Category Archives: tech

Tech Enlightened

$ Lightbulb

Progress! By definition, smart technology implies intelligence and enlightenment.  Used responsibly, it improves life on a global scale and it begs the question, what happens when a lightbulb is unscrewed?

Once upon a time, people worried that electricity would leak from an empty socket.   And we can understand how they might’ve reached that conclusion, it seems reasonable.

Most great technology that improves life also has the potential to be harmful. There’s a dark side that if left unmonitored could present a real danger. From x-rays to Big Data, we’ve become increasingly powerful and vulnerable all at once.

Technology has become incredibly small, invisible to most microscopes and yet, quantifiably humongous. Usurping our lives but also improving it, making everything we do in real-time tangible and with results that can be analyzed, understood and used for good.

And all the while, our footprints can be tracked, stacked and gathered.  How we do what we do, when we do it, where we’re doing it, analyzed and visualized.  The right questions asked, the algorithm applied and the data collected.

Smart cities that measure pot holes and compute their own capacity-duress until repair, can schedule that pavement crew and reroute traffic, anticipate patterns and give curbside bus arrival updates, all in real-time.   Smart cars can intuitively not start when their drivers are inebriated, and likewise won’t start when they’re not road worthy, offering alternate modes of transportation, in some Uber- Lyft social good package, for free!

Smart  smart technology won’t lie, won’t hide, but what if it could be programmed to monitor the good it does?   Like fear is good.

Being cautious doesn’t mean we won’t proceed, just that we’re mindful in its use, the way we might lean over a window sill; seeing so much and yet careful not to fall out.  we can have the great technology and maintain a survival technique, the flight and fight adrenaline that propels us into action, not darkness.

In a digital world that’s spinning incredibly fast, having a sense of fear might preserve a culture.   Might remind us that we’re a learned society, one that has long been enlightened and free of walls.

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Data, innovation, tech, 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby boomers, Gender Equality, tech, technology

The Pursuit of Smarty Pants

#smarty pants d

Smarty pants!  Not so long ago that label was reserved for sarcasm and usually accompanied by some form of bullying.   It wasn’t exactly an endearment that made you the “Big Girl On Campus”

But what if?

Much of what’s happening in our digital world happens so fast, that before it’s completely absorbed, we’re onto the next thing.   What was once generally accepted as taboo, is added to our “To Do” lists.   And jumbled together, what’s derogatory is the new compliment!   Hello.

When it won’t fit neatly into our compartments, we stuff the data into storage space.   Renting clouds is like that, from standard to hybrids.  They’ve become a necessity, and what we once paid for, is now free, a supposed perk of disruptive innovation.

But remember Blockbuster Videos, the store that rented out our favorite games and videos?  It was quickly replaced by Netflix’s streaming videos on-demand.  And once upon a time, we didn’t blink twice to be charged for an email account, that too became passé.   Acronyms can be like that, easily replacing an “L”  for an “A”, making us laugh out loud at  America On-Line.

Still, deep down inside, we know that nothing is free.   We’ve simply exchanged one thing for something else, the latest commodity, our personal data.

Facebook recently had a judgment made against them, by the EU court in Europe, on a privacy case.   A case with such huge ramifications that it’s most likely a triple threat- dare, of the mammoth size, where there’ll be no clear winners.

It seems that the digital world doesn’t turn in a predetermined static-free orbit, after all.  But instead it’s in a constant state of flux.    Laws written fifteen years ago have become out dated, transcontinental e-commerce that was once all the rage, is now the brunt of outrage.   And it’s hard to predict which way it goes.

Because technology just keeps moving, incapable of feeling, it’s capable of separating good people from their data.   The word open platform doesn’t always lead to bug fixes, or great results.   Sometimes, it leads to new ways to discover breaches to be breached.

And budgets spent to fix what’s discovered, breaks relations and leads to distrust and clandestine meetings.  A cycle, that the Internet Of Things might avert, because its capable of firewalling data in that machine to machine way, without being paranoid.   Making ulterior motives apparent and functioning more efficiently.

But first… we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time.

As we pull our digital pants on, we’ll know what data is collected and dispersed.   Data collected will be gathered by how hard we pull today versus yesterday.  Whether that movement was swift or jerky; and if our grip around the waist band was strong or weak.  And was the fit loose or snug?  Things like body temperature and amino acid level inside, read by an inseam.  Our diet adjusted automatically, and accordingly.

Oh, and the best part will be the multi-functional zipper.  The head-end that communicates to the internet of things– Our refrigerator and our coffee machines.  Simultaneously turned on, preferred sources of information will stream in real-time.   Our location, the day’s weather, morning traffic and news.  The pharmacy notified, pre-written prescriptions filled and the car’s heated seats, turned on.

While there’s a lot that might go Topsy-Turvy, there’s an awful lot that might just go right.   The true pursuit of happiness in a pair of smarty pants!

Nicely done, aging in place.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Data, Internet of Things, tech, technology, Wearables

In Pursuit of Perpetual Motion

# Forget Tech

Perpetual Motion, it seems that would be the ultimate of all technology. That unlike life itself, a thing would go on and on.

Since the 13th century, when the first wood engraving of a perpetual motion machine was drawn (though never successfully made), the concept of a machine that would run forever has been elusive to mankind.  But why, we’ve had other dreams that seemed equally unattainable and yet, they came true.

Take for instance, man’s trip to the moon.  A theory of manned flights and space travel, where rockets went into dark space and returned, safely!

And that’s exactly what Wernher von Braun was able to achieve. One of the world’s leading rocket engineers von Braun convinced the world that he could place a manned rocket ship onto the moon, and return him back to earth!

It must’ve been a huge stretch of imagination, cemented with a firm faith and equal parts of an astronaut’s courage and bravery.

Even now, it’s an amazing feat.   But back then, Wow!

Not only convincing people that it could be done, but to actually determine space worthy durable materials and to develop multi-stage rocketry, that would be both recoverable and reusable.   What’s truly mind boggling is that he accomplished this with theories, calculations of the moon’s travel, its gravitational pull on the ship, all speculative because duh… no one had been on the moon!

But that’s exactly what technology did, it freed us of earth’s orbital pull.  Once thrust into space, it compensated for the moon’s spin, it slowed and let the moon’s gravity pull the ship in.  Forethought, precision and a predetermined location…. To land , walk, rove and stick a flag into the surface?  Yes, been there done that.

So, in some wispy thought, my mind thinks we should be able to develop a Perpetual Motion machine.  Why not?  We can defy the 1st and 2nd laws of Thermodynamics.  Hell, we’ve defied laws before!  Besides, what if all we really have to do, is to think and make it so?  What if the secret is as simple as visualization?

Might we then imagine ourselves to be more tolerant, more loving and patient with one another?  Maybe we could have Do-Tanks and Think-Tanks, with break-out sessions and toss around ideas and exchange business cards.  What if we could do all this, while realigning the figments of our imaginations into a virtual reality, that we might all do as Rodney King quipped, “All just get along”.

Then, it would be worth it, the ongoing pursuit of Perpetual Motion, technology…

I like the thought  🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under tech, technology

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.

Leave a comment

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

Technical M&M’s- (Machine 2 Machine)

$ Gumball tech
If the whole point of technology is to improve life, we must do better.

Concentrated and sustained effort will be needed, because we aren’t born brave or courageous. We’re just bits and pieces of our better selves that will need some assembly. Countered by persuasion, like M&Ms in a gumball machine, they don’t quite fit and are mostly, out of place, but have a sweetness to them. The Internet of Things is like that.

Strange bedfellows, these toilet bowls that scan and lightbulbs that sense when we’ve entered a room. Mood altering and so appealing, catering to our basic needs. Anticipating exactly what we want, before we know what we want, after having spent a long day at the office. We walk into our Smarthomes, feet up and relax, we don’t have to lift a finger. Except maybe to swipe about it.

But the Digital Age will not be victimless. There will always be some who don’t like progress, who wish for the good ol’ days and the old way of doing a thing, like flying moldy flags and writing grocery lists. Still microwaves and ovens will communicate what ingredients have been used and make status changes.

Our refrigerators will communicate with the grocer’s computer, sharing its awareness of upcoming expiration dates and it’ll use virtual coupons, clipped for greater savings. And of course, it won’t forget the eggs.

There’ll be no last minute notes, scribbled to the shopping list to also buy mocha-fudge ice cream, because we shouldn’t and machines won’t let us cheat on our diet. Besides, the toilet scanner will snitch, it always sends its findings to a electronic health folder. Yes, the medical team stays informed and the life insurance company will be notified. So much for sneaking a second slice of birthday cake, it wasn’t covered, and Fitbits don’t lie!

The Internet of Things and their connections to healthcare, transportation and communication will become exceedingly efficient and independent. Machine to machine learning, talking to themselves about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, so that we won’t have to do it ourselves, can improve lives.

Technology is sweet, like M&Ms placed in a gumball machine, innovative and appealing. Very much like the impact of the washing machine on society, as women were no longer tied to laundry.

It is a gift, a gift of time and so what will we do with it?

Will we move towards our better selves?

We aren’t born racist. We’re not born with prejudices. These aren’t evident at birth and aren’t naturally occurring traits. These are learnt behaviors, things that have been taught.

Fittingly, technology doesn’t care about your gender, or your sexual orientation. Technology doesn’t care what color you are, or your nationality, your age or your religion.

It’s all the more reason that we should be mindful that technology doesn’t overlook human needs, and policy must be put into place to protect us from us, our technology.

As we strive to improve life, it’s becoming increasingly clear that technology will afford us time and it will remind us that race and gender don’t matter; they never did…

We must do better.

1 Comment

Filed under Fitbit, tech, technology, Wearables

Tech Emoji

Techie Love
How can the very thing that makes you happy, also make you sad?

Sometimes, when I’m reading a post on my cellphone, I smile down at it. Finger swipes across its touch screen, seem like gentle strokes. As if I’m caressing it; when I’m waiting for a response, I cradle it; patiently waiting for a text back. A cellular response.

And if I were being watched, I’m almost certain that I’d appear lovingly, smiley faces after every comment. One might think I was in love. Or that my cellphone was the object of my love, as if it could love back. Appearances are deceptive.

On her 58th birthday, my aunt made an announcement, she said that having been without a husband or a boyfriend for an extended period of time; and having grown plumper and fatter over the years, she had decided that she was through with love. And I don’t know why, but I was filled with sadness. She on the other hand, was quite matter-of-fact and jovial about the whole thing.

L…O…V…E… Whether we admit it or not, we all want to love and be loved. We humans require it from birth into adulthood. Just like a plant needs sunshine, our development depends on how much love we’ve been given in our childhood, and then into adulthood. And while physical love is important, it is not as developmentally important as emotional love. Because sometimes you can be in love with someone, and still be very lonely. Like my aunt, who had all the love of family and friends, but something was missing. And it was that something that she silently yearned for.

I’ve learnt that loneliness isn’t just a place where one finds oneself; loneliness is a state of mind. It’s not unusual to be in a relationship and still be lonely, and I believe that you can be in a crowded room and still feel completely alone.

It’s been said, that a body that is not at ease will become diseased, and so it was with my aunt. When she turned 63 years old, she developed a curable cancer, but refused treatment. It seems that in her decision to not love a man, she had stopped loving herself. Or maybe, just by disuse she had forgotten how.

Each life is meant to be shared and we learn from it. I’ve learnt to include the possibility of love in my life; to never shut it down and to never turn it off. I know I can be alone and not necessarily be lonely and most importantly, I don’t have to always be in love, I just need to keep the door to love open.

Leave a comment

Filed under iPhone, tech, technology, Telecommunications, Uncategorized

Technology Express

$$ money train

Technology chugs along at a nice clip, and like passengers on a train we’re part of its movement.

“All aboard!”

Whether we’re ready or not, it forges ahead as if on some imaginary track, intersecting industry and connecting communities and countries, seamlessly. Stops along the way allow people to embark and disembark in a whirlwind of economic supply and demand. There’s a transparency that allows growth and it seems, as we proceed ever onward, on schedule.

Technology has no motives.  With proper instructions, it’ll be efficient in most hands.  From invention to innovation and back again, beta mode or syntax, technology works to make life easier, better.  But we’re nearing the frontier’s edge, the area where we must switch tracks and become something more than fun.

We must anticipate and identify issues that are adverse to the human condition, things like age and climate change on a global scale, require attention and technology that will resolve, improve or at least redirect energies for the better good.

The Digital Age, like the Industrial Age and all the ages before, marked by Periods– Neolithic, Mesolithic, and served on tectonic plates have such a  huge impact on life and on earth. Some of the growth is sustainable and sadly, some of it is not.

While some rise, others fall and it seems some malady or some catastrophic event might happen, like factories with no fire escapes.  So doesn’t it just make sense that legislation is put in place?

Think Google Glasses, modified that we might see what’s up ahead, around the bend, coming fast… why not?

We are, after all an aging nation. Dementia, senility and frailty are part of the human experience and we need to develop technology that addresses these issues, as people get on and off the train.

It makes me think of Lionel train sets, those miniature replicas of locomotives zooming around curves and not falling off the track, because they were engineered and properly weighted down to stay on track.   Watching them being remotely controlled with an electric transformer, going forward, reverse and at variable speeds.

In 1959, psychologists wrote that “…a child who controls a Lionel train today, will control his life tomorrow.”  I see technology like that and most definitely, I see it including girls… “All aboard!”

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Girls, Google Glasses, tech, technology, Trains

A Girl’s Journey Into The Next Lifetime

1a glassceiling

Truth is, long before finger swipes across a touch screen, I believed that cable technology would set girls free of gender limits.   That data was without bias and that even a glass ceiling had upside.

By looking up through it, one might pause and see one’s own image, and take stock of one’s progress… where you’ve been and how much further you might go.  And that assessment in a lifetime, if not yours would propel the next woman, if not now then in the next generation.

Women think like that, with interloped arms that both link them together, and allow them to stretch and reach into the future.  In some piggyback fashion, one generation steadily improves upon the next.   That’s how Boston’s cable training program came into being, female activists who themselves had passed their prime, haggled with city officials and politicians to create opportunities for young women like myself, that we could have a chance at gender equality.

First we became linesmen, as the city needed aerial distribution cables to feed neighborhoods, using lashing machines to pull lengths of cable through easements.   If you continued training, you might become an installer and then a technician.

But there were few positions available for women and departments were limited to how many women they could hire.  I was in the service department, with only three slots available:   one female installer, one female technician and one female engineer.

The manager didn’t hesitate to mince words, literally and figuratively, “It’s out of my hands.  There’s no more to be done.”  and the worse statement of all, “Don’t make me regret the hire.”

Ironically, being a female in a traditionally male job made passersby think that they could easily do your job!  We, women were constantly reminded of just how replaceable we were.   Sometimes that was enough motivation for me to dig my steel gaffs into the meat of the city’s telephone poles, climb up, do the work and to keep my job.

But I’ve known glass ceilings.  I’ve touched them, and was somehow comforted by their coolness on my fingertips.  Back then the cable industry was in its infancy and male co-workers, less qualified than I were quickly promoted and dispatched beyond grade, a reminder of how frail my position with the company was and it had been predetermined just how successful I would be; it tapered off at 35 feet, the exact height of a telephone pole.

Not even New England’s cold winters and snow blizzards could get me to stop climbing poles.   Especially during the Spring and summer months, when active equipment would need to be upgraded and whole neighborhoods would be without cable.   It was then that people cheered to see a technician’s truck.  I’d work and get the cable back on and it was a little heroic at times, or so it seemed.

Fathers would take their daughters by the hand and walk them across the street, where they’d wait for me to climb down from the pole.  Or they’d yell up and wave; then ask if I needed water.   On quiet days, when things had slowed, I’d hang around after the job was done.   Sometimes they’d invite me to speak to small groups at the YMCA or the Boys/Girls Clubs.  It was unscripted and impromptu, like hope itself.

I’d let them touch my gaffs and run their round hands across the leather linesmen belt.  The big metal D- loop and clasp would clang noisily, and I’d smile and hold it high.  Grand posturing, like a boxer before a championship bout.

I too, had grown up in the city.  And there I stood in my linesmen boots, living proof that a city gal could climb up from poverty on a telephone pole; it seemed noble.  And they seemed to see other possibilities for themselves, if not in this generation well then surely in the next.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under cable, Gender, Gender Equality, tech, technology, Telecommunications, Television, Women

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.

Leave a comment

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