Tech Savvy: Keep up with the vote | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Tech Savvy: Keep up with the vote

Posted: November 2, 2012 - 8:40pm
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Tech Savvy: Keep up with the vote

Eeny Meeny Miney Moe....

By PHIL SEIBEL

If you’ve been living under a rock this year you may find this bit of news interesting — this is an election year. Not only presidential but quite a few seats open for our local candidates to vie for as well.

As we move into the election week there are a couple things we wanted to share with you to help you keep on track with your election information. Here are some useful resources to help you feel confident with your vote and some ways you can keep track of the results as they come in. I am going to put a HUGE caveat on any of these resources — double check sources. Just because it’s posted somewhere on the Internet doesn’t necessarily make it true. Do some fact checking on your own and make your own conclusions based on facts, not biased influence.

Websites

• Google Elections: Who better to put together a fairly comprehensive set of information but Google? Here’s the neat thing, rather than just throwing together a landing page with a bunch of text and stats Google has created a hub for multiple media formats that showcase different aspects of the election. They include YouTube channels that show any live events happening and an interactive map showing where candidates are spending their ad dollars and their travel schedule. There is a trend section that shows an informal graph of the candidates’ popularity and a more in-depth Insights area that includes specific questions from the debates. Finally, they have tools that give your voter info so you know where to go, if you don’t already, and another tab that shows standings and results. If you’re looking for a no frills, just-the-facts-ma’am, type interface, Google has done a great job of compiling information.

•Factcheck.org: another great no-frills web resource. They add in additional insight into the campaign’s accuracy, both on their own platforms and their opponents. Within Factcheck you will find instances where candidates have presented questionable (at best) information that may mislead the voters, at least without clarification. What this site will do is help ensure that you truly understand their statements and can catch any inaccuracies they may inadvertently present. They also have a spinoff site, Flackcheck.org, which helps analyze the marketing that runs on news sites and other media for discrepancies.

Apps

There are about a million different apps that you can use. iOS and Android both have a plethora of different apps that can inform (read: entertain) you about the election. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of legitimate apps that will keep you updated on standings, results and information but it seems the majority of apps are based more on parody than fact. It should be noted that many of these apps utilize official sources, but that also means that with the intense coverage of the elections you may be able to get the information faster by following the source directly. I think Twitter will be a heavily used media this election and, if you’re following the correct source, should provide accurate information.

So, rather than bore you with the same old dreck you’ve already heard about the apps, here’s something fun that you can do while you’re watching the results come in. Download Vote!!! iOS only — sorry Android fans — and duke it out yourself Ready-to-Rumble boxing style. Vote!!! lets you pit the candidates against each other in true slapstick style comedy in a contest of cheap shots (literally) to win the White House. It’s a rock ‘em sock ‘em good time with the ability to upgrade your “debate” weaponry along the way.

It reminds me of a line from Stanislaus Katczinsky in “All Quiet on the Western Front”: “And on the big day, you should take all the kings and their cabinets and their generals, put ‘em in the center dressed in their underpants, and let ‘em fight it out with clubs. The best country wins.”

While not always practical, he certainly made a point.

Here’s the bottom line, get informed and get out and vote.

Track the polls on the go

By JESSI PIERCE

Staff Writer

As usual, my counterpart did a fantastic job highlighting some of the best ways to stay involved and active during this election season. A few of my own to add include PollTracker and of course your very own Brainerd Dispatch.

PollTracker is available only on iOS, with its name summing up exactly what it will do for you — keep an eye on the polls. The app gives the major Obama/Romney race state by state. The app also gives polling on some Congressional and local races, too, but if you are out somewhere that isn’t showing the polls (amazing if you can get away from it) than this app is for you.

On election night, the Brainerd Dispatch staffers will be working round the clock to keep the website updated with the latest races for your local contests. Be sure to follow staffers Twitter accounts, too. Reporters will try to Tweet information as it comes in while preparing it all nice and neat for Wednesday’s paper. The paper’s main Twitter feed — @brd_dispatch, Jennifer Stockinger — @jennewsgirl, Renee Richardson — @Dispatchbizbuzz, Mike O’Rourke — MikeORourkenews and Jessi Pierce — @jessi_pierce.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce (@jessi_pierce).

In Case You Missed It

Windows 8 deals

Microsoft is offering a limited time deal to upgrade existing Windows PCs to Windows 8 for only $40. While their Metro UI may not be for everyone, if you’re planning on upgrading, now may be the time!

iPad Mini

Apple announced pre-order and shipping info for their new iPad Mini just in time for the holiday season (seems like that was planned...) At $329 for the base model, it’s incredibly debatable about how good of a deal it is. I’d love to hear from you if you’re planning on getting one (@pseibel #iPadMini)

Jedi Angry Birds

Rovio, the people behind Angry Birds and their latest smash (ha ha) Bad Piggies have also released trailers for the upcoming Angry Birds Star Wars edition. Expect it out in November hopefully!

www.youtu.be/0Yq9idnT1OM

www.youtu.be/etrFLRNoJlo

When You Wish Upon a Death Star

In other gigantic news.... Disney has purchased Lucasfilm! According to George Lucas he wanted to pass the reins on while he is still around and there is talk that a new Star Wars movie will be due out in the near future. Princess Leia is now a Disney Princess!

IMHO

Read this article.

www.mashable.com/2012/10/29/tablets-ethiopian-children/ It’s from Mashable and it’s wonderful. In short, the One Laptop Per Child organization did an educational experiment with tablet technology, giving Motorola Xoom (Android BTW) to children in two villages in Ethiopia. The idea was to provide the tablets, preload them with educational apps and give them to the kids without any further instruction to see what they could self-teach themselves and each other using technology they had never encountered before. In short the results were astounding. Amazing even. While we’ve been introducing tablets into our school systems as a supplemental tool and replacement for some resources, OLPC is looking at the opportunity to use tablets and laptops to fundamentally change the way humans learn, not as an add on and not as just a fun toy but as their primary learning element. If the ingenuity the kids display doesn’t amaze you and bring a smile to your face, then you’re way too serious.