Communication Budget

Let’s say I am only willing to give up one hour (daily) of my life to digital communication (iMessage, email, social media). And I have a tool (app?) that connects to each of my comm apps, tracking time spent on that app. Perhaps a little countdown clock showing remaining time.

I might set aside 20 minutes of the 60 for my wife or kids (if I had kids). But for everybody else, the clock is running. When I hit 60 minutes, I’m done. (This doesn’t apply to phone calls. Those are unlimited.) If I don’t get to all my communications within the allotted 60 minutes, they get pushed to the next day.

How might such a tool change my habits? An email from a casual acquaintance might get a quick scan of the headline and nothing more. My replies would be short and quick. (“This is important. Call me”)

I’m yanking my weenie, of course. Nobody really wants to limit this kind of communication any more than cigarette smokers want to quit. So scratch the above…

Let’s aim lower. An app that shows how many minutes/hours you’ve spent online — doing anything — since midnight. With weekly/monthly/annual reports.

GoPro test

I’ve been watching videos shot with GoPro cameras for years but always thought of these rugged little cameras as being for skydivers and snowboarders. Then I noticed a lot of the “let’s go for a ride in my Land Rover” videos were shot with GoPro cameras so I bought one. It’s the entry-level camera (Hero Session). A small black cube about 1.5 inches on each side. I’ll post some more on this once I know what I’m doing but right out of the box (as they say) I’m impressed with the video and quality.

iPhone X Photos

Barb’s only had her iPhone X for a few days and is still getting the hang of new features. Today she played with some of the new photos options. Don’t know how they’ll look here but on my laptop (and her phone) they looked damned good. Not sure which setting were used for each photo but I can tell you I’ve never seen a photo taken with a phone that was this crisp and sharp. The new iPhones are just larger than I like so I’m hoping these new camera features come to some future SE model.

Ally Card Controls app

I’ve mentioned my fondness for Ally, the online bank. Been using it for a few years and do virtually all my banking with them. As one might expect, their mobile apps are damned good. This week they sent me an email about their Card Controls app. (Not sure if this is new or I’m just becoming aware of it) And for all I know, other credit cards have had these features for a while. Pretty sure my Chase VISA card does not.

Short version: the app “lets you take control of your Ally Bank debit card, so you can define when, where and how your card is used. You can: View transactions, establish spending limits, manage notifications and more.”

You can turn the card off and on. If I misplace my wallet I can disable the card until I find it and then turn it back on.

Use to be a pain in the ass to cancel a lost card only to find it 10 minutes later.

Establish spending limits and merchant categories. Transactions can also be controlled and monitored for specific merchant categories like gas stations, department stores, restaurants, entertainment, travel and supermarkets.

Not really clear on when one would want to do this. The jury is still out on titty bars.

Location-based controls. Using your phone’s GPS, the My Location feature can limit transactions to merchants located within a certain range of your phone’s location. You can also restrict purchases made in a specific region and deny international transactions.

I disabled international transactions. Like I said, this might be old stuff and I just noticed but I really like have this kind of control.

Tracking my keys with Tile

I misplaced my car keys (again). This time the key fob was attached to a Tile tracker. The iPhone app showed the keys being close but I couldn’t hear the chime so I assumed they were outside. The app displays a small green circle on a map and the tile/keys is located within.

In the screencast above the blue dot is me, moving around relative to the circle. I hurried this demo a bit and the app was playing catch-up. The device and the app work better in practice than my demo suggests. I’ve been impressed so far.

Creepiest Dating App. Ever.

“The Dating.ai app works by analyzing a reference a photo you upload or select from a list of popular celebrities provided within the app, and then scanning through thousands of profile photos from popular dating services like Tinder, Bumper or Plenty of Fish to find people who look very similar. The idea of finding everyday people who look like your favorite celebrity is just a selling point, because, in reality, Dating.ai can be used to find all kinds of people, from people who look like your ex, to versions of yourself of the opposite sex.” More »

Ash Furrow

Mastodon is a microblogging platform, often compared to Twitter. If you’re not familiar with Mastodon, you can probably skip this interview. You’ll find a good explainer here. Ash Furrow is the administrator of one “instance” of Mastodon. In this 25 minute interview he answers the questions below.

  1. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself? What do you do when you’re not feeding and caring for Mastodon.Technical?
  2. How did you get involved with the Mastodon movement?
  3. When did Mastodon.Technical go live? Do you recall who was Tooter #1?
  4. Are you (now or previously) active on other social media platforms?
  5. While a lot of people are apparently happy with Facebook and Twitter, many others are fleeing and looking for something else. What’s happening?
  6. What are the important differences between Mastodon and the more established social platforms?
  7. There have been no shortage of Twitter “replacements” but few have gotten traction. Is Mastodon different? Why?
  8. The “federation” concept seems pretty simple to me but I keep reading about users who find it confusing. Is this a problem?
  9. Are there instances operated by hate groups? Have you had to ban users from your instance?
  10. What is the biggest misconception about Mastodon?
  11. How much time do you invest each week working on your Mastodon instance?
  12. As it grows, do you feel trapped in any sense?
  13. As the admin for your instance, you are — I assume — all powerful. You’ve published user guidelines, have you had to exercise that power?
  14. What would you like the Mastodon Federation to look like a year from now?

Google replacing Google Talk with Hangouts

I loved the bare bones simplicity of Google Talk (Gchat?) as it appeared the sidebar of Gmail. Don’t recall why I turned it off. Seeing stories today that Google forcing the switch from Talk to Hangouts. I preferred the spartan UI of Talk but like Hangouts well enough for this.

I only use it with a handful of online buddies who don’t have an iOS device. 90% of my IM’ing happens Messages on my iPhone. But I’ve added Hangouts to the Gmail sidebar and will leave it for a bit.