Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Masako Wakamiya is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers
  • She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly
  • Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’

When 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya first began working she still used an abacus for maths – today she is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.

Frustrated by the lack of interest from the tech industry in engaging older people, she taught herself to code and set about doing it herself.

The over 60s, she insists, need to actively search out new skills to stay nimble.

“As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it’s motivating,” she says.

“Once you’ve achieved your professional life, you should return to school. In the era of the internet, if you stop learning, it has consequences for your daily life,” Wakamiya explains during an AFP interview at her home near Tokyo.

She became interested in computers in the 1990s when she retired from her job as a bank clerk. It took her months to set up her first system, beginning with BBS messaging, a precursor to the Internet, before building her skills on a Microsoft PC, and then Apple’s Mac and iPhones.

She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly, but a repeated lack of response led her to take matters into her own hands.

Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’ one of Japan’s first dedicated app games for the over-60s – she is now in such demand that this year Apple invited her to participate at their prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference, where she was the oldest app creator to take part.

‘Source of inspiration’
‘Hinadan’ – ‘the doll staircase’ – was inspired by the Hina Matsuri, a doll festival which takes place every March, where ornamental dolls representing the emperor, his family and their guests are displayed in a specific arrangement.

In Wakamiya’s app, users have to put them in the correct positions – a task which is harder than it sounds, requiring memorisation of the complex arrangements.

The app, which is currently only available in Japanese, has been downloaded 42,000 times with hundreds of positive comments from users.

And while these figures are relatively small compared to Japan’s big-hitting apps which are downloaded in their millions, ‘Hinadan’ has proved popular enough that Wakamiya plans to release English, Chinese and possibly French versions of the app before next year’s festival.

Its success has propelled her on to the tech world stage, despite the industry’s reputation for being notoriously ageist

In Silicon Valley, workers in their 40s are considered old by some firms and according to media reports citing research firm Payscale, the median age for an employee at Facebook is 29 and at Apple is 31.

But international tech firms and start-ups are slowly waking up to the economic potential of providing for silver surfers, and Wakamiya has already met with Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook.

Wakamiya recalls: “He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app. I explained that I’d thought about this in my programming – recognising that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well.”

“Mr Cook complimented me,” she says proudly, adding that he had hailed her as a “source of inspiration”.

No time for sickness
Wakamiya concedes that she finds “writing lines of code is difficult” but has a voracious appetite to learn more.

“I want to really understand the fundamentals of programming, because at the moment I only learned the elements necessary for creating Hinadan,” she explains.

More than a quarter of Japan’s population is aged 65 and above, and this is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2055. The government is struggling to ensure its population remains active and healthy – and so also see the dynamic octogenarian as an inspiration.

“I would like to see all Japanese elderly people have the same motivation,” one official told AFP.

Wakamiya says her ultimate goal is to come up with “other apps that can entertain older people and help transmit to young people the culture and traditions we old people possess”.

“Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country’s economy,” said Wakamiya, who took up the piano at 75.

Hinting that her good health is down to an active mind and busy life, she adds: “I am so busy everyday that I have no time to look for diseases.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Meet the stylish entrepreneur making cannabis gear that women actually want

April Pride poses in the well-curated passageway of the downtown building where Van der Pop is located in Seattle.(Credit: Kristen Angelo/Narratively)

This article originally appeared on Narratively.

April Pride is standing on a side street north of Little Italy in New York with a cell phone pressed against her ear, telling someone on the other end that she needs ten-to-fifteen feet of rope. She’s traveled here for one night from her home in Seattle to host a salon about cannabis and sex at the Alchemist’s Kitchen, a shop in the East Village that sells herbal remedies and botanical medicines. But first, she’s ordering material for a sail she’s erecting over the entrance to her shop called Van der Pop in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, which sells high-end cannabis products for women. It’s a hard-to-find, sleek spot located up some stairs and above a restaurant. She wants to give her clients as much privacy as possible.

Read more Narratively: Why Breast Cancer Survivors Are Reclaiming an Ancient Jewish Ritual

“Women don’t want to go into dispensaries,” Pride says, noting men run many of the shops. “They find them intimidating and they’re worried they’re going to run into their kid’s teacher.”

Pride, who is 41 with free-flowing auburn hair, launched Van der Pop in January 2016 and has become an unlikely voice for reversing the stigma that has followed women smokers for years.

Read more Narratively: Courtney Williams Is on a Mission to Get Black and Brown People to Bike

Dasheeda Dawson, the southwest regional market leader for Women Grow, an organization that connects women in the cannabis industry, explains when she “came out of the cannabis closet,” other women of color criticized her for being open about smoking around her thirteen-year-old son, especially having grown up during the War on Drugs.

“I think the judgment is that you don’t have a high regard for yourself,” she says.

Read more Narratively: This “Old Guy With a Sign” Protests Trump Every Single Day

Pride also credits Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign to her being anti-drug for much of her childhood. She grew up in a Virginia town where people maintained southern hospitality, but extended invites into their social circle based on a family’s standing. Her parents openly smoked joints and she still remembers how appalled she was. She didn’t smoke in high school, but began warming up to marijuana in college and was especially turned on to an easy-going lifestyle after visiting the west coast one summer.

Now, this demographic is gaining a foothold in the industry. Thirty-six percent of executives are female compared to just twenty-two percent in other industries,and women make up forty percent of users annually. Of these women, over eleven million are over the age of 26. Under two million are teenagers.

Pride broke into the industry with little knowledge about the science and research behind the drug’s benefits, but knew it made movie night with her husband more fun, helped her bond with her kids, and boosted her sex life. For the most part, she seems like an average working mom who enjoys getting high.

“When I discovered Van der Pop, I thought ‘What a breath of fresh air,’” says Gigi Mae Cueva, a merchandising consultant who wants to work with Pride and is a cannabis user herself. “Men just think women are such delicate figures that it’s not what they expect. I think with [Pride] coming into play, it sheds some light that we do think about [weed] in a certain way, in a sexualized way. I think it’s great Van der Pop can break that mold.”

The idea behind Van der Pop is to create chic products that mimic other aspects of customers’ lives. If they can have beautiful purses, why shouldn’t their weed accessories be up to par, too? Several of Van der Pop’s products are designed to maintain discretion as well. One of Pride’s newest items, a leather purse called Poppins Stash Bag (named after Mary Poppins’ medicine bag stowing her ‘spoonful of sugar’), is outfitted with a bank lock to keep out snoopers. She’s also planning to sell swaths of odor-blocking fabric so women can arrive at cocktail parties without betraying their stashes to hostesses or guests.

Van der Pop has also become a place to talk freely about topics like sexual pleasure, menopause, cramps, and the portrayal of female users seen on social media or in advertisements, like “dab girls” who smoke in thongs or pose with a bong between their legs. Pride whips out a water-stained copy of mg Magazine, a leading cannabis trade magazine, and flips to an ad featuring a photo of a woman in a low-slung dress. She comments that this is modest by usual standards.

For about an hour after the talk ends, the women mingle and consider the products. One group revisits the CBD clitoris revelation. “Who wouldn’t want that?” a woman asks rhetorically.

Later, Pride grabs an IPA to decompress. She and her husband don’t drink in the house, so this is a treat. As the night wears on, she goes outside to smoke a joint. She thinks the event went well and approves of the intimate setting. It makes women feel comfortable asking potentially embarrassing questions.

“It’s going to be impactful if it’s grassroots,” she says of the movement. “No pun intended.”

Who are the virtual reality and augmented reality startups in the UK? Meet 28 of the country’s best

AR and VR startups: Blippar

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) revenues are set to rocket from £4.2 billion in 2016 to more than £130 billion in 2020 according to research from the International Data Corporation.

The UK plays home to a number of emerging players in the industry hoping to cash in on the boom. A recent report by GrowthEnabler estimated that of more than 800 companies working in the segment worldwide, more than 150 are based in the Britain.

Here’s our pick of the ones to watch out for.

[Source:- Techworld]

 

Met Arvind Kejriwal. Now, Irrfan Khan Wants to Meet PM Modi. Here’s Why

Irrfan Khan

Irrfan Khan photographed in Mumbai

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Actor Irrfan Khan wants to question PM Modi on accountability
  • He took the role of Madaari’s creative producer to get the film a release
  • Irrfan also mentioned his Inferno co-star Tom Hanks is a secure actor
Actor Irrfan Khan is taking his role as a vigilante rather seriously.

The 49-year-old actor, who met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on July 19, has also asked for an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi, currently busy with Parliament’s monsoon session, is yet to confirm but what we’d like to know is – why does Irrfan want the administrator on the hot seat?

“Not hot seat really. The film (Madaari) is about the common man and the system. We always see the story of the madaari and jamura. They decide the system and the rest feel helpless, so I thought maybe I should take this opportunity to meet them and ask them,” Irrfan said.

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What’s that one question he wants to ask PM Modi?

“There are so many on my mind, I cannot just ask one. It depends on the mood but the one question that weighs on everyone is accountability,” Irrfan said.

“Let’s say one general concern is where does accountability lie? Why is it not transparent? Does the responsibility of the political party lie to tell the people what their plan is when they come to power and also isn’t it their responsibility to make the people more aware?” he asked.

The tag line of Madaari is Desh So Raha Hai . We asked Irrfan why people remain ignorant despite an over active social media culture in the country.

“People are easily lead. They get into the trap of promises because of their insecurities. They get aligned to a group, driven either by politics, cast or religion. They want to align with the most powerful group,” Irrfan said.

Irrfan also explained why he took the role of creative producer for Madaari.

“The reason is to get the film a release. I wanted to control the film so that it could be released. Sometimes a film you do gets stalled. Marketing is a burden on Bollywood. These types of films change the trend but these stories often get buried or waylaid by the enormity of the promotions and the finances involved,” he said.

Of Madaari taking on Rajinikanth’s Kabaali on July 22, the actor said his film is no competition to Rajinikanth’s greatness. “There is enough space for both films,” he added.

A short while ago, a fan-made poster of Kabali went viral for its similarity to the Madaari poster. Irrfan Khan laughed off a hypothetical situation in which Kabali actually did copy Madaari, saying, “They wouldn’t have, team Rajinikanth is very right.”

Irrfan Khan’s Inferno is also set for a release in October. Irrfan said that working with director Ron Howard and actor Tom Hanks was an experience, especially Mr Hanks, who is a secure actor. “Actors get insecure, but when you watch Tom Hanks you realise what a great man he is,” Irrfan said.

[“source-ndtv”]