Facebook etiquette: Do’s and don’ts

Everyone enjoys seeing funny, thought-provoking, and interesting posts in their Facebook news feed. But there are still some people out there who don’t understand the best ways to use Facebook. I wanted to write a post about my personal do’s and don’ts for Facebook posts, because I see posts all the time that the writers may not realize are not the best way to communicate on Facebook. I apologize in advance if anyone who actually does these things is offended. I just wanted to air out my views and maybe help some people in the process.

Don’ts:

1. Don’t air out your dirty laundry on Facebook. There is nothing more unattractive than calling someone rude names on your Facebook page. Facebook is not a place to trash-talk an ex or someone you used to date. That kind of stuff is meant for a more private setting, not for everyone on your Facebook to see. I’m sure a lot of us have coworkers and colleagues as Facebook friends. Think about how they will suddenly think of you outside of Facebook. Images can get tarnished by trash-talking on Facebook.

2. Don’t post disgusting/disturbing images to prove a point. Just because you are a strong animal rights supporter doesn’t mean everyone on your Facebook needs to see pictures of dead animals. Just because you are anti-abortion doesn’t mean everyone wants to see pictures of aborted fetuses/photo-shopped images of very tiny babies as they would supposedly look like in the womb. Sure, everyone has a right to share different political viewpoints on Facebook, but pictures speak louder than words and can be very upsetting to others.

3. Don’t try to bring drama to Facebook. I see these inconspicuous posts on Facebook a lot that are obviously targeted at a single individual as a way for the writer to lash out at them without outright using their name. Keep the drama in real life and off Facebook, a very public platform, folks.

4. Don’t update everyone on Facebook as to your hourly mundane doings. No one needs to know that you are off to take a shower. That’s too much information that most of your Facebook friends did not need to know. Facebook should be a way to communicate what’s interesting in your day, not to let people know things you do every single day. People love to read new updates about what’s going on with you, not what everyone else will be doing at some point that day.

Do’s:

1. Do share funny and cute pictures that make you laugh or go “aww.” Everyone needs a little humor and cuteness in their life, especially if they’re having a bad day and something they see shared on Facebook cheers them up a little. So next time you see a funny comic or meme or an adorable picture of a dog or cat, share it.

2. Do share interesting, insightful videos and news articles. I personally enjoy learning something new, and I really think highly of others who aren’t afraid to share news stories they find important to them and their beliefs. Don’t be afraid that half of your Facebook friends have opposing views as to the topic. Post for the ones who probably share your views, and maybe even to get those with opposing views to look at the topic a little differently. Facebook can be a very powerful tool to inform.

3. Do keep others up to date about important events/accomplishments. I personally have a lot of family members on Facebook who I rarely ever see anymore and I know they appreciate being kept up to date on how I am doing, and I feel the same way when I read similar posts by them. It makes family members and old friends still feel close to you even if you no longer see each other in person.

Things to do before going away for the holidays: Smartphone version

Christmas and New Year’s will soon be here, and I’m sure many will be traveling to spend time with their families. This special time calls for less technology interference and more quality time with loved ones who you may not see as often as you would wish. So, make a vow to keep your phone turned off or on silent as you spend time with family after you wish the ones you will not see a Merry Christmas.

Besides Christmas Day, make a vow to use your phone a lot less the days you are visiting loved ones. Smartphones, with the information overload of constant e-mails, news, etc., can really cause stress, whether it be conscious or subconscious stress. Vacation or personal time away from work should be the one time you are not stressed over even the little things.

Here are some tips on how to fully enjoy quality time with loved ones during the holidays:

1. If you’re not turning your phone off, at least turn your mail off. Frequent e-mails can equal stress when you are trying to get away from stress for awhile. Set your mail notifications to fetch manually so you can check your e-mail at your convenience and not be bothered any other time.

2. Pay your phone bill and take care of other important responsibilities before the holidays. You want to have fewer worries and stress, right? This will help you out a lot. So take care of e-mails you have been procrastinating sending and make sure bills are paid that may be due around the holidays.

3. Get all your Facebook news feed browsing and status updating in before heading out to spend time with family on Christmas. This really gives your loved ones your undivided attention, and if you are like me, you do not get to see your family a lot during the year due to a busy schedule.

4. Read all of your news app(s) Christmas morning before spending time with family if you are a news junkie who checks their phone a couple times a day to read the news. Ditto with checking your e-mail so you will not have to worry about it later. I doubt anyone will be looking for any important e-mails on Christmas Day, but just in case.

5. Keep your smartphone with you to capture Christmas memories with its ever-handy camera. Vow to take a lot of pictures, because the holidays are a special family time that you will always want to remember. Also, when you get back from your trip, back up those pictures through Dropbox or through your USB cord to your personal computer.

Hope these tips come in handy as everyone enjoys the holidays! I will be taking a hiatus from this blog until New Year’s is over, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Kindle: The best e-reader app for your smartphone

Last week, I had a busy schedule with finals and whatnot, so that is why I have not posted again until now. This blog was created originally for my Digital Journalism class, which ended last week. I plan to continue this blog, because I enjoy sharing my knowledge and insights, along with helping both people who are fairly new to smartphones or have had smartphones for awhile, but enjoy learning new tricks and tips.

Today’s post is about Amazon’s Kindle apps for smartphones. Amazon’s free Kindle app is a must have app that trumps similar apps like iBooks, in terms of book prices and quantity of books available.

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Yesterday on Amazon’s Kindle, I bought two books for my professional project (equivalent of a master’s thesis but more like an internship, not a 100-page paper). I need to read the books over my 5-week winter break to prepare me for the project, so I didn’t want to bother waiting for them to arrive in the mail.

The Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for Android apps are very handy. Let’s face it, the book is a dying breed and the age of e-books is upon us. I have rarely used an actual library while in college and graduate school. For a research paper today, scholarly and online articles are all you really need most of the time.

This was the first time I have ever ordered the Kindle versions of textbooks, but I definitely do not regret it. I can now read my readings anywhere I am, without the hassle of packing textbooks. Below is an example of how your e-book library will look on the iPhone’s Kindle app. So far, I only have the two social media public relations textbooks and two free classic books, “Persuasion” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

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Looking at prices, Kindle is even more worth downloading. My one textbook cost about $5 more on iBooks. Plus, you do not have to pay shipping and handling if you buy the Kindle version, which saves you a few dollars. Overall, I probably saved about $10 buying the one textbook through Kindle.

Unfortunately, the Kindle app on my iPhone does not let me access the selection of e-books I can buy. I have to get on Amazon through my computer’s Internet or my mobile browser to browse and purchase books. This does give iBooks a clear advantage. Through iBooks, you can browse the e-book selection directly through the app on your phone.

However, Kindle is the better e-book app because it is universal, meaning you can read books you bought on Kindle on your PC or Mac computer, your iPhone or Android phone, iPad or Android tablet, and a Kindle device if you own one. iBooks appears to be only available on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod.

The future of text messaging: 911 via text

 

Looking through the technology news today on CNN.com, I stumbled across an article about 911 finally being available via text messaging in 2014. Yes, that’s right, by 2014, you will be able to quickly send a text to 911 in an emergency. This really shows how society keeps changing to adapt to the latest technology.

On the other hand, this also shows how slowly parts of society are adapting to modern technology. SMS texting is a 20-year-old technology. 911 is a critical service, and I believe that emergency call centers should have adapted to this technology before now. What about an individual whose house is being broken into, but they do not want to alert the intruder of their whereabouts for fear of violence? Text messaging would be the best quiet solution, not to mention the fastest.

In today’s age of technology, we can text almost anyone because most people have cell phones. Heck, even doctors use their phones to look up medical information. Yet 911 has not been available via text messaging yet? It’s about time access to 911 catches up to the 21st century.

According to the article, ” 911 text messaging service coming in 2014,” writer Heather Kelly says that the top four U.S.wireless carriers have agreed to support text-to-911. This service will not support third-party text messaging apps and will not work when a user is roaming. The top four carriers will make the text-to-911 feature available by May 15, 2014.

Once the carriers have set up this new feature, it will take some additional time for emergency response centers to receive the proper equipment and training before the feature will be up and working. This is definitely another step in the right direction, and I am pleased to see how technology continues to evolve toward a future of limitless possibilities.

To read the full article, go to http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/07/tech/mobile/fcc-carriers-announce-text-to-911/index.html.

 

Safari vs. Google Chrome: Which browser is better for iOS?

 

Having a good mobile Internet browser on your smartphone is a must. Some browsers have more features and work better for some people versus the stock Internet browsers that come with your phone. For iPhone owners, Safari is the primary browser and there is no way of changing the default settings so that internet links sent via text or links in apps can open in another browser.

Despite this somewhat annoying restriction, you can still download a different browser for viewing your favorite Web sites. I personally prefer Google Chrome over Safari.

For starters, Google Chrome syncs with your desktop bookmarks if you have Google Chrome on your personal computer. This is my favorite feature – the ability to access my laptop’s Internet bookmarks anywhere I am.

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Chrome’s ability to sync bookmarks saves you the time and hassle of having to add all your favorites on your mobile browser. Also, if you add more bookmarks on your computer after installing the mobile Chrome browser, those bookmarks will automatically sync to Chrome on your phone (See above picture).

Another feature I like about mobile Chrome is that pages seem to load faster in the Chrome browser than they do in the Safari browser. Nothing is more annoying when you need to look up something quick on the go and the page takes forever to load, which I had happen when I used to solely use Safari. There are still certain pages that take forever to load in Chrome, but those are just large Web sites that lack a mobile version.

The one feature I do prefer in Safari is there are more sharing options for Web sites. Chrome’s sharing options are limited to Google+, E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.

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With Safari, I have the additional options of text messaging someone the link of a Web site, adding bookmarks directly on one of my home screens for faster access, etc. (See above picture for Safari’s Web site sharing options and actions.) Being able to easily share a link of a news article or Web site with a friend is important to me.

Despite the limited sharing options of Chrome, it is still the better Internet browser on the iPhone, in my opinion. Speed and access to bookmarks anywhere you go are must have features for a good mobile browser.

Instagram: Amazing app or over-hyped app?

 

I’m sure most of you have heard of Instagram. It’s on most “best apps” lists and a lot of people post Instagram photos to Facebook. I had the app for a while, then I later removed it after cleaning up my apps. I have just recently re-installed the app. I removed it because I didn’t use it that much after the initial awe over the photo effects to make my photos prettier. I’m in the middle when it comes to whether it is a truly amazing photography app or just an over-hyped app with limited effects.

Initially, it seemed like a pretty cool app. It turned bland photos into something more special with its several photo effects. But I found the amount of special effects to be quite limited. So, I decided to download another app that people raved about in “best apps” lists: Camera+. Granted, Camera+ cost 99 cents. However, I found Camera+ to have a lot more effects than Instagram, and I felt that the effects it produced gave photos a much better appearance.

I know Instagram is more than just putting special effects on photos. It’s more like a photo-sharing social network that is about browsing, liking, and commenting on other Instagram users’ awe-inspiring photos, which can give others some creative ideas for their own pictures. It helps us find that lost photographer inside of us.

I love taking pictures, and Instagram, along with Camera+, made me want to take more pictures of pretty sights in nature, such as pictures of a lake or a sunset. But the photographer in me comes out more in the summer, which is another reason I didn’t find Instagram to be useful to me right now. Overall, Instagram is a good photography/social media app, but I feel that people who are very interested in photography will find it to be more of a gem of an app than casual picture-takers.

To get an idea of how Instagram can really beautify your pictures, I have included some nature pictures I took last summer that I made look better with Instagram.

creek

mountains

sunset

Creating more free space on your smartphone

 

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When you manage space on your phone effectively and have a good amount of GB space, you can afford to store a lot of photos and songs like me. As you can tell from the above screenshot, I still have 5 GB available for more photos, videos, songs, and applications. From forums I have read, keeping 10 percent of your internal space free seems to be the best rule of thumb to ensure that your phone runs smoothly.

So, are you running out of room for apps and pictures on your phone? Afraid your phone will start working slower with not much space available? I’ve been there with my old Android phone that didn’t come with enough space to begin with. I have a few helpful tips that will make sure that your phone has more available space again.

First of all, music takes up a lot of space on your phone. If you have an Android phone that you use an SD card for, just keep all of your music on your SD card that is at least 8 GB. Don’t add your entire music collection on your phone unless your music collection is small or you can afford to use that much space for your music.

I personally have 574 songs on my 16 GB iPhone 4s. I added my 46 favorite music albums, which I realize is a lot. However, since I manage the space on my phone effectively, I can keep all 46 albums on my phone with a good amount of space still available.

One of the biggest space hogs are videos. Just don’t take super long videos on your phone and you should be okay. I limit my videos to 20-30 seconds max when possible. There’s no need for a 3-minute video of your cat on your phone. Videos really take up a lot of space, which I learned early on when I took a couple 2-minute videos. Also, just minimize how many videos you take. I only have 11 videos on my phone, where the longest video is 1:34.

Another space hog is having a lot photos stored on your phone. If you are like me, you don’t want to delete any photos from your mobile photo library unless they were taken for a temporary project or just to send to a friend to share an interesting sight.

But if it comes down to it, you can always move your photos to your computer and have them saved in the handy application called Dropbox. Luckily, I have mastered the art of keeping enough space available on my phone to not have to worry about my photos. As of right now, I have 164 photos in my camera roll on my iPhone.

As long as you install Dropbox on both your phone and computer, you can still view your photos on your phone. This is thanks to your photos being saved in the “cloud,” which simply means your photos will be there anytime you open your Dropbox app, but they won’t take up internal space on your phone.

Get rid of unnecessary apps to free more space. We have all probably added a lot of apps when we first got our phones because we were excited to have all the best apps available on our phones. But do you really use all of those apps now? Go through your apps and delete the ones you have only used about once or twice a month.

Sometimes deleting apps won’t make much of a difference, but if you have a phone with low memory space, deleting apps can really help. If you have an Android phone, make sure you have all SD-movable apps on your SD card. There are apps out there that will help you discover how much internal space you can free with an SD card, such as App 2 SD.

 

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Look in your usage section in your general settings or storage settings to see how big an app is in MB (see above picture). This gives you a good idea of which apps are taking up the most space and which of those bigger apps can be removed if you are low on internal space.

When I first got my iPhone, I added a lot of apps that I no longer use because I don’t have the time to mess with them and/or they don’t appeal to me anymore. These apps included Instagram, StumbleUpon, FML, Temple Run, along with several others. For me, I rarely have time to mess with games apps on my phone anymore, so I deleted the free ones I downloaded that I no longer play.

Another handy tip is to delete “duplicate” apps. These apps are apps that you have similar apps of on your phone, such as multiple news apps. Flipboard is a great app to view all your favorite news sources in one place. I still keep CNN because I like having one full-featured app of my favorite news source.

Siri vs. Galaxy: Which virtual assistant does a better job?

 

My boyfriend has the Samsung Galaxy SIII, so a few weeks ago he let me compare his phone’s voice assistant for a future blog post. Galaxy, to the iPhone’s assistant, Siri. I ran a few tests on each to see how they fared compared to each other, wondering if there were any real differences on how “smart” these smartphone virtual assistants really are.

 

Movie showtimes: Siri took me right to the showtimes at the nearest theater when I asked for the movie showtimes of “Silent Hill: Revelation” that night. Galaxy asked if I would like to do a Web search for the showtimes. Winner: Clearly Siri.

Movie ratings and reviews: Curious as to whether movie critics rated “Silent Hill: Revelation” highly or poorly, I asked both virtual assistants how good the movie was. Galaxy replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the answer. Would you like me to search the Web?” Siri, on the other hand, gave me the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ ratings. Winner: Siri.

App launching: I asked both Siri and Galaxy to open the CNN app for me. They both launched the app right away. Winner: Tie.4

Voice-to-text translation: I asked both virtual assistants to write a text message for me to see if one was less “smart” when it came to accurate translation. They both accurately translated what I wanted to say in a message that was ready to send via text. Winner: Tie.

Facebook posting: I asked both Siri and Galaxy to write a Facebook status for me. Siri immediately composed my status for me and asked if I was ready to post it. Galaxy required permissions from the S Voice app before it could post my status, which was a bit annoying. Winner: Siri.

Simple facts: I know that Siri pulls from Wolfram Alpha for facts, such as presidents and ages of celebrities, but I wasn’t sure how well Galaxy performed with this. So I asked both a random question (“Who was the 40th president?”) and they both answered promptly, pulling information from Wolfram Alpha.

Sports scores: Since sports scores is a new thing Siri can look up, I wondered if Galaxy was up to speed yet. Turns out “she” wasn’t and asked if I wanted “her” to perform a Web search. Siri, on the other hand, gave me the direct score of team I had asked about from the previous weekend’s game.

Weather forecast: When I asked Galaxy about the weather that day, “she” gave me the overall forecast for the day with the lows and highs, along with the current temperature. Siri not only gave me the current temperature, but also the hourly forecast. Siri also answered in a quirky way,” Don’t forget your rain coat.” Winner: Siri. Because who does not love being told by their phone to not forget their rain gear, with the added bonus of a close look at the next few hours.

Response time: When I was doing my tests, I noticed that Galaxy seemed slow on certain tasks. So, I asked both assistants to open an app for me at the same time. It only took Siri a few quick seconds, while there was a definite lag in response from Galaxy.

 

Overall winner: Siri. The Samsung Galaxy SIII may be the iPhone’s stiff competition, but its virtual assistant does not compare to Siri’s speed, abilities, and wit.

 

Society’s dependence on technology

 

Upon browsing my Facebook news feed this evening, I came across the trailer to this film called “Connected” via the media site Upworthy.  Everything that was mentioned in the trailer definitely resonates with me. Especially after the day I spent without using my phone. Below is the trailer for “Connected,” which is insightful into the modern dilemma of Internet connectivity.

 

 

Society has become very dependent on smartphones and anxiety is one of the negative consequences. Don’t get me wrong, I love my smartphone and I think that smartphones were one of the greatest inventions in my time.

However, we do need to see the bigger picture and stop to smell the roses, so to speak. We are constantly connected and it has a negative effect sometimes when it comes to the time we spend with friends and family. We just need to learn to find the balance between being connected and being completely present to fully enjoy the time we spend with others.

I have included the first film short of “Connected” below. Other film shorts from “Connected” can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/connectedthefilm.

 

A day without my smartphone

From yesterday afternoon until this afternoon, I went 24 hours without using my phone. I did this voluntarily, not because my phone was dying and I didn’t have my charger with me. I wanted to spend quality time with my boyfriend without the distraction of my phone, and to see what a whole day without my smartphone would be like.

It was a liberating experience. I felt less anxious and stressed. It felt good to ignore any texts or calls (which I knew wouldn’t be pressing) that I would otherwise reply to right away out of a sense of obligation.

I gave my boyfriend more of my undivided attention and just lived in the moment fully, truly enjoying the day with no commitments beyond the time I was spending at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. It was quite a relief not being practically tied to my smartphone.

During those 24 hours, I modified some of my smartphone-reliant habits. Instead of relying on my phone for the time, I put on my watch that I only wear to tell time at work. Instead of bothering with news apps, I was fine just watching “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and “The Daily Show.”

I only got on Facebook on a computer once in those 24 hours to show my boyfriend a funny post I had seen before. I didn’t even peruse my news feed on Facebook. Instead of having my phone to set an alarm for the morning, I relied on myself to get up at a decent time. I got up only 10 minutes after I usually have been getting up in the morning. Again, I had nothing important to attend to that day, so I didn’t need too be up at a certain time. As for e-mail, I checked it once the next morning on the computer. It felt kind of nice checking my e-mail on my own time and not being constantly notified of new e-mail.

I did get a little anxious to finally use my phone again about an hour before my 24 hours were up. I anxiously awaited checking any missed calls, texts, or e-mails. But other than that, the day without using my smartphone was quite a pleasant experience where I felt more calm and happy.

I believe that being constantly connected to so much information does subconsciously stress us out. Several hours, or even a day, without using a smartphone can be quite a beneficial experience.

As a result of this experience, I have changed my notification settings on my phone. I turned off notifications for Facebook and I set my e-mail to fetch manually. I think it will prove to be less stressful to just check my e-mail on my own time. I think it will also prove to be less invasive (quality time-wise) to check Facebook for notifications on my own time, too.

Smartphones are a great invention, but if we let them, they can become too invasive and cause some anxiety and stress.