Anyone can learn to code – why I’m backing

The fact is, anybody can learn how to write computer code. It isn’t like basketball or football. where you either have the talent or don’t—learning to write code is something that can, and SHOULD, be taught to everyone in school. The problem is, not all students have access to computers and the training materials or teachers necessary to actually learn how to do it. That’s why I’m getting behind, an organization dedicated to getting programming curriculum and technology into every single classroom.

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CES 2013 Innovation Award: The WeMo Baby Monitor and App

WeMo Baby Monitor from Belkin
WeMo Baby Monitor

The Innovation Awards at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) helps sort through the tons of gadgets at the show to highlight some of the most useful, interesting and groundbreaking. The focus is really on new stuff that you might actually want, and will be available to the general public.

First up? The WeMo Baby Monitor & App from Belkin. It’s great for any new parents or parents-to-be. It’s a baby monitor that can go in your child’s room, but uses an app on your phone instead of a second receiver. That means you can check up on your child with your iPhone or iPod Touch, and you don’t have to carry a second device around the house with you.

This is already available from retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, and costs $84 from both of those retailers (as of right now). A new baby monitor from Amazon (without the iPhone capability) can run you anywhere from $40 to $140, so the WeMo is a good deal with extra added convenience.

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Celebrity traveler: Tech expert Mario Armstrong recharges in St. Thomas

As a technology commentator on NBC’s “Today” show, CNN and NPR, among others, Mario Armstrong knows how to effortlessly translate high-tech topics for low-tech audiences. Despite his expertise, when it comes to travel, Armstrong doesn’t exactly have a teleport. He still relies on the usual trains, planes and hotels. In a brief break from his perpetual parade of gigs, the tech expert chatted with us about where he goes to recharge and the portable devices he relies on to keep him plugged into today’s ever-evolving world.

Click here to read the full interview in the Baltimore Sun.

Mix Business with pleasure this weekend: Fun Halloween iPad apps

Movie Costume Image
photo generated with Movie Costume

Sure, we all love our iPads for business stuff- there are some great productivity apps like My Eyes Only, FTP on the Go, and Evernote.  If you’re like me, though, you like to mix a little fun in with your work gadgets. And, what’s more fun than Halloween?

For seasonal kicks, there are some cool pumpkin apps like Crazy Pumpkin Lite, an all-in-one digital Jack-o-lantern, scary sound effect machine and a multi-colored flashlight.  There’s also Jack O’Lantern, a fun and free pumpkin carving app.

Don’t want to lug that security-grade Mag-Lite around while your kids beg for candy? Illumination is an app that can turn your mobile device into a surprisingly effective flashlight. To kick it up a notch, try the Space Invaders Flashlight which is the same basic idea but tailor-made for classic video games enthusiasts.

No costume yet for the office party?  Grab the Halloween Costume Generator, and find some inspiration.  If that doesn’t have what you were looking for, try Movie Costume, which lets you mix your own photos with shots from favorite films for some really fun effects (tip:this app is fun even when it’s not Halloween).

Finally, if you have kids you know that Halloween isn’t always just fun and games. Get some peace of mind (or, possibly, freak yourself out completely) with SOS (Sex Offenders Search). This application lets your iPad locate registered sex offenders and sexual predators in your neighborhood and around schools, friends, parks, campgrounds or whatever areas you might check in order to make your candy gathering route a safer one.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

A few rules to buying your big screen tv

untitled2.bmpTIPS to think about before buying:

  • Turn down the bright screen – when shopping check the brightness of the tv, have the salesperson lower the settings, they usually have the brightness up really high. When comparing 2 or more tv’s try and lower the brightness of all tv’s til they look equal.
  • #2 More bright lights- our homes, basements & club rooms are never as bright as the show floor. So see if you can block the lighting that may be shooting on the tv screen you are interested in or ask them to turn down the house lights in that area so you can get a better sense of the screen in your real environment.
  • Don’t watch their programs- The best way to test the quality of the picture is to bring your own DVD (PG or G pleaseeee!!!) movie and play it on the screens you are comparing. Most stores will have tv programs on them and some tv sets may be running off of a dvd while others are running off of a TV signal. Make sure you ask about the programs and make sure you know, so they don’t try and fool you by selling you a lesser-quality TV that was showing a DVD movie on it.
  • View the varying modes- Make sure the tv’s you are comparing also are set to the same picture mode. One tv could be on Sports while the other is on Movie. This can change how they look and it’s not an apples to apples comparison.
  • Lastly, view from all angles- only you know, if the room where the tv is going is bright, dark small room or large space. So measure the distance from where the tv will be placed and where viewers will be seated and take that measurement with you to the store. Also, be sure to notice at home if viewers will have to watch your tv from an angle or if they will be viewing dead-on center. Be sure to look at the tv from at least the 45-degree angle and see if the picture is still viewable and clear-this exercise alone will rule out some tv’s for you.