Category: Social Media


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Recently my wife and I had our phones cut for a few weeks. During that time period we were not at home and still needed to stay in contact with each other constantly due to my daughter being in the hospital.

Since we both had smartphone and internet where we were staying, at the hospitals and at my work it actually was not as hard as one would think. The following is a guide, that I hope will help others in situations like this, to the apps that we used to stay in touch on our android phones.

Google Hangout:
We started with hangout because it was already on our phones. Hangout is a good app for this because, like I said, its pre-installed on most android phones, its free and you can text and have video or audio calls.

Facebook Messenger: we ended up using FBM more for phone calls once I found out you can call other Facebook users via VoIP. If you don’t know how I’ll explain. When in the messenger app find the person you want to call, tap on them, then tap the “I” info icon in the top right corner and you should see “free call”. The call quality was actually very good and considering most people have Facebook and the messenger app already its a good choice since its free and you can call a lot of the people you know, at least if they have Facebook anyway.

Now that I’ve covered the two apps that helped me and my wife message and call each other while our phones were cut, what about if you need to call a landline or cell phone. Sure you could use Skype or one of the many knockoff apps, but that costs money. What if you are strapped for cash and need to make free calls to landlines, that’s where this next app comes in.

Bobsled Calling: it took a lot of searching to find an app that would let me call landlines for free. There are a lot of apps that do this, but most either cost money or give you a certain number of free calls before charging you per call. Bobsled calling is an app put out by AT&T oddly enough. It works great if you have a solid WiFi connection and the app itself is easy to use once it connects. Beware though if you have a weak or slow connection the quality drops significantly.

**Update** Bobsled actually only has a trial period like most other apps. But it works well for that trial period and if you feel like shelling out some cash its not a bad option.

Magic Jack: yes this is an app by the company that makes budget VoIP phones that you may or may not have seen. This app us actually pretty amazing. Once you sign up for a Magic Jack account you not only get to make unlimited phone calls for free, but they also give you voicemail. Now you may ask yourself, why would they give me voicemail? Well its because you get a phone number. Yes you read that right, they give you your own FREE number. Here is the catch, when calling you, your friend must first sail the Magic Jack number, then dial your number once connected to magic jack. So for example 1(679)555-5555 then 0127883321. So while its a bit complicated and most likely will cost your friends or family long distance fees they can call you if they need to and even leave you a voicemail if you don’t answer or are on the “phone” at the time.

So there you have it, my guide to surviving without a cell phone. Hope it helps out people who have been are in or will be in a situation where there cell phone gets cut.

One last note, I am  from Canada, I know in the United States they have Google calling for free and that would work in this situation perfectly. But if, like me, you aren’t in the States and can’t use that service these apps should help out until you get you service back.

Richard
@riche_613

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So a few weeks ago I was listening to The Atomic Geeks Podcast and they were talking about a new Heineken beer bottle that had LED lights in it that would light up when you “clink” or “cheers” another bottle or glass and could also be set to respond to music by flashing with the beat. While I commend Heineken for trying something new , albeit dumb, to roster up some attention, I think that their product will only be popular in clubs and bars and even then I don’t think people who don’t like or drink their beer will buy it just because the bottle lights up.

Enter the “Buddy Cup” by Budweiser.

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The buddy cup is a new social media device to help you make new friends on Facebook. The cup has a chip in it that, once you “clink” or “cheers” cups with another persons buddy cup, will automatically make you and your new pal friends on Facebook. I actually think this is interesting and can make meeting new people, or rather making sure you are able to remember who they are or keep in contact with them, easier.

The cup works by scanning a QR code on the bottom of the cup with an accompanying app and pairing the cup with your phone and Facebook account. Then when you knock buddy cups, a confirmation LED lights up and viola! New Facebook friend.

Definitely an interesting concept. Don’t know when or if it will come to North America as the article I read said it was developed by Budweiser Brazil, but one can hope I guess.

Richard
@riche_613

Over the past few years as smart phones and tablets have taken over our lives and connected us even more to social media we have seen more and more gadgets that not only help us with our daily activities but also post about these activities to sites like Facebook.

One great example of this are devices like the Nike armbands and the fit bit bands. Sure they track how many steps you take and when you sleep and give you all sorts of stats and graphs and that’s all well and good. My question is why we need to post our stats to our social media sites. And now we have all manner of gadgets that will post stats for you. But what takes it too far? Is it the fridge that posts when you bought milk, or the washer and dryer that tell people how often you do laundry and how much water you use, or even the WiFi enabled scale that tells people how much weight you lost last week.

For my money its this.

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I ran across this device on Popsci.com today. Its called the Bactrack Mobile. Its basically a hand held breathalyzer that has Bluetooth to connect to your smart device of choice to show your blood alcohol level and then can post it to Facebook or twitter. This definitely goes too far. Why do I care if my friend “John Doe” on Facebook has a blood alcohol level of 1.9? I don’t, so what’s the point in adding this functionality? I’ll admit that some of the feature might be cool to use and some of the data could be fun to see while drinking with your friends. But it doesn’t need to be posted to a social media site. NO ONE CARES!

I might be alone in this so please if you have a different point of view on this or similar product please let me know in the comments below. And if you want to read more about this device here is the link to the article I read on Popsci.com

http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2013-04/broadcast-your-drunken-data-all-over-world-smartphone-breathalyzer

Richard
@riche_613