Tag Archives: smartphone

I Put the Phone Down For a Day to be In the Moment and Here’s What I Learned

A beautiful moment preserved for all eternity thanks to a smartphone camera

I’m addicted to my smartphone.

If you’re a parent and you’ve ever been on the Internet, you know how shameful a statement that is. Because if we’ve learned anything from other parents who write about parenting on the Internet for an audience that is largely mobile and reading these things on their phones, we know the combination of phones + kids is bad. Harmful, according to so many of these writers who know beyond a shadow of a doubt parents on phones are irreparably damaging their offspring.

On Sunday, I put our canoe on top of our minivan, loaded up the fishing gear, and decided to take my 3-year-old for a canoe ride down the Charles River. When we parked the car at the put-in point on the river, I had a panic attack as a horrific feeling of dread and anxiety washed over me.

I forgot my phone at home.

Truth be told, my first instinct was to jump back in the car and go get it. But I stopped for a second and calmed myself in order to contemplate something truly outrageous — spending the next few hours in nature with my son sans smartphone.

I thought of all the articles I’ve read telling me what a deadbeat I am for using my phone so much around my kids. I thought of how valuable it could be to be present in the moment and not witness life through a small screen. I also thought about the epic tantrum Sam would throw if I told him we had to go home and then come back and how much I hate detours, but I swear I thought about the value of the no phone thing too.

In the end, I decided to go it without technology. Just a dad and his son. Fishing and paddling and talking and connecting with one another and nature. Besides, who needs a camera when the mind’s eye is so wondrous, right?

Well fuck that shit, because the answer is me — I need a camera. And going without my phone was absolutely awful and I’m never doing it again!

I know you were expecting another one of those “I was addicted to technology but I went without it and I had some spiritual epiphany and now I’m a different man and a better father and I’m here to annoy you with my newfound anti-smartphone wokeness” bullshit, but that’s not happening. And here’s why.

First of all, the scenery was really beautiful along the river and capturing some shots would’ve been nice. Second, we saw deer, turtles, an otter, and a family of geese. It was really cool. Know what wasn’t cool? Sam asking me to take a picture each and every time wildlife appeared, and having a fresh new meltdown every time I reminded him I didn’t have my phone on me. It was nice being in the moment with multiple tantrums.

But the big reason I’ll forever kick myself for not going back for my phone is because Sam caught his first fish on this trip — and I missed it.

I’ve let him reel fish in after I’ve hooked them, but this was the first one he caught after casting with no help from me, setting the hook, reeling it in, and then landing it in the canoe. When he realized he had a fish on he FREAKED OUT with excitement and began reeling like a madman. He was shouting “I’VE GOT A FISH! DADA I’VE GOT A FISH! I’M A REAL FISHERMAN!” and his shrieks could be heard clear across Populatic Pond. He and the fish battled but eventually Sam got the better of him and plopped a smallmouth bass into the canoe. Once in the boat, Sam screamed “I CAUGHT A FISH ALL BY MYSELF!!!!!” with triumphant resonance. And as a proud papa, my smile widened as my eyes watered. And at that moment Sam turned to me, cocked his head to one side, and said something I’ll never forget.

“Dad, you got that on video right?”

Don’t get me wrong, it was as Kodak a moment as they get and I’m thrilled I was able to see it. But know what would’ve made it better? A video or picture I could look at any time I wanted. Something I could show relatives and friends. Something I could show him years from now when he’s unable to remember any of this. Hell, something I can refer to when I can’t remember any of this.

All of these parenting “gurus” tell you to live in the moment so I’ll be able to remember things clearly, but I work 50+ hours a week while raising three kids. My days start at 5:15 am and don’t end until the maelstrom of dinner and bedtime has concluded around 10 pm. Half the time I don’t even know what day it is, and I legit can’t remember my kids’ names. I called one of them the dog’s name yesterday. So having every photo and video I take automatically back up to Google Photos and be categorized online for perusal any time I want is HUGE for me.

An that’s the other thing. One of the arguments from these smartphone critics is “You’re taking a photo you’re never going to watch again so what’s the point?” Well maybe we’re a bunch of narcissists in this house, but we watch old videos and go through old pictures constantly. Once in awhile we’ll spend entire evenings going through YouTube videos from years ago and watching the kids grow up. And EVERY SINGLE TIME we say “Oh wow, I completely forgot about this. This is great.

I hate to break it to these professional parent-shamers, but it’s entirely possible to take pictures and videos of your kids and “be in the moment.” Using a smartphone to record kids and being present are not mutually exclusive things, and I’m not sure why it’s now socially acceptable to simply believe that’s the case. If you overdo it then sure, it can be a problem. That’s true for anything — especially dispensing judgey parenting advice on the Internet.

Lastly, when I got home, MJ was FURIOUS at me because if something had happened I would’ve had no way to call for help. So in addition to missing a milestone moment,  not being able to capture the cool animals, and disappointing my son, the absence of my phone got me chewed out by my wife to boot.

All I know is I’m going to wield my smartphone all the time and capture as much of my kid’s childhoods as humanly possible. And I’m not going to question that decision or feel guilty about it for one damn second. Because some day years from now, MJ and I will be sitting down getting happily misty-eyed at random videos we’ve taken over the years.

The beauty of this technology is that it’s allowed us to retain the random, wonderful moments that are too often lost through the holes in memory’s floorboards. It’s the virtual recycling bin that allows us to reuse the overflow of memories our minds are simply too full to comprehend for the long-term. Or, more simply put, it allows me to live in future moments as well as the original one.

I will hold on to the memory of Sam’s first fish for as long as my addled mind allows. But I sure do wish I had caught it on video.

It won’t happen again.

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Parents at Playgrounds on Phones Are the Worst People Ever

I’ve been waiting for a chance to use this picture for three years!

There are some bad people out there.

The world is full of liars, cheaters, serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, and New York Jets fans. Unfortunately, the derelicts are living next to us, conversing with us, and subversively poisoning our way of life as they chip away at society’s common decency. They’re right under our noses, yet because there’s no readily identifiable mark of evil to witness, it’s impossible for us to tell the good guys from the dregs.

Until now.

If you’re not familiar with the worst people on Earth, I’m not surprised. No one has ever actually seen what they look like, because their faces are perpetually pointed down. Yup, that’s right — we’re talking about parents at playgrounds who use their smartphones!

I know. Savages, right? I mean, these are our children. Our babies. Our future. But sadly, you can’t throw a dead Angry Bird on the Internet these days without coming across another heartbreaking tale of innocent children being shamefully neglected by smartphone wielding monsters. Seriously, it’s an epidemic.

And you thought ISIS was bad news.

I’m sure you’ve run into their ilk at the local playgrounds. It’s always the same horrid scene. Kids happily cavorting and scampering around the playground, instantly making friends with other kids as only children can do. They climb the climbing walls, slide down slides, and cross the monkey bars while enjoying some exercise and the outdoors. On the surface, everything seems fine until you see the parent sitting on the bench tapping away on a phone.

Make no mistake, these people are what’s wrong with society.

Don’t approach them, as they probably won’t notice you anyway. Because hell, they’re already missing every single precious moment of their baby’s life and clearly prioritizing technology over their own flesh and blood. Instead, just make a mental note of everything they’re doing wrong, and shame this abomination on your blog as soon as you get home.

These people are so dangerous because they’re not thinking about the children. I mean sure they could be a stay-at-home parents who devote every waking second to the kids all day long up until this point and now they’re searching Pinterest for a dinner recipe while their kids get exercise, but that’s beside the point.

And yeah, I guess this could be a working parent returning a quick email because she negotiated a flexible schedule and the ability to work remotely so she can see her kids more often instead of coming home from the office after they’re asleep, but that’s neither here nor there.

And yes, there is an infinitesimal chance the dad on the phone needs just five minutes to himself to check Facebook or read the news while his kids play, because he hasn’t had an adult conversation in more than a week and he fears his brain is turning to mush. But that’s hardly relevant.

What is important is shaming these parents without knowing anything about their personal circumstances.

After all, if your head is buried in your phone how can you ensure your kid’s safety? Didn’t you watch the incredibly frightening video about child abduction??? Anyone with a furry creature and a warm smile can steal your kid at any second. I mean yeah, technically that video uses erroneous statistics and only 115 “stranger abductions” a year are reported in the US. And it’s true the world is actually statistically safer now than at any point in recent history. But the point is, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS!

Every mom and dad knows the only way to be truly great at parenting is to spend 100% of your time and energy on your kids and always put them first at all costs. That’s just science.

You need to follow them around the playground and be a shadow.

Is junior having trouble climbing the ladder? Help him immediately. Is your little girl in the middle of a nonviolent disagreement with another child? Step in as soon as possible and resolve it for her. Do your children have trouble playing independently and need you helicoptering around them at all times? Then congratulations, because you’re winning the parenting game.

In a world where the bad guys often look like good guys, it’s comforting in a way to have a common despised enemy. That’s why it’s not enough for you to parent your own kid and let other parents handle things in a more hands-off way. You have a responsibility to point out perceived shortcomings of others based on little to no actual information, and use it for blog fodder and just making yourself and others feel better about themselves in general.

In a world gone mad with terrible dangers like parents with smartphones and deflated footballs lurking around every corner, it’s up to you, super parent, to continue to fight the good fight.

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Droid Razr by Motorola is the Best Phone I’ve Ever Owned

Yeah. The title of this post says it all. The Droid Razr by Motorola is hands-down, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best phone I’ve ever owned. And it’s not even close.

Motorola tapped me to become a Motorola Insider a couple of months ago and gave me a Razr shortly after it came out. I have to admit, my technological knowledge is pretty sparse. Which is why I was snickering to myself that Motorola was giving a free phone to a person who can barely manage to set his phone to vibrate.

Which is exactly why I’m not going to drone on and on about the Razr’s lightning fast 4G LTE network, the 8 mp rear camera with an 8x zoom, the 1.3 mp front-facing camera that shoots HD quality video all powered by a Dual-Core 1.2GHz , Dual-Channel RAM Processor that runs the 2.3.5 Gingerbread Android platform which is Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) upgradeable. If you want the technical specs like the 16 GB of internal memory, just click here and you’ll have it all.

Instead, I want to talk to you in practical terms about what this phone does. Especially the main reasons why I like it, why you’ll like it and how it can help you on a daily basis and actually make your lives easier. And yes, this phone does that. I’m not being dramatic. So on that note, here’s what struck me about the phone immediately.

“Holy crap this phone is thin!”

Well, it is the RAZR. And the name is well-deserved. It is 7 mm thick. Yup. Seven freaking millimeters. It is truly the reinvention of Motorola’s 2004 Razr (which I also owned and loved back in the day) and damn it’s thin. Thin to the point I worried that it would snap on me if I played with it too hard. But fear not people, because the RAZR might be thin but it’s also sturdy. It’s actually got Kevlar backing.

At first I thought “Isn’t Kevlar overkill for a phone?” But when my 3.5-year-old dropped it on the second day with no breakage, I was suddenly thankful for Motorola’s foresight. The front screen is also made of gorilla glass and holds up really, really well.

“Holy crap, this phone is BIG!”

The Razr is thin, but it’s also big. I was rocking an HTC Droid Incredible before this and I liked it a lot. But once I saw the Razr’s 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced Screen I was mesmerized. Honestly, it’s more tablet than phone. While I could do most everything one-handed with my Incredible, it’s a little tougher with the Razr. Which is actually a good thing since it pretty much eliminates texting while driving carelessness.

“Holy crap, this phone is FAST!”

Aside from the thinness, the sheer speed of this phone is terrific. The 4G speed is a marked difference from the 3G I was used to, and it makes this phone really hum. There’s very little lag between actions and when I turn the phone from vertical to horizontal I no longer have to wait 30 seconds for the screen to auto-adjust. Likewise for the times I jump online or use my apps. I tap it and it comes up immediately.

The only thing I had a small problem with was the connectivity. I was getting randomly disconnected from both the 4G and 3G network and had to use Wi-fi where available. Thankfully they rolled out an update a week ago and I’ve had far fewer problems, and my 4G Verizon LTE service is hardly ever interrupted.

“Holy crap, this phone is smarter than I am.”

I know, I know. That’s not saying much. But seriously, the coolest built-in feature on this phone is Smart Actions. Let me ask you something. Have you ever gone to work or bed only to be bothered/woken up by the notification sound or a badly timed phone call? Do you keep forgetting to send your significant other a text everyday when you leave work? Well, Smart Actions has you covered and then some.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you want to automatically put your phone on vibrate when you get to work. Go to Smart Actions and input the trigger and the action you want. If you get to work at the same time everyday you can use the “Timeframe” trigger, or put your work address into the phone and it’ll detect when you arrive. When the trigger is, well…triggered, you can list one or more actions you want to take place. You can put the phone on vibrate, dim the screen, send an automated text message, etc.

This picture of Will was taken with the Razr's 8 MP camera. Very good quality!

Personally I have Smart Actions for work, home, the car, battery level and battery extender. When I get to work the phone goes to vibrate, the screen dims to 20%, and GPS and the Bluetooth goes off to save battery. One of the coolest features is the Battery Extender Smart Action. If I turn the screen off or if the phone is motionless, it turns off background syncing for email and apps which really helps save the battery.

And speaking of battery, the Razr has a non-removable one. But it’s really an upgrade from anything I’ve ever had. With moderate use my Incredible wasn’t making it more than a few hours at a time. But the Razr routinely goes 8-10 hours. And if you harness Smart Actions you can gain an extra 25% or so on top of that.

There’s also a service called Motocast that gives you remote access to files on your PC. But since I still haven’t evolved from my mid- to late-1990s CD collection, I really don’t have much use for streaming music and I take my laptop with me almost everywhere, so I haven’t used it. But it’s a nice feature to have.

As any of my regular readers know by now, I don’t do a lot of product reviews. And when I do get involved with a company I make sure it’s a brand and a product I believe in, that will benefit my readers. And let me tell you, this will benefit you. Big time. I love this phone. Maybe a little too much since MJ is already jealous of it. I am 100% certain the money you spend on the Razr will be money you don’t regret forking over, and this phone is an absolute game-changer. To get more information or buy the phone, just click here.

And just for kicks, here’s a video I took with the Razr so you can see the 720p HD video capture. This was taken on Christmas just before a big fantasy football matchup in which Donald Driver of the Green Bay Packers had to be held in check. I just didn’t want you to think I went around randomly inciting violence amongst the ranks of NFL wide receivers.

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