It’s World Emoji Day

Yes, it really is.

World Emoji Day.

Why today? Because the wee little calendar emoji has a date on it …. and that date happens to be July 17.

So, when “World Emoji Day” was born, they just used the day on the calendar emoji. Ha!

Oh, yes … there are lots of other emoji details to ponder. For example …. any idea what is the most commonly used emoji? The answer to that question is “tears of joy”.

You can find more emoji fun facts here.

Why is it called “Bluetooth”?

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-8-54-30-pmBluetooth technology gives us a wireless connection within a short distance. Small speakers and many headsets, for example, often use Bluetooth to connect with our iPhones and iPads. But, think about it. This wireless technology isn’t blue. And it certainly doesn’t resemble a tooth ….. so …… ?????

The answer is that Bluetooth technology is named after a Scandinavian King.

Of course.

Wait.

….. What????

Back in the 1990’s, the technology world was looking for a way to unite various devices with a wireless system. This meant uniting devices made by different companies.

(Note the key word: UNITE)

One of the inventors of this wireless technology just happened at the time to be reading a book about Vikings. He learned that the 10th century King of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth, was famous for uniting Scandinavia.

Ahhh…… there we go. They were inventing a uniting technology. King Bluetooth was a famous uniter.

And so they cleverly called this new wireless connector “Bluetooth”.

One more thing: The Bluetooth symbol? It’s King Harald’s initials, in ancient Scandinavian Runes.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-8-55-32-pm

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.23.26 PM

The Newest Craze …. Pokemon Go

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.03.13 PM I’ve been debating whether or not I should address this phenomenon in this blog. I decided not to mention it. Just a silly game (I thought).

And then, this morning I went to our local library. There is a big concrete area in front of our library, an area used for festivals, holiday decorations and concerts. As I walked through it, I was astounded to see many (MANY!!!) folks wandering around the area with their phones in front of their faces. What a sight. And so, for all of you (us) of-a-certain-age folks who don’t know what’s going on with all these zoned-out phone-holders, I thought I’d best sum it up here on this blog.

If you have anyone in your life under the age of 35, just go ahead and ask them. Chances are they are playing, and if not they will certainly know all about it.
It’s Pokemon Go, and it’s e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

What’s it all about? Well, it’s a game that you do out in the world (rather than on the couch). It’s kind of a combination GPS geo-caching thing / scavenger hunt / video game, all rolled into one.

If you’ve ever participated in geo-caching (THAT I’ve done!), you’ll find it is fun and strangely addicting. You learn of a ‘prize’ hidden at a coordinate, and you locate that spot with your phone’s gps. Geo-caching is like a treasure hunt, with a gps treasure-map.

Pokemon Go yanks this up a notch or two. Just as in geo-caching, you go out hunting for particular spots, but this time the prizes are virtual little Pokemon characters. They aren’t “really” there, of course, but if you get yourself to the appropriate coordinate, and look THROUGH the app on your phone, you’ll see the critter. And then you ‘catch’ him with a ball.

This screenshot shows you what a player sees. YOU …. the you without the app….you just see a tree. The player, looking THROUGH the app on their phone, sees this little orange fellow.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.31.38 PM

Got it? There’s not much more. Except you want to catch as many as you can. The more you catch, the more you rise through the levels. After that it gets more complicated than I care to learn. (Something about fighting if you’re high enough in the game.)

So now you know. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see them. Pokemon Go players are everywhere. In parks, downtown, most public areas. You’ll recognize them as they intently walk with their phones right in front of their faces. Sometimes they’re in a group. Surrounding….. nothing (to you). But they see a critter. Crazy, huh?

Although I can’t address this first hand, it seems all consuming. There have been reports of people being injured as they are completely distracted staring at their phones. Even while driving. Yes. You read that right. Even while driving.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.45.37 PM

If you want to know more about this game just google “Pokemon Go”. You’ll learn everything you want to know.

And if you want to try it yourself, you can download it from the iTunes store. It’s free.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.23.26 PM

A Cyborg isn’t just a Star Trek thing, anymore!

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.47.37 AMWhen I hear the word “cyborg” ….. I tend to think of Star Trek and that group of nasties, The Borg, that kidnapped and assimilated the Captain. Those were scary episodes!

But to my surprise, the future is now, and the whole cyborg thing is actually not scary at all, but a marvelous, wondrous leap into new frontiers right here on earth.

A cyborg, defined by Dictionary.com, is a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.

And they do exist. Take a look at this video. At first I thought (unkindly) that this was a wacky fellow, but after watching the whole video …. well, technology is allowing him to experience the world with senses that he lacks. Amazing!

I don’t know that I would want to go to this extreme, but I don’t walk in his shoes, so I don’t really know.

And this kind of technology is being tapped for all kinds of things. I came across this article about Cyborg Locusts. Scientists might be able to use them to sniff out bombs. What a world we live in!

Cyborg locusts with tattooed wings can sniff out bombs

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.23.26 PM

Creating Art with a Bicycle Ride and a GPS

We are all familiar with the squiggles created as you map your walk/ride with a GPS app.

Stephen Lund looks at those squiggles differently. He carefully plots his ride, and creates images. HUGE images. He uses the entire city as his canvas.

Take a look at a few that I randomly pulled off the internet.

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 6.58.50 PM

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 6.59.39 PM

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 7.30.29 PM

Such a clever idea … and he challenges others to do the same.

To learn more, and see more amazing creations, explore these links:

Artist Draws World’s Largest Doodles By Riding His Bike With GPS

A Creative Spin: Pedaling My Art | Stephen Lund | TEDxVictoria

or click here to visit Stephen Lund’s blog.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.23.26 PM

Safe Zones for your Internet Transactions

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.32.18 PMSelling things on the internet can be rewarding and fun. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it can also be dangerous. There are many terrible stories of horrible things happening during Craigslist transactions, for example.

I’ve used Craigslist myself probably about a dozen times, and I’ll admit I was a wee bit uncomfortable about completing the deals. I sold an old set of outdoor furniture, a large couch and even a hot tub through online ads. All of these sales were big items and the exchange took place at my home (not advisable, but I couldn’t move any of it to a different location). Happily the people who came by were all delightful, friendly folks and everything went smoothly.

Selling on the internet is a wonderful way to clear out your closets and downsize your life. The BIG worry is where to meet these strangers to complete the transaction? There are many articles and lists on the internet describing all the things you can do to keep yourself safe. Suggestions include meeting in a public place, sharing the location with friends, etc. etc. ….

But here is some GREAT news:

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.41.13 PM Recently many local police stations are now setting up SAFE ZONE transaction areas to deal with this problem. These spots are usually close to a police station (possibly in the parking lot), and sometimes the spots are actually IN the police station, in an area set aside for this very purpose. Recently, my local newspaper alerted our community of a new ‘safe spot’ for Craigslist, etc, transactions right next to a police station. This spot is well marked, well lit and under video surveillance.

And so …… if you plan to sell through the internet, and complete your transaction in person, please call your local police station and ask if they provide this service. More and more communities are getting on board and setting up these safe areas. It’s such a wonderful idea!!! I think it might finally be time to get rid of all those old 60’s LPs cluttering my basement …… 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.23.26 PM

Future Tech to make Smaller Screens Practical: SkinTrack

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 7.57.20 AM
I’ve never been good at “seeing” the future.

80’s me: (to my son, sitting at his Commodore 64) “What are you doing?”

Son: “Leaving a message on a computer bulletin board. If another computer dials in, they can read the message … and then leave one for me!!”

80’s me: “What’s the use of that?”

Duh.

Yes, that was me, dissing the whole possibility of the internet. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t see it.

So, it is with open eyes from that lesson learned that I look at this new fangled invention: SkinTrack.

SkinTrack is a way of using your skin as a touch screen.

So, if “future you” has an Apple watch on your wrist, and the screen is just too darned small to tap on things, with SkinTrack you’ll just use your skin as the touch screen.

Small screens can be difficult to tap on, yet small devices are popular. Obviously the inventors of SkinTrack see this as a way of solving the small screen problem.

It boils down to this: The user wears a ring. The ring communicates with the device as you move your finger around on your arm. It even works if your arm is covered with clothing.

So will this become a real thing? A common thing? Don’t ask me. I didn’t see the whole internet brouhaha as any more than a curiosity.

(if you’d like to learn more, here’s a link with a detailed video: SkinTrack Turns Your Arm Into a Touch Screen )

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.23.26 PM

YouTube w/o Ads …. for a Fee. Meet YouTube Red

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 7.47.42 AMOn October 28, Google will be launching YouTube Red for your iPhone and iPad. YouTube Red will cost you $12.99 a month. ($9.99 for Android devices)

So what is YouTube Red? Here is what you’ll get:

* Ad Free YouTube videos. (Those ads are pesky …. but is it worth $12.99 to eliminate them? Not for me.)

* The ability to download videos and watch offline. (Now, THAT is quite excellent. But still… $12.99?)

* The ability to have YouTube videos run in the background while you use other apps.

* Included is free access to Google Play Music.

Learn all the details, here, on the YouTube Red Faq page.

Apparently, Google is also planning some of their own programming for release on YouTube (following the winning examples of Netflix and Amazon).

It will be interesting to see if this takes off. It sounds expensive to me (compare Amazon Prime at $99 a year to this Google service which will cost you $158.99 a year).

Personally, I have Prime, and love it. YouTube Red does not tempt me even a tiny bit.

But I’ve been very wrong before:
(conversation with son in the late 80’s:
“look Mom, I can leave a message on the internet and someone will answer it.”
Me: “why on earth would anyone want to do THAT?”
) 😯

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 10.17.31 AM

Here We Go Again! New Operating System Coming Soon. iOS9

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 7.14.47 PMFor the techy people of the world, a new operating system is probably a good thing. For me (and, I’m guessing, many of you…) a new operating system means that I get a little shaky in the knees as I worry about updating my devices and anticipate the glitches-that-will-most-likely-happen. 😯

Yes, once again we are about to get an update for our iPhones and iPads. iOS9. September 16.

If you’re a long time follower of this blog, you know that I’ve always suggested waiting a while before updating. If there are bugs and glitches, I’d rather have someone else suffer through them as they are worked out. Hopefully the nasty bugs on release day should be few since iOS9 has been public-tested for a while. But I’m very conservative when it comes to “new” stuff, and so I’ll be taking my time as usual.

It always seems that just as I get used to the system I have …. they change it. So what’s new this time? I did some googling to find out what would be “new and improved” in version 9. Here is what I learned:

1. Battery Life. We all tweak our devices to help save battery power. Apparently iOS9 will help us do that. Today, when you set your phone face-down, and you get notifications, your phone lights up, using battery power. In iOS9, your iPhone will KNOW that it is face-down, and it won’t bother lighting up, conserving battery power. There are several other battery-saving additions as well, such as a low-power mode. Apple says that by using the low-power mode you will be able to boost your battery life by as much as 3 hours.

2. Siri improvements. I’ll admit I don’t use Siri very often. Mostly I use her in the car, when I want to call someone hands free (very convenient!), or when I ask her to read text messages to me (also in the car). Apparently Apple wants to make Siri smarter, and has strived to do that with this update. With iOS9, you should be able to ask Siri to show you all the photos you took at your nephew’s birthday party or on your last trip to Chicago. In other words, the search options are expected to be greatly improved.

3. In iOS9, Apple has gotten rid of Newsstand. (I never ever used this, did you?) They have replaced this with a news app that you can personalize to your interests. The app will also make recommendations for you, based on your preferences.

4. Multi-tasking on the iPad will make a debut. iOS9 will give users of the newer iPads the ability to use two apps at once or watch a video while using an app. This is an iPad only improvement. iPhone = nope.

5. Notes app. This app has been improved with some new tools.

6. Keyboard letters. With iOS9, when you are using lower case letters, the keyboard will show you lower case letters. Once you hit the shift key (to use caps), the keyboard will then show capital letters. (Now the keyboard always shows caps, regardless of whether you are using the shift key or not). Although this not-changing thing has never bothered me, it seems so obvious and simple, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done long before now.

And so, although it looks as though the new iOS9 won’t be too dramatic, it will bring with it some sensible changes.

I’ll wait a little while as I usually do before I install this new operating system, but once I do I’ll be sure to go through each and every change, here on this blog, one at a time. S-l-o-w-l-y. 🙂

Test Driving Apple’s iOS9

iOS 9 will be available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch September 16th

iOS 9 will be released on September 16th

iOS 9: The new and notable features in the open beta (hands-on)

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 10.17.31 AM