Where is Technology Going?

Apple just introduced Apple Vision Pro, and it’s as revolutionary as anything we’ve ever seen. In short, it’s a set of goggles that can immerse you in a totally new environment, and it makes Apple’s innovations like the mouse, click wheel (iPod,) and multi-touch (iPhone) seem primitive by comparison. See for yourself how immersive it is, and then step back into reality. Will technology be a tool or a controlling force?

The technical term for Apple’s new technology is spatial computing, and their promotional video will give you a sensual rush. The technology behind the mouse, iPod, and iPhone changed how we looked at computing and forced other technology companies to step up their games, too. In our eyes, Apple has upped the ante again with a quantum leap in technology that will open unimaginable vistas to the public – once we get over the $3,499 price tag and once the price drops.

So what, in essence, is spatial computing? In this case, using Apple Vision goggles and technology enables you to use your eyes, hands and even thoughts to create a screen in front of you that’s as big as you want it to be (larger than life, if you like) and open and use apps as you would from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer.

While that might be great for editing photos or videos or really zooming in on a map or satellite view of a place you’re going to visit, just think of what it would be like to watch a movie or sporting event in your kitchen or on an airplane. It can become a totally immersive experience. Likewise, think of what it can do for teams of surgeons or infrastructure repair technicians who need the same detailed visual information to complete delicate tasks in tight places. They can take this technology right to where they’re working.

One of the features that separates Apple Vision from VR (virtual reality) goggles is that you’ll still be able to see the space you physically inhabit, such as the room you’re in, and people will be able to see you. That helps for collaborative efforts professionally, and it doesn’t seem as isolating on a personal level.

However, it’s yet another move away from face-to-face human interaction, and that’s what’s bothering us. We already sit in rooms together, each of us busy with our cell phones. If we’re talking about something, at least one of us is consulting the internet to answer a question, provide more information, or order a pizza for delivery. The smartphone is an extension of each of us.

Where will it go with Apple Vision? Will we sit in the same room – and even look at the same things – but still be in our own little VR cocoons? Will we sit in conference rooms and look at the same presentation through our own set of goggles? That will totally defeat the benefits of eye contact and body language in learning some fine points that go into the decision-making process.

We know that’s taking an extreme view, but technology seems to remove more and more human interaction from every transaction. How often have you called a business’s customer service department and gone through exasperating menus before getting a human being to help you solve a problem in a few short minutes? More automation, it seems, makes our experiences more complicated and time-consuming.

Personally, I don’t like where we’re heading with technology. AI and chats don’t do it for me. We still need human interaction. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Security and Relationships

May 23 started out like a quiet day, but one phone call created a two-day scramble to quell a crisis. The solution included working around an unresponsive bank, rapidly deploying technology tools, and cashing in the benefits of good working relationships. It was the stuff of a thriller novel.

It had been a couple of very tough weeks. Your special agent/tech guy (me) was at the carwash when the cell phone rang. A client reported $140,000 was missing. It had been wired out of an account that day, and they couldn’t get anyone from their bank to respond to their phone calls.

“Hmm,” the special agent/tech guy thought, “$140,000 can cover the detailing work for several fleets of Corvettes,” but reality took hold. He couldn’t wait for them to clean his car’s interior. He jumped behind the wheel and headed for his client’s office.

With $140,000 missing and nobody at the bank picking up the phone, we found the police already involved in the case. We quickly realized there would be no telephone solution to the problem, and it took us until the early evening to solve this problem. The good news is that we were able to reverse the wire transfer all on our own after trying for hours to get phone support.

Here are the facts – just the facts, ma’am.

Obviously, our client’s system was hacked. It was a complicated case because it involved the email of an employee in the finance department who had just left the company. That’s one reason why the police were involved. There was no criminal activity, but there was a lot of sloppiness.

The hackers got into the former employee’s email account and saw that one password opened up a lot of doors in the company’s financial system. They reset the account’s password, created a new account that they could use to “approve” new transactions, and used it for the $140,000 wire transfer.

However, they made one mistake: They forgot to turn off forwarding in the account they hacked, and that’s how they were discovered. Our client had done the right thing by having the ex-employee’s email forwarded, and they created a special rule so that all the emails went into a separate folder. Several people monitored that folder periodically, and as soon as one of them saw the emails, the alarm went off. In most cases, this kind of wire fraud isn’t discovered for days, and the money is lost.

Our client was able to freeze their account immediately online, but they still had outstanding checks on that account. That matter also needed immediate attention.

So, the special agent/tech guy took advantage of a good relationship with another bank, which is also a client, first thing the next morning. He jumped in his car. The interior was still dirty. He drove to the bank, where he was able to help his other client open a new account and get checks they could print immediately to replace those outstanding in the frozen account.

But his work wasn’t done. The victimized client had resisted instituting multifactor authentication for all financial transactions. So, the rest of the day was spent instituting a two-factor authentication system and training everyone in its use.

We like to think the goodwill we’d built up with both clients helped one client get out of a hole and another gain a new customer. But it all could have been prevented with better passwords and an authentication system. Don’t wait for a disaster to strike. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your online security and the steps we can take to improve it.

Sharing Your Photographic Memory

We love to share photos and videos of the cool places we visit and things we do, and it’s easier than ever to do it and preserve your images while you’re still traveling. Here are some things to focus on.

If we don’t use our phones as our primary travel camera, we use a digital camera that records our images on SD cards. If we want to post some of our pictures to social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, or put them in an email or text, we need to get that image from the camera to a device that can connect to the internet. There are lots of ways to do it, and for the most part, they’re pretty simple processes. But remember that not all cameras are created equal.

Experienced users of DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex cameras) know, for example, that major brands such as Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Sony have proprietary systems for how their lenses interface with their cameras’ electronics. The more automated point-and-shoot digital cameras, which work similarly to cellphone cameras, also have differences based on their manufacturers. Most differences come in how you transfer your photos from the camera to a device that can access the internet for social media sharing.

Apps to transfer photos from cameras to phones are manufacturer-specific. Canon has Camera Direct, Nikon has SnapBridge, Olympus has OM Image Share, and Sony has Imaging Edge Mobile. All work with Apple iOS and Android phones; just go to your friendly OS app store to download the app and follow the directions to pair your camera and phone.

The best thing about all these apps is that you can have them transfer photos to the phone almost as soon as you take them so you can share them immediately on social media. More important, transferring your photos from your camera will get them into the cloud so that you’ll have the images if something happens to your camera. The manufacturers all have their own storage sites, and if you shoot RAW files (a complete, uncompressed digital negative), you have the option to save them on those sites. You can also shoot and save RAW files on newer smartphones. The key is to make sure you specify in all transfer settings that you want to keep them as RAW files. The default is to save them as jpg files.

However you save your photo files, today’s smartphones have some basic editing functions to help you improve the exposure and crop the picture before you send it.

If you’re above the basic level of on-phone photo editing, you can add people to a photo, as one of our car club colleagues recently did. Two key people were unavailable for a group photo, so someone with a smartphone camera took a picture of those who were there. He then took separate pictures of the two others, positioning one at each side of where the group photo was taken. He used the software on his phone to copy and paste them into the group picture. For our purposes, it was the perfect solution.

If you want to go beyond photo sharing on social media, you still need to get your photo files onto a device with photo editing software. You can use USB cables to connect your camera to your computer or a card reader that connects through a USB port. If your camera and computer both have the ports, you can also use HDMI cables.

If your camera doesn’t have the capability to work with a transfer app, you can also get a card reader that can connect directly to your phone through a Lightning connector (iPhone, iPad) or USB-C (Android phone or tablet). Whatever solution you wind up using, the cost should be less than $50.

If you have any questions about configuring your equipment to transfer your photos to the cloud or another device, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us, and we should be able to answer your questions or walk you through the process.