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.

It’s simple. It’s easy . It’s fun.

There are still people who are worried about technology and find it intimidating. There are still people who can do what they do but then worry when they have to do something new with technology. Basically, it’s what Kerwin Rae says – it’s simple, easy and fun! That has to be your attitude.

1. Be clear about what you want to achieve.

What so you want to do with technology? What can’t you do that you want to do? What do you want to do better? How do you want things to look and sound?

2. Use technology.

Stating the obvious. You can be apprehensive about doing something. You might think you will mess things up and you might think you will get it wrong. That is all negative self talk.

Be confident. Do what you want to do and ask about the bits you can’t quite get. There is a lot to learn with progressive disclosure which hides information until it thinks you need it but that might stop you from realising how things work. There is a lot to learn with swiping and gesturing. Do it a bit at a time but just use your devices. Use them to look and learn, use them to create images and videos. Use them to make sound recordings, shopping lists, plans, record ideas. Using technology means you will become more familar with how it works. Once in a while doesn’t get those learning patterns in place.

3. Share and get help.

If you know how to do something, share it. If you don’t know how to do something – ask. Look it up online. Just google it. If you have worked out how to do something , share it. Tell others, tell Facebook, tell Twitter, use a blog to share your discoveries, make a quick video .The internet works well because everyone is sharing what they have discovered and learned. You can look just about anything up on a search engine or YouTube and get help .

4. Look upon it as a challenge.

When it is not going according to plan, leave the device and go and do something else. Nothing will change and nothing will break. You need processing time. You might need to talk to someone and get help or you might need thinking time. Pushing yourself through on a device when you are unclear as to your own procedures will not help you. Figuring it out for yourself is a challenge because you can do it. You might just think you cannot and then you’ll just give up and do something you already know how to do. Learning is a challenge. It is also having confidence in yourself to know you can work it out.

5. Think .

Technology is about using your brain differently and you have to be fluid in your thoughts. You have to think and do and then process ahead and be aware there are next steps. You have to look at the whole screen. You have to examine all the menus and options. Sometimes you have to translate the text instructions to your own way of saying things. “DONE” on a button doesn’t always mean to someone that they need to click that to finish a procedure. They don’t know what it means. Labelling can be very tricky because it is designed for an age group and a certain linguistic level of expression. When if has click or tap to finish then everyone understands that. Ditto tabs in browsers. Some people have no idea there are tabs. They can see x’s along the top and think that means they should’t touch it. To some people x means stop it does not mean close.

6. Learn every day.

Improve your voice

It is becoming popular to do voice overs on shared videos. It probably indicates that , on the whole, we want to improve how we sound in our video clips. There is a constant improvement model in lots of ways on the internet now and that’s good. Videos are still being produced with poor sound quality and a search on this blog will give you some easy tips for improving that. What about your voice itself , though? Around this time in 2016 I put up a post about getting over the sound of your voice.  Just do it. Make the clip. Record your voice. Don’t worry about it. If the sound quality is good , people are probably not going to worry too much about how you sound. They worry whether they can hear you and understand you. If you want to improve the sound of your voice then do it without a fuss. Listen to the tips of experts. Try things out. Work on incremental improvements through practice. Don’t criticise yourself . Listen to what you can do to improve. Ask trusted people for feedback. It’s threatening to have feedback from just anyone. You might take it to heart. Get general tips and look for people who will work with you. You are not in a competition. We all have different voices and we all sound different on video. It’s a habit and practice thing. Have faith in that.

Fixing Facebook

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan is to fix Facebook in 2018. That can only happen if there is a clear idea of what the actual problems are and not the perceived problems. That requires interaction with users because it is the user experience which is now creating problems. Some users have left or significantly cut back on Facebook time. It used to be a place where people spent time but that is no longer the case because it is no longer a user friendly site. What is of interest to me is that no one is complaining about it any more. If Facebook made changes there would be an outcry. If Facebook wasn’t the place people wanted to be there would be outbursts of criticism. Now people just leave or limit their time. They say nothing. That is how much Facebook has changed. Maybe they no longer feel it is a platform where they will be heard.

Part of the problem is Facebook is a stalkers paradise and I have said that before. Facebook and Messenger now broadcast when you are on the sites and Facebook broadcasts your comments, activities as well. Facebook enables people who are not your friends to see what you are posting and saying. This is all invasive and makes people feel insecure. Facebook is no longer a friend. it is a threat. People keep using it because it is still the best way to keep in contact with those overseas and interstate that you cannot easily contact.

The other part of the problem is Facebook pushes propaganda, tabloid news and fake information. It has a seedy feel which can create fear mongering or worry. So much tripe. I regularly go through my feed to try and cut that down but Facebook creates unsolicited posts and puts them in my feed. Some people just want to see what their Facebook friends are posting and then the sites they subscribe to. it then becomes their Facebook feed and not this space where you can be done too. Comments on those sorts of sites can be unpleasant and nasty. There is a pack mentality which surrounds tabloid news and considered opinion is out the window. Facebook used to be a good place for discussing ideas and views.

One of its real strengths is getting missing people home and safe and missing people home and safe. it is also powerful at getting lost items back to owners. That is a strong, positive network which keep sits strength in spite of interference. Facebook can be very uplifting and achieve positive outcomes but it is constantly undermined by interfering with the wellbeing of its users. Telling everyone everything about your activities and then telling them when you are online is a good way to deprive you of privacy and individuality. Respect for space is important.

There is no place on Facebook for nastiness of any kind. The world has issues and the world has problems. Enabling negative behaviour and comments, undermining someone’s post or victimising them isn’t helping. Feeds by organisations or public people can be hijacked and turned into something nasty and critical  and contributes to the distastefulness of the site. People fight back and they set things straight but it was never necessary before. Those sorts of behaviours of destroying someone’s positive information need to be stopped.

Everyone will have their opinion of what is wrong and what should be fixed and so Mark Zuckerberg has quite a big challenge to sort this out this year.  Part of his capacity of creating a worthwhile  social arena in the first place ought to be to be able to fix what is going wrong now. The easiest thing to fix would be the chronology. People are sick of seeing the same post over and over or having stuck feeds or having things pop up out of nowhere so you literally lose the thread. When you lose track of the feed or see things from before , you switch off. No one has the time or interest in trying to get that right in their heads. It’s very messy as it stands. May all the Facebook fixing go well.

Save video from Messenger

MessengerEvery device is slightly different and each upgrade brings something different. To save a Messenger video on your computer , click on the video , hover over the video and the choices will come up top left on your screen if you are using a mouse. On your phone or tablet you need to tap and hold on the video and the choices will come up at the bottom of the screen. These choices may or may not be blocked by your hand, wrist or arm. The basic instructions for how to do this are here on the wikiHow.

 

Puzzle Craft 2

Puzzle Craft 2

Castle upgrade

When you are in it for the long haul , you can find a game isn’t what is was and becomes something totally different. Puzzle Craft 2 , at this stage, is less about the puzzle boards and very much more about strategy and meeting the challenges of the game as effectively as I can. The boards are playing out differently because I have to mainly pay runes to open very important chests. Sometimes I can open them with the challenge for the chest but that is not often the case even when I try my hardest! I have upgraded the castle several times now to get the extra tools benefits. That certainly makes a difference but I have to ensure I have the resources to make the extra tools. This is proving to be quite hard now I have passed the upgrade in the picture and am onto the next one. It requires such vast quantities of critical resources that balancing that all out to allow myself to keep playing the game is an interesting test of my thinking skills. At one stage with the castle upgrades I invested in workers because that simplified the collection of resources for me. Never underestimate the value of workers. I have had to think about which ones too. Just buying any workers is not helpful. I have to think about  which ones will help me progress in the game. I have to check the almanac too. Information about plants and animals is important when you want to gain more points or fight the swamp or moles.

I haven’t worked out what the blocked board is about. Only that it comes out of nowhere very suddenly, takes the whole board and replaces  it and there is a message of congratulations which is never there long enough so I can read it! The blocked board totally upends my cognitive flow, annoys me no end and then I am forced to just let it go and get on with the board I am given. There is never any feeling on my part the board is blocked and I should have thought I’d be the one to decide that and have a way of unblocking it. It’s aggressive play on the game’s part to make me a victim like when I first encountered the pirate ship and had to deal with that as a victim and fall foul of it. Not any more ! I have cannons!! I  have also done the castle upgrades to get MORE cannons.

Bit by bit I am achieving all the animals and plants. Bit by bit I am achieving all the awards. I shall never completely finish the game because I won’t be doing the royal challenges where I have to network the game. I have networked 3 other farm games and then all fell apart either because people are very mean, self centred players or because I have had things stolen. Lesson learned. Meanwhile, I have hundreds of resources to collect and a cave painting to find so I can continue on…

Internet of Things

We are pretty good at labelling things and then making them seem real. When the net first took off in the 90s we were using it how we wanted and we were saving to our computers or 1.44MB floppie disks. We had fun downloading programmes of our own choice to run on our computers. The desktop became the laptop became the tablet became the smartphone. We now have streaming and cloud services. Programmes became software became apps. Everything has a chip in it. We can do computer diagnostics on our cars and we have life saving monitoring equipment in hospitals. Every bit of a pregnancy and birth is monitored and tracked on a computer. Cars cannot get us easily from one place to another because of roadworks and infrastructure changes. The internet of things isn’t what they say it is but it is. It does exist and it can serve us well. We can have a smart home if we want one. We can sometimes navigate our way out of a difficult driving situation if we need to. We can connect with businesses and organisations in a helpful , effective way if necessary. We never have to live in ignorance or feel disconnected because we have internet access and we have technology tools which link us and help us to collaborate , share and grow ideas.

The problem appears to be that we are not driving it. We are being driven.  Our photos are hijacked helpfully to the cloud. Tabloid news is bingly bonging onto our devices whenever it wants to. Adverts will hang a device or a computer because they feel like it. Our privacy has been ignored and our capacity to develop our own way of being with our device has been overridden. We now have world class gamers which the gaming industry cannot keep up with. They can finish a new game and then be waiting several months for  a new game to come out. They are very good at what they do. They think at the speed of light and can process information and strategy at awesome speeds but the games are complex and take time to make. The gamers don’t want to be held in a holding pattern until something new arrives and virtual reality isn’t appealing to them much at the moment. We haven’t addressed that level of complexity. We created it but we can’t deal with it.

So many people are walking away from technology other than for essential services and contact because is has become TheirNet and no longer MyNet. The upsurge of board games is an interesting by product of that. Monopoly, Cluedo and Ludo , in particular, are enjoying new found success. People are dumping their smartphones because of all the notifications, interfering buttons and screens and lack of capacity to just do something. They are buying cheap phones which  call and message. Just like in the 90s when a phone did what you wanted. The ever growing minimalist movement is doing a lot to counterbalance and rationalise this internet of things because it isn’t what we were thinking. It exists but we need time to think about what we need and want. We need clarity but we also need our own personal space on the net which is ours and not theirs.

New Year’s resolution generator

new year resolutionThe resolution generator I used to use has gone and so I have been looking around for a new one. I am not big on resolutions but it’s nice to have something in mind and a generator can get you thinking. There is one specifically for tech resolutions on lifesize. Cleaning up my cabling (again) and not using production as a test environment are not such bad thoughts. I quite like the whimsical generator on scratch. Now I have my resolution, I can get on with the year’s discoveries.

Using Facebook Messenger

MessengerFacebook Messenger is automatically there as part of Facebook. On your phone or tablet , though, you can download the app and use it independently of Facebook. Some people cannot interpret the labelling because it means nothing to them. You get a screen with stuff on it and it is not clear what that stuff can do and what is possible. I have relabelled the screen so that hopefully people can use Messenger better. They love it when they find out they an ring their Facebook contacts. They love it even more when they realise they can video call their Facebook contacts. It means they can keep in touch better with friends and family they miss. I have spent time again this week showing people how to use Messenger and the joy on their faces is priceless.

I generally make a time to ring or video call someone.  It makes it easier. Other people do that with me. People need to know you are going to voice or video call them on the Net. This is all charged against your internet data so a video call will use a lot more data and you have to make sure you have a plan which accommodates that.  You send out invitations to your Facebook contacts if they are not on Messenger. They may not know they can be so you might need that conversation too.  It’s very handy sometimes to have these options.

I am beginning to think Facebook needs to have some easily accessible video tutorials so that users can navigate Facebook and its options better. A one minute video would be worth it for so many.

Festive icons

Christmas TreeThe invisionapp  site provides festive icons in various formats so you an use them. You download the zip file and keep the formats you are going to be using. festive season icons

Instagram best of 2017

Instagram best of 2017Instagram supports learning and endeavour. It encourages care, commitment, colour and creativity. On March 6th 2016 I had 6 followers and I blogged about it. Today I have 514 so I have come a long way. These photos don’t represent technology as such, but then again they do. I have been learning a lot in the last two years and I have been rewarded by support on Instagram. The photos represent the encouragement I have had learning to spin, to be sustainable, to support local, to care. The tiny teddies were my contribution to a group project to get 100 knitted for a pastoral program in a school. The blanket with the 4 white feet were when I had finished a baby blanket and then had the big challenge of crocheting an AT-AT . On Instagram you lead by collaborating and engaging. You learn by sharing and seeing. My photography with my phone has improved,  I have good followers and it is a very  positive part of my life. It’s a space where I am using my devices to share what I am doing but then get more ideas . I put myself out there and am calibrated against the rest of the world. You can get your own Instagram best nine by going here : 2017bestnine . This is a snapshot. Instagram is still adding likes to older pictures because people come and go on Instagram as they feel like it these days and it is common practice now to do a digital detox. By next week or the week after these images might change because the rhythm of Instagram participation has changed.

Screen animations for Christmas

Well, I’m set. I have my countdown snowglobe and a lovely animated Christmas tree – the Garland tree – which is throwing  out sparkles as I write! You can get the animated snowglobe from get-xmas. In the left side bar there is a download section with the Christmas trees zip file. You extract the files and an icon comes up on your desktop. Click and there you are. Right click on the animation and there are settings you can change to suit yourself.

Technology changes

lights

Image: campaignlive

The world changes. People used to crank cars to start them. They used to put washing through wringers to get rid of the water. There were lamp lighters in the street. Times change and life and things change with it. Apple’s iconic white MacBook is now vintage. Given it was plastic that might be the right way to go. There is speculation , though, that Apple will move away from its Macs altogether and go with tablets and phones. Macs have been popular with artists , musicians and advertisers. If Apple then improves the iPad Pro will that be enough? A lot of people use their phones and tablets in preference to a laptop or desktop. They like the portability of their device now. A year ago Apple had problems with its new OS Sierra which ought to have been dealt with by now. It’s just brought out a new phone with a different look at the mobile world. Apple never stops inventing and pushing the boundaries.

Meanwhile Microsoft has been working really hard on the Surface which is a laptop/tablet hybrid. It has had to improve the tablet functionality but it is now an  extremely successful device and the iPad Pro could line itself alongside and drive change through competition. iPads have a strong following and are familiar, reliable devices.

What then will  happen to those who need the serious capabilities of a computer? If you like MacBooks, then something like Linux Mint is an option. Apple Macs are built on Unix and so the change to Linux is quite easy. It’s not as slick as Unix , though, but it is easier to customise and can be made to be very slick. It really depends on what you want to do and the world is appearing to make device changes so that everyone has the device they need and that it’s a good one. Some mainly want to stream and look things up. Some need business applications and software. Some need high end graphics capabilities . Some need developer options and so on. We are all different and we are all in need of a good device which suits us. It’s also why you can’t be and know everything about technology. You have to share and you have to pursue what appeals to you . That is how we are moving the world forward now. Yes, there is competition , but collaboration has become a  far more important driver of future thinking and development.

Google photos

no photos

 

Google photos is designed to take the weight off your phone/tablet storage which is increasingly a problem in a world where we take and share photos and we want to be able to show photos to others. More and more people are making videos to post too. You can’t keep everything on your phone so cloud storage is possibly your answer. You don’t necessarily want Google to always back up and sync what you do . You are not able to delete the photos from Google photos . You can only archive them which isn’t right in my opinion. When we were in control of our devices we decided what we kept an what we deleted. Phone/tablet images are used for all sorts of reasons these days and some of that might be sensitive information. I should not be here making a case for anyone having control over their own images.

With Google Photos sync and back up you might want to switch that off and back up images you want when you want. The instructions for Android devices are here on know your mobile. Newatlas explains it from an iPhone point of view but also looks at the reasons you might want to be using Google photos and the advantages. The decision is yours and all I can say is what I have said before  – always check your settings.

Online image editing

online image converterSometimes you need or want to use online tools for images. The other day I needed to convert a .psd file to .jpg. Other times I have had images I want to be able to edit and I don’t have the tools available on my computer because I am out. image.online-convert is a handy and reliable site for converting images. canva edits and images simply and quickly. PhotoMania offers a lot of good photo effects for you images if you want to create something a bit different.

Facebook hacking

thatsnonsense siteIf your Facebook or Messenger app is hacked, feel no shame, no guilt and no bad feelings. Just deal with it.

 

 

 

  1. Let everyone know.
  2. Check all your apps on Facebook to ensure they are the ones you have selected
  3. Do not mass forward messages no matter how well intentioned they are.

Facebook has pretty good security and wants you to take responsibility for it too so check your settings on a regular basis. Messenger seems to be the current problem and will create issues for people.

thatsnonsense is a site which is designed specifically to help you manage the dreaded hacking. It’s upsetting, annoying, puts you off. All of those things, but you can manage it with help and knowledge. thatsnonsense has a section dedicated to Facebook and its issues. You might like to read the post about the current wave of hacking via Messenger and how to deal with it. You might not need it but your friend might.

Christmas recycling

This post has been very popular and the video always gets a lot of reaction when I share it. It is a great way to use up those old magazines you have around the place and the effect is really nice. You need time to make these little trees so I am giving you time now! Certainly a creative way to recycle magazines and bits and pieces of Christmas decorations. Something to keep little hands busy and something where you could make quite an impressive display if you made several of them. The video guides you all the way and so you could run it on a smartphone or tablet and pause it as you go along. This is a real  advantage of video instructions. You can stop when you need to, rewind when you need to and simply go along at your own pace. Students can get very absorbed by making things and this tree tests manual dexterity and patience but then offers the chance to be inspired with the decoration. Students will come up with very original ideas for decorating and creating their own personal trees and they can photograph and film them to make other Christmas things. Snapchat them , even, when they get home. This sort of activity is a good precursor to an oral activity or video. They enjoy making their own little characters and props from bits and pieces and then filming it or photographing it. As they are constructing they are thinking about what they will actually say and do for the task and the busy hands and working through the practicalities of designing a tree helps to direct their thinking. It is surprising how your ideas develop and you make things. It is even more surprising what will come next in terms of digital use of things which have been hand made.

Do you know your icons?

We are swamped with icons. Some we know , some we don’t. Some, some people know. Other people know other icons. The Hanselman blog has a number of icons which he believes we need to dispense with. I have said that on this blog before. Having a floppy disk icon for the save icon makes no sense any more even to those who are well and truly familiar with that icon. There are two games which test and develop your knowledge of icons – Icomania and Icon Pop Quiz. The gaming world acknowledges, at least , we have a problem. There are so many icons. We can’t and don’t know them all. Then there are icon changes with some OS upgrades and we are supposed to work it out. Google is oblivious to the fact we have an icon recognition problem. The internet is blissfully unaware. We are just given icons and told to get on with it. Some of us can and some of us can’t. Given the internet is very much about communication then I think we need to have icon awareness built in to daily living.

download-128I realised that the other day when a 30 something described the download icon as an arrow going into a bucket. It can also mean forward or share if the arrow is going the other way. share-128 (2)

There is no one age group responsible for this lack of clarity.

The    Share-128   icon confuses a lot of people. They cannot work out what it means because it looks like a molecular structure to them. Share icon is the last thing which would occur to them.

In time, I am sure we shall sort this out and generational change will be understood as the way we need to go about icons as each generation of devices brings us new and different functionality.

Take better pictures with your phone

You learn something very day. I was doing some work on images related to colour yesterday and the images just were not the same as the things I was photographing and I didn’t know enough to improve the situation. The colour yesterday was important. It has not really been an issue before. I have occasionally noticed my phone is not representing a colour accurately but in the scheme of things it hasn’t been a problem. Yesterday it was.  Time to fill the learning gap. Yes, I could use an SLR or one of my digital cameras. They have a better colour representation. Some phones display better colour than others. It all gets very technical. I can adjust the light and contrast. I can play with the display settings. I tried changing the light to no avail. Gizmodo has an overview of devices and displays and some of it relates to having devices which calibrate better automatically. My phone is good on automatic image clarity but not complex colours. UX-stackexchange emphasises looking on your phone for what affects display and colour and considers some of the issues. CNET looks at how you can use filters to improve image colour. Lifehacker comes up with a number of ideas for improving phone images. It is a matter of looking through the information and trying out  the ideas  one at a time so you are clear as to which ones are the best for your phone.

Make an illuminated Christmas tree

LXG Design has a good Facebook page where they come up with electronic and tech projects which are quite inventive but achievable. The illuminated Christmas tree is cute and the instructions are clear. Have fun making one. The LXG Design You Tube channel has lots of ideas and their videos are very good at making you feel like you, too, can make something like that.

UX and Web Design

UX and Web Design

 

Joe Natoli is a consummate professional and this Udemy course leaves you in no doubt that you are learning well and from someone who knows how to engage you and teach you in the best way. It is a paid course but $15 for 187 well thought out, detailed and content rich lessons is a gift. I got an iTunes card last Christmas and used some of the money to purchase this course. The course has kept me going all year and so I have had more than my money’s worth. Lessons vary between about 3mins, 12 mins and an hour. Joe introduces himself to you by the use of videos and so you get to see and hear him and make a connections with him. There are then a number of voice lessons and , at the end,  the course comes back to video. Nothing is left to chance. It is all throughly mapped out and considered so that as a learner you are immersed in learning and have so many things to know and do.  It says on the certificate I did 23.5 hours . That is not quite right. During the course you get really helpful downloads and emails. These all need to be read if you want to add to what is already a comprehensive curriculum. There is also the processing and practising time. At the end there is a lovely gift of another video. That really is the icing on the cake and tops off the course in a very satisfying way. What I really liked was the show and tell approach. Joe talks you through everything and so you are learning visually and aurally and your brain is engaged all of the time. Nothing is left to chance. The rationale for doing something is explained in global, local and personal terms. You can watch him attend to details and see what a difference it makes. He explains and reasons everything he is showing you. It is about design principles , values, reasoning, being careful. It gives you a lot of insight into WordPress and how to get the best out of it. It teaches you how to be very good at what you have chosen to learn. Everything is there if you want to launch yourself on the web in a competent fashion. I loved this course and even though I didn’t want or need to know everything in it, it has all added to me and it has given me a good way to approach UX issues. At the beginning I had sound issues with the course. When my internet connection was changed from ADSL2 to nbn those sound issues were resolved. Udemy was buffering , as it turned out, under ADSL2. I also had a problem with no video when I viewed the course on my iPad. I had sound but no visuals. I used the contact option on the course and that was resolved within 24 hours. Doesn’t get better than that. I thank Joe Natoli for such an enriching and worthwhile course.

Transferable skills

transferable skillsskillsyouneed has a list of transferable skills which are essential to surviving in our current world. What better way for me to verify them than to see if they apply to my current situation of skills transfer? It is essential to have transferable skills and a concept of lifelong learning or you are not able to easily change as life and the world requires. Adapting means you need to have some understanding of what it takes to adapt and then put yourself in situations where you test out your skills transfer.

I have joined a group so I can learn their skills and expertise. In exchange I have been running a blog and social media for them. We are all on new learning ground and we have all had to have those connected conversations so we can progress and lift our skills. It has been one of the best learning experiences of my life and technology has made that possible. So how do these portable skills work?

Team Work

We have had to share ideas and approaches and we have had to discuss what we think, what we want, what we need to achieve. They have looked at me and worked out what I need to learn and how. I have looked at the group and worked out how I can showcase the skills and talent but none of that is done without open and constant conversations.

Leadership

The group has taken on new members and each week they talk about the things which can be learned. They show and tell. They invite others in with skills. They occasionally offer opportunities for excursions to learn and grow. I have had to use that and work out how to make that live and come alive on the internet. I have been able to show them that their knowledge is valued by the world. I have had to work out how we get followers on Instagram, and then, the biggest challenge, Twitter. We have had to lead each other and all of that is done by example and talk.

Personal Motivation, Organisation and Time Management

We encourage each other. There is always something to know and learn. We motivate each other by showing the good things which can be achieved. We look at what people are doing and share their successes and trouble shoot the difficulties. There has to be a lot of good will and there have to be ideas. You have to be prepared to pull things together for a show and tell so people can see what you are achieving and how it works. You have to have examples and so you have to organise yourself to find the tools and tricks which work. We do not over commit ourselves. We acknowledge what we are doing is a part of life and living. It isn’t life and living. My blog posts usually come out every day and from those the rest of the group can see what they have achieved and how others are reacting.

Listening

When you listen you know where the learning gaps are. If you are trying to create change then you have to listen without prejudice. You have to accept what you are hearing and move that person on. By listening I worked out the group had some good mobile skills which could be improved and that I needed to focus more on mobile skills to help them grow. Some of them just want to use a computer so then I had to accommodate that as well. In terms of teaching me,  they worked out I just needed to be filled with information and pointed in the right direction with some tips, magazines, books and then left to work it out until I had questions.

Written Communication

We use email to communicate primarily. That is how they feel most comfortable. The blog, though, and Instagram , have had high appeal for them. They don’t understand Twitter so much and I have explained they don’t need to. I interpret the data for them in blog posts so they understand exactly how what we are doing is impacting the internet. The blog has been helpful since there are members who are not always there and they now feel a better sense of connection to the group when they have to be away.

Verbal Communication

We never stop talking and the other preferred method of communication is to pick up the phone. These people are not fond of texting. They would rather talk to you. In our group meetings we just talk as we work. We share our ideas, thoughts, plans. We plot and plan creativity. We discuss how you do things and what you can do. We look at events and whether we want to participate and how we want to do things. We sit next to someone and help them. I have run mini tech sessions on Facebook and how to access the blog on a phone. I have explained what some of the icons are. There is a lot of one on one  verbal communication to further knowledge.

Research and Analytical Skills

I am blogging and running social media accounts in an area I am not familiar with. I am learning the skills. I have really had to listen and follow up on names and places. I have really had to look things up on the net, especially You Tube to find out what I am talking about. I have had to find the global leaders in the things we are doing and the global responses to what we are doing. I have had to analyse blog data because we were very successful very quickly. I have had to look at stats, work out SEO tactics and then work out who to connect to on the net to further us . Instagram was an instant success so I have had to run hard with that to ensure we keep up the momentum and interest.  With Twitter I have had to look at what has been popular and address the gaps to ensure that account is more solid. The net gives you a lot of data feedback. You can use it to improve yourself and position on the net. The group gives me things to pursue and find out about so we keep that feedback loop going because I show them what the world is reacting to and that really motivates them to grow and respond.

Numeracy Skills

We need them to run the financial side of the group. We also need numeracy skills to make alterations and changes. I need them to analyse data.

Personal Development

When you have a focus you can then have opportunities for personal development. No one in this group is pushed to change. What we do is bring along ideas which people can run with or not. Putting myself in the situation where I am doing technology representation about something I am concurrently learning has helped me learn very effectively and efficiently. All of this is education because we are bringing each other out. We are all showing each other there are things to know and what things to know. The choice then is up to the individual whether they wish to pursue that or not. We constantly offer the opportunities and by being on the net we have also helped others learn.

Information Technology

“Many jobs will require that you use word processing, spreadsheet and web-based software on a daily basis. However, think beyond these basic IT skills. Are you confident using a computer? Can you learn how to use new software and new technology quickly? Can you troubleshoot basic computer problems and do you understand the importance of data security and privacy?”

I have made the group far more confident with technology and they have made me confident with what I wanted to learn. This has been of mutual benefit. I can freely ask them what I want to know and they can sit down next to me and ask me something about technology that they want to know. The ideas and expertise exchange is the thing which makes this so successful and in the process we are all better for it.  Technology enables lifelong learning. They can get out their phones and tablets to show me things and I can get my phone and take pictures of what they take for granted and show them they know a lot and have specific skills which are valued. It then comes down to trust. We trust each other to be helpful and positive.

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.

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