5 Things - Week Ending 11/23/12

This is the 30th 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.

There is no doubt in my mind that we, as a society, need to get our heads out of our phones, however getting rid of portable computing isn’t the solution. The solution is finding what is addicting you and limiting that.

Addicted to Facebook? Delete the app. Addicted to Twitter? Delete the app. Email? Turn it off.

A fellow blogger (Stephen Hackett) has decided that he spends too much time checking Facebook, Twitter, email, and RSS feeds on his iPhone. He determined that the solution is to get rid of the iPhone all together and get a flip phone.

Ben Brooks thinks that is taking things too far and suggests that we determine what we are addicted to and limit access to that instead of getting rid of the iPhone.

I recently deactivated my Facebook account because I found myself checking it way too frequently. This has made a huge difference for me. I am really glad I deactived my Facebook account and deleted the app off of my iPhone.

Are you addicted to something on your smartphone or tablet? If so, would you benefit from deleting the app or deleting the account?

Ducking Google in search engines

Michael Rosenwald:

So: DuckDuckGo does not track users. It doesn’t generate search results based on a user’s previous interests, potentially filtering out relevant information. It is not cluttered with ads. In many ways, DuckDuckGo is an homage the original Google — a pure search engine — and its use is soaring, with searches up from 10 million a month in October 2011 to 45 million this past October

This article from The Washington Post is a fascinating read into the little known search engine called DuckDuckGo. There are numerous things to like about DuckDuckGo.

  • Better Search
  • No Tracking
  • Clean Look

Just because you have used Google for the past few years, that doesn't mean you should continue to use Google for the indefinite future. I would encourage you to spend a week using DuckDuckGo and see what you think.

They even have an iPhone and iPad app.

Security Measures Aren’t 100% Effective, But That Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Use Them

Lysa Myers:

This much is true: if you’re only using easily guessable passwords and signature-based antivirus on a Windows machine, you’re likely to get hit with malware or have your accounts hacked sooner than later. But if you’re updating your software, using complex passwords, and implementing a security suite including anti-virus with behavioral scanning plus a firewall, your odds of being hit are much lower. At the very least, your protection is going to be way better than what most people are using, so you could be a less tempting target.

In this article Lysa Myers makes a good point that buckling your seat belt doesn't guarantee you won't get injured in a car crash, brushing your teeth doesn't always prevent cavaties, and eating your vegetables doesn't always prevent cancer. With that being said, any logical person would still buckle their seat belt, brush their teeth, and eat their veggies.

With technology you may get hacked using a strong password, you may still get a virus if you have anti-virus software, and you may lose files if you backup. With that being said, you should still do all of the above to limit your exposure to unneeded risk.

Is Siri really Apple’s future?


Further, being an integral part of iOS and having programmatic access to third party applications on demand, Siri is fully capable of executing a fictional request like:

Transfer money to purchase two tickets, move receipt to Passbook, alert in own calendar, email wife, and update shared calendar, then text baby sitter to book her, and remind me later.

This is a really good read about the future of Siri and online search. A little bit geeky, but if you find this sort of stuff interesting you will enjoy it.

Siri is already incredibly impressive in my opinion. The types of things that we will be able to do with Siri five years from now will blow our minds.

I look forward to the day when I can have my digital assistant Siri find the best price on the latest Vince Flynn novel for my dad's Christmas gift (he still likes physical books) and purchase it using my American Express that is tied to Passbook on my iPhone without me ever having to search a website, enter passwords, or type in credit card information.

Check The Weather

John Gruber:

It’s rare that a new app knocks an old one off my first home screen; Check the Weather knocked two off.

Just $2 in the App Store. You’re nuts if you don’t buy it.

Check The Weather is my favorite weather app. It does everything you would want a weather app to do and it hooks into Dark Sky which I love because I like to know when it's going to rain or snow. Not only that, but it looks beautiful!

Check The Weather is available for both the iPhone and iPad for $1.99 in the App Store.


5 Things - Week Ending 5/4/12

This is the 6th 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.

Bing Strips Down Results Page To Make Google Look Like “Search Overload”

Josh Constine:

This more relaxing, dare I say zen, design gives Google a more claustrophobic and exhausting feel by comparison. Microsoft seems to have realized that if it can’t match Google’s algorithmic prowess, it could win with sleek design that doesn’t bombard you with a thousand options.

I use to love Google for it's simple uncluttered design. Not so much anymore. Just for comparison sake I did a search for hotels in Minneapolis on Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo to show the difference in how they display results.




⌘ Countering Text Message Spam on AT&T

Chris De Jabet:

The best thing to do if you get a text from a short code is to never reply to it. You really shouldn’t reply to any spam text message, but biting the bait on a short code will subscribe your account and charge you.

I have noticed an increase in text message spam in recent months. Someone in my family recently responded to a spam text message and they received a $10 charge on their cell phone bill. If you are on AT&T this is a great article showing you how to combat text message spam but the above advice about not replying to text message spam is relevant for all cell phone users.

Mothers Day: 9 out of 10 moms would prefer an iPad to flowers

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

According to a survey released Tuesday by the shopping site, 91% of mothers polled would much rather have an Apple (AAPL) iPad than yet another bunch of flowers.

What are you gettting your mom for Mothers's Day?

Why the iPad Is Shawn Blanc’s New Laptop

Shawn Blanc:

I know several people who are also using their iPad as their portable computer. I even have a handful friends who have an iPad as their only computer.

I use to carry my MacBook Pro with me all the time and fairly frequently I would also carry my laptop charger with me. Now, more often than, I only carry the iPad with me and I have no need to carry my charger because the battery last all day long. I think that this will become more and more common.


The easiest way to pick a date with friends and family

If you have ever been in the situation where you wanted to get together with some friends but you have difficulty finding a time where everyone can meet you should try out Invy. You name the event, the location, pick who you want to attend, and choose a few dates and times. Invy emails all the guest and they can respond by clicking the link in the email. Once you have seen everyone's response you can pick the date for your event. Invy will add it to your calendar and everyone will receive an email.