Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Web Secret 516: secret features on your iPhone

Are you one of of the billion people in the world who owns an iPhone?

Then you really should read "Hidden In Plain iSight: Secret, Handy Features On Your iPhone."

But why read a long article, when I can summarize what you need to know in one handy dandy short blog post?

1. Get help in an emergency situation. This tip has gone viral and everyone should learn it and share it with their loved ones: Click the power button five times in a row to bring up a secret menu. In an emergency, you can drag on the SOS slider to automatically call emergency services. Your phone will send your location to first responders at the end of the call.

2. Keep your stuff on lock. That four-digit passcode of days past is no longer the standard. Apple pretty much insists on six digits to keep your private content, well, private. But if you've got some seriously sensitive stuff, you can always go alphanumeric. A combo of letters and numbers. To do it, head to Settings, then Touch ID and Passcode, then Change Passcode. When you're taken to the Change Passcode screen, tap options and select alphanumeric.

3. Delete the worst apps. Have you ever actually used the Stocks app? What about the app for the Apple Watch despite the fact that you can't afford the actual watch? Finally, in iOS 11 you can delete those suckers the same way you'd delete any other app.

4. Need more space? Head to Settings, then General, then iPhone Storage, and finally "Offload Unused Apps" to get rid of those games you haven't touched in years.

5. Free scanner In the new-and-improved Notes app, you can scan documents with the new "Scan Documents" feature.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Web Secret 515: upgrading

This past November, Apple released the iPhone X.

I purchased it for my husband who was celebrating a major birthday.

It cost as much as a laptop computer.

Normally, I would be the first person in my family to get one. I'm an early adopter who loves tech.

But not this time, maybe never again.

Don't get me wrong. The new phone is better than my 7 plus: it unlocks with facial recognition. It features dramatically improved picture quality. It has a longer battery life. You can charge it by placing it on a wireless charging base.

Cool/useful right?

But not essential.

For the time being, I will not upgrade. Which leaves me wondering when will people stop upgrading or even just pause upgrading.

What might make me upgrade to the X?

A drastic price reduction.

An interesting color - yes, I am that shallow. For the ninetieth time, why does everything come in just black or grey?

Otherwise, I'm hanging on.

But introduce a new iPad Mini and I'm yours.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Web Secret 514: the Learned League

I come from a line of Trivia lovers.

Before the Internet, my father could rattle off the names of all the supporting actors in Casablanca.

As a seven year old, I enjoyed reading the 16 volume Golden Book Encyclopedia from A to Z. I also absorbed a thick book that describes everything notable that happened in 1953. I know more about 1953 than any other year of my life.

My love of useless info as continued since then.

So I was beyond thrilled when Marc, my perennial Words With Friends opponent, nominated me for the Learned League, AKA "The coolest, weirdest Internet community you’ll never be able to join."

As one article explained:

"Visiting the desktop-only, confusing-to-navigate website on which it lives is a little like time-traveling to Y2K. Text is small and dense; there are no graphics beyond a generic-looking logo and the tiny flags that players are required to use as avatars. More important, there’s basically nothing at stake: There are no prizes of any kind, and when you join (by referral only...), you’re placed into a group of about 20 random competitors...although everyone, across every “rundle,” as the groups are called, answers the same six questions each day of each 25-day quarterly season..."

There is a twist: In addition to playing offense (by trying to guess the right answer), contestants also play defense by assigning points — 0 through 3 — which their opponent will win by answering that question correctly. A winning approach awards your opponent 0 for an easy question and 3 for the most obscure one.

Things I hate about Learned League:
  • The site is crammed with a mass quantity of statistics that only a Fantasy Football League aficionado could enjoy. Here is just a sample: W: Wins, L: Losses, T: Ties, PTS: Points (in Standings), MPD: Match Points Differential, TMP: Total Match Points, TCA: Total Correct Answers, TPA: Total Points Allowed, CAA: Correct Answers Allowed, PCAA: Points Per Correct Answer Allowed, UfPA: Unforced Points Allowed, DE: Defensive Efficiency, FW: Forfeit Wins, FL: Forfeit Losses, 3PT: 3-Pointers, MCW: Most Common Wrong Answers, STR: Streak.
  • It is not a pure trivia contest. You can win a match even if you knew the answer to fewer questions than your opponent, but were clever about your defensive game. This irks me.
  • It's not just about winning matches, it's about defeating the very best players in your rundle. Only then can you rise to the top.
  • You play every day (except week-ends) during the season and it could become a huge time suck.
Fortunately my friend Marc told me how to play and not lose your mind: "I can only answer on average 2 out of the 6 questions. I spend a max of 10 minutes a day on this. You either know the answer or you don't."

I've done well. I've been ranked as high as second in my rundle and as low as 6th. Currently I'm in 4th place.

But really, I do it for the beautifully crafted trivia questions:

"What cultural and artistic movement was founded in the 1920s by French writer André Breton and defined in his 1924 "Manifesto," in which he laid out the nonconformist and unconscious—and at times absurdist—method by which art is created in the movement, with absence of reason or aesthetic concern?"

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Web Secret 513: HQ

Remember Pokemon Go?

That's so 2016.

In the here and now, it's 2018 and the fad du jour is HQ, an app that can be downloaded and used for free.

At first glance, HQ sounds like something very enjoyable - at least to this trivia addict. Twice a day, at 3pm and 9pm EST you log into the app and are fed a series of 12 trivia questions, in ascending order of difficulty, in multiple choice format. To prevent cheating, you have 3 seconds to answer each question. Answer all the questions correctly and you get the pot - which ranges from $2,500 to $25,000. It's over in 15 minutes, (or less when you are eliminated for answering incorrectly and throw your iPhone against the nearest wall.)

Over a million people play each game. Entire offices get together to play. Friends get together to play. It's monstrously popular.

Here is the reality:
  • The host is the reprehensible Scott Rogowsky, who is channeling the sleazy ringmaster from a 19th century carnival freak show.
  • There is a live chat scrolling across the screen for the duration of the game. The chat mostly features inanity, but sprinkled in are curses, and racist comments. As one critic wrote, "Who can even think while one’s fellow citizens cry out something like JEWS JEWS JEWS JEWS in the scrolling billow at screen’s bottom?"
  • The game glitches all the time - it freezes and/or it shuts itself down.
  • The prize money is usually split between scores of people, transforming a $25,000 prize into $14.95.
  • The questions range from the idiotic, to the idiosyncratically obscure. If you weren't paying attention to now defunct computer games from the Eighties, your shit out of luck.
  • You can get free lives by promoting HQ to your friends and on social media. AKA, cheating.
And yet I tune in - not every day but once or twice a week, because, what the heck, it's somewhat amusing and tolerable once I turn the sound off during Scott's ramblings.

Do you play?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Web Secret 512: Webside manner

Ever since video-counseling came into being I have urged therapists to add it to their book of business. I have also urged them to get training and become certified online counselors.

Now experts are acknowledging what we already (intuitively) new - online is different than in person. A December 2017 Wired article urged physicians to develop a webside manner - a modern take on the old fashioned bedside manner.

The article explains: "...getting there isn’t always easy... 'It's all the little things,' says experimental psychologist Elizabeth Krupinski, associate director of evaluation for the telemedicine program at the University of Arizona. 'I mean, there's the technology bit, obviously. Webcam resolution, internet connection, and so on. And you have to think about your backdrop, your lighting, what you're wearing as well. But what you've really got to monitor is your behavior.” U of A is one of the first schools in the country to incorporate telemedicine instruction into its medical school curricula.

"It sounds strange, but when you're on camera all your actions are magnified,' Krupinski says. Sitting six feet away from your doctor, in person, you might not mind or notice her slouching, fidgeting, or gesticulating. But a webcam's intimate vantage point augments these actions in ways that patients can find distracting or off-putting. 'You take a sip of coffee and your mug takes up the whole screen, and all they hear is the sound of you slurping,' she says. 'Or you turn away to make a note, and now all your patient sees is your shoulder. Maybe you disappear from the frame entirely.'

Telemedicine students are often instructed to disable their video chat's picture-in-picture feature. 'Turn it off and look at the patient,' Krupinski says. That's also kind of tricky: To appear as though they're making eye contact, clinicians are taught to look not at the patient on their screen, but directly into their device's webcam."

The article notes that in the United States physicians are no longer required to see a person in person before seeing them virtually.

Are you with me?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Web Secret 511: the Post-Text future

Last month, a special section of the New York Times landed on my breakfast table: Into the Eye of the Internet. The section contained several articles, the gist of each was: "The defining narrative of our online moment concerns the decline of text, and the exploding reach and power of audio and video."

Not all of the information included in the section is relevant to iWebU readers. But what is, offers a blueprint for a lucrative direction for both therapists and employee assistance professionals :
  • About 70 million Americans regularly listen to podcasts.
  • In 2017, YouTube reported that people watched a billion hours on that service every day. On average, young Americans spend two hours a day watching video online.
  • More than 800 million people use Instagram, for more than 30 minutes a day on average.
Implication? Maybe Instagram is not your thing but our work lends itself to podcasts and minute long videos. Just make them short and punchy.

In an article on "How Social Media Gives Women a Voice," reporter Claire Cain Miller writes: "Susan Fowler had tried going to human resources. She had tried going to her managers. She had tried transferring departments. But nothing changed. The sexual and sexist comments she received as an engineer at Uber kept coming.

So she went online and wrote a 3,000-word blog post exposing the behavior.
" EAP colleagues - sexual harassment prevention training should be a staple of your offerings. Get a seat at the table and help your client companies so that they have policies, procedures and training programs in place. Therapists - working with victims and/or alleged perpetrators can be a new area of practice.

In "Even the Tech Elite Are Worrying About Tech Addiction," Farhad Manjoo reports that, "Apple ...[was asked]... to study the health effects of its products and to make it easier for parents to limit their children’s use of iPhones and iPads...

The bigger problem is what to do about any of this. Few laws or regulations prevent apps from keeping us hooked, and the tech industry has no serious ethical prohibitions against tinkering with software to drive engagement; indeed, at many tech companies, keeping people glued to the screen is the whole ballgame."

We don't need a research study to know that using an iPad as a substitute babysitter is terrible for our children, and spending unending hours streaming - well just about anything - is unhealthy. So EA professionals, teaching employees how to disconnect is good for the bottom line, and therapists - helping the cyber addicted offers opportunity for practice.

Are you paying attention?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Web Secret 510: The promise of technology

I ended my recap if the Best of iWebU last week - it was time to move on.

Also, I had to share a moving, mind expanding Wired article with you: "Something to Watch Over Me" by Lauren Smiley.

Much has already been written about our growing aging population, which combined with insufficient numbers of home health aides, is headed towards catastrophe.

You don't have to be a medical social worker to know that home care is expensive and at times unreliable. Fortunately, technology now exists, to help with that cost and keep seniors home for a longer period of time. The article describes this tech and I herewith summarize its salient points:

Arlyn Anderson was involved in caring for her 91 year old father, Jim, who was increasingly forgetful, but wanted to remain in his Minnesota cabin. One day, she about a new digi­tal eldercare service called CareCoach. For about $200 a month, a human-powered avatar would be available to watch over a homebound person 24 hours a day; Arlyn paid that same amount for just nine hours of in-home help. She signed up immediately.

A Google Nexus tablet arrived in the mail a week later. When Arlyn plugged it in, an animated German shepherd appeared onscreen, standing at attention on a digitized lawn. Following the instructions, Arlyn uploaded dozens of pictures to the service’s online portal: images of family members, her father's boat, and some of his inventions.

Jim formed a relationship with the avatar almost immediately and named his dog Pony. Within a week Jim and Pony had settled into a routine, exchanging pleasantries several times a day. Every 15 minutes or so Pony would wake up and look for Jim, calling his name if he was out of view. Sometimes Jim would “pet” the sleeping dog onscreen with his finger to rustle her awake. His touch would send an instantaneous alert to the human caretaker behind the avatar, prompting the CareCoach worker to launch the tablet’s audio and video stream. “How are you, Jim?” Pony would chirp. The dog reminded him which of his daughters or in-person caretakers would be visiting that day to do the tasks that an onscreen dog couldn’t: prepare meals, change Jim’s sheets, drive him to a senior center.

In Monterrey, Mexico, Rodrigo Rochin opens his laptop in his home office and logs in to the CareCoach dashboard to make his rounds. He talks baseball with a New Jersey man watching the Yankees; chats with a woman in South Carolina who calls him Peanut (she places a cookie in front of her tablet for him to “eat”); and greets Jim, one of his regulars, who sips coffee while looking out over a lake.

Rodrigo is 35 years old. He grew up crossing the border to attend school in McAllen, Texas, honing the English that he now uses to chat with elderly people in the United States. Rodrigo found CareCoach on an online freelancing platform and was hired in December 2012 as one of the company’s earliest contractors, role-playing 36 hours a week as one of the service’s avatars. He is the person behind Jim's Pony.

The rest of the article describes the many sometimes unexpected ways Pony helps and monitors Jim's well being. And how CareCoach was invented. And how it represents a new source of employment opportunity for workers with good English skills around the world.

It honestly describes the promise and the pitfalls of the CareCoach technology.

Overwhelmingly, I was left with the promise.

Worth the read.