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Technology

I Miss My Fit-Bit

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by Amy Ephron

fitbitamy ephron colorI have a curious on-line/tech dependency on my husband. I do not have an iPod – therefore I am totally dependent on him at times (on road trips, for example) for “his” music choices. His daughter tried to fix this for me and loaded some of my favorite albums onto his iPod which was very nice of her but his songs still outnumber mine about 50 to 1. I do not have an Amazon account. That’s not true – I do have an Amazon account but I can’t ever seem to get it to work. I am constantly emailing him links to things (books, mostly) with a plaintive email that says, “Pls buy this for me. Thanks.”

I am, in fact, a hopeless on-line shopper. Every time I shop on-line something goes wrong. It doesn’t arrive. It is the wrong size. I thought I had success the other day on E-Bay. I bought four curtains for a house we’re presently renting as there were no curtains in the office. The ad said in its headline: Two Sets. For the record, "Ms. eBay Retail Offerer" a set is two curtains. So I thought I was buying four panels which is what I needed. In fairness, the somewhat complex paragraph I checked after only one set of curtains arrived, said two panels, but the headline was completely deceptive and, of course, her ad said, “Final Sale. No Returns.”

I am also somewhat tech-deficient. I don’t have a Kindle (but I don’t really want one.) I don’t have an iPad (about which I’m somewhat more ambivalent.) I do not have a GPS and my relationship with Siri is fractious at best. But my husband bought me a FitBit a month ago. Let’s not discuss the fact that it was an anniversary present (read: jewelry preferable) but for a moment I felt free. I actually had a device that synched to my computer that was just about me. It told me how many steps I took each day. He thought it was remarkable that I could collect 10,000 steps and never leave the house but other people who know me and know that I can’t sit still for very long didn’t think it was that strange.

Seven for iOS7

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by David Dinsmore

ios-7-concept-simply-zestyMy look at the top features I’m loving in the new iOS 7 update to my iPhone 5.

Notification Center with Weather and Stocks – great to wake up in the morning and even with the screen locked you can swipe from the top and get a little summary of the day’s happenings. This screen just keeps getting better with each update.

Control Strip with Light and Calculator – They added a new pop up when you swipe from the bottom up and you get quick access to a calculator (awesome), Flashlight (super handy), Wifi, Bluetooth, Timer, etc. Again it works when the screen is locked so you can easily use the flashlight to find your way without having to enter your lock screen code.

Folders – Am loving the new look and multiple pages for icons. You can now store unlimited apps inside a folder. It shows 9 on the screen at a time, swipe right to left and see the next 9.

Safari Rocks – Much faster now with a great interface for open tabs, the ability to enter search items in the address bar, quick way to send a link via text, e-mail or social sites

My Thoughts on the iPad Mini

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by David Dinsmore

ipadminiThe Mini has arrived and it's a big leap forward.

Having used some of the other 7-inch tablets on the market I wasn't really excited when I heard Apple had decided to crowd the market with their version.

Thankfully I ordered one anyway and I'm very impressed by what theyve accomplished. Ever since the very first iPhone, Ive been underwhelmed by Apples annoucement presentations, but overwhelmed when I finally got each new device in my hand.

It is so light that you don't even think you are holding anything. This makes it so much easier to be the around-the-house iPad. Laying outside typing an article like I'm doing now, surfing the web, or reading in bed are perfect activities for this new device.

For daily work I'd still stick with my 9-inch iPad but I can see where this will fit perfectly in my life.

All That's Certain Is Death & Technology

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by Michael Barrie

Johnny CarsonLast month, I received a call from Johnny Carson, a man for whom I was once privileged to work. There was no doubt that it was Johnny because as my iPhone trilled its canned, bluesy theme, the screen lit up with the contact photo I had once assigned him, a characteristic pose I found on a postcard in the Paley Center Gift Shop. He's at his Tonight Show desk, probably early 1980's, wide-lapelled, his forefinger pistol-pointing to his temple in mock suicide. A call from Mr. C was not an everyday event, and even more rare since his death seven years ago. As it turned out, the King of Late Night wasn't phoning from beyond with a riff on Mitt Romney's car elevator -- in fact, as you may have guessed, he wasn't calling at all. It was his nephew Jeff, who now runs the store at Carson productions, one of the phone numbers I'd long ago entered for his uncle.

Which brings me, name-droppingly, and in a roundabout way, to a habit I have -- if repeated inaction can be classified a habit -- of not deleting the dead. Nothing is as certain as death and taxes -- except on my iPhone 4S where the Reaper takes a permanent holiday.

The New iPad

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by David Dinsmore

ipad3It is no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I received a 3rd Generation iPad on Friday. One thing I immediately noticed in the media upon its release, is how so many people were quick to say it wasn't that big of an upgrade. They could not be more wrong. Late in the day, I heard people say they saw Walmart had them in stock so they must not be selling. People don't lineup at Walmart or Target for an iPad. They go to an Apple store. Smart people order it in advance and have FedEx deliver it right to their house. Why waste your gas and time?

Upon first perusal it looks the same as the iPad2. I say, why change perfection.  Under the hood I think there's a lot of amazing features that have been added to this version that make the upgrade worthwhile.

The Screen: It initially looks like what's on the iPad2; however, it will quickly make you remember the day when you first saw HDTV and realized you could never go back to a regular television. It's even more apparent if you compare the new to the old.  Even two days later it's amazing to see they were able to get such a crystal-clear screen inside this small device.

Pinterest (uh) What is it Good For? Absolutely Something

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by Ann Nichols

pinterestAs you may know, I like to view my very-nearly-fifty-year-old self as all hip and early adopterish. I have an unnatural dread of youngsters snickering as I hold up my new-fangled thingamabobber and look at it over the rims of my glasses, saying something like “tell me again, what button I push to see the grandkids in their space pod?” So when I started reading about Pinterest, I begged an invitation and checked it out.

As it turns out, Pinterest can be a useful tool or a waste of time and energy, or both. I am finding it tremendously useful, but it took some time and tinkering to sift out what I really wanted to see and “pin” to my virtual pin boards. At first, I saw no point in looking through hundreds and thousands of pictures and picking those that struck my fancy. A lot of what I saw seemed like nothing more than an extension of the bumper sticker or the Facebook profile - one more way to show off a little and tell the world that one had read (and liked) “Bleak House,” or spent time in Uruguay. There were also hundreds of cute animal pictures, cute kid pictures, and inspirational sayings of various kinds, things that might be diverting for two seconds but I am unlikely to “pin” and revisit anything along the lines of LOLCats.

The beauty of a good “pin,” though, is that there is a narrative portion that can tell you whether a picture is just “for pretty,” or whether one can click through to a recipe for that cupcake, or directions for making wall sconces from Dollar Store funnels. For me, the recipes and how-tos have been amazingly useful. I admit that I “collect” pretty pictures of things that I like, moons, owls, birds, flowers, and Paris street scenes…images that make me smile when I am stuck someplace for fifteen minutes and want a reminder of the beauty in the world. That’s good, but that’s the fluff.

I want my KX-T (GA650B) !!

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by Laraine Newman

phone.jpgWhen was it ok to just blithely accept that products are now engineered for obsolescence? Case in point: our stinkin’ Panasonic cordless phones!!!

We were perfectly happy with our KX-TGA650B Panasonic cordless phone when one day we found one of the handsets sprawled on the living room floor, like eviscerated lion prey. The antennae had been mangled by our dearly departed dog Satchmo. Here’s the evil part; not only had that model become obsolete, but once you’ve lost the use of one handset, you have to replace the whole effing system!

Now we have the Panasonic KX-TGA939T. We have 4 around the house and I hate it! The handset in my office, where I do all my work, is haunted. At first it was just an irritating quirk it had where if my ear was close enough to the receiver, my mouth wasn’t close enough for people to hear me and vice versa. So, my husband suggested I put all my calls on speaker. Personally, I think putting people on speaker makes everyone an automatic douche bag but what was I gonna do? And, it was no solution. The quality of the sound began to erode that way too!

What's Apple Up to?

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by Dave Dinsmore

apple_logo_rainbow_6_color.jpgFor geeks everywhere today is the day we finally see the device we have all been talking about for the last year. For the last week I’ve seen prediction pools where you get 1 point for each correct answer. Seven or ten inches? Verizon or ATT? Stylus or finger?

All these questions and many more will be answered today at 10am when Steve Jobs strolls on stage in SF and announces to the world the product many of us didn’t think we needed in our daily life.

I’m the tech guy for all my friends so in recent weeks they have turned to me and asked what I think will be announced. “No idea what it will do or how it will work,” I reply, “but I’m saving my money because I’ll order it on the first day.” No computer company has made a tablet anyone wants, but then again no one got a phone right until Steve Jobs pulled that iPhone out of his pocket.

Checking It Twice

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by Ann Nichols

baguette-incident-5251.jpgThis is not about making a Christmas list, although I should do that, I guess. It is about my need to check and monitor things constantly, as if I were the Chief of the Baguette Patrol for a supercollider. Not all things. I do not monitor the dust balls in the corners of my dining room, the balance in my checking account, or Sam’s grades.

These things I consider on a need-to-know basis; if company is coming, I vacuum, if I get a menacing call from Comcast, I check the bank account, and if Sam claims he has no homework for the third day in a row, I check his grades using the magic of Power School. I know people who are very concerned about one or all of the above, which is why they have cleaner houses, better cash flow and more disciplined children than I do.

The things I am compelled to monitor include my e-mail, Facebook, my blog stats, and (when I am away from my computer) my Blackberry. I cannot walk by the computer without looking at my Inbox, deleting all irrelevant items, and (unless I am dragged away by a raging family member) answering the legitimate messages.

"What the He'll??"

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by Alison Grambs

iphone4.jpg Like most Americans, I like to complain.

Whatever has irked me - be it a problem at work, a squabble with my parents, a politician’s latest scandal, a friend’s thoughtless remark, or just a spontaneous burst of exasperation with my life in general, I relish in the rant.  Also like most Americans, when I’m having a bad day, I think it only fair to let everyone know it – a goal readily met thanks to the wonders of text messaging technology.  Within seconds I am able to disseminate my missives of misery to anyone I deem worthy, invoking references to Satan’s domain to get my point across effectively.
 
“WHO THE HELL DOES HE THINK HE IS?!”

“WELL, SHE CAN JUST GO TO HELL AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED!”

“WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?!”

Yes, it feels good to vent with the tip of my finger.  Only trouble is, I have the new iPhone and it doesn’t believe in Hell.

Restaurant News

A Night in Provence via Tavern LA
Los Angeles
by Lisa Dinsmore

tavernwinecheese.jpgAs a devoteé of all things wine, I am on the constant lookout for events that allow me to expand my palate without hurting my pocketbook. It's rare to find me at large "Grand Tastings" because...

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Balthazar
New York
by Joseph Erdos

balthazar1v.jpgI have always wanted to eat at Balthazar. After many years of fruitlessly trying to go to Balthazar, I finally succeeded. Maybe it was the way the restaurant teased me over these past few years...

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The Apalachicola Seafood Grill and The Piggly Wiggly
Florida
by Ann Nichols

floridagrill.jpg On the second day of our Florida trip, we dined at one of our favorite, always good, “coming home” restaurants in Apalachicola: The Apalachicola Seafood Grill. Located in the heart of “downtown”...

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The Mountain Room
Northern California
by Scott R. Kline

yosemite.jpgThe Mountain Room restaurant at Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite National Park in California is a great place to have a burger after a hike. If you have never visited Yosemite, there are plenty of...

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