Tonight a friend posted a plea for help on her Facebook.  It seems her three-year-old daughter was playing with her iPod and afterwards her audio book was playing in fast forward, despite attempts to power it off and back on.  I love to figure things out, so I did what I always do when I need to know something - I googled it.  And I was able to find a solution to said problem.  Love it! What I love even more is the way technology allows us to toss out a question to our friends and then go back to doing other things like washing dishes or doing homework.  It gives us the freedom to check back for the answer once we find another spare moment, and does not force us to do extensive research when we just don't have the time.  She was busy.  I was not.  Her problem was solved and everyone is happy.

Texting works the same way.  I am able to send little messages throughout the day to let my partner know how things are going, or that I'm thinking about him, and he is able to read and respond when he has a spare minute, and so on.  It allows us to stay connected when we are both caught up, doing our own thing.  This is important to me because when I am in school mode and he is working, our schedules just don't mesh.  And without the use of these technologies, we might go whole days without communicating on some level.  Some people believe that these types of technologies are diminishing traditional social interactions.  Maybe that is the case for some, but I still engage in other forms like face-to-face conversation, Skyping, or phone calls.  I think I just have more options than I did before.

Do you think technology helps or hinders your connections?

I am admittedly a little behind in watching the live sessions for my ECMP 355 course.  I am just coming off my mid-week that was full of papers, presentations, and exams and just haven't had a chance to sit and watch for an hour. Tonight I watched the session from last week which featured Alec Couros, professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina.  He presented on the topic of Digital Citizenship and Identity. He talked about lots of things like the scare ads put out to encourage children to be safe about what they post on the internet, because you never know who might be looking at the content.  Here is one I found:
Picture courtesy of http://www.softwarewithstyle.com/guides/13?page=5
This always reminds me of the cautionary tales the Faculty of Education pass down to us about school boards searching for new teacher hires on Facebook to see what they are up to.  This seems to cause some panic amongst my classmates which makes me wonder what they have posted on their profiles.  Personally, I am friends with my dad so I always think about whether or not it is something I would want him to see.  If the answer is no then chances are it isn't suitable for the internet.  Plus, I am partial to posting things like good recipes and prompts to encourage people to read this blog.  And every once in a while I do what I refer to as a "friend cleanse" where I go through and delete people that I don't actually consider a friend.  I have one criterion and that is if I would look the other way if I saw you in public, then we are not friends and I do not think you need to be updated on the happenings of my life.  Or the delicious things I made for supper.

Alec also talked about some of the positive things that have come from the accessibility of the web and one was a website called the It Gets Better Project, which is a site dedicated to giving hope to youth from the LGBT community who face a great deal of harassment.  It all started with one video by Dan Savage and is now something much larger with inspirational videos from US President Barack Obama, Anne Hathaway, and Lady Gaga. Here is a short video that Google Chrome put together about the initiative:
I had never seen this video before Alec asked us to watch it tonight, and it almost moved me to tears.  Then he mentioned the video that a young man by the name of Jamey Rodermeyer contributed about his experience. Unfortunately, Jamey ended up committing suicide a few months later due to the bullying he was experiencing because of his sexual orientation.  I watched his video and you could tell that he was trying to stay positive but that the hurt he was feeling was cutting quite deep.  It made me sad to think that his life had come to be so unbearable that it had become not worth living. But when I scrolled down to the comments on YouTube, it all seemed so blatantly obvious.

I have never read such hateful and ignorant comments about something so serious.  Some had been written hours ago, some days ago, but they all had the same message of intolerance and were all being posted by the same user. I was astonished that no one was doing anything more then engaging this person in banter, so I took matters into my own hands and reported him/her to YouTube.  However, this was not as easy as it should have been.  It took me nearly 10 minutes to figure out how to report the inappropriate comments. I had to search in a number of places before I found the form here.  I am trying to stay positive about the situation by thinking that maybe other people had as much trouble trying to report the comments but weren't as persistent as me.

This whole situation reminded me about how easy technology has made it for people to spew hateful words at or about another human being.  It is much easier to say those things when you aren't confronted with the pain and emotion on the face of the other person.  Would that person have said those things to Jamey's face?  Or to the face of his grieving parents?  I doubt it.  I think I did the right thing tonight.  What would you have done?

“Always stand up for what you believe in…even if it means standing alone.” ~ Kim Hanks
Today I decided to add a Facebook like button to the about page on my site.  I searched in Weebly for the directions and followed the link provided to Facebook's easy instructions.  Once I had filled out my info and got my codes pasted into Weebly's HTML editor, I noticed that it was showing up on both my blog and my about page. I didn't want this because the blog already has a like button after each post.  So I went back into the HTML editor, created a new page type, copied the codes directly from the default page so my blog would look the same, deleted the Facebook codes I had added, and then went to the "Pages" tab in the editor bar and changed the page type of my blog from the default layout to this new page I had created.  So simple now that I have spent some time playing around with the codes.  Maybe I have a future in computer programming.  Either way, visit my about tab and "like" my page!
The Birthday Boy
Today was my nephew's 4th birthday.  Both of my sisters live in British Columbia, so I don't get to see them as often as I would like, especially these days while I am living on my student salary.  My mom is there visiting right now and I feel slight pangs of jealousy as I flip through pictures my older sister has posted on Facebook.  Last night while Austin was sleeping, the crew blew up a bunch of balloons and covered his bedroom floor with them.  Needless to say he was delighted to find the sea of balloons in his room this morning.  The day went on to include lots of fun such as multiple bike rides on his sweet new bike, a visit to the bug zoo, a trip to the children's farm, and a walk around the park.

Millipede Mustache
Like Father, Like Son
Can I have a bite?
After my night class this evening, I called Austin to wish him a happy birthday.  He was busy playing when I phoned so my sister had to coax him into taking my call.  This is the special conversation that we had:

Miss W: "Hi Austin!"

A: "Who's dis?"

Miss W: "It's Auntie Michelle."

A: "Hi Annie Shell!"

Miss W: "Is it your birthday today, Austin?"

A: "No" (to my sister) "Is it my birthday?"

K: "Yes"

A: "It is my birthday!  It is!  It is!"

Miss W: "I thought so!  Happy birthday, buddy!  How old are you today?"

A: "I is 4.  I go play now."

I haven't been able to spend a birthday with him yet, but am very thankful that technology allows me to still be a part of his day.  Because without it my sister would not have been able to post pictures to Facebook for me to creep, she would not have been able to email them to me to jazz up my blog, and I would not have been able to call my little buddy on his birthday from school before his bedtime.  High fives to technology!