Dear Reader,

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My fifth year as a volunteer finds me as a project manager for Transition House at New England Give Camp 2014. Screenshot I feel honored to be able to  serve with an incredibly talented group of individuals – developers, graphic artists, and non-profit organization.  By the end of the weekend, we hope to have a new website built in WordPress and updated with a more modern look from when the site was first created five years ago.  Thanks to my awesome teammates, we are quickly working together to meet our common goals.


imagesCA34F538Dear Reader,

At the start of my career in 2010 I wrote a blog post, The Insouciant Life in The Bit Bucket, wherein I wondered if  “… I have to abandon everything I care about for the practical reality of earning a paycheck?”   At the time, I was yet to land my first full-time job in the field of technology.   I was fortunate to have embarked on my career in the company of individuals possessed of high integrity and character.

Now, working that full-time job as a successful technical professional, I can answer my own question.   No, I do not have to abandon my principles, ideals, and cherished values to earn a paycheck.  “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Matthew 16:26.   This principle which dates back to approximately 70 – 100 A.D.

As I have been in our very competitive workforce, this principal has become very clear to me.  My relationships with my colleagues and my personal integrity are more important to me than money.   There, I’ve said it.   I’ve committed modern heresy.  I knowingly run counter to our modern culture where the pursuit of money is the all-encompassing god of our time.  We worship it, sacrifice for it, and do whatever it takes ethics-and-complianceto have more.  You need to do whatever it takes to get money.  After all, greed is good and generosity is for suckers.  Or is it?

When I began my career I was openly jeered at for my work ethic.   I was called a “sucker”.  I was told that hard work was for suckers and the key to getting ahead lay in taking advantage of others.   However, I believe in the timelessness of ethics more than public opinion.  Three years later, I find myself ahead of most of the United States in terms of employment and lifestyle.  I do not have anything I did not earn by hard work and integrity.

So am I writing this merely to brag or be self-aggrandizing?   Not at all.   I’m writing this to assert that contrary to popular opinion, ethics and success are not mutually exclusive and it can be done.   The other advantage is that it brings long-lasting satisfaction and true happiness.   I have my self-respect because I never compromised my personal ethics or integrity to get where I am.  Regardless of the road you take in life there are sacrifices to be made.   I chose not to make the sacrifices of our current culture – that of using others to get ahead at the cost of personal relationships.

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Dear Reader,

Exploration and Innovation have previously been the domain of Universities and Governments marshaling their collective resources.  How does humankind’s drive to colonize Mars in the digital media age take shape?   In the form of a reality show.   Yes, you heard right, Reality show.

It is possible to think that television has been lost in the sea of digital media, but apparently not.   From its inception, television has been leveraged to communicate, bring us together as a digital society, and socially engineer our future selves.   Presidents became closer to mainstream America, we share entertainment, atumblr_mqxvemvpsO1r01w8mo4_1280 (2)nd we witness events as a nation. We all held our breath while Apollo 13 was clinging tenaciously to life.  Broader still, other countries share our adventures into television media.  Although television now has rivals in the Internet, Cell Phones, and Tablets, television has grown to be a dominant force in our global community.

Television with the onset of reality programming has provided  Mars One‘s entrepreneur,  Bas Lansdorp, with the means to finance his dream of colonization of Mars.  Mars One is a non-profit organization working towards the goal of colonizing Mars with the first four people by 2023.   Working within our current technology, Bas, is currently seeking volunteers to go on a one-way trip to Mars.   If anyone ever told you to “Get Lost!” this is the way to do it.

As immediate as 2016, the project will be capable of unmanned demonstration.  The Mars One website showcases a complete list of FAQ’s including the business model, cost of the project, and its feasibility.  Its creator has managed to recruit an incredible amount of support including a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, and world-wide suppliers for all the technical resources they will need.

The Journal of Cosmology said, “…, to attain it [an outpost on Mars] would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political  correctness.” in an article exploring the proposal in 2010.   That article goes on to analyze the potential challenges faced in such a venture.

NASA’s footage of Mars Moons passing each other from the Mars surface is beautiful.   There are individuals willing to take the risks involved in a one-way trip to Mars to be able to witness this firsthand:

This will be an epic media event.   mars-one-childrens-t-250The entire worldwide community will watch these events unfold.   Bas Lansdorp has thought of everything.  Where would any pop media event be without T-Shirts?


NewDirectionsInSensoryDeprivationDear Reader,

I often wonder what the introspection of a 20-somthing in the technology age looks like.  Lindsey Arsenault realizes the experiences of life provided by technology pale in comparison to those experienced in reality put her reflections in a recent blog post.  She coined the phrase, “Sensory Deprived Existence” while reflecting on the place of technology in her life.   As an artist, she is a self-proclaimed “raw emotion addict”.   Perhaps its the drive for experience that reinforces the dichotomy of real vs. virtual to her.

40sAs a 40-something adult who remembers rotary dialing telephones and 3 tv networks, technology is not foreign to me; but I conceptualize life as defined by real interactions with people.   When I was 20-something; life consisted of time with friends, family, and real experiences.  For myself, technology is merely a supplement to enhance relationships and my journey through life.   Its a tool not an end of itself.  Even so, there are times that the sensory-deprived existence threatens to encroach on the fullness of days lived out among others.   How often have I been guilty of saying “yes” to the sensory-deprived existence when my love of all things digital takes over?  Saying Yes to a Sensory Deprived Existence.


cloud-computing (2)Dear Reader,

I remember when the internet was on college machines, text-based only, and you could go get a cup of coffee while your conversations scroll up the screen at 1200 symbols per second (baud).  At the University of Rhode Island, if Brown U was down so was URI.   Human nature then was what it still is today.   Remove all the flash and dazzle of parallax scrolling, quad core computing and terabytes of information, and you still have people at the heart of the machines.

So it came as no surprise to me that people tried to hack each other’s accounts, tried to phish for information, blackmailed others, took down servers, or otherwise tried to commit mayhem on a digital scale.  Technology was advancing, not human nature.  The thing with technology crimes is that generally they require more intelligence than a hit-and-run robbery making the criminals more difficult to catch.

For quite aimagesCAMYXG9Nwhile,  I believed the cloud culture to be more fluff than fact – inherently prone to data break-in and server crashes resulting in data loss and unreliable services.   Something for large companies to take risks with for business needs and  Cloud Computing News has extensive articles examining ideas crucial to businesses in the cloud.   Then I got a smart phone.   Between the phone and my home computer, the value of the cloud became apparent.  For a techy, I’m a bit of a latecomer to the cloud.   However, coordinating across devices IS a problem without the cloud.   Some have USB ports, some don’t.  Some are not compatible with others or your friends’ or colleagues’ machines.   He has an Apple … you have a PC ..  they have a Galaxy …   You have an Android tablet … and so it goes….

Apple has iCloud to coordinate, but it doesn’t play well with others – if at all.   To be honest, as I’m becoming more than passing acquaintances with my iPad I’m wondering how Apple gained the popularity it did.  (Anyone feel free to comment here on their behalf)  You can barely multitask, there are bugs just as with any other piece of equipment, and the security is a poor step-child to PC security.

PCs have a variety of cloud applications to coordinate – DropBox, EverNote, and software to create and run your own personal cloud Tonido.

As time has gone by since I’ve been active on the internet, I have realized that the amount I’ve been hacked has been extremely scarce.   One of my accounts was hacked and spamming friends.   I changed the password and solved the problem.   That was it.   Any viruses I caught was from downloading torrents.   I grew tired of repeatedly fighting off viruses especially after I caught a rootkit.  However, its under my control.   Run a good KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAvirus protector, create complex passwords, don’t put identifying information on the internet such as social security numbers, birthdates, and the like and you will most likely be fine.

So the old girl has learned new tricks.   I’m a fan of the Cloud after all.  I may even work to set up my own Cloud for fun.


images (3)Dear Reader,

Is social media the devil in disguise?

The ills of Facebook are legendary – the lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and abuse of personal information for sales.  Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it has become a part of our culture.

Media, social or otherwise, has long been controversial.   The US Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press in the First Amendment established in 1791.   The freedom of the press was universally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.   There have also been laws passed to prohibit abuses of these freedoms – libel being the most noted example.   The press has had some notable influence in the United States when the “checks and balances” system has suffered.  The rise of Joseph McCarthy to almost unassailable power in post-Nazi America in the ’50s was checked by Edward R. Murrow who pioneered broadcast journalism when television was new.   Murrow, on his show “See It Now” exposed McCarthy when the formal processes failed.

Like Edward R. Murrow with the use of new technology, will we allow social media to form us or will we form social media to our needs and best interests?

So what are the advantages of Facebook?   Among other things, my friends who regularly post to my wall are all media-savvy and I stay more up-to-date on the news than before.   I have found long-lost high school and college friends and I’m once again involved in their lives.   I keep up with my brother’s children who are all grown and leading their own lives now.   I keep up with distant family members as well.   Social media, like any other instrument of communication, is what you make of it.   I do not post anything on Facebook I do not wish to be public knowledge.   I take Facebook as the poor man’s advertising.   Your web personality is reflected in your posts.   No one can expect the cyber community to cyber-revolution-FINAL“know who I am” unless they make it clear.  The responsibility for one’s communication with the cloud community is on the individual.

The positive use of social networking is overwhelming – advances to business, professional networking, following trends, in addition to the aforementioned connection with friends and family.   Entire websites have come up to help people promote positive social change including Idealist and  Change.Org among a plethora of others.   The fact is that social good far outnumbers social bad.   The bad just attracts better headlines.

This post would not be complete without covering the topic of cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying iscyberbullying-2 an extension of bullying that has gone on forever.  Sadly, human nature has not advanced with technology and headlines love attention-getting stories.  “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”  was coined in the mid 1800s regarding this phenomenon.  How many of the headlines regarding cyber bullying go on in real life?  And are we giving it undue attention?  Cyber bullying will probably always exist in some form as real-life bullying has always existed.   Extensive measures have been taken to counteract this problem and will continue.

The challenges for the modern world really haven’t changed.   Employ critical thinking when absorbing information.   Is something shock journalism or serious journalism?  How accurate are the news stories being published and by what source?   What agenda drives the information?  Buyer beware.


Dear Reader,

I have always been a very average person. So how is it that I am innovating a new application for the educational field?  Magic?

Its actually nothing anyone else can’t do.  Its born of the fruits of hard work,  networking, marketing — all the work that anyone puts into building a career.  Plus, its seeking solutions to problems along the way.    20130810-131904.jpg

When I was running my own business and began running into difficulties, one of the representatives at SCORE explained that I had the ability to analyze where the gaps in my small business were and solve the problem. I’m no longer running my own business, but gap analysis enabled me to process this current dream into vision.  “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” is not just for Gen. George S. Patton in times of war, but for those of us entrepreneurs in difficult business environments.  Innovators are perceived as perfectionists. I decided that perfection is overrated – mostly because people are not perfect and never will be.   I never let flaws stop me from progressing or reassessing my strategy.

My cousin teaches at a full immersion school. The American children learn all their subjects in fluent French. She needs an application to take her vocabulary words and create a weekly puzzle for the children to play with. She currently creates this by hand and it takes hours.  She asked me to develop an application to create the puzzle for her.  When she gave me the specs for this, I immediately Googled to find previous work to use as a guide. Surprisingly, this has not already been developed. As I dug into the algorithms necessary for this project, I realized it was just a little beyond my current experience.

Do I give up? Not at all.  The gap was in some of my experience — software engineering design in OOP paradigm. So, who has those abilities? Software engineers. I began emailing. I found such an individual with the abilities and willingness to work with me on this.

To those who believe they are incapable of innovation – you are correct. To those who believe they are capable of innovation – you are correct. Limits are challenges to overcome unless you see those limits and absolute.

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