Thursday, July 10, 2014

 

Friday Fragments


The Girl had a sleepover with a few friends earlier this week, to celebrate turning ten.  As part of the evening, I shepherded them to a nearby spot outdoors to capture lightning bugs and other interesting creatures.  An exchange between TG and Her Friend, whom I’ll call HF:

HF: Look what I caught!  He’s pretty!

TG: He is!

HF: I’ll take him home with me.

TG: You should let him go.

HF: Why?

TG: If you love something, set it free.

HF (confused): But I don’t love it!

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We’ve hit that increasingly-brief time of year when scheduling meetings involves first checking everyone’s vacation schedule.  It’s a sort of calendar-hopscotch.  With the “safe” window for vacations getting shorter every year, the few weeks that are safe get pretty popular, which makes meetings during those times a bit of a challenge.

Checking references is tough, too.  We’re trying to make a few hires, but calling academic references in July gets spotty.  Public Service Message: if you’re serving as a reference for someone, check your messages from time to time.  Seriously.

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I’ve been a fan of Molly Wood’s since her podcasting days.  Her piece this week on the insidious upward creep of costs for online subscriptions is spot-on, and sort of unnerving.  

Online subscriptions are clearly built for single users.  That’s fine, if that describes you, but it creates weird issues in families.  Both TB and TG like to listen to music before bed, but if one is using my subscription service, the other can’t.  Most don’t even offer ‘family’ plans.

Sometimes I wonder about the blind spots in tech.  Samsung’s new ad about “wall huggers” made me laugh out loud, because it’s the first time I’ve seen an acknowledgement of the single greatest pain point with smartphones.  If you haven’t seen it, it shows people with iphones tethered to power outlets while they use their phones, suffering the various indignities that come with parking next to outlets in public places.  The Samsung phones supposedly offer better battery life.  

Some phones may be mildly faster than others, or have slightly better cameras.  But honestly, the major pain point isn’t the extra millisecond waiting for an app to open.  It’s watching the phone become an expensive paperweight by mid-afternoon.  I chose my current phone entirely because it has a removable battery, and it was easy to find aftermarket extended-life batteries.  As long as iphones don’t have that option, I’m steering clear.

Here’s hoping that between Molly Wood’s latest and Samsung’s latest, some of the folks in tech start paying attention to the user pain points that actually exist.  I enjoy my gadgets as much as the next person, but only when they work.  I’m guessing I’m not alone in that.

Comments:
I saw the entire teenage subset of a family group sitting on the floor near a wall outlet in an airport recently, and it looked like they were using a compact power bar to share one outlet across innumerable phones and gaming devices.

Add that to your travel check list.
 
There are some "family plans" for streaming music.

Rdio's is $18 for the first two streams, and $5 for each additional.

And if you get cell service through AT&T, Beats offers 5 streams for $15.

An even cheaper option, if you're using any device larger than a phone, is the free tier of Spotify, which nowadays works like the primo tiers (you can pick specific songs), just with ads.
 
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