Posts Tagged technology

Sunday Column (503)

Hello. I am now back from holidays and rested, started my new permanent role, finding my feet. As always things are new, exciting, and it takes some time to really get to grips with everything. That’s it. So I had some thoughts again I wanted to share. This time it is about the future and all.

My oldest was born in the year I turned 32. The next one when I turned 34. Just imagine at that time, I would have had my great grand parents still with me? Wouldn’t that have been crazy?
This week’s column is triggered by something I read somewhere, probably the FT, that the first person who turns 1,500 years is already born. I am not sure 1,500 is a good age, and I am not sure how that is justified, but it got me thinking. What if technology and bio-tech is accelerating, and what if the first person turning a 150 is already born, or alive? That for me is more of a scenario to live or die with. Maybe a bit more realistic.

So imagine I turned 120 years old. Not only would it mean I am about one third there, or still had almost 80 years to go, I would have to think hard about my pension and retirement age. All that aside, wouldn’t it be fantastic to live in one form or another for that period of time? Maybe we live as a brain in a glass container kept alive by robot nurses? For the ease of calculations, if I was 120 years old, it would make my sons around 90, their kids 60 and my great grand children 30. That’s four generations with the 5th generation just being born. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I certainly like to think so. Whilst I am not the most adventurous person, and I despite flying a lot I am not too keen on flying, and I never liked hospitals nor I am able to watch operations (I am very squeamish), there is this thought of going on a space ship. Actually, did you ever notice that in science fiction films there are less turbulences than flying in an aeroplane. Hmm, does that suggest it is smoother?

The dream of maybe living as a brain, or just emotions as consciousness detached from your body, or maybe in a younger body, transplanted onto a planet far away, or living in a space ship, being able to tell stories of what human kind once was to a generation that would laugh at the way we travelled in the 21st century in a way we look at the Stone Age. A generation that would look back on how we destroyed our planet Earth and how we escaped the Doomsday scenario. How we inhabited uninhabitable planets and how we managed to survive as species. I have definitely listen to too much Homo Deus and Sapiens as well as AI (Artificial Intelligence) books, however I have not given up on the thought that humans will survive. One way or another we will. We are clearly a species of innovators and inventors that push on and beyond of our visible capabilities, re-inventing the wheel or life as we know it.

I am optimistic and think it could happen. Me being 120 is a very comforting thought in my opinion. Then again I would be a pain in the bum for my kids 😉 Payback time I suppose. When I was younger I never read many science fiction books, and the thought of not being around to see how life on earth and beyond might evolve makes me sad. Maybe we are the generation that just see so much more and so much longer to be able to see how human kind evolves. I would like that. And if not, I will continue to write about it and educate the next generation to not be afraid but embrace technology.

All that comes as I am trying to detox from digital. I finally got my pay as you go phone, my emergency number. It is like a landline we have sitting in the corner (we disconnected our landline a long time ago) which we can take with us. That means we can turn our smart phones off, the disturbing and distracting ones, whenever we wish or we leave them at home when we go away for the afternoon. Let’s see if that works.

That’s all. As of writing I just sorted the setup of my laptop out at work. It has been a long time since I worked with a Microsoft Exchange, and I can clearly see why that has been the case. I haven’t seen such a clunky system for a long time, trying to find my productive way with that system is a challenge but I think I am just about there. Early days 😉

Have a great week and years ahead 😉
Volker

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Sunday Column (402)

push-yourself

It is still dark outside. The street lanterns aren’t on, yet the air is hot and muggy. I haven’t had breakfast. Which sounds like a normal start for me, giving I am up early anyway, was the start to my day on Wednesday and Thursday. A quick weight lifting routine followed by my meditation, a mad dash to catch the 6:30 train. Conductor strike, so any train before 7 am should get me a seat. And it did. Still a mess. I cannot understand and will never understand the unions. I am grateful for my job, my opportunities given in life and just want to get on with what I am doing. So why do others impact the life of thousands of people to fight for what they have or haven’t got. Isn’t that almost comparable to terrorism, where a few mad people impact the life of others to alert people of their situation? Maybe a strike is less radical. However, same selfishness. Anyway, trains operated better than anticipated, let’s move on! I can change my routine for a couple of days. I am winning.

What does it mean for me? Inconvenience. But foremost it means that I haven’t seen the kids after their first day back at school. Can’t kiss them good night. Cannot chat with them in the morning. This strike made me change my workout routine. Some might say ‘poor you’, but hey, can I not expect to get the service I pay 4 grand (that’s 4,000 sterling!) for to be half way decent. What a fuck up! I could expect a bit more.

The challenge is that we work within our thinking boundaries. I mean, we decide how far we stretch ourselves. We are in control of our feelings and ambitions. So when we are going into the strike thing, we know that we are out of control. We play their rules and we are winning. Still. That’s achievement. That’s making it happen. We need to always look outside our comfort zone, make things happen, go some places. I effing love that. Push yourself daily!

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But let’s move on. The commute got better in another sense. I treated myself to some new wireless Bose noise cancellation headphones. The main difference to my old ones is that they are wireless. It is easier to wear them, walk around in them and connect them to two devices at the same time. I am shutting off the world around me if I want or listen to music. Yo Yo Ma is a classical cellist whose CD I bought this week. Steve Jobs himself allegedly said to him ‘you are the closest proof of the existence of God‘, as he is an amazing musician. I enjoy him playing Bach, yet I seem to enjoy a lot of things Steve enjoyed 😉 I don’t believe he has been gone for almost five years, which is when my love relationship with Apple started.

This week wasn’t different. After my car manufacturer, Skoda, revealed an SUV which is our car on stilts, I am keen to see in real life and maybe exchange ours for it in a couple of years. The new Skoda Kodiaq looks really nice and seems to have the space of our car. However, my other brand, Apple, revealed new products this week.

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Whilst the innovation around the iPhone 7 and it finally being water tight are nice, the main thing for me was the watch. Water tightness, particularly using the microphone to keep the water out. GPS. So finally a smart watch and fitness tracker in one. The wait was worth it. I ordered mine on Friday. 8:01 🙂 It is mind bobbling to see the advancement of technology. About 20 years ago we worked off computers that had less features and speed than the watches we can wear on our wrists. That’s amazing. If we fast forward 20 years I would be curious to see what our kids wear, or when we retire. An implanted chip that communicates directly with our thoughts? Probably.

I try to embrace it all but sometimes it goes to my head. I wonder what is going on in my kid’s mind when he wakes me having nightmares. I see the world, in my job this is most noticeable, from a different perspective. I enjoy that very much as the input and learning are so very different. So by using technology and trying to understand what is going on and what is possible, we are pushing boundaries. I am trying to encourage the boys to think big. I said to the youngest that someday he might just go to the moon on a train as he said he wouldn’t want to go in a rocket. And he might. One day, a flying train, might just get him there. And he asked about gravity and why things fall. I love those questions and trying to encourage them to think outside the box. What if they would just come up with a little bit of technology that will make all our lives easier and better, this planet better to live on. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Nelson Mandela said, that the most powerful weapon in the world is education. That must be the key to mankind. Educate. Educate your children and encourage them to learn, to think and question. And to push boundaries. To expand their horizon. To make a dent in the universe.

nelson-mandela

Whilst Apple, no doubt, is a big corporate, the Steve Jobs thought of changing the world seems to still be there. Changing the world, making amazing products people like to buy seems to be a call for the engineers at Apple. Details like the above mentioned microphone that pushes out water, or the ear buds that work only when they detect your ear based on temperature. They are pushing boundaries. I like that.

In that sense, have a great week. Push your boundaries. Question every day if you can do a little better in what you are doing. Be better. Learn a new skill or optimise your day. Make it happen. Take massive action.

Have a great one!
Volker

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Inspirational Thought: Value

Just because it’s better, doesn’t mean it has value. Value comes from improving people’s lives, not impressing them with your technology.

This quote above has been in my draft folder for some time. I work for a technology company. However, impressing with technology is one thing, adding value through technology another.
This quote could have been part of a sales training. In sales you might have an outstanding technology but you cannot sell it unless it adds value, satisfies a need for your customer or is unique and necessary.

Maybe it is looking at the rat race in telecoms. In smart phones. In technologies for marketing. Cars even.

I remember someone saying to me to always buy the latest car or TV as you get the most up to date technology. Yes, you road test for the companies, but you don’t want something that is a year old? But maybe things that are a year old will be proven as “working” and you can rely more on them.

Whether a smart phone has the latest processor, a bigger screen or a better technology probably doesn’t matter. Unless all those features add a lot of value in order to improve our lives.

Think about it.

Have a great day,
Volker

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Sunday Column (199)

I thought I had overcome the jet lag but when I tried to get up for my 5 am run on Monday I just couldn’t move. Worse I slept the whole train journey into work. On a high side our new family iComputer arrived and it is fantastic. A lovely little toy. And beautiful too.

20121219-073601.jpg There are a lot of things you need to get used to but ultimately it is my wife’s working machine. Future proof I hope 🙂

I often feel a little overwhelmed on a Monday. A lot of people want to know lots of things all the time from you. Particularly if you have been out of the office for a week or so. This is ok but if you have deadlines to meet it can be quite annoying. So I try leaving early on Monday and catch up with the stuff that needs done at home or on the train. Too much information these days. The year end stress of course accelerates things, so I was very glad when it was Friday. Time to chill out for two weeks. Family. Toy story. Christmas I suppose 🙂

Not sure if I will put a goal or wish list together for 2013. I am excited about the opportunities at work. I am excited about Colin starting proper school. I am excited for Rohan to start talking. There is so much life has to offer us. And it is just there to grab and live the moment. I am tired just now (in general at the end of the year) but full of enthusiasm and positive energy for next year. Bring it on, I can take it!

Now, going with the flow, I plan to do some catching up over my holidays. A bit of writing and reading. Running. This week seemed like running wasn’t possible because of tiredness and Xmas parties. I got a massage this weekend which helped me to relax. My muscles are much looser than in the summer when I had my back ache. I got a few plans for the holidays. Spending time with the kids and going down to Sealife in Brighton again. But, going with the flow (this will be my new mantra I think), there is no pressure for anything but to spend time with my loved ones. Look at what kind of family man I become 🙂 I am loving it too.

20121219-074837.jpg You probably heard a lot about sleep and tiredness there but there is one detail I haven’t mentioned: C sleeps through the night. He now wears socks and has a gro clock which shows him stars when he is supposed to sleep and a sun after 7 am for waking time. He loves it. He gets up and is all excited to have seen the sun. Bless. R also, after almost 2 years, sleeps through the night. A bit more food, a bit of crying and off he went. So after two years I seem to get my life and wife back. Catching up with sleep I never thought I would get back.

I believe I survived our Christmas party alright-ish. I was fine to the point I came home and my wife offered me a few zips out of the bottle of wine she had open. So it got later than anticipated and I did feel it a bit the next day. Crimbo drinks with some “industry veterans” the next day were a bit messier but I survived even that. A bit ropey on the Friday but lucky me worked from home as all trains were cancelled into London. Due to a fire in the signaling box along the line trains were cancelled even at the weekend. So that all worked out well, overall a good last week in the office. I am now off until the 7th of January, a proper break.

We got a couple new fish at the weekend too. Some Neon Tetra, two plecos and more catfish. A friend advised me on the right set up of the fish tank, so fingers crossed this all works out.

Cory-Punctatus

pleco

To be honest, this is concluding the highlights of the week. We are very fortunate and happy. Things are good in our little village and our little home. All set for Christmas. I am sure I will post a picture of a few toys that are meant to be for the boys but I will spend most Christmas Day playing with 😉 Christmas is really for the kids and hence we are more excited for them than for us. We already got our Christmas iPresent this week, so we are all set.

This year has been a bit rocky road. With the move, some changes at work, some changes with the kids. But overall it has been a really good year. It went fast but not too fast. We didn’t manage to catch up with as many friends as we wanted to but you never have enough time for everyone. That is mainly true for the guys living in Scotland or Germany. Having said that we saw a lot of the family this year. The move is probably still the biggest thing that happened. One of the best things that we have ever done. We slowly settling in our little village, found friends and just going with the flow.

Maybe one last comment or thought. I read the other day a quote that went like this: “Just because it is better, doesn’t mean it has value. Value comes from improving people’s lives, not impressing them with your technology.”

I work and sell technology. I try and help people to improve their lives. That is very enjoyable. But sometimes more technology, a better computer, a nicer tablet, another laptop, a faster car or just a bigger TV won’t get you anywhere. Just because things are better than others doesn’t mean you add a lot of value to your life. A 42 inch TV doesn’t add more value than a 32 inch TV. It isn’t about “the longest” or “the biggest”, it is about what value you add using technology. And I am determined that this will always be the case for me. With work and with my private life. Value adding, giving and sharing is so important. And, if we can do that utilising technology to make it better, faster and more valuable for everyone, then this is a good thing. That is why I love technology, embrace Facebook and Twitter.

Enough now. I hope you and your family, wherever you are, have a fantastic, peaceful and happy Christmas and a great break.

Love and Kindness to you all.

Yours, Volker

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