Tag Archive | "Learning"

Free SQL Training

Are you looking for an introduction to the Structured Query Language? About Databases offers several free resources that might help you get started on the road to learning this important language.

Source: About.com


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Screen Time in School, and at Home, and at Friends’ Houses, and in the Car…

We knew it was coming. In this day and age, it was inevitable. My kids’ elementary school has now extended internet access to all students, and they are allowing the kids to bring in various technological devices to be used at school. My oldest daughter is required (not in so many words, but you know how that is–she’ll be the only one without her own and have to use the school’s old ones that don’t work well…) to have a tablet of some sort to do her work and research during some classes.

I think it’s great and necessary for kids to be learning how to effectively use technology at an early age. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for screen time for kids extends to all screens, not just TVs and watching movie. At least, it used to. The AAP has recently changed the wording in many of it’s web pages and articles to say parents should limit “entertainment media.” Some documents do still make it sound like the AAP holds to the 2 hour limit for all screen time.

Personally, I’m not a screen time control freak. Some days, my kids will do their online math for school, play a few educational computer games, and later watch a movie. This amounts to more than two hours of screen time total. Other days, they are busy with active types of activities and don’t see a screen at all. If I feel like we’re getting a little out of balance (happened a few times this summer), then I will just encourage them to play more board games instead of have a movie night or something.

Educational media, and even TV, can be beneficial for kids. Also, parents can help kids learn important life skills by helping kids develop healthy TV habits. Now that I can’t depend on the fact that the kids are pretty much screen free at school, though, I’m going to have to do a little more research into the effects of screen time on kids, and I’m going to pay a little closer attention to how our screen time schedules work out this year. Especially, because a lot of older kids’ home work has to be done on the computer, which could result in hours of sitting in a chair staring at a screen.

The entertainment media limit isn’t so much a problem for us, because during the school year we are too busy to get even a little time for entertainment media, much less two hours a day. But total screen time is a different story, and if you combine the educational and entertainment media, that could mean that many kids are spending hours and hours a day staring at screens.

Here are a few things we do in our family to limit screen time:

  • One day a week is a family and fun day for us, and we try to avoid technology and focus on being together. For our family, Sunday works best because we go visit cousins and do other activities that already set the tone for a technology-free, good-old-fashioned-fun day.
  • We don’t allow watching movies in the car unless we’re on a long road trip. However, we aren’t screen free any more now that the kids bring their little devices almost everywhere we go. We may have to make some changes there.
  • We try to keep the kids busy with other stuff — sports, music lessons, helping with dinner, and other hands-on activities.
  • We involve the kids in making decisions and setting appropriate limits on screen time.

How does your family keep screen time sanity?

Source: About.com


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Posted in TelevisionComments Off

Bridgestone Winter Driving School

Heat Got You? Think Cool Thoughts

Bridgestone Winter Driving School

If the summer heat is making you sweat, here’s a cool thought about what to do this winter.  Head to a resort and spend a day skidding and swerving a car on ice at a winter driving school. Mountain-high resorts are starting to post their winter packages. You can tuck a day learning to drive on icy roads into a ski or snowboard vacation in Steamboat, Colorado.

Photo: WinterDrivingSchool.com /Larry Pierce

Source: About.com


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Five for Friday: Top 5 technology commercials from the ’90s

Like most kids born in the early ’80s, I have a very special affinity for the ’90s. My dad bought the first personal computer on our block (an IBM 386), we had a 28.8K modem at home, and cell phones were as big as a brick.

My family was unflaggingly optimistic about technology in the ’90s, eager to try new digital products and formats, most of which died before gaining mass adoption.

For one glorious year–it must have been 2001–I carried around a Nokia 5110 with custom faceplate, a PalmPilot, anti-skipping Sony DiscMan, GameBoy Color, calculator watch and clear plastic pager. Today, that collection of ancient technology is contained in a single smartphone, which is capable of more than anything I could have imagined at the time (just 12 years ago!).

It’s pretty incredible to see how far technology, convergence and communication have come in less than 20 years. Today, we’re pulling together a list of our favorite ’90s technology commercials, all of which introduce, or hint at, communication tools we take for granted today.

#1: Send faxes from your cell phone

In the late ’90s, AT&T introduced PocketNet, a text-based web-browsing interface on mobile phones. In this ad, a man stuck in a snowstorm delights his son by showing him how he reads email and sends faxes from his phone.

#2: Early unified communications (with an (800) number)

The promise of unified communications today is to connect with people instantly on any device, anywhere in the world, easily and seamlessly. Back in the ’90s, that concept was considerably more basic… most people didn’t have cell phones, voice messages were stored on tape, and faxes trumped email.

What do you do if you want to stay connected 24/7? Buy an (800) number that rings your office, home number and cell phone at the same time. It was a rudimentary idea, but was the closest thing to unified communications we had at the time.

#3: Bell Atlantic predicts telecommuting

Telecommuting is so ubiquitous today that it’s easy to take it for granted. Sophisticated communication and collaboration tools make working anywhere incredibly easy.

Video conferencing puts us one click away from our coworkers, documents in the cloud are easy to work on, and email, instant messaging, mobile phones, voice conferencing and shared calendars make us just as efficient at home as we are at the office.

In 1995, telecommuting was so foreign that Bell Atlantic had to create a commercial introducing the idea to people.

#4: AT&T predicts dozens of technological breakthoughs

I love these AT&T ads from the 1993 and 1994, because they paint a picture of how technology would make our lives easier and help us connect with one another at some point in the near future. You can feel it–these breakthroughs are nearly here.

AT&T predicted the future with incredible accuracy (not surprising, as researchers inside the company had been working on many of these products for years). Here’s what they got right:

  • E-book rentals
  • GPS directions
  • The ability to send and receive faxes from your computer
  • Electronic tolls
  • Video conferencing
  • Video on demand
  • Video-based distance learning
  • Telemedicine
  • Remote security monitoring
  • Automated computer assistants, like Siri

Some of their predictions haven’t been built yet, or were built but failed to gain mass adoption. These include:

  • E-commerce at the ATM
  • DMV transactions at the ATM
  • Voice-activated door locks
  • Portable medical history on a card
  • Automatic product scanners
  • Phone calls on your wrist
  • Automatic audio translation from one language to another

2013 is shaping up to be the year for wearables, so a Dick Tracy-style mobile phone watch could be in our very near future. Researchers are racing to improve automatic audio translation technology, and will undoubtedly solve this challenge within our lifetime.

As for voice-activated door locks, we may have to leave that to Star Trek.

#5: Pacific Bell’s superhighway of information

In 1994, Pacific Bell put out its own list of predictions, mostly around networking, intelligent switches and improved communication. The 3D graphics may be cringe-worthy, but the ideas put forth were anything but: PacBell promised limitless connections over the Internet, at a time when most Americans had yet to sign up for their first email address, and Jerry Yang and David Filo had just launched Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.

OK, now it’s your turn. Share your favorite vintage tech commercials with us in the comments, and reminisce with us about the ’90s.



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Alto Adige

Wine Country Travel – Discover Six Wine Regions off the Beaten Path

Alto Adige

When it comes to vacation travel plans, popular wine regions quickly slide to top spots for destination travel ventures.

Promising good food, hands-on wine experiences, and often an abundance of outdoor adventure excursions, it’s no wonder that wine country travel invites the enthusiastic attention of visitors worldwide.

Whether you are interested in learning more about the basics of tasting wine or would like to try your hand at blending your own red, want to snag some clippers and experience a harvest for yourself or get to know your way around the essentials of food and wine pairing with taste buds in training, there are a host of wine country travel options intended to bolster your love for the grape while satisfying ongoing outdoor wanderlust with the regional specialties of hiking, biking, or horseback riding in wine country. Or turn it up a notch with a good morning hot air balloon ride over the vineyards or boat the backwaters en route to the next winery stop.

Interested in taking in some vineyard views on your next vacation? Then check out some of our top wine country travel picks here.

 

Top Alto Adige Image Courtesy of EOS Export Organization of South Tyrol.

 

Source: About.com


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Opening Conversations at the Close of World Breastfeeding Week

In 1991 the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action was formed as a way of responding to a World Health Organization document, the Innocenti Declaration on the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding.

Each year they mark the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week. I can only assume that these campaigns, which are conceptualized as being for an international audience, are created by enormous committees, which usually means that they end up being so generic as to be unrecognizable as relating to many people’s actual lives (case in point: this year’s logo which seems to say that breastfeeding is only for women who have male partners).

But themed weeks like this also provide an opportunity to talk about the things that the organizations themselves aren’t talking about.

Two things come to mind. First is the undeniable but almost entirely unspoken of impact of breastfeeding on sexuality. Even if there weren’t specific hormonal factors worth knowing about so as not to get freaked out by the physical response some people have when they breastfeed, whenever our bodies change, whenever we start using our bodies in different ways, there will always be some potential impact on our sexuality – how we feel about our bodies and ourselves, how we want to use our bodies to both give and receive pleasure, and more.

The other topic I’ve been learning more about lately is Trans* parents breastfeeding. The term Trans* refers to many different kinds of gender identities and felt genders, but in this context I’m talking about learning from parents whose bodies don’t conform to binary expectations of gender.

Most parents who call themselves mom were born with bodies that have a uterus and ovaries, a vulva and a vagina. And most parents who call themselves dad were born with bodies that have testicles and a penis. But that’s not true for all of us. When you add in the question of who has breasts and who can breastfeed, the picture becomes even more detailed and vibrant.

Unfortunately most educational efforts work in ways that only reflect who they are. Since Trans* people are usually excluded they are then invisible in materials, leading many to think that trans people aren’t parents and if they are, that breastfeeding isn’t an option. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

If you want to know more a good place to start is with Trevor MacDonald’s blog post on Huffington Post, How I Learned to be a Breastfeeding Dad. You can also check out Trevor’s blog Milk Junkies.

Related: About.com’s Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth on World Breastfeeding Week

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Source: About.com


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Blog Post: You’ve Been Banned

Yes, we take cheating seriously.

You’ve seen me talk about brain dumps and appropriate test center behavior. (We'll discuss proxy testers in my September blog post.) It is an unfortunate facet of the exam business that some people will try to find ways to cheat on an exam, or engage in other fraudulent activity that gets them a certification, without earning it. Because we want everyone to have a fair testing experience, we take fraud in test-taking very seriously. Seriously enough to ban cheaters from our program all together.

This approach may seem Draconian, but to those who study and prepare legitimately for their exams, it probably seems fair. I mentioned once how a good number of ITCC Survey respondents told us that cheaters should be dealt with harshly. A cheater undermines the hard work a candidate has put into their test preparation. We work with our exam delivery providers to provide a secure environment that makes cheating difficult, and employ a variety of methods for catching fraud outside of a test center. We monitor diligently and constantly evaluate our security policies and procedures to stay one step ahead of the bad elements.  

All candidates are required to accept the exam policies before they test, which outlines behavior we consider in violation of that agreement, and the possible consequences. The full policy, including an appeals process, can be found on our exam policies page: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/certification-exam-policies.aspx 

For these reasons, when we catch and verify an incident of fraud or cheating, we don’t tolerate it. The cheater is banned from registering for any Microsoft exams, now or ever. We may also take away their certifications. It’s a pretty harsh way of dealing with nefarious test-takers, but we think our hard-working MCPs appreciate it.

Got a tip for me? Let me know at mlsecure@microsoft.com.



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Celebrate Today!

I recently celebrated an anniversary with my husband–we got married on our third anniversary of dating, so each year we celebrate a wedding anniversary, it’s also an anniversary of our entire relationship–definitely something to celebrate! We used to celebrate weekly anniversaries, then monthly anniversaries, until the months turned into years and the years turned into milestones. We celebrate in somewhat different ways each time, but one common thread remains: we look back on the best times in our relationship, focus on what we love about each other and our life together, and really savor the day. This not only allows us to enjoy the day, but it strengthens our relationship. And although our relationship is unique, I know that these aspects of how we celebrate our anniversaries are somewhat universal.

Celebrations like these don’t need to be restricted to anniversaries, and they shouldn’t be! Just as the act of savoring an anniversary can strengthen our positive emotions, savoring other things in life can give us an emotional lift, increase our feelings of gratitude, and just make life more enjoyable–all things that can help relieve stress. You can celebrate many anniversaries in life: the anniversary of working at your job, the anniversary of accomplishing a goal, or the anniversary of moving to your current home (we celebrate this, too, by doing something to enhance the house a little each year). You can also celebrate non-anniversaries, such as any day that feels special to you, but I love anniversaries because they can recur, and each time they do, they remind you of the positive role that the thing you are celebrating has had in your life.

If you don’t want to wait for an anniversary, or if you want to make an anniversary special, here are some ways to celebrate today and savor the moment. I encourage you to move beyond mere reading, and actually take at least one of the actions suggested here. You’ll be glad you did!

You can find more stress management resources on Facebook–find our page and be sure to “like” for regular updates and discussions.

Please feel free to add your own tips for celebrating life in the comments section, sign up for the free stress management newsletter for ongoing updates, and have a wonderful week!

  • Learn To Savor The Moment: Here’s How!
    Learning to savor each moment (or at least the moments that matter a little more) can really enhance your happiness, which can lead to a less stressful and healthier life! Here are some guidelines to making the most of the moments you have.
  • Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
    Celebrating an anniversary is all about gratitude, in being grateful for what you have in your life. Anniversaries work particularly well for reminding us what we have to be grateful for, but we can do that every day in many ways because there are so many things we have to appreciate. Here are some ways to bring gratitude to the fore.
  • More Tips on Savoring And Enjoying Life
    Here are a few more things to keep in mind when celebrating what is special in your life. It’s part of a larger piece on enjoying life–which is what we should all be doing! See what you’re doing right, and get more ideas to put into action.

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Source: About.com


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Summer Reading: Sex Work Memoirs

I thought I’d wait until I was all the way through the second issue of Prose & Lore before writing about it, but I feel a little like one of those research projects where they decide they have to stop in the middle and give everyone the intervention because it’s so damn good.

Prose & Lore: Memoir Stories About Sex Work is a bi-annual journal that collects personal stories by sex workers about sex work, in all it’s varied, complicated, and often messy forms. It’s a project of the Red Umbrella Project, a non-profit I’ve been an admirer of for some time, both for their work advocating for policy changes that lead to greater respect and safety for people in the sex trades, but also for the many ways they deliver on the promise of “amplifying the voices of people in the sex trades”. Through media trainings, storytelling workshops, and regular public performances, RedUP is bit by bit, opening up what public conversations about sex work are like by making sure more people who have first hand experience of sex work are part of the conversation.

This collection features 20 stories, most of which are previously unpublished and many of which were developed first in the context of RedUP’s memoir writing workshop. Some stories are funny, some are disturbing, many are both, and more.

Having an interest in the lives of fellow human beings may be reason enough for people to want to get a copy. But I have another reason. If you’ve ever had a conversation about sex work, if you’ve ever shared your perspective about the legal, moral, or ethical implications of prostitution, you need to ask yourself this question; is my position more or less relevant the more I know about the lived experience of people who do sex work?

Most people, including those who make a living talking about prostitution, know very little about the lives they spend all day talking about and supposedly fighting for. A cynic might say that knowing the truth of sex worker lives makes political action and advocacy more difficult. A more basic reality is that learning about sex workers lives and experiences isn’t that easy. Marginalized, criminalized, and told in so many ways to shut up and stay in the corner, there hasn’t been much in the way of public support for sex workers to speak in their own words.

I’m not sure why we don’t think it’s a problem for people to wax philosophical and create policy and law that directly impacts the lives of sex workers, without ever knowing anything about those lives. Isn’t it like trashing a book or movie you’ve never seen, except that it’s not a movie or book, it’s a person, a human life?

In the end then I’d say the best reason to pick up Prose & Lore is for the writing, and the stories. Like them or hate them, they are voices we need to hear, and they are people whose experiences we need to contend with. As the editor, RedUP’s executive director Audacia Ray writes in the introduction,

“There is no way to summarize or generalize about the experiences of people in the sex trades. The only way to know anything about the sex trades is to hear and trust the man stories of the people involved in it, and to keep listening, even when the stories offer conflicting viewpoints.”

Buy a copy of Prose & Lore, issue 2 ($8 for digital edition, $12 for print edition)

Check out the Prose & Lore photo meme

Learn more about the Red Umbrella Project

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Source: About.com


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Feds Join Libraries to Serve Immigrants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced an unprecedented partnership with the nation’s nearly 9,000 public libraries to provide U.S. immigrants with information about the citizenship and naturalization process.

Partnering with the USCIS in the project is the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 public, college, and school libraries and 17,500 museums.

According to the IMLS, immigrants are among the most loyal and frequent library patrons. In fact, the group’s research shows that more than 55% of people who immigrated to the U.S. over the last 15 years visit a public library at least once a week, thus making them ideal places for immigrants to get information about U.S. citizenship.

“As one of our country’s oldest and most important social institutions, public libraries are a welcoming space in American communities,” said USICS Director Alejandro Mayorkas in a press release. “We are proud to partner with IMLS to strengthen the support libraries provide to immigrants preparing for citizenship and the naturalization process.”

Also See: Immigration Reform Bill’s Path to Citizenship

Under the agreement, the USCIS will supply libraries with current information and educational resources on all naturalization processes. In addition, the USCIS and IMLS will jointly host citizenship education sessions and naturalization ceremonies in local libraries.

In addition the USCIS and IMLS will work together to combat the unauthorized, often fraudulent practice of immigration law.

“This partnership will assist IMLS in continuing its efforts to help libraries foster an atmosphere of cross-cultural understanding and learning opportunities in a trusted environment,” said IMLS director Susan Hildreth. “With access to information and materials in multiple languages, along with classes to help immigrants learn English and improve digital literacy skills at many locations, libraries are well positioned to support America’s newcomers.”

To find a public library near you, visit the Search for Public Libraries web page, a service of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Every year, about 860,000 immigrants successfully complete the U.S. citizenship test and proudly take the last step in the naturalization process, swearing to the Oath of U.S. Citizenship and Allegiance.

Also See:
The DREAM Act Explained
Obama Allows Young Illegal Immigrants to Stay
Immigration Reform Bill and American Workers

Source: About.com


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