Tasty Tidbits on the Tech Front

Will you take me so I can text?
The traditional quest to get a driver's license at 16 is on the wane, as a generation hooked on texting, Facebook, and being driven around by parents no longer sees independent mobility as critical to their social lives. Just 30.7 percent of 16-year-olds got their licenses in 2008, down from 44.7 percent in 1988. - The Washington Post

The Always, Always, Always-On Generation
It's hardly news that young people are fascinated with social media, video games, TV, and iPods, but a new study finds the average young person from 8 to 18 now spends literally every waking moment outside of school on the Internet, watching TV, listening to music on MP3 players, texting, or using some other electronic device. That comes to kids spending an average of seven and half hours daily consuming media in some form, AND, when you include multitasking, kids actually consume close to 11 hours' worth of content in that time. Study co-author Donald Roberts said, "This is a stunner."
- The Kaiser Family Foundation

What happened with Google, something about China?
The Internet giant announced last week that it would stop censoring its Chinese search engine, after suffering what it called a "sophisticated cyber-attack" on the private Google email accounts of Chinese dissidents. Google stopped short of blaming Beijing directly for the attack, but the company's actions speak volumes. Since 2006, Chinese users searching for "Tiananmen Square massacre" or "Dalai Lama" have come up empty. Now, says Google, all searches will be unfiltered, even if it means the company's expulsion from China and the loss of around $600 million in annual revenue. - The Week

Privacy Watch: The FBI Illegally Snooped
The FBI illegally gathered records of more than 2,000 domestic telephone calls between 2002 and 2006, by invoking nonexistent terrorist threats or by simply asking phone companies for the information. The bureau often justified the privacy violations by issuing approvals for its record-collecting after the fact. Calling their methods "good hearted but not well thought-out," FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni said, "We should have stopped those request from being made that way." Records show that FBI managers continued to approve requests for records for two years after bureau lawyers raised concerns. - The Washington Post

How the Feds Actually Helped Spies and Hackers
Google made headlines recently when it announced that computer hackers, presumably from China, had broken into its servers, said Bruce Schneier. What is less well known is that the U.S. government inadvertently aided the hackers. After 9/11, at Washington's request, Google created a backdoor access system that allows the feds to spy on email and other Internet transactions. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access, and it's not just foreign spies who are sneaking through the backdoor: U.S. intelligence agents have been caught using their access to spy on wives, girlfriends, and notables such as President Clinton. Criminals have broken in to steal credit card and back account information. Far from making us more secure, these systems put us all at greater risk. - CNN.com

The CES in Vegas was a Success
A comprehensive keynote address from Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and innovative product announcements from top technology companies fueled excitement at the 2010 International CES, the world's largest tradeshow for consumer technology. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association, the show this year featured the world’s most innovative new technologies, from android products and apps to tablets, eReaders, netbooks and smartphones. View a list of the new products announced at the 2010 CES here.

Is the iPad another game changer?
Like other revolutionary products by Apple, the industry is buzzing about how the iPad could change the way people use media. Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the iPad as "a third category of device" that falls between a laptop and a smart phone. Known as a tablet, or netbook, publishers are betting the device and its bright 10-inch screen, will renew interest in reading books online (which are conveniently available at Apple's new iBooks store ;-) Read more here.

As seen in The Week, subscribe to The Week here!
Happy February,
Erin



I'll Say It Again: Big Brother Really is Watching You

"How do you feel about the federal government's spying on everything you do online, every call you make, every trip you take?" asked Brian Doherty of The American Conservative. Get used to it.


Thanks to the "massive security apparatus" erected after 9/11 , the government now wiretaps international calls without warrants, creates profiles of citizens even if they're not suspected of specific crimes, and seizes information without judicial oversight.

In this brave new world, private companies--"to which we entrust more and more information about what we are saying, writing, buying, and thinking:--willingly turn over reams of information about their customers. Much of this takes place secretly, but it has been confirmed, for example, that Sprint Nextel provided the government with GPS locations of its subscribers 8 million times in a recent one-year period, and that the National Security Agency built a secret room at an AT&T center in San Francisco "to grab all its Internet traffic." In our wired age, the paranoids with aluminum-foil hats are essentially right: The government is now monitoring everything you do. - As seen in The Week

For more online shocking online privacy revelations, watch Big Brother, Big Business,
Erin

New: TXT MSGing Helps Develop Spelling


This just in: Text messaging is found to help develop rather than damage spelling. A new study reported by the BBC found that children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly.

A study of eight- to 12-year-olds found that rather than damaging reading and writing, "text speak" is associated with strong literacy skills. Researchers say text language uses word play and requires an awareness of how sounds relate to written English.

Improving 'hmwrk'
The study suggests that students who regularly use text language - with all its mutations of phonetic spelling and abbreviations - also appear to be developing skills in the more formal use of English. If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it, according to one researcher.

The research, part-funded by the British Academy, suggests that texting requires the same "phonological awareness" needed to learn correct spellings. So when pupils replace or remove sounds, letters or syllables - such as "l8r" for "later" or "hmwrk" for "homework" - it requires an understanding of what the original word should be.

Instead of texting being a destructive influence on learners, the academics argue that it offers them a chance to "practise reading and spelling on a daily basis". Using initials and abbreviations and understanding phonetics and rhymes are part of texting - but they are also part of successful reading and spelling development.

As I've always said to educators and parents, don't get frustrated, get creative. If text shorthand is helping kids write more or communicate more , that's great, that's what teachers and educators want, to get students communicating. Read more and listen to Erin's radio interview on Voice of America about how experts are divided over Internet changes to language.
CUL8R,
Erin

Hi from Silicon Valley, time for a little laugh!


It's a new year, you got a new job, and you're moving to a new city? It's all part of the American experience. If you haven't gotten a chuckle over this one yet, enjoy! Read it to the beat of the song, "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed,
A poor college kid, barely kept his family fed,
But then one day he was talking to a recruiter,
Who said, "They pay big bucks if ya work on a computer..."

Windows, that is... PC's... Internet...

Well, the first thing ya know ol' Jed's an engineer.
The kinfolk said "Jed, move away from here."
They said, "California is the place ya oughta be,"
So he packed up his disks and moved to Silicon Valley...

Intel, that is... Pentium... big amusement park...

On his first day at work, they stuck him in a cube.
Fed him lots of donuts and sat him at a tube.
They said "your project's late, but we know just what to do.
Instead of 40 hours, we'll work you 52!"

OT, that is... unpaid... no personal days...

The weeks rolled by and things were looking pretty bad.
Schedules started slipping and some managers were mad.
They called another meeting and decided on a fix.
The answer was simple... "We'll work him 66!"

Tired, that is... stressed out... no social life...

Months turned to years and his hair was turning gray.
Jed worked very hard while his life slipped away.
Waiting to retire when he turned 64,
Instead he got a call and escorted out the door.

Laid off, that is... debriefed... unemployed...

Now the moral of the story is listen to what you're told,
Companies will use you and discard you when you're old.
So gather up your friends and start up your own firm,
Beat the competition, watch the bosses squirm.

Millionaires, that is... Bill Gates... Steve Jobs...

Y'all come back for blog updates now... ya hear ;-)
Erin

It's the Largest List of Text & Chat Acronyms

Now in print! It's outrageous, it's fun, it's a great gift. Our new book "NetLingo: The List" is both a handy desktop reference and a "coffee table meets toilet humor" book containing thousands of hilarious sayings used by millions of people.

NetLingo is the leader in tracking online terms and "NetLingo: The List" is the largest collection of text and chat acronyms:

* People magazine says "The NetLingo Guide to acronyms is super!"
* It's modern, it's shocking, it's funny, it's real, it's timely, it's handy, it educates, it entertains
* Explains the difference between acronyms, abbreviations, shorthand, initialisms, and leetspeak
* Takes an inside look at the dynamic language that eludes conformity or consistency
* Contains a cornucopia of crude humor, sexual content, profanity, drug & alcohol references
* Material is not appropriate for children under 12 due to mature and suggestive themes
* Only $9.95, get copies of "NetLingo: The List" here!

OMG, that is so last century...

Do you remember the days when a family would sit together and chat as they ate breakfast? How about the time when adults would read the newspaper and competed only with the television for the attention of their kids?

Today the morning routine is more likely to revolve around parents checking e-mail and Facebook and Twitter accounts, and kids sending text messages, playing video games and updating their social networking profiles.

Welcome to 2010! If you're like most people, this new routine can cause some conflict and complaints, mainly that technology is eating into family time. According to a recent article in the New York Times, this is morning in America in the Internet age. After six to eight hours of network deprivation --also known as sleep-- people are increasingly waking up and lunging for cellphones and laptops, sometimes even before swinging their legs to the floor and tending to more biologically urgent activities =:-0

If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you may want to make a New Year's resolution: Resist the impulse of diving into the digital domain so early and instead, set aside family time. Meeting your own standards will be tough as your CrackBerry will be tempting you, but switching from work mode to parenting mode is important, especially if technology has started to take precedence over morning cereal. And don't forget to walk to dog who's most likely been doing a longer dance each day at the door <(-'.'-)>

Happy New Year everyone!
Erin