Category Archives: tech culture

Technology I like

Here is my annual list of technology I like.

5. magnetic cook top with automatic off. I am currently using the Nuwave oven 2 with this technology cooks fast, energy efficient and less mess.

4. 3M Command strips & accessories. Although I’ve had some issues with some tearing when taking off walls, These can be very useful tools for chord management, picture mounting, mounting solid state drives (SSD), and tool organizing such as keeping my broom off the floor. They avoid holes in the wall too.

3. Internal flash storage (or SSD) in devices with network connectivity. All smart phones and tablets have this(although sometimes removable).  Now we need to make sure we have  in our desktop and laptop computers (if you aren’t going to substitute them completely with a tablet or smart phone).  Also network connectivity helps eliminate the need to pull a card out and get rid of the need for optical drives.

2. Cloud technology. Most people have already taken this up at least a portion. Why waste money on DVDs, CDs, hard drives, flash drives, extra data centers/servers, and unnecessary traveling when we have cloud technologies.

  1. Renewable energy, energy efficient, and other green technology.  flashlightThis includes cleaning tools such as a rubber blower (such as Rocket Blaster) and cleaning wipes that can make your electronics last longer. Solar keyboards (and solar power in general). Led lighting and redirecting natural sun light with fiber optics or high efficient windows. LED bicycle lights powered by DYNO wheel as well as bicycle accessories such as quick mtx pack or a trailer that allow me to avoid using automobiles.

My annual list of my least favorite technologies

My personal list of Tech dislikes

7. The way people use their mobile phones, and tablet devices. I like my phone to a point, but I try to change the settings so it is less of a distraction. The main reason I like my phone is for the camera – not the phone, texting, or web. (even though I have dedicated digital cameras). I admit I have taken selfies (self-portraits) even before mobile phones, but the extent people are doing it now is a little out of hand. I actually like using my computer as a phone/video phone, for texting and web better than my mobile phone.

6. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday.  Although not a technology in itself there are many sales with technology items. Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday were implemented with web technology when started. Black Friday (the turning of red negative numbers into black positive profit) I avoid because of the crowds in person.  I also avoid these sales because of overspending and buying things that are not useful for me or the people I give them to. Small business Saturday to me as having a small business with mostly local customers is more of a gimmick since people rarely expect me to work on a Saturday even if I want to.  Also, it’s sponsored by big business American Express. I also don’t buy into the argument that more dollars stay local when shopping at a brick and mortar business vs online, although in some cases this is true, that all depends on the business.

5. Technology (often outdated) that is noisy, bulky, takes a lot of energy, or needs to have batteries replaced. This goes from the fake bell tower, to grass sprinkler systems that get in pedestrians way and run while it is raining, to walky talkies, film cameras, remote controls, and some toys.

4. Watches and fitness bracelets (and any accessory or clothing (like dress shoes/high heals)that can be uncomfortable). One of the reasons I still use a mobile phone is I hate watches. Watches are easy to lose and can be a safety/ health hazard.  The best way in my view to be active  is to have a written plan on how you are going to stay fit, have support from friends/family, and do it.

3. Printers (and typewriters, paperbooks, and paper) see paperless

2. Weapons of any kind  – I know some people like to hunt for food or do archery, but we can’t always just blame people for all  of our problems when it comes to these.

  1. Personal automobiles – They are dangerous. Noisy. bad for the environment. Sometimes used as weapons. Bad for health. People are also starting to use more bad behaviors with these such as honking with remote controls locks/car alarms constantly as well as leaving them running or pets/kids in vehicle. They can actually take away productivity and make us less social in a positive way to the people close to us. more in my ebook that I’m in progress of writing. Also sometimes people consider it to be too personal of an item forgetting they are in other peoples space when using their car or in a parking lot.

Another blog post about the dark side (and good) of technology

Many people are fighting back against the use of computers, tablets, social media, and newer technologies. Usually using new media to send these messages.

There are real problems created by technology but there are also real solutions. And the solution is not to avoid technology completely or to ignore it but to limit certain uses that become bad habits or unsafe.

“phubbing” or phone snubbing is nothing new and came long before smart phones. Just the word is new (and maybe the problem and awareness is greater). When there are other people around (or even when they aren’t) you don’t want to be constantly distracted by your phone doing things that aren’t related to what is around you.

I had personally some trouble with this. I’m not sure how much it bothered other people, It actually caused extra headaches looking down at the small phone screen for too long (reading paper can do the same thing for me but worse).

To help reduce constantly being interrupted by my smart phone and to increase battery life and save money: I took the following steps. (some may be extreme)

  • Turn off alerts except for the most important items. (these will vary by your preference) I turn off alerts for email since I only check it often. Turn off alerts for Facebook except for direct messages.
  • dropped the cellular data package and only use wifi, texting, and less than 300 minutes
  • relay phone calls with my smart phone (iPhone)  through my (Mac) computer. I also do video calls more with my computer than phone.
  • gps turned off most time
  • turned off clock updates
  • turn off blue tooth
  • got rid of head phones
  • kept cable but got rid of wall adapter and use a surge protector with built in USB instead
  • turn off background refresh for apps I don’t use often, and since I have wifi only – leave it on for the apps I check often such as the weather – sometimes when I get away from my network I am still able to see a cached version
  • turn off the phone while I sleep, while watching a movie, or at meeting (unless I’m looking at my phone for notes)
  • Use Do not disturb feature on the iPhone
  • Use timed forwarding with google voice.
  • Got rid of car and usually my phone is quiet enough I don’t hear while walking or biking.

On my computer

  • I set it to turn off or go to sleep automatically at night
  • I leave laptop and phone (tablet) unplugged from power except when it needs charging.
  • I use reminders on my computer and phone to help remind me of things I need to get done during the day such as brush my teeth and eat breakfast. Sometimes also called to do list. Microsoft one note is another program with this capability. I also use reminders as a paperless shopping list.  Some stores have their own app for shopping lists but it is usually specific to their store.
  • I use a computerized calendar on my computer and phone to remind me of appointments and birthdays (using contact info).

Do computers cause more testing of students in schools?

No, but computers allow testing to be done more easily so it is a factor. It is one of those things that people need to set limits on what they do whether it is computerized or not.

What about social media?

There are both good and bad things about social media so you have to be careful how you use it.  There are many extreme hurtful viewpoints, so you will want to be careful about what you post. Will you be ok with your neighbor, grandparent, parent, child or grandchild seeing what you post?

Also be careful who you follow, and whether you or your children sign up for social media accounts. Children should be at least 13 for social media or email accounts, possibly older.

Does social media make people more or less social in everyday life? Again this is another thing that depends on how it is used. In my personal case it has made me more social both with social media and in the real world. But if all you are doing is playing games, reading long articles, and videos non-stop it can make someone less social.

Does computerization make people learn less or more? I tend to think more. Since computers can be highly adaptive, it can enable people with disabilities or simply those that need extra help do more. It may be a little less memorization and sometimes less hands on, but again this will all vary by individual.

Are computers good or bad for the envioronment?

The answer is both.

Computers, tablets, smart tvs, smart phones all take materials and energy to make and use. If not recycled properly the chemicals and materials they are made from can also be bad for the environment.

However the things that these devices have replaced actually can be beneficial for the environment since you are using less energy and able to perform certain tasks faster. Smart phones and computers have essentially combined many different tools into one complex device. Typewriters, film cameras, photo copiers, paper mail, driving to deliver information have all been reduced and sometimes eliminated.

The portability of newer electronics can also help reduce the weight that people carry.



When not to emphasize on people in your business

When things in your business or organization are going good and maybe even getting better it is good thing to congratulate the people that made that happen.
On the other hand if things aren’t going right you don’t want to blame that on people.
I hear a lot of emphasis on people versus technology however people have always relied on some sort of technology or tools to survive.

  • think of the tools we use to prepare and eat our food.
  • Think of the shoes on our feet that can prevent cuts and diseases.

Marketers (and sometimes managers) want to put things in that start with the letter P. Just since it is simple to remember, however it is important not to get stuck on a letter and not to get over emphasize on one word.
Examples are People, Place, Process, Promotion, Product, Price.
Technology can be the Process, but it can also be part of the promotion, and it can also be the product or service. Technology can even be part of the place or location.
Sometimes when technology fails, it is blamed on people (or the technology) rather than solving the problem with the right technology.
Examples of technology vs technology

  • Using computers and phones versus vehicles some people think meeting in person is the best thing, but if you are big distances apart or repeatedly going short distances in a vehicle  it actually may be more personal to do something like a video call or web meeting then be stuck in traffic for an hour or 2  using an older technology called an automobile.
  • Using computers, tablets , smart phones instead of (or to reduce) paper. This also means don’t use your computer just to print things off. Even radio, television, or a message board (electronic or not) could also be considered a way of using technology for reducing paper depending on how they are used.

Using technology such as robotics and computers can eliminate work that people do not want to do, that is too dangerous to do, or to assist people do get there work done.  Although there is talk about these eliminating jobs, sometimes some of these jobs shouldn’t be done by people or can’t. Sometimes they assist with jobs. Some examples:

  • Robots can be used in doing the dangerous work in manufacturing cars,  or going to other planets.
  • A robot can assist a people vacuuming their floor, when it may not otherwise get done on a regular basis.
  • A computer can do mass calculations in a split second, can control heating and cooling systems so they are more efficient. As well as give a person with a disability an ability to do things independently.

Although people using social media may say all we need is people, not technology or expertise; People, technology, and expertise can all fit together.

today in nanocomputing

Apple introduces new iPhone, with larger megapixel display, and new 64 bit nano processor.

Apple also announced new payment system.

Apple Watch announced. Automatically has accurate time.  Fitness device. Uses “digital crown.” Tactile feedback, heart rate monitor. Jewelry and sports options. Having an iPhone is currently required for the watch.

I won’t be getting the watch, because my phone replaced all the watches I would constantly loose years before what we call smart phones now. And I don’t want to restrict my blood flow by wearing a watch, and I don’t wear a watch due to safety while running or biking.

There are of course already android and other “smart watches”

New Concept – Go back to DC Power

When Electricity first started DC power (direct current) was used. Things were switched to AC (alternating current) power to make things safer. But now more and more devices run on DC power even if they are plugged into an AC outlet.
I believe that buildings need to start going away from universal 110 -120 volt ac power (or whatever the standard is for the country) and switch to low voltage DC power for at least a major part of the building (not for the entire building).
Why? Many electronics as mentioned before use DC power, and to do that every device plugged in to the wall uses a Power Supply unit to convert it into DC power. These units can fail, and can go missing. The PSU can be in a computer or in one of those boxes you see on power chords or phone chargers, or built in to the electronic.
It would allow for more efficient streamlined use of solar power or other renewable and off the grid energy sources.
LED lights run well on DC power. Mobile phones tablets and many other devices could plug right into the wall without a special psu box, and the USB port (or whatever technology) wouldn’t need a conversion to DC either. The great thing about most mobile phones and tablets, and many other devices is they are already standardized to the USB (Universal Serial Bus) interface and many of the newer technologies allow for backwards compatibility to USB.
To do this some devices would need to be changed: desktop computers could have PSU removed. Laptops would have to have a new standardized plug (and possibly new standardized voltages). Besides PSUs draining energy, they are prone to failure, and can hold a dangerous electric charge that can be a shock hazard and in rare cases fire hazard.
Wall plugs would have to change, it could be USB, or something compatible. (I like the lightning plug that is on the phone side of the Apple iPhone since it’s less likely to break or get dirty)
One of the main reasons solar power or any other power sources aren’t efficient as it can be is because of all the unnecessary (in today’s world) conversions (and transporting). Renewable sources work best when everything they power is energy efficient.
I think these concepts would work well on new buildings, buildings doing a major renovation, and buildings that are in remote locations where electricity is hard to get or unreliable.
And it doesn’t need to be done for a whole building or all electronics, it can be done for just some of the electronics to start.
Another concept during the day similar to a sky light, you could use fiber optics to use natural lighting from sun without any conversions (maybe some mirrors to capture and UV filter) no photovoltaic cells or electricity needed and it can be done on multiple floors and without ruining insulation (R Values) and without ruining fire barriers. Night time solar powered battery LED lighting could be used with the fiber optics.

Nathan Steffenson Published July 20 2014

Disclaimer: This is currently just a concept. I’m not an electrician and have no prototype. Although not all working together as a system, many of these components exist and are readily available. I haven’t done thorough research for prior art.