Smartphones and dumb phobia

Sooner or later, you’ll have a smartphone

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. July 3, 2014

One in five people currently owns a smartphone on planet Earth. That is quite remarkable, since five years ago I was convinced that I might never get one. I personally didn’t want to be a slave to my phone. But once I felt the sleek design of the iPhone 4 and engaged with the user-friendly interface, I knew that I wasn’t going back. I’m not sure if I’ve gone to the dark side or not, but my life has gotten significantly easier with a smartphone in my life.

Embrace technology. Believe it or not, we’re already slaves to it. We rely on technology for every little thing in our lives, from making a cup of coffee to saving people from traumatic injuries. Technology is the hammer and nails that built our houses, as well as the app that tells us how to get to our friends’ houses. It’s true that hammers can be used maliciously just as the Internet can be, but as long as the number of good uses is greater than the number of bad, we can’t really argue with it.

As mobile devices and wearables get more advanced in our society, it’s important for us to utilize it and learn as much as we can. The sooner we know how to operate it, the better off we’ll be. Technology does not have to be an addiction. Technology can also be a good habit to help you live a better, healthier life.

Have you ever seen a child operate an iPad more proficiently than their parents or grandparents? It’s cute, but that bar is also being raised every day. Soon we’ll be the inept parents and grandparents, unable to update to the next version of iTunes on our Google Glass. We’ll be asking our kids and grandkids to help. While that might seem like the inevitable passing of the torch, I don’t believe our generation will suffer that fate if we continue to progressively learn and use new technology as it comes along.

Sure, it doesn’t make sense for software and Facebook to change every few months for no real immediate purpose, but we shouldn’t judge technological leaps upon their inception. While many designers, engineers, and manufacturers are still working out the kinks for wearables, such as smartwatches and Google Glass, we should be excited for these new innovations—disruptive as they are.

Everyone will have a smartphone one day, because it will become the standard as innovations continue to make strides. If you’ve been resistant to new technology for so long now, you probably won’t be convinced by me, but I’m just saying that the longer you go without it the more handicapped you’ll be should smartphones be imposed on you one day.

Farm At Hand is the Modern, Technological Solution to Traditional, Antiquated Farm Organization

There is a common misconception about farmers that Farm At Hand cofounder Kim Keller wants to wipe out.

“[Farmers] are just people like everyone else,” said Keller, who grew up on a 12,000-acre farm in Saskatchewan and continues to farm to this day. “They use their phones for banking, news, Facebook and Twitter. They are on all of that everyday, because they obviously have lives outside of farming.”

Farm At Hand sprouted from the idea that farmers needed a new solution for managing their inventory, field activities, calendar, deliveries, contracts, equipment and storage. But the problem was that there wasn’t anything out there. So the farmers resulted to the primitive solution: pen and paper.

“On the farm each piece of equipment will have a notebook where the person operating it will have to write everything down,” Keller explains the complications that farmers deal with. “Chances are they didn’t write it down, or if they did write it down it doesn’t make any sense to the person who actually has to read it. Notebooks get lost, get covered in water, coffee, whatever. It’s a matter of not having information for record keeping and it ends up costing a lot of money in mistakes.”

The goal for Farm At Hand is to streamline the management process by creating a single point of data entry for the famers and a single point of access for agriculture businesses. Whether the farmers are tracking the growth of a potato or the pesticide spray in an acre of crop, the optimal results can only be reached when the work is communicated and tracked effectively.

“We have a lot of record keeping and data that comes into the program,” said Himanshu Singh, co-founder of Farm At Hand, “but actually turning it around and supplying summary of the data, providing summarized report of the end of seeding and things like that is what makes the application valuable.”

“When farming operations gets large with so many different people around, farmers need to make sure that task are completed,” added Singh. “[Farm At Hand] is just a better way of visualizing that information.”

Farming jobs change depending on the seasons and so does the way farmers use Farm At Hand features. During the growing season, the field planting and spraying features are used predominantly. Then as farmers approach the harvest season in the fall, they begin to use the storage features. In the winter, the equipment, contracts and sales features are used. Farm At Hand is built with farmer’s various workloads in mind, understanding that at any given time of the year certain jobs will shift and so must the usage of the application.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations by 2050 farmers are required to produce twice as much food to feed a growing population. It might seem like a long time from now, but the day is fast approaching. While more farmlands and farmers may seem like a plausible answer in the next 35 years, Farm At Hand believes that the real solution is in managing and organizing the system we already have for increased efficiency.

“I’m not sure if things are changing quickly,” said Keller, “or if people realize how important their food source is now, but agriculture is earning a lot of interest and farmers know they need something better.”

The Impact of Smartphones and Social Media on Our Ability to Make and Keep Plans

Initial planning or planning ahead means nothing anymore. Scheduling events and then adjusting them as the date approaches have always been common, but it has become so convenient that all the communication leading up to the big date does not even really matter. With a click of a button—without an excuse or a doctor’s note—we can bail thanks to the flexibility liberated by technology and the flakiness of the new generation.

My expectations, when I make plans, have changed significantly since I started using Facebook. I was a latecomer to the social networking platform; I was going through this phase where I didn’t want to “conform” with those simply interested in a new fad. Who knew at the time that Facebook would become such a significant part of my life?

What finally got me to sign up was the fact that I felt forgotten. People weren’t inviting me to events because I wasn’t on Facebook. I was left feeling rejected because it was such an inconvenience for others to pick up the phone and tell me the time and place of the event. My friends would be out having fun, while I would be alone, doing whatever I did before Facebook. It was high school all over again.

I gave in. I got Facebook and rejoice. I got invites again.

Flash forward seven years later, now I’m bombarded with invites monthly: My musician friends inviting me to their shows, my semi-close friends inviting me to their birthday parties and even Facebook itself is suggesting events for me to attend. The thrill of receiving an invitation is lost—it feels a bit like spam—and technology began to foster the flakiness of the new generation.

We now live in a world where “Yes” means “Maybe,” “Maybe” means “No” and “No” means “The Hell With You! I’m Way Too Important!” So how can we over come this problem? How do we get people out to our events without sounding like a party-Nazi?

 

Make Plans For Yourself First, Then Invite People

Just because other people are flaky doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time doing what you want.

Example: You really want to see a band. Well, buy your ticket to the concert first and then let your friends know. Odds are, seeing your commitment will convince them that the event is worth going to and therefore they will purchase their own ticket and meet you there. If not, well, this might just be a great opportunity to meet new people that share the same interest or you can sell your ticket for a fair price.

 

Flexibility Won’t Please Everybody, So Be Firm

No matter how many times you adjust the schedule, there will always be problems. You cannot please everybody and you’ll be doomed if you try. Give a few options that work for you, and if a few people are left stranded—so be it—there will be other events in the future.

The more you reschedule the more you’ll test people’s already limited patience and the less likely anybody will show up at all. Be firm!

 

Assign Responsibility So Attendees Feel Needed

Whether it’s with friends, families or colleagues, getting together for an event should be teamwork. You can instantly weed out the flakers from those who are reliable by assigning certain tasks to people.

Generally speaking, people like lending a hand, and they’re more likely to show up when they are feeling needed and their presence really matters.

 

Avoid Breaking Plans You’ve Made Yourself

Events are something people look forward to, so if you need to cancel for whatever reason, do so as soon as possible. The least you can do is allow your friends to salvage their day. But know that every time you cancel or bail on a plan you made yourself, you become less credible in the eyes of your guests.

They will see your flakiness and mirror it, and that might be the root of all the problems.

The Adventures of ROFL Cat: A Tale of Internet Slang

In late 2013, I had an opportunity to work with Jeff Allen, Dana Renaud and Maggie Clark, as well as the talented Cody Klyne, in bringing to life an idea I had stowed away in my head for many years. For that I say, thank you.

rofl

When you produce content regularly, not every piece of work stands out. Time passes and some fade away without any recollection—in fact, sometimes I don’t remember writing a piece at all when I reread it over the course of a couple months. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about forgetting ROFL Cat anytime soon… it is a project I can genuinely say I’m proud of. Not just because it was an idea that sat passively and patiently with me for so long (ideas are known to vanish before I get a chance to write it down), but also because those that contributed to the book did such an amazing job. I’m sure my pride for it is justified.

If you have not seen the works of Avery Monsen and Jory John, search them up. They are authors of the hilarious illustrated series All Your Friends Are Dead and K Is For Knifeball: An Alphabet of Terrible Advice. Those hardcover children’s book with adult humour was what I wanted ROFL Cat to be like: funny, in an adorable and rude kind of way.

Since the book is produced as a part of my professional writing program at Douglas College, we were offered limited printing. I would love for everyone to have a copy of ROFL Cat on the coffee table and bookshelf, but that simply doesn’t seem possible at the moment, as the demand is quite low—that being said, I still want to share it.

Here is the product of a bunch of talented people working together on one of my silly ideas:

ROFL

The Adventures of ROFL Cat: A Tale of Internet Slangs

 

– Elliot Chan, April 21, 2014