Modern Love

I read this funny post this morning (click the link to read it):

Mommy Said What blog

She talks about how she uses modern technology to communicate with her husband. Some of the comments show concern about her relationship, but I think she has nothing to worry about. Everyone complains about their spouses occasionally. No relationship is perfect.

The point that I think people missed in her blog is that she and her spouse can still laugh and have fun with each other. That is the important thing. The technology allows them to communicate a little more than maybe they would have in this busy life we lead.

I do think that the technology can “take over” sometimes, and that’s not a good thing. It should not be the ONLY way we communicate.

Take Facebook for example: I love it because it does let me keep up on what is happening in the lives of people I care about. Many of my FB friends are extended family or old friends that I don’t normally see/hear from very often. At least with FB, we can still communicate. If I had to call every one of these people to let them know the “latest”, I would be on the phone for hours! I don’t have that kind of time.

FB allows me to see what “the kid” is up to as well. He won’t always tell me things, but at least I can kinda see what is going on in his life. However, it is WAY more important for me to find a way to communicate with him face to face.

How do you get a teenager to talk to you? You don’t try to talk to them when they are on the cell phone or in the morning when they emerge from their cave. You talk to them when they are lazing around at 11 o’clock at night! That is when they are ready to talk. They just hanging out, bored usually – just plunk down beside him and see what he says. That has always worked for me.

As for the hubby – I love texting! It’s nice to know he’s thinking of me in the middle of the day. A quick note saying hi! makes my day! There are other “notes” we send back and forth to each other too, that no one else needs to hear! This adds to the “excitement” and anticipation! What’s wrong with that!! 😉

The technology allows us to keep communicating even when we are far apart. He’ll be going away for the week and I will miss him terribly! But with texting and chat and video chat and FB, I can still “talk “to him when he is gone!

That is what is great about all this technology. It shouldn’t be the only way we communicate, and it isn’t.

We still go out on “dates” and hang out with friends and do fun stuff with our kids. That quality time is the most important. But, I do think that all this technology ADDS to our ability to communicate with each other. It enhances our communication in my opinion.

What’s your opinion? Does the technology we use to communicate hurt or help our communication with each other?

Internet Addict

One of my friends is without Internet at her house and doesn’t know when she’s going to have it.

I simply could NOT imagine it! WOW! I had heart palpitations just thinking about being offline for more than a few hours! I may not go on the computer for the entire day on the weekend, but I know that it’s there…safe and sound and secure. My grownup security blanket!

I think I must have an addiction to this thing!

Those of you that know me, know that I’m on Facebook a couple times a day, and many, many times at night. I flit from various online tool to another, back and forth.

I (or the hubby, being the smart hubby he is) turn on the computer before the coffee gets brewed!! I can Tweet from my cell phone. I can send a blog entry from my PDA. (Yes, I have both, don’t ask….)

Do I need an intervention? 🙂

The Rabbit Hole

An hour and a half ago, I sat down to do some of my professional development reading that I am determined to do every Monday morning. They want us to be “tech experts”, well, we need time to keep up on the latest. That’s my plan.

Once again, the reason why I don’t plan – I can never follow a plan! I constantly end up in “a rabbit hole” a.k.a.: “a portal to a strange and different world” – that’s me!

This was the rabbit hole that I fell into for an hour and a half:

I use Google Reader (love it) to keep all my RSS feeds in one place on the web and to quickly browse through and see things I want to read further. A great way to keep my professional development reading in one place.

I came across an article from lifehacker that tweeked my interest: Export all your Google Docs to a Zip File

This was interesting because I’ve been “worrying” about putting my all important documents up there on the web, and assuming that someone else would be backing it up. This calmed those fears. Plus, this also allows for users to very easily export documents in whatever format they want to use. Thus, allowing you to share documents with even more people!

This then lead to a quick email to my boss and a fellow Google Doc’s colleague, quoting the article and exclaiming that this was another reason to move to Google docs!

I also thought that this was interesting enough to post to colleagues on Twitter. So, I “tweeted” the article. This then automatically updated all my Facebook friends too!

I use Twitter to follow several people that I met at the Campus Technology Conference in Boston. This is because often they post articles about online learning. I want to keep up on what they have to say about it.

When I went in to “tweet” my Google docs finding, I took a quick look through these posts too!

One mentioned an article about the history of social networking. I read it and then had to re-tweet it!

While this went on, there was an email from another colleague suddenly coming in and saying that he wanted to go to Microsoft Live for similar reasons. Then came another email from the original colleague about the battle between Microsoft and Google.

This got me to thinking about all of my online services like Twitter and Google Reader and this blog and my role in supporting users in finding and using these. I then started searching for tools that allow a person to manage his or her online presence. How does one keep track of all this “stuff”? How does one figure out what the best tools are? How do I advise people on what to use?

Basically, what I’ve been doing is trying to use all the tools myself so that I can give educated advice!

Needless to say…….

A ton of websites and a couple in-person discussions with my trusted co-workers here brought me to one conclusion:

How in the heck did I get so distracted and meander my way down this rabbit hole only to find that there is no one-stop solution!!

Guess I’ll continue my crazy running around all over the ‘net, where everything seems to be multiplying like rabbits!

Safety….what safety?

Internet Safety. How do we keep our kids (and ourselves!) safe on the Internet?

I get asked this A LOT! This comes up constantly from friends, families and co-workers.

Basically, what I say to people about Internet “safety” is this:

No, the Internet is not safe (even with the kinds of things that your friends may tell you about various blocking tools and tracking – kids can figure out “workarounds”, believe me! It is VERY SCARY….and I know a lot about IT and use some of the tools that our kids and students are using.)

However, saying that, it is a wonderful tool when used properly and when used with recognition that there is a danger. The world is a scary place, it always has been!

Think of it like this:

Your child is walking down a street in New York city to see a once in a lifetime show at 1 a.m. It’s exactly the same. The internet opens your child (or YOU) up to the big wide world at all hours of the day!

Is it safe? Nope! Is it a tremendous opportunity? Yep! Do you want your child (or you!) to live in a bubble? No! Do you want them to “see” the world? Of course! Do you want them to learn? Definitely! To have new experiences? Absolutely!

You teach them to minimize the risk to take advantage of a great opportunity:

  1. You teach them to travel in a group (or Internet version: only be friends online with friends you know, not strangers! You wouldn’t let them talk to strangers on the street in New York! You would want to know who they’re talking to whether it’s online or on the street!) IMPORTANT: Realize that once it’s online – REGARDLESS of what kind of security settings you use – it’s out there.Anyone can get it if they really want to. Understand that. So, be smart about what you “say” or do on the internet with your friends! Teach that to your kids and remember that yourself!
  2. You teach them to pay attention to their surroundings on the street – bad guys on that side of the street, maybe we should go the other direction! At a party where you don’t know anyone? Maybe I should call home? (or Internet version: if it seems a little scary, stay away from it! Keep your eyes open! Pay attention!)
  3. You teach them that if something makes them uncomfortable then don’t do it! Tell someone about it – whether it’s online or at school or someone’s house, whatever. They have to know that THEY – no one else – are in control of their body, their life. No one has any power over them. Drill that one into their heads! That’s a really big one in my opinion. They have to know that they are in charge – have that self-confidence so that no one can take advantage of them. Online or on the streets of New York!
  4. You let them know that it’s OK to make a mistake, that they have somewhere to turn when (not IF) they make a mistake. They are going to screw up, whether it’s online or on the street. It’s going to happen. What’s important is that they learn to recognize it and say something about it and LEARN from it.

You have to make them (and yourself) “street-wise” – if someone really wants to take advantage of your children (or YOU) then they are going to do it regardless of the bars you put on your windows or the locks on your doors or the papers you shred or the software you install. No one is completely protected from bad stuff happening to them. It’s IMPOSSIBLE!

It’s a fact of life. If bad guys really want to get to you – they can, no matter what you do. The key is to make it harder for someone to do it to you or your children so that maybe they’ll move on to an easier target. Pay attention and always be aware. Don’t be afraid to try new things – you will miss out on great opportunities or even miss out on life. We can’t hide or live in a bubble! That’s not what life is about. It’s about taking chances, but being smart about it and praying that God will watch out for the rest. He won’t give you anything that you can’t handle, that I truly believe, but He helps those who help themselves.

It’s good to watch and read things about Internet safety (and lack thereof!) and talk to your children and students about the risks – they need to be aware of them (as do we) so that they know that there are bad things out there and they need to be smart. Regardless if it’s on the internet or on the street.

Hopefully, I’ve made sense here. I just worry about people thinking that they are “safe” from bad things happening if they put the bars on their windows and the software on their computers or even ban Facebook and “stuff”. These things do NOT mean that you can let your guard down! You still need to remain VIGILANT regardless of how much “protection” you put in place. Our precious little people are NEVER going to be totally “safe” – just “safer”.

And I certainly don’t think that we shouldn’t let our kids have DS’s or be on the Internet or travel to New York – that’s not the solution either and in fact will make them be sneaky so that you don’t know. You certainly don’t want them to be sneaky or be afraid to tell you about stuff. You want to be open and honest so that you know what’s going on in their lives.

Again, I KNOW for a FACT that I have made (still make!) plenty of mistakes as a parent. All I can do is do my best and offer what I can. We are all learning every day!

There’s my Internet safety advice for the day. This is my opinion only!

All things Google

🙂

I am truly becoming a google convert! Every time I turn around, there is some new tool or application or feature that I fall in love with on Google! No wonder they are gaining ground!

I created a gmail account before I went to Boston (it was a prerequisite for participating in one of the classes). Mark from Bentley University showed us the power of Google Docs in my very first session and I was completely hooked!

All of my notes from the conference are google docs. I immediately set up a wiki (called Sites in Google) to allow Olds College staff a place to share their thoughts and notes from the conference. A couple of the “keeners” 😉 joined me in collaborating a little.

Then I got home and found out that I can sync my work calendar with my Google calendar! I have been desperately trying to find a way to get all my calendars in one place: home, work, appointments, etc. Finally! it worked! Now that Bruce has a google calendar too, he shared it with me and vice versa so that no matter where we are, both of us know what is going on with the family and each other!

I started messing around with Google Reader! Another great tool to keep my RSS feeds flowing through! And it allows me to easily scan through and quickly find those articles that I’m interested in.

Next, I found an article (that I haven’t had a chance to read yet!) on putting cool photo albums and shows up onto Picasa so that I can share photos etc with my family! What an awesome way to share our holiday pictures without having to put them on Facebook for my FB friends and on my personal blog site for the extended non-FB family. One place! and I can have my little story lines etc. The video was extremely convincing!

I love having an IGoogle home page that is customizable to show “My Stuff” that I want to see every day.  I even have a little Bejeweled game on there for a distraction, there is a gadget that has rotating pictures of places I like to visit plus another with inspirational quotes. It’s a really great way to start the day!

The amazing (to me, anyway) thing that I found tonight on a tweet that I stumbled on for #gonegoogle: being able to add “interesting calendars” to my calendar.

http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-in-calendar-sports-schedules-and.html

I now have the phases of the moon on this online calendar….I have the Boston Red Sox schedule, including scores after the game…and most importantly (and something I’ve been dying to have) is that I can have Google AUTOMATICALLY add my Contacts birthdays to my Calendar! As I update my Contact information, their birthdays automatically show up! No more transferring birthdays from one year’s calendar to the next (IF I remember to do that!). No more forgetting, because it will be on my ONE calendar that just has EVERYTHING on it!

I get very excited when I find things that make my life easier! Google seems to have so many great tools and features! Anything that makes my life easier, I will recommend to others! Check it out!