Friday, January 29, 2010

It's the Little Things

Often it's the little things that affect our moods, or at least that affect mine. The examples can be endless.

This morning I could not find my keys. I'm a very organized person and I put my keys in the same place each night. I find that consistency is the precursor to organization. I was getting more and more upset as I turned the house upside down looking for them. I was mad at myself for obviously absentmindedly setting them somewhere and I was starting to wonder about my sanity. Finally, in frustration I grabbed my spare set and drove off.

When I arrived at work and started to come out of the elevator some woman just about ran me over in the elevator door. She wanted to go down and I wasn't even out of the elevator yet! This is one of my pet peeves, I hate it when people jump in elevators that aren't empty yet. I find it very rude. 25 steps later I open the lobby doors and some other inconsiderate woman jumps through my open door. Rude! It's one thing if I open it and allow you to go through out of courtesy, it's quite another for someone to bump me aside and squeeze through my door.

By the time I got up into our suite I was in a foul mood and cursing humanity, Los Angeles and its inconsideate population. It was the little things that ruined it for me. 30 minutes later Dena called me and told me she found my keys. They were sitting on top of my tupperware container in the fridge containing my mango so I wouldn't forget to take it to work. That worked out well. We both laughed at the irony and my day turned around.

Practice random acts of kindness today. You never know whose mood you will positively affect! Just because we live in this hectic, self-centered world shouldn't mean that we cannot be considerate to each other.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Augmented Reality - For iPhone Uses

In order to get the significance of this blog one must first understand the concept of "easter eggs". Wikipedia describes them as "A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, computer program, web page or video game. The term was coined – according to Warren Robinett – by Atari after they were pointed to the secret message left by Robinett in the game Adventure.[1] ".

Easter eggs are in most computer games, software, operating systems, etc. There are entire websites dedicated to finding and exposting easter eggs. The easter egg that Yelp has put in there new iPhone app is mind blowing and it's social implications are endless. This takes the power of the people to a whole new level. Restaurants beware, if you get a bad review on Yelp, you're dead.

So check out this video on Monocle - Yelps hidden app (aka easter egg) underneath their iPhone app. It uses the camera in the iphone in combination with the GPS to determine your location then overlays that with reviews of the businesses in the immediate vicinity and direction you are pointing the camera. Like I said, mind blowing. Requires 3Gs iphone with latest software.

Check out the Mashable web site for more details and explanation of how to activate the easter egg.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Technology Future......Hold On To Your Hats!

I thought portions of this story were so thought provoking that I wanted to share them with my readers. Enjoy and just consider the possibilities. These are predictions for somewhere around 2020. I suspect it will be a little sooner.

Taken from Jason Hiner's TechRepublic blog:

One of the biggest false trends of CES 2010 was 3DTV. The problem: Users don’t want to wear those goofy 3D glasses when they’re sitting on the couch or laying in bed to watch TV or a movie. However, people don’t mind wearing glasses when they are out in public. That’s why we’re likely to see a new generation of technology that will put computer displays into glasses and give users a visual layer of information about the world around them, offer customized alerts, and interact with their digital devices.
These glasses, which will integrate with prescription glasses or sunglasses in many cases, will be able to discreetly do things such as provide additional information about real-world locations (similar to Yelp Monocle), do facial recognition on people you meet and search your social network contact list to find them and display their name, grab the name of the song that’s currently playing on your iPod, and show caller ID and text messages coming in from your mobile phone.

The next interesting prediction is the one cm thick TV. This is inevitable.

Currently, the biggest spectacle of CES is the flat-panel TVs. The biggest booths — Samsung, LG, Sony, etc. — are overloaded with massive numbers of high definition TV panels. At CES 2020, there will be no TVs on display.
Instead, these TVs will be replaced by OLED panels that are roughly the thickness of a sheet of vellum. The screen will be virtually transparent and will have a miniature chip in one corner that wirelessly connects to any nearby peripherals and content sources in a process similar to paring a bluetooth headset.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Digital Generation

Someone threw out a term to me the other day that I found very interesting: digital immigrant. Apparently I am a digital immigrant. There are also conversely "digital natives". These young children are typically born in the 21st century and have grown up with nothing but digital technology. One can argue back and forth that if you were born in the 1990's then you must also be a digital native but I'm convinced it's only 21st century children.

First, let me define the terms for you:

A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s.

A digital immigrant is a person for whom digital technologies did not exist or were in their infancy when they were born and growing up. This would be most of us.

These 2 terms were coined by Marc Prensky and he uses them to discuss his opinions on why our educational system is failing. It's actually a very interesting article and speaks to us digital immigrants (who are largely ignorant in the technology) teaching these digital natives. I'll make the analogy of how poignant this is by relating the story of my little niece Sienna who is an excellent Wii bowler. She had never played nor was she cognizant of real bowling and only knew of it virtually. She was quite thrilled when she was just recently introduced to the "analog" style of bowling, aka reality. Sienna is a digital native through and through.

These digital natives are more commonly referred to as Gen Z. Gen Z as lined out in the whole Gen X and Y thing span the birth years of 1995-2010, give or take. They are children of the Gen Xers and they are highly connected, most having lifelong use of all the digital gear (MP3, internet, IM, etc, etc).

An interesting topic for a cocktail party...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Job Satisfaction Plummets

The breaking news today was that American job satisfaction is the lowest it's ever been. Well, no shit. The people who still have jobs are being asked to do more with less like never before and for less pay. This does not breed happiness but instead breeds a low level of resentment that festers especially in larger companies. This phenomena eventually leads to a type of burn out or a better way of putting that is a lack of enthusiasm to work like a dog for less pay thus driving productivity down. It's a vicious cycle.

I have friends that are on 13% pay cuts, some of those people not only have a pay cut but also must take one week off a quarter or in one case one week off (without pay of course) a month. That translates into quite a heavy financial loss in the paycheck. How can you be satisfied at work when you're salary is eroded by a pay cut as well as paying more for your benefits, like health and dental. Companies are also cutting perks in all sorts of ways, even stooping as low as foregoing filling the monthly coffee supply. How the hell can a worker be happy and/or productive without caffeine?

It's also no news that laid off workers returning to work have to accept lower paying jobs. Some of these are probably people that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. I find it quite amusing in a sad way that our government is telling us that the economy is slowly recovering. What planet do they live on? Because jobless claims dropped? Well, there aren't that many people left to lay off. If the unemployment number reported is ~ 12% then you know it is significantly higher than that. That number is only calculated based on those people still on the books. Workers who haven't bothered to file, have exhausted their benefits and graduates who cannot find work are not counted. I suspect this number is close to 20%. I know more unemployed people now than I do employed. That is sad.

Frankly, I could rant on and on about this, health care and the state of our economy, but I'll leave you now, looking on the bright side, IT jobs are still in demand and still interesting for those computer geeks that like this kind of stuff.