Dear Smartphone: Is Map Skill Overkill?

DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY SISTER AND I DISAGREE ON THIS ISSUE. WE WERE BOTH TAUGHT TO READ MAPS WHEN WE TOOK A FAMILY CAR  TRIP. MY SISTER SAYS TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND WE CAN RELY ON THE MAPS ON OUR PHONES.  I THINK THAT MAP READING SKILLS ARE VALUABLE AND SCHOOLS SHOULD CONTINUE TO TEACH THEM.  WHAT DO YOU THINK? Chrissy, Sebastapol

Dear Chrissy: Good Question! There’s no doubt that a lot of things we used to do by hand have migrated to the phone- for example, long division and address books. That said, map reading is something that I would not want to entirely depend on electronically, although Digital Natives might disagree. Maps are, by definition, representations of the outside world, and we should always consider their distortions or biases (remember the flat map?). Second, the maps on our phone are so small so we literally don’t see “the big picture.” You asked whether that skill should be taught in schools- only if they still teach geography!!

Dear Smartphone: Rideshare Rusty Wazes?

DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: YOU MENTIONED A FEW WEEKS BACK THAT YOU WOULD FOLLOW UP ON USING SMARTPHONES TO GET TO WORK… WHAT GIVES? Rusty, Palo Alto

Dear Rusty:  Glad that you keep me on my toes, and I elevated your earlier post (see below).  Totally get that you want to use pooled rideshare, but it is impractical because you cannot estimate the arrival time. Uber and Lyft may have failed here, but your smartphone may come through after all!

Waze developed a carpool app that will be familiar to rideshare users…it lists the ETA,  names, star-ratings, and other standard information. Waze is now doing a nationwide rollout of the app and subsidizing new riders. Whether you are the driver or the passenger, see if this smartphone app will get you moving.

 

Waze has a Carpool App
Solving Carpool problem with a smartphone?

Dear Smartphone: Emergency + Smartphones

DEAR READERS: WE INTERRUPT OUR USUAL FORMAT TO BRING YOU THIS EMERGENCY MESSAGE!

Last week the Federal Government did an Emergency Test sending a push notification to the nation’s cell phones. The message was the butt of jokes, but at the core is a recognition of how our communication systems have changed.

If you can’t remember when the last major earthquake struck or a devastating hurricane made landfall keep in mind one thing. The majority of households have now disconnected their landline phone and depend exclusively on smartphones.

It’s time to prep your twenty-first century disaster kit.

First, there are several apps that you can install on your phone that will continue to work if the cellular system goes down. Two of the most frequently mentioned apps are FIRECHAT and ZELLO

Second, as you get prepare, think about storing an auxilary power source or two, like an extra smartphone battery and a solar charger. Redundancy can mean resilience  during a disaster, so it’s a good idea to do this for each family member’s phone.