Tecnológicas Claves Post-Pandemia

Cómo Adaptarse a la Vida Despuės de Covid-19

Por Valentina Riera; © 2022

Post-pandemic business reopening
Post-pandemic business reopening
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En muchos casos, los tiempos de crisis son sinónimos de innovación, y la crisis del COVID-19 no es una excepción. No solo ha alterado la forma en la que trabajamos y vivimos, sino que ha puesto en evidencia la importancia de la preparación digital con la aparición de nuevas tecnologías que han hecho que las empresas se vean en la obligación de adaptarse rápidamente. A raíz de esto, muchas de las compañías han cambiado la forma en que se propósito de la inteligencia artificial es crear máquinas que muestren las mismas capacidades que los seres humanos. Pero no se refiere solamente en un sentido figurado, sino que muchas empresas y líderes empresariales están utilizando sistemas de inteligencia artificial para guiar la toma de decisiones, la resolución de problemas y aprendizaje.



Realidad Virtual

Puede parecer una tecnología muy futurista, pero la verdad es que está muy integrada en nuestro día a día. Estar encerrados durante un par de meses hizo que muchas personas empezaran a utilizar equipos de realidad virtual para satisfacer sus necesidades de interacción social: videojuegos, programas de entrenamiento, turismo virtual, entre otras aplicaciones.

Pero no solo los ciudadanos lo han estado utilizando, sino que también han sido las empresas quienes la han estado probando para reuniones, colaboraciones, conferencias y como una herramienta para comunicarse con sus empleados. 



Redes 5G

El concepto de 5G hace referencia a la quinta generación de redes móviles que conocemos. Estas redes nos permitiran la conectividad de distancia cero entre la gente y los dispositivos de una manera mucho más rápida. Cada vez estamos más cerca de que se convierta en una realidad y en el futuro de la comunicación. 

Esta tecnología va a revolucionar todo el sector móvil y parece ser que la pandemia ha avanzado mucho este proceso. Además, también posibilitará que los objetos de uso diario como, por ejemplo, las neveras puedan conectarse en tiempo real y desde tu dispositivo móvil controlarlo.

Tecnología Blockchain

El blockchain es aquel conjunto de tecnologías que permiten almacenar datos de cualquier tipo llevando un registro seguro, descentralizado y sincronizado sin necesidad de un tercer intermediario. Es el usuario quien tiene el control del proceso.



Una crisis puede llevar a la innovación, pero también poner en evidencia las carencias generalizadas con respecto a estas tecnologías y esto es lo que ha pasado con la pandemia que ha puesto de manifiesto la falta en materia de conectividad y de posibilidades de intercambio de las cadenas actuales de suministro globales.

El Internet de Las Cosas (IOT)

El Internet de las cosas describe el conjunto de objetos físicos cotidianos que llevan incorporado softwares, sensores, entre otras cosas, con la finalidad de conectarse con otros dispositivos. Desde bombillas de luz, hasta máquinas médicas para poder salvar vidas.

El IOT nos permitirá pronosticar y resolver problemas de salud a través de dispensadores de medicamentos inteligentes, direcciones IP para que los médicos puedan acceder a cada parte vital de nuestro cuerpo o hasta predecir si lo que estamos comiendo está en buen estado o no gracias a tenedores inteligentes.

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Sobre el Webmaster:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ambient Smart Wi-Fi Weather Station

Model WS-2902C WiFi Product Review

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
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So, this Ambient Weather Wi-Fi Smart Weather Station is my latest project. I’ve always been interested in weather conditions and here in South Texas it’s always a good thing to stay informed of. I do a lot of running and dog-walking so knowing how to dress before venturing outside is always a good idea. It gives me a bit more freedom as I go about my day.

I bought it from Amazon.com. Yes, Walmart sells small sensor units, of which I have had one for years. It was just time to ramp up my game. This model is mid-range in price for Ambient stations, but it does everything I need it to do. For example, knowing how barometric pressure works is imperative; I do live in a hurricane zone.



Weather Station Installation

Right out of the box, putting this gadget together is a simple task. Just a few basic assembly steps and viola! You will need to procure and put up a mounting pole. I used:

  • A 10′ length of electrical conduit, about $10 at Home Depot.
  • A post-hole digger.
  • About 4 cups of Quikrete. No mixing, just pour it into the hole and pour water over it. This is definitely DIY concrete, mixing not required.

Ambient Features

  • It comes with the unit and a tablet-sized display console suitable for setting on your desk or table or mounting on the wall.
  • Solar-powered.
  • Wireless all-in-one integrated sensor array measures wind speed/direction, temperature (indoor/outdoor), humidity (indoor/outdoor), rainfall, UV and solar radiation, barometric pressure, time and date.
  • Supports both imperial and metric units of measure with calibration available.
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity option that enables your station to transmit its data wirelessly to the world’s largest personal weather station network.


Predicting weather with the barometer
Predicting weather with the barometer

Do I recommend this Ambient Weather Smart Weather Station? Yes, I do. For my purposes the data reported is all that I could ask for. Assembly was easy, about an hour and a half including installing the pole mount. Finally (for a very rare occurrence with today’s products), the instruction booklet is comprehensive and detailed.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

The History of Cancel Culture

History and Present-Day Deniers Seek to Modify Society, Generally to Totalitarian Class-Specific Ends

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Nazi book burning; an act of cancel culture
Nazi book burning; an act of cancel culture
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What does the term “cancel culture” mean today? Dictionary.com says it is, “the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions: Cancel culture can ruin careers, but it can also make a public figure think twice before posting controversial comments,” and “the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions: Cancel culture can ruin careers, but it can also make a public figure think twice before posting controversial comments.1

So, you should be concerned, very concerned. We have this “new face” of this form of social engineering and revisionist history, but consider this tidbit from the World War II-era:

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian opposing the Nazi rise to power

History of Cancel Culture

It has always been used by the powerful to control and isolate the elements of society that they disapproved of. Ironically, today the tables have been somewhat turned via the tools of the internet and social media in particular. Fake news is a particularly efficient vehicle. Here are some examples from a historical perspective.

Where did it all start? Most likely it has been with us from the beginning when a caveman was ostracized from the group for some slight or inability to contribute to the survival of the group. As historically documented though, American Thinker tells us, “Cancel culture has its roots in intolerance dating back to the French Revolution (1789-1794), when Robespierre’s Reign of Terror resulted in some 30,000 deaths — a period accompanied by a concerted effort to erase and destroy Christianity and its traditions and institutions.  The culmination of that phase of the French Revolution was marked by the regimes’ installation of a prostitute as head of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  With that affront to decency and elimination of God, Robespierre and his successors thought they could rule without moral constraints. “2



Russia introduced a kind of Photoshop mentality to the concept. As the head of Red Army, Leon Trotsky was instrumental in making the communist revolution come to fruition for Vladimir Lenin, and for his successor Stalin after the former died in 1924.  However, by 1927, Stalin had purged Trotsky from the now-powerful Communist Party and Soviet politics. He expelled him from the country in 1929. Then Stalin assembled a team to erase all photographs as well as references to Trotsky in each and every historical record. When the order ultimately went out to have him assassinated years later, the cancellation had been done and there was hardly an official record or photograph left showing that Trotsky ever even graced Russia with his presence.

China was hardly different. Mao Zedong’s communist revolution was founded on historical determinism. This was a fundamental tenet of this flavor of Marxism that required the cancellation of past history and the subordination of its citizens to the collective identity of the communist state. During the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, Mao instructed his Red Guards to unify the country’s populace to cancel and rid itself of what he held to be the so-called “Four Olds”: Old customs, Old culture, Old habits, and Old ideas. The result was devastating, with Chinese people turning on each other and confused, brainwashed youth betraying their own siblings parents, and grandparents. At the end of it all, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Chinese Cultural Revolution were responsible for at least 40 million deaths, both those for which Mao was ultimately responsible and those that sprung from the draconian, disastrous policies he obstinately refused to change.



The Current American Cancel Culture

Until recently, most Americans were rolling right along, prospering financially, advancing technologically, and seemingly happy as the proverbial clam. All was not so with the government apparatchiks in Washington. The mainstream media, in their own bellicose style, were alternately promoting the far-left agenda, and “reporting” (rather, chopped, pressed, and formed; just like your favorite pseudo-food) events with such a spin that fact-checkers couldn’t keep up. No matter, the fact-checkers in their employ were hardly non-partisan anyway. Classic smoke and mirrors.

Black Lives Matter and Antifa entered the fray, orchestrating and participating in “peaceful” rioting, looting, destruction of both public and private property, and mercilessly beating anyone wearing a red MAGA hat. Others eagerly began to participate. Colin Kaepernick fanned the flames of the abolish-the-police faction of the movement with his infamous pig socks which he gladly flaunted to the press. Nike corporate capitulated and responded by signing him as their flagship lackey. College students were rallied in their legions by progressive tenured professors who had been roused from the slumber of their dotage by all the hoopla. The stage having been set, the left began making damnfools of corporate America and dismantling or renaming (taming) these icons of industry:

  1. The Muppets. Inanimate puppets which PBS saw as racially diverse are now seen by the far left as insulting. How does one meander further left than PBS?
  2. Aunt Jemima. Because you have to slave over a hot stove to get those pancakes out.
  3. Mrs. Butterworth’s. The same as her colleague Jemima but with the added slur of using a pronoun that is not LGBT-approved. Also, “Mrs.” rather than “Ms” is supportive of the ersatz concept of patriarchy.
  4. Uncle Ben’s Rice. Lawd no!
  5. Cream of Wheat. There’s a tiny picture of a Chef-of-Color on the box. Real black men aren’t stereotypical cooks unless it’s barbecue in a beer ad.
  6. Eskimo Pies. I get it — Associating indigenous peoples with a frozen confection is racist.
  7. Land O’ Lakes Butter. Lose the Indian maiden logo; alert all dictionary publishers to red-line the word “squaw.”
  8. Gone With the Wind. No longer a valid historical drama and brilliant cinemagraphic presentation because it not only portrays not only slaves-of-color but female slaves-of-color. You damn misogynistic bigots! Two strikes, damn your eyes!
  9. Cleveland Indians baseball team mascot. Because they don’t win enough?
  10. Washington Redskins team mascot. See number 9.
  11. Mr. Potato Head. Just because of the pronoun “Mr.” Company representatives actually said they didn’t want to limit its gender choices. #tubersaregenderfree
  12. Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. They are saying it’s because he’s a bully. The way I remember it, he was the one excluded from the reindeer games and therefore, the victim. Besides not even getting the story line straight before passing judgement, it’s fiction, you progressive bullies!
  13. Dr. Seus. Oh, for crying out loud. They say the author may have had some racist tendencies which he evolved from post-puberty. When in doubt, pillory and convict.

Did Speaker of the House Pelosi Attempt to Cancel Trump in Violation of the U.S. Constitution?

Judicial Watch, a constitutional watchdog group working in the public interest, has filed a FOIA suit against the U.S. Department of Defense for records of Pelosi’s January 8, 2021, telephone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense (No 1:21-cv-00593)3 to answer this question.

At the heart of the matter is a phone call that Speaker of the House Pelosi made to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley regarding President Trump. She acknowledges that the call was “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.”

The problem, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page sees it is, “Mrs. Pelosi’s call to Gen. Milley is itself a violation of the separation of powers by seeking to inject herself into an executive-branch military decision. She can offer advice all she wants, but this call at this time has the sound of an order. It might even be construed by some as its own little coup—conniving with the military to relieve of command the person who remains the elected President.”4

Did the CDC Communicate with Big Tech about COVID-19?

Big Tech has taken upon itself the mantle of Ministry of Health Truth by censoring users and doctors with which its opinions disagree. It demands that everyone march in lockstep. To what extent has the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) been involved in this?

Judicial Watch has filed another lawsuit to get to the bottom of this to which they say, “The public has the right to know about CDC’s involvement in Big Tech’s outrageous censorship of Americans, including doctors, who raise questions about the COVID-19 response. The Biden administration should stop stonewalling and release the records about the CDC’s role in suppressing the free speech of Americans.”

The bottom line is that the history of cancel culture and denial of truth is as old as mankind itself but is perhaps more dangerous today than it has ever been. Totalitarianism? Do you think it can’t happen here? The very fact that so many people are willing to accept erasing and banning from society something as mundane as a cartoon character because a manipulative minority finds it offensive (or contrary to a radical political agenda) speaks volumes. Inevitably, the pendulum swings, as it always does.


Further Reading


Resources

  1. Dictionary.com, Definition of Cancel Culture, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/cancel-culture?s=t
  2. Scott S. Powell, American Thinker, Cancel Culture: Its Origins and Implications for America, https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2021/03/cancel_culture_its_origins_and_implications_for_america.html
  3. Judicial Watch, JW v. HHS CDC Social Media complaint 00625, https://www.judicialwatch.org/documents/jw-v-hhs-cdc-social-media-complaint-00625/
  4. The Wall Street Journal, A Coup of Pelosi’s Own, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-coup-of-pelosis-own-11610148740

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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Fake News and Cognitive Ability

Information Overload, Attitude, and Social Media are Odd Bedfellows

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Inundated with fake news
Inundated with fake news
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This article was updated on 02/22/21.

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Fake news has always been with us, but the advent of the internet and social media really gave it legs. And under President Donald Trump, it really became a “thing.” In view of the recent presidential election, it seems ironic that Trump called the press out on it in no uncertain terms while Joe Biden created a lot of it. He’s made a cottage industry of fabrications, either to pander certain groups or to puff out his own feathers.

For example, when he tried to generate support with civil liberties advocates by telling this outrageous lie. The Washingtonpost.com reported Biden’s quote, “This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.1 The problem? It never happened.

But that’s the problem with this kind of self-serving fake news. It sticks. And, it forms and solidifies opinions to some degree. But do those opinions remain set in stone? Even after fabrications have been fact-checked and exposed as fraud? It’s really a sliding scale; it depends on the level of the cognitive ability of the recipient.



What is Cognitive Ability?

In order to understand this sliding scale, it is important to understand what cognitive ability is. Sharpbrains.com says, “Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. They have more to do with the mechanisms of how we learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention, rather than with any actual knowledge. For instance, answering the telephone involves perception (hearing the ring tone), decision taking (answering or not), motor skill (lifting the receiver), language skills (talking and understanding language), social skills (interpreting tone of voice and interacting properly with another human being).”2

The Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Attitude Adjustment

Changing one’s opinions after learning that the initial reporting was fake news is surprisingly rare. People are polarized and resist changing opinion. But a person with high cognitive ability (we might unscientifically say open-minded) will take the fact-checking under consideration and re-evaluate. The low cognitive will not. Others lie somewhere in between.

An experiment reported on by ScienceDirect said, “The present experiment (N = 390) examined how people adjust their judgment after they learn that crucial information on which their initial evaluation was based is incorrect. In line with our expectations, the results showed that people generally do adjust their attitudes, but the degree to which they correct their assessment depends on their cognitive ability. In particular, individuals with lower levels of cognitive ability adjusted their attitudes to a lesser extent than individuals with higher levels of cognitive ability. Moreover, for those with lower levels of cognitive ability, even after the explicit disconfirmation of the false information, adjusted attitudes remained biased and significantly different from the attitudes of the control group who was never exposed to the incorrect information.”3

Compounding this problem is the fact that the case can be made that the social media platforms are using their power of censorship to shape opinions, and further, to suppress those opinions that they don’t agree with. This is why there are so many congressional hearings (which just turn out to be lip service; congress members bloviate but then they just do a press conference).

Fake News and Social Media

It may be called “social” media, but it has become so much more than that. Dustin Carnahan, an assistant professor of communications at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, explains it thus, “We’re reaching a critical point regarding what role social media should play in society as these platforms — and how we use them — have evolved. Instead of being places where people stay connected and share the details of their lives, they’re increasingly being used as sources of information. A recent Pew survey found nearly six in 10 people regularly use social media for news and while it’s not their only news outlet, it’s an important one. As a result, the quality of information people receive from social media is becoming a bigger question.”4

Take for example, the recent situation, prior to the presidential election, when Twitter censored the New York Post’s posting about an article detailing Hunter and Joe Biden’s shenanigans. Part of this was misusing the power of the office of vice president. “The story story outlined the connection between Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and money then Vice-President Biden held hostage from the Ukraine until they dismissed the prosecutor that was investigating the energy giant Burisma, on whose board Hunter Biden sat.”5

Actions such as this go beyond shaping opinion; this is interfering in a presidential election. Twitter’s rationale? They said the story violated the policy against the “distribution of hacked material.” Hacked? They knew that as soon as the posting was made? In the end it turned out to be be not only true, but on Hunter Biden’s computer.

In the end, the proliferation of fake news, filtered news, and censorship by the mainstream media and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook do have consequences. The end result is nothing less than social engineering. Corporate attitude adjustment.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Resources

  1. Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post, Biden’s ridiculous claim he was arrested trying to see Mandela, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/25/bidens-ridiculous-claim-he-was-arrested-trying-see-mandela/
  2. SharpBrains, What are cognitive abilities and skills, and can we boost them?, https://sharpbrains.com/what-are-cognitive-abilities/
  3. Jonas De Keersmaecker, Arne Roets, ScienceDirect, ‘Fake news’: Incorrect, but hard to correct. The role of cognitive ability on the impact of false information on social impressions, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0160289617301617#ks0005
  4. MSUTODAY, The truth behind fake news and politics on social media, https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2020/the-truth-behind-fake-news-and-politics-on-social-media/
  5. Kelly R. Smith, I Can Fix Up My Home Blog, Social Media Censoring New York Post to Protect Biden, http://www.icanfixupmyhome.com/WPBlog1/2020/10/16/social-media-censoring-new-york-post-to-protect-biden/

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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Blue Light, Eye Health, and Sleep

More Evidence is Showing Up About the Relationship Between Device Screens and Our Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Anti-blue-light glasses protect eye health
Anti-blue-light glasses protect eye health
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This article was updated on 04/16/21.

Ads we feature have been independently selected and reviewed. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission, which helps support the site. Thank you for your support.

You might have recently been hearing more about the effects of blue light on your eyes and sleep patterns. As we live longer, the more chance there is of our health being affected. Blue Light is the visible light located at the blue end of the light spectrum. Although not as energetic as ultraviolet (UV) light, there is some concern that high levels of blue light might cause more damage at the cellular level than longer wavelengths of visible light, which you perceive as the colors of red through green. Exposure to blue light is thought to have an impact on your sleep-wake cycle, compounding the problem with Coronavirus pandemic dreams.

Sources of Blue Light

Blue light occurs naturally. This is not really a concern. Where it gets troubling is adding in the light emitted from LED lights, cell phones, television sets, tablets, and laptop computers. Studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device (or near certain lights) so what did not used to be an issue is suddenly the elephant in the room.

Outside, light from the sun travels through the atmosphere. As it does, the shorter, high energy blue wavelengths collide with air molecules causing blue light to scatter everywhere. This is why the sky is blue. Interesting, yes?

Blue Light and Your Sleep

In its natural form, your body takes advantage of blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles.  This is called your circadian rhythm.  This light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase the feeling of well being, rather than experiencing mood swings. In the wintertime, when the period of sunshine is reduced, some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, symptoms begin in the fall and continue through the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody and glum.

Chronic exposure to blue light at night (binging on Netflix, gaming, social media) can lower the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and disrupt your circadian rhythm. You can’t be expected to withdraw from activities altogether, but over-the-counter melatonin supplements are quite inexpensive.

Blue Light and Your Eyesight

Blue light waves are some of the shortest, highest energy wavelengths in the visible light spectrum.  Since they are shorter, these blue, or High Energy Visible (HEV) wavelengths, flicker more than the longer, weaker wavelengths. This kind of flickering creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast and affect sharpness and clarity.

Your eyes’ natural filters don’t provide as much protection against blue light rays from the sun as we would like, of course. The same is true of your devices or from blue light emitted from fluorescent-light tubes. Prolonged exposure to blue light is thought by some researchers to be likely to result in damage to your retinas and contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of vision. Opinions differ about the likelihood of this, but why take the chance?

How You Can Protect Your Eyes

Do what I do — wear anti blue light glasses. I wear them at the computer. They are inexpensive and give the screen a pleasant tint. My regular glasses have a coating that helps when I walk, run, or drive.

That’s the effect of blue light exposure on eyes and sleep. Welcome to the modern world. Please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page. I want to get a better feel about how others feel about blue light.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Home Office Build-Out Tips

by Kelly R. Smith

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A home office
A home office

Recent estimates report that 33% of Americans are self-employed in some capacity. Now, the report didn’t break it down into full-time or part-time details, but it means one thing for certain — lots of home offices! You might need one for the first time because of being locked down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re remodeling a bedroom into your office, or remodeling your current one, you can use these home office refurbishment tips.

Office Interior Lighting

All interior lighting is not the same. In the office, in particular, it falls into three distinct categories: general, task, and accent lighting. How much of each you use depends on your needs. General lighting is often implemented with overhead fluorescent fixtures. Most home offices just use task lighting.

Task lighting is used to focus on your work area to avoid eye strain. Good choices here are undercabinet fixtures, or track, monorail, or Y lighting systems with halogen or LED bulbs. Accent lighting usually illuminates artwork. This is taken care of with ceiling-mounted fixtures.

Buy Ergonomic Furniture

This is important for your comfort and long-term health. The two most critical pieces are an ergonomic office chair and computer desk. Adjustable standing desks are getting to be more popular. Before shopping, know what you need. Draw a detailed plan noting where things should be situated. Size is important; be sure everything will fit into your space.

Although it might be tempting to do so, I wouldn’t recommend placing the fax, copier, and printer where you can just reach over to make a quick paper grab. Why? Because you need to get out of your chair now and then to get the blood flowing! My Garmin 235 GPS watch actually lets me know when I’ve had too much butt-time.

Flooring – Choose Wisely

You’ve got many choices when it comes to flooring. Carpet is the best choice for sound control and it is forgiving; you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet. The downside is that occasionally you’ll have to hire carpet cleaners or rent a machine at the store. If you’ve got a lot of carpet in your home, go ahead and buy a carpet cleaning machine. It will quickly pay for itself. Who knows how nasty those grocery store ones are.

Are you after a a more contemporary look? You might consider hardwood or laminate flooring. When it comes to sprucing up your home office, consider that you’ll be spending more time in there than you would a conventional office (Netflix). Plan accordingly.

Upgrade Your Office walls

Your office walls are important. You should choose a color that you like, of course, but it should also be a color that is soothing enough to allow you to focus on your work. Small office? Here are some paint illusions to make the space seem larger.

I hope these home office build-out tips have inspired you and given you some food for thought. Always check the latest IRS guidelines to maximize your deductions. It’s like getting a pay raise! Please participate in the poll on the right-hand sidebar of this article. Thanks!



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Loneliness and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic (or Coronavirus or China Virus) Lockdown Causes Loneliness, Depression

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Loneliness and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loneliness and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic
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This article was updated on 03/11/21.

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Although the COVID-19 pandemic (or Coronavirus or the China Virus, if you prefer) has caused abundant death, the toll in terms of depression and loneliness is even more widespread and impactful with respect to society. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy refers to it as a “loneliness epidemic.” Spending so much time in isolation wreaks havoc on our emotions. When we do get out of seclusion, it is increasingly more hard to observe the individual confined behind their mask; it is essentially dehumanizing. It can cause what has become known as pandemic dreaming.

Our Brains Operate in Two Modes

Matthew Lieberman is a founder of the field of social cognitive neuroscience and he discovered that our brains operate in two distinct modes. He found that one is utilized for engaging with the physical world around us. Looking for shelter when a hurricane is blowing in, for example. The other for is utilized for considering mental states; it views other people in terms of being psychological entities with distinct thoughts and feelings of their own. He used MRI imaging to show that the second mode, what he called the social brain, is actually the default mode. That could explain our some of our current issues with isolation.

We are Wired to Mingle with Our Fellows

Some 2,348 years ago Aristotle told us that man is by nature a social animal. By in large that is true, although introverts are the chemical exception to the rule; they are more governed by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which warms up as they turn their focus inward. Extroverts, on the other hand, are governed more by their dopamine reward network. This is triggered when external stimuli and sensory input happens. In other words, if you are a party animal or used to spend a lot of time at the office moving through the cubical farm gossiping or being a kvetcher, this lock-down is hurting you more that your more taciturn neighbors.

Social Media is a Poor Substitute for Real Interaction

We have all grown used to social media over the years, texts, emails, Facebook, etc. But are these really good substitutes? Not at all, although talking on the phone and Skyping may be marginally better. In fact, social media may make things worse. Just look at how bad and polarized things were even before the lock-down. Does Donald Trump bashing and BLM and Antifa ring a bell? Too many trolls, so little time.

One study conducted in 2018 of 18 – 30-year-olds concluded that the odds of depression were significantly decreased by face-to-face encounters, but significantly raised by interacting via social media. Yet another study discovered that lowering time spent on social media lowered feelings of loneliness in 18- to 22-year-olds.

According to Primack, using social media may be simply a way of projecting a version of ourselves out there or perhaps they’re fostering real social connections we otherwise wouldn’t be able to have. There is just no way to know at this point.

How Can You Cope with Pandemic Loneliness and Depression?

  • Maintain a Schedule. A consistent routine can make things feel more normal. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, use an alarm clock, lunch at noon, tea and scones in the afternoon if you are a subject of the Queen; you get the idea. If you are sick, try keeping a log to monitor your symptoms.
  • Keep Yourself Informed. Staying up to date on health information and advice on precautionary measures will make you feel more proactive and in control of your situation.
  • Learn lucid dreaming. If you are experiencing pandemic dreams, follow these techniques to learn lucid dreaming. I learned it long ago out of curiosity and I’ve been controlling and actively participating in my nocturnal adventures ever since. It is easier for some than others but well worth the effort.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle as much as possible. The authorities want you to stay indoors as much as possible. But, and then this is only my opinion, you can still get out to walk, bike, or run (if allowed where you live). If you must stay in, you can still do resistance exercises with household objects or get up and walk around. My Garmin 235 watch not only counts my steps but also alerts me when I have been sitting too long.
  • Indulge in some self-improvement. Take an online course. Pick up that instrument, dust it off, and start practicing. New Years resolutions are valid anytime. Myself, I’m learning Irish Gaelic. Ta go maith!
  • Stay connected. Use Skype. Watch a Netflix movie at the same time as one or more friends and critique it as it plays. If you have ever watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 you know what I mean! Write letters. Remember when that was a human function?
  • Cook some new comfort food. Here are some of my recipes. I like to experiment much to the chagrin of my wife.

In short, none of us is immune to loneliness as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is just good to understand it, accept it, and mitigate it as much as possible.

Further Reading

References:



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

9 Essential Programs for Your Computer

Increase Your Productivity; Organize Your Virtual Workspace

by Kelly R. Smith

Computer software -- binary tunnel
Computer software — binary tunnel
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This article was updated on 01/05/21.

Ads we feature have been independently selected and reviewed. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission, which helps support the site.

Everything is online now; it’s been growing for years. As technology advances our computers get more powerful and more sophisticated. Bigger, faster, flashier. A couple of the downsides of this inevitable progress are that it presents an open field for online scammers and the fact that one hard drive crash can make years of work and data evaporate.

The good news is that these risks can be mitigated by taking advantage of software that addresses these issues. The ones below, in no particular order, are my personal picks. Disclaimer: I personally use these apps but I am not compensated for the reviews. Too bad, eh?

  • Password Safe. This app is a very easy to use password manager. It allows you to define your own categories of sites and their related passwords (Development, Media, Shopping, Bills, you get the idea). Create a new entry and Password Safe will generate a secure password for you to use. Highlight a site entry, click the Browse to URL icon and the site will open in your browser with the password on the clipboard, ready to paste. Best of all, this program is open source, so, free. We like free. I’ve been using Password Safe for years. It is easy to make back-ups as you add sites to it.
  • System Mechanic. This is an overall system maintenance tool. It’s designed to scan your computer and find issues with available memory, internet junk files, Windows junk files, registry issues, security vulnerabilities, and more. Choose to fix all issues found and your computer will speed up. It also has a defragmentation tool and lists unnecessary start-up programs that sloooow you down. The purchase price varies, but really, every time a new version becomes available, existing customers can “add time” for a very low price. My work is so memory and CPU intensive that I run it several times a day.
  • 3. CyberGhost VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) makes you virtually invisible on the web. How does it work? In their words, “You send the data at one end and we receive it at the other end, to encrypt and safeguard it from unwanted prying eyes. You are assigned with a new IP address which doesn’t allow you, the original sender, to be identified. We will then send your Internet requests as usual.” The pricing depends on the package you choose; I opted for the 3-year plan.
  • 4. f.lux. This app is designed to fix the problem of your computer monitor screen looking different at night than it does during the day, which can lead to eye strain and sleep problems. From their site, “f.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” It’s free for personal use. Along these lines, you should also be aware of how device-emitting blue light affects many facets of your life and health. I use blue light blocking glasses during my long, geeky work day.
  • 5. IDrive. This is a cloud back-up app for all your data. Once installed, it will do an initial complete back-up of all the data that you specify. Next, just set a time of day and it will perform an incremental back-up and post a pop-up detailing how many files it backed up and how much total space you have stored. I had a hard drive crash a few years ago and my recovery to my new machine went off without a problem. Prices vary. As of this writing, Basic is free, Personal is $52.12/year, and Business is $74.62/year.
  • 6. Tor. Their site says it all, “Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.” It works by bouncing communication packets around a distributed network of relays that are run by volunteers located all around the world. In doing so, it prevents snoops watching your Internet connection to learn which sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you do land on from learning your physical location. Your computer security is every bit as important as your home security.
  • 7. SUPERAntiSpyware. This app, once installed, scans your files on your hard drive to identify spyware, adware, trojans, ransomware, PUPs, hijackers, and more. Its database is updated on a regular basis (2-4x a day ) in order to keep up with the bad guys. When an update is available it will prompt you to download it. The price? Choose either the free edition or the paid professional edition.
  • 8. CoffeeCup. This isn’t a single app; it is a range of apps that address all things that are web development. I personally use the HTML editor on a daily basis and have for about 10 years. They also offer a Site Designer, a CSS Grid Builder, a Responsive Email Designer, and more. The benefit here is that since all this affordable software is from the same company, all apps play nice together, whether you are just doing a newsletter or a full-blown commerce site.
  • 9. FonePaw iOS Transfer. This app comes in handy if you want to transfer almost anything from your computer to your iPhone without having to delve into the nightmare that is iTunes. Just a couple of clicks will get you what you need. The trial is free; the single-user license is $34.95.

These are just a few essential programs for your computer addressing security, productivity, and keeping your system healthy. If this info helped you, please share the link with your friends and social media. Thanks for visiting; we’re all in this together!

Further Reading



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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Troubled Times for Google

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The Google Logo
The Google Logo

Social media sites are the mega-industries of this generation. They are high-tech with more storage and computational power than we could have dreamed of a mere twenty years ago. However, with enormous power comes enormous responsibility. In many cases, these social media powerhouses don’t police themselves and take on arrogant personalities. 

Social Media Data Breaches

Just recently it came to light that Facebook was using user’s personal information for financial gain, specifically to influence political outcomes. CEO Mark Zuckerburg was called on the carpet before Congress where he apologized, but of course his check had been cashed and the damage was done.

But Facebook is not alone when it comes to handling user information. It has recently come to light that Google’s G+ app had left vulnerabilities wide open.  The software glitch gave outside developers possible access to private profile data of thousands of Google+ users.

The fact that this happened is not particularly surprising. I used to be a software developer and it is just a fact that with thousands of lines of code, things slip through no matter how much testing is done. The problem with Google is that they chose to put the hush-hush on the data breach rather than  being up front with users and the media.

Their solution? They plan to shut down G+. It’s a shame because myself, like many others, enjoy the platform. This, despite the fact that it sometimes takes some wading through a sea of anti-Semite activists, antifa thugs, and pornographers.

Irresponsible Employees Given a Pass

This is another example of shameful corporate positions. Just recently,  Dave Hogue,  a design lead at Google, has slammed Republicans in an angry Twitter rant over the nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

His Twitter rant?  “You are finished, @GOP. You polished the final nail for your own coffins. F–K. YOU. ALL. TO. HELL. I hope the last images burned into your slimy, evil, treasonous retinas are millions of women laughing and clapping and celebrating as your souls descend into the flames.” Google’s response?

“What employees say in their personal capacity has no bearing on the way we build or operate our products,” a Google spokeswoman told Fox News, via email. In other words, even a design lead has no moral or personal responsibility to act as an adult and has leeway to post this garbage that is even viewable to children. Great corporate culture, Google. And did he post it on your company computer, on company time? Just hear crickets on that one.

Create iPhone Apps in Minutes.

Protection Against Information Harvesting

Most social media is free to users which is one reason that antitrust regulations have not been brought to bear against them. They profit by profiling users, selling their personal data, and serving up targeted ads. But there are ways users can protect their privacy.

Don’t be completely honest in your profiles. Change your birth date, location, employer, etc. Use the Tor browser to protect yourself from tracking. Use Privacy Badger to block spying ads and invisible trackers.

The point of all this is not to invest in paranoia. The point is that as free citizens we deserve and are entitled to privacy. We are people, not commodities. It is just as important as our home security.


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Common Grammatical Mistakes

It’s Easy to Make English Language Errors; Here are Some Malaprops to Be Aware of.

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Don't Make Grammar Blunders
Don’t Make Grammar Blunders
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This article was updated on 03/06/21.

Ads we feature have been independently selected and reviewed. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission, which helps support the site. Thank you for your support.

There are two types of people who have been prepared (to some arbitrary extent) to function in society; those who make grammatical errors on a regular basis (and sometimes don’t care) and others who pull their hair out unhappily when they see them in print or hear them spoken. There’s no doubt that there are an increasing number of errors online. Social media only compounds the problem. Are there no editors employed at Yahoo or are we being dumbed down? Anyway, we have compiled a list of some common grammatical errors, because, as with many other things, we should know the rules before we break them.

Capitalize Properly

Almost everyone knows to capitalize proper nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns, such as the Grand Canyon. However, with the passage of time the requirement is sometimes dropped, such as the evolved word herculean (from the Greek Hercules). Why? Who knows.

You should capitalize brand names but not necessarily the product type itself. For example, Tabasco sauce.  Capitalize days of the week and months of the year–a Sunday in September.

Religions can be tricky. Capitalize the Bible but not biblical. But do not capitalize the words heaven, hell, the devil, or satanic. How about organizations that claim to be religions but operate like the Scientology cult? Well, they might also be a commercial enterprise so they get a pass. How about Extraterrestrial objects? They are also tricky. The names of planets are capitalized but not the moon or the sun. Confused yet?

Capitalize specific geographical regions. Do not capitalize points of the compass. You might live in the Northwest but specifically in the northwest area of your burg.

Titles are simple yet not exact.  Capitalize the title’s first and last word.  Capitalize all adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.  Do not capitalize a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, for, yet, so) unless it is first or last in the title. These rules vary so check house rules with your editor.

Who vs Whom

Although it might just seem pretentious to use whom, there is also a good reason. Basically, who is subjective (he, she, it, they, etc.) while whom is objective (her, us, them, etc.). Test your prose.  When in doubt, substitute who with the subjective pronouns he or she, (Who loves you? He loves me. Similarly, you can also substitute “whom” with the objective pronouns him or her. I consulted with a consultant whom I met in L.A. I consulted him.

I know, I know, it makes my head spin as well, and I write for a living! This video makes things a bit less turbid:

Is it who or whom? Ay, there’s the rub.

Lie vs Lay

This one should not be difficult (in my humble opinion) but it shows up all the time. Lay is transitive and calls for a direct subject. On the other hand, lie (or its past tense lay) is intransitive meaning that it needs no direct object. Example: The Rocky Mountains lie between the East and West coast.

In other words, you lie down, but you lay something down. Lie does not require a direct object. Lay requires a direct object.

Comma and Semicolon Usage

Commas and semicolons are used interchangeably by many authors but this is really just sloppy writing. The rule is really fairly simple. If the two phrase fragments are really related but can stand on their own, use a semicolon (see what I just did?), otherwise use a comma.

Another point of contention is the so-called Oxford comma. This is the final comma in a list. There are apples, oranges, and limes. Or, there are apples, oranges and limes. Should you use it? It depends on who you are writing for. If a boss or client is paying you, it’s a no-brainer. I prefer it because it makes the writing more clear and less ambiguous; others do not. Why generate potential confusion when deciding how and when to use this ambiguous writing rule?

Know the difference between i.e. and e.g.

The term i.e. is a shortening of the Latin phrase id est, which in English means “that is.” It’s used to introduce a rephrasing or elaboration on something that has already been stated. The term e.g. is a shortening of the Latin expression exempli gratia, meaning “for the sake of example” or more simply, “for example.” This term is also used to refer to something that has already been stated.

Affect and Effect

The problem with the confusion over these two words might be the fact that they sound so similar. I see them used interchangeably every day on the internet. But in reality, they are somewhat related but completely different.

Affect is almost always a verb (as in., Twitter affects people’s attention spans as it engages in social behavior modification), and effect is almost always a noun (as in, Facebook’s effects can be politically selective). Affect works to either influence or produce an impression. Effect is the thing produced by the affecting agent It describes a result or outcome. The effect of Hurricane Florence was primarily on the coast, but even communities inland were affected.

Is This a Moot Point?

How often have you heard moot misused? More often than you think is my guess. It does not mean the “point” being referred to is unimportant or irrelevant, it actually means it is up for debate. Who knew? So when you see “The city council thinks speed bumps in our neighborhood is a moot point,” it means it is still up for debate, not that they don’t give a solitary hoot for your safety.

These are just a few of the common grammatical mistakes we see in writing today, both online and offline. The takeaway is that it is important to sharpen your writing skills with the proper application of grammar rules because you can’t always trust your editor to catch everything. This is not a moot point.

Further Reading


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Did you find this article helpful? Millions of readers rely on information on this blog and our main site to stay informed and find meaningful solutions. Please chip in as little as $3 to keep this site free for all.

 




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


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