phone and sent the government a message early this morning. So far, no response. The instructions for doing that are here on Canberra Times.

The other thing you can do is download the Coronavirus Australia app from Apple or for Android. I got it from the PlayStore last night but there seem to be issues so get it directly from the government site. It did not show up in Google Play when I searched for it to give a link on this blog. Hopefully that is fixed soon. It seems to be there now. Gizmodo seems to be onto keeping us informed about how to get the Android version of the app.

Maxxlee 10000 Solar Power Bank

I said I’d be back with a bit more information about the new Maxxlee 10000 solar power bank. As I explained in my first post, it was the one I could get. In another time I would have bought a bigger one and a bigger one would have been available. We do what we can at the moment.

I am not unhappy with this at all. It is so sturdy and so well designed. I really like the dual torch. I bought it for the solar power , though. It charges my phone as fast as being connected to mains power. I have a Samsung A8. It charges my small android tablets effectively and quickly. One is my old Telefunken and the other is my old Galaxy Tab 2. It will not charge my iPad. That said, I am not looking for state of the art charging capability at this point in time. I am finding out what it does do and what it does is enough.

It needs to be fully charged on mains power and then it tops up on solar power. Charging my phone and tablet don’t take long so the rest of the day it can just sit there and soak up the sun. This way I shall recuperate the money I spent and I have a handy little brick which can solar charge my devices. I am now going to investigate what solar power units charge normal size iPads.

Technology helping with COVID-19

It was always going to come. We live in the age of technology. COVID-19 is now forcing us to find new and better uses for all this equipment we have been playing with. There are even ways to use computers to help find a cure for COVID-19.  The video explains a lot about how the world is rallying and using what we have around us by way of devices to help solve real problems.

A lot of people are already working online. More and more will do that. We have to shift ourselves into online workplaces, neighbourhoods and social events. We are going to learn we can build a virtual society and economy. Web conferences will be the go and parliaments ought to be running online. This keeps people safe but it keeps the organisational structures in place. They should not be abandoned.

There are already some good articles being published about how technology and COVID-19 are changing us and our world. There are articles about how technology is being utilised to fight against this virus.

All of this is sudden and baffling but we have each other…online. We need to ensure everyone can be connected so they can get the help and information they need. It has to be a priority that people can access and use devices to connect. Our world is moving online for as long as it takes. There will be adventures, frustrations, failures and muddles but there will be a lot of success and a lot of heart. We can do this. We have been rehearsing for quite some time now.

Maxxlee 10000 Solar Power Bank

I wrote an earlier post about solar power banks. In this day and age I think they are a handy thing to have. In this day and age you can’t always get what you want, though. Shopaholics have been clearing different things out of the shops because of he corona virus. It meant I could not get the solar power bank I wanted. It meant I could not find one like the one I wanted. On top of that online shopping has become restricted because different services have been shut down to flatten the infection curve. That is good. I have then done what I always believe…do the best you can. I am not writing this to sell anything. On this blog I explore the things I purchase and explain how they work for me in my life. I was impressed from the moment I saw this Maxxlee solar power bank this morning. It is compact, very sturdy has dual LED torches and a compass. It also has a hook for hanging it off a bag so the solar power bank goes to work.

I only got this this morning and so there will be more than one post on this. It charges my android phone easily. It is charging my little Telefunken tablet slowly but surely. It does not appear to charge my iPad so I need to do some more investigating. I paid a very modest price for this so I am thinking if it only charges my phone and small tablet, well, that would be good. When the world returns to normal I can invest in something bigger and better to charge other things. I just need to get going and I want to have something. This power bank is a robust, handy gadget which will return the cost of it easily.

The video is worth watch because Galaxy Tech Review is very careful in how it explains the good and not so good points about any gadget. You get a sound idea of what this power bank can do and what to look for it you want something better.

Web conferencing

So many people are moving online to connect with each other for various purposes. Makes sense. We have the technology. In Australia we may have issues because our NBN is not one of the world’s best. That’s another story. It may be that net access and usage will be triaged so that essential services are met first if the corona virus creates enough havoc. We’ll see.

I have noticed the most mentioned web conferencing software is Zoom. Join.me is another good one which you can trial for free and for small face to face video connections you can use  the free Skype, FaceTime, Messenger and iMessages apps.

Zoom Basic is free and there are apps you can download for mobile devices. Then there are priced versions of Zoom. This is fair. You can try it out properly and then decide whether you need a paid version.

TechRadar has a sound review of Zoom. Zapier has some tips and tricks you might like.

It is vital we stay connected and it is important we share our best tips and tricks for doing that . Some of the connectivity will be dealing with some big issues but the bulk of it needs to prove to us that we are all connected and can manage socially and competently in a virtual environment.

Now, clean those screens, please!

 

 

 

Do it! Clean those screens!

How many germs live on your screen?

I am reblogging this post. You can find others on this blog if you search clean your screens. While we are trying to manage and contain the Corona Virus we are all looking at ways to avoid cross contamination. Phones and tablets need to be cleaned. Slate has helpful advice directly related to the Corona virus outbreak. 

Go on, get out the microfibre cloth, the sanitiser, the cleaner and clean those glass screens. Fingers and glass are a bad mix until we invent self-cleaning screens. I have blogged about it before. We wash ourselves, our dishes, clean our clothes and our toilets but we don’t think about our screens. It needs to become routine. Which? has done some interesting studies to show that screens harbour more bacteria than toilet seats. The article offers a sensible way to keep your screens clean. There is another informative article here about what lurks on your screens. When you have read both of those, take the test at The Oatmeal!!

Problems with Chrome

Chrome has become a bit of a problem this year. After years of reliable, solid service service, I have had to discontinue using it on Windows 10. I still use Chromium on Linux. There are concerns about personal data being compromised. There are difficulties with opening it and there are , what I had , where it pushes the hard disk to 100% usage when you browse with Chrome.

When I had problems opening it , I changed the compatibility to Windows 8 and Chrome opened and worked well. I also deleted the extensions in Chrome which I did not really need. It was fine and then the last Windows 10 update came through and that was that. Chrome is my favourite browser. Edge is okay and I can get along with Edge but it is not my favourite. Others swear by Firefox. We all want to have our favourites these days.

The University College of London has information, with suggestions,  about the Chrome issues . 

The AI video gives a work around which has helped some people. I am hoping Google will sort Chrome out and resolve the difficulties surrounding Chrome.

 

Solar charger power bank

I am looking to buy a solar charger power bank for my devices. So many  homes have solar power now and renewable energy is the future. We need portable solar power too for when we are out and about for long periods of time, camping, bushwalking, strolling or if we don’t have solar panels at home and there is an outage for whatever reason. These days it is quite hard to function without access to mobile networks and the internet. In times of difficulty it is essential so you can get the help you need. The Plug and Play video gives you an idea of what power banks are and what they do and what to look for. Two things you need to know are how long the power bank takes to fully charge in the sun and that it is 15, 000 milliamps minimum and 20, 000 is probably the most suitable size.

I am busy doing my research. I have found one I’d buy but it is currently out of stock locally. I’ll wait and see if it becomes available. We have had a difficult summer, it pays to be patient currently. If it doesn’t become available , I shall be doing my research again because the one thing I have learned is that in 2020 one thing is available one minute and the next minute it is a different brand or upgrade. Upgrades tend to come quickly if the market likes the product. Make sure you are reading and looking at current reviews for products.

AI Bot interviews Billie Eilish

Vogue broke new ground and put itself out there by creating an AI bot interview with American singer/songwriter Billie Eilish. It’s more of an oral questionnaire because there is very little conversation. Ms. Eilish is 18 years old and totally comfortable with this AI medium for an interview. She is calm, thoughtful and discusses the ideas provoked by the questions in a detailed way. She genuinely responds to them . Would everyone? Is it an age group thing or would the novelty of it encourage others to be more open? It does show that AI doesn’t dominate or manipulate the interview in any way. The person in the interview is centre stage and it is all about them. One of the points which Ms. Eilish makes is that AI is non judgemental. People who are interviewed probably appreciate impartiality. The AI Bot has created a Dada version of her lyrics and she quite likes it .

It is different. Is it the future? Would we do more of this ? If it is someone you want to hear then it is a good way to allow them to share their ideas. It is more like a performance than an interaction but not in any way lacking in humanity.

Poor camera colour Samsung A8

samsung camera

Samsung camera

It has been driving me crazy. I love my Samsung A8 which has served me very well…but, but , but the colour on the camera can let me down. It is important to me to get the right colour sometimes. In general photos it is fine but trying to get good colour with reds and greens on specific things has been disappointing. I literally watch the colour drain as I set the shot up. Worse with greens. Bad with burgundies and clarets. I tried downloading an HD camera app. No difference. This morning I thought I would see if I can actually do something about it. it is not just an A8 or a Samsung problem. It is a bit of an Android problem . Haven’t asked people with iPhones.

Other colours are not so troublesome with close ups. My best effort is to stand a metre away and then crop the photos. That tends to preserve the colour integrity better. I did also find clearing the cache and app data of the camera app helped a tiny bit.

The spun wool is a light olive green colour. Neither camera app could pick that up. The Samsung picked it up closer to the phone after data and cache clearing. The colour is almost right when I take the photo from a metre away then crop.

Samsung camera app

Samsung camera app data and cache cleared

HD camera app

HD Camera app

There may be other solutions to this but it is annoying to have to go searching when phone cameras are a big part of our lives these days.

Meanwhile, I shall take in the tips and tricks for the camera on techguide.

 

 

 

Samsung camera app

Samsung camera 1 metre away cropped.

Free images

Unsplash

Photo by Arzu Cengiz on Unsplash

Unsplash is a treasure trove of wonderful, free images. We need that. Much of our online life requires good images. We can take our own because we have smartphones and sometimes we need an image to suit a particular project or event. Unsplash supplies hundreds to top quality images which download quickly and are of a decent size so image clarity and integrity can be preserved . All that is asked is you acknowledge the person who created the image. Each image has a citation so it just a matter of copy and pasting that. You can belong to the community and contribute as well. Good way to build up your image portfolio if you need one.

Migrating blog from Blogger to WordPress

Embrace Your Weirdness

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Twice before I have migrated blogs from Blogger to WordPress. Easy as pie, quick and efficient. Done. Thank you Google. Thank you WordPress. Last week I wanted to move my other blog from Blogger to WordPress. It said the file had imported successfully. I watched it upload. I tried again and again. No. Nothing. I googled. There are some convoluted workarounds which I did not want to try. It also said there was a plugin for importing. I searched on WordPress and it wasn’t available.

2020 and it is all different. Things have changed. Internet companies have put in some clear rules. Some of it is to do with the huge upsurge in mobile technology. Some of it is to do with intellectual property and boundaries. Some of it is to do with it is 2020 and things just are not like they used to be. Bit like we are never allowed to justify text again in our layout.

I have no complaints about Blogger. If my blog has to stay there then so be it. At this point in time it would be more helpful to me to have all my blogs in one spot now. Before I kept them separated for professional reasons and then I aggregated  them for professional reasons . The lone Blogger blog was very much my own personal blog to keep track of my textile work and journey. I’ll give it another go next week but one of my new year resolutions is not to get caught up in technology bunkum. If it is not going to happen easily or straightforwardly I shall do something more productive with my time.

Normally, the migration follows the process explained on bloggingspark. There have been issues because that is on Google so this is a wait and see one.

Windows 10 running hard disk at 100%

performance monitorWere this computer older and with fewer resources I would have been panicking at the 100% disk usage on Windows 10. It would crash the computer. Not a good look or feel. It happened after the recent update. This morning I have had to have a good look at it then work out a plan. I never go about things like this without having some steps to follow. Using my computer to search was out of the question so I searched on my iPad. Pays to have access to another device sometimes.

I found the tips on cleverfiles to be helpful. There are sites with similar information but this one made it very clear.

I looked at my performance monitor and Search and Cortana were taking up too much disk I/O. I restarted the computer, disabled search in the process, restarted and that did nothing. Did not remove the search at all. Win 10 does as it pleases sometimes.

performance monitorI noticed Skype was using resources. I don’t use Skype and hadn’t installed it. I removed it. There was an improvement.

Chrome has been having issues with Windows 10 for a while. They do not play nicely together anymore. I ran it Win 8 compatible but that was not something I could try today because it was blocked out so I am on Edge. It uses fewer resources.

Now my computer is running a lot better but still shoots up to 100% disk usage. I have a malware fighter so I don’t think that is the issue.

I am hoping the next update form Windows will resolve this. Edge is using up a lot of RAM in content processing. Why? Ditto Radeon setting. I’ll try Firefox tomorrow to see if that helps but I have , at least, got myself out of the emergency situation . Pretty silly in 2020 when things should be sorted by now.

Find a song when you only know the tune

Finding a song when you know the lyrics or bits of the lyrics is easy. You just google it! What if you only know the tune , though? Technology has come a long way and is so helpful now. I had this tune playing in my head and couldn’t for the life of me identify it. I worked out it was a Mum song because she gave me so much in terms of musical and film knowledge form her era. As it turns out it is the theme from Moulin Rouge by Mantovani or Percy Faith both of whom she listened to a lot along with jazz and big band music.

I succeeded by using Midomi. So easy. I just hummed my tune into the microphone and Midomi found it. I could then look it up on YouTube. I tried Soundhound which is a very good app but it didn’t recognise my tune. Midomi needs flash to work so it doesn’t work on an iPad. Shazam works if you have a recorded version of the tune. You can also try Siri or Google sound search but these 3 apps are pretty impressive and we are no longer left to wonder.

I thank my mother for continuing to teach me about music appreciation. Her legacy lives in in the technology age.

Technology peeves

access denied imageImage: Dreamstime

It used to be the Access denied was the most constant and regular annoyance you got with technology. Now we have a whole raft of annoyances to choose from. For some it’s the constant notification interruptions. For others it’s the constant spam and cold calls.

As soon as the New Year was rung in , I had non stop cold calls on my home phone and mobile phone. Over Christmas there had been a cease fire. I realised we still haven’t dealt  with this and it ought not be hard given most of the numbers are well documented on number look up sites as nuisance calls. The scams are getting worse, though and the people are becoming brazen. It’s a global problem which needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

Then there are the apps which suddenly won’t work wither because you have changed devices and the apps were not installed properly or they are no longer registered with the organisation for which the app has been created. So off you go re downloading things and then waiting in call queues.

Printers are probably the biggest annoyance. It is cheaper to buy a printer than the ink to fill one. You do not often need a printer these days but when you need one , you really need one. We need a better way of managing printers for those who might need one once or twice a year. The cost of printing a couple of sheets of paper is ridiculous and given ink dries up…not very clever of us.

Tech-Funnel has its top 10 pet peeves. Theirs includes so connections. Oh yes…watching the infinite wheel of death spin and spin and spin…MakeUseOf has its top technology annoyances and it includes passwords. Yes! Endless amounts of passwords and then you have to change them when you just mastered remembering them.

2019. I think we need to get onto these annoyances and make a real effort to a) make a very clear list of what annoyances we have with technology b) do something about it to make it a better technology world. We can all do this. We need to rectify  it because, truth is, we’d be lost without our technology.

 

Hay Day

It has been two years since I have been on Hay Day and some things never change. It’s very addictive and keeps me busy! I had really been enjoying first Puzzle Craft and then Puzzle Craft 2 to the extent I was 142 on the leaderboard. That’s a real achievement for me.

There came a day where I kept getting an interfering game message every time I did anything on Puzzle Craft 2 . I wanted to get into the top 100. Chillingo responded pretty quickly when I contacted them and fixed the game ad interference which had broken all enjoyment of the game for me for two days. By than time I was on Hay Day again .

Hay Day has some good changes. I love being able to decorate the market stall, truck and house. I love the game boosters you can get now. They have listened and allowed some very effective ground expansions which come with some nice decorations. There is an animal sanctuary in the town but it takes forever to get the puzzle pieces. They have expanded the crops, trees and plants. All of that was lovely to discover because graphically it is a very good game and most of it is set up to work well.

Now the ad paper is full of tofu dogs, rustic bouquets and cloche hats. It’s silly. Somehow I manage to sell mine but you get sick of looking at them. You also get sick of running out of tomatoes, chillis, cream, butter and cheese. The dairy is impossible to keep up with. That part of the game is not quite right. I get rid of or ignore requests to hand over large quantities of things like sugar, butter, honey. Another storey on the honey tree would be lovely. It is those shortages which make it hard to move forward with a sense of satisfaction.

Unlike Puzzle Craft, the diamonds (runes equivalent) are very hard to come by and the pressure is to buy more. Puzzle Craft 2 had a good balance with those sorts of things. Hay Day works on a deficit model and then suddenly comes up trumps and it’s great. Needs to be more often.

The community is mostly very positive and collaborative but there are still the people who swarm in like locusts, grab what they want and offer no help.

I try and help those on levels under 20. I remember finding it really hard on Hay Day until I got to around level 14.

I am doing well and finding my place in the scheme of things. There are people on some very impressive numbers. I aim to just enjoy what is a mostly well thought out game which is still going strongly.

6th generation iPad

As well as my Samsung A8 phone, I upgraded my iPad Air to a 6th generation iPad. I wanted the gold but they had sold out so I got the silver. Colour isn’t actually going to make one bit of difference to how the tablet works. The gold is amazingly popular, though.

The prices were very good and iPads are cheaper. This was well worth the outlay. The iPad Air was a bit smaller than a normal iPad. It didn’t really make a difference and made it ultra portable. It did suit my Logitech Bluetooth keyboard better in size. All of that is with a new owner who can make good use of it.

The new iPad connects to my 5G wi-fi and there have been no issues with it dropping out like I had with the iPad Air on the normal wi-fi. The nbn connection can be flaky at times. It also runs very smoothly in terms of gesturing and moving between apps and screens. It is running on iOS 12.1.1.1. The integration really is seamless and so using it is a real pleasure especially since the camera takes better photos which are actually decent. iPads have never been very good with photos.  With the improvement in my phone and now with this iPad I really feel like I have come into 2019 very well set up and loving mobile technology. It is no longer half baked , make do stuff.

I have my bluetooth case and that protects the iPad and has made it more productive and functional. It can work with an Apple pencil which I haven’t as yet purchased and it will be far better for augmented reality which is set to grow significantly.

This iPad is less intrusive and less pushy so I am getting the impression mobile technology has worked out we don’t want to be swamped by push notifications and something which takes over our device.

It’s the size of a normal iPad and I am glad to have that back. Screen real estate is important when graphics are so good these days.

There is a review of it here on laptopmag.

6th generation ipad

Samsung A8

Samsung A8I have never adapted so quickly to a new smart phone. My Samsung S5 was getting slower and having storage problems. It was time for a new phone. I never want a top of the range really expensive one. I don’t see the point. I worked out the A8 was probably the one for me and it is. I have taken to it like a duck to water. Best thing was I shopped around and got a really good price.

It comes with a Smart Switch, phone cable, ear buds, plastic phone back and wall plug charger. It took no time at all , really , to get the data off my old phone using the Smart Switch. It took no time to get on the mobile network and it was my own phone once I put the SD card in. So a couple of hours or less and I was on my new phone and fully functional. That has never happened before.

I love the screen real estate, the intuitive gesturing, the helpful hints and the cruisy feel of it. Everything is instant and seamless. Photos are organised logically. Apps and contacts are easily found. Screenshots are slightly different. You have to use the start button on the side and the volume down button. The screenshots are fast compared with my S5.

Others who have used it have been very impressed. I am. It is so easy to customise, use and find out about. It is very similar to a J8 but has more ram and a slightly smaller screen. I went for the ram as it makes a difference in functionality.

I do not find this phone pushy and intrusive as other smartphones have been. It has got it right on information and notifications. Searches also bring up the help you actually need.

You can read the specifications on the Samsung site.

Samsung A8

All in all, this phone has been a really pleasant surprise and continues to be so.

Bluetooth keyboard troubleshooting

I am actually typing this post on my J. Burrows iPad bluetooth keyboard. It’s a folder so the iPad clips into the top and the keyboard is at the bottom. What they say is true. It slides out of the two holders. Felt stickers have not helped so I might use some double sided tape. It’s not really an issue for me. Casual mobile technology means you have to forgo the professionally perfect approach and this is a very comfortable keyboard. I have used a Logitech one too and that was quite good but the keys and the key action on this suits me better.

One of the issues I first had setting it up was getting it to type properly. It was typing random letters and then I realised it was using the French AZERTY keyboard but not exactly. What to do? I went into the settings to the General section and found the keyboards. I removed them all except the English one. Monolingualism is curable but not in this technological age apparently. Once I had done that I could connect the keyboard and it has been playing nicely ever since. I might let it settle in, as you do with new devices, and then try loading my other keyboards back. I’d like to think in 2019 , with a new iPad , that I could access keyboards in other languages via Bluetooth. We’ll see. I hadn’t even had the French keyboard selected. That’s what was weird about this. No matter. It’s fine for now.

Puzzle Craft 2

It was a massive achievement to finish the Imperial Castle and I certainly felt the love from the game! It all then seemed to go nowhere and I thought I was up for looking for a new game. I couldn’t see anything I liked so I went back to Puzzle craft 2 to have a look. There were still awards to be completed. There was still the networking I hadn’t done and , to my surprise, I was on the leaderboard! I get on leaderboards for anagram and word games, and I jolly well ought to, but with “normal” games I sink into oblivion. There were the challenges for me. I could finish awards and I could move myself up the leader board. I have since made a lot more money, collected more influence and gems and am up to level 206. I networked on Facebook but gave no permission to access friends list at this stage. Why? In the past networking has meant I have had things stolen from games which is just as alarming as having things stolen in real life. Theft is theft. I also do not want messages sent from the game under my name when I haven’t sent them. That is rude. I don’t know if Puzzle Craft 2 is like that or not but I am not risking it at this stage. Meanwhile I can still do the Royal Challenges and that puts a whole new look on the game. You have limited moves to complete moves which is why you really need friends to help you. Sometimes the challenges have tried to force me to use friends but I just cancel them. Bullying is not encouragement. My game, my life, my device and my list of friends. I have now completed 2% of the challenges but don’t understand why whatever else you do on the board after you have met the challenge goes nowhere. You are making moves for no reason because you are not collecting the resources. Sometimes you can turn them into coins or maybe into gems but not often. Why am I collecting wheat or whatever into fresh air? That does not make sense to me. With challenges you have to keep your tools well stocked and invest in magic tools which is easy because you get plenty of Influence with the challenges. You then have to work on the village boards to keep the tools going. I am actually enjoying this part of the game. I can more or less do as I please. I am not hampered by lack of resources which are being saved for the castle building and I can invest in workers which makes it all easier. I can use all the villages if I want to and I can vary it with Royal Challenges. I am not only enjoying myself, I am moving up the leaderboard too. That’s a bit random , though, because I don’t know what the game is counting as points to move me up the board and so I don’t know what to focus on. Googling hasn’t informed me either. This game can be a bit light on help sometimes but  that forces you to think for yourself so it’s not all bad. I’ll be with the game for a while longer now, so good, I can just have fun and keep my brain working. Puzzle Craft 2 constantly changes and challenges you to think in different ways. I like that.

Psychologist’s view of UX

how memory worksImage: Today I Found Out 

Understanding user experience is critical these days. Most of us are connected and using devices. Many of us have been using technology for a very long time. We all come with our habits, views and perceptions of how technology should work. UX (user experience) is about working with real people so they can use your software and can easily access your website. We have all been there. The app which leaves us clueless as to what to do next or find what we are looking for. The website which gets us so frustrated because we are following the links and they are not going to where we want or worse, take us back to exactly where we started. In my opinion a circular website is the equivalent of smacking people in the face. It’s rude. At least put up a message that you are working on something or traffic volume is too high or whatever the truth is.
There’s a very good article by a psychologist which looks at UX from a psychological point of view. There are 10 main areas and each one is explained very efficiently. If you are planning screen services of any sort for anyone then it’s good to look at the psychology of it as well as the visual impact and functionality of it.

1.People don’t want to work or think more than they have to
2.People have limitations
3.People make mistakes
4. Human memory is complicated
5.People are social
6. Attention
7.People crave information
8. Unconscious processing
9. People create mental models
10. Visual system

The article in UX Magazine explains it all really well. It’s worth a look.

Solbot Energy Rush

Solbot Energy Rush is a mobile game where you collect orbs to create renewable energy. It is , at least, a game which focuses on 21st Century energy issues. There is information accessible from within the game to give you tips and ideas for creating a more sustainable planet. To be a true educational game I’d like that information to be coming up as I play. The little robot changes colour as you go through the game levels and you collect the energy orbs which match the colour of the robot. It’s a drop down and collect game and then you need the navigational skills to be able to avoid the energy balls you don’t want to collect.

It’s a good game to have on your phone to fill in time if you are having to wait for something. It didn’t work so well on my iPad Air which I have had since 2015. It kept hanging. That might not be the game’s problem. I am on an Australian nbn connection which can drift in and out at times and then create lag on some apps. We are still putting in the infrastructure for our nbn and these sorts of things cause band width problems.

On my phone Solbot Energy Rush has worked perfectly fine and has been advantageous to me to build up my thumb skills. I don’t naturally use my thumbs on my phone as some people do. One of the advantages of playing different games is they get you good at screen skills. There are times when the robot moves of its own accord and I have been blown up by bad energy. That doesn’t bother me because its’ part of the repetitious learning in games to enhance your skills.

I quite like the graphics. I think they are well designed for a phone screen which has such a small screen real estate. Everything stands out well and is placed appropriately. You don’t make inadvertent clicks because the graphics are in the wrong place. I haven’t minded the adverts either. There have been things I have seen which have interested me and I have already downloaded one of the games which was advertised. For me  it’s good because I won’t naturally go looking for that type of information.

My favourite phone game is Bejewelled Blitz and I find Solbot Energy Rush to be another good option. It’s a Unity built game by Freakout games.  They  have a Facebook page  and are on Twitter @freakoutgames. They are pleasant and polite to deal with. They were keen to resolve my iPad issues with the game so they take user experience seriously. There’s another review of this game on XNVR. In the end, you find the games which suit your needs but this one is worth a try.

You can get the Apple version for iPad and iPhone from the App Store here and the android version  for  other tablets and phones  from the Google Play store here.

 

 

Puzzle Craft 2

Puzzle Craft 2Last time I blogged about Puzzle Craft 2 was 5th May and I said then it would take me the rest of the year to collect all the thousands of resources to achieve the next castle upgrade. 6000 of this, 8000 of that. Drudgery at its finest and a massive challenge. I’ve done it , though. I collected all those countless thousands of salt and water and who knows what. I was so over it. I got my castle upgrade and the game was kind enough to give me an easy upgrade for which I already had all the resources and now I am on a reasonable upgrade which I have nearly finished. On the other side of that huge amount of resource collection I am wiser, I do not like the game any less and I have been able to complete those next upgrades comfortably. I had to keep myself going through all that drudgery. Collecting coins and runes became important. I had to use coins to buy resources to bulk up my own collections which were pretty paltry. I had to use the runes to initially buy more coins to then buy more resources but about half way through I started buying more workers to increase the resource and assets output of the game. I have since celebrated my big achievement by paying cash to get 10 workers to invest in the game.

The game is very fair in that sense. It is not a game which bullies you for money. It is not a game which bullies you into a certain way of playing. It is not a game which will stop your progress because you don’t have cash to invest in it. It’s not a game which limits you. It pushes you into situations which force you to think your way out. You have to concentrate on strategy and deployment of game technique. There are no easy outs and no artificial ways of playing. You have to do your homework on  the game and work out how to best manage any given situation. It is important to change game play to suit what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes I was playing all the villages to get what I needed. Other times I am playing the last three villages to get the best returns. Currently I am back to playing all the villages to get access to the treasure chests. I have run down coins, runes and experience points with the castle upgrades. I need to build those up as well as collect what I need for the next castle upgrade.

Then there is the first seaboard village with the unattainable mandrake. As I blogged before , the official site tells you the mandrake is not available. So why have it? You can never use that village to get experience points is what it means. You can use it , though, to get resources and built up runes and coins. For me , it’s always been a good village to go to as well when I just want to play and be left alone and away from the frustration of the game. Everything can be done in an uncomplicated, satisfying way and then when I have had a break I go back into the thick of it. There is a lot to think about, to manage and then there are all sorts of boards to play. They all play out differently and that’s one of the reasons I don’t tire of the game.  Besides, I want to see where this all ends up…

Keyboard biometrics

Authenticating people online is used for all sorts of reasons. Tracking you on a website gives marketers an idea of what to tailor to your needs. It is good to know that someone enrolled in an online course is actually the person completing the course or that if you are logged into a bank account you are entitled to that access because you are you. Keyboard biometrics/keyboard dynamics are becoming increasingly important as part of an authentication method. Artificial Intelligence has made it easier to quantify a user’s keyboard habits and each person is unique in how they use a keyboard. I am different from standard keyboard to iPad keyboard to touch screen keyboard. Sometimes I use a stylus on a touch screen so I am not sure at this point how easy it is to track me across devices. Apparently how you type in a password is unique. How you swap between keys is unique. There is a whole lot to learn about keyboard biometrics.

The video gives you a good overview of what keyboard biometrics entails. PCWorld looks at it form an AI point of view. Tripwire looks at the security and privacy issues in particular. If your behavioural dynamics are being shared and utilised without your knowledge then that goes into the arena of what exactly is being collected as we use our devices , what does it entail and how is that information being used. It’s not unreasonable to want to know what we are unwittingly divulging just because we want to be on the internet. There is a balance between collecting information for the common good – like, for instance,  treatments of specific cases of illnesses, conditions and diseases and then collecting something which is our own personal data (keyboard biometrics) and not tell us. If it is protecting us, then that is a good thing. If it’s being used for something else it’s not. If it involves us, we need to know.

In any case, this is the way authentication is going to go and it’s important we know about it, discuss it and look at what it actually means in practical terms for us.

Working on your privacy

Two things you can do without going any further are switching off bluetooth unless you need it and turning off location if you  don’t need it. Location is still detected via Google but  you  do not need to go out of your way to tell everyone where you are. Turn location on when you really need it. For some reason my Linux Mint 17.2 has bluetooth on by default. For privacy’s sake it should be the other way around.

Now for some links which will help you to make some good decisions about privacy and know how to manage it:

Lifewire has 10 things for you to look at to help improve your privacy.

spreadprivacy has tips for iPad and iPhone users.

wired   has tips for managing privacy on android devices.

PC Mag has some good information to help you manage Google privacy.

The video gives you security information about Safari.

On websites and accounts you use, check your settings. Look at the privacy policy for the websites and accounts. None of this is perfect at the moment. Privacy and security are ongoing issues. You also need to be prepared to let key people know what you think are acceptable and unacceptable terms of privacy. If they don’t know they will do what they think is right.

 

 

Data Protection and Privacy

This video was prepared for the UNCTAD conference in 2016. UNCTAD stands for United Nations Trade and Development. It has been working on helping developing nations engage safely with global trade and development. Two years down the track and we all seem to be developing nations when it comes to data protection and privacy. The general consensus seems to be that it’s all out of hand and we are powerless in protecting our online information and profile. Our data doesn’t belong to us and that is the biggest bone of contention. This post serves as an introduction. The issues around data protection and privacy are many and varied. The video highlights some major concerns and things to look for. It will take a number of posts to look at all of this in more depth.

For me , it boils down to 3 things:

  1. Selling data for data mining is big business. People need a  lot of data so they can sell it and then people package it and make money out of selling it. Not unlike coal mining.
  2. We need huge quantities of data for artificial intelligence and developing humanoids/robots etc etc. AI is already serving some very good purposes. How can we help without putting our information at risk?
  3. Data is being ,and has been , collected from us and shared without our permission. What are our rights and how do we balance the need for data to further develop the technology we need and like and maintain integrity with regard to respect for individual privacy?

It has become clear to me that different people are concerned about privacy and data breaches in different ways and for different reasons. We need to have a decent conversation about all of this so we can benefit form data and information sharing .

RedNotebook

RedNotebook

Plan your day

Red Notebook is designed to run on Linux and is like Evernote  – or is that the other way around? I was blogging about  daily planners the other day and it made me wonder what might be available that was Linux specific. I am running  Linux  Mint 17.2 Raphaela on this laptop and I couldn’t install Red Note Book from the package manager. I couldn’t install it from the site either.  I could install it when I used the instructions from launchpad and type them one line at a time into Terminal. RedNotebook then installed itself into the Office section of the start menu.

In RedNotebook you have 3 templates, if you want, for meetings, journeying and personal. You don’t have to use them. You can just put in your own headings and hashtags so you can create your to do lists, notes, reminders, bookmarks…whatever you like just like Evernote. It’s an electronic diary which is not connectivity dependent to work. You back it up to your own chosen spot on your computer. From that point of view it’s good because if you have no internet access then your agenda/diary/journal is still available to you as are all of the backups. To me, this is essential. I don’t want to be plotting and planning and notetaking only to discover I can’t access what I have done because I have no internet connection. Daily planning has to be available, full stop , end of story.

The hashtags work as a sorting function and are displayed to the left. As you build up notes then a word cloud appears so your memory can be jogged if you are searching for something. I really like RedNotebook. I thought the world had stopped doing good things like this so I am really happy. You can read all about it on sourceforge. It operates in more than 30 languages.

Should babies use technology?

Until you are with a baby, you wouldn’t even think about how aware they are of technology from a very young age. Babies can engage with technology long before they can walk and talk . Is it because it is shiny? Maybe , but they are also very motivated to find out what technology is about. Should they be allowed? Yes. How much? Not a lot. Devices are connected to the internet and mobile carriers. They put out a certain amount of radiation and screens can be backlit which strains eyes. You cannot stop a baby from learning about its environment. As with everything else, there has to be adult supervision and guidance and a range of activities to help develop a little being. Babies born now are surrounded by technology. The best thing you can do as an adult it help them to learn safely.

I have spent a lot of time with my little grandson who turned one in August. From about 7 months he was desperate to know what mobile phones and iPads were about and what they could do. He could distinguish between all the notification sounds. He knew what you were supposed to do. He could mimic swiping and gesturing. With me he had clear rules. First one was phones and tablets don’t go on the floor. They are very special and you have to be gentle. Second rule was he could have 3 minutes on my phone and 5 minutes on my iPad. The rest of the time there were so many other things we could be doing which didn’t involve technology.

I was trying to show him how to press on an icon one day. He could swipe but not press. He understood because he picked my finger up and used that to press on the icon because he knew he couldn’t do it. I showed him how menus work so he started to look for menus and see if he could open them. I downloaded a paint program and he loved being able to draw lines on the screen.  I showed him games and he liked the animals in farm games, realised you could swipe for match 3 games and tried to bang bubbles in a falling bubbles game. Most of all ,though, he has liked exploring by himself. He learned quickly that his hands mustn’t be on the screen when I put in the passcode. He knows nothing will happen until I put in the passcode. He wanted to know how things got into the iPad and examined it from all angles trying to work out how it made a screen work. He worked out the case will shut the screen off and if he opens the case it is there again. I have downloaded him learning apps. One has a cat which he loves because he loves his own pet cat. That one teaches colours in all sorts of ways. He understands what the paintbrush does. The other one he likes has a monster and you pat his tummy and he breathes and comes up with ideas.  So, from around 7 months, this little boy has wanted to learn about technology. Not with me or his parents does he do it unsupervised  or for very long. We have made video calls to someone he knows and the first time baffled him but now he knows that the person on the screen is someone he can see in real life and he loves video calls. He tries to be a part of them.

Babies can learn all sorts of things and they should. Sensible use comes from being shown how to use something sensibly and no, phones and tablets are not for in your mouth!

Daily Planner

daily plannerWe lead busy lives. We need to find ways of keeping ourselves on top of it all and organised. How you plan will make a difference to how you manage and thrive. Carrying everything in your head or in a way where you never truly have it clearly set out, means you are using up unnecessary  emotional energy. Habitica is an app I have blogged about and that really does keep you organised and in control. You don’t have to engage with the gaming and questing part of it in order to benefit from the app. You need an internet connection, though.

Daily-Planner is a pre prepared downloadable pdf which comes for free from the Paulina website. You might like to buy her a coffee if you use her ready made planning tool. She likes scrapbooking and graphic design and is creating some very helpful tools. The pdf has an A4 format with two days per page or an A5 format with one day per page. You can print it or screenshot it and fill it out in a paint programme. The main thing with this design is it covers some  health and fitness for you as well as the things to do and the interface is clear and well laid out. You can have it on your desktop or phone /tablet screen. You can pin it up in front of you  way or another.  It’s versatile as well as helpful. One page at a time means you’ll stay in the here and now and won’t feel swamped. Visual planning allows you to see what you need to do but it also gives you ready feedback on what you have achieved.

Is technology hijacking you?

alien

hotink.com

The link I am about to provide will take you to an article  by Tristan Harris who was a product philosopher at Google until 2016 where he studied how technology affects a billion people’s attention, wellbeing and behaviour. He discusses in a reasoned way the techniques used to manipulate you into staying  hooked on technology and complying with its needs and wants. At the end he tells you there are thousands of ways. You know some of them: notifications, likes, emails demanding your attention, infinite feeds, things you have to share. Ultimately,  you have to work out what you are prepared to do and what you are prepared to accept as a free agent. That is something you have to learn when you are dealing with technology. It is there for you . It is not there to run your life and your thoughts. By starting with an article like this you will begin to put together the thoughts you already have about this. You are not a victim of technology. You can master it but you cannot master if it you are not familiar with the ways it tries to shape your life  and thinking because you are made to feel like you are an important part of information sharing. The article serves as a starting point for you to be able to determine exactly what you want from technology and where your boundaries will be.

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

Do I have to update?

Devices have been  updating frequently in recent times. It can be very annoying when you are absorbed in something and you will click the remind me later button or the device will just take over, bang everything shut and update anyway. The updates are important and it is both critical to update the operating system and the software of any device you are running. Mostly it is for security protection . This in a world where we know our personal information is no longer considered to be something worth protecting. The amount of data breaches being reported is beyond acceptable and ought never happen. We need to to be clear we want our data protected .

Updates provide security and patch vulnerabilities in a device. The updates often enhance the software too so you are running on the latest version. Older versions will often use more system resources. The world is constantly trying to make everything more battery efficient since we seem to be stuck with that. Updates are better done when you are plugged into power since ti will reduce the toll on your battery and the updates will happen more quickly. Wifi ebbs and flows and can be unreliable. Even so, a big Windows 10 update will take its time even if you are plugged into the mains supply.

If you want to explore the reasons for updating just to remind yourself it really is important then please follow these links:

Why so many Windows updates?  

Stay smart online – software updates

Why update – MacAffee

Why should I update?

One minute on the internet

internet 60 seconds

There used to be a saying something along the lines that a successful person knew how to use 5 minutes wisely. If you look at this infographic , then we could well reduce that to one minute. It is mindboggling what happens in one minute on the internet. Since 2017 this has all increased dramatically. We are more connected that ever and, clearly, we want to be. There is no doubt that technology is a part of our daily lives in a big way  and that it is largely to do with connecting with others. Lori Lewis who is very involved with radio broadcasting and its reach has supplied these graphics and discusses them on allaccess. People are using multiple devices and the royal wedding  recently demonstrated that clearly. As device and internet users we are plugged in , constantly connected , commenting, conversing and researching. People can reject this way of being but clearly , with the increase in that behaviour, it is now who we are. It is not doing. It is being. We want o share our thoughts and ideas. We want to engage with others. We want to act and react. We can do that across the planet. How that evolves is up to us and it’s all about collaboration rather than competition.

The Royal Wedding

harryandmeghan.jpgWhether you were interested or not in the royal wedding is of no consequence. What is important is that in terms of connectivity and the internet it was a ground breaking event which demonstrated just how much we want to connect and how powerful that is. There were 3.4 million tweets sent during the ceremony. It is how we interact with each other these days which has been highlighted. On Friday morning there was enough traffic to break the BBC site and so the interest in the event was beyond the capacity of one of the world’s biggest broadcasters and that site would be used to dealing with large numbers in terms of traffic. There were 2.7 million mentions of the royal wedding on social media in 24 hours. The statistics are still being collated and collected but there are powerful numbers there to show how much we can achieve in 2018 in terms of connecting with each other. The BBC has compiled some interesting statistics for the royal wedding. There is some discussion about the number of global viewers and then comparisons with Kate and William’s wedding and Charles and Diana’s wedding. During that time frame we have had more and better access to tablets and smartphones and that needs to be taken into account.  The statistics will be updated in about a week’s time because it is important to know what we can achieve globally.

Firstly, we need to understand what pulls people into that passionate need to connect. Secondly we need to know if we have the capacity to deal with it in terms of hardware and software. We need to know if we can do it better and we need to look at the benefits and the pitfalls. That kind of capacity to involve and connect is powerful in terms of education,  engagement and problem solving for the planet. Our plastic problem would disappear if we could all engage and involve ourselves like we did for the royal wedding. Do we have a way of looking at the impact? Do we have data which would show us whether our powerful capacity to connect is of good value to us? Can we think it forward and use it to solve some of the world’s biggest issues?

Puzzle Craft 2

puzzle craft 2I am probably going to be there for the rest of the year trying to get the Royal Dock upgrade to my castle. Lessons in patience and tolerance. Trying to get thousands of these resources is hard work, time consuming, low reward and drudgery. It is a holding pattern which forces you to do things and then get some of the  awards in the game. I work all the villages. I have invested a lot more in tools from the magic portal. I have to build up my game coins to buy resources because you cannot easily make them. I have to focus on collecting gems to buy coins to buy resources. One top gamer I know tells me the worst thing a game can do to you is force you into a holding pattern. He says it sometimes happens when they are working on new additions to the game. Maybe. I am supposed to be getting 100 mandrake on one of my farms. Not going to happen. There is no mandrake in the game according to official information. I have to build another 91 buildings to gain the final building banner but there are no buildings to build. They are in the villages and there is no sign I am going to a new village any time soon. Meanwhile I have to play all the boards to manage resources so I have enough to make tools and then add to my Royal Dock progress. It may be a ploy to get people to abandon the game and go onto something else. Pity , if that is the case, and it would be a disappointing way for what has been a really rewarding game to finish. Most of the challenges on the boards are good but some just keep coming up over and over again. It really is time to get some new ones with all the new animals and plants. Being stuck in Royal Dock mode has added to my animal and plant knowledge. Some challenges make you learn these things and other times you have to get your research right in order to complete the challenges effectively. I am still liking the game or I wouldn’t be playing it. Bit over tapping endlessly to by the hundreds of items I can afford for the Royal Dock when I get enough spare coins. Tap , tap, tap, tap…yawn…can’t I buy 10 or 100 at a time? In perspective, nothing I have complained  about along the way in the game  is particularly relevant when you get to mind numbing mega collection of hay or dirt or wood. Can’t wait for the salt and water collection. It  will take so much longer because they are expensive to buy and you cannot make a lot from the boards to sustain thousands for the Royal Dock and then enough to make tools. There I was thinking I’d be lolling in my castle eating strawberries. 🍓🍓🍓

Difference between mobile and wifi access

It came to my attention this week, when I was working with some older people , that they do not  necessarily make a distinction between mobile/cellular access and wifi access. Some did not know you could turn your mobile data on and off to save money or, as was the case, turn it on because you have no wifi access. Older people have grown up on wired technology and the wireless was a radio which ran off batteries. To them wireless can just mean it does not have wires and so no, it cannot be assumed they distinguish between mobile data use and wifi access. It means they won’t distinguish between a portable radio and a DAB one either. It is really important everyone would know the difference between mobile access and wifi access both so they can derive the cost benefits but also for personal safety and security reasons.

Top 10 free Windows applications

These applications have been around for a while so they have been peer and community reviewed pretty thoroughly. Most of them are cross platform and they are all high performing applications . Some of them have a pro paid version but all of them are very functional as free applications. I am always using Gimp and I did used to use Scribus .This video reminded me to take another look at it. These applications are very much for 2018 so  , if you have time, take a look. Open Office is good to have loaded if you want an alternative to cloud services. It doesn’t have the high end graphics and presentation capabilities of the Apple and Microsoft alternatives but it works really well. Libre Office is also free and equally as good.

Linux Mint 17.2 Raphaela

Raphaela desktopI first encountered Linux Mint 17.2 when I installed it on an HP desktop computer in 2015. 3 years later and I have just installed it on my vintage 2006 HP Compaq Presario V6000 because the Linux Mint Nadia was unsupported. I was actually wondering whether it would run  or not. As it turns out it is running beautifully and very fast . I have a 1.6Ghz chip , 75Gb hard drive and 1.5Gb ram. I really was not expecting 17.2  to be this efficient. There are a couple of issues , though. When I first put Linux Mint on this laptop because it was struggling to run Windows I lost access to wifi capability. No amount of installing Broadcom drivers helped. Not working with Linux Mint 17.2 either and I have tried everything. I have used every fix I can find on the net and everything else I could think of. I am running wifi off an old D-Link wifi adapter. I have a nice little D-Link DWA-131 but that doesn’t work on Raphaela and doesn’t work on Ubuntu 16.04 either. Works instantly on Windows. The fixes do not work. My old D-Link adapter is reliable across all operating systems. That’s interesting.

I can’t load Virtual Box, which I was hoping , and have tried different versions. No matter. I have it on Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04. I probably don’t have enough system resources to run it on this Compaq . There is no excuse for the wifi, though . I have read that the onboard wifi card  for this V6000 can just stop working. Why? I have so much vintage technology which still runs fine and to different degrees to efficiency.

The two other odd things about 17.02 on this laptop is the driver manager doesn’t open first time. I always have to click on it a second time, then I have had tabs crashing on me in Firefox, a new experience for me, so I have downloaded and installed Chromium.

Apart from the things mentioned I am really pleased with how this is all going on my old laptop. This is the one I take out and about and I used to use a mobile stick with it which meant it didn’t matter if I could access wifi or not. Now I have to access wifi with a clunky dongle but I am in no way complaining. I live in 2018. I need wifi.  I have yet to see if it will run off a mobile hotspot.

The graphic display on this laptop is still excellent and it loads programmes like Gimp really quickly. It is working really well. Sometimes you just need to be using  an older laptop because you don’t want to put your new one at risk for whatever reason. I like the keyboard on this and it has stood the test of time since the keys are not worn in any way. Raphaela is cruisy and has given my old Compaq such a cool makeover.

React OS

 

 

react OS

ReactOS is still in the alpha stage so not for your average user , as yet. It is an online collaboration to write a Windows alternative for users who want a simpler OS environment. I created a live CD and a bootable CD neither of which I was able to use as I wanted. I had planned to load it onto my old Linux laptop but the support for Wine and virtual machines is not there on Linux Mint 14 and so I came to my Windows desktop and installed VirtualBox and have since been able to get ReactOS going. I can’t say it was easy or straight forward. I had to wait, reboot, wait, reboot, clean my machine and then finally I got ReactOS installed without a problem. This is a Windows 10 machine so it does work on Windows 10. I have managed to install a theme and you need to go to the computer icon so you can have a bit of a look around. At the moment I haven’t been able to operate the package installer so I can see what is supplied with the OS. I shall be able to load Windows programmes of my own. I am running it in Virtual Box so it is not having too much impact on my desktop computer. I’d prefer to play with it on an older laptop since it’s still in the alpha stage. As I improve my own knowledge and find things out I’ll blog more about it. People do these things because they can. It gives them discovery and learning challenges and an option of collaborating with others who have similar interests and skills. That’s the beauty of 2018.

iPad Pro or Surface Pro?

 

 

There is some good competition going on now between the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro. It means, down the track, we’ll actually get  really good,  bigger tablets than the ones we currently have. It will come down to price, stylus , battery life and use. We need to stop the notion that one size fits all and work on what users need and want and look at what users are using the device for. For some it will be an iPad Pro because they are used to an iPad and have an iPhone. They can easily go between their devices. For now, the iPad Pro is winning on art work capabilities and camera but the Surface Pro has the computing power and capabilities of a desktop/laptop and is improving all the time. The keyboard may or may not be an issue because it will depend on how you use the keyboard and what you need it for.  They are both bigger and so not so portable as such. An iPad mini or small tablet can just go anywhere really easily. A phone is even more portable.

A bigger tablet, though, takes advantage of the real graphics improvements we have had over the last couple of years. The screen real estate is superior and so can display images and videos better. Why peer at a tiny screen when you can really enjoy and appreciate the graphics quality in 2018?

Tablets are very bad at note taking. You can never write as neatly and as small as on paper. You can’t get the feedback properly and it always comes back to writing like an idiot. Yes, you can do some good artistic writing but for normal note taking there is a long way to go to get that screen response to the stylus and then the accuracy we are capable of with our manual dexterity. If either of those tablets could cross that bridge we’d all be winning. Why write when you can type is how it goes at the moment?

With a larger tablet you’d have to consider screen replacement costs should the screen become damaged. You’d have to know the serial number and have some sort of security apps installed because they are portable and then become a temptation to others. Protecting your tablet would become important as is the case with a laptop but these tablets are expensive and so it would be vital to ensure some sort of security if you were going to be taking them out.

How do you decide? The Surface pro is a lot dearer. For some that will decide it. The simpler models are more comparable in price. There are different versions of each so it is important to look at what you are getting for the price. You then have to look at what you would actually do with a bigger tablet. If you are a computer apps person and use a lot of Windows programmes then that is the way you go. iIf you happily use your iPad apps and your already have computing power in a laptop or desktop then that’s your choice if you want a bigger tablet screen. A lot of people would. They can see the screen better, use the screen better and then make better use of the tablet. You have to be able to sit comfortably with it , though, and so it’s important to consider how you will manage that aspect of tablet use without resting it directly on your body.

 

Tech savvy seniors

Seniors are more competent with technology than the world would have us believe. As mentioned in my post recently, the younger ones have been through jobs with technology training and requirements. As such they can be contributing to the backbone of technology today because they have the skills and knowledge to manage data, game,  curate, beta test, develop websites, online communities, video tutorials, online courses and so on. Some seniors remain disconnected because they haven’t had the chance to improve their skills and understand what connectivity might mean for them. The Australian Federal Government has responded to that need and learning gap by providing the Be Connected website and initiative:

Through Be Connected, older Australians are able to learn the basics of how to connect online, including how to:

  • use a digital device
  • be safe online
  • send emails
  • use Facebook and other social media
  • shop online
  • share holiday photos with family, and much more.

Organisations interested in in delivering these services and becoming part of the Be Connected Network should contact the Be Connected National Network Manager, Good Things Foundation.

Four years ago Mashable published an infographic about the technology which was used more by millennials than seniors in America. Four years laters I would expect that infographic to have changed. At the time basic mobile phones, desktop computers, VCRs, cable TV and satellite TV were more popular with people  of 65 and over. I doubt many seniors would be playing video tapes these days. More and more have adopted smartphones or come into retirement with a fully functioning smartphone. A lot more have tablets and the streaming market has burgeoned since then. It would be interesting to see how that played out now.

The Pew Research Centre has a very good article about technology use and seniors and the sorts of things which are blocking them. Seniors are no different to any other age group. They need personal learning plans, personal learning networks and personal learning options to enable their capacity to make best use of technology.

Pay attention to colour

aspergers syndrome colourImage: Aspergers syndrome – creating a supportive environment

 

Technology is colour. Screens are colour. Our life is very much visual. It is important to pay attention to the colours you use when you are creating screens for people to look at because colour enhances meaning, reaction, engagement and mood. There is currently a belief you need white areas to help the absorption of content. When it comes to reading the belief is that text should no longer be justified and have straight edges. I’d say that is for people whose reading skills are not optimum. People with good reading skills manage straight edges and dense text very effectively because they are taking in the information by reading downwards more than across. Jagged edges interrupt that downward flow as do areas of white space. Do your own research for your target audience. What do they react to better? What do they manage better? Can you offer visual options? Colour, though, is central to getting information across. Understanding Graphics has 10 good reasons why you should be paying attention to colour. .

Seniors and technology

My neighbour’s 95 year old auntie was beside herself with excitement when her daughter had got her an iPad one Christmas and shown her how to use Facetime and email. She then learned how to do searches and they installed apps with her that she liked. For the first time in a long time she could have daily contact with her family and friends and she could feel like she was part of the world again. Last year I was sitting next to an older lady who was trying to use Google voice to find CostCo. “Okay Google”, she said very confidently , “Find Costco.” She started tutting and was repeating her instructions. I had got my phone out, connected to 4G and searched on Google maps app. It was quicker. I showed her and she was happy to know how to get there so she could tell her husband. So why hadn’t the Google voice thing worked? Her connection may not have been solid. We were in a noisy place so the instructions may not have been heard. Siri and Google voice have their uses but they are still in the development phase and will will improve as people continue to use them.

Older people are no different with technology needs than younger people. We are constantly having to review and refine what is on offer. What suits one age group does not suit the next. What works with one group does not follow through to the next. No matter who we are discussingt we have to be in constant conversations about what users need. We have the internet. We have connectivity. We have a capacity to learn and share together. We have the opportunity to get the needs and requirements out there so that changes can be made. We need the sites which allow us to share the information for seniors so we can know what they need and share what is working. Some only want their landline. They don’t want a mobile phone. Some will use a mobile phone if someone shows them how to use it. Some just want a phone and not a smartphone. Some need a tablet rather than a phone because they have vision problems or they can’t hold onto a small device.

Sometimes it’s the labelling. Not every older person recognises the “done” button as meaning that they have completed a task or install on their phone or tablet. Some don’t understand the need to install updates and just find all those messages confusing and annoying. Seniors want clear instructions and uncluttered screens from my experience. Our area runs a lot of small groups to help older people sort out their issues with technology. It works. Like younger age groups, it is needs based and personal learning. One to one works. Showing is better than telling.

The needs are going to change according to the group. A lot of people in their 60s and 70s are very competent with technology because of workplace training and experience or families. Some older people want nothing to do with technology because they don’t like what they call all the rubbish. They want something more sensible. There are people in ther 80s and 90s who are also very competent with technology but others who avoid it. Some of that is cost and availability. It will also depend on what health issues are being experienced. Older people and their advocates, where applicable, need to be able to freely share information about needs. We need to get that sharing of information going because we do have lots of options available to us in terms of technology.

Social media policies and guidelines for teachers

social media guidelines DECDWe are at the stage now where the various education departments around the country have come up with social media policies and guidelines for teachers around Australia. Every so often, as was the case recently, teachers discuss what the policies and guidelines are. This is not because they are ignorant or lax in their approach but because we have different guidelines and policies for different states and then PLNs for teachers can see different approaches which are acceptable in one state but not in another. As a professional body teachers probably need a national set of policies and guidelines which are set by AITSL and ACARA. If we have national professional standards for teachers, social media should be a critical part of this since we are in the age of technology. These policies and guidelines need to be reviewed at least twice a year because things change so quickly on the internet. Underpinning all of this needs to be the safety and security of all who are involved with social media and then parents need to know and understand what is occurring so they can raise their concerns or ideas easily.

The QR code for the South Australian guidelines which is on their brochure is not currently pointing to an active link. This is not surprising given DECD has just undergone a big site refurbishment and to ensure every link is working is a long, tedious process. A big, corporate site needs to constantly attend to link checking and even though there are link checkers we probably need a button on the landing page for a broken link which allows us to notify any site of a malfunction in their links. One of the joys of website care in 2018.

You can find all the state policies and guidelines on the federal site for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

The South Australian Policy is available as a download here.

The South Australian Social Media Guidelines for DECD are here.

The South Australian Consent to use media and creative work is here.

The documents all provide some very useful information and links out to other sites which will inform practice and decision making around social media. It is becoming very complex, though, and a set of national guidelines and policies which apply to all states would probably be helpful so that practice is consistent across the country  .

Protect yourself from email scams

It was so disturbing to discover via the South Australian Police FacebookSouth Australian Police Facebook page that the latest email scam is to hijack large sums of real estate transaction money from people. If it is successful then people are damaged for life. Mortgage money is hard won. The police have some suggestions as to how you can protect yourself from these sorts of cyber crimes:

How to avoid the scam:
• Treat phone calls, emails or letters from a supplier seeking a change to the bank account details you use to pay them, with caution.
• Use the correct, independently verified number from the supplier’s website, or the one you have on file, to call a known contact directly to confirm if the request is legitimate. 
• If emailing, type the known email address in the ‘to’ section rather than replying to an email received – scammers often use a very similar email address but with a different suffix or domain name.
• Know that a BSB search, which can easily be done online, will reveal details about a bank account you have been asked to send to. 
• Remember words you enter in the free text when conducting bank transfers have no bearing on the transaction – ie writing the name of the account holder does not mean it is that company’s bank account, it can belong to scammers posing as a company.
• Be aware that scammers have also been known to hack Chief Executive officers’ and managers’ email accounts, then send email authorisation to junior officers for the transfer of money into an account controlled by the offenders.

You can also use Scamwatch to inform yourself about scams and report them.

Tracking the provenance of emails is one thing you can do to help yourself.  You can track the location of the original email and details for GMail and yahoo are here.  You can also google to get information about how to track an email and from where it was sent. I use Thunderbird on my computer and that makes email tracking quite easy. I can go to View and select Headers and my email will show me more information about where it came from and event the device from which it was sent. That comes up as I view the email. If I want details of the email path then I use View and then Message Source. I can see exactly how the email got to me. Viewing that information has reassured me my ISP filters suspect email pretty thoroughly. My Samsung phone is getting better at detecting spam phone calls. We need to put a huge effort into protecting ourselves online. We need to expect better security and we need to discover better ways of securing ourselves from harmful emails. We have no choice about how we do banking these days so the world needs to look at this more carefully in terms of customer protection. I am sure they are, but resolution to this awful situation cannot come soon enough.

 

Online shopping

online deliveryImage : Delivery problems a major frustration for Aussie online shoppers 

 

If you google online shopping you will get supermarkets where you can do your weekly shopping. Buying online will get you other options. That’s the first problem . The searches are too narrowly defined. The second problem is delivery. For a business or organisation it will never be a problem because someone is always there. For individuals  there are things which need to be done, people who need to be seen , life which has to be lived and then the joy of being confined indoors until the parcel is delivered. Online shopping itself has never worked better. Online sites display and describe their goods well, they communicate easily with the customer and they are able to negotiate any problems quickly and effectively. All of that has improved considerably over the last couple of years. This is why so many people are buying online now. In Australia the bulk of that is done in the eastern states. There is some interesting information about our online practices on the Inside Australian site. We are doing a lot to make this work well. For a lot of people that is important. They are not very mobile, they are sick, they are looking after babies or ailing family members. For some, online shopping has freed them up to be able to shop like everyone else.

For me , about half of my online purchases are delivered without a problem. I track them and I am there and can be there. For the other half there is online site rearrangement of delivery hoo ha or automated type in 500 numbers to the phone robot and get a redelivery or I can go to the post office and retrieve my parcel but it is sent to the furthest post office from me. I had the situation where I was out getting one parcel and another one turned up so then I had to go back and get that one.  I know, I tried putting in my nearest post office on the Auspost site.  It gave me one option. I actually have a choice of three which are closer. The courier sites and delivery option parts of the system are not quite right as yet. Tracking is good but there are times when I have received the parcel and it is telling me it is on the way. These things take time to perfect and improve. There should always be an easy pick up option rather than a redelivery option. Some couriers take the parcel to a post office nearby and others don’t. We need to streamline this:

Maybe all online deliveries need the option of the nearest post office to save the redelivery and picking up nonsense which is wearing for all concerned. That might take some of the strain off.

Maybe we need windows , as they have in online supermarket shopping , so that people can select a window so they can be there.

The option of just leaving the parcel at our own risk has come about because of the delivery problems. That is not desirable but has become a work around.

We thought about how to get the online purchasing to work much better and it shines now. We need to polish the delivery part of it and we have phones, laptops and internet access. We can do this. I want the cyber delivery option where it comes out of my computer!

 

Puzzle Craft 2

puzzle craft 2I am easily amused. I love exploding rats with beetroots! Saves on tools and it’s just funny. Mostly I collect rats other ways but there are times where I just let the beetroots do the work for me. The game does have a sense of humour. I just about have all the animals, plants and birds. Four to go. Looking forward to the mammoth. The Entelodon was good value because I get more mounts and that increases horseshoes which then increases income. In some of the villages I just get game coins. Not a problem. The Entelodon is worth getting. Other things not so much. So why did I get a dodo? The game forces me to focus on the same animals and plants most of the time. The challenges tend to come up with the same animals and plants.  I then work out it’s easier to use certain animals, plants and birds because that is how you progress faster. It is not all bad. I really needed to use the strawberries on one board because it meant I could collect fruit in one tap and that meant I could still capitalise on that board which was proving to be quite a test of my thinking. I can set a board up for when the swamp is there and yes, for the rats. Sometimes the game intervenes and forces me to deal with it differently.

Right now I am more or less in a holding pattern just collecting things. I have 800 spice and 800 fish and 1200 iron to collect for the next castle upgrade. I got the other hundreds of things. That is just long and drawn out. You can’t get that many fish, spice and iron. I badly need the iron for tools. So on and on and on we go. Buying is too expensive so I just have to wait and collect these things slowly. Very slowly. It is not a reasonable ask. Getting 1200 bread or eggs was not hard. This is too slow. I am collecting runes for the new animals and plants too because  I can only pay for them in runes. That is not unreasonable because I have to work at it and the game helps me and then I have to help myself.

The image is from the first village. I always use that. I can build up resources, points and rewards with that village. It’s quick and straight forward but not without its challenges. Often I learn something in the game and the next minute I have to unlearn it and relearn a different way of doing something. Let’s hear it for neuroplasticity. The first village can build up some good skills without the big sacrifices of trying it out on another board in another village. Would love to be able to grow that village a bit more now I’ve progressed so far in the game.

I worked out I had to do a lot of decorating to complete one of the cups but I have no idea how I am going to get 50 weeds on one of the boards when not enough come in onto the board and then there is no way of collecting them other than using the magic wand but I’d be paying out runes or real money and still no guarantee of 50 weeds in one session. The advantage of that board , as it stands, though, is I get lots of practice in skills and I build up lots of resources. It does actually play a positive role in the game even though it’s a bit odd.

The game continues to challenge and divert but all this collecting is driving me a bit bonkers! Thank heavens for exploding rats and the other fun things in the game… like the alpacas which jump like Tigger. So cute.

Google Apps is no longer free

Google Apps, aka G-Suite , hasn’t been free for a while but it takes time for things like this to percolate into the system. It doesn’t help there are two names for it. That just adds to misunderstandings and confusions. It is a widely held belief that Google things are free. Chrome is free. G-Mail is free. Google search engine is free. Google Apps were free but have now gone down the path of being paid. We live in a world where you can become dependent on a free version of something and then you are brought up short. Many things still continue to run limited free versions of something but that may well pass. We are caught up in a perception which was built as we increasingly got to use the internet. Times have changed.

G-Suite is designed for teams and business and Google Apps for Business can be very helpful to small business. It is something Google has addressed now. It was supporting individuals and companies but now there is something for the small organisation or business. Google also has become very competitive on the cloud computing market and it has to in order to survive. Lifehacker looks at the situation to help you think out the work arounds and whether there are implications which will affect you.

As an individual the priced apps won’t affect you since you have to register as a business or organisation with your own domain name. Lifewire explains the changes and how they may or may not affect you so that you can continue to make good decisions as to which aspects of Google you wish to use.

Remove pop up news notifications

 

Google news pop ups have been driving me crazy on my iPad. I didn’t mind them on the lock screen or the Google home page but they were popping up when I was doing other things and it was interrupting my cognitive flow! On my android phone it wasn’t a problem , probably because it is a Galaxy S5 and so an older model. Sometimes you can’t resolve an issue because your way of saying something is not the same way as the device. Labelling really is getting us confused and then devices are all a bit different because people are running different versions of the operating system. The lack of consistency in language use and operating system use means you have to dig around to get solutions.

Finally, I solved it because my device is calling the pop ups banners. I have changed my settings so the news stays on the Google home page and in my history. The robot video shows you how to do it. There are written instructions with screenshots on osxdaily.

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