Search results: stephen herron

Stephen J. Herron

14 Jul

Stephen is a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He moved to Ohio in 2000, and currently lives in Cleveland. He is a graduate of the University of Ulster, and was awarded the John Braidwood Research Fellowship in 1997 in order to study Ulster-Scots literature on behalf of the Cultural Traditions Group in Northern Ireland. Over the years, Stephen has been involved in developing web content for a number of companies in both the UK and US. His interests include television writing and production, social media, game design and publishing.

Stephen enjoys going to the movies, playing computer games, and willingly accepts gifts of technology from wealthy patrons who read these kind of things in bios.

Read his posts here

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Reddit Is Calling Your Name

23 May

When was the last time you used Reddit? Recently Stephen Herron reminded me of the site’s powerful knowledge base. According to Wikipedia, “Reddit is an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.” Basically the site is user-generated content and people promote stories by voting on them.

Discover news stories and links instantly on Reddit. The site is divided into hot, new, rising, controversial, top, gilded, wiki and promoted content. You can also use the site to find minute details on things like, “Why did Van Halen say no brown M&Ms in their concert contract back in the early days?”  If you just check out Reddit’s front page you will get lost for hours in content and perhaps learning something along the way. As a note for parents, the site can be rather sarcastic and cavalier at times.

Reddit is user generated content voted by it’s users

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When’s The Last Time We Talked?

2 Aug

How do you keep track of the last time you spoke to one of your friends? In this day and age, you probably have many circles of friends – work, personal, organizations and school. How often do you touch base with your friends? Do you forget to contact them for ages? I can imagine your friend may wonder, “Are we even friends anymore?” Now there is a social application called TinyBlu that allows you enter in the last time you spoke to someone. If you don’t text or email them again, you will then get an email notice that reminds you to get a hold of them again. I like the fact that you can quick visual of each friend’s mood based on when you last contacted them. Thanks to Stephen Herron on the find.

Manage your social life:

  • Check the last time you hung out with a friend
  • Get a reminder when you lose touch with someone
  • Maintain regular interactions with important people

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Leading Hands is 7

21 Jun

The number 7 is celebrated in many cultures and considered a positive spirit. Today Leading Hands turns 7 and continues to strive to make a difference. This site was born back in 2005 with one mission to lead by example. I am grateful to all the contributors over the years including: Todd Bertsch, Scott Billy, David Bardwell, Stephen Herron, Mike Kimmel, Matthew Minnich, Josh Gordon, John Pearson, and Cathy Zapata. Thank you for your support.

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Scrivener Is Creative Writing

5 May

Mac users are looking for a creative ingredient to spark your writing? If so, then you need to discover the program called Scrivener. The writing program is ergonomically centered around the way the modern multitasker thinks.

Scrivener lets you jot down thoughts on documents that resemble post-it notes. You can view them individually or all at once as if you pinned them up on a cork board. I traditionally write bits of information down as I go and then elaborate later, this program gives me the latitude to do so. Another outstanding feature of Scrivener is the ability to merge documents together by individually selecting each note. You can export your document as a word doc, pdf, or a multitude of formats.

The program has a 30 trial so you can always give Scrivener a test drive.

Special thanks to Stephen Herron for the recommendation on the program.

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Dropbox is Sharing and Storage

16 Nov

What is Dropbox?
Drop box is similar to You Send It where you can share files back and forth to each other. However the energized file sharing site also has a built in feature like Mozy where you can back up files from your system. With the initial sign-up, you get two gig free of space but of course you can upgrade for more. I also discovered there is a new iPhone app for Dropbox too!

Stephen Herron who introduced me to Dropbox said he is using it primarily for storage of his writing projects. He is also impressed with how everything automatically syncs up between his laptops and PCs. He proclaims that, “it’s very handy.”

Give drop box a try.

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Geek Beat TV

2 Nov

Cali Lews - Geek Brief TV

Do you have tech envy? If you are going to watch Geek Beat TV, then you”ll definitely encounter tech envy. Tech envy is the act of wanting the latest technology at all costs, even selling the shirt off your back.

Join Cali Lewis as she gives you a daily update on the latest gadgets available to market at Geek Brief TV. Her podcasts are packed with so much information, it”s quite pleasant.

Recently she has been traveling around the United States giving you updates from remote locations like Sedona, Arizona. Thanks to fellow Leading Hands writer Stephen Herron for coining the phrase “Tech Envy”.

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Are you Digital or Analog?

13 Jul

A half-baked personality theory by Stephen Herron

Digital doesn’t mean electronic, though that’s how modern electronics work. Computers use pulses of electrical power to store information in a binary form – either power is off or it’s on. That translates into a 0 or a 1, which is the basis of electronic information transfer. If you’re heavily into computer games, you may recognize analog as describing a type of game controller, or ‘analog stick’. This kind of joystick allows for fine control – gently moving the stick to the right gives a very different result than pushing it hard all the way over. The sweeping generalization of my theory contends that there are two kinds of people: Digital or Analog. First, a couple of examples to set up my interpretation of what Digital and Analog mean.

The Watch Example
A digital watch displays an exact time. For instance, it might show 3:52:04, with the hour, the minute and the second displayed. One-sixtieth of a minute later, the second changes to 05. Then 06. And then 07. Eventually it resets to 00, but the 52 will change to 53.

An analog watch has an hour hand and a minute hand and sometimes a second hand (though they are really arms, or fingers, but that’s an entirely different, and much weirder personal theory for another day). You know the drill – the second hand moves ‘clock-wise’ around the dial, marking out the passing of time. The minute-hand moves more slowly, and the hour-hand even slower still. At 3:52:04, the hour hand is nearly pointing at 4, the minute hand is closer to 52 than it is to 53, but is very slowly moving that way. To be truly analog, the second hand must be continuously sweeping around, not clicking between each number with a pause and a jump.

So: you’re late for a meeting. You think you’re about ten minutes away. You look at your watch. If it’s digital, you see the precise time. You make a calculation, adding ten minutes onto the number you see. Will that make you late? How late? You subtract the time you were meant to be there from your ‘late estimate’

If you’re wearing an analog watch, you don’t think in the same way. You know what ten minutes looks like. You’ll see that you’ll be late by about five minutes. You can see where that puts you on the clock dial, how long the meeting will last, how long you’ll have left.

With the analog watch, there’s more information, but it’s less precise. With the digital watch the information is more accurate, but requires a bit more thought, and it gives you less context.
The Plane Example
Imagine you’re sitting in the cockpit of a plane. There are dials and switches galore.

Two displays are of great interest. One tells you how fast you are going, the other tells you what height you’re at.

The one indicating speed tells you two things. Your speed in knots is indicated as a number, yet there is also an arm, much like on a car speedometer, which moves up and down slowly as the plane adjusts speed.

The altimeter also has a reading with numbers (digital) but has two arms, and when they start moving, you better pay attention, because as they move faster and faster, spinning down, you realize you are falling. The pilot pulls the plane back up, and those arms start slowing down, until they stop, and start turning the other way slowly. In the middle of this crisis, which display tells you more? The rapidly changing digital display with numbers flicking by too fast to read, or those two arms which were turning alarmingly fast?

The digital display tells you the precise information you’re after. The hour, the minute and the second, frozen in time. Your altitude, right now. Your speed, right now.

An analog display tells you roughly what time it is. It tells you, more-or-less, what altitude you’re at, how fast you’re falling, and it hints very strongly at the relationship between your rate of decent and the ground.

So, what’s the real difference between Analog and Digital?
The tradeoff between analog and digital is trading precision for context. Digital tells you where you are. Analog tells you where you’ve been and where you’re going.

An analog signal, such as an AM station on the radio, is continuous and relies upon changes in frequency and amplitude to work. Music depends on the same things, but you might call them pitch and loudness. A digital signal is either on, or off.

However, enough digital information can seem analog. A CD or MP3 file is a collection of digital information, 0’s and 1’s. But somehow, with enough of them being processed quickly enough, music is produced, which is inherently an analog creation.

Enough examples – how does this work with people?
People rarely fall into exact categories. For many aspects of their personality, they will be analog. Only for certain things will they switch into a digital mode. (Interestingly, this theory is both analog AND digital, precisely because it tries to classify people into one or the other while realizing that it’s just a model, and reality is much more complex!)

Digital people are exact, precise. They find it difficult to see the bigger picture, or the greater context of the situation. Digital people, when faced with complex arguments, will tend to pick a side and stick with it. Far from being reactionary, they can and will consider both sides before making their decision, and may change later given more information.

Analog people are less precise, but tend to take account of situations and context. They may ask for the background of a particular situation, and whether or not something similar has happened before. Getting a decision from an analog person is difficult, but it’s easy to get a feeling for where they stand, though four different Analogs will have 8 different positions that they can take.

Example One
You’re asked to produce a report for your boss. You compile the information she asked for, put it into a chart, and hand it over. If your report contains just a spreadsheet of data, then you’re probably digital. If you’ve included some charts, then you’re probably a mix. If it’s got your personal theories and insights into the data, then you’re probably analog.

Example Two
You are meeting someone. You set the time at noon. If you turn up at five minutes to noon, and wait until about five minutes past, you’re analog. If you arrive at precisely noon, and don’t see them waiting, and then leave, you’re digital.

Example Three
You need to buy bread. You drive out to the store, and pick some up. If you pick up some other groceries while you’re there, you’re analog. If you buy just the bread, and come home, you’re digital.

Example Four
You are dating someone for a year. You ask them to marry you. They say no. If you’re digital, you break it off with them. If you’re analog, you hang around and maybe ask again in another six months.

In Summary
Analog people are more flexible, but less firm. Digital people are firm, but less flexible.

There is a place for both kinds of people. And a need for both. In truth, we have both aspects in our personalities, but I know that, having read this article, you are already thinking about your friends & family and your co-workers, and figuring out who is digital and who is analog.

This concept won’t win a Nobel prize, but it’s a starting point for discussion.

Are you analog? Are you digital? Share your thoughts and comments, and let us know if you can think of other examples.

Disclaimer: This is just a personal theory of mine. Although I have previously studied psychology at an undergraduate level, I don’t remember enough of it to make any claims of having any genuine insights here!

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UK Report 2007

7 Apr

One of our contributing editors, Stephen Herron, is currently on vacation in Northern Ireland. Here is his report directly from the United Kingdom.

Since moving to the United States in 2000, I’ve made a few trips back to Northern Ireland, and each time I’ve kept my eyes open for the major technological trends, especially as they relate to mobile phone, entertainment, and personal technology.

Previous trips drove home the gap between the UK and the US in several areas, especially in the use and ubiquity of cell phone technology. Although in the last couple of years, I’ve seen the US catch up significantly, there’s still some differences.

I’ve not seen many people using the Blackberry-type of cell phone device, nor have I seen a lot of the PDA/phone merging. This might be because the UK has moved past it already, but I suspect that the vast gulf of five years ago is now down to a year or less. However, people routinely use text messages for a variety of purposes, including remotely programming their Digital Video Recorders! Such innovations as using cell phones as a kind of digital wallet (which has been tested in Japan for making purchases from vending machines) will most likely see some kind of limited testing in the UK in the next few years.

Many companies are offering a 3-in-1 deal for cell phone service, which is combined with broadband internet, and satellite/cable tv service and a land-line phone connection. This is quite similar to things I’ve seen in the US recently, another sign that the two countries are catching up with each other.

Bluetooth technology is commonplace, and has been for several years. It appears that the US has also caught up in this area.

Satellite television still offers some intriguing features that I’ve not seen in the US. First, the sheer “bandwidth” of digital television in the UK offers viewers multiple channels to watch a single show: for example, if you subscribe to a premium sports package, you can watch soccer games across multiple channels, where each channel is actually a different camera angle on the same game. You can swap between cameras at your convenience, which offers a degree of interactivity that is quite exciting.

Another type of interactivity is found when watching certain channels – both TV shows and commercials trigger a small icon on the top right of the screen – pressing the ‘red button’ on your remote brings up related information on the product, service or subject currently on screen.

One popular TV science fiction show, Doctor Who, offered an interactive game on Christmas Day 2005. Viewers would be presented with a situation on screen, and could then make a choice of what to do next – in fact, the ‘choice’ switched them to a second TV channel which showed the result of the choice, and moved the plot line along. Although only limited choices were offered, this kind of true interaction is intriguing, and will eventually see its way to US TV screens as digital television technology becomes more widespread.

These are just a few of my observations from the United Kingdom this trip. I’ll be returning here in November – what kind of things would you like me to look out for, or check into? What kind of expectations do you have of technology in another country? Are you surprised by any of the differences I’ve listed above? Am I wrong about any of them, or do you know of any innovations I missed?

Leading Hands would like to hear from you if you have any comments!

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Yelp – Connect to Your City

6 Sep

A month ago I created an ever growing list of social networking websites and there was one that recently jumped out at me. I wanted to find a new restaurant to fine dine. I checked out Cleveland Eats first, then I wandered over to Yelp.

Yelp has reviews on everything from restaurants, shopping, nightlife, spas, coffee shops and just places to go. Find out what people are saying out about the establishments in your town. The site currently features 200+ reviews of local restaurants. It also has reviews of unique places to go like catching an Indie film at the Cinematheque. Yelp is great way to discover your city.

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