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  • Geebo 9:52 am on September 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, Houseparty, Meerkat,   

    Is Houseparty an app that parents need to be aware of? 

    Is Houseparty an app that parents need to be aware of?

    You remember Meerkat don’t you? It was the livestreaming app that everyone used for a day before Periscope came along and ate its lunch. Now from the makers of Meerkat comes an app called Houseparty that allows its users to engage in video group chats on their Android or iOS devices. Like most of these type of apps, it’s geared towards teens, so should parents be concerned about the app? Maybe.

    Houseparty is generally used for a group of friends to have group chats with and is intended to be more private than a livestream. In order to join a chat a user needs to know the other users’ phone number or username. That seems to limit the ability of random people to join in the chats. The app itself seems pretty innocuous, however with most social apps parents should be aware but not over-reactionary.

    While Houseparty seems to have its act together when it comes to security of its users it only takes one bad apple to start the abuse of the app. Since the group chats depend on who is hosting the chat, friends of friends can join the chat of the host allows. It’s those friends of friends that could be a predators way in to a conversation with your child.

    So as is with most apps Houseparty is just a tool that’s used to communicate in this social and digital era. It’s up to parents to make sure that the tool isn’t being used the wrong way against your children.

  • Geebo 9:59 am on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, brain trainers, luminosity   

    Can you really train your brain online? 

    Can you really train your brain online?

    If you’ve ever listened to a number of podcasts, you may notice that a lot of them have the same advertisers. A few years ago one of those advertisers was a product called Luminoisity. You could hardly listen to any show on the internet without hearing an ad for Luminosity, that promised to increase your brain function with its series of mental exercises. Of course the service wasn’t free and ‘brain function’ is a vague enough term that’s difficult to quantify.

    Apparently the Federal Trade Commission had the same opinion as they’ve cracked down on these services and apps that promise to ‘train your brain’ with Luminosity allegedly being the biggest offender. At one point, the FTC says, Luminosity was implying that there program could ward off mental decline or improve brain function after a something like a stroke. This has resulted in millions of dollars in refunds to customers.

    Studies on the subject have had differing results. Some claim that the programs have shown a slight increase in IQ while others have said it’s nothing more than a placebo effect. While your results may vary, as they say, it might be wise to avoid any programs like this that cost money and promise vague benefits. Today’s brain training apps and programs may just be the modern-day version of snake oil.

  • Geebo 9:54 am on August 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, chat bot,   

    Student builds app to help homeless find homes 

    Student builds app to help homeless find homes

    When we think of smart phone apps we usually think of social apps like Twitter or game apps like Pokemon Go. We rarely think of them as tools for social change. If a 19-year-old Stanford student has his way that may change.

    UK native Joshua Browder, has developed a chat bot that is helping the homeless in UK find homes. The bot asks the user a series of questions then crafts a letter that the user can send to the government to request housing. In the UK, housing is a right guaranteed by the government. Browder would like to see his app help homeless in the US be he says because of all the different homeless laws in the different cities and states makes it incredibly difficult.

    As hard as it is for the needy to navigate through the bureaucracy to obtain the services they need, more apps like this could go a long way in assisting those who need help the most.

  • Geebo 11:42 am on July 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, Exchange Initiative, , , TraffickCam   

    New app let’s you help fight human trafficking 

    New app let's you help fight human trafficking

    Many times when human traffickers advertise their victims online, they often use pictures taken in the hotel rooms of where they’re being sold out of. Law enforcement can sometimes use those pictures to locate where the victims of trafficking are being held captive. Now, a smart phone app aims to help law enforcement by creating a database of pictures from hotels all over the country.

    The app, called TraffickCam, was designed by anti-human trafficking group, the Exchange Initiative. Users can download the app and when they stay in any hotel they can take pictures of the room and add them to the ever-increasing database of pictures. The more pictures there are the more chances law enforcement has of rescuing a woman or child from being sold into sexual slavery.

    With apps like Snapchat and Instagram we’re already taking scores of pictures of our surroundings everyday. With TraffickCam you can take just a few more pictures that have the potential to rescue someone from a life of violence and sexual servitude. However, an even bigger boon towards this end would be if the hotel and motel industries themselves would get involved instead of often turning a blind eye to what goes on behind their doors.

  • Geebo 9:56 am on July 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, , , Pokemon Go   

    What exactly is Pokemon Go and is it safe? 

    What exactly is Pokemon Go?

    In case you haven’t heard, the new must have app among mobile users is Pokemon Go. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a mobile game for both iOS and Android that is based on the wildly popular Pokemon video games made by Nintendo. In the original games, the player travels around the confines of the game capturing the fantastical creatures known as Pokemon. One of the great features of the games was that you could play and trade with your friends.

    Pokemon Go is what’s known as an augmented reality game. That means that it overlays elements of the game into the real world through the screen of your mobile phone. The game puts you into the role of a Pokemon trainer and allows you to catch virtual Pokemon in the real world. The game was designed to not only get players to get up and move around but it also has a social aspect that allows other players to meet in real life.

    Even though the game is incredibly popular and fun to play, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been drawbacks. The first thing to consider is that the game keeps its players looking down into their cell phones. If a player is not aware of their surroundings it could lead to injuries and in fact it has. Any game ultimately leads to cheating and in the case of Pokemon Go it has led at least one man to use a drone in order to try to locate rare Pokemon without putting in the footwork. Some people have even used Pokemon Go to allegedly rob players when they show up to areas where Pokemon are said to be.

    However, having said all of that Pokemon Go can be a fun and safe time for both adults and kids and even parents and their children as long as you use common sense.

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