Sunday, July 30, 2017

HOURS for viewing SUN ECLIPSE. USA & more


The Sun: The Basics

The sun is a star, a hot ball of glowing gases at the heart of our solar system. Its influence extends far beyond the orbits of distant Neptune and Pluto. Without the sun's intense energy and heat, there would be no life on Earth. And though it is special to us, there are billions of stars like our sun scattered across the Milky Way galaxy. If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, the Earth would be the size of a U.S. nickel. The temperature at the sun's core is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.
Average diameter: 864,000 miles, about 109 times the size of the Earth.
Rotation period at equator: About 27 days.
Rotation period at poles: About 36 days.
Surface temperature: 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Composition: Hydrogen, helium.

August 21st Event

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights - a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun's tenuous atmosphere - the corona - can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun's disk. NASA created this website to provide a guide to this amazing event. Here you will find activities, events, broadcasts, and resources from NASA and our partners across the nation.

SEE IT DIRECT FROM NASA -- following aircraft

Example of eclipse times for cities in the path of totality.

Listen to your Customers, "Hard to Win, Harder to Keep." Can you hear us?

Andy Marken, Marken Communications, caught my attention when he sent the following email (with attachment).    He always hits the reality marker right on target for me, 

"It's so great we have tons of data about customers that they give us - willingly, eagerly.  We have AI technology that anticipates their every want/need even before they know it.  We have automated systems that zip it to them, bills em, answers their every question (also before they ask) and still they are so fickle that they'll change products, brands because we didn't do one little thing...listen.  

Really weird  how things work today because we're to busy checking/updating Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, email, texts, chat, stuff.  Listen?  What do customers think-- that  we are Alexa or Siri? 

 Listening is one of the most difficult/easiest jobs people in  the industry have today.  Just work at it...a little!"

 MY FIRST THOUGHT IS ...How many times have I (YOU) gotten so frustrated with a company I (we) pay lots of bucks to for services?  Gads, the customer service is nice, but, nothing, in most cases,  ever gets done with "the problem" .. WE, the customers, their bread and butter,  just can't get them to LISTEN and do something about whatever "IT" is ..  SO, WHAT DO WE DO?  We go to a different company for a better communication and even a better price. 

 Don't we all share similar stories? 

Customers are Hard to Win, Harder to Keep
When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished! *We're* finished!” – Pike Bishop, “The Wild Bunch,” Warner Bros., 1969
Companies are running so fast today developing new (sometimes even great) technology that they often lose sight of most important part of the firm’s growth … the customer.
But Intel’s Andy Grove (one of the founders and CEO who passed away last year) and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (founder, CEO, chairman) share a common focus, even though their approaches to solutions were different.
Both had engineering backgrounds but Grove was focused on staying ahead of the technology curve to meet his business customers’ requirements.  He was focused on delivering replacements for existing healthy products before competitors did.
One of Grove’s most memorable quotes was, “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
Bezos, on the other hand, focused on attacking, replacing existing business models and subtly adding offering on top of offering to strengthen the consumer relationship.
Bezos once observed, "Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service."

Ask any marketing person and he/she will say that’s obvious.
They’ll tell you the customer is the most important person on the planet and everything they do is done to make him/her satisfied.
Top Priority – While marketing is tasked with reaching and persuading as many prospective customers as possible, as economically as possible; their primary objective should be to keep existing customers who can attract more customers.
It makes a great mission statement, but something gets lost in translation.
To deliver that satisfaction, marketing/support teams implement the latest service tools that promise to make support faster and easier for the customer.
Who’s kidding who?
Customer satisfaction isn’t their domain … it’s an organization-wide issue and needs organization-supported solutions.
The first step in delivering the best in customer service is to be an employee-centric organization.
After all, to have an amazing customer service culture, the company has to have amazing employees.
Herb Kelleher, founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines, was one of the earliest bosses to promote the idea of employees first.  He explained his position by saying, “Employees come first and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy. That really is the way that it works.”
It has worked pretty well for them since 1971 in an industry that rents seats.
What he really said was that good people who are treated/supported properly will do their best to deliver good products/service.
Executives at New Voice Media noted that positive, friendly, helpful employees have a major influence on customer loyalty. And because of that loyalty, 69 percent would recommend the company to others.
It’s not surprising then that 42 percent of the customers said they are prepared to spend more money with these firms.   
Regardless, most of the new tools and neat things marketing puts out there aren’t really for the customer.
Nope, they’re designed to make it faster and easier for the company.
Opening every communications channel available so consumers can reach the right person in the firm and get the right answer is only a start.
Customers still go through an endless maze of phone and online guides that make them repeat the same basic information again and again and …
That sorta’ says the customer-centric tools are buffers between real people to streamline things for the firm.
Cutting You Off – Individuals who experience poor customer service/support seldom will discuss their issues with the supplier.  They’ll simply find a more understanding, more cooperative organization.
According to Accenture, the tools often get in the way of quality customer service.
Their recent global consumer report found the hurdles to positive experiences have remained common issues for a number of years:
-        Having to contact the company multiple times for the same reason (69 percent)
-        Having to repeat the same information to multiple people or go through multiple channels (62 percent)
-        Dealing with unfriendly, impolite employees (62 percent)
-        Dealing with employees or systems that can’t answer the questions (60 percent)
-        Being placed on hold for extended periods (60 percent)
Perhaps that’s why New Voice Media found that 44 percent of consumers take their business elsewhere following poor service.  In fact, 98 percent have switched once or twice in the last year.
The worrisome point New Voice’s research uncovered was that 53 percent are put off from calling a business because they are afraid they’re not going to immediately connect with a real person.
So, they switch even before reaching out for assistance to resolve the problem because companies have so automated their systems customers won’t even try.
Negative Results – When consumers have a negative experience with a firm’s products or personnel, the relationship deteriorates quickly; and in today’s online world, those negatives can be quickly passed to people throughout the community.
A few firms like Citibank, Geico, OWC and others have recognized and highlighted this concern in their marketing efforts.
On their websites and in their marketing efforts they emphasize that when you call you’ll immediately talk with a real person who will stick with you and work with you to resolve the situation.
If the call is made in off hours or support people are tied up, they ask you to leave your call-back information and they will call you.
And they do!
People prefer this personalized contact to resolve product/service complaints (84 percent), get a quick answer to questions (61 percent) or get an unbiased view or recommendation (55 percent).
Personal Touch – Increasingly, customers like to go online and resolve their service/product problems on their own.  But there are times – lots of times – a friendly voice on the other end of the phone reduces a lot of stress.
Consumers are already a little stressed out when they find they need assistance with a firm’s product/service. They don’t need to be kept on hold or go through a support maze because of your poorly designed business processes.
The support experience shouldn’t be a frustrating, time-wasting exercise in futility or endurance.

Companies have to be more concerned with the way customers feel because technology (social media) has made it much easier to praise (or pan) the organization.
Historically, customers told 5 people when they had a good experience and 24 when they had a bad service experience.
Today, when they have a positive or not-so-positive experience the first place they go to voice their praise or complaint is online.
Instantly, “the world” knows how the individual feels about the level of service provided.
That’s why it is increasingly important for organizations to listen to customers – no, I didn’t say monitor what they’re doing, I said listen.
That means promptly, courteously acknowledging the individual, summarizing and responding back to the person and thanking them for positive service comments/feedback. And when problems are raised, resolve them immediately.
Keep the response conversational, repeatedly addressing the customer personally by name and showing an understanding of the problem’s specifics.  All of your team members should have a sound understanding of the products/services and be able to offer simple, practical solutions and even useful tips on how to get the most from the product and avoid future problems.
Friendly, positive assistance, even to the point of taking them offline to a specialist, will reassure the customer that he/she is important and that they are dealing with a company that respects its customers.
Companies that “get it” and understand the importance of delivering a positive experience enjoy strong, positive returns … especially when the social media world is only a few clicks away.
Customers Know – Believe it or not, consumers are really people who know what they want and need.  That especially applies to the companies and brands they deal with, buy from and rely on.
Comparing their customer research responses with MarketingSherpa, InMotion noted that customers who consistently reported good experiences had a strong degree of satisfaction
The second most popular response was that it was easy to conduct business with the company across all communications channels – online, in person, on the phone.
Regardless of the consumer study value; customer service, quality and trust are the core drivers for a customer’s satisfaction.  They are far more important than product selection or marketing’s rush to try and develop personalized consumer contact.   
Satisfaction – When customers have positive experiences with a company, they develop a strong impression of the firm and like  to pass along recommendations to others.
Poor service is consistently the major reason for consumers to switch brands/products and 8 out of 10 people surveyed said that their previous product/service provider could have done something to keep them as a customer such as:
-        Resolve the issue on the first contact
-        Provide better live or in-person customer service
-        Offer the same promotional pricing as new customers receive
Even in our increasingly AI (artificial intelligence)-enabled environment, people still prefer dealing with human beings for service/support.
Consumers today are quick to show their satisfaction … and dissatisfaction.
Consumers today can be more pro-active and make their likes/dislikes more widely known – to a much broader audience.


They may buy your product because it’s a solution; but they are also quick to tell you and others as Deke Thornton did when he said, “What I like and what I need are two different things.”


Please query me first with a short bio with your interest and knowledge in technology and what you want to submit. It’s a broad topic, however, I am looking for reviews of products, or books;  improvements on old tech, or, a personal essay on how something worked for you (you must be specific with any descriptions or in comparison.)  Or, if the products has sold well and if you have attended conferences where this product has been introduced.  Are you now on  GoFundMe?

I like the outcomes to be positive.  Range of articles can be from 250-550 words. I am also interested in reprints.   Please send to    

For example, have you attended a tech seminar, or a conference such as CES? What stood out?  Or if you are an inventor or someone who is committed in some way to improving the lives of others with a technological advancement or a research project you are working on, Id love to hear about it.  

I’m looking for interesting stories which show us how technology can change lives, or has already changed yours or someone you know.

References on studies, etc. must be included.  You may reference anything related to the digital world of things   Non fiction only.  Submissions must be double spaced, with your name and address, phone number once query is approved.
 If you have any other ideas, query me. 

Best wishes,
Carolyn Rhodes, Editor
Casey J. Rhodes, Associate Editor

Friday, July 28, 2017



 Welcome to the digital world Find a place in it -- a journey into exploring how digital times can improve your life at any time, any age, any lifestyle.

Website created by Carolyn M. Rhodes with Casey Julian Rhodes

CES 2016 Test Drive BMW 

Editor: Carolyn Rhodes

Associate Editor: 

Casey Julian Rhodes

Electronics Consultant 

Consumer Technology Association

Sister blog: 

Carolyn M. Rhodes, B.A. Dramatic Arts and Dance; Certified as arthritis instructor. Professional freelance CES Reporter on tech innovations in health related topics and all latest tech topics for consumers.  Reviewer of tech products.

Creative writer in many other genres. 

 Mentored by Editor of College of Business Alumni Magazine, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa  as feature contributing writer; mentored by Suzanne Beyer, Associate Editor of Northwest Prime Time, Washington; my sisters - one a literary published poet and author and teacher. Another sister  a teacher and textile artist. 

 Son and associate editor, Casey Julian, an electronics consultant and buyer adds his skills and knowledge to most of the articles here.   Both of us have attended CES from 2010 to 2016.

2016 - 2017

Recertification as Program Leader, 2017 - 2020 (Aquatic Exercise Association) for floor exercises.
OSher Lifelong Learning Institute, (OLLI) 2017, Instructor, Program Leader Arthritis and Awareness class. 
Birmingham Arts Journal, Volume 13,Issue 4 (Winter, 2017) "Masterpieces by Numbers"
Facilitator, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)
Faculty: Instructor for Arthritis Exercises and Awareness (OLLI)
Article May, 2017:
Prime Lifestyle, "Line Dancers of OLLI." 
Reviewer of Tech Devices and products
Reporter on the Internet of Things.
Working on an E-book

Publications and Presentations

-2016  (new look) 
Editor: Carolyn Rhodes 
Associate Editor on Electronics: Casey Julian Rhodes
Trends in Technology  

CES reporter on "Living in Digital Times."  (freelance)
Reviewer of tech products
Reviewer of tech books 

April, 2016:  "How to Navigate a Big Event and write great articles."
Tuscaloosa Library Rotary Room.

 2015: - new domain for writegems.blogspot

Presentation at Miller Center, Tuscaloosa  (July 27, 2015). 
" How to be your own best friend using technology."

Presentation at Tuscaloosa Public Main Library, Rotary Room 
January, 2014, 2015, 2016). 

"The latest on CES Trends and New on the Market." 
Birmingham Arts Journal, "The Unexpected." Vol 12, Issue 1 , (May, 2015)

Presentation: Tuscaloosa Library, May, 2015
Emerging Technologies: What a writer should know about "The Internet of Things," 

Prime Life Style Magazine 
Living Healthy in the Digital Age, other features.

Older articles and presentations and instruction:

Published Writer (over 100 in print) Blogger and Speaker 
Certified Arthritis Instructor ( also include discussions with seniors from Presbyterian senior living complex on health innovations) 

How the latest technology has changed our World.   Digital Innovations add up to a happier, healthier and longer life. "   (based on article in PrimeLife of Alabama )

Tuscaloosa News Editorial
November 14, 2014 - Patient Portal - a good sign for healthcare.

Tuscaloosa Public Library:
October 10, 2014 
How to become a Tech Savy Writer - From high school to boomers and beyond 
Digital Health:  From head to toe. Get smart 

 Techie Writer: The Basics and Beyond
May 2014, Rotary Room. 

AARP EXPO Press Writer
TEK pavillion teaches seniors new skills offering short seminars. 

 November, 2013  Tuscaloosa Public Library discussions

Primelife Style of Alabama:  How to Navigate the Internet
Tech news for seniors 

June, 2013:  Northport Senior Complex  Center --  (many talks here)
How  exercise with technology can help you live longer. 
(offering classes in arthritis exercises and movement)

AARP EXPO  -Press - Atlanta , Georgia, 
 November, 2013 
 Contributed article to PrimeLife Style to be re-printed December, 2014 on "TEK" for Seniors"  

See article on this blog.  
Life @ 50 and Beyond, A Life Re-imagined.


 "How the latest technology has changed our World.   Digital Innovations add up to a happier, healthier and longer life. "   (based on article in PrimeLife of Alabama 
April, 2013, Tuscaloosa Public Library.  
2012 Presentation: 
September 2012
Macabee  Center at Veterans .Administration  -  Alabama Heroes post  9/11 (2nd place award) 

 BELOW other publications on essays


In 2015, essay, "The Unexpected," is accepted to Birmingham Arts Journal, Volume 12, Issue 1. Additional blogs and her latest presentations are listed above. Articles are in progress for 2015.

In 2012 her article, "Lightning at the Airport" was included in Birmingham Arts Journal, May 2012 (Vol. 9, Issue 1).  And, a feature article in Antique Week News was published in their March 28, 2012 issues (eastern and mid west editions).  In that same year (September 2012),

Ms. Rhodes has written  features as a contributing writer for University of Alabama Alumni magazine and wrote several feature articles as contributing writer for The Executive Magazine at the College of Business. 

Additionally, she has written  and published many feature articles on diverse subjects for various print magazines and e-zines. 

Carolyn has had speaking engagements on how emerging technology continues to benefit the writer and how medical advances are changing lifestyles and lifespans in all age groups.   Her services extend as a writing coach and an editor 
Carolyn was awarded 2nd Place for her article on fallen hero Mike Spann. The contest,  Tribute to Alabama Heroes Post 9/11,  was celebrated at the McAbee Center, Tuscaloosa, Alabama along with a reading.  Rhodes is also the recipient of three past awards from 2005 - 2006 for magazine article and editorial.  June, 2009,  honorable mention from the well attended Southern Christian Writers Conference contest for a newspaper article she submitted to Northwest Prime Time, Washington. 

Earlier writings  are available under published articles under Google site MyWriteGems. (by request) 

Carolyn was first published in American Libraries Magazine having written her childhood story, "Mr. Mitchell's Liberry Girls."  Earlier years, she performed, wrote, choreographed and directed dances and musical theatre from the Renaissance and Medieval courts . She taught exercise classes after college and taught ballroom dance, 

Presently, she is a certified Arthritis Instructor and CPR certified until 2016.  

Carolyn is a member of Alabama Conclave of Writers, Christian Writers Club of Tuscaloosa, Consumer Electronics Association, Ballroom Dance Association, AARP. Social Media: Linkedin, Twitter, Tumblr,Facebook and YouTube.  

Older publications:

Casey J. Rhodes, Electronics Advisor

She can be reached at