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Tech’s next logical step

In Business, Economy, Entertainment, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Science, Technology on September 15, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs Apple releases details on the next iPhone (number 7), some changes in the product have met with mixed reviews. The main point of contention is Apple’s decision to do away with the headphone jack, partly in an effort to waterproof the device, a fault that users have complained about for years. But another obvious reason was to force consumers to purchase expensive Bluetooth, wireless ear buds.

Whatever the purpose, major changes in technology have always given pause. As consumers, we hate change. We like what we like and it needs to remain as we remember it. The white, wired headphones have been a symbol of the Apple device culture since the iPod burst on the scene in 2001.

A natural progression from the success Sony experienced in the 1980s with the Walkman, the iPod kept Apple from bankruptcy and ushered in a new era of personal technology. The times change and technology changes with it.

Just to make the point, let’s not forget that earlier this year, the last VCR rolled off the assembly line and into the history books.

Technological innovation is driven by a host of influencers, from government research to the demands of the consumer. A company like Apple has great pressure on it to be innovative but can’t always hit the mark. The Apple Watch is a good example of this kind of fluid change in consumer following.

When it debuted, the wearable tech was going to revolutionize how we use smart phones, monitor our health and more. But even now, it has underperformed in almost every way, especially in sales. Either the public wasn’t ready for it, or the device wasn’t robust enough for the consumer.

Of course, Apple has tried to respond to complaints regarding the watch, issuing updates and several changes to the next model, but it may be too little too late. Or, it’s entirely possible, the gadget just isn’t going to fly, and that happens sometimes.

vm700_manualIn the 80s, the Commodore 64 and the Apple II were the pinnacle of home technology, offering games, word processing and the first glimpses into what we now know as social media. Today, a smarter phone and thinner tablet seem to be the highest demand consumer technology, with better Internet connection and more apps being the selling points.

So where are things headed next? That’s a good question and every major tech company in the world would pay big bucks to whoever could tell them. But, barring a psychic hotline with a beam into the future of the next iPhone or Kindle Fire, it’s a coin toss.

While innovation is the goal, the consumer is a fickle mistress. Developers always proceed with a best guess combination of “this is what would be great tech,” “since they like this, they should like that,” and “let’s just build it and see what happens.” There’s really no way to tell.

During my days in tech, I worked in the programming side, watching companies like CompuServe and AOL amass the fortunes of Midas and then sliding down the hill of obsolescence in a relatively short period of time. But, here’s my educated guess, in case you’re wondering.

Television is still king of advertising and, to capitalize more on that, it will become more mobile soon as well, allowing you to watch live TV over your cell phone with a digital receiver transmitted via your wireless carrier. Wireless cellular companies are going to have to step up their game, in both speed and bandwidth.

I work with a lot of Apple products in my career, but I think that the iPhone is about to be dethroned as the hippest, coolest thing on the market. Partly because the iPhone 7 really has no major innovations and the cost seems to keep going up. That said, every device manufacturer must stay ahead of the game with better operating systems and app availability.

My forecasts here could be totally off the mark. But, whatever happens, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep up with the times. There are endless possibilities, but you need to have patience and be open-minded about change.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

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What does Labor Day mean to you?

In Business, history, Holiday, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 31, 2016 at 9:00 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The American Labor Day holiday was first organized and celebrated by the Central Labor Union in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Two year later, as the idea spread to celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday,” the union selected the first Monday in September to be the official, common date.

All across the country, industrial centers began holding celebrations of their own, following general guidelines set in the first proposal of the holiday. Each would include a street parade, a festival and amusements all for the enjoyment of the workers and their families.

labor day photo

Photo Courtesy US Department of Labor.

The legislation that established Labor Day as a legal holiday was passed on February 21, 1887 in the state of Oregon and four more states followed suit that same year. There is some dispute, even a century later, as to who was the actual “founder” of the holiday, but that should be left to your own research.
For most modern Americans, Labor Day is just another day off and a last break to end summer. But it should still be held as a celebration of the working class who build our streets, run our factories, and keep the infrastructure of America up and running.

When I think of Labor Day, I think of those in my family who worked long, exhausting hours with low pay and virtually no benefits or vacation time. Many worked at National Cash Register (NCR) in Dayton, Ohio. In fact, my father worked there during the 1950s and 60s for a whopping $1.50 per hour (around $9 in today’s money), and that was some 30 cents higher than the minimum wage at the time.

In my opinion, hard work is something a lot of modern Americans today seem to be allergic to, for lack of a better description. Our information-driven economy has many of us office-bound, tied to a desk and a computer screen rarely to experience the kind of manual work necessary at the turn of the century when the Labor Day holiday first started.

Constant complaints about how immigrants “take” the jobs of Americans are unfounded, to say the least. Those jobs are always available but no one seems to want them – they’re hard. Immigrants looking for a home in the Land of the Free simply appear to be more willing to work, taking any job necessary to provide for their families. America was built on this kind of fortitude and it should be admired.

Instead of being so closed-minded Americans should be more appreciative that someone is still willing to work hard without complaint, day in and day out, to the benefit of the rest of us. Papers or not, any person willing to work hard in this country and benefit the greater good is an American.

I come from a long line of hard workers. There was no privilege in any branch of my family and I mean absolutely none. My ancestors and immediate family were factory workers, truck drivers, farmers, coal miners, and a host of other grueling occupations. To me, Labor Day is a day to salute my own heritage and a way to be thankful that my family saw fit to encourage me to go to college and pursue my own interests.

But I was not coddled nor did I have it easy. I paid for my own education. I drove a truck for my dad, worked in a plastics factory, swept floors, worked in a tire and auto repair shop, and helped manage our farm and livestock. Without those experiences, I’d be a very different person and I’m grateful for them. I still do that kind of work on occasion, but, gratefully, I don’t have to depend on it for my livelihood and I have the utmost respect for those who do.

So this Labor Day, regardless of your occupation, income or professional position, consider those who might have it tougher or may not have the same privileges. Labor Day celebrates all workers, but the highest tribute should go to those who do the hardest work and continue to maintain the standard of living for Americans in all walks of life.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Star Trek: Beyond, a fitting 50th tribute

In Entertainment, Media, Movies, Opinion, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on August 8, 2016 at 9:14 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIn 2009, Paramount Pictures released “Star Trek,” a modern, big screen, retelling of the classic science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry. Directed by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the film offered fans an alternate beginning to the life of Captain James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine.

Abrams’ take on nearly a half-century of Trek lore angered a good portion of the fan base. In this first foray into Trekkie land, he managed to hit the delete key on some very important story canon. And, just to make the point that he could do whatever he wanted with the franchise, in the second film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, he did it again.

This time, he brought back Khan (played by “Sherlock’s” Benedict Cumberbatch), Kirk’s nemesis from the original series and again in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Since the origins of Kirk and company were altered, the Enterprise didn’t stumble upon Khan’s derelict spacecraft as it did originally, but ended up fighting him anyway thanks to a power-mad Starfleet admiral.

Once again, fans reeled. As a fan myself, my opinion is that it was a terrible film. It was a bad copy of the first Star Trek II (now that’s not confusing is it?). So where would they boldy go next? Well, fortunately, with Abrams having been snatched up by Disney to take over the Star Wars world, they needed new leadership.

When the first Abrams Trek was released, I had the privilege of reviewing it for my hometown newspaper. While I enjoyed the film, I, like many of my fellow fans, found it lacking a “Star Trek” feel. It was more action and less “human.” I could live with the alternate universe concept, after all, it’s “Star Trek” and you can do anything you want with it. But the complete disregard for the character-driven humanity that Roddenberry injected into the franchise in favor of a nauseating level of lens flare and CGI effects was a bit much for me.

Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Star Trek: Beyond   Photo Courtesy MovieWeb.

Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Star Trek: Beyond Photo Courtesy MovieWeb.

This summer, Paramount released the third in the alternate Trek series, “Star Trek: Beyond.” And, in my humble opinion as a lifelong fan, this time they got it right. Co-written by Simon Pegg, who plays “Scotty” in the films, “Beyond” offers more of what “Star Trek” is famous for – the human struggle to achieve and make a difference.

With numerous nods to the original by way of images, original series dialogue and character interactions, “Beyond” is the first in this series to make this fan actually want to see it again – and again. It’s just a fun movie. It’s “Star Trek” again, well, almost.

As good as it is, “Star Trek: Beyond” still lacks something, but we can’t have Shatner and Nimoy back on the bridge. Nor can we go home to the comfortable captain’s chairs of the 1980s feature films. But, with a fourth film already given a green light and a new TV series set for streaming video in 2017, “Star Trek” may have finally found its second wind.

I’m still in favor of J.J. keeping his director’s chair over at Lucasfilm and staying away from the Starfleet world indefinitely. He just doesn’t get it. Not that I really think he gets “Star Wars” either, but I don’t care as much about that.

To me, “Star Trek” is not space fantasy, but science fiction in the best sense. It offers a positive vision of our future and suggests that we can be better people, that humanity is worth saving and any film or TV versions from here on should perpetuate that concept

With the passing last year of Leonard Nimoy (Spock prime) and the recent tragic death of Anton Yelchin (Checkov), this film could have been a painful reminder of loss. Fortunately, “Star Trek: Beyond” is a wonderful tribute to original Enterprise crew, all of whom get a quick photographic cameo, and it’s a fitting celebration of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary. I’ll be seeing it again for sure, and so should you. Live long, and prosper.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.