Tag Archives: technology

texting étiquette

Texting Etiquette, For Dummies!

By: Chris Warren.

Early Sunday morning I was looking for a few moments of mindless diversion browsing some internet forums and I came across a curious post by someone asking about texting etiquette. What followed was a long involved discussion about what is considered polite and what isn’t. I honestly never thought much about this, and from what I can tell, some people are thinking too much about texting etiquette.

It’s lost on me why texting is different than other forms of electronic communication and needs its own set of special rules. I understand some rules are a matter of practicality, but texting? Really? Here are “Chris’ Texting Etiquette Rules.” They are easy, simple, and to the point:

If you are texting with someone you are close to and know very well, then go with whatever is comfortable for the relationship. The rules are what you make them.

If you are texting with someone you do not know well, or it is a professional relationship, keep things short and businesslike. The use of emoticons and obscure abbreviations are not necessarily outlawed, but be careful they don’t make you look like a dork or overly personal.

Do not feel bad about texting people at weird hours unless they explicitly request otherwise . It’s on them to mute their phone if they don’t want to be interrupted. If you text someone in the middle of the night or at any other time when they may be predisposed (working hours, driving a car, holidays etc.), do not expect a quick repose.

One texting etiquette rule that popped up a lot was “never call in response to a text”. The huge problem I have with this is that texting has a limited capacity. I’ve often found myself in situations where a conversation starts as simple exchange and evolves into a convoluted back and forth. At some point, texting becomes too cumbersome and it’s way easier just to call.

Many if not most of the suggestions about texting etiquette I found on the internet are related to relationships and dating. If this pertains to you, my Number One rule is “when in doubt, leave it out.” This means if you even slightly question the propriety of what you are texting, then don’t text it.

For the ladies: Guys like texting because it is (usually) short, to the point, and emotionally detached. Don’t get all bent out of shape if your guy’s texts are not overflowing with little heart emoticons and kissy faces. To us, it’s communication, not a Valentine’s Day card. Therefore, if you text your guy and ask him what he wants on his pizza, and the the only response you get is…what he wants on his pizza, that’s not a red flag nor reason to elevate it into some big relationship drama. It reeks of being desperate and needy and it’s a huge buzzkill. If you’re at a point where you’re reading that much into his text messages, then the relationship has problems much deeper than your guy’s text etiquette.

For the guys: If your lady is a habitual abuser of long, emotional texts, it may be because you do not have enough face to face talks and/or you are not responsive in person. When these texts annoy you, or you feel awkward getting involved with in-depth discussions on text, get off your ass and call her, or better yet, go see her in person…you know, like a mature adult. Being stoic and detached may look cool in the movies, but in real life it seldom gets you anywhere with the womenfolk. Don’t hide behind texting as an excuse to be a distant jerk. If you’re at a point where the only way she can get you to say anything is on text, then the relationship has problems much deeper than your lady’s text etiquette.

Text etiquette is convention that is way more complex than it needs to be. Before getting all wrapped up in rules, try applying the Golden Rule. And by the way, the Golden Rule works for stuff other than texting too. The complex world of technology does not negate basic courtesy, no matter what the internet experts say.


VHS Video Rewinds For The Last Time.

By: Chris Warren.

I came along at that perfect time where I’m old enough to know what life was like before digital technology took over the world and young enough to embrace the change. I owned vinyl records, and am now a iTunes fanboy. I had a car radio with mechanical presets, and now I’m addicted to SiriusXM and podcasts. I don’t miss phone books, even a little. I love the idea of making a few clicks on Amazon and a package magically appears at my door the very next day. Soon another piece of my analog past, the VHS video recorder, will roll off the assembly line and into multimedia history.

I was honestly surprised that VHS video recorders were still being made at all. I assumed they had gone out of production years ago. I can’t remember the last time I saw a new-in-the-box VHS in a store or on line, so I got curious and did a little looking around. Apparently they are still out there, but not for much longer. Soon the only way to get a VHS video recorder will be on the used market because the last company to manufacture them, Funai of Japan, is ending VHS’ run forever.

The VHS recorder is officially if not belatedly about to become yet another broken down old junk on the information superhighway.

Those young enough to think that having high definition video no further than the smartphone in their hand is a normal expectation of life might have a hard time grasping what a breakthrough VHS was. The machines were big, heavy, and expensive. They were mechanical devices and prone to breakdown. They required a mess of wires, adapters, and plugs. The picture and sound quality was dismal by today’s standards. But the ability to record programs and watch them later, or watch them over and over, was something that had not been possible until the VHS recorder came along.

Imagine the drudgery of having to sit in front of your television at a certain time and date to see your favorite show. If you missed it, or wanted to see it again, you were out of luck until the episode came around in reruns, at which time you would still be tied to the schedule of the network programmers.

VHS was the on-demand programming of its day and had a social appeal that does not transfer over to digital media. As a teenager, me and a bunch of friends would hole up in my parents’ basement with a borrowed VHS recorder, some sugary-caffeinated drinks, cheap Little Caesar’s pizza, and a pile of rented tapes. I don’t know how many times we watched Mad Max and Spinal Tap in glorious analog on a tube TV. The party, such as it was, would usually last until 3 or 4 in the morning.

Those great times would not have happened without the then-innovative VHS recorder. Yet, as great as the new technology was, home video entertainment still required enough effort & expense that it was something of a special occasion.

Kids today will never suffer the archaic process of getting up to adjust the tracking to get a decent picture and having to rewind and change the tape when the movie was over, much less the now absurd transaction of renting physical tapes. I can hear my nine year old nephew’s incredulous voice now: You mean you actually had to get in the car and go pick up the video tapes? From where? And then bring them back when you were done? By the way, what is a video tape?

Technology rapidly rolls forward and the VHS recorder is officially if not belatedly about to become just another broken down old junk on the information superhighway. As I type this article I’m lounging on my couch with a laptop computer connected to wifi, smartphone at my side, watching my large flat screen high definition TV with Bluetooth speakers. Yeah, I had a good run with VHS recorders back in the day. The memories of fun times with my friends mean something to me but the new stuff is so far and away better that I have no such nostalgia for VHS recorders. Like floppy disks and phone books, VHS’ time has passed and we who lived through it are just fine with letting it become a fading dot in the rear view mirror.

team 120

Team 120 Is Driving Tomorrow, And We All Get To Ride Along.

By: Chris Warren

Here at Twenty First Summer I love to opine about life and society and philosophy and other liberal-artsy type stuff, but in the real world I am a communications electronics technician who services the equipment that makes the bars on your cellphone light up and the internet connect and the TV stream. It all sounds so modern and impressive. It’s not, actually. What I do is fairly average stuff by technogeek standards. The guys & girls who deserve admiration for their technical skills are the young scientists and engineers from Cleveland, Ohio known as Team 120.

Team 120 is a crew of high school students from the Cleveland public schools enrolled in a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program run out of a local community college. Anyone with internet access knows that STEM education in the United States is trending in the wrong direction; what Team 120 is doing is vital to reversing the decline.

What pushed Team 120 to the top was their spectacular championship win at the For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition in St. Louis, Missouri last April. The FIRST competition is no run of the mill science fair. It’s a very serious, high pressure event that attracts competitors from all over the world and has big name corporate sponsors such as IBM and Boeing. Just making it to FIRST is a difficult and impressive accomplishment.

Students participating in FIRST have to build and program robots, then run the robots through a series of complicated tasks in competition against all the other robots. Far more valuable than prizes or glory is the real-world experience the students will use to pursue what is sure to be successful STEM careers. This year the competition attracted 20,000 of the very best students, formed into 900 teams from 39 nations. Team 120 beat every single one of them and came home to Cleveland with the big prize and the big pride.

The importance of what these teens are doing and the spirit they inspire in others cannot be overstated. Someone is going to be the bridge to the future and invent the next era of complex machines that make civilization hum along, and Team 120 is leading the way. There are other bright kids out there tinkering in their bedrooms and basements who need that one little push. What better than someone in their own age group, a peer, to be that push and show them how far one can go when they truly want it bad enough? Team 120 is already bearing a torch for the next generation and they are still kids themselves!

Equal to the remarkable technical accomplishments of Team 120 is the image they project to other kids. Teens are all about being popular and trendy; math & science does not rank too high on the cool-o-meter, at least it didn’t until now. Robots, computers, and some high profile competition give STEM a new coat of paint and may be just what is needed to attract others.

There is no way to know for sure what the next step will be for the members of Team 120, but I have a lot of confidence that they still have many great ideas to release on the world. The FIRST competition was only one weekend and a small sample of what they are capable of doing. We, everyone, need these kids very badly. When they are given a chance and strong leadership, kids become champions and leaders themselves. I am absolutely certain that in the not-too-distant future something a member of Team 120 invented will be making my life better. These young scientists don’t just have the golden ticket to a better tomorrow, they are the golden ticket to a better tomorrow…and what a great blessing it is that we all get to ride along.