Five Ways People Empower Technology (and not the other way around)

In the cloud before it was “cool”

Had to laugh this Sunday afternoon just out of the blue: while I was selecting a printer in the drop-down dialog, I suddenly realized that the printers I have listed are more than 4,300 miles apart! I bit of background: I have offices in Central Texas and Lima, Peru, so my primary machine is my tablet computer. I don’t use a desktop for permanent email anywhere. Millions of us were doing “cloud computing” a decade before it became a hip 2010 term. There are many email clients, yet one of the most useful for me over the years has been the pda version of mail2web.com because it strips every thing to the barest bones. If I have a suspect email (one that I think might contain a virus, malware or other nasties), I can open it in the mail2web pda client, confident that no scripting is going to attack me (far as I’ve seen, the pda version doesn’t handle attachments, doesn’t allow html and doesn’t display images).

The point of the story is that as technology advances, the need for human contact grows stronger not weaker. Tammie Lister makes this point on the web [1]; while decades ago, Fr. Walter Ong made the point in his seminal work with Wayne Altree, Why Talk? (Chandler & Sharp, 1973, ISBN 978-088316505-8). From a more practical perspective, Hatim Tyabji, who traveled ~400K miles annually during the twelve years he was head of Verifone [2], focused on five key principles which encourage people to perform:

Speak out.
“They” is the one in the mirror (there is no they).
Do as I do, not do as I say.
Work for the team, not for a commission.
We expect you to perform, but you’re in charge of your life.

Rounding up this motley crew, I’ve written along same theme in the fictional account of Acme Southwest, in their introduction of a new software suite. [3]

Remote Email Access

Since email is at the heart of this connected world, let’s take a quick (& HIGHLY simplified) look at how to survive without a desktop. Open your browser to [yourdomainnamehere] and then put a /webmail after the ending (doesn’t matter if it’s a dot.com, dot.net or dot.int). If you see a dialog box open up, then your server is most likely running CPanel, which is a brand of control panel software. You should also see that the web address has changed to a secure connection with https at the beginning of the address. When you’re traveling and accessing email remotely, you want to be especially sure that you insist on secure connections, to reduce the possibility of your password or sensitive email getting compromised. (There are whole books about network security, so understand this is barely touching the surface!) As an author in the Penguin Classics for Children used to say, if you don’t see it, punt.

Now that you have a secure connection and an open dialog, put your full username [myname@myhost.com] in the top line and your password in the bottom line. After you hit enter, you’ll see three mail client choices to read your email: Horde, Squirrel Mail and RoundCube. All three have their strengths and weaknesses. Try them all and see what you like best.

Take care of your business, read, forward and delete, all from wherever in the world you happen to be! After you’re done, log-out and close the browser if you’re on a public terminal, to clear the cache so your email stays secure. Nothing to buy, nothing to install. It really is that simple! We’ll cover social media in a future article. Happy connecting in 2010!

Notes:

1. Wufoo and the Art of Customer Service
[http://www.diaryofawebsite.com/blog/2008/07/wufoo-and-the-art-of-customer-service]

2. At VeriFone It’s a Dog’s Life (And They Love It!)
[http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/01/vfone.html]

3. The Original “Acme” Story
[http://www.skerja.net/sc/articles/acme.html]

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A walk in the forest…

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