AlphaBaby: The Joy of Discovery

One of any child’s favorite early games has to be the classic “peek-aboo.” Adults love to play this game because they can immediately evoke a positive reaction from a young child and amazingly, it can be played for a while without the child losing much interest.

The reason peek-a-boo works so well is that very young children have an underdeveloped sense of object permanence. You reveal yourself from behind a blanket or your hands over your face and, for the child, he is seeing you all over again. Throw in a funny face and a silly voice, and you’re pure entertainment gold for the child.

Of course, as the child gets older, and the brain starts forming more permanent connections, she can figure out that Mommy and Daddy haven’t really left—they’re just behind the blanket, being silly. A little bit older, and the child may just look at you as if she’s thinking, “Really, Daddy?”

But there’s another element to the fun of peek-a-boo: the joy of discovering that familiar face all over again. That excitement is something that carries forward as the child grows older, and indeed can become the driving force behind much of his behavior as he moves into toddler and preschool age. That’s why he’ll empty out the cookware cabinet onto the kitchen floor, because he has discovered a whole new playground of shiny, noise-making objects that (bonus points!) usually bring the parents running.

AlphaBaby is a remarkably simple app that taps into that excitement of discovery within a more structured format. Toddlers will experience the thrill of discovering new and random objects on the screen (they never know what they’ll see next), with the repetition that will slowly build connections between the letter, number, or shape displayed and the word for that object.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

Apps for Toddler Learning

From about their first second of life, children can communicate. Any parent will tell you that babies can usually get their intentions known through crying, gestures, and facial expressions. As they grow, they will pick up a vocabulary of hundreds of words, which they will employ to get what they need or want, express their feelings, or simply make conversation. Sometimes, lots and lots of conversation.

It’s well known that kids’ brains are sponges for languages. As parents, we see this every single day. But they can’t do it on their own, nor should they. We, as adults, have a key role in early speech development. This is why interacting with our children and having them watch us interact with others is so important. This is true of both verbal and written language.

It’s not about sitting down with them and practicing reading and writing (though that helps): parents have to convey to their child that such activities can be fun. Skills are all well and good, but in order for children to accomplish their best, they need to embrace these activities. Parents can help make this happen by reading aloud, singing songs, and playing games with language—anything that can bring the spark of interest to a child’s mind will help.

At the same time, a whole other set of concepts is being developed in children’s brains as they are learning language: the building blocks of math. It starts small, of course: children figure out the differences between quantities of objects and start to discover patterns in the world around them. Later, they will start to use these basic foundations to begin working out problems with those objects.

This stems from a basic need of children to start looking around and getting a sense of order about their world. If the world is in order, then all is right with said world. Breaking things down into discrete objects and actions is the beginning of mathematical concepts. The good news is that just normal everyday activities will nurture the development of these mathematical concepts.

Of course, there’s no reason parents can’t help this along, by introducing activities that can increase a child’s mathematical growth. Art, particularly visual arts, is also a key aspect of early childhood development. Parents all marvel at the pretty scribbles our children lovingly hand us, perhaps not realizing that any creative effort a child undertakes has great benefits. Imaginations are stimulated, hand-eye coordination is improved, and overall expression of concepts is markedly improved. This is why parents are encouraged to provide as many opportunities as possible to explore the artistic process.

Such opportunities, really, are what many iPad apps can help you do. Whether art, language, or math, the right iPad apps will expose a child to activities designed to gently reinforce concepts parents are also demonstrating to their children. Using an iPad won’t make your child a super-genius, but it will give that child a variety of activities that will help build a love for language, math, and art, even at this early age.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

Video Mirroring with FaceTime

Another new hardware feature of the iPad 2, which hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet, is its capability to send the screen content from the device to another screen, such as a monitor or television screen.

Known as video mirroring, this is very useful if you ever want to run a demonstration of an iPad app for a class, and it’s ideal for broadcasting FaceTime calls to many people at once. The iPad could do this, but only to Apple-compatible devices. The iPad 2 allows video mirroring to a much larger set of monitors.

To use video mirroring, all you need to do is purchase the correct video adapter for your iPad 2. If you want to connect to a computer monitor or TV with a VGA input, you should get the VGA adapter. To connect to an HDTV, purchase the Digital AV connector. Both of these connectors are available for purchase online at the Apple Web site or at any
Apple retail outlet. If you have a widescreen monitor, you can set the iPad 2 to feed to it by following these instructions.

1. Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen. The Settings app will open.

2. Tap the Video setting. The Video settings pane will open.

3. Slide the Widescreen control to On.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

What Is FaceTime?

FaceTime is not something new to the iPad 2, although the new iPad is the first model that can actually use it, thanks to the new on-board front- and rear-facing cameras. FaceTime was actually created for the iPhone 4 in the summer of 2010, the first device from Apple to feature a dual-camera setup. It’s this double-camera configuration that makes FaceTime work so well. Until recently, most mobile devices, when they had a camera, used a photo/video capture lens that was located on the back of the device—in other words, the side of the device that was on the opposite side of the device’s video screen. Think about a two-video call, and you can quickly imagine such a situation becoming very awkward, very quickly.

With the iPhone 4, and now the iPad 2, FaceTime can enable you and your kids to easily engage in video calls with any FaceTime-enabled device in the world.

But in that statement alone, there are hidden limitations. Note that connectivity is limited to other FaceTime-equipped devices. Right now, that includes all iPad 2 devices, any iPhone 4 (and beyond), fourth-generation iPod Touch devices, and any desktop or laptop with Mac OS X 10.6.6 or higher, so we’re not exactly talking about a small user base.

Still, as of press time, Windows and Linux users were not able to use FaceTime, and don’t look for FaceTime on the Android mobile platform anytime soon, either, given the animosity between Apple and Google over their respective mobile platforms.

This means that as you seek out possible connections for your student, you will need to deliberately search for other students and classrooms that have the correct devices.

Another, perhaps more well-known, limitation is the inability for FaceTime devices to send their signals over any cellular network. This is likely due to the sheer amount of data each video call creates: upwards of 3MB per minute. That number may seem a bit abstract, but think about your own cellular data plan and any financial caps that might exist with it, and you will quickly see why pushing a FaceTime call of any significant length could be a very expensive proposition.

That expense is incurred by the cellular carriers, too. Increasingly, data carriers in North America, Asia, and Europe are learning that unlimited data plans will quickly jam their networks with traffic, and they have taken great pains to limit data traffic to keep their networks clear. This is why, to date, Apple has been unable to negotiate a plan with any cellular carrier.

The result of this behind-the-scenes technical discussion means that anyone who is using FaceTime must connect over a wireless network (or, for Mac users, a wired Ethernet connection will also work). This WiFi-only limitation has gotten quite a bit of knocking in the media, but to be honest, even 3G iPad owners can typically find a wireless network somewhere. Your student, too, is more likely to be at home or school, where such WiFi networks are common.

The good news is, once you find such a network, it is very simple to set up a FaceTime connection. But first, you need to configure FaceTime to be ready to receive and send calls.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

Getting an iPad Device

If you are fortunate enough to live near one of the hundreds of Apple retail stores, purchasing that needed iPad 2 should be a relatively painless process. Just walk in, pick out the one you want, and then take it home. To date, most U.S. Apple stores have caught up with the huge demand for these devices, and usually have them in stock, although it is still sporadic. Some of the WiFi+3G models are still lagging behind a bit. You may want to call ahead and see if the model you want is in stock before driving in to purchase it.

If you don’t reside near an Apple store, you have two basic options: purchase the iPad 2 online or through an Apple retail partner, such as Target, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy. Be careful about expecting to actually see an iPad 2 at a retail partner, though; these stores often only get a handful of devices at a time, and they are usually snatched up very quickly. The other route you might go is to check an AT&T or Verizon retail store, but here iPad 2s are even more scarce: only the largest stores in a given region will actually have the device in stock, while a big majority of such stores will have to order them from Apple directly. The good news about any of these options is that the cost of the iPad,
either online or at another retail store, is always the same. There’s no markup when you purchase the iPad 2 somewhere other than an Apple store, and the online store will ship iPad 2s free of charge, so there’s no additional cost there.

The bad news is, since most iPad 2 buyers use the online option to get their device, the delivery channel is exceedingly slow. As of this writing, Apple indicated one to two weeks to receive an iPad 2, and while this has been mostly true, anecdotal evidence has suggested otherwise; in some cases, shipping times of three weeks have been reported. The option to go to a partner retailer, if there’s one near you, may not be any better. You should definitely call ahead and see if there’s an iPad 2 in stock. Be sure to specify which model you want. You don’t want to get there and find out the retailer has models that don’t meet your technical or budgetary requirements.

If you are not in a hurry to receive the iPad 2, you should definitely order it online. That way, you’re working directly with Apple, and you won’t have to dodge and weave past other shoppers to get the exact device you want.

Of course, getting an iPad is a little easier. If you find one at a reputable online vendor, you could have the device in your hands in a matter of days, at a lower cost.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

Choosing the Right iPad

Before you buy an iPad, you need to figure out first which iPad you’re going to get, particularly with the recent release of the iPad 2. A lot of people liked the looks of the iPad and held off buying one until the iPad 2 came out and shoppers mobbed the stores and Web sites looking for them. I am not proud to admit that I was one of those shoppers, and I paid my teenage daughter $50 to go stand in line at another store at the same time, coordinating with text messages. I blame my publisher.

Shopping rushes aside, while all iPads may look alike, there are two key differences found within all iPads that mean you get to choose between a total of six different iPad models.

When choosing an iPad device, you may find yourself gravitating toward an iPad 2, the latest in the iPad family of devices. The good news is that from a retail standpoint, iPad 2s are no more expensive than the first iPad, and each model in the respective device families are similarly priced and with the same basic features.

However, there are key differences between the iPad and iPad 2 that should be taken into consideration.

First, the form factor of the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than the original iPad. This is not a huge difference, but nonetheless it should be noted. Most of the time, you won’t even notice it, unless you spend your time holding the device in one hand. Then the weight difference can be felt. The two biggest differences between the devices are the faster processor in the iPad 2 and the onboard cameras in the iPad 2.

The faster processor does not change the apps that run on either version of the iPad, but it does increase the speed at which apps will run on the iPad 2. And it is noticeable. iPad apps were never pokey, but when compared with performance on the iPad 2, they are less responsive. Some apps, like Garage Band, can be used on the iPad, but they are recommended for the iPad 2 precisely because of its faster processor.

The cameras on the iPad 2, while not the greatest in the world, do give you the capability to run apps like FaceTime, a two-way videoconferencing app, and Photo Booth, a fun photo-morphing app. Many of the apps you will see in this book also use the cameras to take pictures of children to use as icons within the apps, should you choose. But even without the camera, you can upload an image and use it for the same purpose in the apps on an iPad.

The one big advantage of the iPad versus the iPad 2? Price. While only a year old, first-model iPads are being sold on the secondary market for big discounts from their original prices. Of course, this usually means buying a used iPad, with all the pros and cons of such a transaction. But, if you are on a budget, picking up an iPad on eBay or some other reputable vendor is a great way to get started.

The first choice point for any iPad or iPad 2 model is whether to get a WiFi or a WiFi+3G model. All iPads have the capability to connect to the Internet using WiFi access—the kind found in your home or most public businesses, like the coffee shop on the corner. This is usually pretty adequate, particularly within your own house, which should have its own wireless network.

If you don’t have WiFi, ask your Internet provider. Most home systems include a WiFi network device, so you may have WiFi and not even know it.

iPad WiFi+3G models, on the other hand, can tap into the AT&T cellular network and connect to the Internet anywhere the iPad can receive the AT&T network signal. iPad 2s can use either AT&T or Verizon as a cellular carrier. WiFi+3G models uniformly cost $130 more than their WiFi-only counterparts retail, so using a WiFi-only device is obviously a real cost saver.

The other difference between iPad products is the amount of solid-state storage each device has. The iPad and iPad 2 are currently available with 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes of storage. The price of each model is directly proportional to the amount of memory.

From an education standpoint, you need to factor in how you will use the device. If you are going to be based in one central location, and plan to sync the device with a PC or Mac computer on a regular basis, then you will not need a lot of storage space. You can simply use your computer (and any storage device to which the computer has access) to handle storing files. In such a case, you should stick with one of the 16GB models.

If, however, you plan to be more mobile or otherwise be unable to sync on a regular basis, and will be handling a significant number of files, then consider purchasing one of the larger memory devices. It’s likely that 32GB’s worth of capacity is enough for most mobile use cases, unless you have a huge amount of multimedia files to lug around.

One good way for you to pin down the answer to the memory question is to look at all the files you must have to educate and entertain kids away from home, calculate the amount of memory those files need, and then triple that number. This calculation should account for the original files’ storage and the potential of creating twice as many files while away from your base PC.

As for the decision on WiFi-only versus WiFi+3G, here the recommendation is not really going to be along financial lines. It would be easy to say, for instance, that all stationary iPad users should be fine without plunking down an extra $130 for 3G cellular connectivity. You’ve got WiFi set up in your home or school, so why bother with 3G?

This is where you should ask a key question: What happens when your Internet connection goes down? If losing Internet connectivity would harm your experience on the device, then it may be worth it to spend the extra money and get the WiFi+3G model. Most of the apps in this book, however, do not require always-on Internet connectivity, so you may want to consider that, too.

The final decision in buying an iPad 2 is color: you have a choice between a white or black benzel (screen border) on the new iPad 2. This is strictly a preference issue, but the choice will need to be made, nonetheless. With these choices in mind, you should be able to make an informed choice on getting the iPad or iPad 2 you need.

When 3G May Not Be a Good Idea. If you work in a region where AT&T or Verizon coverage is troublesome or nonexistent, you may need to reconsider the 3G options. One possible work-around, for instance, would be to use a mobile WiFi device from another cellular carrier and connect to the Internet via that device’s WiFi network.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

The Educational Case for the iPad

With the right apps, the iPad can become more than just a content consumption device for videos, music, and electronic books. It can be an educational and content production device for kids as well, generating documents, spreadsheets, presentations, music, and video, while also giving children a window into a vast array of knowledge.

This ability to make content, given the right apps, immediately increases the iPad’s value as a useful educational device. Students, parents, and teachers can have the tools to learn about new concepts and then turn around and create information based on that learning.

The potential education uses for the iPad are limited only by your ingenuity:

» Parents can let their younger children play with qualified apps that will provide hours of entertainment, while also practicing the basic skills of reading and mathematics.

» Teachers can use the iPad to create lesson plans and present engaging multimedia presentations at home or in the classroom.

» Older students can research new material and put that material together in traditional reports or cutting-edge multimedia presentations of their own.

These, of course, are just a few possible scenarios of iPad use for education. A computer could handle just about all of these tasks, of course, but even laptops can be a hassle to carry around and can require a good chunk of personal space to use. Not to mention the short life of a laptop battery, which often has you looking for a plug. The iPad’s flat form greatly eases transport, and the 10-hour battery life means you won’t be married to an outlet.

Is an iPad device right for every situation? It would be easy to get all excited and say “why yes, yes it is.” But this isn’t always the case. The design of the device itself should make you think about using it in certain instances. For example, an iPad has a large amount of glass, so using it in an environment where that glass can be damaged is obviously not a good idea. Care especially should be taken when younger children are using the device for just this reason. Still, with the right accessory— namely, a good carrying case—and some common sense, even that problem can be solved.

If you see possibilities for using the iPad with your child or students, the first thing you need to do is get yourself an iPad, which sometimes can be easier said than done.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

What Is the iPad?

When Steve Jobs announced the iPad in January 2010, the initial reaction was rather mixed. After the initial excitement died down, critics pointed out that this “new” device was hardly more than a giant iPod Touch. Sure, the screen was bigger, and the apps looked better, but other than that, what could such a device offer to consumers? Tech pundits didn’t know if they were coming or going with their opinions of this thing.

It turns out, they should have had some faith.

Perhaps the biggest draw to the iPad was the tablet form itself. iPads don’t have physical keyboards, and most applications don’t even require a pen-like stylus to function. All you do is use your fingers to enter text and manipulate objects onscreen. With such a simple interface, and because the device itself is much lighter than laptops, notebooks, and even those itty-bitty, ultra-light netbooks, it is a large-screen device that is much more portable for users of all types.

Besides being large enough to read comfortably and watch the occasional movie, the screen is also a multitouch interface, which can be a unique experience for many electronic device users. In the past, touchscreens on PDAs, smartphones, or even the occasional kiosk were primarily single-touch interfaces, meaning that one and only one touch at a time was registered by the application running on the screen.

Beginning with the iPhone, and continuing with the iPad and iPad 2, there is multitouch, which enables users to touch and manipulate objects on the screen with more than one finger (or device) at a time. This interface enables users to shrink objects by “pinching” them or expand objects by fanning out their fingers. Or they can type capital letters onscreen by virtually “holding down” the Shift key on the keyboard on the screen.

But it’s not just the hardware. Applications are the biggest key to the iPad family’s success, if only by sheer numbers alone. Thousands of applications are available in the Apple App Store, free or otherwise, with a high percentage of them reviewed by other users. This social review system lets you find out quickly what’s really going to work, and what may not. More than that, the stunning variety of apps available makes the iPad highly suitable for any number of uses.

Especially apps for your child.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

Enhancing Replication and WAN Utilization at the Branch Office

Windows Server 2008 R2 introduces new technologies and refines existing ones to maximize performance, replication, and file sharing and to reduce WAN bandwidth utilization consumed between branch offices and hub sites. The following technologies that address and improve bandwidth utilization, latency, and reliability of the WAN links at a branch office include the following:

. Read-Only Domain Controllers
. Next Generation TCP/IP
. Distributed File System
. DirectAccess
. Virtualization
. Group Policy
. SMB v2

Read-Only Domain Controllers
As revealed earlier in this chapter, the amount of information replicated over the WAN between a Read-Only Domain Controller residing at a branch office and a writable domain controller at a hub site is significantly minimized. This is because changes do not originate at an RODC, eliminating the need to replicate data from an RODC to a writable domain controller replication partner at a hub site, resulting in a reduction of bandwidth and WAN utilization being used.

Next Generation TCP/IP Stack
A tremendous amount of improvement is seen in the Next Generation TCP/IP stack introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2. Some of the features for the new TCP/IP stack that directly impact and improve branch office WAN utilization and replication include the following:

. Receive Window Auto-Tuning—Support for Receive Window Auto-Tuning is new in the Next Generation TCP/IP stack. Receiver-side throughput is improved through Receive Window Auto-Tuning because this feature is able to calculate the best possible receive window size for each connection by taking into account bandwidth, latency connection, and application retrieval rate. Bandwidth performance naturally improves with better throughput. Bandwidth performance can improve even more if all applications receive TCP data.

. Compound TCP/IP (CTCP)—Compound TCP/IP, which is most often used for TCP connections that have a large receive window size in addition to a large bandwidth delay product, ultimately improves receiver-side throughput. With CTCP, the amount of data sent across connections is significantly greater; however, TCP connections are not impacted negatively. If CTCP and Receive Window Auto-Tuning are used together, even more benefits, including increased link utilization and performance gains for large bandwidth delay connections, can be witnessed.

. ECN support—When a TCP segment is lost, TCP assumes that it was because of congestion at a router, so it performs congestion control. This lowers the TCP sender’s transmission rate. With Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) in the routing infrastructure, routers experiencing congestion mark the packets as they forward them. TCP peers receiving marked packets lower their transmission rate to ease congestion and prevent segment losses. This increases the overall throughput between TCP peers.

. Improved routing—Path maximum transmission unit (PMTU) black-hole router detection automatically adjusts the PMTU for a connection when large TCP segments are detected.

. RFC optimizations—The TCP/IP stack has better support for RFCs related to TCP communications.

. Neighbor detection—The Next Generation TCP/IP stack supports neighbor unreachability detection for IPv4 traffic. A computer such as a branch office maintains status about whether neighboring computers such as a hub site are reachable. This provides better error detection and recovery when computers are not available.

. Dead Gateway support—Unlike the previous Windows versions of Dead Gateway Detection, the Next Generation TCP/IP Dead Gateway support now provides a failover and failback mechanism when encountering dead gateways.

Distributed File System (DFS)
DFS in Windows Server 2008 R2 builds upon the completely revised replication engine in Windows Server 2003 R2. DFS, which was first introduced with Windows 2000 Server, provides a robust multimaster file replication service that is significantly more scalable and efficient in synchronizing file servers than its predecessor, File Replication Service (FRS).

With Windows Server 2008 R2, DFS includes an impressive list of benefits for both Active Directory and branch office server management, including simplified branch server management, reduction of backups, and more efficient storage management. In addition, DFS Replication (DFSR) enhances branch office implementations because it is possible to schedule and throttle replication schemes, support multiple replication topologies, and utilize Remote Differential Compression (RDC) to increase WAN efficiency. If WAN connections fail, data can be stored and forwarded until WAN connections become available. As a result, WAN replication is reduced and optimized, branch office mission-critical files can be replicated among branch offices, hub sites can reduce the amount of IT management that takes place in the branch office, and the need for backups can also be reduced.

Additionally, a new feature that was introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 is support for read-only copies of information stored in Distributed File System (DFS) replicas. Because information that is stored on a read-only DFS replica is read-only, users are not able to modify/delete/create the replicated content. Therefore, information that is stored in a read-only DFS replica is protected at branch office locations from accidental modification.

Group Policies
Windows Server 2008 R2 now uses DFSR to replicate Group Policy Objects between domain controllers within a domain. By leveraging DFSR differential replication, changes only occur between two domain controllers and not all of the domain controllers as in the past. As a result, the amount of bandwidth required during Group Policy replication is greatly reduced.

Group policies, which are the traditional Administrative Template files, are now replaced with new XML-based files called ADMX in Windows Server 2008 R2. Moreover, the new ADMX files are stored in a centralized store within SYSVOL. Thus, the new templates, storage of group policies, and utilization of DFSR for replication improve branch office solutions because less data needs to be replicated between the branch office and hub site.

SMB Version 2.0
Another enhancement for Windows Server 2008 R2 branch office deployments is the server message block (SMB) protocol version 2.0. SMB, originally invented at IBM, is an application-level network file-sharing protocol mainly applied when accessing files, printers, serial ports, and miscellaneous communications between computers on a network.

The protocol hasn’t evolved much since it was originally created 15 years ago. As a result, the protocol is considered to be overly chatty and generates unnecessary network traffic between computers on a network. This especially hinders users at branch office implementations when accessing files over the WAN to a hub site, especially if the WAN link is slow or already congested.

Microsoft understands the concerns and limitations with the existing version of SMB and has completely rewritten SMB to meet the demand of today’s branch office needs. The benefits and improvements of the new SMB version 2.0 protocol on WAN network performance and end-user experience when transferring data between the branch office and hub sites include the following:

. Efficiency, performance, and data streaming are improved and are four to five times faster than the older version of SMB.

. The client can increase parallel requests.

. Offline capabilities are included, which is beneficial on slow networks and improves the end-user experience.

. Synchronization performance for offline files is improved.

. Multiple client requests can be compounded into a single round-trip.

. Users can now work in offline mode and synchronize changes on demand.

. Server scalability has been increased by reduced per-connection resource usage.

. The amount of bandwidth required for network communications has been dramatically reduced.

Source of Information : Sams - Windows Server 2008 R2 Unleashed

Cloud storage is for blocks too, not just files

One of the misconceptions about cloud storage is that it is only useful for storing files. This assumption comes from the popularity of file...