7 Golden Rules for Kid’s Tablets

4 Dec

When are kids ready for tablets?

Who knows.

They can pick up a phone, find a game, and get lost.

They can use a mouse, login, and have fun.

They can use remotes better than their grandparents.

They find intuitive what we needed to learn.

But are they really ready for tablets?  Here are a few general rules that will ease the transition into tech savvy teens.

Rule #1 – make sure they don’t have the ability to buy or download anything.  This could cost you money and their innocence.  And I’d definitely rather part with the money.

Rule #2 – set internet restrictions, allow only child friendly websites.  Personally, I say block everything and only add what they ask for that you check out and approve.

Rule #3 – limit access.  Sometimes this is easily achieved by “forgetting” to charge the unit.  I think one hour a day is sufficient for children under 13.

Rule #4 – no closed doors.  Tablets, and any internet device, must not be used by children in private or for private conversations.

Rule #5 – website tracking.  Check website history daily and give consequences when children delete the history themselves.  If they are getting rid of the history they are hiding something.

Rule #6 – make tablet usage a privilege that must be earned; don’t let it become an expected diversion.

Rule #7 – reserve the right to revoke the tablet for any reason at any time.  Remember, kids must be kids.  They need exercise, human interaction, socialization, and real life role models.


The Problems with Windows 8

4 Dec

The Problems with Windows 8

I wanted to love it.  This new tablet like interface – Metro, Surface, whatever you want to call it.

But in the end it’s at best ok and incredibly inefficient for a desktop.  User interface, app installation issues, and family safety nonsense force this otherwise gem of an OS to become a could have been.

I need to clarify the inefficient part.  Technically speaking it is extremely efficient – each app has a small footprint and hibernates when other apps are used – but from a user standpoint it is slow and unfriendly.  The more apps/programs you have the harder it becomes to use, for two main reasons.

First: nothing is in the same location after the addition of an app or apps.  The icons are constantly moving.  It is much easier to find a program in an alphabetical drop down list than it is from a visual layout of dozens of icons, especially when the icons keep changing position.  I’m not the only one that thinks this, although I may be the only one I know that has always had an alphabetized book, movie, and music collection.  When you acquire a lot of content it becomes inefficient when not ordered properly.  The free for all Surface has no streamlined capabilities to facilitate quick operation.

Second: the chief solution to the first problem is missing.  THERE IS NO START BUTTON.  How could MS have moved toward surface without at least giving users the comfortable start node from which to launch their apps/programs?

Summing up the user interface in one word: cumbersome.

Now, to app installation issues.  If you are the sole user of you Surface tablet or Windows 8 PC then you will never notice these issues, but have a family and they won’t go away.  Multiple users are simply maddening.  When installing a program (an .exe file that installs the program on the hard drive) the program is immediately available to all users.  But, and this is a big but, when you install an app from the MS store the app only appears for the user which installed that app from the store.  Other users can only add the same app – free or paid – if they are logged in with the same info as the original downloader.  Seriously?  This whole process kind of defeats the purpose of multiple users, doesn’t it?  It is possible to have different usernames and logins on the pc, but you will need the same live account for the shop to have full access to all downloaded apps.

Was the product test marketed at all?

Family safety settings seem to be wonderful at first.  I set limits on usage from 7am to 7pm for both of my children, as well as 1hr and 45min limits for their daily use.  I was able to select apps that each could access and quickly deleted any icons from their Surface interfaces that I did not want them to be able to click.  And, it seems, I was tricked into believing this is all I had to do.  I let the kids go to work and every minute or so I was bombarded with notifications to sign that would allow them to use the apps which I previously enabled, because apps access other tools (internet, location, Xbox live accounts, etc.) which were not enabled.  If I allow an app, am I not allowing all of the necessary interactions that take place to use that app?  Shame on me for thinking so.  This is incredibly problematic and will most likely result in parents eliminating the family safety settings altogether.  They are a huge headache and again, as with setting up multiple users, the intended purpose is subverted by impracticality.

I wanted to love Windows 8.  I do love the speed at which it runs, it looks nice, and the kids enjoy it.  But I’m left wanting refinement, for at it’s best this OS is a vision toward what computing might become.  Futuristic visions, however, often tend to overlook the basic structures needed to support the improvement on efficiency for which they strive.

One more thought…

Why do MS users and Wii U users have to pay to register a minor in order to protect them?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to assume everyone is a minor and have the adult pay to register and unlock adult content?

Wii U Freezing Fixed

26 Nov

ImageI bought the Wii U as a Christmas present for my family.  Of course, I couldn’t wait an entire month to unbox it and get it running.  Not for purely selfish reasons either, what fun would it be to unbox it on the big day and then have to spend hours charging the remote and downloading the first update.

Happy to hook it up and get started I got everything out of the box after the family was in bed.  The first thing I did was connect it to my Verizon wireless router.  I chose to use the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) Button because, let’s face it, it is easier to press a button than look up the impossible to remember Hex password.  No problem, the unit connected immediately and told me that I needed to download an important update.

Three-and-a-half hours later using a 3.5 Mbps DSL internet connection with Verizon wireless g router (54Mbps), the download completed and the Wii U restarted.  That is when the trouble began.  When creating my mii I tried to set up a Nintendo Network ID and received error code 102-2128.  I tried to go to the main menu and 30 minutes later was still waiting.  I unplugged the Wii U, went to bed, and wondered why I just paid all that money.

Several days later, with the family safely in bed, I decided to go for try number two.  Trying to enable the Nintendo Network ID, needed for all online content/interactions except for browsing the internet (which worked just fine) I continually saw error code 102-2128.  Whenever I tried to access anything else the console froze.  Once again, boxed it all up, went to bed, and really wondered what the $*#(# I was getting for my money.  A few online searches failed to give a proper solution.

One night later….and the story is getting old isn’t it?  Should I get it out and try again?  Take it back?  Give up until Nintendo announces a patch?  I decided I’d set it up, and after two minutes it froze.  Several attempts at creating a Nintendo Network ID ended up with the same old error code.  That is when I decided to make a change.  I hit the home button, selected to pause downloads in the download management section and manually configure a connection to my router.  This instantly, and completely, solved all of my problems.  It seems that the WPS push-button connection was somehow obstructing the connection to the Nintendo Network, but worked great when I used a combination WPA/WPA2 connection and manually typed in the password.  I’m glad I tried one more time!!

If you’re having freezing issues and cannot connect to the Nintendo Network to get an ID, abandon the push-button connection and manually select your Wi-Fi settings.  Good luck, and let’s hope this is the last big issue for the Wii U.

Hello world!

26 Nov

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