Category: tech

Off time

I’m not one for app reviews, because although I’m a nerd when it comes to technology I tend to be an indecisive nerd. I tend to switch things up, sometimes faster than I blogged. I also used to be an early adopter and a staunch Apple user. That combination especially the indecisive bit made tech reviews seem not part of my written “view”.

That will probably continue to be the case. Not just because of the aforementioned issues but because as with my handbags, my requirements seem oddly unique to the way my oddly unique body works.

This is not a sponsored post. However, I think that I found a solution to my earlier post about wanting a semi dumb phone. So I thought I’d share. The app is called (OFFtime). I’ve paid for the android pro features and have been using it for a few weeks. It’s working very well for me.

I needed (ok wanted) a way of having access to some of the online features of my phone (for example banking or google maps) without having to either turn other “sometimes useful but not now” notifications off or try and ignore them. I didn’t want it to be so fiddly. Putting it on silent, just made me hyper vigilant to every vibration and or I’d look more often so I didn’t miss the one person I might want to hear from.

For me this is the answer.

I have set up a few different profiles. Within each profile you can determine which apps you might want to use during that activity. The app will “let” you use those apps with no difference. Depending on the settings you choose, when attempting to access other apps you are met with varying levels of resistance, with snarky-ish comments. The trick is that you need to think ahead enough about what you want to do. Therein lies just enough self discipline to make it both workable (the phone can be a tool) and a challenge (I find myself looking over at it still way more than I want to admit, seeking distraction)

Same principle applies with calls and SMS. Rather than double check each vibration in case it’s so and so, or disconnect entirely, I can determine who I want to hear from whilst doing what. My parents and my dr are pretty much it for the vacuuming my head profile, a slightly expanded group can interrupt me if I’m using my writing profile for example. For the “lucky” ones, text or call will make whatever noise is “normal”. Otherwise you have silence, no change in LED and the option to send an SMS to the texter explaining that you’re busy, with an expected return time of whatever time you specified at the start of your off time. It includes a link to the website of course. Again you can do anything you want during your off time as long as you’ve planned for it.

At the end of the time, or if you have given yourself an option to opt out early (and taken it), the app will give you a run down of how long you were off time for and who said what in SMS and anything else that happened so you can reply when ready.

The only thing that I’m less than keen about is that it monitors your use seemingly all the time.

Remember when phones rang when people actually want to talk to you?

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A semi-dumb phone please?

My phone keeps going off. Notification wise. As its supposed to be its really distracting – some sounds worse than others. The majority of sounds are not urgent, but I am conditioned to react to the sounds on the off-chance.

I really wonder if I need to switch to a dumb phone. But I like the screen real estate of a smart phone. Also, there are some aspects useful to me of being able to be connected in an instant and I don’t necessarily want to be all silent either. I like to be able to reach out to twitter or my banking apps for examplewhen I need information without having them hit me back with irrelevant stuffing they want me to have when it suits them. It’s not in my interest or even in theirs for me to unplug entirely and I don’t really want to. But it is tempting.

Sometimes you need alarms, even to interrupt when you don’t think you want to be interrupted. But not necessarily every time milk needs collecting on HayDay, or so and so posted on twitter especially when one is working – though on the weekend it’d be nice to be reminded sometimes that there is something lighthearted available.

I know you can set granular app by app notifications but I don’t want it to get too fiddly. I want to be able to set it and forget it to be a smart phone for me; available to me, for me when I need it to be.

I also know that it’s in many of the app developers interests to try to distract me, and entice me back, and yes, I admit that that has worked well for them in relation to me. This is especially true of apps that serve ads, but even google and YouTube get pushy sometimes. I also to know that there are apps on the Android (like the old dumb phone app which can’t run because of operating system upgrades).

I get that they are serving a purpose and that works for them or they wouldn’t do it. I just wish my phone was actually designed to work for me and my needs first. Like I say, I want to reach out, not be spoonfed. Trust me to do that and I’m more likely to buy from you. Spoonfed = resentment = uninstall

If they aren’t careful I’ll just switch the whole thing off.

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Tiny and tech Tuesday: iOS 6

I finally saw the video of WWDC. Finally got my head around what’s coming in iOS 6 “this Spring”.

My favourite feature of the ones they covered: Do Not Disturb. The ability to keep your connection active for iCloud without getting calls or text messages.

The one I think is missing so far? Caller announcements, especially for use with Bluetooth and Siri. Almost enough to tempt me to Android. (Relax folks I said almost)

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Accessibility Apps — iPad

I’ve been catching up on my podcast listening while laying low and I came across this from the folks at the the TWIT Network — a partial review of some of the apps that are used to enable usage and assist people with disabilities on the iPad.

They covered (but didn’t really demonstrate) the in built features within the iPad and the operating system in general. Then they had a discussion about the use of the terms “special needs” and accessible. Unfortunately, although agreeing that the term accessible was preferable and more inclusive the younger Sarah Lane persisted with using the “special needs” terminology. They also make the point that these apps for people with a disability tend to cost a lot and a lot more than your average application. This will hardly been news to anyone that has a disability, but I’m grateful that they noticed and commented.

The focus then seemed to be on Autism spectrum education apps– which is great and applaudable but these I would see as education apps even though they are for people with disabilities. I understand they got a lot of input but share the love across impairment types

My best pick for an accessibility app on the iDevices — dragon dictate for iDevice. Not quite as precise as the desktop version (which is trained specifically for an individual user, but still very accurate.

The first 20 mins of the podcast by Leo and Sarah is still great though and worth the listen, even if the terminology might grate. I appreciate the fact they did it.

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Confession — iTunes

I’ve got a nasty habit of downloading movies and TV shows that either aren’t good for me, or I’ve seen them before, or even worse I already own them – in hard or soft copy. That was the case with Julie and Julia last night, which I had already rented and enjoyed and now own.


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Another Monday Micro: New iPhone, iPad app for tracking sins

This.might be useful especially to a new convert unsure of the process. But remember:

The (US) $1.99 “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” can’t grant forgiveness — you still need to receive the sacrament from a real, live priest like always. The app’s designers and some believers see it as a way to spur Catholics back into the habit of repenting.

Indeed — I can’t complain about the use of technology.

The news video of it is here

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new technology part two–umm and ahh continued

In light of this post from FWD– feminists with disabilities, I thought it would be good to update everybody on my continuing experience with Dragon Dictate for Mac, which I have been using sporadically since my birthday.

By and large it’s great. I certainly use it for most of my blog posts, which is why they can be quite a bit longer. I also use the software for e-mail although that is still a bit harder than I’d like it to be, mostly user error I’m sure.

My biggest issue is knowing the terminology that it expects. It’s certainly a lot less random in its “actions” then earlier versions were and I think it’s still learning how I speak. But, when I’m on a roll it’s good. It is still very tempting to use my hands to move the cursor which I know is bad. When I do that the program starts to act out and add random letters to the end of my dictation. Also, my voice is fairly inconsistent and I need to be self-aware enough to know when it’s a good dictation day and when it isn’t.

It’s a long slow curve but it is worth the investment already.

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