Tech wizardry is yet another skill set the 21st Century demands. Don’t know basic html? You are in such trouble. Haven’t a clue how to configure an iPhone? You hack.

Life. It’s complicated.

Apart from feeling like the IT department, nay, the CIO of my family, I have been called to stretch my mind way farther into the Cloud than most people

As retrieved from CloudTimes.org

would admit. Upon the recommendation of a dear friend who’s just as iPhone-happy as I, I cheerily downloaded the latest iO5 software, which is iSpeak for a sleeker operating system that allows the iPhone to do cool things like check your email and let you surf the ‘Net (does anyone even call the Internet that anymore?), which is what prior operating systems let you do too, only this one is supposed to offer a more svelt experience. I, on the other hand, nearly died.

You see, my nifty little update completely erased all my phone contacts. And disengaged my iPhone from the mobile network. So, like many who experience an unexpected power outage, I panicked in the dark. That is, in the light. The light-ness of my dismembered inbox.

I sniffed. I snorted. I stomped. Dagnabbit! Someone else must have experienced the same thing. So I went to my (Microsoft!) desktop and checked out a few forums. Soft ways, hard ways, go to the Apple store ways. None of it helped. Until I remembered my mobile phone provider gave me a manual configuration sheet to follow when I first set the thing up. So here’s what you need to do if you too are lured into the sexy surrender of a software update on your iPhone that then paralyzes the use of your mobile network.

Step 1: before you do absolutely anything tricky like connect your iPhone to your iTunes account and expect it to innocently choose only those things that will make your life more convenient and not do a general swipe/swish/swoosh when you press ‘update’, forgettaboutit. iPhone does what iPhone wants. So keep that manual configuration data handy that your mobile provider used to set up your phone in the first place.

Step 2: Go to >Settings.  Tap >General, then >Network. Tap on >Mobile Data network.

Step 3: If your data has not be erased, genuflect to the tech gods who did well by you. If it has been, go to the next step.

Step 4: Put in the configuration data as it is listed on the sheet your mobile provider gave you. Don’t have it? Call them.

Step 5: Leave a comment here telling me about your experience. Did it work? Are you cheering gimme a P-O-W-E-R-O-F-S-L-O-W! What does that spell?

Ah. Forgettaboutit! But do leave a comment because we tech minds have to stick together. It is far too easy to get lost in the Cloud.

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My iPhone doesn’t work in the United States. Or, more succinctly, the roaming charges would cost more than a flight at high season. So, along with my desktop, my automobile, and my TV work, I have laid my iPhone to rest for the next five weeks.

In a phrase, I am entering the No iPhone Zone.

It makes me light-headed at the thought, really. Fiddling with my various apps as we waited for the travel agent to nail down the actual flight times that had changed since we booked the trip seven months ago, I realized how wonderful my iPhone feels, resting with such trust in my hands. When some of my friends warned me about how fragile an iPhone can be, I quickly ran out to get a protective cover for it. And I’ve dropped mine twice; each time it was cushioned by an ultra-shock absorbing cover, a ‘thick skin’ if you will, to ensure a soft landing on any hard-tiled floor. I take great care to always have it with me. Not very slow of me, I know. But there are some things a girl just can’t do without.

Or can she?

As the travel agent clicked and tsked at his desk, my children and I each pulled out our various gadgets to make the wait more bearable. He went on and on with the airline until I finally got up, confident that my children were adequately distracted, and ran an errand before plopping myself down again. Just as I entered his office again, he put down the phone.

“I really don’t have time for this,” he sighed, as he folded the final travel documents into an envelope. His desk was clear, he had no to-dos bursting from his appointment book, and I wondered, as I discreetly tucked my iPhone into my bag, what he did have time for. Booking travel arrangements for people is his job, after all. Maybe it was all in his iPhone hidden in a drawer somewhere.

As we gathered our things, I spoke loudly enough so the agent could hear me. “We’re travelling without our gadgets,” I explained to the children who looked at me quizzically. But then, through some magical spell, they agreed.

“No iPod, no iPhone, no nothing. Nada. Nichts! We’re going to take in our surroundings when we reach the States. Basta!”

We all laughed at the thought of a real-live unplugged vacation. Go West, young lassy. And leave those devices behind. I can do it. I know I can.

It may not be as quiet in the car now, but I’m actually glad. That No iPhone Zone is sounding pretty good after all!

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Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

A visit to the mobile phone store taught me a lesson or two about what happens when you don’t know the questions to ask.

After purchasing an iPhone, I was told I couldn’t change my two-year contract for another month in order to add the Internet option so I surfed the Internet via my home-based WiFi, with inpunity, or so I thought.

Until I got the bill two months later (I was in the US for one of them). It was then that reality hit. My mobile phone company was charging me for what they thought was data transmitted by their system, which it wasn’t. And when I confronted them, they blamed the Apple store, that mecca of cool, for not telling me.

It’s a classic case of the consumer paying for service providers’ lack of intelligence; or, put bluntly, my not knowing the right questions to ask. As in, “How can I surf without said phone company claiming money for work they had not done?”

You’d think one wouldn’t have to pose such a question, but today, it’s cover your butt at all costs or everyone in the fluorescent-lighted store will stare unblinkingly at you.

The truth is our hand-held devices may offer us a lot of freedom, but they also sacrifice our privacy. The phone company knows whether I’m using their system or not, but because the phone was not set on ‘airplane modus’, they could happily claim I had. And don’t get me started on the whole ‘iPhones-have-GPS-and-therefore-Big-Brother-knows-where-you-are-always” shtick.

Puzzling.

Have you, in your work life, wished you’d known the right questions to ask before you started something? It seems to be the lesson of the month for me. It’s not how much you know, but whether you know to ask the right questions before it’s too late.

Or too expensive, for that matter.

PS  Here’s a great article to avoid my mistake!

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The Power of Why

May 12, 2010

 During a recent acting workshop with the gracious and gorgeous Gabrielle Scharnitzky, I learned the importance of asking ‘Why’ above all else. The motivation of the character informs everything that follows. Ask yourself what the character believes (the ‘why’) and the actions (the ‘what’) and the movements and words (the ‘how’) will automatically fall into place.

Simon Sinek also speaks of the power of why in leadership. When we are clear about our beliefs, we attract others who believe as we do. And that is the beginning of a movement.

I believe in the right to determine our own pace of life. Why do you believe in the power of slow?

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