Lifescoop Blog: Kid Desk 2.0 Upgrade – Enter to win $250

The ever so clever Clever Girls Collective invited me (@TechMama) to participate in a back to school challenge on the My Life Scoop blog (powered by Intel). It was great timing because I was in the middle of a challenge of my own: how do I redesign my 11 year old's kid desk to get ready for middle school and to have enough room to hold his technology AND projects?

Take a look at my post on My Life Scoop blog titled "Contest: Kid Desk 2.0 Upgrade – Be In It To Win It": the winning comment/solution will be awarded $250.00 gift card.

I am in need of a kid desk upgrade 2.0 – please share your ideas and enter the contest!

Disclosure: I am being compensated to write the post on My Life Scoop – but am in desperate need of a desk for my tween so I can't wait to read the comments!

 

Join Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

As a child growing up in an East Coast city we were tight on money and did what many families did to save money by trying to cut food costs. I also did not have a regular way to exercise. When I came out California I started riding my bike to school and got wrapped up in the wave of “healthy” eating that was part of the California culture. As a result, I lost weight and put myself on a healthier track in life. Although now as a busy working mom I find it hard to find time to exercise enough, I always try to keep healthy eating and exercise in the forefront of my families life.

Jamie Oliver is a chef from England that saw the way kids were eating (badly) and wanted to do something about it – by passing the word about healthy eating. He did that by showing how easy it is to cook healthy meals that kids actually like to eat. Now he is taking his revolution to the United States with his show on ABC titled “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”. He also has a website with recipes and information. I decided to try one of his recipes (Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry) after watching the show and my boys LOVED it!

Here is the link to the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution show website.

He is trying to pass on his the word about Healthy eating by creating a petition (CLICK HERE TO SIGN).

I threw this post together as I get my twin boys dressed for their first coach pitched Little League game. Understanding that other then unconditional love, kids need exercise and healthy eating to set them on the right track in life! A few initiatives that have caught my attention recently in regards to exercise (other then the fabulous local sport leagues)  has been the Tony Hawk Foundation to build more skate parks and KaBoom to build more playgrounds. I am always looking for more organizations promoting healthy eating and exercise for kids – so I will add more as I find them!!

 

Are Kids Search Engine Savvy? – 2009 Edition

This morning I read an article in the New York Times titled: Helping Children Find What They Need on the Internet written by Stefanie Olsen. The article discusses that online searches are still challenging for kids even though there are many choices available such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and many others. Some of the challenges identified were the children finding the right keywords to use for the search.

User content sites like Wikipedia are also helpful but parents should get involved to make sure results are valid. Yahoo also has a website for kids called Yahoo Kids. Answers.com allows the user to input a question such as “What are the names of the US Presidents” then an answer is returned. Common Sense Media has a section with website reviews by age.

This made me think back to my post from 2008 titled “Are Kids Search Engine Savvy?” where I included links to some kid friendly sites. In that post I had found a site called “Kid Safe Search sites” that had a site made by Librarians called “Kids Click“.

To solve this challenge, maybe the search engine sites should hire Librarians, parents and kids to show their needs and have that reflected in the programming for the search engines. True to the points made in the New York Times article about children searching on the Internet, my 5th grader starts with image and video searchs and even has “voice” activation working on his MACbook – so the future needs of search should include a multi-platform approach. Bing’s Visual search, Google’s multiple search options and Yahoo’s advance video searches are good examples.

I will start to look at other new kid friendly sites as well to update my 2008 post. More to come..

 

Parents Texting and Tweeting – The Commercial

I was sitting on the sofa, using a lapdesk and my notebook to blog, Facebook and Twitter after the kids went to sleep tonight. When what happens, I turned on the TV (so I could add another type of media to my night) and this commercial came on. It was a Verizon commercial where the KIDS are lecturing their texting and tweeting parents about their lack of online social networking etiquette. The commercial represents the new modern world: it is well known parents are as addicted to online social networking as their kids.

Geek Sugar also found the commercial amusing..

Mobivity posted 2/09 on a related note "Text Messaging is not just for kids anymore". That post included the following excerpt from Ars Technica:

AT&T conducted 1,048 online interviews with parents  to get a feel
for their usage patterns. They found that 76 percent of parents feel
that their children are more likely to keep them abreast of their
activities through text messaging than other methods. 73 percent said
that their kids were more likely to respond to a text message than
other methods of communication, and a full half of parents feel that
text messaging with their kids makes them “cool.”

So now I can add feeling "cool" to my activities tonight.


 

WINNER – Back To School Giveaway: Dell Inspiron 1545 Laptop & Accessories

WINNER of Dell Inspiron & Accessories: Random.org helped us randomly pick commenter: Amanda Hellen

We contacted Amanda and here is what she said:

"I cannot wait to use this!!  This Dell
is going to help with school and work!  I am enrolled in school and can
work from home and work with a database for my job so this is perfect!!
I want to pinch myself.  My current laptop is so slow.  Yay!"

***********************************************************************************************************

When PR for Walmart contacted me with some information about their back to school technology offerings – I asked if they had anything to giveaway to Techmamas.com readers. They said yes, so here is all the info. Note – this is not a paid post, but it is something TechMama likes doing: giving away products to her readers! Here is the information from the press release and details about a giveaway:

PRESS RELEASE INFO:"Student needs are rapidly changing and Mom has a greater focus on affordability than ever before.  That is why Walmart is making a commitment to provide students and parents with a wide variety of laptops at unprecedented savings. Walmart worked closely with brands like HP, Dell, Acer and Toshiba to find the best laptops for students and offer them the best prices.   Starting at 8am on Sunday, July 26th Walmart started offering first-ever $298 Compaq Presario Notebook with 3 GB Memory and an Acer Notebook with an 8-hour battery- perfect for back to school.  In August, Walmart will offer an HP Netbook and Toshiba Notebook with a 17-inch screen, among others.”

Last month Walmart introduced a new colorful assortment of  the Dell Inspiron 1545 Laptop at $498 in black, blue, pink, red, purple and aqua to match Walmart’s Back to College color pallets of furnishings and accessories for dorm room décor. "

Pink_dell_inspiron_1545

GIVEAWAY: One TechMamas reader will be randomly choosen to win ONE Pink Dell Inspiron 1545 PLUS the accessories listed below in pink (except for the Western Digital Hardrive which is red).

Also available in a variety of colors, the computer accessories for this giveaway include:

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Giveaway: HP DV2 Notebook Campaign meets NBA Sweepstakes

NBA_Barnstar **Comments are closed because contest is over – When contest winners are announced – I will announce the gift certificate and contest winners.

**Update 6/14/09- NBA is still working on details.. winners will be announced soon..

As a mom I appreciate opportunities to engage my kids in playing sports and to see professional sports games with my kids as a bonding experience.  So when Techmamas was contacted to participate in the HP/Microsoft/NBA contest – I knew exactly what I wanted to do (read on to find out..). 

CONTEST #1

The HP/Microsoft website has an amazing sweepstakes going on until May 31  related to a HP DV2 Notebook campaign. Nm325ua_300

Here are the prizes for that contest:

  • Grand Prize: See Kevin Garnett and the Celtics play a home game in Boston,
    and an away game in a West Coast city! Includes VIP tickets, airfare,
    hotel and great HP gear. Grand Prize winner will be announced during NBA Draft 2009.
  • Five other
    lucky winners will receive a Kevin Garnett autographed basketball.

CLICK ONTO THIS LINK to enter the enter the sweepstakes. But after you do, there is a second opportunity that is being offered as EXCLUSIVE incentive.

EVEN MORE EXCITEMENT – CONTEST #2

TechMamas.com readers have been selected, along with the readers from approximately two dozen other sites for an exclusive incentive for entering the sweepstakes. The contestants are "pooled" between all the blogs to find a winner.

Second exclusive contest details:

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Free Online Safety Service From Norton Makes It Easier To Keep Kids Safe Online

**Guest post by Marian MerrittSymantec's Internet Safety Advocate

I have three kids who love the Internet in all its forms. The oldest is just 15 and the youngest is 7. Like a bunch of bumper cars, their online activities occasionally dent the family rules for being safe online. Sometimes they forget what we’ve discussed or they are into things I never dreamed would capture their interest. It feels like I’m always a step behind knowing what they are going to download or visit and then protecting them from the mistakes they might make.

The youngest one doesn’t understand why I’m concerned about her using search engines when she was taught how to use Google and Yahoo at school. (How do I know the “safe search” settings haven’t been tweaked?) The middle child, 13 years old, wants to game online and has no problem downloading cheat codes or visiting sites with gaming tips. He rolls his eyes when I lecture about visiting these “who knows who runs them” sites and downloading files. And of course, my oldest is into all the normal teen stuff: social networks, chatting, Skyping with her friends,and YouTube. So I admit it, I need some help here.

Norton has just launched a great and easy to use service that should make my life a lot easier. It’s called OnlineFamily.Norton and is a simple way to give me the insight I need into my children’s online activities but without the usual associated headaches of traditional web filtering or parental control software. And, during the introductory period (through next January 1st) the service (a $60 value) is entirely free!!

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AT&T Matrix Pro by PanTech: The “Tween” Test and GIVEAWAY!

Pantech **Winner is AuntieThesis!!

CONTEST is CLOSED. Due to the large number of those that entered, the winner will be announced on Thursday April 30 by 11pm. 

I had the opportunity to take the The Matrix Pro smartphone by Pantech for a test run as part of a promotion that culminates with a giveaway. The Matrix Pro website is: Pantechmatrixpro.com, the key features are listed on that site.  A review of the Pantech Matrix Pro can be found at ChipChick, as well as some of the other websites doing this promotion (see below). I decided to find out more about the AT&T Pantech Matrix Pro in a different way – by giving it to my 10 year old tween for test drive. I have a smartphone already, so I thought it was a great opportunity for my son to test one out. Details of my tween test drive are listed below the contest info.

This contest is open from April 23 until April 28 at 5pm pst. On April 28 at 5pm, I will close the contest. All those that commented to this post will be entered to Random.org to find a winner (ONE person will be chosen randomly). The Winner will be announced on April 28 after 9pm pst. ENTER THIS CONTEST BY COMMENTING on the post below.

AN EXTRA ENTRY IN RANDOM.ORG WILL BE ENTERED FOR THOSE THAT TWITTER @matrixpro AND @Techmama in one tweet sharing why you want this phone. Please add your Twitter ID to your comment so I know that you also tweeted for the second entry into Random.org. Only ONE EXTRA entry for twitter will be counted so that each person can have a two entry limit into Random.org.

Prize package elements

  • Pantech Matrix Pro handset 
  • Service credit (via gift card):  In the amount of US $100.  The gift card good is good for anything sold through any AT&T store (online or real-world), or can be used for the cost of a service plan. 

Rules:

  • Individuals who’ve won at another site are ineligible to win at another
  • Winners are limited by geography to US residents only
  • TechMamas.com is not responsible for any lost packages or incorrect shipping addresses. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Approximate value of prizes may vary.
  • The random winner will be choosen by Techmamas.com, all decisions are final.

MY TEST DRIVE:
Disclosure: I did not
get compensation for this promotion, a phone was supplied to me in
advance of the promotion for review purposes. The information shared
about on this post is just a customer opinion.

Just as background, my son has been earning points like crazy to buy a cellphone because he said "Mom… Everyone has cellphones… Then you can reach me at any time..I need to be able to text with my friends". Yes – that is coming from a fourth grader.

Understanding
that just having a cell phone was a big thrill for him, I focused on
which functionality he used on the AT&T Pantech Matrix Pro. Here
are some details (in his words, dictated to his mom):

***************************************************************

1.
TWO WAY SLIDER: The phone can slide in two different ways. The keyboard
is easy to use for texting and the numeric pad is quick for dialing
phone numbers. I use the trackwheel to scroll, move around or play
games.

2. KEYPAD: The keypad is good for texting. I set my friends up in the contact section then it is easy to text them.

3.
VOICE COMMANDS: To use the voice commands, you just hold the "rec"
button – and a list of commands is given. I tested the voice commands
by saying "play music" – and it played a song.

(We tested
this by my son using a voice command to call me. I am in his contacts
as "Beth" so he said "Call Beth". The first time he did not speak
clearly but the second time he did – and it called my cellphone!)

4.INTERNET
ACCESS: By going to the start menu – then "MediaNet" I can access a
browser to access the Internet. You can type on the numeric or keypad
to type the URL, but I use the keypad. The first MediaNet screen has a
Yahoo Search Bar and I just enter the name of the website and it
returns options to me. An example is – when I type "YouTube" and it
returns the URL for YouTube – which I then select.  I just watched the
Numa Numa video today by typing in "Numa Numa" into the YouTube page
(and "watch video"). It loads, I use the trackwheel for volume and
controls. The video loads quickly and plays. Depending on where I am,
it sometimes stops playing for a quick second (I told him that was called buffering  – a challenge on many mobile gadgets when watching videos).

I used the phone to read your website Techmamas.com.

5.
GAMING – There are some games preloaded on the phone, and some you have
to buy. I enjoy playing Bubble breaker that comes standard with the
phone. I could buy PACman, Tetris or others.

(I have not even told him about the mobile Guitar Hero application that comes with the phone, that sounds fun!).

*************************************************

My
son set up the phone from the moment he opened the box, to accessing
the internet, to texting or making calls. The phone was easy to use.
The keys were a good size for him to use for typing. He was satisfied
with the sound and video quality – even playing music videos for his
brothers in the car to keep them busy.

Gear Diary is one of the sites that also had the promotion and did a nice job summarizing a list of sites and promotion dates as well as their details on using the AT&T Pantech Matrix Pro:

Tools for Thought (15-Apr 19-Apr)
ChipChick (16-Apr 20-Apr)
VivirLatino (17-Apr 21-Apr)
slashgear.com (18-Apr 22-Apr)
www.modaco.com (19-Apr 23-Apr)
Gadgetell (20-Apr 24-Apr)
GeeksRoom (21-Apr 25-Apr)
OSNN (22-Apr 26-Apr)
Techmamas (23-Apr 27-Apr)
Clintonfitch (24-Apr 28-Apr)
Justanothermobilemonday (25-Apr 29-Apr)
Geek.com (26-Apr 30-Apr)
MediaBlab (27-Apr 01-May)
Smartphonethoughts (28-Apr 02-May)
Mobilityminded (29-Apr 03-May)
The Gadgeteer (30-Apr 04-May)
Geekzone (01-May 05-May)
Techie Diva (02-May 06-May)
Bostonpocketpc (03-May 07-May)
GearDiary (04-May 08-May)
MobilitySite (05-May 09-May)
AbsoluteWindows (06-May 10-May)
Mobilejaw (07-May 11-May)
Experiencemobility (08-May 12-May)
HackCollege (09-May 13-May)
Gear Live (10-May 14-May)

Press Release is listed below:

Continue reading

 

YouTube How To: Pipe Cleaner Action Heroes And Cucumber Trumpets

I stopped by one of my morning reads (All Things Digital) and I found one post that jumped out at me: Kara Swisher posted links to YouTube videos where a now famous young geeky guy (Halley Joseph Eveland) demonstrates how to make pipe cleaner action heroes. I linked to that post for two reasons:

  • As a mom of three boys with lots of pipe cleaners, I thought this would make a great playdate or dinnertime activity that can lead to play afterwards.
  • (As my older son would say) "How cool is that" when a guy making pipe cleaner action heroes is featured on one of my (tech influential) favorite blogs: All Things Digital! Two points for the blogosphere and lots of hope for geeks everywhere (me being one of them).
  • Halley Joseph Eveland’s mom can never complain that he is spending too much time making pipe cleaner action heroes or wasting time making YouTube videos. Moms out there with geeky kids take note!

Maybe I need to do something creative with pipe cleaners, or let my son make a video of his outdoor rock sculptures……..Any ideas for creative YouTube videos that kids can make?

My favorite video this morning already has 275,711 hits on YouTube and may be either distracting or a fun addition to dinner table: Cucumber Trumpets (and other musical food from Heita3)