Tag Archives: smart phones

Anyone with a smart phone can be a ‘journalist’

A CVS pharmacy store manager is being investigated for questioning the authenticity of an African-American customer’s coupon.

A clown who berated a woman for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt, claiming that Puerto Ricans aren’t “Americans” has been charged with a hate crime.

A guy called the cops because a black woman was swimming in a public pool.

What do these incidents have in common? They all were recorded by people with “smart phones,” the devices that also serve as cameras/recording devices.

Dear reader, this is one of the many outcomes of social media and therein lies a valuable lesson that still gets lost on too many people.

Ignoramuses who choose to mistreat their fellow human beings do so at great peril. We live in a society where there is no escape. There’s virtually no way to avoid being recorded doing something stupid.

Man, we need to be on our best behavior at all times. It’s a similar circumstance that confronts those of us who live in states that allow folks to carry weapons concealed under their clothing. We in Texas should be acutely aware of the danger of flipping off a fellow motorist. I never have been prone to do such a thing. I damn sure won’t do it now that I live in a state where the guy I might flip off could empty a pistol at me.

So it is with these ubiquitous cameras.

The lesson as I understand it crystal clear. Do not mistreat anyone because someone is likely watching — and recording — your every move.

Besides, such mistreatment simply is intolerable even without the existence of smart phones.

Believe it! Texting becomes second nature!

I never in a zillion years thought I would write these next few words.

Texting has become a convenient and efficient mode of communication for, um, yours truly.

Oh … the humanity!

I continue to italicize the t-word when I use it on this blog as a verb. Why? Because I want to emphasize the way I verbalize it. I have to add a tone of derision whenever I express the term in the verb form.

Here’s the thing, though: I am finding it to be a useful form of communication.

I need to stipulate something in no uncertain terms. I do not “converse” via my cellular telephone, which has the texting app built into it. My exclusive use of this method of communication is to deliver information. Such as: “See you soon.” Or: “Got it.” Or: “I’ll call.”

I try to remain faithful to my six-word maximum limit on text messages. I have to break it on occasion, but if I do it’s only by just a little. Maybe three or four words. No more!

However, my entry into the 21st-century world of telecommunications has moved along quite nicely.

I am not yet totally comfortable texting messages when I would prefer just to call someone on the phone.

And make no mistake: I’ll continue to add that derisive tone in my voice when I refer to this communication method in its verb form. Please don’t lecture me about the tone in my voice. I’m old. and thus, I am entitled to use whatever inflection I feel like using.

No such thing as ‘off the record’

Michael Smerconish is a smart commentator and CNN TV host.

He offered a prime piece of political wisdom this morning when he said, “There’s no such thing as ‘off the record.'”

There it is. A lesson that no doubt has not been lost on the “stable genius” who sits in the Oval Office of the White House. Donald Trump clearly knew that when he described African nations and Haiti as “sh**hole countries” would be picked up and flashed around the world.

As Smerconish noted today, seemingly everyone has a smart phone equipped with a camera and a recording device.

When the president blurts out a racist comment, or when he makes declarations that are sure to offend millions of Americans — let alone billions of other world inhabitants — he is speaking only to a narrow audience: his political base, the 30-some percent of Americans who stand with him no matter what.

As Smerconish noted today, Barack Obama was caught telling a fundraising crowd that many Americans “cling to their guns” and their religious faith; four years later, Mitt Romney was overheard telling a crowd that “47 percent of Americans” who live on government programs will vote for President Obama “no matter what.”

The world is listening to these politicians.

I get that Trump’s sh**hole comments aren’t a precise parallel to the examples cited already. Still, Donald Trump called an entire continent a place full of “sh**hole” countries populated by dark-skinned people. Lawmakers heard him say it and have declared they heard it. Such a statement sounds pretty damn racist to me.

He has offended millions of Americans.

Trump doesn’t care. His base hangs with him.

High-tech gadgets can truly astound

Touchscreen smartphone with Earth globe

I’ve just treated myself to one of the joys of high-tech gadgetry.

It took me years to purchase a cell phone. I declared my intention to be the last man on Earth to own one of them; I declared victory in that pursuit some years ago and bought one.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I — at the relentless insistence of one of our sons — upgraded our phones. We now have “smart phones” that enable us to do a lot of things. We navigate with them; we play games on them; we receive instant communication on them; we are able to receive text message and text in return.

Frankly, I use only a tiny fraction of the apps available on this fancy gadget of mine.

But here’s the thing that knocks me out: We have this device in our Prius called a Bluetooth that pipes these text messages through our radio speaker; we also have one in our big ol’ Dodge pickup.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Bluetooth has been around for some time. Just indulge me for a moment.

My wife and I were driving our Prius. My smart phone chirped at me. I’d gotten a text message from a young man with whom I work. The voice then came through the speaker and said, “Read it or ignore.” I replied “read.” The voice told me what the text message said. The voice then said “reply, ignore or hang up.” I said “reply.” I then offered my young friend a one-word response to the question he had posed in the text message.

Then I instructed the voice to hang up.

I did all this while driving our little hybrid vehicle. I never touched my phone. I didn’t fumble-finger my way through the keypad trying to send a text message while driving — not that I’d ever do it anyway, you know?

Believe me, I try like the dickens to be a 21st-century American. I’m getting there little by little.

Are you impressed?

Me, too.

Conquering telecommunications hurdles


I am all to eager to admit many things about myself.

One of them is my technical shortcoming. I am not a geek. I am not fluent in the language used to discuss telecommunication devices — although I consider myself to be mildly conversant.

My sons are geeks. One of them is an uber-geek. My wife? She’s less so than even I am, although she’s becoming quite good at Internet research.

I say all this to tell you of a huge hurdle I cleared today. Well, at least I think it’s huge.

I had the pleasure today of introducing our guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Amarillo weekly luncheon. State Sen. Kel Seliger spoke to us today about education legislation and related issues with which he is familiar, given that he’s the chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee and serves on the Education Committee.

I’ve known Seliger for the entire time we’ve lived in Amarillo. That’s 21 years. But I don’t know everything about him.

So, as I was preparing to leave the house this morning to head downtown for our meeting, I called Seliger’s Senate office in Amarillo.

“Hello, Cindy?” I said to the woman who answered the phone; I’ve known her a long time, too. “Do me a favor, please. Could you send me something that you might have in your computer system that serves as an intro for Kel? I’d like to use it to introduce him today.”

Sure thing, Cindy said. “Do you want the long form or the short form?” she asked. The short form is fine, I told her. “I’ll make up the rest of it,” I added.

Just send it to my email address, I said. She did.

My fancy-shmancy smart phone has an email “app” that allows me to receive emails on the thing. I got it within moments. I opened it. I read the text.

“Perfect,” I thought.

So, with my smart phone tucked safely in my belt holster, I drove downtown. I had some lunch with my friend and his district manager and then — shortly after our club president, Jeff Lester, called the meeting to order, I was asked to introduce Seliger to my fellow Rotary Club members.

I pulled out the phone. Opened up the email attachment and then proclaimed to my friends at the top of the Chase Tower — where we were having our lunch — that “I am finally a 21st century man.” I used the text on the phone as a crutch to welcome the senator to our club.

Yes, I know, others give entire speeches using their smart phones. I am not going to do that. I am merely going to proclaim that I have taken another baby step forward into this new age of telecommunications technology.

Hey, you have to declare these victories whenever they present themselves.


Texting lingo throws me for a loop

I’m going to make an admission.

Texting sends me into orbit. I rarely do it with my fancy-shmancy smart phone. I’ll receive text messages on occasion. I might answer them, but my first rule is this: no more than six words. I don’t send text messages just to chat. They need to fulfill some kind of purpose, such as providing answers to direct questions.

OK, the one exception might be if my son and daughter-in-law send pictures of our granddaughter Emma, which occurs regularly and I love acknowledging them.

So …

Having said all that, I had a strange encounter the other day at work. Two salesmen at the car dealership where I worked asked me this question: “What does ‘NVM’ mean in a text message?” My two friends, both middle-aged but younger than I am, were trying to figure out what it meant. One of them reckoned it meant “not very mature.” Hmmm. That seemed to make sense, given that a lot of text messages are, well, very mature.

We chuckled among ourselves and then I left them to their wondering what the initials meant.

Then it dawned on me: I have a text messaging expert in my family. It’s my daughter-in-law, Stephanie. She’d know.

I called her. “Steph,” I said, “what do the letters ‘NVM’ mean when you send them in a text message?”

She answered immediately: never mind … although for an instant I wasn’t sure if that was the answer of if she was telling to, um, never mind.

That was the answer.

I found my friends and told them, “It means ‘never mind.'” They got it.

We all shared our limited knowledge of text-message lingo/abbreviations. OMG? Got it. LOL? Sure thing. LMAO? I got that one, too.

The rest of them don’t come quite so easily. NVM is now part of my text-message glossary.

However, do not expect me ever to use it, let alone any time soon.

Still, it’s good to have someone in the family who’s fluent in textspeak, to whom I can turn for quick translations.

Grading smart phone proficiency

One of my three part-time jobs enables me to do a lot of people-watching.

So I do.

What I have discovered watching customers at the car dealership where I work — as well as my colleagues in all departments — is the ubiquitous nature of smart phones. Everyone seems to have one. Heck, I even have one.

Just yesterday, one of my colleagues said, “Hey, look over there. Two customers are on their smart phones, and so is their salesman. No one’s talking to each other.”

Yep, that’s the way it is these days.

I see sales representatives racing through the showroom chatting on their phone, or sending text messages to someone. Service department personnel? Same thing. Parts guys? Them, too. Our business department? Yes.

Years ago I once proclaimed my goal in life to be the last person on Earth with a cell phone. After some time resisting the temptation, I finally decided to declare victory — and then I bought my first cellular telephone. I made a bit of noise about it publicly at the time. Some friends tried to say they’d never owned a cell phone; a family member said the same thing. My response? You cannot prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. So my victory declaration stands.

Here we are in 2015. I’ve upgraded to a smart phone. It’s got a lot of those gizmos one uses to do all kinds of things.

As I watch people through the day using their smart phones, I am struck by the degree of proficiency they exhibit.

I’ll call the experts the “one-handers.” These are the individuals who can send text messages with one hand, while holding the hand of a child in the other. They’re adept at using these devices. My fear is that they do so while driving a motor vehicle — but I won’t go there.

Me? I’m a two-handed guy. I haven’t yet mastered the dexterity it takes to do all these functions with just a single hand. I’ll speak for my wife and say that neither is she.

I prefer my relative clumsiness with these devices. I don’t want anyone to think I am so smug that I can manipulate a smart phone with just a single hand.

I’ll prefer to remember what a young friend, who at the time was working as a barista in an Amarillo coffee shop, told me when I informed him I had just purchased my first cell phone. He said I reminded him of his grandfather, who would hold his cell phone up close to his face so he could read the numbers whenever he made a call.

Yes, that’s me.

I’ve already declared victory in my quest to be the last man on Earth with a cell phone. Will I ever ascend to “expert status” using my smart gadget?


Smart phone is smarter than I thought

ON THE HIGHWAY BETWEEN HOLBROOK AND PAYSON, Ariz. — You’ve heard already about my addiction to my cell phone.

I’m about to tell you about another discovery my wife and I have made about this annoying device.

It has a Global Positioning System, which is good.

My wife programmed the GPS to guide us to our destination in Mesa, Ariz. Her cell phone, which is identical to mine, charted a route to our destination. It gave us the road directions and posted an estimated time of arrival, just like the other GPS devices we own.

Then it started beeping at us — or, more to the point, at me.

Why the beeping noise? The phone knew how fast I was driving and was beeping at me, the driver, to remind me that I was exceeding the speed limit. Not by a lot, mind you. If the speed limit on the highway was 65 mph, and I was traveling at 66 mph, four loud beeps went off.

This phone not only is smart, it’s damn smart. So smart, in fact, that it’s smartness annoyed the daylights out of me as we made our way through some gorgeous mountainous Arizona countryside.

I’ve noted already that I haven’t yet gotten acquainted with all the “apps” available for use on my cell phone. My wife, who keeps insisting she isn’t very tech-savvy, actually understates her expertise with these devices. She’s much better at finding various uses for the cell phone than I do.

I appreciated her finding the GPS in her cell phone. I do not appreciate the smart-alecky device reminding me with all those beeps that it’s watching me like a hawk.



Cell phone becomes an addiction

Someone help me! I need an intervention!

This morning I drove the store to pick up a few items, and while I was walking across the parking lot for the front door, I reached for the place where I keep my cell phone on my belt.

It wasn’t there!

I froze for an instant. Then I remembered: “D’oh! It’s on the charger at my desk at home.”

So help me, I breathed an ever-so-imperceptible sigh of relief realizing that I knew where the gadget was at that moment.

Does this mean I’m officially a 21st-century guy? Does this mean I’ve become officially addicted to the damn device that drives me insane, but which I might be unable to function without?

I’ve written of this device before. I won’t plow old ground here.

My sons needle me constantly about my aversion to this technology. One of them posted something on Facebook recently posing a rhetorical question about whether his mother and I use still use a VCR recorder at home; he knew the answer — which is “yes.”

I’m not totally frightened of technology. Indeed, I’ve been through a lot of technological changes throughout my professional life. I started writing for newspapers in the mid-1970s using a manual typewriter and marking up text with blue pencils and Scotch-taping pieces of paper together. It’s a whole lot different now, but I managed to learn to adapt along the way.

Cell phone technology also is growing rapidly.

My first such phone was a tiny flip-top thing that drove me nuts. My wife had the same issue. We cursed the things constantly.

We’ve “graduated” to smart phones. I’ll concede that I don’t use all the “apps” that come with it — but I’m getting a bit more acquainted with them a little at a time.

I still detest cell phones. However, I realized today I cannot live without it.

Heaven help me!

‘Welcome to 2013’

The young man at the cellphone store didn’t mean to poke fun at my wife and me when he said, “Welcome to 2013” as we walked out of the place with our new cellphones in hand.

I turned to him and said I’m still stuck in the 1970s. We all laughed.

But with that, we’ve made the leap, purchasing a couple of “smart phones” that will do all kinds of things — a fraction of which we’ll likely use. But the stuff that’s included with these devices will be helpful.

I’ve appreciated the advice, recommendations and offers of help from my friends who’ve responded to an earlier blog post about the leap we were about to make. One of my sisters advised me against purchasing a smart phone, saying that “flip phones rock.” Sorry, sis. We made the leap.

We went with a Windows phone setup. I don’t need to explain this to most of the people in my life. They know what it is.

I will explain, though, that the purchase of the phones was every bit as complicated as I feared it would be. All the calling plans, data plans, texting plans, billing options, up-front phone cost variations were enough to give me a headache. And they did.

The sales rep who greeted us is a nice young man. We advised him up front of this truth: We are simple people who are not fluent in techno-speak. Our sons know this language; we don’t. “Explain this to me like I’m a 5-year-old,” I implored him, before backing off that request with the realization that a 5-year-old would understand all the jargon associated with 21st-century telecommunications. My wife then advised the young man to “talk to us like the old people we are.”

Well, the learning curve is a steep one for my wife and me. But this is part of life, I reckon. That curve will start to straighten out in due course, hopefully sooner rather than later.

You may keep praying for us.