Category Archives: Social

The Biggest Working From Home “Experiment” In History

Reorganized home office

The Olympic Games are just hours away from starting in London, and it also marks the start of probably the largest working from home trends in history.

Workers in the UK capital are being encourage en-masse to work from home if at all possible. This is to help reduce congestion on the roads and public transport network as the city is invaded by tourists going to The Games.

It will be interesting to see the attitude to remote working after this period. Interesting because a lot of people are expecting an increase in productivity. I’m not so sure.

Normally productivity can increase when working from home due to less distractions and interruptions. But with the Olympics on, and people working in close proximity to their TVs, the temptation may be too much.

Working from home takes a fair amount of discipline, which may be somewhat lacking in this special case.

This could go either way: Companies see a great benefit, or they see none. My guess is that companies won’t see enough of a change to productivity over the 2 weeks to persuade them either way. Workers will still have to convince the powers that be that they’ll be better of working remotely once the whole circus leaves town.

Monitoring vs Filtering Kids On The Internet

Windows 8, the next version of the world’s most used operating system is due out later this year and it’s parental controls are looking different from the current options available in Windows 7.

The current set of parental controls focus more on Filtering what your children have access to on the internet. The new version focusses more on monitoring what they’re up to and reporting to you.

I’ve talked about filtering your home internet connection on this site before, and mentioned that in the end it probably comes down to educating your kids about what is appropriate and what isn’t.

The new features offered by Microsoft are taking a “Monitor First Approach”. Giving you a dashboard of information about your family’s computer habbits. Items include which websites each user has visited and the amount of time spent on the computer (helpful if you want to limit your kids to a certain amount of “screen time” per day).

We expect you’ll find activity reports a great tool for teaching your kids about responsible computer use. Of course, you can also easily add restrictions by just clicking a link in the activity report. With the simplicity of activity reports, we believe more parents will adopt Family Safety, resulting in a safer computing environment for children.

Top 10 Things to Keep Your Kid’s Birthday Party Running Smoothly

Planning a kid’s birthday party is something we’ll all have to do at least once a year. Here are some of the things that will help you keep that party running as smoothly as possible:

1. Give your camera to someone (and make sure they know how to use it)

No doubt you will want heaps of photos to remember the day by. Giving your camera to someone else will ensure that you appear in lots of the photos as well as your kid. Photos are great, but they’re even better when they include your whole family.

You will also want to make sure the person using your camera knows how to use it. Make sure the camera is on full auto mode so you have the best possible chance of having something to work with later on. There’s nothing worse than finding out that all your photos are out of focus or too dark!

2. Sort out the music

Make sure you’ve organised the music well in advance to the party. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having the kids all playing musical chairs and a song with explicit lyrics comes on! 

For games that involve stopping the music make sure that you know when the music might stop on it’s own. As adults we all understand that these games are rigged, so to make sure all the kids get a go try and setup you playlist to continually play by crossfading songs.

3. Make sure your gift bags are age appropriate

If you’re giving out gift bags to guests, make sure they are age appropriate with no small parts for young kids. Also, don’t put anything in there that may cause problems for kids with allergies.

4. Remember the healthy snacks

We all love lollies and chips and fairy bread, but remember to include some healthy snacks for the kids. This allows parents who are trying to limit their kid’s exposure to lollies by giving them alternatives.

5. If you don’t want it broken, don’t bring it out.

If your kids have a favourite toy that may be fragile, or you couldn’t stand to be broken then put it away for the day. One thing you can almost guarantee is that someone is going to break something, so don’t give them the chance!

6. Always have a plan B!

If your party is going to be outside, have a Plan B in case of rain (or extreme heat). Let people know in advance what that plan is so that if they turn up to your venue and you’re not there they know why and where you actually are.

7. Hand out actual invites

Facebook invites are all the rage these days, and they allow for communication with your guests after you invite them, but also give out a physical invite if you can.

When your guests are rushing out the door (because they’re 20 minutes late already – they do have kids!), a physical invite is easy to grab off the fridge or pinup board for last minute reminders of where you party is and what they should be bringing.

8. Bake a trial cake the week before

If you’re baking the cake for the party and it’s some sort of special shape (Thomas The Tank Engine anyone?), make sure you’ve tried it out before hand. Last minute stress over the cake will throw all of your plans into disarray. Knowing that you have done it before will keep you calm, or you may find out that it’s better to just buy a cake if the trial is a complete disaster.

9. If you’ve got a Piñata, make sure that the kids will be able to break it open

We’ve all been to parties where the kids spend a good half an hour trying to get in the piñata piñata Some home-made ones are a little too well made, so make sure there is a weak spot somewhere that will get the kids their fix of sweets.

10. Remember it’s just a party

Chances are you kid won’t remember much about their birthday in the years to come. So relax and have a good time. At the end of the day, as long as the kids had fun nothing else really matters. It will be messy, it will be loud, and that’s just the way kids like it!

If you’ve got any party tips share them in the comments.