Tongue detection on mobile devices

I’ve been at my new job doing mobile development full-time for just over three weeks now.  Since I get to spend all day doing mobile stuff, I’ve learned a lot more about Android, iOS, and mobile in general.

But the most interesting thing I’ve learned is that for mobile devices manufactured after 2012 in the US, they must have “tongue detection” enabled.  This isn’t for playing Angry Birds when both hands are full.  Instead it’s one of those emergency things.

When you touch the screen on your smartphone, it uses the electrical properties of the human body to register touches.  This is why you need to buy special gloves if you want to use your smartphone with gloves.  Because the tongue is one giant muscle, it has slightly different properties than your finger.

So it was decided by someone somewhere this special property should be used.  The use case scenario?  A person with their hands inaccessible but their phone available.  I’m guessing it’s not “both hands are full of sandwiches”, but more of “You’ve been tied up and fell over”.  I’m wondering if it’s the same person that came up with the internal trunk release regulation.

Anyways, the regulation originally called for that if the phone detected the tongue moving over a large area of the screen (when it’s off) to dial 911 and put the phone into speaker mode.  However, with the rise of hands-free digital assists like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, manufacturers just open up those instead.  This has the user could still choose to call 911, but they could also choose to send a text message, Google Hangout, or check the weather.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve learned in your industry?

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Sometimes all the things happen at once

I’m sitting here in my exploded toy store of a living room hoping that sometime, sometime we might start to get a little caught up. I try to have that thought without a crazy laugh escaping because, well, things have been a little crazy here.

January was my month to rest and recuperate, and I did, but we still ran somewhere every single weekend with birthday parties and extracurricular activities. February was filled with job interviews as Bryan was recruited seemingly out of the blue. Then, as we did all of the things for change there, we also visited family in the cities, attended the girls’ choir concert, went on an overnight to the zoo, and started potty training. These are all good things, but it was a lot. Oh, and the week we started potty training, Emma got a pretty serious pinched nerve in her shoulder, so we shuffled off to the chiropractor as well as trying to treat symptoms while potty training. March has flown by with the aftermath of potty training and pinched nerves, a trip to the Mall of America, as well as actually transitioning to the new job and a week-long episode of what must have been food poisoning for the guys of the house. We also got our taxes done. All of this has taken place with exactly one week of vacation from homeschool. It was a ridiculous amount of stuff.

And it was even more ridiculous because my pants are starting not to fit for the best of reasons, we’re expecting #4 in October! So, we’ve wrangled all of these activities along with fatigue and morning sickness. I don’t recommend potty training or allowing your family members to get food poisoning while suffering from morning sickness by the way.

So that’s what’s been going on here. What’s new with you?

Posted in Family Updates, Pregnancy | 2 Comments

I didn’t get heckled

I was asked to share a testimony at our church during the Lenten service about how God has worked in my life. I could tell I was pretty nervous about it because I had a dream that people started walking out, and someone yelled from the crowd “Get to the point!” But, I shared it yesterday, and just as I suspected, that was all in my head because I actually received quite a bit of positive feedback. In any case, since I spent so much time writing it up and worrying about it, I figured I would share it with you all and get a little more mileage out of it. So, here, slightly edited, is what I had to share: Continue reading

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Girls and boys

Micah is a boy. My other children are girls.

The other day Micah was stomping. I know this because he was saying “tomp tomp tomp” as he stepped on various objects. Then, he looks up at me, smiles, and says “tomp the mommy” and steps on me.

Thus, I know that he loves me.

Parents of boys, besides jumping and stomping on me, what other violent gestures of love should I anticipate and defend myself against?

Posted in Family Updates | 2 Comments

Leaving my job – Again

For my birthday, Amie got me a new red dress-up shirt and tie (amongst other things).  That’s because my old one was wearing out a bit and I needed dress up shirts for work.  Both of us are planners. We figured I’d be requiring dress shirts for years to come.  It turns out though, I won’t need a huge amount of them after last week.

I had a recruiter reach out to me after seeing my LinkedIn profile with the chance to work full-time doing mobile development.  I’ve had recruiters contact me through LinkedIn before.  But most of them involved relocating.  Or some weren’t really forthcoming with information (seriously, if you don’t tell me the company name, it’s going to be difficult).  But this guy was great. Soon I had a phone interview scheduled, and after that a meeting for lunch.  Things went great there and they kicked off the process to have HR extend an offer.

This is much different than when I left IBM. For that, it was something I decided to do and pursued other opportunities for a long time.  The time waiting between submitting an application and waiting to hear back is an eternity.  For this job, they came to me, so all that didn’t exist. Before, I wanted to leave IBM.  When this opportunity came, I wasn’t looking to leave Mayo.  But the offer was too good to pass up. And that’s not just a “money was better” statement.  The things I get to work on and the team I get to be a part of is extremely exciting.

This is a huge change.  This job has onsite indoor parking and also an onsite chef.  OK, so I’m working from home.  But doesn’t the first one sound much more impressive?  But there will be a lot of changes to adjust to.  I will probably write more about it later.  For now, it’s just getting through orientation and starting the journey.

How else can I make “working from home” sound more impressive?

Posted in Family Updates | 3 Comments

Why do homeschool moms wear jean skirts

Homeschool moms, in general, dress a lot like other people anymore. They will sing the praises of yoga pants like every other mom ever. Despite our fashion improvements, it seems we still wear denim skirts more often than the general population. Why? Here are a few reasons you might see that homeschooling mom sporting a denim skirt.

It beats denim jumpers. Remember those shapeless denim jumpers of the 80s? Some were like overalls with no legs? I was young then and not homeschooled, but I hear tell that those are what all the cool moms used to wear. *shudder*

We are too tired for matching. You know what goes with denim? The everything. This is the ultimate in mix and match wardrobe pieces. Plus, being a skirt, you get bonus points for effort.

Once you’ve had more than the average number of children, or let’s be honest, even one child, pants can be hostile. You have to start looking for things with tummy panels and slimming fits. And it was OK in the wide leg days, but skinny jeans? Nope. Best to stick that stuff in a skirt.

A lovely lady on Twitter told us that skirts and leggings are like sweats and a blanket. Only they look grown up and like you got out of bed and like you care about life. Denim skirts are a win here because they do not create as much static cling as other hostile fabrics. Add some cute boots and you have a look any Northerner will envy.

Denim skirts are readily available at thrift stores and lots of us love our thrift stores. Buy used and save the difference isn’t just for Duggars, it’s a stay at home mom’s BFF. Especially a homeschooling mom’s BFF because we need to buy all the books instead.

Denim lets you scratch off all the crusty things your kids wipe on you all day long. Boogers? Peanut butter? Applesauce? Not a problem. Just wait until dried (because you don’t have time to clean that right now anyway) then use your fingernail to scrape away. Dark denim also hides errant pen and marker streaks as well.

Finally, all our friends are doing it. Don’t think homeschool moms are above peer pressure. We’re obviously not.

Bryan says there should be denim skirt sales in the exhibitor hall at the homeschool convention. What do you think, is this a viable business opportunity for me?


Posted in Fun, Homeschool | Leave a comment

Getting on the potty train

I’m potty training again. I just wanted to write a few thoughts on it, some to encourage myself, some to encourage others in the same boat, some just as reminders.

I potty train at age 2. My purpose in that is two-fold. One, kids are more malleable then. Although, they are crazy town with the running around and getting into things, they are more curious than out and out disobedient. My kids seem to go through a phase around 3 or 4 where they really feel the need to test Mom’s no’s. I really don’t want to be potty training then. Two, I hate changing diapers. The sooner I can be done with that the better.

Potty training at earlier ages generally involves training. You probably will not potty train your new two-year-old or younger child fully in a weekend. If you do, awesome for you, but I have fairly average kids and it takes a while. They can understand the concepts, though, and over time, they understand what you want them to do. We’re in Week 2 here, and although we’re still working on getting poop in the potty, he’s pretty good at peeing in the potty when he’s not distracted.

Kids will have accidents. This is a learning process. Even once they’ve learned, they’re still going to forget. I do the same thing. I’ll learn how to do something, then get distracted and end up messing it up. These accidents and forgetting are more likely to happen when they are tired or distracted. Don’t expect your new potty trainer to let you know when they have to pee during their favorite movie or when they are playing with friends. Hey, sometimes your “I’ve been potty trained for a year” child will have an accident at the park or during a movie. It happens. You just need to try to remember to keep track of potty functions for them during those times as well as you can and bring extra clothes.

Pull ups are diapers to kids. While it’s true that my son does not really want to pee on his awesome “Speed” (or Cars themed) diapers, he still calls it a diaper, and he won’t hesitate to pee in it if he has to go. The best way to train is without underpants, but after the initial training, underwear is far superior to pull-ups. It’s going to be messy. You’d better just plan on shampooing the carpet soon or invest in a Little Green Machine or some solid surface floors. I don’t know a good way to train without incurring mess. They can’t learn without making mistakes.

Pay no attention to pamphlets and guides that urge you to call poop BMs and other politically correct hippie psychobabble. Unless you’ve been calling all their poop BMs the whole time you’ve been changing diapers (which I’m very curious about your family life if you have) go ahead and call it poop and pee. It’s also OK to tell your child that their poop and pee is dirty or yucky because it is. It’s not OK for my son to stick his hand in the toilet after he pees or to touch his own poop because it’s dirty and yucky. It doesn’t shame him to let him know that poop and pee are waste products that he shouldn’t touch or decorate the house with. Sure, they’re normal, and he doesn’t feel bad for making them because he knows that everyone in the house uses the potty, but they’re still gross and we don’t touch them. It’s a health issue, and little people sometimes need health issues explained with icky, gross, and germy because e coli doesn’t really have much meaning for them.

Give yourself and your child lots of grace. Life doesn’t stop like it used to when I had all littles. Then, there would be this magical time when everyone would be home for weeks and weeks besides a little run here or there. No more. The bigs have places to go and people to see. This will make potty training take longer. You’re looking for progress. If you have a dinner or a concert or a something to go to, slap a diaper or pull-up on that kid and don’t worry about it. They’ll get it eventually. Sure, run them to the potty if you can, but overall, life is too short to stress about it.

Keep going. Like I said, it’s about progress. Each day, I see a little something that let’s me know he’s getting things a little more. This morning, he asked to go to the potty right away in the morning, and he went. He’s asking to have that diaper off. He’s keeping his underwear drier for longer. He’s at least noticing something is going on when he starts pooping. Today, he even realized part way through that the potty was the place to be with it. In the end, we’re gonna make it after all, so don’t give up.

Finally, in regard to the title, when I take Micah potty, I tell him he’s getting on the potty train. He loves it. Parenting makes me silly.

What potty training encouragement or tips do you have to add?

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So what if it’s not a new idea?

Ecclesiastest 1:9b says, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  The Barenaked Ladies have a song called “It’s All Been Done“. Some people think that doing something that’s been done isn’t worthwhile.  In the last few weeks, I’ve seen multiple people who were trying to think of app ideas talking about how all the ideas were taken. How could they compete with their own app when they’re up against giant corporations that can fund whole teams to develop something?

But you know what?  That doesn’t matter.  If there are two apps that do similar things, then there are two apps that do similar things.  The advice I have for those people is to think of it this way.  If there’s an app out there that does 1,000 things well, that doesn’t mean it’s a better app than one that does 100 things great.  Or even one that does 1 thing extraordinary. Especially if people aren’t using those 999 other things anyway.

Personally, I experienced this with Quidbit. It was the first app I released. It was a “list making app”, which is just kind of a common thing people do.  There are thousands out there. But I added some things that I felt were lacking.  For example, when entering items, I added a “Add More” button that would add but not leave the add dialog.  This allowed you to very quickly add a bunch of things. I made sure that deleting checked items was easy.

I wrote PTO Tracker because I didn’t like how the one that was in the Google Play store at the time functioned.

So whether you’re creating an app, a book, a song, a handmade craft, or anything else.  Just remember that just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean you should abandon your idea.  Just look for ways to figure out how you can improve your idea to be better.  Maybe it won’t be better for everyone (you can’t please everyone), but you definitely can make it better for some.

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The pleasure of white socks

Ever have one of those small things you just look forward to even though it seems silly?  Mine is wearing white socks.  Since my job has a dress code where I need to wear and suit & tie, my socks during the week are black or brown.  But come the weekend, it’s white socks!  Going on vacation?  I hope I have enough white socks!

Now, I don’t wear the typical thin dress socks.  I think those don’t provide padding and you just wear through them. I never understood why people get those.  Instead, I get black or brown socks that are the same weight as my white socks.  So the feel of them is usually the same.  And if I have to grab some extra for vacation, I’ll grab the black ones.

So why do I look forward to white sock weekend?  I don’t know.  Although I do know that my white socks did wear out recently, and Hannah was super excited to buy me some more for Christmas.  Maybe it’s just something small to look forward to. Like opening a new box of Kleenex.

What small thing do you look forward to?

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Night at the Zoo

Over the weekend, I was able to take the girls for a zoo overnight trip. We spent the night in the aquarium area and learned about the aquatic species of the zoo as well as some of the behind the scenes workings.

Highlights of the evening and morning included:

Going to the top of the shark tank. Hannah got to lay down and look over the edge.

Pizza delivery at 8:30. It was good pizza, too.

Seeing a starfish (sea star) up close. Emma did not like when it vomited out its stomach.


Learning different ways sharks sense their prey. Just make sure you don’t move and you might be OK.

Learning about enrichments for the animals (things that keep their brains active in captivity)- one such thing was a frozen baby mouse snowcone of sorts for birds of prey, ewww, another was bubble bath for the tiger pool

Sea turtles. Enough said.

The rays in the estuary tank were very friendly and would wave at you.

Hannah got to touch sea urchins.



Sugar cereal in the morning. Mom doesn’t buy that stuff, so it was awesome. Mom had Cheerios. I’m not a hypocrite.

Penguins swimming in a tank in the breakfast room. They were totes adorbs.


Seeing the holding tanks for new animals.

Relaxing by the coral reef exhibit.


Free t-shirts. OK, we probably paid for these, but we got t-shirts anyway.

Also, we didn’t get eaten by sharks. I’m sure Emma would like me to add that.



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