Tag Archives: baby boomers

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

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.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender Equality, tech, technology

Private Note to Baby Boomers

1 tech typewriter

It’s time now.  Come on, wake up. It’s your turn to make this world right.  Gummy bears and cotton candy, sweet dreams that form the cutting edge of innovation, because you are the epitome of possibility.  And yes,  the world may yet become a better place, because you’re in it.

So, finally, you’re about to graduate from parent-hood.  It’s truly an OMG kind of moment, where whimsy meets reality and you’re the star!  Soon emotion will stir with nostalgia to create a refreshing new out look and life will change forever.  It begins with a small spark within your soul, like a bead of perspiration that grows and flows.  Yes, there may be discomfort and moments of anxiety, but isn’t that what growth is all about?  Change always seems to include some discomfort.

Funny, but family will take on new meaning, as those things that once infuriated you about them, will become dear memories.  Those things that were so annoying, will be funny attributes.  You’ll miss the toys underfoot and the security blanket that you once wrapped around them, just as they once held your face in their round hands.   Cute.  It seems a hug isn’t a yoke after all, we’re made to love unconditionally, not because we have to… but simply because.

So as you prepare to trade in the mini-van for the Tesla, take a moment and pause…

Look around and see what once was and who you’ve become.   Remember how many baby steps they mastered before you learnt to let go, and they smiled.  And it was their triumphant and confident strides into womanhood that made you smile.    Relax, you’re not walking away from family, but instead into your own future.  Sure it’s a little bit frightening, but it’s also exciting.  And every step will become your mark in this world.   So step lively, be graceful and write!  Begin again, with kind and fresh footsteps wherever you go.

It’s technical, not a technicality.  Come on, it’s your turn to shine.   Let’s see how you do.

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Tech Befuddlement

$1 lathe

Befuddlement, it’s the perfect word for that moment, when you find yourself in the middle of the room, without the slightest idea of what you came to get, or do.

It’s a glitch, a processing error that creates a momentary lag in memory; an affliction that resembles aging.  And I absolutely hate it!

Embedded in the human experience are mishaps common to each of us, the stubbing of one’s toe and the bumping of one’s head, these events are surprises when they happen, but we’re never surprised that they can and do happen.   That is, if we’re alive, then it’s almost to be expected, as if we ourselves are characters in a Charlie Chaplin movie.

It’s not limited to any age group, it happens to children, but their response to the mishap seems quite contrary to the adult response.  And for this, I envy them.

I’ve watched them come tearing into a room, stop and look about and then dash back out; they seem oblivious that their round hands remain empty.  I’ve asked my daughters what they came for and they’ve simply shrugged their shoulders and replied, “I dunno.”  And that’s that, the end.

Just like that, they both lost a moment and dismissed it.  Yes, they’ve acknowledged that it happened, but they don’t succumb to it; don’t wonder if it’s the beginning of some horrible condition, like the early stages of dementia.

Because this sort of thing happens, it’s inevitable that we’ll walk empty handed into a room, then have no idea what we’ve come in for, or what we had to say or do, POOF!  The thought vanished.

Like life itself, we’re born and we learn to walk then run.  We start off with so much promise, and our ideas seem bright and then sometimes we settle, never fully grasping our best selves.  For love, for lack of money for whatever the reason, now irretrievably gone, like some whimsical vapor, it doesn’t matter.

And we grow older.  It’s not a bad thing, after all it is what it is, but we might need to start understanding that memory glitch.  Because technology might not have an answer.  So, just in case we arrive at the future and don’t know what we came for… let’s spin around and live life willy-nilly and not worry about it!

And let’s give it a name… “Whatchamacallit.”

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Filed under AARP, technology, Women

Free Flowing Technology

1 what if faucet

Unlike a water faucet, once turned on technology can’t be turned off.   And maybe that’s a good thing.

This is my 50th post here on WordPress.   And while there’s no award, no special dinner and no time to acknowledge this accomplishment, this post will be a moment to pause…

Technical journeys tend to begin with a free flowing dream.  It’s exciting and at first seems unstoppable and predestined.  Of course, as it moves forward through a series of obstacles, both real and imagined that defy logic, motivations change, but technology moves ahead.

It’s in the unscrewing of a metal plate found underneath a music box.  It’s in the portable transistor radio, with exposed capacitors and printed circuit boards, soldered and fingered by a kid that’s exploring the world from a rusty wrought-iron fire escape.

Safe.

Despite a gender obstructive environment, I managed to climb up a telephone pole past my mother’s lot in life.  From there, I enjoyed the view and never felt a need to climb a mountain, because technology always moves society from idea to idea and from gadget to gadget and improves life.  Everywhere.

Today, I’m left wondering what if a little girl’s aptitude had surpassed her curiosity and what if, that natural tendency had been fueled with guidance and attention to detail?

This post will not have cleverly inserted hyperlinks, but instead will casually mention my digital technology awareness that came from and could never have been achieved without gears, switches and analog circuitry that faded, old-timey technology.

I’m an OG, an Original Gal who was born into a male dominated world, who went out and took on a man’s job as a technician.  Maybe, perhaps, just maybe my career helped open a path for another little girl.   So, here I am way past 50, staying up late and writing with a sharpened No. 2 pencil that was tucked behind my ear, for when I set down my wrench and screwdriver.

These days, I’m engaged in soft discussions of encouragement; slow thoughtful development rather than the quick movements, that I can no longer sustain.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, because experience in a tech world has upside, there’s always room for growth and innovation.

Next week I’m going to begin scouting locations for a pink lemonade stand.

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Pink Lemonade, the New Slice of Pie

L Pies

“What’s my plan?”

I’m not sure how to respond; I’m trying to figure it out, as I go along.  Lately life has supplied a bushel of lemons, and I’m familiar with the saying “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade” but what I’d really like to know is how do I make it into a slice of lemon pie?

For years, I’ve been delving around on the internet trying to get published.  But working full-time and raising a family limited the time I spent and some sites that offered me a steady readership, PNN (defunct) and Yahoo, byline offered anemic compensation.

But I’ve also seen some succes.  There was a “Name Us” on-line contest, an experiment that went viral with international submissions.   I entered the name “Pxyl” and won.   The company has since been named to INC Magazine 5000 list, as one of America’s fastest growing companies, maybe there’s magic in a name.   I won a Kindle (I still have it) and they’ve mentioned my name a few times.

The MIT Age Lab in Cambridge, MA selected me to participate in a driving study.  I was exposed to new technology, and discovered that age does have its perks.   I was given the keys to a specially equipped vehicle, and connected by electronic leads to external computers, while video cameras mounted in the interior of the vehicle recorded me driving along the highway.    The data and my responses were gathered, collected and uploaded to a Cloud in real time.

The world is fast changing and I’m interested in everything!  This past August I was invited to Maine for a huge tech conference and saw first hand how the business IT landscape is changing.  And yes, I noticed that it was mostly men, so I was happy to write about the many doors that are opening for Girls Coding.   Meanwhile, the open platforms, the cost of processors (dropped) and the Internet of Things is real and it’s all rather amazing!

I’m a technician at heart.  My mind is trained to always approach a problem by getting on its good side, and the only dumb question, is the one that wasn’t asked.  So I started to ask questions on the internet to anonymous engineers.  I took a free on-line coding class, I read and wrote and realized I was becoming more and more unemployable.   Social media seemed appealing, so I decided to become a brand.

In April of 2014, I created a pseudonym, both tech savvy and internet friendly, named TechnyGal.  I started a blog, first on the WIX  platform and then here, on WordPress.  I opened a Twitter account and tied them to Facebook.  I purchased a few domain names Technygal.com and PinkisTheNewGreen.net  and then I started writing.

Two months later I received an email from the Washington Post Live, inviting me to a forum in Boston, I accepted.  The next day, I received another invitation to attend a 3 day conference being held in Boston, by AARP  50+ Life Reimagined.  I graciously accepted.

While seated at a Press only luncheon, I leaned over and confessed to an executive VP, that I had no idea of how I had gotten there and that I was humbled and overwhelmed.  She smiled and replied, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”  So I have…

It’s been less than a year, and I’m thinking more and more of what direction I’d like Technygal to go in, and I’m thinking it includes girls coding, selling lemonade and getting bigger slices of pie.  But like I said, I’m not sure of how I’m doing what I’m doing, there’s just this steady movement always forward.

Your suggestions are welcome…

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, facebook, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, Internet, small business, technology, Twitter

Thinking Outside The Bubble

1 Internet of everything

 

What’s in a name?

I was thinking that we humans have a tendency to forget things. That is, we walk into a room and fully forget what we came in to get; we drive our car home and forget where we put the car keys.   Well, we should all be able to remember this name.

“The Internet of Things”

Lazy and rather unimaginative, this name does what most names don’t actually do, it defines, describes and categorizes, then answers the question: “What is it?”

Once a theory and quickly realized, anything equipped with a sensor could be in constant communication with a computer processor.  I can almost imagine the first MIT scientists throwing their hands up in technological glee, fully inspired by the sheer volume of their discovery!

Now a coffee pot in their office could “talk” to the refrigerator down the hall.  And both could be programmed to “talk” to humans, as well as machines and more, these enchanted objects would be able to add cream and milk to your grocery list, as well as perform “yet to be thought of” applications.  Big Data (with it’s equally unimaginative name) would gather and collect executable data, which could be analyzed in real time.

Mind boggling and still evolving into what just might be “the internet of nearly EVERYTHING”.

The Digital Age has jettisoned technology closer to a television cartoon with a similar name (The Jetsons).  We don’t have flying cars, but who knows?  Everything seems possible with sensors and a computer’s magical little black box, that processes code.  That leads to technology getting smarter and smarter.

Change is coming, both progressive and disruptive.   It can decimate confidence, shake up the bottom line and place a strain on long standing traditions.  And we’re all prone to its “Goosies”,  that skin tingling sensation induced by excitement or fear or disbelief.

Mature businesses, like older people will feel it acutely, maybe more so than start-up companies and younger, tech savvy people, who never used letterhead on bond paper and couldn’t tell the difference.  But having different efficiency levels shouldn’t be a license to feast, one on the other.

It’s wiser to work together; bartering and collaborating like our ancestors did when they first discovered fire.  And again, when they put fire to a best use practice, smelting iron and forging steel.   Factoid, teamwork will always lessen a load.

We’ll have to use technology smartly, because finger swipes across a screen is not a measure of intelligence.   We’ll also need to put on our thinking caps, which will act as a protective helmet in the event of a crash.

The mind is a powerful bubble making machine, full of ideas.  So, what happens when a thought bubble pops?

I say we harness the gases for propulsion, fasten your seatbelt.   It’s gonna be a helluva ride!

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, cellphone, Code, Coding, gadget, Internet, ipad, iPhone, tech, technology, Twitter

The Age of Selfie-Satisfaction

i me tech 4
All across the internet, there’s a Laissez-faire attitude that allows us to post our photos boldly.   But who took and posted the first Selfie?

I only ask because it’s become so fashionable.  Everyone takes them, from politicians to rock stars to the Average Joe; and then they post them online, “See me, here I am.”

Most of the time I’m not even looking for anyone, but I become intrigued by the crooked smile or the dimples, so I click on a photo and read.
But what I’d really like to know is what happened to those cartoon avatars?  You remember the ones;  we had a choice when you signed onto a website.   And it didn’t matter which avatar you picked, because it was only a feeble attempt at representation.  Besides, back then we hid behind our anonymity, and procrastinated when the technology changed over to thumbnail photos.   And despite our wishes, it caught on and stayed.

Technology doesn’t care about shyness or looks or even who uses it;  so we all had to rise above self-esteem issues.

Reluctantly, we changed our avatars to real photos.  At least most of us did, and we laughed at ourselves, without worry of consequence.  It was extraordinary.

Because that’s the beauty of technology, that even the most introverted or bashful person can be popular on social media.   With thousands of Followers on Twitter and Likes on Facebook, another story can be told; a Start-up can be funded and a floundering business revitalized.   Just by posting a Selfie there, or Pinterest or Instagram.  A cliché comes to life, that yes a picture can and does paint a thousand words.

According to cognitive research psychologists, the only downside of mindlessly snapping photos is that the human brain can’t retain what it hasn’t fully processed or seen;  it’s the opposite effect of a photographic memory.   That is, you’re not going to remember details of the photo you took, because you let the camera do the work for you.

Ah, but what does that matter? The whole world is doing it! And there are so many platforms to display your Selfies and Clouds to store them all. And if it does come to fruition that it does matter, we’ll probably be old and senile.

And then, in that moment, in the Coming Age of Exposure, who’ll notice? Again, we’ll smile. Perhaps, a little more like the Mona Lisa smile, smug. And we’ll sing like Madonna… “Strike a pose- Vogue.”

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Readers of Code

world book 9

I like that people are reading. For a long while it seemed that people had stopped reading, but now thanks in part to social media, people are reading more, albeit snippets of information.

Still, these easy readers, Tweets, status updates and likes, have created a renewed readership, with links to blogs and articles, that have been written by real writers. Technology, it seems is getting people to read!

Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. Not voracious, but still very much on top of things. I read any genre and was always on the lookout for new writers. It seemed that I had more leisure time, and I was a fast reader, able to enjoy a quick read as well as a long casual one.

Books you see, are my friends. They stay up with me when I can’t sleep, whispering to me about new ideas, old innuendos and faraway places right here on earth. Books lean against the wall, or sit patiently on the table, stacked and ready for my retreat into them, away from reality.

I like to savor what I read. Let the words swirl around inside my head. Discover new thoughts, evoke emotions that softly touch or ruffle up against the edges of a memory. All mine. If left to my own vices, I’d sit with a nice glass of chardonnay and read a whole book; a book a day, as if it were an elixir, ah …

Unfortunately, I have fewer hours to read. But I make time to visit the library and I browse local bookstores. Because I like the way a book feels in my hands, as much as I like the smooth feel of my iPad, which replaced my 1st generation Kindle.

And in addition to that, I’ve been learning code. I’m a big advocate that all girls should learn code, and wasn’t I once a girl?

So, I signed up for an Edx course, purchased a few books and started to run programs on a computer. (And here, dear reader is where I must add a disclosure: “I’m not a computer geek, not a rocket scientist and not a genius and not a programmer.”) I’m a student in the world of variables and integers.

Anyway, yesterday I curled up with my book, my laptop and executed a C program in terminal with Gedit. It was mind-boggling, as I started to believe, that if you read it, you can understand and do it. And to that end, I’m learning.

I created a social message about girls coding in MIT’s Scratch website; it allows you to code with blocks. (For giggles, here is my project, click the green flag Girls Jump.)

I like that people are reading again. Technology it seems, does require us to think and it’s making us readers of code. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Girls, social media, tech, technology, Twitter, Women

Type Casting Technology

1 tech typewriter
By definition I’m a Baby Boomer. Born in the United States from 1946 to 1964; I am a by-product of that military minded society that gave birth to modern technology.

I have an affinity, a predilection and a preference for the propaganda of that era, both proud of country and invincible. If there was a way to improve the human condition, there was a genuine hope and determination and a willfulness to make it happen. And three inventions– television, the computer and the microwave made it so; they changed society.

Television that boob tube was the American dream personified. We sang television commercials as if they were the Billboard’s Top Ten: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” for Alka-Seltzer and Virginia Slim’s, “To get where you’ve got to today, you’ve got your own cigarette now baby, you’ve come a long, long way.”

It began with the end to dried up leftovers, like meatloaf. That tricky dinner meant to feed a family of five on a budget of three. Goodbye cold brown brick and hello hot and juicy!

Technology has forever changed our world, Luddites have no place here. Like my old fishy typewriter; the one I found when I was eleven years old. It’s heavy and I can’t type, but I like the way it looks and smells. I also like the voice activated software that I’ve loaded onto my computer.

We Baby Boomers haven’t invented everything, but we perfected some things and we did it on a grand scale. Tablets, cellphones and a commercial space program. I’m grateful for all of that, for what we’ve achieved and for what we have and I still don’t like dried up leftovers, but I like having a choice. Et Tu?

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