Benjamin is on his way to earning his Wolf badge

Benjamin Tiger Cub
Benjamin earns his Tiger Cub patch!

Benjamin earned his Tiger Cub badge on April 25, 2012. He’s now officially a Tiger Cub and is on his way to earning his Wolf Badge next year!

We had a great year with all the activities. We started the year with a scouting Tigers game where the scouts got to run the bases! Family swim night. Adventure day at Camp Agawam. A newspaper factory tour at the Macomb Daily. A sleepover in the USS Silversides Submarine. The Pinewood Derby! A Photography lesson. A nature center and trail walk at Stony Creek Metropark.

We’re so proud of you Benjamin!!

New Tech iPhone

New technology could make the next iPhone extra thin

Over the years, most mobile phone handsets have become much smaller and thinner. There are many reasons why people like this, whether is is for ease and convenience of transportation or simply a more attractive look. Apple has always been one step ahead of the market with respect to this and many other factors, and now it looks as though they are once again going to set the precedent for a new development. A report from Digitimes has stated that the American company could begin using in-cell touch display technology in order to make the next iPhone even thinner than previous models.

This technology works by replacing a display that features a number of separate layers with in-cell touch display technology. This reduces the number of layers therefore the size and thickness of the phone. Apple fans, who can do everything from playing Sweden – PartyPoker on their iPads to listen to music on their iPods while jogging, have been waiting for the next development from the famous technology company. Apple are expected to source its in-cell displays from Sharp and Toshiba, and the new development will once again place them at the top of the technology tree.

If the integration of this technology proves to be successful, then it will have many advantages for the iPhone user. The in-cell technology will streamline the manufacturing process, which in turn will eventually reduce the cost and drive the efficiencies of the product. As well as making it thinner, the in-cell technology should also make the new phone lighter and generally more convenient to use. As with everything that Apple comes out with, this new development is expected to create a lot of excitement and it will be interesting to see how much of an effect it has on the overall design of the famous iPhone.

Reading up on Sparrow Creator

I’ve been using the free version of Sparrow on the Mac for a few months now. Why? Well, I was turned on to Postbox, a pay-for-a-free-email-client-based-on-Thunderbird by a friend of mine at Wayne State University a few years back. I liked it quite a bit because it offered features that weren’t part of Thunderbird and didn’t seem to be part of their roadmap. Since then, Thunderbird added the whole unified inbox, as the queues were taken from smartphones with their unified inboxes. Thank you RIM. Yes, RIM, not Apple nor Google)!

Well, Sparrow takes the whole e-mail client that should be free (those that come with your OS or Thunderbird) and makes it a bit like Twitter. Quick and to-the-point. No frills. It’s very slick.

Now, Sparrow is on the verge (no pun intended) on releasing (if approved) an iOS app to make e-mail much simpler. Dom Leca of Sparrow talks about it here, in this article. He mentions some of his ideas and also talks about what Google did wrong with their GMail app. Me, I find the GMail app pretty weak. It’s nothing more than a wrapper to a browser-based GMail client. I never thought it was very sophisticated nor did it gave me any reason to use it over the native mail client on my iPhone 4S. Also, if the search in the mail client is adequate, I never use the GMail app. I simply go to GMail in Safari or Atomic.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

So, all I wanted to do at the end of last week was get Windows 8 Consumer Preview a quick ride around the block. Well, I tried to install it on my work PC with Microsoft’s Virtual PC, no luck. I tried to install it with Oracle’s Virtual Box, no luck.

I don’t want to have to mess around with VMWare Workstation (at home) nor do I want to mess around with dual booting. I guess I’ll have to give it a quick go with one of the aforementioned methods after all, though.

I had the very early version installed on my old work computer under VMWare Workstation, booted into it once and was, “meh”. I wonder if the consumer preview will float my boat a little bit more. I am most curious about the mail app. Is that weak? I kind of wish they’d do with the mail app what Apple did with the iMessage OS X app and let you install a beta version.

Is the installation and testing of new OSes something people look forward to? I guess you can do the same thing with Apple if you’re an Apple Developer ($99). It’s not free, but for the diehard Apple Developer, it’s close enough to being free. Well, maybe not, as Apple only charges $99 for their OS (IIRC).

If I do actually get Windows 8 installed, I’ll write something about it.

UPDATE: I realized I missed my mark of trying to write a post every week. Hell, I didn’t write a single post during the leap year month of February. Shame on me.

Should Kids Learn to Code?

I was reading some of my tech sites this morning when I noticed an article that discussed the computer science education we give our youth.

I remember, way back in 1982/83, when math was boring to me (I finished our assignments rather quickly), and my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Luther, was searching for something to keep me busy. She handed me a book on BASIC programming to use on the Commodore PET computers we had in the media center. I think we had the models 4016 and 4032.

A few weeks before this, or maybe the year prior, we were introduced to the PET computers and turtle tracks. Turtle tracks was a simple LOGO-L-based programming language. It taught us logic and directions at a very early age.

I remember using it in this fashion:


Not only did we have a VERY EARLY lesson on programming in the 2nd or 3rd grade (and onwards), but computers were in a pioneering state and a fairly decent part of our education, for those times. We had exposure about once a week, and this raised interest in some households. I wouldn’t say a large percentage of homes had computers in 1982 or 1983, but I’d make a guess that about 15-20% of the homes had one. Those who had them were relegated to playing games on them, and a small percentage of them were using them to do things like “socially network” on bulletin board systems.

If you go back in time and investigate what these systems were, you could easily determine they were VERY EARLY social networks. Online services like CompuServe, Prodigy, and AOL expanded on the BBS, and became the definite precursor to social networks of today, like: MySpace, Facebook, and Orkut.

Let’s wrap this up. I’m a proponent of making computer science, even elementary programming (coding) education mandatory. It will teach our youth, our leaders of tomorrow, our future champions of industry, that computers aren’t meant for just hanging out on Facebook, Google+, and playing games. It could actually help to bridge the gap between playing and using a computer.

Should Kids Learn to Code was the original article that led me to Andy Young’s article.

Rid yourself of app notifications in Facebook

A friend of mine kept asking me how the heck to remove or hide notifications from people who they’re friends with who play lots of Facebook games. I was stumped but also didn’t do much research aside from trial and error within Facebook’s notification settings. No luck. When I Googled it this morning, it led me to a post (will fill in URL later) that showed how do it.

To do it, you go to your notifications page and click the “x” all the way to the right of the notification. From there you edit that app’s settings (even though you don’t even have that app) and choose “Never” for how it notifies you.

Here is the two step process on how to do this:

Dropbox for Google Docs

So, on my way into work today, I was thinking, “Why isn’t there a desktop integration for Google Docs in the same way there is one for Dropbox?”

All it took was a 93ms search and the result was Insync! Not only is Insync the solution I was looking for: A desktop folder that is synced with Google Docs, but it can do this with multiple Google Accounts!

Taken from their site, here is some info about Insync:

Why should I use Insync over Dropbox?

  1. Way cheaper storage — Google charges $0.25 per GB/year and Dropbox charges $2.00 per GB/year. That’s 8x difference. Plus you can get 20GB for $5/year.
  2. Extensive sharing features…
    • read/write + read-only sharing permissions
    • nested sharing
    • share recipients are not charged against their storage quota
    • re-sharing permissions
    • individual file sharing
  3. Multiple Google account support (personal, work, school, org, etc.)
  4. You can use Google Docs web to edit docs online

Insync is 100% free. How do you make money?

We plan on making money via premium features. Example: secure remote wipe of local GDocs.

What does “Perform these operations when I’m not using the application” mean?

It just means that if you are offline, Insync still has access to your GDocs to perform operations. It doesn’t mean Insync has forever access. By the way, you can revoke access to Insync at any time using your Google accounts page.

Why does Insync need access to my Google contacts?

We use your contacts to faciliate auto-completion when you are sharing.

What’s Insync’s favorite song?

That’s a no brainer.