Hi Hen? Purging Gender from the Language

Can an entire society become gender-neutral? Sweden wants to try. The country that brought us 16 months of paid parental leave and mandatory pay equality between the sexes has embarked on a crusade to abolish gender roles.

According to Megan Levy in The Age, Toy catalogs now feature photos of boys pushing doll carriages and girls playing with cars. State-run preschools have been instructed to avoid referring to children as girls or boys, and many of them have hired “gender pedagogues” who “help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.” That task was made easier a few months ago, when a children’s book author pioneered a new pronoun, hen, as an alternative to the words han and hon for “he” and “she.” Kivi & Monsterhund tells the story of a child named Kivi, of indeterminate gender, who wants a dog for “hen’s” birthday. The book sparked a lively discussion on social-media sites, and now hen has been added to the national online encyclopedia.

It’s ironic that this is happening now, said Carin Stenstrom in Skanska Dagbladet (Skane, Sweden), when Swedish children live in a world “with much greater emphasis on gender difference” than there was in their parents’ or grandparents’ youth. When I was growing up in the postwar decades, the prevailing ideal was that clothes should be practical and easy to clean. Pastel shades were out, even for dresses, and forget about ruffles or bows. “As a mother, I followed the same ideals.” My sons and daughter wore the same rompers and overalls, and had the same home-cut hairstyle. For a while in the ’60s and ’70s, parents were tossing around mixed-gender names like May-Bjorn and Karl-Astrid. But nowadays, girls dress head to toe in flouncy pink and boys look like mini lumberjacks.

Not everyone is thrilled with the attempt to erase those sex differences, said Carl Erland Andersson in Goteborgs-Posten (Gothenburg, Sweden). Jan Guillou, one of our best-known authors, said in a recent interview that proponents of hen were “feminist activists who want to destroy our language.” But that’s an overreaction. The word hen certainly “sounds a bit pompous,” and it will add another layer of blandness to the language if it catches on. But that’s a big if. Language is an evolving tool that grows organically. No commandment from on high can suddenly change the way we speak and write; we have to adopt new words on our own.

Still, if any country can erase sex differences from language, it’s Sweden, said Thomas Steinfeld in the Suddeutsche Zeitung (Germany). The Swedes already tinkered with Swedish once in the name of equality, and it was a great success. In the late 1960s, state institutions abolished the use of Ni, the formal version of “you” that corresponds to the French vous or German Sie. The formal pronoun was seen as hierarchical, and Sweden was—and is—all about leveling the playing field. Yet can changing the way Swedes speak really change Swedish society? Here in Germany, we’ve gone from calling people of other ethnic backgrounds “foreigners” to calling them “immigrants” and, now, the politically correct “people of migrant origin.” The change in terms has not bettered their lot one iota.

- As seen in The Week
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Ugh, 1 in 5 Macs have malware!

In a challenge to the prevailing belief that Apple computers are immune to the sort of cyberattacks that plague Windows-based machines, research firm Sophos has released a study claiming that 1 in 5 Macs has malware.

According to Todd Wasserman of Mashable, the report, released in April 2012, is based on a "100,000-strong snapshot" of the millions of Macs that downloaded Sophos's free Mac antivirus software. The study found that 20 percent of Macs were carrying one or more instances of Windows malware.

Such malware doesn't cause symptoms unless the Mac owners run Windows on their machines, but it can be spread to others.

However, this doesn't appear to be solely a Windows-based problem. The report also found that 2.7 percent of Macs were infected with Mac OS malware. The majority of such Mac OS malware is composed of fake antivirus attacks, like the recent Flashback botnet. Mac owners can contract such malware by downloading e-mail attachments, visiting rogue websites and unknowingly installing it via their USB drive.

To avoid downloading such malware, Sophos recommends running an antivirus program and keeping it up to date, exercising caution about which links you click on, keeping software patches current and keeping an eye out for e-mail-based scams.

- As seen on Mashable
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Is the Digital World Killing Creativity?

Sure, you can use that smart phone to create an emotionally stirring Instagram of the waffles you had for brunch in mere seconds. But that same device can also serve as a ball and chain for the working world: emails constantly arrive, even during off hours; LinkedIn requests buzz after networking events; and has that important new contact followed you on Twitter yet?

According to Sam Laird of Mashable.com, while our current age of digital disruption has opened a cornucopia of new casual creative endeavors, the networked generation’s ability to multitask — and the constant need for instantaneous action — may also be hindering creativity.

Consider this: In a recent global study, three-quarters of respondents said their creative potential is being stifled. More than 60% of American said their education systems squelch creativity, and a majority of total respondents said pressure at work hurts creativity. Yet 80% of respondents worldwide said allowing creativity to flourish is critical to economic growth.

Those numbers come from a recent survey of 5,000 adults in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan. The study was commissioned by software giant Adobe, and its results were announced Monday.

Given that Adobe just released the latest version of its wildly popular Creative Suite line of products including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, it’s no surprise the company would play up the need for a more hospitable climate for experimentation. But the study’s findings do indicate that people worldwide feel unfulfilled creatively. Check out this infographic for the full picture :-)

- As seen in Mashable
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Fun! 25 Awesome iPhone Tips and Tricks

Whether you're a seasoned user or brand new to the iPhone world, chances are you're probably not using your smart phone to its fullest. Don't worry, you're not alone, as these pocket-sized computers boast many hundreds of features buried in the operating system.

And so here is Marc Saltzman of Digital Crave who shares a number of favorite iPhone tips and tricks, some of which you may know already. Hopefully there's a good number of ones you aren't aware of yet. Most of these following 25 suggestions will work with all versions of the iPhone, but be sure to have the latest software installed (iOS 5.1).

OK, here we go:

1) Take a photo with your headphone cord: Now that you can use the volume up or down buttons to snap a photo, steady your hand while framing up the photo and when you're ready to take the picture, press the button on the cord so it won't shake the iPhone. Voila!

2) Dry out a wet iPhone: You're not the first one to drop an iPhone in a toiler or sink. If this happens, don't turn it on as you can damage the smartphone by short-circuiting it. Lightly towel dry the phone. Don't use a hairdryer on the phone as it can further push moisture into areas that aren't wet. Submerge the iPhone in a bowl or Ziploc bag of uncooked white rice and leave it overnight. If you have it, try using a desiccant packet you might find with a new pair of shoes or leather purse.

3) Dismiss suggested words: If you're typing an email or note and the virtual keyboard is suggesting the correct spelling of the word — and you don't want to accept it — you don't need to tap the tiny "X" at the end of the word in question. Simply tap anywhere on the screen to close the suggestion box.

4) Take photos faster: Even if your iPhone is locked you can double-tap on the Home button and you'll see a camera icon you can tap to open the camera immediately. Now you can use the volume up button to snap the photo, too. You can also use the volume up on the headphone cord to take a photo (if you want to) and pinch the screen to zoom instead of using the slider bar.

5) Use location-based reminders: You probably know Siri can be used to set a reminder, like saying "Siri, remind me to call mom at 4pm today." But did you know you can set location-based reminders on your iPhone 4S? Say "Remind me to call mom when I leave here" or "Remind me to call mom when I get home" and you'll be notified accordingly. Nice!

6) Get word definitions: Apple has recently added a built-in dictionary and you can access it in most apps that let you select a word. Simply press and hold on a word — such as in an email, reminder, iBooks, and so on — and you'll see a pop-up option for "Define." We need to get NetLingo bundled in there :-)

7) Revive a frozen iPhone: If your smartphone freezes on you and pressing the Sleep/Wake button on top of the device doesn't do anything, don't panic. Instead, press and hold the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time. You'll be prompted to swipe the "Slide to Power Off" tab. This so-called "hard reset" resuscitates the frozen iPhone. You'll first need to wait through a full shut down and restart.

8) Get more done in less time: You can create shortcuts to words and phrases you use a lot, such as Northern California Association for Employment in Education. In Settings, go to General, then Keyboard, and select Add New Shortcut. Now you can add new words or phrases and assign shortcuts to them (such as "NCAEE," in the above example, and it'll type out the full word each time.

9) See a 6-day weather forecast: If you're one of the many weather junkies out there, you probably know you can swipe down the iOS device's screen and you'll see the Notifications center. Weather will be at the top, but did you know you can swipe to the left or right and you'll toggle between current conditions and a 6-day forecast? Plus, jump to the Weather app by tapping anywhere on the weather bar inside Notifications screen.

10) Select URL domains faster: When typing a website address in Safari, you don't have to type the ".com." For example, you can type "yahoo" in the URL box to get to yahoo.com. On a related note, you can press and hold down the .com button and you'll see a list of alternatives to choose, such as .net, .org and .edu.

11) Make your own ringtone: Don't settle with the ringtones provided by Apple and you need not pay your carrier for more of them. As the name suggests, the free Ringtone Maker app lets you take a clip from your favorite songs and make ringtones out of them in seconds.

12) Feel and see when people call: Apple has added a number of accessibility features to iOS 5, specifically designed to assist those with hearing, vision, mobility and other disabilities. For example, those who are hearing impaired might opt to have the LED flash when a call comes in. If you're seeing impaired, you could set a unique vibration pattern for different people in your Contacts, so you know who's calling.

13) Find your lost iPhone: As long as you sign up in advance, the free Find My iPhone app will help you locate your device on a map (on your computer or other iOS device). You can display a message or initiate a loud ring (in case it's under the cushions), or remotely lock or wipe its data.

14) Save photos in Safari: You're surfing the web in Safari and stumble upon a photo you'd like to save. Simply press and hold on a photo when on a website and you'll be prompted with a menu asked if you'd like to "Save Image." Once the photo is saved, you can view it offline, email it or set it as wallpaper.

15) Take an iPhone screen grab: On a related note, if you want to take a screenshot of a website or application, press down on the Home button and tap the Sleep button. You'll hear the camera click, see a white flash and the screenshot will be saved to your Camera Roll.

16) Get new sounds: It's been a long time coming, but Apple has added the ability to select custom tones for incoming text messages, new emails, voicemails, tweets, calendar alerts, reminders and more. You can select something you like from within the Sounds menu. You'll also notice you can scroll to the top of this list of sounds and you'll see a "Buy More Tones" option, which takes you to iTunes.

17) Zip to the top of the page: In Mail, Safari, Contacts and other apps, simply tap the status bar at the top of the screen — the area that displays time, battery and cell bars — to jump back to the top quickly.

18) Prolong your battery: Speaking of the battery, here's how to squeeze more life out of your iPhone between charges. Turn down the brightness of your screen, turn off wireless radios you don't use (such as GPS, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) and reduce the number of apps with info you have "pushed" to your phone. Also, make sure you lock it before putting in your pocket, purse or backpack or else it could turn on and drain the battery.

19) Spread out the keyboard for easier typing: Here's a tip for iPad users: If you like typing while holding the tablet, rather than stretch your fingers or thumbs for those middle letters like G, H, Y or B, you can drag the keyboard to each side of the screen to separate it into two, allowing you to easily type while holding it.

20) Learn some gestures: Close any app ridiculously fast by putting your four fingers and thumb stretched on the screen and pinch inwards. Sweet! You can also magnify what's on your iPhone screen with a three-finger tap. You'll first need to go to Settings, General, Accessibility, and select the various gestures options here.

21) Create an "app" out of a website you visit often: To add a website to your Home screen, just visit the webpage in Safari and at the top of the screen, tap the Go To icon and select "Add to Home Screen."

22) Create a music playlist on the fly: You no longer need a computer to create a playlist. In the Music app, tap Playlists, then select Add Playlist and give it a name ("Marc's Workout Mix"). Now, tap any song (or video) to add it to the playlist. You can add individual songs, entire albums, or all songs by a particular artist.

23) Don't waste your day deleting messages individually: You can delete unwanted emails en masse rather than deleting one at a time. In your Inbox, simply click the Edit button and check off the emails you want to delete with your finger and then choose Delete.

24) Keep track of your texting limits: If you don't have the best texting plan and don't want to unnecessarily pay to send more texts than you need, here's a tip to turn on the character count in the Messages app. Enable this in the Settings>Message option to keep an eye on your word count. Usually, your one text becomes two after 160 characters.

25) Mirror your iPhone with your TV: If you own an Apple TV, you can instantly and wirelessly share exactly what's on your iPhone 4S or second- and third-generation iPad with your HDTV, connected to an Apple TV — such as games, apps or videos. Simply double-tap the Home button, swipe all the way to the right and select AirPlay Mirroring.

- As seen on Digital Crave
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