Last week I spoke to 70 members of local women’s group about how they could potentially use iPhone’s and iPad’s in useful ways in their lives as retirees. As I made a list of apps and use cases for my presentation I thought about how much I’d miss my iPhone if I were forced to give it up, and remembered a story that my father used to tell about a Yankee Clock Peddler. The story goes like this…
The Yankee Clock Peddler and his travelling companion start out on a sales tip in a rural area, and they stop for the night at a farmer’s house. In the morning before leaving to make sales call in neighbouring communities, the clock peddler asks the farmer if he’d store a clock for him for a couple of weeks, and that he’ll pick the clock up on his way back home. The farmer agreed to this, so the Peddler wound up the clock and placed it on the farmer’s wall before leaving (the farmer does not yet own a clock). When out of ear shot, the traveling companion asks the clock peddler why he left the clock at the house. Didn’t he want to sell the clock on the trip? To this the Yankee Clock Peddler replied, “don’t worry, by the time I come back in a couple of weeks, the clock will be sold… the farmer will happily buy it from me.”
The moral of the story is: “We can do without any article of luxury we have never had, but when once obtained, it is not in human nature to surrender it voluntarily.”
I’m often asked by people who have just purchased a new iPhone or iPad what apps they should get for their new device. Right now this is what I’m recommending:
- Kindle & iBooks – The Kindle and iBooks readers are the only apps you’ll probably need for reading books, and PDF files that people email to you. Both Do are excellent eBook readers, but books typically cost less in the Kindle store. On the other hand, I’ve found it much easier to get PDF files into the iBooks reader, so you’ll want to have both installed on your device. Don’t waste your time on the Kobo reader.
- Zite & Flipboard - Zite is a free personalized magazine for your iPad that automatically learns what you like and gets smarter every time you use it. Flipboard on the other hand had a little bit slicker interface than Zite, but it does not learn your likes and dislikes as you read over time, but stick with the sites and categories you’ve chosen to read. I’d try both out to see which you like better.
- Facebook & Path - Almost everyone is on Facebook now, and if you are, you should install the Facebook app. The user experience using the app is much more responsive and polished than the mobile web browser interface. You might also want to try out Path. Path allows you to post through to Facebook if you choose, or limit your posts to other Path users. If you try it, I suspect you’ll like it.
- Evernote - An excellent tool for capturing, syncing data between your desktop and cell phone. I love the ability it gives me to take a picture of a white board, and then later do a key word search on the text that Evernote has OCR’ed for me. I like to call it my “external brain”.
Google just launched a new version of Google Apps for US Governments. Why do they need to have a version of their “Apps” product specifically for US governments? Because of a sensible requirement that American government data be store only on US based servers. I’m glad that Google Was able to do this for American governemnts. What I’d like to know is when the internationally based version is going to be launched?
I live in Canada, specifically in the Province of British Columbia, and our government passed a law several years ago requiring that publicly funded institutions store personal data on servers in Canada only. This makes sense especially in light of the US Patriot act, which allows for American law enforcement agencies to look through private data without necessarily obtaining a search warrant, and without notifying the owner of the data that they have been snooping around.
So Google, when is the Google Apps for Canadian Governments going to be launched? I’m looking forward to the press conference!
Here’s a link to the outline of the Mobile Computing Discussion I’m leading today at the UVic Libraries. Once I’ve cleaned up the notes, I’ll post them below:
Reading List for Mobile Computing and the iPad Discussion:
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? I’ll start with the good news: Google Voice is the best thing that has happened to phones (including cell phones) and voice mail in decades… and it’s another free Google service! The bad news: It is only available if you live in the United States. So that means I cannot use it here in Canada where I live.
So for those of you living in the US, feel free to go to the Google Voice “Invite” website, and request an invite. If not, take a seat on the bench beside me and wait for Google to roll out the service here in Canada. Google has publicly stated that they will make Google Voice available in other countries, but have not given a time-table. So what are we missing?
Here are a couple more videos that talk more about specific benefits, and I’ll copy some text from the Google website outlining the features of Google Voice that explain why I think it is so revolutionary:
Use Google Voice with your existing number and get:
- Google voicemail: voicemail like email
- Voicemail transcription: read what your voicemail says
- Custom greetings: vary voicemail greetings by caller
- International calling: low-cost calls to the world
- Notifications: read voicemail messages via email or SMS
- Share voicemails: forward, embed, or download voicemails
Add a Google number to get these additional features:
- One number: a single phone number that rings all your phones
- Free SMS: send, receive & store text messages online
- Block calls: send unwanted callers straight to voicemail
- Record calls: record phone calls and store them online
- Conference calls: join several people into a single call
- Screen callers: hear who is calling before you pick up
I saw a great article on lifehacker.com about a combination money clip, and credit card holder. I wish I’d seen this last week so I could get one for my birthday!
It cost $20 on Amazon.com, and can hold a fairly good wad of cash (up to 30 bills), plus up to 10 credit cards (5 on the credit card side and up to 5 on the cash side). Here are some bullet points from their Amazon.com ad:
- Polished Stainless Steel
- Securely holds up to 5 cards on the credit card side
- Can hold up to 5 additional cards on the money clip side
- Ultra-thin and light weight
- Personalize your Smart Money Clip with engraving
Drop Box backs up and synchronizes files between computers. Great for someone with a desktop and a Netbook for when they’re on the road. http://www.getdropbox.com
Drop Box is also very good for sharing files… can email links to publicly shared files.
Drop Box synchronizes files between computers across the room or across the internet. The service is free if you have 2GB of data or less. For $10 a month you get 50GB of data storage. I’ve used DropBox for several months now, and have to say that it works great. It makes it much easier for me to quickly share documents between my Laptop (mac), my Work Computer (windows), and my Home Computer (mac).
Not only does it facilitate file sharing, but it also serves as an excellent backup system. While more expensive than Mozy’s $5 a month backup service, you do get a lot of extra functionality that Mozy does not give you. DropBox works great on Mac, Windows and Linux computers, which means that it can be used on virtually any computer you own or can currently buy, including one of those cute little Net Books.
Another feature that some might find useful, is the ability to share sub folders with other people for collaboration purposes. As files are modified, previous version are kept so that if necessary you can revert back to a previous version of the document. Files that are accidentally deleted can also be recovered, unless you manually purge deleted files.
I highly recommend DropBox for people who use multiple computers and need to share files between them. Good luck!