Wednesday, November 25, 2020

6 Podcasts to Help You Become an Amateur Tech Geek

Ever wonder how that geeky friend of yours got to know so much about the the latest mobile hardware, home theater gear, home automation tools, amazing apps, etc.? Truth is, most amateur tech geeks simply spend more time paying attention to, and learning about, all things techy than other people. In fact, if they're like me (an admitted amateur tech geek), they'll admit that they'd rather spend time listening to a tech podcast or reading about new tech products than they would scrolling through social media posts. 

It's simply a matter of where you spend your time and attention. You can learn a lot about anything if you just focus on it for an hour or so every day. And a fun bonus of tech learning is that the more you learn about all those weird and wonderful products, the more you want to go get them and try them!  And eventually you could become your family's one-person geek squad, solving their tech problems and learning even more in the process! 

Six Podcasts to Get You Started

One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in tech stuff is to subscribe to a few tech podcasts and replace some of your time spent scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or Twitter with time spent listening to tech experts. Just download the podcasts to to your phone, then when you're standing in line shopping or exercising or doing chores you can listen and learn! Or better yet, you can tell your smart speaker to "Play the latest episode of [XYZ podcast]" while you are showering or shaving or doing the dishes. 

Below are six of my favorite tech podcasts to help you get you started. I've listed them in order of their tech-geeky density.  And I've linked each to its listing in Google Podcasts. It's my podcast player of choice because it syncs podcasts across all my devices and picks up where I "pause" when I switch from one device to another. So I can start listening on my phone, pick up where I left off in my car's Android Auto, then finish up at home on my Google Home (Nest) smart speakers. (Google Podcasts is available in the App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android.)


Marketplace Tech (5 - 10 min daily) - Publisher's description: "... 'Marketplace Tech' demystifies the digital economy. The daily radio show and podcast uncovers how tech influences our lives in unexpected ways and provides context for listeners who care about the impact of tech, business and the digital world... Marketplace Tech uncovers themes that transcend the hype in an industry that’s constantly changing... host Molly Wood asks smart questions that connect the dots and provide insight on the impact of technology... "

The Tech Guy ( 2 1/2 hours, every Sat & Sunday) - This was my first ever tech program! Listeners call in with all sorts of ordinary tech problems from the simple to the highly complex and get practical, how-to advice. Whether it's fixing your printer or unraveling your home WiFi, Leo can walks ordinary folks like us through the solution, step by step. Publisher's description: "No one does a better job of explaining technology, computers, and the Internet than Leo Laporte. This feed contains the full audio of his twice weekly radio talk show... For show notes and more visit techguylabs.com."

This Week in Google (2 1/2 hours, weekly)- This one is difficult to describe. It's sorta like listening to "The View" if it were conducted by smart, tech-savvy futurists. And don't let the title fool you. It's about FAR more than Google. It covers smart homes, the internet of things (IOT), Facebook, Congress vs. Big Tech, artificial intelligence, the history of tech and innovations and on and on. It's my "never miss" podcast!"

Tech News Weekly - (1 hour, weekly) This one's all about doing a deeper dive beneath the tech news headlines that you might hear about elsewhere. Publisher's description:  "Tech News Weekly hosted by Jason Howell and Mikah Sargent brings you interviews from tech journalists who make or break the top stories of the week. Jason and Mikah give you more context and perspective, with an in-depth look at the fast-paced world of technology and how it is changing our lives."


Techmeme Ride Home - (15 minutes, daily) This one's for the official, professional tech geeks. But you can still learn a lot if you're willing to be a little confused now and then and do some quick research to unravel the acronyms!  Publisher's description: "The day's tech news, every day at 5 pm. From Techmeme.com, Silicon Valley's most-read news source. 15 minutes and you're up to date."


Daily Tech Headlines - (5 - 10 minutes, daily) Another podcast for tech pros and tech marketing folks. It will stretch you! So try a couple and see how you like it. Publisher's description: "The essential tech news you need every day in 10 minutes or less."



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It's Okay to Be Confused!

Listening to these podcasts will get you started on your path to amateur tech geekdom. And remember: It's okay to be confused while listening! If you're not a bit confused from time to time, then you're not stretching yourself. So dive in, give yourself permission to get lost, press "Pause" and Google what's confusing you before you continue. Or rewind, if necessary, to hear that confusing part again. (I do this all the time and I've been listening to this stuff for over two decades!)  

You're likely to find that it's fun to be challenged and "always learning!"  And in the meantime, your family and friends might soon come to rely on you as their local tech support guru!  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

How to Customize Your Google News Feed [video included]

Google's controls help you customize your news feed!

Did you ever find yourself scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook or Instagram or Twitter feed and ask yourself, "Why am I wasting time doing this?" Given the rich potential of the world wide web, it's silly to spend so much time on what amounts to chasing gossip. Why not leverage the web's potential to help you be "always learning" about stuff that interests you?

With your Google news feed it's easy to generate a custom-tailored stream of interesting and challenging content. It just takes a little interactive pruning!  Here's how it works.

Google has arguably produced the most powerful search engine ever. And as you use it, Google builds a profile of your interests based on your search terms and browsing history. For the most part, these Google algorithms chug along quietly in the background, suggesting news items in your feed to match your unique interests. But, if you're like me, you sometimes find yourself wishing you could fine tune those algorithms to get more accurate suggestions or push them to go off in search of new areas of interest. 

The good news is that Google has built in a bunch of simple controls you can use to teach the Google algorithms how to serve you best. The video below introduces:
  • The "More or Less" toggle
  • The 3-dot "follow or hide" menu
  • The "Manage Interests" controls



It's amazing how interesting and inspiring it can be to get a regular news feed focusing on a few topics that you really care about -- especially when the alternative is watching people in your social media zones rant and complain.  So why not leverage the power of Google's news feed to keep you "always learning" and positively engaged?

Saturday, September 19, 2020

An Appeal to My Republican Friends & Family Members: Please Don't Vote for Donald Trump

(Image from article "Is An Insane President The Result Of A Society Losing Its Mind?" from PlanetSave.com)

Dear Republican Friends & Family

I am writing to appeal to your patriotism and your humanity and ask you to NOT vote for Donald Trump. If the Republican Party had nominated Marco Rubio, George Bush, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz... indeed, pretty much anyone you can think of, I would not be making this personal appeal to you. But this is an emergency. 

Donald Trump's presidency has a track record. He is no longer an outsider thumbing his nose at the elite and promising to shake things up. We've seen, first hand, how he works and the chaos he creates. His presidency is profoundly divisive, literally lethal to our health and safety and threatens the rule of law and foundations of our democracy.  In any other election, as you know, I would noisily advocate for my party, but I would not ask you outright not to vote for your party's candidate. But this is different. We, together as American citizens, are facing an existential threat. 

I am not asking you to change political parties. I'm just asking you to join many, many of your fellow Republicans who oppose this lethal president. Look at this Who's Who of Republicans who refuse to support his re-election:

• Former Secretaries of Defense Colin Powell, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel & Jim Mattis
• Former PA Gov. & Sec of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
• Former Governors John Kasich (OH) & Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA)
• Michael Steele (former Republican Party Chairman)
• Senator Mitt Romney
• Former Senators Jeff Flake & John Warner
• Former US Rep (PA) Charlie Dent
• ... and many, many more. 

You can see the long list of others here at this apolitical, fact-based Wikipedia page: "List of Republicans who oppose the 2020 Donald Trump presidential campaign"

And also there's this this article from Forbes:  "All The Republicans Who Have Endorsed Joe Biden For President"

Among the people who have worked in the Trump administration and have seen his methods and character first hand, there are many who are actively supporting Joe Biden. Think of it! What a potentially career-ending risk these GOP folks are taking to abandon Trump and support Biden!  It's a real measure of the powerful negative impact of working with Trump and seeing him up close and personal.

Trump's former Defense Secretary & ex-Marine Jim Mattis has called Trump "a threat to the Constitution..." See this brief article for the positions of some of the other former administration officials:

And then there are the many members of the military who are growing weary of their Commander in Chief. See:  "Half of the Military Disapproves of Trump as Commander in Chief: Poll

And many of the evangelicals who once supported him are growing tired of Trump. Billy Graham's granddaughter says, "By supporting Donald Trump, evangelical leaders are failing us and failing the Gospel. Christian women must step up where our church leaders won't."  See this article in USA Today:  "I'm Billy Graham's granddaughter. Evangelical support for Donald Trump insults his legacy." 

Finally, you can listen to the voices and see the despair and disgust on the faces of ordinary Republican citizens like yourselves, including many veterans, as they explain their opposition to Trump in this Republican Voters Against Trump YouTube Channel.

If you have read this far, Thank You!  Please consider checking out some of the respected sources above. And please DO NOT VOTE for another four years of this chaos. 

I deeply believe that to vote for Trump is to endanger all our lives by the immediate threat of Trump's continuing bungled response to the pandemic (nearly 200,000 U.S. dead and counting!!) and the longer-term threat to our democracy and rule of law. But you don't have to take my word for it. Just listen to some of those powerful GOP leaders identified above.

Thanks for your consideration,
Mike

P.S. - Feel free to forward this letter to anyone, particularly any Republican of good conscience, who might join us in doing the right thing in this election. 

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