Saturday, June 29, 2013

Connecting the Dots


I am busy rearranging my equipment based on how I use it. 

That is because technology is changing fast, both in equipment and in how I use it. How did this come to be? Wouldn't I have been updating all along?

 The answer is that I could not have foreseen what would be happening. Let me address that issue first, and then explain what I am actually doing about it. 

Basically, it is getting to be more and more difficult to envision what is coming next. This is happening because technology is moving ahead much more quickly than in the past. Every new development results in 10 more developments and so many changes are happening at one time and affecting each other that the outcome is unpredictable. 

Ray Kurzweil, the futurist, calls the outcome a singularity, something no one could have predicted. A nice example of this is the development of computers. In the world of future as displayed in the 1939 World's Fair, no one anticipated the development of computers. 

And so, what you thought of as computers yesterday is entirely obsolete today and no longer relevant. 

It will be easier to see what has been happening by looking at what I am actually doing as opposed to examining all the trends which came together to force a transition. 

My iPad, which has been lying idle due to its size as compared with the newer smaller tablets, has been moved to my living room chair at my TV. The iPad is now dedicated to servicing the tv , such as by sending internet video and programming to the TV , while also finding information information as needed to supplement TV. 

Though fought by the cable industry, more and more channels are available on internet, even live channels, and especially international channels. The Wall Street Journal channel is available only online. Recorded PBS is available online. Even CNN and FOX are available online. I also use the iPad to read comfortably in an easy chair, browse Google, watch YouTube.

A smaller tablet serves me better me when I am out and around.  I use it for information needed on the go as I am actively doing something. I use it for dictating.

The iPad is thus for passive activity, while the smaller device serves for active activities. Newly the smaller tablet is starting to work more like a GPS, in the sense of being there in the background but only active when I need it, such as to remind me of things I need to do based on time and where I am and what else is knows about me.

These innovations come primarily from Google, which sees its business as innovation as opposed to selling media or equipment. Google's true business is advertising, and it needs innovation in our lives in order to do so. Google's Now program accomplishes this by coming to our assistance when we need it, such as reminding us when to take a pill and calling attention to what we may have missed or forgotten. 

This plays directly into utility for seniors. Seniors need mainly to keep in touch: with doctors, stores, banks, relatives. They need to keep connected when confined. Seniors also benefit from not needing to type or learning to use a PC.

My smaller tablet goes with me. For me this tablet has replaced the smartphone. It is usually easier to use, and a whole lot cheaper.  I can dictate text messages or Skype from it.

My home computer comes in as useful when I need to see a lot of information at one time on a website. However it is also getting handier to do that with a TV "stick" and TV.

So all these devices are being used in a way not originally foreseen, at least by me. The tower computer is slowly going away, as the laptop. The internet cloud now dominates, as does wireless.   The cloud is the focus of computing and all most of us need is a window into it.

The computer is fitting in better with our everyday lives with less action on our part and more effect on what we do. It is not surprising that our retirement community here is more and more taking a lead in using the latest technology to improve the lot of seniors. You might call it connecting the dots.  Willow Valley starts a training course in tablet in October.

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