5 Things - Week Ending 11/9/12

This is the 29th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

The web is great for volume, but for the deep touch, you still need to act like an actual human being. You need to actually hear someone’s voice—or at least pull a long, private email out of them. We’re all insecure, finite monkeys who don’t want to admit weakness and fragility in a place where thousands of people can read it. That’s normal. It’s not normal to expect someone to put forth their panic, storm anxiety, fear, and general angst on Facebook. We put the people we want to be on Facebook, not the people we are. And sometimes those people are generally terrified of a storm—or something else—and not doing fine. You’ll never know unless you truly ask.

Call someone if you’re worried about them. Write a note. Go visit them if they’re nearby. And please, please—just because your mom is on Facebook and in unrelenting, often irritating virtual contact with you doesn’t mean you can stop calling her.

Even since I stopped using Facebook (blog post coming soon!), I have made a dedicated effort to actually talk to my friends and family. When you see all the stuff that your friends and family post online it's easy to feel "connected". I might miss out on which concert my pals went to last weekend by not using Facebook. I will know how they are actually doing though by picking up the phone and having a conversation.

Normally, I am all for using technology to make our lives better. Sometimes though, an old fashioned phone call or letter is much more effective than "liking" something on a website.

How New Yorkers Adjusted to Sudden Smartphone Withdrawal

Jenna Wortham:

For some, regaining cell service as the power came back on was bittersweet. Although they were relieved to be reconnected with their families and friends and to begin edging toward normalcy, they said that the brief break from their hyperconnected lives turned out to be welcome.

My heart goes out to all the people who have suffered due to Hurricane Sandy. One of my wife's best friends lives in New York City and it took a few days after the storm hit for us to get in touch with him. He was without power, internet access, and cell service.

I would encourage you to not wait for a natural disaster to happen in your city to take a break from our hyperconnected lives. Designate a weekend where you don't use any technology. No cell phones, no iPads, no television, and no internet. You might find that the break turns out to be quite nice.

Britta and I plan on taking an eight day vacation in December where we are going to use very minimal technology during the entire time span. I will let you know my thoughts!

Review: The Kindle Paperwhite (Compared to the Kindle Touch)

Shawn Blanc:

Reading a book on a Kindle truly is a more enjoyable and relaxing experience than reading one on the iPad. There are the obvious, tangible advantages: the Kindle is easily held for long periods of time with one hand and the e-ink display is easier on the eyes. But there are also the less obvious, intangible advantages: when you’re holding a Kindle there are no other apps, no other options of things to do, no distractions sitting impatiently behind the text before you, no notifications, or any of that.

I agree completely with Shawn. A dedicated E-Reader offers a much better reading experience than an iPad could ever offer. I find myself reading much more since I got a Kindle. If you have not jumped on the E-Reader bandwagon yet, you might want to consider doing so this winter.

The basic Kindle (the one that I have) is now only $69. If you read a half dozen books a year you should be able to pay for the Kindle with the money you will save buying the E-books over the physical books.

Target To Match Prices Of Online Retailers During Holiday Shopping Season

Anne D'Innocenzio:

In the latest effort to beat Amazon.com at its game, Target says that for the first time it will match prices that customers find on identical products at select online competitors this holiday season.

I thought this story was particulary relevant for the following reasons:

  • Target is a Minnesota company
  • The holiday shopping season is among us
  • An online retailer (Amazon) has been poaching sales from the traditional retailers (Target & Wal-Mart) for the past few years

A couple random thoughts bouncing around in my head:

  • What kind of impact will online retailers have on traditional retailers in five years?
  • What kind of innovations will tradtional retailers come up with to fight back against online retailers?

The article also notes that Target will be putting free Wi-Fi in their retail stores this holiday season.

How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away

Nicole Perlroth:

Chances are, most people will get hacked at some point in their lifetime. The best they can do is delay the inevitable by avoiding suspicious links, even from friends, and manage their passwords. Unfortunately, good password hygiene is like flossing — you know it’s important, but it takes effort. How do you possibly come up with different, hard-to-crack passwords for every single news, social network, e-commerce, banking, corporate and e-mail account and still remember them all?

It is one of my personal goals to get my friends, family, and clients to use better passwords. I see some pretty bad passwords when I am working with people. Check out this article for some good advice on making yourself more secure.

Check out my blog post titled 30 Second Tips - Strong Passwords for a practical way to make stronger passwords.

If you would like to learn more about Staying Safe In A Digital World check out the Community Ed class that I teach on the subject.