Using Your Smartphone for Hurricane Sandy

 

Hurricane Sandy is in our midst here on the East Coast. People are panicking, running into Wal-Mart buying all the flashlights, lamp oil and D batteries, not to mention all the bread and milk. There is a reason to be concerned because this hurricane is supposed to be one of the worst. However, it is not the end of the world. There may be flooding outside your home or apartment, but for the most part, have faith that everything will be okay.

I do suppose most of those people who bought all the flashlights Wal-Mart carried did not have a smartphone with flashlight capability. Being an owner of a smartphone, I easily have a powerful flashlight app on my phone. For those of you with modern smartphones, I highly recommend downloading a flashlight app if you have not already done so. The one on my iPhone is quite powerful and lights up a big portion of a room in the dark. This is going to be extremely helpful if the power goes out and you need to maneuver your way through your house and read a book or something to pass time until the power comes back on.

Another thing I highly recommend is using your smartphone less often than you usually do right now as we await Hurricane Sandy. The power may not be out for hours or days, but it is always best to be prepared. So, use your laptop for Facebook and the news if you are not required to go outside and into work or something very important. Just use your laptop right now for anything you usually do on your phone that you can also do on your laptop, besides texting.

Also, you should keep your phone charged before the storm hits. Me, I’m planning to charge my phone each time it drops below 70-80 percent, just to be on the safe side. Also tonight, I am making sure that my phone is at 100 percent charge before I go to sleep. Because during this storm, your phone is really important.

Until the storm affects cell phone towers, The Weather Channel app is very useful in keeping up to date with the latest alerts for your area and it is always important to keep in touch with loved ones to make sure everyone is staying safe. Another helpful app before and during the hurricane is Hurricane by American Red Cross, or a similar hurricane app. This app will give you the latest hurricane alerts for your area, along with helpful information in regards to what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

Below is a news clip I found on YouTube that details some helpful Hurricane and severe weather apps.

 

Social media and its powerful influence in Election 2012

 

I came across this interesting news piece about how social media has impacted the 2012 presidential election and I thought I would share it. Watch the video below and feel free to leave your thoughts about the role of social media in this election!

 

 

Election 2012 on Twitter and Facebook

 

It’s quite interesting how Twitter and Facebook have played such active roles in this election, especially Twitter. There have been so many popular hashtags that have come out of this election, including #Romnesia, #TheRealRomney, #AreYouBetterOff, #BindersFullOfwomen, and #Horsesandbayonets. And Facebook has created groups based on references in the debates, such as a page in support of Big Bird in regards to Mitt Romney’s defunding PBS comment and a page based off of Mitt Romney’s “Binders of women” comment.

Facebook has been pretty abuzz with political memes and political-related Facebook pages sharing tons of information in support of their chosen candidate and against the opposing candidate. The sad thing is these political pages are very proactive, whereas most Facebook users, at least the ones I am friends with, are more apathetic. I probably have only about five Facebook friends out of 192 who have shown active interest in the election in regards to sharing political posts in support of the candidates.

Could this lack of political posting be a sign of voter apathy? Perhaps. I have seen one or two friends who posted about hating politics. Or maybe it’s because they are afraid to voice their own opinions. Facebook can become a nasty place in regards to politics if you strike a chord with the wrong person. This I have learned from experience. Regardless, I still think it is important to let your voice be heard. Don’t be afraid of what others with opposing views will think. Show them that you are your own person who refuses to let your voice be silenced by them.

Social media can be a wonderful and powerful outlet for sharing opinions. I just think that more users need to learn to respect opposing views and not attack posts that go against their beliefs. And if they must engage in a debate on Facebook, do so in a respectful manner and make sure facts are checked before used in an argument.

Most importantly, don’t delete someone just because they share opposing views. I read an article that mentioned that more people have lost friends on Facebook during this election due to their political postings. Yes, postings that are anti-the candidate I support upset me a little. But I keep it to myself and just scoff at them in my head. We just all need to learn to play nicer on social media in regards to the presidential election.

Presidential elections in the age of social media and smartphones

 

I figured I would do more of a political post today after the social media world is abuzz today after last night’s final presidential debate. No, I will not be espousing my political opinions, since this is not a political blog, even though lately I wish I had a political blog to share more of my views beyond Facebook. No, I wanted to talk in general about how the presidential election process has evolved in regards to the public and how we share and consume information now on social media and our smartphones.

This election and the 2008 election really involved the use of social media, which had been a relatively new venue of spreading the word in political campaigns. I think this election has been the most social media-active thus far. I created a Twitter over the summer to finally see what the hype was about, but I just use it to follow politics and my favorite celebrities. If I don’t check up on my Twitter app on my phone for a few days, I come back to more tweets than I could possibly want or have the time to go through. The presidential candidate I am voting for has been tweeting a lot to help voters become the most informed and up to date on what is going on in the election.

In regards to my personal individual use of social media and my smartphone, I have become very interested and passionate about this election. I have been sharing information I find important on my Facebook and have been making my voice heard. I check my CNN news app every day and have shared election-related news articles on Facebook. I also have had quite a few political conversations with friends via text, and have shared a lot of articles with my boyfriend, who shares the same views as I, via apps and the Internet through text messaging.

I have also viewed several political videos via my phone during this election, whereas I otherwise rarely watch videos on my phone. I even watched part of the beginning of the third debate via the CNN app on my phone because I wasn’t at home for the first 10-15 minutes. This I thought was really handy, especially for individuals who may not have cable.

The ability to watch the debate anywhere if you don’t have immediate access to a TV or laptop is definitely a huge plus in the evolving world of technology. Granted, the video wasn’t the best and the picture went out a few times, leaving me with just the sound, but I think that was due to being in a moving car going through varied signal areas.

This election is definitely the most social media, Internet, and smartphone-connected election thus far. Which I feel says a lot about how much technology has evolved and how there are so many more channels of information out there to keep voters more informed than ever.

QR Codes: Utilizing the power of your smartphone

QR codes – many have heard of them and scanned them before, but many probably also haven’t. Simply put, they are quite handy in taking you directly to a certain Web site, survey, etc. Just make sure you have a QR reader app installed and have a smartphone that has the ability to scan barcodes and QR codes, such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy.

Most smartphones today have this capability, especially iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy SIII. But older models, like the Samsung Galaxy Precedent I used to have, lack the capability. For those who don’t know much about QR codes and are unsure of how you can scan and find them, this post is for you. The video below will help you out so you can start utilizing your smartphone more.

 

 

 

 

Distracted walking: How dangerous is texting while walking?

 

To continue the theme this week of smartphone addiction/excessive smartphone usage, I have been thinking about the modern phenomenon of texting while walking. People do it everywhere. I do it a lot. It’s very common today to walk past someone who is texting or checking something on their phone.

But how dangerous is this form of distracted walking? I have almost run into people while texting and walking, and others have almost run into me while they were occupied with their phone.

How about in regards to crossing a cross walk? Many drivers will not stop for pedestrians in a cross walk, unless a red light tells them to do so. In this case, its best to be completely aware of your surroundings for your own safety.

Sure, many of us think we have mastered the multi-tasking art of walking while texting. However, in several circumstances, its best to put down the phone until you reach a place where you can sit down. That text can wait a few minutes sometimes. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, as the old expression says.

Below is an AP news clip I found about texting while walking that really puts things into perspective.

 

 

What are your thoughts on distracted walking? Have you seen or been a victim of a close call while using your phone while walking, such as almost running into something or someone? Or seen bad cross walk behaviors?

Smartphone addiction: Forming an unhealthy habit

 

For this post, I just wanted to add onto my last post about smartphone and technology addiction, which can be called “iDisorder,” and share this informational KPBS San Diego news clip I found on YouTube:

 

 

Feel free to share you thoughts on smartphone addiction. Do you see it in your daily life from others or do you even tend to use your smartphone excessively?

Smartphone addiction in today’s society

 

This past weekend, I read this interesting article on CNN about how three smartphone owners kept diaries for a week about their smartphone addiction. The full article, “800 texts in one week? Diaries of 3 smartphone addicts,” can be found at http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/05/tech/mobile/smartphone-addicts/index.html.

In the article, three smartphone addicts kept track of their smartphone usage during one week, which involved tracking their Facebook usage to how many texts they sent in one week. The text usage by these addicts ranged from 399 to 423 messages sent in one week.

This article got me thinking about my own smartphone usage. I decided to keep track of my own usage over just the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). I sent 179 text messages in those two days alone (granted they were mostly to my boyfriend who currently lives an hour and a half away). If that usage was consistent for a week, I’d be looking at about 626 text messages in a week, which is a lot more than even these smartphone addicts said they sent. However, I think that it’s a possibility that they might have kept their numbers down to appear not so addicted.

So, maybe I text my boyfriend a little too much. We do spend a lot more time apart since he graduated and moved back home, so texting helps us stay better connected so we don’t miss each other as much. I am a little shocked that I may possibly text that much in just one week. However, I do text a lot less during weekdays due to schoolwork and classes, so my estimate is probably off quite a bit.

Looking at Facebook usage, I checked my Facebook news feed about eight times during the weekend. I tend to check Facebook frequently out of short boredom since my phone is right by me most of the time. I left three comments on Facebook, liked five posts, and had one status update over the weekend. I also checked my Twitter feed five times over the two days.

Looking at the rest of my smartphone usage over the weekend, I checked my e-mail three times, checked the weather forecast five times, checked CNN three times, checked TV Guide three times, used Google at least five times, and I listened to music for about 30 minutes.

Below is an NBC Network news clip I found on YouTube related to smartphone addiction in regards to social media, that really can make you think about the presence of your smartphone in your life.

 

 

So, what has my keeping track of my smartphone usage over two days shown me in relation to smartphone addiction? I think I text a little too much and I need to use Facebook and Twitter less. Before I had a smartphone, I know I didn’t text as much and I only checked Facebook two times a day at most to just go through some of my news feed from the day.

I know most of the younger generation today have their phones with them wherever they go, even if it’s just to go into another room for awhile. I don’t remember it being like that for me when I had a non-smartphone, or as I like to call it, a “dinosaur phone.” I would use my phone mainly for casual texting and calling, and suffer through a crappy mobile internet to check my e-mail.

I think that with smartphones, we are facing an information overload having so much available to us at all times, and this makes us retreat to our phones constantly. I have a family member who has always been concerned about excessive cell phone usage, especially when guests come over, and I have always thought she was being a bit extreme at times. I believe now that she had a point in some ways.

Maybe we should try to reduce our smartphone usage, especially if it may get in the way of relationships. Especially when you are having dinner with someone and feel the need to check Facebook or the news while waiting for the food to arrive, instead of giving full attention to the other person. I will admit that I have been guilty of this.

I think maybe a “smartphone detox” could be healthy for all of us once in awhile. Just put your phone away, out of sight, for a few hours, and relax and have full concentration on work or the people you are spending time with. It might make a difference and maybe make you less stressed. As I am writing this, I plan to take my own advice tonight as I am working on a project and relaxing before bed.

The Best Games Apps: Making your phone a fun pocket-size gaming system on the go

 

Games apps are one of the best kind of apps to put on your smartphone. It’s nice to be able to play a game on your phone while you are waiting for an appointment or are on a break at work with nothing to do. They also make for nice little stress-relievers when you just need a break from your hectic life.

My favorite games app has always been Angry Birds, which I’m sure everyone has heard of, if not played before. I will admit it does get frustrating sometimes on some of the more difficult levels, but it’s such a nice, simple game to enjoy. It feels like a tiny accomplishment each time I finally kill all the pigs in a hard level. There is a free version of Angry Birds, but I prefer the $0.99 version because of the annoying ads at the top.

I also like Angry Birds Space. It’s just like the regular Angry Birds, except this time the birds and pigs are in space. And gravity plays a role in killing the pigs, with the birds having to orbit what I assume is a meteor to kill them. There is a free version of Angry Birds Space or you can get it for $0.99.

Plants vs. Zombies is another really good game. It’s like a tower defense game where you must stop zombies from entering your house with a variety of zombie-killing plants at your disposal. I will admit that I rarely play the mobile version after defeating the adventure mode on my laptop, but it’s still a fun little game to play on the phone as well. The game does cost $2.99, but when I downloaded it I was addicted to it so I thought it was worth it.

Another fun zombie-killing game is Stupid Zombies. It is very much like Angry Birds in terms of strategy, so just picture Angry Birds but with a human killing zombies instead of birds killing pigs. There is a free version and a paid version for $0.99, but just like Angry Birds, I didn’t like the ads in the free version.

Temple Run is another fun game to play on your smartphone. It’s kind of like an Indiana Jones-style game, where your character has to outrun these demon-type vultures. It has really good graphics on a smartphone, especially an iPhone with its Retina display. You can tilt your phone at various parts of the game in order to help your character avoid falling to his death as he runs. Temple Run is a free game, with no annoying ads during the game.

Fruit Ninja is another fun, addictive game for smartphones. It’s very simple: just slash all the fruit as fast as you can, all the while trying to avoid accidentally hitting the bombs. This was one game my boyfriend was addicted to playing on my phone until he got his own smartphone. Fruit Ninja has a free version and a paid version for $0.99.

Another game that is fun to play to pass time is Bubble Mania. It’s a cute little bubble-popping strategy game, where you pop bubbles of the same color to save these baby critters in time.