Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Web Secret 586: iPhone shortcuts

Sooner or later I know that I will have to use voice commands, I've just been procrastinating as long s possible

But this article "How to Tap Less on your Phone" made me think that now is the time for you and I to learn how to use Siri.

Here are some key tips from the article:

1. You can ask Siri to “Turn on the flashlight.” Well that's super useful!

2. You can say, “Do not disturb” as you enter a movie theater, a meeting or your bed.

3. Squeeze for silence. When your phone rings at a bad moment — at a movie, for example — don’t pull it out and fumble for the Ignore button. Instead, just reach into your pocket or purse and squeeze the phone. Pressing any button on the edge of the phone means “Silence the ringing,” — and when you grasp the phone this way, you’ll hit one of those buttons in a hurry.

That's enough new stuff for now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Web Secret 585: In praise of old things

The other day, I did something retro.

I went to a performance of "Sleeping Beauty" given by the American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera house.

It could have been 1890 when the ballet was first performed:

Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky's gorgeous score.

Dancers performing the beautiful choreography of Marius Petipa.

I sat in delight for three hours - without technology.

I did note that the 21st century had brought about three welcome changes:

1. Diversity among the dancers: African American, Latino, Asian and from all over the world.
2. Diversity among the audience, also representing multiple ethnic groups from all over the world.
3. During the curtain calls, hundreds of people took photographs with their smart phones.

Every now and then, go retro.

I recommend it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Web Secret 584: Raising Phone-Free Children

I frequently deliver a talk at EAP related conferences entitled: "Moving Towards EAP 2.0," or words to that effect. In this presentation, I discuss 21st century opportunities for EA professionals and mental health clinicians.

Everyone on the planet who is connected to the Internet is struggling to manage their screen time and/or the screen time of their children.
1. EAPs have the opportunity to develop lunch and learn presentations that teach employees how to limit their off duty screen time.
2. Individual counselors can also develop this expertise to help their clients of all ages.

Lo and behold I came across an article "Now Some Families Are Hiring Coaches to Help Them Raise Phone-Free Children."

Here are the key points from that article:

Parents around the country, alarmed by the steady patter of studies around screen time, are trying to turn back time to the era before smartphones. But it’s not easy to remember what exactly things were like before smartphones. So they’re hiring professionals.

A new screen-free parenting coach economy has sprung up to serve the demand. Screen consultants come into homes, schools, churches and synagogues to remind parents how people parented before.

Among affluent parents, fear of phones is rampant, and it’s easy to see why. No one knows what screens will make of society, good or bad. This worldwide experiment of giving everyone an exciting piece of hand-held technology is still new.

Gloria DeGaetano was a private coach working to wean families off screens when she noticed the demand was higher than she could handle on her own. She launched the Parent Coaching Institute, a network of 500 coaches and a training program. Her coaches in small cities and rural areas charge $80 an hour. In larger cities, rates range from $125 to $250. Parents typically sign up for eight to 12 sessions. (!!!)

A parent coach noticed most adults have gotten so used to entertaining themselves with phones, they forgot that they actually grew up without them. Clients were coming to her confused about what to do all afternoon with their kids to replace tablets. She has her clients do a remembering exercise.

“And it’s so hard, and they’re very uncomfortable, but they just need to remember.”

A movement is bubbling up across the country. A group of parents band together and make public promises to withhold smartphones from their children until eighth grade. Parents who make these pledges work to promote the idea of healthy adult phone use, and promise complete abstinence until eighth grade or even later. (I am not a fan of that one size fits all approach - phones also provide security and other beneficial services.)

One psychologist noted:“We want answers served up to us — ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’”

But what seems self-evident can be hard to remember, and hard to stick with. One parent noted, “When we were growing up, we didn’t have these [devices], so our parents couldn’t role model appropriate behaviors to us, and we have to learn what is appropriate so we can role model that for them.”

We are inventing the wheel for a new machine that is constantly being upgraded. No wonder these parents are so anxious.

But for EAPs and clinicians - helping people develop a measured approach to new technology - can be part of your book of business.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Web Secret 583: It's the teacher

For two middle school years, I attended Maret, a K-12 private school in Washington DC. The music teacher there was a man named Dexter Davidson. He seemed to be quite elderly to me at the time, but in retrospect was probably in his late 50s.

Each year, all the music classes learned the score for an ambitious musical offering in which everyone participated in some measure.

As an example, when I was in 9th grade, the plan was to put on the Mikado, a satiric 19th century operetta composed by Gilbert and Sullivan. For those of you who don't know their many compositions, treat yourself by watching them on YouTube. Here for example, is an Australian company's version of "I've got a little list." By tradition, the words to the song are updated to reflect contemporary aggravations:

Music classes were spent sitting at a desk with the score, singing the songs together. All the songs. The solos, the duets, the trios, the chorus numbers and the finale - we learned every note. Since Gilbert and Sullivan works have catchy melodies and hilarious lyrics, we loved every minute of it. Towards the end of the school year, everyone had memorized the entire Mikado.

Then came the time to put on a show. The principal roles were cast by audition and usually featured high schoolers - but anyone who wanted to, regardless of musical aptitude, was on stage. Mr. Davidson believed everyone, regardless of age or talent, could learn the choreography of each number.

At the time, it was all so much fun. But today, I realize how progressive and brave he was. Being allowed to play the opposite sex, being included in any show in which you wanted to perform, being able to learn an ambitious musical work regardless of age. He brought the entire school together, making everyone feel appreciated and included. Making us think that we could tackle any project, regardless of who we were.

Mr. Davidson, you were an exceptional teacher. Because I was taught by you, my entire life is better.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Web Secret 582: iOS 13

Apple announced an upgrade to their operating system coming Fall 2019.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know how I feel about upgrades: new features nobody needs. Surprise! you get to learn a lot of new stuff you had no interest in learning.

There are only 3 new features to care about:

1. Speed. iPhones from the 6S to the X will become faster. How did they achieve that. Yeah, I don't care either.

2. Dark mode. Many apps are designed with white backgrounds, and this can get tiring for the eyes. Dark mode replace white backgrounds with dark colors. Anytime I have seen dark backgrounds with white letters, I find them disconcerting. Hello Nespresso! For years I've been trying to get you to change your dreadful black website.

There is another advantage: It should reduce battery consumption because fewer pixels need to be lit up, and it will make screens easier on the eyes when reading in the dark. I'll reserve judgment until I try Apple's version of light on dark.

3. Privacy. Chief among Apple’s new privacy features is Sign In With Apple, a button for using an Apple ID to sign in to apps and websites.

When you sign up for a website or app with your Apple ID, iOS 13 will include an option to hide the email address linked to your Apple ID. In the process, Apple will create a burner email address to sign up, hiding it from the third party. Whenever the website or app you sign up for tries to contact you, it will email the burner address, and Apple will forward the memo to your real email address. So if a business starts sending spam to the burner email address, you can delete your account, and the business won’t have your real email address.

Sounds complicated and full of potential pitfalls.

Remains to be seen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Web Secret 581: Why my iPad has Diamond Medallion status

During a recent trip from New York City's LaGuardia Airport to Ft. Myers, Florida, I left my iPad in the seat pocket of the plane.

I realized this happened approximately 6 hours after I left the airport, and my first step was to contact Delta Lost and Found. Well friends - here's a bit of bad news - most of the airlines have outsourced their lost and found departments to companies with catchy names like instaFILE. I paid instaFILE the required fee of $29.95 and waited for a miracle.

The following morning I suddenly remembered that I wrote a column about technology. I fired up "Find my iPad" and realized my iPad was still on the plane - it was on the runway back at LaGuardia - so glad Delta does a thorough job of cleaning their airplane.

My instaFILE agent sent me this message:

"Hello Marina,

My name is James and I am currently working on the search for your iPad mini. I look forward to handling your case and will be reporting back to you with an update on your claim."

I wrote back:

"Hi JAMES - I did 'Find my iPad' and yesterday it was located “near LaGuardia airport, NY” - today it shows the iPad is at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport which makes me think it is still in seat pocket 27D of the Delta plane I flew in on yesterday."

A day passed and James wrote :

"Hello Marina,

Thanks for informing me of the location of your iPad. I will continue to search for how to get it. Thanks,- James"

Then, all of a sudden James informed me he had forwarded my case to Delta. They wrote:

"Dear Marina,

You've lost something important to you and we're dedicated to helping you find it. We'll search our inventory of items and e-mail you if we find an item that closely matches your description. Although we do not accept liability for lost items, we are committed to reuniting our passengers with their lost belongings.


Delta Air Lines Lost Item Recovery Team"

I watched helplessly as my iPad continued to jet set around the USA. It flew to Jacksonville,Florida, it flew back to LaGuardia. I continued to keep Delta and James informed of its whereabouts via email - the only we I could communicate with them.

Delta wrote again:

"Dear Marina,

The search continues. Although we have not yet located your missing item, know that we are still diligently searching for it.


Delta Air Lines Lost Item Recovery Team."

At this point I got exasperated and filed a complaint with Delta:

"You must not clean your planes very well because I left my iPad mini 5 on my flight on and it just keeps flying around the country in the seat pocket of the plane I was on. Reference my lost id claim number. I can track the location of the iPad on my computer. It is not lost - just get it off the plane and mail it to me."

More time passed and I got a call from Delta's LaGuardia Lost and Found that they had the iPad. Must have been the result of my complaint letter.

Probably not. I got the following message from Delta a few days later:

"Thanks for letting us know about your flight experience from LaGuardia to Fort Myers on May 23, 2019.

It’s so easy to leave behind something important while flying and I’m sorry this happened to you. I do appreciate the fact that you’ve reached out to our Lost and Found Unit and as soon as your Ipad is found, we will do our best to get it back to you.

We appreciate your concern regarding this matter. To be helpful, I’m sending your thoughts to our Baggage Service leadership team for review, although, I can’t offer a timeline; hopefully, we can find what you left behind."

Bang head against wall. Repeat.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Web Secret 580: Comeback of the Century

I read a surprising Op-Ed in the New York Times by frequent contributor Timothy Egan. It was titled: "The Comeback of the Century - Why the book endures, even in an era of disposable digital culture."

I thought you should read it too, abridged as usual:
In the digital age, the printed book has experienced more than its share of obituaries. Among the most dismissive was one from Steve Jobs, who said in 2008, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”

True, nearly one in four adults in this country has not read a book in the last year. But the back. Defying all death notices, sales of printed books continue to rise to new highs, as do the number of independent stores stocked with these voices between covers, even as sales of electronic versions are declining.

Nearly three times as many Americans read a book of history in 2017 as watched the first episode of the final season of “Game of Thrones.”

So, even with a president who is ahistoric, borderline literate and would fail a sixth-grade reading comprehension test, something wonderful and unexpected is happening in the language arts. When the dominant culture goes low, the saviors of our senses go high.

Storytelling, Steve Jobs may have forgotten, will never die. And the best format for grand and sweeping narratives remains one of the oldest and most durable.

But also, at a time when more than a third of the people in the United States and Britain say their cellphones are having a negative effect on their health and well-being, a clunky old printed book is a welcome antidote.

When people go on a digital cleanse, detoxing from the poison of too much screen time, one of the first things they do is bury themselves in a book — that is, one to have and to hold, to remind the senses of touching “Pat the Bunny” in infancy, a book to chew on.

“I think it’s somewhat analogous to what happened with food,” said Rick Simonson, longtime buyer at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. “We came of age when the commercial messages about food were all to make it instant. Now look at how food has changed ‘back’ — the freshness, the health aspect, the various factors like community.”

While our attention span has shrunk, while extremists’ shouting in ALL-CAPS can pass for an exchange of ideas, while our president uses his bully pulpit as a bullhorn for bigotry and ignorance, the story of our times is also something else. It’s there in the quieter reaches, in pages of passion and prose of an ancient technology.
I have nothing to add.