Tag Archives: Technology

“I Am Not My Work” – Fear and Mindfulness in Entrepreneurship

Rohan Gunatillake is a business owner.
He is the creator of a new mindfulness app, Buddhify, which brings meditation, affirmations and calm into your busy day wherever you are. Listening to his talk about fear, work and mindfulness at the 99u Conference, we at Intent were very familiar with so much of what he covered. Continue reading

How to be Your Own Yoga Instructor

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It’s common to feel distracted after a long day, but sometimes this can put your mind in a different place entirely when you’re trying to focus on relaxing your mind, body, and soul. Yoga and meditation have come a long way in recent years and with the help of some new technology, you may be able to get the most out of this time with yourself. The following tech can help you correct your posture, breathe, relax, and keep track of the progress you make while meditating and doing yoga. Continue reading

Getting into Better Shape with Technology

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When summer comes along, and the warm sun and blue skies banish the gloom of winter back whence it came, it’s normal for us all to want to look our best. Everyone naturally puts on a few pounds in winter, between the claustrophobic confines causing our exercise routines to suffer, and the body’s natural storing of fat when cold weather rolls around.

Not only do we feel better physically and emotionally for putting the work into a summer exercise routine – our health and longevity benefit as well. Still, as the mercury rises in those thermometers, many of us fall short of our fitness goals, owing to how back breaking and tedious exercise can often be. Continue reading

Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To

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There’s always a sense of crisis in the air generated by whatever bad news is making the headlines. At the moment, the greatest alarm is being stirred by terrorism and the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet at a deeper level, our anxiety centers on something much deeper, the possibility that the human experiment has reached a dead end. A set of enormous problems face us, from climate change and overpopulation to epidemic disease and global water shortages, that test the limits of human nature.

The terrible possibility of moving backward in our evolution as a species seems possible to many observers.  We occupy a unique place in Earth’s evolutionary history, being the only creatures threatened not by natural selection but by our mindset. Pessimists point to climate change as a stark example. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of global warming, no solution is being acted upon quickly enough. The American public has become numbed by issue fatigue. Deniers have political clout, and ordinary citizens feel helpless to the point that many feel doomed. We continually prefer to either ignore the problem or push it away as the consumer lifestyle adds more and more to the underlying problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

Smartphone Apps: Can They Help Health Intentions?

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In the never ending quest to reach that ultimate pinnacle of what I feel is my utmost best health and fitness, I’ve tried many different foods and workouts. As with almost everything else in life, smartphones are quickly becoming the first line of defense against slipping back into old habits, and I wondered if this technology could be my answer to improving my health without allowing the goal of treating my body better to seem too large or general to accomplish. We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s an app for that” but really, almost anything health related has an app. A quick scan of the  iTunes App store boasted thousands of medical apps ranging from an encyclopedia of medicinal herbs, to a baby heartbeat monitor for pregnant women to use on their growing bundles of joy.

 

In the beginning stages of my research, I noticed that even the medical community is getting in on the game, using some very specialized apps which have allowed doctors to quickly and efficiently diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. At first I was leery, since according to the health tech industry blog HealthITjobs.com, users should always consider carefully what information they’re inputting into apps: “There are real concerns with regards to privacy and HIPPA compliance within this new wave of health related apps. Most of these apps are not regulated by the government for safety or security so right now the responsibility lies in the hands of the app developers. On the flip side, these apps are empowering individuals to take control of their own health and enabling healthcare providers to make better decisions with more data.”

Continue reading

Be Present in a World of Constant Connection

presentThe bus from Yangon to Mandalay was packed and I was the only foreigner on it. As such, I was given a seat up front, among the monks dressed in their dark orange robes. Slowly we made our way north on the toll way. In Myanmar, there aren’t any radio stations or satellite radio to be played as the miles crept by. The country has the lowest mobile phone penetration in the world after North Korea and, well, considering that that country is on permanent lockdown, Myanmar has the lowest mobile phone penetration of any country where you can actually buy a phone.

This means as the miles roll by, the people on the bus start to converse and talk. The conversations start muted, whispers from two people sharing a thought or secret and then they slowly built. By the time we were an hour out of Yangon, people were standing in the aisles, talking, laughing and sharing snacks. By the time the bus stopped for lunch, everyone piled out together and shared tables at the the roadside restaurant.

I thought of that trip last year as I sat at the airport in Boston recently. All around me were my fellow passengers on the journey, glued to their phones and computers, listening to music and shut off from the world. There wasn’t a single conversation happening around me. No one had met anyone or shared a story of their day. No snacks were being pulled out and traded.

In Myanmar, they are anxious for the chance to buy the latest phone. They lament the lack of Internet and how slow it is when it does exist. They wonder how much better their lives would be if they had more wifi, more connection and more technology.

In the States, I don’t think that collectively we understand the impact of technology on our lives. I have learned a lot during my yoga practice about being present, about being on the mat. At one of my favorite yoga studios in the world, there is often a sign on the blackboard about how you can’t do anything tomorrow and you can’t do anything yesterday, today’s the day.

We speak in the Internet and the ability to be in touch with everyone in our collective worlds as being “connected.” Partially, that’s true. The technology and the platforms that are at our fingertips do make it easier to stay in touch with family, friends and business colleagues – especially the ones that are at a great physical distance from us.

But it comes at the cost of disconnecting from where we are now. At the airport in Boston, I watched as people messaged, emailed and called people who were not around them physically. I realized that every person around me was trying to connect electronically with a person or a place – they all were trying to be somewhere else, or with someone else.

When a hundred people gather to get on a plane, and everyone is trying to be somewhere else, there is no chance of true connection. There is no chance to meet someone interesting or perhaps, meet a new partner or even future spouse. My parents met in Washington, D.C. at the airport. My mother was flying up to New York for the weekend and my father was heading home to Boston. Would they have even met if they had both had their heads down texting friends? I doubt it.

The advent of wearable technology, Google Glasses and the like, will make the situation even worse. At least when people have to look at their phones or computers, there is the chance that that they might make eye contact with someone. If they are wearing their phone, that low chance is completely gone.

In Myanmar, they anxiously await lower prices for cell phones and improvements in the Internet. All that does is make me want to return there before it happens so that I can enjoy a people and a culture that is still truly connected.

Does Family Time Stand a Chance Against TV apps?

family tv appsBy Alexis Caffrey

Not long ago, programing schedules tethered us to our televisions.

You’d leave a dinner party early to catch Grey’s Anatomy. Wake up early to watch Wimbledon. Sneak out during the sermon to watch a Seattle Seahawks game.

The advent of TV apps – the mobile-living answer to the VHS video tape and DVR power – has spawned an untethered age in which you can bring TV shows with you to the bathroom or cheer on your favorite team while you power walk or cook dinner.

Awesome, right? Especially when you can stream shows for free through most TV providers: Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, and Comcast all have apps with streaming and On-Demand content now. These networks allow users to download entire movies or even seasons of TV shows in a flash.

But if mom’s got The Bachelor on her tablet while dad tunes in to wrestling in the den and each kid has a small shining screen streaming Nickelodeon, what does that mean for family time?

Here are three ways to navigate screen-heavy waters, and prevent anyone in your family from becoming a bleary-eyed stranger.

1.    Don’t make solo screen time evil

We all need our fix.

A little Mad Men might appeal to you, but your spouse would rather get lost in a little Scandal. The baseball playoffs are religious for one parent and two kids, but the other parent and youngest child don’t know a designated hitter from a designated driver.

Dedicate a timeframe in your busy days in which it’s OK to take a smartphone on the porch to binge a little on TV. When school’s in session, this time can serve as a reward for good grades or if homework is finished.

Takeaway: Not all screen time is bad, and it should be treated as a reward.

2.    Place limits – on yourself, and your kids

Just say no.

One way to cut down on the rat race is to cut a little of the racing. Only you know what’s manageable to your family, but when kids have more than one after-school commitment, it can impact not only how well they can perform in it, but also how they behave outside of it.

Softball practice squeezes time to practice piano which compromises homework time. The first casualty is usually leisure time. How can a teen keep up with Glee when the other commitments push her late into the evening – especially when no one else in the house can stand her show?

Takeaway: If a kid can pour his heart into chess club, then come home, have a snack, do his homework, and relax by watching a show before dinner, make sure they are leaving some time for family, too.

3.    Gather round the same TV

The evenings of story time by firelight in the frontier days are long gone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy quality family time. Sharing TV is better than sitting in silence around a dinner table.

Here are a few ways your family could embrace the age and gather around the TV together.

1.    Find common ground

Everyone’s favorite programs seem so … out there. Unrelated. But when you can identify common ground, you have a place where everyone can at least give Merlin a chance. If an NFL star is on Dancing with the Stars, you have a built-in hook for family sports fans.

Parents might even want to give an episode or two of Good Luck Charlie a chance if they can find something relatable in the plot.

2.    Share the love

Does no one else understand your fascination with Doctor Who?

Try this: Find an episode that you think at least one other family member could identify with. Challenge everyone in the family to find something about their favorite show or sport that the whole family might find interesting, and share it with everyone else.

It’ll at least be a lesson in tolerance; at most, you could gain an ally for the shows you love.

3.    Show them the classics

Perhaps today’s kids won’t identify much with the children’s lives on Little House on the Prairie, but comedy and drama are ageless, and the differences between then and today might be enough to keep the kids engaged in a few episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

Takeaway: Alternating nights of Happy Days and The Suite Life of Zach and Cody might lead to a night you turn off the TV and talk about your favorite shows instead of watching them.

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Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology. You can reach her via @alexiscaffrey or alexiscaffrey.com

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Intend to Disconnect to Reconnect

(140/365) Computer magicIt may seem like a conflict in ideas but the only way to connect is to disconnect. To connect to your real self  – to know your talents, strengths and passions – that will allow you to connect to your best life – you have to disconnect from your world. Not for long. Just every now and then.

See, the more we are connected to the distractions and noise of our world, the more difficult it is to quiet things down enough to focus inward. All important information happens within. We have information about who we are, what we believe, what matters to us, what we are passionate about and what we are good at. We don’t have access to this information unless we disconnect from our busy and distracting world; we have to tune out to tune in.

In nearly every moment, we are connected to a world that demands our constant attention. We are on the Internet, texting, calling, communicating. I did an informal test this morning while I was stopped, waiting for my left arrow light to change from red to green. I counted the cars that passed me; of the thirty-two cars that passed, twenty-four were on their phones. Seventy-five percent of the people just at that light were connected.

True, while driving is not the place to disconnect to connect – when driving we need to be fully present to the road and the conditions. But it was an indication of how many of us are unable to disconnect from today’s distractions. And the more this happens, the less we create the space to be able to connect to the really important things – our sense of self. Without this information, we don’t know what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. Without this information, we are unable to look at our world and know how to find our fit – our place. And because we don’t know what opportunities fit us, we listen to others and herded around life by those who tell us where to go, how to live and what to believe. We have to disconnect to connect, we have to tune out to tune in.

In the quiet of tuning out, we start to listen to our inner voice. We can only hear this when things are still – quiet. Though our internal voice is very powerful, it rarely can compete with our ego and our world’s voices. To be able to hear our internal voice, we have to find the volume control and turn the outside voices down. Our deepest self has amazing wisdom, as it is our core – our spirit. It has all that it needs to help us show up wisely, happily and successfully each day. It is just that we haven’t ever learned about what it has for us, and how to access it. We have instead been taught that today’s wisdom is in books, schools and in others. Few of us realize that today’s wisdom is in ourselves – unavailable until we choose to access it. And for that, we must take the time and create some quiet space.

How can you take 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each day to disconnect from the world so you can connect to yourself? What will it take for you to see the value in listening in the quiet to your own personal wisdom? How could life change for you if you did?

Tune out to tune in; disconnect to connect. It takes effort to break our old habits but the benefits of developing the habit of creating quiet time to access our inner knowledge and wisdom is the key to living our most amazing lives. Now stop reading and go spend time with your awesome self.

photo by: Sarah G...

The Best Green Gadgets to Look For in 2014

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 7.17.04 AMby Elizabeth Eckhart

Green living is all the rage right now, as is reverting back to other, healthier lifestyles which benefit both us and our environment. But for those of us who have long raged against technology as the bearers of pollution and energy crises, it may be time to reevaluate.

This year the International CES conference not only has dedicated two full discussion panels to the topic of energy awareness (“Energy Efficiency Initiatives for Electronics: What’s Working and What’s Not” and “Green Standards: Who Should Run the Show?”) the judges have also awarded a select few products their Economic Innovation Award. CES 2014  will also find itself the show grounds for breakthroughs in home improvement, home automation — mainly temperature and energy control — as well as new and improved electric vehicles.

By home improvement, I don’t mean tools you’d use to build your own household additions, but rather appliances that, if added to your home, could do wonders in terms of improving energy efficiency. For example, you may already have a programmable thermostat (and if you don’t, what exactly are you waiting for?) but you definitely don’t have the Eversense by Allure Energy, Inc. This beauty goes one step further than programs, and actually adjusts temperature and energy usage based on how far or near each resident is from the home. This Proximity Control Technology is made possible by the complimentary mobile app.

If you’ve been leary of using a gas guzzling ride lawn mower, fear no more! Finally, someone has taken the initiative and created the first fully electric lawn mower. The mower uses zero gas and oil, which is obviously energy efficient, but also quieter. The RZT S Zero by Cub Cadet might be the green solution to lawn maintenance that you’ve been looking for.

Cooking and cleaning are two of the major tasks that can waste energy. For most homeowners, a good chunk of their water use is in laundry, which is why LG, who has swept up an incredible 15 innovation awards at CES this year, is debuting their new LG Front Load Mega Capacity Turbowash Washer. The name is a mouthful, but the washer is impressive due to its Smart Diagnosis, which changes the water and energy amount based on the size of load it senses. LG also contributed the LG Electric Double Oven Range with EasyClean, which implemented a high performing Infrared Grill system which cooks faster than ever, using far less heat than conventional ovens. Samsung, too, brought forth their addition to household chores with the DV457 Front-Load Dryer, which is the first dryer to ever receive an Energy Star Emerging Technology Award. The dryer is super efficient, and the first to have a temperature modulation system.

More efficient appliances are one way to go greener, but anyone that is even a little studied on the Consumer Electronics Show of 2013 knows another watched area will be home automation. Security Choice ADT was the first to roll out a complete home automation system with Pulse in 2010 and last year added increased energy control and an additional television interface. The benefit of home automation is the ability to control energy use from virtually anywhere. Using your smartphone, you can adjust temperature up and down, turn lights and appliances on and off, and even lock windows and doors to prevent drafts (or break-ins). ADT will have some competition this year, with both Lowes and Home Depot unveiling similar products to the market, which will no doubt be more affordable.

One of the biggest trends in green engineering is the increased availability of electric cars. The Tesla Model S, currently hailed as the top electric car in the game, has mentioned that they will be previewing their new “Autopilot” technology, which could sense people and objects around the car, and successful avoid them. Toyota will also be debuting new electric vehicles, such as the Rav4 EV and their brand new Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept.

CES 2014 will also feature greener and more energy efficient versions of hundreds of other products, though none quite as earth-friendly or innovative as those mentioned above. The show is grounds for some majorly impressive technology, and it is definitely a good sign that so much time and effort is being taken to recognize the products making a difference.

CES 2014 will be held Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

*Photo from CESWeb.org.

VOD: Sexism on YouTube Deters Women from Hosting Tech and Science Vlogs

Having worked on The Chopra Well for over a year before joining the Intent Team I know first hand some of the ridiculous comments vloggers can get. They range anywhere from spam and complete nonsense to hate language and death threats. The anonymity of the internet allows people to spread their inner demons with reckless abandon, and while no vlogger is safe from these types of comments – women by far get the worst of it.

In this video, Brain Scoop host and noted YouTuber Emily Graslie addresses the sexist and harassing comments she has to dig through in her inboxes in every week. It’s more than insulting (because it’s the internet and we should just accept that’s the way it is, right? No.) It’s deterring other potential female vloggers from creating their own science, tech or math based channels. Emily explains that there are currently 13 male hosted STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) channels and seven of them have over 1 million subscribers. There are 4 women with STEM channels and none of them have over 200 thousand subscribers. Is that simply because guys are better at explaining and hosting STEM content? If you honestly believe that then we can tell you right now that this is not the blog for you.

The reason STEM channels and fields remain so heavily male dominated is because women are more easily deterred by the ludicrous comments they receive from viewers. There’s more pressure on women to not only deliver great content, but to look hot while doing so. And what does that say about us? That if a woman isn’t found physically attractive then the words coming out of her mouth aren’t important. God forbid she should make any small mistake in figures or say something that could be misconstrued as inaccurate because you can bet there will be a handful of trolls ready at their keyboards to demand she go back to the kitchen where she belongs. It’s 2013, everyone. Why are we still in this place?

The best point that Emily makes is that the commenters themselves aren’t the only problem. It is those that idly stand by and allow it to happen. It is both men and women that throw their hands up and say “That’s just the way it is,” that perpetuate this cycle of sexist, misogynistic nonsense. We have to do better. It’s not enough that you yourself don’t belittle women, STEM vloggers or otherwise, but we have to take a stand against those that do. We may not be able to cure the ignorance that catalyzes this behavior but if we all unite in the movement to say that it’s unacceptable we may be able to shame them back into the dark, secluded internet caves they came out of.

Thank you Emily for fighting the good fight and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your mission to provide stimulating and interesting science content for the masses via the interwebs. We stand with you. If you stand with Emily too let us know in the comments below. If your first instinct is to make a comment about how she needs cuter glasses then I request that you please step to the left – ain’t nobody got time for that.

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