Tag Archives: Internet of Things

The Pursuit of Smarty Pants

#smarty pants d

Smarty pants!  Not so long ago that label was reserved for sarcasm and usually accompanied by some form of bullying.   It wasn’t exactly an endearment that made you the “Big Girl On Campus”

But what if?

Much of what’s happening in our digital world happens so fast, that before it’s completely absorbed, we’re onto the next thing.   What was once generally accepted as taboo, is added to our “To Do” lists.   And jumbled together, what’s derogatory is the new compliment!   Hello.

When it won’t fit neatly into our compartments, we stuff the data into storage space.   Renting clouds is like that, from standard to hybrids.  They’ve become a necessity, and what we once paid for, is now free, a supposed perk of disruptive innovation.

But remember Blockbuster Videos, the store that rented out our favorite games and videos?  It was quickly replaced by Netflix’s streaming videos on-demand.  And once upon a time, we didn’t blink twice to be charged for an email account, that too became passé.   Acronyms can be like that, easily replacing an “L”  for an “A”, making us laugh out loud at  America On-Line.

Still, deep down inside, we know that nothing is free.   We’ve simply exchanged one thing for something else, the latest commodity, our personal data.

Facebook recently had a judgment made against them, by the EU court in Europe, on a privacy case.   A case with such huge ramifications that it’s most likely a triple threat- dare, of the mammoth size, where there’ll be no clear winners.

It seems that the digital world doesn’t turn in a predetermined static-free orbit, after all.  But instead it’s in a constant state of flux.    Laws written fifteen years ago have become out dated, transcontinental e-commerce that was once all the rage, is now the brunt of outrage.   And it’s hard to predict which way it goes.

Because technology just keeps moving, incapable of feeling, it’s capable of separating good people from their data.   The word open platform doesn’t always lead to bug fixes, or great results.   Sometimes, it leads to new ways to discover breaches to be breached.

And budgets spent to fix what’s discovered, breaks relations and leads to distrust and clandestine meetings.  A cycle, that the Internet Of Things might avert, because its capable of firewalling data in that machine to machine way, without being paranoid.   Making ulterior motives apparent and functioning more efficiently.

But first… we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time.

As we pull our digital pants on, we’ll know what data is collected and dispersed.   Data collected will be gathered by how hard we pull today versus yesterday.  Whether that movement was swift or jerky; and if our grip around the waist band was strong or weak.  And was the fit loose or snug?  Things like body temperature and amino acid level inside, read by an inseam.  Our diet adjusted automatically, and accordingly.

Oh, and the best part will be the multi-functional zipper.  The head-end that communicates to the internet of things– Our refrigerator and our coffee machines.  Simultaneously turned on, preferred sources of information will stream in real-time.   Our location, the day’s weather, morning traffic and news.  The pharmacy notified, pre-written prescriptions filled and the car’s heated seats, turned on.

While there’s a lot that might go Topsy-Turvy, there’s an awful lot that might just go right.   The true pursuit of happiness in a pair of smarty pants!

Nicely done, aging in place.

 

 

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Filed under Big Data, Internet of Things, tech, technology, Wearables

In Pursuit of Perpetual Motion

# Forget Tech

Perpetual Motion, it seems that would be the ultimate of all technology. That unlike life itself, a thing would go on and on.

Since the 13th century, when the first wood engraving of a perpetual motion machine was drawn (though never successfully made), the concept of a machine that would run forever has been elusive to mankind.  But why, we’ve had other dreams that seemed equally unattainable and yet, they came true.

Take for instance, man’s trip to the moon.  A theory of manned flights and space travel, where rockets went into dark space and returned, safely!

And that’s exactly what Wernher von Braun was able to achieve. One of the world’s leading rocket engineers von Braun convinced the world that he could place a manned rocket ship onto the moon, and return him back to earth!

It must’ve been a huge stretch of imagination, cemented with a firm faith and equal parts of an astronaut’s courage and bravery.

Even now, it’s an amazing feat.   But back then, Wow!

Not only convincing people that it could be done, but to actually determine space worthy durable materials and to develop multi-stage rocketry, that would be both recoverable and reusable.   What’s truly mind boggling is that he accomplished this with theories, calculations of the moon’s travel, its gravitational pull on the ship, all speculative because duh… no one had been on the moon!

But that’s exactly what technology did, it freed us of earth’s orbital pull.  Once thrust into space, it compensated for the moon’s spin, it slowed and let the moon’s gravity pull the ship in.  Forethought, precision and a predetermined location…. To land , walk, rove and stick a flag into the surface?  Yes, been there done that.

So, in some wispy thought, my mind thinks we should be able to develop a Perpetual Motion machine.  Why not?  We can defy the 1st and 2nd laws of Thermodynamics.  Hell, we’ve defied laws before!  Besides, what if all we really have to do, is to think and make it so?  What if the secret is as simple as visualization?

Might we then imagine ourselves to be more tolerant, more loving and patient with one another?  Maybe we could have Do-Tanks and Think-Tanks, with break-out sessions and toss around ideas and exchange business cards.  What if we could do all this, while realigning the figments of our imaginations into a virtual reality, that we might all do as Rodney King quipped, “All just get along”.

Then, it would be worth it, the ongoing pursuit of Perpetual Motion, technology…

I like the thought  🙂

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Technology, My Superhero

# super tech

Heroes, where would we be without them?

Not every hero has a cape, or a super power.  We know this, because over millennium our heroes were depicted in mythology and in rituals without suits of armor. Their one common denominator was in assisting mankind to get along in this journey of life.  A task that continues to be plagued with perils, some self-imposed and others, calamities of nature.

The power then, as it is now, is “Hope”, embossed with faith and sprinkled with self-discovery, that each burden is itself an exercise of endurance. Strengthening not only our muscles, but our resolve that is then carried over from one generation to the next. As if determination and cooperation were progressive strands of DNA, adding meaning and validating life itself.

Our technology has done that, made it sweeter, by adding comforts and lifting us up, literally. Whether we’re in an elevator or on an airplane, technology has been that superhero and established our worthiness.

And our stories, passed along in the oral tradition or in written form help to further the legends. It’s the art of storytelling, embellishing the truth and creating the rite of passage and instilling the hopefulness “if he could do it, then she can too”.

Sitting around a camp fire further connects us with the ominous, while yes there is darkness there is also light.  That we have the ability to create fire. We must be thoughtful and mindful, because there is an inherent weakness to reckless behavior — which too often harms our development and the hero within.

The truth is, human development has not changed from ancient days to this one; not one iota…

So we need our storytelling to focus on other aspects of life, such as love and frailties.   We like our literature, from Chauncer to Shakespeare to depict our better more civilized selves with consequences.   These remain relevant from generation to generation, mostly because heroes aren’t limited by time or the imagination.

But we are.  Time is not our friend.

Lately, I’ve realized how empowering a pair of eyeglasses can be, as time had weakened eyeball muscle and dried tissue.  My once keen eyesight strained to read my printed words, until Whoosh! Technology swooped in!  It did so without prejudice, bias or judgment.

My eyeglasses never once asked my gender, or my age or my race!  They just did the task they were created to do,  that is they assisted me in seeing the world again.   The images weren’t distorted and the outlines weren’t vague.  That’s what technology does!

I’m excited about Wearables and the Internet of Things, they’ll have tremendous power.  Even passé technology, those that came in with great anticipation and petered out, like Googleglass and Segway will have a great come back!

I’m reminded that a superhero doesn’t have to wear a cape, but if it fits..

Times have changed. We live in a world of logos, marketing and branding. There’s no veil that separates the contrasts between poverty and prosperity. No filter to block the wrong from the right, or the ego from overpowering the id.

We need our heroes, flying is highly desirable, but we’ll take walking ones. The every day kind of hero that looks like you, or me or she… Who sits and eats with us. Our heroes can be basketball’s slam dunkers, baseball’s home run sluggers, teachers or marathon runners.  They can be businessmen, religious men, Olympic swimmers, exotic dancers or cancer survivors.  (More of the latter please.)

The point is, we need heroes, because I’m growing old and I can’t fight all these bad guys by myself.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Google Glass, Google Glasses, tech, technology, Wearables, Women

Unplugged: The Power of a Washing Machine

# Tenement Laundry
What would be the fate of tens of thousands of women, if their washing machines were left unplugged? Or what if the washing machine hadn’t been invented?

Having power doesn’t make us powerful. And it seems, if we’re talking about electricity, using it may in fact, lead to us being powerless or nearly so.

Welcome to the digital world, where recharging cellphones and smart devices is as common as opening up a window to let fresh air in. No one looks sideways. In fact, it’s so common and relatable, that our apathy when someone mentions a dead cell battery is genuine.

From mega-watts to the kilo-watts. From our smart-cities to smart-homes. From our smart-devices to our cellphones. We are all bound to electricity. Our factories and businesses are increasing usage, from the “internet of things” to artificial intelligence (AI) to Clouds and virtual servers, all of these use and require, power. And we need more.

And that’s the other side, the flip side, where one is forced to think about life without power. We’d have to rethink our priorities, from lighting to cooling to where we lived. What need would the upper floors of a skyscraper have, if you had to always climb it’s stairs? And what about our washing machines?

Now that would tell quite a compelling story. The gift of time, both given and taken away. Women would return to the status of a laundress, those 19th century women who spent a day washing laundry, their own or someone else’s. Paid or unpaid, the work would be structured around childcare, because it took so long to complete.

Last month I had a little sampler, when my top load washing machine broke in mid-cycle. By mid, I mean once the washing machine filled with water, it broke. Getting the sopping wet sheets and clothes out of the machine was one part of the equation. It became an equation as I realized just how much of a task I had in front of me, when the bucket didn’t work. I transferred the load to a kid’s wagon, and made multiple trips to the upstairs bathroom. Once there, I sat on the edge of the tub wringing water out for what seemed to be days! My fingernails softened and broke, my hands ached and I lost my mind!

Which brings me back to our problem, that is we have power, but we’re not powerful. And it seems we’re getting weaker.

Technology has spoiled us with gadgets and machines that have improved our lives, but they’ve also lulled us into a false sense of security. With a soft hum of joules per second, the amperage of electricity has carried our load for us, but that’s not always going to be an option to keep our gadgets running and our smart devices powered up.

We’re going to have to look at new ways of doing the old things and let’s be clear, unplugging my washing machine is not an option.

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Filed under cellphone, gadget, solarpower, technology, Wearables, Wi-Fi, Women

Technical M&M’s- (Machine 2 Machine)

$ Gumball tech
If the whole point of technology is to improve life, we must do better.

Concentrated and sustained effort will be needed, because we aren’t born brave or courageous. We’re just bits and pieces of our better selves that will need some assembly. Countered by persuasion, like M&Ms in a gumball machine, they don’t quite fit and are mostly, out of place, but have a sweetness to them. The Internet of Things is like that.

Strange bedfellows, these toilet bowls that scan and lightbulbs that sense when we’ve entered a room. Mood altering and so appealing, catering to our basic needs. Anticipating exactly what we want, before we know what we want, after having spent a long day at the office. We walk into our Smarthomes, feet up and relax, we don’t have to lift a finger. Except maybe to swipe about it.

But the Digital Age will not be victimless. There will always be some who don’t like progress, who wish for the good ol’ days and the old way of doing a thing, like flying moldy flags and writing grocery lists. Still microwaves and ovens will communicate what ingredients have been used and make status changes.

Our refrigerators will communicate with the grocer’s computer, sharing its awareness of upcoming expiration dates and it’ll use virtual coupons, clipped for greater savings. And of course, it won’t forget the eggs.

There’ll be no last minute notes, scribbled to the shopping list to also buy mocha-fudge ice cream, because we shouldn’t and machines won’t let us cheat on our diet. Besides, the toilet scanner will snitch, it always sends its findings to a electronic health folder. Yes, the medical team stays informed and the life insurance company will be notified. So much for sneaking a second slice of birthday cake, it wasn’t covered, and Fitbits don’t lie!

The Internet of Things and their connections to healthcare, transportation and communication will become exceedingly efficient and independent. Machine to machine learning, talking to themselves about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, so that we won’t have to do it ourselves, can improve lives.

Technology is sweet, like M&Ms placed in a gumball machine, innovative and appealing. Very much like the impact of the washing machine on society, as women were no longer tied to laundry.

It is a gift, a gift of time and so what will we do with it?

Will we move towards our better selves?

We aren’t born racist. We’re not born with prejudices. These aren’t evident at birth and aren’t naturally occurring traits. These are learnt behaviors, things that have been taught.

Fittingly, technology doesn’t care about your gender, or your sexual orientation. Technology doesn’t care what color you are, or your nationality, your age or your religion.

It’s all the more reason that we should be mindful that technology doesn’t overlook human needs, and policy must be put into place to protect us from us, our technology.

As we strive to improve life, it’s becoming increasingly clear that technology will afford us time and it will remind us that race and gender don’t matter; they never did…

We must do better.

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Filed under Fitbit, tech, technology, Wearables

Where the Graphene Sneakers Are

Running on track

“Run faster! Jump higher!” claimed an ad for PF Flyers.  In the 1950’s PF Flyers were the Holy Grail of footwear.  And we bought into the hype, as if wearing sneakers meant we’d be able to walk across water!

Ads convinced us that we could be play better and athletes like Bob Cousy, the basketball player endorsed them.   We were young and a boost in our confidence was like that “Magic Wedge” inserted in the Posture Foundation insole, it was a bit of a lucky charm.

Tire manufacturers found new uses for vulcanized rubber and literally, changed the way games were played.   Sports that required agility and sure-footedness benefitted from sneakers, and in a best case scenario of innovation gave birth to new businesses– sports medicine, physical therapy and fitness programs, which all owe their success to rubber footwear.

Recently, Nike the sneaker guru announced plans to release a new hi-tech power-lacing sneaker and I sighed at the mediocrity of the design.  Because power-laces sound fine when you’re having difficulty bending down to tie a shoelace, but they’re lame and not a worthy of the PF Flyer legacy.

New smart sneakers should exist.  They should be interactive and efficient; offering counter-balance on uneven platforms and compensation of traction on slippery slopes.  Wearers should be free of worry, and be exposed to minimal chances of twisting an ankle and no fear of a torn ligament.   In a Digital Age, hi-top or lo-top techie sneakers should come standard with GPS, as well as muscle pulsation that tones and data gathering processors, all in real time.

Is my idea worth talking about?   It is, if it generates thought.   Whether it’s a lively discussion of data, innovation or sustainability, who really knows, but we do use the task driven, all motivating, action word a lot — RUNNING.

We sure do a lot of it:  running programs, running Apps and running updates.

I’m reminded of a guy, who back in the early 1970’s was out wearing a tee-shirt, shorts and a pair of sneakers in Central Park.  Someone asked him, “What are you running from?”  He spun around and looked behind himself.  He half expected to see a mugger, someone with a dark cap on, lurking in the shadows of the overgrowth, but there was no one.   The question was repeated, “What are you running from?”

“A heart attack,” he replied and kept running.

Innovation is like that, transforming the mundane and making it loom larger than life.  I for one need a pair of hi-tech sneakers, something that makes me run for my health, not after it and I’d like for it to be worry free.

Oh and please let them come with a free shiny brass decoder ring; because that should be a part of the Internet of Things.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Consumers, Internet of Things, sneakers, technology, Wearables

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

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