Family ties to technology

I didn’t have a good weekend. It rained all day Saturday and we were running around all day Sunday because it was Mother’s Day. Of course the daughter decided that Sunday would be a day she would grind against the grain of everyone else and, as much as I love her, single-handedly ruined an otherwise good day with family. I’m starting to notice a pattern though and will be putting in some strict restrictions on the use of anything that contains a screen and run on electricity. She lost her iPhone for 4 weeks because of her last quarter grades. We both noticed a marked improvement in her attitude and behavior that regressed literally an hour or two after she got it back. The girl is hopelessly addicted to all things screen and her typical “I’m not stopping until I want to” attitude always gets in the way. My wife doesn’t help matters either as she is just as addicted to her mobile as well and it’s been a struggle to hold a conversation with her that wasn’t disconnected and unintelligible. I’ve since refused to talk with her when her attention is on the phone screen as I already know, you can’t multi-task with an electronic device, it just isn’t possible. Anyone out there who thinks they can multi-task; verbal conversation and use their phone, they’re just fooling themselves and doing two things barely mediocre.

My level of frustration the last few weeks has unfortunately gone up. My wife tells the daughter to stop yelling at her, yet my wife yells at her to stop yelling. It really is counter-productive in my opinion. I, on the other hand, have manged to keep my tone and outward display of anger to a minimum (for the most part) as it tends to get better results. Our daughter is old enough to know and understand the impact of what she says and how she says certain things, so there really is no excuse for downright disrespect for the sake of exercising control despite her losing the privileged of what she’s trying to control. The whole thing is just counter-productive and doesn’t really make any sense to me. The daughter refuses to do anything when she’s on her phone, playing what I consider real stupid time-suck games, and only listens to either of us once we’ve taken the phone away. Then of course its a fight to get her to do what we’re asking because now she’s angry she lost her phone as a result of her own actions; but it’s our fault, always.

The evaluation of technology in my life is taking a very dark and negative turn, to the point where I get frustrated with anyone using a device near me when I’m trying to say or do something. I’ve respected them by putting my phone, laptop, etc. down but rarely get that in return. The old adage “lead by example” just doesn’t seem to fit when technology is involved. I’m not even going to the “do unto others” space right now. My wife has conveniently forgotten, consistently, that I deleted Facebook and has conversations with me based on Facebook information. When I say I’m not on Facebook anymore, she’s reminded that I abandoned the platform and just stops talking; the subject doesn’t change, she just stops and returns to the screen. I just don’t get it. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, at least that’s what we’ve been told for years, but all I ever see is the negative side of it. People who can’t hold a conversation unless it’s in text form. Social gatherings consist of an entire table of people on their phones. Parents hold up iPads at recitals to “record” their children without a seconds thought of the 9.4″ of blocking capability the iPad produces for the people behind them. Having a conversation with someone under the age of 30 consists of “so”, “like” and “uhm” being practically every fourth word. Call me crazy, but I don’t say any of those words when holding conversation with people. Hearing them tossed at me just derails my train of thought and makes it difficult to actually listen.

There are days that I wish someone would set off an electro-magnetic pulse bomb rendering anything electronic essentially a brick. Our civilization would literally fall apart in the span of a few days though, so it’s not a wish rooted in logic. It’s a wish rooted in frustration, as in “See, technology doesn’t make anything better, none of you can actually hold a conversation to literally save your lives.” Our futures in this world are in jeopardy if we can’t learn to ride the fine line between technology assistance and technology addiction. The Internet was commercially available around 1992, anyone born after that date has never lived without it. What ever happened to learning the hard way first in order to appreciate the easy way second?

Tech only a President could love

I bet with a new Monday/Thursday schedule, and the touted “inauguration to end all inaugurations” now over, the first Monday post I make would be about that.  Well, I’m a geek, and an introvert, so I need time to process the circus from this past weekend.

Given that all the attention has been on the inauguration, I was extremely happy to see an article published on the Presidents use of his smartphone late last week.  Trump currently uses a commercially available Android device that became a massive national security threat once he became President.  Any device the President uses that is connected to the Internet and not behind the government’s network firewalls is an opportunity for information to leak into the world and undermine his and most likely our countries security.

The question of what phone a president carries — and what he or she does with it — is a serious matter of national security.

Take a president who likes to make policy announcements on Twitter at three in the morning and the matter becomes even more urgent.

After all, when Donald Trump tweets, the stock market shifts. If someone were to read what he was preparing to tweet by breaking into his smartphone and using keylogging software, even with just a 30-second head start, it could make some people very rich and potentially cause serious damage to the national economy.

SOURCE:  For the sake of national security, Donald Trump needs to trade in his cellphone

Considering that my current phone is encrypted, requires a pin to even boot the phone before the system is unencrypted AND requires both a pin and fingerprint to unlock, I consider my device to be relatively secure.  If this same phone were in the hands of Trump right now, and a state sponsored attacker knew what it was, they could most likely crack through all that security relatively quickly.  There is hardware in the phone that I don’t have control over and therefore, is vulnerable to an attack that I’d never knew happened until it was too late.

Despite having access to some of the best technology out there, President Barack Obama still uses a Blackberry.

According to the New York Times, Obama “carries a specially modified, highly secure” Blackberry, despite the fact that many White House aides now use iPhones.

SOURCE:  Obama Still Uses a Blackberry

I’m sorry, but there is something wrong with the most powerful person in the United States still using a Blackberry.  It’s irrelevant that it’s a specially modified version that is highly secure.  Don’t take my displeasure as negative though, I loved my Blackberry and if they were still a relevant company, I’d still be carrying one.  The technology being used at the White House should be the best in the world in my opinion and there is no excuse for it not to be.

Trump, 70, rarely uses a computer and sifts through stacks of newspapers, magazines and printed articles to read the news. He panned candidates’ reliance on data and technology in presidential campaigns, preferring to make decisions in part based on the reaction from audiences at his rallies. While Trump’s tweetstorms are already legendary, he utters some of his messages out loud and leaves the actual typing to aides.

SOURCE:  Obama boosted White House technology; Trump sees risks

No offense to the older generation out there reading this, because you’re reading this from a computer and already light years ahead of Trump in the use of technology.  I actually respect that you do a lot more than I can ever put into words.  I don’t see how Trump, not using a computer, will be able to continue his tweetstorms when his smart phone is locked down like Obama’s was.  Trump doesn’t have a choice here as, by law, he has to accept the technology and protection given to him by Secret Service, White House Communications, and Dept of Homeland Security.  To continue using Twitter, it will have to be with a laptop/desktop until a suitable compromise can potentially be made.  As much as I like to see his ranting at 3am being done from the gold toilet he no doubt brought with him to the White House, as President, there is a certain level of individual composure expected from the world stage.

Sean Spicer, named the White House Press Secretary on Dec 22nd and White House Communications Director on Dec 24th, has his hands full with President Trump.  Who knows, with an unorthodox President, there may be some radical changes to how the Office is handled going forward.  Trump’s lean towards anti-technology in favor of human couriers doesn’t give this geek a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside.  I’ve discovered that the loudest and strongest supporters of technology (and the Internet) are usually the ones that have never used and therefore don’t understand.  I see that as sort of screaming about climate change and having a coal fired furnace in your house, a bit of an oxymoronic hypocrite.

We’re only in the third day of the next four years.  What happens is literally in the head of Trump, cooking, ready to be served to the American people.  Should we close our eyes while going over the first drop on the roller coaster or throw our hands up in the air and scream?

Self-imposed technology limits

I know I’m spending too much time writing and reading.  Having been here before in the past, I know that things like work, life and relationships start suffering in favor of writing and spending time reading articles.  With that said, I’ve decided to put some restrictions on myself to help alleviate any problems before they’re actually problems.

Post Limits

Starting this Thursday, I’m going to publish a post every Monday and Thursday.  Thursday’s post will be the regular Three Things Thursday and Monday’s post will be something related to whatever fired me up or I found interesting from the week before.  I can take a few hours on the weekend to concentrate the post instead of having 3-5 posts only partially done at any given time.

Reading Hours

Feeling that reading blogs has started to take more and more of my free time, I’m scheduling 1-hour blocks on various days through the week to read and comment on blogs.  It will be a fundamental shift in what I’ve been doing the last several months and comments will be made only when I have something substantive to add; otherwise a simple “Like” will be made after reading something.

Daily/Weekly Digests

Most of the blogs I follow email me as posts are published.  It was fine when I only followed 10-20 blogs, but now I’m following almost 100 of them and it takes a large amount of time to work through 200 emails in my inbox sometimes.  Starting this weekend, I’m going to be switching to daily/weekly digest emails so that all posts from an author are consolidated in one email per day or week depending on frequencies.  What this means is that “Likes” and comments will come in groups rather than trickle in as they have been.

Twitter

Since deleting my Facebook account, my Twitter use has increased steadily over the last several weeks.  I still have not decided how I’m going to limit my use of Twitter as I’ve been using it more and more as a news aggregator and following publications rather than people.  I may decide that it doesn’t require limits, just simply turning off the notification on my phone/desktop app may be all that is required.  More thought on this is needed.

Suggestions

I’m open to suggestions that might help and open to hearing what has worked or not worked for you.  I know I’m not the only one that has had this issue and been forced to make some changes to their technology consumption.  Thankfully I’ve caught it in time as it hasn’t affected anything too serious yet.

One word theme for 2017

Post Inspriation: One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do? by The Spectacled Bean

This was an interesting idea that I had to steal. I’m not a resolutions supporter as I wrote here, but this idea of a one word theme was intriguing. Taking a single word and using it to drive all decisions and actions for an entire year, it’s genius. I highly encourage you to read through the post that inspired me to write this one. I spent some time thinking about the one word I would select, which ended up being something that has been driving me for a few months.

LEARN

Yup, that’s my one word for 2017 and is a continuation of what I’d been doing the latter half of 2016. Learning in several key areas over the last few months:

  • Family
  • Introversion
  • Minimalism
  • Technology
  • Politics

Additional key areas added for 2017:

  • Consolidation/Purging

I wrote about these already as my problem areas that I have been consistently working on for a few months to a few years. What I failed to understand is what is common among all of them: Learning new ways of thinking and doing. The first three are essentially in the same group and are inter-related. Technology in the spirit of living with it as an assistant to life instead of it controlling my life. Politics as I still have a ton to learn after discovering that the world I thought existed was figuratively a dream. Consolidation and purging is a natural progression of minimalism.

So, there, my one word for 2017 and my living theme is “learn”.

What’s yours?

Technology and geek unite

My wife let me buy a new television on Thursday. Not just any television, but a 4k UHD television that clocks in at just under 55″. It was a snug fit into the stand we have with only an inch or so to spare all around, to the point I had to push it in by the feet as my fingers wouldn’t fit on the side. It was surprisingly affordable and of course, the coupon queen my wife is, made me use her eBates account to get it from BestBuy (more on that shortly). It was also my daughters actual birthday yesterday and we went to the local restaurant that gives her a free dessert for her birthday. As is the case with all the other rare moments in my life where I’m allowed to make a large purchase of technological awesomeness, I was impatient, but collected. We finished dinner in a normal pace and waited for our daughter to finish as she eats as fast a sloth. Once she was done I was itching to get going before my wife changed her mind.

I had purchased online in advance of us going to dinner, so it was a matter of going in and just grabbing it from the pickup desk. My wife wanted to visually see it and thankfully was on display as I’ve had experience with her not seeing something in person and changing her mind. It was sharp, clear, and bright, as I would expect an in-store television to be as they jack up all the settings on purpose. I’d done my research, wanted something that didn’t need to be replaced in a few years when technology got better, so went higher end than usual. The Vizio brand has opted to remove all the television “smarts” and instead opted for a smart phone interface over your own homes wi-fi connection, it’s pretty cool. She didn’t get it, and when learning that Vizio was the only brand doing this, she was skeptical of my choice. Anticipating this, my justification was that the television didn’t suffer from app-gap when the manufacturer decided to discontinue the television, rather, it only had to keep up the OS of the television as the apps utilized are on our smartphones and then “cast” to the television.

Anyway, the store. I’m usually loathe to purchase anything from BestBuy, but their prices are actually on par or cheaper than even Amazon in some cases for the same things. We had purchased all of our new appliances there as well and had some of the best service we’ve ever had. I also purchased my most recent laptop (what I’m using now) there as well. The last three trips we’ve done our research online, purchased online, and then went to the store for pickup. Our experience was that of pure customer service without the requirements for questions or having to rely on the salesperson. Also helps that with purchases on the BestBuy credit card (one of the few we still have active) over $399 qualify for 18 months no interest. The only better choice would be all cash, which at this time of year isn’t a possibility, but is the only time that awesome sales are plentiful. Using credit was a judgement call and one that I made with reservations.

After jamming it in the back of our horrible Dodge Journey, and braving the 14F and 30 MPH winds, we finally got it home. I wasted no time getting all the old stuff unhooked and off the shelf. While I unpacked the new piece of tech, my wife cleaned the spots that you don’t ever clear unless, well, you get a new television. I took my time hooking up all the wires to make sure you couldn’t see them hanging down in the back because another 4 years of hearing “I can see the wires” wasn’t in my future. Wires were tucked and routed, invisible to the observer watching from across the room! I turned it on, and after a brief buzz, the screen lit up and it was awesome. After a brief setup, I went to switch the inputs and ….. update, it needed an update. These things always need updates. My laptop needed one, my daughter’s Xbox One needed one (so did the controllers), so naturally the television needed one as well. 15 minutes later…..

I switched it to the Roku (because I don’t have cable) and pulled up Hulu to watch some shows before bed. Now, keep in mind, that Hulu broadcasts in 1080p and I wasn’t expecting a better picture than what we had on the 40″ prior, just bigger. My wife, on the other hand, mesmerized by the display at the store said to me in a rather flat tone “I thought it would be sharper.” A simple statement that was directed at something we had just put a decent amount of money on and brought into the house. Not what I had expected at all. Well, challenge accepted, I started fiddling. Made a setting change, asked if it was better. Continued this for about 15 minutes all the while the show, I wanted to watch, was causing a distraction to my concentrated thinking of making the television “sharper” for my wife. She was the queen of watching shows 2-3 times because her phone interrupted her while watching, so much so that I changed her notifications tones to someone saying “Shiny” because that’s what it’s like when the thing goes off. I ended up giving up, because a 1080p picture on a 55″ is always going to look “less sharp” than a 1080p picture on a 40″. Only 4K content, which is hard to find, will showcase how this television is superior to our 40″, which isn’t 4K. It’s a Blu-ray movie tonight 🙂

This is unfortunately how every item that falls into the “technology” category is viewed by my wife. I get a new laptop, with specs out the wazoo, and she says “It’s thinner than your old one.” I get a new mobile phone a few years ago and she says “Hmm, it’s not as light as I expected.” I install a new wi-fi router, with two networks (one for us, one for guests) that has both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and she says “You’re going to leave it there?” I’ve reserved myself to the idea that technology is lost on my wife and I’m going to have to work (not hard) to be a geek for both of us. Just once I’d like her to tell me that something is cool and actually impresses her. Just once….