Barbie Goes Digital 

Six months from now, you will be able to buy a Barbie for the really young ones in your life that will be able to have a conversation with them. We are entering the era of a whole new world of digital toys. I’m not sure many of you are going to like, it but you don’t have much choice. Most toys in the future will be digitally-enabled. 

Mattel plans to introduce Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi enabled version of their iconic doll, right after the summer. Barbie will be using ToyTalk’s technology system “to analyze a child’s speech and produce relevant responses,” according to the company’s press releases.

ToyTalk of San Francisco creates conversational characters for children. Founded in 2011, ToyTalk is known for its animated conversational apps, Winston Show and SpeakaZoo. The apps help young children “engage in complex dialogue with a menagerie of make-believe characters.” 

Read about what the toy industry and early childhood educators think about Mattel’s new Barbie. The New York Times had a great piece on this development. 

Photos From Maui

For the past week, I’ve been writing to you from Maui. I’m here with Eliot, daughter Whitney, her boyfriend, Fredrick, and cousins Darren, Larry, Beth, Jeff, and Hanna. We try to go away together at least once a year, plus see each other Thanksgiving time at the Jeff Young’s extravaganza feast. 

Other cousins are welcome to join in at any time. The charter group may come and go too depending on schedules but we try to pick a date far enough out that everyone can plan ahead.  

Everyone has heavy work schedules so we all are equipped with the devices that keep us connected. Whitney is the only one who is completely disconnected. She doesn’t believe in mixing Maui with work. Her outgoing email message is:

“Aloha! I am on a mindful vacation in Maui, without phone or computer, and won’t be checking email until I return on March 30. If this is an urgent matter, you may contact my assistant. He will be able to reach me.”

The rest of us don’t mind checking in with the office a few times a day. As far as I’m concerned, I prefer working from the road. Otherwise, I could never go away. I’m taking advantage of the Interent. I love my virtual office existence and feel blessed that I’m living in a time that this is possible. 

Twice this week,  I had to wake up at 4:30am and 5:30am for conference calls. I also answered emails and wrote several pitch letters. I scored a few major editorial hits and wrote new DigiDame everyday.

I didn’t miss a meal or an activity with the family. I slept six hours a night and read several newspapers a day. Somehow you learn to pace yourself. Yes, there are times when it’s stressful but many things on vacation can be challenging. Whitney, Fredrick, Larry and Darren went zip lining today. That would make my BP go haywire. 

Checking emails is a piece of cake. I’m on the ground, not suspended a thousand feet over a waterfall. I know what I can handle. Mixing work and pleasure is my honor in this day of digital conveniences.  

  

 

  

 

  

     

  

 

   

       

  

A New Era In Broadcasting 

A new era has entered the world of broadcasting. It’s called live-streaming. I may finally get my chance at on-air reporting. This is all made possible because of two new apps, Periscope and Meerkat. They allow you to broadcast live.  

Meerkat and Periscope can only be broadcasted live when there is a real time distribution platform like Twitter. There will be plenty of other formats in the future.

The amazing thing about live streaming is that your viewers are watching your broadcast as you are taping. These two apps are in tremendous competition with each other because this is the future of Internet broadcasting. 

Watch the videos for a full explanation. Twitter owns Periscope but don’t discount Meerkat. They both have unique features that make each of them very attractive. 

Tomorrow I will tell you about the tremendous funding they are both attracting. 

The war has just begun!!!

Apple – iOS 8 – Health

     

If you upgraded to Apple iOS 8 on your iPhone, you should be taking advantage of the Health app that was provided free of charge. I believe Android folks have had a similar app for quite sometime.

I didn’t even know it was there until my friend told me about it. I saw it but never paid attention to it.  Then I noticed that my friend wasn’t wearing a Fitbit of any kind anymore. I asked him why and, at first, he was coy about it. 

Annoying me, wouldn’t let up, until one day he said that he uses the iPhone health app now because it offers many of the features found in the all of the fitness gadgets.

I really didn’t believe him until I started using it myself. The apple health app gives you heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol, all in one place. There is also a place to store all of your important health information: blood type, allergies, etc. 

There is so much more to read about the Apple health app. Click here.


Zya’s Ditty

 I’m always trying to think of ways people my age can subtlety appear cool to their offspring, and their offspring (grandchildren). 

The app I’m about to tell you about is a step in the right direction. “Ditty” (no relation to Sean Combs) let’s you take a message and turn it into a video and onscreen lyrics. The company behind this new way to send messages is Zya.

It’s very simple to use.  You pick one of the track offerings, type in a message up to 70 characters, and magically your text will turn into a song. You have just produced a “ditty.” 

“Ditty’s” can be sent on Facebook Messenger, Instagram, vine, email, whatever. It’s available on all smartphone formats

Instagram’s New Photo App

    

 

The one kind of art that I loved the most over the years is the collage. There is something about a collage that makes me want to stop and study the composition for long periods of time. I think it is the mystery that a collage presents. The more you look, the more you see.

Good news for everyone with an iPhone. Instagram just introduced a new collage app called Layout. An Android version will be coming soon. 

Layout let’s you create photo collages from images you have stored on your camera roll. Once you create a collage, you can save it to your camera roll as well.

Look at the collages I created just before I wrote this post. There are 10 different layouts to choose from. One of the layouts lets you choose up to nine photos.

Instagram has 300 million users. The company said 20 per cent of their overall users already use a third party collage app to post photos. Instagram is always looking for new ways to keep their clientele happy. This is going to be a lot of fun. 

The Layout app also has a photo booth feature that takes four pictures in rapid fire. You can also mirror images. This really let’s you get creative.

Your imagination is going to run wild. I hope you will send me some of the collages you create. 

A Whole New Way To Bond With Kids/Grandchildren 

       

So many of you complain that digital gadgets are not helping the children of today use their imagination. With Atsushi Shiraishi’s new wearable jungle gym, interfamily bonding has taken on a whole new meaning, 

 The leather-and-rope contraption is perfect for young children to cling to you while you represent the stronger than life figure to them.  

Shiraishi, a student at Tama Art University in Japan, created this creative wearable gym for his thesis but plans to sell it in the upcoming months. Remember you saw it here first. It is called AthleTitti (sounds strange to me). 

 

When You Want Something Bad Enough 

 

 

Images from Kengurucars.com and Grist.org

This is a blog post about a remarkable young woman who, through sheer determination, is bringing a new kind of independence to people who use wheelchairs. 

Stacy Zoern is the reason why the Kenguru automobile, which has been designed for manual wheelchairs, is being manufactured. Another model, designed for motorized wheelchairs, is now on the drawing board.  

You have to watch the video interview with Stacy to completely understand the power of ambition. It has no limits. Many of us have to be reminded of this every time a new challenges appears. I certainly do.

Stacy Zoern was born with muscular atrophy. She always had to depend on very expensive “clunky vans” or friends for transportation. Then she found the startup Kenguru. The perfect car to be completely independent. 

When Stacy went to order it, she found out that the company didn’t have the funds for manufacturing. Since Stacy is used to huge challenges everyday of her life, she helped Kenguru get to the finish line.

The Kenguru sells for $25,000.

 

Post Modern Skateboard 

   

 

It’s always interesting to see a new version of an old thing. In this case, we are talking about the skateboard. I had to come all the way out to Los Angeles to learn about the Post Modern Skateboard. 

This new invention features two 10-inch round wheels with foot platforms inside. If you want to go forward you lean side-to-side. An extendable rod is included to connect the two skates together for easier learning. 

I don’t think anyone over 50 is going to buy the Post Modern Skateboard. However your children or grandchildren may love it. Hammacher Schlemmer, $99.00.