Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Tagged smartphones

Why I won’t buy an Apple Watch (for now)

Courtesy Apple

Courtesy Apple

Constantly checking your wrist watch is less rude and less distracting than constantly checking your smartphone. It might even improve your life.

Or so says a report from Wired on why Apple chose to manufacture the forthcoming iWatch, which serves as a second, more accessible screen for your iPocket, I mean iPhone.

“Your phone is ruining your life,” writes David Pierce, who, like many others, ignorantly blames the object instead of the abuser. Rather than setting boundaries on his technology, Pierce and others like him egotistically search for reasons to be elsewhere in thought and suffer the consequence.  Continue reading…

8 ways to conquer your smartphone obsession

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

“I really wish I spent more time on my phone,” said no one ever. I doubt anyone will.

And yet, many of us can’t resist the Kavorka of our phones, in times of idleness or activity. What’s a modern human to do?

Don’t worry, Internet denizens. I got you. After five years on a lean, enlivening, and offline-rich phone diet, here are eight things you can do right now to put your phone in check, free yourself from its compulsive clutches, and live in the moment:  Continue reading…

Texting and dating: Young lovers, I feel for you

I don’t know if falling in love is more challenging today than it was before. But it can’t be easy with the constant allure, cover, and distraction of smartphones.

Case in point: I saw a guy macking on a girl recently—or at least trying to. He was obviously interested; his attention undivided. She was preoccupied with her phone, however. She occasionally rejoined his advances with peppered smiles and words, but she mostly focused her attention on the tarot card-sized device she cradled in hand and poked at with thumbs.

From a distance, I couldn’t tell if she was coping with embarrassment behind her phone, considering a counter-flirt, or not at all interested. If I had to guess, I’d bet on the latter because newly crushing or in love couples usually stay fixated on each other’s eyes. Of course, interested males are horrible at deciphering this universal truth — always have been, always will, with or without smartphones. But I know first-hand how complicating phones can be to loving relationships.  Continue reading…

Eight stories I wish you would read

true-love

A client recently asked for links to some of my favorite personal writings. This is what I sent him:

Photo credit: Sara Snow

The anti-technologist: How to smartphone without a data plan

iphoneEditor’s note: The Anti-Technologist is a new column by Blake Snow. It advocates late adoption of consumer technology and expels the wonders of finding offline balance in an online world.

I’m convinced that cellular data plans will someday replace the broadband cable lines most of us still use to access the internet. I also think data plans are great for mobile workers, extended-stay vacationers, or anyone else who doesn’t have access to the internet for the entirety of the work day.

I also know, however, that the last four years of my life after quitting my data plan have been irreversibly better than the four previous years in which I subscribed to a plan. The reason I abandoned the portable internet? In short, I did it because I was tired of being on a self-imposed work leash. That and the “always there” internet didn’t mesh well with my indulgent lust for information. So I cut it.

A lot of people I encounter are surprised by this, mostly because the mainstream view incorrectly assumes that staying on an internet-connected smartphone for extended periods lets you get ahead in life (i.e. make more money). It doesn’t. It’s just an illusion. In fact, all-day internetting actually leads to less inspired work, since obsessive users are never able to truly break away, recharge their batteries, and return to work with a hungry mind.

Nevertheless, smartphones are still great, even on dumb plans like mine. Here’s why: Continue reading…

Three reasons the iPhone is more dumbphone than smartphone

3gsAfter six (sometimes) productive years, I abandoned the sinking ship that is BlackBerry last week. In it’s place, I upgraded to the “magical,” status-enhancing iPhone.

As early adopters discovered a few years ago, it’s more than a phone: it’s the greatest piece of personal technology ever invented. Phone, texter, navigator, iPod, mini TV, game console, digital assistant, e-reader, and tiny computer all in one. Not only did it serve as the inspiration for the more popular Android clone, the iPhone is the more organic and less painful version of touchscreen phones, i.e. not unlike what Macs often are to Windows machines.

Of course, like all smartphones, the iPhone can be a total drag on your analog life if you don’t set limits. (In my case, that means shunning a data plan, turning off all alerts except for voice calls, staying away from it as much as possible on nights and weekends, and only connecting to the internet when I need it, as opposed to the more common always-on, always wired, and always distracting “push” internet mode. More on that in my forthcoming book.)

But the iPhone gets a whole lot more right than it gets wrong. In fact, I count only three usability flaws on the device: Continue reading…

Clever ad: Turning the tables on obsessive geek culture

YouTube Preview Image

Using iOS is still less of a pain than using Android. That is, the form is still better.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the attached ad is incredibly effective in speaking to the majority of smartphone users who don’t appreciate, nor do they want to associate with, the millions of off-putting Apple fans parodied above.

In any case, wouldn’t it be great if phones could go back to being useful tools rather than modern day golden calves?

One year after canceling mobile data: 10 things I’ve learned

gp792536-00vliv01Update: As of 2013, data is now included with my cell phone plan. But thanks to my four year break from it, mobile data no longer interrupts my life like it use to. When used sparingly, it actually enhances it.  

A year ago this week, I canceled my data plan. The unexpected catalyst was an awesome trip to Montana. After being tied to my Blackberry for four years, here are 10 observations of “my rebirth” into mobile obscurity:

  1. My quality of life has improved while productivity has remained constant. By that I mean I get as much done as I did before, only now I enjoy a lot more personal time without work interfering. In many cases, that translates into greater productivity upon returning to work the next morning or after the weekend. Believe it or not.
  2. My relationship with my wife and children has improved. I recognize them more. I play with them more. With fewer alerts to interrupt us, it’s a lot more fun now.
  3. Email still waits for me on my computer. Continue reading…

5 years later, these 10 cell phone commandmants still ring true

cell phone addictionCourtesy of Joey Reiman for Pink Magazine, published in 2005:

  1. Thou shalt not take the BlackBerry to any table with food on it or family around it. A BlackBerry is not a fruit, nor does it come from a tree.
  2. Thou shalt not use the BlackBerry as reading material in the event of insomnia. It will only worsen your situation.
  3. Thou shalt not BlackBerry in lieu of responding to a child’s request (e.g., “Wait a second, I’m reading something.”).
  4. Thou shalt not place the BlackBerry within distance of hearing its incessant beeps while at home. It is not a bird.
  5. Thou shalt not check BlackBerry as if it were your baby. It will not cry or stop breathing.
  6. Thou shalt not confuse number of e-mails with self-worth.
  7. Thou shalt do everything possible to misplace your BlackBerry on weekends.
  8. Thou shalt remember that a BlackBerry is not a body appendage. It is a device that belongs in your briefcase or on your desk, and not in social settings.
  9. Thou shalt refrain from bringing the BlackBerry to events involving family interaction. Extraneous dialogue with this contraption in lieu of real conversation suggests addiction.
  10. Thou shalt never, ever, ever bring the BlackBerry to bed.

Since canceling my data plan last year, I haven’t broken any of these. (Thanks, Josh)

Blame “important” doctors for your cell phone abuse

cell phone rubber bandI wrote on article on cell phone abuse, to be published on GigaOM, and was unable to use the following, which I thought was rather insightful:

“When cell phones were first introduced, they were expensive and obtrusive,” says Dr. Lisa Merlo, professor of psychology at the University of Florida. “As a result, the people who had them and used them did so for ‘important’ reasons. For example, physicians might have a cell phone while on-call. So, people excused the rudeness associated with talking on a cell phone because there was a legitimate reason for doing so. However, cell phones have become ubiquitous, and the rules have not changed to accommodate this.”

Continue reading…