Tech translation meets the Happy Tree Friends

*An excerpt of this post may also appear on the author’s personal blog*

My “day-job” is not normally something I broadcast online, mainly because of the work I deal with, and the firm I work for. Like me, my company doesn’t like a lot of attention. However, there will be times when a good outlet is required. This is where my like-minded friends who are also colleagues in the field, and I, have a good liberating chat about the pros and cons of working in technology.

There are many things I have learnt over the years, being in a co-technology-legal environment, most of which I can relate to, as I am a technology consultant with a legal background (best of both worlds). During our chats, my friends and I agree that there is one topic that repeatedly comes up, and it is one that we all relate to when taking on a new project. The middle individuals, or ‘the tech translators’ as I call them are key. These people are not limited to just being “in the middle,” they may also get involved in other areas as well, but they are important, as without them expectations are not set, and communication may not be conveyed adequately. Think about this the next time you are the customer of a new project and it is not going quite right. Perhaps the tech translators are doing way more than setting the expectations.

It is important that these people are not overwhelmed in their role, as this can impact establishing timelines and communicating updates. These individuals are able to translate legal (in my case) requests, and transcribe them into a language that the technology experts can understand, and vice versa.

I am one of those ‘middle people’, I am happy to say, and while there are some ‘dog days’, as with all industries, technology in the legal world has always been innovative and challenging, in the good sense. We are in exciting times, watching how technology evolves in particular sectors and how it is integrated into other industries. But we need to monitor its progression, otherwise we risk getting caught up in the whirl-wind of technology competition (like in the consumer sector with Apple and Android), releasing upgrades and new systems before the old ones have even been broken in. What we really need to ensure is that the end-user, as well as those behind the scenes are happy with the decisions made. After all, they are the ones using the new systems/project.

I will be posting more about this as time goes on, but for now I will park this topic on a note of frivolity, and that is, when in a room where half are filled with technology boffins, putting the world to rights, if you are not in that industry, or that way inclined, then just concentrate on something else. On one occasion, my husband (not a tech boffin) and a female friend (definitely not a tech boffin), watched the Happy Tree Friends, rather than listen to myself and the female friend’s husband rattle on, and on and on into the wee early hours of the following day.

Above is one of my favourite conversions, it is also Marmite to technology experts. When people say they cannot use touchscreens to send work emails quickly, I recommend this handy device.

Have dermatitis and can’t use touchscreens? Try the Gboard

I know that false nails help with my dermatitis as they minimise the water traveling underneath the nails, but I have yet to find a keyboard that rivals the BlackBerry for speed and accuracy. Until now.

Being a writer and a serial BlackBerry user for many years I have, unknowingly, been spoilt. Suffering with long-term dermatitis, meant that the mainstream integration of touchscreens, was going to impact my work greatly. We all know that BlackBerry (and the hard keyboard), has seen its day according to society, but what about those who cannot use touchscreens, even without the hinderance of dermatitis?

Countless times people have said to me; “you’ll just get used to touchscreens.” Well I (and my fingers), have proved them wrong on a number of occasions. In fact, many times I was prepared to throw my phone under moving traffic in anger and/or frustration, because I found my productivity decline.

For those who prefer statistics, please see the following:

  • Sending a one lined email with a BlackBerry = under one minute;
  • Sending the same email using an iPhone and touchscreen = six minutes on average.

At the time of the above analysis, I was receiving 80 emails per hour, so the extra five minutes (on average), was putting me back considerably.

I was asked why I didn’t use voice recognition software, and this was simply down to confidentiality reasons. I can’t just start talking about the information I am privy to out loud.

I am now at a stage where I cannot feel anything in at least three fingers. I have been to several doctors over the years, none of which have referred me to a dermatologist, so the condition is severe, to the point where on some days the skin looks burnt.

The technological answer however, is the Google Gboard. But, before I go into further details, I will also mention that I have been using the Samsung clip on keyboard for the last year or so on my Galaxy S7 edge.

Gboard is a virtual keyboard app developed by Google for Android and iOS devices. It was first released on both systems in 2016.

Gboard features Google Search (including web results and predictive answers), searching and sharing of GIF and emoji content, predictive typing suggesting the next word depending on context, and multilingual language support.

It does take a little getting used to, but it is amazing how it is able to keep up with my typing speed, and the rate my mind works. It is triggered by dragging a finger across the letters to spell out the word. If you slide over the right number of letters in sequence, it will predict either the word you are looking for, or a selection of near to words. There is no need to add a space after each word, as soon as you pause it knows to add the space.

So far, I have noticed an increase in productivity, there is no additional pain or discomfort using the tool, and overall it is actually quite fun.

One thing though, it can be quite distracting when you are on the train in the middle of your morning commute, and you feel eyes looking over your shoulder at what you are doing. This does bring me back to the confidentiality issues, but this can be easily rectified by adding a privacy screen to your device. Also, there is the reassurance that people get bored easily nowadays.

Dermatitis at its best, or worst!

PS: Another handy device is the foldable Bluetooth keyboard. An example of which can be found below:

*An excerpt of this post may be contained on the author’s personal blo

Why earworms are nothing to Moana about!

Music is a massive part of my life, to the point where I wrote an article many years ago about how Apple saved commuters lives. Many will agree that music is a key stress relief, it promotes motivation, it gives us a place to forget our troubles, for a few minutes anyway. It can not only make us happy, but move us to tears. It is a very powerful media and it goes without saying, it is a very lucrative business.

However, there will be times where we listen to a song, and then spend hours, days, even weeks, trying to get the song out of our heads.
The film Easy A is a prime example of this where Natascha Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine” becomes the catchy tune to the main character Olive. She says at the beginning of the film, “eaaghhh…worst song ever…” and then listens to it nonstop for the next few scenes. By the end of the film she has the tune as a ringtone on her mobile phone.

The reason for this post, is because I have also experienced a recent earworm, that I cannot shake.

One of the benefits of having a toddler (some may also see this as not much of a benefit), is that you can watch as many children’s films as you like. Disney, DreamWorks and other children’s entertainment producers are known for subtly embedding phrases and topics into the films for the benefits of the parents, so they can also enjoy the films. Overall, while I laugh in the right places, I have never really needed the adult titbits to enjoy these films. If you appreciate them, then watch them, you don’t have to be a child.

My earworm (or brainworm if one prefers), comes from the film Moana. A very well crafted and delightfully entertaining flick, with very catchy songs.

The two main songs that I cannot get out of my head are “I Am Moana” and “You’re Welcome”. Dwayne Johnson really brings that song to life.
It has got to the point where I have been listening to the soundtrack on Spotify to try and get the tunes out of my head as I find myself randomly singing them. This is perhaps not an ideal situation to be in, when your colleague is trying to get their head down, devise complex techie equations for an important project, and then I belt out “I am Moana”, (not very well I might add).
Aside from listening to the song as a remedy, there are few other popular ways that can help remove the ‘sticky’ tune out of your head:

  • Chew gum
  • Solve word puzzles or maths problems (tech work doesn’t seem to work)
  • A spoonful of vinegar (it works for hiccups)
  • Find a distraction
  • Listen to your favourite song in the hope that it might override the current one.

Or you could just do what I did with Gnomeo and Juliet, and watch it continuously until the novelty has worn off.

Phrases used to describe an earworm include “musical imagery repetition”, “involuntary musical imagery”, and “stuck song syndrome. It is no surprise given that you can see 99% of individuals on public transport listening to music, the studies relating to earworms have increased, so there are plenty of text online if you want to read up on the science behind them.

Alternatively, if you want to join the Moana movement, you can find the soundtrack in the usual places, and I do highly recommend watching the film, especially if you are like me (and Moana), and the water calls you. Hmmm, perhaps that is the connection.