Category Archives: Technology

It’s Raining

For a couple of years now, I have used some relaxing piano/bird song background music during the day as a way to relax and keep my balance at work.  It’s the same musical theme (YouTube) and it repeats and repeats.  There are days when I have it playing on my headset for most of the day.

No need to go into this in detail, but suffice it to say that the last two weeks have been the most stressful I have ever endured in the travel industry.  I realized on Friday that even my pretty piano & bird compilation wasn’t quite doing it.  So I went searching and found this:

I don’t look at the actual video – not much to see – but I’ve been listening to the rain almost constantly (when I’m not on calls or being accosted in my cube about something).  It is actually very calming – not sure why the sound of softly falling rain relaxes me, but it does.  In fact, this morning I accidentally closed down the browser that is playing the rain and I immediately tensed up and hurried to get it back.

Apparently there is an app that goes along with this soothing sound, but it doesn’t look like anything I would really like or use, so I guess I’ll just stick with the YouTube rain for now.

What helps you relax?   Or are you already relaxed enough?

Unplugging! / Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo credit: Crissy Jarvis

I had already begun a tech-related post about social media, (see below) and then found on my Firefox start-up page a notice about National Day of Unplugging

beginning this Friday at sundown. This, then, is the Public Service Announcement segment of the post.

According to one study:

75% of Americans spend 3 or more hours per day on their devices (smart phones, tablets, computers);

48% use the devices 5 or more hours; and

32% check in before getting out of bed in the morning.

I know myself well enough that I will probably not wean myself from my computer for an entire 24 hours, but will try to cut down during that period. (I don’t have a smart phone, and rarely use our tablet.)

Meanwhile, here’s the post I’d already started:  Should I stay or should I go?

A California friend recently posted one last item on her Facebook timeline, saying: “I’m going inactive on FB. A book can change me and THIS ONE DID… Picture the same posts: me baking, fostering senior dogs, meeting up with friends and reading, and watching Netflix, and volunteering, and going to Church. Contact me via email for a while.”

The book in question is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts RIGHT NOW, by Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer. From the book’s dust cover:  “Lanier’s… reasons include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more ‘connected’ than ever, and to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads.” It’s not a huge book, just 144 smallish pages, and he skims over a lot of detail (and gives numbered references to innumerable online articles). I understood maybe 1/3 of what I was reading.

But he’s right about the Big Brother aspect to our current online society. I hate it when I go to, say, a Perkins restaurant (and pay by credit card), and see online the next day (for the first time) ads for Perkins’ Signature Burgers. It’s creepy – I feel like I’ve been spied upon. I’m sure you can all relate similar happenings.

Oxford’s definition of social media reads:  “Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. … Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilizing it for messaging.”

I got on Facebook years ago so I could see photos of far flung relatives, especially the little kids who are growing up so fast. Lately I find myself getting on sporadically, but once I’m on I seem to be addicted for days. I have also been addicted at times to msn.com’s news feed (which is full of junk), and of course I find myself checking emails – and this blog – multiple times on days when I’m home. And I’m starting to play Spider Solitaire more often… Who knows what I’d do if I had a smart phone!

Are you comfortable with your level of involvement on social media?

If not, what would you like to change?

Auto Update

Finally – some science I can completely get behind! An article last week declared that drivers of expensive cars are jerks.

One study measured this by clocking vehicles at various crossroads. It found that drivers of more “flashy vehicles” are less likely to stop for pedestrians.  And not just that, but as the cost of the car goes up, the likelihood that the driver will even slow down decreases.  The researchers speculate that luxury car owners “feel a sense of superiority over other road users” and were thus less able to empathize with lowly sidewalk-dwellers.  And I’m sure no one will be surprised that the race and gender of the pedestrian matters as well.

Apparently this discovery of a car-value-to-jerkish-behavior correlation isn’t new; The Journal of Transport and Health, backed up a Finnish study published in January found that men who own flashy vehicles are more likely to be “argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic.” According to the study “these personality traits explain the desire to own high-status products, and the same traits also explain why such people break traffic regulations more frequently than others.”

Obviously no one wants to tar every single luxury-car owner with one broad brush, but the generalities don’t look good. We just have to worry about how all the small, cheap, beater car owners will now feel smug!

What’s one extra component you’d like to have on your car? Extra smugness points to anybody who doesn’t have a car!!

Brave New World?

Tech savvy are not two words that probably come to mind when you think of me. Some folks even laugh when they find out I am the go-to person at work when things are not going well computer-wise. My co-workers come to me when files go missing, when they need to know how to do something in Word or Excel (even Powerpoint occasionally) and I’m also the head of a long-standing group that controls all the various forms that we use in the events division. That doesn’t mean that technology isn’t moving faster than I can sometimes keep up with it. I have a new computer at home and it feels slow going to get used to it and at work it does feel like sometimes the tech folks are speaking a foreign language. But even so, I generally don’t feel flummoxed when faced with technology.

So, my trip to Texas a couple of weeks back took me by surprise. I got to the hotel around lunchtime – the front desk offered to have someone show me to my room but I declined; seems a little silly to make somebody walk to my room with me. I got into the elevator, pushed the button for the 5th floor and the doors shut. After a bit, the doors opened and as I was about to step out, I looked up to see that the elevator was still on the lobby level and the man waiting seemed surprised that I stayed on as he entered. Then I saw him swipe his room key card up against a panel at the bottom of the floor buttons; you need your key card to signal the elevator to move.

Key card in hand, I approved my door once I finally got to the 5th floor. There wasn’t a noticeable “slot” to enter the key card, so I assumed you just swiped it. I held it up to the door knob. Nothing. I turned I sideways. Nothing. I held it upside down. Nothing. As I was about to go back to the desk to get a new key, I happened to very quickly move the card against the door. Open sesame!

And as if that wasn’t enough trauma in two minutes, I had to call the front desk for the wifi password and I couldn’t figure out the phone. I pushed the Line 1 button, then the Line 2 button, the speaker button and all the combinations I could think of. I eventually did get through, but I tried so many things that I don’t remember what I did that worked.

Three times in 10 minutes, I was stymied by technology at the Four Seasons. It made me feel a little old and outdated so to sooth my nerves, I took my book and sat out on my balcony for a while, reading the old-fashioned way. I left my phone and my pc in the room.

Been flummoxed by any technology lately?

Performance Evaluation For A Snow Plow Operator

Today I had my quarterly performance evaluation.  It went fine.  I want to improve my competence in writing treatment plans incorporating  language specific to Psychosocial Rehabilitation,  a new emphasis in our State Human Services Department. I continue  to work on it.

Our current Republican  governor thought it a great idea to have all  State employees evaluate themselves every three months and set quarterly goals. Well, that can probably work for me and many  other State employees.  I wonder,  though, how the snow plow operators set quarterly goals?  I suppose in the off season they are mowing ditches and filling pot holes. How do you quantify improvements on snow removal? What a nuisance for them, though!

What goals would you suggest snow plow operators strive toward?  Tell about your work evaluations.

Too Much Tech

I realized the other day that between the two of us,  Husband and I have five computers we use on a regular basis. I think that is kind of excessive.

We have a desktop computer at home that we both use.  I have a personal laptop that I use for my regulatory board work,  when I travel , or I need one when I am out and about.  (I  also use it at work to live stream MPR  since  I am not allowed to use my work computer for that.)   I have a  work laptop supplied by the State  that I use in my office and that I  can also  bring home to  access my work email as well as the Electronic Health Care Record system. That means I can do paperwork anywhere.  I used it at home yesterday just for that purpose when I was ill and at home with a fever and a cough. Husband uses a personal laptop for his private practice,  as well as a work laptop supplied by the Tribe for his work on the Rez.

I suppose that is how it goes when one has work and personal business to take care of, but it seems like too much tech in our lives. Thank goodness we don’t have work cell phones. It is hard enough to keep track of the two we have.

When have you had too much of a good thing?  How many computers in your life?

Too Hot to Handle

KELT 9-B seems an innocuous-enough name for an exoplanet. It was discovered in 2017 and is apparently an “ultra-hot Jupiter” – huge gas giants hotter than anything in our solar system.  In fact, some of the new data coming in suggests that it is three times larger than our Jupiter and approximately  7,800 degrees Fahrenheit on its surface.  So hot in fact, that hydrogen atoms are shredded by the heat during the daytime and can only re-form until they appear on the dark side of the planet; KELT 9-B is tidally locked to its star, so the hot side always faces its sun.

It’s amazing to me that we can figure this stuff out since we can’t just look it up on the internet. All the data on KELT 9-B has come from two robotic telescopes in the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope project, one telescope in South Africa and the other in southern Arizona.  And of course, it makes me wonder how a planet like KELT 9-B comes into existence.  And can it survive its own heat?

How do you cool down when you’re angry?