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TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 01.11.2017
some people recently learned marty still didn't carry a cell phone. as most, they pushed her on this doing little to hide their incredulity. her response.
The only reason I would need a cellphone is to call people to tell them I'm running late but everyone I know already knows I'm going to be late so what's the point?
next issue.

HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 11.03.2016
literal losers
odds are you are not going to like this.

a lot of science has come out in the last few years about the power of posture, namely on our mood. the classic example being smiling helps your mood in a number of ways, in fact it is impossible for smiling to not improve your mood (TED the hidden power of smiling). then there was this reasonably popular treatise about how you can change your complete emotional state by simply altering your posture (TED: your body language shapes who you are). i'm mildly embarrassed to admit to trying this before a few important encounters i had a few years back and can report there are definitely some merits to the claims which i will also report surprised me more than a little.

a friend recently turned me onto the newish tim ferriss podcast. he is the 4-hour workweek/body guy. his shows are long and he talks more than he maybe should (i assume his interviewing and editing skills will improve as he does it longer) but there have been a couple of affirming and revelatory bits of info pass through thus far, which for those who are familiar with ferris is surely what one would expect to happen given his dense and intense way of approaching things.

i won't bore you with the affirming parts as no one cares about that except me. but one of the revelatory snippets talked about people and their cellphones. it turns out that any person engaged with their phone screen is in a classic "losers" position. think of someone who just lost a tennis match. head down. shoulders slumped. disengaged from what is around them. and if you give any credit to the body position and framing studies above, this is doing you no kinda favors. and now when we see older folks grousing about all of these losers and their smartphones, it turns out they are a little more on point than we may have first given them credit for.

and lots of science has also verified that people's connection to social media is a fraught and losing psychological endeavor--put differently you will never win the psychological health award by playing a game that never ends and hosts an endless stream of players. now, not only are people losing emotionally, they are also losing physically.

this will give me a new game to play as i wait on people sitting through green lights, blocking sidewalks, and holding up checkout lines because i know, based on the above ted talk, smirking is better than scowling.

TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 08.30.2016
yes, please don't sweat so much on our fitness band -- it's not good for it.
l have been seeing more and more articles on how fitness trackers are not living up to their expectations. based on my conversations with people most of these trackers need a boxing about the ears. my five second evidence-light sense is, apple watch aside, the better a tracker looks, the less functional a tracker is. i exclude the apple watch mostly because i think it is far more than just a "step-counter" which is essentially where all these trackers initially took hold.

here's one sample case, i bumped into a guy wearing a fitbit. i always thought those were very sleek and sharp looking. but after a ninety second conversation with him the thing seems like little more than an expensive wrist bangle. first he said he got it wet and it stopped working. how the hell can an activity watch not handle moisture. then he went to show me one of the readouts but it was too sunny and we couldn't read the screen. he cupped his hand over the truly miniscule display and pulled it close to his face before reporting that he just couldn't see it. really? unreadable in the sun. but, to be fair i could see how handling water and being readable in daylight could get missed during the design requirements session. i mean those are pretty unusual asks for something fitness related.

while the man was blocking light and moving his hand around looking for an angle that would let him see the readout, i glanced down at my wrist and noted the large, readable print. print that you could still read even if someone aimed a bright flashlight right on the readout, in the daylight. like with the kindle paperwhite folks, the makers of my band have this screen-in-the-sun business fully figured out.

if you are one of the reported masses struggling with the form or function of your band, before giving up on the market i would suggest looking at garmin's vivofit 2. it is surely not the sharpest looking band on the market and looks downright utilitarian, but that is because it is. by my account, it is the functional and smartly designed workhorse of the activity watch lineup, but for reasons i don't understand it is not part of these tracker roundtables, the ones i'm reading at least. i think it may be yesterday's news even at garmin as i see they just released the vivofit 3.

i initially had the first generation vivofit. i got it to let me know when i was sitting too long. it was ok but i had three gripes about it:
  1. i wanted an audible chirp when the alert to move took place.
  2. i wanted a backlight so i could read it at night.
  3. i wanted a stop-watch feature.
when they announced the vivofit 2, it possessed all of these features. i upgraded mine the day it came out and have worn it every day since. so if you're finding your activity tracker wanting, i would highly recommend looking at a vivofit 2.

and for what it's worth i'm leary of garmin's vivosmart which is a "connected" version of the vivofit 2. i predict too many distractions. i know i'm in the minority here but like to keep my gear as simple as able. i'm confident i wouldn't benefit from the connected features because the reason i have it is to tell me to move (and record my vitals and activity) and twitter or messaging is not part of that equation. not only is it not necessary, i deem it counter-productive. this is part of the reason i don't like the apple watch as a fitness band. i've seen way too many exercisers standing on the side of the road/track punching out messages on their mini-computer. not helping.

as noted above, i just saw that there is now a vivofit3 but they changed the screen pretty dramatically, seeming to model it after some of the more stylish/connected trackers. my spidey-sense tells me there is trouble ahead. the amazon reviews are also middling so i'm not seeing anything to run me off from my 2, especially since the 2 is fully meeting my needs at present (i have nary a suggestion for improvement). one possible good thing to come from the release of the vivofit 3 may be the vivofit 2's are now only $60 now -- cheap enough to try it out or get a backup.

i don't know what is harder with good design: coming up with the initial idea or protecting a proven one. why are we so averse to letting something that works do what it does, work, and leave it alone or at least better protect the refinements.

that above sentiment reminds me of something i heard someone recently obvserve about self-help books. there are loads of them that teach/tell/help you become successful, but there really aren't any that teach/tell/help you STAY successful. thinking on it for a few moments, success is a different animal that carries some new and often confusing challenges. it is a most astute point and worthy of some attention.

SOCIETY, TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 04.22.2015
there are also fewer fights around the dinner table thanks to all those facebook feeds
kottke recently shared a story from a guy that said since smart phones arrived, nobody picks up coins they see on the street anymore.
From 1987 to 2006, he averaged about fifty-eight dollars a year. Then Apple introduced the iPhone, and millions of potential competitors started to stare at their screens rather than at the sidewalks. Since 2007, Pasquier has averaged just over ninety-five dollars a year.
my smartphone observation, and one of the few true boons of the technology would be an immediate and sharp decrease in the incidents of road rage you hear about. turns out people are too distracted to get annoyed at anything.

and there is a comment marty made a few years back that stuck with me. if you recall, marty taught 9th grade science for eight years in the 90's. then took nine years off to be home with the kids. she is now in her third year back in the classroom. when she first returned i asked her what, if anything, had changed in the educational landscape. her response: "well, there weren't smart phones when i taught before." i'll leave it to your imagination to ascertain if their impact on our educational process has helped or hindered our mission to grow a new and improved generation of thinkers.

the further we advance in time, the more the movie wall-e looks like a documentary and less like a kids movie.

WIFE, TECHNOLOGY, TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 06.20.2014
marty post-cellphone: day five
in the middle of one of my hourly updates in the family's second day of travel, the following exchange took place between alex and i.

we're doing great here dad. we just got into the mountains and should be there in another three hours.

ok. great. tell mom to be extra careful on those small, twisty roads.

ok. is everything going good for you?

yep. tell mom her ant guy just got done.

mom. your aunt just died.

WHAT? NO! ALEX! that's not what i said!

what dad? i can't hear you.

mom's aunt didn't die. the ant-guy just finished his work.

oh. mom. your aunt didn't die someone else just did something.

the ant-killing guy was just ... oh never mind ... i'll tell her later.

sorry about that dad. your words got a little blurry there when you were talking.

WIFE, TECHNOLOGY, TRAVEL (permalink) 06.19.2014
marty post-cellphone: day four
on saturday marty left for a six day trip with the kids. some happenings at work prevented me from joining them (this obviously was the core reason for getting the phone as they couldn't take my work-issued one with them). as they piled into the packed car i gave each one an enormous feet-off-the-ground hug and told them to be amazing listeners and helpers to their mother. i told alex to be extra frosty as co-pilot because he and his mother hadn't logged the hours behind the wheel together that he and i had. at the end of my embrace with marty i gave her an extra squeeze and said:

be careful.

i will. i've done this before.

i know. it's just that you have my whole world barreling down the highway at 70 miles an hour in that van.

got it. enjoy your peace and quiet.

peace and quiet? with all the parties i have planned. ain't gonna be much peace and quiet around here.

well, i thank you for having your parade of women wait until we left before getting started.

of course. but i hope they don't wait too long. i feel a nap coming on.

they left. forty minutes later the phone rang. i answered it.


hey dad. this is alex.

hey aleo. you ok?

yeah, i just wanted to call you and let you know we got out of the city ok.

ok. i'm glad to hear that. thanks for the update.

it's ok. and i'm going to call you every hour and let you know how it's going.

hourly updates. ok. that would be awesome.

and while they weren't consistently on the hour they did come. part of me was thankful for these drips of insight that my family was ok and sound. another part of me was wondering when my parade of women were gonna start showing up.

WIFE, TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 06.18.2014
marty post-cellphone: day two
on the first morning with marty's new phone in the house, the low battery alert started chirping at 4:45 a.m. starting my day two hours and fifteen minutes earlier than i had planned.

i missed that perk in the marketing materials.

WIFE, TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 06.17.2014
game over
on june 5th at 12:55pm in an exchange that took a total of 35 seconds, marty walter made her very first phone call from her very first cell phone.

while marty was examining the cheapest flip-phone models the store had to offer, bella kept drifting towards the sexier, smart-phone options. seeing bella's longing glances, the young salesman sidled up next to her.

you want a smartphone?

oh my god. yes. they are so awesome.

what is it specifically you need it for?

BELLA (stammering)
uhhh. well. uhhh.

SALESMAN (turning to marty)
that's what they all say to that question.

SOCIETY, TECHNOLOGY, VIDEO (permalink) 09.10.2010
zero to ravenous in fifteen seconds, flat.
a student of mine from last year forwarded me a link today. he said that after seeing this interview he felt it might be of interest to me and of possible use in future classes. i opened the link. this was the first thing i heard.
technology is like a mirror, if an idiot looks in you can't expect an apostle to look out.
after that line i paused the video, now fifteen seconds into a thirty one minute interview, readied a reply to my student and wrote, "that is possibly the single greatest line i've heard in regard to technology since i've begun working in technology."

i've never heard of stephen fry but after listening to thirty minutes of him free-styling here, i can assure you that three months from now i will be very familiar with his thoughts on technology and life's chase.

you can all thank luke, the most stylish student i've ever had the pleasure of working with for this juicy and marbled slab of greatness. and, send good thoughts and karma his way as he looks for a curious endeavor with a non-profit in the atlanta region.

STEPHEN FRY: WHAT I WISH I'D KNOWN WHEN I WAS 18 from Peter Samuelson on Vimeo.

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