Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Future is Here, Are you Ready?

Carrying on the theme of last week's post about technology, there is something new under the sun.

Although an espresso coffee may give you a jolt, an Espresso book machine will blow your mind. I have yet to see the machine but I have seen videos of it and heard from someone who has seen it in action.  Basically, the machine, made by Xerox, is a copying machine on steroids.  You scroll through a menu to find the book you want, insert your credit card, and, in just four minutes--out pops the book, freshly printed!

The machine prints the cover, then the text, then it applies glue to the binding and attaches the pages.  The next step is to cut the pages to an even size, then the book is deposited in the unloading tray.  It's a lot like a vending machine that takes your money, you press the button for coffee, it drops down a cup, pours the coffee, adds a little cream and sugar, then allows you to reach in for it.

The book publisher who explained the process to me said she can't tell the difference between a book that came from her printing company and a book that was created via the Espresso machine.

So what does this mean to you and me.  It means that in the not-too-distant future, book stores like Barnes & Noble will have fewer stores, and fewer books on the shelves of the stores that do remain.  Although the machine is expensive, around $96,000, it will be more cost efficient in the long run to have people print out the book they want rather than stock a multitude of books and have to return the unsold ones.  College book stores have been trying out the machine for the last few years rather than stocking a quantity of text books that might not get sold.  Students insert their parents' credit card and print out the text book they want.  The cost of the book is the same, whether it's done this way or purchased by the book store and then by the student.

AND, if this doesn't blow your mind, here's something else!  The machine will also print in braille!  And wait, there's more.  If you happen to be dyslectic, you can ask the machine to print the book out in Daisy, a language more easily read by dyslectics.  It will also print the book in a multitude of languages--English, Spanish, French, Russian, whatever language you prefer to read in.  Books are going to be available to more people in every corner of the world than ever before.

I wonder what's in store for us as we go down this highway to the future.  Will we do away with the Government Printing Office and print our own money?  We can already print our own postage at home so this idea is not that far fetched.  Maybe we'll scan a menu, insert our plastic card, and pop out a gift for a loved one; no more schlepping from store to store looking for just the right gift.  The possibilities are endless as we've only read the first page of life's book.

The merry-go-round was invented on this day in 1871 by William Schneider of Davenport, Iowa.  I love to ride on one but let's face it, you just go round and round and get nowhere.  That can't be said of today's inventions, they are taking us to places we never dreamed possible, or even dreamed of at all.

Today's Quote:  Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.  Marie Curie.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a long ago time, I was young.  And technology was young.  We were both in our infancy, technologically speaking.

In high school I took the "commercial" course to prepare me to be a secretary, which was all I'd ever wanted to be since I was old enough to hold a pencil and sit at a desk.  In my sophomore year I took typing.  The only typewriters in the room were manual.

In my junior year, I took shorthand and transcription.  By now, we had two IBM electric typewriters in the room for students to practice on.  For those of you who remember carbon paper, making a typing mistake meant having to use a typewriter eraser to correct the original, with a typing shield between the original and the carbon paper so as not to smudge the copy.  Then on to correct the copy.  Computers are such a boon to mankind that unless you lived through the era of carbon copies, you don't fully appreciate them.  In a law office, you cannot make a mistake on a will; there are to be no erasures whatsoever.  Consequently, typing a will with three carbon copies, was like telling someone on an exam table not to move--the more you're told you can't, the more you need to.  I wasted paper after paper after paper trying to get a will typed that was erasure free.

In my senior year, I continued with shorthand and transcription and added office machines class.  The calculator (only one to a room) took up an entire desk and had one hundred plus keys--each row having ten number keys (ten ones, ten twos, etc.) and there being ten rows.  It was a relic, but seemed modern at the time.  Never would I have thought that someday we'd be carrying a calculator in our pocket!

Also in the room was a Dictaphone.  This was truly a relic.  It featured a floor stand with a horizontal bar at the top on which was placed a cylinder.  The teacher would dictate on the cylinder during off hours, then we would take turns sitting at the Dictaphone, turn it on, and listen and transcribe as the needle worked its way across.  I said I was young, but then so was dirt!

I graduated and moved on to become a secretary.  One of my first jobs was with an attorney.  He had dictating equipment but nothing like what I learned on in school.  No, this was a small device on the desk that held a reel to reel cassette.  Still nothing like transcribing devices nowadays, but a far cry from the one in school.

In the basement of that office was a "copying machine."  By that, I mean we took our original, did something with it to make a copy (time has dimmed my memory), took the copy and placed it in a tub of some kind of solution to process it (having first checked the temperature of the solution), then placed the copy in a sort of neutralizer solution, then hung it up to dry!  Yes, this is what we went through to make one copy!  It wasn't much different than watching my boyfriend develop pictures in a dark room.  Come on, I was sixteen, ALL we did in that room was develop pictures.

When new machines came out advertised as being "dry" copiers, similar to what we all use today, it was probably one of the best technological advances of our time that few people appreciate unless they went through the wet copy process.  I remember when that law office got their first dry copier, the attorney and I stood there printing copy after copy, totally in awe at how we couldn't tell the copies from the original.

On a side note, in an office later in my career, I saw a woman go to the copy room, make ten copies of a document, then sit down and proof read every single copy, as though one copy would be different from another!

Technology has increased a hundred fold since those days in the fifties.  And thank goodness it has!  I may get upset if I have to wait a minute for the printer to warm up, but then I remember....

Today's Quote:  The best of times is now.  Oprah Winfrey

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some Pressing Issues

Many people assume from my email address ( that I chose that name because I don't like to iron.  You know what happens when you assume!

Actually, people, you are partly right.  It's true, I don't care to iron; consequently, my wardrobe consists of mostly permanent press clothes and almost no items consisting of 100% cotton.  If I have to iron I will, but I'd rather spend my time at the computer, writing.

No, our email address came from my husband who, although he says he doesn't write, isn't creative, etc. etc., has a tremendous flair for words.  At the time we bought our first computer, seems like eons ago but actually was in the late '90s, we were told we needed to have an email name.  Without batting an eyelash, Fred quickly said, "Noirons."  When asked why that name, he explained that he had a particular set of golf clubs in woods, but no irons in the set.  Consequently, Noirons became our email name and has lasted lo these fifteen years or so.

Now, since we just celebrated July Fourth, I would like to show you a poem Fred wrote quite some time ago when he was upset at the Hollywood celebrities bashing our country.  This poem has gone all over the world to our military personnel, in the form of a bookmark.  He says he can't write, I ask you to be the judge.

To all veterans past, present, and future:
I am no one special but I have very special
freedoms, because of you.

I am no one famous but people all over the
world would trade places with me in a minute,
because of you.

I am no one special but I have the right to speak
about whatever I please, whenever I please,
wherever I please, because of you.

I am no one special but I choose the place I
worship, if and when, because of you.

I work at a place of my choice, pursuing the
career of my choice, because of you.

I can purchase any item in any number of stores
any time I want, because of you.

I ride my bike, I go to the movies, I go golfing or
anything else I choose, because of you.

I live in a country that gives us the right to
denigrate and protest the very men and women
who fight to give us that freedom because of you.

I am no one special but I have all these freedoms
because you are willing to fight to protect those freedoms
while a few ignorant people protest and
ridicule you.

You do so much for me and all I can do is thank you
and tell you how sorry I am that you have to hear the
ignorant comments of a few ungrateful people while
you are putting your life on the line to protect them and us.
I am no one special, but I thank God you are.
THANK YOU