Technology, Cars, and the Big City

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 7.07.28 PMI don’t live in a big city. I live in a busy area, part of the megalopolis that is the northeast US….. but not in a city. However, my adult children and their spouses all live in cities. And when I visit them, I always learn something new.

If you are a city-dweller, you can stop reading, now. This will be old news for you. But for the rest of us …… it is so interesting to watch technology changing something so basic as the old “TAXI!” hail.

But let me back up a bit. It is often not practical to own a car when you live in a city, and entrepreneurs have focused on that need over the last few years, filling the gap with Zip Cars and Cars2Go. Zipcars can be found parked all around the streets of a city, and if you are a member, you just reserve one (find it on your app), unlock it and drive away, using the car for just hours or days.

For really short trips (maybe you just want to drive a few blocks) a Car2Go might be the solution. With a member card, you just get in and go. The description from the car2go website sums it up nicely: “A car2go is always a pleasure to drive: just take it, drive it, park it. Simple and straightforward. You can always find a vehicle in your area. You open it with the member card you receive after signing up. You go from A to B, park your car2go again and that’s that.”

New-to-me for this city-trip was a service called Uber. (thanks, Jinna!)

Uber has been around now for several years, and is located in cities all over the world … but was jaw-dropping goodness when my daughter-in-law whipped out her iPhone and said that she was going to get an Uber car to take us home.

We didn’t have to stand on a corner to try and hail a taxi. Nope. She just pulled up her Uber app on her phone, and tapped to call a car. Then, on her screen, we saw a map. This map showed our location …. and also the location of the Uber car that was on our way to pick us up!

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We watched as the car got closer, so we knew when to start looking for it. No curb standing for us. She also had been given the license number of the car and a photo of the driver.

Car arrived and we hopped in. After a lovely ride to our destination, we said goodbye to our friendly driver and left the car with no money exchanged. Your trip and your tip is simply charged to your credit card, which you gave when you signed up for the service.

Remarkably convenient. And the price was similar (I think in this case cheaper) than a cab ride would have been for the same distance. *****Note to new Uber users: you need to select UberX to get cab pricing that’s similar to taxis. Uber Black car service is VERY EXPENSIVE (it’s equivalent to a town car service). and unfortunately it’s easy to accidentally click on. So be careful (and frugal) and choose UberX for the best price.

This is extra interesting to me since this is a service that I might actually use when visiting Philadelphia or NYC. As a day visitor I would never grab a car2go to navigate city traffic, but an Uber car would be a wonderful opportunity to skip the smelly yellow cab and the whole “I have to find a cab” experience.

A quick google search showed me that many cities (taxi companies) are not pleased with this service, fighting to limit the number of cars, etc.

But I’m hoping this wave of “alternatives-to-taxis” prevails. It is marvelously convenient.

Uber cars are in service all over the world. Click here for a list of all the participating cities.

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Tip to Save your iPhone battery on a Road Trip

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.53.06 AMI’ve been gone for a while, and part of that time was spent on the road.

I’m not a happy driver, so I chose to be the navigator for this adventure, which required some driving on unfamiliar roads.

I love love love the way you can follow your own car with the little blue dot as it travels the highways and byways. Watching us travel I was able to let my driver-friend know that we were getting closer to the turn we had to make, or even that there was a lot of traffic up ahead (google maps/traffic gives you red lines when the going gets tough.)

All this is wonderful, BUT it is a big huge battery drain. Since we were going to be in the car for a good number of hours, and I knew I’d be using these maps a great deal (draining the battery), I brought along a handy dandy car charger to keep the juice flowing.

I was happy with that, and it worked just fine.

Discussing this with daughter-in-law Carmen, she suggested that I turn off my wifi and bluetooth in the car.

Duh. Why didn’t I think of that? There was no reason to have wifi on in the car, and since I wasn’t in my own car, the bluetooth was needless, also.

But I wondered …. would it really make any difference?

I decided to test this.

So on the way home, I turned off both the wifi and the bluetooth ….and used my iPhone to navigate just as much as I did on the way out.

But THIS time, instead of draining the battery, I arrived home with an iPhone still over 50% “full”. This was a huge difference.

With wifi and bluetooth “on”, I drained the phone in hours and needed the car-cable to keep it powered.

With wifi and bluetooth “off”, I ended the road trip with an iPhone still holding a significant charge.

Wow. I never knew it would make THAT much of a difference! (thanks, Carmen!)

How to turn off your wifi and bluetooth on your iPhone:

Just run your finger UP on your iPhone screen to bring up your control center.

There you will see them both….the wifi icon and the bluetooth option. Just tap them to turn them on or off. In this screenshot, my wifi is “on” and my bluetooth is “off”.

Remember this when you want to prolong your battery life! The control center makes it easy to do (as opposed to drilling-down in the settings).

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Your Weekend Distraction: Springtime with Simon’s Cat

As Spring begins to make itself known here in the northeast US … after an absolutely horrid winter …. Simon’s Cat has another adventure.

Enjoy!!! :)

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Oy Vey! My Eyes Failed Me

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.39.29 PMSeveral days ago I posted a gushy happy recommendation for the app RetailMeNot.

If you read the post, you saw me ramble on about not being able to turn off the noisy cash-register-like notifications.

Love the app, hate the startling “ka-ching!”.

In a conversation with my dear daughter-in-law, Carmen, she shared her love of RetailMeNot on it’s website. She doesn’t have the app, but expressed her surprise that you couldn’t turn off the sound.

I assured her that you could not, and I thought that was surprising.

So I went and looked again (even though I had looked many times before)…..

Oh my. Oy vey.

It was there all along.

It is CLEARLY marked “mall notifications”.

But what did I see? I saw “MAIL notifications”. Not mall. I saw mail.

Can you say “old eyes”, boys and girls? :roll:

Thanks, Carmen, for making me look, again.

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Watch Colbert and Stewart for Free on your iPhone or iPad

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.52.59 AMWith more and more people dropping their cable subscriptions, it is great to be able to turn to your iPad or iPhone and catch the programming you miss.

Even better when it’s FREE.

Just yesterday, Comedy Central released their new app. Now you can watch full episodes of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on your iPad or iPhone.

The app does include other programming as well, however, in order to see those, you must sign in with a cable subscription. BUT…. for Stewart and Colbert, no cable subscription required. Just download the free app, and enjoy. :)

Comedy Central for iPhone or iPad is FREE in the iTunes store.

Note: iOS7 is required

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Get Great Deals Wherever-you-are with RetailMeNot Coupons

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 6.15.16 AMI almost deleted this app. Why? It scared me.

But now, the very thing that scared me I think is pretty darn awesome.

Let me back up a bit……

RetailMeNot is a coupon app. Deals deals deals. I have another coupon app that I used often (Sherpa) but gradually RetailMeNot has become my one-and-only.

No sign in or sign up required. Just use your phone to show the coupon in a brick and mortar store and get your discount.

no scissors required

no scissors required

What makes this app different (and a tad scary to me) is that it will alert you to the deals nearby wherever-you-are! Every time I arrive in a shopping area my iPhone makes a cash-register sound, letting me know that coupons are available to save $ in the stores nearby.

Now … honestly …. that cash register sound is startling. I don’t like it. I almost deleted the app because of it.

However, I have had two experiences where money-saving coupons were discovered and used because of the alert. In addition to that, I found myself in need of a restaurant coupon and after checking several other sources from my phone to no avail, RetailMeNot gave me a coupon that saved 50% off of one of the meals. Hurray for this app!

So I’ve made my peace with this app and it’s noisy noise. It has saved me $ several times. I find that I really like being alerted when there are deals nearby (you could turn this off), however ….. I do wish I could CHANGE the sound to something less startling (that cash register sound is loud and jarring).

****NOTE: You CAN change the annoying sound. Read about it, here.

RetailMeNot Coupons is FREE in the iTunes store

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Weekend Distraction: Bookworm

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 7.22.00 AMI hesitated highlighting this game. Why? Because it is so great that I have to imagine that everyone has it already. :)

But, this blog attracts lots of NEW users of the iPhone and/or iPad, and for those newbies …. you are in for a treat!!

Bookworm is an award winning game. Letters drop, and you tap them to make words. As you create words, your score grows. You’re happy and doing fine. Suddenly you see a new block, and notice that it is (gulp) on fire! Now comes the tricky part: You must use that letter before it hits the bottom, or your game is done. One burning tile isn’t too bad. But the longer you play, the more burning tiles appear. Quite a challenge! On this screen shot I waited too long to tap the burning tiles and they are starting to add up. Best to zap them as soon as you see them.

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Bookworm is $1.99 in the iTunes store.

BEWARE!! If you’ve never played this before, you will find it incredibly addicting.

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How to Find the Umlauts, Accents, etc. on your iPhone or iPad keyboard

Over the last several years, “throwback Thursday” has become quite popular.

Although it is really supposed to be about nostalgia (like old photos), I thought I’d stretch the point, and occasionally post an old “how to” on Thursdays, for the benefit of the many new-device-users who have joined our blog.

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It might not happen often, but when you need to find an umlaut (or a similar something), you want it NOW. But where is it on your keyboard?

Here is how you find umlauts and accents on your iPad or iPhone keyboard:

Let’s say you want an “e” with a little accent mark above it. Simply hold your finger on the “e” key, and you will see that several “e” choices appear. Want an umlaut? Touch and hold the “u” and it will be right there. Need an “n” with a tilde? Touch and hold the “n” to see your choices.

Try it. Just stroll through the keyboard, touching each key in turn so you can browse the options. Not every letter has options, of course, but I’m sure you’ll find some surprising ones. Some symbols also have options (try the $ sign for example :) )
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Amazon Settlement is ….. settled. Did you get $?

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 7.46.54 AM“In December 2013, a federal court approved legal settlements by publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks. Those settlements resulted in credits for qualifying Kindle books purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.”

All this legal maneuvering has been simmering for a while, and I was wondering how it was going to come out in the wash.

This morning I received an e-mail from Amazon informing me that I would be receiving a credit on my account for the e-books that I purchased in the latter half of 2010, 2011 and part of 2012.

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If you bought Kindle books during that time frame, and you received this email today … have no fear. It is legit. You didn’t have to do anything to be part of this settlement. It just happened for you. Enjoy!! :)

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I am one of the 4%

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 7.50.56 PMEarlier this year Pew research released the results of several studies regarding the habits of the reading public.

As someone who reads “e-books only” I was curious to see how common (or not) this has become. According to the research, this puts me in a small group of just 4%. Most people who read e-books also read print books.

But me? I stand firmly in that 4%. My eyes prefer the adjustable fonts, the adjustable light, the ease of getting, saving and carrying books. I’ve always been a big reader, but the e-reader (Kindle) simply makes reading even better.

However, when it comes to e-reading in general, once you take away the “exclusive”, the numbers climb. 28% of adults have read an e-book in the past year, and this number continues to rise.

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Half of all the adults in America own either a tablet or an e-reader, and coupled with the stats below, this makes me wonder:
…. if 32% of people own an e-reader, but only 28% have read an e-book, can we assume that about 4% own e-readers that are just collecting dust? (not to be confused with the 4% of us who are e-readers-only!)

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The full article: E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps
Three in ten adults read an e-book last year; half own a tablet or e-reader

Where do you fit? E-reader only? E-reader + print books? or do you (gasp) have an e-reader just languishing at the bottom of a drawer?

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