Tag Archives: technology

Apps and games for toddlers

There’s something about technology that tends to attract small kids if they are exposed to it.  Our son obviously notices that there’s smartphones, iPads and computers in the house and wants to use what we use.

Since nowadays all these technologies are touchscreen-based, operating them is a breeze: no more hard buttons to press, no more long times to wait, things just happen.  Therefore, we have felt quite comfortable with our toddler using the devices.  His favourite games and apps below.

GigglePad (Windows phone): Our lifesaver when our son started crying like a madman at night when he was 9 months old.  Tapping shapes, play phone and baby piano with a soothing voice and a couple of lullabyes.

Kapu Forest (iOS): Finnish-developed “toy” with little mini-games, a Jazz soundtrack and beautifully illustrated characters and settings. A must have if you let your toddler touch your iPad.

Miny Moe Car (iOS): Different mini-games related to an old 50’s car. Change the lightbulb, fill the tank, repair a tyre and take it for a ride. The two characters also make cute sounds when pressed, which is probably the most fun for a small kid.

Toca Doctor (iOS): Swedish developer Toca Boca has released a series of beautiful-looking games with no in-app purchases allowed. Repairing bones and getting rid of ticks was never so much fun.

Goodnight Safari (iOS): Beautiful e-book for going to bed. Just make sure your toddler knows to select the “read to me” option.

Word of warning: just like with TV or candies, make sure you set strict limits on how much they play at a time and overall. Thankfully ours is quite active so it’s not too much of a problem.

Using an iPad

I waited to buy an iPad until the second version was released as I’ve had issues before with buggy software as an early adopter of technology.  It won’t replace your PC nor your mobile phone, but occupies a very sweet niche in between.  It has certainly modified the media consumption landscape in my household, so let me explain.

Boot-up time is not an issue, so it lives with us in the living room and is available at any time.  I can check e-mail or the web while watching TV or show videos to my son in the screen.  Paired with services such as Skimm.tv I know exactly what I want to watch and when I want to watch it.  My morning routine now includes watching the football highlights from the device with my son while having breakfast, in a win-win situation for us all.

Everybody talks about apps and games for the iPad (and yes, whatever you’re thinking about doing, there’s an app for that) but the other use it really has helped me with is with reading books, magazines and comics.  If you travel and read as much as me you hate the weight of that 900-page book you can’t finish at home or carrying all those back issues of the Economist you haven’t had time to read and with a pretty decent catalog of Marvel and DC comics I have something to do besides work when on the road.  Even better, if I’m traveling with family we can watch TED talks together in the train or plane and the journey becomes that bit shorter.

A person I met in Argentina was trying to understand what is the use for it as it’s too big for a smartphone and too small for a computer.  Writing a blog post or working on a presentation on an iPad, while possible, is not particularly easy.  However, consumption of information is a breeze (as long as it’s not in Flash :P).

Just make sure you leave home with a full charge. 🙂

TEDx Helsinki v3

TEDx Helsinki

I was very lucky to get a ticket to the 3rd version of TEDx Helsinki, the locally-organised TED mirror event. You can find a small summary of the talks below.

  • Matti Posio: Future of Finnish culture. Culture is threatened by new culture. Media endangered by social media, if they don’t know how to use it unlike CNN. Finns believe in authority somewhat, Americans not really, which influences the way they approach media.

The future is here, just unevenly distributed.

  • Puppetry of the penis (NSFW).
  • David Wolfe: The fruit tree planting foundation. Chocolate history. Chocolate for health.
  • Alf Rehn: Love and raw materials. Passion for doing, extreme production. What can chefs teach of management:  Linking strategy, esthetics, passion and implementation & Organized caos.
  • Mikko Hyppönen: Internet. Evolution leads us to Facebook =) . What threatens the net? Web crime.
  • Hannu Lauerma: Psicopathy. Antisocial personality disorder. Nervous system doesn’t react to stress like majority of people. Feelings missing. Can develop with lack of physical contact when young. Lack of empathy. Leading to crimes against humanity.
  • Itay Talgam Conductor video first, then live talk.

  • Video of 3 year old jonathan conducting beethoven 5th. How to do the same but different? Leaders are afraid of being ignored. Making people get out of their comfort zone. Build order and then destroy it. Empowering instead of command and control. Create metaphors and bring people into them. Customising message to relationship. Authenticity matters. Leadership is suspension of disbelief. Do it all wrong, but still get it right (think out of the box).
  • Stefan Bremer and violinist Teemu Kupiainen remember photographer Jouko Lehtola, showing his photographs to Johann Sebastian Bach “Chaconne”.

TEDx Helsinki v2

TEDx Helsinki

Was invited to attend the second edition of TEDx Helsinki last week, and I have to thank the organizers for a fantastic event.  We had great speakers, awesome videos from official TED conferences and some very interesting insights.  A quick bullet-point summary below.

  1. Sebastian Wernicke and how to create the ultimate TED talk using statistics (video).  “Tool” available from get-tedpad.com.
  2. Esa Saarinen introduced us to the idea of Baby Radicalism, or what should we learn from toddler behaviour in our daily life: the power of smiling, growth and love.
  3. Juuso Nissilä went over how our biology hasn’t evolved as fast as our culture and society, and our bodies struggle to catch up with our conduct and environment.
  4. Bjarke Ingels showed us the power of letting ideas evolve in the architectural design process (video).
  5. Virpi Kuitunen gave us a very personal talk on the challenges of giving up something. “The most difficult thing of quitting is not leaving stuff behind, is starting anew as you don’t know what lies ahead”.
  6. Reidar Wasenius put the audience to exercise their brains for a little while.
  7. Anssi Vanjoki explored the power of volunteering and volunteer organisations.  He mentioned the open source software movement and sports clubs as good examples, while contrasting them with the sad state of political party volunteering in Finland.
  8. Mikael Jungner talked about the illusion of control and how it affects the decision-making process giving biting examples from his time at the helm of YLE.
  9. Tom Wujec on the nature of collaboration (video).  Openness, expertise and facilitation will go a long way.
  10. Kirsti Lonka showed us some of the challenges the Digital Natives pose to the way the education system in Finland currently works, and what are they doing to change it.
  11. Teppo Turkki talked about the rising economic, technological and even cultural influence of South Korea, Japan and China.
  12. Temple Grandin on how autistic minds work, and why they can and should be allowed to contribute to society (video).
  13. Jufo Peltomaa showed why the coming singularity won’t mean the end of the human race.  In fact the emerging AIs will evolve so fast they will not care more for us than we do of, say, wolverines.
  14. Miina Savolainen closed the event with a bang, talking about the empowering quality of portrait photography: what it says of the photographer’s values and ways of communication.  When you look at pictures, don’t only focus on what’s present, but also on what is not being photographed.  More info on her website.  You’ll never see family albums in the same way again.

All in all an enjoyable and inspirational occasion which I hope I can attend again.

Singular singularity thoughts

After a very interesting presentation by Dr. José Luis Cordeiro of Singularity University, I was left with a few interesting ideas about the coming accelerating technological and social progress.

  • Genetic testing is becoming faster and cheaper.  In 3 years full sequencing will only cost 100 bucks and take 5 days, with a huge impact in ancestry and medicine (think about genetically-tailored preventive medicine). Imagine 23andme going mass market.
  • We will go back to the moon, especially now that it is found that there’s water.
  • World relationships are changing. For thousands of years the important body of water was the Mediterranean, and until recently the Atlantic.  We are now entering the age of the Pacific.
  • Robot rights are already under discussion in Korea and Europe.
  • Economic, telecommunications and energy source evolution is accelerating.
  • The death of death: The Methuselah Foundation.
  • Nano, bio, info and cognitive sciences are converging. Everything is information.
  • Marvin Minsky (MIT): “Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be us!”
  • Transhumanism as a possibility, not only a science fiction conjecture.