edu Social Software

What To Do When Your Kids Are More Connected Than You Are and Your First Social Safety Net

How to turn an unknown social network of yours into your kids safety net and maybe even help you start connecting too.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Bill Gates

Geniuses at Work: Bill Gates watches his friend and future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen typing on a teletype terminal at the Lakeside School in Seattle in 1968. Gates was 13 when he entered the exclusive prep school, which was around the time this photo was taken.
Geniuses at Work: Gates watches his friend and future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen typing on a teletype terminal at the Lakeside School in Seattle in 1968. Gates was 13 when he entered the exclusive prep school, which was around the time this photo was taken.


I have two start-up projects underway. The first, Twetailer was inspired by one of those “OMG! Wouldn’t it be great if you could just yada yada yada?” moments. The second,, was not. No edu, was created out of my 11-year old daughter Sara’s frustration with her school’s computer curriculum. Complaints like: “Why do I care if something is bold?”, or, “Insert a column? When am I ever going to need that when I grow up?”. Yikes! Wouldn’t it be great if Sara could actually use technology for something she cared about?

You can’t always get what you want

– Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones

But Sara also shared the frustration she felt when some of her friends – who are on Facebook, kept urging others to join up, even though they know the minimun age is 14. Similarly for those with MSN, or, gmail accounts. And while I love seeing kids adopt technology, there are valid reasons why these services have age requirements. So, as a parent, what do you do? Do you stick to the rules & tell them to wait until they’re old enough? Do you let them waste their effortless ability to embrace these social technologies and stick to making things bold & inserting colums?

But if you try sometimes, you get what you need

– Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones

So again, as a parent, how do we monitor our kids’ activities on the Net? Google it. Here’s Dr. – Advice – Monitor Your Child’s Cell Phone and Internet Activity. There are lots of sites offering all kinds of advice. But mostly all of them assume one thing – that you are as tech savy as your kids. And let’s face it, kids have a lot more time & friends to show them how than most parents do.

But what if you were able to trust another parent to monitor your kid’s activities for you? Like when you let your little one go on a playdate to a friend’s house, or, they’re invited to the movies. If you trust the friend’s parents then you let them go.

Perhaps your first digital social safety net

edu started out to be a way for Sara & her Grade 6 classmates to socialize in a secured and monitored Internet playground. A place where they could experience the power of blogs, wikis, discussions, audio, video, image sharing, etc. while learning the new minimun skills sets required in today’s digital and globally distributed workplace. Pretty soon, edu will be made available for the rest of her school and any other school interested under the following conditions:

  1. The student has to be attending an educational institution registered with edu
  2. There must be at least one parent/guardian, teacher/faculty member monitoring that student’s grade.

In Sara’s case, I monitored her grade. Did that mean all the other parents trusted me (and edu with their children’s related activities? Not necesarly. It turns out, most didn’t have a choice. Over the course of the project, I spoke with a few parents and they simply felt they didn’t have the skill sets to monitor. Even after informing them its just a matter of reading their email, they still felt uncomfortable with this “type of stuff”, but looked forward to watching how their kids used it.

Do the math

So in essence, condition #2 above, became those parents’ new social safety net. All they needed was one adult out of twenty students, to feel comfortable enough to watch over their child in their new digital playground. Is this any different than letting your child go to the movies, or, a school field trip with a parent like that?

My parents always told me: “All we want is for you to have more opportunities than we did growing up.” And they certainly succeeded. As a parent in today’s digital world, it would be a shame not to continue the tradition. edu gives those who aren’t as connected as their kids the opportunity to do just that.


What are your thoughts abouts giving your kids access to things like Facebook, MSN, Friendfeed, MySpace, Twitter, Google Talk, AIM, Bebo, buzzup, Delicious, digg, Gmail, Mister Wong, Reddit, Stumbleupon, twine, WordPress and Yahoo? Do you have the skills to monitor their activities across all these sites? What percent of parents do you think can? Where do you fit in this Study: Ages of social network users | Royal Pingdom?

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(Updated on 2009-12-01)

Max Milstein Born: 1924-01-01  Died: 2009-11-20
Max Milstein Born: 1924-01-01 Died: 2009-11-20


My father – Max, has been in a long-term care facility – Maimonides, for the last 7 years suffering from a form of DementiaLewy Body Disease. On Monday November 9, 2009, after spending the last two weeks in Emergency at the Jewish General Hospital suffering from pnemonia, he returned to Maimonides where he has now entered the end of life cycle.

To the best of our knowledge, the Comfort Care he is receiving will only sustain him for a few days.

Throughout the years, both Sara(11), Alex(7) and my wife Anna have visited my father almost on a weekly basis. The last time they saw him – three weeks ago, he did not look well. However, since his return to Maimonides, he not only looks much better, he’s also more comfortable & peaceful – which is the only goal we have.

On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, we picked the kids up from school and explained that we were going to visit Zadie (grandfather) so they could see for themselves how much better he looked than the last time they saw him. We also rationalized Curative versu Palliative Care as;

We don’t want Zadie to get sick before he dies. We are trying our best to make sure he doesn’t get pneumonia again, or, any other kind of infection. Even though Zadie has been sick for so many years, he was – all things considered, always comfortable and well cared for. And when it’s time, we would just like him to be comfortable, fall asleep and not wake up.

For all the pamphlets, books, posts and web sites you may read, for all the doctors, nurse, orderlies, care givers, friends and families you may consult, here is my contribution. From Max’s bedside, or from home, I’m trying to journalize the experience, in 140 characters, or, less with one, or, two daily updates.

Feel free to follow along and share With the link open, you always click your browser’s Refresh button to catch-up on the latest Twitter updates.

Update: Twitter no longer returns search results beyond a few days
Maybe this is part of Twitter’s monetization strategy – which would be a good one. Nonetheless, I copied my updates in my FriendFeed channel.

November 9

Spending first night of “comfort care” at my father’s #max bedside at end of #dementia

studies show that patients on palliative care often live longer, are happier and families have time to say good bye

November 10

#max fave was soaking up the Florida rays, so played ocean surf mp3 & opened bottle of tanning oil. Quiet night. #dementia

About to pickup Sara (11), Alex(7) & wife Anna to visit my father #max while he’s still comfy. #dementia

Having my wife Anna & the kids Sara (11) & Alex(7) visit my father #max to say their goodbyes went incredibly well for everyone #dementia

ComfortCareDay1. Brother’s turn to relieve mother & stay bedside with father #max tonight.Still on 6hr Tylenol,occass 2mg Morphine #dementia

November 11

ComfortCareDay2 morning report: #max needed 2mg Morphine during night. We may have to start giving it every 4hours sometime today. #dementia

Rationalized Curative vs Palliative Care to Sara(11) & Alex(7) as; “We want Zadie (#max) to not get sick (like…) before he dies” #dementia

ComfortCareDay2 nighttime: #max started on 2mg Morphine every 4hours & oxygen today. He had a lot of visitors & is sleeping now #dementia

November 12

ComfortCareDay3 morning: #max didn’t have as restful night as I would’ve imagined but better now. Guess we’ll have to up morphine #dementia

ComfortCareDay3 evening: #max had better day than last evening. My fault πŸ™ I should’ve raised his head.Good day for visitors:-) #dementia

November 13

ComfortCareDay4 morning: #max had a bad night again coughing/choking & needed extra shot of Morphine. Hoping day will be easier #dementia

ComfortCareDay4: had to give #max something to dry up fluids to stop choking. His breathing is now about half normal rate. #dementia

ComfortCareDay4 night: #max had to have morphine upped to .3mg every 4 hrs but resting comfortably now. Getting Robinul too #dementia

November 14

ComfortCareDay5 early: tough night 4 #max. Robinul isn’t helping, trying Scopolamine in 3hours. Morphine 2b upped to .4mg #dementia

ComfortCareDay5 early: oxygen & puffer helped #max a little but hoping Scopolamine will bring relief. Just got .4mg Morphine #dementia

ComfortCareDay5 evening: #max is comfy. Scopolamine beakthru not needed yet. Robinul working with .5mg Morphine #dementia

November 15

ComfortCareDay6 morning: #max had a relaxed night. Scopolamine beakthru needed 1x, Robinul, .5mg Morphine & combivent working #dementia

November 16

ComfortCareDay7 morning: Very very quiet night for #max. We’re just sticking to the routine. Week has been full of family/friends #dementia

ComfortCareDay7 afternoon: stopped robinul & opted for only regular doses of scopolamine. #max is very very quiet. #dementia

ComfortCareDay7 evening: all this robinul, scopolamine & combi-vent yet congestion is always problem. But #max is resting again. #dementia

November 17

ComfortCareDay8 morning: A record for #max: 12 hours with no _indication_ of any congestion or pain! #dementia

RT @4Gma: Having a sad moment… #dementia. There’s a Jewish expression Yasher Koach — `you should have strength’. I think that says it all

ComfortCareDay8 night: After 21 comfy hrs #Max has 6 hours of coughing/Apnea ~20 seconds no breathing. Just got .2+.5mg morphine #dementia

November 18

ComfortCareDay9 morning: After 9 days of no food or fluid, #Max gets some breathing relief from oxygen #dementia

ComfortCareDay9 morning: Overnight nurse helps #Max by suctioning water out of lungs & pledges to us he’ll die with dignity #dementia

ComfortCareDay9: Day Dr upped morphine to .6, scopolamine & robinul for #Max (breathing heavy) & left orders for Plan B. #dementia

ComfortCareDay9 evening: Meds stopping #Max from coughing but still has a little gurgling. Breathing heavy/steady last 10hrs. #dementia

November 19

ComfortCareDay10 Morning: #Max had an uneventful & restful night. Nonetheless, his breathing is weaker & a little erratic. #dementia

November 20

ComfortCareDay11 Morning: With shorter & shorter breaths, #Max passed away peacefully with dignity & family by his side. #dementia

ComfortCareDay11: please help me immortilize #Max at… & leave a comment. #dementia

November 21

#max Funeral Info:… #dementia

ComfortCareDay11: Sorry!!! WordPress Comments now working. Please try again for #max… #dementia

Thanks for the RT @aboutdignity regarding my father #Max… #dementia

@ElderCareRN my heartfelt condolence re: your father. #Max was in long-term care for 7 years. Lewy Body Disease caused awful hallucinations


MILSTEIN, MAX. On Friday, November 20, 2009. Beloved husband of Frances. Devoted father and father-in-law of Elaine and Alan Sims, Steven and Anna Maria, Alan and Resa Milstein. Cherished Zaidie of Benjamin, Sara and Alex, Samara and Danielle. Dear brother of the late Hymie Milstein, and brother-in-law of Mort and the late Vivian Braunstein. Max will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean Talon St. W., on Sunday, November 22 at 2 p.m. Burial at the Beth Israel Congregation Section, Kehal Israel Cemetery, D.D.O. Shiva Sunday through Thursday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. daily. Donations in his memory may be made to the Maimonides Hospital Foundation, (514) 483-2121, ext. 2207.

A Son’s (and a Grandson’s) Eulogy

The Ultimate in Closure

When the funeral service has ended, the mourners come forward to fill the grave. Symbolically, this gives the mourners closure as they observe the grave being filled in. One custom is for people present at the funeral to take a spade or shovel, held pointing down instead of up, to show the antithesis of death to life … to throw three shovelfuls of dirt into the grave.

Taking hold of the shovel, the feel & sound of the dirt and the sound of the dirt hitting the coffin. That’s Closure.

Social Software

IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections, Stickmen and Communities

How a social networking stickman can use IBM’s Lotus Connections to better server a community, or, enterprise – for free

Social Networking Stickman
Social Networking Stickman

In my previous post – My Five Ws of IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse in less than 10 minutes, I introduced you to Greenhouse and hopefully, got you underway in the registration process. So now, for all you would-be social networking stickmen out there, let’s see what free tools we can exploit.

Getting Into Connections


For starters, once you log into Greenhouse, click on the IBM Lotus Connections link and you’ll brought to a typical portal looking page. The page should resemble familiar sites like Yahoo! with the added usability of customizing your page like iGoogle.

Here’s what you should be seeing:

  1. Profiles: The Facebook of Connections where you maintain your own profile, network with others and link with colleagues and their content. Take a few extra minutes and check out Chris Brogan‘s advice in Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Future. My personal favorites are about describing more about what you want to do most and your choice of photos.
  2. Blogs: Personal journals sequenced by most current entries that potentially allow readers to leave comments.
  3. Communities: Your own collection of member profiles sharing discussion forums, bookmarks and feeds, as described in My Five Ws of RSS in less than 10 minutes (video included)
  4. Activities: A novel alternative to email where you can share content, documents and comments around a specific activity, including To-Do’s with dates.
  5. Dogear: You can share, or, not, your choice bookmarks – just like Delicious, or, Digg, but integrated with your community.

Now keep in mind where you are at this point. You logged into Greenhouse and as a result anything you do inside Greenhouse will not show up when you Google for it. Perhaps more importantly, all the Greenhouse feeds available to you are pretty much restricted to internal Greenhouse use. The problem is typical news readers – like Google Reader do not account for credentials – no pun intended. Go ahead and try adding one of your Greenhouse feeds to Google

Google Reader and a Greenhouse Feed
Google Reader and a Greenhouse Feed

and please let me know if you have better results than I do.


Don’t get me wrong. This is not a showstopper and should not prevent you from moving forward now. As a matter of fact, anyone wanting to adopt social software in the workplace will have the same issue. This is a good thing. Enterprises and Information Technology (IT) folks call this Security and once you’re logged into Greenhouse your entries are encrypted with something called Secure Sockets Layers (SSL), which means, among other things, unintended eyes cannot see what you post. Notice the “s” in

Why / How

Perhaps the most compelling reason for me to use Greenhouse Connections is the concept of community which I hope is communicated in my following video.

Now in order to have a Community, you need to have Members. You can only select Members from existing Greenhouse Profiles. Once you have your list of folks who can access your content, you can then determine what privileges they have. privileges depend on the Memberships Roles you assign and vary among Owners, Authors and Readers.

So how do we work around the problem of getting the most out of feeds if we can’t add those from Greenhouse to our readers? Here’ one I’m experimenting with a start-up project. Since all the members are into, or, are getting into Twitter, I set up a FriendFeed account and created a private Room for the members to communicate. We keep all our community-related content inside our members-only Greenhouse Connections Community and only use FriendFeed for notification purposes. It’s going OK, but I thinking of switching over to GroupTweet because its simpler. Sometime less features is just better.

Please let me know if you have any trouble following my instructions, hit a snafu along the way, or, simply have any of your own suggestions / alternatives. Especially if you have alternatives πŸ™‚