Just Put the Phone Down, and No One Will Get Hurt


Comedic Christian blogger and writer Jon Acuff wrote a great post on his blog yesterday — “How to improve your marriage instantly” — that every iPhone or smartphone owner, or even computer or video game owner, could benefit from reading. I said years ago I could write a blog post “How the iPhone killed my marriage” because it had such a major affect on my interests, my habits, my time, etc., as well as my late husband’s.

The iPhone and products like it are revolutionary. But of course, but with such big change comes both the good and the bad and comes great responsibility. As Acuff said, “It’s like having the entire world in your pocket!” He’s right! It is! There is nothing the thing cannot do. It has replaced my pocket calendar, address book, wrist watch, purse-sized dictionary and Bible, camera, and even scrap-paper grocery lists. Like the marketing phrase goes, “There’s an app for that.”

But what Acuff says, and says well using his clever humor and style, is that all of that functionality can rob us of face to face time. Not Facetime, the video phone app — face-to-face time between actual faces.

I highly recommend reading the post and I’m glad Acuff tackled a very important topic in a way that people can relate. What made an even bigger impression on me than Acuff’s words, though, are those who commented on the post and some of the hurt and frustration from people who have felt ignored or unimportant, etc. from someone texting or iPhoning too much. I’ve been on both sides — feeling that way and making others feel that way, and it stings either way.

As several pointed out in comments, paring back on iPhone time would not just benefit marriages but any relationship — friendships, family, co-workers. I am often convicted of too much iPhone and computer time while my kids are around and needing/wanting my attention. Do I really want them feeling that way? ‘Course not.

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March 365


This is the March calendar from my 365 project where I take and post a photo every day, from that day. I think it’s neat to see the snapshot of the whole month like this, seeing the mix of black & white shots with color and the various activities, places and moods that made up my month. This is the first month I’ve filled up the calendar — there were days in January and February that were left blank because either I didn’t take a photo that day or I didn’t like the ones I took. Over the days and weeks I’ve grown more in-tune to my settings, seeing photo opportunities everywhere, and also more accepting of posting a “bad” photo over no photo all.

All photos taken with my iPhone and edited with PhotoShop Mobile and/or CameraBag apps for iPhone.

e-Reading


I finally read a book, start to finish, on my Kindle.

The pros?

The best part about the Kindle that anyone will tell you is being able to carry several books at one time without the bulk of carrying several books at one time. I mean, that’s the point of the thing, right? I’m typically reading 2-3 books at any given time, and while carrying 2-3 books around doesn’t sound overly cumbersome, in a purse where I’m already carrying multiple checkbooks, wallet, hand sanitizer, sunglasses (mine, John’s and the boys’), lip gloss, powder, iPhone, keys, hairbrush, and the occasional airplane, Happy Meal toy or Nintendo DS — several books just add to the clutter. When traveling on an airplane and wanting to take something to read, books on Kindle vs. on paper can save a lot of space (and weight on your shoulder). On our recent vacation, in addition to the Kindle I took two other actual books. If I’d had those two books on the Kindle also I would have had a lighter and easier to tote carry on instead of the jam-packed, overflowing bag I had.

Also, over the course of months and years all of those books have to go somewhere, and the bookshelves are overflowing as it is. So having less actual books is probably a good thing. Also, how many books do we read that we’re never going to read again or not even loan to someone, so they just sit on the shelf? What a waste of space, right? This way, you read the book first, if you like it well enough to add to the permanent collection you can always buy it later on the discount shelf or the used bookstore and probably still come out cheaper than if you’d bought the original hardback, or even some paperbacks. Right now I have a dozen books stacked up on my bedside table, easily taking up half the space and making that area look kind of cluttered. With the Kindle, I could have all that space back, which not only looks better but also gives me extra space to use.

Kindle books are, of course, cheaper — $9 on Kindle vs. $16 for the same book in the airport bookstore. That’s 7 extra dollars for souvenirs.

I’ve not experienced this yet but my friend Lisa tells me one of the things she likes best about the Kindle is reading stuff she may not have read (or even heard about) because of free sample chapters. My “to read” list is too long right now to read something random but someday.

One other pro-Kindle point is not really about the Kindle device itself, per se, because it’s about the Kindle app on iPhone. With the iPhone Kindle app I am able to read on my Kindle even if I don’t have it with me. One night at dinner the kids were both asleep and John was talking work stuff with his co-worker; I had nothing to add the conversation so started reading my book on the Kindle iPhone app. The app and the device “sync” so your place is kept on both devices.

Cons?

About half-way through the trip, on the long flight from LA to Kauai, I noticed something: the Kindle is not backlit. I’m so spoiled to the iPhone being backlit that once in a dark situation (like a plane at night) I noticed immediately that the Kindle wasn’t. I had never read it in the dark before. If I read in bed I have the lamp on beside my bed so I had never noticed before that it wasn’t backlit. I had to turn on the bright overhead airplane light which was … bright … and overhead … like I was in a police interrogation. So I think a backlit Kindle would be a nice upgrade.

I don’t like that if I read a great book I can’t share it with anyone, save adding them as one of the users on my Kindle account and that seems a little much every time I want to loan someone a book.

But the biggest “con” of course is it’s not a book. There are no pages to turn. I can’t use a cute bookmark to hold my page. I can’t look at where the bookmark is placed to know how far I am in the book, which can be an important part of the book-reading experience if you’re the type (and I am) to use things like how far I am in the book as a gauge for where I am in the plot line. The difference in the book-reading experience is what scares people away from the Kindle, and that frankly makes me wonder if I was right to want one. I made a comment on here awhile back about seeing movies in theaters vs. on DVD and how it’s all the same if the point is the story. (I was promptly corrected, by the way, and conceded that while that’s true for some movies it’s not true for them all. Some, do, thrive off of the cinematic experience.) So carry that same idea — that the movie is the movie no matter where you watch it — over to books and … that’s harder for me to buy into. Before e-reading devices ever existed we might not have appreciated the “book-reading experience” as much, but it’s there, and after having now finished my first e-book I know that even more. Holding a bound volume of paper, turning pages, being able to see how many pages I have yet to go, being able to underline or dog-ear pages to mark passages I like, even being able to loan a friend a copy of a book I really liked — all of that is part of the “reading experience” and some of that is lost in e-readers like the Kindle. It’s the reason a Kindle ad on my desk touts its “paper-like display” and the interface of the new iPad has pages that virtually “turn.”

I’m not taking it back or anything. I started out talking about the pros, and those are all true things. But it might take a little getting used to.

Afterthought: These thoughts on e-readers (especially iPad) and books I found interesting and relevant, particularly this quote:

“When people lament the loss of the printed book, this — comfort — is usually what they’re talking about. My eyes tire more easily, they say. The batteries run out, the screen is tough to read in sunlight. It doesn’t like bath tubs.

“Important to note is that these aren’t complaints about the text losing meaning. Books don’t become harder to understand, or confusing just because they’re digital. It’s mainly issues concerning quality. … [T]echnology is closing the gap (through advancements in screens and batteries) and because of additional features (note taking, bookmarking, searching), will inevitably surpass the comfort level of reading on paper.”

Target on iPhone


I’m a little shocked I haven’t written about this sooner. I mean, really, how often does the two loves in one’s life come together in perfect harmony? Well, actually I did write about it when I first got the Target iPhone app last December. But the app has changed quite a bit since then.

For starters, last year it was primarily a giftfinder for Christmas presents. Since then the app has expanded quite a bit.

It’s not just a Christmas app anymore. On the main menu choose between shopping the weekly ad or shopping Christmas stuff.

Select Browse on the bottom menu to, um, browse target.com by category. Just select the category you want and the list is populated by what’s on sale that week.

Last year’s Gift Finder was fun — it was a cute little snow globe that you shook and snow fell everywhere, very festive. The new gift finder is not as fun, but it is just as useful and possibly better. Choose him or her, age range, price range and a personality type. You’ll see that I’m shopping for 4-5-year-old Busy Boy. (Wonder who that could be???)

The gift finder is not just for Christmas but has suggestions for all kinds of random things — birthdays, housewarming, retirement, get well, and so on.

So what exactly do you get as an  “I’m Sorry” gift in the $15-$25 price range?

By the way, this app is free. One of my pet peeves is when people gush on their blog about great iPhone apps and then they don’t tell me how much?!?

Mickey Wiki


Before coming to Disney I searched the iPhone apps store for anything useful. There were quite a few map apps, that even at just 99 cents each (one per park) were still too much for me. It would have been cool to use the GPS but they give free maps at the door. What can I say, I’m cheap.

The one free app that was actually semi-useful was WDW Wait Times. Basically, it lists all rides by park with current wait times for each so you can plan where to go by looking at which lines are long and which lines are short.

The app works by having users (like me) submit current wait times. It’s a wiki! Wikis are genius! They create the app and users do all the work to maintain it.

I took great pleasure in sharing this fact with Hubby who is all anti-social media. Wikis are not *really social media I guess, but they’re collaborative so it’s close right? Baby steps.

Seaing the World


I know, I know. We came here for Disney and on our first full day we went to Sea World. But there was a method to our madness. Because we are staying at a Disney resort we are using Disney transportation and not renting a car. But, we needed to go to a grocery store early in the trip to get drinks, snacks, etc. So, we rented a car for one day (using the Alamo/Disney car care center) to go to a grocery store and do something non-Disney. With Sea World’s Hero Salute military families get in free, so Sea World was the obvious choice.

A few highlights: The dolphin show was the best (even better than Shamu, in my opinion). I videotaped parts of the dolphin show and Shamu show with the iPhone. Very cool to have quick video recording at my fingertips!

Finn and I rode Journey to Atlantis, basically a log plume ride with a spooky plot (at one point we were in a dark spot clicking up to the top of the hill before the big drop and Finn points up and says “green eyes”).

The park had a special Halloween themed section with trick-or-treat stands and workers in costumes.

And finally the iPhone took great underwater/ fish photos!!