Keeping up with Technology

by Louise

Let’s have a discussion of all things Tech.

Do you think you have kept up with technology? What are you favorite gadgets? Eagerly awaiting self driving cars? Afraid of handing over your keys to big brother? Is Alexa spying on you? Do you think kids should not have electronics (or hardly any) like one of our neighborhood families?

Discuss…

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Companies moving back downtown?

by MooshiMooshi

Are companies really moving back downtown?

The Washington Post is reporting that after years of corporate headquarters moving to the suburbs, the reverse is now happening.

As companies relocate to big cities, suburban towns are left scrambling

And of course, this means that opportunities for well paid jobs become even more concentrated in an handful of big cities.

I think there is another interesting quote, somewhat buried in the article.

… Years ago, IT operations were an afterthought. Now, people with such expertise are driving top-level corporate decisions, and many of them prefer urban locales.

“It used to be the IT division was in a back office somewhere,” Emanuel said. “The IT division and software, computer and data mining, et cetera, is now next to the CEO. Otherwise, that company is gone.

Perhaps this is why the current tech bubble feels less bubbley to me.
Do you notice either of these trends?

Who needs a NMSF house?

by S&M

We’ve discussed not so smart technology before. Now it seems the pendulum is really swinging back, from “cram in all the tech” to “moderate tech” to….what?

I don’t feel the need to have internet access for every single thing. We’ve had motion-detector lights in the bathrooms for several years. They get us to the potty in the middle of the night, but don’t blind us. During the day, it’s nice to avoid the very loud fans that come on with the overhead lighting in there. (Aside: I know one visitor to Germany, where these are de rigueur in public facilities, who recalls the lights going out  too early, and living in terror the rest of her trip, afraid that it would happen again.) The following made me laugh “those of us that just want to wake up in the morning feeling like our body loves us back don’t need a bunch of touchscreens. We just want a cup of coffee to pep up so that we don’t walk into our office screaming at everyone”. I love my little mocha pot, and sometimes use a simple pour-over cone. Works for me. And grilling? Isn’t that all about getting in touch with the primal lure of fire?

How about you? Do you embrace a dumb house?

LOW-TECH WAYS TO LIVE THE HIGH LIFE AT HOME

How important is work?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Why Do Americans Work So Much?

Economist Benjamin M. Friedman studied why “increased productivity has not translated into increased leisure time”.  One reason may be that because of economic inequality, the gains of increasing productivity are not widely shared.  But that’s not the whole explanation, because rich people work very hard.

… he theorized that for many top earners, work is a labor of love. They are doing work they care about and are interested in, and doing more of it isn’t such a burden—it may even be a pleasure. They derive meaning from their jobs, and it is an important part of how they think of themselves. And, of course, they are compensated for it at a level that makes it worth their while.

Is there a danger in eliminating the need for work?

Mickey Kaus fears a future in which robots do all the work and we, consequently, have no basis for self-respect.
“Evolutionarily, we are designed for work. We are unhappy when we’re not working. We become a sociopathic bachelor herd…. What do we do with all these people who have no productive work?”

Even if robots don’t eliminate the pressing need to work for money, would a universal basic income cause more people to forego employment?  Earlier this month Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a plan to give a guaranteed monthly income to all residents.

The Dream—Or Is It a Nightmare?—of No Work

Work gives people something welfare never can. It’s a sense of self-worth and mastery, the feeling that we are in control of our lives. This is a source of abiding joy…. Studies show that people who receive public support are twice as likely as those not receiving public support to report feeling worthless. “Very happy” people work more hours each week than those who are “pretty happy,” who in turn work more hours than those who are “not too happy.”

Some people find it hard to imagine a fulfilled life without doing paid work or playing a key role in raising children.  Others find fulfillment in volunteer work.  What do you think?  How important is work?  Is it vital for self-respect and dignity?  Do we “need” to work?

Your smart home

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Amazon Wants Alexa to Take Control of Your Smart Home

I was thinking, “Good thing I have a dumb home.” Then I realized that my
sous vide talks to my phone, and my phone talks to Alexa, so probably
Alexa and my phone gossip about the sous vide. Never mind the horror
stories about the smart houses taking over and killing us. I expect that
the Internet of Things will form cliques, unfriend each other on
Facebook, ditch each other right before prom, cry a lot, and refuse to
cooperate on group projects.

Oh, and my phone answers the doorbell, so who knows who they’re letting
in for parties while I’m out?

Totebaggers, how smart is your house? How smart do you want it to be?

GPS and navigation skill

by Honolulu Mother

Technology: Use or lose our navigation skills

Is GPS ruining our ability to navigate for ourselves?

The above articles suggest that our increased reliance on automated GPS or smartphone directions is eroding our ability to get around without them. Do you find that to be the case? Do you think it’s a problem? And has GPS ever betrayed you?

I don’t use GPS that much myself, largely because I live on an island and I know how to get places, and if I don’t, I can easily check the directions and even “drive” down the street via Google StreetView before I go. But when I have used it, it has a different “feel” than finding my own way and I can see how it could over time replace the old-style navigation skills.

I haven’t gotten spectacularly lost following smartphone directions — not like the Gibraltar guy! — but I did once end up at a residence when trying to get to the local ice rink with a car full of girls. Maybe it was the owner’s house? If I’d been really looking around instead of trustingly following the directions I would have realized the problem sooner.

The world we have lost: Evenings before TV

by Honolulu Mother

My attention was caught by this paragraph in a FiveThirtyEight article about the decline of terriers in dog shows and national attention over the last century:

And then television came along. While Black Tuesday changed the business from the U.S., a few decades later, mass media changed it from England. The English working class that was largely responsible for raising the dogs turned to other leisure pursuits. “So instead of you going outside in a cold shed and pulling hair, you can watch a football game, and you’re sitting in your kitchen by the fire,” Green said. “Well, which would you rather do for a hobby?” And so went the terrier supply.

Terrier care and breeding is time-intensive, apparently, the kind of thing that might be worth doing as a hobby you enjoy and get a little extra money from but not as a job in its own right.  I don’t know if the article is correct that a collapse in supply led to a decline in terrier popularity, but I don’t doubt that sitting indoors watching tv is a more appealing method of relaxation than sitting out in a cold shed grooming terriers.

What interested me was not the terrier angle so much as the idea that a shift toward more passive, in-home types of leisure activities can affect something so seemingly unrelated as what dog breeds are popular.  I’ve seen something similar with community theaters:  I’m aware of a couple that have shut down because there are no longer enough people interested in spending their evenings rehearsing, painting sets, and so on, not to mention people interested in turning out to see their friends and neighbors perform when they could just Netflix and chill.  There’s no population loss to blame; it’s the internet, and before that, tv, giving people an easy alternative evening pastime.

I don’t mean to tsk tsk over this — people can spend their leisure time how they choose! — but I do find it interesting how such a shift can eat away at those parts of our cultural and commercial life that sit on the boundary between profession and hobby.  Perhaps I should also fold in the Garden Clubs and Ladies’ Societies that once depended on the volunteer work of women who weren’t expected to work for pay after marriage.

Are there parts of our world that are fading away in response to the ease and variety of in-home entertainment options?  I live in a city, and there are still community orchestras and theaters and orchid clubs to supplement the professional options, but does it take a larger town than it once did to support a community theater or put on a flower show?  And is the internet also responsible for a contrary trend toward greater interest in jam-making, crafting, and other Pinterest-worthy hobbies?