Meetings

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 – 6:30 pm

There is no meeting in August – a preview of September’s meeting will be posted soon.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018 – 6:30 pm

A recent AARP bulletin outlined some ideas about how technology might shape our future. Let’s discuss how likely these are to become reality and, if so, how soon:

  •  Home
    • Your home will guard itself while you’re away
    • Your bed will be smarter
    • A smart kitchen will make it easier to cook
    • We’ll be rooming with robots
    • Household objects will multitask
  • Health
    • A microhospital will be just minutes away
    • Your voice will diagnose your heath
    • Patches will deliver injections painlessly
    • Printers will make body parts from your stem cells
    • Surgeons will operate using holograms of you
    • Stem cell patches will replace damaged heart tissue
    • Clothes that heal
    • Medicine will help regrown brain cells
    • A blood test will screen you for Alzheimer’s
    • AI will monitor your memory
  • Transportation
    • Electric bikes will fill cities
    • We may walk more and it will be safe
    • Cars may still be gas or they may be electric
    • You won’t hear planes overhead
    • Ultrasonic tunnel transportation will be available
  • AARP Long View
    • Patientless hospitals
    • Smart hearing aids
    • Housing memberships
    • Personal food companies
    • Ride-sharing companions
  • Privacy
    • Social media will be for members only
    • An eye scan will access all sorts of information about you
    • We’ll be watched more than ever
    • Passwords will be in the past
  • Money
    • We’ll repeat our past mistakes
    • Doing your taxes will be easy
    • No wallet needed, pay with your face or your car

Agree? Disagree? Maybe these will bring to mind some ideas of your own. Please let us know. We look forward to seeing you then!


Tuesday, June 26, 2018 – 6:30 pm

Here are a few topics to discuss: 

Internet Trends 2018 – Mary Meeker, a former Morgan Stanley internet analyst and now partner at venture-capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, delivered her annual internet trends report recently. I covers everything from mobile to commerce to the competition between tech giants. Richard Frisch has selected 78 slides from the deck of 294 to show us, and some of the statistics are startling. Come share your reactions.

Taxing the Internet – The Supreme Court ruled last week that all online sales are subject to the same state and local sales taxes that are collected on purchases at brick-and-mortar retailers.  In that regard it levels the field. But while very small online sellers may still be exempt, and giants like Amazon and Walmart have the resources to collect and distribute the tax money, it will pose a real burden for medium-scale web merchants who will have to keep track of and remit sales taxes for 50 states and thousands of jurisdictions. What’s your reaction?

Fiber? – Optimum announced a couple of years ago that they will be deploying fiber optic cable in our area about now. Bucket trucks accompanied by brightly colored Optimum vans accompanied by police officers directing traffic around the trucks have been spotted in Norwalk. Have you seen them in your area?

Other topics and questions are always welcome.  We hope to see you there.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018 – 6:30 pm

There’s a lot of tech in the news lately.  Here are some timely suggestions for discussion:

  1. Cloud Storage – Top consumer choices include Google Drive (soon to be Google One,) Microsoft’s OneDrive (not to be confused with Google One,) and Dropbox.  Using these cloud drives used to be pretty simple but, as with lots of computer stuff these days, it’s getting more confusing and more annoying.  We’ll try to sort it out although it’s a moving target.   Let us know if you have a favorite.
  2. Privacy and security
    • Who’s calling the shots?  According to an article in the NY Times, Researchers can now send secret audio instructions undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Are we sitting ducks?
    • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It also affects us because it addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.
  3. Google Duplex – This interesting combination of AI and voice synthesis can make phone calls to schedule a haircut or a table reservation for you.  The synthesized voice sounds creepily real.
  4. Windows 10 version 1803 – Have you upgraded?  What was your experience? Did you have a choice of if or when to install?
  5. Modernity – Richard calls our attention to a 1909 short story by EM Forster which he says is incredibly prescient about modernity. Here are links to the Wikipedia page, a PDF and an MP3 version:
  6. Laurel or Yanny? – The whole world is talking about this – why not us?  It’s quite baffling and probably shows us that we know less about our brains than we think.

Other topics and questions are always welcome.  Don’t forget the revised date and we hope to see you there.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018 – 6:30 pm

The April meeting features a very timely presentation from Richard Frisch of RHFtech, “How Big Data, Neuroscience, and Psychology Are Used to Manipulate Us.”

NEW:  For those who missed the presentation, a video can be found HERE

  • The first part of Richard’s talk explores data, information and how data mining is used to extract knowledge about us.
  • The second part reviews some neuroscience and psychology to demonstrate we are not as in control of ourselves as we may believe.
  • He then attempts to put together how we are manipulated through the use of neuroscience, psychology and data mining. “It ain’t a pretty picture when the curtain is pulled back,” he concludes.

Additional topics for discussion may include:

  1. Bricks & Mortar stores – Do they understand their role with shoppers?  For example, if you’re shopping for a lawn mower at Home Depot or Lowes you’ll find all the mowers displayed on a slanted rack 5 feet off the floor with the fronts of the mowers facing you.  Several years ago they were on the floor so you could get a sense of the weight, the balance, the size of the bag, ease of wheel adjustment, etc.  So now there’s essentially no reason to visit one of these stores. They’ve removed a major advantage over buying one online, perhaps from Amazon.  Are there other examples?
  2. Survey Mania! – Almost every purchase of a product or service these days ends with a survey.  Whether it’s a car dealer, a big box store, an online retailer, a restaurant, an insurance company or your doctor, they all want to know, “How are we doing?”  But these surveys are conducted by third parties, so does your input actually help the first party or are you just making yourself a target for more promotion?  Have you ever spent 10 minutes or more answering a survey only to find that there’s no place to enter your specific complaint or compliment. Would businesses be better served by simply listening to their customers?

Other topics and questions are always welcome.  We hope to see you there.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018 – 6:30 pm

The March 27th meeting is a round-table discussion.  Here are some suggested topics.  The first two are things we’ve been talking about for quite some time but suddenly they’ve caught the attention of the world!

  1. Privacy: Facebook is taking a beating from both users and investors for doing what it’s been doing all along – mining data. It’s a concept that’s come into focus after a whistle-blower at Cambridge Analytica, a third party company working with Facebook, disclosed how the data were used to target political ads to receptive Facebook users during the 2016 campaign.  This kind of tech-enabled micro-marketing should come as no surprise but apparently not everyone realizes how social media makes its money.
  2. Autonomous Cars: The unfortunate death of a pedestrian in Arizona who was hit by a self-driving Uber car (with a human backup) brings up a lot of questions. Could an attentive human driver have avoided the accident?  The pedestrian was crossing outside a crosswalk.  The backup driver who has a checkered past may not have been engaged enough to take action.  Was Uber negligent in hiring this person?  Will autonomous technology ever be good enough?  How big a setback will this be for the future of self-driving vehicles?
  3. Alexa, what’s so funny?: Recently Alexa users complained that Alexa would suddenly laugh randomly for no apparent reason, describing the laugh as “creepy,” “evil,” “bone-chilling” and “freaky.”  It took a few days but Amazon got to the bottom of it and has fixed the issue.
  4. Reminders: How do you remember to do little things during the day – make a phone call, pay a bill, take medications, fill the birdfeeder?   These are not meetings, appointments or other blocks of time.  They are things that take just a moment and often recur daily, weekly or monthly, or even multiple times during one day.  Do you use sticky notes or clutter up your electronic calendar with these tasks?  The solution might be to use a separate “reminder” app.  There  are many out there but we’ll talk about one as an example.  Maybe you have a favorite – please let us know.
  5. ctpc.org: How do you like our newly redesigned website.  The previous site served us well for many years but much of the information had become outdated or irrelevant.  The new site has only three pages but we can add more.  What would you like to see that could make it more useful.

And who knows what might happen in technology by next Tuesday!  Bring your computer questions and other topics to discuss.  Hope to see you there.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018 – 6:30 pm

This meeting will be a round-table discussion.  Here are some topic suggestions – also please feel free to bring your own:
Voice controlled devices. The ability to navigate the virtual and even the physical world is a godsend for people with disabilities. But is it necessarily a good thing for the rest of us?  Should we all use wheelchairs whether they need to or not? Is it better to type a Google search and spare everyone around you the joy of know what you’re doing?  How about getting up off the couch to adjust the thermostat or turn off a light?  Let’s discuss the pros and cons. 
Can technology help to reduce crime? As the debate rages over how to prevent mass shootings there’s not much mention of technological solutions but some do exist. Biometric (fingerprint sensor) gun locks and safes are readily available to the public. Breathalyzer interlocks for cars are not only available but mandated in some cases to help reduce drunk driving. Legal, privacy and other issues aside, could technology be used to track and prevent threats to society?  What have you heard?
Robocalls they’re getting worse it seems. Some tricks robocallers are using include Persistent dialing – re-dialing up to three times after a hang-up, Caller ID spoofing – the Caller ID looks like your neighbor or a local business, and, “Can You Hear Me?” – the robovoice tricking the caller into saying, “Yes” so they can later present “evidence” of a caller saying yes to an offer. How can we fight back?
What’s new?  Nothing!  Richard Frisch cites the following to prove it: 

 

… the rules determining when codes could and could not be used were becoming increasingly complicated as national networks, often with different sets of rules, were interconnected. Most European countries, for example, forbade the use of codes except by governments, and in Prussia there was even a rule that copies of all messages had to be kept by the telegraph company. There were also various rules about which languages telegrams could be sent in; any unapproved language was regarded as a code.

The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers (pp. 110-111) by Tom Standage. Bloomsbury Publishing..

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – 6:30 pm

This meeting will be a round-table discussion. Here are some topic suggestions but please feel free to bring your own:

– Apple – how do you feel about their admission that they slowed down older iPhones, supposedly to preserve battery life?  Is their battery discount enough to make amends?  What about complaints that iPhone users are becoming addicted to these devices?  Is this Apple’s fault or does the blame lie with app developers, social media platforms and online merchants?
– Long standing security flaw discovered in almost all computer chips – this is also making news – how serious is it?
– Android Easter Eggs – there are some not-so-obvious ways to customize Android phones but you may not know they’re there.
– Google Text-To-Speech commands – Google Text-To-Speech is pretty accurate but it doesn’t always know the nuances of what you want to convey. You can go back later and clean up your text with a keyboard, or you can learn how to add punctuation, symbols, new lines, paragraphs, even emojis as you speak.
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