Monday, December 23, 2013

2013... A look back...

YouTube and Google have put together a great synopsis of what 2013 looks like.

First, take a look at the YouTube Rewind: What Does 2013 Say? It couldn't be done without a little What Does the Fox Say, Breaking Bad, Kid President, Macklemore, and all the other greatest hits of the year. Check it out...

On a more sentimental note, Google Zeitgeist takes a look at what people have Googled throughout the course of the year. They hit it out of the park, and here is the video.

If you would like to check out what the world searched for in 2013, click here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Technology Can Bring Families Together

Let us all admit it, the picture above has played out a hundred times already this year in our families. When everyone in your family has some type of device, including +Lee Green's family wearing Google Glass, it almost seems impossible to have good ole' fashion family time. Nay, I say to thee! Here are three ways technology can bring the family together: Friday night fun time, Making your children millionaires, and Country boy living.

Friday Night Fun Time 

  • Buy Chromecast ($35 at Staples) use it to cast History of Rap 1 with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake on your TV. (Everyone will smile and you can relive your glory days back when rap was fun)
  • Use Chromecast to broadcast Jimmy Fallon's Lip Sync Battle on YouTube. Hilarious, but wait, there's more.
  • Now turn on Pandora (Chromecast compatible), go to any 80's channel and proceed to embarrass your wife and children with your killer lip sync skills. No doubt, they will all join in.

This is exactly what we did the first Friday out for Christmas break. Who would have thought one simple device would turn into hours of fun and laughter in the Ellison household? Thanks for the gift Lee.

Making Your Children Millionaires

  • Use your phone, computer, or tablet to research investing ideas for kids. Look up companies they know such as Under Armor, Apple, and Disney, so they can see how their stocks have made money over the years.
  • Open up a account and teach them about mutual funds and IRA's for long term growth and compounding interest. 
  • Find resources that graphically represent compounding interest, and the benefits of early investing vs. long term investing. Dave Ramsey's Ben and Arthur are easy to understand for everyone.

I have done this with my own children, and it is amazing how they get so interested in the topic of investing. Really, who doesn't want to be a millionaire?

Country Boy Living (Anything that interest them, but my family likes to hunt, fish, and ride dirt bikes)

  • Use your device and pull up YouTube videos on cooking duck breast. Of course, this is more fun when you actually duck hunt with your children and have some fresh duck for the kitchen.
  • Get something that needs to have a nice Camo paint job (boat, blind, or homemade redneck duck retrieving pole), then Google around and find some tutorials or videos on the subject. Go outside and give your kids some spray paint and enjoy. 
  • Visit some forums on subjects that interest them such as dirt bike riding. Research places to ride, riding tips and build up project bikes. Take the time to show them how to post on a forum, explain what Trolls are, and teach them about being a good digital citizen in the world wide web. 

You may not like these topics, but pretend it is a Mad Lib, and substitute ducks, Camo and dirt bikes for any other subject that interest your family.

We all ignored our parents at some point in our childhood, and today's children have a lot more ways to do so. Harness the power of these devices to bring the family together versus isolating everyone in their own digital worlds. You never know, your child might just become the world's greatest wild game chef, next multi-millionaire, or dirt bike racing champion. Regardless of what they become, I promise you they will remember the time spent with them for the rest of their life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Google Getting it Right

Thanks to Jaki Day for sharing this link on Facebook... I may have missed it otherwise... 
14 ways Google gets it right even after 15 years

Click the picture below to get to the full article:

The Next Web,, offered up a great synopsis of how Google is still getting things right after 15 years. Everyone knows that I am a Google guy, but looking at this story though an impartial eye I see where Google has done a good job of nailing it. Here are a couple of points I want to touch on where I think all organizations could benefit. 

3. Constant Questioning
I equate this to more self-evaluation... Are you being effective? Could you do something better? Do you take your attitude/ego out of the equation and ask yourself these questions on a daily basis? It seems when attitude/ego are part of things we have difficulty questioning ourselves. If we want to be effective as educators, it would not hurt to remove a bit of ourselves from what we are doing to make sure we are reaching our students. 

7. Acceptance of Failure
Does anyone remember Google Wave, Google Answers, Video Player, or Web Accelerator? Me either, but Google invested a large amount of money into these services over the years. For some reason or another, these ideas did not take hold with consumers at large. Even though Google had a few ideas that did not take, does that make them failures? I'd say Google is as far from being a failure as any company can be. 

The difference between Google and other entities is Google moved on past their failures. As educators we are all going to have ideas that don't germinate for some reason or another. We need to work to get past those times where things aren't going our way and figure out what we can learn from those situations. 

10. Work-Life Balance
I am as guilty of this as anyone else... As educators we all love our jobs and we are constantly looking for ways to be better at what we do. Sometimes for the benefit of those that love us we need to step back and examine our priorities. Google encourages their employees to look at themselves as more than Google employees. We all need to look at ourselves as more than the jobs we do. 

12. Simplicity
In the transition from teaching children to adults, the idea of simplicity of design has become firmly established. Why say something in five words when you only need four? I don't think I am there yet, but I am learning how I can say things a bit better in order to more effectively communicate my message. 

As educators we should always be examining ways we can, "get it right," as mentioned in this article. Google as a company has set the bar for us, but I think we can replicate what they have done. Thoughts? 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Google Tips!

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I consider myself to be a Googely kind of guy. I live in Google, work in Google, play in Google, and I know more than I should about the products/services available there. I know if I could just sit down with everyone in my system for a day or two, I could drop my knowledge of Google off with them, and they would be able to see how much easier it would make their lives/jobs.

I think I need the pensive thing that Dumbledore used in Harry Potter... That would be the way to get all the information out there! Just suck it straight from my head and drop it in other people!

On second thought... That looks like it might hurt... 

Since the pensive isn't really a reality, and people don't necessarily have the time to sit down with me for a couple of days, I became uberexcited when I saw the release of Google's latest help tool, Google Tips! 

Google Tips takes the concept of flash cards with the Google question on one side and the answer on the other. Click on a question you have and then it gives you the answer! It's fantastic! 

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Click on the question you have, and it will take you directly to a resource to answer that question. This doesn't replace direct, hands on instruction, but it goes a long way in that direction. I have already learned a few easier ways of doing some things through the tip sheet. Bookmark this site and go to it when you have a Google question... I don't think it will let you down!