Category Archives: Apps

Tech Up

Coat of Arms cirsuit boards

How do we respond when we’re told that the only stupid question is the one that wasn’t asked? Hopefully, we ask.

It’s particularly important as technology continues to advance, placing more and more information readily at our fingertips and moving away from the notion that arches, loops and whorls, those distinctive patterns of our fingerprints are the only reliable mode of human identification.

Facial recognition systems allow a computer app to identify and verify a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source, using selected facial features and a database.

When used with other biometric technology, including those fingerprints and eye iris scans, facial recognition can be extremely accurate at identifying us, but what’s beyond the pale is the social laissez-faire towards facial technology.

More often it’s being used on social media to identify who attended the bachelorette bash, the summer cook-out or the family reunion and it’s posted without intent of malice. Those smiling faces, young and old gathered together to celebrate life.

All very neatly named and tagged on FaceBook, Instagram and on SnapChat, and all shared with family and friends who weren’t invited, or who for a myriad of reasons, were unable to attend.  So many digital photographs curated and posted on the internet, forever.

And what about the little round faces, with pudgy cheeks who unknowingly and unwittingly have their photos taken over and over?  So innocent, just a photo taken of a little girl, that  should never have become a part of an illegal drug ring, or reappear in a trade magazine or be confiscated in a botched raid, one that included fake IDs’, but some how did.  And years later, that little girl grows up and is interrogated or denied international travel, misidentified because an age progressed photo “guesstimated” her adult facial features?  We humans, after all  have but one face to be digitalized, recognized and identified.

Children grow up, people grow old and fancy pictures of our younger selves.  Humored by how young we looked, but somehow, long after time and the natural elements of this world have caused our faces to wrinkle and our memories have begin to fade, what about all those photos?  Who’ll ask us then, is that a picture of you?

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Filed under Apps, Photo, photography, Selfie, technology

Where the Graphene Sneakers Are

Running on track

“Run faster! Jump higher!” claimed an ad for PF Flyers.  In the 1950’s PF Flyers were the Holy Grail of footwear.  And we bought into the hype, as if wearing sneakers meant we’d be able to walk across water!

Ads convinced us that we could be play better and athletes like Bob Cousy, the basketball player endorsed them.   We were young and a boost in our confidence was like that “Magic Wedge” inserted in the Posture Foundation insole, it was a bit of a lucky charm.

Tire manufacturers found new uses for vulcanized rubber and literally, changed the way games were played.   Sports that required agility and sure-footedness benefitted from sneakers, and in a best case scenario of innovation gave birth to new businesses– sports medicine, physical therapy and fitness programs, which all owe their success to rubber footwear.

Recently, Nike the sneaker guru announced plans to release a new hi-tech power-lacing sneaker and I sighed at the mediocrity of the design.  Because power-laces sound fine when you’re having difficulty bending down to tie a shoelace, but they’re lame and not a worthy of the PF Flyer legacy.

New smart sneakers should exist.  They should be interactive and efficient; offering counter-balance on uneven platforms and compensation of traction on slippery slopes.  Wearers should be free of worry, and be exposed to minimal chances of twisting an ankle and no fear of a torn ligament.   In a Digital Age, hi-top or lo-top techie sneakers should come standard with GPS, as well as muscle pulsation that tones and data gathering processors, all in real time.

Is my idea worth talking about?   It is, if it generates thought.   Whether it’s a lively discussion of data, innovation or sustainability, who really knows, but we do use the task driven, all motivating, action word a lot — RUNNING.

We sure do a lot of it:  running programs, running Apps and running updates.

I’m reminded of a guy, who back in the early 1970’s was out wearing a tee-shirt, shorts and a pair of sneakers in Central Park.  Someone asked him, “What are you running from?”  He spun around and looked behind himself.  He half expected to see a mugger, someone with a dark cap on, lurking in the shadows of the overgrowth, but there was no one.   The question was repeated, “What are you running from?”

“A heart attack,” he replied and kept running.

Innovation is like that, transforming the mundane and making it loom larger than life.  I for one need a pair of hi-tech sneakers, something that makes me run for my health, not after it and I’d like for it to be worry free.

Oh and please let them come with a free shiny brass decoder ring; because that should be a part of the Internet of Things.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Consumers, Internet of Things, sneakers, technology, Wearables

If Bees Pollinated Technology

2 bees tech

Have you ever had a moment, when everything that you’re doing seems to be moving along at a nice clip; each in its orderly fashion, when BLAM! Life happens?

You can’t know for certain if it’s all bad, because you don’t know exactly what’s gone wrong.  But there’s that disconnect, that general feeling of disbelief.

Change can be very disconcerting, especially when everything you’ve worked so hard for has gone awry.   Then you’re left with fear, that perhaps it’s over and then you find that it’s not over, but nothing is as it was and you’re completely off your game.  Disoriented.  That’s when the real disruption begins.

Disruption in the Digital age, like the Industrial Age before is a certainty. How much is not, and that will be sorted out later by historians, with that 20-20 tool they call hindsight.  And hindsight can and does reveal correctable flaws, but time is a luxury, not a commodity.  A poor decision today may have devastating effects for future generations, but technology is exciting!

And it’s moving so fast!  The internet keeps getting better, social media, and collaborations.   Open platforms, bugs and fixes that we mindlessly download to our tablets, that add value to our smartphones.  And apps, games and upgrades, with the promise of more– the Internet of Things!

The buzz of new technology has quieted the buzz of bees.

When I was younger I could hear them, whispering.  Back then I rushed into things without any concern about them or the size of my footprint on the earth.  But I’m older now and these things do matter.   (Perhaps, I’m worried about getting into heaven.)  But whatever the reason I’m straining to listen and I’m not hearing the whispering sound of bees.

Scientists attribute it to hive disorientation, a result of the hertz frequency used by our cellphones. Others say pesticide usage has weakened the bees’ immune systems. Still others believe it’s a combination, in addition to the effects of global warming. But they all agree that bees are disappearing.

Here are a few facts about bees.   Of the 20,000 species of bees in the world, only 4 species make honey. Bees are the only insect that makes food for humans. Honey is the only food in the world that contains all the substances necessary to sustain life. Bees pollinate plant life in the original ecosystem that supports ALL life.

We might want to pay attention to the changes that are taking place, those harbingers of disruption. Bees are disappearing.

Bees have been around since the Triassic Age; right alongside the dinosaurs.  Oh and in case you didn’t know, dinosaurs were huge and they’re all gone now.

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Filed under Apps, bees, bees disappearing, cellphone, Coding, technology, Telecommunications

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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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, Big Data, Gender

Subdued Technology – Part 2.

cable box circuit 2
I remember when tech stuff looked really cool. Stylishly sleek, with lights that blinked and buttons that created an adventure of discovery, the onset of Razzle-dazzle.

It was a moment that began in awe and quickly became a love-fest; well defined and vetted. Back then technology was exciting and ultra- thin. And that was part of its appeal; that “James Bond. Double “O”, Seven” kind of sleekness.

So cool that the company’s sales department was genuinely impressed by the brushed stainless steel faceplate, the chrome detailing and the black trim along the base. The knobs were replaced with rectangle push buttons, not the round ones. And the caveat of course was the bells and whistles, the added improvements to change one’s lifestyle.

It was awesome! Not only did cable improve television reception, but it came with a remote control and the cable box had a digital clock attached. The clock worked seamlessly and adjusted itself to daylight savings time. And we used it to set every other clock in the house by!

I’ve been a cable customer with the same cable provider for over 20 years. Last week they called and offered me a free upgrade. I like the word “free”. They assured me that there would be no hidden fees, I was simply being rewarded for being a loyal customer. Woot!

“Loyalty,” I smiled, has its perks.

A week later, a new smart box was installed. The technician gave me a quick tutorial, answered a few pertinent questions, and smiled.

Unfortunately the new cable box– a small black square that looks nothing like the old technology, doesn’t have a clock; the beloved time keeper of Day Light Savings in my home is gone!

Sure the new box has potential and it’s on-line to perform with the coming Internet of Things (IoT) and “Machine2Machine” (m2m) technology, but I’m not excited.

I miss the eye appeal; the technology is there but it doesn’t look good. Is there an app for that?

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, cable, gadget, Internet, ipad, tech, technology, Telecommunications, Uncategorized

Technological Glee

sunglasses 4

For years, the term 20/20 referred to one’s vision, as measured by an eye chart; those rows of random letters, beneath a large capital letter “E”, which was taped to a wall.

20/20 beyond the occasional reference to hindsight, is also a timeline plotted on a sheet of graphing paper; expressed by those using the Gregorian calendar as 2020 A.D. it’s nearly here.

If there was a tape measure for mankind’s growth, it would show eons as decades and 2020 would be a milestone, a place to pause and take notes. And perhaps to let the retractable tape measure snap back into place.

Ten years ago, there was speculation of what 2020 A.D. would bring. It was amazing, mind-boggling technologies were suggested. Like moon mining and round-trip commercial space travel. Bio chips and synthetic human brains, paper thin television screens and all of it is nearly possible and none of it is amazing, or surprising, or extraordinary.

The Digital Age, with its accelerated technology, is a candy store and we’re like children. Lined up and ready to buy as much as we can carry. Our shiny coins are spent much too quickly, as we run up and down life’s aisles in technological glee. Our eyes wide with possibilities miss the connectivity of things, not asking deep questions, like “How much will it cost? How disruptive will it be?”

It’s all coming in so fast. Some people will whisper “Wow” and I’ll be among them.

It’s nearly here, this 2020 A.D. a date that we saw coming, without seeing. We’ll need correctable lenses, rose-colored 3D Google glasses to start recording how it was; just in case we need to put things back in place.

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Filed under Apps, Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, gadget, profitability, technology, Telecommunications, Television, Vision

The Window to Virtuality

Womens window 4
The window to data has opened and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

Like the Industrial Age before it, the Age of Technology is full of innovation. And it’s all happening very quickly, and gives merit to the adage “If it can be imagined, then it’s possible.”

The future that was set into motion, doesn’t care whether we prepared for it or not. Each generation has been given the world, “As Is” with a bucket of nuts and bolts and a set of rudimentary tools; and incomplete history books, that substitute and interchange individual greatness for truths.

The notion of getting things right the first time seems impossible; as does the approach of taking it slow and steady. Unlike Aesop’s Fable, “Hare and The Tortoise”, there will be few winners among those who lag behind, or who are too slow to keep pace in the Age of Technology.

We see society changing so rapidly that words like “virtuality” and terms like “social media” have been added into our vocabularies without foreword or discussion. Clouds and Fogs have taken on added definitions, and Big Data, is exactly as it implies, only more of it than what had been supposed when the term was first introduced.

And if it sounds like a storm brewing, it just might be and at the epicenter is social change. Society will have to adapt and must adjust quickly to the disruption.

Already we’re seeing the disruption to the traditional livery and taxi-cab businesses, with new upstarts like Uber and Lyft, carving out not a slice at a time, but huge chunks. Traditional funding has also changed. Crowd-Sourcing and companies like Kickstarter, has successfully launched upstarts. And yes, it does help when you’re not seeking to be funded by old establishment banking systems that founded the horse and buggy and stagecoaches, when you want to bust into the industry!

Interestingly, letting go of old innuendos, and outdated traditions is even more difficult, at a time when our natural instinct is to maintain the status quo, that is to cling onto what’s familiar and held dear. But that’s exactly what has to happen, this purging of society so the new can be integrated. It’s not always achieved by brute force or by the slower, art of persuasion.

Social media is a part of the Age of Technology, mostly without precedent. The internet can impact change, without a bullhorn or a stadium, or the power of a microphone, millions of people can gather and share; to create one voice and be overwhelmingly heard.

We witnessed its power when women outraged against misogyny, used Twitter and through the power of a “hashtag”, used their touch screens to send a message that was heard; the beginning of change.

So there is a future. The window to data has opened out to it and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, social media, tech, technology

Smart Technology Isn’t Osmosis

14 class
We embrace smart technology as though owning a smart device will in effect, make us smarter. As if by magic, call it the osmosis of gadgetry, we’ll improve upon ourselves. Well truth is we can, but generally that’s not how it works.

It can and it should, but instead we’re becoming less focused and we’re losing our abilities and our skills. The point of GPS is to guide us along roads and highways, not to lead us by the hand. But that’s exactly what’s done, and we’re losing our ability to read a road map. It isn’t an art form; it’ a skillset. And we might lose it, unless we make a conscious effort to maintain our skills. Because the mind, like an unexercised body loses tone and becomes less efficient.

It begins with the small stuff, like numbers. We use to know our own and other important telephone numbers, but now we store them on our smart device. Leaving ourselves vulnerable to a partially charged or dead battery; or worse when we lose or misplace them.

But I recall a different time, one in which children studied and knew their telephone numbers by heart, as if it were a sign of passage. Once memorized, they could go all the way downtown. The furthest any of them had ever been without an adult, alone and away from home. This was an achievement!

But things change, and now the stakes are higher.

American society is dumbing-down, becoming lax when we most need to stay sharp. Technology requires aptitude, not just as it’s being invented, but also as an end-user. Adults need to pull up a chair and learn old lessons over again, how to flex our memory so that we can smartly use the technology.

With our minds clear and focused, as it manipulates two digits: 1’s and 0’s.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Code, gadget, social media, tech, technology, Uncategorized

Like Asking Graphene To Dance

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My foot was already in the shoe when my phone went off.  So I missed the call.  And I was filled with guilt. 

Not so long ago I was free.   I wasn’t tethered to my cellphone; back then “free” really meant free.  And the word wasn’t just used as a reply when asked about your weekend plans or the elated outcry after divorce proceedings. 

We thought everyone was entitled to freedom, and we blindly fought wars to that end.   But the world has changed; mostly our roles in it.

And having become a society of the “entitled”, we’ve also blindly given things up.  For me it’s been my freedom to dine out, to dance, to socialize without interruption.  Technology it seems prospers when the least amount of resistance is applied.  It doesn’t matter whether you get it, you’re getting it or you’re one of the one’s who already had it; it’s gone.

Because here’s the thing, technology is getting smarter and we’re getting older.  And technology doesn’t age.  Welcome to the Age of Technology.

Our grandparents wouldn’t have liked it in this world so much.  They didn’t like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World either, too strange.  But that’s what the generation gap is all about; it’s only strange because it’s new.  Meanwhile the gap is widening, because the technology is getting smarter. 

Recently, I spoke with Don Fitts of AARP TEK, Life @50+ and he talked about hands on tech learning, where the youth will teach grandparents how to use day to day gadgets, like tablets.  How it will bring two generations together, and I thought brilliant!

Luckily our children, the offspring of our entitlement, have greatly benefitted from not being intimidated by technology.   In fact, they’re laid back, which allows the student to now become the perfect teacher. 

For me, there’s something nostalgic about our youth working with older citizens; like a Norman Rockwell magazine cover.  A universal moment in a commonplace situation; a snapshot that shows the connectivity between us all.

Truth is a Smartphone doesn’t by osmosis make any of us, anymore smart.  I can’t fix an iPad or the camera on my daughter’s Android phone.  

Which brings me to that missed phone call, as quiet as it’s kept; I’m happy I missed my daughter’s call.  For in that brief moment of time, I was free and I didn’t feel inadequate. 

 

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, gadget, tech, technology

Booming Tech: A Silver Mardi Gras

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Rest easy, there’s no silver tsunami coming, the catch phrase coined to describe the coming of age of 76.4 million American Baby Boomers.  It’s not coming because we’re not your grandparents @ 50+. 

Think more along the lines of a Silver Mardi Gras— Silver beads, shirts on, tablets and smartphones up. 

We Baby Boomers are the offspring of great social changes, the Civil Rights Movements and Women’s Equality.  We don’t march, we dance and it’s a lively beat; kind of like steel drums.  

Years of formal education, from kindergarten to college didn’t teach us how to grow old and die.  In fact, none of us mastered in the art of dying or its companion set– rolling over and playing dead. 

Why would we?  We’re having too much fun.   So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re still vibrant members of our communities; that we’re educated, experienced and still have a little money to spend on tech toys and cool gadgets.  Especially tech tools that make our lives easier.

Last week, I attended the Washington Post Live- Booming Tech Forum on technology and Baby Boomers that was held in Boston.  The opening remarks made by AARP’s Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Hollis “Terry” Bradwell III set the tone, when he affectionately spoke of the Etch-A-Sketch toy, as the “iPad of our day”.  He got that right, it was!   Other speakers, like MIT’s AgeLab Director, Joseph Coughlin spoke of age disruption as being “young not youthful” and had me thinking that’s the place I want to be.  

Michael Cantor, Chief Medical Officer @ New England Quality Care Alliance spoke of technology for life, the coming of electronic medical records, wellness and longevity.  While Geri Brin, Founder and President faboverfifty.com spoke of women entrepreneurs on the web, startups and growing up on the internet.  Jeanne Sullivan Co-Founder of StarVest Partners spoke of the Startup Age in a tech world and they were exuberant with the very real possibilities of life @ 50+.  

Representatives from two tech generations, Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer @ Harvard University and Zachary Hamed, Designer, respectively Generation X and the Millennium Generation weighed in on continuing and protecting the Tech Age.  While J.P. O’Rourke, columnist for The Daily Beast and author of The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way… And It Wasn’t My Fault… And I’ll Never Do It Again.  Discussed what’s wrong with the Technology Age, a little too glad that he wouldn’t be around for the fall out. 

With each speaker I became giddy with hope, everything reinforced what I already knew, that is we Baby Boomers are relevant in the Tech Age.  We’re mostly healthy, vibrant members of society, still active in our communities, still making contributions and willing to volunteer to improve on this world.   Why wouldn’t we? 

We were born into a world with our eyes opened, sometimes pried and held open to injustices.   There was no veil of delusion that hid institutionalized prejudice and discrimination from us.  Instead, we viewed sweeping changes on our television sets–  excitedly, we watched mankind land on the moon; and in horror, we watched a U.S. President be assassinated.  Confused, we watched U.S. soldiers being killed in Viet Nam and shocked, we watched fellow American citizens being hosed and beat down because they wanted to sit down at a counter.  It was a new world, full of social change and it swept us up along with it.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” with inter-racial dating, wasn’t simply a movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, it was our very real world being portrayed in film.  I know, because my father has blue eyes. 

So here’s the thing, there’s no silver tsunami coming; that would be too destructive.  Think more of a Silver Mardi Gras with silver beads, shirts on, smartphones and tablets up!

 

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, Consumers, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, tech, technology