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.

 

 

Dear Smartphone: Should Voice Command?

DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT USING THE VOICE COMMANDS ON THE SMARTPHONE(LIKE SIRI)INSTEAD OF THE KEYBOARD? I HAVE A FRIEND WHO USES THE VOICE COMMANDS ALL THE TIME AND I FIND THIS UNUSUAL. Fran, Albany

Dear Fran: This is one of those questions that deserves an up or down vote from fellow readers. There are situations where hands-free helps:  for example,  if you are in the car alone or helping older people navigate a  rideshare app.

Siri talks back
photo: Jefferson Graham, USA Today, 2017

There are other times when voice-overs are annoying: say you are in a crowd of people and your friend  returns a text. Unless your friend is ‘all thumbs’  or vision impaired, Continue reading “Dear Smartphone: Should Voice Command?”

Dear Smartphone: Teen Phone Costs Mom

DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY EX IN-LAWS DECIDED TO GET MY 13 YEARS OLD DAUGHTER THE NEWEST PHONE FOR HER BIRTHDAY. MY IN-LAWS ARE WELL OFF AND DID NOT CONSULT ME. MY PROBLEM IS THE COST OF THE MONTHLY PLAN. I AM A DIVORCED MOM AND I STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET. I DON’T WANT TO DISAPPOINT MY DAUGHTER OR MY IN-LAWS. Cindy, LaBrea

teen phone bill
Paying for a Teen’s Phonebill

Dear Cindy: It’s too late, but your in-laws should have consulted you since as a parent, you are the grown-up when it comes to both money and  screen time. But, back to the finances: you could  ask  your 13 year-old help out financially Continue reading “Dear Smartphone: Teen Phone Costs Mom”