Category Archives: Telecommunications

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.

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Filed under iPhone, tech, technology, Telecommunications, Uncategorized

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.

 

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

If Bees Pollinated Technology

2 bees tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Savvy and Served

1 Tech Platter
Word of mouth sales are no longer limited to the “picket fence” conversation between neighbors. Social media has empowered consumers, but it also weakened the position of “the customer is always right”.

Not so long ago, when you purchased a gadget and it didn’t work, you’d complain. There was an expectation of satisfaction; and sometimes this was guaranteed in writing. It was understood, that if you kept the store receipt, a return within seven days of the purchase, with original packaging would guarantee you an equal exchange or a full refund. No questions, no arguments and without a restocking fee.

Back then, the link between a business’ success and a customer’s satisfaction were closely woven. It was a mature market that kept loyal customers loyal by making good products. The operative word “good” implied integrity– a Maytag machine, a Craftsmen tool and a Peterbilt truck were made to last.

I can’t say when this changed, but it did. Technology with its lightening pace warranted change, and miniscule sizes pushed out products that had their own legacies, called generations. And while the housing remained the same, the processor inside changed.

Generally, the improvement wasn’t fully tested but the product was released and onto store shelves; along with slight glitches and other failings, that if passed under the consumer radar was an “oh, well” shrug of doing business.

Now we accept updates, even expect there to be a few with each new product. Those patches that fix new technology have effectively blocked my complaint in mid-sentence. So, the consumer’s displeasure mostly goes unnoticed, because the problem was already logged and acknowledged before the products were shipped out!

The only thing left for me to complain about is how my smartphone’s battery doesn’t hold a charge. And it’s not because I’m always talking, texting or checking status, but instead it’s the result of all those push notifications that the companies send out in an effort to patch and update my cellphone… to keep it smart and me dumb.

Customer service served.

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Filed under Consumers, Marketability, profitability, social media, tech, Telecommunications

Subdued Technology – Part 2.

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

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

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

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

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

“Loyalty,” I smiled, has its perks.

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

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

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

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

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

Technological Glee

sunglasses 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landline: A Case for an Emergency

Red Rotary i phone

I’ve noticed a new trend where people are substituting cellphones for their house phones, as if the two were interchangeable, they’re not.

Whether or not you have children, or if you have an old lady or old man, even if that old lady or old man is you; you need to have a landline in your home.  Why?  Because of the emergency dial tone that’s being supplied at the wall jack.

It’s been said that “home is where the heart is”, it’s also the place where one third of all serious injuries in America happen.  Often these are life threatening events, such as poisoning and falls that require immediate medical attention.

So, while you may decide that you don’t need two phone bills, that shouldn’t mean you yank the telephone plug from the wall.  Preventative measures, like safety should never be determined by economics, or by counting the coins that are left in your purse after you buy those fancy shoes.

Cutting corners and stretching dollars, there’s a Suze Orman app for that and if there’s not, there should be.  Besides, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re already making payments on that emergency dial tone that’s being supplied to your home.

Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) an independent government agency that regulates interstate and international communications, your home and every home in America has emergency dial tone.

The FFC requires all telecommunication service providers, including wireline, wireless, paging, and VoIp (Voice over Internet Protocals) to pay Universal Service Charges (USF) and these fees are based on their domestic and international end-user revenues.  That’s you and me.  (Look at your bill, more than likely you’ll see the charges).

We all benefit from the USF, as it pays for emergency services, like Fire & Rescue 9-1-1 and e9-1-1.  It also helps defray the expense of local number portability (LPT), which allows you to take your number with you when you move or change telephone carriers/service.

The USF also helps pay for translation and relay service (TRS)  for  the hearing and speech impaired.  I suppose it’s a little bit of social democracy at work, but Shhhhhh, no one wants to hear that.

Which brings me back to the wisdom of that conventional telephone, the one with the curly cord, or the stationary base, the one with the little clear plug that you yanked from the wall jack, go on plug that  back in.  Now that you understand the emergency dial tone that you or someone you love may need.

Besides, you’re paying for it, so keep a landline phone plugged in.  It just makes good sense.  Because each time you get home, your cellphone is consistently on its last bar and needs to be charged.  Or it’s busy downloading an app, or fixing a bug or doing an update.

Life and its emergencies don’t wait for a convenient time to happen, they just happen.  Luckily, there’s dial tone at that wall jack, on point and ready.

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Filed under gadget, technology, Telecommunications, Telephone