When you think of a parenting and technology blog, you might expect lots of posts about new gadgets for kids. But I have found that the biggest impact that technology has had on my "parenting" life isn't in my relationship with my child, it's in my identity as a mother. And rather than being about gadgets, for me technology is primarily about relationships and sharing information.… Read more
Even today's most tech-savvy parents didn't grow up in a digital era. For those of us who live on the cutting edge of the latest developments, it comes as quite a shock to realize that there is still a techno-generation gap developing between us and our children. Adults assimilate technology much like they learn a second language, while our kids are "native speakers."
We may think we were pretty cool for growing up with an Atari 2600 or Radio Shack TRS-80 desktop computer, learning to program in BASIC, but what will our kids make of the … Read more
YouTube has added a new feature to its TestTube section as of last night, called Active Sharing. With this feature enabled, YouTube will keep track of videos you watch, for both archiving and real-time interaction with other users. If you're watching a video with other Active Sharing-enabled users, you'll be able to see their names with a little green dot next to it to signify they're watching too. Clicking on someone's profile name will show you the last five shows they've watched using the service.
HiTask is a(really simple collaborative task management tool for small groups. Members can create tasks, meetings, reminders, notes, and birthdays to add to their own schedule or assign to others. The entire interface is drag-and-drop, and any actions by team members will instantly be reflected on your tasks page. It's a mix of a scheduling app and to-do list tool that's dead simple to use. In testing, we were making and managing several projects in less than five minutes without reading any documentation, which bodes well if you're collaborating with non-tech-savvy people.
Assigning tasks to other users is really simple. Once you've created a task, you can just drag it over to the group member's name. You'll get a note on the task letting you know who you've assigned it to, and as soon as they're done with it you'll be notified in real time. Likewise, when a group member assigns something to you, it will show up on your schedule, along with a note of who it's from. The one thing missing from HiTask is the option to view other members' schedules, which would be helpful--especially for gauging how much is on someone's plate.
If you do need to talk, there's a built-in chat module, which is limited to one-on-one. There's no way to group chat, or share files like you get with some more advanced group collaboration tools like BaseCamp, and activeCollab, but HiTask is pretty early in development.
HiTask has both a free and premium service. The free service reaches its limit at 10 tasks, making it little more than a demo. The $15 a year service provides unlimited tasks, group members, and projects. See the screenshots after the jump.
ActiveAllowance is a complex site that helps families with children manage the kids' allowances and chores. After experimenting with it for a few minutes, it made me hope that my 8-month-old son never, ever grows up. Am I really going to have to manage a list of chores, pay for them piecemeal, and then teach my kid to motivate himself, budget his income, and learn about saving, investing, and so on?
I suppose that's part of being a dad. And a site like this could help me and my wife keep our messages consistent. ActiveAllowance tracks lists of chores and goals, and helps a child budget his efforts to finish the tasks that earn him money. It also helps kids allocate their income based on family guidelines (so much for savings, for charity, and so on). Parents can set it up so allowance money is awarded when certain chores are done, or you can decouple allowance from chores if that's the way you parent.
Kids get their own simplified interface when they log in. From there, they can check how they are doing against their goals, and print "checks" to draw from their allowance funds, which they present to the Bank of Their Parents, presumably in exchange for cash or goods.
The site allows for very detailed management of chore lists, payments for them, and budgeting, and I found it frighteningly complex. User feedback on the site's forums tells the story: it takes time for users to get past the learning curve. There are many who seem to be stuck in the support forums. But once the program is grasped, the transparency and communication fostered--and the degree of consideration required before you can fill out the details--helps families communicate more effectively about money, and ActiveAllowance can motivate and teach children in all the right ways.
My take, though, is this: if your sons or daughters can follow all the ins and outs of their detailed chore list and exactly what income they're going to earn from each task--and if they begin to effectively organize their lives around getting what they want--then you might do well to give them your Quicken password and let them run all the household's finances. And maybe if you get to work each day on time, they'll grant you your own allowance.
Vaguely related: Wired's new Geek Dad blog.
Two more pictures after the jump.
If you forget the secret word, the safe tells you to try again in four preset phrases. (It sounds like a bad sitcom already.)
On the other hand, you could set up a hidden camera and have fun watching others trying to guess the code. Booby-traps might be in order as well. Maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all.
As technology manufacturers continue to design products that blend more naturally into the decor, some are taking the concept to an extreme--so much so that the items aren't even recognizable at all. Take the new voice-activated answering machine from Hammacher Schlemmer, for example. The idea behind the device is admirable, activated by the simple phrase "answering machine" and responding to 15 voice commands including "play new" and "set volume." We're just not exactly sure about the design; is there some reason it needs to look like a sushi plate? It's not … Read more
This is either an ingenious invention or a sad testament to the hopeless laziness of modern society--or, in our opinion, both. The "SmartShopper" is a voice-activated shopping list designed to put an end to the illegible Post-its you leave all over the kitchen.
Just tell the device what items you need as you think of them and print out the list before leaving for the grocery. Gadgetell says it even has 2,500 items already programmed in its memory.
The downside: You no longer have any excuses for not picking up any embarrassing hygiene items requested by other … Read more
Here's yet another excuse to have those white headphones stuck in your ears: Wear your iPod Nano while flying down a snow-covered ski slope at death-defying speeds. It'll be like you're the star of your own extreme snowboard movie, complete with awesome soundtrack.
We brought you the iSoundCap hat a while ago, but it being, you know, cold outside now, there had to be another reason to sell an iPod holder, right? Of course.
The iSoundCap ski cap comes in red, white, black and kakhi, and is made of 100 percent acrylic. Though the idea of synthetic … Read more