Digital tincans

I did it and I’ll bet that you did it as a kid.

We made our own communications devices with two tin cans like the type that peas come in, punched a hole in the bottom of each, and connected them with a string. If you put one over your ear and your friend went to the end of the string, they could talk and you could listen. Picturing it now, it was kind of stupid because we didn’t have that much string and could have just talked. But, as my friend Whooba would have said, “There’s got to be a workshop in there somewhere”.

Later, we graduated to a pair of walkie-talkies.

Photo by Pradamas Gifarry on Unsplash

It had a much longer range than the string and was kind of cool. There was a gotcha with the set that we had and that was that they had a number of different channels you could use. Presumably, it was to avoid others from listening to you. But, and this was a big but, you both had to be on the same channel to be able to communicate.

All of this came back yesterday.

We own two Google home communication devices. One is a Nest Mini and the other is a Nest Display. I hope that I got the names right; that’s not what they were originally called. The Mini was gifted to us and the Display came with the doorbell.

Both are connected wirelessly to our home Wifi. I have the Mini in my room here and the Display is on the other end of the house. It never dawned on me that I could actually communicate between them. I had no reason to even try. I mostly thought of them as something that would listen to instructions and respond. We have a rule that they’re turned off during trivia nights.

They do have the ability to send messages to each other. All that you have to do is send the command

“OK, Google, Broadcast”

You speak your message and it’s sent to the other speaker.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If I had more than two then I could be selective or inclusive by specifying which one(s) to broadcast to. I had to smile when I thought of morning announcements at school with the ability to give the principal feedback immediately.

Anyway, it’s turned into being a useful way to broadcast messages back and forth, mainly when I’m in here doing some work.

With all the technology in the world, it’s amazing how close this comes to two tin cans connected to each other – this time with Wifi instead of a string.


A new game from Google

From the folks at Google Arts and Culture, there’s a release of al new game that you can play in your browser or via separate application (Android iOS).

I played it in my browser and it was so pleasant to have that retro gaming experience with block graphics and movement via the cursor keys.

I dug in just to play the game. It was only after I started moving around, talking to other characters, and having monkeys throw things at me that I realized that it was also educational! So, I restarted the game and paid more attention to the tour and the links.

Developed in partnership with Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology, there is so much to learn wandering around and discovering clues, gathering rewards, solving puzzles, but most engagingly talking with the guardian as you go.

I was also pleasantly happy to see that Richard Byrne had created a video to explain things for us and you can watch him as he plays the game.

There’s even a lesson when you discover “more” about the character that you’re going to use for the game.

If you’ve played games in the past, the movement of your character will be familiar and you can just focus on the story and the learning. That’s a good thing.

Give it a shot – links are above.

One click fixed it

Fortunately, I guess, I was up earlier than normal this morning. I grabbed my MacBook Pro and headed to the rec room to do some reading like I do every morning. Long time readers know that I play browser roulette on my computers to try and stay on top of things.

This week, I’ve been using the Brave browser. I’ve been intrigued with all the good press about how it blocks advertising and protects your privacy online. They’ve also launched their own search engine at:

It’s also Wednesday morning so part of what I’ll be doing is reviewing the notes for the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. Rats. I’ve had difficulties with the Google Document and the Brave browser. It works fine under Windows but on the Macintosh, things get jumbled and centring doesn’t work.


In the back of my mind, I thought that there must be conflicting with the browser and the way that it works with my extensions. So, I tried opening the document in a Private Window with no extensions and the problem followed.


It’s got to be some sort of incompatibility with the browser itself…or…maybe…

I had Brave’s Shields up to block advertising and I just happened to notice this.

I’ll take complete responsibility for this. This fine print was probably there all along on the Shields button and I either didn’t click or didn’t notice. Shields said it was blocking on tracker. I toggled to allow that one tracker through and … voila!

I’m passing this along just so I don’t forget about it should I run into an issue in the future and as a quick fix if you’re having the same problem.

I’m still at a loss to explain why sine the blocked item was a link to the Play store.

Google Maps

There were a number of Google Maps stories that I took a look at this morning. I think that this feature will be interesting when it gets rolled out.

Google Street View now shows historical images of locations

I use the historical feature all the time. The latest was to resolve a debate – who did we buy our first digital television from? We know exactly the location but the owner has passed and the location sells flooring now.

The best the two of us could come up with was his first name – Don.

When I got home, I used the history feature to look way back and found the Google Street View image.


As soon as we saw the Turner sign, we both slapped our heads, “of course”. We’d been in there a number of times and learned so much. While that television is gone, there was a part of the sale that remains. He always mounts a digital antenna when he sells digital televisions. It’s amazing how many additional channels are available for free over the air around here.

I’m a fan of the ability to look back in time. One of the things that I do regularly is roll back the image of my old house and see what it was like when Mom and Dad lived there. The people that bought the house did a remodel of it.

One of the articles in this morning’s read that had me really interested was this one.

Google Street View Turns 15: Here are the Most Popular Locations in Canada

From the list of the top five places in Canada that had been viewed in Street View, I remember visiting five of them – in person and through Street View.

  1. CN Tower, Ontario
  2. Horseshoe Falls, Ontario
  3. Casa Loma, Ontario

You’ll have to click through to see the other two! I was surprised that the Parliament Buildings didn’t make the list.

Of the most viewed businesses, I could recall only looking for one.

  1. Kim’s Convenience

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t done more. When I’m planning to visit somewhere, I’ll use Street View to help me plan things.

Are there places that you think should have made the list?

One of my favourite activities was inspired by ZeFrank and I did it and blogged about it. Can you believe it was 12 years ago?

Congratulations to Google Maps on its 15th anniversary and millions more innovations. It’s still hard to believe that I’m old enough to remember paper maps from the service station and looking for road signs to take me where I want to go!

The good old days

Remember the first steps on Social Media? For me, it was back in 2007. Social Media and the Internet were still young and most of the content was actually good. Fast forward to today where you pretty much have to fact-check everything that you read. It’s our reality.

Now, one of the lessons of the internet is that nothing ever goes away. You can always find it. It’s just that often it takes some fancy work to actually find it again.

The problem is that there is so much stuff available and search engines typically make the assumption that what you want is new and most recent. It’s not a bad assumption but isn’t always true.

Some times you want to go back….way back. That might call for a song like the one from the Jimmy Castor Bunch but we’re not going back that far!

It happens to me all the time. I remember something from years ago so I search and then just go back page by page until I hopefully find it. Oldest Search solves that problem for me.

It’s designed to go way back and start there and work forward.

The results come from Google which knows and stores most things. Yes, there are ways to get Google to go way back but it does take a little work. Oldest Search just assumes that you want the oldest results.

I thought this implementation was kind of neat and it certainly stole some time from my current work to take a look at things from the past.