Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Realm of the Mad God: Halloween 2012

Realm of the Mad God pumpkin, HalloweenRealm of the Mad God is the new MineCraft. It seems to be in this house, anyway. The Maker Tween dedicated our 2012 pumpkin to ROTMG with a nod to the old, annoying classic Nyan Cat.

If you've never heard of ROTMG, MineCraft or Nyan Cat, you probably don't have teen boys in your house.

realm of the mad god halloween pumpkin
added 11/2 It looked pretty sweet outside at night on our porch.
 Oh, you may have noticed things are pretty quiet on this blog. I've been dedicating most of my blogging energy toward my newer blog, The Maker Mom, as well as building up the monthly Twitter discussion I started, #STEMchat.

Speaking of The Maker Mom, click over to learn more about the alien egg below.
Alien Egg for  Halloween or Easter from The Maker Mom


Monday, October 15, 2012

To Safely Go Where I've Never Gone Before P.S. I have a smartphone

Safely Go Android app

(Updated 10/19) I’ve recently been talking with the folks at Location Labs, who make Safely services, a family of apps that make life easier for digital families. They’ve asked me to take a look at their new app, Safely Go, and share a few thoughts on it. At the risk of losing all my social media cred, I will admit that I got my first smartphone just a few weeks ago. "How can you not have a smart phone?" my techy friends ask. Heck, even some of my non-tech friends have asked.

For me, avoiding a smart phone was one of my digital wellness habits. At home, I'm so connected to my computer- tied to the holy trinity of email, Facebook and Twitter (okay and G+ and my other email account and my other blog, etc.), that it's been a relief to go out and know that I'm in touch with real life, not the virtual one.

And then I sat on my backpack while at my son's cross country meet and cracked the screen on my phone. It was unusable for anything other than receiving calls. I had upgrade credits with my provider and knew if I got a "dumb" phone, I'd be stuck with it long after I wanted to go smart.

So here I am with a smartphone. Gah! I haven't completely lost control of my ability to unplug when out, but at a recent event with my tween, I snapped a shot (he was so cute!) and as I attempted to Tweet it he got annoyed and told me to put the phone away.

I did.

Without Tweeting.

The folks at Safely have a free app called Safely Go, that can help you draw the line in the virtual sand as part of your digital wellness plan. It's designed to keep distractions down when driving, to keep all but your most important people from reaching you.

Safely Go stops distracted driving by, well, keeping distractions at bay. It blocks calls and texts when it's activated. The app allows up to 3 VIP callers (I'd like to see users have the option to up it to maybe 5 or 6) to get through, while others go straight to voicemail.

Safely Go ANdroid App 3 VIP callers
Image via Safely Go

As for texts, it can send an autoreply that users can customize. My teen is in the habit of texting rather than calling, and he seems to have a knack for contacting me when I'm driving and then gets annoyed when I don't respond right away. Now he'll know to call me instead of texting. Or simply wait for me.

Safely Go also lets users have access to three "driving apps." For me, it chose Google Maps, navigation and "play music," but I could select whatever I thought best--I just haven't loaded many apps yet.

I've been testing it out for several days now, and I'm thinking that it's just as handy for meetings--or anytime I don't want to be disturbed-- as it is for driving.

My teen doesn't yet have a smart phone or a driver's license, but both are on the horizon and I'm thinking this is going to be one of the first apps he downloads when the time comes.

Safely makes a variety of products to help digital families including phone controls and a family locator. Stay in touch with Safely on Twitter and Facebook.