It’s About Time

9A7B8094-A95E-4AB9-B754-B5DBF31A9A1BWhat time does the clock in the above image say? Can you read it? Of course you can.

I was watching “Jimmy Kimmel Live” the other day. Well, I wasn’t actually watching it live. I was watching it from my DVR recording. But either way, I was struck by a segment where one of his staff went out on the street and asked a number of kids, some as old as teenagers, to look at an image of an analog clock and say what time was on the clock. Remarkably, only one of the those asked could do it.

Along those lines, I read about a recent study that showed that only one in ten Oklahoma City kids ages 6 to 12 owned an analog watch. And only one in five knew how to read one.

I also just read that British schools are replacing analog clocks with digital clocks because of students’ inability to read the analog ones. The deputy general secretary at Britain’s Association of School and College Leaders said, “The current generation isn’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations are.”

What is going on? I remember a few years back when a number of school systems were dropping the teaching of cursive from their curricula. The rationale was that people today don’t bother to write and mail handwritten letters. Instead, they sit behind their computers, at their laptops, or on their smartphones and type emails, send text messages, or post all kinds of, um, fascinating tidbits on Facebook or Twitter.

And yes, I admitted in my post earlier today, that my cursive is so illegible that I don’t handwrite letters anymore either. But does that mean we should abandon teaching cursive handwriting to our kids?

And now they’re talking about removing analog clocks from schools and ceasing to teach kids how to read them? Hey, I have an Apple Watch, but the watch face I use is an analog face. Because when I’m looking at my watch, it’s more often to tell what time it’s not than what time it is.

If teaching cursive and how to read analog clocks in school are wastes of time because people no longer write in longhand and because they use digital clocks, perhaps schools should stop teaching math, as well. Doesn’t just about everyone use calculators to add, subtract, divide, and multiply? Even smartphones have built-in calculators. And since everyone is so adept at using keyboards and computers, can’t we just teach students how to use Excel to perform a wide variety of sophisticated mathematical functions?  Who needs to learn math?

In fact, perhaps schools and teachers are obsolete. All anyone needs to know is how to Google. From there they can get answers to virtually any question, information about any topic, and even self-help, do-it-yourself instructions for just about any project.

And if they can’t find what they’re looking for on Google, they can always text someone.

X is for Xerox

C440682F-B7BA-4294-B626-95A02534D7B9One of my earliest jobs was working at a facility that fulfilled requests for scientific and technical document published by NASA. I worked the 4 pm to midnight shift, since I was going to college full-time during the day. My title was “reprographer” and my job was to stand in front of a Xerox machine making copies of lengthy NASA documents by photocopying them one page at a time. What fun, right?

You remember Xerox, right? Xerox is the brand that for decades dominated the photocopying hardware market. No respectable office didn’t have at least one Xerox machine and many businesses depended upon Xerox copiers to help them manage their enormous flow of documents. The name Xerox eventually became a synonym for photocopy. So ubiquitous were Xerox machines that the brand name became a verb, as in “Will you Xerox this for me?”

With today’s technologies, the need to make physical, paper copies of documents has almost disappeared. In those cases where a printed document is required, you just print off a paper version of an electronic document by sending it to your printer. And if you need multiple copies, you print as many as you need. So there is very little need these days for standalone copiers.

According to the New York Times, Xerox fell into something called a “competency trap.” It got so good at copy machines and printers that it eventually fell short on its efforts to do anything else.

“Xerox is the poster child for monopoly technology businesses that cannot make the transition to a new generation of technology,” Harvard Business School’s David B. Yoffie told the New York Times.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Earlier this year, Xerox lost its identity as an independent company when it was essentially absorbed by Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp.

I’ve been retired since the end of 2016, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a Xerox-branded copy machine in a business office. Can you?

IRS Hacked?

Just a few hours before today’s 2018 tax filing deadline, the e-filing system went offline.

Interestingly, the message below is what shows up when you go to the IRS website to try to file and make payments.

img_1233-3.jpgNotice that it’s identified as a “planned outage” that runs through December 31, 9999. Obviously that’s a typo. If you read the body of the message, it says the planned outage will run through September 22, 2016. Which is much better. That means that the outage is scheduled to end approximately 19 month’s before it started. Problem solved, right?

The IRS did not have an immediate explanation for the failure. However, IRS Acting Commissioner David Kautter testified during a House Oversight Hearing today that a number of systems are down at the moment and that they are working to resolve the issue.

I blame Russian hackers. I just wish they would have given me some advanced notice. I filed my taxes on Friday and my electronic payments have already been processed.

Thanks a lot, Vladimir.

One-Liner Wednesday — Oops

2734403E-ED27-411D-B266-228B3FA96488“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder, president, and chairman of Digital Equipment Corporation (aka, DEC), said he didn’t believe that people would ever need to have computers in their homes.

This bit of extraordinarily misguided foresight may explain why Digital Equipment Corporation is a business enterprise that no longer exists.

21 years after Olsen’s misguided prognostication, Compaq Computer acquired Digital, parts of which were purchased by Intel. And then, in 2002, Compaq disappeared when it merged with Hewlett-Packard (HP).

E64A6B1A-F375-44AF-AA07-75C6EE360249In a similar example of company-killing CEO miscalculation, in 2003, Mike Lazardis, co-chief executive and co-chairman of Research In Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, said, “Cameraphones will be rejected by corporate users.”

At the time Lazardis said that, the BlackBerry was the first, most well-integrated, and most secure smartphone solution in the world. And within a few years the BlackBerry device owned the smartphone market, earning the nickname “Crackberry” because users — predominantly business people — became so addicted to them.

But everything changed in 2007 when Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPhone. Suddenly using a smartphone to take snapshots and to browse the web became smartphone requirements. And by 2012, the BlackBerry was barely a blip on the smartphone radar screen.

So much for the prescience of once powerful and well-respected tech CEOs Ken Olsen and Mike Lazardis.

Written for today’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt from Linda G Hill.


I Don’t Do Twitter

img_0928I don’t do Twitter. The closest to writing a tweet is once a week when Kat Myrman posts her Twittering Tales prompt. She shows us a picture and asks us to post about that picture using 280 or fewer characters. Not words, characters.

And you know what? It’s damn hard to articulately express intelligent, meaningful, and coherent thoughts in just 280 characters, including spaces and punctuation. It takes a lot of patience.

And speaking about patience, please be patient with me if you are a Twitter fan. I don’t have a Twitter account. So you may want to take my observations about Twitter and its users with a grain of salt. My opinions are based upon what I’ve read and heard about what others have tweeted, and the most likely reason I’ve read or heard about such tweets is because they’re so outrageous.

And that brings me to my impression that people tend to post the dumbest, most incoherent, and nastiest comments on Twitter. No offense to those of you who love Twitter. No doubt you are the exceptions and your tweets are intelligent, coherent, and articulate.

Still, how many times have you read or heard about a tweet from Donald Trump (the tweeter-in-chief) that causes you to do a facepalm? Or to just shake your head in disbelief?

And it’s not just Trump. So many people — from members of his administration to other politicians to movie stars and TV personalities — have tweeted such stupid, thoughtless, nasty, and/or incoherent tweets that they end up having to apologize, delete their stupid tweets, or walk them back. It’s a medium tailor made for people to post stupid things.

Because, it seems to me, many Twitter users tweet first and think later. For some reason, they feel that time is of the essence and it’s more important to get it out fast than to take their time to write something intelligent, articulate, and thoughtful. If that’s even possible in 280 characters.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that all Twitter users are stupid, mean-spirited, and thoughtless. But Twitter does seem to attract many who are.

Maybe I’m wrong. If you are someone who uses Twitter, maybe you can help me understand why Twitter even exists. What need does it serve?

Anyway, this is why I don’t do Twitter.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “patience.”