Archive for the ‘Technology and Internet’ Category

Some time ago, I heard a discussion on a radio podcast (and subsequently found this article that prompted it) about what our email inboxes say about our personalities.

  1. If your Inbox has many unread emails in it, then you are an Ignorer, and are amongst the most productive, recognising that emails are representative of other people’s priorities not your own.
  2. If your Inbox is empty, then you might be a bit of a control freak.
  3. If your Inbox is full, but almost all the emails are read, then you might be deluding yourself into thinking you will get around to addressing them all.

I’m a combination of an Ignorer – I leave many of the Promotional emails unread – and a Saver, as I manage to convince myself that I will get around to reading them later, especially if they sound like they might link to interesting content. The Husband is definitely a control freak with an empty Inbox, and occasionally he freaks out when he picks up my iPad and can see how many unread emails I have. But it’s like my pantry – I never know when I might need one of those spices … um … emails.

So, which category do you fit into?


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Social media (in particular, Fb) is pretty hard to look at the moment. There seems to have been an onslaught of divisiveness, and understandably people who are upset at developments want to vent about these, though I will say I have the most polite, most moderate Fb friends, who vent merely by posting interesting articles, or funny political cartoons or commentary!

But I keep going back, because there are always posts that make me smile, even the ones that make turn me green with envy, like the posts this morning showing dear friends having a reunion (without me), or the photos from another friend who might have been at the unofficial reunion if she hadn’t been in the Seychelles, and a good friend who is in Bangkok following my “Three Days in Bangkok” itinerary I wrote for her!

(I’ve just spent the last ten minutes searching flights to the Seychelles. Maybe I will have to add them on to my long-list of destinations on my travel planning list.)

There are two types of posts, though, that I particularly enjoy, no matter who posts them, and especially the comments.

  • Requests for recipe ideas that often result in ideas for something I wouldn’t normally cook.
  • Requests for book recommendations, as these regularly lead to me adding new books to my Goodreads “To-Read” list.


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Winter storms have been sweeping up the country, dropping snow in the South Island, and causing floods just a few hours north of us, cutting electricity to many in the affected areas. I’m sitting at my computer listening to the radio, and an interviewer was talking to a woman who was isolated from the floods, and without power. In response to the interviewer wondering how she was managing to talk to him on the phone if her power was out, she said,

“Oh, I’m using an old, corded phone, as none of our cordless phones will work without power.”

After the devastating Christchurch earthquakes, a friend told me that the most important thing to her during those early days after the disaster was the fact that she had a corded phone, and could connect to the outside world.

Finding corded phones these days isn’t that easy, as my sister discovered recently when buying a new phone for our mother, though they are available if you look … and look now.

As you know, I live on a major fault-line, and live daily in the knowledge that today could be the day it shifts and shakes our world apart. We have stockpiles of cans (maybe why I’m a food hoarder) and plenty of water, and other emergency supplies. And we have a corded phone that is attached to the wall, and therefore, the world.

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  1. There are of course the ubiquitous apps everyone uses – the Facebook app, and the Kindle app, the LinkedIn app, the various email apps, Google Earth, Skype, and a selection of news sites (overseas and local). These are good, but I’m not thankful for them every time I use them, though I probably should be. (Well, I am for Kindle, though I tend take it for granted now.)
  2. Pocket: I see so many fascinating articles or blogposts in the course of a day – links on FB or click-through links on another article I’m already reading – that I don’t want to skim, but don’t have time to read fully. I use Pocket all the time. My account (and add-on apps) are on my phone, my iPad, and my laptop, so no matter where I am, I can save an article to Pocket to read later. Off-line – that’s the beauty of it, as my iPad is wi-fi only, and I don’t always have data on my phone simply because I don’t really need it. As long as I sync my iPad or phone Pocket apps on wifi regularly, I’m never caught without anything to read, even if I only have a few minutes. For example, the other day, I read about coffee naps as my husband filled the car with petrol.
  3. Feedly: I write and read a lot of blogs. Keeping track of them can be hard, especially since Google stopped its reader. Feedly though, makes it easy. I tried Bloglovin’ and that was adequate, but I much prefer Feedly. I can read and comment from within the app, and it syncs across my devices. I’ll use Feedly directly on my laptop, my iPad and my phone.
  4. Path keyboard: Typing on my iPad is often difficult, because I read it in bed, in the morning and late at night, or when I’m lounging in front of the TV. I often want to write on it – respond to emails or comment on blogs, or make notes about something. Path keyboard allows me to swype type, one-handed, or left-handed. It is a swipe keyboard – I swipe my finger from letter to letter to put together a word, lifting my finger only when the word is done. It’s quite accurate, and is easy to change if I need to. Copying and pasting into the app where I’m working is simple – maybe a little more annoying than typing directly into the app, but it bypasses the problem I have on Blogger blogs that freezes  if I go back and edit any typo.
  5. Yoga Studio: I’ve always liked the idea of yoga, but the one or two attempts I’ve made at classes sent me running – all those young, lithe, flexible people, and the instructors who refused to make allowances for injuries I was holding at the same time. I remember finding a stretch class at the gym to be very helpful many years ago, so last year I decided to take the plunge. On Mel’s recommendation, I bought (for very little) this app. I do yoga every few days, on days off from the gym. I did it this morning. There are lots of beginner classes of different lengths to choose from – Flexibility, Strength, Balance, Relaxation, or Combination – and once I can do those, I can move on to Intermediate or Advanced. I’ve even bought a yoga mat, and have a spot next to my dining table, looking out onto the deck and across the valley, that is perfect for my yoga practice. (Though if I haven’t done the dishes in the kitchen, then the calming effect of the balancing poses is disrupted. I try to look out the window instead.) Yes, at times I look like a beached whale, but my husband knows better than to comment, and no-one else can see. Yes, there are times I scoff at the instructor, laughing “that’s NOT going to happen!” But I’m stronger and more flexible and even calmer as a result. Not to mention happier. Money well spent.
  6. Calm: I was introduced to meditation at Wat Bak Nam in Bangkok, as a 17 year old. Daily, the novice nuns sat on the ground for about an hour – it seemed interminable – and tried to meditate. It was uncomfortable, my legs hurt, it was hot, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I’ve always been interested in trying it. Calm teaches you how to meditate, and has guided meditation programmes. Accessible on the web as well as through an app, Calm really does make me calmer. I haven’t used it as much since I’ve been doing yoga, but just five minutes really helps.
  7. Overdrive is the app that enables me to borrow books from our public library. I love that I can sit at home and within minutes can have new books on my iPad. It’s so easy. Unfortunately that means I tend to forget to read the books before the return date, but it’s okay, I can just borrow them again.
  8. Zite: A news site that allows you to organise your content by subject matter.  By giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to an article, and further prompted information, it can “learn” what types of article you like. It means I don’t have to search for relevant articles – whenever I’m in the mood for world news, interior design, photography or travel articles, I can find them. And I can save articles to Pocket to read later.
  9. Flipboard: Many of the different media sites I want in one place. The best thing is that I don’t have to have a subscription to be able to read them, and I can change what or how I read it every time I visit.  It bought Zite last year, so now you can browse by subject matter here too, but I still prefer to do that on Zite.
  10. Houzz: For ideas and inspiration when thinking about interior or exterior home design. I like the layout, the ease of saving to my favourites, and the selection of photos, especially as they have brought in more UK and Australian designs, so it is not as US-centric. (There is a distinct style to a large amount of US design, I find.)
  11. And finally (yes, an 11th) I guess I have to confess that I usually have favourite game apps. Though which one is the favourite depends on the ones I am addicted to at the time.


Note: All of these apps are on my iPad, some are synced on my Samsung phone.

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A recent UK study showed that cellphone use has led us to expect to hear from our spouses/partners several times a day – 41% of us in fact. And that 1 in 6 expect to hear from their spouse every hour!

I went to a display of Christmas trees organised by the Cystic Fibrosis Association recently, as a child very dear to me suffers from this. My favourite tree was covered in white roses. I had to have the symbolism explained to me – children who have cystic fibrosis find it difficult to say, and so refer to it as Sixty-Five Roses. Isn’t that lovely??

Trout eat mice.  Trout eat mice?

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Microblog_MondaysIt is election time again here in New Zealand, and on Saturday (if we haven’t already voted in advance) we go to the polls to choose our government for the next three years. This year, technology is managing to shield me from the often annoying election campaign.  I rarely watch live television, so I miss the regular news or current events programmes with leader debates, and even the regular party advertising. I’m comfortable with that though, because – through national radio, the newspapers, and internet reading – I keep myself well informed.

But young people these days don’t listen to National Radio, get the newspaper delivered, or watch TV.  So how do they, and new voters in particular, inform themselves about the election, the candidates, the policies, the implications of different vote choices? Do they actively go out and find the information? Or are they largely oblivious to the election campaign, blissful in their ignorance?

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It was early May.  The weather was turning, and mornings were getting cold.  I was lying in bed, no motivation to get up into the cold air, and lacking energy (not realising it at the time, but later that day I would be whisked into hospital for a blood transfusion).  There was a knock at the front door, and a few minutes later, my husband appears with a large package.

“Do you know a Maria from Maryland?” he asked puzzled.

“Oh yes!” as I leapt up, remembering that we were partners in a project on FB where – back in December – we had rashly promised that we would make things for each other – and three other people.  The recipients of my gifts would be “the first three people who respond to my status.”  They were then asked in turn to post this and make something for the first three who commented on their status.  I hope they did!  Reflective of my internet life, I had taken the idea from an English friend in Devon, who I first met on the internet.  My first three responders were 1) a friend I first met 34 years ago when we were exchange students in Thailand but now from Maryland, USA, b) my niece’s cousin from Malaysia (though she had stayed with us a year or two earlier), and c) a blogger friend also from the US (Missouri) who I have yet to meet.

The gifts could be anything, as long as they were home-made.  If my friends lived closer I’d make them my Ras al Hanout mix and give them some baking, but those things are a little hard to post!  But that’s okay, I committed to the project knowing what I was going to do. Sort of.  I sent off the first gift at Christmas, via my sister-in-law who would deliver it to her niece who stayed with us last year. That was gift number one, and I was impressed how quickly I made it, and sent it off. Free postage is a great motivator.  Although my haste meant that it wasn’t quite the quality I would have liked.

The second and third recipients are still waiting. I am procrastinating you see, indecisive about which angle I should take. I like personalising gifts you see, and I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times. I’m wondering if I should appeal to the exotic, or the familiar, or the things we have in common.   I have until the end of 2014 to deliver, but now there is some urgency.   The bar has been set very high.

I opened the box, and pulled out an amazing quilt.  Quilting isn’t really a big thing in New Zealand, but I know a couple of my US friends are keen quilters.  This is a beautiful one, and the first one I’ve ever owned, let alone been given.  It was appropriately lined with a wine bottle print!  (I’m wondering what kind of impression my FB friends have of me.)  And some squares were definitely related to my wanderlust in particularly.  It was a wonderful personal gift, and I can’t imagine how long it took to make.  And if that wasn’t enough, there were knitted socks too.  And they fit!  They were warm and comfy.  The timing was perfect, as winter arrived, and a few days later I had surgery.  In my recovery, I have reclined on my couch with the quilt keeping me warm.  But even better was the warmth and comfort from a friendship that has endured over 34 years, and across a planet.  Thanks Fe!


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