Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

How much of an “iGen” are you?

September 21, 2017

There’s a whole new generation out there, folks.

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In yesterday’s post, we highlighted iGen – a recent book by Jean Twenge – a psychology prof specializing in “generational research”.

Millennials  are yesterday’s news.

The new generation is iGen – born after the introduction of the Internet … and now living connected to their iPhones.

Prof. Twenge observes that the cultural and personal impacts of the “i” technology revolution are a mixed bag – some good and some bad.

More on that in later posts.

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Amazon link

Today, let’s take a short quiz to determine, putting age aside, how connected you are with the iGen ….

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Finally, I can answer my cell without carrying it around the house.

July 17, 2017

Link-2-cell may be America’s best kept secret.

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For years, I’ve wondered why somebody hadn’t invented a way for my charging cell phone to ring in distant points of my home.

I was willing to sprint to the phone to answer it … but I didn’t want to carry it around … and I couldn’t hear the ring tone when I was in rooms across the house.

When I whined to a tech-savvy friend, he told me that I wasn’t thinking boldly enough  … that a technology called Link-2-Cell was already in the market … and it did more than just ring across the house.

 

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Here’s the scoop …

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I finally chucked my landline.

Make that: I kinda chucked my landline … porting from a classic Verizon copper line to an Xfinity VOIP connection.

I know: that’s no big deal … and it’s still old school to maintain any kind of landline.

Stay tuned … here’s where the story gets interesting.

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I also bought a Panasonic Link-2-cell phone system (base station plus 5 handsets on sale at Costco for $85).

It looks like a standard Panasonic cordless phone set-up.

Of course, I can plug my Xfinity VOIP line into the base station … and it works just like an old fashioned landline system

But, it’s much more than that..

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Here’s the cool part:

I can link my cell phone (and my wife’s) to the base station via Bluetooth … just like they connect to our cars’ hands-free systems.

As long as the cells are within Bluetooth range of the base station, any incoming cell phone calls get routed to all 5 of the handsets.

Our ring tones play through the remote handsets (so we know which phone is getting the call)

… and we can simply pick up any of the handsets to answer the call.

When we’re at home, we can just charge our cells in their usual place … and our house phone system magically transforms to a cell-based distributed phone system.

That is quite cool.

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P.S.  A landline isn’t required … the system can be used as just a cell call router.

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Why are tech companies hyperventilating over Trump’s travel ban?

February 9, 2017

Are they drawing that much intellectual capital and talent from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen?

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According to ABC News: “Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are taking a strong stand against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying high tech needs immigrants’ creativity and energy to stay competitive.”

“About 58 percent of the engineers and other high-skill employees in Silicon Valley were born outside the U.S.”

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OK, I get that tech companies need foreign talent …

But, silly me, I thought they were coming from places like India, China, Russia, Korea.

Nope.

We’re talking about some of the science centers of the world: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen.

Really?

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All of which begs another question.

Are the schools and technical training that much better in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen than they are in the U.S.?

If that’s the case, why aren’t the tech companies ‘all in’ to fixing the American education system.

Strikes me that would be a better use of tech company time & money than rallying to keep a constant flow coming from 7 Obama-identified terrorist hotspots.

This one really baffles me.

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Which is better: taking notes by hand or on a laptop?

April 25, 2016

The idea of taking class notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today.

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But, according to NPR , it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way …

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OECD : Over-use of computers is detrimental to education.

September 23, 2015

The Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) recently issued a report on the impact of technology – think, of computers in the classroom -– on fundamental learning.

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The bottom line:

“Students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse [in reading, science and math], even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

More specifically …

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Time-saving tech tips …

April 17, 2015

Cool TED pitch by a dude named David Pogue … demonstrating 10 handy tech tips.

For example, how to skip by cell phone voicemail greetings (Hi.  This Ken.  I’m not able … blah, blah) and get straight to leaving a message.

For Verizon, just press the star sign (*) … for AT&T, press the # sign.

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What to do when a web page’s text is too small to read?

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Time-saving tech tips …

January 14, 2014

Cool TED pitch by a dude named David Pogue … demonstrating 10 handy tech tips.

For example, how to skip by cell phone voicemail greetings (Hi.  This Ken.  I’m not able … blah, blah) and get straight to leaving a message.

For Verizon, just press the star sign (*) … for AT&T, press the # sign.

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What to do when a web page’s text is too small to read?

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Online: Covering your online tracks …

December 20, 2012

It’s no secret that there are no secrets on the internet.

Google an item and related ads start appearing on seemingly all websites you visit.

Post something on Facebook, and suddenly ads become a lot more personal.

Pick up the phone during election season and the caller mysteriously knows your’ political hot buttons.

As we posted before, if you think that you’re being followed around on the net … you’re right.

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So how do you avoid having your browsing linked to your real identity online?

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In praise of classrooms and “live” professors …

September 4, 2012

Interesting op-ed by a Williams College prof in the WSJ last week touted the perils of online education and benefits of faculty-student interaction …

Most of us in higher education take the long view about the value of what we do.

Sure, students graduate with plenty of facts in their heads. But the transmission of information is merely the starting point, a critical tool through which we engage the higher faculties of the mind.

What really matters is the set of deeper abilities — to write effectively, argue persuasively, solve problems creatively, adapt and learn independently — that students develop while in college and use for the rest of their lives.

Which educational inputs best predict progress in these deeper aspects of student learning?

By far, the factor that correlates most highly with gains in these skills is the amount of personal contact a student has with professors.

Not virtual contact, but interaction with real, live human beings, whether in the classroom, or in faculty offices, or in the dining halls.

Nothing else — not the details of the curriculum, not the choice of major, not the student’s GPA — predicts self-reported gains in these critical capacities nearly as well as how much time a student spent with professors.

These rich, human interactions can’t be replaced by any magical application of technology.

Technology has and will continue to improve how we teach.

But what it cannot do is remove human beings from the equation.

Now, there are new purveyors of massive, open online courses.

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One even proposes to crowd-source the grading of essays, as if averaging letter grades assigned by five random peers were the educational equivalent of a highly trained professor providing thoughtful evaluation and detailed response.

To pretend that this is so is to deny the most significant purposes of education, and to forfeit its true value.

Yet the only way to achieve higher productivity, as the National Academy would define it, is to reduce each student’s time with the faculty.  [To have faculty teach more students and more classes, and to put more material online.]

We know that while such approaches may allow us to deliver some facts to some students more efficiently in the short run, the approaches will undermine the fundamental purpose of education in the long run.

Ken’s Take: Technology doesn’t replace classroom interaction, it liberates and enhances it.

How?

One way is to change the nature of the classroom from “seat time” to “quality time”.

My rule: If I catch myself talking for, say, 10 minutes without a student comment or question, I try to outboard the material to an online tutorial.

That way, I’m able to free up class time for more rigorous interaction that can deepen learning … rather than just running out the clock.

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Sidenote: I bet some of the profs who demean online crowd sourced grading use the off-line equivalent: having classmates rate peers’ class participation or having group members rated by their teammates.   Hmmm. What’s the difference?

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How productivity creates jobs … and how gov’t stifles productivity.

July 17, 2012

Nice piece in today’s WSJ … here are snippets:

Punch line: Productivity — the ultimate engine of growth and better living standards — always  swims upstream against those that fight it. Unions, regulations and a bizarre tax code  lock in the status quo.

But, doesn’t productivity — getting more output with less inputs — destroy jobs?

Sure, but it creates way more than it destroys by creating technological avenues and lowering the cost of business

So how does productivity result in more employment?

Some new technology comes along that allows something never before possible. Cash from an ATM, stock trading from an airplane’s aisle seat, ads next to Google search results.

Cheaper technology becomes a platform for others to create or expand businesses that never before made economic sense. Think, eBay and Amazon.

Productivity  attracts capital to satisfy new consumer demands. In a competitive economy, productivity—doing more with less—always lowers the cost of products or services:

And, private investment does a better job of allocating capital than any elite economist or politician picking pork-barrel projects and relabeling them as “investments.”

Entire WSJ article is worth reading

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The state of the web … or, tech hype?

June 26, 2012

According to Mary Meeker — one of the cheerleaders pumping the internet bubble — the web is changing big time.

Her recent pitch is worth browsing …

Some slides that caught my eye:

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Again, Meeker’s entire pitch is worth browsing …

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