Category Archives: technology

Apple Tech & Puzzle Pieces #AmWriting

helping hands 2 29 2016

I was thinking, as much as technology is improving life, there are ethical questions of “Who actually benefits?”

Recently an Apple iPad advertisement on television did an awesome pitch showing kids using their devices to complete homework assignments.  It was brilliant!  Its potential was amazing, but then there was the small print regarding an iPad pencil and that made me realize that there were high costs associated with this technology, even so the ad showed a nice diverse group of children.

One could easily conclude that this was perfect pitch.  But when the TV commercial ended the local news came on, about teachers in our community, the cityscapes and economically depressed neighborhoods.   Here too were a diverse group of children, all smiling.  Maybe because there were television cameras in the schoolyard or perhaps, because they were going to get another Snow Day in late March.  But whatever the reason that they were smiling, rest assured it wasn’t because Apple had distributed iPads with pencils into their classrooms.  And it’s reasonable to assume that these third graders had yet to be exposed to real world economics and the inequality that poverty creates.

“A Wealth of Nations” was written by Scottish economist Adam Smith, in his “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”.  He wrote about the division of labor to productivity to free markets.  In those scenarios there was a presumed self-regulating economic system that proved efficient at the distribution of goodies, like an Invisible Hand during that century’s industrial revolution..

But the truth is, particularly in today’s digital world, privileged is as privileged does and entities that control the wealth, also keep the wealth.  There is no trickle down effect, but instead a hoarding of wealth, through the use of systemic apathy, in which lobbyists, taxes and monopolies have existential preferences.

And all of this seems very poignant, as we’re entering another industrial revolution, this one referred to as Industry 4.0, in the new Digital Age.  It is a name for automation and data exchange that includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing.  Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

I was thinking, even though we have the capacity to create technology that improves life, how can we ensure that the technology gets into each little round hand, regardless of race, nationality, health or poverty level?

Hello Apple!  How about you make that difference, start with iPads with pencils for ALL school children for  $Free.99

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Filed under Apple, ipad, Politics, social media, technology

Technology’s Invitation Protect Your Data

cloud circuit

“Big Data”  Like its cousin, “The Internet of Things” was given a lame name.  Either the scientists who worked on the technology were being lazy, didn’t have an iota of creativity, or they just named it with a footnote, so they could get back to whatever else they were doing!  However big data, like the air we breathe, has become part of our human story.

Recently my daughter confessed that she just clicks and agrees to a website’s User Privacy and Terms of Agreement without reading it. She claims she doesn’t have time or didn’t want to read all the legal jargon.  Her generation does a lot of mindlessly clicking and willingly sharing their personal data, it’s almost a cultural.  And companies know this, it’s one way they’ve been able to amass such a large amount of data.

Just willy-nilly clicking “Yes” to get the latest app or to log onto a hot website. The alternative is to knowingly deny ourselves of technology that we want, like Tinder and Pokémon Go.

But as a parent, it distresses me.  I’m the by-product of the cold war, having lived through the espionage age, I’m cautious and leery by design.  Truth is, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and dystopias frighten me.

Big Data presents a picture from datasets to data points, and for good or evil, the picture grows as we go along.  It’s continually gathered, collected and processed.  And the enterprises that collect, store and process our personal data have become treasure troves, susceptible to breach and targeted by hackers on the dark internet.

I was trying to understand why we don’t do a better job of protecting our data.  Maybe in an over populated world, we humans are lonely.  That would partially account for why so many of us open unsolicited emails that simple say “Hi Friend”.

Maybe its need and not greed that motivates us.  What if being desperate has that affect?

The truth of the matter is, not all data can be protected.   But in three months, we’ll see  how companies do business handling personal data in the European market, when the European Union’s GPDR goes into effect. There are hurdles for sure, but as Cloud technology continues to advance and processing data at blazing speeds is the new norm, we’ll have to do better.

It seems to me, if changing our passwords on a monthly basis helps, why wouldn’t we?  Just asking…  Technology invites us to protect ourselves.

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Filed under Apps, Big Data, Privacy, technology

~Personal Data~ Come What May 25, 2018

Tech Total Solar Eclispe

Preparedness, isn’t that the other reason for a good night’s rest?

On May 25, 2018, we’ll Wake Up to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will forever change how enterprises collect, gather, store and process personal data.

And while those on this side of the Great Pond might think it’ll be business as usual, they’d be well advised to become aware and acknowledge that during these days of digital transformation, the world has grown smaller. That is, what happens over there will have an impact over here.

We need to be mindful that even if we’re physically over here, we might not be immune to upcoming changes in the EU, that the global market isn’t limited to consumers, but also includes those that might be our business partners, employees or independent contractors, from whom we’ve collected personal data.

Hybrid Cloud technology, and sharing software have allowed small businesses to transform in such a big way, that even the less tech savvy have collected and stored personal data.  It’s imperative that we’re aware of the responsibility, and we’re in line with new regulations.

Right now might be a good time to check that our Vendors are also data compliant and that we’re familiar with the handling of personal data, because as quiet as it’s kept those policies might be legislated here, as hefty penalties might roll down hill.

So, maybe it’s okay that only a few are concerned with the GPDR, after all we’re thousands of miles away… but in a digital world, can we afford to ignore the ramifications?

We are also citizens, who have willingly shared a tremendous amount of personal data.   We’ve played games and used Apps for free, not giving a second thought to our millions of finger swipes that have been used to collect data and then used as payment, in this our virtual and augmented reality.

Come May, all that will change.  In addition obtaining consent, businesses will be required to have proper encryption for assured security, those businesses who store personal data to fulfill the purpose for which the data was collected will also have to:

  • Audit on regular, documented basis.
  • Incorporate technical measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access
  • Antivirus software that provides both email & browser protection.
  • Firewall
  • Regular Automatic Back Up of personal data
  • Enterprise Wi-Fi network password protected
  • Remote access is only possible via Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Privileged accounts only from dedicated devices & with limited access
  • Data leakage prevention software to protect sensitive personal data
  • Procedure for monitoring, detecting, analyzing & reporting security incidents developed and communicated within the enterprise.
  • Prevention of automated decision making & profiling
  • Data portability protection
  • The right to have their personal data erased, i.e., “the right to be forgotten”.
  • The right to ensure inaccuracies in personal data are corrected
  • A general description of technology and organizational security measures, as part of records data of processing activities. Regular updating.
  • Procedures and processes set up in case of data breach.
  • Privacy by design principles in place for new processes or products that are being employed.

 

Yes, it’s a great big world out there that has somehow become incredibly small. Come what may, shouldn’t we be prepared?

http://www.computerweekly.com   https://ukcloud.com/

 

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Filed under cyber-security, GPDR, technology, Uncategorized

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

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

Tech Armor, A Girl’s Security

Techny Armor 2

In many ways, the radio is old timey technology.  A throw back of simpler times, when air waves weren’t modulated and a slight hum was tolerable, as was fumbling with the dial to bring the station in clear.  Nowadays, I only listen when I’m alone driving in my car.

In that closed interior, with the world just beyond my windshield, I’m comforted to hear a voice other than the one in my head.  I tire of reminders,  conflict in my schedule, errands that I need to run and I things left undone, like the shirt that requires my attention and the button I keep forgetting to sew back on.  The radio’s DJ is friendly, almost bubbly with idle chatter, pertinent today, and boring enough so I don’t have to focus all of my attention, half-listening and half being indifferent and non-opinionated.

This is pure technology, copper wire and vacuum tubes, transistor radios, soldered circuitry that’s also portable.  Radio reaches people in a way that television never will, because there’s no visual accompaniment to distort one’s own self-image.   Without product placement, without luxury and without perfect abs.  Instead we’re captivated by a voice, the radio personality’s enthusiasm and a distinct annunciation of words.  In between commercials, there’s a nice mix of music.  I like singing along, belting out a Frank Sinatra song or absent mindedly humming along to Billie Holiday’s August in New York.

Ironically, I always have perfect pitch when no one else is the car, my inner ear comes out.   And then, the very best part of radio, is during the “goldie oldie” moment, when that one long forgotten song comes on and miraculously, I know the lyrics!  And soon the warm feelings return, the powdery fluff of nostalgia.  It makes me smile to myself, as I drive along the road.  And I’m reminded again that simple technology, like the radio has a powerful control over me.

Yesterday, a DJ invited listeners to call in with their stories.  One woman called in excitedly, she had recently lost 150 pounds.  Her happiness oozed from the radio’s airwaves.  This stranger made me smile.   Like her, as a kid I too had been teased, she plagued by obesity and me with my big nose.

Now, here she was on the radio sharing the fact that she carried an old photograph and called it a “Fattie-Selfie”,  a reminder of her former self.  And that was it, the radio personality acknowledged her achievement, told her that she was beautiful!  And then thanked her for calling in, made an off-handed comment about the telephone lines being lit up and took the next call.

I blinked, the era of stringed pearls and frilly aprons forever gone.  I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Like the radio caller, I too was now comfortable with my looks, I seem to have grown into my big nose.  Or I wasn’t as self-conscious, perhaps a result of being too busy to take notice.  Still, I recall what it felt like, to not resemble the models in any of the fashion magazines.  When I was a young girl, fairytales always made me think being powerless was okay, by taking away the option of having power, as if by design.

As I pulled into an empty parking space, I saw a group of little girls eating ice-cream laughing, and enjoying their silliness.  They were at that perfect age, when looks don’t matter and eating has nothing to do with disorders.   That being self-sufficient means she can tie a good knot in her shoelaces, as a preamble to running wild and free.

The radio DJ introduced a new song, it was upbeat and a perfect segue from the girls back to my reality.  I reached over to cut the car engine off and thought those little girls will make their own shiny suits of armor; I hope it fits them well.

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, technology

Technology’s Subliminal Mission

NASA Valkyrie

I was just thinking…

How easily we’ve accepted artificial intelligence, how cozy we are when we’re introduced.   Recently NASA delivered Valkyrie, its humanoid R5 robot to Northeastern University and M.I.T.  where the response was exciting but quaint, like a family reunion.

We were interested, but not awed.  In an earlier era, we would have gawked at his size and the audacity of his mission, to land on Mars!

For the next two years, as scientists and engineers prepare him for his long journey, we’ll go about our business of texting, emailing and being slightly annoyed with our technology.  Meanwhile, Valkyrie’s cognitive intelligence will be developed.  He’ll be given the ability to reason, to build and to understand logical assertions taken from his sensory perceptions and to use that information to solve simple and complex problems.

We’ll be momentarily fascinated and encouraged by reports.  But we’re not going to ask ethical questions.  We’re not going to wonder if we might’ve gotten a bit ahead of ourselves, that maybe we’ve placed the cart before the horse.  In fact, our quick success at artificial intelligence hasn’t required us to question organic intelligence.   We haven’t paused to understand the universe, or our place in it.   Not all of us are smart enough to create a virtual galaxy, to write code or to even understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

We don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg and we’ve resolved ourselves to possibly never knowing the answer. We don’t know, nor do we truly care how the internet or our cellphone work, we simply need them to work.  We entrust it with our most important information, from bank accounts to telephone numbers, those things once stored in our heads.

Artificial intelligence seems a good name, as the imperfect create perfection.  There’s a possibility that we’ll get it right, because sprinkling bits and bytes of humanity doesn’t seem too far off, besides we’ve managed pretty well by not knowing things.

But these are extraordinary times!  The stars seem to have aligned themselves and mankind’s journey seems to be destined for greatness.  Once again genius has arrived, as if there’s an honored time and place, some synergy to when great minds are born.  It’s not likely that great minds would be understood by the general population; the Newtons and the DaVincis would have been lost to prosperity, had their peers been unable to understand their ideas.  Up until now, it’s been organic intelligence that’s changed humanity, propelling us forward across oceans and into space.

As if technology had been placed into our sleeping psyches, allowing us to make use of mathematical equations and scientific knowledge via smart technology.  Giving us a chance to experience space, black holes and zero gravity, without having to touch them.

And by training Valkyrie for a mission to Mars, we might be in training to become our better selves.

I was just thinking…  What were you doing?

 

 

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Filed under Life, technology

How Technology Stacks Up

1 tech typewriter

Lately, technology has been a stark reminder of time.

I’ve come to realize it’s not that life whizzes by too quickly or that time ticks too slowly.  The truth is, time just passes without any change in pace whatsoever.  How we manage it determines how we view it, like looking through a glass of water.

Yesterday, I climbed the attic steps and discovered my old smelly typewriter, I smiled. How long had it been since I’d replaced it with the newer technology, an odorless plastic keyboard that didn’t need ribbon.  I miss that, as I miss my daughter’s hair ribbons now.

I stopped writing when she was born, because I imagined time wouldn’t wait up, or slow down for me to fully experience motherhood. I decided it would be well worth it, to feel my kids sneaking up on me.  They’d struggle to contain happy giggles, as they slipped and slid across our wooden floors in stocking feet, determined to catch me off guard in a loving surprise.  All of the carefree giddiness of childhood, set free from curled lips before the age of teen modesty!

I relished the thought that they would reach from behind and cover my eyes with their little round hands.  And more than anything, I wanted my response to be simply happy.  Expressed by my feigned surprise and their squeals of delight at having surprised me.  Of course they hadn’t, but what did that matter?

Later, in their rooms by the night light, I’d read someone else’s words to them and miss my own.  And I never thought to shut the book too soon, or to shut them out.  It was important for them know I would be there when they woke up, available to them.  Unabashed and unafraid because they understood my love and the difference between their “mommy” and its homonym, the word “mummy”.

Now, the house is quiet.  And as I look around the attic, I’m noticing how much of my life has become obsolete, like the outdated technology that’s stacked high.  And not in any particular order, not like our chronological lives.

I’m reminded of the passage of time, I see it in my typewriter to my computer to my laptop to tablet…

Well, at least I’m writing again.   There’s no need to worry that I’ll be interrupted by the sound of little feet scurrying across the floor, or round hands cupped over my eyes.   There’ll be no crying, no “boo-boos” and no childish quarrels or metaphorical fences for me to mend.

It’s time to plant new seeds and to insert dangling modifiers; to write down adjectives that will never completely describe the taste of water, or how technology faded away and re-invented itself.   Me too.

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Filed under Creativity, technology

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.

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Filed under Big Data, innovation, tech, technology

Technology Requires Creativity

#innovation Invention

Ever wonder if people gathered around cave paintings of elk, and appreciated the lightness of the artist’s brushstroke?

Um, no.  Me either, most likely, people stared at the painting and devised a thought, how to get the elk.  Survival in those times of darkness, fueled by fear and hunger, required creative imagination, a thought.   What to use and how to make a tool, the precursor of our modern technology.

From sharpened flint stones to steel to the Digital Age; the spark of an idea fed our ancestors, sheltered them and eventually helped us to defy the laws of gravity.

The really great technology creates an entire ecosystem, like bees pollinate flowers.  One thing leads to another, to another…  from transportation to education to healthcare.  And just as the flower needs that honey bee, inventive technology needs creativity.

Without creativity there would be no inventions, and without innovation our inventions would become stale and cracked.   Like rubber, first used for automobile tires, until innovation came along and used it for a sneaker.  That got us up and running; jogging for a healthy heart, which led to better health awareness, which led to a fitness economy that continues to boom.  Why else are we wearing Fitbits?

There are a lot of people in this world who are extremely good at inventing things, call them scientists. But that doesn’t make them good at identifying alternative uses for their inventions. People who are good at designing mechanical things, call them engineers aren’t necessarily good at marketing their designs.   But a graphic artist helps and just like that, so on and so forth, one person to another to another, and social media helps.

Sometimes we’ll see a line of people standing in a museum, staring at a painting.  I wonder if they see technology?

Art calls on our imagination, we become transfixed.  Studying the way light dances across the canvas, a thin line made from a sable hair paint brush.   Still art, the artist’s own tools in shadow, her palette held at an angle… A heavy dotted pink chrysanthemum and her perspective of a bumblebee’s wings moving, barely there…

I wonder…  without art where would we be?

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Filed under Creativity, Fitbit, Healthcare, technology