Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tech Moments?

Is there such a thing as Technology-Induced Alzheimer’s (TIA)? Because I think I’ve got it and I’m pretty sure some of my friends show symptoms. Even more problematic, TIA seems to come in two forms. I think I have both.

Which button do I press?

The first is the refusal of your brain to remember how to do anything differently. I mastered the original remote controls for televisions and CD players. You had an on/off button, two channel buttons and two volume buttons. If you were going ‘high tech’, you also had a button that allowed you to choose between cable and CD player.

Remotes now look like they belong in a cockpit. There are still the original five buttons, but they are hidden among those allowing you to select a program guide, start/stop/fast forward/reverse a CD or DVD, select a channel by pressing button combinations, save channels you like, password protect channels, tilt your recliner to your preferred position, and ask if you would like a soft drink and popcorn.

Each time I babysit for my daughter and son-in-law, she has to show me where the ON button is on her TV remote since I get totally lost. Worse, they have three of the gadgets. At least now, when I babysit, she hides two of them.

The other form of TIA is the inability to remember how things got done before technology. I’ve been caught sitting in the driver’s seat of someone else’s car and been asked why I hadn’t started it up. Was something wrong? No, I was patiently waiting for the seat to move to my preset preferences. Oh, right, that only works in my own car.

I remember having to pass a test on reading PAPER maps before I could get my original driving license. I’m sure I couldn’t even fold one back up now. Heaven forbid that I have to remember how to adjust outside rearview mirrors manually!

My most embarrassing TIA moment was standing behind a set of doors waiting for the automatic door opener to open the doors. This experience was enhanced when I mentioned to my daughter that stores should put signs on non-working doors. She seemed to enjoy informing me it wasn’t an automatic door. 

So, what do you think? Is there technology induced Alzheimer’s? We’d love to hear your stories.

Carol Smith
Training Manager

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The Technology Shift

Have you noticed the major shift in technology that is happening before our very eyes? I’m talking about the way our well-established method of doing things is changing. Take cell phones for instance. Over the past couple of decades, the process has been to: select a carrier, pick your phone, and lock into the two-year contract of your choice. That pattern has been such a routine for us that we never considered anything else.

Our parents and grandparents who we thought were technologically backwards by purchasing their TracFones have turned out to be the true geniuses as we are now seeing people leaving the mainstream contract plans by the thousands to move toward the no-contract on-ramp to cellular service. We have seen the rise of companies such as Straight Talk and Net 10 – to name two – who offer the opportunity to buy into their phone service by use of pre-paid cards. There is no longer the fear of hidden fees or overages, especially with the unlimited talk, text, and data services that can be easily obtained. And you can walk away at any time with no early termination fees. The contract giants have awakened to this shift and are now taking another look at the way they do business. Time will tell where this will lead.

Look also at how the Internet has shifted the way we think about television programming. Our cable and satellite providers who have traditionally offered us packages of channels that we may or may not want or need, all for a set monthly fee, now have to deal with competition rising by services such as Netflix and Amazon for streaming content. We can now pick and choose what we want to watch… and when.

Recently, we saw the music industry scales shift. We’ve crossed that 50/50 line and now see more music sold by download than by physical CDs. As this shift has gained ground, we’ve seen many record stores go out of business. The same shift is happening to books and e-readers (as reported by our Chrissy Le a while back). We’ve seen the once-giant Borders stores (and others) go the way of so many record stores.

Where is this all heading? Are our brick and mortar local businesses in danger of extinction? The key to longevity is for the local business to be able to adapt to these changes and always be thinking ahead. Creativity is a key to success. The revitalization of our downtown sectors as a place for the social shopping experience has helped to bring us back from this online shift.

We see a rise of the arts within our communities. Photography, painting, and hand-crafted items are creating a draw back into the cities that were once so vibrant. Add to this the popularity of the local coffee shops and cafes and you can see that people still want to support their local communities. These successful entities are realizing the technological shift and meet it head-on by offering free Wi-Fi and other relevant options to their customers.

Service is also a key toward local longevity. At CS Technologies Plus, we realize that people can go online to order computers. But thankfully, people still value the personal guidance, education, and service that are offered at the local business. Many of our local businesses continue to thrive because of the positive reputation they have for service.

The technology shift is here and now. But, we don’t have to fear it! We encourage you to support your local businesses for the personal touch they have to offer and to help keep your community strong. Likewise, we encourage our local business community to be constantly adapting to this new shifting reality. As we creatively meet this challenge, we may even find we are setting the trend for other communities to follow. Together (consumer and vendor), we can see our local communities continue to thrive.

See you in town!

Randy Kightlinger

Computer Service Technician

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More than Gaming

When news media talk about computers/smart phones/tablets/etc. it’s usually a discussion surrounding one of two topics: 1) games or 2) virus issues. I have rarely listened to a news report that highlighted personal benefits of these devices. So I conducted a mini-survey to find out if there was at least one non-entertainment benefit to computing. I found a huge one: Genealogy.

My source has been researching her family for a good 30 years. When I asked her if having a computer helped her with her research, she started laughing. In the past, she spent weekends travelling to libraries, courthouses, and cemeteries. She would pack a lunch and head out. Her excursions often took her to Harrisburg, Washington D.C., and neighboring counties or states. There was no guarantee of success.

When I asked her how technology has changed this, she said that people interested in genealogical research have taken it upon themselves to make local records available online. Her research costs have dropped considerably and time-per-success ratio also improved.

The jackpot is all the federal information now online, starting with the US Census records. They are available from 1790 to (as of this week) 1940. Depending on the census being taken at the time, it can be a treasure trove of information. Civil War/WWI/WWI draft and/or service records and some ship passenger lists can be tracked down online and paper copies of the data ordered.

There are genealogical websites that provide subscribers with the ability to create their family trees, (complete with photographs and historic documents), as well as conduct research through online documents and post ‘looking for’ messages. In addition, you can sign up for access to world-wide family records. If it’s a public document, it is (or will be) online.

One of her favorite things is the connections she made with other people who are involved in the same or similar research. She still does a lot of travelling, but instead of research, it’s usually to take pictures of headstones, residences or records she has tracked down online. As she said, “Genealogy used to be limited to family bibles or Historical Societies.  That’s not the case anymore.”

Your comments and 0ngoing discussions are always welcome.

Carol Smith, Training Manager

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Case Study: Tech in the Church

This weekend, churchgoers around the world will be flocking to their local houses of worship for the annual Easter Sunday service. This is the most-well-attended service of the year for the Christian church and a growing number of churches have expanded their use of technology in a big way with the integration of computer and projection systems. That means that this year’s Easter service will look much different than the service of our youth. As with most other applications of technology, video projection systems in the church are there to enhance the worship experience. Technology should never be a distraction, but rather should be a tool that is used to aid the delivery of the presentation in such a way as to almost disappear from the forefront of our minds. The key is to draw attention to the message and not the technology. This is true for the church, for the college classroom, for the Wall Street boardroom, and for most other applications of technology.

Think about it. When was the last time you picked up your television’s remote control, held it in your hand and just marveled at the awesomeness of that piece of technology? We don’t do that. We pick up that tool and use it for its purpose without giving thought to how it works. The technology disappears as long as it is performing the duty for which it was created; to find us an episode of American Pickers we haven’t yet seen… or maybe that’s just me.

The purpose of projection technology in the church is to eliminate as many distractions as possible in an effort to allow the worshiper to focus on the singular object of their worship rather than anything else. Think about it; the words projected on the screen with a relevant illustrative background even eliminates the distraction of finding the hymnal in the pew in front of you and leafing through to find page 435 before the worship leader begins to sing. Many churches are installing a second (or third) screen on the back wall of the sanctuary so that the worship band and choir can sing without having to keep their eyes in a songbook.

These projection systems are also handy for the pre-service announcements, for slide shows of the youth group’s recent mission trip, for video clips to help illustrate the pastor’s sermon, attention-holders for the kids at Vacation Bible School, and much more.

While Microsoft PowerPoint could arguably be declared the software of choice for the business and educational communities, there are some worship presentation packages available that are purpose-built specifically for the church setting. Software such as MediaShout (www.mediashout.com) and Song Show Plus (www.songshowplus.com) have become invaluable tools for thousands of churches. What makes these packages attractive to churches is the “extras” they include that are geared specifically toward worship. For instance, they ship with a built-in song library and offer the opportunity to expand on the number of songs that come included. Another useful tool is the integration of the Bible. A pastor can mention a particular Scripture reference in a sermon and by the time he turns there in his Bible, the MediaShout operator can have that verse on the screen for all to read along. It literally takes just a few seconds to find chapter and verse and “fire” (MediaShout’s terminology) it to the screen.

One very useful feature of these worship applications is that they are built for a dual monitor system, meaning that the operator has a control screen that is separate from what is displayed on the screen for the congregants to see. This feature is extremely useful as worship leaders sometimes change the pre-arranged order of the songs. As the Spirit leads, for instance, they may decide to go back to do a verse of a song again. This does not present a problem for the operator as all of the slides for a song are presented in a list form along the edge of her screen. She simply selects the appropriate slide and fires it to the screen. This all takes place in less time than it took for you to read about it.

Next time you go to a church that uses a projection system for worship, take a few moments after the service and ask the operator to give you a tour. Most would be happy to oblige.

Happy Easter!

Randy Kightlinger

Computer Service Technician… and Pastor

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