Tag Archives: information

Can We Talk?

I went to Body Specs earlier this week for my regular 12:30 session. “I need to stop at 12:45 today,” I said. “I have a meeting.”

So Skip gave me a set that I finished right at 12:45. “You should just tell us ahead of time,” he said after I’d changed. “We can get you in earlier that way.”

I’d just assumed I’d have a short session instead. But he was right; with advance notice I’d have been able to get in my full session. Besides, it was common courtesy.

The next day after my workout, my wife called. “Did you tell Skip I needed to talk to him at my session today?” she asked. “Yes,” I said, “but Skip left early today. So you’ll have to wait until next time.”

“I wish you’d told me,” she said. She’d been caught in traffic and wouldn’t make her session on time, and was worried she’d lose her opportunity to consult with Skip. He wasn’t there anyway, but she hadn’t known.

Well, what goes around comes around. This afternoon I was setting up for Run Woodstock and noticed the recycling rolloffs I’d ordered hadn’t arrived. So I called the disposal company to check where they were. “The delivery was changed to Friday morning,” I was told.

It wasn’t the fault of the rep I’d worked with; he’d put “delivery Thursday” in the work order. The operations manager had changed the delivery day and time, probably to accommodate his other delivery commitments.

“I need to know these things,” I said, and confirmed they had my contact information on file. The rep agreed I should have been called.

What do you suppose is going on? It’s easier than ever to reach out and touch someone (any of my readers old enough to remember that slogan?). Today I called a co-worker in Costa Rica and five minutes later we were working through a shared document on our screens, each of us taking control when needed. Thousands of miles distance and two hours time difference? No big deal – standard practice.

And communication is increasing rapidly worldwide. Yet while use of social media and email are growing, mobile voice usage (i.e. phone calls) has been dropping since 2013. I’m as guilty as anyone else of this. As an introvert I’m more comfortable with exchanging emails, where I can take my time and compose messages carefully. Personal interactions like face-to-face meetings and phone calls are mentally draining.

Check out some interesting stats and graphics at this blog regarding how communication is growing, but voice communication is falling. (Image is from the blog.)

But nonverbal communication is by no means foolproof. There are times I’ve sent a business email and heard about it later because it was misinterpreted. “That should’ve been a phone call,” my boss will say. “Your tone of voice and manner of delivery would have made your meaning clear.” In part because of this I’m more tolerant of emails I receive that seem less than polite.

(Check out this article: 14 words and phrases you should not use in emails.)

I’m sure there’s some heavy duty, government-funded research going on that will reveal the enormous social damage being caused by Twitter and Snapchat, and how uncontrolled flame wars between spouses are spiking divorce rates. While I may not be able to preserve the American family all by myself, at least I can be better about calling people when needed.

And yet…as my wife and I drove home from a weekend up north, her phone rang. It was our daughter in Richmond and her wife. As much as we enjoy hearing from them, being a parent there’s always that little concern about an unexpected call from a faraway kid. But no worries this time. “I just called to say hey,” she said.

So there’s hope for the world after all.

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How Fit Are You? Ask Your Clothes

A year ago or so, out enjoying a group run, my serenity was suddenly interrupted when the right hip of the runner in front of me began talking.

“You have completed three miles,” it told us. “You are thirty seconds behind your target pace.” Its tone carried the implied command, Step it up, sluggard.

Had this insolent iPhone been mine, it would quickly have found a new home at the bottom of the Huron River. I like high tech just fine but hell if I’m gonna take any crap from it.

My phone is an iRock. It no talk.

My phone is an iRock. It no talk.

But a tidal wave of new technology is sweeping in that promises to integrate so deeply into our lives that one day soon, like Amazon.com and Beyond Meat, we’ll wonder how we got along without it.

wearable-tech-433We’re moving fast and furious toward a full-blown Internet of Things, where a massive amount of information becomes available in real-time. Can we, the unwashed and untrained, properly interpret and use all this information? That’s yet to be seen.

Regardless, the sports and athletic industry is riding the crest of the wave. “Wearable tech” is barely in its infancy but it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans already own at least one piece of it.

Here’s just a sampling of the stuff these things will track:

And for those of you who don’t mind abuse from your tech, there’s CARROT, an app that tracks your weight and will admonish you if it’s not good news. Nothing like a little body shaming to start your day!

CARROT app

They are even putting biosensors into bras and underpants.

My pair must have a glitch. The moment I put them on, they started snickering

 Intrigued? Want a quick, easy to follow guide to see what kinds of information these gadgets can collect and track for you? Thanks to Brian Gibson for pointing me to this infographic on the Verizon Wireless website.  And this page explains a little about how they work.

Google Glass - crazy man in showerBut at least one annoying piece of tech is on hiatus at the moment. Remember Google Glass? This man single-handedly set it back years. And for that he has my undying gratitude. Read here for the amusing story.

As for me, when I go running I wear my medium-tech basic GPS watch. It does not talk. My deliberately selected rugged flip-style definitely unsmart phone does not talk either. This makes me happy. I want to remain smarter than the stuff I wear. For a little while longer, anyway.

Not flashy and most definitely unthreatening. Just the way I like them.

Not flashy and most definitely unthreatening. Just the way I like them.

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Coming up: I work in the medical device field, where wearable tech is making big, fast inroads. Sound good? The government doesn’t think so. I’ll share with you why progress in this particular area may grind to a halt for a while.