General Interest

What good is the internet of things to people who don’t have internet?

While preparing for a panel discussion this morning, Tami suggested that I check out the blogs by our technology team at DAI. Rob Ryan-Silva wrote an excellent think piece on using the Internet of Things to help people who have no access to the internet. In Cambodia, they relied on human intervention to get out flood warnings. That’s not always reliable, but Rob was able to use IoT to come up with an automated solution….

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An apparent theme: application agnosticism

As always, I’m enjoying learning new things and seeing old friends (and some new ones!) at MWLUG. There have been sessions that talked about accessing and displaying data from within Notes without using Notes or XPages and sessions about accessing non-Notes data using XPages. Much of the excitement is about having data exposed via a REST service and using a good front end tool to display it. So, in some senses, we are talking about not needing Notes at all.

Earlier this summer, our company’s Vice President of the Office of Information Management and Technology announced that we’re actually moving away from the Notes client for mail. While I knew that this was a possibility, I’d thought we were still just looking at allowing folks to choose other mail applications to access their mail. Of course, allowing multiple mail applications either tosses some of your users to the wolves of ‘no support’ or complicates things immeasurably for support. So, it does make sense and was not particularly unexpected. Nonetheless, it still surprised me.

The core of our Notes use has always applications anyway. Our business relies on a lot of people working disconnected and, as such, the Notes replication model has been key to our need for Notes. So, we’ll be keeping the Notes client on machines for all those people who work disconnected, but much of our access had already moved to the browser. So, in a sense the work I do was moving in this direction as well.

So, the agnosticism is where we’re all going, it seems. I guess the mantra remains — use the best tool for the job.

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Can you hear me now? Life without #HearingLoss

I turned 50 in December, but my ears were already retired. I’d go to corporate events or to happy hours and smile a lot when people talked. I had long ago stopped asking more than once if I couldn’t hear someone in those environments. If I was lying on my right side in bed and my wife said something, I could only tell that she was speaking, not even guess what she’d said. In our kitchen, with little or no background noise, I’d often ask her to repeat herself. When we’d go on walks, it was important that she walk on my right, since I wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation if she was on my left. Playing baseball (in an over 48 league!) I’d smile and nod when one of the other outfielders would shout some advice that was simply from too far away.

Last year, my mother-in-law asked me to go to a luncheon offered by an audiologist to talk about hearing aids. I assumed it was because she remembered that we shared the problem of hearing loss. She didn’t, so she was surprised when I was excited about it. I’d been asking my doctor each year when they did the hearing test if it was time to get hearing aids. Those problems noted above really bothered me. This year, he said, “Maybe.” The luncheon was marvelously informative and I set up an appointment to have my hearing checked. Due to the price tag, I held off to reconsider getting them. Thousands of dollars requires more than a few minutes of thought. I had in mind about half of the number they cited.

A few months later, they had another luncheon and this time, I took Melissa. They gave me a pair to try. It was a world of difference. You know, I thought the turn signal on my truck didn’t make noise anymore. It does. I just wasn’t hearing it.

While I had the trial hearing aids, a friend of my mother-in-law came into town. We were all sitting the kitchen table discussing hearing aids and especially that someone in particular didn’t want people to think she is “old”. So, her friend who is a several years younger than her says, “I’m wearing mine.” No one had ever noticed. The behind-the-ear hearing aids were about the same color as her hair and you couldn’t notice unless you leaned in close and pushed her hair aside. She also solved my concern over the price. Costco sells hearing aids and for a fraction of the price. However, not every Costco has audiologists on staff – some only have hearing aid technicians. If your local Costco doesn’t have audiologists, you probably are better off going to an independent audiologist, just as you wouldn’t go to someone who wasn’t a surgeon for heart surgery.

Many people worry that people will think they’re old if they see the hearing aids. The truth is, they probably can’t see them and…. people already know you can’t hear them. When you just nod and smile at conversation or bring up topics that have been discussed five minutes ago, people notice. Then, you look old AND stubborn. I’m only 50 and I could care less if people notice. I tell people about them all the time. A couple of the guys in my office who are in their 30s spent too much time in rock-and-roll, so are considering getting them.

If you’re not hearing people, it causes a lot of problems. You don’t hear important things — like what your doctor tells you about your health or medication. Imagine hearing that a “1 in 2” surgeries results in death, instead of “1 or 2%” of surgeries result in death. You may not hear when a loved one says, “I love you”. You answer different questions than people asked. You laugh when everyone else does, even if you didn’t hear the punchline. You miss out on lots of interaction and life gets dull. You may develop a tendency to avoid places where hearing may be difficult, like restaurants, and end up avoiding other social situations. These compound each other and you feel isolated. Isolation can lead to emotional issues, like depression, or even lead to dementia (if you’re the only one you can hear in your world, it gets real hard to connect to reality).

So, if you’re missing conversational bits or find that “people talk too fast”, get yourself checked. People are not talking faster – your ears don’t hear every letter anymore, so it takes you longer to figure out what they actually meant to say. There are some sounds, like the f or ph or s, that I simply can’t hear without my hearing aids because those pitches are simply bad for me. If you miss two or three letters in every word, your brain can’t figure out what the words were. One joke I often told was that “as I got older, people said more interesting things” because I couldn’t hear what they actually said and my brain guessed wrong!

If you don’t think you need them and that nobody has noticed, ask someone.

* While I don’t use Duracell batteries, that’s a great commercial AND they have a portion of their website dedicated to it.

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Pause to breathe: a note from Lotusphere ’16

I have to be honest. I never knew that I was an introvert. I was always puzzled by the times in my life when I was afraid of people or just wanted to go somewhere quiet. I love reading and my ‘alone time’ reading has always given me that … space. On the other hand, I was in the drama club and on the debate team in high school. I even ran, very unsuccessfully, for student government. So, it was not until I was giving Kathy Brown a ride back to the airport from our offices (PSC is doing some work for us), that I learned about ‘outgoing introverts’. From what I understand, being an extrovert or an introvert is all about whether you gain or lose energy by interacting with others. So, while those of us who are outgoing introverts enjoy interacting with others, it can be draining. Someone who is an extrovert would be gaining energy through the interaction, but not me. I enjoy it, but it does wear me out.

Because we had lunch with James Weru, Clive Lightfoot and Roman Weber, I’ll have a post about their case story that they shared during the Opening General Session. It hits so close to what our company does, working toward the same purposes that I simply had to meet them and learn more.

So, having just spent a few hours being very social at lunch and between sessions, I just needed a quiet break. Just as I need to recharge my laptop and my phone right now, I need to recharge my personal energy banks. It’s easy to forget when attending conferences, that in order to ensure you get the most out of it – knowledge, contacts, tools and relaxation – you have to take care of yourself.

It’s been an incredible conference so far. Having stopped to write this, I feel ready to go back to shaking hands and telling stories.

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