Tech giant Cisco Systems conducted a survey of 3,700 Gen-X, Gen-Y, and HR professionals in 15 countries. Cisco’s aim was to better understand “the current workplace environment from a technological standpoint and its shift towards becoming increasingly mobile, flexible and remote.” To do so, the survey asked its respondents about their use of computers, mobile devices, apps, and technological preferences and expectations. For the purposes of the study, Gen-X is defined as being 31-50 years old, and Gen-Y as 18-30 years old. That makes me, at 36, a member of the flannel grunge brigade, so interpret my take on the study through that lens. Some of the findings from the study aren’t all that thrilling, like how many apps each person uses at work on a given day. But others, like exactly how attached these professionals are to the Internet, are definitely eye-opening. The Cyborgs Are Coming Let’s start with a big one: 26 percent of Gen-Y workers, and 21 percent of Gen-Xers, would be willing to surgically implant a device that linked the Internet directly to their thoughts, were such a device available. While such a device would probably make you everyone’s first pick as a Trivial Pursuit teammate, I have to wonder about the potential security concerns of such a device. Because no current Internet device is entirely secure against hacking, I’m not sure I want to open up my brain to being hacked. Actually, I’m sure I don’t. To some, such a device probably isn’t much more than a natural evolution from artificial hearts and joints. But I do see a moral component to this: it’s bordering on giving yourself a superpower. If technology ever does reach this point, that’s when I’m getting off the tech train and officially becoming a Luddite. A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet. We Think. But 58 percent of each group says they’d rather lose their sense of smell than their Internet access, and I think I’d miss petrichor. And a surprising number, 22 percent of Gen-X and 24 percent of Gen-Y, would also give up their sense of taste rather than the Internet. Overall, not even funny cat pictures have the allure of pizza and chocolate. From My Cold Dead Hands People love their smartphones, too. If forced to choose between their TV and their smartphones, 76 percent of Gen-Y and 67 percent of Gen-X would choose the phone. That’s not a big shock. Only about a third of each group would rather give up electricity for a week than their phones, which is good, because only the dumbest of phones can go a week without charging. And did I mention people really love their smartphones? Because 48 percent of Gen-Y and 47 percent of Gen-X would rather give up sex for a month than their phone. In what seems like related news, more of each group look at their phone first thing in the morning, rather than a loved one—in this case, we’ll give a pass to those waking up alone each morning. And in exchange for free cell phone service, 45 percent of Gen-Y would allow their provider unlimited access to their data; 30 percent would share that same information with the government, and 29 percent with their employer. For Gen-X, those numbers are 43, 29, and 27 percent, respectively. 2020 Vision The study also gives a glimpse into what each generation expects from future technology. When asked what they though the most important connected device will be in 2020, 40 percent of Gen-Y said their phone, 25 percent their tablet, 23 percent wearables, 6 percent their car, and 5 percent named their personal robot assistant. Gen-Xers also placed phones first, but named wearables ahead of tablets, and the robot assistant ahead of cars. It’s a Bird…It’s a plane…It’s a Supertasker! Cisco defined supertasking as the ability to successfully do two or more things at once…without noticeable impairment. Given this definition, both groups named smartphones as the best tool for the job, followed by laptops and then desktop computers. Each feels supertasking makes them more efficient: 55 percent for Gen-Y, and 51 percent for Gen-X. That’s even though 55 percent of Gen-Y and 70 percent of Gen-X admit to mixing personal and professional tasks while supertasking. Maybe Gen-Y’s confidence stems from the fact that 56 percent believe their perceived efficiency comes from being “wired” differently than older Gen-X colleagues. Whatever the reason, 60 percent of Gen-X agrees their younger colleagues perform tasks faster when using mobile devices and apps. Get Off My Lawn or Welcome Our New Tech Overlords To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with one generation favoring a new technology over an older one. But at the risk of sounding like your grandfather, I feel a bit for the people so addicted to the Internet and the web that they’d trade human interaction and the things that make us human. That’s not necessarily a new complaint, so maybe I’m closer to being a Luddite than I thought. I’m all for keeping your use of the Internet in perspective, and in balance. But when you are online, there’s no sense in settling for older tech and slow connection speeds. That’s one advance I’ll gladly accept. What about you? Want faster Internet when you’re online? [zipfinder] Image by m01229/Flickr From Google Glass to Apple Health, wearable technology jumped into the mainstream this past year. The new market made great strides, but a majority of potential users wonders whether we are ready for this latest tech craze. Google and its $1,500 Glass believes it is; and so do Apple, LG, Samsung and the myriad others who rolled out their newest gadgets over the past year. The End of the Smartphone Despite the fanfare that accompanied the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6 this fall, overall sales of smartphone devices, while continuing to grow, appear to be leveling off. This result saw companies move toward smaller wearable devices that aim to link multiple devices together. Wearable technology represents a broad spectrum of items, including fitness trackers, smart glasses, smartwatches, and smart clothing. While not aiming to immediately overtake smartphones, as most wearable devices still need a smartphone to function at full capacity, the wearable sector is growing into its own and could soon be a leading source of tech companies’ revenue as interest develops. As 2015 dawns, some analysts’ and observers’ claims that the end of the smartphone is near seem less founded on the future than on current trajectories. Many are hopeful that the next 12 months will continue to show strength for the fast-growing sector. A $330 million industry worldwide, digital fitness trackers are currently the most popular type of wearable device. “Most wearables are not meant to replace smartphones,” CNN Money’s Heather Kelly wrote. “Instead, they work as satellite devices that amass useful data or relay notifications from a primary mobile device. If they have screens, they can display simplified versions of mobile apps.” Expected Growth of Wearables Market research group ReportLinker found that the wearable tech market is expected to grow to around $60 billion in revenue by 2018. That would be annual growth of around $15 billion over the next three years, showing that companies have much faith in the direction interest for new devices could have on the population. One of the main reasons for the growth and excitement in wearables was the controversy this year over Google Glass, a $1,500 product that the tech elite have praised for its innovation, allowing Explorers – as Google dubs them – to take video, send messages, post photos and make voice calls. Several cafes, bars, and restaurants have barred these “Explorers” from wearing the device in their facilities. While personal rights activists have praised the moves, it resulted in a barrage of media hype over the devices, ultimately spurring their initial success this year. It also gives us a look into the future of wearable tech and the privacy and rights concerns these devices will bring up. Betting on the Market Google unveiled its latest Android generation for mobile platforms at the I/O developer conference in 2014. “Android L will face the same problems that have faced earlier incarnations of Android, and that is that the migration rate will be glacially slow, and that the majority of existing Android users will need to buy new devices in order to benefit,” tech analyst Adrian Kingsly-Hughes wrote of the new platform. But with Google, Samsung, and Apple all vying for their own share of the wearables sector, developing better operating systems could determine who can reach the summit and stay there longest. Looking to the Future Controversies aside, wearable technology is likely to become part of our daily lives, regardless of individual desires. Wearables are already proving successful for those seeking to monitor their health, integrate their clothing into their technology, and bring daily tasks into one outlet. Why wouldn’t someone want to have a smartwatch that works also as a heart monitor and sugar level reader for diabetics, while making voice calls, sending text messages, and prompting calendar reminders? J.P. Gownder of Forrester Research argues that he expects 80 percent or more wearable devices to fail in the next two years, but that this should not be seen as detrimental to the overall trajectory that wearables are heading. The statistics back this argument. This year, 90 million wearable devices were shipped, according to numbers published by ABI Research, so we know there’s demand. Maybe we aren’t quite ready for wearables, but we’re getting close. Image by Ted Eyaton/Flickr Need faster speeds for your current Internet service? [zipfinder] With apologies to Dr. Evil, I have one simple request: Internet with frickin’ lasers. Lasers are cool. The Internet is cool. Combining the two sounds like one of the best ideas since peanut butter and jelly. But, until recently, the problem was that practical industrial lasers have been more sci-fi than not. Now, though, the technology is real. The military is already using a laser communication system, and like all military projects, it has an appropriate acronym: the Enhanced Air Ground Lasercom System (EAGLS). Aoptix, the company that designed EAGLS, claims its laser Internet technology has the potential for 2-4 Gbps speeds, double to quadruple the current fastest speeds available in this country. Technically, Aoptix wants to deliver Internet via laser and radio, as the two technologies have to work literally side-by-side. Each technology is susceptible to different forms of weather interference so together they provide redundancy. Raindrops can affect radio, but not lasers, and fog can affect lasers, but not radio. The company says their dual transmitters can reliably send data up to 10 kilometers between relay towers already built and in place. And in case you’re wondering, the laser operates on a non-visible portion of the light spectrum, so you won’t have to put up with looking into the Eye of Sauron to get a fast connection. Here’s how the laser portion of the transmission works: Sure It’s Cool, But Why This Particular Wireless Tech? Like other companies with fiber network alternatives, Aoptix sees infrastructure cost savings as the primary benefit of wireless networks over fiber. There aren’t miles and miles of trenches to dig or fiber to lay. EAGLS has proven the technology works, and the fact that it can work with existing infrastructure means that implementing the laser/radio broadband network should be very inexpensive. Three U.S. carriers are currently in talks with Aoptix, and the system is already in use with Car-Sa, an Internet provider in Mexico. Aoptix has even installed a laser/radio link between NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange, where an even slightly faster connection can result in increased profits for stock market traders. Unlike other fiber alternatives that require some infrastructure cost, the fact that Aoptix uses existing towers to relay their signals means that this could be a great way to bring high-speed Internet access to rural areas that already have radio and cell towers. Installation should require little more than putting transmitter relays on those towers. It’s Okay to Geek Out a Bit With these real-world trials already under way, it shouldn’t take long to determine whether lasers are the answer to the wireless broadband question. But take a step back, and forget the science. Forget the infrastructure. We live in a world where nothing amazes us anymore, and there’s a company installing lasers that will let us interact and share content faster than ever. Sure, it’s always smart to be a bit skeptical over promises of better mousetraps, sometimes it’s hard not to get excited. Especially when lasers are involved. Commercial Internet by laser isn’t available quite yet, but if you can’t wait until it is, enter your zip code below to see high-speed plans that are available in your area. Image by Andrew Adams/Flickr [zipfinder] We’d all love to save some money on our Internet bill. And wouldn’t it be nice to only pay one bill, once a month for all your home services? Bundling two or more services with the same company can end up saving you time and money. Providers know that most people only want TV and Internet services. When they offer you a bundle of three services, they include the phone at an almost negligible price. Many providers will also discount their primary services if you agree to purchase all three. So you come out ahead because you have discounted services, on one bill, and a landline in case of emergency. How Internet Bundles Work how-internet-bundles-work Illustration by Kurt Michelson [zipfinder]
Find Jess on Google+ Reddit is famous for its diversity of entertaining member submitted content. One particularly hot board is AskReddit, which is where we uncovered the question “What are some of your parents’ tech fails?” followed up with dozens of side-splitting responses. Read on as we count down our Top 10 Parental Tech Fails, as told by the Reddit community. 10. Disgruntled with YouTube Reddit member “Aquilaungula” recounts how her mom’s trouble with YouTube. “The best example of a fail by her would be when she was frustrated because Youtube wouldn’t play audio. After a five-minute rant about how there are ‘fifteen different volume sliders and yet none of them work’, I turned on the speakers. I think you can guess how the rest went.” 9. “WeeWees” can be puzzling “Hraesvelg7” relates the conversation that occurred when grandma was introduced to Wii. “I tried to get my grandmother to play Wii Sports to get her doing at least a little activity: Ok, now move your hands to play, grandma. Move my what? What button do I press? No button, just move your hands around. What button is my hands? You don’t need to press any button, just move your hands like you’re playing tennis. I don’t understand your weewee!”   8. Shuffle stymies mom and dad Reddit contributor “hzsfre” tells how the shuffle button perplexed road tripping parents. “My parents were on a road trip going from Texas to Canada listening to an audiobook on a CD. After about 14 hours, my mom got embarrassed and confessed to my dad that she had no idea what was going on in the book, since some characters had seemingly come back from the dead without explanation. My dad, also embarrassed, had been unwilling to admit he had no idea what was going on either. They arrived at the hotel and went to sleep. The next day, they discovered the CD player was on shuffle, and had been listening to the chapters out of order.” 7. You’re not alone The parental tech fail submitted by “BigBadMrBitches” is one almost everyone can all identify with. “My dad types the whole web address of what site he wants into Google, and then clicks on the site’s link.” 6. Psst! Let me tell you secret… it’s something called Google Kartarsh’s” dad discovered a seemingly clandestine site that he shared with only a select few. “ My dad thought he was the only person who knew about Google until a couple years ago. I would ask him a question if I couldn’t figure out the answer by using Google…his responses always started with ‘I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what to do: go to Google.com and type in ___, it will bring it right up for you, it’s like magic.’. He always said this in a quiet voice like it is some super secret thing that only family could know about.” 5. Parents traded in their smartphone because it was stupid BHMtheMAN’s” parents traded in their smartphone ASAP after “breaking” it. “My mom once bought my dad a smartphone. He turned it off by accident, and didn’t know how to turn it back on. He then threw a huge fit and yelled at my mom, telling him that the stupid thing broke on him already. My mom then scolded my dad repeatedly for breaking it within the first day of getting it. During there argument, I walked over, held down the power button, and turned it on… they traded it in within the next week.” 4. Convincingly clueless “sirreally” shares an anecdote many of us can relate to. “My Dad picked up his own TV remote control off his coffee table and asked me if it was my new phone.” 3. Dad’s Facebook frenzy Reddit community member “sneezen” explains his dad’s unique approach to gathering friends on Facebook. “My dad recently signed on Facebook and is adding people who have the same name as him.” 2. Mom takes crime prevention seriously “magicmuds” passes along this comical tale, “I helped my mom purchase a new computer monitor. I suggested she give her old one to Goodwill. She said ‘oh, I don’t know, what if some identity thief gets it?’ I tried to explain that her monitor doesn’t store any data. I think she is still dubious, the old monitor still sits in her computer room.” 1. Rewinding the Internet, one page at a time Reddit user “playblu” shared this gem, which was the most popular answer. “My mom can get on the internet for hours at a time, but when she’s done, she backs out of it – clicks to go back one page, over and over, until she’s back at her Yahoo mail start page. I’ve told her she doesn’t have to do that but she insists on it.” While many parents are tech savvy, a good number are still learning the ropes and providing us with humorous stories like these along the way. What parental tech failure do you have to share?   [zipfinder] Find Jess on Google+
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