Tag Archives: technology

My Tech Ears Are On #AmWriting

$ 1 Me d

I was just thinking…  Years ago, I told my daughter that she had two ears for one very good reason, to listen to what she was being told.

Quite easily, I manipulated the technical position of being the parent to instill my belief system into my child.  Doesn’t mean I was correct, or as my experiences changed that I would self-adjust and change my perspective of the world.  But most importantly, if I did change would I remember to tell her?  Was there some automated tech system like HootSuite in place that would magically transfer my new point of view?

As we grew older, she became more flexible and I became more rigid.  It seemed that my format had changed and I went from a JPEG to a PDF way of communication.  This was a tremendous trade-off, as I was no longer morally required to show my good intentions by my actions.

In order for her to hear me, she would also have to hear her own inner voice.  This created a major communication gap that we’re still trying to overcome.  No matter how loud she yells, I sincerely hope that she herself.  That she might know what she’s saying, because I’m going to defy logic and invoke my parental power, that is I disengage and stop listening.

Simply put, I’ve turned on my selective hearing and I’ve adjusted the volume knob to mute.  And it’s a very methodical process, as I’ve been overwhelmed by social media lately and unable to understand how everything that I once cherished and held dear, is now being threatened by people I will never meet.

I’m reminded of when my daughter was a little girl, I’d tell her that the reason she was born with two working ears was so one ear could take information in, to be be processed by her brain- the grey matter between her ears- and the second ear would be an exit point for the excess, less useful information to be dumped out.

In my own defense, back then I worked two jobs, cooked all the family meals, did laundry and was a chauffer to pretty socially active kids.  In direct proportion to my overworked, underpaid position in life…  I had perfected a deaf ear, as my complaints were ignored, I lost my ability to have a sympathetic ear.

Fast forward to today’s hyper-connected culture, where people’s expectations are always on high and soaring.  Where users are quick to retaliate against what they dislike, to mobilize their followers and block, boycott and shut down someone else’s means to a livelihood.  From the safety of my couch, I’ve read what people are hearing on social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and FaceBook and it’s alarming.

So, I’ve decided to pull back a little.  To reduce my daughter’s angst, because no one is immune to anxiety.  I’ve also apologized in advance of my shortcomings, I’ve let her have the last word during our weekly arguments, which almost seem scheduled.  Because somehow I know, that by letting her vent and rant, I’m establishing a strong sense of self.

Hopefully, she’s discovering her own truth.  In a world that is still very much dog-eat-dog and I need her incisor teeth to stay sharp.  Not that she might bite me, but that she’ll have a little bite left, in case she herself becomes a parent.  And I manage to accomplish all of these things by thinking while she’s talking.

Like right now, I’m thinking while you’re reading this, that social media and the internet have given us a mighty big soapbox to shout our unsolicited opinions.  People I’ll never know or meet are liking what I post and I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.  There’s value in those clicks!

Yet, as comforted as we are by the likes and follows, none of it is accurate and we

To argue not for argument’s sake, but to allow ourselves the difference of opinions doesn’t make us enemies. That there is value in our words, as they allow us room to think, grow and move forward.  Being persuasive by storytelling and finding possibility by compromising.

Now, as I wait for her to settle down, I realize that this isn’t an ongoing battle. I love her unconditionally.  Eventually she’ll take the car and drive to the concert in Rhode Island with a carload of screaming silly girlfriends, but not today 🙂

I was just thinking… Sometimes Tweets are an immediate emotional response, that had the reader waited a few minutes, their response to the Tweet might have been less visceral.  Emotions are rarely logical, more often than not they’re base and mean.  These are my thoughts today..

Maybe, we all can get along, it just takes a little effort to hear what we believe needs to be said.   In that way, Ms. Maya Angelou was right… “We are more alike, than we are different.”

What are you thinking? 

Write back, let me know.  I’m listening  ~Tech Ears On~

 

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, social media

Apple Tech & Puzzle Pieces #AmWriting

helping hands 2 29 2016

I was thinking, as much as technology is improving life, there are ethical questions of “Who actually benefits?”

Recently an Apple iPad advertisement on television did an awesome pitch showing kids using their devices to complete homework assignments.  It was brilliant!  Its potential was amazing, but then there was the small print regarding an iPad pencil and that made me realize that there were high costs associated with this technology, even so the ad showed a nice diverse group of children.

One could easily conclude that this was perfect pitch.  But when the TV commercial ended the local news came on, about teachers in our community, the cityscapes and economically depressed neighborhoods.   Here too were a diverse group of children, all smiling.  Maybe because there were television cameras in the schoolyard or perhaps, because they were going to get another Snow Day in late March.  But whatever the reason that they were smiling, rest assured it wasn’t because Apple had distributed iPads with pencils into their classrooms.  And it’s reasonable to assume that these third graders had yet to be exposed to real world economics and the inequality that poverty creates.

“A Wealth of Nations” was written by Scottish economist Adam Smith, in his “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”.  He wrote about the division of labor to productivity to free markets.  In those scenarios there was a presumed self-regulating economic system that proved efficient at the distribution of goodies, like an Invisible Hand during that century’s industrial revolution..

But the truth is, particularly in today’s digital world, privileged is as privileged does and entities that control the wealth, also keep the wealth.  There is no trickle down effect, but instead a hoarding of wealth, through the use of systemic apathy, in which lobbyists, taxes and monopolies have existential preferences.

And all of this seems very poignant, as we’re entering another industrial revolution, this one referred to as Industry 4.0, in the new Digital Age.  It is a name for automation and data exchange that includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing.  Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

I was thinking, even though we have the capacity to create technology that improves life, how can we ensure that the technology gets into each little round hand, regardless of race, nationality, health or poverty level?

Hello Apple!  How about you make that difference, start with iPads with pencils for ALL school children for  $Free.99

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Filed under Apple, ipad, Politics, social media, technology

Everyday Theory #AmWriting

 

StephenHawking

I was just thinking, had Stephen Hawking been a Rock & Roll musician, he would have had R&B crossover appeal!   Because there’s a little baseline funk attached to his classical theory.

Yesterday, Stephen Hawking died.  I did not know him, but like so many others, I benefitted greatly from his scientific discoveries and more recently found solace in how he lived his life in a wheelchair, unable to move after having been born with functioning limbs.  He was 21 years old when he was diagnosed with  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

It is hard to imagine what it must be like to no longer be able to run, chew or walk up to the ocean and feel it teasingly lap at your ankles.  And I think how strong of a man he must have been to survive the anguish, the self doubt and self-pity.  His family must have had an exceptional capacity for love, the great lengths it must have taken to support him, his spirit and his brilliant mind.  We can’t know…

But technology didn’t fail him.  It allowed him to communicate with the world and to share his knowledge of the universe.  He brought physics down to earth, so that even the layperson could appreciate theories and wonder about the universe and our role in it.  We understand so much more now, than we did when I was growing up, back then no one spoke of quantum mechanics and classical physics in high school.

But this man got us talking about black holes and because of that, most of us now understand that a black hole exists in space and acts as a vacuum.  And even more of us understand that scientists are challenged daily, to find a compatible way to describe the motion of large bodies in the universe and the motion of the tiny particles in the universe, as the tiny particles make up the large bodies.

The fact that so many every day people now understand our physical world is due to his impact.  Television shows like Star Trek and movies like Back to The Future, acted as a pipeline from Stephen Hawking’s brilliant mind to typewriters and made fictional accounts of time and space more plausible.

It worked.  It got so many of us hooked on science, on astronomy and technology… all the wonderful advancements that we’ve made and continue to make are in great part due to Stephen Hawking.  He was a super hero in the scientific world and even in my less geeky world.

The fact that he passed away on National Pi Day doesn’t seem like a coincidence.  To me, it seems accurate and precise, like his science.  And now, Stephen Hawking is superman flying around in an eternal state of bliss.  Rest in Peace.  Thank You, Sir.

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Golden Oldie vs. Shiny New Internet #CyberSecurity

$1 lathe

If the internet were made of metal, it would probably be old and rusted, because it was created in the 1960’s…  Think about that.

Most of us in the modern world use it with no idea of how it works or its life expectancy.  Have you ever wondered?  Me either.

In 1958 The Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first man-made satellite into space, named Sputnik.  In response to that threat, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) with an emphasis on computer science.  Computers at that time were in their infancy, unable to network together they used magnetic tape and punch cards for processing, but with enormous potential.  And in 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) became the first computer network.

It connected four different operating systems using two technologies, packet switching and the protocol suite of Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol.  These provided end-to end data communication and specifies how data should be addressed, routed, transmitted and received.  These are still the foundations of today’s internet.

It was built forty-nine years ago! It seems like we would have created more than just abstraction layers, that we would have built a self-correcting system that protects our data and our privacy.  Instead the internet isn’t built of metal and there’s no rust, no visual indication of it’s age, or whether it’s even running unsecured.

Which should give us all reason to pause. Especially because there’s always another cyber attack lurking.  Like this week’s attack at GitHub, a site where developers store code.  GitHub had a DDoS attack in machines with unsecured internet connections (see CloudFlare).

2 GitHub MemCache

Could it have been avoided?  What if the internet gave visual clues to a potential flaw, a location where a data breach might occur before it was abused?  Details about its weak points and its strength reported ahead of the attack.

I’ve been asked if I could imagine a world where data flows freely, where there are no barriers and no limits to where data can be transmitted- or how connectivity can create impact in our world.  And it got me to thinking…

What if the internet was agile and counter-intuitive, able to shut down and isolate areas of cyber activity before things get bad?  Or are we really stuck with an internet that has gotten a little old and a little bit funky, like grandpa’s old chair?

Imagine…  How nice would it be to have a new shiny internet.  New technology would perform flawlessly!  It would be like driving a connected car on a newly paved road, hugging the curves, and picking up speed on straightaways.  Connected traffic lights that utilized BigData and on-ramps that allow traffic to flow, all in real time.  Cars moving into oncoming traffic, like a zipper, streamlining and coming together efficiently.  No more traffic jams, that’s what I imagine.

Let’s face it, the 4th Industrial Revolution isn’t much of a revolution if were surfing on a twenty-five year old web, still arguing about the merits of Net Neutrality and unable to keep our data safe.

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Filed under cyber-security, Internet, Internet of Things

Technology’s Invitation Protect Your Data

cloud circuit

“Big Data”  Like its cousin, “The Internet of Things” was given a lame name.  Either the scientists who worked on the technology were being lazy, didn’t have an iota of creativity, or they just named it with a footnote, so they could get back to whatever else they were doing!  However big data, like the air we breathe, has become part of our human story.

Recently my daughter confessed that she just clicks and agrees to a website’s User Privacy and Terms of Agreement without reading it. She claims she doesn’t have time or didn’t want to read all the legal jargon.  Her generation does a lot of mindlessly clicking and willingly sharing their personal data, it’s almost a cultural.  And companies know this, it’s one way they’ve been able to amass such a large amount of data.

Just willy-nilly clicking “Yes” to get the latest app or to log onto a hot website. The alternative is to knowingly deny ourselves of technology that we want, like Tinder and Pokémon Go.

But as a parent, it distresses me.  I’m the by-product of the cold war, having lived through the espionage age, I’m cautious and leery by design.  Truth is, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and dystopias frighten me.

Big Data presents a picture from datasets to data points, and for good or evil, the picture grows as we go along.  It’s continually gathered, collected and processed.  And the enterprises that collect, store and process our personal data have become treasure troves, susceptible to breach and targeted by hackers on the dark internet.

I was trying to understand why we don’t do a better job of protecting our data.  Maybe in an over populated world, we humans are lonely.  That would partially account for why so many of us open unsolicited emails that simple say “Hi Friend”.

Maybe its need and not greed that motivates us.  What if being desperate has that affect?

The truth of the matter is, not all data can be protected.   But in three months, we’ll see  how companies do business handling personal data in the European market, when the European Union’s GPDR goes into effect. There are hurdles for sure, but as Cloud technology continues to advance and processing data at blazing speeds is the new norm, we’ll have to do better.

It seems to me, if changing our passwords on a monthly basis helps, why wouldn’t we?  Just asking…  Technology invites us to protect ourselves.

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Filed under Apps, Big Data, Privacy, technology

~Personal Data~ Come What May 25, 2018

Tech Total Solar Eclispe

Preparedness, isn’t that the other reason for a good night’s rest?

On May 25, 2018, we’ll Wake Up to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will forever change how enterprises collect, gather, store and process personal data.

And while those on this side of the Great Pond might think it’ll be business as usual, they’d be well advised to become aware and acknowledge that during these days of digital transformation, the world has grown smaller. That is, what happens over there will have an impact over here.

We need to be mindful that even if we’re physically over here, we might not be immune to upcoming changes in the EU, that the global market isn’t limited to consumers, but also includes those that might be our business partners, employees or independent contractors, from whom we’ve collected personal data.

Hybrid Cloud technology, and sharing software have allowed small businesses to transform in such a big way, that even the less tech savvy have collected and stored personal data.  It’s imperative that we’re aware of the responsibility, and we’re in line with new regulations.

Right now might be a good time to check that our Vendors are also data compliant and that we’re familiar with the handling of personal data, because as quiet as it’s kept those policies might be legislated here, as hefty penalties might roll down hill.

So, maybe it’s okay that only a few are concerned with the GPDR, after all we’re thousands of miles away… but in a digital world, can we afford to ignore the ramifications?

We are also citizens, who have willingly shared a tremendous amount of personal data.   We’ve played games and used Apps for free, not giving a second thought to our millions of finger swipes that have been used to collect data and then used as payment, in this our virtual and augmented reality.

Come May, all that will change.  In addition obtaining consent, businesses will be required to have proper encryption for assured security, those businesses who store personal data to fulfill the purpose for which the data was collected will also have to:

  • Audit on regular, documented basis.
  • Incorporate technical measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access
  • Antivirus software that provides both email & browser protection.
  • Firewall
  • Regular Automatic Back Up of personal data
  • Enterprise Wi-Fi network password protected
  • Remote access is only possible via Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Privileged accounts only from dedicated devices & with limited access
  • Data leakage prevention software to protect sensitive personal data
  • Procedure for monitoring, detecting, analyzing & reporting security incidents developed and communicated within the enterprise.
  • Prevention of automated decision making & profiling
  • Data portability protection
  • The right to have their personal data erased, i.e., “the right to be forgotten”.
  • The right to ensure inaccuracies in personal data are corrected
  • A general description of technology and organizational security measures, as part of records data of processing activities. Regular updating.
  • Procedures and processes set up in case of data breach.
  • Privacy by design principles in place for new processes or products that are being employed.

 

Yes, it’s a great big world out there that has somehow become incredibly small. Come what may, shouldn’t we be prepared?

http://www.computerweekly.com   https://ukcloud.com/

 

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Filed under cyber-security, GPDR, technology, Uncategorized

AARP the Greatest Big Data

Business logo

Is it just me, or have 76.4 million other Baby Boomers, noticed the dismal failure of  AARP?

Once taunted as a Silver Tsunami, we Baby Boomers were to be a force to be reckoned with! And AARP was first to identify our numbers. I started to receive the mass mailing four years before my 50th birthday!   I was so annoyed, as it was a stark reminder that I had reached the half century benchmark.

And then, I started to think of myself as being special, being included sometimes has that affect.  And AARP mailings were upbeat and exciting.  Being fifty had it’s perks and one of them was being one of 76.4 million Baby Boomers that were invited to join an elite membership!

Now eight years later, here I am feeling mostly left out. The strength in our numbers, as more than a consumer are disappointing and on a political scale, non-existing.  It’s as though our potential which once sizzled, has fizzled and faded out.

AARP, the united front of teachers which evolved into a productive aging machine, was consciously aware of health insurance, but shied away from starting it’s own insurance.  It was a community based organization that wouldn’t enter the political arena and didn’t count its membership, as a voting bloc.

And AARP’s membership swelled.  But instead of becoming a supplier of information pertinent to its membership, a powerful knowledge dispensary like Google, AARP became a supplier/distributor of stale information targeted to old Americans.  It’s branding was marketed to an organic audience, to which they teased, “You don’t know AARP”.

Famous Baby Boomers became AARP spokespeople with no qualifications, or passion other than they, like all the rest of us had just aged and gotten old.  Apparently aging is an equal opportunist.

Whoopie Goldberg, the Baby Boomer comedian and Tom Hanks, the beloved actor who successfully portrayed real life Baby Boomer heroes, like Captain Sully who landed a commercial airplane on the Hudson River.

I was invited to participate in Boomer Technology in Boston, where I was allowed to interview AARP workers.  At one convention I wrote about an AARP initiative, computer classes for older Americans across America being led by young people, these they cleverly called AARP-TEK.

Ironically, everyone seemed prophetically aware of the impact of technology on an aging population.  But there was no urgency or sense of purposefulness, it was as if AARP could out-smart the smart technology by simply co-existing and entering the workplace.

We were the original pioneers of the World Wide Web; we lauded technology and intentionally installed cable into our homes, like some Orwellian Big Brother interior designer.  We welcomed that first fertile layer of smart technology and watched it as it grew.  It’s important to note, that back then we had a choice, both in policy and legislation and we understood the importance of Net Neutrality.

The doctrine “To serve and not be served” makes us complacent and passive aggressive.  Our vast numbers scream democracy, but we whisper in our collective activism, with all the vulnerabilities of an aging population.  We are faced with much more than just being prey to the usual scam artists.  As government supplements are snatched away and replaced with crumbs.

New technology is being developed so fast, just as we are slowing down.  Just as we are faced with our own moments of dementia, we’re being exposed to sophisticated hacks by cyber criminals.

It’s hard to look back and not see where we didn’t make a difference, but that’s the thing about growing old… One realizes too late, that youth is wasted on the young.  We think of our job as being done, when in fact it’s just transforming.  I remember analog technology’s metamorphosis into digital technology, but barely recognize old friends.

But there are success stories; many of my friends now walk around on titanium knees. We laugh and joke, as if they can run faster.  That’s the result of an active imagination that watched a lot of television.  It’s left a strong impression on us and we believe, if the Bionic Man and Bionic Woman could do it, then “Hell Yeah” we could do it too!

Thanks to technology, our expectations have grown. We’re living longer, with chronic illnesses that once killed humans.  It’s a clear indication that we’re pioneers of aging in a digital era and that we’re not our grandparents at this age.

Recently I’ve been thinking how the greatest ideas sometimes remain dormant.   That without fuel or a guidance system, those ideas aren’t engaging and don’t take hold.  It’s then that we aren’t trying to improve life.  Which seems such a waste of time, why else are we alive if we aren’t meant to make life better?

And so that’s what technology is for.  It is meant to make us the great contenders and doers, starting small businesses with which to cater to “US”.

History shows us how life might’ve been, with hindsight we glimpse the benefits of knowledge coupled with imagination.  How an invention can become much improved when creativity is allowed to flourish.  It’s then that the invention is given that “Wallah!” moment.

China invented Gunpowder (sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate) and for 400 years used it as a propellant for firework displays.  And then along came innovation, coupled with creativity that transformed how gunpowder was used, it became a powder keg that changed the world, or so we think…

I can’t be certain, but it seems that AARP missed an opportunity as well.

When an organization fails to gather and collect data in a cohesive way; when it doesn’t or won’t see further along than the tip of its nose; won’t or can’t make datasets or gather intelligence and other health information, or use financial graphs to determine best use practices, when an organization that starts out gathering so many people in a collective membership can think of little more than to sell its members on the benefits of Cellular One- Smartphones, with easy read displays and extra large numbers… the question we should ask is:  “What if AARP did something great, really great?”

Our numbers are that great; as great as our expectations once were.  We, Baby Boomers, the original pioneers of the internet are a treasure trove of Big Data.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Creativity, cyber-security, Uncategorized

Technology: Can We Live Without Plug-n-Play?

If not for Plug n Play

Sliding rulers always cause me to pause, if not for them where would we be?  USB technology is like that.

There was a time, when pocket protectors were like badges.  Mostly worn by those with above average intelligence, who felt comfortable with numbers.  People who owned a lot of pens, that wrote in multiple colors.  People who didn’t use a calculator to figure out the circumference of a circle, or how much to tip the waiter.  But who used a calculator to confirm answers that they already reached in their heads.

Life was simple and a pop quiz, was meant to gauge how much we knew, and what more we needed to learn.   It wasn’t quantum physics and the classroom wasn’t a prison.  The library, public and private were sanctuaries, where books evoked our imagination and inspired our adventures.

We believed in the world’s potential and we believed in ourselves.  We freely admitted limited knowledge of cyber kinetics, robotics and transportation, but were excited by the possibility!  Technology then, as it is now was exciting, it fueled innovation without teaching itself.

But something happened.  It may have always been there, nestled in the corners but when technology mixed into our daily lives, something went awry.  At first it was subtle, we interacted with automated teller machines (ATMs), we had always struggled with balancing the checking book, never enough money so nothing new there.  But then we pretended as if we knew and feign a smile as if we fully understood what we had only partially comprehended.

Our approach to life changed, people with the pocket protectors, became revered techies.  We eagerly numbered one or two among our friends and casually coaxed them out of basements and away from garages.  Hoping to invite them into our homes to take a look at our new personal computer that was just sitting there… unattached.  We quickly understood that geeks as we had called them, had a natural ability to delve into computer processing, and they easily interacted with connector pins, parallel ports, ROM and RAM.  They knew the jargon and could install drivers that made it go!

Where we had cursed a cursor that blinked and got hung up, the techie patiently typed and the computer responded.  Again, technology was exciting!  So we pretended we understood his instructions as we waved goodbye at the door, but deep down inside we felt hopelessness.  And then, before we got to admit that we didn’t get it, technology changed again.

It just went on about its business without the masses.  Rather than dumb down, tech developers just reversed the process and called a CPU a black box.  Convinced us that we didn’t need to know what was inside, that it would work and we humans would be very efficient when we used it, and so we did and they were right.  Hello World!

The Universal Serial Bus was a game changer, literally connecting us to our devices.  The thumb drive to the universal Plug-n-Play opened up vistas and we all became proficient at the same time.  We didn’t have to learn anything, no instructions, no lessons and no quizzes.  And we all started to relax, new technology has that affect on us.  Lulled into a false sense of security.  We created new words by simply adding an adjective to a noun– SmartTech: Smartphone, Smarthome, Smartwatch and Smartcities.   But where would we be without the power of USB Plug-N-Play?

Next week, there’ll be a Pop quiz…    hope we’re prepared.

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Filed under Baby boomers, PlugnPlay, SmartTech, technology

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

Tech Armor, A Girl’s Security

Techny Armor 2

In many ways, the radio is old timey technology.  A throw back of simpler times, when air waves weren’t modulated and a slight hum was tolerable, as was fumbling with the dial to bring the station in clear.  Nowadays, I only listen when I’m alone driving in my car.

In that closed interior, with the world just beyond my windshield, I’m comforted to hear a voice other than the one in my head.  I tire of reminders,  conflict in my schedule, errands that I need to run and I things left undone, like the shirt that requires my attention and the button I keep forgetting to sew back on.  The radio’s DJ is friendly, almost bubbly with idle chatter, pertinent today, and boring enough so I don’t have to focus all of my attention, half-listening and half being indifferent and non-opinionated.

This is pure technology, copper wire and vacuum tubes, transistor radios, soldered circuitry that’s also portable.  Radio reaches people in a way that television never will, because there’s no visual accompaniment to distort one’s own self-image.   Without product placement, without luxury and without perfect abs.  Instead we’re captivated by a voice, the radio personality’s enthusiasm and a distinct annunciation of words.  In between commercials, there’s a nice mix of music.  I like singing along, belting out a Frank Sinatra song or absent mindedly humming along to Billie Holiday’s August in New York.

Ironically, I always have perfect pitch when no one else is the car, my inner ear comes out.   And then, the very best part of radio, is during the “goldie oldie” moment, when that one long forgotten song comes on and miraculously, I know the lyrics!  And soon the warm feelings return, the powdery fluff of nostalgia.  It makes me smile to myself, as I drive along the road.  And I’m reminded again that simple technology, like the radio has a powerful control over me.

Yesterday, a DJ invited listeners to call in with their stories.  One woman called in excitedly, she had recently lost 150 pounds.  Her happiness oozed from the radio’s airwaves.  This stranger made me smile.   Like her, as a kid I too had been teased, she plagued by obesity and me with my big nose.

Now, here she was on the radio sharing the fact that she carried an old photograph and called it a “Fattie-Selfie”,  a reminder of her former self.  And that was it, the radio personality acknowledged her achievement, told her that she was beautiful!  And then thanked her for calling in, made an off-handed comment about the telephone lines being lit up and took the next call.

I blinked, the era of stringed pearls and frilly aprons forever gone.  I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Like the radio caller, I too was now comfortable with my looks, I seem to have grown into my big nose.  Or I wasn’t as self-conscious, perhaps a result of being too busy to take notice.  Still, I recall what it felt like, to not resemble the models in any of the fashion magazines.  When I was a young girl, fairytales always made me think being powerless was okay, by taking away the option of having power, as if by design.

As I pulled into an empty parking space, I saw a group of little girls eating ice-cream laughing, and enjoying their silliness.  They were at that perfect age, when looks don’t matter and eating has nothing to do with disorders.   That being self-sufficient means she can tie a good knot in her shoelaces, as a preamble to running wild and free.

The radio DJ introduced a new song, it was upbeat and a perfect segue from the girls back to my reality.  I reached over to cut the car engine off and thought those little girls will make their own shiny suits of armor; I hope it fits them well.

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, technology