Cell Phone Madness

I had another topic that I was going to write about today, but I am going to skip that to talk about cell phone etiquette. I just came up in the elevator in my office building and had to listen to a gal in her 20s who was was projecting her voice into her cell phone like she was auditioning for a Broadway show. Not only that, but the topic was so intimate I was shocked she would discuss it in public. The young woman was talking to her mother about some female infection she had.

Quite frankly, I felt she had invaded my privacy. Elevator rides should be a “quiet zone” or at least a “whisper zone.” We are all in close quarters and do not need someone else screaming in our ears. I truly feel I am turning into Andy Rooney, cranky and intolerant. I know it is my age.

So while I was on this rage rant, I called up a few friends in the tech business and did some research on Mashable, the tech blog, to see if anyone else feels the way I do about “cell phone” madness. These are my results. The first few come from Mashable and the balance are from the business friends I contacted.

1. Avoid Sensitive Topics in Public
The person next to you at the airport really doesn’t want to hear about the ups-and-downs of your dating life, and revealing the details of that big business deal in the works could get you fired if it’s overheard by the wrong person. Either walk to a secluded location or let your caller know you’ll call back when it’s possible to talk in private.

2. You Don’t Have to Google Everything
Don’t be the person who whips out his or her phone to settle an argument by looking up a disputed fact on Google. While it’s nice to finally be able to settle barstool debates in real time, avoid the urge to look everything up on your phone.

3. Stop Pulling Out Your Phone at Social Events
Avoid making calls at the gym, or, better yet, leave your phone in your locker. The same goes for social gatherings, including the dinner table. Put your phone on silent and put it away for the duration of the meal. A note to my relatives and friends from Digidame: Even though I place my mobile phone on the table at a restaurant when dining with you, it doesn’t mean that you can accuse me of being rude. My business is all about constant editorial deadlines, so I quickly check my email twice during dinner to see if I have to answer some member of the press. I try to do this discretely. I would say that I rarely get urgent after-hours emails or calls, but it does happen. My job is to monitor urgent matters or deals that have to get done. I wish I could say the same thing for friends of mine who are constantly checking their emails for social reasons on my time.

4. Don’t Leave a Voicemail
This is a Mashable notation. News to me too! These days, no one likes receiving voicemails. The next time you can’t reach someone by phone, try the Gentleman’s Maneuver: Hang up before the beep and send a text instead. Chances are you’ll get a response more quickly.

5. No More Talking on the Toilet
Don’t take your phone into the bathroom. A recent survey of 1,000 iPhone users revealed that nearly 85% have used their phone while in the bathroom. Not only is this unsanitary and risky for your device, but it’s also off-putting to callers to hear a telltale echo or a sudden rush of water.

6. Stop Posting Pictures On Facebook While Power Walking With Friends
A friend of mine said she gets so frustrated when she gets into a power zone only to get interrupted by a friend who just happened to see something he has to take a picture of. Not only does he stop to take the photo, but then he immediately posts it on Facebook. This action ruins the entire purpose of power walking with friends. I can think of friends who do that constantly when in a group just strolling along. Several of us have to stop and wait for the person who is a block behind us.

7. Do Not Talk To Friends While In The Company Of Other Friends
This complaint comes from a Chicago buddy who says that every time one of his pals picks him up in his car so they can ride together, he is usually engaged in a conversation. He has to sit there quietly alone until that person gets off the phone. He said he wanted to take his own car in the first place, but the friend insisted they ride together. What was the point?

8.Do Not Walk Away From Your Cell Phone
This pet peeve was told to me this morning by one of my clients. He hates when people visit his office or country home and they leave their cell phone on his desk or kitchen table when they go to the bathroom, go outside, or go talk to someone else in the vicinity. He finds himself constantly being interrupted by the other person’s phone ringing no less than eight times before voice mail goes into action. He feels like it is such an intrusion on his privacy.

If you have any other pointers be sure to leave them in the comment section. We are all in this together and none of us are innocent.

TV On The Web Is Now Getting Its Own Guide

A number of publications, including the giant USA Today, is publishing a daily guide to help Americans find the most popular TV (or video) shows on the web. Remember, the other day I told you that Jerry Seinfeld created his own TV show on the web called “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” That is one of just hundreds, millions and soon to be billions of video shows on the worldwide web. Tom Hanks has also created a new online animated series called Electric City

It was just a matter of time that someone tried to organize the TV shows on the web plus all of the alternative programming sites such as YouTube, Hulu and Netflix carrying exclusive programming. USA Today is very proud to be one of the first big name newspapers that is doing this. In print, the new feature will appear on the TV listings page, and it will have its own dedicated spot online at tvontheweb.usatoday.com.

Here are some of the others available. You have to go through some of them to see what areas you may enjoy.

Be a video pioneer and search for new content. If you find anything that is worthwhile, let the rest of us know.

OVGuide is the destination site to search and discover free online high quality videos on the Web.
MediaChannel is a unique website that is dedicated to guiding web visitors to the “best” video content that can be viewed over the Internet.

Clicker is the complete guide to Internet Television.

TV Guide.com has a download column which covers television shows available for download or online viewing.

NBC and IOC Get An “F” In Social Media Skills

I am not sure what NBC and the International Olympics Committee were thinking this weekend, but many high profile, online digital writers kept posting stories about how aggravated they were with the TV broadcast time delay from London. Mashable and Tech Crunch, considered to be the Bibles of the digital world, were among the first to write editorials on what they considered to be a major communications faux paux.

The main complaint being, Twitter and Facebook users from Europe were posting up-to-the-minute news from the ground or from their TV sets — Americans were watching outdated TV information about competitions that already took place. One prime example was Ryan Seacrest’s interview with Michael Phelps about how prepared he was for the first swim competition. He had already lost!

Members of the media felt NBC delayed their broadcast so that their advertisers would get the biggest audiences in the evening. The Internet marketing gurus felt they should have broadcast the Olympics live, then replayed it again in the evening for the prime time crowd.

Another insult to the digital world was the Olympic videos posted to the YouTube site by spectators at the live events for everyone in other time zones to see. Many blog sites and newspapers picked up those videos for their own use (a common and acceptable practice) only to find out minutes later that they were gone and replaced by the following message,“This video contains content from the International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

Tech Crunch reported “While most of the rest of the world — or at least Europe — was watching the ceremony live, U.S. audiences were held hostage by NBC, which holds the rights to the games here. Rather than broadcasting the biggest event of the Games live as it happened, NBC decided it would air the ceremony on a tape delay, to capture a larger overall audience.”

Tech Crunch also pointed out that there is nothing new about tape delays, however, “they do seem archaic at a time when online video and social media bring an air of immediacy to live events. The existence of the NBC Olympics Twitter account is evidence of this, but the account seems totally misused in this case: NBC live tweeted the whole ceremony, with no apparent sense of irony around the fact that its target audience couldn’t actually watch the events it was describing. Instead of building excitement around the ceremony, and engaging with its viewers, all NBC ended up doing was frustrating its audience —the people who care most about watching the thing.”

A Mashable Op-Ed piece said, “NBC and the IOC’s attempt to control the flow of content and information failed almost immediately as participants and audience members started tweeting and Instagramming and, worse yet, at least one website started streaming pristine video live from the event.” Here’s what really galls me. A major portion of the opening ceremony festivities was devoted to a tribute for the Internet and social networking. It was all about how the Internet connects us and lets us communicate, how social media influences our lives. To illustrate, the IOC used the charming story of a young couple meeting and then using a variety of digital and social media to stay connected. The IOC hammered home the message by featuring — Tim Berners-Lee. The father of the Internet.”

Amazing how all of the big guns, especially the social media department at NBC, couldn’t or wouldn’t predict this snafu. As Tech Crunch says in their headline, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

My iPhone Habit

The way my parents used to grab for a cigarette, is the way I reach for my iPhone. Well, maybe a little more. Absentmindedly, I turn it on and off at least 100 times a day. I need my fix as often as I can get it.

I use my iPhone for email, to write my blog, read all of my newspapers and magazines, make phone calls, texting, access Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Words With Friends, Audible for audio books, my 85 apps, Google, stocks, voice memos, dictionary, calendar, picture taking, videos. YouTube, Skype, iTunes, Open Table, TED, Sirius XM, Pinterest, plus, plus, plus.

If you are reading this and feel sorry for me, don’t bother. I do plenty of other stuff. I just use my iPhone for both work and relaxation.

But unlike many others, I don’t check emails and take casual phone calls during face-to-face meetings unless I am on a tight business deadline. I know how to be respectful.

Apparently I am not the only one with a nervous iPhone tick. According to PC Magazines most Americans reach for their smartphones while watching TV.

The research for this story was conducted by PEW Research, a nonpartisan fact tank that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.




Follow-Up On Square

The other day I posted a story about the mobile payment app Square and how it was going to eliminate the use of paper money and credit cards at retail cash registers across the nation.

Apparently, the investment community feels Square is a sure bet. The New York Times reported that Square is close to raising roughly $200 million, which would give the company an implied valuation of $3.25 billion

Read more about it.



Video Cameras Are Becoming The “Black Boxes” In Accidents

I didn’t make up that headline. The New York Times used it a few days ago to describe how video cameras, strapped to helmets on people who ride bicycles, are now becoming more important because of the high rate of accidents. I just want to mention that a few of my friends were seriously injured in bicycle accidents. I talked about this in recent posts. I also recently introduced many of you to the Go Pro video camera. This brand and others are enjoying a big boost in sales due to these nasty accidents. Yesterday, I featured a video camera for cars that not only captures scenery when you are traveling, but other drivers as well. Video cameras for traveling may soon become a necessary evil.

Please travel safe.

To access The New York Times story, just click on the highlighted New York Times above.

Increase Your Vocabulary

I was always envious of a person with a strong vocabulary. The ability to express yourself with the appropriate words at any age is a wonderful gift.

When I was in elementary school my teacher told my parents that I was below grade level in reading. I was very lucky that they immediately sent me to a dedicated reading course at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, just a few miles from where we lived. I don’t remember taking the course very seriously (I was so lazy) but I do remember thinking, “I am Jewish, what am I doing in this foreign territory?” All the teachers were Nuns.

I also don’t remember studying very much even though the Nuns gave us homework. I do remember being fascinated by the rapid reading method they used on a slide projector screen in front of the class. Words would flash by and we had to memorize them. They started out slow and in a few minutes flew by.

The marvelous thing the course taught me was “If you do something often enough you eventually get good at it.” I attended those classes every Saturday morning until my scores showed that I was reading a few years ahead of my current grade.

I do not recall any pressure from the Nuns. They must have known that the outcome was going to be successful as long as I continued to show up. I remember their reassuring smile.

The other day when I was introduced to The Point And Click Dictionary my memories of St. John’s came rushing back. What a wonderful gift from my parents. Anything we can do as adults to encourage our children to read should be a priority, even if it is a little pricey.

Not everyone has electronic books and textbooks with all the fancy click throughs for dictionaries, thesauruses, and search. Some still cherish or are required to read a printed book. If they stumble on a word they can just look it up the old fashion way. Most won’t bother because it is so inconvenient.

Here is a “no excuse” way to learn new words when reading printed material and have fun doing it. This is a perfect gift for anyone, at any age.

The Point And Click Dictionary is a pocket-sized scanner that instantly looks up and displays word definitions. The unit easily slides over the printed page. The flip-up camera scans any word with the touch of a button. Definitions are instantaneously displayed on its screen.

The press release announcing the unit said, “The scanner has a 2.4” color LCD with 320 x 240 resolution that clearly displays definitions, comprehensive etymologies, and related word forms. It also provides audible word pronunciations through its built-in speaker.

“Smaller than a smartphone, the portable scanner provides 500,000 definitions from the Collins English Dictionary and offers translations to and from French, Italian, Spanish, and German using the award-winning Collins foreign language dictionaries. Users can navigate the device via the touchscreen or the included stylus. It has an integrated MP3 player, voice recorder, and picture viewer, and it recharges in two hours.”

The Point And Click Dictionary retails around $279.95.

The New Me, A Road Warrior

I want this! I need this! I deserve this!

I don’t know about you, but I am a nervous wreck in the passenger seat next to the driver — better known as the “death seat.” This has been going on for a long time. It is getting worse as I am getting older.

I hate driving on I-95 in South Florida, the Ventura Freeway, the San Diego Freeway, and the Long Island Expressway. Is it my imagination or are there more young girls speeding up and cutting off other cars? I started to notice this 10 years ago. At first I thought it was young, rowdy men who were drunk. I was so surprised to learn that it was young women who were the culprits. I discovered that when we sped up and pulled alongside the car that cut us off. That is what happens when there is a lot of traffic. Ha, ha.

It is the most scary thing to experience. We are driving along very peacefully, when all of a sudden a car speeds up next to us. Then just as they are passing our right front fender, they cut in front of us. You see a flash in front of you, your heart flutters and feel like someone smacked you right in the chest. That is the kind of emotional impact it has on me.

This happens so often that I wonder if these young women have a nervous tick? What’s worse is that they are cutting us off while they are texting, yakking on the phone or plucking their eye brows. I wanted to give each one “the finger,” but I am afraid that they will pull out a gun and shoot me.

I started writing down their license plates numbers, but I probably got them wrong. Who can see that far and at the speed of light?

All of my frustrations ended today when I discovered a great weapon against them, the Roadtrip Video Recorder at Hammacher Schlemmer for $ 129.95. I don’t care how expensive it is. I want to make citizen arrests! I am going to hang out the front side window like a dog and hit the record switch when I see a car speed up.

This is how Hammacher Schlemmer describes The Roadtrip Video Recorder. Sets up in a car and enables hands-free visual and audio documentation of travels.( In my case, road rage). The suction cup mount attaches to a window or dashboard and the camera can be directed to record color video at 640 x 480 resolution of the approaching horizon or roadside views. The lens has a 120º viewing angle, an 8X zoom, and integrated motion detection that automatically initiates recording when the car is moving. The 2.4″ LCD viewfinder rotates 270º, enabling travelers to monitor what’s being recorded or view stored video, and four infrared LEDs allow nighttime video recording. Video is recorded in AVI format and stored on the included 2 GB SD card (supports up to a 32 GB SD card that records up to three hours of video). Rechargeable battery provides up to two hours of video recording after a two-hour charge via the car outlet adapter. Also captures still photographs. Includes AV cables for displaying video on a television and a USB cable for connection to a computer. 4″ L x 2 1/2″ W x 1″ D. (4 oz.).

Once I capture a few of these dare devils on video, I am going to post them on YouTube for all to see. I will not be using the YouTube blur feature. I will be issuing media alerts with their full descriptions for all to see. I hope I live to tell this story for a long time.

Put Your Money Away

There was a time when someone told you to “Put your money away” meant he or she was going to pick up the” tab” for whatever you were doing at the moment; most likely eating a meal. That expression is going to take on a whole new meaning in a few months as more and more retailers will be using iPhone and Android apps that will recognize when you enter their store and automatically tally your bill when you step up to the cash register. “Put your money away” is going to mean “We don’t take cash or plastic here, just apps.”

No money, no credit or debit cards, no checks, no nothing. You don’t even have to take your smartphone out of your pocket. A simple “hello” will do.

This is how it will work. The cashier will say, “Hello _________.” You place your items on the counter. The cashier will say, “Today your order is $___________. Then you walk away with the goods. The receipt for the order will appear on the app that you are using.

Some of the apps will require you to “Open a Tab” the very first time you visit a new retailer. This is how your financials get transferred to the register. You do that once and you never have to access your phone again at that particular retailer. I guess this is where I remind you that in order to get started in the first place, you have to download your app of choice and provide your banking information so it is on file.

I witnessed a transaction last week when I was at a boutique retailer. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I was busy looking for my American Express card. For some reason, I can never find what I want, when I need it. It is always such a hassle finding my cards that I would just love to be recognized and have an automatic transaction.

Once you get over the “Big Brother Is Watching You” phase, you can use these apps to your advantage. The apps offer discounts to first time buyers, frequent buyers, offer you specials, new items, close-outs, etc.

The smartphone app that David Pogue recently profiled to explain this new concept to his New York Times readers is Pay With Square. He also lists other apps that do similar things as well, so it is well worth reading to see all of the future options.

If anyone reading this blog is using a similar retail payment service, please share your experience with us in the comments section.