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


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. 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.


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.


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.

Code an Advent calendar


Pete Dring has made a series of tutorials for GSCE students in England so they can make a coded advent calendar which looks really nice. The tutorials are not long and are explained well. You do not have to be a coding expert and know a lot about coding to follow this information. It is meant for older students, though.

Device ergonomics

microwave radiationIt is important to constantly remind ourselves about computer ergonomics so that we don’t fall foul of what appears to be easy use devices. One of the biggest concerns is children’s use of devices. Their bodies absorb microwaves more effectively than adult bodies. You can read information on collective-evolution  and environmental health trust.  

Given we are surrounded by technology it is very difficult for us to deal with these issues. We need a clear picture and we need a clear process. The video supplies some very helpful information about trackpad use. Even phones and tablets become track pads as we use them with gesturing. It’s important we listen to people who know what they are talking about.

canscribe has set up a list of things to check for office and home office ergonomics . It can operate as a checklist and a reminder. Looking after ourselves in a technological environment is as vital as when we looked at the issues in industrial areas and environments.


Puzzle Craft 2

puzzle craft 2

What am I supposed to do with a board like that? I had to collect lemons for a challenge but I didn’t need lemons to gain access to the next fruit. I needed to collect cattle so I could get horses. It means I should have set the board up to get more fruit but I set it up for animals so I could achieve the cattle and then the horses. The puzzle boards in the last village often pose problems like this. The biggest challenge is working out which villages to use to maximise collecting resources so I can achieve what needs to be achieved. I have to collect silver chests in the first village. They can come up or I can pay 400 coins and maybe not get the items for the collection. it is not that easy to make game coins at moment but I am getting better at it by working other villages. I am using the water game in the village which doesn’t bring up storms, sharks and pirates so I can conserve game coins! The pirate board just sucks up the game coins as does this farm in the last village by always bringing out the rats or cluttering the board so I have to use tools to get out of a bind. The game limits tools so I have to use brains and strategy to overcome the issues and challenges. I was building up gems so I could get the strawberry and I did ,only to find out I can’t really happily use it in the game because I now have to collect jack fruit. The vegan answer to meat. Why? Jack fruit make rats appear. Then they allow me to achieve another fruit which is very attractive to rats. Who, in their right mind would want to be doing that? I’d rather have strawberries…but then I won’t progress in the game. At his stage I just have to meet the challenges and try to get the other animals, vegetables , fruit and mounts. Not easy but that’s the point. I have to think how I am going to do that. Meanwhile ,I have no idea why. My tools were all packed into a galleon to be taken off somewhere. In the other villages they were packed up and I did custom puzzle boards to get to the next village. I have just been told to work on collections and resources. Have no idea where I am going ! I’ll find out. I have the castle ready to upgrade but the silver chests in the first village have given me some great treasures but not all the collection items as yet. Shall I pay 400 game coins a pop for them? I have always worked that first village. It is wonderfully simple and it doesn’t matter what is on the board . It is always dealt with quickly and I get a sense of being able to do something without having to break my head like with the puzzle board featured in the post. Some of the puzzles really push me to think hard. Like trading. I have to think about the trading according to what resources I will lose on the trade or whether I can make game coins out of the trade. I’d love to be able to trade things from the other villages. I have over 400 eggs in my first village and I can only sell a few at a time and they are not used up in producing tools in this village. I want to trade them! Trading is limited to the last village and then only certain items are traded. Sometimes I’d like to be able to choose so I can get rid of the gluts. It’s not always an issue because more often than not I am running short of things to produce enough tools. I use my other villages to help buffer the production blow on tools at this level of the game. I am hoping to get my new castle soon…and be able to eat lots of strawberries!

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Fictional Genres

Maslow's Hierarchy of Fictional Genres Idiosophy is a blog site  “maintained by Joe Hoffman, former physicist, current modeling and simulation engineerfoil and épée fencer and coach, and vegetable gardener.” As he explains on his blog , we need never live in darkness again. The internet can provide us with information, discussions, ideas and people such as he who has a passion for physics, literature and nature. The internet has a vast array of knowledgeable and experienced people who can looks at things in compelx ways and share those ideas. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a stalwart of motivational theory in psychology. But what if we applied it to literature? Joe Hoffman’s clarity around the concept of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs of Fictional Genres is well worth the read.His discussion is well thought out and interesting.

MIT technology review

MIT technology reviewThe MIT technology review site brings you a current reading of  technology developments, changes and possibilities in our world. Technology is not going to go away. It looks at AI and its impact. It considers how intuitive technology will be able to respond to your moods and emotions. It looks at security issues, opportunities in the technological world and the way technology is reframing how we can learn and interact with each other. It is a site well worth book marking.

“According to a World Economic report, 35 percent of core workplace skills will change between 2015 and 2020, with complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration in high demand.”

Free Microsoft Courses

Got his information via Better Cloud email. The Microsoft Virtual Academy has been set up so that you can have access to some good quality information and insight into technology. The courses are free and there are plenty of choices. The home screen gives you a good visual overview of what is available and then you can click to find out more about the sorts of courses you might be interested in doing. Left of the search box in the top bar of the screen is the drop down menu of the courses. That gives you an even better overview. That is something which is good about the site. It offers users different ways of accessing information in a way which might suit them better so there are visual and text based options to click on. That’s UX and UI  done well.

IT trends

Image: alstntec

soft skills

Soft skills are as equally important in 2017 as specific IT and business skills . In a nutshell it comes down to communication , analytics and security. The DevOps approach where it is so important to acknowledge the key stakeholders who are involved with you and how they use your device or site. I came across this article via Better Cloud about the 7 hot IT career trends which articulates the current situation well and gives links out to further information should you need or want it. As the article says:


“Technology becomes more meaningful when it’s put to work to address human needs, solve problems and help achieve goals,” Kimmel says. “Maintaining this human element in the enterprise will be much easier if the IT teams deploying big data, machine learning and IoT (internet of things) solutions have strong leadership and people skills, in addition to technical ones.”

Communication of ideas and good interpretation of data are key competencies in 2017. Blogging has become a natural part of that and an important skill to have:

“Use good blogging and communication skills to communicate on a one-to-many basis with your contacts,” Stanger says. “Don’t simply self-promote. Stream valuable, curated content and thoughts to people in your network. You’ll find that what interests you will generally interest them.”

Puzzle Craft 2

Puzzle Craft 2This game has got me really challenged at the moment. I have 6 villages and am up to level 119. At this stage it all plays out in a very complex way. I can’t easily collect resources. I can’t easily make game coins. I can’t easily do what I think I should be doing and so I do what I can. That’s a first for this game. It is hard and I am really having to think. I am using two villages to try and get experience points and resources . Without the resources you don’t have sufficient tools. The bigger game boards can deplete you of your game coins just so you can finish the board. I can’t easily collect animals so I can get the new one released. It is interesting how much the game has changed and how alert I have to be. Sometimes I just have to resign myself to losing game coins because I need to get rid of the rats or free up the board to play it to the finish. I gather the resources and within two minutes they are gone on tools so you can play another board. In the sea port village I can’t trade successfully necessarily so that is not something I can rely on to build resources. Sometimes the tools from the magic portal help and sometimes not. I have to get a lot of experience points at this stage to get the next award. That’s the thing. There are cups to collects, banners, resources to gather, buildings to build, money to make, trading to do and all the while I have to stay in control of your assets. Phew! It really makes me work on strategy. I use two water games. One in the 5th village  mainly to build resources I can sell . Sometimes I need them to unlock animals, fruit or plants. In the 6th village I have the pirate ship to contend with. My nemesis. I hate it. It forces me to play that board as a victim. I do get coins now when I defeat it but I had to focus on getting that building built so I got the coins. Meanwhile the pirate ship just blows all my game coins away until I can manoeuvre my own boat to defeat. it. I so want that cannot in the fort but have a few buildings and a stockpile of resources to gather. There are days I just ignore that board. Nothing else in the game forces me to be a victim. Everything else gives me a chance to think my way out. The pirate ship? I am on the board, I can do nothing and I just hope I can get in the right position to get rid of the ship. Meanwhile I have used up navigation and sailing moves which I could have used to get resources. It’s amazing how much this game has changed since I first started playing it. I really am at the stage where I have to think out everything and there is no simple answer. Every resolution to the challenges the game poses has to be thought out . It’s why I like the game even when I am not liking it!! I don’t want a game where I do the same thing, I repeat the same tasks , I move in the same pattern and I just am basically in a holding pattern. There is no real growth. Puzzle craft 2 grows and I am growing with it and I have to change to be able to keep playing it. As I said before, it’s a good game to develop flexible thinking and neuroplasticity.

Keep yourself secure

computer safetyImage: thinglink

You need a plan when it comes to online security and you need to check it every so often. Checking settings on sites on a regular basis is important , especially with Facebook which can change settings and then you don’t understand why you are seeing too much information or broadcasting to everyone. Facebook settings can be in the main setting part  top right but also on each post and picture. bleeping computer has a good list of tips to run through to ensure you have a checklist you can follow to ensure you are doing as much as you can to keep yourself safe online. You will be doing most of it. There is a list of free security software on listoffreeware which you can check to see if there is anything you might want. The main thing when downloading software is to ensure you are not getting any extra software which you don’t want. Have a plan and be routine in your security checking.

How to use WhatsApp


WhatsApp is a hugely popular messaging app with corporate overtones which Facebook bought for 19 billion dollars in 2014.  Yes, it makes you wonder but that is how much it is worth. It is free to use and then had small in app annual fees which appear to have been cancelled for general use because that model wasn’t working. Facebook Messenger does exactly the same thing but some people are used to What’s App or they just prefer to use it. Once you have downloaded it can be allowed to look through your contacts to show you who else is on What’s App. You can look at the advantages and disadvantages on online-sciences.  You can look at an article where they discuss how and why they dropped the fees so you can contextualise that better if you are not familiar with What’s App.

Text to speech


There is some really bad text to speech  out there and the upshot will be that people will abandon whatever it is using  a bad voice synthesiser. You get it on news clips, how to clips, automated phone messages. It is awful. Digital voices are as unique as human voices so I am not sure why they seem to pick the most annoying and horrible ones for public consumption. There are some reasonable voices out there and they are improving all the time. Text to speech does have its uses especially in terms of accessibility , literacy and mastering a new language. The video clip gives you some ideas as to how to manage text to speech effectively and this clip on another text to speech option shows you too how effective it can be. The tip from both clips is to try the different options to get the best one for your purposes.

Video call on Facebook Messenger

messenger callsA lot of people know how to message or respond to messages on Facebook. Not everyone knows how to make a voice call or video call on Messenger. They just don’t see those two logos , or , if they see them , they don’t realise they are for voice and video calls. They are not stupid. They are unaware these logos exist top right of the screen or can’t interpret the icons. A case where captioning might help it would seem. The video explains how to do the video calls. Voice calls will happen if you tap/click on the phone icon. The use of the term chat is probably confusing some people. Those who have made phone calls would call them calls. Chat is used widely now to refer to conversing with others no matter which mode you use. Some people don’t want to use chat and think it’s not for them. If they realised it was a call they might think differently.

Technology thanks

thank youImage: haikudeck

I had some big outages away from technology earier this year because we were changing the copperwire service over to nbn. Since I have been on the nbn my phone and internet service have been uninterrupted and so I have been able to get on with my life where technology plays a significant role. I am grateful for that. There is a lot to be thankful for.

  1. I am working with a group of people who can use phones and tablets but who haven’t been able to make the best use of technology to allow their skills, talents and competencies to be shared and showcased. Since we have done that they can see the world really does value them and what they do . It has inspired and encouraged them and that is what blogging and social media can do for people. They can connect , share, get feedback and grow themselves in a really good way.
  2. I learn a lot from the internet. I can find out anything I want whenever I want. I can do online courses, belong to online groups , share my own knowledge and views online and learn from others. It is a growth mindset which gets encouraged through lifelong learning and collaboration.
  3. I have been pleased to work with various and varied organisations to help resolve online issues, app development and improvement and have valid client input which improves how we go about things online.
  4. I’d be lost without Google maps. I have used that a lot to navigate myself around a city which is in a constant state of flux because of infrastructure changes .
  5. Technology allows me to connect with anyone anywhere and to grow and develop positive relationships even if I can’t see them personally or see them very often. It safeguards those relationships so they still have a positive input into life and living.

I use technology to grow my ideas, reflect, find things out, improve my skills. It has a key growth function in my life. shawnblanc has written a post about why he thinks it’s worth being thankful to technologyGaeltek has also written a thankfulness post.  Mashable has also written a well thought out thankfulness post. Yes, we are thankful.

Tablet and phone blogging

landscape view phone

Landscape view – phone

These pictures show you what I can see of my blog on my phone. Yes, I thought the same myself. On my tablet I can see the right side bar and everything else is at the bottom of all the posts. On phones and tablets you scroll down and down to see what else is available on a blog. You might be over it by then. In terms of user experience tablet and phone blogging is less than desirable. You are being cut off from so much information and so much of  the presentation. On a laptop or desktop you get the full experience. All the information. I blogged from my phone once when I was having outage problems with my home phone and internet copper wire connection. Actually blogging is not so hard. Using the blog and trying to do things like follow or find out what else is on the blog is not easy, though.

portrait view phone

Portrait view – phone

The interface is designed to make it hard for you to know there are other things to look at on the blog. Little dot round circles and  menus which can sometimes block even more of your view really do test your patience. The scrolling down to find things can be really annoying to some people. Others would not even know you need to scroll down. If phone and tablet interfaces are being designed to encourage bloggers to leave out all the other things you can do with a blog then it is an attempt to limit access, information and experience. It is an enforced limited experience because we are trying to save system resources on tablets and phones so the actual pages load faster. We are also excluding ourselves from knowledge  in a way which hasn’t occurred until now. Can we do better? I’ll leave that one as a  developer challenge.

Design tools and resources

design toolsThe internet is about design. You need to know and understand what is available to help you create a good looking, informative site or web page. You need to know what tools and resources are available to you to ensure your online presentation looks good and current. Design for Founders has a section dedicated to design tools and resources. There is some really helpful information on this site.

Puzzle Craft 2

I hate the pirate ship! When you go onto that water puzzle you have to be prepared to lose money and not necessarily achieve your aims. It means you won’t get the resources you need.

puzzle craft 2

The pirate ship pops up and makes horrible noises, moves really quickly and is hard to defeat because there is no clear way of doing that. I might work it out eventually but in the mean time I shall just hate its unpredictability, noise and negative impact on the board. It makes it unpleasant. The swamp board in the previous village is at least quiet as it sucks up my  game money and resources. I regularly lose about $2000 coins trying to get anywhere on the swamp farm board. It’s all relative , though. I now find that easier than this new pirate one I have to deal with. My reaction is to go to those boards once a day, hold my breath, know I am not going to like any of it and not even care if I do well somehow by magic. The swamp board has really made me pay attention. The swamp can operate by stealth as your eyes are distracted by wiggly animals or wolves and rats popping up.

It’s not all bad. I am actually up to Level 108 today and so it’s an indication I love this game  and have persisted with it. I reached the new village earlier in the week and that was a major achievement. I had had to really work hard on getting  the resources I needed to get there. Every time there is a new village the game undergoes a big change and I have to rethink my strategies. I am working out how to get resources to run things, how to make money, how to get runes, how to get workers, the next animals and plants and so on. There is a lot to manage and think about. It is always changing and so you have to adapt and become more flexible in your thinking.

The graphics are excellent. I love the parrots, the ships, the amazing flying golden rams and the swamp clearers which don’t actually clear swamp at all!! There is some wonderfully detailed graphic artwork in the game and sometimes I wish I could play it on my big screen so I could appreciate the detail better.

Puzzle Craft 2 is very challenging. For the most part it is good challenging and then it throws a curved ball at you like the pirate ships and forces you to deal with it…or not. I don’t like it! As far as I am concerned it wrecks that board, but then again, so would pirates. I have to determine how to proceed so I am not overwhelmed by something which is , frankly, disturbing. It’s aggressive. That’s what I don’t like about it but the game supports you and challenges you and then makes you take risks and get out of your comfort zone. The fall back position is to go off into other villages and onto other boards to get a break and so something more positive and productive.

It will take me quite some time to finish this last village by the sea. It has been a great game which diverts me but also keeps my neuroplasticity in good form.


Cyber war games

Cyber security is a real and growing threat to every organisation and billions of people in every corner of the world. The only way to defeat clever cyber criminals is to have clever cyber defenders.

This is the driver behind the government’s first ever cyber war games established by the Department of Human Services.”

It’s good to see our federal government in Australia is joining the for countries to use game based learning to protect government sights. September is when our are happening . The official cyber war games site expns all about it. We have also had newpaper articles covering it. The Canberra Times published an article explaining about how the games would work too.

Blogging isn’t dead

bloggingImage: 10 amazing blogs about blogging – Corey Wainwright 


The internet can be capricious at times and come up with rumours and thoughts which, if you do not pay attention, will lead you astray or confuse you. Half the time it’s to create a thing and then that thing is discussed , reported, highlighted, memed. It’s artificial content creation stimulation. There has been this thing about blogging being dead. There has been a belief that individual bloggers are a thing of the past. Not if you go by the WordPress reader. That alone is sufficient indication there are plenty of individual bloggers who are confident, successful and clear voices. There are a lot of new individual bloggers because a number of people are connected from home for their own purposes. There are artists, writers, musicians, tech people, UX and UI designers, game creators, cooks, chefs, foodies, fashion followers, sports people and  gadget creators and so on. Etsy has had a big impact and a number of Etsy shops have their owners on Instagram to make that personal connection with their potential clients. They often build their network on Instagram or Facebook and then their blog offers more insight into how they produce their items. It’s the personal touch.  People want to meet and know real people on the internet these days. Blogs can also provide documentation and journaling capacities so that people can trace their personal growth in an area. People want to explore their creativity and ideas more and even Instagram posts are increasingly becoming more like blog posts. It’s the social and emotional involvement which has increased and so blogging offers that way of individual processing of events , creativity and information.

That is not to say group blogs don’t exist and aren’t a vibrant part of the internet. Blogs are part of mainstream  internet content. They are no longer the blogosphere. Group blogs can operate like modern day newsletters. They can allow a group to develop an image and history and allow everyone in that group to participate even if they cannot be at every meeting or activity. They allow a group to have an online presence and image with the group members can tap into but also the wider community.

MotherJones has an interesting look at current blogging practices . Blog Tyrant looks at some of the statistics and analyses some of the trends.  Neal Samudre has an article  on Huffington Post about allowing your blog to prosper.  Blogs have changed and they always will change. These days they tend to document and share information in a way which is connected to our need for information in context.

Creative writing apps

In many ways we have increased our capacity to write creatively because we have technology and social media sites. We have opportunities to inspire and influence because we are on Facebook and Instagram and there are still those who meet the Twitter creative tweet challenge. We have blogs and websites and even though there is a big emphasis on visuals on the internet, the opportunities to write and write well are there. We can make our own books and publish them online. We can create influential and interesting email content. We need apps! Are there apps to inspire creative writing? Yes. You may have your own favourites. Yona Yurwit in the video explains what she uses on her iPhone and why. Makeuseof has some good recommendations of creative writing apps some of which are paid and some of which have a paid premium version. More and more phones are becoming less about consumption and more about productivity and creativity.

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