Category Archives: Television

Gender Technology

$$ tv circuit She

“Hello, up there!”

From the ground looking up, technology looked completely incapable of bringing anything of value into our homes.

Outstretched aluminum rods, like the arms of an umbrella’s skeleton were mounted and fastened on rooftops, so television signals could find their way into the living room.  It flowed along copper wires and quietly took over our lives.

It took less than 60 years for technology to completely shrink our world and go global, connecting us in ways vastly different from the box that allowed us to first watch a man land on the moon; an image that came across airwaves, like wings of a prayer, unseen.

We tuned into the same programs, at the same time and talked about the show for days.  We laughed at the same jokes, re-enacted parodies and fell in love with Lucy.

After a night of storms, people emerged and yelled out of windows that their television set now got a clearer channel, as though God and the wind had favored them. Particularly because their aerial antenna hadn’t been disturbed, they were spared of having to prop a ladder against the house and make adjustments. For better or worse, it was a marriage that required better positions to catch airwaves. Serious hi-tech stuff!

Responsive to either gender, equally manipulated and made to work or improved upon by a calloused hand of a man or the soft tender skin of a woman.

But back then, who knew that a girl could climb a ladder and make it picture perfect.  Norman Rockwell  had never depicted it that way in magazines. Instead she was dainty in her dress, with legs crossed properly at the ankles.

It took a long while, but now we know that technology has no gender bias. It favors neither pink nor blue; it’s ageless and doesn’t discriminate.

In fact, it encourages across the board collaboration and it’s empowering. Coding schools have opened doors to girls and to those who are impoverished, giving them amazing opportunities.  And in addition to that, an ecosystem has been created which shows gaps for skill sets needed to maintain the technology!

It’s more than we could’ve asked for, that a job shortage could actually bring about wage parity.  Imagine that, women being paid the same wages for the same work. We’re not there yet, but technology knows no gender.

 

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Television, Women

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

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

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

Eye Technology: What Would Gene Roddenberry See

Google Glass Visor Like so many others, I got excited when I read that Google was tinkering with glasses; that this eye technology might be a little more scientific than gadgetry got my attention. And then Google Glass was released.

The product did what it was touted to do, but it did little for technology in an aging world.

Google Glass is a toy for the outdoorsy types, who like to jump out of perfectly good airplanes and who like the thrill of scaling sheer mountainsides. But not so much for 75% of the Americans who wear some form of corrective lens and who have some degree of AMD- age-related Macular degeneration of the eye. America is getting older, perhaps it’s time to put away its toys.

I’m reminded of Opti-Grab, the fictional eyewear gadget that Steve Martin’s character invented in the movie, The Jerk. In the end, all its users ended up cross-eyed, for having repeatedly used the little eyeglass handle between their eyes. Label it gadget fail.

But could the influence of science fiction writers like Jules Verne and Gene Roddenberry, who gave us such great inspirational communication technology, likewise have stifled eye technology by mostly leaving it out of their written works?

What if Star Trek’s Lieutenant Commander LaForge had been cured of his blindness? What if scientists had eradicated that defect, would Google Glass have evolved as lighter version of the commander’s visor? Google Glass Visor
And maybe that’s the whole point, not to see the world as it is, but to see it as we would like it to be.

Because if we were given a pair of glasses that flipped images upside down, and we wore them for a few days, our brains would flip the images right side up. That’s been scientifically proven.

And I think that’s what happened last month, when Google released it’s Beta version of Google Glass. Now, it’s up to us to figure out some good use to put them to and for that, I’d like to first be paid.

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, Consumers, Eyegalsses, gadget, Google Glass, profitability, social media, technology, Television, Vision, Visor

Baby Boomers Are the Next Old Big Thing

baby boomers 6d We didn’t need a new television.  I’m not sure exactly when we wanted a new television.  Or if there was a distinction made between the want and the need, but this past weekend we bought a new flat screen television. 

In our house, the fine line between household income and budget is a chasm as wide as it is deep.  For years, there has been no discretionary income and no such thing as surplus money.  But our daughter recently graduated from college.

Suddenly bills look less complex.  And I was only mildly surprised when we transitioned from the childish “wanting what we don’t need” to the decisive ideology, “It’s for sale, so I’m buying it.” 

My husband and I are both past 50.  We’re both fully aware of our responsibilities and require no reminders.  We don’t make purchases on a whim and aren’t easily persuaded to try a new product by watching a television commercial.  Marketing analysts already know this about us; in fact they haven’t targeted us in years.

In fact, other than the AARP magazines and television commercials that are aimed at our demographic group; we’ve pretty much been left to age by ourselves.   Although I’m sure all of that’s about to change, as we Baby-boomers are living longer and paying off our debt.    We seem to be heading into uncharted consumer purchasing power.  

Which is why the whole trip to BestBuy and the purchase of a large screen flat screen television was so extraordinary; I kept peeking around for a cameraman.  For surely this was being recorded for some reality TV program.

Here was my husband gleeful, if not happy to pay for HDMI cables (he fumes at the mention of the monthly cable bill).  And when the salesman said that the television was best viewed mounted on the wall, like a piece of art; my husband was okay paying for a wall bracket (he has a jar full of nuts and bolts that he’s saved for exactly this kind of project).

My husband sat down in the theater room, surrounded by huge flat screen televisions and surround sound, as the salesman walked away to process our purchase.

“What just happened?”  I asked myself, because I’m at an age when I talk to myself.  There’s never an answer but I’m always willing to listen. 

“It’ll look like a piece of art, once it’s hung up in the family room,” my husband excitedly whispered the salesman’s pitch, which he regurgitated perfectly.

Once we got home, we were faced with the daunting task of what to do with the old big bulky television.  You see, there’s nothing wrong with it and that did bother my sensibilities.  I’m a mother of two and unused to casting perfectly good things out in the trash.  Compounded by the fact that we could neither give away (no one wanted an old bulky television, even if it was working) nor throw it away with the weekly trash collection (it was an environmental hazardous waste).

 In the end, it cost us a small fortune to get rid of the old still-working television.   My family is delighted with the new television.   However, when it’s turned off it doesn’t look like a piece of artwork.  It looks like what it is, that is a big black rectangle that’s been mounted to the wall.

 I might better appreciate it, once I get ahold of the remote control.  If I sit in a lotus position for hours, holding onto it and watching television on, I’ll experience its wondrous power.   There’s a commercial on, Samsung’s cellphone, the Galaxy 5, they’re toting it as the “Next best thing is here”.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my current cellphone.  But I’m watching that new television and thinking, why not… We baby-boomers are the next new old thing and we’re living longer.   Now, that’s power baby.  

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Consumers, gadget, Marketability, Samsung, technology, Television