Personal Technology is hard. Every question leads to a rabbit hole of answers, and generally speaking, it’s anything but simple.
All too often, we hear our clients sell themselves short with a comment like “my questions are simple” or “you must think I’m technically illiterate.” And every time, we reassure them that these questions are no different than everyone else’s. After all, mastering technology involves learning an entirely new language of gigabytes, apps, and the infamous “cloud”.
The fearless attendees of our “Tech Untangled” event at The College Club of Boston were no different. Prior to the event I sat down with guests to understand some of their questions and one said “you probably think I’m technology-inept, but I can’t figure out how to get my printer to print reliably.” If only she knew that “reliable printing” was pretty much an oxymoron!
And so we embarked on another Tech Untangled event where we engaged in interactive Q&A on the use of day-to-day tech. The hardest part of each session is drawing the line when giving advice and having guests leave thinking they can go home and do it themselves vs. recognizing that they should hire an expert. Every question starts simple but gets complex quickly as a mix of personal preferences are made clear (“I don’t want my email to synchronize”) and unique situations arise (“I use a windows computer, an old iPhone for personal use, and a new Blackberry for work”). We used a projector to connect our computer and iPhone for demonstration purposes, and did our best to keep things high-level and simple. We spent some one-on-one time with individuals after the general Q&A for some extra detail.
Here are some of the questions we fielded with a summary of the answers
Email Management “When I delete an email on one device, it doesn’t delete on the other – how do I make the two devices stay in sync?”
Several people asked this question. The biggest culprit for email was the use of AOL or Comcast as a provider. We reviewed the benefits of using a contemporary email provider such as Google, Yahoo!, or Outlook and discussed how one might transition from AOL to a new account.
This got confusing quickly because AOL doesn’t allow you to automatically forward emails to other accounts. I demonstrated Google’s feature for checking email from other accounts – which was specifically designed to accommodate this issue.
iPad and iPhone functionality “How do I keep my iPhone and iPad backed up?” “How do I track where my iPhone and iPad are in case I lose them?” “How do I keep my text messages in sync between my iPad and iPhone?”
Some of these are common questions, but also among the easiest to answer – kudos to the technology industry for making these highly advanced concepts easy for everyone to implement. We discussed “Find my iPhone” and “iCloud Backup” and how easy it was to turn them on.
For synchronizing messages, we discussed the difference between the “green” text messages and “blue” iMessages – and if anyone has ever tried to explain this concept to non-technical users, you know it’s tough! (It’s so tricky that we even use it as an interview question for hiring at OneVision.) A savvy user asked “if Blackberry and Google messages can sync to an iPhone, why can’t an iMessage sync to an Android.”
Down the rabbit hole we went…
Photo Management “How do I keep my photographs in sync between my computers and devices?”
The tough part here is that no one has really solved this in a comprehensive manner.
Many attendees have iPhones and iPads, so it was easy to recommend Apple’s Photo Stream as the solution. On the computer, while Photo Stream keeps recent photos synchronized with your Mac, there isn’t a comparable, well-supported solution for the PC-environment. And it’s a stretch calling Photo Stream a synchronization solution, but with iPhoto in the Cloud around the corner, it’s a safe step in the right direction.
The conversation took a turn to discuss specific photo management solutions, such as Picasa and iPhoto. We had fun testing facial recognition by finding photographs of my daughter Penelope and exploring my photo library distributed across a map of the earth.
Wearable Technology “What about wearable tech?”
I always love this part of the Q&A when we get to talk about the future of technology. Someone asked about “using wearable tech to stay connected without being plugged in all the time”, so we spent some time talking about Ring.ly (a Bluetooth-connected ring that vibrates and lights up when messages arrive on your iPhone) and the upcoming Apple Watch. I went back in time a bit to talk about “music control from my snowboarding jacket”, something that came out years ago with some of the first iPods.
And I jumped into the future talking about the Myo (an armband that detects your muscle movements), wirelessly connected to a skier’s GoPro camera, recording video while on a jump, and uploading it to Facebook while riding down the mountain. The promotional video that demonstrates this is amazing!
I enjoyed this Tech Untangled event and want to thank The College Club of Boston for hosting the discussion in their beautiful space.
If you’re looking to host a Tech Untangled event of your own or have another idea for a technology-related event, please reach out to our events team at firstname.lastname@example.org.