hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Tag: Bob Skelley (Page 1 of 22)

Forget ARM: Just send in Mac clones

Apple’s rumored plan to move away from Intel processors in its Macs did not light up the comments section on LinkedIn like I thought it might.

That’s because the Mac has already lost so much relevance.

Sure, they’re still pretty to look at. But, for what you get, they’re what they’ve always been–overpriced and underpowered.

Moving to inhouse manufactured ARM chips doesn’t change any of that.

Perception of Apple’s hardware lineup of Macs will remain what it is whether or not they stay with Intel.

It’s easy to assume control is largely the reason behind any eventual shift in processor for its iconic desktop computers.

But, I still yawn at the prospect.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’d really love for Apple to make the Mac matter again.

I just don’t think they have it in them to get there.

Plus, who knows what the future will hold for desktop computers in general.

Apple can try to shape what that market looks like beginning in 2020 or whenever they’re supposed to get the new Macs featuring ARM chips into the fold.

But, as technology is moving so fast, I doubt the Mac will be able to make a comeback any more than newspapers will by that time.

Back in the day the Mac was known for revolutionizing the desktop publishing world. Creative types flocked to use them. Newspapers across the country turned their composition departments into Mac-outfitted meccas of computing. Aldus PageMaker, Quark Xpress et al were the software packages that ran first and foremost on the Mac.

These programs were always better on Mac until Windows PCs caught and passed Macs while they floundered on underpowered PowerPC chips by IBM and Motorola.

Sure, we Apple fanboys would tout the Mac’s ease of use and also the leap of faith belief that a 500 MHz PowerPC processor was the equivalent of a 1 GHz Pentium 4 by Intel.

We were living a lie that became harder to live with once Adobe made PC versions of its software that blew by their Mac counterparts stuck in the slow lane.

Send in the clones

Before Steve Jobs came back to Apple, there was a brief experiment with cloning undertaken by the Cupertino giant.

Names like Power Computing, Umax and Motorola Starmax all featured Mac clones during the period Apple was licensing its operating system. That was a period of Mac and Mac clone popularity and resurgence desperately needed at a time Apple was mired in a serious fiscal funk.

I never got my hands on a Mac clone during that time. And once Jobs returned, he effectively killed the clone–leading Apple back to a renaissance of sorts featuring fruit-colored, egg-shaped iMacs that remained driven by underpowered PowerPC chips.

Matters weren’t helped by Apple’s propensity to equip its Macs with the bare essential amount of RAM to run its less-than-nimble OS X.

PowerPC take two or Hackintosh death by clone?

All of the rumored talk of Apple abandoning Intel to begin producing its own chips for insertion into future Macs has me thinking they’re missing the mark again.

People love macOS more than they love the Mac itself. Just Google “hackintosh” if you don’t think so.

People don’t want a Mac. They just want the Mac’s operating system to be able to run legally on PC hardware driven by Intel processors.

Sure, occasionally, and in the course of Apple history, a company or two has decided to make its version of a Hackintosh. They initially experienced a run of success. The promise of cheap, facsimile Macs makes people crazed. And, unfortunately they don’t come to their senses until Apple’s legal department makes them.

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think Apple using its own chips is going to create large buzz around Macs again.

Desktop computers are becoming more and more irrelevant (except to people like me who won’t ever use a tablet other than when they’re on the road). There will always be a place in the heart for desktop Macs and PCs for types like me.

I suppose it has something to do with what I learned on back in the day.

It also has to do with the familiarity of the operating system itself. Windows has remained Windows over the years. And the macOS, while it’s changed more dramatically than Windows ever has, is still familiar.

That is what I want. But Apple never really cared about what I desired.

I never saved the funds for a new Mac other than in 1995, when I plunked down $2,000 (well, $1,995 at Best Buy) for the crippled CPU that was the Mac Performa 5215CD. This was a really bad computer and anything but a “performer.” But, it helped incite my strange love and fascination for optimizing hardware and software to their greatest capacities.

So, Apple now wants me to give it a couple of years while it performs processor transplant surgery on its Mac line. I hope the Mac is venerable enough to survive this change.

While change is never easy, Apple risks losing sight of the forest for the trees.

I don’t want or need overpriced Macs with underpowered Apple processors.

To the contrary, what I and countless others would love to be able to do is not build a hackintosh, but to be able to buy a PC desktop that runs the macOS legally.

I know macOS is pretty bloated these days. But still. It’s the OS, damn it, and not the processor or box.

Let the OS be the crown jewel it once was. License it. People would pay a little more to buy generic, ugly boxes running macOS. It’d work.

And everyone–including Apple itself, would end up realizing value in the process.

The Internet Perils of Pauline

We have Internet privacy issues and it’s no surprise.

Except to the media who would have you believe what a problem it suddenly all is.

Like a lot of things that have been bad for a while, however, the real surprise is why suddenly it’s contemporary to be upset about it.

Why do we look to the media to whip us into a frenzy about things like social media privacy issues, security breaches and data mining? We weren’t at all concerned when we first signed up for Facebook.

Again, it’s not something that just happened last week.

Facebook didn’t invent data mining. They just perfected it. And it was far easier than it should have been because we literally entrusted them with our lives.

We surrendered our privacy upon creating “free” social media accounts and now we feign outrage over it because of the loss of sensitive data.

I’m going to be spending less time on Facebook now. Either that, or I’m seriously closing my Facebook account once and for all.

Yeah, right.

In addition to creating false outrage, the media and social media networks have  generated an unprecedented level of apathy. This was accomplished by delivering the elusive, addictive,  “Like” to each and every one of us.

The “like” is pure genius and  evidence of the innocent nature of social media, right? I mean, social media is not meant to have negative connotations or else there’d be a “dislike” button, you know what I mean?

Consequently, the outrage over privacy issues rings hollow compared to the reality that is the majority who just don’t care.

So, you can’t fool me.

As long as we get our attention fix, we’ll keep at it. We’re not disconnecting or abandoning the grid. Hardly. We crave attention to our cores. And we use the “like”, the genius spawn of social media’s founding fathers and mothers, to get it.

Shouldn’t individuals responsible for personal information theft be punished?

We don’t care, or at least we didn’t care until recently, how much of our personal information was culled by social media.

“I don’t have anything to hide. So, I’m not worried what information they get.”

This was the mantra for operating within the walled gardens of places like Facebook.

I never could argue or even debate in the least with someone of this mindset. When people make statements that obscure reasonable points entirely, there really is no merit to discussing both sides of a given topic.

For me, I still don’t get the sudden hysteria over social media’s pitfalls–especially considering that they’ve always been there.

What were we thinking would happen down the road as social media networks are well into their second decades of questionable practice? Did we really believe we could post huge chunks of our personal lives online that included documents formerly residing in locked file cabinets?

We unwittingly posted anything and everything online without giving thought to consequences. Social media are fun, right? They have our backs, man. Our privacy settings were locked down, were they not?

After all, only our “Friends” could see this information. The ones who had their settings on “Public” were the ones really flirting with disaster. We were in “private” Facebook groups that no one could be in without an invitation, so we should have been safe. Surely anything we did, posted or said in these places was only viewed by people in the group, right?

Outrage and false bravado typically arise when people have no clue as to how to solve a problem.

When I was a manager I enjoyed coming across resumes where people listed “problem solver” as one of their soft skills.

Soft skills, hard skills, branding and human capital.

These are terms that arose seemingly from the not-so-cement-like foundations of social media.

The global economy delivers a world where people thirst to be told how to live to avoid dangers like invasions of privacy.

Being on Facebook was living. Literally everyone was doing it. It wasn’t supposed to go wrong. It wasn’t supposed to create problems we can’t solve.

Maybe I should seriously consider getting off it.

Nah, dude said he was sorry. Everyone deserves a second chance.

How failure is assured when you stay the same

Still the same may be a flattering way to describe someone you haven’t seen in 20 years.

But while changing something can be difficult, remaining the same is most certainly a surefire way to achieve disaster in all things personal and business.

Sure, it’s only human to want to feel safe by doing something a certain way that has been successful in the past.

If you want to truly live long and prosper, however, you’d better be prepared to make regular and continual adjustments throughout your personal and business life.

Common sense, right?

Not really.

This is because while people think they know what this means, they continue to do the same thing they’ve always done–demonstrating an obvious lack of common sense when they choose this tack.

Why is change so difficult?

Because of the factor that is the unknown.

People are afraid of the unknown and I get that. We like the familiar. That is, until we don’t.

Sometimes becoming bored with the familiar leads to our taking a calculated risk.

That is the kind of change we should all attempt before we become too static.

Staying the same means acceptance of the eventuality of becoming mediocre–both in our personal as well as business lives.

Someone once told me if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This individual had a nice business, but eventually it underwent a death spiral of ineptitude resulting from a disdain for adopting new technology in favor of the way they had always approached day-to-day business activities.

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Another person once told me if it ain’t broke, break it!

This should have been a “Eureka” moment for me at the time, but it was not.

At that time I was firmly in the, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp. I enjoyed the familiar, even acknowledged it was becoming boring, but saw no need to change basic life philosophy at the time. I was doing alright, wasn’t I?

Well, yes, I was overall. But, there was no planned growth on the horizon in either my personal or professional lives. I didn’t think that fear of change was holding me back until many years later.

Did the passage of time cause regrets concerning all of this?

Not really. Why? Because I always had enough, and never was troubled for either work or companionship. I always had a job and I always had a companion. Yes, sometimes the companion was an animal, but that’s beside the point of this story.

What I needed to get over was my fear of change. My life was set up in comfortable fashion. I had the basics of life, but I started to get bored.

I used to say people who outwardly exclaimed, “I’m bored!” were actually boring people themselves. And now my fear of change had resulted in my own sense of boredom with myself. How ironic is that?

It’s like mixing tenses when you write. Professional writers always counsel against it. But, it’s my blog and like my parties, I can cry, I mean, change, if I want to.

The change for me personally that I have undertaken presently, and portends further change in my professional life, is the moving of hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley from WordPress to a self-hosted blog.

My blog had become too static. While everything was so automated that I could just feel free to write, the lack of control over everything else stunted the development of the blog as well as my writing.

I don’t suspect laziness was as much to blame for my unwillingness to change as was complacency. I didn’t want to do all the work that was involved. I bemoaned not setting the blog up as self-hosted in the first place. How could I drive myself to make the transition now without ending curled up in a ball on the cold, basement floor?

But now it’s a reality. I can’t believe it. It’s scary in that I don’t have the protection of limited options imposed by an administrator. I am now the administrator as well as the developer with all the prospect for trouble that lies ahead therein.

I do call all the shots. It’s thrilling and frightening simultaneously. But, I am the one who decides if adopting a new blogging feature or look for the site should be undertaken. I have final say.

I own it.

And that makes the continued journey more satisfying.

Thanks for being there with me.

Spring training for writers

I’m getting into baseball’s spring training season for reasons largely other than baseball.

I’m imagining what it would have been like if I could have had spring training for some of the jobs I’ve had.

Baseball’s spring training is done in warm places like Arizona and south Florida.

I’ve lived in places that had actual winter weather so the appeal of 4-6 weeks in warm environs is real.

Spring training baseball games are an opportunity for seasoned players to work out the kinks while affording younger players a chance to showcase their skillsets. It’s also a time when baseball managers are typically as boring as Bill Belichick when it comes to in-game interviews.

“What happened there, skip?”

“I’m not going to get into that right now, let’s just leave it at that.”

“Back to you, Jim!”

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If I was sitting under a palm tree during my own version of spring training and shaking off the winter writing rust, I’d like to think my agent-posing-as-manager would be more forthcoming regarding my progress.

“Where do you think Bob is right now in the process, Al?”

“Well, Bob is obviously feeling his way through word flows right now, Jim. He’s coming along just fine, though. I really believe he’ll be ready to go on opening day.”

For sure!

I think my spring training would help me hone the new verbs I’ve been working on since I last wrote a week ago.

Additionally, I believe the camaraderie of working alongside other writers while we pound the keys on our chromebooks during morning stretching exercises, would be highly beneficial.

Fans

Without fans, there would be no baseball. So, I think it would be only fair that if we did not have writing and blogging fans, there would be no bloggers and writers. Spring training for writers should feature attendance by fans. It should be worked out.

How could you engage fans?

I would suggest broadcasting the screens of the individual writers on a jumbotron live in a south Florida parking lot to an audience of fans. The attendees of the spring training writing “games” could see how the writers shape and hone their digital masterpieces. Fans would have a chance to cheer correct usage of adverbs and bear eyewitness to the home runs of writing: the crafting of the headline.

A good headline clears the bases so to speak. It can also make all the difference in whether or not a person transitions from seeing the headline to reading the story. Now if you ask me, that’s really something worth cheering.

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Baseball is very statistic driven. Stats are part of baseball’s appeal and lore.

While some bloggers are prolific and produce pieces daily, most are on a less busy schedule. I know I am.

If you are already writing every day, I would not think that spring training would be for you.

Spring training is for writers like me who produce columns on roughly a weekly basis.

There are times when I need to write every day for weeks on end. Spring training would give me some “doubleheader” scenarios where I’d have to write two stories in a row. This would enable me to build my endurance and confidence for being able to write effectively and regularly. Fans would enjoy watching me cuss as I felt deadlines approaching, too.

Until there is actually spring training for writers I will continue to just enjoy spring training for baseball players.

While some would say writers who cover spring training baseball games are already engaging in a writing spring training of their own, I for one, will dream of the day when the games are about the writers and not the baseball players.

After all, some writers “play” in upwards of 365 “games” a year.

Where is the spring training for them?

The breaking point for good enough?

When did good enough become good enough?

I believe settling for less than really good software should not be commonplace. Nor a sign of the times.

But it is.

I also believe this is one area artificial intelligence and augmented reality can be of assistance.

Good enough seems so lacking, not to mention indifferent, mediocre.

pexels-photo-102127.jpegSoftware is not paint.

“How’s the ceiling look, Bob?”

“Great! Shall we call it done?”

“Sure, why not. Looks good enough to me.”

Understanding nothing is perfect does not prevent our striving for perfection.

Artists try to make the perfect creation–whether it’s a guitarist figuring out the best solo for a song or a sculptor molding clay until its form takes on a life of its own–history dictates man perform to the highest levels possible.

Complexity is a buzz word. It’s used to explain away everything from why cancer is still not cured to how come Apple releases operating systems not yet ready for prime time. I get that it’s not the original Macintosh and current day iMac operating systems require gazillions of lines of code just to open a file (without rendering another application you’d like to use alongside it completely paralyzed).

Consider the possibility that now the human race is at a breaking point with respect to quality control in all fields technical.

Have we reached the point of diminishing returns for software engineers regarding coding? Have humans taken it as far as reasonably can be expected? I would suggest that we now have.

Must consumers and businesses alike accept the fact that new versions of software are always buggy?

Wait.

You say they and we, have already been the beta testers for the Microsofts and Googles of the world. And all we have to show for it are increased invasions of privacy and breaches of our identities.

The tired cliché “the genie is out of the bottle” does nothing to help solve the problem.

We already have enough words that describe our inability to troubleshoot bugs effectively.

Maybe my expectations are too great.

Why should I expect the MLB.TV app to work on my Samsung Smart TV just as well as it does on a Roku Express hooked up to the same TV? Seems the Smart TV app for MLB.TV was less smart than a streaming device at bringing me my baseball for this season.

As someone who understands a fool and his money are soon parted, I always recommend value-oriented solutions; if at first you don’t succeed, try something less expensive to see if that might work.

pexels-photo-239898.jpegIf complexity is at the root of this quandary, then possibly good enough can actually be a positive characterization for software and hardware integration–provided simplicity, or a return to it, is the goal.

I could have gotten a new edition Roku that featured voice activated commands, but I don’t like talking out loud unless it’s either to myself or another person.

Features I don’t want tack on needless layers of complexity. It’s just more stuff that can go wrong. Why would I want that?

I’ve worked for corporations that roll out new, proprietary versions of their business applications at the least opportune time. Visualize an accounting firm releasing new bookkeeping software in the middle of tax season because it’s a “necessary upgrade that addresses critical flaws.”

Sometimes it was just the spell check program that needed fixing.

But, sometimes an update seemingly as simple as that would create issues in the printing component functions of the system.

One step forward, two steps back.

Fix one thing. Break two others in the process.

Still, we humans have good intentions. It’s the vicious, unmanageable cycle with respect to quality outcomes, that is holding us back.

Without possessing the ability to return to simplicity and things that just work, perhaps it’s time to concede we’ve taken our abilities in certain areas just about as far as they can go.

Send in the relief pitcher, HAL.

Tech still fails speech, hearing impaired

Much like Facebook friends that sincerely don’t care about whatever it is you post, I tend not to care about whether or not they care.
Let’s face it.
If there was an “I don’t care” button to click on, I think it’d be the most wildly popular ever.
But how would Facebook ever get you to share, let alone care, if you thought someone would click on the “I don’t care” emoji as a reaction to your first post of the day?
There has to be a certain amount of permissible snark to the Internet in order for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media to thrive; this is sad.
I’ve come to the conclusion that in addition to catering to our incessant need for attention, social media is only as good as however deep one is willing to mine it.
And the best stories are actually outside of your feed and whatever is trending while you’re logged on.

In fact, the really good stories may not be available on your phone or computer at all.

He returned from breakfast to find his hotel room still not made up. Unlike the day before, it was not already buffed, ready and prepared to his liking when he wandered in right after eating his spinach, bacon and cheese omelet at the breakfast joint around the corner.
While slightly annoyed at the lack of consistency in cleaning times (he was an important person after all and did not enjoy being inconvenienced), he thought better of reporting his disappointment to the hotel front lobby staff. He figured he’d get on with his morning activities and would return after lunch. Surely the room would be cleaned by then.
He had the start of really bad sunburn by the time his little kayaking adventure was finished. Undeterred, he ventured off of the river and out in search of a lunch spot.
A place featuring Mexican food and margaritas jumped out at him as he walked three blocks past the hotel. It was so good he couldn’t remember exactly what he ate for lunch. Maybe it was because the margaritas were more memorable.
He soon was back at the hotel, caught the elevator up to his floor and felt confident he’d find the room cleaned up. He was ready for a nap before his busy evening featuring no set plans.
Sliding his key across the sensor, he turned the handle, pushed open the door and entered the room.
Still not done!
He was now pissed off and thought they would not be cleaning the room at all. He stupidly wondered if by virtue of the fact it was Saturday, that perhaps the hotel cleaning staff was off.
He decided otherwise, went to the bathroom and washed his face before lying down.
The do not disturb sign went on the outside door handle before napping. He knew by doing so that even if maid service were available, they would not be accommodating him. He figured he’d call housekeeping later to get what he needed.

Opening the door and poking his head down the hall, he saw the cart. In lieu of his find, he was going to forsake calling housekeeping, catch the maid and ask for what he needed.
He was soon even with the cart parked in front of the room three doors down.
He peered in and saw a young man, back facing him, moving towards an upright vacuum cleaner.
“Hello!”
Nothing.
“Excuse me!”
Still nothing.
The man reached for the vacuum’s electric cord to plug it in. The esteemed hotel guest hastened to grab the man’s attention one more time before the noise of the vacuum drowned him out for good.
“Young MAN!!”
No acknowledgement whatsoever.
What game was being played here thought the now irascible rewards club gold-member-in-standing of every airline and hotel chain in America.
He was tempted to take what he needed from the cart. But the thought of being caught in the act embarrassed him and gave him pause.
Gold club boy watched the vacuum master sweep his tool of the trade first towards the left and then right—all the while his back remaining turned.
Finally, the master of the vacuum made eye contact.
“Hello!” shouted gold club.
Perhaps a slight grunt but nothing more from the young man as he walked towards gold club.
Gold club did not feel threatened, merely awkward as the guy lumbered closer.
He was practically upon him when he lightly grunted once more before reaching underneath the cleaning cart on the floor of its base level for a writing pad and pen.
He gave gold club the pad, pen and nodded.
Gold club began to write. He only needed a few things, but thought quickly about what he would write before opting for one line at a time:
1 big towel.
Vacuum guy reached underneath and behind the smaller hand towels and washcloths, plucked a large bath towel out and handed it to gold club.
2 regular coffees.
Just as quickly as the bath towel, the items were snatched up off the cart and handed to gold club.
1 coffee cup.
Gold club underlined cup for emphasis, before handing over the pen and pad as the coffee cup arrived simultaneously.
He mouthed thank you to the cleaning guy and walked quietly away.

I think there are at least a couple of issues which hinder benevolent advancement of technology including:

  • The ubiquity of malware, ransomware and the like; and
  • The proliferative risks of Identity theft

While these are relevant concerns, I would also suggest a prime consideration for tech mavens should be designing kit for use by those without voice or hearing (so they might just as easily leverage its benefits as those who take their ability to speak and hear for granted).
Until then, whether you’re trending or not is insignificant to me.
And I don’t care.

Mac design decline: The solution staring Apple down

I no longer perceive Apple as an innovator.
And I no longer believe they are at the top of the heap with respect to creating products their customers crave.
I would suggest you can argue that for every product Apple makes, you can find a reasonable facsimile that does the same job.
Accordingly, it’s hard to be the top innovating dog when the degrees of separation between Apple and its competition are so slim.
Apple lost its focus when it prioritized profit over pleasing its customers. This is nothing new. It happens all the time with companies that become successful — no matter the industry or sector.
Additionally, when you combine the pressures to constantly be the expected leader regarding “state of the art,” there really is no other destination to journey towards than downward.
Which leads us to current events for Apple.
Steve Wozniak recently predicted Apple, Google and Facebook (not necessarily in order of importance) will still be around and viable in 2075.

That’s great. But instead of designing another thing we don’t need any more of, like automobiles (of any kind), I wish Apple would get involved in the science of longevity. This way, Steve Wozniak and I could both appreciate all of the neat stuff available in 2075.
But Apple is poised to give us some other stuff we don’t particularly need.
Political polls are an extension of market research and studies. We all know how objective and accurate they are. Seriously, the truth of the matter always bring the logical person back to more simple ways of assessing customer needs.
For Apple, its professional Mac user base is set to receive a Mac Pro refresh by the end of 2018. It’s not like these few remaining Mac Pro machine folks haven’t already waited long enough or availed themselves of other options existing on the dark side (read: Windows).
Apple is also rumored to be coming out with a professional grade iMac.
Again, this is something the world, and particularly loyal Apple customers, do not in the slightest, need.
Any Apple tech or person who’s taken apart an iMac for repair understands that behind all the sexy sleekness is a ticking time bomb of cumulative, heat-induced repair expense. To put it another way, Apple’s iMac designs stuff ten pounds of components into five pound bags.
Since heat is the enemy of computer hardware, it would stand to reason that an informed consumer would understand they (and their iMac) are on the clock in terms of needing repair work, the moment they take that shiny beast out of its box and fire it up (no pun intended).
It’s called planned obsolescence. I tire of reading tales of Apple fans who are forced to say goodbye to their iMacs after eight years (or sooner). The sad fact of the matter is that even though Apple is an Intel-based platform, their iMac computers do not last as long as the hardware designs of yesteryear.
Which brings us full circle.
Hell, even Steve Wozniak can’t do this, if I could get Tim Cook and Jony Ive in a room together, I’d start out by telling them I understand the enormous pressure they are under. I’d also be frank and honest. I would tell them they chose the direction of planned obsolescence for their machines and this fate is entirely on them.
By prioritizing profit over the needs of their customers, Apple in essence turned their back on the desires of the base it had when it went by “Apple Computer.” Apple made it clear what customers needed from them was not nearly as important as the Cupertino monolith’s quest to remain among the most cash-heavy multinational corporations in the world.
There is no light at the end of tunnel for Apple’s Mac customers. Apple will remain content to give us tidbits like touch bars when we really should be getting the biggest bang for our hard-earned buck.
I would suggest looking to the past for supreme computer hardware design.
Copycats abound that have sought to imitate Apple.
Instead of doing more of the same, Apple has the power, ability and yes, swagger to do something audacious. They can reinvigorate the present by virtue of its glorious past (when it comes to computer hardware design).
You’ve read this far. You have an idea, if not a complete understanding, of what my suggestion would be to both Cook and Ive regarding what kind of Mac should be built next.
I’ve been told that I have a command for the obvious. If this piece is any indication, you’ll know exactly the hardware case design I’m hinting at: the tower. It’s one that is tried and true. It’s one that should be resurrected. It’s respected and is timeworn, tested architecture. And we need it again. Badly.
Why do I feel so strongly about this? That is a discussion for another time.
So until next month, talk amongst yourselves.

Loneliness: The problem technology elevated but hasn’t yet solved

No person is an island.
Back in the ’80s, the thought of 2017 was incomprehensible, at least to me. No one is that forward-thinking, or so I thought, who accurately predicts what life will bring in 30 minutes, let alone 30 some-odd years from now.

For all that the internet and accompanying technology has provided, I would suggest it has also taken away a huge chunk of our soul.
Yes, we can go online and shop for groceries instead of waiting in line in store checkouts or saying, “excuse me,” as we glide our carts past imperfect strangers.
Sure, we can apply for jobs at home on our personal computers and not ever lift a pen to fill out a traditional paper application again.
We can even find dates and make romance online if we want.
Virtual reality implies a level of authenticity so good that by virtue of its being “virtual” reality, it is favored by many over actual reality (and all of its unscheduled unpleasantness).
Using computers and going online should have been a benevolent, innocuous and productive endeavor as we migrated from dial-up modems to broadband access.

But, we got carried away.
We spent increasing amounts of time away from the people with whom we were supposed to be interacting and having relationships.
We forgot how to have in-person discussions; or worse, we never learned how to have them in the first place. This disappearance of social skills even prompted the ironic use of the word “Conversationalist” under the skills sections of resumes.

You can even carry on a conversation?

Why yes, I guess if you lived through the 80’s and big hair, you never lose the gift of gab. The hair, on the other hand, is another story, but I digress.
We live in a world where we stare at screens all day and night. The only time we’re not looking at them is when we sleep. But, many of us can’t sleep very well. Our minds never shut down long enough so we can enjoy quality, consistent, uninterrupted and rejuvenating rest.
In a nutshell, we’re miserable.
Consequently, we are lonely bastards, too.
And we’re suffering all of the mental and physical ill health effects that our state-of-the-art, self-induced loneliness provides.
Humans require companionship.
Whether it’s an animal or another person, we need to be together with something more often than we are alone.
People who live alone eventually get weird. I was told that a long time ago and didn’t believe, but I lived enough to understand it can be true.
Loneliness is a waste byproduct of technology and the internet. For every work deadline met, every potential dating profile viewed, once the initial, euphoric sense of accomplishment subsides, the un-virtual realities that are our pitiful personal lives, come crashing back to our consciousness’ forefront.
I’m unhappy I was compelled to write this piece.
You’re unhappy because you’ve read it.
We’re all unhappy.
And we’re all lonely–desperately longing for the closeness and intimacy that the internet, our work, personal computers and phones will never provide.

Boomers, Trump and CBD Oil: The headline that never happened before


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While it may take one to know one, productive old farts are increasing in numbers.
That’s because boomers like me are planning on working into their traditional retirement years and beyond.
If we can have the oldest president we’ve ever had, why can’t we have old writers enjoying similar success stories and prominence?
There are a lot of old farts who are healthy. But, time is against them and their ability to maintain good health in a fashion assuring productivity during their golden years.
That is, unless they have a president who is sympathetic to the plight of old farts in general. And one who can help speed up processes that allow access for all to safe, new forms of accepted medical treatment.
The rich enjoy the best health care available by virtue of their having financial resources to pay for care by specialists, practitioners and surgeons (whose services typically are beyond the means and reach of average joes).
So where does that leave the rest of us?
We need some help.
We also need some consideration.

And we most definitely need thinking that is outside the box with respect to alternative medicine and healing beyond the scope of traditional, Big Pharma-influenced western medicine.

Pharmaceuticals go through rigorous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study and testing for safety and efficacy before being approved.
The problem with drugs is the number of side effects they contain. It would be one thing if the side effects of any one drug were the same for anyone.
But, when you can have side effects for pharmaceuticals ranging from mild rash to suicidal thoughts, I believe now more than ever is the time for alternative healing routes and methodology offering less worrisome concerns over side effects and overall use.
The case for Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil
CBD oil is new enough that my copy of Microsoft Word 2016 does not recognize it. So, I added it to Word’s dictionary.
One thing that is not so new is the overwhelming anecdotal evidence that points towards CBD oil’s effectiveness for a host of conditions including Anxiety, PTSD, Epilepsy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Insomnia and Cancer.
Like my copy of MS Word including Cannabidiol oil as legitimate words, so should the FDA endeavor to study all of CBD oil’s potential health benefits so as to legitimize its capacity for healing.
The CBD oil industry is booming. The companies producing CBD oil products cannot make medical claims about their CBD oil products. Additionally, it is my understanding they cannot be marketed as dietary supplements.
Capacity to move forward
The numbers of people set to retire in the coming years has the potential to cave an already vulnerable healthcare delivery system in the United States.

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed, there must be a replacement plan that will improve upon what the ACA already provides.
It should be a no-brainer to enable the safe, legal regulation of a meteorically-growing CBD oil industry on a national level.
People are going to avail themselves of medical treatment no matter the political landscape.
Rich, poor or middle class (and when faced with health issues)–all demographics will seek out what holds promise for their overall well-being.
It would be a shame if people suffer health setbacks in the least and fatalities in the extreme because of our inability to advance the needle on establishing the status of CBD oil as an approved, safely regulated and viable medical treatment.

Poor, slow and unresponsive: The new normal for customer service

English: Customer service counter inside the n...

English: Customer service counter inside the new Commonwealth Bank, Brisbane, 1953 The Commonwealth Bank is located on the corner of Edward Street and Queen Street, Brisbane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


One way you can tell if you’re dealing with a professional organization or not is the quality of customer service you receive over the phone or via email.
If all you get is a recording indicating to leave a detailed message with your name, number and someone should call you back, that is okay (provided someone does call you back).
The entire callback scenario is actually my preferred option (if it is available). I’d rather have someone call me directly about the issue.
It’s much better to have just one person who is prepared to deal with your concern at the time they call (rather than being asked to repeat your problem to several representatives, and getting passed around the table like Thanksgiving turkey).
If you’re looking for service at the time you place the call, between embarrassing hold times and the more-often-than-not ineffectiveness of the person that does eventually come on the line, you’re sorely disappointed.

If at all like me, you’ll wish you’d had the option of leaving a call back number.

Attempting to address your concerns with a customerservice@acme.wait4ever business email address, can be equally frustrating.
Dipstick@ugottabkiddingme.inperpetuity email addresses are the black holes of customer service.
Generally-speaking, unless you have a customer service representative’s work email address, general email addresses for customer service seldom get questions answered.
“I wonder why they haven’t contacted me back, Bob?”


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“Well, Daryl, it’s because those things are rarely checked by human beings.”
Email customer service, like telephonic support is best served by having just one, knowledgeable, appropriate person to deal with. The trick is finding them.
This person, if they’re the real deal, will return your query with a polite, business-like reply, and in a timely fashion. If they read your email on a certain day, should they not know the answer to your question or whatever it is you are asking, they should at least acknowledge they’ve received your email and will follow up as soon as possible.
Sure, a lot of reps don’t follow up. Emails are like saliva—they are ever-flowing and unless you have dry mouth, ubiquitous, too—so ubiquitous, many continuously fall between the cracks.
The third option that is available, but not one I would recommend, is the ability to get answers via text message. Unless your needs are extremely modest, texting for customer service is encouraging a form of digital madness to enter your life and stay forever.
drinkingproblem“Bob, the text message I just received said my package just arrived but it didn’t.”
“Did you text them back, Daryl?”
“Well, there was a sentence containing a hyperlink directing me to a web page for further details, but that was about it.”
“Did you click on, or finger tap that beeotch?”
“No. I was wondering if you thought it would be an effective way to deal with my problem.”
“Your drinking problem?”
“I don’t have a drinking problem, Bob.”
“Not yet, Daryl, not yet. Just give it a few more minutes, check that, days, and you’ll be crying in your beer like a 20th century rummy.”
“Oh wait! I just got another text, Bob!”
“What is it, Daryl?”
“Someone named Amber, who sounds very nice by the way, just left a text message saying to text her back and tell her how my customer experience was with getlostshipping.com. Should I let her know I didn’t get my package?”
“You can try, Daryl, you can surely try. Just clear out a good chunk of time on your calendar so you can actually see the ‘experience’ through to fruition.”
 
 

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