October 31, 2010

Brief Mac tips for parents of tots

Here’s a little something to cleanse the palette from all the Flash/HTML5/etc. bits.

The other day designer Khoi Vinh remarked on his young daughter’s iPhone fascination, lamenting the lack of a toddler mode that could do things like override the home button. Like many parents I know, I’m in just the same boat, as our two toddlers abscond with & modify my phone and iPad.  I can’t offer a lot of tips, though I heartily recommend the fun little audio app Bebot.  15-mo.-old Henry now drags me the tablet demanding “Bebop, bebop!”

On the Mac, however, I’ve found a very winning combo: Alfred (a Quicksilver-style launcher utility) plus AlphaBaby, a shape, letter, and sound generator–both free. I feel like a missile defense system, where milliseconds of reaction time make all the difference between success & disaster. The Alfred/AlphaBaby combo means that I can simply hit Opt-Space, then type “A” to select AlphaBaby and launch it. Unngh, in your faces, little dudes! :-)

Hope that’s of use to someone. Any other advice and suggestions are welcome.

Posted by John Nack at 7:13 AM on October 31, 2010

Comments

  • sprezzatura — 10:47 AM on October 31, 2010

    Simplest (although not the cheapest) alternative would be to buy an iPod Touch for the kiddies.There’s plenty of used ones on eBay.

  • Mark — 11:55 AM on October 31, 2010

    >Any other advice and suggestions are welcome.

    Don’t get married, don’t have kids. Remember Eddie, in “Altered States”

    It’s me that wants the divorce, Arthur, not Emily. She’s quite content to go on the way we are. She insists she’s in love with me, whatever that is. What she really means is she prefers this arbitrary structure we’ve created to being alone. She prefers the senseless pain we inflict on each other to the pain we would otherwise inflict on ourselves. But I’m not afraid of that solitary pain. I’m like one of the early patristic anchorites. I want to go off into the desert like Saint Anthony. If I can’t find God, I at least want to find my self.

  • Dan Tull — 2:34 PM on October 31, 2010

    Yeah, my kids both managed to find different ways to foil (if not entirely escape) AlphaBaby jail: Boy one quickly realized the power button (MacBook Pro) still worked and boy two manages to hit various shortcuts that blank out the monitor (not restorable via the usual brightness controls) and to start up VoiceOver, which somehow interferes with the exit key combination (it just beeps when I tried to quit by AlphaBaby’s exit key combo). They’re chips off the old block, I guess.

  • Matt Connell — 7:17 AM on November 01, 2010

    I set the screensaver to require a password, then set the little ones up with their own account. They love to thrash around in that thing and if you set it to “simple finder mode” it is nearly bullet-proof.

  • Andrew Laurence — 8:56 AM on November 07, 2010

    When my kids were tots, they both really enjoyed BabyBanger on my iBook.

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