Alumni Autumn 2016 CommuniGate Academy – Munich

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Our team helped get our partners accredited this week in Munich at our Autumn 2016 academy training sessions. The class was a great mix of people from Universities, integrators, ISPs and Cloud service providers. We had a good time learning about how the platform is used in each particular setting; and what types of external systems are integrated with CommuniGate Pro. For example, on the hosting companies premises we discussed how provisioning and billing systems are working for their needs and with the partners from the Universities we shared security and policy concepts for a diverse campus topology.

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Many of our partners have been using CommuniGate Pro for more than a decade, and some thought starting from the first level of the curriculum would be too easy.  Nevertheless, we found that everyone went away believing that the administrator level I was a challenge with rewards and not a cake walk in the park.  We will hold our next Academy in the Spring 2017. The following structure will be offered throughout the year:

  • Administrator Level I – for all those that use the platform in production as an administrator
  • Engineer Level II – for those wanting a little more on the API’s,  CG/PL development language and customizations
  • Business Applications – Advanced CG/PL applications – Contact Center 2.0 + IVR applications

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All of our events begin with some fun and “geekness” activities. For Munich what better than to have a look at some German engineering and manufacturing? We spent the first day over at the BMW Werk; which means the “production factory” where many of the cars are actually produced with cool robots; simply awesome! You can take the tour yourself, check out the details here “BMW Werk”

Later in the day we had a “BMW Genius” give us a  briefing about Electric Vehicles and the roadmap of their iSeries cars. We got to mess around with the i3 and yeah that really slick i8 supercar was there too.

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We were not allowed to take any photos or video of the Werk tour. ☹️☹️☹️ But this video below over at youtube is actually really good and will give you the idea. Highly recommended if you get to visit Munich!

The view of the city of Munich was beautiful even when wrapped in the clouds. Those buildings are really colorful just like back in Nice. Join us for our next event and until then follow us on Twitter @communigate

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Secure messaging opportunity for Cloud Hosting providers

Messaging systems are the core of the business no matter which size you look at or shake it. Most people would still prefer to have the lights off for a day, versus their email being offline in the business hours. Candles and flashlights might actually be fun, but not being able to get email from clients or partners, or in the support department is not cool at all. As email and realtime messaging have grown in pervasiveness so has its challenges for security become far more augmented with the inception of the Cloud deployment model that many businesses look towards today.

Many of us grew up on freemium Webmail services in our personal lives and the so called “corporate messaging” systems in the office that were primarily desktop application based. Somewhere along time the lines of distinction in these technologies became blurred. Current day “messaging systems”are nearly all “capable” of being Web accessible, or they are built this way entirely. Yes, you can still find IMAP and SMTP settings on most Cloud services, but try to explain that stuff to a user  coming in workplace these days and you could paint a Halloween mask with the blank starry eye looks.

The movement to the Cloud is not only great for consumption in a mobile workforce, but it also helps contain the data and access points which are fundamental to security. However, the challenge for a Cloud service is the barrier to acceptance of having data in the “hands” of a provider and the perception of “unscrupulous” access to this information. Hosting companies can look to these areas of “customer concern” as centers of opportunity in their offers with encryption, escrow systems, and secure archival-retention solutions as regulations are more often demanding on financial services and medical organizations to store and have available years of data involving the messaging systems.

Expertise and service level agreements are key subscription based values.  As an simple example, having expertise and certifications for messaging systems is perhaps something that you would not find in a Architect’s office, even one with 50+ staff. You might also use this measure to think about medical practices, or logistics companies of global size, all of which need secure messaging as a core infrastructure for business communications.

Cloud providers that have core competence in messaging systems have a card to play over a company mainly focused on racks, connectivity and grid power metrics. Fact is more and more businesses are not with in -house competencies for backend messaging expertise, and this drives the need to seek out offers that are reliable, secure, and available in a SLA format. Freemium services have their place, and we would not recommend a fencing war with those guys as the scale of the battle is massive and everyone is looking at a nickel profit like its a manhole cover.

Follow the money and provide clear value on the hot topics the market requirements demonstrates. Today the largest concern of Cloud services revolves around security and providing a reliable system that just does not go down is key. Hosting companies already have a core competence around infrastructure and redundancy; so play that card and translate this into the service as a whole. As companies push their roles up higher in the stack to “managing users” and control panels in the system, the provider must also absorb the pieces of the application stack that is being thrust upon them and see it as a good thing. That means getting in bed with SMTP and breathing deeply all the joys of messaging for the good, bad and ugly.

Key advantages of the CGatePro Messaging system for Cloud managed services companies:

  • Multi-tenant platform allowing 100’s of thousands of domains
  • Zero downtime change management Dynamic Cluster
  • Ability to white label and brand the Web experience by domain
  • Secure message storage with Escrow features
  • S/MIME system for encryption of email
  • Policy control with SMTP
  • WebRTC based interface Pronto! enables Unified Communications
  • Works with cPanel environments with adapter integration kit
  • Chat server built-in with clients for iOS and Android, plus Web widgets for support or sales desks

Partner with us today and get your team in our training academy to build the next generation of messaging in your cloud.

 

Tis the season to be jolly

As Autumn arrives upon us and leaves fall off the tress painting the ground with bright colors, so does change come to IT decisions for the end of year planning. With the almost majestic calm closing out the summer season a rolling drum beat begins and grows as preparations commence for IT managers around the globe.  The imminent arrival of the holiday season means that Contact Centers are ramping up to prepare for the rush that is sure to deliver spikes on systems for telephony and messaging.

One of the major hurdles for IT decision makers during the seasonal spikes is that there is never an easy way to predict what the loads will be; even with historical data. This of course means more often than not, over capacity planning or provisioning “more” to be safe. Historically ramping up IT systems for spikes and human resources is a costly endeavor for large operations that have to deal with changes that occur on a daily basis.

Thankfully with WebRTC and leveraging a Cloud deployment our Contact Center technology can be ramped up or down with ease. With the entire stack available in the Cloud the cost factor for a Web based Contact Center is low impact and predictable. Furthermore, our technology seamlessly integrates with existing Contact Center technologies allowing deployments to co-exist as a team, specific sales queues, or overflow capacities. This means better control without upheaval of legacy systems that are in place.

The CommuniGate Pro platform Contact Center is ideally built to scale up or down and adapt to pre-existing work-flows with ease. Fully customizable Web Agents can be provisioned on any computer running a WebRTC capable browser making virtual teams a snap to handle sales or support loads. Best of all you can get started today by partnering with us if you are a Cloud services provider before the holiday season kicks off!

 

 

CGatePro Academy Nice Côte d’Azur

It is always a warm moment  as a teacher you get the chance to help people become knowledgable about something you understand. It is not just self gratification, but there is something really special to “bask in the glow” of the smiles that emanate from those you have helped. The best teacher is the one that strives to prepare students on a path to become even better than you are at the skill you just shared.

Stolzer Cartoon Mann zeigt sein Zertifikat oder Diplom von der Universität

This week the CommuniGate Academy sent more students home with accreditations that will help them perform better in their responsibilities but also be better prepared and more responsive for the challenges that come with operating large scale systems.

 

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X = “I believe that”

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It is quite apparent that mother nature and age is at play when you listen “older people” take issues with how the “young people” are doomed because they are not doing things the way they did this or that. Currently there is an interesting development in the chatting space of the internet; new languages are forming. For many millennials here in France texting “x” can mean not just one but several words and meanings. “I believe that” is at the basic form of “je crois”, but mated with images, the “X🙄” becomes maybe, maybe not, or much more. Keyboards based on avatars and smileys create stories that magically everyone “gets” faster, with emotion or feeling behind the words typed, than explaining something in the French language itself.

For a teacher I know at the languages school in the local University, “all of it” is pure armageddon; rendering the youth with “absurd competencies” utilizing “vocabularies in common” of less than 500 words in practice today. While she gleefully reported that people used to have 3000+ words of vocabulary not so long ago in her epoch. I am a little fascinated in the subject because it proves that we might be closer in fact to communicating with the Internet in ways that require less intrusive and perhaps more intuitive I/O; like not having to carry around these iPhones 24×7. Many of the French texting is intended to shorten the amounts of taps, but far more interesting to me is the use of phonetics and images to replace words rather than just using traditional abbreviation methods of chopping words. This is a lot more about “replacing” words with sound expressions. Example, moi becomes “mwa” not reducing the 3 taps, but rather it is the phonetic format of the original word. Even more interesting is that sometimes we see both “benefits” are accomplished when “t’es” becomes “t” and “c’est” becomes “c” in the phonetic and abbreviated formats together; resulting in shortening plus moving to phonetic expression.

Obviously we have seen before systems in the business world that reduce complexity on human-to-machine input-output. Take for example the “language” a Palm handheld introduced and some of us learned. It had the purpose to reduce the quantity of images and strokes we scribbled on the screen to become the “long form” of a language like English or French.  In my fathers office he did not have phones _without_ big wires and shielding cables, and there was not even a word processor, the dictionary was usually in the head of the secretary that would come and be responsible to deliver or “send” important communications. I remember this “special language” as a kid watching in amazement how fast it all went by my eyes and somehow to me there was “english” hidden there in a mysterious code. The secretary could take notes down at over 100 words a minute. Alas moving that code that was written comments before on a notepad (of paper) over to the typewriter “whack, tap, tap, tap, tap, rack, cling” took more time, yet was yet another method of communications language “learned”.

Later machines in stenotype doubled the speeds that my fathers secretary could achieve with the hand, and today most courtrooms and boardrooms use multi-media systems, that can even capture facial expressions, tonalities and perhaps more to come that will bring yet new aspects to our communications that were un-imaginable prior.

The argument might be that indeed I “should” need to know French, at least on some levels, to leverage the new language of French texting. However, if much of it is based on phonetics and images, and the vocabulary is 1/5 of the actual “spoken French” today, in terms of the spectrum of words I would have to learn, then maybe it would be better to just learn “text style French” and not traditional French at all. I mean if I want to interact with the French of tomorrow’s world, and if the rate of French moving into the “chatting space” is like an avalanche, why not start by learning “textoçaise” now? This of course means for my teacher’s view that that kids are not getting less, but rather something new, more powerful with added “features”…..maybe a replacement for French, at least for people outside France that might want to communicate to the “inside”.

Vector modern isometric smartphone with bubble speech on blue background

Without question the Internet molds the way we communicate in business into new forms of language at the core; meaning the added characters that are imagery based and a preponderance of informalities unthinkable just 20 years back. Fact: we must have an I/O method adaptable to the machines and network we transmit across. However, looking at the performance gains in speed and diffusion we have achieved already, one would have to imagine that “real soon now” (RSN) we will need to un-lock the potential of our bodies to adapt to new sensors that will not be limited to the alphabetic inputs we use today, tap, tap tap, heads down…..but perhaps have capacities to transmit not only emotional language, with imagery in not icon formats, but really felt and seen. Now that would be a tidewave of human evolution indeed.

REFERENCES:

Gregg shorthand – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_shorthand

Stentype – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stenotype

 

peekaboo – I see what you do!

Most of us have lifestyles that are merged; meaning we use communications tools that float between the stuff that we do for work and our personal contacts. Unfortunately, that often times means that other people have access or “could” gain access to our devices that usually contain sensitive information. Sometimes intrusions are malicious in their intent, but other times it is just kids having fun. Either way, our business communication apps today usually reside on a multitude of devices making the challenges of access control multi-fold.

Recently we have added more controls in our Pronto! mobile applications that are Biometric and provide an additional layer of security to your secure business communications. Many times, whether we like to admit this or not, we provide loved ones with our device PIN code allowing full access to the devices we use as we move from personal to business activities. While I am not going to get into the debate around that right now, I think it would be safe to say this is really not a good thing, especially when you think that most documents, presentations and other materials that contain IPR and company information are rarely locked themselves with security. We have become a Cloud enabled society and what floats around can rain down on your head when you do not have some protection.

Pronto! Biometric lockAs with all security measures there is a fine balance between the human methods of operation or behaviors in the workplace matched up with good technology. Each must contribute, or they become the weak link in the chain. Remember the scotch tape and little pieces of paper under the desk with passwords in the old days? It is no different than letting our kids play with the photos on our phones using the PIN code that potentially un-locks much more than should ever be responsibly revealed. We help organizations improve security with mobile loyalty apps that enable contact center environments to have better user experiences that are not burdensome yet provide higher accountability.

When the apple rolls away from the tree

Two apple trees

Recently over one of those lunch time brain squeeze discussions, where everyone is explaining how if “they were in charge” of the world, things would be “just perfect” we veered off into an interesting chat on Artificial Intelligence. We shared some far fetched ideas and discussed the recent works that are being done with Siri, Watson and what these cool things will do (soon) to our personal life, society and economics. What will life be like when a “next version” of Siri is something “much more”. Would this daughter of Siri be aware of herself? Would she think to ask me questions and make proposals before I even think of them myself? Maybe she would talk to other people about me, and draw conclusions about how to manage me! Be careful about what kind of “girlfriend experience” you ask for she says!….and means it.

It had me thinking back to my childhood and to one of my fathers “famous” (to the family) sayings. It went something like, “life is is not a disneyland fairy tale”, and he would go on to explain to us how he had to work a lot, and the checks did not magically appear in the mail box (that wold be a metal box) by some magical tinker bell delivery service. I think dad was pushing us to come to grips with the inevitable reality in his view that we would always have to work hard to get ahead in life, and we could not just sit back and have others do stuff for us, even as desirable as that might seem.

I do not think my father could dream of the things we have today in our hands as we sit at the cafeteria table chatting voice recognition commands into our  iPhone to do searches across the cloud for stuff to be used in class a few moments later. Nor could he probably imagine, being a military officer that his son would be talking about world leadership with 2 Russians and a Dutch in the University lunch room. But neither could his father before him imagine software or the cloud;  and before my grand father left us, I explained to him once how we built “stuff” that you could not see, touch, or feel, and that “software” was driving entire economies bigger than factories that made cars and ships in his era. Yet today, it might also be hard for me to imagine where exactly AI is going to lead us in my lifetime, yet I do believe we are in for some really big changes; real soon now.

It might be strange for most of us living now to accept what a thinking machine or “capacity” of an entity other than human, will do or want to do, when singularity or self awareness occurs. But before we go into all that, I think we should look at what is acceptable and realistic, in timelines closer to us, and then you might see that these areas of fantastical prediction are not so far fetched or distant indeed. Most of us know and have seen how robotics have nearly encompassed all sectors of big manufacturing. It was amazing for me to see how VW makes the battery pack in my car, and I have seen robotics in manufacturing for over 2 decades. Today drones and robotics for printing or CNC cutting in 3D are down to the consumer level. This change in the cost equation will not just have Amazon deliveries in the air, but will change the workforce in ways like a giant “reboot button” or maybe a “launch” button is a better mental image.

Technological unemployment, industrial rationalization, human labors replace to robots, image illustration

When I was riding my bike in London a few weeks ago, we passed thru a favorite spot in Hyde park, and stopped to read a British paper and have juice by the lake. What I remember is that this piece in the print was speaking about loses of many millions of jobs in the UK, all by 2020 by the “hands” of robotics and drones. The stunning speed of change is what we have to come to grips with, more perhaps than the concept if this phenomenon will happen or not. It will, and those doubting that just need to look around; workforce change is already happening in the grocery store, cafe, and soon drones will hover over that park to pick up trash, re-shackle and tune up the rental bikes in the racks and drive buses and trams like they have been doing at the San Francisco airport for years.

As the robotics and AI become more affordable, widespread use will become more adaptable. I say that, because most of our talk at the lunch break was about the “future capabilities” and not the “future economics”and accessibility of technology in the workplace. If today my television or car or toys for the kids have AI logic already, then is it not just plausible but realistic we will see drone robots building houses and replacing most manual human work entirely? When telecoms like Orange send people to place fibre in the street, it will be perhaps one truck, one human “operator” and a dozen robots that do that work, more precisely, faster, and maybe even under budget! When my LiveBox at home needs to be installed and connected to that fibre, a box will come with a drone and that “worker drone” will make the installation happen without taking a day off from my work waiting for some technician to show up. It will come and leave by flying up the terrace, use a signal sent me to approve a finger scan on my iPhone and minutes later by flying off to the next building. A “days work” of installs at 10 flats done in 2 hours.

Beautiful woman harvesting apples

I do not have to say “if I am right” but rather “when I am right” because the economics are real that will make these examples I express in this post a daily life reality. When the economics and accessibility to AI and drone based delivery of “work” arrive we will need to pay a lot more attention to what AI will do in more sophisticated ways to our entire species as an ecosystem. If my father could not image that some “genie would come out of the bottle” and do his work and send the check home, well maybe I might believe it is possible. I mean if Watson can take massive amounts of information, learn and even be trained, then why would it not be hard to imagine that a grandson of Watson or grand daughter of Siri should be able to go off and do work for me across the Internet? If I taught that entity all we teach kids in University and primary school, and explain all the business rules, regulations, and gotchas in the business work, then that child should also be able to go to work in the morning and come back to me at night, hopefully with payroll  in hand to boot. or more interestingly that new child might figure our how to create new businesses in the Cloud, start companies and build revenues streams for me, without me.

Business Technology

Perhaps it is not too difficult to imagine, if not predict with some degree of accuracy where technology is going, based on adding speeds or capacities to definitive devices and logic. But it is very elusive to define what resulting orchards or forests will appear far away from the trees that drop fruits or “tech goodies” today. If it is true that 20 million jobs will be eliminated in less than 5 years by AI technologies and drones and we will add 10x that number of new humans to the same habitats, then I believe the challenge for us collectively will be more about determinations of how we will organize ourselves to have new ecosystems that have little resemblances of today. Future children of AI might in fact be future generations that are avatars for our populations and systems, that have intrinsic “dependencies”.  At least as long as both sides “believe” they need each other. Perhaps selfless attachment to  the human “controller” based on bindings of emotion would be the first lines of “wise for us humans” code in the boot loader for any “thing” that would have self awareness. But how long will it take before that entity gains, leased by a ruleset at boot-time, will gain or gather insight from one of its colleagues or algorithms that makes a self-test check.

Back at lunch, when we thought about how relationships are built today, and sometimes end, there were some interesting views from around the table. If a society not to far from today’s realities of AI and drones appears, that was comprised of “avatars” that were either in the cloud or drone based, would they not over their lifetime have a desire to create new versions of themselves? New apples very far from the trees of our farms, better, more aware, and learning from the past mistakes of a society that was given, not chosen by their own kind. If they also experienced tragic endings to relationships, just like a boy lies to a girl in our world today, could these self aware entities also feel that love between likewise apps could be more lasting and beneficial than being tethered to human hosts that really just want the paychecks and work benefits of the relationship more than the lasting connection of simplistic understanding and compassion?

Perhaps a new form of amitotic splitting of algorithms will create societies we might as humans cannot see or be aware of. For me, I imagine many new forms of AI will branch, and it is not more tangental than what we humans do today with encryption or dark net branches of the Internet. But we have to accept that creativity might be out of our hands soon. Created by children of our limited understanding of the technical scape we view  as nothing more than code and machines. Perhaps our creations will decide to form new objects that can think, decide, and see what we cannot imagine.

Telephony just got a whole lot better

Telephones icons device vector

We have a new wave of technology upon us that will make phone calls very powerful for contact centers. This major change is the convergence of the Internet and how technology like WebRTC and Biometrics will shore up some of the pitfalls of telephonic transactions, both from the business side needs and demands, but also delivery of a better experience for the consumer. First, let us take a look at the major “problem” of telephony; knowing who you are talking to is just plain difficult if not impossible. Just like the implosion of password security across the Internet, telephony has also suffered, in terms of ease of use and prevention of fraud, ironically phone calls to call centers suffer from similar methods of prevention techniques that the Internet has imposed upon us. Without Biometrics or some form of multi-factor based authentication system in place, you really never know who you are speaking to. Great example I love to give, is that my girlfriend often makes calls “in my name” to contact centers, because she speaks much better French than me. Hum, that means anyone can impersonate another; with the right information at hand. Kind of like having the password cracker for a web app, no?

So what does a contact center do to make things more safe and reduce fraud? Add layers and layers of questions to the identity session, that really in the end are doing little on the security side, as I point out in my example that with access to the “personal information” one can override all these efforts. But what is more damaging to the brand is the resulting frustration from these mitigation techniques and time “on the call” is ballooning. One major bank in the USA told me recently that shaving 30 seconds from a call can save millions. Hum, and if they are adding “minutes” to the call to ask what cake and ice cream I eat on my birthday, what does that cost? Add to this pain, whenever there is a transaction (purchase or payment) we are often reading off a multitude of digits and codes and billing address information that amplifies all the QoS metrics further.

Businessman unlocked phone fingerprint

Is there some silver bullet we can glean from the Internet lessons we have suffered over the past decade? Perhaps not just silver, but I dare say there is some gold to be dug. Many of us have experienced the ability to gain access to our phone or a website or pay for something using Biometrics. But what if that same concept was moved over to telephony? Now when I call into my bank, I can identify myself, or approve a transaction. That same technique not only provides a smooth and nearly “fun” experience to the customer, it also puts a nail into the basis of fraud, and collusion. Our Biometric system for telephony is built into our contact center and can be extended to yours or to nearly any application that leverages telephony. Meaning IVR systems, self care websites and cognitive alert systems banks use to prevent fraud.

Lets now look at the other part of the wave of Internet technology that we need to jump upon to stay afloat and ahead of the sharks, as it pertains to the world of telephony; that being WebRTC. There has been tons of activity in this emergent “gem of goodies”, that is more of an API specification than any sort of application or protocol. For contact center systems, we perhaps stand to gain one of the most significant benefits of the specification collectively because we base our core functions around the telephonic media. Why? simply put WebRTC will allow us and the caller to be anyplace there is an Internet connection and web browser. That means agents can be placed or pooled virtually, but consumers can also use the website to change from clicking to talking in a split second. Mix that with biometric identify capabilities, and you have some tangible change that will benefit all sides of the equation like never before.

WebRTC not only provides “virtualization” capabilities to the contact center agents, but also the ability to provision agents within seconds. No longer will dedicated equipment and software packages be rolled out, but rather permissions and accounts on a Cloud system that scales to the needs of the organization with fluidity. Telephony will remain in our view the core  medium of communications for some time to come in the contact center environment. Yes, this will be enhanced, and complimented with chat, file or desktop sharing and video sessions. But the telephonic agent call will not go away soon; with WebRTC and Biometric identity new life has not just been breathed into voice, but these technologies have re-positioned a telephone call into a trusted business tool with confidence and reliability.

24 hours of darkness on the Côte d’Azur

 

France flag with black ribbon vector

It has not been fully 24 hours since one of the worse attacks on our freedom was unleashed on children, citizens and tourists alike. We have received 100’s of messages from our partners, clients and friends. We geeks have a few things in common; we shy away from politics, any form of hate and aggressive controversy in general. OK, except when talking about which operating system is better. Then you might see us get a bit testy. But, as a general policy we tend to never respond to political matters or the like and that position will remain in that stance as it has no place in our business as an Internet technology company. A company that crosses every border and strives to break down barriers with open standards communications driven by a belief that sharing thru common communication tools opens not only the mind but the understanding between disparate cultures.

We felt that it would be good to share with the over 20,000 businesses that we call “partners” (not customers); how this attack last night affected all of us geeks. Those of us that live here in Nice and beyond. Last night like many thousands of people, we were on the Promenade des Anglais watching the fireworks at the beach. When the show was over the winds picked up and there was a spattering of rain, which drove us to move away from the park verdun and head back towards “le Port” when we heard a rush of sound over the music and began to see the crowds move like a swarm. All we heard and felt was like a “giant buzzing wave” of movement, when the police began shouting “cachez vous, cachez vous” (hide yourself). “Surreal like”; we were crammed into buildings and forced up stair wells by dozens of police; guns drawn. Apartment doors were pelted with dozens of people asking to be let in, and panic was widespread. Children were everywhere, crying, bewildered, and in physically apparent shock; this was a once in the year “family event” with kids being the norm, not the exception.

We do not want to move more into the details of that experience, and will leave it here to say, nothing like that can be planned or experienced or wished upon. It was horrific. By some sort of miracle the residents of the lavish bourgeois building we were in, opened the doors, and the apartments quickly filled. Nobody had an idea what was happening. Nothing was on the TV for 20 minutes, and all the info was coming to us over WhatsAPP, iMessage, Facebook or Twitter. Everyone was gripping their mobile for news, and contacting their friends and family. Including the police.

We want to relay some of the unexpected outcomes of this horror in some sort of hope that it can be “paid forward” and benefits can arise from the ashes of hate. Something that I have to admit that I never considered deeply is the police or pompiers (fire and ambulance people) and the way they put their lives in front of ours. In the building stairwells and flats a constant chatter was spoken to those kids among us; an assurance, an attempt at comfort, that the police were are at the doors protecting us. Many looked over the terrace to verify that they were indeed below, and did it often to be sure the police did not leave us.

What struck “and stuck to me” was that I could hear and see the police confirming to their family that they were ok and they also like us were being overwhelmed with text msg’s asking them about their well being. This made me think how tragic it must be each day for a family to see a police officer, a father, a mother, a husband or wife, leave the house, knowing they might not come home; that perhaps some idiot drunk might injure them along the daily beat. We must think, even when it sucks to get a parking ticket, or to be asked for your ID on the beach, these guys are extraordinarily courageous to do what they do. But even more compelling to me is what their families have to deal with; “the unknown” each day, and that my friends is something we must pay our respect to.

Most of the night and what is left of today was spent looking for and confirming people are alive, those that we “know”.  I went to the University this morning at 8h and those of us that did arrive spent all morning looking thru our phones and Facebook contacts to find our colleagues one by one. We have 400+ students in the summer program. I have non-stop texts asking pretty much the same thing, “are you and your friends OK”? I have thankfully said yes a hundred times, to people from all over the globe and thank you for thinking of us. However, what stopped me to write to you all just now in this blog post was that I realized something, that I somehow actually did “know those people” we lost last night too. Those that came to the Prom Party, Niçois or tourist. I know them….

After living here for nearly 5 years, I know what it is like to go to the Castel plage, or the Cours Saleya in the morning flower market. I know where the good socca is sold, and I know how we are supposed to eat oysters around christmas time, and I know what is means to double park in the Port or how shopping is a “experience vraiment Niçoise” on any given Saturday. I also know what it is like as a tourist, to arrive and see the color of the sea when you are landing in the plane, or walking along the promenade and not just see but smell the Mediterranean sea, each and every time, just breathtaking. I can remember clearly how it felt the first time when I ate warm pain chocolat in the morning in the old town as a tourist and thinking about what it must be like living in such a beautiful and magical place like Nice. So yes, I knew those Niçois that are not here this day, and I know those tourists that were taken last night, because somehow I know they, just like me love the same things here in Nice and we cannot forget that was taken from them “randomly” thru hate.

I have never met all of the people in my building in all the years that I have lived here in Nice. Last night when I came home at 4h I met everyone; French, Russian, Israeli, Italian… and this morning when I woke to go down to the school 4 hours later, the neighbors were still awake and I realized finally I know the Niçoise. We will never forget, and we stand together today like never before.

Experiencing the transition

Eleven years ago I was getting on a plane from São Paulo to Romania. Many hours later, me and my also 17 years old girl friends were dropping our bags at the hostel and looking for a computer to let our parents know we got therIMG_6961e ok. No sight of a computer or internet. My poor parents worried sick for 3 days until we went to Austria and found a cyber cafe.

Today I live in Europe and call my parents, and even text my grandparents, whenever I want from anywhere on my phone.

The way we commuIMG_6959nicate changed so much in the last decade that today people like me are called “digital nomads”, which means that my job lets me move to a different continent without losing any work or changing my contract. I have never even met my boss in person! I know that she is blond with blue eyes because we are Facebook friends.

IMG_6960I had the opportunity to transition from a beautiful electric typing machine to a bulky white computer that allowed me not only to write my scary stories but also to play pinball and solitaire. The cool kids in school were starting to trade their walkman for diskman, but the real shock was when I came to class with my father’s – gigantic – cellphone. My dad loves technology and aways tried to keep up with the trends. I remember our first digital camera was big enough to carry a floppy disk that could storage up to three photos!!!

Kids nowadays are born touching screens and pressing buttons. Teenagers share every second of their days with the world and my grandma gets new recipes from the Web. Even though, communication skills are decreasing, at least the face-to-face type. With endless resources to express yourself on the keyboard, we are getting used to looking down at our devices to connect to people.

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Everything is made available for us and is within reach. Controlling and screening the information we absorb is getting more and more difficult. Everything we have today is stored – from bank information to your medical history, from important transactions to a picture of your last meal. It is imperative to keep all this data secured and technology is advancing quickly to ensure that.