Posts tagged with ‘Technology’

18 apr

Shoes Made from What?

RobertCordraySince early man first strapped cowhide to his feet with leather strings 8,000 years ago, the design of shoes has been evolving. As men and women have changed, so, too have the materials of which their shoes are made. Now, you can find shoes made from almost anything: animal parts, computer components, plastic grocery bags, even grass. But, that doesn’t mean you’re going to wear them.

Taxidermy for the Feet

Just as the early shoemakers began with the leather hides of animals, designer, Iris Schieferstein decided to see what kind of shoes she could design using more of the animal’s parts. Using taxidermy methods, she creates shoes made of entire doves and snakes. These shoes are both interesting and a little unsettling. They are not very popular since most people find them impractical or object on the basis of animal cruelty. Her most attention-getting shoes have been ones using horse’s hooves. These strange “Centaur-like” boots are reported to be uncomfortable and can only be worn for a very short time.

Go-Go Gadget Shoes

With today’s obsession with all things electronic and technologically advanced, it is no surprise that shoe designers have entered into the virtual world. Shoes with the capability to hold small portable devices in the shoe’s heel, such as an MP3 player or cell phone, are now on the market. These designs may seem practical, for all intents and purposes, but can also mean taking the chance of losing your device. It could also be damaged during daily wear, getting wet or becoming lodged with dirt.

“Smart shoe” technology can be seen at its most creative with Google’s “Shoogle,” an Adidas athletic shoe that incorporates “smart phone” technology. This shoe is able to track the wearer’s physical activity, voice 250 phrases of encouragement and information and talk to the contact list in the wearer’s cell phone, now that is good user experience. Unfortunately, these shoes were created by Google as an example of their capabilities and not for sale to the general public so the users won’t be able to have the experience.

Eco-Friendly Attempts

As the cry for reduce, reuse, recycle becomes louder by environmentalists everywhere, the quest to create shoes from eco-friendly products continues. Using recycled corrugated cardboard beer cartons, designer and sculptor, Mark O’Brien, creates men’s athletic and dress shoes. Although these shoes are exact replicas of designer shoes, they are intended to be used as art pieces and are impractical for wearing. Other designers are using recycled paper to make shoes, but with little luck in making ones that are durable enough for daily wear.

The “Sod Sandals” created by Yashu Kusa take going green to a new level. These flip flops include a sod insole that grows actual grass. Although you get the comfort of walking on a fresh lawn, if you’re not a plant person, take heed. They require regular plant maintenance.

Probably one of the best ideas in recycled footwear comes from Emily Bergin, who takes plastic grocery bags and creates “plarn,” plastic yarn. She uses the plarn to crochet sandals. But, although an inventive use for grocery bags, these sandals do not provide much support.

Wire shoes are also being tried by inventive footwear designers. Polly Vertity uses galvanized wire to create ladies shoes. The shoes are lightweight, but are reported to be very uncomfortable.

Fabric Seemed Like a Good Idea

With the interest in shoes such as TOMS, using fabric for shoemaking has gotten increasingly popular. The staple fabric for shoemaking has been heavy canvas, which is strong enough to withstand wear. But, there are designers trying their hand at making shoes of felt and fleece fabric. The trouble with these softer, more pliable fabrics is they cannot stand the everyday wear and tear shoes get. Fleece also makes the feet hot and stretches with wear. Primarily used for infant and baby shoes, when it comes to adult footwear, fleece is a flop.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on April 18th, 2014 in General, New Directions, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

08 apr

Machines Replacing Humans

RobertCordrayStarting in 1962 in the automotive industry and every decade since, machines have taken over the jobs of humans. The manufacturing process has been computerized with robotic machines that can handle repetitive tasks much quicker and more efficiently than humans. Some of the jobs that have been taken over by machinery are:

Factory Jobs

Factory jobs employed about one-third of the workforce in the United States in the 1950s. The factories produced packaged foods, refrigerators, light bulbs and hundreds of other items that were used every day. Computerized machines have boosted production allowing the factories to function around the clock while still reducing production costs. The people who were the most affected were the workers at the end of the line and the sorters. These people worked along the conveyor system and packaged the finished product.

Auto Plant Workers

The jobs men and woman did along the assembly line in an auto plant have been taken on by robots. The robots can work around the clock and not bet bored or tired. They do the work of four humans, which increases productivity and reduces costs. In Japan, and later in Detroit, 600,000 workers do the job of 2.5 million workers producing 12 million cars per year.


Technology has replaced millions of farmworkers with machines that can sense where the seeds should be planted and when the crops are ready to be harvested. Technology has also affected the food that is grown with genetically engineered plants to make it possible to get larger and larger yields.

Dairy farms also require fewer laborers because of automated milking and cleaning machines. The robots milk the cows, push feed into their pens and clean the barns. The cows are brushed and make comfortable with special lighting. These machines work every day all day and night. One person can oversee the whole operation. This type of automation is not common, but it is available and working in dairies in Holland, Denmark and France. It will eventually put hundreds of dairy workers out of a job.

Telephone Operators

Automated communication systems have replaced humans in many areas including reception, customer service and help desks. It is becoming less and less likely that consumers need to speak to a human to get the service they need, and these jobs are becoming scarce. Cell phones also do the job of taking messages, transferring calls and maintaining databases. Operators and other administrative help is no longer required. Clerical workers who wrote up and typed bills became redundant while data entry operators were employed. When a system upgrades to a digital system, the data entry employees also become redundant.

Tollbooth Collectors

Automated tollbooth collection is much more convenient and better for traffic jams during peak times. No longer do people need to sit in a booth while each car stops to pay their toll. There are now stickers that are put on windshields that are read by an overhead monitor, and the toll is taken from the car owner’s credit card. When the last tool booth collector left the job on the San Francisco, California, Golden Gate Bridge, it made national news. About 30 jobs were terminated on this bridge alone when the city made the switch to all-electronic toll collection. The systems not only collect tolls, they also alert enforcers of cars that are not enrolled or try to avoid the toll.


Computerized, self-checkout cashiers have not yet taken over all retail stores, but in some of the large department stores, about half of the checkout stands are automated. This trend is expected to continue, reducing the number of human cashiers. Computerized checkout not only expedites check stand operations, it also encompasses inventory control, sales analysis, pricing, labor scheduling, promotions, advertising and customer relations. The system is able to do all these things because it scans and stores information that is code marked or tagged on the merchandise.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on April 8th, 2014 in Career, Global/Social Change, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

23 aug

The Importance of Unplugging

MikeRobbins96What percentage of your waking hours are you “plugged in” (i.e. checking things on the internet, doing email, texting, playing with your wireless device, watching TV, posting to Facebook or Twitter, and more)? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, probably more than you’d like to admit.

Recently I began to confront my own obsession (borderline addiction) to being plugged in. For many years I’ve justified my somewhat obsessive nature about email and internet use by the fact that I run my own business and have to stay connected in order to make sure I’m taking care of my clients, generating new business, and not missing out on important opportunities.

However “true” this may seem, in the past few years (especially with the addition of social networking, texting, and other forms of “instant” communication and information sharing), it has become clear to me that my desire to stay connected has gotten a bit out of control and has had a negative impact on my life, my well being, and my relationships.

From entrepreneurs to sales people to managers to stay-at-home moms – just about everyone I know and work with seems to have some form of electronic obsession impacting their lives in a negative way.

About a month ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning and said to my wife Michelle, “I’m going to have a media free day today – no email, iPhone, internet, TV, or anything else. Today, I’m going to be totally unplugged.” She looked at me with a bit of amazement and disbelief – I think both because I was actually saying this and because she wasn’t convinced I could do it.

I had my own doubts and a few weak moments early in the day where I almost fell off the wagon and checked my phone. However, I was able to do it and by the end of that day, I felt great. I was able to relax and be present in a way that felt grounded and peaceful. The past four Sundays I’ve been “unplugged” and I’m loving it.

What if we unplugged more often? What if we gave ourselves permission to disconnect from technology and the “important” world of uber-communication? While for some of us this is easier than others, most of us could benefit from a little more unplugging and a little less emailing/texting/web or channel surfing in our lives.

What’s funny to me is how hypocritical we often are about it. When our spouse, co-worker, or friend is busy on their phone, checking email, or being “obnoxiously” plugged in, we often get annoyed. However, when we’re the one doing it, it’s almost always “necessary.”

Here are a few things you can do to start unplugging yourself in a healthy way.

1) Take inventory of the negative impact of technology in your life. How much stress, frustration, and difficulty does being constantly “plugged in” cause for you? Think about this on a physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual level. Admittedly, this is a bigger issue for some of us than others. However, the more honest you can be with yourself about it – both the impact it has on you and any underlying fears that may be associated with it, the more able you’ll be to alter your habits.

2) Challenge yourself to take conscious breaks. See if you can schedule a full day to be “unplugged.” If that seems to scary at first, try a morning or a few hours. And, if doing a full day seems easy – try a full weekend, a work day, or something else that will be a stretch. I’m working up to doing a full weekend myself and entertaining the idea of week day (although that seems scarier to me at the moment). Push yourself, but go easy on yourself at the same time – baby steps are important and perfectly acceptable with this.

3) Unplug together. See if you can get other people in your house, your family, or those you work with to unplug with you. Doing this with the support of other people can be fun and make it easier. It will also create accountability for you and those around you.

Our issues and challenges with technology and our obsession with being connected and online 24/7 don’t seem to be going away or getting better culturally. In fact, if we just take a look at our own lives and habits in the past few years – for most of us, things are getting worse. It is up to us to interrupt this pattern and to disengage from our electronic obsession in a conscious way.

While unplugging may not always easy or encouraged in the environments we find ourselves in, it’s crucial to our success and well being in life. When we’re able to disconnect ourselves, we can regain some of the passion, energy, creativity, and perspective that often gets diminshed or lost when we allow ourselves to get sucked into our phones, computers, TVs and other devices.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

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Posted by Mike Robbins on August 23rd, 2010 in General, Global/Social Change | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

14 may

Distract Yourself in Healthy Ways

mike_robbinsWe live in a world of distractions. All day, every day we are bombarded with opportunities to be distracted. And, as I’ve recently noticed about myself, many of us choose (whether we’re conscious of it or not) to distract ourselves on purpose and to escape from life in various ways.

Given that most of us are going to be distracted on a regular basis, consciously or unconsciously, it’s important that we take a deeper look at how and why we get distracted and do what we can do to start distracting ourselves in healthy ways and for healthy reasons.

Unhealthy distraction

Due to the fact that life can get quite intense and stressful, and many of us have come up with creative ways of avoiding certain feelings, situations, and activities that are challenging for us (i.e. things we’re scared of or uncomfortable with), we tend to distract ourselves in various unhealthy ways.

Whether our personal version of distraction involves food, TV, alcohol, a “smart” phone, drugs, drama, confusion, over-scheduling, taking care of everyone around us, or anything else – we often engage in unhealthy habits (like these and others) and do so for unhealthy reasons (because we don’t want to stop, feel, and deal with the intensity of our lives).

Healthy distraction, for unhealthy reasons

Once we become aware of our unhealthy patterns of distracting ourselves (as mentioned above), we can start to replace some of these negative behaviors with more positive ones. I like to call this “productive procrastination.” Some examples:

- We re-organize our desk instead of making those scary phone calls
- We clean up the house instead of working on the creative project that we’ve been thinking about
- Instead of rushing to the refrigerator when we get stressed out, we head out to the gym or on a bike ride to relieve some stress
- We curl up with an inspiring book or watch a touching film that makes us feel better

These and other things can “distract” us in more positive ways and have less of a negative impact on us in the long run. However, if we engage in these “healthy” activities simply as a way to avoid dealing with our lives, feeling certain uncomfortable emotions, or engaging in what’s going on around us in an authentic way, there is still another level for us to reach.

Conscious, healthy distraction

The ultimate goal of this process is for us to be able to choose to “distract” ourselves (i.e. get out of our heads, let go of our negative worries, and take a conscious break from the day-to-day stress of life) in a truly healthy way. When our motivation is positive (i.e. we’re not avoiding anything, but choosing consciously to take a break), the outcome and experience of our “distraction” is more likely to be healthy and beneficial.

If we’re going to live a life of growth, meaning, and fulfillment – we need lots of healthy breaks and rests along the way, especially when things get hard. If we don’t take these breaks, it’s easy to let worry, fear, negativity, doubt, and the daily pressures of life take over, almost without us even noticing.

Here’s a long list of some simple things you can do to “distract” yourself in a healthy way.

- Watch inspiring movies
- Meditate
- Exercise
- Walk in nature
- Sing
- Laugh
- Play with children
- Travel
- Read inspiring books
- Help others
- Paint
- Spend time with people you love
- Dance
- Take classes or workshops
- Write
- Listen to inspiring music
- Swim
- Sit and do nothing

This list could go on and on. Take a moment to reflect on these and other things that you can do that will have a positive impact on your life right now.

It’s not so much what you do, but why and how you do it. When we take some time to consciously “distract” ourselves in healthy ways, we interrupt the negative, unconscious, and habitual patterns of our minds and our culture that often get in the way of us experiencing the peace, joy, and abundance that is naturally and authentically around us and within us all the time.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on May 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,