Tag Archives: baby boomers

Welcome to the Digital Divide

1 Range Circuit_Board
For years, the digital world seemed to be just up ahead; a futuristic place that existed beyond our dreams and over a mountain, like a rainbow. It culled our imaginations, and made us ask “What if?”

The digital divide seemed accessible by car and markings on the roadway, those dashes painted on the asphalt guided us along, by keeping us in our respective lanes. It was orderly, like life itself.

Trees flew past so fast that they didn’t resemble themselves, instead the blurred images helped fuel our curiosity. From the car’s window we pondered life and the big blue marble, called earth. Road trips had that effect. And when we returned to school we’d have questions, like “What does a cloud taste like?”

On Monday morning, we’d gather in the schoolyard and whisper; a discussion about which questions should be brought up in class; the probable, the impossible and the iffy-iffy.

One student would ask a question, the teacher would answer and then someone else would ask a question. Like a string of pearls in a leap frog fashion- a question led to an answer to a question and another and so on; until finally the bell rang. The class would end and the teacher wouldn’t have taught us anything; and somehow, we felt empowered by the disruption.

It was especially exciting when the teacher realized, albeit too late, that he’d been duped into answering pointless questions. It validated our cleverness and added meaning to our lives. A harmless prank, one in which we delayed progress, that is the day’s lessons and entertained ourselves.

And it’s about to begin again, but this time there’s more at stake. It’s not simply a question of what a cloud tastes like, but rather what exactly can a cloud do with big Data?

Deciding that and what questions to ask isn’t as provocative, as the next question, that is: “How do we protect our information?” and “What information is worth protecting?” and “Is a data breach the only way to know the difference?”

Welcome to the digital divide, a disruption in progress.

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Filed under Big Data, Coding, Consumers, social media, tech, technology

Humble Tech Beginnings- Tweet

Tech stairs
Hello world! I’m excited. Or at least I think I should be, I am after all still Tweeting on Twitter. In fact, as of this post I’ve Tweeted 555 times!

It’s not that I’ve reached a milestone or done anything spectacular, like winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Contest (which I’ve never heard of anyone winning, not even remotely via the six degrees of separation). But, from technology’s viewpoint, I’ve come a long way.

And I bet you wasn’t looking for me! But in the time that it took for me to firmly establish my feet into the webbing of the internet; those threads of ideas and beads of knowledge shared by design, I had gained ground. That’s how swiftly the words were sent. Since then, I’ve been interviewed, invited to conventions, solicited to write reviews and tested out mock-ups.

I’ve stood in line at buffets, peering at a smorgasbord of deliciousness that I could never eat, even if I were granted ample time to eat it all in. And I’ve had cocktails. Those refreshing little drinks without the umbrellas that make me appreciate the sun more and the sand between my toes, a little less.

The truth is, last year at this time, if someone had told me that I’d be here I would’ve guffawed at their ridiculousness. Me, a little city girl who literally “considered suicide when the rainbow was enough”; like most of the kids in my poor neighborhood.

I’m a Baby Boomer by definition, that is I was born between 1946 and 1964. I was raised by a single mom, who struggled to make ends meet. There were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment, in a rickety old house, on a newly paved road, named Dacia Street.

We had no shower, no bathroom door, little heat, less food, no phone, and a pen-pal who liked to write eviction notices.

Memories like these give me a reason to pause; to appreciate where I am now, sitting on a country deck. Time to eat cherries and spit pits into a napkin, all nice and dainty; while I read The New Yorker on my iPad. And that’s how I know technology has been good to me.

It’s also been good to 74.6 million other Baby Boomers, who’ve gone from cold leftovers to microwave ovens. We’re living longer and healthier lives because of those technological advancements, from dark places to streaming movies and music. Overall, we’re a grateful bunch.

My first Twitter was on April 27, 2014, that’s when I tweeted:

Dreaming you can make a difference in the world is motivational. Waking up, crawling out of bed and making it happen is life. #Techtalks

Yes, the internet of things is humbling.

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Filed under AARP, music, social media, technology, Telephone, Twitter

The Window to Virtuality

Womens window 4
The window to data has opened and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

Like the Industrial Age before it, the Age of Technology is full of innovation. And it’s all happening very quickly, and gives merit to the adage “If it can be imagined, then it’s possible.”

The future that was set into motion, doesn’t care whether we prepared for it or not. Each generation has been given the world, “As Is” with a bucket of nuts and bolts and a set of rudimentary tools; and incomplete history books, that substitute and interchange individual greatness for truths.

The notion of getting things right the first time seems impossible; as does the approach of taking it slow and steady. Unlike Aesop’s Fable, “Hare and The Tortoise”, there will be few winners among those who lag behind, or who are too slow to keep pace in the Age of Technology.

We see society changing so rapidly that words like “virtuality” and terms like “social media” have been added into our vocabularies without foreword or discussion. Clouds and Fogs have taken on added definitions, and Big Data, is exactly as it implies, only more of it than what had been supposed when the term was first introduced.

And if it sounds like a storm brewing, it just might be and at the epicenter is social change. Society will have to adapt and must adjust quickly to the disruption.

Already we’re seeing the disruption to the traditional livery and taxi-cab businesses, with new upstarts like Uber and Lyft, carving out not a slice at a time, but huge chunks. Traditional funding has also changed. Crowd-Sourcing and companies like Kickstarter, has successfully launched upstarts. And yes, it does help when you’re not seeking to be funded by old establishment banking systems that founded the horse and buggy and stagecoaches, when you want to bust into the industry!

Interestingly, letting go of old innuendos, and outdated traditions is even more difficult, at a time when our natural instinct is to maintain the status quo, that is to cling onto what’s familiar and held dear. But that’s exactly what has to happen, this purging of society so the new can be integrated. It’s not always achieved by brute force or by the slower, art of persuasion.

Social media is a part of the Age of Technology, mostly without precedent. The internet can impact change, without a bullhorn or a stadium, or the power of a microphone, millions of people can gather and share; to create one voice and be overwhelmingly heard.

We witnessed its power when women outraged against misogyny, used Twitter and through the power of a “hashtag”, used their touch screens to send a message that was heard; the beginning of change.

So there is a future. The window to data has opened out to it and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, social media, tech, technology

Like Asking Graphene To Dance

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My foot was already in the shoe when my phone went off.  So I missed the call.  And I was filled with guilt. 

Not so long ago I was free.   I wasn’t tethered to my cellphone; back then “free” really meant free.  And the word wasn’t just used as a reply when asked about your weekend plans or the elated outcry after divorce proceedings. 

We thought everyone was entitled to freedom, and we blindly fought wars to that end.   But the world has changed; mostly our roles in it.

And having become a society of the “entitled”, we’ve also blindly given things up.  For me it’s been my freedom to dine out, to dance, to socialize without interruption.  Technology it seems prospers when the least amount of resistance is applied.  It doesn’t matter whether you get it, you’re getting it or you’re one of the one’s who already had it; it’s gone.

Because here’s the thing, technology is getting smarter and we’re getting older.  And technology doesn’t age.  Welcome to the Age of Technology.

Our grandparents wouldn’t have liked it in this world so much.  They didn’t like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World either, too strange.  But that’s what the generation gap is all about; it’s only strange because it’s new.  Meanwhile the gap is widening, because the technology is getting smarter. 

Recently, I spoke with Don Fitts of AARP TEK, Life @50+ and he talked about hands on tech learning, where the youth will teach grandparents how to use day to day gadgets, like tablets.  How it will bring two generations together, and I thought brilliant!

Luckily our children, the offspring of our entitlement, have greatly benefitted from not being intimidated by technology.   In fact, they’re laid back, which allows the student to now become the perfect teacher. 

For me, there’s something nostalgic about our youth working with older citizens; like a Norman Rockwell magazine cover.  A universal moment in a commonplace situation; a snapshot that shows the connectivity between us all.

Truth is a Smartphone doesn’t by osmosis make any of us, anymore smart.  I can’t fix an iPad or the camera on my daughter’s Android phone.  

Which brings me to that missed phone call, as quiet as it’s kept; I’m happy I missed my daughter’s call.  For in that brief moment of time, I was free and I didn’t feel inadequate. 

 

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, gadget, tech, technology

Free Knowledge, Must Bring Your Own Container

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New gadgetry is allowing us to re-train the brain and learn all kinds of new things! And the Internet of Things (IoT) just made learning really cool.

If there’s a lesson book on the art of aging, I’ve never read it. But I do know that age has a way of leveling the playing field, that is no amount of toned muscle and body mass will make you a competitor in the next Olympics.

Wisdom keeps life in perspective. A subtle reminder that the brain, unlike the body is more forgiving; and old adages like, “You can’t teach old dog new tricks”, just aren’t true anymore. You can retrain the brain and learn. That is, you can teach old dog new tricks, but usually he’s just a tad slower on the uptake.

Enter a smorgasbord of technology, a Tsunami of technology from Machine to Machine (M2M) to the Internet of Things (IoT) this is real, it’s large and apparently we Baby Boomers have arrived just in time, because if we arrived later, it would’ve went “swoosh” right over our heads!

I recently visited the Home Booth at AARP Life@50+ and spoke with Nono Kusuma an engineer. He showed me quite a bit of HOME technology, those things that we wouldn’t usually associate with technology, say like a light bulb. Yes, there’s an App for that and “Hue”, a lighting system by Philips.

Home security systems, the Do-It-Yourself variety that didn’t but could be used in conjunction with a monitoring company, your cable provider or direct to your Smartphone. Yes, there’s an App for that, in fact, nearly everything that I suggested, from temperature control to venetian blinds that open and closed, had an App. The Internet of things is real.

I was reminded of my old home security system, years ago we had the electric timer. We’d plug it into the wall outlet and plug the appliance, lamp or radio into it. We’d set the clock dial to AM/PM, pick the time and we’d head out in the station wagon to that cabin in the mountains. Voilà!

After a while we got creative and used two timers, at one end of the house we’d plug in a radio and at the other a light bulb. At night the empty house would have a radio on and lights would go out or vice versa.

Fortunately for us, we always came home to a tightly secured house. We’ll never know whether it was the efficiency of the blaring radio or the light bulb; or if it was just pure luck. But whatever the case, we did return to a house that was as we had left it, that is locked.

In fact, the only unpleasant part about coming home was that the house was overheated. But even that small inconvenience is a thing of the past, because the house temperature can be controlled by the Smartphone. Yes, there’s an App for that.

The business of learning doesn’t go away with age. It does however change, bringing its own set of rewards– coming home to a secure house that’s cool inside, that’s just one of life’s joys.

Free knowledge, must bring your own container.

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Graphene, A New Technology For Women

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We women have an astounding amount of buying power.  Market estimates vary, but reports indicate that women spend between $5 trillion to $15 trillion annually.  Trillion.

So, tell me why is all the really cool technology geared towards men?  Is it some James Bond Double O-Seven fetish? 

I’m only noticing now, because this week I started to plan our family’s summer vacation and while it’ll be based on affordability, fun and location; we’ll also need accessibility. 

I don’t mean free Wi-Fi in the hotel room internet accessibility.  I don’t mean poolside free Wi-Fi because we’re not going to be tethered to either.   We’re hoping to go down the unbeaten trails, but we’re not interested in accruing roaming charges. 

We want to take selfies next to the waterfalls and upload them to our friends back home.  We want to be able to check and respond to emails, and update Facebook.  And yes, I want to Tweet about any inconveniences that we encounter during our idyllic getaway.

So, we need gadgetry, like men’s Wi-Fi cufflinks, but not cufflinks because we’re not going to a wedding or a formal dance.

I’ve done some research and there’s a new product called Graphene that Scientists discovered back in 2004.   Made of pure carbon, Graphene efficiently conducts heat and electricity; it’s lightweight and remarkably strong.  Scientists believe it will replace silicon. Companies like Apple are interested in it, so am I.  It’s flexible and has a great deal of potential and I’m thinking it can also be used for Wi-Fi underwire. 

I hope that some tech firm will think of women.  That they’ll think outside the box.  Think of something new.  Enough of the “same old same old”, those blue jeans, mascara and stockings.  Oh My!

Frightening, because there’s so much more to women.  But the most obvious would be our fetish for shoes.  A huge market right there; hi-heels, low-heels and sandals too; I could think of a few improvements to them.

Maybe made with a collapsible heel for more efficient dancing.  Heels that transform into flats, now there’s a novel idea.  And Graphene being both flexible and light-weight would be perfect.  Of course the shoe has to be fashionable.  So, partner it with a reputable clothing designer, construct it with Wi-Fi, (cleverly concealed in the heel) and Kapow!  Portable, interchangeable and to optimize them, make them in a variety of colors!

Now that’s new technology for women.  Rethink the thought and make it happen; life re-imagined.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Consumers, gadget, Gender, profitability, tech, technology, Wi-Fi, Women

Small Business Start-Up: Re-Think Technically

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Life doesn’t always allow us to know that what we’re doing and what we’re saying can and does make a difference.  For many of us, we’ve been making all the motions and haven’t gotten anywhere, but that’s about to change.   

It’s small business week, time to rethink a thought and think technically.   

The internet has completely changed the ways and means of starting a small business, from mailings to research to training; everything now seems reasonable and do-able!  

For many of us, time hasn’t been our friend.  In fact, most recently, time has been a struggle.  Everything seemed to come down on us at once; the rent coming due when the kids needed new sneakers and just when the fuel tank needle dropped to empty and a kid got sick!   

For every step that we took forward, there seemed to be two steps back. But somehow we muddled along.  And when there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day; we squeezed out another moment and got it done just in the nick of time.   

And all the while, we were unaware that we had been doing the Suze Orman juggle, and making ends meet.  We had stretched our dollars and lived within our means for so long, that it had become second nature to us, this check to check lifestyle, without the economic mystery of Adam Smith’s invisible hand distributing the goodies; which had long ago become ineffectual. 

And now here’s the pay-off; we’re wiser, we’re consumers and we’re our own purveyors.   Our kids are grown, and even if they haven’t moved out yet, we’re comforted in knowing that our job as paying parents is done. That is we’re no longer responsible for their name-brand sneakers! Yes, we have a little money left over.     

Time, our old nemesis has become friendlier.  As if there’s a mutual respect between us.  We’re no longer wasting time by procrastinating and time is no longer zipping by.   

Sure, a lot of things have changed.  The umbrella of social security is leaking and retirement will never be what it once was, but according to a study at MIT, baby boomers are twice as successful as their younger counterparts when starting up a technology business.

And this week is small business week; a time to acknowledge and appreciate small businesses.  A reminder that we don’t need silver spoons to mold dreams, when we have our hands.   Small businesses are built by forming new friendships, establishing networks and creating new online communities. Dedication and hard work will prevail.    

And later, in the cool of the afternoon, we’ll make time to look through old photographs and see that we smiled and laughed.   

And more importantly, once again we’ll make a difference.

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TEK Inclusive, Not Elusive

aarp 1

Life doesn’t come with instructions.  Whether we’re pushed out or carefully extracted, we enter this world ill prepared for the journey ahead of us. 

In our youth, the journey was thrilling and eventful; we often jumped to conclusions and leapt before thinking and did so with little consequence.  But we’re older now and know better. 

Technology, is best used with knowledge, but sometimes it doesn’t come with paper instructions and just seems daunting. 

It wasn’t always that way.   Once upon a time, when you purchased a product it came with instructions that seamlessly guided you along, so that you could enjoy the device.  These were usually written on crisp white paper and after you read them, you were well prepared to use the device. Then you’d carefully fold the paper instructions and store them neatly away for future reference.

But the future came quickly, without warning the instructions began to appear on recycled paper.  These thin greyish slips of paper easily tore, and usually didn’t offer a grace period, that is a small window of time in which in complete frustration you’d ball up the instructions and promptly tossed them into the trash. Later, you’d retrieve them with a cooler head; logic prevailed. You’d get it, you needed those instructions.

And then the instructions changed form again, now they were being printed in multiple languages. English on one side and Spanish or Chinese on the other.  You were left more frustrated than before and joked about it; if you didn’t understand the instructions in English, then how could you possibly understand them in another language?

And then, without warning they had the last laugh, when they intentionally stopped putting the instructions into the box!

Instead a CD needed to be inserted and run on a computer. And that too began to change as you could only gain access to the instructions by visiting the website and downloading them.   A quandary if you didn’t have the knowledge to download a PDF, yet another acronym that popped into the English vernacular.

Which brings me back to the top of this page; that you’re not born with life instructions in hand; but perhaps you don’t need them to be.   After all, we have this unique ability to communicate, that is we can paint and erect a sign to prevent others from falling off a cliff. Technology shouldn’t be viewed as a cliff.

Besides, the journey of life is fun, meant to be enjoyed; teaching, educating and sharing knowledge are important to character, integrity and human development.

It’s nice to know that there’s still instructions included on things that smell good, like boxes of cake mix.  And if that changes and a cake mix requires a kitchen mobile APP, well it’s equally nice to know there’s a 50+ community available to help you.

Taking the fear out of technology and yes, there’s AARP TEK for that.

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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 Boomer 1st Tweet

Baby Boomer economy 3 Hello world! I’m excited. It’s as if some part of me has just emerged from a cocoon, where for the past umpteenth years, I’ve been passively learning and today, all that changed. And if you were born between 1946 and 1964, well you’re about to feel excited too!

Because you’re a Baby Boomer, one of the 74.6 million babies that were born after World War II; you are a part of the largest generation to be born in American history.

The American Baby Boomer Committee (ABBC) wants to acknowledge us with some Baby Boomer trivia: The Boom peaked in 1957. If you were born that year, then you are 1 of 11,780.8 babies that were born per day in America. Yes, per day; that’s the equivalent of about 8 babies per minute! And if you were born in 1964, at the end of the Boom Era, then you’re one of 11,002.7 babies born per day in the U.S.

We fearlessly rode our bicycles and roller skated without helmets. We fell down and scraped our knees; but we got back up and were better prepared for life because of our bruised feelings. We played outdoors, partied and sometimes drank too much. Our “Been there done that” attitude helped build up integrity, without tearing down character.

We’re no longer buying diapers and saving for tuition. Our kids have graduated from college and while they’re trying to figure out their lives, we’ve discovered new ways to balance our household budgets and there’s money left over!

We’re the newest consumers on the internet, stabilizing the economy and finding better ways to use social media. Our impact will have far-reaching effects on a global scale, in politics and on the ecology. We’ll have a chance to eradicate racism and perhaps close the gender gap.

We baby boomers are a voting bloc, a movement that will drum out a new beat and our first tweet on Twitter will be: “Hello”.

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