2014 The Year that a Technology Literally Changed My Life

Even if you don’t know anything about me, you can probably guess that I’m a geek. I have to have the latest gadget, tool, software or machine. I like to stay on top of technologies that can improve my life, save me time or entertain me.
For 2014, it was an excellent year for technologies, but only one technology acquisition literally changed my life.

Now you may think that my Windows 8.1 ASUS VivoTab Note 8 8-Inch 64 GB Tablet (Black) with Integrated Professional Wacom Stylus  would be the one.


I carry it with me everywhere.  I read my 1700 kindle books on this device.  I handwrite notes with OneNote  with the Wacom stylus.  I keep up to date on news with Bing NewsReader, I write Word documents, PowerPoint, Excel and email. I use it to track my fitness steps and weight with FitBit and so many other things.  I really can’t live without it, though it hasn’t truly changed my life.

Now you may think that my new Microsoft Band Fitness Tracker Smartwatch Health Monitor would be the one.


The minute I put it on, I realized very quickly what an awesome tool this really is.  I’d been wearing a Pebble watch which never did much for me besides have BIGTEXT watch face and alert me when it was raining.  I was also wearing various FitBits, to measure steps and calories.  But the Microsoft Band gave me one wrist device that let’s me get email, calendar, facebook alerts, texts, phone call alerts.  It tracks steps, heart rate, calories and exercise routines with a GPS built in. It gives me access to Cortana to get directions from my phone.  It even has my Starbucks number handy.  During the workday, I almost never need to take out my phone because any important alerts can be read right from the band.  It is such an amazing productivity and health tracking tool, however, it also hasn’t literally changed my life.

Something that most people wouldn’t know about me is that I was born completely deaf in one ear and over time I was losing some hearing in my right ear.  I was specifically losing the ability to hear high frequency sounds, making it difficult to hear speech especially consonants.  Over my lifetime I would learn to read lips, sit at the leftmost seat at a table or conference room.  If I was walking with someone on the street, I would subtly move to be on their left so I could hear them without turning my head to lip read. Without doing so, I couldn’t listen and  see where I was walking.   Thankfully, many people I would work with would never notice these odd behaviors or “workarounds” I would do.  Some would notice and ask politely then would accommodate without embarrassing me.

I am a composer and musician who never heard stereo.  I used to turn up the base (thanks to our 27″ woofers) so I could hear depth to music and movies since I was missing the upper range.  After years of doctors saying there really was nothing to do to help the left ear, I was frustrated and stopped getting hearing tests.

Until May of 2014. I finally bit the bullet and went to see my ENT.  He said to me, you would be amazed at what can be done now.  So  I got fitted for  Phonak Audeo Q Hearing Aids with Cross.   I put one device in my left ear that has two microphones with a wireless FM transmitter and another device in my right ear that has 2 mics and a receiver from the left ear.  They are very discreet, matching my hair color and very hidden unless I purposely pull down my ear to show people.


They allow me to discern sounds coming from either side. I can hear someone whisper behind me on my left side.  I’m able to focus on the voice of the person in front of me without being distracted by background noise. I’m able with the tap of a tiny button on the hearing aid to raise/lower the volume depending on the loudness of the environment.

I’m able to connect via Bluetooth to my cell phone and laptop audio allowing me to hear the sound directly through the electronics in the hearing aid.  I even used it on tours where the tour guide would use wireless headsets.. This helped ensure that I could continue to hear sounds around me as well as the tour guide while we were on a walking tour.

When I watch movies, the sound is so clear, I realize how much sound I’ve been missing all my life.  After all, you don’t know what you are missing, if you’ve never heard the sound before.  I’m struck in awe sometimes when I pull out the hearing aide and realize how muffled and undistinguished sounds have been for me.

Apparently 5 years ago, this technology didn’t really exist.  Most hearing aids were bulky and required a wire to run from ear to ear, making it difficult to live a professional life without being self conscience. The audio devices(mics) were not designed to address the specific loss I had  until the electronics became more sophisticated. So until recently, it was not possible for me to live a normal hearing life.

This is why my hearing aid is THE technology that literally changed my life this year.

Now I share this story for those who have struggled their lives like I have or even only recently are experiencing hearing loss.  There is hope, there is a technology that can help you live a normal hearing life.


Getting Back to Blogging

Well, now that I’ve moved into a new role as Solution Architect for Enterprise Social at Microsoft, I thought I’d better get my act in gear and get back to blogging.

So as my Blog gets re-customized after a server failure and I figure out a new Theme on Social I’ll be pointing out and commenting on some recent events in Enterprise Social.

To kick things off, here’s a recent video podcast I delivered for customers and friends.

Watch CAT present a Podcast on Enterprise Social and what it’s like to Work Like a Network

See you all real soon!

Response to Felicia Day – on Women in Tech

It all started with this post on Techcrunch  Too Few Women In Tech? Stop Blaming The Men. and got more out of hand with  all the responses.  When I saw this post from Felicia Day Women in Tech, I thought I would carry my comment over here and see if there is further discussion.

I’ve been struggling with the issue for decades on the lack of women in technology.  Even after having risen up to be a Chief Technology Architect of a major Media/Publishing company I am still being surrounded by mostly men.

I was always interested as a kid in “girly” things, (i.e. knitting, fashion) etc. but I loved solving puzzles and enjoyed math.  I wasn’t a geek in school so I don’t think that its really the pink/blue thing so much as parents who wanted me to do what I enjoyed. I was only one of a few in my high school that went away to college.

From the very beginning of my technology life in college, I was 1 of 3 women in a class of 25 graduating with a CS degree.  I can blame it on the era, since computers were not easily accessible, (i.e. my first computer was a Commodore 64!) but I have a feeling that ratio hasn’t changed too much.

After school, I continually got pigeon holed into typically female oriented technology roles, (QA, project management) and I had to leave many companies to get recognized for my ability as a programmer/architect.  When I finally built up a reputation as a technology architect, I found that even in a room of architects, I was always one of a few women.  This was true regardless of the industry or company I was in.

Now that I’m even more senior, I run architecture reviews and enterprise technology designs with all male crowds.  I hope that these men who recognize me as a technology leader can tell their daughters that they can do anything they want too and that perhaps I’ve influenced  these men and how they treat their daughters.

I’m still constantly struggling now that I’ve been hosting Let’s Knit2gether, (a knitting show) because it seems like people can’t see an individual who is in technology having interest in things that are stereotypically women’s things.

We need to break down all gender stereotypes for children, no matter the age.  So it’s OK for a boy to wear pink and knit, and it’s OK for a girl to wear blue and play video games.

Oh and BTW, the first computer programmers were women. Look it up!

How to Deal With Your Multiple Personas on Social Networks

Google’s supposed Facebook Killer which was accidentally tweeted by Kevin Rose last week is starting to look like it might well address my issues regarding Multiple Personas.


View more documents from Paul Adams.
This might even be getting closer to what Charlene Li talks about when she describes the Future of Social Networking
SXSW09: The Future Of Social Networks

View more webinars from Charlene Li.
I certainly would be greatly relieved to be able to voice my views about topics and target the people in my network that would actually care about it.

How can Twitter be Used for Enterprise Collaboration?

Originally, I was going to post about the Kindle because I just ordered one and the implications of the Kindle to the publishing industry are overwhelming. But I didn’t receive it yet and I thought I would capture that real time instead (maybe even video?).

Instead, I’ve been thinking over the past year how Twitter can be  valuable for collaboration not only within an enterprise but also between an enterprise and their customers.  There’s been web chatter about Twitter’s secret monetization strategy and my theory is that they may be heading down this commercial path as more enterprise marketing organizations are beginning to leverage twitter for brand communications.

I’ve been a twitter user for more than a year.  I’ve primarily used it as  a mechanism to update fans on what I’m doing and finding out what kinds of things are interesting to them so as to incorporate these ideas into the podcast.  I’m amazed at how quickly Knitters (yes, with a capital K!) have caught on to the value of tools like Twitter and Plurk and how they  manage to incorporate Twitter/Plurk into their knitting work flow.

Some examples:

  • Cries out for help on pattern errors
  • Show and Tell on completed projects
  • Latest news in the industry
  • Updates from conferences and festivals

These are just a few off the top of my head.

So how can an enterprise leverage Twitter?

It’s ironic that just yesterday the discussion came up about how our organization is using Instant Messaging for better collaboration within our IT process and business processes.  It’s more timely than email, there are broadcast capabilities and there is a sense of immediacy that email doesn’t provide. It also includes attachment possibilities like email but is lighter weight.

I think Twitter, (hosted on the intranet or externally) is an interesting approach as well.  Since Twitter is an Opt-In or Subscription based platform, it cuts down on spamming messages and really targets people or messages that are valuable to the subscriber.

For instance:

  • Group activities can be announced as they occur this way all team members could subscribe to the group members to monitor broadcast current issues and status
  • Senior leaders can use it to keep the enterprise up to date on their activities. It’s not as cumbersome to twitter as it is to blog for someone of this level.
  • HR/Corp Communications organizations can update the enterprise on timely events and respond to concerns
  • Project teams can coordinate around the world and share progress and discussions.
  • Announcements to customers about product releases and announcements
  • Communications to customers on upcoming events

Again just a few ideas.

What about in your enterprise, are you using Twitter now or can you consider other approaches and uses for Twitter in your enterprise?

Leading Multiple Lives – Multiple Persona

Starting this new blog and Twitter, I’ve been struggling all day to figure out how to clearly distinguish my persona of Technology and New Media versus The Avid Knitter (LetsKnit2gether)

I believe that the audiences for each of these are going to be different in most cases.  For example, I doubt that new media folks are going to care that I just finished knitting a sweater for my nieces.  On the other hand, the knitters don’t really care that I’ve just discovered the latest tools for setting up Business Intelligence and Analytics Data Wharehouses.

Both fields interest me greatly, one my occupation and the other my avocation.   So how does one keep them separate?

Let’s start with Facebook.  Seems like there’s no chance of separating here.  You must use your name to create a login.  You can not segment your friends or the status/content you post to target only certain friends.

Twitter is better, but annoying. I can create two Twitter Accounts, but the web twitter tool uses cookies so I have to keep signing in and out of the different accounts to post.  I can’t have two different browser windows up one with each Twitter account.  On top of this, I can’t figure out how to warn people to follow the other account until after they start following the wrong one.  Of course they’re not reading the bio to be clear about which persona is which.

LinkedIn seems to be the easiest as most knitters don’t use this site other than their professional persona, however, there’s not much “social” going on there anyway.  So who cares anyway.

What I think needs to happen is a new platform that defines your Profile of Persona.  When you sign up for a new social network you define the Persona for that network by pointing back to this Profile of Persona.  Kind of like a wallet with different pockets for different persona the way you have for separate credit cards.    Any chance of this ever happening?

Share your experiences.  How do you get it to work.

Is Advertising Going to be the Only Monetization Strategy for the Web?

Over the past year, I’ve been struggling with the fact that the majority of social network, new media and other content sites seem to target advertising as their monetization strategy.

There are a few concerns I have  with this:

  1. Advertising rates for online content/media is extremely low
    Somehow rates started very low.  Content sites used to practically give the advertising away for free to gain print or traditional media advertising.
  2. Inventory for advertising is always growing to a point where it is a commodity easily come by
  3. The current state of the economy is reducing the total ad dollars available.

So what are the other options?

More on this later..