Tag Archives: technology

Not a Smartphone Expert, Just Heavily Dependent

RIP Samsung Infuse 9/3/2011-3/28/13
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The dates are a bit misleading, I killed one in July of last year, this was actually the insurance replacement.

The Infuse was my first Android phone and my first GIANT phone. I was a serial killer of Blackberries, and had maxed out but did not kill an iPhone 3G before I got the Infuse, which was purchased out of iPhone frustration.  As a heavy Google user, my inability to get full cooperation between the iPhone which was old and slow and Google products sent me running to the AT&T store. The crafty folks there talked me into an Android, the Infuse.  I thought it was da BOMB for all of two days before it started cutting up. Shutting down, dropping calls, battery dying fast.  I cussed out AT&T repeatedly, went to the factory story to get it fixed, tried to update from Froyo (remember that) to Gingerbread and the update failed, experiencing problems upon problems.   In spite of all that and requiring a replacement, I made it work.

My smartphone is my main computer and my part-time camera. I dog it like every phone that’s ever been in my possession.  This one was particularly nice because of the screen size and the resolution, it takes great pictures.  I’ve written blog posts on it, shared documents from it, sent emails and engaged on my social networks from it, then it died, it stopped taking a charge on a Thursday.

Friday morning I called AT&T about my options and went to a store.  I ended up ordering another insurance replacement (not an Infuse, praise Jesus) but had to wait on it to arrive.  I have a work phone but I don’t take personal calls or texts, nor run any apps on it, so I purchased a GO phone. I’ve had withdrawal ever since.


First of all this thing has physical keys, no touch screen.  Everything is menus and navigation and what you need at any given moment is difficult to find.  You can browse the web, and there are Twitter and Facebook apps, but they are barely usable.  Multimedia messages come through but they come through in parts and you have to “play” them.  The camera is serviceable but is 2 megapixels.  Over the weekend I ended up using my work phone and the mobile versions of Twitter and G+ which were slow but doable because I just couldn’t take it anymore and am too lazy to be fulling with a laptop for everything.

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In the end this post is really a “first world problem” post.  I don’t need a smartphone, I don’t know that it’s a real need for anyone, it is a convenience, one that lets me stay immediately up to date on everything around me.  GO phones or any variation of them is an excellent low-cost, low-maintenance option and trust me I’m thankful they exist and pray they continue to do so. A couple of good things happened while I was without a smartphone: I got more reading done, actually watched some TV over the weekend and most importantly learned that if need be I can do without.

By the way, I’m keeping the GO phone. I won’t be without back-up ever again.
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Not a web/tech expert blames it on Twitter

My anger at the death of Google Reader that is…

I joined Twitter during the fall of 2008 to stay on top of the elections. The political folks that I followed were sharing links to articles relevant to the election. Following those links to the designated blogs, I found that many of those blogs were ones that I’d like to read on an ongoing basis. The difficulty was keeping up with all of them. Bookmarking at the time was all I knew and doing that for every blog, then clicking through these everyday would preclude me from doing my job, the one I got paid for. The election and my involvement in it was as a volunteer but I still need to stay on top of news and polls and things.  Somebody on Twitter, I’m not sure, who pointed me to RSS.  I could subscribe via this RSS thing and get everything in a snippet. I could get snippets from all over the web and look at them in one place (an aggregator) that aggregator was Google Reader.

Now the web is blowing up with the news that Google Reader will be shut down on July 1st.

What the f#-%/+%+#;;&(;-1($/&(&*+$++%!  I’m not happy about this news at all. For the following reasons:

  1. Google Reader is so easy to set up- I didn’t even know what the hell RSS was and still don’t understand the mechanisms as to how blog posts end up in nice neat excerpts or full posts in one place.  All I know is to click subscribe via RSS, choose the reader, in this case Google Reader and all the posts end up in one spot.
  2. Google Reader is easy to maintain – tagging, organizing and labeling are things that DO make sense to me.  They’re just means of organizing work flow.  I could tag, label and organize to my hearts content.  I could change the names, move subscriptions the whole nine with just a couple of clicks.
  3. Google Reader works everywhere – I’ve had both excellent and craptastic pcs, phones, browsers and operating systems during my years of using Google Reader and it was operable on every single one of them.
  4. Google Reader was social – to the extent that you could share to your social spaces with a click.  I have shared stuff on every social media account I’ve ever had.  I’ve shared to my blogs as well with additional commentary.
  5. Google Reader was for everybody – technical expertise of any kind was not required for use. Just click the ability to click.

All of that comes crashing to halt, momentarily anyway for me.  I guess I’ll check out Lifehacker and see what they have to say about alternatives.  I’d like to know what you have to say about the end of Google Reader.  Let me know in the comments.  As for Google, shame on you!

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Not a technology expert, not an idiot either

As an author of many a Twitter rant about AT&T, I want a pile a little bit more onto the rant heap, however this time it’s not directed squarely at AT&T.

Today was bill paying day. Having received notice that my data usage was at 65% of the monthly limit I decided to check the usage before paying the bill. A quick scan revealed that there was large chunks of data usage occurring at times when I was sleep.  Of course I called ready to issue the standard cuss out.  I got a young lady on the phone from technical support who starts asking.  me do you sign out and kill tasks when you’re done. I told her truthfully sometimes yes, sometimes no which is as it has always been. To see this jump based on typical usage was suspect.  Without swearing for once I made it clear that every time I call the suggestion is that there something I’m doing or not doing that is the cause.  Then we checked a few settings which were five as is, and had a conversation.

She shared that her first bill after getting a smartphone was a whopper because of use of the data network and the unreliability of Wi-Fi in different locations.  She along stated that she uses a task killer App and a data usage App to avoid overage problems. I took down the info, thanked her from the recommendations and ended the call on a pleasant note. Sure AT&T is involved as my service provider by my ream rant is against all the service providers, manufacturers and advertising agencies that have sold us the foolishness that is the smartphone.

When I think of a smartphone or a smart anything my belief is that this smart thing is an expert at what it does. In the case of the smartphone, my expectation is that it makes expert calls, texts and data. What I’ve found, even with my previous iPhone is that they all do plenty of stuff. Some tasks are completely expertly, some average and some poorly. Sure I can talk and text at the same time but every day a call drops. I can look things up on the internet bit sometimes its painfully slow.  Texts don’t always come through and sometimes the phone shuts off without it being touched.  Sure their are many factors that contribute to performance like the speed of or traffic on the network, concurrent processes running on the phone, the operating system and so on. The point is the phone is only as smart as the environment it operates in whether its the knowledge level of the user or all the outside factors delineated above.  As a consumer I look at commercials and hear folks talk about all of the magic that is a smartphone and I want to experience it. These phones aren’t magic.

Providers, manufacturers and advertisers how about getting together and crafting sine disclaimer language? Something to the effect of “this phone is magic, but only inthese situations.” Doing so would temper expectations,  ease nerves, and prevent folks from getting cussed out.

This post was written on a phone with a Wi-Fi connection and mobile data turned off.


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The Other Digital Divide

One day I was on Facebook checking out my newsfeed and a friend of mine, young, under 30 and a techie posted about some music he was enjoying — which I happen to enjoy as well.  I commented and requested he make me a CD.  One of his friends responded with some comments about file sharing and such and that with technology there's much simpler ways to enjoy music now.  The mama in me wanted to check this young'n but I decided against it. My friend who made the original post was eerily silent.  When I talked to him the next day I said, asked "why do you guys do that?" that, as in why do you young folks (under 30) treat us middle age and old folks like we're dinosaurs?  He wouldn't touch that question but has often commented that I (at the prime age of 44) am more the exception than the norm for folks my age when it comes to being interested in technology.  What I have found (informally) is that my set IS consisted of dinosaurs with some exceptions.
Now I'm not an expert on technology, however I've had a computer in the home or had access to one since 1984 (my friend mentioned above was all of 2 years old).  My family was fortunate, my dad is an audiophile and has subsequently become quite gadgety (he bought the first gen iPad when it was released).  As such I've always had an interest in all things technology, not the means to purchase 😉 but definitely the interest.  
If it weren't for technology, the internet/interwebs and such I would have to do things the old fashioned way like use a map/call for directions, go to the library and spend hours in front a microfilm machine to research an old article, write a check, use a stamp and envelope to mail a bill.  Thank GOD for technology!  However my random sample of peers, older folks and some slightly younger folks (no one under 30) think that technology is:
  • Dangerous
  • Of the devil
  • Scary
  • Too difficult to understand
  • For young folks
Which is unfortunate because it can quite literally open up the entire world to you.  What's interesting is that while I was researching this piece, I researched it from a statistical viewpoint — I am 44 and an accountant by day so hard data/numbers are my thing and my cursory glance at what I found gives me a bit more hope than what my small sample of friends and family bore out.  My peers and upwards aren't necessarily technophobes, we just use it differently and not as much as our younger counter parts.

My first look was at a piece from AARP for the over 50 crowd.  From their phone survey they found that 40% of persons over 50 are comfortable using the internet and of those 57% use the internet from a desktop while only 4% use the internet on a mobile (phone) device. 27% of the 50+ set use social media, with Facebook (23%) being the primary destination.  This AARP study also overlayed a sample of  50+ Hispanics whose numbers are about half of the majority population sampled.  (Those numbers are part of the real digital divide, which is another discussion).  

The second piece that I stumbled upon was a great summary of tons of statistics on technology usage  of all kinds by all different age groups and it again, the stats here show that my peers aren't necessarily averse to technology we just use it differently.  For instance most of my peers and up have cell phones, but we talk on them more than we text on them and we have very low usage of the mobile web.  According to an FCC study 86% of all Americans own cell phones but the biggest users of mobile internet (48%) are between 19 and 29 while only 5% of 65+ folks use the mobile web.  

What does all this mean?
That the middle aged and older aren't as far behind as the young folks think, however we have some catching up to do.  That the generations might spend a little more time teaching, learning and sharing in lieu of criticizing, but how do we get this done?  That will be next post?  How we close the digital age divide?

Note:  the old broad wrote a draft of this post in Evernote using an HP dv6-3120.  The post appears on Typepad and is cross-posted from Friendfeed to Twitter :=)


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Not a Tech Blogger has a Buzz in her ear

was on Friendfeed on Tuesday February 9, when Google dropped Buzz on the world
and some how I got caught up in the hype. Waiting for the icon to appear in my
email (got it Thursday) and not wanting to wait, I started Buzzing immediately
from my iPhone. I thought oh gosh, do I really need another social media
service/platform/time-sucker in my life? 
I’ll answer that question later. If you didn’t know, here’s what Google
says Buzz is:


There’s been changes since the introduction of this video
that address privacy concerns, auto-following, muting and such. You can check
the Gmail blog for the updates and
of course you can Google it. There’s been plenty of blog posts, articles,
praise and complaints about Buzz in its first week.  Of course if you are already in Buzz and
follow any technology folks, you can get excellent information that way.


Buzz is attached to Gmail – I railed in the
beginning because I loathe email and I didn’t like that Buzz co-opted my
contact list, hence the privacy issue. So Tuesday night, since I’d not received
the Buzz icon yet, I deleted about 90% of my contacts, not a problem since they
are replicated elsewhere.  One good thing
is that I was already following some people that I followed in Google Reader
which is a Google product that I use a lot.

Google Reader Shares – are automatically posted
to Buzz. I like that. What doesn’t work is when you have your shares set up to
another feed, in my case Friendfeed. So when sharing an item in that way it
shows up twice, because reader shares are tied to you Google Profile and that
share setting is what’s used in Friendfeed and I imagine in other services.
This gives a double post. One with the actual title of the article and one that
says Buzz from: (see posts #4 and 5)

What I’d like to see something like Ping.fm
from Buzz where you click the share button and goes to allt he places you want,
showing a Subject and Link perhaps “Buzz: Obama breaking kneecaps.”

Search – I don’t even know how to do this. There
are posts that were really good the first couple of days that I can’t find and
have no idea to search based on the poster’s name, subject or anything.
Non-tech folks need a search box where we can just type it in and find it.

Collapsing posts – Posts with lot of comments
are automatically collapsed but from what I can see you can collapse anything

Likes – I use “Likes” mostly as bookmarks. Again
referencing Friendfeed, it would be nice to have a place where all of your
likes and comments are grouped together so you can refer back to them.

Comments – Posting a comment when your stream is
active is a bit precarious. New comments are coming in, the screen is jumping
and you lose your place. I think this should be made static so you can finish
what you’re doing.

RT/RB – You can share a link to your followers
but you can’t do an RT or RB (re-buzz) directly from the post. When you do
share the link you get some a Buzz from post just like the one described in ##

Spam – already I’ve received porn and direct
marketing follower spam. I don’t even get this in my email inbox, Google does a
great job at this because I’ve not ever set up any manual spam filters.  That said I’m assuming that Google can fix
this one quickly. In the meantime I’m just blocking.

Mobile usage – with Google Maps and the Buzz
layer on top of it. This is really hot as far as I’m concerned.  I can see this piece as really people driven
AND advertiser driven. People can comment, post photos on their location and it
goes onto the map and into their Buzz stream making it more social. It’s a boon
for advertisers who can suggest things in the area.  A game-changer for me – I may abandoned my
beloved Brightkite for this. Once I get it working correctly of course.

Aggregation – this is the biggie for me. I came
onto Friendfeed in 2009 when it was already declared dead. It died again when
Facebook bought it. It’s been declared dead many times but I love it because it
is a great aggregator.  All of my blogs
feed to it. Anything that I do with the exception of Facebook is aggregated there.
If Buzz aggregates, that will be a game-changer for me. I would do everything
from Buzz, period.

Time-suck – Buzz can take up your time,
especially right now when it’s new and it doesn’t behave in the way that some
of your other social media tools do. You spend a lot of time, turning things on
and off, looking for stuff, experimenting with stuff.  The second way it takes up time is in the
scrolling. When you’re actually reading posts it takes a long time to do if
your timeline – buzzline is active.  The
third way and not so bad way is that you can get caught up in some really good,
really interesting conversations.  Time
Management with Buzz like any social media is critical.

Overall, I have to say I really dig Google Buzz. It is weird
and buggy and is a resource hog for sure, because when I have Buzz open I get the
spinning Vista wheel, however I think the potential for it is pretty
substantial for the social set, for the blogging set, for the business set,
really for everybody because of the Google brand. I mean Google is a brand and
it is a VERB for crying out loud. Is Buzz a Twitter or Facebook killer? No.  People seem to use those two forms of social
media, very differently and there are way too many users (Facebook) and
loyalists (Twitter) for them to die. 
People are still going to go there.  The technical early adopters will make Buzz catch
heat, Google has proven to be very responsive in making changes, everybody
knows Google, I think it is a win.  My hope
is that the introduction and later adoption of Google Buzz will prove to be a
social media/web presence simplifier for the masses.

I’m all in, are you? Come check me out on
Google Buzz.


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Not a Tech Blogger uses Seesmic Look

I started using Seesmic Desktop maybe four months ago because I wanted a multi grid twitter client and Tweetdeck just never cooperated on my Toshiba for some reason. I've been satisfied using it. Looks great, doesn't lock me out or do any crazy stuff. I'm happy. The last week I saw a tweet from @ldbaldwin (thanks for sharing) about Seesmic Look. So since I'm at home with all manners of nose and lung stuffiness I figured today was a good day to try it.

I downloaded Seesmic Look from here. The description says it's been optimized for Windows 7 which I do not have and won't touch so I'm running it on Vista. The download probably took two minutes or less and I think the application is about 13 mb. You sign into it with your twitter name and password and boy does it look different.
When it opens, it opens up to the Trends page which is all the popular hashtags and topics being talked about on Twitter.  You can look at Trends at anytime by clicking on it from the navigation bar which on the left.  As for the nav bar, here's what you get:
Inbox – this is all your public (@) replies, direct messages, and sent (direct) messages
Social – is your timeline, you can click on Friends for all the people you follow as well as the lists you've created to narrow down even further. You can look at the timeline by scrolling or clicking on the Playback button (looks like a tv) where each tweet fades in and out on the screen (not sure if I like that mode much)
Favorites – all the tweets you've saved as favorites (I have way too many)
Interests – this is a great feature. It divides Twitter into some rough categories, you click on each of those categories and get tweets from popular users in each category. I say it's great because you can catch tweets from folk you don't follow or folks you do follow that you may miss in your timeline or lists.
Channels – basically this is featured content from one source. There's only a few channels I suspect there will be more in the future. People who are really interested in these providers content will be the ones who use this most.
Searches – Just type in what you're looking for in the search bar at the top right hand of the screen
Overall: In my tweets I said the accountant part of me still likes the grid of Seesmic Desktop but Seesmic Look's added features especially Interests and Channels are a WIN.  Not a Tech Blogger has used a lot of twitter apps since I've been on and this one is by far the most appealing visually, the navigation is easy. I'm not sure if this is available for Mac or not but for PC its a WIN.

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