Monday, August 20, 2018

Improved Technology

Did you read that a mountain in Wales has been downgraded from a mountain to a hill?  Did it shrink or erode? No... in fact, it hasn't changed.  However, technology is behind this new determination.

What did I say?  Technology?  How can this happen?  This is the case of Fan Y Big in the Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales.  Mountains, or Hewitts in the UK, have to be at least 2,000 feet high with a minimum drop of 98.4 feet from top of the peak to the lowest point of the valley between 2 peaks.  Fan Y Big is definitely tall enough to qualify at 2,351 feet high.  Unfortunately, the lowest point is 5 feet shorter than the minimum required to be designated as a mountain.

Surprisingly, it seems that the use of satellite technology is to blame.  A mountain surveyor used this new method which collected hundreds of data points to determine the new measurement of 93.4 feet.  While the park is taking this change in stride, it made me wonder about the role of technology in changing our beliefs, impacting our points of view. and dispelling myths.

Throughout history, humans have had new ideas that pushed the boundaries of their beliefs.  The earth was once believed to be flat, but evidence was produced to the contrary.  I'm sure that this shook many people.  With the advent of science and exploration, many myths and beliefs were dispelled or disproved.  Now that technology is an integral part of our daily lives, is this the new method of changing our outlook and belief?

I think it is!  There is so much being discussed about truth in media right now.  It's everywhere you look.  There's also a lot of misinformation pushed to the public.  Our lives are busier than ever, and information is coming at us faster and through such a variety of means.  We have to be diligent in our search for what is true, and our use of technology is critical to that end.

I was interested in reading about the science behind this new measurement in Wales.  It is based on satellite technology like that used by GPS.  I'm very familiar with GPS due to geocaching.  It is a very reliable tool.  As a result, I'm willing to believe that Fan Y Big no longer qualifies under the scientific test for a mountain.  However, I bet that anyone who has climbed it still believes that they climbed a mountain!  This new measurement cannot take away their feeling of accomplishment or the joy they felt upon reaching its peak.   Just as it should be!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Fear of The Unknown

I was with someone who was navigating a new online interface, and they couldn’t find the back button to return to a page they needed. This was a millennial who is very technological. This person then proceeded to say “I feel like an old person.”  I immediately laughed and asked what that meant, and he proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t navigate and had no idea where to go. This started me thinking about how those of us who are older can become stereotyped.

I think many who aren’t familiar with technology become frozen with no idea what to do when faced with this type of experience. I don’t think it’s because we’re incapable of learning how to function in our technological world. I just think our inexperience makes us fearful.  I remember many years ago, when I started using computers, I was terrified I would break the computer. This was reinforced in my training classes when they told us we had to shut down the computer the “right way” so it wouldn’t break! I quickly overcame my fear, but I wonder if aging adults who haven’t used a lot of technology suffer from this fear.

Fear can be a powerful deterrent. At times in my life, I know that I have been afraid to appear stupid. I’m not sure if it’s a hangover from childhood or insecurity or being an introvert, but I had to learn to overcome that fear as an adult. Obviously, I did! I had a very successful career as an educator of children and adults and spent many years as an HR Director and have been a consultant since retirement. As an older adult, I’ve reached a point in my life where I really don’t care how others view me, but I had to face my fear to get to this point.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I hope older adults can put their fears aside and embrace technology. It would help them to have someone in their lives who can encourage them to try new things and ask questions. This support person needs to be patient, to listen carefully, and to take care not to make the learner feel bad when they don’t understand. I have been lucky throughout my life to have people who did just that! As a result, I learned a lot and now have a tremendous appreciation for technology and the joy it brings to my life. I hope you have had a similar experience.

Have you found your tech joy today?


Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Blessing of Technology

Today as I was working in my kitchen, I had the misfortune of pulling a muscle in my back and having muscle spasms. Not surprisingly, I was laid up for the rest of today. My husband helped me get situated and brought food and medication as needed.  The couch, ibuprofen, and ice packs were my companions. I really haven’t been able to move a lot without pain, but inactivity can be so boring. Luckily, I have technology to keep me entertained.

Since I was settled in for the remainder of the day, I chose my family room as the ideal location. I had my phone, my iPad, and my Roku to help me pass the time.  My iPhone kept me in touch with the world outside my home. I had a lengthy phone conversation with my younger son. I had concurrent text conversations with friends and other family members. I read posts on Facebook and kept up with Twitter.  My son texted me some clips to watch, and that’s when I switched to my iPad.

On my iPad, I checked out some streaming and clips on Twitch. I also watched some videos on YouTube.  When I was tired of that, I played some games and completed some Color By Number pictures.  Next up, I turned the TV on and switched to Roku.

Roku offers so many options. I started with Netflix where I finished watching Season 2 of Greenleaf. (Can’t wait for Season 3 to start!). My husband arrived home after picking up pizza, and we moved to Hulu to watch The World of Dance.  We then finished up our TV watching with the latest 20/20 about Aretha Franklin.

Now I’m back on my iPad to write today’s blog. Usually I would use my laptop, but the position that feels the best for my back doesn’t work with the laptop. The iPad, however, works perfectly!  I know that tomorrow I’ll be back to normal, but tonight I am thankful for all of the technology available to keep my mind occupied.  It is such a different experience than when I was younger with only books, print media, and network TV to help pass the time. Isn’t technology amazing? I am truly happy to have it as a daily tool in my life.

Have you found your tech joy today?


Friday, August 17, 2018

School and Technology

Everywhere you look there is a reminder that school is starting.  On Facebook, I am seeing posts from friends and family in the South who are showing their children's first day of school.  Others have children who are starting college and getting settled in their dorms.  Teachers, support staff, food service workers, and bus drivers are beginning their preparation for the new year.  It is a sign that summer is coming to an end and that academic challenges are ahead.

Teaching has changed a lot since I began teaching almost 40 years ago.  There is an emphasis on test scores and achievement data that wasn't as strong in those days.  Technology and our access to data has changed significantly.  Unfortunately, I don't believe that our teaching methods have changed at the same rate.  While classrooms have more computers available for students, the methods of teaching remain much the same as when I was a student.  

I watch my grandchildren effortlessly navigate all forms of technology every day.  If they have an interest in something, they can use technology to explore in-depth information about that subject.  Entertainment is available on their timetable.  Everything is presented in visually appealing media.  How can this compete with textbooks and lectures?  It can't!

In order to be successful adults, our children need to know how to learn-not how to pass a test.  I am hoping that education will take a good look at the needs and learning styles of students and the opportunities offered with changing technology.  It is time for a change in how we deliver instruction.  Students need to be encouraged to enjoy learning, to feel proud of their accomplishments, and to value knowledge; they should not feel the pressure of passing tests.  

I am happy to see more iPads and computers in the hands of students.  Classrooms are filled with smart boards, and teachers are looking for ways to encourage and motivate their students.  Let's keep these efforts moving so that technology and the joy of learning become an integral part of the daily lives of students.

Have you found your tech joy today?


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Everything Is Alive

In a previous post, I discussed that there are so many different kinds of podcasts available that everyone should be able to find one they enjoy.  In that post I mentioned a new podcast I had discovered: Everything Is Alive.  After listening to the first 3 episodes, I think it's worth discussing this podcast again.

Here's the description:

  • Everything Is Alive is an unscripted interview show in which all the subjects are inanimate objects.  In each episode, a different thing tells us its life story-and everything it says is true.
I love that this is unscripted!  I'm sure that the host and actor impersonating the object have had a conversation highlighting the points they want to cover.  However, the improvisation during the interview is exceptional.  The tone is serious and thoughtful.  Sometimes it is sad; at other times it is whimsical.  It is always interesting.

So far there have been 3 different inanimate objects who have been interviewed:  
  1. The first one was Louis, a can of cola.  "Louis is a can of generic cola.  He's been on the shelf a long while, so he's had some time to think." This one was very philosophical in tone and quite sad.  
  2. The second was Maeve, a lamppost.  "Maeve is a lamppost.  She sees all of us, but does anybody see her?"  It was really interesting to explore her view of the world and how the host asks questions to help her expand her beliefs.  
  3. The third, and most recent, was Dennis, a pillow.  "While we are sleeping, Dennis has dreams too."  A pillow's point of view is really intriguing.
One thing that I also like is that the host interjects some new learning about the subject in the interview.  I never realized that there are different categories of feathers until hearing from an expert in the latest podcast.  

This is definitely a quirky podcast, but I am really enjoying it!  It's fun to examine our world from a new point of view and to learn something new.  I highly recommend that you try this podcast.  It will be fun to listen as it evolves.  Let me know what you think!

Have you found your tech joy today?


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Print Media...To Hold or Not to Hold

One thing that is often different in generations is the delivery method for media. It used to be a ritual on Sunday to read the paper and look at the ads. Most adults used to start their day by having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. They’d also buy magazines at the store or by subscription. That was how my parents consumed print media. It’s also the way I did for most of my life (still is for many my age), but that’s not true for me anymore!

I no longer have the newspaper delivered to my house. Does that mean that I don’t read the local newspaper anymore? Of course not! I just prefer to read it digitally. At first, I read a digital copy of the newspaper with the paper layout, but I’ve gotten away from that. I get a digital version that lists articles that I choose from. I much prefer this! For one thing, I never looked at the ads when I read the paper. That was true for magazines too! I just skipped by and went to the next article. So, the digital version is concise, and I can choose what I want to learn more about and what I want to ignore. This is my preferred method for reading the newspaper nowadays.

I also used to have lots of magazines delivered by mail, or I’d pick up the latest at Target or Barnes & Noble. I no longer buy magazines at all. Instead, I purchase a monthly digital magazine app that gives me access to over 200 magazines. It’s called Texture. I’ve been reading magazines this way on my iPad for several years and love it! I read a wider selection, still get beautiful color layouts just like in print, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying a lot of magazines each month.

I know that many older readers still like the feel of a newspaper or magazine in their hands, but not me! I thoroughly enjoy going the digital route for my news and entertainment.

Have you found your tech joy today?


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is My Internet Down...Or Is It The Server?

It always amazes me how quickly we get used to something in our lives. We take it for granted until it suddenly isn’t there. I’ve certainly experienced this when my car doesn’t work. WiFi and easy access to fast Internet definitely falls into this category for me. It happened today when I was streaming something on Twitch; one minute I was connected and then it was gone!

I suppose a lot of seniors may not feel this way. However, Internet is a necessity for me. When my Twitch streaming failed, I grabbed my phone to see if the site worked. It didn’t so I turned off WiFi for the real test. I could connect so I knew the Twitch server was working, and the problem was on my end!

My next mission was to determine if Comcast, my Internet provider, was having problems in my area.  I immediately checked out Down Detector where I discovered that Comcast had outages in my area beginning at the same time mine failed. About an hour later, Internet service was back and WiFi turned back on.

Once again, I can take a moment to appreciate my ability to have information so readily at my fingertips, but I know that I will soon take it for granted again. So for now I’ll say thank you to my Internet access and enjoy being able to publish this blog!

Have you found your tech joy today?