Tag Archives: gadget

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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Filed under ipad, iPhone, Selfie, technology, Uncategorized

Bartering Technology for Cool Pink Lemonade

11 Lemonade Girls

What if Norman Rockwell’s America had been depicted differently?

What if little boys and little girls were treated equally, that they might pursue similar dreams, based on their aptitude; and not by what was in their diapers.  Maybe then, coding, and entrepreneurships wouldn’t be as male dominated as they are…

What if “Rosie”, the Riveter wasn’t just a wartime phenomenon, but was commonly seen in everyday life, as a woman no more extraordinary than the housewife attached by an apron string, by choice.

What if after the war she was promoted to CEO and we saw that image as well.  What dreams might her daughters and grandchildren have and how might they have lived, seeing themselves depicted equally?

That’s what I think. And I’m only thinking that way now, because this past August my idea was accepted and then advanced to phase two of the YouNoodle competition, Verizon’s Powerful Answers.  And as I moved along in the competition, the portion which I found most difficult was entrepreneurial, because I had no training in that area.  So I did my research and pushed forward, but it did sit with me and ultimately, my idea was passed on.

That’s what encouragement or lack of encouragement does, it can sit and become a burden, one that vexes you, or it can inspire you to rise and push, that you might become your greater self.  I call it a lemonade stance!  Taking life’s lemons and bartering them for a chance to live your life, your way!

Sometimes, we do it to ourselves, because it might be easier to create our own club, rather than knock on the door of his club.  But we need to remember that separate is never equal.

And being comfortable to speak, doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be heard; because we’ve effectively made it easier to be ignored, as a group huddled to one side of society.

I’m not a history revisionist, but if I were… we’d all know the wives of the great men of America.  Her story, the wife’s story would be motivational, for surely she had a story, as we all do and must.

Of the five men who have been credited with making America one of the most affluent and influential countries in the world, we know very little of their wives.   Try looking them up, there’s very limited information about them and it’s not simply because of the times, but society that has historically and effectively stifled them.

In tribute…

Laura Celestia Spelman, Abolitionist, Philanthropist and teacher married John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) who she met in an accounting class.

Sophie Johnson married Cornelius Vanderbilt (Railroad) and ran the Bellona House, a hotel for weary travelers of her husband’s steamships.

Clara Bryant married Henry Ford (Automobile) and along with gardening was a business supporter in her husband’s business deals, that included convincing him to sign off on a Union contract.

Frances Tracy (2nd wife) married J.P. Morgan (Financier).  She preferred the quiet of the suburbs and home.

Louise Whitfield married Andrew Carnegie (Steel) and was a philanthropist.  She said it best:  “I am the unknown wife of a somewhat well-known businessman.”

But it’s wintertime in New England, a wonderful time for white fluffy snow that appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities.  A good time to pause and ponder life’s inequities, and like snow, thaw ideas that then nourish future minds, and grow so a child might become her greater-self and he might know of her.

Let’s begin by bartering life’s lemons for lemonade; to build lemonade stands.  So we can pass along tech advice, while we sip on cool pink lemonade and reimagine stories of what a damsel in distress looks like.

Cheers!

 

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Filed under AARP, Coding, Entrepreneurship, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Women

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

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

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

If Bees Pollinated Technology

2 bees tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Under The Hood

45 iphone
Last weekend, I passed a line of shoppers outside an Apple store and who, by all indications, were patiently waiting to purchase the new iPhone 6. And I’m not a rocket scientist, but I could tell that they weren’t newbies.

It made me wonder, why someone who already owned a perfectly good iPhone would stand in line for, what basically amounted to another smartphone. I paused to look at more than a hundred people, seated and standing calmly in a most organized way, without a police officer in sight, it was extraordinary. And from what I overheard, not nary a complaint among them.

Every now and then a customer would exit the store carrying a bag, a box and smiling down at a new iPhone. It was then, that the line came to life! The onlookers would nod in appreciation and in mock-like fashion give an invisible fist pump; that encouraging gesture of an eager beaver coexisting with an over-achiever; as they both experience a moment of bliss.

I was compelled to watch, as they satisfied their need for immediate gratification; this wasn’t simply the result of a successful advertising campaign, or the end game of a marketing ploy. No, this was genuine, like eating dinner and being satisfied with the meal.

This was great branding, a well-made and well-defined product. Worthy of our attention; technology and cars seem to have that effect, product loyalty and product integrity. And while one doesn’t ensure the likelihood of the other’s existence, they can and do make people form lines; like this one, in which consumers wait to be one of the first to get their hands on the product. So they can play with it and love it. New technology is like that, shiny and inviting. But if you look under the hood, you’ll see it hasn’t got a heart to love any of us back.

As I walked away smiling, I knew that I’d be purchasing a new phone soon.

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Filed under cellphone, Consumers, Internet, ipad, iPhone, technology, Telephone

Tech Savvy and Served

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer service served.

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

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