Category Archives: Uncategorized

Technology’s Turn to Play

Turnable 5

Everything is ripe for innovation.  Even those things that were innovated before can now, due to technology be improved upon and have little sensors embedded to generate data and that is our reality.

Somewhere from gramophones to turntables the technology went into a spiral, but even then the horn was replaced by external speakers that went wireless, and a needle still needs to intermittently be replaced, but pretty much the general design is still there.  Going round in circles, and it makes you wonder if the ecosystem that music created, that basic hand cranked record playing machine hasn’t created a sluggish evolution.  That is the music that becomes popular changes the technology that we use to play, and how we listen to the media.  And then it’s all back to what it was, a little bit like musical chairs.

And now it’s all changing again as streaming music lulls us into a false sense of security, away from change that is coming.

Music!  That one word implies so much, it’s cultural and music tells a story, our history.  The human experience in a universal language that most of us can’t speak, because we can’t play the instrument, but we hear it, we listen to the strings quiver, the wails and the horns and we know, we all know classical to work songs, to spiritual hymns to blues, to marching bands to jazz to big bands and ballads to rock-n-roll, rhythm & blues, disco and rap.  We listen in concert halls, auditoriums, dance halls, night clubs, and jazz clubs and in what the French referred to as music libraries- discotheques and inside the four walls of our homes.

The stories sometimes have crossover appeal and even the misquoted linger, because their elemental truth touches us, like the first line of William Congreve’s play: “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast”.

It’s not just technology that’s changing, we’re changing.  Our styles, which is what’s pleasing to us, mostly secular and without tradition aren’t established by laws and policy, but somehow we hear what we like. Music is played and we like it, before we know what we like.    It can be music from a television commercial, theme music or a movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey still delights generations and still plays nicely on vinyl.

In 1948, Columbia records used microgrooves to store sounds and set the tone, literally when every other company followed and we’ve been going round ever since.   Every few decades innovation visits, once it brought with it tape and little plastic wheels, cassettes to 8-tracks to CDs and streaming, and I’m reminded of my Bang-Olufsen linear tracking turntable, but eventually I returned to my Marantz.

Technology sometimes has that affect… Going around in circles and replicable.

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Notes From Analog to Digital

From Analog with Love

As this year comes to an end, I’m a bit emotional.  It’s an end to an era.   My elderly mother has become that lady we use to laugh about and I’ve grown old.

My journey is very different from how it began.   And like most people, I’ve never benefitted from a personal roadmap or a handbook.  Sometimes the experiences have dove-tailed nicely into place, as if by destiny and other times, nothing seemed to work.   But we’re still here.

Each struggle– yours, mine and hers– has had it’s own purpose.  We’ve compensated for our weaknesses by making athletes into heroes and found motivation reading stories about a little train that could.   And during sleep we’ve gained some of our greatest insights into this life, lessons only a sub-conscious mind could learn, like forgiveness, forgetfulness and the art of moving on.

Our dreams were useful tools that helped us endure and combat injustices in daylight.  But the truth is, our world has been diced and sliced into so many pieces, that few get a fair deal.  And global issues, like climate change really will require us all to make a difference.   Adults much more than our children…

Which is interesting, because as adults we are often expected to do the right thing, but without added incentive.  Even in America, where the stalwart of childhood is a reward/punishment culture, where every child on the soccer team receives an award for participation, but no reward is given to the parent that nurtured and fed the talent.

And rewards grow more elusive as we enter adulthood, with few exceptions outside academia or military service.   I wonder why?

With so many adults on FaceBook, Twitter and Snapchat, each pining for attention and seeking acceptance.   Social media indicates that there’s a need, and why wouldn’t there be?  Having been raised in the reward/punishment system, it seems rather logical and a bit unnatural if we weren’t busy trying to be seen.

If we use trophies and medals to foster good behavior, why do we stop using that form of motivation? Particularly as we grow older?

Why shouldn’t we want to read our name in the newspaper, or on social media?  An obituary isn’t a true blue ribbon.  What if we learnt early in life, that pro-creation isn’t an achievement and staying out of jail isn’t an accomplishment?  What if there were small awards for those behaviors?  Would we as a people do better at life?

Me?  I’m mostly self-taught.   I used a length of chain link fence to learn how to ride a two wheel bicycle.  I paddled a row boat into the middle of a lake, and jumped into dark waters to learn how to swim.  During winter break, I shoveled snow in the schoolyard so I could play basketball, because I wasn’t allowed inside the school gym with the boys.  And my high school guidance counselor instructed me to drop out of school and have babies, I went to the public library instead and taught myself telephony, electric code and telecommunications, all marketable trade skills.

I’ve used  pulse technology and rotary telephones; spoken with operators of switch controlled, data entry, card punched computers and watched the first manned trip to the moon– all feats of analog technology.   But earlier this month, the SpaceX program sent a rocket ship into space, it returned and landed vertically, so it can be used again… that’s a digital feat!

Aiming a little higher.  In a digital world, there ought to be social media awards, ones that make us as individuals aim a little higher.  Who knows, maybe that will help us save our planet.

I’m willing.  I wouldn’t mind a little plastic trophy to put on my bric-a-brac shelf.   Besides Heaven seems a long way off and I’m not particularly sure that’s where I’m headed, once I leave here.   Besides, there’s still time for me to do some good.

Happy New Year 2016 !   Notes from analog to digital, an Honor Roll of the greatest use of technology.

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Technology Can’t Follow Back

1 thought cloud

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

Social media is such a part of our daily lives, that it’s hard to imagine waking up and not accessing FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Even romantic vacation spots aren’t immune, finger swipes to the right and broken hearts to the left.    We love social media and the way it makes us feel connected.  As if we’re part of something.

There’s a very real possibility that we’re no longer who we were when we created our profile pages.   Jobs change, references change and yes, the world changed.   The fact that I followed you on Twitter, is not actionable, neither is it legal or binding.

In fact it’s deniable.  Truth is you don’t know me from Eve and I don’t know you from Adam.  But it feels as if I do and I like that, because we’re social beings.

Once again I’m reminded how technology works, free of emotions.  That’s us, and its no surprise that even here in cyberspace, people are lonely.   Technology, you see will never love us back…

I’m only thinking like this now, because it’s the eve of what would’ve been my friend’s 58th birthday.  She told me that she was quite through with love, no matter with whom.   She announced that no lover was worth the diets, the clothes or the time.

She was plumper since her divorce, maybe anger masked her depression and covered her with the warm embrace of her own flesh.  She popped a bottle of champagne open and chuckled.  Yes, she insisted, she was done with the notion of falling in love.

We toasted her newfound independence, but I was filled with sadness.   She reassured me that she was fine, patted me on my hand and refilled our glasses.  Chin up 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.   My friend was like that…

It’s been said, that a body that is not at ease will become diseased, and so it was with my friend.   Five years later, when she was to turn 63 years old, she succumbed to a very curable cancer.

From her death bed she smiled at me, asked for paper and penned an apology for having refused treatment.

Ironically, her decision to not love someone else had somehow interrupted the flow of loving herself.    Her life…  or maybe it was simply a case of disuse or maybe she had forgotten how to love.

Technology can’t follow back but I can…

Nowadays, I find myself liking more people on FaceBook and it’s easy to follow on Twitter.

Life is for the living; it’s meant to be shared.    While technology has made the world incredibly small, it’s still a lot of people to meet.  We can’t go backwards, but going forward lets get LinkedIn.

For my friend…  love trumps hate every time.

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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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Salivary Tech

$ Marble

In the Digital Age, how could a discussion that includes the word “Anti”  and “Beta”, not evoke a strong salivary response?

That’s what anticipation does when disruptive innovation is encouraged to flourish and failure is advanced, not as an end-game but instead as part of the game– an option.

Like a game of marbles, disruption is not only willed by the sharp-shooter’s accuracy, but also by the purity of the glass sphere.  Its dimensions, the grade of gravel underneath it and the velocity as it rolls.

Exterior elements, like the wind’s whimsy or the hush of spectators, as they hold their collective breath.  The anticipation of the impact…  when that prized marble thunders along and into the circle of marbles.  As it hits, grazes and bounces against the opponent’s marbles! It’s exciting, but also a fading sport; one that has no need for wires, sneakers or a net.  Just the breaking apart of glass balls, that kinetic energy that then settles into a pattern, that no one had predicted.  Because it hadn’t truly been considered before; but now it’s the open platform, where everyone there can take a turn and participate.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Lately, I’ve been approached by strangers who asked me what attending the Tribeca Anti-Summit Beta was like; specifically “How to break the mold to create impact?”

But like my finger swipes on a touch screen, I’m very mindful of how I respond.  How I use my words, as a writer are very special to me.  Punctuation still matters, with effective pauses and sentence structure to engage the reader; these are part of my integrity.  And so is my self-contained excitement, really a part of me wants to shout “Bravo! Well done!”

But, I refrain.  Here instead is the soft-spoken, introverted me, who views free speech as that which needs no disclaimer, because I haven’t said anything, not too much.   And that’s how it should be, in a Digital Age, where you never know who’s who.  It’s not paranoia but branding, everyone has an angle and there’s no such thing as “Free Press”.

But, if I were asked outside of this realm… I might view things differently.  I might’ve set my closely guarded bag of prized marbles down and expressed my jubilation, with my nose for a true news story.  Yup, I would.

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Technology Calls Talk Radio

$ 0 Talk radio

Blah, blah, blah…  Maybe that’s what we sound like to our lesser selves, when we’re not feeling clever.

The sound that our minds hear, when technology is stale, like AM radio.  It’s what happens when technology is no longer exciting or fun.  Luckily, that isn’t the case with our smart technology.

The true ingenuity of apps, isn’t just what they’re capable of doing today but what inventiveness we conjure up tomorrow.  Those applications we add onto our devices to make them uniquely ours, that even if we could, who wouldn’t put back into the box.

How quickly we’d become outraged if we were restricted to the limits of a landline phone!  It would be a little bit like the Prohibition Era, a fertile ground where even the most law abiding citizen would become incorrigible.

It’s not like that with the radio, because the radio is for all practical purposes mostly unchanged.   It’s clung to its form like no other technology.  Here and there a tweak, maybe to bandwidth, or stereo and most recently high definition.  But really, nothing monumental.  It seems as if innovation stayed away; rarely fetching a nod of approval from a futurist because radio is, well unimagined as anything other than what it is, which is odd.  But maybe that’s simply because it’s great technology.

Other than the housing, nothing has changed.  Sure the components have gone from big to small, but the skeletal form has been slow to change.  Copper wire, a crystal, a glass vacuum tube, a solid state transistor and printed board circuitry.  And from this, the new breed of technology, as if it were a testing gorund.

Interestingly our sense of sound, when culled by a radio gets our attention in that old nostalgic way of a family gathered around a radio.  Talk radio and a sports game can engage us, especially when a talented sports announcer does that energetic play by play, colorful analyst.  We “see” the game in our imaginations, through his spoken words.  A gift really.

I’m only thinking about radios now, because I recently read an article that suggested white gaps in mobile technology can be used in low end areas.  Areas like zoos, that aren’t being supported by cellular.  Utilized in those areas where data traffic is in low demand and voice transmission might be beneficial.  Capturing that signal, as it bounces around mountain ranges, in leap-frog fashion across the earth’s curves, travelling along a noisy bandwidth.

It’s the same premise of a radio’s frequency signals, amplitude and modulated that evolved from analog to digital.  Then, like now, bandwidth space became choppy at lower ends, gaps caused white noise and eventually, those spaces were sold.  Think AM talk radio.

Maybe it’s just me, but wouldn’t it be something if we could be more inventive with radio??? In the Digital Age we might be more efficient, and not resort to old timey problem solving, maybe that’s the reason it’s called a communication gap.

Blah-blah-blah…  that’s when we become our lesser  selves, and not up to feeling clever.

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Technygal & Me

 

My Painting

One year ago I started this blog & created a webpage and purchased a domain.  And here we are… still.

There’s a part of me, who wants to pick up my pallet & paint brushes.  To mix paints, colors… like coloring with Crayola crayons.   Except I paint in acrylics.  Thick brush strokes on white canvas, then I could tell a different story in a different way…

Naw, I like my words too much!

See this is where I B’Log 🙂

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Recalibrating Finger Swipes

$3 MC Escher

MC Escher’s lithograph , Drawing Hands depicts the possibility of an impossible reality; perfectly! And we’re able to appreciate it, in the most thoughtful way.

Technology is like that, we ask “Why?” and then we think, “Why not?”

There’s the absurdity of it; our imaginations gone wild and then the calming effects of reasonable ideas that we can begin to resolve.  And just like that, we’re onto something!  And we’re often quite successful, especially when we get approval, that proverbial pat on the back.

It’s exactly what makes us human, this thinking and imagining, as if it were our job.   Maybe it is!  That is, we’re here to think of ways to improve our lot in life: to think outside the box, while we are seated inside it, much like a hand drawing a hand.

iPad, iPod and  iTouch technology began and perfected the use of a finger.  Not a hand, not the collective use of the hand, but a single finger swipe across a touch screen.  That’s it, it reduced the whole world to a screen and made it accessible by using one’s fingertips.   From music, to data to games, all done in solitude and contrary to our social selves.

I miss traditional board games that we played on the floor, or on wooden tables.  We use to play chess, and Monopoly, and have a strategy that we could admire in one another.  Even if we didn’t always have enough time to finish it, we started it together.  And truth is, I enjoyed setting up the game, unfolding the board and pressing the center crease, so it would lay flat.  I especially enjoyed the confusion of who would get the use of which token, I was partial to the car.  We all were.

And I miss buying property, lining up my cards in a color coded arrangement and collecting rent on the next toss of the dice.  Trading, purchasing and monopolizing imaginary property, where business as usual meant selling and buying at stable prices.  And the mixture of beverages and snacks included a promissory note, that we would still be friends tomorrow.

It taught us how to live life, moments of encouragement, prosperity and despair.  In my world, where no one had real property anyway it was nice to collect the rent.  I learnt how to count play money for real.  And just as importantly, the value of the game itself, the work ethic to not quit and to play fair and to wait patiently for your turn.  Games are like that, when they’re played in a group setting and teaching you that you can win.  Not so much when you’re finger swiping in the bathroom.

And then there’s the music.  I love music, but it’s awfully hard to be engaged in a conversation with you when I’m listening to music, while playing a game, with ear buds plugged in my ears.  Not to worry, later on we’ll both post our updated status on Facebook and like it with a finger swipe.

We’ll get our world news there as well– wrongs against human rights, global warming and culture wars.  We’ll watch videos, read memes and send instant messages, the new chit-chat.

Ah, social reform because come to think of it, social media has given us a great place to check out what’s going on and made it easy to turn off.  Apathy that tricky by-product of capitalism, often experienced when technology is earmarked to consumers who no longer use their hands to clap… I suppose we’re all too busy with finger swipes.

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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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Technology Loses A Skillset

blog
As schools let out for summer vacation, it occurs to me that some kids will never learn how to read a roadmap. GPS, Global Positioning Systems have eliminated a skillset.

Technology has taken us away from Norman Rockwell’s America; and up ahead is a Digital Age full of wonder. Our world is changing. Smart devices are able to communicate with other smart devices; they’re exchanging bits and bytes of information—from lighting to temperature to foods and medications; without any help from us.

And it’s all happening so quickly, that when someone asks what just happened, we can assume that they blinked and missed it. It’s just that fast; giving added meaning to the phrase: “in the blink of an eye!”

Thankfully we have smart devices to handle most issues, whether or not we’ll be able to adapt and translate the information might be a challenge. But having the right tools is half the battle. Training will come to those who need it, because it must.

I remember when a road trip required a map, and that we bonded around and watched as an index finger followed what was hopefully an interstate highway. And the map was always carefully folded and stored away.

Back then you didn’t drive with the car’s air conditioner turned on. We were kids and some nitwit on television said you can drive a lot further on a car’s full tank of gas, so that’s what we did. And we packed the car to the roof with our camping gear and kids and little need for electricity.

We always started out early in the morning, as if we could out run the heat of the sun. Somehow it always caught up and baked us thoroughly. Our voices shrill with excitement as we set out on a family adventure and made memories. Often times, we’d get lost. Hence the need for the roadmap, and a set of skills to be able to read it.

Getting lost was always better when we’d find a gas station, a restroom and some food. Funny, but you find the best little restaurants, when you’re not actually looking for them. We’d use the restroom, eat and leave; make the left turn onto the interstate, but forget what came next in the set of directions that the waitress just gave us. But we’d sleep well.

I wonder if getting lost in the Digital Age will be as fun, or as memorable. I hope so!

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender, GPS, Maps, social media, tech, technology, Uncategorized