Shooting the Shit with Wayne; Companies hiring 65+; Are Smart Phones making us Dumber?

COMPANIES ARE HIRING THE OVER 70 CROWD.

Of course, there are obvious downsides of the geriatric demographic: They may be luddites, fossilized in their ways, or burnt out or lethargic, and—it’s true—the clock is ticking. But researchers are discovering that some cognitive abilities don’t peak until later in life. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology last year measured mental abilities among executive job applicants across the age spectrum. Generally, older executives scored modestly lower than younger ones, with the largest drop-offs for subjects older than 60, which is why positions like air-traffic controllers have a mandatory retirement age of 56. Yet age has a positive correlation with higher crystallized intelligence, which measures experience-based knowledge such as verbal capability and emotional IQ. Widespread cognitive-ability tests used for narrowing candidate pools often don’t measure these attributes.

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RADIO IS MORE POPULAR IN THE US THAN YOU THINK

The common assumption in the tech world is that old media platforms are dying a slow death. As smart devices become more and more ubiquitous, the need for traditional platforms like linear cable TV seems to only lessen with each passing year.

But while there’s no denying the changes new technologies have brought, it might be unwise to discount just how influential those older platforms remain. For instance, radio, not smartphones or PCs, reaches more Americans each week than any other media platform, according to a recent Nielsen report charted for us by Statista.

Roughly 228 million adults in the US listened to some form of radio at least once a week in the fourth quarter of 2016, the report said. That’s good for 93% of the US adult population, and the figure is growing. TV had the second-farthest reach at 89%, followed by smartphones at 83%. The PC and tablet were well behind, at 50% and 37%, respectively.

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OUR SMART PHONES ARE MAKING US DUMBER

 

Though our phones are getting smarter, new research suggests they’re actually making us dumber.

A team of researchers at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin set out to test the “brain drain” hypothesis: the theory that simply having your smartphone near you could impact your available cognitive capacity.

The study featured 800 participants who were required to take a test on a computer that required their undivided attention. The participants were divided into three groups that each received different instructions: one group was instructed to place their phones face down on the table next to the computer they were using, another was instructed to leave their phones nearby but out-of-sight, such as in a pocket or bag, and the third group was told to leave their phones in another room.

Prior to the start of the test, all three groups were instructed to turn off all notifications on their phones.

The researchers found that individuals who left their phones in the other room scored higher on a test than those who had their phones nearby, despite the latter group saying they had not been thinking about their phones.

Participants in all three groups self-reported thoughts about their smartphones at the same frequency. The results suggest that the mere presence of one’s smartphone has a measurable impact on an individual’s available cognitive capacity, regardless of if they feel distracted or not.

And so, next time you find yourself really needing to concentrate on something, it might be best to get as far away from your phone as you can.

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BUY OF THE WEEK – ACTION CAMERA LIKE A GOPRO

We first shared news of a sweet sale on the FITFORT Waterproof 4K Action Camera a couple of weeks ago and it flew off the virtual shelves at Amazon. Of course, it’s not exactly a mystery why — this awesome action cam offers most of the features you’d find on $400 and $500 cameras, and yet it had been discounted to just $64. Well, the good news is that this great sale is still happening right now, so if you missed it last time you’ve got another chance. This is a great, if not for you, then for the grand kids. Stock up now for xmas.

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WHAT ARE THE HEALTHIEST STATES TO LIVE IN FOR OLDER CITIZENS

The rankings came from the United Health Foundation’s fifth annual “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report,” based in part on a survey of 1,997 people 50 and older, released in partnership with the Alliance for Aging Research.

The report lists Minnesota, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, New Hampshire and Massachusetts as the healthiest states for older people. Mississippi, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and West Virginia ranked lowest in fostering the health and well-being of older residents.

“California and South Dakota made the greatest strides to improve their health rankings over the past year,” a summary of the report says.

The study found some good trends since 2013, including a 30 percent decrease in hospital deaths among Medicare patients 65 and older and a 7 percent decrease in hospital readmissions among 65+ Medicare patients.

But financial burdens are a growing obstacle, it says. The report found that 62 percent of retired people 65 and older and nearly 3 of 4 nonretired adults ages 50 to 64 have less in retirement savings than what is recommended for health costs alone.

“We are encouraged by the improving quality of care current seniors are receiving, yet more needs to be done to help prepare current and future older adults to meet the costs of this care,” said Susan Peschin, CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research.

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# Facebook now lets you find and contact your government reps right from your posts

 

Facebook has launched a new feature that makes it easier for users to share their views with their elected government officials directly from a Facebook post. In the “Compose” window that pops up when you prepare to write a post, there’s now a new option that lets you search for and add your representatives’ information to your post.

The idea is that as you’re expressing your political views on a matter via a Facebook post, you can share that you’re contacting your representative about the matter and encourage your family, friends and followers to do the same.

The feature is available to both individual users and Facebook Page owners, as you can see in the screenshots below.

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# 4-year-old uses Siri to save his mom’s life

Although it’s been around for years now, Apple’s Siri voice assistant still catches flak for its failures to respond correctly to basic commands, surface relevant information and for misunderstanding users often. But earlier this month, it rose to the occasion when a four-year-old needed help in an emergency.

Little Roman, a resident of the Kenley district in Croydon in the UK, found his mother lying motionless on the floor in their home on March 7. When he was unable to wake her, he found her iPhone, pressed her thumb to the home button to invoke Siri and asked for help. You can hear the audio from Roman’s call below.

Roman was connected to an operator at emergency services (the number to call in the UK is 999), who took note of the situation and dispatched officers and paramedics to his address within 13 minutes of receiving the call as well as his location. The team was able to give Roman’s mother life-saving first aid and take her to the hospital after she regained consciousness.

Although it was mostly Roman’s presence of mind that saved his mother’s life in this case, the story highlights one of the important aspects of voice assistants: accessibility.

It isn’t clear if the young child would’ve been able to dial the number for emergency services on his own (or if he’d even have access to an unlocked phone), but it was lucky that he had found a way to call for help.

This raises questions about how voice assistants, which are now being embedded in connected speakers, should interpret commands from family members, and whether they should be able to do things like reaching emergency support services – whether that’s a state-run program or an adult family member’s number.

Currently Amazon Alexa and Google Home can be used with a free service called Ask My Buddy to send an alert to a contact you specify; you can also use IFTTT recipes to text your family’s GroupMe chat. But it’d great to see companies do more to help users call for help in times of trouble, regardless of their age or whether their voices are recognized by connected devices.

Last July, Google added a neat feature to Android which beams your location to emergency services automatically when you call them. At launch, it was activated across the UK and Estonia, and was scheduled to release worldwide.

Features like this will take a lot of work to implement across the globe, as different countries use a wide range of systems for their emergency services. Hopefully, Roman’s story will get them thinking about ways to simplify the task of calling for help – before it’s too late.

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