Ask The Nice Guy - Portable Battery Packs, iPad Messaging, Selling Old Smartphones

This is the 16th post in a series called Ask The Nice Guy. In this series I will attempt to provide answers to the various questions I get asked throughout the week.

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in this blog post, boiled down to five word (or less) summaries.

  1. Portable Battery Pack
  2. Texting From iPad
  3. Sell Old Smartphone

QUESTION 1: Which Portable Battery Pack Would You Recommend?

The kids gave us a smart phone for Christmas, and I would like to buy a battery pack charger. Hopefully, one that I could use to charge all of my devices (Kindle, iPod, iPhone, and iPad). What do you recommend?

A portable battery pack can be a great buy for people who travel and want to make sure that they don't find themselves in a position where they can't use their device because they forgot to charge it the night before and now you have a four hour wait at the airport (outlets at airports are always at a premium).

Based on my research I would recommend the Satechi 10000 MaH Portable Energy Station Extended Battery Charger Pack.

It costs around $60 and should work with most gadgets out there (not laptops). It has two USB ports on it so you can charge your smart phone and another device at the same time. At a full charge the Satechi should be able to fully charge an iPhone 5 six times and have a little juice leftover.

QUESTION 2: How Does Texting Work From The iPad?

Why can I text some people from my iPad and not others (yet I can do those from my iPhone)?

The iPhone & iPad both have an app called Messages. The Messages app on the iPhone is capable of sending traditional text messages (SMS/MMS) while the Messages app on the iPad is not capable of sending traditional text messages (SMS/MMS).

The Messages app on the iPhone & iPad can send iMessages. iMessages can only be sent to other Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Macs).

The reason you are able to "text" some people from your iPad is due to the fact that the iPad can send an iMessage to people you know that have an iPhone and/or iPad and have also registered their phone number or email address with iMessage.

To learn more about iMessage visit Apple's website


I recently upgraded to a new iPhone and want to try and get some money for my previous phone (HTC Incredible 2). What are some of my best options for selling an used smartphone?

You can always sell used items on Craiglist and eBay. I am going to recommend a couple websites that are dedicated to either purchasing your used smartphone (Gazelle) or helping you sell your used smartphone to another buyer (Swappa).

Gazelle makes it really easy to sell your used smartphone. If you aren't selling one of the more popular phones (iPhone, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4) you may not be offered a very good price though.

  • Find your item on If the item is not on our website, unfortunately we do not accept it. Please do NOT select an item if it does not exactly match your item exactly, we will not be able to offer you anything for it.
  • Once you've found your item, let us know what condition its in by answering a few questions. Please remember the rating of "Flawless" would be for an item which appears and functions as if it has never been used.
  • If you like our offer just complete the checkout process and tell us how you'd like to get paid: Check, PayPal or gift card.
  • Shipping is FREE! We'll even send you a box for qualified orders (small electronics over $30.00).
  • Our offer is good for 30 days but the faster you send it in, the quicker you'll get paid.
  • Once we receive your box, the Gazelle team will check out the contents and pay you quickly.

Swappa allows you to list and sell your smartphone on a site dedicated for buyers and sellers of smartphones.

  • No seller fees! Swappa does not charge listing or insertion fees. Buyer pays a flat "sale fee" only when listing sells.
  • Get paid faster. A listing is not considered sold until the buyer pays.
  • Our support staff are experienced mobile users. We are actually helpful and appreciate your business.
  • Just mobile devices... Swappa is easy to use because it's just for buying and selling mobile devices.
  • We use PayPal too, so you are protected.

If you appreciate the free content on please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 4/12/13

This is the 42nd 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.

Before Heit had a chance to finish typing the text, his car drifted onto the wrong side of the road. Realizing his mistake, he overcorrected, quickly turning the steering wheel in an attempt to move his vehicle back into the right lane. He lost control of the car and it veered off the highway, rolling and flipping until it came to a stop.

This story is really sad. This kid lost his life because he couldn't wait until he arrived at his destination to have the following conversation:

Friend: Hey man I had to run out for like an hour
Heit: Sounds good my man, seeya soon, ill tw

He never finished the text. He looked up, saw his car was in the wrong lane, overcorrected and ended up rolling the vehicle.

If you have young people in your life, please take a few minutes to have a caring conversation with them about texting and driving.

I just talked to my wife's brother Mikkel (senior at Farmington High School) about this article this morning.

Watch Facebook's First Ad for 'Home'

Facebook has announced new software that can be installed on some Android based smart phones. The idea behind the software is that you are connected to your Facebook friends 24/7.

Even if I still used Facebook I would not want Facebook dominating my cell phone.

It will be interesting to see if this takes off or not.

On Teens and iPhones.

Alex Guyot:

Here at CDO High School in Tucson, Arizona, iPhones are everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if iPhones were represented at an even higher percentage than the 48% shown in the study. iPhones are most definitely considered the “cool” option, and I see kids with them from every group of people in the school. Moreover, there is no sign of iPhone growth slowing any time soon, as the social pressures inherent in any high school ecosystem have taken Apple’s side, and iPhones are being pushed on non-iPhone users by other kids all around the school. It hasn’t gotten to the point where not having an iPhone is a black mark upon you, but it certainly seems to be an indicator of status. Kids with iPhones seem to find every excuse to have them in sight at all times. iPhones are constantly laying in the open on desks or being held in hands, even while not in use, yet I notice non-iPhone owners are much less prone to flaunting their devices in a similar manner.

I have been reading some stories suggesting that Apple has lost its cool factor (whatever that is). I read this story written by 17 year old Alex Guyot who shares his observation of the phone culture at a middle class Arizona high school.

One lesson that I wish teens would learn (besides not texting while driving) is that you shouldn't make your purchasing decisions based on what others are doing, but rather make an informed decision on what makes the most sense for you.

I remember that for my first couple years in high school I was under the impression that wearing a certain brand on clothes and having a cell phone (not everyone had one in those days) would help get more people to like me. It didn't make one bit of difference.

Struggle to Ban Smartphone Usage in Gyms

Catherine Saint Louis:

The sheer ubiquity of smartphones adds to privacy risks in locker rooms, where bans were first imposed but are still often ignored.

David W. Marr, 26, a Wal-Mart employee and a massage therapist, recalls letting his towel hang open in a locker-room sauna this year at a 24 Hour Fitness in Glendale, Calif. A teenager nearby appeared to be playing a game on his phone. “I see this kid caught with a deer-in-the-headlight look,” Mr. Marr said. “He looked at me, and shut the phone.”

He said he suspects he was videotaped naked, and he complained to management the next day (the gym’s policy is that taking pictures or videos is forbidden). “Anybody can be pretending to have a conversation and filming at the same time,” he said.

The other weekend I was at my cousin's birthday party and we started talking about technology. Someone mentioned their concern about changing at the gym due to the ubiquity of smartphones. Almost all smartphones have a camera and with just a couple of taps someone could take a photo or video of you and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or send it via email without you even knowing it.

This raises some major privacy concerns and it sounds like gyms are struggling to regulate smartphone use in their gyms.

Why and when the iPad is the best e-reader

Joel Mathis:

For the first time in history, when we sit down to read a book, we’re faced with more than simply a choice of what to read—we must also decide how to read it. Perhaps you’ve found your favorite reading method, and tend to stick with it. But the truth is that different mediums offer different strengths, which are in turn tuned to different types of reading. Wedging yourself into a corner with just one device for all types of reading can deny you the pleasures and advantages of the other.

I thought that this article did a nice job explaining the pros and cons of reading a book via various methods (iPad, Kindle, and book).

My favorite way to read is on the Kindle. I can't say enough positive things about it!

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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 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.