An Open Letter to FiveThirtyEight.com
I am so grateful that I felt compelled to pen this email to the reporters at FiveThirtyEight.com, praising them for their work on the Live Blog that has been my mainstay these past few days. I thought they deserved public recognition (such as it is on this badly-neglected site), so I’m reprinting it here.[Read more…] about An Open Letter to FiveThirtyEight.com
The Digital Home Hub – Family Calendar
If your family is anything like mine, every day is aflutter with activities — Cub Scouts, Football Practice, Soccer Practice, Parkour Class, etc. And as our eldest enters Junior High next year, the number of goings-on is only likely to increase.
With all this hubbub, we’ve experienced mornings when we’ve started hustling the kids out the door to get to school, only to realize that today is School Picture Day or Field Trip Day or Crazy Socks Day or whatever the school has cooked up. And, of course, we simultaneously realize that our child is woefully unprepared for the occasion — dressed all wrong for picture day, failing to have the correct accouterments for field day, and with socks that are unmatched, but not exactly “crazy”. [Read more…] about The Digital Home Hub – Family Calendar
Alexa as a part of the family: We got Skills
Since we added the Amazon Echo to the household last year, it’s been fascinating to see how my children (now 7 and 10) have adapted to “her” presence. The youngest delighted in asking Alexa to tell him corny jokes and, more practically, used the device to time himself when doing his homework. The oldest learned quickly how one needed to ask her questions to yield useful answers. Digital natives, to be sure.
Since then, Alexa has become an integral part of our lives. I use her to entertain me and answer questions while my hands are occupied with cooking or washing dishes. She’s set to remind us of when we should be headed out the door every school day, and we’ve set up a Friday playlist on Spotify — which, of course, include two versions of Rebecca Black’s classic — to cheer us and get us moving on the last day of the work/school-week. I even replaced my bedside alarm clock with a Dot.
So when I started to investigate the idea of Alexa Skills, it was natural that I involved my kids — well, one kid in particular who happens to love trains.
[Read more…] about Alexa as a part of the family: We got Skills
How I made my drip irrigation system “smart” and automatic
X-Post from my other personal site, Free-Range.org
Though this site mostly chronicles my adventures in the natural domain, astute readers may have guessed what a tech dork I actually am. If you haven’t, you’ll be certain after this post.
In my work life, I’m online all the time and I’ve seen software developers make great strides recently toward automating formerly mundane tasks. For example, when someone fills out a form online, I used to be emailed the output and that’s all. Now I can have it auto-imported into a contact management database and sent to a spreadsheet at the same time, so I can sort it, update it and refer to it super easily. Previously, this would have required me to do data entry in a variety of different places — and each time there was the potential for me to make an error.
Of course, I’m eager to apply these time-saving shortcuts in my non-work life, as well. Hence, the project I’ll outline here. [Read more…] about How I made my drip irrigation system “smart” and automatic