Make Spring stick this year with laptop decals that offer a refreshing touch. Bright colors and whimsical patterns are just a few of the ways to liven up your tech after those Winter blues. Check out our favorites, and say goodbye to your plain, silver laptops for good!
Ask a child what he did in school today and more likely than not, he'll say "nothing." As parents, we crave information about our kids, but they aren't always very forthcoming with details. To get answers, many mamas turn to their tykes' teachers, often cornering them during inconvenient times like drop-off or pick-up. To make the system easier, many teachers have set up classroom email accounts where moms and dads can write in their questions or concerns, but in the information age, that system may be backfiring.
An elementary school in Seattle recently sent a note to parents asking them "to limit e-mails to 'important issues' keeping them to 'one paragraph' and just 'one email per week, maximum.'" Parents are outraged. Administrators say they are only trying to make things more manageable for overwhelmed teachers. What do you think?
If your laptop is still in working order, you probably don't need to spring for that brand-new MacBook Air this season before you head back to class. Nonetheless, the start of a new school year (or just Fall in general) is a good time to spruce up your trusty laptop and get it ready for the long nights of studying ahead. Here, a few tips on how to get your machine in tip-top shape before the first bell rings, and how to care for a brand new investment so it serves you well for the next four years.
Clean it Up
Giving your laptop (or desktop) a thorough cleaning is essential to extending its life. Back up any data you may already have stored (on an external hard drive or portable flash drive), organize your desktop icons, empty your computer's trash on a regular basis, and clear out any programs you don't use. This will help free up space and keep you on the fast track to productivity.
Practice proper shut-down habits
Shutting down all open programs, and putting your laptop to sleep instead of just closing the lid will help your computer stay cool and safe while in transport.
Protect your investment
If you're going to be lugging a laptop around campus, make sure it's protected in a padded case!
See the rest of my tips after the jump.
National Backup Day was just last week, but how many of you actually backed up your computer data? How many of you perform routine maintenance (like software updates) on your computers on a regular basis? According to a new study performed by Zogby International and Staples, not many! Get the details on how Americans feel about their tech IQ, and how to overcome your fears in this slideshow.
Mama may have a tough time keeping lil hands off her computer, and with the popularity of new tablets like the iPad, it's getting even tougher. There are plenty of laptop-like toys on the market, but kids aren't tricked that easily. Unfortunately, the idea of giving a tot a computer of their own isn't cheap – aside from the initial costs, there's the added ones that come when the laptop drops or has a cup of milk spilled on it. That's why I was excited to get my hands on PeeWee PC's new PeeWee Pivot 2.0 ($575) the kid-friendly PC has been "ruggedized" to make it drop- and spill-proof when kids get a wee bit careless.
Who is this product designed for? The manufacturer suggests that the computer is for tots ages six and up, but a preschooler could navigate his way around it too.
What sets it apart? Prepacked with Windows 7, a 180 degree rotating camera, and a 180 degree swiveling screen, the computer converts into a touch screen tablet with a simple turn of the screen. Preloaded with over a dozen educational games, it also includes PeeWee Patrol and Privacy, two security suites that ensure children are safe online through parental time limits, site blocking, and scheduled screen shots that can be emailed to parents' accounts.
What could be better? At 3.7 pounds, the computer is a bit heavy for smaller tots to carry around, but not too weighty for a parent to carry from room-to-room. Also, the Intel Atom N450 1.66GHz processor is a bit slow, so if your kids are used to playing on mama's keyboard, they can become frustrated with the speed of the machine. But my biggest issue with the PeeWee Pivot 2.0 is the cost. With iPads starting at $500 today, it's hard to justify paying more for a slower computer with a smaller (10.1-inch) screen.
To see how long the laptop entertains a youngster, read more
Does your tot boot up in school? Over Winter break, we were visiting with friends when their pre-K tot turned to mine to ask what his favorite computer game is in school. My lil one turned to me dumbfounded as he thought computers were only for grown-ups.
While my kid is a whiz with Leapster and has figured out my iPhone, our preschool has a no computers in the classroom policy. Some schools turn to the technology to encourage kids to learn their letters and numbers, but our school's philosophy holds that children have a lifetime of computers and technology ahead of them – at home and at school – so there is no need to introduce it to them at this young, formative age. Our friends argued that by not using the devices now, he may be behind when he enters kindergarten.
How do you feel about computers in the preschool classroom?
Sit your kid in front of the boob tube and they will be fed entertainment (and some advertising). Allow the tots to game and they'll navigate their way through adventures and activities. Screen time has become a popular phrase in the last decade or so when children began using multiple forms of technology to occupy their time — logging on their computers, manning the television remote, and gaming. But, when it comes to how your youngsters spend those weekly hours, do you have a preference of the device?
My friend is in the market for a new laptop — well, sort of. She's been scouring Craigslist and eBay with hopes that a relatively new, but used, model turns up. This is against the better advice of almost everyone in her life, by the way. Her friends and family worry that she'll end up with a total lemon and not see the problems before it's too late. And because it's "for sale by owner," she'll lose the opportunity for a refund or warranty.
Her argument is pretty simple: buying a used computer can save her close to $500, and she'll take the necessary steps to ensure that she makes a good purchase. Do you think she's making a smart move, or is she looking for trouble?
An apple no longer sits on a teacher's desk, it's what fills the computer labs. As kids head back to school, most students prepare to hit the books and toy with technology. Whether the Macs or PCs in class are donated or purchased, it makes sense that big corporations would go after the littlest users because tots turn into lifetime customers. If a student is familiar with a certain setup, his or her family may end up purchasing a similar computer for their home. Does your child work on a Mac or PC?
I'm always talking about how important it is to give your computer a good cleaning inside and out in order to keep your machine in tip-top shape, but apparently there are some of you out there that aren't listening. Online hoarding is quickly becoming a web 2.0 phenomenon that many people may not even realize they have contracted —hoarding isn't a computer virus that you can catch, but it's a habit that should be broken ASAP.
The secret to a healthy computer is cutting the fat — fat being an overabundance of emails, files, movies, downloads, and games that rarely (or worse, never) get deleted. This can slow down your computer to a crawl, despite any upgrades in hard drive space and RAM you've added. The closer you get to the limit on your computer's storage, the closer it is to crashing for good.
Want to find out if you're a digital hoarder? Check the symptoms after the jump.