Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Blessing of Technology

Today as I was working in my kitchen, I had the misfortune of pulling a muscle in my back and having muscle spasms. Not surprisingly, I was laid up for the rest of today. My husband helped me get situated and brought food and medication as needed.  The couch, ibuprofen, and ice packs were my companions. I really haven’t been able to move a lot without pain, but inactivity can be so boring. Luckily, I have technology to keep me entertained.

Since I was settled in for the remainder of the day, I chose my family room as the ideal location. I had my phone, my iPad, and my Roku to help me pass the time.  My iPhone kept me in touch with the world outside my home. I had a lengthy phone conversation with my younger son. I had concurrent text conversations with friends and other family members. I read posts on Facebook and kept up with Twitter.  My son texted me some clips to watch, and that’s when I switched to my iPad.

On my iPad, I checked out some streaming and clips on Twitch. I also watched some videos on YouTube.  When I was tired of that, I played some games and completed some Color By Number pictures.  Next up, I turned the TV on and switched to Roku.

Roku offers so many options. I started with Netflix where I finished watching Season 2 of Greenleaf. (Can’t wait for Season 3 to start!). My husband arrived home after picking up pizza, and we moved to Hulu to watch The World of Dance.  We then finished up our TV watching with the latest 20/20 about Aretha Franklin.

Now I’m back on my iPad to write today’s blog. Usually I would use my laptop, but the position that feels the best for my back doesn’t work with the laptop. The iPad, however, works perfectly!  I know that tomorrow I’ll be back to normal, but tonight I am thankful for all of the technology available to keep my mind occupied.  It is such a different experience than when I was younger with only books, print media, and network TV to help pass the time. Isn’t technology amazing? I am truly happy to have it as a daily tool in my life.

Have you found your tech joy today?

#BlaugustReborn

Friday, August 17, 2018

School and Technology

Everywhere you look there is a reminder that school is starting.  On Facebook, I am seeing posts from friends and family in the South who are showing their children's first day of school.  Others have children who are starting college and getting settled in their dorms.  Teachers, support staff, food service workers, and bus drivers are beginning their preparation for the new year.  It is a sign that summer is coming to an end and that academic challenges are ahead.

Teaching has changed a lot since I began teaching almost 40 years ago.  There is an emphasis on test scores and achievement data that wasn't as strong in those days.  Technology and our access to data has changed significantly.  Unfortunately, I don't believe that our teaching methods have changed at the same rate.  While classrooms have more computers available for students, the methods of teaching remain much the same as when I was a student.  

I watch my grandchildren effortlessly navigate all forms of technology every day.  If they have an interest in something, they can use technology to explore in-depth information about that subject.  Entertainment is available on their timetable.  Everything is presented in visually appealing media.  How can this compete with textbooks and lectures?  It can't!

In order to be successful adults, our children need to know how to learn-not how to pass a test.  I am hoping that education will take a good look at the needs and learning styles of students and the opportunities offered with changing technology.  It is time for a change in how we deliver instruction.  Students need to be encouraged to enjoy learning, to feel proud of their accomplishments, and to value knowledge; they should not feel the pressure of passing tests.  

I am happy to see more iPads and computers in the hands of students.  Classrooms are filled with smart boards, and teachers are looking for ways to encourage and motivate their students.  Let's keep these efforts moving so that technology and the joy of learning become an integral part of the daily lives of students.

Have you found your tech joy today?

#BlaugustReborn

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Everything Is Alive

In a previous post, I discussed that there are so many different kinds of podcasts available that everyone should be able to find one they enjoy.  In that post I mentioned a new podcast I had discovered: Everything Is Alive.  After listening to the first 3 episodes, I think it's worth discussing this podcast again.

Here's the description:

  • Everything Is Alive is an unscripted interview show in which all the subjects are inanimate objects.  In each episode, a different thing tells us its life story-and everything it says is true.
I love that this is unscripted!  I'm sure that the host and actor impersonating the object have had a conversation highlighting the points they want to cover.  However, the improvisation during the interview is exceptional.  The tone is serious and thoughtful.  Sometimes it is sad; at other times it is whimsical.  It is always interesting.

So far there have been 3 different inanimate objects who have been interviewed:  
  1. The first one was Louis, a can of cola.  "Louis is a can of generic cola.  He's been on the shelf a long while, so he's had some time to think." This one was very philosophical in tone and quite sad.  
  2. The second was Maeve, a lamppost.  "Maeve is a lamppost.  She sees all of us, but does anybody see her?"  It was really interesting to explore her view of the world and how the host asks questions to help her expand her beliefs.  
  3. The third, and most recent, was Dennis, a pillow.  "While we are sleeping, Dennis has dreams too."  A pillow's point of view is really intriguing.
One thing that I also like is that the host interjects some new learning about the subject in the interview.  I never realized that there are different categories of feathers until hearing from an expert in the latest podcast.  

This is definitely a quirky podcast, but I am really enjoying it!  It's fun to examine our world from a new point of view and to learn something new.  I highly recommend that you try this podcast.  It will be fun to listen as it evolves.  Let me know what you think!

Have you found your tech joy today?

#BlaugustReborn

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Print Media...To Hold or Not to Hold

One thing that is often different in generations is the delivery method for media. It used to be a ritual on Sunday to read the paper and look at the ads. Most adults used to start their day by having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. They’d also buy magazines at the store or by subscription. That was how my parents consumed print media. It’s also the way I did for most of my life (still is for many my age), but that’s not true for me anymore!

I no longer have the newspaper delivered to my house. Does that mean that I don’t read the local newspaper anymore? Of course not! I just prefer to read it digitally. At first, I read a digital copy of the newspaper with the paper layout, but I’ve gotten away from that. I get a digital version that lists articles that I choose from. I much prefer this! For one thing, I never looked at the ads when I read the paper. That was true for magazines too! I just skipped by and went to the next article. So, the digital version is concise, and I can choose what I want to learn more about and what I want to ignore. This is my preferred method for reading the newspaper nowadays.

I also used to have lots of magazines delivered by mail, or I’d pick up the latest at Target or Barnes & Noble. I no longer buy magazines at all. Instead, I purchase a monthly digital magazine app that gives me access to over 200 magazines. It’s called Texture. I’ve been reading magazines this way on my iPad for several years and love it! I read a wider selection, still get beautiful color layouts just like in print, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying a lot of magazines each month.

I know that many older readers still like the feel of a newspaper or magazine in their hands, but not me! I thoroughly enjoy going the digital route for my news and entertainment.

Have you found your tech joy today?

#BlaugustReborn

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is My Internet Down...Or Is It The Server?

It always amazes me how quickly we get used to something in our lives. We take it for granted until it suddenly isn’t there. I’ve certainly experienced this when my car doesn’t work. WiFi and easy access to fast Internet definitely falls into this category for me. It happened today when I was streaming something on Twitch; one minute I was connected and then it was gone!

I suppose a lot of seniors may not feel this way. However, Internet is a necessity for me. When my Twitch streaming failed, I grabbed my phone to see if the site worked. It didn’t so I turned off WiFi for the real test. I could connect so I knew the Twitch server was working, and the problem was on my end!

My next mission was to determine if Comcast, my Internet provider, was having problems in my area.  I immediately checked out Down Detector where I discovered that Comcast had outages in my area beginning at the same time mine failed. About an hour later, Internet service was back and WiFi turned back on.

Once again, I can take a moment to appreciate my ability to have information so readily at my fingertips, but I know that I will soon take it for granted again. So for now I’ll say thank you to my Internet access and enjoy being able to publish this blog!

Have you found your tech joy today?

#BlaugustReborn

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Gray Network

I was listening to one of my podcasts, Tea Time with Katie & Chelsea, today where the hosts were talking about how they have recommendations from friends about TV shows to watch.  However, there are some that they know they will never watch. As they discussed the various shows that friends had recommended to them and why they wouldn't be watching them, I was surprised by a reference to age. One of the hosts doesn't like sitcoms very much and doesn't like shows on CBS which she referred to as "The Gray Network".

I know that network TV isn't very popular with millenials to begin with.  However, I was really surprised to hear that CBS has a reputation that it appeals to the senior demographic!  Don't get me wrong.  I wasn't offended.  In fact, I don't think I watch any shows from that network either.  I tend to like ABC for most of my network shows with a couple from NBC and FOX.  But this comment made me question: Is CBS really geared toward older watchers?

I started wondering why seniors would be attracted to CBS so I decided to look at their lineup.  I was struck by the fact that the majority of shows are sitcoms or police procedurals.  This seems like what I liked to watch when I was much younger.  Sitcoms reigned supreme at that time, but they don't hold my interest anymore.  I can see why CBS doens't appeal to me.  I like the dramas that keep me guessing on ABC and the high production TV found on HBO and STARZ.  Why did I never realize that I have moved on from "The Gray Network"?

I believe that there should be a wide variety of TV offerings and that people should choose whatever they find interesting and enjoyable.  While I really don't know if the demographics for CBS skew toward seniors, I just know that it's not for me.  I find it interesting that CBS has the reputation that it does.  I'm starting to wonder if there is any correlation between how technological viewers are and the choices they make when watching TV.  It would be a fascinating study!

For now, I'm finding that the TV selections have dried up for the summer.  I am looking forward to new and returning shows in the Fall and will be analyzing target demographics for networks more than I ever have before.  I just hope we all find something fun or interesting to watch.  I'm also interested to hear what you think about the idea that networks have an appeal for a certain age group. If this is true, are we seeing differences in marketing and advertising?   As always, it's fun to be more aware of these issues as we enter the Fall season of TV.

Have you found your Tech Joy today?

#BlaugustReborn

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Suggestions for Idle Hands

Do you find yourself needing something to keep your hands busy with while listening to podcasts, enjoying music, or watching TV?  I know many people who get on their computers, knit, scrapbook, or other activities of that type.  I also know many older people who enjoy adult coloring books or jigsaw puzzles.  This is probably a throwback to when we were kids since coloring books and jigsaw puzzles were a big part of our childhood.  I'm certainly attracted to those types of activities; however, coloring is too slow and jigsaw puzzles take up too much room.  I need activities that are easy to pick up and then set aside as needed.  I have luckily found a couple of apps that meet my needs.

If you like coloring, there are a lot of apps out there for you to try.  Colorfy has been the app of choice when I want to choose my own colors and be creative.  There are some free puzzles and colors-usually enough to satisfy my needs.  I have never felt that I wanted to pay to expand my options.  I love coloring on my phone or iPad because of the flexibility it offers.  Large areas fill in at the touch of a finger.  Don't like the color you chose?  Just choose another and touch the area!  It's a great way to color!  If you don't want to choose your colors, you might want to try Color By Number.  I just discovered this app but love it when I want to keep my hands busy but my mind available.  There are lots of free pages to color plus daily offerings.    My grandkids like Pixel Art where you color each pixel by number.  This offers the ability to fill in areas by dragging your fingers and ways to speed up coloring.  If you like to color, I would recommend that you check out these and other coloring apps.

If you want to play jigsaw puzzles on your computer or tablet, check out Magic Puzzles.  I've been playing this for years.  It gives you the option of changing the number of pieces in the puzzle you are solving.  Each month you can download free puzzles for each day of that month.  By playing, you get coins which you can use to buy more puzzles.  I have never spent money on puzzles but have had plenty to do when I wanted to work on one.  There may be others out there, but I highly recommend this app.

You may have found other apps that work as well as these.  Share any suggestions in the comments.  Whichever you choose to play, I hope you are having fun!

Have you found your Tech Joy today?

#BlaugustReborn