Category Archives: Baby boomers

Technology: Can We Live Without Plug-n-Play?

If not for Plug n Play

Sliding rulers always cause me to pause, if not for them where would we be?  USB technology is like that.

There was a time, when pocket protectors were like badges.  Mostly worn by those with above average intelligence, who felt comfortable with numbers.  People who owned a lot of pens, that wrote in multiple colors.  People who didn’t use a calculator to figure out the circumference of a circle, or how much to tip the waiter.  But who used a calculator to confirm answers that they already reached in their heads.

Life was simple and a pop quiz, was meant to gauge how much we knew, and what more we needed to learn.   It wasn’t quantum physics and the classroom wasn’t a prison.  The library, public and private were sanctuaries, where books evoked our imagination and inspired our adventures.

We believed in the world’s potential and we believed in ourselves.  We freely admitted limited knowledge of cyber kinetics, robotics and transportation, but were excited by the possibility!  Technology then, as it is now was exciting, it fueled innovation without teaching itself.

But something happened.  It may have always been there, nestled in the corners but when technology mixed into our daily lives, something went awry.  At first it was subtle, we interacted with automated teller machines (ATMs), we had always struggled with balancing the checking book, never enough money so nothing new there.  But then we pretended as if we knew and feign a smile as if we fully understood what we had only partially comprehended.

Our approach to life changed, people with the pocket protectors, became revered techies.  We eagerly numbered one or two among our friends and casually coaxed them out of basements and away from garages.  Hoping to invite them into our homes to take a look at our new personal computer that was just sitting there… unattached.  We quickly understood that geeks as we had called them, had a natural ability to delve into computer processing, and they easily interacted with connector pins, parallel ports, ROM and RAM.  They knew the jargon and could install drivers that made it go!

Where we had cursed a cursor that blinked and got hung up, the techie patiently typed and the computer responded.  Again, technology was exciting!  So we pretended we understood his instructions as we waved goodbye at the door, but deep down inside we felt hopelessness.  And then, before we got to admit that we didn’t get it, technology changed again.

It just went on about its business without the masses.  Rather than dumb down, tech developers just reversed the process and called a CPU a black box.  Convinced us that we didn’t need to know what was inside, that it would work and we humans would be very efficient when we used it, and so we did and they were right.  Hello World!

The Universal Serial Bus was a game changer, literally connecting us to our devices.  The thumb drive to the universal Plug-n-Play opened up vistas and we all became proficient at the same time.  We didn’t have to learn anything, no instructions, no lessons and no quizzes.  And we all started to relax, new technology has that affect on us.  Lulled into a false sense of security.  We created new words by simply adding an adjective to a noun– SmartTech: Smartphone, Smarthome, Smartwatch and Smartcities.   But where would we be without the power of USB Plug-N-Play?

Next week, there’ll be a Pop quiz…    hope we’re prepared.

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Filed under Baby boomers, PlugnPlay, SmartTech, technology

Yesterday’s Tech Now

#Tech Study

Nostalgia.  That word aims to impress, as if every bit of our past is glorious.  Funny, one person’s account of the way it was, seems fairly different from another person’s account.   And those days, really were College Daze.

Technology is changing our perception, what was won’t be and what is, isn’t ours to reminisce over.   Without such strong convictions, our traditions will seem less important.  The past will be less impressive and old authority less oppressive.

The games we play are changing us, free of religion and politics, we ‘re allowed the joy of winning a trillion jewels as we embark onto the next level.  There seems an infinite amount of possibilities and we’re neither bored nor frustrated by this; which is strange.   Stranger still, is the fact that we practice at these games without being made to or told that we must.

We become deeply engaged in an activity that requires time, concentration and we pay to play.  Sure the payment isn’t monetary, so we’re less worried.  But to think, so many finger swipes and so much data, from IP addresses to our likes and dislikes.  Data gathered stored and analyzed, while we play Jewel Hunt!

That’s powerful stuff.

And one day, that stuff will tell our story.  The games we played, what we liked and disliked and who were our friends.  All of this information will be preserved and live-streamed to us,  on a platform called “Our Memories”.    Telling us what we struggled to forget, our stories manipulated into ready fill order:  “iNostalgic”.

We are a changing society, today’s mores and values have replaced our ancestor’s principled beliefs.   So curated arts, culture, and education that was once spoon fed will be outdated.  It’ll be replaced by new inventions, new research and opened to new interpretation.  Long ago vetted information will now be less useful, but technology can’t protect us from ourselves.

Ironically, to enjoy the good, like the orange glow of an Autumn afternoon, we might have to admit the human mind’s ability to filter our memories is positive.  There’s pleasantry associated with remembering the regal day, without the total recall of the argument that preceded the moment, that left him alone, seated in a picture window depicted in a print by Norman Rockwell.   Mercifully, emotions like pain aren’t remembered verbatim.

The Digital Age will have no boundaries, and our memories will be streamed to us intact.  Yours will look eerily similar to mine and mine to his.   Hopefully it’ll be worthwhile, like watching a replay of your favorite sport.  By watching it, perhaps we’ll discern what we did right, what we did wrong and what we could do better.   And then like the games we play, we can practice to get rewards and maybe even reach the next level.

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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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Technology & Nana Launchers

# Its the Cape

If the cape fits, shouldn’t it be mandatory that we wear it?

It takes a certain kind of human-being to open their arms to super changes.  To go from upright walking to riding then to flying: it’s not for the faint hearted.

Lately, society has been changing by leaps and bounds, Google moments that snatch our breath away and Facebook likes that remind us we’re not alone.

We frown upon divisive behavior and prefer to be more alike, than different.   And social media has a gauge that we can measure ourselves.  So yesterday’s popular vote isn’t relevant in next year’s campaign, because what’s good for the gander wasn’t successfully proposed by the goose.

Technology is like that, it identifies a problem and swoops in and fixes it!  Sometimes the changes are glaring and sometimes subtle, but lives are often better when the problem is solved.  Well, at least that’s how it ought to work.

And for the most part, it works well, because technology doesn’t care about special interest groups.   And despite doomsayers, naysayers and the Luddites, the world has benefitted, that is we’ve all managed to survive as the digital world turns!  So why wouldn’t we hold onto technology’s cape strings?

Next year is a Leap Year; it’s also an election year.  It wasn’t designed that way, but nonetheless our timing is impeccable, so after we vote we’ll have an extra day to agonize over our choices, presidential election years are like that, offering hope.

Which makes me think of superheroes and technology, because being hopeful allows the imagination to soar and gives birth to new realities.  What once seemed unattainable is within reach, a wish can come true and it’s silly to fretter away a dream.

After all, this isn’t our grandfather’s America!  There’ll be no rocking in a chair that’s been set out on the front porch.  Whittling away time, is not what we’ll do.   Besides we’ve done away with the front porch and opted for the side deck and patio umbrellas.  It only makes sense that we’ve also ditched the rocking chair.

Now we have overstuffed Lazyboy chairs.  Equipped with massagers and levers that when pulled, will activate the seat cushion to tilt upward at an angle that gets the sitter comfortably to their feet.  Now that’s technology!  I like to call it a Nana launcher.   I’ve imagined sneaking up behind Nana and pulling that lever, to send her airborne, flying across the room!

Then, all she’ll need will be a cape; one size fits all & unisex, just like technology.

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Technology, My Superhero

# super tech

Heroes, where would we be without them?

Not every hero has a cape, or a super power.  We know this, because over millennium our heroes were depicted in mythology and in rituals without suits of armor. Their one common denominator was in assisting mankind to get along in this journey of life.  A task that continues to be plagued with perils, some self-imposed and others, calamities of nature.

The power then, as it is now, is “Hope”, embossed with faith and sprinkled with self-discovery, that each burden is itself an exercise of endurance. Strengthening not only our muscles, but our resolve that is then carried over from one generation to the next. As if determination and cooperation were progressive strands of DNA, adding meaning and validating life itself.

Our technology has done that, made it sweeter, by adding comforts and lifting us up, literally. Whether we’re in an elevator or on an airplane, technology has been that superhero and established our worthiness.

And our stories, passed along in the oral tradition or in written form help to further the legends. It’s the art of storytelling, embellishing the truth and creating the rite of passage and instilling the hopefulness “if he could do it, then she can too”.

Sitting around a camp fire further connects us with the ominous, while yes there is darkness there is also light.  That we have the ability to create fire. We must be thoughtful and mindful, because there is an inherent weakness to reckless behavior — which too often harms our development and the hero within.

The truth is, human development has not changed from ancient days to this one; not one iota…

So we need our storytelling to focus on other aspects of life, such as love and frailties.   We like our literature, from Chauncer to Shakespeare to depict our better more civilized selves with consequences.   These remain relevant from generation to generation, mostly because heroes aren’t limited by time or the imagination.

But we are.  Time is not our friend.

Lately, I’ve realized how empowering a pair of eyeglasses can be, as time had weakened eyeball muscle and dried tissue.  My once keen eyesight strained to read my printed words, until Whoosh! Technology swooped in!  It did so without prejudice, bias or judgment.

My eyeglasses never once asked my gender, or my age or my race!  They just did the task they were created to do,  that is they assisted me in seeing the world again.   The images weren’t distorted and the outlines weren’t vague.  That’s what technology does!

I’m excited about Wearables and the Internet of Things, they’ll have tremendous power.  Even passé technology, those that came in with great anticipation and petered out, like Googleglass and Segway will have a great come back!

I’m reminded that a superhero doesn’t have to wear a cape, but if it fits..

Times have changed. We live in a world of logos, marketing and branding. There’s no veil that separates the contrasts between poverty and prosperity. No filter to block the wrong from the right, or the ego from overpowering the id.

We need our heroes, flying is highly desirable, but we’ll take walking ones. The every day kind of hero that looks like you, or me or she… Who sits and eats with us. Our heroes can be basketball’s slam dunkers, baseball’s home run sluggers, teachers or marathon runners.  They can be businessmen, religious men, Olympic swimmers, exotic dancers or cancer survivors.  (More of the latter please.)

The point is, we need heroes, because I’m growing old and I can’t fight all these bad guys by myself.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Google Glass, Google Glasses, tech, technology, Wearables, Women

Digital Tick-Tock

$ grandfather clock

Time is soundless and a tick-tock isn’t a greeting, because time is not your friend.

For all of our technology and digital wizardry, we haven’t figured out a way to stop it or to slow time down.  So, we’ve injected a sound, the tick-tock of a clock, like odorizing natural gas, so it’s traceable and we can acknowledge its passing.

Clock makers have long mastered the art of gears, carving hand shafts that mesh with trains of wheels to power movements.   They’ve calibrated scales and weights to moon dials, to sync calendar years and create a lovely world stage to visualize time; for our appreciation.

We’ve watched the movements, the unfaltering mechanics of a sun dial– a grandfather clock, Big Ben—and they always do precisely the same thing, track the passage of time.   And even when the device fails, it isn’t because time has stopped.

So, we have to acknowledge those marks on a face– hash marks, numbers, roman numerals–  and wrinkles of the skin, they count.   They tell the story of life, that a second has become part of a minute and that minute part of an hour, which all together add up to a day.  The accumulation of time’s parts become years, and onward until time is measured in decades and centuries.  Never ending…

Technology can’t alter time, but it can keep us part of it, making us fashionable.  Miniature clocks made into wearables for dainty wrists and nimble fingers; fancy watches hung around our necks, or worn on our chests, like medals.

I think about these things now, because I’ve grown older.  But I’m not my mother’s grandmother and I won’t wear my hair in a bun on top of my head like a pincushion and rock my way towards some biological clock, as if death were a milestone!

I stopped wearing a watch.  Time Management 101. 

 

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Free Flowing Technology

1 what if faucet

Unlike a water faucet, once turned on technology can’t be turned off.   And maybe that’s a good thing.

This is my 50th post here on WordPress.   And while there’s no award, no special dinner and no time to acknowledge this accomplishment, this post will be a moment to pause…

Technical journeys tend to begin with a free flowing dream.  It’s exciting and at first seems unstoppable and predestined.  Of course, as it moves forward through a series of obstacles, both real and imagined that defy logic, motivations change, but technology moves ahead.

It’s in the unscrewing of a metal plate found underneath a music box.  It’s in the portable transistor radio, with exposed capacitors and printed circuit boards, soldered and fingered by a kid that’s exploring the world from a rusty wrought-iron fire escape.

Safe.

Despite a gender obstructive environment, I managed to climb up a telephone pole past my mother’s lot in life.  From there, I enjoyed the view and never felt a need to climb a mountain, because technology always moves society from idea to idea and from gadget to gadget and improves life.  Everywhere.

Today, I’m left wondering what if a little girl’s aptitude had surpassed her curiosity and what if, that natural tendency had been fueled with guidance and attention to detail?

This post will not have cleverly inserted hyperlinks, but instead will casually mention my digital technology awareness that came from and could never have been achieved without gears, switches and analog circuitry that faded, old-timey technology.

I’m an OG, an Original Gal who was born into a male dominated world, who went out and took on a man’s job as a technician.  Maybe, perhaps, just maybe my career helped open a path for another little girl.   So, here I am way past 50, staying up late and writing with a sharpened No. 2 pencil that was tucked behind my ear, for when I set down my wrench and screwdriver.

These days, I’m engaged in soft discussions of encouragement; slow thoughtful development rather than the quick movements, that I can no longer sustain.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, because experience in a tech world has upside, there’s always room for growth and innovation.

Next week I’m going to begin scouting locations for a pink lemonade stand.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender Equality, Girls

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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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, facebook, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, Internet, small business, technology, Twitter

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

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