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Skoog 2: Making Sweet Melodies

For the budding musician in all of us.

Imagine being a child, and then imagine being a child, or an adult, who can never learn to play their own music….  Then imagine being a child or an adult who not only can’t learn to play their own music, but also doesn’t have the manual dexterity to operate a keyboard, or press the tiny button on an app.  It’s a significantly difficult thing to even begin to imagine for most of us.

We all seem to enjoy and want to play music at some level, especially if we’re young, disabled, or even musically challenged, but how do we do it?  Sometimes, just listening isn’t enough, and music apps can be pretty challenging to learn, even for those of us who don’t struggle to read and write, or find it difficult to learn new things.

Skoog asked me to review their cube music box, which I think would be fabulous for schools, parents, clubs and music groups, and not just for those with special needs.  I can think of many hours over the years that all my boys would have spent with one of these if we’d had one.


The Skoog is an easy to play instrument for almost everyone, and I mean everyone who can reach out and touch.  With a special needs youngster, I am always on the lookout for things that are good fun and easy to use.  You don’t have to be musical, or know anything about pitch, scales, instruments or anything to use it.

Skoog says “The easy-to-play instrument for everyone.  Free the musician inside.”

I’d been looking forward to this one for a while, and rightly so.

How to use the Skoog

The Skoog is so very simple it’s incredible.  Just a little light pressure on the foam, and it activates perfectly.  For people who have no ability to apply pressure, it’s even adjustable, so that simply resting a hand on the Skoog should get it going.  The battery life is around 10 or so hours, and works within around 10 metres of the iPad, so they don’t need to be next to each other to work perfectly.

How does it work?

The Skoog has 5 big soft buttons, one on each side as a visual aid, and helps control the little cube.  The whole Skoog is touch sensitive though, even the area around the buttons, but just not the bottom that rests on your table or desk, or knee.

Setting up your Skoog

My version works via Bluetooth, but as our grown ups iPad is a second generation one, it doesn’t work as it’s so old, so we went to the PC to make the most of it initially, and hooked up ours via the cable rather than Bluetooth at the beginning.  I downloaded the Skoogmusic for PC direct from their website, knowing I could go to the app when one of my children actually gets off his iPad mini at some point.  It’s always nice to know that it’s accessible for those of us who are still on old school type machines too, but it’s far preferable to use the iPad for us.

With setting up, I was being extremely dim, when it’s actually pretty simple.

The Skoog is designed to be best used via Bluetooth I think.  Make sure your iPad is updated to the current software, and to get the best use out of it, install Garageband alongside it.  When the Skoog is charged, log onto the Skoog app from the Apple Store, press the button on the bottom of the Skoog to turn on the Bluetooth, and when you see the blue light flashing, use the app to connect your Skoog, not the general iPad settings.  When the Skoog is connected, the bluetooth light stays lit.

It’s compatible with iPads supporting bluetooth low energy.  This means iPad 3rd & 4th Generation, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, mini 2, mini 3, iPad Pro + onwards.  Our old iPad 2 is not compatible.  Thankfully, we have an iPad mini, and we got it set up, when I updated to ios 9, but Garageband needed to be updated too, for the best effect.   Unfortunately, it’s not available for Android yet, but I’m sure if enough people ask for it, it’ll be considered.

The sound comes out of your iPad, and not the actual Skoog, which confused my middle child for a while.  It can connect via USB to PC or Apple Mac, but does need the accompanying software. I’d recommend going the iPad route.


Apps to Use with Skoog

How genious.  The Skoog lets you connect to apps to interact.  Hold onto your hat here.  It’s amazing and opens up a whole new world of things to do with your Skoog 2.

Skoog says:

Skoog can talk to any app that supports MIDI. Examples are Garageband, NOISE by Roli, Nanologue, Orphion and ThumbJam. It is also compatible with Network MIDI, which will allow you to connect your Skoog to apps on any compatible device via your WiFi network.

What did we think?

It’s fabulous.  When my kids were younger, they’d have spent endless hours popping the buttons on this, and my special needs boy is finding it incredibly easy to use.   I think any school would find this amazing when coupled with the Garageband app on an iPad, never mind what else it can do.  When I played music, it searched through the music to see if it could find a score for the song.  I haven’t had the time to play around with that yet to see how it works, but I’ll let the boys figure that one out.

My Final Thoughts and Where to Get Your Own Skoog 2

As a toy / music maker / sensory tool, it’s well thought out and does far more than I expected.   We’ve had ours a wee while now, and while they’re not cheap, retailing around £199, the value for money in this, far outweighs the price if it can be done for a school, kids group, or hospital.  It’s sturdy, and as it’s squishable, I imagine it’s hard to break.

I can’t even begin to say how good I think this is, especially for children who struggle to control the regular music apps for themselves.

We’re really just beginning to find out what this nifty little gadget can do, a couple of months after getting it, and it’s going to get a lot of use here.

Find out more at Skoogmusic.  You can buy it at the Apple store online or at Amazon.  Apple even have a new section for Accessible Accessories, which included the Skoog.  That’s brilliant recognition for this gadget.

Honestly, if you’re looking for a fabulous gadget to supplement a school music department, or you’re part of a parent teacher association, you don’t have to look further than this as an unputdownable teaching aid and sensory gadget.  Try and find somewhere that has one, and give it a go for yourself if you think your budget could stretch to one.  My middle boy tells me there’s one at his special school, which is really great news.

I did try to take my own video, but the ones from Skoog actually demonstrate this far more beautifully than I ever could.  We’re looking forward to many long years with our Skoog.

Disclaimer:  A very heartfelt thanks to the people at Skoog for providing us with our review Skoog 2.


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Review: Titan Steel Lightening Cable. Is it the strongest cable on earth?

I can’t guarantee that the Tital is completely indestructible, as we’ve not managed to break ours, but a virtually indestructable cable is one thing that we really needed.

My middle boy is very hard on his chargers and we’ve gone through quite a few in his iPod lifetime.  As much as we try to tell him to be careful with them, they fray, get pulled apart, and don’t usually last for more than a couple of months at a time.

Titan Cable 1

Fuse Chicken, offered their new Titan cable for us to try, and it’s been put through its paces by him.

There are two versions of this cable.  One for Apple, and one for Android.  If you do ever decide to buy one, make sure you choose the right one, as they’re not interchangeable.

About the Titan Charging Cable

  • Made from industrial grade cable, wrapped in dual layers of flexible, high-strength steel.
  • Connectors are sealed with a one piece housing, fused directly over the electronics and metal casing.
  • It charges and syncs.
  • USB connector.
  • It winds and twists into shapes you can mould for your charging point.  Some people even use it as a stand for lighter devices, though I’d worry about the connection port on my device, so I resist using mine for that.
  • Titan took a chainsaw to the cable, and couldn’t break it

The Hype

Ok, so I’d seen some negative reviews about this cable on Amazon, so I really went into reviewing with an open mind.  I was actually really pleased with it on first taking it out of the packet.  How my cable performs in use, is all I can tell you about.

Titan Steel Lightening Cable

Due to the reviews, I allowed my middle boy to do his worst with it for over a week, making sure it has gone through several rounds of being fairly roughly handled.  Ours is still holding up well, and hasn’t broken the connectors.

Would I buy this?  I’m afraid to say I would.  I have a very accident prone boy who goes through cables like water.


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My Solution to Pathetic Broadband – Hello 4GEE Mobile Wifi (Osprey 2)

Update:  Inserting the sim on Osprey 2.

This seems to trouble some people.  I can only show you how mine is inserted.  Locate the little cover with the sim image on the side and gently pull it open.   With the sticker on the back of the Osprey, I’ve taken a picture of which way to put in the sim.  If your Osprey is sitting with the EE logo on the top, contacts will face up, and if it’s sitting with the smooth back of the Osprey upwards, it’s the EE sticker on the sim on the top.  Hope this helps a bit.   Your sim needs to be exactly in the middle, so pop it in gently so that you can remove it if you miss the centre slot.  When it slides in easily, use your nail, or a pin to push it in until it feels like it’s clicked.

IMG_1968 IMG_1967


Our broadband is dire.  I don’t like to shout too loudly, as some of my neighbours have it even worse than we do, but if there’s more than one person hooked up to the WiFi, there’s no hope of EE3getting much of anything done.

At times, our speed isn’t much more than the old dial-up.  To make matters worse, if the broadband goes down, there have been no 3G or 4G connections to fall back on with a phone.  I’d tried 3, Vodafone and O2, but at least with O2, we get calls.  We couldn’t even get that with Vodafone.

I know some of you probably think we live out in the sticks, but although we’re a village on the outskirts, we’re still actually classed as being in Aberdeen, and not the Shire.  Yes, that’s right, we’re in a City and the broadband needs a good talking to.

We’ve been promised faster internet for years, but after an extended slo-mo outage, I decided to get myself a hold of one of the EE Mobile WiFi units.  To be honest, I expected very little from it, as our trials for other networks have been so poor.  I switched it on, fully expecting it to have to go back, then I sat it on a window ledge, and what do you know – I got three bars of 4G!  I think my neighbour heard me whooop…
EE Osprey 2 2

I can’t move it around too much, as there only seems to be a few spots where the signal is this good, but I can join it, just like any other hub.

I’ve seen the reviews that said the unit was quite large.  I don’t know what they’re reviewing, but I don’t find it large at all.

There is a mini version of the Osprey 2, but that does not allow you to charge a phone if you’re out and about.  I can see my youngest wanting a mini for Xmas though.

As for the data plans…  I do find them slightly on the expensive side, so I’ll be restricting my useage on the gadget, but it’s finally reassuring to know, that when my internet dies totally, I can still actually use my phone to get online….or turn off automatic updates on my computer, to save data.

Anyway, you can choose pay as you go, or sign up for monthly payments.  If you’re using it a lot, then monthly would be the way to go.  This is the first time I’ve tried a mobile WiFi gadget in my house, and there isn’t an alternative.  I’m just happy to see a light flashing anywhere, on any gadget that connects to the internet.

Easily pleased aren’t I?  Perhaps I should just get a life outside the internet….

EE Osprey 2 1

In the box:

  • EE4GEE Osprey 2 Unit.
  • Quick start guide.
  • Top up card.
  • Sim card.
  • Little carry pouch.
  • Charging cable.

Disappointingly, the cable is ultra short and there is no plug.  I found that a bit inconvenient.

For surfing the web, I have to say, it is much preferable to our BT Broadband at present.

In Use

I’ve popped it in my bedroom, where I’ll use it to check mail, surf a few web pages, social media, and some low data hungry things.  Our WiFi doesn’t work well up there, even with a booster, so moving onto this for the evenings will make me very happy indeed.  Now, I’ve just got to work out how long I can make my original 6GB of WiFi last for.

With one machine under our belts, I doubt I would actually swap this pay as you go sim for a monthly one, as the units are free on a monthly package.  If I decided to tie myself down to a monthly payment, I’d simply get them to send me a new unit too.  Possibly the mini as a Christmas present.  It would be the same price overall.

Surfing on 4G is very much faster than with our broadband.  I went for a walk, popped the Osprey into my pocket with my phone and was able to download messages and read the news on a local park bench when I stopped for a breather.  It’s the first time ever, that I’ve had any connection in our village.  I doubt I will do without this gadget in future, unless O2 get their finger out and give us 4G too.

Littlest is simply thinking about having WiFi on his travels.  When we go away in the van, we tend to get zero signal wherever we go for data, but some people have been mentioning finding EE signals, so if we get WiFi in a place where our phones pick up nothing, I might just kiss the boots of whoever invented these little magic gadgets.  We can connect up to 10 devices to these units, so they’re quite versatile.  I just wish the data was cheaper.

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Is Your Windows 10 Machine Updating Someone Else’s Computer?

If you’ve downloaded Windows 10, and are loving it, congratulations.  Windows 10

I, on the other hand, really do like it, but I found a problem.  After installing it, my machine seemed to be working constantly, and my processor sat at 98% most of the time, with only one program open.  It meant I could hardly do anything without the machine freezing for a minute or two.

I could do very little, as I had no ram left on my slightly ageing PC.

So I did what we all do when our computers temporarily freeze up.  I went looking for what I could find.

Potential For Peer to Peer Updates

Windows 10 will do mandatory updates, but  the really tricky part of this, is that not only can Microsoft then use your download to update the other machines in your network, it could use your broadband to deliver updates to other PC users, wherever they may be, by using a form of peer-to-peer distribution.

I don’t know about anyone else, but our broadband is pretty rubbish as it is.  The potential to lose some, so that someone else can download their updates, fills me with dread…….  There isn’t enough information to say how they will use it, but the wording on the image below is pretty telling.  Make your own decision.

For those of you with superfast broadband, I have no doubt this is a great idea if you don’t mind sharing, but as someone who is stuck on ASDL, for what seems to be eternity, with no option of going faster, finding ways to get my machine nippier is definitely a priority.  On the plus side, Microsoft’s servers would get a break from the pressure of downloading.

I have horrific memories of the old fashioned peer-to-peer stuff of a few years ago, so this did not fill me with joy.

Thankfully, we can actually stop this happening.

Image from Windows 10 Settings Page
Image from Windows 10 Settings Page
Turn It Off

It’s on by default when you download and install Windows 10.

  • Start
  • Settings
  • Update & Security
  • Windows Update
  • Advanced Options
  • Choose How Updates Are Delivered
  • Either:  Choose PCs on my local network OR Click Off to switch off the sharing option completely.

I do have to say though, I am loving the new Start Menu and the options for apps.

And to the potential person/people who I may have downloaded Windows 10 from today, whoever you are, thank you for sharing.


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45 Days & 13 People to Craft A Tweet


At first, I thought this article  was actually a wind up.

Let’s take the short version.

The brand seems to have 180 followers as of today, but around 100 at the time of the tweet.  It appears that it took 45 days to craft a single tweet.

The article states:

It can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days and 13 people to plan, create, approve, and publish a corporate social media post.


There must be more to it – surely?

Perhaps it’s some new kind of branding, or specialism that ends up with a tweet, but starts with a massive marketing campaign.

This is the tweet that took nearly 2 months to get approved.  It’s a nice tweet and a lovely image.

Perhaps someone can explain it to me, as I really do not understand it.  It seems an awful lot of money to spend out in relation to the potential return.

I’m in the WRONG business.


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Win Kapersky Internet Security For A Year (Multi-Device) Closing Date 30th March at Midnight

I try very hard to keep viruses out of my Computer system, which is why I am always happy to help when a well known Internet Security Company begins to talk to me.  I don’t think enough of us take our online security seriously enough and anything that helps us to stay safe is a winner in my eyes.

I am pleased to offer a one year Internet Security package in conjunction with Kapersky for one lucky reader.

The Prize is:

Kaspersky Internet Security –  Multi-Device for up to 3 devices for one year.

The closing date is 30th March at Midnight.

Kapersky Internet Security can cover real-time protection against all new and emerging malware and Internet threats.

kapersky internet security

It ensures that all applications and files that you open, save or download from the Web are scanned right away.   It will also monitor potential threats and analyse how dangerous they are and take preventative steps before they can do any harm.

Kapersky can cover Windows PCs, Macs, Android Smartphones and Tablets, iPhone and iPad devices, and also includes a safe browser for iOS.

The award-winning security will protect your PC against all types of malware and Internet threats, including trying to steal your money or identity.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

– Open to UK Mainland Entrants only.
– 1 Winner will receive 1 Year of Kapersky Internet Security (Multi-Device) for up to 3 devices for 1 year.
– The prize will be sent to you from the Kapersky PR rep.
– The Scottish Mum Blog is not responsible for your prize and cannot be held liable in any way for non delivery or non receipt.
– Winners will be notified within 3 days of giveaway end. If the winner does not respond within 7 days, a new winner will be drawn.
– The winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter random generator.
– Kapersky and the Scottish Mum Blog reserves the right to amend, add or withdraw this giveaway at any time.
– Each entry method entitles you to one entry into the draw.
– You may tweet daily. Each tweet counts as a rafflecopter entry, only if you enter it into the rafflecopter widget daily.

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Blogging with a Nexus 7

Argos Nexus 7

I decided to take blogging mobile, and tried a nexus 7 from Argos.

I’ve used a Nexus before as my youngest has one for games and reading, but I’d never tried to blog using one.

Nexus Box

I didn’t have long to wait for my box and I had to be careful as I plan this to be a Christmas present for my eldest.

The box is small, strong and actually quite tricky to get open.  It’s very closely packed so there seems to be no room for movement within the box which is a good thing.   Google tends to make for good computer programmes, so it isn’t really a shock to find that their tablet version has been such a hit with it’s reasonable price tag and fast responsive screen.

The 7″ screen is lovely and shiny and the weight of the Nexus is actually quite reassuring in your hand.  In the box is the Nexus and a charger cable and plug.

photo (11)

When I switched on, I was greeted by several very easy to follow screens that talked through how to set up and create a Google Account.  When it loads up, the apps and possibilities to put widgets with changing and updating information on the home screen is fairy easy to navigate.

Google has made the set up pretty intuitive so there really wasn’t much to worry about at all and most Internet savvy kids would manage to do it without much problem at all.

Make it google

I hadn’t had a chance to look through the book store on Android so it gave me a good opportunity to have a good look around and there seems to be plenty of choice, and also the ability to download a Kindle app which is always a must on any device that I ever use.  I have a fair few books from Amazon that I’d like to keep hold of.

Settings are fairly comprehensive, as are the parental options.  We can set up a different account for each member of the family on one Nexus 7 which impressed me very much.  That means I can have my apps on one account and kids can have a different account with their own apps on the same wee machine.   That’s fairly impressive to me.

Book Store

More new territory for me was downloading the WordPress app.  It’s simplified on Android, but it’s also more than enough to be putting some blog posts on.  The Nexus I have has the front facing camera which is basic, but it’s fine for doing things like Skype.  Kids can use it for taking pics of other things and an app download really helps to make using the camera easier.

I believe the new Nexus 7 has a back facing camera for regular style pictures, but for my kids, I’ve found the one on my version perfectly adequate as they mostly just want to take selfies anyway.


I did a fairly simple blog post for a first one on the Nexus.  A simple silent sunday one where one picture is posted with no words to tell its own tale.  To get a better quality picture, I sent one from my phone to the Nexus by e-mail and simply picked it from the options on the WordPress write new post menus.

For typing, I found the keyboard actually fairly good and easier to master than the Apple one when I first tried that.  The screen is very responsive, very very clear and pleasant on the eye to look at.  It really is easy to see why it took the tablet computing market by storm when it came out and has had such rave reviews.

Blog Post

I’m going to potter with the Nexus for a couple more days and then wipe it clean and set it up again with my eldests information and e-mail.  He is going to be one happy bunny indeed.  I can’t justify the price of iPads for all my kids and these do the job pretty nicely at £159.

My Nexus 7 is a Wi-Fi version which hooks up quite nicely to my O2 phone as a hotspot when out and about and when there isn’t any Wi-Fi available.

With one Christmas present secured, please say it’s really not too early to talk about Christmas, Santa and Elves.

We gratefully received a Nexus 7 from Argos?

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Guest Post: Is your child’s digital knowledge streets ahead?

Baby Computer


This is  a guest post by Alexandra from Know The Net, an organisation that provides information, tips and advice on how to stay safe online.


Having grown up in a world in which computers are all pervasive, it is little wonder that children often know more about using technology than their parents. To many, it would seem as though kids just “know” how to surf the net, play a games console, operate a mobile phone, and interact with technology in general.

When faced with an apparent digital divide between the generations, it becomes difficult to gauge just how far ahead your offspring are. Nominet recently completed some research to try and define and quantify the difference, by questioning parents and teenagers regarding common internet phrases and how well both parties understood them.

A musical muddle

For the most part, the research suggests that parents are relatively well informed when it comes to the proper use of computers. “Mature” internet concepts, such as downloading songs from iTunes or streaming tracks from Spotify, were generally understood by adults, and therefore viewed as being harmless. The good news is that accessing media through these mediums is perfectly safe.

However, less legitimate activities, such as torrenting songs and videos, were much less understood. According to Nominet’s research, 42% of parents questioned had no idea what torrenting is, nor whether they should be concerned. Just 23% of respondents thought torrenting was an issue. In case you don’t know yourself, torrenting almost always involves downloading copyright-protected content illegally from other Internet users – so, as a parent, you should be worried about the prospect of your children doing this.

Social networking nightmares

With 1 billion users worldwide, there is a high probability that parents and children alike have their own accounts on the social network Facebook. However, different generations often use the network in completely different ways.

Take the concept of “fraping”, for instance. Nearly half of parents (49%) had no idea that updating another person’s Facebook status without their knowledge even had a proper name. However, 58% believed that engaging in such activities would almost certainly get their kids in trouble.

Many of the problems parents face are actually based around language and abbreviations, rather than technical challenges. Netspeak words, such as LMIRL (let’s meet in real life), YOLO (you only live once) and ASL (age, sex, location), were poorly understood by adults.

A common problem

Although the Nominet poll seems to confirm that there is a definite generation gap when it comes to using and understanding technology, parents can take some comfort from the knowledge that they are not alone. In every region of the UK, parents showed similar levels of ignorance when it came to the darker side of the internet.

Parents should also know that even if their kids are streets ahead, the gap in knowledge can be closed. For example, you can often quickly pick up new words and their meaning simply by showing an interest in what your children are doing. Resources such as Knowthenet also provide beginner guides, which cover many topics such as jargon, social networking, and common online scams and pitfalls for children.

Staying aware

A 2010 survey by Nielsen found that 75% of parents add their children as friends on Facebook in order to try and understand what they getting up to. In 41% of households, having a parent as a friend is a prerequisite of being allowed to use the network. Despite teenagers often being less than happy about this arrangement, many experts agree that parents do need to keep an eye on what is happening online.

For parents concerned that the hands-off approach is not working as well as hoped, parental control systems can offer an automated way to keep kids safe online. This could involve blocking ‘adult’ material, preventing torrent apps from being installed or running, and restricting the hours that the computer can be used. Parental control software is particularly useful for keeping pre-teens protected online, and helps create an audit trail of how they have used the computer, so you can ensure all is above aboard.

To further narrow the knowledge gap between you and your children, you might also consider trying to think like them, particularly with regards to circumventing house rules and parental control. A quick Google search for “parental control bypass” throws up hundreds of pages and articles dedicated to getting around rules designed to protect kids. If you can understand for yourself how kids try and bend the rules, you can also prepare for the hard conversations if they do.

Ultimately, your child may well be streets ahead when it comes to digital knowledge, but there is no reason why you cannot at least start to catch them up. The Internet has thousands of free guides available, designed to help you get the best from technology. You could even learn with your kids, having them teach you, making the process more of a family affair and helping you gain greater insights into their abilities.

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Featured Guest Post: 7 Steps to Keep Your Child Safe Online

Baby Computer

The internet is a wonderful way for our children to learn and play.  But as every parent knows, it can be a dangerous place too.  Even if you lock your security settings as tightly as possible, you can still download viruses and be targeted by spammers and scams.

There’s an even riskier human element to the web as well.  People target families to steal identities and money, and predators often pretend to be children and teenagers to target kids in chat rooms, games and social networks.

The best way to protect children from this is to supervise them whenever they’re online.  But with so many devices now able to access the internet, it’s impossible to monitor children all the time.  Even children as young as 3-5 years-old are now going online independently by using the family laptop or tablet.

So what can you do to teach your child how to be safe online?  What should they do to protect themselves? Here are seven steps which should help…

1. Thinking about the internet as a place

A great tip to help teach your child about the dangers of the internet is to imagine the web as a physical place.  You don’t have to go into specifics, but try to make them realise that there are bad neighbourhoods online the same as there are in ‘real’ life. What are bad neighbourhoods? You’ll often recognise them by the ads for gambling sites, drugs and even pornography. Make sure they’re aware that it’s bad to end up on these sites, and they shouldn’t wander off there on their own online if they do end up unsupervised.

2. Giving out personal details

Teach your children that they shouldn’t hand out personal information when they’re playing games or chatting to other kids online. It might feel natural for them to post instant messages explaining where they live or what their phone number is, but explain that this is dangerous. Even if the person they’re communicating with is genuine, these personal details may not stay in the right hands.

3. Accepting online communications

If your child starts using a social gaming site and begins striking up friendships, they may start sending instant messages, emails, texts and photos to each other. Children need to be very careful about this. An innocent-looking message could contain bullying messages, or messages from adults pretending to be a child. And both kids and their parents need to careful about downloading and opening attachments containing viruses that will harm your computer – downloading the latest virus protection software will help protect against this.

4. Meeting up with strangers

It might feel normal for children to arrange a meeting when they’re been playing games together or chatting online. But make it clear that your kids should meet up with people they’ve only talked to on the internet. It’s vital that your children understand that online friends are still ‘strangers’ if they haven’t met them in real life.

5. Deciding if something is reliable

Young children are incredibly trusting and honest. While this is an admirable trait that many adults wish they’d held onto better, it means that kids aren’t equipped to judge whether people or information they encounter online is reliable or not. Teach your kids how to check out whether things are real or lies by reading other websites, in books or by asking someone who knows.

6. Telling adults about online concerns

It’s important for kids to tell adults if someone is being bullied or feeling worried in the physical world, and the same principles apply on the internet.  It’s even easier for bullies to target victims online, as they can harass other children anonymously and from a distance.  And sometimes other children or profiles will talk to kids in a way that seems suspicious or makes them feel uncomfortable.  Again, it’s vital in this situation that children know to tell parents, teachers or other responsible grown-ups that they’re worried.

7. Talking about the online experience

The internet doesn’t go away just because you power down the laptop, and children’s experience of being online can stay with them long after a session has ended.  Sometimes kids might be upset about something that has happened online and not let on, so it’s a good idea to talk with your children regarding how they felt about their time online.  You don’t need a blow-by-blow account, but this is a good way to get a handle on whether anything is concerning them online – or whether they’ve been doing anything risky.

These steps are in many ways just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many in-depth guides to help you keep your children safe online, but this advice should help give you a foundation to start building safe internet behaviour.  To read more about internet safety for kids go to

This is a featured guest post.  Although this content of this post is one that I have received compensation for my time in editing and posting, the content is a very real issue that our children face on a daily basis.  We’d do well to consider the content and remind ourselves of the obligations we have to our children and keeping them as safe as we possibly can.

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Google Page Rank. Have you ever wondered where it means you are in the pecking order ?

To put it simply, we all know that Google Page Rank counts for some things, whether we want to admit it or not.  It’s google for heavens sake, and they are the law of he who must be obeyed for good search engine results.  It’s easy to check google page rank, but we need to know roughly where we are so that it actually means something.

An increase of page rank seems to factor as a multiplier, ie it is 10 times more difficult to get move up each step of the ladder from Page Rank 0 to Page Rank 10.  Rumour has it that there are now into the trillions of websites out there, so a little perspective when looking at the numbers helps make us feel a bit better about where we sit in the great Google empire.

We don’t know exactly how Google works it, but going by the guesstimate that it seems to work to, this is a simple way of explaining it.   The even harder thing is that we have no way of knowing at which end of the scale our sites are at.  I’m a 3, so I could be anywhere between ten million and a hundred million.  My next goal is just to slog along to get to that Page Rank of 4.

Google Page Rank 10 – THE top 10 websites in the world.

Google Page Rank 9 –  The top 100 websites.

Google Page Rank 8 –  The top 1000 websites.

Google Page Rank 7 –  The top 10,000 websites

Google Page Rank 6 –  The top 100,000 websites

Google Page Rank 5 –  The top 1,000,000

Google Page Rank 4 –  The top 10,000,000

Google Page Rank 3 –  The top 100,000,000

Google Page Rank 2 –  Low, going by the factor of 10 means within the top 1000,000,000

Google Page Rank 1 –  Low, multiplier added means within the top 10,000,000,000

Google Page Rank 0 –  Very new, or penalised for breaching google webmaster guidelines.

Find out what yours is with a google page rank checker.


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My Top 5 iPhone Apps for Blogging. How to keep up blogging on the move.

There is only one thing that all bloggers like to do, and that is to write. How we write, how often, and how well is not always something that is planned. For spontaneous moments, our mobile pocket gadgetry and good iPhone apps are very handy indeed.

Having written about the top iPhone apps for cooking over on Yahoo, it’s easy for anyone to see that I am a huge iPhone fan, even though I only have the old style 3GS version. I haven’t felt the need to upgrade yet, although I suspect I might be tempted by the next version which will be due out in a few months.

When I do move over to a newer and better model, there are some fabulously good iPhone apps that I would be making sure I copied over to the new phone.

I love to write, and writing is becoming my passion. As a prolific blogger, the best iPhone apps are going to be ones that I can use day to day to record my life, and any anecdotes or fleeting inspirations which come my way.


An all important app for me to organise my life on the go as a blogger, has to be the WordPress app. There are times when it has worked, and times when it hasn’t. As a rule, it is there to help me to write a quick blog post, or store one as a draft for writing up later on my laptop when I have time.

If I just want to upload a quick picture when I am out and about, it is just snap, click and it’s in my media library on my blog.

Statistics are also important to any blogger, no matter what bloggers say. We all like to have our work recognised, even if we pretend that we don’t. The WordPress app had a pretty nifty section where I can check how many people have read my blog, which words were used in search engines to find my blog, and what posts they read.

The app seems to allow us to add up to 8 WordPress blogs, and they can either be the free blogs, or the self hosted variety.


The photo app that comes with my iPhone is invaluable. If I want snaps to add to my blog posts, then the built in camera does a fabulous job to make sure I have a regular visual material to add to my writing, and ensures that the image is topical, recent and relevant.


The second of the built in apps that I couldn’t be without for blogging, is the simple notes feature. Quickly opening it up and adding a note means that I never forget anything that might pop into my head when I am taking the kids to school, or waiting for them to finish an activity.

Time that would previously have spent idly people watching, now turns into planning, plotting and organising.


If I am doing any updates, or Internet shopping, then my PayPal account is needed. I use it to pay for my blog hosting, stock photos for projects that need them, and for any extras that I decide to buy. I also need it for any payments that I take in for advertising and sponsored posts.

I have found that is far easier, and much quicker for me to use the PayPal app to check my balance or pay blogging bills on the go.


This is my last, but I’d also say the top of the top apps for iPhone for me on my mobile. It is where all my blogging usernames and passwords are. Inside the deceptively simple e-wallet, I can separate private, work, and blogging, into separate categories with their own passwords.

Inside each category, I can choose to assign and give any item a name. I can split into credit card, website, id, username, phone and address details, passwords and much more.

I can also customise the fields to say what I want them to say, and I never lose my passwords. They are updated on my iTunes account so they’ll be on whatever device I want them to be, and the app is no use to anyone else.

I feel a bit safer about the prospect of my personal information being secure, just in case I lose my phone.