Tag Archive: Smart Phones


Lost my Apple 5s smart phone on Lufthansa flight #491 from Seattle to Frankfurt.

Besides being a $599 mistake, yours truly had no cell phone for the entire course of our 17-day honeymoon to Bavaria (e.g., Gemütlichkeit) and to Tuscany (e.g., Le Dolce Vita).

To more than a few the loss of a cell phone for almost three weeks would be the near equivalent of being sentenced to three years of solitary confinement or even worse, suicide. How can life possibly go on? How can my online disciples know exactly what I am doing at exactly this very point in time? Shudder: No smart phone means a world without Facebook “likes” and immediate gratification.

Tourists use a selfie stick on the Trocadero Square, with the Eiffel Tower in background, in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Selfie sticks have become enormously popular among tourists because you don’t have to ask strangers to take your picture, and unlike hand-held selfies, you can capture a wider view without showing your arm. But some people find selfie sticks obnoxious, arguing that they detract from the travel experience. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Tourists use a selfie stick on the Trocadero Square, with the Eiffel Tower in background, in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Selfie sticks have become enormously popular among tourists because you don’t have to ask strangers to take your picture, and unlike hand-held selfies, you can capture a wider view without showing your arm. But some people find selfie sticks obnoxious, arguing that they detract from the travel experience. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Even for Pollyannaish me, I immediately realized that Lufthansa was not going to find my cell phone in the messy cabin of a Boeing 747. Maybe it ended up in some flea market along the banks of the Main River.

Hopefully, I still had an upgrade at Verizon Wireless (alas that was not the case). Quickly coming to full acceptance mode, I rationalized there were at least 1,000 worse things that can happen to anyone than just misplacing an uninsured cell phone.

Besides Jeanne and I were on our belated honeymoon. Beer was on the tables in fun München and soon Sangiovese would be served al fresco in romantic Firenze. There were art museums to check out, castles to explore, and little Alpine towns that beckoned us. The cell phone replacement could just wait for our return to bucolic Ellensburg, Washington

Mobile Technology Liberation

What became immediately apparent in my first moments of Apple OS cold turkey was watching the teeming hordes on München’s famed Marienplatz, and coming to the realization about literally how many people were paying more attention to their mobile devices than the centuries worth of history all around them.

What would Mad King Ludwig think? Would smart phone narcissism drive him crazy?

And then I saw them: The narcisticks. Yes, the selfie-sticks. The same selfie-sticks that would be hocked by the bushel on the Ponte Vecchio the following week in Firenze. München’s 11 a.m. Glockenspiel play may be in full motion in the background, but the selfie-stick crowd was more interested in the folks in the foreground – the very same people they saw in the mirror earlier that very same morning.selfiestickobama

Smart phones have become indispensable, but at the same time they are addicting. This point is not novel, but to see it played out throughout Europe at the height of the summer tourist season was nonetheless stunning, revealing and disconcerting.

One week later, we were the first through the doors of the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence. We immediately headed for Michelangelo’s 17-foot masterpiece sculpture of David. Being among the first, we took digital photos of the statue and ourselves in front of David. We concentrated and admired arguably the greatest sculpture on the planet, dating back to 1504.

Coming back later, the crowds predictably had descended on David, including literally hundreds with their mobile phones and selfie sticks (don’t inadvertently scratch the statue!). What would King David think, if he was still around? ‘I fought off Goliath, and I have held this pose for more than 500 years, just to have you take a selfie in front of me?’

Early the next day was the Uffizi Gallery and Botticcelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera. Once again, the early birds caught the worm and we were virtually alone with these 15th Century masterpieces for a few precious minutes. Our relative solitude would soon change as the selfie-stick brigade came charging down the second floor hallway of the Uffizi. Yes, Venus standing on her sea-shell would serve as the mere background for the narcissists in the foreground.

Be sure to smile. Maybe Venus can even be in focus?

Behind the Iron Curtain

A little more than three decades ago, yours truly made his first trip overseas to Leonid Brezhnev’s Russia. PCs were just being mainstreamed by IBM in 1981. There were really no cell phones, let alone selfie sticks. We went into and out of the Soviet Union with no ways to communicate, other than postcards back home or an ultra-expensive KGB monitored phone call from the Intourist hotel.

During the course of this venture and subsequent pleasure and business trips to Europe and Asia, I always tried to concentrate on the dramatic change of scenery, the splendors of the Old World and the different cultures. It was about Russia, England, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Japan etc., and not about me … and I was fine with that.

The libertarian in me usually gravitates in the direction of personal freedom. At the same time, there is a global movement toward the banning of narcisticks including Disney parks, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, Mecca, Lake Tahoe and wisely … The Running of the Bulls at Pamplona (great selfie shot before being gored by angry Torro).selfiestickpamplona

Autzen Stadium in Eugene (e.g., “It never rains at Autzen Stadium”) has banned umbrellas. Why? They are potentially dangerous and they block views of Oregon touchdowns. As a 25-year season ticket holder, this ban makes sense. Besides it rarely rains that hard in Oregon.

Prohibiting selfie sticks in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles works for little ole me. According to Travel Advisor Tips, there are “17 grand arched windows facing Palace of Versailles gardens [which] are reflected in the 17 arches inlaid with 357 pieces of mirrors creating the effect of mesmerizing beauty.”

Three-hundred fifty-seven mirrors? Isn’t that enough for even the most dedicated narcissist?

Guess not. How would the narcissist’s friends “like” these pleasing reflections, if they cannot see them online? That simply will not do.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selfie_stick

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/sunday-review/what-selfie-sticks-really-tell-us-about-ourselves.html?_r=0

http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-11-04/no-selfies-social-media-bans-at-landmarks

http://artdaily.com/news/76962/More-bad-news-for-selfie-stick-lovers–Paris-museums-move-towards-ban-on-sticks#.VdzA3I2FNCo

http://www.traveladvisortips.com/palace-of-versailles-hall-of-mirrors-facts/

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/more-people-killed-selfies-shark-075732332.html#Gh74G2a

 

 

 

 

“This on-demand or so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.” – Hillary Clinton, July 13, 2015

“Big government liberals fundamentally can’t embrace digital innovation because it threatens the way they govern. They see car-sharing services as a threat to the local government taxi cab cartels. They see food trucks and Airbnb as a threat to urban planning and the tax and fee racket that they’ve imposed on brick and mortar restaurants and hotels.” – Jeb Bush, July 16, 2015 jebuber

How come one of the hottest IPO candidates, $50 billion estimated market-value Uber, has suddenly become a political piñata?

Maybe we should give privately held “unicorn” Uber a break? The company has not even commenced its roadshow to sell shares of Uber to the public, and yet it is caught in the middle of partisan crossfire.

Hillary didn’t even mention Uber and its $1 billion in annual revenues by name; she didn’t need too. Three days later, Jeb purposefully rode Uber around San Francisco to check out start-up Thumbtack, an on-demand provider via mobile technology for those looking for professionals from interior designers to dog walkers. Don’t worry: Jeb will not carry San Francisco, if he is the Republican nominee.uberphones

As The Economist described the issue here is the on-demand economy matching people with money and no time with people with time and no money. This is also a question of consumer choice between a cab and a private driver at a similar or even lower price. This is a question of deciding between a relatively expensive restaurant or a line of tempting food trucks (e.g., downtown Portland, Oregon), each specializing a particular cuisine for a reduced price. This is also the question of whether to stay in a standard hotel or motel or accessing Airbnb to find a guest room.

For the service provider, she or he can do the work they want, when they want to do it. The on-demand economy allows them to monetize an unused/underused asset (i.e., car, extra room, cooking talent). Does the on-demand economy make music for everyone? No, but conceivably it works for students wanting to supplement their income, young mothers needing a part-time job or the semi-retired wanting to re-engage in the marketplace and make some legal tender on the side.

The unifying characteristic of the on-demand economy is the ubiquitous smart phone used by 2 billion around the globe now, and expected to reach 4 billion users by the end of this decade or a brilliant device for more than half of the planet.

Translated: Potential customers with smart phones summon on-demand service they want, when they want it. They need a ride; they contact Uber or Lyft or Sidecar. Uber, a 2009 privately held start-up (now in 53 countries around the world), does the rest. Want a doctor within two hours, click on Medicast. Need a lawyer? Axiom is at your service. How about a contractor for a remodel? The Handy app is easy to find.

Uber: Net Plus or Net Minus? 

“Uber, a perfect example of how a disruptive technology can improve a formerly noncompetitive market, serves a real need in cities where taxis have taken advantage of riders for years.” – Washington Post lead editorial, July 20, 2015cabdriver

“Bashing Uber has become an industry in its own right; in some circles, though, applying its business model to any other service imaginable is even more popular.” – The Economist, There’s an app for that, January 3, 2015

Despite the positive features of this winning destructive technology, there are those in Washington D.C. and other bastions of the static quo that are threatened. According to The Economist, the number of temporary workers has doubled from 1.0 million to 2.0 million in the past 15 years, while private sector union membership has plunged from 12 percent in 1990 to about 6 percent now.

And there lies the rub for Hillary. Unions for obvious reasons are not thrilled with Uber and its on-demand economy, business-model followers. At the same time, Uber and its ilk appeal to Millennials, who realize the old rules don’t apply. They instinctively know this by examining the literally millions of desultory SOL Baby Boomers, who cannot or will not think out of the box.

The business model of the rust-belt factory with its long-term employment followed by a guaranteed company pension is broken. There is a life-and-death struggle underway between education and technology. What is needed to compete in the 21st Century economy is educational know-how/smarts to keep up and make technology your friend.

There are those who have services to provide and skills to offer and they use mobile technology to participate in the on-demand economy. There are an equal amount of consumers who want alternatives. On-demand companies do not offer perfection, but they do provide choices.

One of the two major parties will be pro-choice when it comes to destructive technologies, exploring and opening up new employment opportunities, particularly those with a young outlook on life. The other will look to the power of Big Brother to fight-off the relentless power of ones and zeroes of binary code.

When it comes to relentless destructive technologies: You can run, but you can’t hide.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/disrupting-washington-unleash-innovators-jeb-bush

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-calls-for-growth-and-fairness-economy-vows-wall-street-crackdown/2015/07/13/15d42d18-296b-11e5-a5ea-cf74396e59ec_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-uber-debate/2015/07/19/8f2623ba-2cae-11e5-a250-42bd812efc09_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/07/17/jeb-bush-wants-to-be-the-uber-candidate-heres-the-problem-with-that/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/business/an-uber-ipo-looms-and-suddenly-bankers-are-using-uber-coincidence.html?_r=0

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/the-worst-generation/

http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2015/07/uber-vs-laws-000172?hp=b1_c1

http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-1-progressives-0-1437607639

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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