Mobile App Choices

December 4, 2011

The recent noise about Carrier IQ reminded me of an issue with Android mobile phones that really annoys me.  The issue is the proliferation of pre-installed apps on your phone over which you have no control.  At least two-thirds of the apps that came pre-installed on my Android phone are of no interest and/or no use to me.  These apps cannot be removed unless you know how to root or hack into your phone.  Supposedly holding down the ‘s’ key when booting my phone puts it into Safe Mode which allows you to remove the offending applications.  Well, it only works with apps you installed from the Android Market and not the ones that came with the phone.

I am not talking about the apps that may be essential to the phone’s operation. I am talking about apps like CarDock, DriveSmart, Family Room, Latitude, News, News & Weather (why two News apps?) and Slacker. They load every time you turn your phone on and you cannot turn them off, much less remove them.  Sure, you can go into Applications/Manage Applications/Running and do a Force Stop, but this doesn’t really work.  Magically, the applications you thought you had stopped come back on to suck up battery juice and memory.

Among apps I downloaded by choice, the worst offender was Hotmail’s Android Market app. You cannot Force Stop it for even a few minutes as it uses up all of your phone’s power and memory. I kept getting messages telling me the Hotmail app had been running too long and did I want to turn it off – so I removed it permanently.

My wish for the New Year is a complete choice of apps when investing in a new mobile phone.  I want to choose the browser, music, media, email and instant messaging clients myself.  I also want to be able to truly stop an app if I don’t want it running and start it again when I need it, like the Manual/Automatic/Disable dialogue found in Services on a Windows OS computer.

Maybe I have been a computer geek too long, but to me mobile phones are small computers and we should have more control over the applications that run on them.  Whether it’s an app like Carrier IQ or Hotmail or Photoshop, the idea is the same.  We need to be able to control the apps and better manage system resources on our phones.

Comments and feedback on this topic are appreciated!


The Flipside of the Information Overload Coin

June 7, 2011

The other side of the information overload coin is failing to take advantage of the available sources to bring attention and drive customers to your business. Just having a website and paying a search engine fee to place you nearer the top of the list doesn’t mean squat in the global marketplace. You have to present yourself as a brand that people search out.  You have to be a player in the Internet marketing universe and to do that you must put the available tools to good use.

Think of it this way.  Remember buying that first desktop computer for your business?  You were so excited because you had a computer.  Well, that excitement wore off when you had to figure out what to do with it.  It was useless just sitting there.  Well, the Internet is the same.  Your company’s CEO or President was just as excited when he announced “we have a website”. Well, that’s great but it’s a static entity. And just like that first computer, it’s useless unless you understand how to take advantage of the resources it offers you. 

If you still think in terms of plain white paper mass mailing marketing, you have been left in the dust.  You have to think outside the box of resource wasting postage, post cards and paper, which end up in the trash bin. If you are thinking what is she talking about, I hate to tell you that web savvy businesses are way ahead of you, pushing their brand onto the World Wide Web. 

Embracing and actively participating in social media and mobile technology is a requirement to achieving success in the global marketplace.  Your website needs to display well on smartphones and tablets as an ‘m’ version.  What does that mean?  The ‘m’ version is scaled to fit a smartphone screen with an Internet address that begins with an ‘m’ instead of ‘www’, such as ‘’ versus ‘’.  If you engage in e-commerce you need to have a smartphone app for that as well.

If you think all social media sites should be blocked from your company’s computers, think again.  Many of these sites are useful research and business tools, rather than time wasters.  Let’s say your company is rated highest in customer satisfaction the third year in a row.  This is news and is expensive to share via traditional advertising and marketing methods.  If the news were tweeted or shared across social media it would have immediate impact and cost nothing but time. The possibilities for getting your brand out there are limitless.

I suggest visiting to get an idea of what is going on in the World Wide Web universe from a business viewpoint.  I also recommend looking at, which is a location based web app that lets participants check-in at various local businesses. When the participant checks in, details about that business are automatically shared with their social group and can include an incentive to encourage group members to also check out the business. This is just one example of what is already here and presages what is coming down the road.

These comments may seem obvious to many of you, but for every one of you there are dozens of companies who lag far behind in technology and Internet savvy.

Information Overload – Good or Bad?

May 29, 2011

Information overload – is this a good thing?  The question comes from several recent on-line surveys which ended by asking whether or not I thought I was experiencing information overload.  I like having information available to me, so in that sense my answer is no.  However, I dislike being bombarded by the same articles or posts on multiple websites which are then repeated by my fellow readers.  Someone needs to come up with a browser filter that will eliminate the duplications.  In the past week I noticed that some of the articles or posts I read were shared by certain websites without my ‘express consent’.  I did not purposely share them and am concerned that connections exist where they should not.  It makes me wonder what else is being shared that I am not aware of.  Maybe I’ll just turn off the “Allow” feature for now…

Another thought regarding information overload is it might be okay for adults, but what about children?  Is it a good thing to expose them to the endless posts and stories about Lady Gaga, the bloodshed in the Middle East or the tornado disaster in Missouri?  Do we  need to know what the rest of the planet is doing every single second of every single day?  I am referring to both the Internet and television.  Do we really need 24 hour news channels?  Much of what they show is repeated throughout the day, so why bother being on all the time? Growing up we watched the half hour evening news with Walter Cronkite and that was enough.  If there was something really important happening it would be broadcast, such as man’s first walk on the moon or Nixon waving good-bye as he boarded his helicopter for that last trip from the White House.  Heck, the networks didn’t broadcast 24 hours a day back then.  When I was a kid much of our free time was spent climbing on jungle gyms, riding bikes, participating in sports, or playing with dolls and maybe helping Mom in the kitchen.  We were active participants in our surroundings. We did not sit hunched in a chair with our hands hovering over a keyboard or clenching a game console controller, staring endlessly at a screen a few feet or inches away from our faces.

New Creative Horizon

August 25, 2010

There is a new creative force on the horizon. It’s called mobile digital art and it is coming from artists working with applications created for smartphones such as the iPhone or Android phones. The photo posted here was taken with my Android phone using the “Retro Camera” application which is a free download to the phone. The applications available for download to these devices make it possible to create and edit pictures ‘inphone’, without having to upload them to a computer.  Other available applications include mobile, and fingerpainting apps such as CamPainter Lite.  To view examples of this new creative art form by many artists, visit and


July 5, 2010

Summer Hummingbird

I know the gulf oil spill and G20 conference are discussed endlessly in the news, but I must make a short comment.   If the current gulf oil spill doesn’t stop and new ones start elsewhere that cannot be stopped, there will be no whales to save or any other life form.  Concentrate on preventing our dependency on oil by removing the need for it, lest all current life forms become future fossils.

Future Fossil


June 22, 2010

While working on a longer article, the thoughts below cruised across my mind.  Let me know what you think about the topic.


The way the U.S. Census currently works you must have a physical address to be included in the count.  In my mind this excludes a large number of people who should be included.  To not include the homeless in the count is a form of discrimination.  So what if your address is Battery Park, where you sleep in Tent City with a constant State of anxiety?  People living on Park Avenue in New York City share that same constant State of anxiety.

News headlines note the unemployment figures as they rise or go down.  Well, how about some headlines about the percentage of homeless people in this country?  Let’s not ignore them. They should be a part of the census, too. Don’t leave them out.  Go survey the people living in the subways, tents and tunnels, on the beaches and river banks, under overpasses and in their cars on the roadside.  Let’s include every body to give us a truly accurate count of how many people currently live in the United States of America.

Volcanoes and Sleeping Dogs

April 18, 2010

In my previous post I said “Don’t forget about the volcano eruption in Iceland, either.”  And what happened?  We let the sleeping dog lie and look at the state of the planet now!  Like the continuing earthquakes, maybe we’ll have continuing volcanic eruptions.  There are a number of other volcanoes around the planet just waiting to blow again.  How about Popocatepetl in Mexico, or Mount St. Helens in the U.S.?  The link below shows active volcanoes around the world.

No doubt the travel interruption from the giant ash clouds will continue long enough to put several other airlines out of business.  Instead of seeing this as a doom and gloom situation, look at it as an opportunity to merge and/or diversify.  This is an opportunity to create multifaceted transportation companies, not like to like conglomerates.  For example, merge train/bus/car rental and hotel companies with an airline company – don’t merge 2 or 3 airlines into one company.  Existing travel websites already take into account the traveler’s requirements, and offer options to choose between rail/bus/air/rental car and hotel.  Why not make it easier for the customer and combine those choices under one company umbrella?  Start looking into it now while choices exist before the world economy makes it a necessity and not an option.

© bbsoto 2010

Mining Disasters Related to Earthquakes?

April 7, 2010

As a former resident of Los Angeles and a survivor of the 1994 Northridge quake, my “earthquake antennae” are always on.  Ongoing discussions with friends about these quakes brought something else to my attention – the China and W. Virginia mining disasters.  Could the spate of recent major earthquakes and the mining disasters be related? After all, mining is conducted underground. Granted, mining is a dangerous business and there will always be safety issues – how could there not be?  But, I am suggesting that additional causes for the disasters should be investigated.

On a whim, I looked at the USGS earthquake website, and guess what?  There WAS a 3.4 earthquake in W. Virginia on April 4th, less than 100 miles from where the April 5th mining disaster occurred. Is it a coincidence?  I’m thinking it’s not.

I also looked for information on earthquakes in China in the days preceding the mine flood in Shanxi province on March 28th.   There were two quakes listed on March 24th in the Xizang-Qinghai region.  One was a 5.5 and the other was a 5.7 magnitude.  I could not tell the distance between the locations, and there may well be no connection.

As we all know, there are too many large quakes happening around the world.  The earth is shifting more than it has in recent memory, and I don’t see how these recent underground disasters could not be related to all this seismic activity.  Don’t forget about the volcano eruption in Iceland, either.  C’mon, folks.  Mother Earth is not a happy camper. Something big is brewing underground.  I’m not suggesting Armageddon, but rather that the planet is in the process of redesigning itself much like it did millions of years ago.

As Sherlock Holmes would say “the game is afoot” and now more than ever we need to pay attention to all the details.  The clues are right in front of us. Global warming, flooding and drought are all just a part of whatever else it is that is going on with our home – Planet Earth.

© bbsoto 2010

The Boys of Summer

April 2, 2010

With Opening Day right around the corner, I am thinking of baseball seasons past.  Baseball was so loved by my father’s mother that when she died my grandfather remarked “I hope she’s playing baseball in heaven”.   My grandmother, or “Mom-mom” as I called her, instilled her love of baseball in me.  I spent many summers with Mom-mom listening to the Philadelphia Phillies games on the radio, while drinking Hires root beer and munching on TastyKakes.  Sometimes we’d even watch the games on television!  I can still hear By Saam calling the play-by-play.  He had one of those voices, like Vin Scully or Harry Caray which in my mind will be forever associated with the game.

I don’t remember how old I was, but eventually my father took me to my first real Phillies game at Connie Mack Stadium.  Players I recall seeing on the field include:  Jim Bunning, Johnny Callison, Ritchie Allen aka Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, Chris Short, Clay Dalrymple, Art Mahaffey and Tony Taylor. 

Another memory was seeing Jim Bunning on the Ed Sullivan Show the same day he pitched his no-hitter against the Mets in 1964.  To me, seeing him on the show was more exciting than seeing The Beatles. 

When my family moved out of Philadelphia, my love of the Phillies stayed with me.  One of the places we lived in was Lawrence, Kansas.  My father took me and my future husband to at least one Royals game at the old Kansas City Municipal Stadium.  After the new Royals Stadium opened in 1973, my husband and I attended many games there, seeing George Brett and others play.  My only negative memory of the stadium was seeing the Royals walk Hank Aaron when he came up to the plate.  This was after he made the record books, and was the only time I got to see the man on the field.  I was very unhappy with the Royals and, as I recall, so were many other fans in the stands.

I don’t remember the year or the opposing team, but my first visit to Veterans’ Stadium in the late 1970’s was a dismal experience.  Notorious Philly Mayor Frank Rizzo threw out the first ball in the pouring rain.  The new stadium’s fancy plastic seats were curved to be comfortable, but they held water, too.  The pouring rain fell off my umbrella and onto the seat, where the curve at the back held it in to make a nice, cold puddle for my backside.  After several innings, it was time to go home.  If I remember correctly, the Phillies lost that game, too.  Subsequent visits to The Vet were much more pleasant.

Sad to say, but the 1980 World Series between the Phillies and Royals is a blur in my mind.  I had just moved out west and, unfortunately, missed almost all of the televised games.

One of my favorite baseball stadiums was the old Yankee Stadium.  There was so much history in the place how could you not like it?  Seeing Meatloaf sing the National Anthem before a Red Sox/Yankees game in 1993 is at the top of my list for best non-baseball ballpark experiences. When he was introduced, many in the crowd snickered.  However, Meatloaf sang a cappella and by the time he was finished, the crowd was on its feet and he was given a well deserved standing ovation.

The Phillies are now in another new stadium.  I have yet to visit it, since I am again living out west, but I will get there. Will the Phillies make it to the top this year?  I will not comment, but as usual will hope for the best and remind myself that it’s not over until the last out at the bottom of the ninth inning.

So I say “Go, Phils! Get out there and do it for all your diehard fans, do it for me and do it for Mom-mom!”

 © bbsoto 2010

What Happens To Your Stuff When You Die?

March 18, 2010

The late, great George Carlin said you can’t have enough stuff.  I disagree. You can indeed have too much stuff, and have you thought about what happens to all this stuff when you die? 

The reality of my “stuff” was forced into my thoughts a few months ago when “Inge”, an elderly neighbor  in my apartment complex, passed away.   Returning home from work late one afternoon, I parked and walked over to the dumpster with trash from my car.   The dumpster was filled to the brim with someone’s personal belongings, summarily tossed and thrown willy-nilly into it.  There were framed family photos, letters, postcards, books, souvenirs, flower pots with the flowers still in them, china, glasses, clothing and a small rolling tea cart.   I realized these items all belonged to Inge!  It upset me to see this woman’s personal effects in the dumpster and made me think “what if all my photos, letters, etc. were to be thrown out like that?” 

Fear of having too much stuff coupled with the additional impetus of an impending out-of-state move forced me into action.  Downsizing is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’ve been on the planet for 50-plus years.  So, I began to get rid of my stuff via weekend yard sales, the usual Internet selling sites and charity donations.  But you know what?  I was unsuccessful.  I still have too much stuff!!!   

And don’t give me that crap about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure.  It’s the same stuff just moved to a different location and still clogging up the planet.