Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why A La Carte Cable is a Bad Idea

A la carte cable pricing has been a goal of consumer and family advocates for quite a while. On the surface, it seems like a logical idea that you only pay for the exact channels you want while keeping objectionable content out of the house. In reality, it’s a horrible idea that would raise cable costs for just about everybody.

Don’t believe me? Consider this. ESPN charges about $3 per subscriber. If a la carte were implemented, assume they only retain 1/2 of their subscribers. That means just to remain revenue neutral on subscriber fees, they have to double the cost to $6 each. That will be repeated for every single station you want to receive. You’ll end up paying more for less. A lot of the smaller niche channels simply won’t be able to cover their costs and will shut down. This simple analysis doesn’t even take into account reduced advertising fees or the tremendous overhead of cable distribution that is absorbed equally by all subscribers today.

Written for ParentalTech.com by COD

Friday, April 18, 2008

Your BFF Needs to Learn Real Spelling

For a language that took over 1500 years to develop, you’d think English would finally be content with itself and would consider resting easy for a while. You’d think it would be happy staying home, tending the fire, puttering around in the garden for once. It wouldn’t have to be modest – after all, it is the primary language of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom. It is also commonly used in countries with a colonial past, such as South Africa and India, and is taught as a primary foreign language of many other countries. It could still stay full of itself with its strange spellings of strange sounding words a body has to be “in the know” to understand. I reckon the red wren was a wretched recreant! It would be good for it to rest for a while.

But no. It has to be fluid, constantly adapting to large, (and gross!) changes in the use of English in the media, which translates nearly instantly to use of English in the under 18 set.

The fact is: English is ill, and I don’t mean “ill” in the same way my teenager does, which is the “ill” that is actually not ill, but good.

There is a contagious case of English language sickness that seems to be breaking out everywhere we look.

Things that have gone out of the grammatical window in the US:

Spelling. Forget spelling. Who needs it when we no longer use words to communicate? Don’t believe me? ^RUP^ : AAMOF, your BFF, AKA IRL as “Jenny” who is ROFL. It’s 2G2BT! *

We live in a world of texting.
And what happened to grammar? It’s largely out the window. We live in a country filled with reality shows starring people who may not be in the deepest end of the gene pool, and as such, should not be the example of intellect for our children, and our children’s teachers, to model.

My pet peeve:

Me: How are you?

Anyone under the age of 39: I’m good.

I don’t care how “good” you are, you are not good enough at grammar to keep William Malone Baskerville from rolling over in his grave every time he hears that phrase.

In fact, I may see evidence of how good you are in your daily actions – you are probably quite a good person. What I want to know when I am asking that question is how well you are.

There used to be a time where if you answered “I’m good.” Instead of “ I’m well” your mother would slam your head down in your morning bowl of Cheerios, or your teacher would smack you with a ruler and your parents would be grateful. Has proper English died?

The truth is, there are people fighting the good fight to keep English spelling and grammar consistent and correct. Your stodgy old English teacher, the one who looks like the Crypt Keeper - - she’s a soldier. Grandmas and grandpas all over the English-speaking world are disgusted with the speech of their grandchildren, but they try to model correct grammar.

Many writers and most publishers still take pride in grammatical excellence, but I’m afraid they are a dying breed.

What you can do to keep the English language fire alive:

Talk to your children in proper English. Remind them that they need it to get a good job later on in life. Point out grammatical errors in the media. Give them spelling and grammar activities.

Make them read. Make them write, then correct what they write. Keep it fun.

Lead them to the knowledge that superior spelling and grammar skills will help develop a superior intellect.

Let’s let ole’ Baskerville RIP.

* Read up, please. As a matter of fact, your best friend forever, otherwise known in real life as “Jenny,” is rolling on the floor laughing. It’s too good to be true!”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Learning English Spelling is Tuff

Did You Throw the Tough Dough in the Trough?

It is no secret that spelling in English is a daunting task, even for native English speakers. There are spelling and phonetic tools, which are supposed to help us make sense of the sounds, and then there are rules, which often make no sense to anyone. It’s kind of like Baseball.

English is a catch-all language, with the spelling rules and tools thrown into a linguistic melting pot, and it can cause spelling trouble that other languages don’t have. For example, Japanese has clear, ordered, phonetic rules. All rules, all the time. No matter what word it is, the “oh” sound always sound the same, and is always represented the same way. No wonder the Japanese trounce Americans in science and math. Japanese students don’t have to spend countless hours of extra time studying spelling just to master their language. They have more time to study math and science, since they are not worried about weekly spelling tests. You can't be a bad speller in Japanese.

Can you imagine a Japanese student, comfortable in his ordered phonetic world, trying to learn English? Give him a simple first grade spelling list in English and he will probably feel pretty good.

Cat, bat, rat, hat. These phonetic spelling tools make sense. Learn the beginning sound, and the end sound. Change the beginning sound to another beginning sound and the end sound stays the same. Just like Japanese.

Give him any fourth or fifth grade spelling test, however, and he may start to sweat.

Dough, thorough, bough, enough, trough, plough, and although

What? So much for knowledge of common letter-sound relationships. Nothing makes sense, and you have to rely on straight memorization. Is it no wonder that non-native English speakers need help with spelling? I will go so far as to say every English speaker needs help with spelling at some point in the acquisition of the language.

That’s enough. It’s making me cough. I think I need a doughnut….

Monday, April 14, 2008

Maybe They Shouldn't Post This Stuff In The First Place

Some 71% of 2,000 14 to 21-year-olds said they would not want colleges or employers to do a web search on them before they had removed some material.

It’s a British poll, but I’m certain the results hold for the US too.

The obvious question that pops in my head is, why the hell did they upload the stuff in the first place? Teenagers seem to be genetically predisposed to do stupid things without thinking through the potential consequences. Luckily for those of us that are parents of teens today, cell phone cameras didn’t exist back when we were teenagers. However, this is a real issue that kids today need to deal with in a proactive manner. The internet is the ultimate realization of the permanent record that Dean Wormer talked about in Animal House.

I think this sort of thing is a far more realistic danger to kids than cyber stalking or any of the scary stories that get over hyped on the evening news. Any parent of a teen should be googling their kid to see what they are releasing to the world. This goes double for any boy picking up your daughter for a date. It might be fun to that search in person with him while your daughter is making final adjustments to her hair. ;) If I were hiring in that demographic I would certainly google every interviewee prior to meeting with them.

As parents, what can we do? I think saying, “No, you can’t have a Facebook account” is the wrong approach. First of all, you can’t really stop them from setting up an account. So as parents I think we are much better off helping our kids learn how to interact online responsibly. It’s not rocket science. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see pretty much much covers it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting parents enact a sophisticated spying program on their kids. Kids are entitled to privacy too. The point you need to get through to them is that there is no such thing as privacy online. If they post it online, odds are good it will eventually become publicly accessible.

written by COD for ParentalTech.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ever heard of the R4 Chip for Nintendo DS?

I wonder if your Nintendo DS obsessed teenager has? It’s essentially a tool for loading software onto the DS. That by itself is no big deal. I can think of a lot of perfectly legitimate reasons why the enterprising geek teen would want to load 3rd party software onto a DS.

However, I suspect that the primary use for the R4 chip will be to load pirated software on to the DS. If you know where to look, you can find a free copy of just about any video game on the Internet. However, loading those games onto the DS has not been an easy task, until now.

contributed by COD for ParentalTech.com