Forgot to go old school

Adrian Mole book cover

Tomorrow morning I’m getting on a plane to the USA. I am making sure that all my devices that will help make the hours and hours and hours I will jammed into an airplane seat a little more bearable are fully charged. I have hours of podcasts, audio books and video to keep me entertained.  That’s along with the hours of inflight entertainment that will also help keep me entertained.  

My first ever long haul flight was when my parents and I moved from Adelaide to England. I remember buying my first ever walkman at the airport duty free shop and I still can’t hear to Phil Collins No Jacket Required without remembering the feeling of my first long haul flight. My parents also bought me a handheld Donkey Kong game. That I loved so much I broke the buttons.  Those two devices were the first pieces of technology I ever owned. 

Now I have my iPhone, my iPad mini and a pencil case full of cables and chargers. But I have just realised I will need some old school entertainment. I have forgotten to pack a book. Whilst I was worrying about adapters, chargers and hours of content, I forgot that as some point that batteries will all run flat and by law I will need to turn them off; and I will need a book. 

I can’t believe I forgot a book, I love books. There is a huge pile next to my bed all forming an orderly queue to be read. Sadly on closer inspection they are all hard cover, so too heavy to take with me.  On my first long haul flight I remember reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, I still have that book. So tomorrow as I am killing time pacing around Sydney airport before my flight I will take great pleasure in buying myself something to read whilst I’m on the plane and whilst I’m on holiday. Because even though I love technology sometimes you just have to go old school. 


Jargon Busting No.7 – Hacking

Hacking is not just about black hats (bad guys) and white hats (good guys) playing with computer code. Hacking is really about ordinary people making, sharing and learning code, how to build websites, apps and all kinds of things. The things could be practical, electrical, electronic, artistic, knitted or even conductive playdoh. 

Many people think hacking is all about geeks sitting in dark rooms trying to break into government computer systems to steal secret or trying to break into banks to steal money, just like this scene from the 1995 movie Hackers. 

The reality is that hackers are ordinary people and some may play with computer code, most ‘hack’ things by making, fixing, improving and creating. Around the world there are groups called Hackerspaces where people work together, to learn and to teach.  There are Hackerspaces in over 50 countries around the world. 

Adelaide has a great Hackerspace group that is full of people tinkering, making and learning. I have recently starting hanging out at Adelaide Hackerspace and I have learnt a lot. Most recently I have been learning about websites and how to design them, administer them and make them run smoothly.

I have also been learnt more about 3D printing, and have marvelled at other members designs and creations. Hackerspaces around the world are involved in a huge variety of community activities. In Adelaide the local Hackerspace has been involved in events such as; the Mini Maker Faire, The Show and this weekend will be at Science Alive

Next on my list is to learn about is Arduino. Arduino is a supposedly ‘easy to use’ open-source electronics platform. I’ll let you know how it goes, but first I have to keep working on making this blog not only full of great content but look good. 

So the next time you try to fix the broken toaster or better still take the toaster apart and use the parts to make something else, you can call yourself a hacker. 


Jargon Busting No. 2 – Youtubbing

Late on a Friday night, when you don’t want to go to bed but there is nothing on TV you can go Youtubbing

Youtubbing is the acting of going down the rabbit hole that is YouTube. When you watch a YouTube video there may links to other videos at the end of the video you just watched and on the page next to the video. You can waste hours watching videos of sneezing kittens, music videos, foreign adverts for unknown products and instructions on how to put on makeup.  

The numbers about YouTube are staggering, according to the YouTube Press Statistics:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

This numbers a hard to comprehend, that’s a lot of film clips from cult tv programs, bad quality films of idiots falling off skateboards and people singing painful songs they wrote about lost love and broken hearts. 

But YouTube is full of useful video such as technical instructions, a search for “insert sim iphone 5” results in over 79,000 videos. Admittedly not all of them will be very helpful when it comes to working out how to put a sim card into a new iphone5, but it blows my mind that there are more than 2 videos explaining how to do it, let alone 1,000s!!  So if you have a technical problem or what to know ‘how to’ just about anything, then YouTube is likely to have the answer. 

As it’s Friday and it’s getting late as I write this, and I can’t think very seriously, here is my current favourite YouTube clip, it’s not technical or helpful but it is very clever and very funny (if you have ever owned a cat) – Sad Cat Diary.


And for the dog lovers here’s – Sad Dog Diary.


Enjoy and have a great weekend 🙂

Jargon Busting No. 1 – QR Codes

To help give my blog some structure I have decided that August will be the month of jargon busting.  I plan to explain the words, tools, apps and other ‘cool stuff’ that you may have heard about but not be entirely sure what they mean. 

The internet and social media is full of jargon that can seem overwhelming and confusing but it isn’t. It is just some new words. 

When I work with people who are learning about computers and the internet, I remind them that it doesn’t matter who old you are you can always learn new things.  I ask people to think of the first time they drove a car, and how difficult it was to remember everything, use the right pedals and drive in a straight line. Learning about using computers is the same, for a while we all kangaroo down the road, stall occasionally, we need some help learning new things and someone to keep an eye on us whilst we are learning. 

Just like learning to drive a car there is new jargon to learn, new skills to be refined and new adventures to be had using computers and the internet. 

To get the ball rolling…QR Codes.

Quick Response Codes are similar to barcodes you find on your shopping. QR Codes can be scanned by a scanning app on your smart phone.  They provide shortcuts to online content, such as websites, videos or Facebook pages.  They are becoming more common on adverts, in magazines and even in museums. 


If there are any technology words you would like more information about, please leave me a comment and I will see what I can do. 



One month down…11 to go

One month anniversary card

It is the end of my first month of blogging every day, despite missing one day, I’m pleased that I have got this far. There was a small part of me that wasn’t convinced that I could blog daily for a month let alone a whole year. 

While I’m still finding my blogging voice and rhythm. Along with desperately trying to learn to get organised and take notes when I have ideas. I have no doubt that I will get there eventually, I just need to stick at it.

My thoughts about the technology in my life and the lives around me are slowly getting more organised. I find myself having conversations about technology and social media that make me want to blog, which is great.  The comments and feedback I have received so far have been much appreciated, it still blows me away that people I don’t know read my blog. 

I hope the next 11 months will be just as fun and entertaining as my first month of blogging, so please keep the comments, feedback and questions coming. 

Thanks and happy one monthsary!

YouTube made me look smart

The problem with doing something for the first time is that you have no idea if you are doing it right, unless you can see what it is supposed to look like.  This Dear Reader is what makes YouTube so great and today made me look smart.

I needed to change the bulb in the front headlight of my car. There were just 5 crappy pictures in the manual that came with my car, none of them particularly helpful. 

So I turned to the second most popular search engine on the internet for help and I found it. 

Yes YouTube is full of stupid videos of kittens, sneezing pandas and babies being cute but it is also full of instructions to do all kinds of things including recipes, craft, art, making, mechanics and stuff you didn’t know you needed to know. 

So thank you YouTube for helping me look smart, I posted news of my success on my Facebook page and so far 17 people have liked my status, plus I’m really pleased with myself.


Going off the radar

I have had a great day on the third of my holiday in Brisbane. I’ve had a day of catching up with friends, lunching, being a tourist and then a glorious dinner with friends.

And not once did I share what I was up to online.

I conducted a little experiment with myself about how I would feel not checking in on Foursquare, taking pictures on Instagram and posting comments on Twitter or Facebook.

I have to tell you Dear Reader if felt weird. Over the years I have become so used to reaching for my phone when I’m doing something interesting (or banal) and posting details or photos online. The best of the process is checking my phone later and getting feedback whether that be likes or comments. The sense of ‘hooray someone noticed’ is palpable. I hadn’t realised just how palpable until i spent a day not seeking or receiving that feedback.

I feel a little embarrassed admitting but I do love it when someone leaves a comment along the lines of ‘I wish I was there’. There is probably several PhDs in the sociology of using social media for positive reinforcement and validation but I know that there are times when I consciously, and often not, seek validation and positive reinforcement from my online contacts. What I wonder and will continue to monitor in myself, is if this is something habitual or just something I do for a bit of a pick me up.

So today I spent the day with myself and my friends not posting anything online at all today except this post. What I did today will remain a secret except to those who were there IRL (in real life) or are unfortunate enough to sit through my long travel stories.

For the record I don’t think my ego felt the difference but that might have been the sense of smug self satisfaction of being on holiday when everyone else is at work. But we Dear Reader shall see…

And because pictures of radars aren’t cute, here’s picture with a tenuous link to ‘going off the radar’


FOMO – fear of missing out

Yesterday’s post sparked quite a few responses. Most people admitting they couldn’t leave home without their phone and were one of those people who checked their phone as soon as they could.

A friend described the feeling of having to check their phone as an itch that needed scratching. Some people call this feeling FOMO, fear of missing out. We feel the need to check what our friends and family are up to and make sure we haven’t missed some news or aren’t missing an event.

A quick Internet search of FOMO associates this feeling with young people who are scared of missing out on parties and not being where all the cool kids are hanging out. (I’m probably so old the cool kids aren’t called the cool kids anymore).

I don’t think this is something that just young people feel. I’m 41 and I have FOMO. It is usually at the end of a long week when I have made the decision to stay in on Saturday and relax at home. I get on to Facebook and discover all the interesting and fabulous places my friends are and I’m not. I have to remind myself that if I was at the interesting or fabulous place I would probably be asleep in the corner. I also have to remind myself that there are times when my friends and family are at home and I’m out being interesting and fabulous.

Now that we are becoming hyper connected with the Internet in most people’s pocket, it is easy for us to know what others are up to. Apps like Foursquare, Places on Facebook allow users to ‘check in’ at locations they visit, it may be a cafe, a theatre or an event. It is this that makes other fear they are missing out on something. And if dear reader I’m to be completely honest it can make us feel a superior for being somewhere awesome. People only seem to check in interesting or awesome places, I have yet to see any of my friends or people I follow on twitter check in at the podiatrist or gynecologist. There are just some things that other people are happy to miss out on.

I think there are two ways of looking at FOMO, you can ignore it, rise about it, which can be very hard. No one wants to be left out. Or you can use it to motivate you to do all the things! The choice is yours, or perhaps like me you might try and do a little of both.


Public libraries rule!

Today I spent a lovely day at Murray Bridge Library. I did a couple of training sessions for people learning about the internet and iPads. 

Murray Bridge is a great library, with loads of natural light, a view of the beautiful River Murray and lots of computers. Public libraries are changing, don’t panic they still have books, but now they have free internet access.  In fact they have had it for quite some time. 

With a single card, that you can get at any South Australian library, you can get free internet access at any library in South Australia. YAY!! 

Libraries are playing a vital role in helping getting people online. They provide somewhere, friendly and welcoming where anyone can get online, without the hassle of having to own a computer. Some libraries provide free or low cost classes and occasionally one on one support.  

Many libraries not only have computers you can use for free, some have ereaders and ebooks you can borrow. And if you are really lucky your local library might even have a Playstation or a Wii you can use during your visit. 


Murray Bridge library has a section set aside just for books about computers, iPads and all kinds of technology, all specially displayed to make it easy to find the book you need. But my favourite part of the library is the Children’s section, the books are displayed in small boats, with a huge paddle wheel shaped window, it’s fabulous, there are even fish shaped cushions!

Libraries are really great and might not be the quiet intimidating space you remember from your childhood.  So if you haven’t been for a while visit your local library and check out what technology they have for you use.