Category Archives: Internet

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

BigData’s Invisible Hand

binoculars bird eyes2

Technology is wonderful, especially for us, the nation of consumers.

We have a flair for commercialism, created by businesses that once mailed catalogs to our homes, for free.  Thoroughly enticed by their colorful pages of merchandise, we became browsers and took turns flipping through the pages, earmarking the most viewed pages with sugarplum wishes.

It comes as no surprise, that as the holidays approach, technology’s Internet of Things is offering a smorgasbord of possibilities to further delight us, and to make our lives better!   Some finger swipes across a touchscreen, from social media to products purchased to services rendered, will organically link us together, without a common purpose.

Because in a digital world, engaging impressions like Selfies, Tweets and Likes, will be collected and gathered.

Bigdata, the invisible hand of real time analytics, will store, sell and re-distribute free consumer swipes of  creature habits once unattainable due to privacy rights.  Now freely associated with intimate interests, it will link us into smaller demographic groups and create marketing tools in “Consumer Nation”.

Disruption is good when it separates the mediocre, that which isn’t sustainable from the bad, that which might’ve been overlooked.   Sometimes, being lulled into a false sense of security isn’t the worse of it; things like changing your password each month, might be the least effective thing to be done.  Not because of peeking eyes, but because we keep forgetting the new password.   Use your big eyes to see a bird’s eye view.

We are, after all a nation growing older and that’s another issue…  pitfall.

But at some point, when new technology has replaced all of our passwords with retina and fingerprint identification, the old patterns that made us feel secure, will also come back.   Cataracts and wrinkles might undo what’s achieved, but by then we might be backwards compatible.  Bringing back the need for stronger passwords.

Disruption can be like that…

It’s like being asleep in your warm bed, having a lovely little dream.  When suddenly, you’re violently shaken and forced awake by screams, “the house is on fire!”    You’re not mad, you’re grateful.  It’s that scenario that makes you realize that disruption can be a good thing. That the dream, as lovely as it was, was simply in your head… the same place where technology began.

Today’s petri dish for successful startups with new products and new ways to do old things is a joy.   So internet sales rejoice, there’ll be less cars on the roads; less pollution in the air and gas prices will go down.  Less travel on the road equates to more time that we can stay home and watch television, mindlessly swiping our touchscreens and learning the words to catchy jingles.

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Filed under Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, facebook, gadget, Internet, Internet of Things, Marketability, small business, social media, tech, technology, Telephone, Television, Twitter

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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Filed under AARP, facebook, Internet, photography, Selfie, social media, Twitter

What’s Under The Hood

45 iphone
Last weekend, I passed a line of shoppers outside an Apple store and who, by all indications, were patiently waiting to purchase the new iPhone 6. And I’m not a rocket scientist, but I could tell that they weren’t newbies.

It made me wonder, why someone who already owned a perfectly good iPhone would stand in line for, what basically amounted to another smartphone. I paused to look at more than a hundred people, seated and standing calmly in a most organized way, without a police officer in sight, it was extraordinary. And from what I overheard, not nary a complaint among them.

Every now and then a customer would exit the store carrying a bag, a box and smiling down at a new iPhone. It was then, that the line came to life! The onlookers would nod in appreciation and in mock-like fashion give an invisible fist pump; that encouraging gesture of an eager beaver coexisting with an over-achiever; as they both experience a moment of bliss.

I was compelled to watch, as they satisfied their need for immediate gratification; this wasn’t simply the result of a successful advertising campaign, or the end game of a marketing ploy. No, this was genuine, like eating dinner and being satisfied with the meal.

This was great branding, a well-made and well-defined product. Worthy of our attention; technology and cars seem to have that effect, product loyalty and product integrity. And while one doesn’t ensure the likelihood of the other’s existence, they can and do make people form lines; like this one, in which consumers wait to be one of the first to get their hands on the product. So they can play with it and love it. New technology is like that, shiny and inviting. But if you look under the hood, you’ll see it hasn’t got a heart to love any of us back.

As I walked away smiling, I knew that I’d be purchasing a new phone soon.

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Filed under cellphone, Consumers, Internet, ipad, iPhone, technology, Telephone

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

Virtually, You Are Here

world 31
If you are reading these words, then you are, by default here.
An effective writer can do that, through the clever use of words, similes and metaphors. By carefully stacking letters like blocks of code, until BLAM! You are here.

Reading creates a state of mind, without circuitry, or silicon, or bits and bytes of data organically designed. Like technology, it fulfills a purpose, sharing and entertaining passages that tell a story and “Once upon a time” is the crossing line, the threshold. But sometimes the reading material doesn’t begin like a fairytale.
Sometimes, it’s boring and repetitious and in our rush forward to all the great apps that the digital world has to offer, we hastily finger swipe our touchscreen and assume, the wording to be correct. Because we’ve become familiar to and insensitive to legal verbiage, the Terms of Use:

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING TERMS CAREFULLY. BY CLICKING “SIGN UP” ON THE SITE OR BY DOWNLOADING, INSTALLING OR OTHERWISE ACCESSING OR USING THE APP(S) OR THE SERVICE, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…
For the next six or seven paragraphs, the font will grow smaller and pretty much, it will read like all the other Terms of Use, and all written with capital letters—the equivalency of screaming in a hell and damnation kind of way– we’re “BOUND BY THE FOLLOWING TERMS, INCLUDING THE PRIVACY POLICY.
And this, the usage of terms like Privacy Policy seems benign, and so it might be when used with apps; but there’s another side with far-reaching consequences, like the information stored on our things, like cellphones, tablets and soon to be Internet of Things (IoT).

There’s value to the human signature and a quiet elegance to being able to write in cursive. It’s not an art form, it’s a skillset.

Some of the world’s greatest documents, The Magna Carter, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, each a signed manifesto are reminders of the human condition, and hopefulness, as we press on.

There’s no lasting image to a swipe of the finger, it just can’t compare to the swirling ink of a pen. It’s little things like signatures that we need to hold onto. Especially as we enter the Internet of Things (IoT). When machines talk to machines (m2m) and massive amounts of data are transmitted and analyzed in real time. We may need the simple things to remain simple, like ink and it’s staying power.

By then, privacy may no longer be sustainable. Or attainable, as profitable markets shift, change and the economy adapts. What happens then? Will it matter?

The world is smaller than it was, thankfully we have social media. And in a virtual world, it brings us together. You are here.

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Filed under Big Data, facebook, Google, GPS, Internet, Marketability, Privacy, profitability, social media, tech, technology, Twitter

Big Data Uses Syntax for Storytelling

Big Data Revere 1Big data is coming! Big Data is coming!” Where’s our Paul Revere? Who’s galloping down our asphalt streets shouting the warning?

There should be some announcement on television. The network media should make use of their cherished Emergency Broadcast signal and bleep us to attention, so we might know: Big Data is coming!

We need to know and understand that we can’t control Big Data; that our success will be to accept the fact that we can’t protect all the data. Collaboration is the key; the sharing of information so that it won’t be so overwhelming. This will be the period of adjustment, so our minds can get around it and adopt the technology.

It’s been said that American society is wobbling, it wasn’t just Big Data that set this in motion, but it’s the Age of Technology. The parity, its impact, its failings and its successes; all the little bits that go into life and how we live ought to know that society is wobbling towards change. That’s what happens with big footsteps, things get shaken up and come loose and change.

I believe that it’s going to be good. Because that’s human nature, our survival instinct and it allows us the luxury of hopefulness. So, my feelings of excitement far outweigh any misgivings I might have. I know three things: A) Big Data is so vast that it can’t possibly be protected. B) Not all of it needs to be protected. C) Privacy is malleable; particularly the little guy’s privacy. That is mine, but I can live with this truth.

In 1995, when my daughters were little, I told them stories about dinosaurs. We went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and stood beside the massive bones. And they saw how big the dinosaurs were and how infinitesimal we humans were compared to them.

In that humbling experience, we were all a little grateful that they were no longer around. We read stories of how they became extinct and how mankind could never have co-existed with them. A story that was awe-inspiring and entertainingly depicted in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park movies. But the take away was the legacy that the dinosaurs left behind, fossil fuel. Without which there would have been no Industrial Age and our present, Technology Age.

And that’s the point, that as Big Data uses syntaxes and processors get cheaper and cheaper, it’s going to get much bigger. And we humans will stand alongside and look up at, as if it were an old relic. All of our information gathered and stored. Biometrics like face recognition, iris and finger print identification, processed so that it mimics us and appears that machines are running things.

A storytale for the ages and it’s exciting!

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Filed under Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, Internet, Privacy, social media, Syntax, technology

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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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Internet, Privacy, Twitter, Women