Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cool homeschooling resources online, that aren't just for homeschoolers: Back to school tech guide 2013

Along with books, YouTube channels, and educational apps, there are loads of smart and fun websites that both my kids and I agree are worthwhile supplements to their schoolwork. And as I get ready to start my eighth (gulp) year homeschooling three kids, I've gathered together 8 of our favorite sites for exploring new topics, practicing math facts, or just having fun while learning something new. You don't even have to be a homeschooler to love them. - Christina

Internet Security – Time to lockdown my nerd apprentice – part 2

In my first post I gave a brief overview of how I am creating a security/protection strategy for my family network.
Suffice it to say I am trying to get ahead of my little nerd/geek before he knows what's up. In the last week alone with the blog post and the changes I have already made at the firewall level and the relentless requesting of his phone I think he's starting to get suspicious. I need to toe a fine line, I want to lock him down but not be repressive. If I am to hard line I will probably trigger some animal instinct to make him want to break out from under the thumb of "the Man".

Progress on the Lock down...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Internet Security – Time to lockdown my nerd apprentice

Nerd-Proof Web Content Filtering....does it exist?

The whole reason I started this site was to discuss topics about raising a nerd. My little nerd is a boy at the precipice of puberty; he got his first pimple two days ago. By definition nerds are smart and being smart he will undoubtedly have the skills, either taught by me or one of his nerd friends, to bypass any cursory attempts at internet security.  

Up until this point we have made sure that his internet activity has been in a visible place, usually on the couch next to me or his mother. We will also periodically go through his browsing history to see if we find anything that comes close to inappropriate. So far this has sufficed but as I said earlier, nerd boy is on the precipice of puberty and pretty soon the hormones are going to really kick in. Remember the pimple?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

22nd Anniversary-- What My Wife means to me

As of today I have been married 22 years.

I had to make the title big so my wife would notice the post.

The first part of the post is a brief synopsis of the last twenty two years.  I give an over view of each of the major segments so far in our marriage for those of you who don't know me in real life.  Since this is highly personal I have left out a lot of things, gotta keep some things private.  Basically the first part of this post is a State of the Marriage.  The marriage is strong.  

If my wife actually reads this she needs to read all the way to the bottom because that section is for her.


Early Years

Over twenty-two years ago I made the best decision I have ever made.   I asked the greatest woman in the world to be my bride.  I am not sure why, maybe a temporary bout of insanity, but she agreed to be my bride and twenty-two years ago today sealed the deal by showing up at the wedding and vowing to stick by my side no matter what.

We got married at the tender age of nineteen and thought we knew everything.  I  know seems out of character for nineteen year old's right.  Just like most people if we had known what lay ahead we might have backed out.  I am glad we didn't know we would have missed the ride.

Starting out we were both working full-time and going to college.   While those two things were hard enough I think they paled in comparison to trying to keep our marriage going.   Just like most couples our first year was blissful, and like many our second, third and ... were difficult.   Luckily we had undergone about six months of premarital counseling prior to our wedding day (the wife's idea).   Turned out to be one of the smartest decisions we ever made.   

Our premarital counselor told us early in the process that he was going to try to convince us not to marry;  apparently the thought process behind that move is that if premarital counseling had convinced us not to get married then we obviously were not ready to get married.    

Middle Years

We were married for ten years before we decided to have kids, subconsciously I think this was to prove that the wife was not pregnant when we got married.   Since the first few years were behind us and we didn't have kids the only way I can describe these years are as stupid and selfish.   Not necessarily selfish with each other but we were only concerned, but we were very short-sighted.

Don't get me wrong we had a great time and had tons of freedom but the years are fuzzy because they had no meaning outside of our careers and trying to have a good time.

The Kid Years -- 10 years in to the present

Like many dad's, I was never more scared in my life than when I heard the words "We need to talk, I'm Pregnant." 

Like most people our marriage went through a transformation and life was more about the kid than it was just each other.   Luckily we got some really good advice from several people including our pediatrician that we had to take time for our marriage. 

The early days of the kid were hard but fun.  Watching the boy grow up and the wife turn into a wonderful mom have been the most rewarding experiences in my life.  I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know how the teenage years will turn out but I have hope that we have laid the groundwork to prepare our family and the boy to weather the coming storm.  

Letter to my wife 

Dear sweetheart, even if the words above don't do it justice I need you to know I love you with my heart and soul.  You have been a wonderful companion on this journey.   The journey is not over and I am sure we will have more joys and struggles to come.  I want you to know I will always be by your side working with you through anything that comes our way. 

You are a strong and beautiful woman we have grown up together and you are my best friend.   I know I am not worthy of your companionship.   I have never understood how you have put up with me for this long I just hope your insanity lasts a bit longer and you will continue to put up with me well into our golden years.  

One last thing in case it's not clear. 

I love you sweetheart and thank you.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Have you ever been followed by the Google Streetview car

As we were taking the boy to his granparents this morning we were followed by the google streetview car.   My son was pretty excited and snapped a picture on his phone. 

Apperently son-spots are affecting his phone (snicker) because he has not emailed the pic yet. So the image you see is from google's website.

To learn more about the streetview car and technology follow this link, also here is a good wikipedia article on google.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been followed or photographed by the street view car.

Update 08/25/2013
Finally got the image from the boy.  It is a little grainy but you get the idea.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fun playing with the Wayback Machine

If you've never stumbled on the internet archive website you should really check it out.   The archive was born right about the time the web began explosive growth.   The site's purpose is to be an online library, if you want to watch old Superman, Popeye or Betty Boop cartoons this is a great place to start.  

One of the fun things to do with your kids is to play with the Way-Back machine.   For any one who ever watched Rocky and Bullwinkle you will recognize the name.  Check out this wikipedia article on Mr. Peabody and the WABAC machine. If you didn't follow the link, the WABAC machine was a time-machine to transport Mr. Peabody and his boy to any time in history.

The internet archive's version is used in the same way allowing you to select anytime in web history and see what your favorite websites looked in their infancy.   Wanna check out the first version Google, or take a ride down memory lane on your own site???

As you go through the images take a minute and remind yourself that the web is a collection of digital medium easly archived and tracked for a large amount of time.  This might be a good time to either remind your kids or tell them for the first time to be careful what they do and say online because it might get captured forever. 

Walk with me down memory lane as we check out some popular sites at their birth:









If you want to continue playing with the wayback machine follow the direct link here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reboot your relationship with your kids

All of us have goals even if they are only vague dreams.  If you set those goals without family life in mind then your career and dreams are probably causing some cognitive dissonance.  This is not uncommon for men when we are young and in college we do not typically dream of 4 kids and a mini-van.  No when we dream we dream big, we want to be "Elite: , the best of the best of the best.  ( no that was not a mistake it's from MIB.) 

Once you have kids though it is time to reflect back on your dreams and include fatherhood as an integral part of your dreams.   Don't misunderstand,  if you have the skills, charisma, and drive to be the next Steve Jobs  then by all means go for it but make sure to be successful as a father first. All the success in the world might make you a rich and powerful man, but if you do so at the expense of your spouse and kids are you really successful?

Nobody on their deathbed has ever said "I wish I had spent more time at the office"
-Rabbi Harold Kushner
Think through the quote and think what you to say on your death bed and also think about what you want your kids to say about you.   Personally I want to say "I'm ready to go I was a great husband and great father."  I want my son to truly be able to say I was a great father and not have to struggle to create a Eulogy.  

Grim I know, but get used to it I get a little dark sometimes.

If you are a new dad, old dad, step-dad, or grandfather, you need to understand that those closest to you know who you really are, and they will not measure your success as a father, husband or grandfather the way the rest of the world does.  No those closest to you will remember how much time you spent with them, how important you made them feel and if they felt loved.  You need to decide what's important to you.  

Once you have thought it through and reworked your real goals in life it's time to reboot your life.

  1. Take some time for introspection (think a lot about your life but don't get stuck)
  2. Write your own Eulogy - Write it how you want to be remembered.
  3. Rewrite your eulogy you got it wrong the first time.   This time rewrite it from each of your kids perspectives and again from your wife's perspective..
  4. Take all of those eulogies and create read through them and turn them into long and short term goals.
  5. Post these new goals on your office or somewhere visible.  
  6. Review your new goals periodically to see how you are measuring up.

PS. I'd really like your feedback. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A couple of great Movie Review sites

I believe what I expose my family to is an important part of being a dad. I also know what I think is appropriate probably differs from your view even if we align politically and religiously. Ideas are complex and should be graded on spectrum not hard and fast extremes. That is why I like the following review sites

This site is affiliated with Focus on the family check out the about us page here...
For some people this will be a turnoff, and great for others.  Even if you are not a fan of Focus on the family give it a try, they are not heavy handed and have a very structured review of each movie that allows you to make your own decisions about the appropriateness of the content.
There are three ways to consume the review:
  • Watch
  • Listen
  • Read
Review structure
  •  Synopsis
  •  Positive elements
  • Spiritual content
  • Sexual content
  • Violent content
  • Crude or Profane language
  • Drug and Alcohol content
  • Other Negative elements
  • Conclusion

This site is an independent non-profit organization read the about us link for their mission and 10 beliefs.

I think this site is great because of how the site combines the three ratings below to detemine an age level:
  • The site itself
  •  Parents rating
  • Kids rating.
It also allows comments, which are sometimes more beneficial than any rating system. If there are enough comments combined with the review, you should be informed enough to make the best decision for your family.

Review structure
One of the cool features is the visual view of the rating system this lets you quickly see what the biggest issues might be, and if you want more detail on any topic you can click the topic and read more.



Other Major review Elements

  • What Parents need to know
  • What's the Story?
  • Is it any good?
  • Explore, Discuss, Enjoy

Both of the sites listed above are designed to cut through advertising and hype and enable parents to make informed decisions based on your family’s values. As an added benefit both sites offer review on many other things.
  • Games
  • Apps
  • Websites
  • TV
  • Books
  • Music

Friday, August 16, 2013

MakerBot 3D Scanner.

The future is almost here.  This could be the revolutionary step that allows those of us with limited 3D modeling skills an entry point into the 3D printing revolution.   I have been hesitant to jump into the 3D printing world for this very reason.   I am not a CAD geek or a product designer but with a scanned 3D design file could alter something enough to fit my personal needs.
Link to the announcement
Link to the Maker-bot website

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Create a new Generation of Innovators

  Great article from the Make Blog about growing the next generation of innovators.

How to Create a new Generation of Innovators

Ping Fu at MAKE
[image: libraryprinting]With fun, relatable technology, children can immerse themselves in finding solutions and asking the right questions. Early on, they can experience the joy of creating something. We give them tools, then let them exercise the engineer inside from K-12 and beyond. That’s how you create innovators. Read more on MAKE

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

5 Ways to grow a smart Kid

As Dads, we have more impact than we think.   Traditionally fathers have been seen as a necessary evil for procreation and financial support, but new research is pointing out the importance the father displays in the development of the child.   This does nothing to take away from the dedication and hard work put in by Mom.  Without moms in the world, we would have chaos and roving bands of lunatics.  Moms are extremely important but so are dads, just in different, more subtle, ways.  While not an exhaustive list, hopefully some of these items will help level up in fatherhood.

1 Respect your Children's Mother

I am lucky enough to be in a happy committed marriage, but this advice is true for divorced parents as well.   Basically, by showing respect for your child's mother, you are showing your son how to treat women.  If you are blessed with a daughter you are showing her how she should expect to be treated by a boyfriend or a husband.

A mother who is appreciated and respected is a more effective/confident mother---and when mama is happy everyone's happy!

2 Spend time with your Kids

It might be hard to believe, but just spending time with your kids will improve their IQ and test scores.   However, sitting and watching tv doesn't count.  You have to actively spend time with your kids and get involved in their daily lives.

3 Affirm your children

Basically make sure your kids know you love them and will care for them at all costs.   Fathers easily fall into the habit of only affirming their kids in performance based ways: "good job," "you look pretty," or "way to go".  Subconsciously our kids hear that the only time dad loves me is when I please him.  This is never our intention we always love our kids.   My wife and I tell our son "We may not always like what you do, but we will always love you". Find your warm affirming words and really mean it.  Kids are great lie detectors and instinctively know when you are just saying stuff and when you really mean what you say.

Affirmation makes for self confident kids, and self confidence allows children to think outside the box and take chances.  Sure IQ is important, but smart guarded kids are not risk takers or entrepreneurs.  Kids with both intelligence and confidence can turn into adults with the world knocking on their doors.  

4 Foster Creativity
Going one step further to foster an innovative and creative spirit is the necessary key to making smart kids. Find things you want to learn and learn with your kids. Learn scratch programming or jump into hardware hacking with an Arduino or Rasberry Pi.   If you are an expert in either of these try to forget and see things through your kids eyes.  You will be surprised by what you can learn from your kids point of view.

5 Play Games
When our kids are really young, dads get to be kids again playing with Legos and pla- doh.  When they get a little older we get to teach them to count with monopoly and strategy with chess.  A good source of modern table games, usually for older kids/teens is watching tabletop.  
A section on games would not be nerdy enough unless I mention Minecraft.  I believe this is one of the greatest video games dads can play with their kids, girl or boy.   Set up a LAN party and invite all of your kids sun deprived friends over.   If all goes well your kids can have a good time cooperatively building, and the best is when one of them begins griefiing,  The parental opportunities are endless..

Conclusion As I said in the opening, these are subtle impacts, but they are important. In this  Telegraph article, it mentions that these can have definable effects well into your children's 40's.   Even though they are subtle they are powerful.   As father's we can never expect to play Mom's role as well as she can and we should not expect her to fill our role either.  All to often men try to compete with Mom and, when they can't, they just drop out.   What we should remember is that this is not a competition. It is a collaboration.   If both parents engage and do their part we can grow a generation of happy well adjusted kids.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nerd life Balance

It has begun...
The weekend I mean. This the time in life where the nerd-a-holic, who also wants to be a good parent, is at their most vulnerable. What do I mean? Basically we have been giving our time to "da man" for most of the week, but the weekend is our time to let our nerd flag. If we were selfish, no wife no kids or soon to have neither, we would obsess over whatever nerd topic strikes our fancy. 

So mull over the statement "soon to have neither". Basically if we do whatever we want without regard to our significant other or our precious little ones we would suck as parents.  Don't get me wrong, we are who we are, and "occasionally" we need dedicated nerd time or we would blow a hole in the space-time continuum.  What I am trying to say is that we have to participate in the things that our families are interested in, and if we are blessed with nerdy kids and spouses, then nerd out with them and their interests.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Minecon 2013 Lottery

My son and I were lucky enough to win the Minecon lottery and will be going to Orlando in November.   It should be a great time to get to meet, in person, many of the youtuber's we watch religously.

When the time comes we will document the trip and post pictures.   

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What does it mean to be a nerd Father

Dads come in all shapes and sizes and we are all good at different things. Some Dads hunt and fish, some are rabid sports fans and some, like myself, are tech nerds.   I have never been a huge sports fan and while hunting and fishing seems cool it's just "not my bag baby".   However, give me a laptop or iPad, and I am in my domain.   Don't get me wrong, you can be a nerd Dad and still be a sports/statitistics nerd or nerd out on gadgets for hunting/Fishing/camping, but being a nerd means your are off the beaten path, and that your thought patterns generally diverge from the average dude.

Nerd dads become passionate/obsessive about tech,math,science, etc., and these topics are not generally understood and set us apart from the mainstream. While these qualities are what makes us super nerds, they can often make us loose sight of our wives and kids.

I think the nerd Dad can be the perfect Dad he just has to include his kids in his passions and respect the passions of his kids as well.  

Wanna be Maker
Software Nerd
Table Games
Cord Cutter - only partially today
And what list of nerd Dadtopics would be complete with the Awesomeness of