Category Archives: AARP

Private Note to Baby Boomers

1 tech typewriter

It’s time now.  Come on, wake up. It’s your turn to make this world right.  Gummy bears and cotton candy, sweet dreams that form the cutting edge of innovation, because you are the epitome of possibility.  And yes,  the world may yet become a better place, because you’re in it.

So, finally, you’re about to graduate from parent-hood.  It’s truly an OMG kind of moment, where whimsy meets reality and you’re the star!  Soon emotion will stir with nostalgia to create a refreshing new out look and life will change forever.  It begins with a small spark within your soul, like a bead of perspiration that grows and flows.  Yes, there may be discomfort and moments of anxiety, but isn’t that what growth is all about?  Change always seems to include some discomfort.

Funny, but family will take on new meaning, as those things that once infuriated you about them, will become dear memories.  Those things that were so annoying, will be funny attributes.  You’ll miss the toys underfoot and the security blanket that you once wrapped around them, just as they once held your face in their round hands.   Cute.  It seems a hug isn’t a yoke after all, we’re made to love unconditionally, not because we have to… but simply because.

So as you prepare to trade in the mini-van for the Tesla, take a moment and pause…

Look around and see what once was and who you’ve become.   Remember how many baby steps they mastered before you learnt to let go, and they smiled.  And it was their triumphant and confident strides into womanhood that made you smile.    Relax, you’re not walking away from family, but instead into your own future.  Sure it’s a little bit frightening, but it’s also exciting.  And every step will become your mark in this world.   So step lively, be graceful and write!  Begin again, with kind and fresh footsteps wherever you go.

It’s technical, not a technicality.  Come on, it’s your turn to shine.   Let’s see how you do.

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Tech Befuddlement

$1 lathe

Befuddlement, it’s the perfect word for that moment, when you find yourself in the middle of the room, without the slightest idea of what you came to get, or do.

It’s a glitch, a processing error that creates a momentary lag in memory; an affliction that resembles aging.  And I absolutely hate it!

Embedded in the human experience are mishaps common to each of us, the stubbing of one’s toe and the bumping of one’s head, these events are surprises when they happen, but we’re never surprised that they can and do happen.   That is, if we’re alive, then it’s almost to be expected, as if we ourselves are characters in a Charlie Chaplin movie.

It’s not limited to any age group, it happens to children, but their response to the mishap seems quite contrary to the adult response.  And for this, I envy them.

I’ve watched them come tearing into a room, stop and look about and then dash back out; they seem oblivious that their round hands remain empty.  I’ve asked my daughters what they came for and they’ve simply shrugged their shoulders and replied, “I dunno.”  And that’s that, the end.

Just like that, they both lost a moment and dismissed it.  Yes, they’ve acknowledged that it happened, but they don’t succumb to it; don’t wonder if it’s the beginning of some horrible condition, like the early stages of dementia.

Because this sort of thing happens, it’s inevitable that we’ll walk empty handed into a room, then have no idea what we’ve come in for, or what we had to say or do, POOF!  The thought vanished.

Like life itself, we’re born and we learn to walk then run.  We start off with so much promise, and our ideas seem bright and then sometimes we settle, never fully grasping our best selves.  For love, for lack of money for whatever the reason, now irretrievably gone, like some whimsical vapor, it doesn’t matter.

And we grow older.  It’s not a bad thing, after all it is what it is, but we might need to start understanding that memory glitch.  Because technology might not have an answer.  So, just in case we arrive at the future and don’t know what we came for… let’s spin around and live life willy-nilly and not worry about it!

And let’s give it a name… “Whatchamacallit.”

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Bartering Technology for Cool Pink Lemonade

11 Lemonade Girls

What if Norman Rockwell’s America had been depicted differently?

What if little boys and little girls were treated equally, that they might pursue similar dreams, based on their aptitude; and not by what was in their diapers.  Maybe then, coding, and entrepreneurships wouldn’t be as male dominated as they are…

What if “Rosie”, the Riveter wasn’t just a wartime phenomenon, but was commonly seen in everyday life, as a woman no more extraordinary than the housewife attached by an apron string, by choice.

What if after the war she was promoted to CEO and we saw that image as well.  What dreams might her daughters and grandchildren have and how might they have lived, seeing themselves depicted equally?

That’s what I think. And I’m only thinking that way now, because this past August my idea was accepted and then advanced to phase two of the YouNoodle competition, Verizon’s Powerful Answers.  And as I moved along in the competition, the portion which I found most difficult was entrepreneurial, because I had no training in that area.  So I did my research and pushed forward, but it did sit with me and ultimately, my idea was passed on.

That’s what encouragement or lack of encouragement does, it can sit and become a burden, one that vexes you, or it can inspire you to rise and push, that you might become your greater self.  I call it a lemonade stance!  Taking life’s lemons and bartering them for a chance to live your life, your way!

Sometimes, we do it to ourselves, because it might be easier to create our own club, rather than knock on the door of his club.  But we need to remember that separate is never equal.

And being comfortable to speak, doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be heard; because we’ve effectively made it easier to be ignored, as a group huddled to one side of society.

I’m not a history revisionist, but if I were… we’d all know the wives of the great men of America.  Her story, the wife’s story would be motivational, for surely she had a story, as we all do and must.

Of the five men who have been credited with making America one of the most affluent and influential countries in the world, we know very little of their wives.   Try looking them up, there’s very limited information about them and it’s not simply because of the times, but society that has historically and effectively stifled them.

In tribute…

Laura Celestia Spelman, Abolitionist, Philanthropist and teacher married John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) who she met in an accounting class.

Sophie Johnson married Cornelius Vanderbilt (Railroad) and ran the Bellona House, a hotel for weary travelers of her husband’s steamships.

Clara Bryant married Henry Ford (Automobile) and along with gardening was a business supporter in her husband’s business deals, that included convincing him to sign off on a Union contract.

Frances Tracy (2nd wife) married J.P. Morgan (Financier).  She preferred the quiet of the suburbs and home.

Louise Whitfield married Andrew Carnegie (Steel) and was a philanthropist.  She said it best:  “I am the unknown wife of a somewhat well-known businessman.”

But it’s wintertime in New England, a wonderful time for white fluffy snow that appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities.  A good time to pause and ponder life’s inequities, and like snow, thaw ideas that then nourish future minds, and grow so a child might become her greater-self and he might know of her.

Let’s begin by bartering life’s lemons for lemonade; to build lemonade stands.  So we can pass along tech advice, while we sip on cool pink lemonade and reimagine stories of what a damsel in distress looks like.

Cheers!

 

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Filed under AARP, Coding, Entrepreneurship, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Women

Pink Lemonade, the New Slice of Pie

L Pies

“What’s my plan?”

I’m not sure how to respond; I’m trying to figure it out, as I go along.  Lately life has supplied a bushel of lemons, and I’m familiar with the saying “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade” but what I’d really like to know is how do I make it into a slice of lemon pie?

For years, I’ve been delving around on the internet trying to get published.  But working full-time and raising a family limited the time I spent and some sites that offered me a steady readership, PNN (defunct) and Yahoo, byline offered anemic compensation.

But I’ve also seen some succes.  There was a “Name Us” on-line contest, an experiment that went viral with international submissions.   I entered the name “Pxyl” and won.   The company has since been named to INC Magazine 5000 list, as one of America’s fastest growing companies, maybe there’s magic in a name.   I won a Kindle (I still have it) and they’ve mentioned my name a few times.

The MIT Age Lab in Cambridge, MA selected me to participate in a driving study.  I was exposed to new technology, and discovered that age does have its perks.   I was given the keys to a specially equipped vehicle, and connected by electronic leads to external computers, while video cameras mounted in the interior of the vehicle recorded me driving along the highway.    The data and my responses were gathered, collected and uploaded to a Cloud in real time.

The world is fast changing and I’m interested in everything!  This past August I was invited to Maine for a huge tech conference and saw first hand how the business IT landscape is changing.  And yes, I noticed that it was mostly men, so I was happy to write about the many doors that are opening for Girls Coding.   Meanwhile, the open platforms, the cost of processors (dropped) and the Internet of Things is real and it’s all rather amazing!

I’m a technician at heart.  My mind is trained to always approach a problem by getting on its good side, and the only dumb question, is the one that wasn’t asked.  So I started to ask questions on the internet to anonymous engineers.  I took a free on-line coding class, I read and wrote and realized I was becoming more and more unemployable.   Social media seemed appealing, so I decided to become a brand.

In April of 2014, I created a pseudonym, both tech savvy and internet friendly, named TechnyGal.  I started a blog, first on the WIX  platform and then here, on WordPress.  I opened a Twitter account and tied them to Facebook.  I purchased a few domain names Technygal.com and PinkisTheNewGreen.net  and then I started writing.

Two months later I received an email from the Washington Post Live, inviting me to a forum in Boston, I accepted.  The next day, I received another invitation to attend a 3 day conference being held in Boston, by AARP  50+ Life Reimagined.  I graciously accepted.

While seated at a Press only luncheon, I leaned over and confessed to an executive VP, that I had no idea of how I had gotten there and that I was humbled and overwhelmed.  She smiled and replied, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”  So I have…

It’s been less than a year, and I’m thinking more and more of what direction I’d like Technygal to go in, and I’m thinking it includes girls coding, selling lemonade and getting bigger slices of pie.  But like I said, I’m not sure of how I’m doing what I’m doing, there’s just this steady movement always forward.

Your suggestions are welcome…

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Thinking Outside The Bubble

1 Internet of everything

 

What’s in a name?

I was thinking that we humans have a tendency to forget things. That is, we walk into a room and fully forget what we came in to get; we drive our car home and forget where we put the car keys.   Well, we should all be able to remember this name.

“The Internet of Things”

Lazy and rather unimaginative, this name does what most names don’t actually do, it defines, describes and categorizes, then answers the question: “What is it?”

Once a theory and quickly realized, anything equipped with a sensor could be in constant communication with a computer processor.  I can almost imagine the first MIT scientists throwing their hands up in technological glee, fully inspired by the sheer volume of their discovery!

Now a coffee pot in their office could “talk” to the refrigerator down the hall.  And both could be programmed to “talk” to humans, as well as machines and more, these enchanted objects would be able to add cream and milk to your grocery list, as well as perform “yet to be thought of” applications.  Big Data (with it’s equally unimaginative name) would gather and collect executable data, which could be analyzed in real time.

Mind boggling and still evolving into what just might be “the internet of nearly EVERYTHING”.

The Digital Age has jettisoned technology closer to a television cartoon with a similar name (The Jetsons).  We don’t have flying cars, but who knows?  Everything seems possible with sensors and a computer’s magical little black box, that processes code.  That leads to technology getting smarter and smarter.

Change is coming, both progressive and disruptive.   It can decimate confidence, shake up the bottom line and place a strain on long standing traditions.  And we’re all prone to its “Goosies”,  that skin tingling sensation induced by excitement or fear or disbelief.

Mature businesses, like older people will feel it acutely, maybe more so than start-up companies and younger, tech savvy people, who never used letterhead on bond paper and couldn’t tell the difference.  But having different efficiency levels shouldn’t be a license to feast, one on the other.

It’s wiser to work together; bartering and collaborating like our ancestors did when they first discovered fire.  And again, when they put fire to a best use practice, smelting iron and forging steel.   Factoid, teamwork will always lessen a load.

We’ll have to use technology smartly, because finger swipes across a screen is not a measure of intelligence.   We’ll also need to put on our thinking caps, which will act as a protective helmet in the event of a crash.

The mind is a powerful bubble making machine, full of ideas.  So, what happens when a thought bubble pops?

I say we harness the gases for propulsion, fasten your seatbelt.   It’s gonna be a helluva ride!

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, cellphone, Code, Coding, gadget, Internet, ipad, iPhone, tech, technology, Twitter

The Age of Selfie-Satisfaction

i me tech 4
All across the internet, there’s a Laissez-faire attitude that allows us to post our photos boldly.   But who took and posted the first Selfie?

I only ask because it’s become so fashionable.  Everyone takes them, from politicians to rock stars to the Average Joe; and then they post them online, “See me, here I am.”

Most of the time I’m not even looking for anyone, but I become intrigued by the crooked smile or the dimples, so I click on a photo and read.
But what I’d really like to know is what happened to those cartoon avatars?  You remember the ones;  we had a choice when you signed onto a website.   And it didn’t matter which avatar you picked, because it was only a feeble attempt at representation.  Besides, back then we hid behind our anonymity, and procrastinated when the technology changed over to thumbnail photos.   And despite our wishes, it caught on and stayed.

Technology doesn’t care about shyness or looks or even who uses it;  so we all had to rise above self-esteem issues.

Reluctantly, we changed our avatars to real photos.  At least most of us did, and we laughed at ourselves, without worry of consequence.  It was extraordinary.

Because that’s the beauty of technology, that even the most introverted or bashful person can be popular on social media.   With thousands of Followers on Twitter and Likes on Facebook, another story can be told; a Start-up can be funded and a floundering business revitalized.   Just by posting a Selfie there, or Pinterest or Instagram.  A cliché comes to life, that yes a picture can and does paint a thousand words.

According to cognitive research psychologists, the only downside of mindlessly snapping photos is that the human brain can’t retain what it hasn’t fully processed or seen;  it’s the opposite effect of a photographic memory.   That is, you’re not going to remember details of the photo you took, because you let the camera do the work for you.

Ah, but what does that matter? The whole world is doing it! And there are so many platforms to display your Selfies and Clouds to store them all. And if it does come to fruition that it does matter, we’ll probably be old and senile.

And then, in that moment, in the Coming Age of Exposure, who’ll notice? Again, we’ll smile. Perhaps, a little more like the Mona Lisa smile, smug. And we’ll sing like Madonna… “Strike a pose- Vogue.”

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Readers of Code

world book 9

I like that people are reading. For a long while it seemed that people had stopped reading, but now thanks in part to social media, people are reading more, albeit snippets of information.

Still, these easy readers, Tweets, status updates and likes, have created a renewed readership, with links to blogs and articles, that have been written by real writers. Technology, it seems is getting people to read!

Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. Not voracious, but still very much on top of things. I read any genre and was always on the lookout for new writers. It seemed that I had more leisure time, and I was a fast reader, able to enjoy a quick read as well as a long casual one.

Books you see, are my friends. They stay up with me when I can’t sleep, whispering to me about new ideas, old innuendos and faraway places right here on earth. Books lean against the wall, or sit patiently on the table, stacked and ready for my retreat into them, away from reality.

I like to savor what I read. Let the words swirl around inside my head. Discover new thoughts, evoke emotions that softly touch or ruffle up against the edges of a memory. All mine. If left to my own vices, I’d sit with a nice glass of chardonnay and read a whole book; a book a day, as if it were an elixir, ah …

Unfortunately, I have fewer hours to read. But I make time to visit the library and I browse local bookstores. Because I like the way a book feels in my hands, as much as I like the smooth feel of my iPad, which replaced my 1st generation Kindle.

And in addition to that, I’ve been learning code. I’m a big advocate that all girls should learn code, and wasn’t I once a girl?

So, I signed up for an Edx course, purchased a few books and started to run programs on a computer. (And here, dear reader is where I must add a disclosure: “I’m not a computer geek, not a rocket scientist and not a genius and not a programmer.”) I’m a student in the world of variables and integers.

Anyway, yesterday I curled up with my book, my laptop and executed a C program in terminal with Gedit. It was mind-boggling, as I started to believe, that if you read it, you can understand and do it. And to that end, I’m learning.

I created a social message about girls coding in MIT’s Scratch website; it allows you to code with blocks. (For giggles, here is my project, click the green flag Girls Jump.)

I like that people are reading again. Technology it seems, does require us to think and it’s making us readers of code. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Girls, social media, tech, technology, Twitter, Women

Type Casting Technology

1 tech typewriter
By definition I’m a Baby Boomer. Born in the United States from 1946 to 1964; I am a by-product of that military minded society that gave birth to modern technology.

I have an affinity, a predilection and a preference for the propaganda of that era, both proud of country and invincible. If there was a way to improve the human condition, there was a genuine hope and determination and a willfulness to make it happen. And three inventions– television, the computer and the microwave made it so; they changed society.

Television that boob tube was the American dream personified. We sang television commercials as if they were the Billboard’s Top Ten: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” for Alka-Seltzer and Virginia Slim’s, “To get where you’ve got to today, you’ve got your own cigarette now baby, you’ve come a long, long way.”

It began with the end to dried up leftovers, like meatloaf. That tricky dinner meant to feed a family of five on a budget of three. Goodbye cold brown brick and hello hot and juicy!

Technology has forever changed our world, Luddites have no place here. Like my old fishy typewriter; the one I found when I was eleven years old. It’s heavy and I can’t type, but I like the way it looks and smells. I also like the voice activated software that I’ve loaded onto my computer.

We Baby Boomers haven’t invented everything, but we perfected some things and we did it on a grand scale. Tablets, cellphones and a commercial space program. I’m grateful for all of that, for what we’ve achieved and for what we have and I still don’t like dried up leftovers, but I like having a choice. Et Tu?

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Humble Tech Beginnings- Tweet

Tech stairs
Hello world! I’m excited. Or at least I think I should be, I am after all still Tweeting on Twitter. In fact, as of this post I’ve Tweeted 555 times!

It’s not that I’ve reached a milestone or done anything spectacular, like winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Contest (which I’ve never heard of anyone winning, not even remotely via the six degrees of separation). But, from technology’s viewpoint, I’ve come a long way.

And I bet you wasn’t looking for me! But in the time that it took for me to firmly establish my feet into the webbing of the internet; those threads of ideas and beads of knowledge shared by design, I had gained ground. That’s how swiftly the words were sent. Since then, I’ve been interviewed, invited to conventions, solicited to write reviews and tested out mock-ups.

I’ve stood in line at buffets, peering at a smorgasbord of deliciousness that I could never eat, even if I were granted ample time to eat it all in. And I’ve had cocktails. Those refreshing little drinks without the umbrellas that make me appreciate the sun more and the sand between my toes, a little less.

The truth is, last year at this time, if someone had told me that I’d be here I would’ve guffawed at their ridiculousness. Me, a little city girl who literally “considered suicide when the rainbow was enough”; like most of the kids in my poor neighborhood.

I’m a Baby Boomer by definition, that is I was born between 1946 and 1964. I was raised by a single mom, who struggled to make ends meet. There were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment, in a rickety old house, on a newly paved road, named Dacia Street.

We had no shower, no bathroom door, little heat, less food, no phone, and a pen-pal who liked to write eviction notices.

Memories like these give me a reason to pause; to appreciate where I am now, sitting on a country deck. Time to eat cherries and spit pits into a napkin, all nice and dainty; while I read The New Yorker on my iPad. And that’s how I know technology has been good to me.

It’s also been good to 74.6 million other Baby Boomers, who’ve gone from cold leftovers to microwave ovens. We’re living longer and healthier lives because of those technological advancements, from dark places to streaming movies and music. Overall, we’re a grateful bunch.

My first Twitter was on April 27, 2014, that’s when I tweeted:

Dreaming you can make a difference in the world is motivational. Waking up, crawling out of bed and making it happen is life. #Techtalks

Yes, the internet of things is humbling.

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Filed under AARP, music, social media, technology, Telephone, Twitter

Culture and Big Data

J Edgar Big DataIn a digital world the big bad wolf isn’t hairy, doesn’t have claws, and doesn’t have fangs. The big bad wolf in the Digital Age, is us- ourselves.

Big data is about us. The collection, storing and coding of what we do, how we do it and a compression of why we do it, with a projection of what we might do as a reference point. If properly analyzed it can be quite enterprising; but Big Data all lumped and clumped together can be quite daunting. Still it’s there, all there, albeit on a Cloud and soon to be added, our medical folders. All of that information… POOF!

American culture has always liked information. President Roosevelt’s New Deal added value, with its issuance of a social security numbers. J.Edgar Hoover, who served under 6 U.S. Presidents (March 23, 1935 – May 2, 1972) mastered in the collection of information and data. And we Baby Boomers were born into it, so we recall applying and receiving those little bluish cards in the mail.

The card came in a #10 business size envelope with your whole government name typed out. It signaled to your parents, indeed to the whole world, that you were “somebody”. And that you could officially be hired to get a real job, something more than a newspaper route!

America’s social security system was a step towards tax collection with the fringe benefit of tracking and collecting information; a little piece at a time, bit by bit.

My social security number has followed me since I was sixteen years old. It came with me as I changed addresses from state to state, changed schools and when I went to college in Minnesota. It stayed with me when I was hired at the 3M World Center and again, when I purchased my first round trip airplane ticket to New Orleans.

When President Reagan fired the U.S. Air Traffic Controllers, I applied for and took the Civil Service Exam, a youthful scab. And again, when I went to work at the country’s leading University in Cambridge, MA.

Come to think of it, before I was issued a passport, I used my social security number for vacations. I used it to travel to Mexico, Canada and the Bahamas, all multiple times. In fact, on one visit to the Bahamas, the authorities detained me and accused me of not being an American citizen. Then my social security number was of no consequence; as they decided to give me an exam on American history, that I subsequently failed. Ironically, they released me, because I did fail, citing that anyone who was actually trying to sneak into the U.S. would have studied and passed the test. Go figure.

So my privacy– what I eat, where I’ve been and who I’ve married, my taxes, my income, my loans and how much debt I’ve incurred, is all there, tucked neatly beside my social security number. It also includes any driving infractions, which I have none. Our privacy was compromised a long time ago. Tracking me, my patterns, that is my behavior has been going on a long time.

I suppose, when I was younger privacy didn’t matter to me. Internet terms like Cookies and Breadcrumbs lull me into a false sense of security. Whimsical, as they always are in fairytales like Hansel and Gretel. But I’ve grown up some and I see the world differently. Things that didn’t matter before, matter now. And things that were once left unnoticed; now cause me to look up at the huge responsibility of a Cloud.

To Be continued…

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