The Elements Of Style

I noticed that my handwriting was getting worse and worse. At first, I thought it had to do with getting older. I noticed my mother’s handwriting got shaky looking when she reached 70.

I mentioned this to a friend who owns a digital company and he laughed. “When was the last time you held a pen and a piece of paper?” he asked. I thought about it. I do all of my note taking on electronic devices. Occasionally, I have to sign a document with a pen, or hand write a list. Other than that, everything is digital.

It’s no surprise that my penmanship looks wiggly. I lost my touch. That’s too bad. I’ve been told many times that when you hand write something you exude more emotion and detail. The feel of pen, or pencil to paper, allows you to be more creative. I can’t prove any of this, but it does make sense to me.

I work very hard to be totally digital. I really try not to use paper. In my profession, it’s totality uncool to be seen with a pile of papers. That’s why I loved a recent story in the Wall Street Journal that discussed what devices and apps you can use for note-taking and writing that mimic the pen and paper process. There are alternatives.

Read about it here.

Something New On The Menu

There is no secret that most restaurants are having a tough time making ends meet. We don’t go out to a restaurant without calling first to make sure they are still in business. You never know. We have shown up at a few restaurants only to find out that they closed a day or two earlier.

A company named Spacious, located in New York and San Francisco, is trying to help the restaurant industry. They created a new concept so restaurants can make money and get exposure to potential new clients.

Spacious is converting 25 popular restaurants in New York and San Francisco into weekday work spaces. That means restaurants who are closed for breakfast and lunch can now get paid for renting out their dining rooms. Restaurants make great work spaces for the community.

Bars and tables become desks and booths are conference rooms. For folks who would like to consider a restaurant as a workspace, it will cost $99 per month on an annual basis, or $129 by the month.

Will this work?

Spacious just received $9 million in venture capital and plans to sign up 100 more restaurants.

You can read about Spacious in the New York Times and here

Groupon Up For Sale

I remember my girlfriend Ruth telling me she thought the founders of Groupon, the leaders in daily deals on the Internet, were nuts because they turned down a $6 billion buyout from Google just a few years after they started. I agreed with her. We had a good laugh about how greedy they were.

A year later they were worth $16 billion after a 2011 IPO, which was the second largest for a tech company during those years. Ruth and I stopped laughing. We should have started crying that we weren’t the ones who came up with the idea. Ruth became a big Groupon customer. She always included us in the fun activities she bought. To this day, she and her husband Howard, are always going to amazing events that were presented on Groupon.

That’s why I was so startled when I read that Groupon was putting itself up for sale. Recode, a leading tech site, announced the sale. I later learned that Groupon is now valued at just $2.4 billion.

It doesn’t make sense that a very successful and popular company suddenly starts to go sour. I often wonder why it’s so easy for an entrepreneur to start a business but not as easy to keep it going forever?

For clues to what went wrong with Groupon read Recode. Click here.

Phone Home

I used to love coming home just to ask, “Did anyone call?” That was before cell phones. Now you know the answer because all of your calls go directly to your individual cell phones.

Even though everyone we know has a cell phone, the landline is still very much alive and well. The Wall Street Journal just reported that 44% of all households still own traditional at-home phones. This is a high number considering most people complain that they get way too many solicitations on their phones at home. They find it annoying to keep answering calls from commercial enterprises or people running for political office.

We still have a landline, with many extensions, because we just can’t depend on cell service. We get a lot of interruptions, or the calls just drop. That doesn’t work well when we are on business calls, or we need to have serious conversations.

It’s amazing to learn how many areas around the United States don’t have decent cell service. The Hamptons and Silicon Valley are notorious for poor service. We also can’t forget about emergencies like hurricanes, snowstorms, mudslides, earthquakes, floods, and fires. It’s always good to have a backup.

The Wall Street Journal has more to say about this subject. Click here.

Smile, You’re On Surveillance Camera

The last two DigiDame posts were about how technology is being used to monitor our every move. Today, I got a real scare when the New York Times sent me an alert about how “China is using facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people.”

Just look at the photo from the Times. It shows exactly how the Chinese authorities are keeping records of all of their citizens. It’s very unnerving to know that 1.4 billion people have cameras watching them all the time. I worry that the rest of the world may also be going in this direction.

We are living in times when we just don’t know what’s going to happen next. I often question if technology is giving power to the wrong people. One of my new clients will be introducing smart glasses that will be able to track your emotions and intentions. The purpose is to help people understand what the other person is thinking. I don’t know how well the glasses will work, but I do know that technology is going to change our lives in ways we never imagined.

Check out the New York Times story.

A Device That Could Make You Hot Or Cold

Everyone who knows me, knows I’m always cold. I’m the only woman in the universe who went through menopause with a wool sweater on. I never had night sweats or perspired through my work or party clothes. Some days I wanted to. I was always chilled.

I’ve been cold my whole life. My mother thought there was something wrong with my circulation. The doctors told her I was fine. When Eliot and I moved in together, he promised to keep our New York City apartment steamy hot. He did, but I still had complaints. If he walked past me while I was watching TV, I felt a draft. The apartment temperature was 90 plus degrees.

Even though I now live in Miami Beach, where every day is broiling, I still have to deal with freezing supermarkets, restaurants and movie theaters. I continue to carry a sweater on my arm and socks in my purse, if I need them.

I recently heard of Embr Wave, a wearable personal thermostat that helps you feel more comfortable indoors. I found a story about it in Business Insider.

You wear it on your wrist and it takes three minutes to make you feel five degrees warmer or cooler.

Embr Wave is all about skin temperature. When you are cold, your body temperature doesn’t really change. Your skin temperature does. The company claims that if you put something warm against your skin, Embr Wave heats you up.

It makes sense to me. It’s similar to when you wipe your hands on a hot towel. It warms your whole body.

The idea for Embr Wave was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013. A recent Kickstarter campaign raised $630,000. The company’s goal was $100,000. Intel and Bose also became major investors so this product must be good. It better be. It is priced at $300. That may seem like a lot to you. To me, there is no price I wouldn’t pay for comfort.

Meet The Press, Our Style

If you were anywhere near this crazy foursome last night in North Beach, Miami, you would have heard a loud and lively conversation about how our smart TV’s are now screening everything we watch, and then sharing that information with our other Internet devices. We are now being monitored from our TV sets, cell phones, iPads, virtual assistants and other smart appliances.

The reason? To help advertisers identify exactly who we are and precisely what we would like to buy.

Meredith Stark (L), a former CBS TV executive, was the first to mention a story she read in the New York Times yesterday morning that talked about how a company, called Samba TV, was tracking 13.5 million TVs. Samba funding was provided by Time Warner, Liberty Global and Mark Cuban.

Regulators and privacy groups are outraged about how we are being targeted, manipulated and judged by the shows we watch. Meanwhile, this practice marches on. I must say some folks like being targeted because they get what they want faster. Others are scared that their every move is being captured.

Which one are you? We all had mixed opinions even though we all agreed that we are being controlled more and more. That could lead to some very strange times ahead.

Read the story in the New York Times.