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Get With the Program: We are in Permanent Beta

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ribbonswirlThings are changing so fast around us that we can no longer wait to find the beaten path or use past techniques as a guide. Whether you are looking for a job, marketing your own business, planning to return to school or longing for a life mate, chances are you can’t rely on doing things the traditional way any more.

The term “beta” refers to the preliminary or testing stage of software or hardware products. Once the glitches were worked out, a more finalized version was put out on the market.

The only problem is that software and hardware continue to have so many problems that companies don’t even expect the first version to be problem-free. They count on you, the user, to test the product and discover the problems.

We are in a state of change where we are testing new ideas and products knowing that adjustments, adaptations and upgrades will be needed. At the heart of all this change is technology.

Resisting the push toward technology is futile. Even the State Board of Equalization finally has set up electronic submissions, not as an option but as mandatory. When the government and educational institutions finally see the benefits and make the move to technology, it’s time for everyone to face that it’s here to stay.

A former colleague who takes pride in being a dinosaur was shocked when her credit union suggested she not buy traveler’s checks but use her debit card to get cash while traveling abroad. She had never accepted a debit card years ago when it was offered to her, so now she had to get up to speed on using a debit card the week before her trip abroad.

The same warning about traveler’s checks not being the ideal anymore was lost on a tourist who was traveling with our tour group to China. As we were leaving the hotel headed out to visit the highlights of Beijing she was waging a verbal war with the hotel front desk clerk and manager who didn’t think her signatures on her traveler’s check matched.

Not only is technology here to stay, but it’s changing daily. Whatever features are in place today will change by next week, so keeping up is essential if you plan to stay in the game.

When I upgraded to a new Blackberry last month, the body of my phone looked pretty much like the old one, but I had to learn new features, download my GPS again, and sadly discovered that my favorite places were no longer set. My new phone has almost as much memory as my computer and can take pictures and videos.

If I want I can access not only my email, but store PowerPoint presentations, work on Word documents and access my Facebook and Twitter accounts from my phone. Anyone who gets comfort from having things in the same place and work the same way are in for a lot of discomfort in this new land where technology leads the way.

Instead of fighting it, why not begin to get acquainted with one or two key tools slowly. The Internet is loaded with tutorials to help you. And don’t think you’re alone.

In spite of the fact that I know a lot about many tech tools and features, I hit learning curves almost every day. Today, for example, when I set up my Facebook fan page (not to be confused with a profile page) I had to search for a while before I discovered why I couldn’t set up a vanity URL yet. The vanity URL is a short one that would read www.facebook.com/coloryourlifehappy instead of the long complicated one they assign you at first http://www.facebook.com/pages/Color-Your-Life-Happy/198393282694?v=app_2347471856#/pages/Color-Your-Life-Happy/198393282694?v=wall . See what I mean?

After two hours of searching, I found the answer. You need to have 25 fans before you are allowed to get the vanity URL for a fan page. So, I sent out invitations to all my Facebook friends and within minutes I had enough fans to get the easier-to-remember URL for my Color Your Life Happy fan page. Yippee! Now I just have to relocate those instructions for setting it up.

I must admit that keeping up with technology is not for the faint of heart. But if keeping an active mind staves off Alzheimer’s, I’m safe.

Part of enjoying your life is embracing change. You certainly don’t have to jump on board every new gadget that comes on the market, but you also can’t expect to remain unaffected by the changes taking place around us.

It was once said that nothing is sure but death and taxes. Add to that change. It’s here to stay.

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