Phonebots


Phonebots clog city streets. Tenacious, impenetrable and defiant, they march catatonic to the glow of their hand held device. They invade crosswalks with self absorbed surety of army ants, oblivious to crossing signals, traffic flow or common decency.

Wanting to scream “what’s wrong with you!” never goes well when driving a company vehicle. Self centred numskulls always take offence. Sometimes they snap a photo of our company logo/phone number, calling to express outrage over the employee who almost ran them down. Propriety dictates polite restraint. I take a deep breath, waiting patiently for phonebots to cross the street. Every so often my inner prankster honks the horn, if I’m lucky a phonebot jumps and scurries. One time a phonebot dropped their device, I laughed out loud.

Do phonebots know how infuriating they are? Believe it their right to cross intersections with flashing “Don’t Walk” signals? Create gridlock by stepping off the curb seconds before a light changes preventing vehicles from making turns, then dawdle along with kaleidoscope eyes fixated on their cell phone? Do the self absorbed little darlings care? Absolutely not! So I sit, and I wait, and every so often I shake them up with a strategically dispatched blast of the horn. It’s hysterical, phonebots hate it when you interrupt social media dribble in the middle of an intersection at rush hour.

 

Laptop Frustration


I didn’t want a new laptop for Christmas, asking for one stemmed from telltale signs my old one was close to death. Sickly laptop was my friend, we understood each other, communication was effortless. Despite my best efforts I knew she couldn’t hang on. Christmas morning arrived with a stranger I knew nothing about, 24 hours passed before opening a box that cemented my constant companion’s passing.

With palpable trepidation I find the power button on new laptop, a moment later Cortana introduces herself.

Stop talking Cortana, I’m trying to remember passwords! An hour later Cortana assures me I’m ready to go. Ready my ass! Everything I hold dear is gone. Would it kill Microsoft to include a Windows 10 users manual in this box of irrelevant dribble? What good is a diagram of ports in 37 languages if I can’t find a way to import my photographs? Argh!

 

 

Cloud


Wikipedia defines cloud computing in terms of a metaphor – “for a user the network elements representing the provider-rendered services are invisible, as if obscured by a cloud”. It describes cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable network resources”. Ubiquitous? As in omnipresent, unseen yet all around us? Yikes.

A few years ago, Dropbox lured me to “the cloud”.  Oblivious to treachery of cloud’s insidious promise, Dropbox beguiled with masterful cunning. I could take a photo anywhere in the world, confident that image was safely tucked in the cloud. Be it 10 minutes or 10 days, those images glistened the moment my laptop came to life. They could be edited, shared, “dropped” into folders of friends and family. The cloud recognized my devices, never again would I have to bother with archaic uploads.For two years, nary a thought was given to thousands of images puffing my cloud.

Last week Dropbox informed me cloud days were over. My two year free ride were hook and line, the sinker required an annual payment of $119. Screw you Dropbox, I’ll upload photos myself. WTF? Why can’t I manually upload images? A little rusty doesn’t make me an idiot, there’s no reason this shouldn’t work. Out of my life Dropbox, lets see how you like it when I transfer your cloud to my desktop. Mission accomplished, what’s this? Dropbox is syncing with my phone again because deleting files created my 2GB of “free” storage. Still can’t manually transfer images from phone to laptop, but here’s an email from Dropbox informing me the cloud will keep deleted files for 30 days, I can have them back for $119 a year – thanks, but no thanks.

It hardly seems fair to finger Dropbox for my naive complacency. Shame on me for recklessly lining clouds without the slightest hint of trepidation. Rather sheepish to admit a call to my wallet, not common sense rang cloud alarm bells – I’m left to ponder the magnitude of cloud’s reach.

Far from professing to understand technicalities, one thing is clear – our future is cloudy whether we like it or not. Dropbox is a pipsqueak in the land of giants, an inconsequential puff against storms on the horizon. Digital lives flourish in an abstract dimension – it never occurs to ask where it goes, who sees it or how we can get it back.

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Pondering History


Modern society places itself in an ivory tower – dominant, untouchable, and permanent. Six thousand years ago, ancient civilizations saw themselves the same way. Regardless of pinholes along historical timelines – each and every one considered their culture as one to endure for all eternity.

Every lesson we need is represented in history. Exploitation of resources, failure to recognize weather patterns, deforestation, overly ambitious conquests, superior weaponry, religious squabbles, greed, genocide, holy wars, enslavement, ramifications of technology – history screams “pay attention”. Modern man has little time for dusty old history – we see ourselves as superior, untouchable and entitled to all the perks advanced technology lays at our feet.

None of us stops to think – we aren’t that special. History shows us civilizations come and go, shit happens – cataclysmic natural disaster, unforeseen drought, cosmic events, a myriad of reasons toppling civilization from that ivory tower.

Modern technology doesn’t exclude us from catastrophe. In what way is the modern world different from the world of ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, India, South America, or China?  If anyone believes our advancements differ from those throughout history – think again.

http://listverse.com/2008/10/31/top-10-mysteries-of-ancient-or-lost-civilizations/

 

 

Deep Space Climate Observatory


Stating I was passionate about space weather would be a gross understatement. Saying I’m at a loss to comprehend why a majority of the population hasn’t the foggiest notion how space weather impacts earth, would be a completely accurate statement. Pleading the case to Canadian radio and television stations hasn’t garnered so much as a polite “thanks, but no thanks”. Long ago giving up on “educating” people I know – tired of eyes glazing over just before they roll, accompanied by a polite “that’s interesting” – my head screams ARGH as I change the subject.

Yesterday I received news prompting a happy jig in front of my computer screen. Within minutes I was on the phone to my like minded brother – excitedly asking “have you heard the news?” NOAA plans to launch DSCOVR – the Deep Space Climate Observatory in 2015.

Proposed in 1998 by then Vice President Al Gore, and known as Triana or GoreSat, it was intended to give a continuous view of the sun and sunlit side of the earth. Gore saw it as a chance not only to raise awareness through a continuous internet feed, but as a tool to measure UV light making its way through the ozone layer – hence tracking global warming, cloud patterns, weather systems and early warning for approaching solar storms. It was put on the back burner by George W. Bush shortly after taking office.

In November of 2008 the Obama administration dusted off the $100 million dollar satellite; by 2011 actively  securing funds for a proposed launch – the project was renamed DSCOVR.

When John Zande – http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/ messaged me yesterday with news of the proposed 2015 launch – I practically swooned. Trust me; this is BIG news. I’ll spare all you glazed over eye rollers another account of the Carrington or Bastille Day events. Anyone left standing with the slightest interest – I applaud your pondering mind; fingers crossed you’ll “think about, talk about, learn more about” the importance of space weather.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_Climate_Observatory

http://spaceweather.com/

The Power of One Chance “Like”


I have always believed that things happen for a reason, and not to discount anything that crosses my path. This isn’t based on so much as a whisper in God, religion, divine intervention, or the will of any sentient almighty. To be honest; if any of those things clouded or narrowed my open mind, I’m fairly certain these “chances” would evaporate behind a cloud of blind faith. I spend my life pondering wonders, gazing into the night sky, listening to the wind, sharing ideas, learning from others, and every so often stumbling upon a moment that changes the direction of my life. Since starting this blog, wordpress has introduced me to remarkably intelligent people; people who may hold different views than mine, people I look forward to reading, discussing, and sharing thoughts with. I approach it as I approach my life – with an open mind and heart.

A few days ago, a chance “like” on one of my posts by wordpresser – http://buffalotompeabodyblog.wordpress.com/ changed lives. As soon as I read “buffalotompeabody” something told me my path had just been crossed. Obviously anyone called buffalotompeabody plastered an instant smile on my face; there was more – my “lucky feeling” as it has come to be known in my household, had goosebumps erupting on my arms, and every hair on the back of my neck standing at attention.

I couldn’t get to his “About” page fast enough. I read eagerly, and suddenly – there it was – this man is blind. Hardly able to contain myself while hoping this person would understand; I asked for his help. My mother is blind; it’s been at least 10 years since she could read any print.The CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) sends her spoken DVD’s of books and magazines, has given her a white cane, free bus pass, sold her a $700 computer program, and she was considering dropping $3000 on some sort of screen magnifier device. We knew in our hearts it would be about as much help as the “Zoom text” program – in other words, beyond something she could practically use the way she wanted. As buffalotompeabody put it “having first to wrestle an elephant to the floor takes the fun out of it”. I’m getting ahead of myself.

buffalotompeabody responded within a few hours, answering my burning question – how was he able to do something that’s eluded my mother for years? Still unable to grasp how he could reply at length; a task that my mother couldn’t do if her life depended on it,I read on. His answer blew me away; enter the Android phone. It seems Google has a soft spot for low vision and blind people. Most of their Android phones come with TTS (talk to speech) programs pre installed, and simply need to be enabled. He explained about low vision apps, the feature Androids have of allowing text to be made huge, and youtube videos showing how to use different apps. He told me he hadn’t opened his lap top in a year and a half.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning as I called my mother with the news. The excitement and hope I heard in her voice reminded me of who she was before blindness crippled her with depression. She believed, actually believed she might once again use her voice, and mind to connect with the world. She didn’t say so but I knew she dared to embrace the possibility of writing again. I copied and emailed buffalotompeabody’s comments to my sister who lives in the same city as my mother. That was yesterday. By this afternoon they had gone to a cell phone store; with copied emails in hand the clerk had her a phone meeting all the requirements, enabled the TTS, and set the everything to “huge”. Tomorrow they will download apps, and I expect by the weekend I’ll be getting emails from her.

In all our visits to the CNIB, eye specialists, and computer geeks; not once has this simple solution been suggested. We’ve watched helplessly as she slipped further into despair; then a single chance “like” turns all our lives around. Better still it’s poised to change even more lives. While telling this story to a friend today I learned she knew of someone in a similar situation. Again I forwarded buffalotompeabody’s comments, setting another life changing moment in motion.

Thank you buffalotompeabody for crossing my path – your fortitude and patience inspire me beyond words. In 24 short hours you’ve managed to accomplish something we’d nearly given up on. You set something so powerful in motion, our world will forever be changed.

For anyone who knows someone this might help – go to buffalotompeabody’s “About” page and read the comments he sent me.

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