Smartphones Are Really Kind Of Dumb

Aren’t smartphones great?  They take care of everything, right?  Well, maybe not everything.  But they’re totally smart and intuitive, aren’t they?  After all, smart IS part of the name.  Personally, I don’t think we’re there yet.  Smartphones have made our lives easier in many ways. But they still have a lot of things that could be improved.  In fact, I have come up with five reasons that smartphones aren’t all that smart.  Yet.

Battery Life And Charging

Apple recently caught a lot of heat because they were purposefully slowing down older phones.  Why?  Because the batteries were wearing out, and would last longer if the phone did less.  So, Apple sent an update to make the phone work slower.  Oh, and the age of some of these phones was less than two years.

This is unbelievable to me.

Here we are on the cutting edge of battery technology, right? I mean, we have entire cars that can run on battery.  Yet, we can’t figure out a way to make a phone battery last longer than two years?  That’s ridiculous.

You hear advice about how to make them last longer.  Don’t charge overnight.  Don’t overcharge.  Charge only between certain percentages.

Come on.  You can’t tell me that overcharging couldn’t be prevented by shutting off the input, for one idea.  I simply can’t believe that smart phones continue to be plagued by something as basic as the battery.

Rogue Apps

I have a Samsung S7.  A few weeks ago it started acting up at random times.  It would slow down to a crawl.  This was most noticeable when I was using Chrome.

I tried a bunch of different apps that were supposed to identify problem apps.  Nothing was identified.  I looked at a bunch of internal logs to try to see what was happening.  Zero.  I spent a ton of time tweaking Chrome since that’s where many problems originated.  No difference.

Finally, I started disabling apps, and caught the culprit.  Ironically, it was AVG, a program designed to prevent bad things from happening to your phone.  As soon as I got rid of it, all of my slowness went away.

As it turns out, most phones (allegedly) have enough built in that you don’t need a virus/malware scanner.  I was using it for a ‘Find My Device’ option, but that was easily re-configured elsewhere.

Still, I couldn’t believe that there is nothing built into the basic Operating System to flag apps that could be problematic.  AVG had to have gone corrupt or something and was consuming mass resources.  A truly smart phone would have identified this.

User Priority

When I’m using my phone, I want my phone to pay attention to me.  That sounds simple, right?  But it isn’t always the case.  If the phone is updating apps, sometimes my typing is delayed.  Unacceptable!  If I’m in the middle of typing my unlock code, then don’t turn the screen off just because it’s been six seconds since I hit the button to wake up the device.

To me, it should be a basic function that user interaction takes priority.  Smartphones should never treat a user like a background process!

Storage

Phones have increased the amount of built in storage over the last couple of years.  Still, it’s often not enough.  For many phones, you can add an SD card for extra storage.

Sounds like this solves everything, right?  Well, that’d be smart.  Turns out, the answer is often more complicated.  See, internal storage and external storage are completely different.  And, most apps will only work on internal storage.  So, can you use your extra storage to install a lot of apps? Probably not.  All that it’s really good for is to offload videos, music, and pictures.  Even then, getting that working properly is often a chore. More on that in a minute.

Why is it like this?  I have no idea.  When I look this up, developers have lots of reasons why, but in the end it’s just mumbo jumbo.  I mean, to me and probably many other simple minds, if you add extra storage, it should be as simple as plug it in and away we go. Let’s get going on this, OK?!?

File Management

This one drives me nuts.  Maybe this is me just not being as tech savvy as I once was.  I don’t know.  But, whenever I want to find something, it takes me forever to find it.

If I want to upload a picture that I took to Facebook, I have to scroll through a bunch of different albums.  If I am in Facebook and take a picture, it will put it up easily, but good luck finding it later.  When I’m in Chrome and download a menu, it brings it up right then.  But after that?  Who knows?  Next time I go to look for it, I can sometimes find it.  But, most often, I end up re-downloading it again.

It seems like every app wants to put things in a different place.  Which I understand, but it doesn’t work well when I want to find something.  There has to be a better way.

image from Morguefile courtesy of DodgertonSkillhause

Smartphones Makers Need To Watch Star Trek

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  That show had a lot of technology.  One thing I noticed was that it was cool but it was also simple.  When they wanted to use technology, they pressed a button or two.  That was all it took.  It wasn’t complicated.  The computer paid attention and delivered on commands.  There wasn’t delays or confusion.  That sounds pretty smart to me!

One of the catchphrases on that show was when the Captain would say “Make it so.” He’d often say this when he just wanted something to happen and didn’t care about the details.  That’s kind of where I’m at with all of these things.  I just think that a smart device needs to act smarter.  Those are my ideas.  So, hopefully someone out there listens.  Let’s ‘make it so’.

Readers, what do you think of your smartphone? Is it as smart as advertised?  What would you like to see your smartphone do that it can’t today?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Giving Up Facebook

Last month I wrote about how I gave up snacking at work.  I know my weaknesses and I finally accepted that occasional snacking leads to regular snacking.  So, I haven’t snacked since the beginning of the year.

Giving Up Facebook

I grew up Catholic, and one tradition that I’ve always had is to give up something for Lent.  The Lenten season runs between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a period of 46 days.  People are encouraged to give something up that’s important or difficult.  The idea is to give ourselves a small reminder of what Jesus gave up during his 40 days in the desert.

In the past I’ve given up a variety of things, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Candy
  • All Sweets
  • Alcohol.

This year, I decided to take on a different approach.  It was time to take on the idea of giving up Facebook.

Why Facebook?

There are many things to love about Facebook.  These include:

  • The ability to connect with friends.
  • Getting news and other information real time.
  • Keeping in touch with acquaintances, people you don’t necessarily want to interact with daily, but like keeping tabs on.
  • Having lots of things to laugh at.

So why would I want to give it up?  Well, there some things I don’t like.

  • I didn’t like how often I would be checking it.  I’d usually have a tab open at all times with Facebook when on a computer.  On a phone, each time I picked it up, one of the first things I did was thumb to the app.
  • The tone of Facebook has changed.  Ever since the election, Facebook just has not been fun for me.  I get that people aren’t happy, but for some, their posts suggest that they think about this 24×7.  Maybe they do?
  • It was a new challenge.  As you can see from the list of things I’ve given up in the past, most involved junk food.  Since I’m largely working on that anyway as an ongoing thing, I felt I needed a new habit.

How Did It Go?

Before giving it up, I was a little nervous.  Since I had it open all the time, I was afraid I would instantly miss it and end up going another direction.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

On the day before Lent, I went onto my laptop, phone and tablet, and signed out of Facebook.  I also removed the icon from my phone and from my browser shortcuts.

I found by not having it right there as an option to open, it helped right away.

Quite honestly, once I started going without Facebook, it was pretty easy.  I browsed to websites (you know, the old-fashioned way) for news.  I e-mailed people or even *gasp* called them.  I downloaded a couple of games to play.  Maybe not the best alternative, but at least I was keeping my brain busy, right?   Generally, I found that I was probably on my phone less times and for less minutes of the day.

I did miss a few things:

  • I missed seeing what my friends were up to.
  • I missed posting a bit while we were on our recent trip to Florida.
  • I missed posting the occasional post that I’d put up when something witty came to mind. Though let’s face it, I’m probably not as witty as I think I am.

Will I Stay Away?

For now, with Lent having ended, I’m not going to lie.  I’m back on Facebook.

However, I think this has shown me that I should and can cut back on Facebook.  Maybe I’ll try to avoid putting the shortcuts back where they are front and center.  I think that’d be a good start.

All in all, it was definitely a cleansing time in many ways.  Technology has advanced so much over the past couple of decades.  So many things have come into our lives as new things that we quickly adapt and make part of our lives.  Browsing the Internet.  E-mail.  Blogging.  Chat.  Videos.  Social media.

Giving up Facebook is a reminder that these things, and the things that come along, are tools.  Facebook and other social platforms have not just given us new ways to communicate, but in many ways they’ve taken over.  That’s not a good thing.

Maybe being a little more old school is a good thing, you know?

Readers, do you give up anything for Lent?  If so, what?  Also, what do you think about Facebook and other like items?  If asked to give them up, how long could you go?  Drop me your thoughts in the comments below.  And, thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Getting Rid Of Yahoo Once And For All

I have had it with Yahoo.  A few years ago I wrote about how Yahoo had gotten smaller and smaller in terms of what I used them for.  That’s continued, and now I’m in the process of cutting the cord altogether.  I am getting rid of Yahoo!

When Yahoo Ruled My World

I remember Yahoo as the first bridge to the Internet that I had, and I used it for just about everything.  I used it for searches, e-mail, photo storage, investment tracking, sports information, and even online dating back in my single days.  It had everything!

Those were the glory days.

Who else remembers?

Yahoo Took Less And Less Fingers

Eventually I stopped using Yahoo.  They sold off or closed down various services.  Their photo service merged.  They closed up shop on their dating service (yes, I was still single).  Their searches were not as accurate, so I moved to the Big G.  The number of things I was using Yahoo for was shrinking.  I needed less fingers to count the services I was using them for.  And then it was down to two:

  • Yahoo Mail – For a long time Yahoo was my primary mail address.  Then, when I got Gmail, I started switching everything over as I liked the interface better and it seemed more secure.  The security aspect proved true when I got hacked twice even after changing passwords and security information.
  • Yahoo Sports – For a long time, the sports coverage by Yahoo was second to none, at least in my opinion.  It was better than ESPN or any other sports site.  I used the site regularly and even installed the app on my various smartphones.

Why I’m Getting Rid Of Yahoo

I heard a story last year where Yahoo admitted that a billion accounts had been breached.  A billion!  I could tell just by empirical evidence that they’d been breached a number of times, and that the breaches were big.  I was breached.  My wife had been breached.  And about once per month I still get e-mails from former Yahoo contacts that are obviously false.  They’d been breached.

Yahoo has let just about everyone get breached.  And, I finally had enough.

Yahoo Mail – The Few Last Items

It didn’t hurt that my Mail account was being used less and less.  There’s only about two or three things that I actually use it for.  One of those is kind of the catch-all e-mail for when you sign up for a coupon or some other deal.  I’m not losing anything there.  The couple of other actual newsletters or services I can switch over, and am in process of doing so.

I have some old archived e-mail that I would potentially like to save, but I’m pretty sure you can export this somehow.   I’m looking forward to completely deactivating my Yahoo mail account.

Image via MorgueFile courtesy muvaca

Yahoo Sports – A Shell Of Itself

The only other thing I was using them for was Sports.  As I said, their sports page used to be awesome. However,  they’ve gone through a few rounds of changes over the years.  Each time they seem to have less coverage of their own and more outsourced stuff.  Last year I was looking around and realizing that about 5-10% of what I was reading was from Yahoo. About half was links to outside sites.  The rest was click bait, articles not even associated with sports.  I was sticking with a site where 90% of the content sucked.  That did it!  I now use ESPN to catch my sports news. Their mobile page is pretty useful.  I just need an app that I can use to follow scores of my favorite teams.  I imagine those are a dime a dozen.

Goodbye, Yahoo

Everybody knows that Yahoo sucks now, right? Even Yahoo does, as they’re selling themselves to Verizon.  That is, if Verizon even wants to complete the deal.  After the huge data breach was revealed in terms of actual size, I think they started to have some doubts.

I held on to Yahoo for far too long. I think I stuck with them largely out of nostalgia. For a while, Yahoo was involved in probably 75% of everything I did on the Internet. Soon, they will be involved of absolutely nothing.  Of mine, anyway.

Readers, have you cut the cord on Yahoo or one of the other Internet dinosaurs that just couldn’t keep up?

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

If You’re Told To Evacuate, Then Evacuate

Hurricane Matthew hit the United States over a week ago now, but the cleanup and damage assessment still goes on.  One of the things that I saw in the days after Matthew was finding people that had died or that needed to be rescued.  While I felt bad for the people, I had a nagging feeling that many of the people that died could have lived. Many of the people that needed rescued could have avoided their harrowing situation had they done what many of their neighbors had done, which was to get out of dodge.  During disasters, why do some people fail to evacuate?

Technology Doesn’t Help

Matthew didn’t come out of nowhere.  It didn’t go wildly off course (and the times it did actually helped things from being worse as it stayed further offshore than anticipated during the strongest points).  So, if it wasn’t a big surprise, how come so many people still ended up in harms way?

Simple, because most of them didn’t listen.

Evacuation was suggested.  In some cases it was more than a suggestion.  It was basically a ‘get out now’ mandate.  The thing is that people can’t be forced to evacuate, so while many smart people got out, many decided to stay and tough it out.

I’m sure that some of these people made it through just fine, but others didn’t come through.  Instead, some people died.  Some people had to be rescued.  Some people lost pets.

Many Costs If You Don’t Evacuate

Lives and money could have been saved.  Every person that loses their life to a storm like this is a tragedy, but I can’t help but feel that some deaths could be avoided if more people left.

Similarly, every person that’s rescued is a great story, but rescues cost money and they put the people doing the mb-2016-10-stormrescuers in harms way as well.

I’m lucky in that I live in Michigan and we don’t get hurricanes.  The worst we typically get from  a hurricane is once it’s done and finishes its path and we’ll get a bunch of rain for a couple of days.  I get it.  We have it good.  But, I can’t understand why people don’t leave when they ought to and they’ve been told to.  This isn’t 1916 when I imagine hurricane warnings often consisted of someone looking out to shore and saying “Uh-oh, hurricane”).  In those times, devastation and loss of life was a lot more unavoidable.

But we can avoid it now.

And we should.

So the question is, when will we start avoiding it for good?  When will we have a storm that comes and wreaks havoc on buildings and roads and beaches, but doesn’t claim a human life?

It can happen.  But it doesn’t.

Maybe some day.

Readers, why do you think that people choose not to leave when forecasting and communication make it easier than ever?  Have you ever stuck around in a storm?  How did you feel about it later?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.