5 Things - Week Ending 12/21/12

This is the 32nd 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.

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Ereaders? They can already store more books than you’ll ever need. Their displays can already refresh as efficiently as you’ll ever hope. New models will come out every year, sure, with minor improvements here and there. But the ereader you buy today will be perfectly good four years from now. There’s not a tablet in the world you can say that about.

When Britta and I were on vacation last week we saw numerous Ereaders on the airplane and on the cruise ship. One thing that stood out was how many of those Ereaders were Kindles that came out two or three years ago.

You can purchase a Kindle for $69 today and be confident that it will still be highly functional five years from now.


Android Malware Creeps Into Cellphone Bills

Brian X. Chen:

The most prevalent form of Android malware scrapes small amounts of money from smartphone owners by making secret charges to their phone bills, according to a report published by Lookout, a mobile security company in San Francisco. This type of malware is called toll fraud, and it has the potential to fool plenty of people who don’t pay close attention to their phone bills every month.

If you have an Android based phone you need to pay close attention to your cell phone bill for suspicious charges and read the full article to become more informed of this threat.

iPhone owners do not need to worry about malware.


Your smartphone is so smart it takes 14 gadgets and $1,200 to match it

Josh Ong:

Ever wondered how much it would cost you to replicate the functionality of today’s smartphones with a collection of standalone gadgets? I picked out the main functions and apps of my iPhone 4S and tried to find approximate replacements for each of them on Amazon. The total bill came to $1,228.11, and the devices collectively weighed more than eight pounds.

My iPhone has replaced some of the following things in my life:

  • Digital Camera
  • GPS
  • Alarm Clock
  • Flashlight
  • Cell Phone
  • iPod
  • Calculator
  • Gaming Device
  • Dictionary

Zero Dark Inbox

Silvia Killingsworth:

I have four e-mails in my inbox right now, but I’m aiming for that number to be zero. Like many practitioners of the “Inbox Zero” system, I treat my inbox like a to-do list, with each e-mail representing a task: complete this assignment, file that banking statement, restart my modem at home for a free Internet speed upgrade from Time Warner Cable (for which I will likely be surreptitiously charged at a later date). Everything else, once it’s been replied to or followed up on, gets archived.

I learned about Inbox Zero a few years ago when I stumbled across this video.

I make it a point to deal with email as it comes in. Sometimes, I get really busy on the weekend so I have created a rule that I deal with any remaining emails in my inbox on Monday morning. As I type this it's 10:34am on Monday morning and I don't have a single email in any of my three inboxes.

I have chosen to follow the philosophy of Inbox Zero becaues I can easily feel overwhelmed when I see a large number of things to deal with (whether it's email in my inbox or dishes piled up next to the sink).

If you struggle with too much email and would like some help gettting things under control please contact me.


Can I Leave My Gadgets In a Cold or Hot Car?

Whitson Gordon:

Cold is a slightly more interesting beast. In general, tech runs much better when it’s cool than when it’s hot, but when you start approaching extreme winter temperatures, the weather can be just as harmful as in the summer. If you leave your device in the cold for too long, its battery will die and its LCD screen will likely start having issues, and possibly die completely. Furthermore, if you leave it in the cold and then bring it into a warm room quickly, you can cause condensation to build up inside the device, which has the potential for more long-term damage.

Now that the temperature in Minnesota has dropped below freezing on a regular basis it is very important not to leave your technology in the vehicle overnight!