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News

5 Terrific (and Unusual) Pinterest Boards you Should Follow Now

I recently saw a tweet from Tragically Ally, a popular champion on Twitter. And it made me laugh. It also made me think:

Turns out funeral pins are a thing. Just search for funeral pins in Twitter – some tweets are in jest, sure, but not all. I didn’t get swept away in thoughts of my own funeral. I did, however, begin to think of other Pinterest boards that might exist. Here are some eye-catching Pinterest boards. They're work safe.

1. Alternative Disney

https://www.pinterest.com/banderbear/alternative-disney/ Mashups rock, don’t they? Take a look at what characters such as Ariel and Pocahontas would look like if they were in The Walking Dead. Check out a real-life, man-sized Buzz Lightyear. And check out impressive Disney poster GIFS like this one:
disney-pin

2. Cartographic Curiosities

https://www.pinterest.com/brainpicker/cartographic-curiosities/ This board boasts more than 12,000 followers. It includes a book lover’s map of literary geography, circa 1933. It features cartographic works of art that originated in Boston and Cambridge. See a historic atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. And have a look at this visual history of mapping the universe:

3. Funeral ideas

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/funeral-ideas/ It’s not all about how folks hope to peace out of this world. Pins include balloons printed with “You are loved, you are missed, you are remembered.” Find ideas for how to display a favorite quote at the service. And peruse the collection of poems, such as this one:
funeral-pin

4. Humor fingers (dedicated to the art of finger people)

https://www.pinterest.com/dollzbyelectra/humor-fingers/ With this board I’d need both hands and feet to count my favorites. You have to hand it to people who can be so clever. Lots of people have nailed it on this board. Others kind of toe the line. Here’s a favorite of mine:
finger-pin

5. Too PRETTY to EAT!

https://www.pinterest.com/andrejcick/too-pretty-to-eat/ This board takes dessert to a sweet, creative level. Check out a detailed ruffle cake, in deep purple. There’s a jaw-dropping wedding cake that looks like it’s part of an enormous carnation. I loved this one, of Alice in Wonderland, even though I’m not sure whether to eat or pour tea from:

News

5 Awesome Sites to Boost Your Elf on the Shelf Game

As if Christmastime madness wasn’t mad enough. A tradition has emerged between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (AKA, the longest month ever when you’re 5; the shortest, as a parent):  The Elf on the Shelf. He’s an 8-inch spaghetti-armed Santa spy on a mission. He carries in his plastic noggin a dossier of iron-clad rules – don’t touch me, being foremost. Author Carol Aebersold and daughter, Chandra Bell, introduced the elf in a rhyming kids’ book. It published in 2005, and a marketing blitz ensued. When the stardust settled, the elf became an award-winning toy. All as Santa’s heavy for tracking behavior of naughty girls and boys worldwide. Parents move the elf every night around the house and into his next adventure. He often leaves clever notes (imagine an elf with a miniature surfboard and a sign that reads, “surf’s up! And you’d better be too – time for school!) Usually, the elf emerges on the day the family tree goes up. Kids find the elf each morning, revel in his antics and read his message. If they touch him, he loses his magic. This calls for an apology letter to Santa, and a sprinkle of cinnamon next to the elf’s magic-stripped body at bedtime. Ten times out of 10, he’s good as new the next day. Love him or lump him, you must give him his due. This elf has flung himself into the American mainstream holiday environment. He’s not self-sufficient, either. He relies on parents who rack their holiday-assaulted minds for clever placement and theater. Parents seek tips for colic and advice about SnapChat on the Internet. Now, too, elf ideas. Entire blog posts and Pinterest boards exist for his glory. We’ve compiled three clever elf treatments found on the web. That’ll carry you through almost a half a week! You are welcome.

For the lazy parent

Doctor’s Note

Darn Kid Reindeer live in a hostile, frigid environment. It stands to reason that environment fosters the survival of the fittest, even for ticks. Ticks cause Lyme disease, transmission to reindeer and to elves, and, well, time missed from work. Herein lies a parental work-around. This idea earns you a one-year reprieve.

For the planner

30 Days of Elf

Macaroni Kid If you’re like most parents,Elf planning, dinner planning, or – who are we fooling? – LIFE planning, a source that gives you a step-by-step guide for an entire month of ANYTHING is akin to a gift from Santa himself. Blogger Christel Hoydic. The writer behind Macaroni kid, advises rookies to start modestly. Christel’s suggestions include:*
  • Pitting the elf in a wrestling match with a gator
  • Granting him access to mom’s makeup kit
  • Throwing him into a marshmallow war with a Captain America figure
*The elf has acquired a taste for messy mischief over the years. [Check out Christel’s Elf Pinterest presence, too. #ElfLife]

For dads out of ideas

Appliances, solitude, mystery

Daddy Realness We’ve known this from Ward Cleaver to Fred Flintstone: Dads possess an alternate world view. Not down with plopping your elf in the middle of an intricate handmade peppermint forest? This blog will lend some real-life (and Breaking Bad-like) ideas. Mike’s suggestions include*:
  • Leaving the elf in the middle of the floor
  • Framing the elf with empty beer bottles
  • Forcing the elf’s antics outdoors
*Mike says “I’m not that creative. Guess I should have led off with that.” [Check out Mike’s blog, with straight talk about fatherhood.]

For the family-friendly family

Naughty-behavior strikes, flour messages, and cookie-and-pretzel dumb bells

Skinny Mom Gator-wrangling and outdoor exile aren’t for everyone. Still, there’s a lot of room for creativity. Jenna Gross writes for the blog Skinny Mom. She crowd-sourced for ideas for parents whose brains are “completely elfed out.” Her 101 ideas more than covers the season – and could spur your creativity. Jenna’s ideas include*: The elf beginning a holiday-themed coloring page for the kids to finish A rigged game of UNO with a Christmas gnome Hidding in the freezer and binging on ice cream *Jenna’s post links to tons of clever parent blogs [Check out Jenna’s posts on fitness, food and other fun.]

For the overachiever parents

Upgrades, downgrades, and ways to snuff him out

The elf is head-heavy and spaghetti-armed – if he had the mobility and strength of, say, a He-Man action figure, can you imagine? Also, you must consider the elf’s Christmas exit and farewell until next year. For some parents, though, a more permanent close is tantalizingly close, too. Check out these sites: Dirty Diaper Laundry | Kim Rosas’ tutorial will demonstrate how to give the elf’s arms some muscle – and his hands some grip. She knows | Elaina Verhoff’s suggestions include packing a suitcase for his Christmas-day departure, serving Santa his Christmas Eve cookies and milk, and the gift of pajamas for the big night. Sunshine and Hurricanes | It’s easy to find ideas for violent ends to the elf’s service. Blogger Kira Lewis simply says, “hey, elf. It’s me, not you.” She’s penned the perfect breakup letter for the elf.

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Tech

10 Insanely Cool Holiday Gifts to Make Your Techie Happy

What I want, is something Boxing-Day-proof. Never mind that I live in the U.S., where Boxing Day remains an idea for our neighbors to the north. The concept is the same. Boxing Day is for getting rid of belongings you don’t want anymore. It's right after you land the goods you do want, for Christmas and Hanukkah. This year I’d like to receive gifts impossible to toss out for years, they’re just that awesome. And I’d love to give gifts that prove impossible to toss out for years, they’re just that awesome. Something other than those gaudy sweater vests and droll board games. We’ve combed the web for top-tier gifts for a variety of recipients. Even the vexing loved ones impossible to buy for. All you have to do is order it, and you’re an instant gifting champion.

For the self-made selfie pro

Spivo Stick

Spivo.com | $49.99 Spi It’s a Hall of Famer in the GoPro world. Ergonomic and waterproof, the Spivo Stick, with its swiveling camera mount, allows users to change perspective 180 degrees with the flick of a trigger at the bottom of the stick. Capture a panoramic sweep of friends and family. Swing your camera in time to capture someone getting sick air. Choose from 12-, 18- or 26-inch models.

Honorable mention

iPhly | Device allows user to operate remote-controlled planes and cars on your phone, through an app. (Car or plane not included.) 53 Pencil | Fresh new stylus for the 53 Paper app for drawing. It’s Bluetooth-powered.

For the serious chef

Cookbook and tablet stand

Food52.com | $24 Food52 No more cookie-dough-stained cookbook pages. No more spaghetti sauce splatters on your tablet. This cookbook and tablet stand, of steel and ash construction, cradles your recipe source out and away from the culinary chaos on your countertop. When dinner’s served, the cookbook and tablet stand cleans in a flash and stores like a stowaway.

Honorable mention

Digital Volumetric Spoon Scale | Replace all your measuring spoons with one digital one. One-Click Butter Cutter | Just load a stick of butter, slice, and add you get perfect pats, every time, for your pancakes, corn, popcorn, grilled cheese, and T-bone steak (who are we to judge?)

For the mindful soul

Spire

Spire.io | $99 Spire It’s the friend who chimes in with a well-timed “relax” when you need it. (Without actually telling you to relax.) Spire, less than an inch long and weighing in just under an ounce, notifies a wearer if they’re tense or haven’t taken a deep cleansing breath for a while. It’ll suggest breathing exercises and meditations to guide you back to center. It’s portable mindfulness, and even comes with an app.

Honorable mention

Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat | Ah. The name speaks for itself. Headspace | It’s a daily meditation app for plenty of Zen in just 10 minutes a day. Billed as a “gym membership for the mind.”

For the off-grid adventurer

goTenna Mesh

gotenna.com | $149 goTenna Be in touch, off the grid. This 4.2-inch device sends text and shares GPS locations through the network of devices. Leave a digital footprint when you’re in the wilderness. With a range of 3 miles in open environments. goTenna Mesh devices (two per pack) use UHF radio waves to create a unit-to-unit network. Water-resistant and dust-tight, the goTenna Mesh carries more than 24 hours of battery life.

Honorable mention

ALPS Mountaineering Eclipse Table | Folds out, with a level for drinks and one for plates and games. It seats four (eight if you don’t mind sitting at the corners.) MPOWERD Luci | This inexpensive, portable solar light will light up your (camping) world.

For the fantastic photographer

Viddy

The Popup Pinhole Company | $35 Viddy There’s a camera in the cards. Punch out the shapes for construction from a sturdy recycled card. In 30 minutes, see it transform into a camera that accepts medium-format and 35mm film. It’s a classic look in four basic colors. Stickers, stick pins and a dollop of craft glue hold together your new camera. No scissors required. Shh – if you give it to a kid, don’t mention that constructing it is educational.

Honorable mention

iPhone telephoto lens | It’s a wonky look to a smartphone that helps capture stellar photos. Just attach it to your smartphone camera, and shoot. Snapgrip | A selfie-snapping aid designed for those who struggle with their selfie-snapping game.

For the hyper-focused cyclist

Hammerhead

Hammerhead | $130 Hammerhead It’s like a GPS, if a GPS guided you with intuitive light patterns instead of robotic demands. Mounted to handlebars, Hammerhead indicates trail patterns and upcoming turns in colors and patterns. It’ll even recalculate your route should you get lost. Hammerhead’s design keeps your eyes on the road and makes just about any ride easy. (Except that 37-mile all-uphill trek some of you insist upon.)

Honorable mention

Scosche BoomBottle | A weatherproof wireless speaker that fits in a bike water-bottle cage. (Don’t forget to hydrate.) VeloComputer | Sensors feed data from your bike ride by Bluetooth to a unit in your seat bag. You get a real-time display of your vitals.

For the superb listener

Even H1 Headphones

Even | $179 geteven They’re headphones that listen to you, for a change. EarPrint technology customizes the user’s listener experience to the way they hear the world. In 90 seconds flat, H1s map eight audio frequencies per ear. They’re made to equalize hearing imbalances droves of us have - but don’t know it. Whether its podcasts or punk rock, what you hear is custom-made for you.

Honorable mention

Hercules DJControl Compact | The closet DJs on your shopping list can spin on the 1s and 2s wherever they go. You get the essentials of mixing, all in a unit smaller than the average keyboard (or loaf of ciabatta bread). Portability status: Extreme. Binauric BOOM BOOM! Speaker | Bluetooth speaker that can also record 3d audio with a smartphone.

For the clean-conscious

PhoneSoap 2.0

PhoneSoap | $59.99 PhoneSoap It’s the cleanliest multi-tasker since June Cleaver. Pop your mobile phone into the PhoneSoap case. While it charges, it receives a marvelous scrubbing – well, with UV rays, anyway. Your phone definitely needs it; Fox News reports a phone is 18 times nastier than a toilet handle. PhoneSoap doesn’t use heat, liquid or chemicals. Don’t lather up your device – use UV rays to keep it nice.

Honorable mention

Airmega | Monitor air quality in your home and maximum energy efficiency with this smart air purifier, and a smartphone app that goes with it. Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine | Still spin vinyl? It’s the new way to keep the old school spiffy.

For the globetrotter

Tag Cable

Native Union | $49.99 NativeUnion The top questions asked when traveling are “where’s the bathroom?” and “do you have a charging cable I can borrow?” No more, on the second one, at least, with the Tag Cable. It’s always-ready convenience wrapped in crafted Italian leather. Loop it to your bag strap or key holder, and you’ll have a charging cable with you whenever you need it. P.S. People are going to want to borrow (and swipe) this one.

Honorable mention

Griffin wired keyboard | It’s a real keyboard for your Apple device. Especially helpful when Bluetooth isn’t an option. Luminette Eyewear | It's a device you wear, like eyeglasses with a visor instead of lenses, for light therapy. It can improve sleep, boost energy, and help wearers recover from jet lag.

For the high-tech cook

Pantelligent

Pantelligent | $129 Pantelligent Efficient with a spatula in your hand? Then you’re qualified to step up to Pantelligent. This culinary master of a frying pan uses temperature sensors to communicate with an app. Pantelligent also feeds the cook step-by-step orders. Flip your salmon at just the right time. Adjust the heat on your stove when it needs it. It even comes with an autopilot feature that comes awfully close to having a live-in chef.

Honorable mention

Chefsteps Joule | This gadget melds the old country technique of sous vide – cooking in controlled, low-temperature water – with modern-day tech perfection. An app preheats the water in the Joule to just the right temp. Soda Stream | Feel the fizz: Create sparkling water right from the tap.

News

The Ways to Conquer the Great Grammar Divide

My daughter actually wrote a paper for school – on her phone. I. Can’t. Imagine. I struggle with a simple text. Zeros become 9s, Ps are Os, and forget the backspace vs. M battle. Middle-aged eyes and letter keys that could fit under a chocolate chip? Not a good match. Yet, for this generation, texting and social-media posts are more comfortable than actual conversation. Forget emoticons and all-lower-case entries for a moment. Let’s not concentrate on spelling. (Although another of my kids once texted, “we picked up meet at the grocery store!”) Grammar – the framework of writing – is taking a hit. What role has social media played in this slow-burning yet seismic downgrade of grammar?

The Grammar Police

To let your grammatical guard down among friends is one thing. But what if your words represent a brand? Readers once pounced on typos in local morning newspapers. Now, some people read with similar scrutiny blogs and social media posts. They search and destroy brands who post updates with errors of grammar and spelling. Quick to grill a company for missing commas? Consider this: Brands that relate to their audience succeed. Brands such as Sephora, ThinkGeek and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center convey personality. They connect not because of impeccable grammar, but with messages that resonate. Friends and contacts like and share content that resonates. They also frequent their content, and buy their products.

The evolving language of communication

There’s always a moment. Your grandmother sends btw in an email. Your own father uses 4 for for and 2 for too in a text. Chances are, they’d stop for a moment if they saw these deviations in ad copy for luxury cars or cereal. So why use it themselves? Corporations, small businesses and bloggers must weigh the cost of hardline grammatical compliance. Is striving for perfection best? Or is there value in a conversational tone that evokes genuine connection? Could it be that we place far too much emphasis on the written word? Our smartphones give us a free pass. We use disclaimers such as please excuse any grammatical errors, sent from my mobile device. If only we could tag this to social media posts, email and pick-up lines, too, right? Grammar sets us off, but it’s not the only evil of the English language. Blogger Mandi Castle, of Cellulite Looks Better Tan, summarized the struggle. She wrote a post titled Things You Should Have Learned in Grade School but Obviously Didn’t, In it, Mandi laments gaffes of a lot and cannot but also it’s and nother and literally and figuratively. “Feel free to share this on Facebook,” Mandi writes. “As I’m certain 99.7% of people who use it daily should have had to sit through Mrs. Lawrence’s third grade grammar lessons because they still say ‘should of.’”

Literally (or figuratively?) the final word

A teacher friend recently graded third-grade grammar quizzes. “I fear for the future of interpretable communication," she told me in a Facebook post. "Yikes.” Kids, though, have jacked up the English language for generations. We often consider it adorable, with backward letters and everything. On the surface, the divide seems sharp: Either you’re a stickler, or you wing it. There’s a lot of rules, though, and even stickler status doesn’t guarantee expertise. It’s unofficial. It seems, though, the key to forgiveness for all writing wrongs is simple: How do you feel about the person or entity who made the mistake? A fan of your favorite team can bust the “you’re-your rule” in exuberance over a victory. You’ll likely thumbs-up the comment, no questions asked. A member of an opposing political party forgets to capitalize Boise, and he'll have upon him a literary wrath of biblical proportions. It’s about how the words make you feel. Unless you’re in the grammar police. Then, you must ask yourself, has the slip-up spoiled the message? Good grammar doesn’t guarantee compelling prose. Imperfect discourse isn’t wholly deemed unfit. A messy cookie is likely more desirable than broccoli fixed to perfection, right? Maybe. I’ll text my kid and ask about that.

3 websites to boost your grammar

GRAMMAR BOOK | This site promotes a book, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, by Jane Strauss. It offers quizzes, a newsletter and a list of grammar rules to follow. LOUSY WRITER | It’s a free online resource to strengthen your writing overall. It includes how-to guides to many parts of speech, as well as tips for writing everything from a thesis to a screenplay. PURDUE ONLINE WRITING LAB | Purdue University hosts this site. It covers grammar and mechanics, job search and professional writing, and popular writing vidcasts.

News

3 Tech Tools for a Happy, Bright Holiday

I couldn’t wait to get the Sears catalog when I was a little kid. In my preteen years, I moved up to Target fliers that I waited for with as much anticipation. In those pages I’d find dozens of gifts I wanted under the Christmas tree or stuffed in my stocking on Dec. 25. (I estimate 98.9% actually made it there.) That air of anticipation made magic out of ordinary catalog pages. Holiday Anticipation, 2016 style, is a little different. My kids can make wish lists online. Forget visions of sugarplums. Children sneak a tablet into bed and track Santa’s progress online. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could check up on St. Nick on Snapchat. Even before Thanksgiving, Christmastime seems to be here. So why not get a jump start on the season? Here are three online holiday tools for those who just can’t wait for Christmas to get here.

Online Wish Lists

I circled the NFL jackets and Star Wars ships I wanted in catalogs. Kids now can establish a registry, as you might for a wedding. A child can share his or her wish list through Facebook – which increases the chances a family member will pick up the  Wow Wee Coji with Remote at the top of the list. Giftster| For desktop or mobile, register the whole family for gift-giving perfection. Toys R Us | Sign up on the toy giant’s site for all the toys. WishMindr | It’s the app that lets you add gifts from any site – right on your mobile device.

Santa Online

For generations, kids hand-scribbled their wish list to Santa. Today, they can fill out an online form. aLetter4Santa.com promises the Jolly Old Elf will reply to letters submitted immediately. (Now that's customer care). Kids can also color Christmas pages on the site. NORAD Tracks Santa | Starting Dec. 1, check out St. Nick’s progress in his global expedition. Reindeer Cam | Watch Chris Kringle feed the reindeer three times a day. Capture the Magic | It’s the place to get pics of Santa in your living room. How? Magic. (Parents send photos in of living space as it will appear on Christmas Eve. In return, they get a photo of Santa making his rounds in the room.)

 Appy Christmas

Parents herd the kids in to watch Charlie Brown shows for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? Their parents herded them in to watch Charlie Brown shows for Thanksgiving and Christmas, that’s why. Now, there’s an app for that. A Charlie Brown Christmas ($5.99, iTunes) | It’s interactive! Christmas Crystal Ball (Google Play, free) | It’s a virtual snow globe for your mobile device. Red Stamp (Google Play, iTunes, free) | Design Christmas cards to have printed and sent. These online resources can help kick off your digital Christmas. You’re on your own for the eggnog.

Mobile & Wi-Fi

3 Cash-Back Apps to Make Your Wallet Happy

The words cash back activate my inner skeptic. This especially applies in the world of mobile-phone apps. I can’t give up precious storage space on my Android to apps that could act as malware and not a money-saver. Let’s concentrate on the positives first. A worthy cash-back app should live up to its name. It should … give cash back. Its user should also not need an advanced degree in quantum physics to operate it. That’s golden. Check out these notable cash-back apps. They're worth a little home-screen territory on your phone while they help you to stockpile a little green while you shop for necessities

3 cash-back apps to check out

1. Checkout 51

Free | iOS | Android How it works: Match your grocery receipts with current offers available on the app. Certain offers specify what brand you must buy. Others are non-specific, or go for general purchases, such as bananas or milk, no matter what store you shop for them. What you receive: A check, once your account reaches $20. Does it pay? On the app’s site, The Vancouver Sun is cited as calling Checkout 51 “new-age couponing.” This app makes it a snap to gain back a little spending money on your purchases.

2. Receipt Hog

Free | iOS | Android How it works: Enter photos of grocery receipts to win coins and slot-machine spins. It’s a game, with possible payouts. What you receive: Pay Pal payment, or gift cards. Grocery and drug-store receipts can translate to coins you can use to cash out or trade for gift cards. Big-box and department store receipts earn a user slot-machine spins? for bigger savings. Does it pay? Receipt Hog accepts super-center and membership warehouse receipts, with no stipulation that you purchase food at the time. Receipt Hog keeps your personal data, but you can opt out of them having anything specific. It’s a simple way to build up your Pay Pal balance.

3. Snap by Groupon

Free | iOS | Android How it works: In Spring 2016, this app changed from cash back for product-specific purchases, to retailer-specific promotions. It features more big-ticket items, such as clothing and housewares, than groceries. What you receive: A check, once your account surpasses $20. Does it pay? Groupon’s known for discounts on goods, services, and restaurants. Snap by Groupon won’t fund your country club dues, but you could gain a little spending money.

Tips to avoid dangerous or fake apps

Not all apps on the Play Store or iTunes have undergone rigorous legitimacy tests. Actually, few have. Here’s how to stay safe.

1.      Read reviews

User reviews come by the star system, 1 through 5. The average rating means little. Dig in and read. Why are the 1s so unhappy? Chatter of data usage or text messaging ballooning as a result of this app should get your attention.

2.      Dig into the developer

It’s listed under the app name. Scroll to the bottom of the app page. Locate a link to the developer’s website, and hover over it. Does it lead to a legit website? Also, be on the lookout for a blue diamond icon on Play Store apps. That indicates a Google Top Developer. That’s a good thing. The Google Play editorial staff designates such status based on a developer’s cumulative work creating high-quality and innovative apps.

3.      Install a scam detector

Some apps are designed to steer users away from malicious apps. Some of those apps, however, are themselves malicious. The best scam detectors turn out to be phone savers. The worst among them do nothing but cause the problems you’ve hoped to avoid. On the Play Store, Scam Detector is legit. (There’s a version for iOS too).

FAQs

Reasons Wi-Fi Isn’t Working on Your Device

No wires, no problem – unless the Wi-Fi connection says no-go. Wi-Fi connects web-enabled devices to an Internet network by radio waves. It’s effective technology, but also subject to pitfalls, including, but not limited to: HARDWARE ISSUES | Faulty settings on your router or device damage could prevent connection to a network. INTERFERENCE | Baby monitors, cordless phones, and microwaves close to a router can interfere with a signal. SIGNAL RANGE LIMITS | Rooms far from the router might not have a strong signal in a large home. Much depends on the router’s strength and physical obstructions, such as walls. Human error can also cause Wi-Fi problems. That switch on the side of a laptop from wired to wireless Internet can get switched by accident. Users could attempt a login to the wrong network. There’s no shortage of ways people can make mistakes attempting to get online.

My connection is sporadic – why?

The Internet connection stops working, but why? Wi-Fi keeps disconnected status, sometimes, or turns off for no clear reason. Those intervals might be as long as a couple of months, or as brief as a couple of minutes. It could happen any time of day, on any device. If this happens, try this: UNPLUG | Disconnect your router for one minute. Plug it back in. This resets the router and resolves some connection issues. MOVE IT | Wireless devices or microwaves can disrupt service. Move the router away from items that could interfere. These include cordless phones and microwaves. Car alarms, Bluetooth devices, and wireless video adapters could also cause interference. Be sure to:
  • Place router nearest the true center of the house
  • Keep router shelf free of clutter
  • Choose a location away from brick walls or thick beams
STAY COOL | Heat can also hinder your wireless connection. Be sure your router has plenty of ventilation space. If you connect with a USB wireless adapter, give it a touch test. If it’s hot, adjust your workspace to keep it free from confinement, such as blankets or clothing.

Pages take forever to load – why?

Wi-Fi so slow you can’t access a web page?. What can slow down an Internet connection? Lots, including: ACTIVITY | Streaming, gaming, video conferencing on one network can lead to slow page loads. Solution: Turn off bandwidth-thirsty movie and music apps if you’re not using them. HALF-DUPLEX COMPLEX | Wi-Fi can send or receive data at any given moment in a half-duplex system. Ethernet Internet carries a full duplex system, which can send and receive at once. IT’S NOT YOU – IT’S YOUR DEVICE | Older versions of devices – such as iPhones or iPads – don’t have the capacity and processing speed of newer models.

I can’t connect in some rooms of the house – why?

Wi-Fi signal weakness can occur. Are you asking, “Why did my wireless Internet stop working?” Or, do you just want more speed? Try these: REPEAT THAT | Wi-Fi extenders, also called repeaters, expand your network’s reach. They amplify your wireless signal farther than the router can on its own. POWER DOWN | Routers often have more than one power setting. Try a lower one. UPGRADE | Have a 2.4GHz router? Try a newer 5HGz frequency model. 2.4GHz can suffer from more congestion that the newer model. One drawback: the 5HGz upgrade isn’t as adept at penetrating walls with a signal.

Mobile & Wi-Fi

Amazing Apps for Autism You Absolutely Need to Try

Kids love their devices. Basic web-enabled devices – laptops, smartphones, and tablets – open a universe of learning for children. Kids with autism spectrum disorder can have a high degree of digital readiness, and find device learning second nature. Autism refers to a set of complex disorders in brain development. A government survey in November 2015 revealed one in 45 American kids aged 3 to 17 have an ASD diagnosis. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey estimated 1 in 68 has autism. Children on the Autism spectrum often struggle in:

  • SOCIAL INTERACTION | How do two or more people relate? It’s observed one-on-one, in small groups, or large groups. It’s where institutions, rules and systems take root.
  • REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS | How do they manifest in development? Repetitive behaviors can include hand-flapping, head-banging and rocking.
  • VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION | How do we relate with and without words? We send and receive information through verbal and non-verbal cues. It could be face-to-face, through body language, written word, visuals, and more.
We’ve found these apps helpful for children diagnosed with autism. They can also aid their parents, teachers and therapists. Learn more about these as well as what the creators and developers had to say when we reached out to them!

For children

Autism / DTT Colors | Dr. Brown’s Apps DrBrownsApp.com | iTunes ($7.99)
This site offers a set of apps designed to build student skill sets. Categories include Animals, Anti-Bullying, Colors, Letters, Numbers, People, Shapes, Time, and Words. The Discreet Trial Training apps incorporate findings from Dr. Brown’s years of experience in psychological therapy. When reached for comment, they had this to say:

At Dr. Brown's Apps, we have built our app design on over 40 years of Dr. Brown’s psychological therapist experience in a clinical setting.


Digital Problem Solver | The Social Express TheSocialExpress.com | iTunes ($1.99) | Google Play
Users identify feelings from a set of emotions. Then, they move into a coping strategy as the next step in self-regulation. Download your own photos to customize animated, interactive lessons that focus on social relationships. Users learn to read verbal and non-verbal cues, and take part in conversations. We asked them to comment further on their apps and they commented:

We use high quality animation and engaging characters and stories, to effectively deliver the essential elements of social and emotional learning to a population that have difficulties with understanding social cues, or have trouble with managing their emotions.


Learn with Rufus: Emotions | Rufus Robot Rufusrobot.com | iTunes ($4.99) | Google Play ($5)
Kids learn how facial expressions reveal what people feel, with guidance from Rufus Robot. “The inclusion of reward sets and breaks in our apps will keep the child’s interest while he or she learns,” said Dr. Holly Gastgeb, Rufus Robot President and CEO. Dr. Holly Gastgeb also shared:

Research has repeatedly shown that children respond to mobile devices at a young age. Our goal is to capture some of that enthusiasm and direct it in a fun, yet educational, manner. Emotions includes a brief fingerpainting activity that will keep the child’s interest while he or she learns.


Look In My Eyes 1 Restaurant | Fizzbrain.com Fizzbrain.com | iTunes ($2.99)
Creators David and Abbie Cort develop apps for all children. They have an interest in those for kids with special needs. The Look in My Eyes series keys on social skills, such as practicing eye contact. CBS’ 60 Minutes has featured FizzBrain apps. Fizzbrain also shared their thoughts and feelings regarding their featured apps:

FizzBrain is a mom-and-pop studio committed to bringing the latest and very best of educational practices into the world of apps. Between the two of us, Abbie and I have over 50 years' experience teaching in elementary, secondary and special education classrooms, and we draw on all this experience and training as we design our apps. [...] We started FizzBrain in order to develop quality iPad/iPhone applications for all children based on best teaching practices. Our "Touch and Write" series has received numerous commendations and awards.


My School Day & Social Detective | Social Skill Builder Socialskillbuilder.com | iTunes (My School Day $9.99, Social Detective $24.99)
Social Skill Builder transitioned award-winning CDs for ASD students to apps. Interactive software includes video scenarios that encourage users to interact with peers. The popular Social Detective app engages a student’s sense of adventure and problem-solving. Among the glowing testimonials for these programs is this one from from an ABA Therapist from the Penn State Austism Conference:

I worked with ASD students on social skills and your My School Day CD as well as the Social Detective CD are my go to materials. I have both in CD form and am glad they are now available in apps. Easier to transport. The kids really love them especially the Social Detective App and really learn so much from them.


Other gadgets

Dreampad | Integrated Listening Systems Dreampadsleep.com Integrated Listening Systems’ headphone technology had relaxing effects on kids with autism. Headphones present a challenge, though, for those with tactile sensitivity. Enter Dreampad, a pillow with psychoacoustic technology. Dreampad looks and acts as a pillow, but does much more. A music app produces calming music from within. It creates gentle vibrations to trigger the user’s relaxation response. It shows improved sleep habit for those on and off the spectrum. Improved sleep can impact daytime behaviors for children with autism.

iLs developed the Dreampad after observing the powerfully relaxing effect of the iLs headphone technology on children with autism. Tactile sensitivity is very common with autism, and many of the children couldn’t tolerate iLs headphones. We learned quickly that the Dreampad not only reduced anxiety, but improved sleep habits with the vast majority of those on (and off) the spectrum.

Dreampad

For parents, teachers and therapists

Cognoa
Cognoa Cognoa.com This evaluation tool tests a child’s development first. It includes an optional video evaluation and detailed results to share with a pediatrician. “Providing parents with a validated path to early answers not only saves money and time in appointments, but (also) allows parents to remain focused at work,” said Brent Vaughan, Cognoa CEO. Brent Vaughan also stated:

Cognoa for Employers is putting the power of early screening in parents' hands while giving employers the opportunity to provide competitive health benefits beyond normal employee expectations. With developmental delay affecting one in six U.S. children and autism affecting one in 68, it is no wonder that developmental milestones and potential delays consistently rank as top concerns for parents.


Social Stories Creator and Library | Touch Autism Touchautism.com | iTunes (free) Visual supports, such as stories, give direction instruction on social skills. This app provides that for kids with autism. It includes social stories to teach what to expect in an array of situations. Caregivers can create, print, and share customized social stories and visual schedules. The Social Stories Creator and Library folks had this to say:

Children with special needs often need more direct instruction of social skills. Teaching social skills to any child may be easier and less stressful when visual supports, like social stories are used. The social stories found in this app explain accurate social information and ensures that your child will know what to expect in different situations.

Social Stories

TOBY Playpad | Autism West TOBYplaypad.com | iTunes ($25.99)
The TOBY (Therapy Outcomes By You) app contains an extensive curriculum. It includes solo on-screen and partner on-screen tasks, and real-world tasks for early intervention. The app collects data for performance reports on a child’s activity from the comfort of home.

Autism West is committed to supporting families to provide the best opportunities for their child. Our TOBY app is a revolutionary, unique way for parents to become empowered to implement therapy at home. It is best-practice and evidence-based, developed in conjunction with Curtin and Deakin Universities.


The Autism Discovery Tool: Sensory From Within | Spectrum Idea Lab Inc. Spectrumidealab.com | iTunes ($4.99)
Sensory issues might be the most misunderstood aspects of life on the spectrum. This play-based app provides an exploration of challenges and strengths in seven sensory experiences. The app environment provides hidden tools that shed insight to real-world sensory-environment strategy.

When setting out to create this app, our team at Spectrum Idea Lab identified that there was a significant lack of understanding about the sensory issues that often accompany autism, amongst families, teachers, and even those on the spectrum! So we created this exploratory, play-based app which immerses users into seven sensory experiences that demonstrate some of the sensory diversity found on the spectrum, including both strengths and challenges.


Sources https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/new-government-survey-pegs-autism-prevalence-1-45

FAQs

Everything You Want to Know About Satellite Internet

With any form of Internet connection, questions regarding speed, availability and installation are common. Can the network support gaming and streaming? What about TV? Here’s a list of common questions when it comes to satellite Internet. Perhaps the most reliable option for rural residences, satellite Internet carries speeds faster than dial-up.

Is satellite Internet good?

Yes, especially for customers for whom cable and DSL aren’t options. Peak-time use might not slow satellite speeds the way it could with cable networks. Latency, a gap between what you request and when you get it online, can be higher for satellite Internet. That could affect gaming and streaming.

Do you know how to make satellite Internet faster?

Conduct a speed test online. Online speed tests will reveal what you’re getting. How does it compare to what the plan claims? Bugs and IP conflicts can slow speed on any Internet platform. Start by resetting the modem and router. Refer to your instruction manual for details.

Does DIRECTV have satellite Internet?

No. DIRECTV partners with Internet carriers, including AT&T, CenturyLink, HughesNet and Verizon, to bundle services. Some providers offer home phone service too for Double Play or Triple Play bundles. Subscribers often get prices less than what they’d pay for services on their own.

How reliable is satellite Internet?

Under ideal conditions, a satellite Internet connection remains consistent, buttormy weather and snow can hamper performance. This applies to both the subscriber’s home and the Network Operations Center. Steady rain shouldn’t slow the network, and satellite hardware is sturdy.

Why does satellite Internet have data caps?

Internet providers can limit how much data a subscriber uses by capping data each month. Data caps ensure users on a network have fair access to available broadband. If subscribers on the network engage in data-heavy downloads, it can slow the network for everyone on it. If a customer exceeds a data cap, the carrier could throttle speeds. That means for the rest of the billing cycle, the subscriber’s speed will diminish. Providers might also charge an overage fee, or sell a user more data.

Is satellite Internet faster than cable?

It depends on the chosen speed tier. Cable and satellite Internet perform under optimal conditions. Network traffic can slow a cable connection. It depends on how many users access the signal from a single node. Weather can interrupt a satellite Internet connection.

Can you get satellite Internet anywhere?

Yes. Is there a clear view of the southern sky from a potential subscriber’s home? A satellite Internet provider can deliver there. A home-mounted dish must have this access for communication with the satellite and NOC. Rural addresses too remote for cable and DSL can usually qualify for satellite Internet.

Does satellite Internet work in bad weather?

In a downpour, at home or the NOC, satellite Internet usually shows no ill effects. Hardware and other network issues can factor in. Thunderstorms and snow can impact performance. Changes in speed and connection usually end as the adverse weather passes.

Can satellite Internet be wireless?

Yes. A router will broadcast an Internet connection throughout a home. Some carriers provide a router to buy or lease, or include it in the service price. Enabled devices can connect with the wireless network. Which router works best depends on how much data-burning activity you partake in online.

Does satellite Internet require a phone line?

No. Customers don’t need a landline or dial-up data modem for satellite Internet. The network relies on two-way data communications by satellite. A satellite Internet connection won’t interfere with a landline phone.

Is satellite Internet secure?

Yes. As any system of high-speed data transfer, satellite Internet becomes a target for hackers. A dedicated line to a subscriber gives satellite connections another layer of safety. Networks that service many customers on a single connection might not be able to.