Saturday Sundries On A Wednesday

The weather this past week was absolutely brutal. And my Muse and creative brain went off somewhere together to cool down. They’re almost wishing we had some of this stuff around. Almost.

February 2010 snow in Maryland

So today’s post is shaping up to be a bit of this and a dash of that.

What’s on the iPod?

I’ve never talked much on the blog about personal interests outside of my writing, even when I make it a point to try. I might slip something into my comments on other posts, but I don’t write about my favorite music or hobbies, for example. Have you ever wondered why? Well, probably not, but I’ll explain anyway.

For starters, I’m a very private person, despite this blog. Then there’s the fact I’ve always thought that everyone else is far more interesting than I am. But the biggest reason may be that I always seem to be out of step with current culture. And current culture says to put everything out there for everyone to see and don’t give a damn if it’s the smart or right thing to do.

But I’m someone who cares about the feelings and sensitivities of others. I give a damn about doing the smart and right things. I don’t want to hurt, anger, or insult people or force my opinions on them as the only “right” way to think. I enjoy a good laugh, but not at the expense of others. You’d be right in thinking I don’t watch much TV or go to many movies these days.

As for the iPod? I’m sure iTunes would tell you that U2 and the Clash are played most frequently. And for a random fact about me, how about this one? I’ve never listened to a podcast. Seriously. Never.

Do you read captions? Do you explore a blogger’s site or only read the posts?

The Lost Art of Subtlety

Our world is a hyper one, with demands for our attention coming from all sides. Change is the only constant (well, along with Death and Taxes). Our collective attention span is probably shorter than the average toddler’s. It’s harder than ever to get noticed and then keep an audience’s attention.

I’ve always had an eye for small details and subtle shifts and a love of exploring hidden nooks and crannies. When I penned my first manuscript, subtlety featured prominently in the story—although maybe that’s an oxymoron…. And it’s one reason why the story failed the beta test. I have to find a way to make subtle points clearer without hitting the reader over the head. I’m slowly learning the lessons of good writing.

But I still like subtle, and I’ll never be one to make what others would see as “bold” changes. Of course, not many people then notice the changes I do make. Who has time for that? So it’s always a nice surprise when someone compliments me on a quietly made change or explores some clues I’ve hidden in a nook or cranny. And if no one notices, that’s okay, too. After all, I made the changes for me and hid the clues for fun.

We All Make Mistakes

We just hope no one publicizes them on the web….

Wine aficionados—notice something a little odd?

Entering the 21st Century

The decision has been made. A smart phone is on the horizon. But which one? Which plans are good, or at least decent? This will be a single phone that gets used mainly for photos and web/email tasks. Would any of my US readers like to share their opinions on the best phone? Best (or least objectionable) plans and carriers? I could really use some advice on this!

53 thoughts on “Saturday Sundries On A Wednesday

    • It seems the more “wired” the world gets, the more I want to stay free of it. And I don’t think it’s necessarily an “age thing.” When technology is really useful to me, I’ll adopt it. Maybe my introverted and shy nature are more the underlying reason….

      And I find it funny that the French, who are very serious about their wine, would have missed that label!

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  1. Is that you in the photo with the snow? Great photo! Funny, Neil and I were just talking about podcasts the other day. He’s the podcast king, he subscribes to several radio podcasts from his favourite radio programs so that they automatically download to his phone each time they are produced, and then he just plays his way through them all the time – while he’s dressing and washing, while doing the dishes, while gardening, whenever! He loves them and much prefers them to just listening to whatever is randomly on the radio. The technical set up all works well, and whenever he pauses one, it restarts from the same place next time. Anyway, the reason we were talking about them is because we don’t know anyone else who listens to them as much as he does! But clearly a lot of people must do or they wouldn’t keep producing them. I can see the point, and how it works well for Neil, but myself, I’ve probably only listened to half a dozen ever (not counting the snippets of ones I overhear from Neil’s phone of course!).

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    • That is, indeed, me. The plows piled the snow on the corner across the street from us. That was a record winter around here.

      Maybe if I listened to more radio programs I would be tempted by podcasts. But I don’t. When I listen to something it’s usually from CDs or the iPod or else the occasional news from NPR. The closest we come is when my husband listens to WETA’s “hot jazz” program from Saturday nights on the station’s website.

      You’re right that there must be an audience for them, or else why else bother? I just know it’s not this household that’s keeping them going!

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    • The “cloud” reminds me of the old mainframe days—when we used remote terminals and all software and files were stored on the mainframe. And when that puppy went down, everything came to a crashing halt! So I’m skeptical about both reliability and security with the cloud.

      When a very large gov’t agency informed me that some of my personal information could have been viewed by unauthorized personnel/contractors, you can bet I was not happy!

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  2. I often read blog posts on my phone (see? Those phones really are smart…) using the WP app, so I don’t get to see the blogger’s site and note any changes. Now that I realize I might be missing some good stuff, I’ll have to check into the actual sites from time to time.

    The only podcasts I’ve ever listened to were one or two medical ones for continuing education.

    Love the snow pic!

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    • You raise a great example here about the schizophrenic nature of modern technology. On one hand, WordPress encourages us to personalize our blogs and add lots of cool widgets. And on the other, they encourage using the Apps for tablets and phones, which often strip away those very details. I hope the phone app is better than the one for the iPad, which glitches regularly. I would never dare write a post on it!

      That winter, there was no point complaining about the snow. It wasn’t going anywhere, so it was best to learn to deal with it!

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      • I never write posts on the iPad or iPhone. I wouldn’t dare, either. But the app is nice for perusing blog posts and comments while I’m waiting in line somewhere or waiting on one of my kids…

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  3. I’ve never listened to a podcast either…and I doubt you would want help from me on the phone decision. I’m pretty lame with them (ask my daughters). They are always laughing at me when I try to swipe the screen on an old phone that doesn’t swipe and then can’t figure out how to make a call on someone’s ‘smart’ phone. I give up! I really don’t want anyone to call me anyway, so phones don’t mean much to me.

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    • I rarely use my cell phone. I still think of it as “for emergencies.” Sometimes the battery on mine has died when I finally remember to check it for voice mail. And even when I get the smart one, it’s really more for having a lightweight camera handy and some web/family Facebook use. I’ll probably have to ask some of the younger folks at work for their advice…. 😉

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  4. I’ve never watched a podcast either, JM. But I do have a cellphone (even though I’m not in the US) mine is a Samsung android and it’s brilliant. Hubby has an iPhone and he hates it (he used to have a Samsung and the iPhone is now his work phone). Best of luck finding the right phone and provider 😉

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    • I asked about the phone on Facebook, too, and the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy/Android seem to be the runaway favorites. I’m terrible at making decisions about things I don’t understand, so this is going to be tough. Heck, to be honest, I have a hard time making decisions about things I do understand! 🙂

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  5. A white wine labelled Pinot Noir? Those Kiwis making fun of us!
    As for being a private person, I can relate. Whenever I come across a blog that reads like a diary, I feel just a little cheated, because I expected to learn something about writing. A little personal background is fine, and if done in context and with modesty can be entertaining and charming. Great post.

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    • It’s not clear from the photo unless you click on it for a larger view, but it’s actually a French wine. And given how seriously they take wine, I’m really surprised someone didn’t catch this!

      Some people easily work their personal lives into their blog posts as examples for the topic at hand. I do envy them a bit. But I also know that I’m not that kind of person, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. The world would be a boring place if we were all alike, right?

      I’m hoping with our less-oppressive temperatures and humidity this week that Meghan and my Muse will be ready to sit down for more planning. 😉

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  6. I highly recommend the Samsung Galaxy S series of smartphones. I have the 3, and my oldest son has the 2. (FYI: Samsung just began selling the 4 last month.) We both LOVE the S series’ camera. All my blog pics have been taken with it so that gives you an idea of how GOOD that camera works!
    Regarding the smartphone vs “regular” cellphone debate there is NO comparison. I guarantee you will think of your smartphone as a mini “in your pocket” computer that you’ll use all the time and not just for emergencies.
    Having said all this, I realize as a Mac devotee, you’ll most likely chose an I-phone! Let us know what you buy!

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    • Hmm, I wonder what I’ve said that makes people think I’m a Mac person…. The iPad last Christmas was only the second Mac product in our house. (An iPod was first.) Actually, every computer I’ve owned has been a PC. The Samsung Galaxy and Android have been getting high marks with my Facebook friends and family along with the iPhone. My 4-year-old(!) phone is a Samsung of some ancient variety, and it’s still holding up. But I really would like something with a good camera. And that would hold up for 4 years!

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  7. ps. I just thought of a “mistake” I made recently…a very public one, too and it involved the smartphone! I took a pic at the beach and decided to send it to Facebook. I titled it, “Super Saturday Sun!”

    About a half hour later I hear the guy on the next blanket ask his buddy, “What are your plans for tomw?” Buddy replies, “It’s my Saturday to work”

    Whaaaaaaaa????? today is FRIDAY?? Holy Crap!
    Needless to say, I went back into Facebook and hit delete!

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  8. I have an old phone that I have to buy time and minutes for. I haven’t broken into the world of modern cell phone/iphones yet. Not interested. Perhaps someday. Have fun with your new iphone. You’ll probably get hooked now. Once I get something I fought getting, then I can’t do without it.

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    • My current phone is 4 years old, and I buy the minutes, too. And not very often at that! But I’m beginning to see where a smart phone with a good camera and web capabilities could be handy at times. I might end up getting attached to it, but so far I’ve been lucky and haven’t gotten sucked into too much modern technology. Except blogging. I’ve definitely been hooked by blogging. 😉

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  9. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I listen to podcasts all the time. They are great for weeding. As for the new smart phone, just get the subtle one. Oh and put some Journey on it. 🙂

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    • Funny you mention that about the podcasts. One of my cousins said her husband is a big fan, and Vanessa above said the same thing about her partner. I think you’re on to something there. There’s a subtle smart phone? Which one is that? Journey, hmm? Been a while since I listened to something by them….

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      • Any phone not bright yellow, neon orange or nuclear green is considered subtle. (Oh, and they have to be hand sized, not book sized.)

        You haven’t listened to Journey in a while? Well hit the link, crank it up and DANCE! 🙂

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          • Steve will always be “The Voice” and rightly so. What many don’t know is that he is actually the third lead singer of the band. Gregg Rollie was the first, followed briefly by Robert Fleshman (Who helped write “Wheel in the sky”), Then Perry who changed the format and style to what it is today. After him it took three more singers, Augeri, Soto, and Pineda who brought the energy back.

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  10. I’ve never bought into this podcast idea either. I’ve downloaded a couple down the years, but not something I think I’m missing out on.

    I do love my smartphone. I rarely make calls, but I’m always checking email and breaking news (I am a breaking news addict!)

    I find the WP app is great for checking out and replying to comments etc. I have written a few posts on there as well though one posted in error during the A to Z, which I was not happy about.

    Happy choosing your new toy 🙂

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    • I have a sneaking suspicion choosing the new toy will feel more like work than fun…. 😉 Maybe it’s just my iPad and the WP app, but when I used it on vacation to answer comments, it was a pain in the behind. Maybe recent updates are better, but I haven’t really tried again. I’m old enough to remember when new goods and services weren’t rolled out until the bugs were already fixed. But the Information Age really changed all of that, and not necessarily for the better!

      And now I’d best move on before too many younger readers start thinking of me as “the cranky old lady.” 🙂

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      • Hahaha I don’t think people will think that.

        They do rush out the updates and wait until everyone complains to know what to fix. It can be a bit temperamental but I like the voice control so I can speak my replies. Much easier 🙂

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  11. JM, I have so much respect for you, “But I’m someone who cares about the feelings and sensitivities of others. I give a damn about doing the smart and right things. I don’t want to hurt, anger, or insult people or force my opinions on them as the only “right” way to think. I enjoy a good laugh, but not at the expense of others.”

    Good for you for continuing to try to maintain your privacy and keeping that balance in your life. It’s so easy to get carried away — I know.

    As for a new phone – I’m about to get one too. As much as I am a techie, I’ve avoided the popular phones — but next week that will change. If you already have an iPad and are comfortable using it/know how to use it well – then the iPhone would make sense. But if you don’t have experience with either iPhones or Android devices, then you should probably go into a Best Buy first and play with them for as long as you want to get a real sense of which one will work for you. They don’t get commission so there is not as much pressure to buy – you can just go in for research. Good luck!

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    • Thanks, Arlene. I certainly make my share of mistakes, but I do try to learn from them. And hopefully not repeat them!

      I can make my way around the iPad, but I don’t use it enough to consider myself much beyond the beginner level. 😉 And I like your suggestion to test them out at Best Buy. I hadn’t thought about doing anything like that, and it makes perfect sense to do so!

      Whichever one I do decide on, I wonder if I’ll learn to hear it when it rings? If there’s more than minor background noise, I’m completely oblivious to my current one. It’s embarrassing when someone with me says, “Isn’t that your phone?” And my hearing is actually fine. There’s just a real disconnect between it and a cell phone. No pun intended. 😉

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    • Maybe they’re not as big in Australia? Like anything else, there are probably some we’d enjoy. But overall, I’ll bet we’re not missing much. 😉

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      • LOL I don’t think so either. I did see some good ones from authors that could be good to listen to but it’s another thing we might not have time for.

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  12. iphone. Period. Best thing since the palm pilot and tivo. I love mine like a family member and do everything on it and with it. Can’t say much about service providers since I’m nowhere near you geographically. 🙂 Podcasts are amazing! ‘Why Shamanism Now’ totally absorbs me, as did dozens of hours of hour long lectures on Roman history from one of the universities. They’re free and better than what you pay for, to be honest. Your subtle hints about subtlety have intrigued me and now I want to go searching for what you’ve obviously hidden on your site somewhere…. And this is like the 4th post I’ve read since coming back from vacation that is a personal-sharing post. Must be that time of year. Maybe I’ll do that next! 🙂 What’s with the wine?

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    • Well, if you wait for my next post, you’ll hear about one of those subtle things I did. 😉 And if you use WordPress’s Reader, you won’t see many of the others because they only show up if you’re viewing the actual blog. Just one more reason why I’m not a big fan of the Reader.

      The podcasts you mention actually sound interesting. Do you get to see “The Big Bang Theory”? There’s an episode where one of the main characters is starting a 52-week “Fun With Flags” podcast. The episode is great. The podcast maybe not so much. 🙂

      As for the wine, the label says it’s a Pinot Noir, which is a red wine, and this is not. The back label correctly identified it as a Pinot Grigio. Someone ran the wrong front labels through the bottling machine, and apparently, no one caught the error between bottling in France and selling in the US!

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      • I saw the Pinot noir and I know noir is dark but I thought Pinot was automatically white and it was just a variety… In hindsight….hahaha

        I don’t read in reader, I click on the articles and go to each page. You’ve updated your About page I saw. There’s so much on each persons page that subtle changes are hard to see. I always announce them in posts. lol

        Ah Sheldon. “Cut!” 🙂

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  14. I find it annoying that lots of sites will give help or instructions in the form of a Youtube video these days. It generally takes a lot longer to get the required information than scanning down some text, where I can go at my speed and concentrate on the bits I need.

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    • I know what you mean. It’s so much easier and quicker for me to read text instructions rather than sit through a video, especially if there’s a lot of introductory stuff that isn’t needed. But the tech world seems to be moving in a completely opposite direction. Sometimes video can be helpful. But clear text is usually best!

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  15. It’s summer – lagging behind and trying to catch up.
    Now that looks like snow on Trail Ridge Road In CO – in July! (as a kid, that was the only snow I eve saw)
    We had podcasts at work sometimes – but haven’t bothered with many recently – sometimes to keep up with research
    I have a iPhone after years of being happy with a Blackberry (Verizon). It does much more than I use every day, but when traveling it’s terrific…will not give it up. I have a Mac now, so the photos import easily. (Got tired of Windows and Microsoft issues – so bit the bullet for a personal/non work computer…do not regret)
    My husband is PC with all his engineering programs and people he has to send stuff to. He’s been through multiple smart phone(all researched like crazy) – never really happy with any – don’t get a Motorola HD Max – that one’s been nothing but trouble. He’s looking at a Samsung.

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    • I can’t imagine being someplace in the northern hemisphere with snow in July! May trips to Alaska and Montana are the closest I’ve seen for lower elevations.

      We’ve had to use PCs forever, too, since much of the work we’ve done is federal contracting. What little I’ve done on my husband’s new computer (with Windows 8), though, doesn’t leave me wanting to upgrade my Windows 7 laptop any time soon.

      The phone is down to the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy. I’m also debating whether I should go with a no-contract provider like Virgin Mobile or bite the bullet and do a 2-year contract…. Too hard a decision for my brain!

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  16. I am an Apple girl. I have the MacBook Pro, iPad, iPod, and now iPhone. I’m happy with my iPhone. Course my first smart phone was riddled with glitches and turned off in the middle of GPSing all the time. Can’t say which is the best carrier. I have Verizon but I am still on the old unlimited plan that no longer exists to new customers. Good luck!

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    • One minute I think “iPhone.” The next, “Galaxy S4.” Then, “Maybe an earlier generation.” 😉 I think I’ll be heading to a good Best Buy one of these next weekends to talk with one of their sales people. They don’t get commissions, so I’ve heard they’re fairly objective. Maybe when I describe what I’ll be using it for, they’ll be able to steer me in a good direction. I hope so. 🙂

      I am so bad at making decisions like this!

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  17. I love the dashes of this and that on your blog, JM, even when you decide to parse them out sparingly. I empathize with the idea of not wanting to be pushy (and I think a lot of introverts think we’re equally the most creative and the most uninteresting people on the planet, at any given moment). But, I enjoy the foray into the blogger as much as the blog itself.

    I like subtlety in stories, too. Part of the joy of rereading a story is finding things I missed the first time. If I’m slammed over the head with something, there’s no point in me going back to find a little secret. I like that about films and comics, too (the good ones). A great writer or director knows how to weave a complete scene, with both obvious and supporting details. It’s always great fun to discover both. 🙂

    As for the smartphone, I don’t want to be an Apple fangirl, but I do really appreciate my iPhone. Over the last four years, I’ve had the 3 and the 4s, and they’ve both served me well. I am not one for a lot of apps, but the SMS/texting, mapping, and photo applications are really quite good. Here’s an example of the level of depth and detail I’ve gotten with my iPhone: http://bonusparts.deviantart.com/art/Respite-293183970
    The downside is that they’re not cheap, and Apple is notorious for making regular unnecessary changes to its hardware. Not much has changed with their phones in the last few iterations, but every new version has its own tweaks that do not necessarily contribute to function speed or increased usability. They work just fine with a non-Apple PC, if you are not interested in being part of the Mac cult- er, community.

    Samsung’s Galaxy S III is a great phone, too. Android looks and functions a lot like the iPhone 5. The really great thing about any Android hardware, though, is you don’t have to be manufacturer-specific, and services are available on a wide range of cellular networks across the US (unlike iPhone). They are as sturdy as the iPhone – a bit faster, too – and they work with any PC. Being Google-based doesn’t hurt, either, as Google is only coming out with more and more options as time goes on.

    Both the Android and iPhone hardware have touch-screen only. If you want a physical keyboard, Blackberry is still your best bet, though I can’t pinpoint a particular model we’ve seen recently.

    One thing to keep in mind: many higher ed institutions and corporations have cellular incentive programs, so before you pick up a plan, check around to see if you can save yourself a few dollars a month with any sort of buying program. Good luck!

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    • Mayumi, your comments are an absolute goldmine of information, be they on writing or smart phones! Thank you so much for sharing your insights and expertise. 🙂 This afternoon, I’m going to Best Buy to get some “hands on” practice with these phones. This particular store has good reviews for staff help, so I’m hoping someone there will help me make the right decision for what I plan to do. And I’ll check to see if our new company has any incentive plans—I haven’t heard of any, but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.

      “I think a lot of introverts think we’re equally the most creative and the most uninteresting people on the planet, at any given moment.”

      I think this is one of the most insightful characterizations of introverts that I’ve ever heard. 🙂 This is exactly what I think of myself. It’s why there will never be regular “day in the life of me” posts—I think most of my days are uninteresting! And yet, like you, I enjoy hearing something about the person behind the blogger now and again. I certainly don’t need TMI or Facebook-type updates, but a little something is nice. And rationally, I know that readers would say the same thing about hearing a bit more about me. I’ll keep trying. 😉

      I hope you’re enjoying the weekend and getting settled back in after your vacation!

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      • I can’t give successful writing or publishing advice, but I can at least share my experiences with mobile tech! 😀 Hopefully, your tryout trip went well, and you’re closer to your best decision. 🙂

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        • It did go well, and I think I’ve made up my mind. So after Labor Day weekend, I’ll be making a purchase—and then will probably be overwhelmed by all the things the phone can do. 🙂

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