Author Archives: lifeinpawprints

FitBit Leads Wearables Market but Improvement Still Needed

While the FitBit brand leads the market in wearable tech, leaving Apple in a close second, much improvement is still needed before wearable gadgets become a real habit for most consumers. Even with current advancements – wearables being available in glasses, bracelets, even footwear – such devices are still seen as bulky, due to battery or screen size, cumbersome, or just not useful. The excitement of purchasing a new piece of technology of this caliber – from Google Glass to FitBits – typically wears off after about a two to six months of use.

 

To counteract this fast lifespan, wearables developers need to focus on those things that the consumer needs in such a device. As a consumer of these products, it is vital that the device gives you something you actually need on a daily basis. Apps and functions that will keep you coming back to it, rather than fating it to life in a sock drawer. Sure, it’s great to know your pulse rate if you’re exercising but do you really need that information if you’re working at a desk all day? Likewise, is a footwear-based step counter really going to be effective if you kick off your shoes the minute you get home?

 

Consumers want information relevant to their life. News, weather, scheduling, and messaging come in at the top of these desires but they must be delivered in an unobtrusive manner. Another major issue is the bulk of such gadgets. You want more information at your fingertips but such luxuries come at the cost of a bigger screen.

 

One solution to this is found with the Cicret (pronounced “Secret”) bracelet. Currently, this item is in the “working prototype” stage and there is already a waiting list for folks who cannot wait to have this Android based gadget. The bracelet itself is wire thin and contains a projector that sends an image of a smart screen right to your arm. The image is fully interactive and acts just like your familiar smart phone. There are not many details out on this yet so keep an eye on it.

 

Other wearables, including virtual and augmented reality headsets are beginning to find their place in the market and by 2020, CCS Insight, a marketing analyst, predicts sales of these product to quadruple. This can only happen however if tech developers are willing and able to hear and meet the consumers’ demands and essentially allow the market to shape future designs.

Source: FitBit Leads Wearables Market but Improvement Still Needed

Western Australian Telescope Captures 12 Billion Year Old Explosion

You may have never heard of the Zadko Telescope at the University of Western Australia before now but chances are, you won’t soon forget it. This month, the Zadko captured the unimaginable, an event that occurred before our earth and sun were even in existence. 12 billion light years away (and to put that into perspective, just one light year is equal to 5,865,696,000,000 – that’s 5.8 trillion – miles!), a massive black hole was born from the remnants of a dying star.

 

The resulting explosion, one so distant that it took 12 billion years for its light to reach our telescopes, was one so unfathomably powerful that the light was equivalent to roughly a billion of our suns huddled together for just a blink in time. Over the course of several minutes, UWA Professor David Coward says he and his team observed a quickly brightening star where nothing but blackness was seen prior to that moment. Then, as soon as it appeared, it was gone.

 

The moment the anomaly occurred, the Zadko Telescope was alerted by a NASA orbital satellite and researchers were lucky enough to see the event as it occurred so long ago. The telescope provided a highly detailed recording of the event, now named GRB170205, and proceeded to monitor the area for 24 hours. The images captured are a vital new piece of evidence in helping researchers to understand more about the physics that occur with the explosion of a massive star.

 

Source: Phys.org

Source: Western Australian Telescope Captures 12 Billion Year Old Explosion

To the Moon and Back! SpaceX Plans Passenger Moonshot for 2019

It has been nearly half a century since humankind set foot on the moon but as of Monday, February 27, 2017, that wait will soon come to an end. Space tech superhero Elon Musk teased the world in a tweet that read: “Fly me to the moon… OK.” This came immediately following a news conference where he released information about two as yet unnamed people who approached him with a considerable sum of money to send them on a one-week journey to the moon (or rather just a loop around it) and back.

 

Musk will not, for privacy reasons, divulge the identity of the pair or any financial specifics on the cost of the trip but did state they [the clients and SpaceX] are “very serious” about making this happen. Based on the timing of the planned moon shot, the pair of adventurers (whom Musk insists is no one we know) will most likely be taking their flight on or near the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission at the end of 2018. The flight would use a Dragon crew capsule and be launched with a Falcon heavy rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

 

Space flight is not yet for everyone however. Musk advised Reuters that the traveling pair of people were made aware of all the risks involved and that they are entering into this mission with open eyes and open minds. Although the risk is small, they know there is a chance they may not return to earth or that something else will go catastrophically wrong with any part of the flight. Musk is deeply serious about their safety and promises they have had long discussions and will receive extensive training prior to the flight.

 

This is a massive step toward the future of commercial travel and, though it is not without risks, companies like SpaceX consistently gain experience in minimizing those risks with each successful launch and landing. Musk’s ultimate goal: To fly a yet-in-progress Red Dragon ship to Mars by the year 2020 and eventually establish a thriving human colony on the revered red planet.Source: Phys.orgFile photo of SpaceX Dragon capsule (c) 2015 SpaceX.

Source: To the Moon and Back! SpaceX Plans Passenger Moonshot for 2019

Working Sick: Where’s the Line?

​Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home when I’ll while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work. The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.

Election 2016 Afterthoughts

election-2016

 

Just a quick disclaimer: I am the most non-political person I know. I do not claim to have a scholarly understanding of politics, government, or how it all works. Even so, I still cannot believe what I woke up to Wednesday morning.
Maybe it didn’t seem real because for the past two days I’ve been sick as a dog and in a cold-medicine-induced head-fog but Donald Trump as president? Seriously? He’s not a politician, he’s an actor at best. Granted, one with a boatload of money, but that doesn’t qualify him to be president. Honestly, I voted for someone other than both Trump and Clinton because neither of them are really fit to hold office. But still.
Then I start reading the news. Both parties may as well have been tied in the popular vote but Hillary still had the lead. Even so, Trump got the electoral votes needed to claim the title. And now, our nation has lost its collective mind.
Social media (no, I don’t trust everything I read) is exploding even now with shouts of “A Nation Divided” and reports of riots (sorry, “peaceful protests”) from one side of the country to the other. And then it gets ridiculous. California wants to secede the Union, or at least its tech founders do. Immigration lawyers’ phones are ringing off the hook. Women are flocking to get IUDs implanted before their abortion rights get taken away. Immigrants are in a stir because they think they will immediately be deported away from loved ones.
Let’s just put the brakes on all this for a moment, shall we? I’m an open-minded person.
If you voted for Trump, congrats, your candidate won. Don’t be a dick about it.
If you didn’t vote for Trump, I’m sorry your candidate lost. Don’t be a dick about it.
Regardless of how our opinions are split, we are all still “One Nation.” We are all in this together. Remember, the President is a talking head who, as the face of the nation, does NOT carry all the power of the nation. That office still has to go through other channels to have things approved. All these radical claims of “building a wall” and flushing out the “illegals” will probably NOT happen. At best, we may see some changes in the economy for the better. Remember, any changes that happen will be slow.
Whether you love or hate the outcome of this election, please be human first. I call for unity over division. I call for love to suppress all the hatred. I call for us to remain ONE NATION, no matter who is in the White House. We are all still brothers and sisters under one American flag and we need to look out for each other.

Down Time

When is the last time I had a vacation? I can’t remember. So 3 months ago, when my job finally made me permanent and assigned some PTO for me (paid time off), I requested a 4-day stretch off work. To my surprise, it was approved so as I write this, I am enjoying my first little non-working vacation in I don’t know how long. Can I tell you how good it feels to NOT have to set the alarm? To be able to go to sleep when I’m tired instead of when I have to? This is much-needed down time for mind and body, especially since the busy season is about to start at work and not only will time off be difficult to obtain, we’ll start seeing mandatory overtime as well. It’s about to get stressful.
So what am I doing with my time? Lots and lots of reading and relaxing for one. Some self-pampering. Today looks to be a day that involves nothing more than a long soak in the pool, followed by basking in the sun with a book, then the jacuzzi. Then dinner with my hunny and curling up to watch some TV, just us.
I wanted to stay local while still being far enough from home for it to feel like a getaway, so we booked a lovely inn that is a little out of town and right down the road from my second-favorite Downtown area and the artisan community interlaced with it. Tomorrow looks like window shopping and browsing at the many antique stores and art galleries. Best way to spend a Monday 🙂

Audacity

2016 07 30 Reading Room

On the top floor of the library downtown, there is a wonderfully sun-lit corner set aside for a casual reading room. It offers a stunning view of the water and the entire marina and barrier islands. Facing one large picture window is a love seat where anyone who likes can relax as long as they want, enjoying the view and the quiet atmosphere.

Recently, I visited and took a seat away from the windows but where I was able to still enjoy a good view. I settled in with my Kindle and was knee-deep into a gripping story when a woman across from me (who had only sat down a few minutes prior) started clucking her tongue and sighing exasperatedly over the sound of a happy toddler just chatting to himself. He and his father were quietly enjoying the prime seating at the picture window and the toddler was, in my opinion, being exceptionally well-behaved. I glanced up and saw her glaring at the pair, scowling, then looking over to me as if she expected me to say something. After a few more minutes of her huffing, what she did next just blew my mind.

This woman – and because this story does have to do with racism and classism, I may mention she was Caucasian and very much a New Yorker and somewhat well-off – picked herself up and marched right over to the man – a local black southerner – and leaned right down in his face, asking him how much longer he planned on sitting there. I couldn’t hear his response but she said to him, “I’m not telling you what to do, but as you can see, this is a beautiful spot to sit and it is here for all the patrons of the library to enjoy, so you and your boy need to go downstairs or find somewhere else to sit because other people will want to sit here and you’ve been here long enough.”

Whoa.

Mind you, there were several seats available in the area, all with a view, and no one was waiting for a seat. The woman had only been there for five minutes when she decided the black family wasn’t good enough to use the seat. After hearing what she said to him, all I could do was utter a shocked sound and watch in horror as the man actually politely got up, packed his son back into his stroller, and left. I felt horrible for them, but I didn’t know what to say!

The woman then went to sit back down in her seat – not the window seat! – and about 30 seconds later got back up and came over to me. I was shocked when she placed her magazine and her hand on my lap and leaned in only inches from my face and asked me, “Were you laughing at me or with me?” I just shook my head and said, “You have balls.”

“What does that mean,” she asked. I calmly looked up at her, leaning back so as to feel a little less claustrophobic, and told her, “I was laughing at the audacity you have to think you have some God-given right to tell perfect strangers what to do. Those people had every right to be in that seat, they weren’t disturbing anyone, and you had NO right to walk up to him and tell them to leave! You don’t own this place and you have no authority over anyone here!”

She. Was. Shocked.

I was just disgusted. She scoffed at me and stormed off. Good. I’d wanted to slap her however my words appeared to have stung just as well. As soon as she left, the man and his son came back and he and I shared a smile and a look of understanding and sympathy as he took the window seat back and went about his business spending time with his son in these beautiful surroundings. People like that woman are a poison in our sea of tranquility and I hope for even a brief moment she realized that her intolerance will not be tolerated.

Weekend Art Project

While skimming through Pinterest recently, my daughter and I came across a project that looked fun and inexpensive so we thought we’d give it a try. It utilizes heavy art paper, a lot of crayons, white glue, scrap paper, and painter’s tape. 12715686_10153753304735660_3061785048652222276_n

Start the project by applying a thick layer of glue where you want the crayons positioned, then set the crayons into the glue. It will take several hours for this to dry, so just lay it flat for a while (we let it sit overnight).

Next, cut out a shape you’d like to have centered in the color splash (or several, or even none). It’s important to use painter’s tape because the hot blow dryer will not melt the adhesive (trust me, other types of tape failed). Tape around the edges of the shape, then trim it to shape and place on the canvas under the drip line.

With a blow dryer, melt the crayons and let the wax run down over the entire canvas. You’ll need to hover over a section until you get a good amount running down then aim the blow dryer to spread it out.

The wax will dry in a few minutes so when you’ve covered the canvas, peel up the taped-on shape while it is still wet. If you wait until it dries, it will tend to pop and crack off. Try using different color combinations and shapes and get creative!

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40

I’m jumping in just a bit late here (OK 10 months late) because a: I just discovered these prompts and b: if I don’t start now, then when?

#1: If you have been to a foreign country name those you have been to?

I have skirted around Cuba and the Bahamas but the place I actually spent considerable time and never wanted to leave was Quintana Roo, MX. It was on a honeymoon cruise in 1997 and we entered Cozumel through Playa del Carmen. Admittedly, I was disappointed at first because it felt no different than being in Miami. The first thing I saw off the boat was a Burger King and a Daquiri bar popular in the ‘States. Liberating ourselves from the tourist trap however, we were transported into a whole new world of single lane dirt roads, quiet villages, and some of the nicest people I have ever met. Even with a language barrier, there was still understanding, kindness, generosity, and genuine welcome.

#2: Is the glass half empty or half full? What type of glass is it and what is in the glass?

This question has always irked me because it forces one to be judged in such a closed-ended, black-and-white manner that really isn’t realistic. Our moods change, our personalities change, our momentary stimulus changes and the answer can be different every time, leaving us wrongly judged because we are just being judged in the moment.

I see it this way: The glass is halfway to whichever direction the contents were traveling. If it was in the process of being filled, then it is half full. If it was in the process of being drank or poured out, then it is half empty. It isn’t about what *I* think. It’s about the facts happening around the situation and leading up to it. There are always other facts to consider. Is it half full or half empty? “It’s just half.”

Incidentally, it should contain a good, hearty, merlot.

#3: If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

Sushi, hands down. It’s a dish that can be created endless ways under one label, it’s fresh, it’s clean food, and can be nutritionally dense. I could easily live off sushi.

List: List at least five places worth shopping.

As one who doesn’t shop often, this will be difficult…

1. Local farmer’s market (downtown, Saturdays)
2. Nelson Family Farms
3. Local artisans
4. Local art galleries
5. Any small business with a quality product or service

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful I got to spend some quality time with my daughter, especially now that she is getting to the age between being a little girl and wanting her teenage freedom. This week coming up will be hella busy at work because open enrollment for Medicare Part D is starting, so we are gearing up with parties and all types of goodies for the crazy time ahead.

Perblog 9-8-2015

7:45 a.m.

Labor Day Weekend brought a forced 3-day “rest” as job #1 scheduled me off and job #2 notified us Thursday they were taking the weekend off and not processing any new orders tip Tuesday. It was nice to spend a stress-free Saturday and Sunday with my daughter though I do wish I’d been able to afford to take her somewhere fun. When Monday rolled around though, I was beside myself for something to do with my time.

I sort of forced myself to sleep in then tried in vain to see if any of our writers had abandoned a writing task. There were no open job tickets though so I tried to be creative. The furthest I got on that was thinking I should do some more work on the second young adult novel I’m working on but could not find the research file for it. Scratch that then. In the end, I ended up assaulting social media with weather updates as a storm blew up on the eastern seabreeze border and produced not only a beautiful light show but also 4″ of rain in some spots.

This morning, I’m taking a few moments before work starts to marvel at the cloud formations offshore. The sun has just broken past the cloudtops to reveal a haze of pollen in the air, which explains my mograine. That’s alright though. I am determined that today is going to be a good and calm day because my heart cannot afford the stress some of these customers give me. That in itself is a whole other blot post though!