5 Things - Week Ending 7/26/13

This is the 49th 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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Last week a 23-year-old Chinese woman was killed allegedly via an electric shock that came from her iPhone, which was plugged in and charging. Apple said it would help Chinese authorities investigate the incident. Ma Ailun was using an iPhone 4, and fresh information on the case suggests that her phone was most likely plugged into an unauthorized third-party charger, which may have been the source of the shock. Also this week, a Chinese man reportedly went into a coma after being shocked while plugging his iPhone 4 in.

This story highlights the importance of using authorized chargers with your cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronics. It simply is not worth the risk of electrocution to save a few bucks.


Attention, Shoppers - Store Is Tracking Your Cell

Stephanie Clifford and Quentin Hardy:

Like dozens of other brick-and-mortar retailers, Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers — how many came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors — the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades. So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers’ movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their smartphones.

If you have a smartphone and a store has setup Wi-Fi in the building, they are able to track the your movement throughout the store. You don't even have to connect to the Wi-Fi for the store to track you. Since each phone has an unique identifier, stores can even tell if you are a frequent customers.

Part of me is a bit creeped out about this, but most retail stores have cameras set up and could watch your movements throughout the store.

I noticed that the Super Target in Apple Valley started offering free Wi-Fi recently. I am curious if they are tracking the movement of their customers via their smartphones...


Coffee shops look to oust 'laptop hobos'

Bruce Kennedy:

But Starbucks and small, independent coffeehouses alike now have growing concerns about the large number of customers who camp out for hours at their tables. These “laptop hobos” are working, surfing the Web, using the shop’s outlets as an unlimited power supply for their wireless devices and occasionally getting downright territorial with other customers over space.

I bet that one of the major reasons many of these customers come in and spend hours at a specific coffee shop has nothing to do with the coffee that the shop is selling. They are looking for a place to get work done that is not their office or home.

If coffee shops start taking steps to discourage customers from spending hours at their establishment, I think people will just go somewhere else. Free Wi-Fi is now prevalent and people will take their business where they are appreciated.


My keyboard tried to kill me: the overly complicated story of an ergonomics war

Trent Wolbe:

Human bodies are just not built to sit down. Standing, walking, and laying down don’t require any specialized hardware, but sitting off the floor — the posture we spend most of our waking hours in — totally depends on a machine. As innocent as it may look, a chair is the most likely cause of office pain: it causes the bulk of our mass to fall on the “sits” bones (ischium bones) at the bottom of the pelvis, two knobby protuberances that are a far cry from the well-adapted and flat support structure of our feet. On the casual, dot-com cool end of the office spectrum is the “working in my underwear” pose: MacBook on the lap, neck and back hunched over, eyes straining down towards the screen, flat-typing in blissful ignorance. While this position certainly felt cushy and liberating for the first year I worked from home it was probably the most harm I’ve ever caused myself.

I thought this was the most interesting article that I read during the month of July. I discussed this article with Britta on a long walk one evening and we both came to the conclusion that technology is great, but human bodies weren't designed to use technology as often as we use it.


At Tech-Free Camps, People Pay Hundreds To Unplug

Raphaella Baek:

The overwhelming and endless stream of electronic alerts and messages on our computers, phones and tablets is driving demand for a new kind of summer camp for adults. “Technology-free” camps that force their campers to surrender their gadgets, wallets and that nagging “fear of missing out” — FOMO — are booking up fast.

People are now spending hundreds of dollars to get a weekend away from technology. This blows my mind! If you need a weekend away from technology, don't sign up for a weekend retreat and drop hundreds of dollars. You can simply send me $50 for the following advice:

When you get home on Friday evening, turn off all the gadgets, put them in a drawer, and walk away. Turn them back on when you wake up on Monday morning. It’s that simple.

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