Posts Tagged ‘ Geek ’

Google Plus

Sometimes technology has a way of touching us in the most unexpected ways.

I joined Google Plus during its infancy, within the first month during the throttled-invite-only phase. I must confess, I was courted more by the exclusivity of it all than because I was so very anxious to join another social network. All I knew was that you had to be invited and that it was only 1 week old.

It took me only a week or so to drum up the courage to join a Hangout, a feature that allows you to video chat with up to 9 other people from pretty much anywhere. It was scary, my palms were sweaty and they were complete strangers. In fact, everyone I interacted with on Google Plus was a stranger. And yet, there we were, saying hello, responding to posts and exchanging ideas down threads of conversation.

I really had no idea what was in store for me. None. If you told me then where I’d be now, I would have said you’re insane.

Once I recovered from the initial nervousness I realized everyone else was in the same predicament. Some hid it better than others, or were just inherently more comfortable with the medium; however Google Plus was too new for anyone to be established at Hangouts. As the comfort level grew, so did my enjoyment and love of Hangouts.

As a single mom, I don’t get out much these days. The boys are in bed early but I am up for hours still, a night owl and social by my very nature. Hangouts give me the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world, to sit up late at night and converse, argue, debate, listen to music, explore the internet and ultimately forge some incredible new connections and relationships.

Over the past 6 months I’ve been able to broaden my horizons in fantastic ways. I was introduced to dubstep (yes, I know!) through a music Hangout. I’ve gotten to know more about the remarkable differences and intriguing traditions of other cultures through direct chat with strangers I may never see or meet. I’ve randomly helped a few strangers through small donations. I’ve seen exotic locations through mobile Hangouts and had discussions on everything from food to health care to love won (and lost) .

There have been some incredible, personal stories shared with me. Some publicly in comments on threads and some far more privately. I’m always touched when virtual strangers open up and tell me more about what makes them, them.

After posing a question, what book really seized your imagination and got you to start reading I was astounded at some of the deep answers shared with me. Behind the curtain of a monitor people shared parts of themselves few people share face to face. I read about one person using books to fulfill the role models they never received from their own parents; another shared his personal work experience with one of my favorite authors.

Similar stories, moving and emotional came after a post about dating single parents. I cherish each time people shared themselves with me. Everything from a mother’s death, to the loss of a twin, to surviving childhood cancer, to orphaned adults alone for the holidays…job loss, promotions!, gift exchanges, sharing of that one little link you know will matter to someone, exposure to new music – so much to explore, but all of it in a very personal matter.

What this has really boiled down to, for me, is that all those random, strange “internet people” have become so much more. Connecting through common interests rather than common locations, I feel like I’ve had this amazing opportunity to explore the people that make up the internet.

So what happened to me? I wound  up on a cruise with some of those “internet people” and had the absolute time of my life. I challenge you , who’s out there waiting for you to get to know them? Who haven’t you met yet? What haven’t you learned about yet?

Gadget Girl

I’m not quite sure when I became a gadget girl, but it smacked me full force upside my head when my ex-husband asked my opinion on the new Kindle Fire. Here’s the thing, he’s a professional computer technician and, while highly technologically literate, I have far less knowledge about all the computer guts that goes into these devices. But….somewhere, somehow I’ve transformed into one of those people that are now sought out for advice before making a purchase!

I’ve always been a clever girl, but I largely left the programming of all those gadgets to others. Hook up the surround sound stereo? Hoooooooney! Come do it for me! Virus on my computer? Drop it to my ex for repair and recovery. What phone to purchase? Last year I posed the question to Facebook and listened to the most reasonable, knowledgeable sounding person. But, after a torrid love affair with my Evo I found myself thirsty for more.

Before purchasing the tablet I’m now using to publish this very post, I poured over tech websites, read reviews, balanced my needs and desired features and decided by my very own little self exactly which gadget was right for me. And yes, I’m quite pleased with my decision. Even the purchase of this tablet had people requesting for me to post a review. Why and how did I suddenly become authoritative on these types of matters?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining….just flattered and slightly mystified at my own transformation. Ask my ex, he’ll tell you about every little fight we had about upgrading his phone. I never could understand why he had to have a new one when his old one still worked just fine. But, oh, do I get it now. When the iPad was announced I found the entire idea of tablet computing outrageous and unnecessary. Then again, ever a science fiction geek I probably should have realized my inner geek would eventually override it all. How could I resist a device so like the ones used by Wesley Crusher and Geordi La Forge in Star Trek?

My entire goal with this blog was too force myself to learn about gadgets, websites, blogging and technology so that I would know how to present it all to my children. I need to be “in the know” if I ever want a smidgeon of a chance at being able to use the technology to assist with parenting rather than be intimidated by flashing lights and unknown social networks. Looks like it might be working….if only a little bit.

On Dragon’s Wings

This morning I learned that Anne McCaffrey just died.

I can’t tell you the countless hours I’ve spent lost in worlds she created. The Dragonrider’s of Pern was among the first of the science fiction series that truly captured my imagination and mind. I grew up devouring tales of Pern, weyrs, threadfall and dragon’s flight. Through awkward preteen and teenage years I’d escape to Pern, dreaming of bonding with a dragon and sailing through the skies.

As I look back on those years, it’s difficult to put into words just how profoundly her books influenced my life. Short and chubby, with coke-bottle glasses, uncoordinated and clumsy, the “gifted” label placed on me at the tender age of 8 simply cemented the bully’s target onto my forehead. I was awkward, I cried easily and frequently and I honestly had no idea how to relate to most of the kids in my class.

McCaffrey’s heroines were always dealing with much larger adversities, with much more at stake than the simple emotions of one little girl. They were also flawed and made mistakes, they had hopes and disappointments, but they always stood up for themselves and did the right thing. Lessa, Rowan, Acorna, Menolly, Killashandra – they were all remarkable role models that rose above the challenges life threw at them and they did so with grace, humor and style.

Lunch hour after lunch hour, I hid from the cafeteria bullies in my Language Arts teacher’s classroom absorbed in Lessa’s quests, Killashandra’s struggles and the power of the Brainships. These women always looked at the world with a positive view and I desperately wanted to be them. I think I can attribute a good number of my personal values today to their influences while I was growing up.

What I didn’t realize then was that Anne McCaffrey was the first female writer to earn both the Hugo and Nebula awards and that she was reshaping how women were portrayed in science fiction. All I knew, was that these were women I could look up to and aspire to be. To this day, I would take it as a compliment to be compared to any of her heroines.

Soon I’ll introduce these wonderful worlds to my sons, but in the mean time I have some old friends to catch up with. Excuse me, I have some re-reading to do….

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