When Did We Stop Thinking of Bedrooms as Places to Sleep?

bedroom deviceShould we make kids’ bedrooms better for sleeping?

I’ve just finished reading an October 2016 editorial in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, Problems Associated With Use of Mobile Devices in the Sleep Environment — Streaming Instead of Dreaming. The short piece describes the problems that digital devices, especially those that are mobile and easy to glance at or grab in the middle of the night, reflects on research published in the same issue of the journal. Unfortunately neither article is freely available; however, the links I’ve added offer a summary describing how the research was conducted and highlighting the findings.

The JAMA Pediatrics research article explains how the study asked the question, “Is there an association between screen-based media device access or use in the sleep environment and sleep quantity and quality?” Researchers conducted a meta-analysis (examining the results of many studies and combining the results) by searching through 20 previous studies, involving more than 125,000 children, that examined sleep patterns of children between 6 and 19 years old.                       Continue reading

ENIAC: The First U.S. Computer and How Women Made It Work

It all began with a woman.

I am reading Walter Issacson’s book, The Innovators. What is interesting is that his book begins by describing the work of Lady Ada Lovelace, who was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Ada Lovelace is the mind that first imagined and even wrote about the possibilities of computers and programming way back in the 1840’s. Naturally the technical abilities and the tools were not available when she came up with her vision of programming, but almost everything subsequent to her work is based on the foundation she created.

The March 2015 post that I’ve reblogged below is about the amazing women who figured out how to program one of the first computers, ENIAC, right after World War II.

Media! Tech! Parenting!

ENIAC 6People — young and old — enjoy learning about the first computer in the United States, ENIAC, booted up in 1946. Every 21st Century learner needs to know about this amazing machine and the story of the first programmers.

A few weeks ago I visited Philadelphia and had a special opportunity to visit ENIAC. This huge, old-fashioned computer is owned by the Smithsonian Institution  (read this article), but parts of it are still housed in a building at the University of Pennsylvania, almost exactly where it was originally set up. ENIAC could be  programmed to do extensive calculations much faster than humans could calculate.

The letters in ENIAC stand for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.                            

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I Love My Sonos Play:1 Wireless Speakers!

It’s great fun to think about how technology improves our lives, especially given how much people worry about digital world problems. For me one of the best changes in our 21st Century lives has been the new and improved ways that I can listen to music, podcasts, and radio programs.

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One of my Sonos wireless speakers

These days with our Sonos Play:1 wireless sound system, my family listens to a vastly expanded range of music, radio stations, podcasts, and much more. Tune speakers sit at strategic  locations around the house, and though we still regularly listen to “old-fashioned” radios, our wireless system is gradually taking over because of its amazing sound quality. The first time we played music on one of our Sonos speakers we joked that it felt like the musicians were in the room with us.

Using the Sonos app, each Play:1 speaker — we now have four — is easily connected to our wi-fi network, and then it runs through a sound test to become familiar with its room. The app also allows us to group the speakers and play the same music throughout the house or keep them separate, thereby allowing any member of the family to listen to different media on the closest Play:1 — once each speaker played different music at the same time for people in each of the rooms.  Perfect for any household with diverse listening tastes!       Continue reading

Your Phone Knows a Lot About You: Even When You Think You’ve Secured It

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-10-49-13-amThose of us who want to maintain a modicum of privacy in our digital and mobile phone lives, not to mention our 21st Century kids’ lives, may be interested in a question answered by writer J.D. Biersdorfer, on his New York Times Personal Tech blog.

Answering the question, How Your Phone Knows Where You Have Been?, Biersdorfer explains lots more about the GPS function on a mobile phone, describes what’s collected, and tells how to fine out how Apple and Google use the information. He also describes, with screen shots, how to reset or disable the information collecting. It turns out that shutting off location services, or leaving them on and allowing just a few apps to use location data, is not enough. On the iPhone, more privacy settings, in a category called system services, are buried inside the location list.

Parents and teachers may want to learn a lots more about how a mobile phone keeps track of a user’s whereabouts and this column provides lots of information. Interestingly, some parents have told me that they like examining, from time-to-time, the map that the GPS leaves, especially on their kids phones.

Check it out.

 

Check Out Harvard’s Free Online Course: Religions of the World MOOC

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MOOC stands for massive open online course.

We all need to learn more about the religions of the world. Even people  who are not especially religious need to become respectfully informed. Now a Harvard online MOOC course on the world’s religions is enrolling and welcoming participants — for free. A lot more about the course by reading a Huffington Post article.

The course is offered as a series of modules, each focused on a specific religion. The course can be taken for free, but if students want a certificate of achievement they will need to pay $50. The instructors leading the classes teach at Harvard University and Wellesley College.               Continue reading

Without Moderation & Mindfulness Tech Can Diminish Our Personal Lives

Does too much technology, with our smart phones especially,os7iphone-2 interfere with the quality and the personal connections in our lives? Do we concentrate less because of the unceasing demands of our digital devices?

I’ve just finished reading Jonathon Safran Foer’s December 2016 article, Technology is Diminishing Us, and he makes thoughtful points about how, despite the good things that 21st Century digital devices bring to our lives, they can also diminish our daily emotional responses and contemplative experiences. The author reflects, with a personal emphasis, on digital distractions that increasingly disrupt of face-to-face communication, and his ideas connect well with the conclusions that Massachusetts Institution of Technology professor Sherry Turkle shares in her books Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversations, also well worth reading.

Foer, whose essay appeared in The Guardian, notes that early on technological innovations aimed to help people more easily accomplish daily life tasks — telephones replaced letters, answering machines supplemented phone calls, email made communication even easier, and texting easier still. Each change or invention sought to help people communicate more efficiently and effectively (in theory). Yet all this ease of use comes with caveats. The devices that connect us to others almost all of the time and to unlimited information whenever we seek it, have become electronic busybodies, obsessively notifying, alerting, locating, and suggesting (even when we try to turn many of the features off) as we attempt to concentrate, interact with others, and get things done. Most of us do little to stop these interruptions.                       Continue reading

Classifying News Sources With a Venn-Diagram Mapping Strategy

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See larger image below.

How to scrutinize, classify, organize, and evaluate today’s media — as much as possible, online and off? That’s the question.

As we search for ideas that can help young people explore news sources, evaluate their preferences, examine how the media outlets identify and share facts, we mustn’t forget incorporating the the opportunity to talk with one another about the perspective that each source brings to its news-sharing. Recently I found Vanessa Otero’s interesting diagram that demonstrates how we can focus on media sources as well as consider their viewpoints and biases.

Evaluating 21st Century news is more complex than it’s ever was in the 20th Century. Reading the news is de-emphasized and watching the news is more prevalent, so we don’t interact much with information sources. The Internet and cable television channels allow opinions or made-up stories to masquerade as news sources — even when those opinions have no credible or factual source. Social media amplifies everything. Truth and expertise are incidental.                                                                             Continue reading