Tag Archives: smartphone

Winter Pics


It seems like everyone in NYC has some great shots of these past few weeks of winter…

well here are some of mine!

The camera is not great on the Nexus 5 but I managed to get a few good shots of my commute home and then a fun walk in Riverside too.


empire state in blizzard
empire state in a blizzard
Beckham in his underwear in the snow
Beckham’s underwear in the snow


IMG_20140121_141216 IMG_20140121_14120834th street unplowedIMG_20140203_154400IMG_20140203_154029The ParkIMG_20140122_205330 IMG_20140121_180534


IMG_20140203_153307IMG_20140203_154014IMG_20131214_193737the end of the walk

old car on the block

empire state the next morning
empire state the next morning


Joining the Modern Era: Reflections on a Week in the Smartphone World

I decided to join the modern era and buy a smartphone.  Once I started looking I was overwhelmed with the choices. iphone or Android? and what number 3,4,5?

I mainly use gmail, gcalendar and gdrive and I’ve had enough experience with my wife Sandy’s  iphone and ipad to know that those google apps are generally lacking – either they don’t sync right or they are filled with adds or both.

Okay Android it was – but which one? There seemed to be so many choices – so I asked a couple Android using friends.

MJ replied: “i would wait for the new google phone- nexus 5 i believe. samsung uses android, but adds a lot of stuff on top of it – some cool features, but most of it’s kinda lame. because they customize it, it can take a while for them to get the newest version of android fully “samsung-ized” and you end up not getting the latest stuff for months. the google phones used to be built by samsung (now made by LG), but they’re made specifically for google, so when the newest, hottest android shit comes out, you always get it from the jump”. either way, i think you’re making the right move with android, assuming you live in a more google-y world than an apple-y world.

While SP had a slightly different take:  “These nerds are right. Battlestar Galactica is WAY better than Star Trek the Next Generation. And yes, get a regular Samsung Galaxy S 3 or 4. It does everything, and you don’t need to wait like a shnook for the latest coolest gadget. You’re dirty Phil. Embrace your lack of cutting edgery (that sounds like something Mike would say about me). ”

My Nexus 5

I waited and bought the Nexus 5.

 What’s changed? and Am I finally part of the modern era? 

My Location location map

Using my old Nokia only T-Mobile knew my location, now it seems like everyone can follow me as Google, the weather channel and the NSA keep track of my whereabouts(Even though I turned off ‘use my location’ I have a sneaking suspicion I’m still being followed).

Talking on the phone? Or just listening?

beyond pod Remember how people used to talk on the phone? Unless I locate the phone’s little speaker and place it directly on my eardrum – it’s nearly impossible to hear a phone conversation. To ameliorate this issue I just keep my headphones plugged in – all the time -which facilitates more talk radio and music listening. Unfortunately, every time I load up good ole’ NPR it hits me with three straight commercials and anyone who knows me – knows I hate commercials.

So I’ve mainly been bumping podcasts – anyone have any good recommendations?

Also streaming the radio chews up more battery power than it did no my old phone, though I should note that I’ve been impressed with some long lasting  battery life – almost 48 hours on one charge with moderate to low use.

A Travelling Dictionary
Portcullis at the Fort Tryon Cloisters

The other day riding the train, plugs stuffed into my ears, and reading the New Yorker I came across a word I didn’t know, portcullis. 

So I tapped it into my dictionary app. Even years though I spent my tenderfoot years playing as knights in armor at the Cloisters, I never knew  there was a word for the “strong grating (especially in medieval castles. made to slide along vertical grooves at the sides of a gateway or fortified place”.



Maybe I’ll learn more cool things to do with this phone in the next few weeks- but considering all the hype around these super phones- not much has changed.

Wait – you might say-  what about how I can watch movies, tv and live sports with my new smartphone. Well I don’t because if I wanted to do that I’d use the computer that I am always sitting at.

And Sandy quipped that when I’m lost I won’t have to call her for directions anymore – but that hasn’t happened yet (likely related to the sitting at computer phenomenon).

Just after I ordered the phone I shared my excitement about it with a few friends. My buddy PJ summed up the import of this shift best,   “Sweeeeeeet! Now Phil can gmail in real time!”.

What’s the Opposite of a Smartphone? 5 Reasons to Stay Stupid

What’s the opposite of a smartphone? My Nokia C2 -1.05, though it does boast a 3.2 mp camera with video and music capabilities.

My Nokia C2 -1.05 In fact, many of the photos on this blog were taken using this trusty tool.

However,  I have decided to succumb and move into the smartworld. First, why did I hold out all these years? And second what’s changed?

Why Not Use a Smartphone?

1. I didn’t need one. It’s hard to believe but some New Yorkers don’t use cell phones at all.  I spend most of my working day – as I am now sitting in front of a computer – so why would I need another computer in my pocket?

2. Having that computer in your pocket or by your head may cause brain cancer- though like plastics – it’s hard to say because everybody is doing it.

3. I didn’t want to pay more for a phone that I wasn’t going to use.

rooster4. On an ideological level I think the smart phone, like the pocket watch in E.P. Thompson’s (1967) classic work serves as another way for our jobs – or the man – to control the worker’s life. As I wrote in a comment last year on the ITP blog:

“According to Thompson (1967) the shift from cock as timepiece to watch as timepiece signified a paradigm shift. Before the cock people told time by the sun. Chaucer’s cock reflects an agricultural modality. Can the current shift from wristwatch to smartphone be interpreted as a harbinger of the Internet revolution?”Christina quickly picked up on this thread writing “… as we consider this shift from watch to smart phone we also consider how this shift functions for Capitalism. Certainly there are implications for blurring the time of the working day. Are there other implications?”

5. And finally, everyone else has a smartphone,  so if  I need one they’re never far away.

What Changed?

1. Though I’m a far cry from self reliant, recently I’ve felt the desire to be in command of my own smartphone. Perhaps, it’s a response to the uncertainty associated with writing one’s dissertation proposal. I don’t know how that will turn out, but I do know that right now it’s 51 degrees in Central Park, I’ve read the Times top ten article titles, and my commute today will take exactly 37 minutes.

2. On a number of occasions I’ve yearned for a smartphone to direct me to the nearest Citi Bike station, or at least a station with working bikes. It’s this on the fly type of adjustment that only a computer in your pocket can provide.

3. Entertainment. I almost always carry a print version of the New Yorker, or The Atlantic in my bag or back pocket. However, I can’t carry the whole paper – or all the articles I’m perusing. One might counter – but you can’t read them all on the go anyway. Instead of reading I occasionally use the headset on my nokia to listen to the radio, but it doesn’t work on the train  and I’m growing tired of NPR – especially during pledge week.

4.  As noted in a previous post, I’ve become more reliant on my google calendar. In the past I used my trusty notebooks to keep track of  daily engagements. However, now that I use my google calendar more often, the process of transferring information from the notebook to the calendar is flawed and has become cumbersome. For example, I might be at a meeting (without my laptop?!) and I want to schedule another meeting – but I don’t have my calendar because google has it. trusty notebooks

5. I want the ability to check my latest email.  If I don’t choose to respond right away I don’t have to – but at least I’ll know what’s ahead. Which leads to a larger existential question – is it better to know about the email lurking in your inbox,  or to live with the possibility that there is a pressing matter at hand that you don’t know about?