What a hoot! Enjoy this hilarious melodrama about social media addiction:

Related Post: Social Media in a Walled Garden


Internet Censorship

Comcast is once again trying to censor the Internet. They, like some other internet providers, oppose Net Neutrality. Stop them!

What’s this all about?  It’s a battle between democracy and the control of information by a few corporations. Watch Net Neutrality 101.

Comcast says that government should just get out of their way and trust corporations like Comcast to negotiate equitable business relationships that end the problem of network congestion and “unwanted” bandwidth demand. Comcast says they should have the right to control information flow. Those that started and know the history of the internet understand that it’s really about greed, controlling information, and free speech.

SaveTheInternet.com supports Net Neutrality because

Net Neutrality is the reason the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech online. It protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

The creator of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berner-Lee’s, takes the position that net neutrality must be preserved. Do you? I do. That’s why I’ve written this blog and signed this petition. Take a stand to protect your internet.

Related Post:

Social Media in a Walled Garden

Subsequent developments:  Level 3, Comcast Battle Continues, Netflix Unaffected

Bob Pauls writes for Des Moines Tech Support about appropriate technology and computers in business, education, and community development. Follow Bob on Twitter @desmoinestech.  E-mail him at bpauls@dsmtechsupport.com

I know you’ve been searching far and wide to find the the perfect gift for me, your best geek friend. Rather than publishing a lengthy list of cool tech stuff I really want, here’s my list of items you definitely should avoid buying.

Merry Christmas.

Floppy Disk Drive Floppy Disk Drive
The 3 1/2″ floppy was ubiquitous in the 1980’s. No longer. If you’re talkin about a Blu-ray Disc instead? Hey, BFF!
512MB Memory Card 512 MB Memory Cards
These were once cool to have for digital cameras and transferring files, but 512 MB is no longer big enough. Show me you care and get me a solid state drive.
Windows 98 For Dummies Book Windows 98 for Dummies
While I do still have an installation disk set for Windows 98 in my storage cabinet, I have already learned to use the software. Also, no books please, unless its one of those that summarizes everything I can now find on the web.
Staples Easy Button Staples Easy Button
Cute gift, but they never worked!
CRT Monitor Cover PC Monitor Cover
I don’t need no stinkin CRT condoms! They’re hard to put on and take off. They seem to only come in one size, plus you can’t see through them.

USB Aquarium
Computers and water do not mix well together. Take me to a real aquarium like that in Atlanta. Besides, I have a screen saver with the same image that I can control.
USB Powered Sonic Pest Repeller USB Pest Repeller
No thanks. My geek bathroom already has insect screens.
USB Powered Smokeless Ash Tray USB Smokeless Ashtray
No thanks. I don’t smoke and neither does my computer.
USB Toaster - Fake USB Toaster
I know its a fake.
Soap-on-a-Rope - USB Mouse USB Optical Soap Mouse
No thanks. I wouldn’t know how to use the wheel.
Meg Whitman Bobblehead Doll Meg Whitman Bobble Head Doll
No thanks. Enough money has been wasted on her failed campaign.
DIY Plant Monitor that Twitters DIY Plant Health Twitter Kit
I do not need another social media user account to manage. When I talk to my plants, they can at least have the courtesy of talking directly back to me instead of sending a tweet. Besides, it would probably have more followers than me.
Nobody Reads Your Blog T-Shirt Nobody Reads Your Stupid Blog T-shirt
Don’t bother. My wife already has one.

What geek gift do you least want to receive this holiday?

Bob Pauls writes for Des Moines Tech Support about appropriate technology and computers in business, education, and community development. You can follow Bob on Twitter @desmoinestech.  Bob’s e-mail address is bpauls@dsmtechsupport.com


Disaster victim with cooking set gift

Red Cross Disaster Aid

As we all sit down to our holiday meals, we probably give little thought to the cooking technology that made our meal possible.

Considering that mankind has spent most of its “kitchen” time working over an open wood or peat  fire, the use of induction cooking, microwave ovens, food processors, and silicone bakeware is no small kettle of fish.

But what if you went back in time before the 17th Century? It wasn’t until then that Western man was finding it common to use metal cookware?  Imagine your life with no metal frying pan, bowl, plate or utensils. Could you survive?

Ok, this is the 21st century and we don’t have that problem anymore, right? 

What happens when we lose our cooking tools due to some natural or man-made disaster: a hurricane, a tsunami, or any of a twenty-seven (27) military conflicts now underway on this planet?

This holiday season you can return some self-sufficiency to those affected by disasters with a gift to the American Red Cross.

A Red Cross cooking set can restore a family’s independence and allow them to cook and serve food in the wake of a catastrophe. The set that the Red Cross distributes includes two cooking pots, a frying pan, bowls, plates, cups and utensils.

Your gift of a Red Cross cooking set won’t fill your belly, but it may make your heart feel full.

Social Media BrandsIn my recent blog about dangers of social media I made reference to my IT work over the last twenty years. It wasn’t until after the blog was published that the significance of the time span hit me like a 2 x 4. Twenty years! How many of us remember that the first website was created only 20 years ago in December.

How did I pick that topic at this time? Was my subconscious directing me write on the subject because of the anniversary? Serendipity? Some unter-geek, genetic, internal clock awakening my limbic brain? I don’t know.

How interesting then to see a far more prescient, but related article by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, just published by Scientific American Magazine on the web: Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality

Berners-Lee assails the corporatization of the web, governmental threats to freedom of speech, and the `walled garden’ approach to social media sites.

The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.

He remains hopeful that OUR internet can be saved from itself and draws a line in the sand.

As long as the web’s basic principles are upheld, its ongoing evolution is not in the hands of any one person or organization—neither mine nor anyone else’s. If we can preserve the principles, the Web promises some fantastic future capabilities.   …

The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine.

Bob Pauls writes for his company, Des Moines Tech Support, about appropriate technology and computers in business, education, and community development. You can follow Bob on Twitter @desmoinestech.  Bob’s e-mail address is bpauls@dsmtechsupport.com

Free ButtonAs a way of saying thanks to everyone, Des Moines Tech Support is providing free, telephone-based tech support to anyone and everyone on Thanksgiving Day from Noon to 4 PM.

Got a computer tech problem or question? Call and we’ll give you up to 15 minutes of free, professional help with no strings attached. No sales pitch, no hype, no money – just the answer to your needs during these stressful holidays. You don’t even need to give your name, phone or e-mail.

Happy Thanksgiving from Des Moines Tech Support!

Call 515-635-5621 and say you’re calling to Talk Tech on Turkey Day.

I count myself among the early champions of the internet who believed that the highest potential for Internet technology would be for sharing information, advancing personal prosperity, creating liberty for all. That’s one of the reasons why I started a BBS in 1990 and later an ISP. Our aspirations for the internet were probably similar to those that championed creation of public libraries and public schools.

We proponents of appropriate technology have always known that there could be a dark side to the Internet. The Web could:

  • Become a tool for censorship and propaganda.
  • Lead to addictive behavior, productivity decline, and ill-health.

There is increasing evidence of these negatives. Google, Facebook and others have been lax in protecting user privacy. Nation states (E.G. China) are openly censoring content, and academics worldwide are expressing increasing concern for the effects of “excessive Internet use”, in particular social media. They say that social media use is having negative consequences for the health of children.

A report out of Great Britain this week, Social networking: teachers blame Facebook and Twitter for pupils’ poor grades, heaps blame for poor student achievement on excessive use of social media. The report was issued by a private outdoor recreation business, so the conclusions are somewhat suspect. But, even more damning and illuminating is a fresh New York Times video, Fast Times at Woodside High. It documents the battle taking place for the attention and concentration of young minds.

Part of the ongoing education debate in the US focuses on the failure of the ‘industrial training” methodology still in use in our schools and the increasing dependence of young minds on instant gratification. Social media has the potential to be too distracting from other important activity. Simply stated, it’s hard to find time for learning core academic subjects when a student is otherwise engaged sending up to 900 text messages a day or playing video games 30-50 hours a week. Yes, social media helps develop other types of skills, but at what cost? When is there time to do homework, eat, sleep, and spend some recreation time outdoors?

Until recently, I’ve not been an alarmist about the future of technology and student achievement. Tech can truly enhance learning. I’ve worked as a high school technology coordinator; have been a strong proponent for erasing the digital divide, and promoted social media as a tool for learning and building communities of interest. But now I’m starting to have more serious doubts about social media, all the while increasingly using it myself. Maybe I’m becoming the curmudgeon I never wanted to be.

Non Sequitur courtesy of Universal Uclick. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

I’m worried. Heavy technology use is affecting our brains. No, I’m not talking about the risk of ionizing radiation from cell phones. (The National Institute of Health is still engaged in studies on that subject until 2014.) I do fear that obsessive social media use is affecting our safety and the nation’s capacity to meet the challenges of the future. How many car drivers have you seen distracted talking or texting on their phones. I see about one a day.

The Fast Times…video does a good job of portraying the behavioral and cultural risks of too much tech. The subject really warrants our attention … after I check my e-mail, send my Twitter tweet about this post and update my website, blog, and Facebook page, and answer .. (excuse me, I’ll be back to finish this post after I text my friend back).

Related Websites: The Side Effects of Media


Bob Pauls writes for his company, Des Moines Tech Support, about appropriate technology and computers in business, education, and community development. You can follow Bob on Twitter @desmoinestech.  Bob’s e-mail address is bpauls@dsmtechsupport.com

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