Category Archives: Gadgets and Smartphones

Payphones | Hanging Up series

Standard

I didn’t plan for this particular post. It was sparked by reviewing some of our photos and subsequently prompted by an article we found.

Nearly three years ago, we took a weekend winter wonderland adventure on the Alaska Railroad to the majestic Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) in Alaska.

We ended up onboard with train conductor Harry Ross who has appeared on the Railroad Alaska television series. (Fun facts – they stop the train when there’s a moose or bear close enough for people to take photos, or a clear view of Denali from the distance. They also stop the train to pick up passengers who are waiting on the side of the tracks).

On this glorious trip, we squeezed into a tiny plane (absolutely freezing) on a gorgeous clear and sunny day to fly over and witness the splendor the tallest peak in North America.  On top of it all, the one time I was so fortunate to see the Northern Lights was on this visit.

Our cabin stay was in the tiny town of Talkeetna, which is said to be the town that inspired the fictitious town of Cicely in the 1990’s TV show Northern Exposure. (Apologies if the theme song is now playing repetitiously in your head.)

Talkeetna store and payphone

This store is possibly my favorite I’ve ever visited. Anyway, outside you can see  a payphone. (I wonder if that is an ice machine sitting next to it. I suppose even in the arctic tundra one will want ice in the summertime.)

While looking over  picture with my husband, I had asked the question “if they have a payphone in Talkeetna, why don’t we see more of them around other places?”

Since I’ve embarked on this breaking-up-with-my-smartphone journey, I’ve read lots of other people’s articles about how they have a basic cell phone, or only a home phone!  Some people just have a cell phone they leave in the car glove box (which is how many of us started out with a cell phone in the first place – for just-in-case).

One thing I’ve learned in my research is that more people than you’d think don’t have a cell phone at all. That is quite the contrast with the disappearing payphones in the United States. I’ve heard “no one uses payphones anymore because they all have cell phones.” This Atlantic article mentions they’ve been removed in part due to no longer turning a profit and for their use in illegal activities. However, after seeing several movies lately wherein the use of payphones stood out at me, I took great interest in this article at Motherboard, Payphones Still Make Millions of Dollars.

With today’s smartphones, it seems people are actually talking to other people far less, and rather sending messages via shares and texts, etc.  Sadly, this is also often the case when people are sitting together at the same table – not talking, but buried in their phones. Whereas the payphone is a direct and simple tool, like any regular phone, that connects two people to discuss or arrange something.

I guess so many phone booths have been taken away in the US because they were already losing money on them. Although I can’t help but to wonder what is the cost to just leave an already-built, already-installed, existing payphone in place. Particularly in a remote location like the one used by Deb in Napoleon Dynamite. As mentioned in this article at WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, there are times when a hard-wired pay telephone is needed by people. I consider them more as pay-as-you need utility now. And we all know everyone’s mobile phone has a dead spot somewhere or has no battery left – assuming everyone truly has a cell phone.

Here are some more payphone-related articles and stories:

Thank you for reading! 🙂

 

Hanging Up – new blog series

Standard

I’ve decided that the zombie plague that has been feared for decades is already upon us, and the virus is called Smartphone.

Earlier this year, I wrote about breaking up with my smartphone.

I’ve carried on with this endeavor (it’s much harder than it sounds), and although the smartphone is still in use, I am significantly more intentional about how and why I use it.  I’m actually working toward transitioning to a phone-only phone, and will offload the smartphone features to my iPad. More on that another time.

Part of unplugging from the gravitational pull of smartphones, laptops, etc. is reconnecting with other tactile platforms like paper books or paper planners. We can appreciate both digital stuff and paper stuff. Sometimes it’s a nice comfort to enjoy the paper stuff when you shut off the digital stuff, for example.

The name Hanging Up chosen for this series is not solely for its connotation with the telephone, but is also a nod to the movie of the same name. The movie stars Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and Diane Keaton. Diane Keaton is a real-life user of Filofaxes (various articles have stated she uses multiples). Also, in this movie, Meg Ryan can be seen several times with her character’s planner (my memory is that is a black, personal-size and that it’s quite stuffed). So this all ties in nicely to this blog which is primarily about planners and planning.

Anyway,  since it turns out I am not the only person feeling the zombie smartphone plague, there are many people sharing their experiences and really good info about it.  In this new Hanging Up series, I would like to share some of these finds and especially to hear from others as well.

Today’s share is a TED Talk (did you know these started in 1984? I did not!).  This is Anastasia Dedyukhina presenting “Could you live without a smartphone?

 

I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading. 🙂

 

Disconnect to Reconnect

Standard

Earlier this year I started a new endeavor: breaking up with my smartphone.

Essentially, I’ve come to notice that I spent entirely too much time looking at my phone screen, sometimes for no reason at all. A quiet habit that snuck up on me, I caught myself one day just picking up my nearby phone to wake it up and flip through the screens. Wait, what, why? Realizing I had done this for no reason at all, I began to suspect this was going on more than I realized. So, after paying more attention to this, come to find that I actually had to stop myself from habitually grabbing the phone for this empty ritual. Instead of getting information I needed, information was getting me.

When I announced this finding to my husband, he remembered listening to a podcast series on this very topic. Upon some further reading, I came across plenty or articles and books on the subject of smartphones and information overload in general.

Now being fascinating with this finding, and undertaking a new observation of those around me, it became readily apparent just how engrossed so many people are in their phones – no matter what else they are doing. People driving and texting. People traveling the world seemingly on autopilot routines of taking selfies at every view spot and posting to their social sites instead of even looking at what they’re visiting. On a recent airport trip, we were seated facing two families. Family One had four people who were each staring and swiping away at their phones – silent and not a single smile. Family Two had five phoneless people, all laughing and talking and lighting up the area with their happiness. I am very introverted and using my phone or pad for reading and listening to books when flying or when waiting at airports is very comfortable for me. Although now I think I’d like to look up from reading and at least say hello to the people near me, and to mindfully enjoy my surroundings more.

So, I’ve very purposefully removed almost all of the notifications, news headlines, bells and whistles from my phone, and am treating it once again more like a phone. I rarely use any social sites, so those were not already installed anyway. Turns out I really like email, so it’s still undecided if it will stay on the phone. Having email at the computer seems truly enough in my case, based on my situation. Also, my phone is getting left behind a lot more these days. It’s no longer in my hand or back pocket most everywhere I go now.

If you’re interested in any of the above:

Accepting that these marvels of technology provide numerous useful tools, getting a handle on the habits and the apps that aren’t actually helping me has been a big eye-opener. I’ve used a smartphone since they first became available although right now it’s fair to say it’s being used far less. : )

Update: There’s a new series on this blog focused on this subject – Hanging Up. You can choose the Hanging Up category to see those posts. 

and I love my NEW Blackberry!

Standard

I am the worst blogger ever – one reason is because I don’t blog on a frequent basis. Let me assure you that I am blogging in my mind. Really, I am.

So, as you know (you’ve been reading along), I’m still a loyal Blackberry fan. Yes, I have used other phones over the past few years but Blackberry still has my heart. Just recently, I set aside my formerly beloved Bold 9930 and got a shiny new Z10. For those of you who don’t know the difference, Blackberry came out with its brand new OS earlier this year, Blackberry 10. Unlike previous versions of Blackberry phones over the many years, the new OS is not compatible with the older Berry phones (now called legacy devices) in any way whatsoever. It’s a whole new enchilada. And it was exactly what I needed because for some reason I am hardwired to know everything about about every mobile OS.

I have always enjoyed learning a new mobile OS and there has been nothing really new lately. A few new BB 10 devices came out this year, so the Z10 is now old news. But my Z10 is new to me and I’m so excited to learn this new goodness.

For the record – I surprised myself because I was certain I was going to get the Q10, which has a fantastic physical keyboard, much like the famed Bold 9900 series. But so many people raved about what an incredible job they did with this Blackberry virtual keyboard – how it learns your typing input – I had to try it for myself. I ended up getting the Z10 instead so I could learn it. I decided I could always get the keyboard later if I wish (or wait for the rumored upcoming slider which sounds amazing as well).

I am so happy with my beautiful new-to-me Z10. It syncs beautifully with my ‘Microsoft mail’ (they’ve changed the name a million times, but that would be Hotmail, Live and Outlook.com mail) including calendars and contacts and tasks. That’s right – as it should be. It also syncs perfectly with everything on an Exchange server via ActiveSync.  I could go on and on.  I look forward to writing about it as I continue to to uncover its new and awesome features.

In the meantime, be assured that just like the old Blackberry phones, it still has that beautiful, blinking red light.

my BB 10 Z10

I love my BlackBerry (still!!)

Standard

I returned to using a BlackBerry over a year ago.

I was a dedicated BlackBerry user for 5+ years and then one day moved to the Android platform,  then a few years ago I was also issued a company iPhone. So, I have used them all and I still love the BlackBerry.

Despite the lack of popular apps, the BlackBerry causes me far less stress. Why? Because:

– I can hammer out anything on that keyboard, even while walking down the hall I can easily keep typing.

– I love the blinking light alerting me of new messages, texts or missed calls.

– I love the native alarm and calendar reminders and the ability to snooze a reminder.

– The clarity of the screen in the outdoors

– all the shortcuts when weeding through menu options, you can just press the first letter of the menu item and fly through the options

– phone can turn itself off at night and back on in the morning

– every option you can think of is in there – cool stuff like adding notes to phone calls, setting up conference call options, and the organizer apps really match up well to Outlook if you are syncing with that.

Anyway, the whole BlackBerry experience is so much less stressful to me. As many say, they’re tools, not toys, and I heart BlackBerry phones!! I proudly use it when everyone else is using their newer touchscreen phones and usually someone else gets all misty-eyed and claims to miss their BlackBerry.

Here is my current model, and it has the most amazing keyboard since the classic 7230 came out!! It also has a touch-screen. I use the BlackBerry Bold 9930 on Verizon prepaid/no-contract service.

my BlackBerry!

my BlackBerry!

Have a beautiful day, and thanks for reading! : )

Systematic

Standard

A long time ago, you saw a lot more people using some sort of organizational system like a paper planner, or a calendar, a trusty notebook or whatever. Eventually a lot of those paper calendars, to-do lists and planners turned into Palm or Pocket PC organizers. Over time, many people then migrated to a Blackberry, which also has a built-in calendar and to-do list. I was one of those people. I went from paper planners to using a Palm in conjunction with the planner for everything for many years and it was very difficult to pry the Palm from my fingers when I moved to the Blackberry.

What I found was the Blackberry is a great communication device but the organizer applications were not as awesome as the Palm. At the time I hadn’t used an iPhone but I hear other people have similar thoughts on the organizer functionality of the iphone (update – I’m stuck with one at work these days and I’m not a fan). The Android phones also have options for organizer-stuff, and I think it all boils down to the fact that none of these items are designed as an Organizer First. Moving on.

Why on earth aren’t the phone-only users (folks who don’t use any actual planning system) more concerned about the less-than-wonderful organizer applications built into their phones? Or, why don’t they carry something else around to organize themselves? I’m noting a common denominator that many of the people who live and breathe by their smartphones are some of the most unreliable people I have ever met!  These are the same people who actually make a comment such as “oh you’re still using a paper planner? I use my phone and it’s great” All I know is these very same people have a tendency to be late. Not occasionally (no one is perfect), but routinely enough that you can bet on it. Oftentimes their lateness is greeted with a “I wasn’t sure if we were still meeting today” while implying that “no one contacted me to confirm” (because the meeting has been on the schedule for at least a week so why on earth do we need to confirm it, again?). Anyway, don’t be fooled, this is code for “I nearly forgot the meeting and got down here as fast as I could.”

These people are also the first to answer every e-mail that beeps on their smartphone, but with the most useless answers one can muster. It seems like they’re trying to project a very I’m So On Top Of Things demeanor, I guess? The answers are typically ones that assure you that you’ll never get the information you were seeking. Something along the lines of “I will let you know as soon as I’m back to the office” or “Team, can we make this happen?”

So, you find yourself having to follow-up… you’re now doing twice the work because that person has long forgotten you and your e-mail. You become their reminder! I am just certain that this could all be avoided if the person would just use some sort of a system. In today’s business environment I have to follow up with people almost consistently (how do so many people get away with that, anyway?). A handful of years back, it wasn’t as bad. I can’t help but to notice the coincidence that this is when the Blackberry became more widespread in companies. A CEO with a Blackberry is a good tool because he or she can keep business moving when away from the office. But when everyone in the company has one it seems to have a reverse effect. Anyway, I’ll bet that CEO has a planner of some sort, or a great assistant who has a system.