Has Technology Made Our Lives Easier?

If you are an older reader here at LockerGnome, you will recall the days when technology had no place in our lives. We lived in a time where there were no computers, no cell phones, and no mp3 players. When you mention this to the youngsters who are now tethered to all sorts of devices, they look at us like we are from another planet. But has technology made our lives easier or has it compromised our human behavior to the point where we no longer communicate face to face with each other?

I learned something interesting about two weeks ago from our 11-year-old grandson. He was doing a homework assignment and was printing out the answers to a particular problem. I asked why he was not writing out the answers, which is called cursive, to which he told me that it is no longer used. They apparently do not teach cursive writing in school any longer since the thinking is that computers are now used to write letters, emails, Facebook, and so forth. Since the kids also send text messages, you do not need to know how to write. The only writing skill that is taught is to learn to sign your name.

Coming from a generation in which we only had telephones and letters in which to communicate, I have noticed a change in our behavior. Between emails, Facebook, texts, voicemails, and other communication sources, when someone asks if you got their message, we need to ask how they sent it. It has become confusing trying to keep track of all the different communication means since we continue to receive postal mail. Toss in the Internet and the forums, groups, and other organizations we may belong to and the task of monitoring everything becomes overwhelming.

In days gone by one left work behind when they walked out of the building at 5:00 pm. Today with everyone having cell phones the office staff can call you anytime, anywhere if they have a question. Whether you are in your car, having dinner or taking a bathroom break, you are in constant contact with work. Your office can contact you via email sending contracts, assignments, and other work chores via email directly to your laptop. They can even text you anytime they wish even on the weekends. The question becomes: when do we get a break away from work and actually get to rest?

Last week my wife and I were visiting our middle daughter and her family. She had a day off and along with her family ventured out for a day of fun at the zoo. But during the entire time from when we left her home until we got back, she was either texting or calling to stay on top of what was happening at the office. At the end of the day she mentioned how much fun she had and I wondered how she even knew. Even during our lunch she was banging the keys on her phone texting back to the office. If this is what you call a day off, I would have to differ in my interruption of what a real day off is.

So has technology improved your life or has it just added more stress to your daily life?

Comments welcome.

Textaurant – Wait Online And Not In Line At Your Favorite Restaurant

One of the things that I do not like is to wait in line at a restaurant. I have previously mentioned that the Olive Garden is a thorn in my side, since where I live we have to wait in line even when tables are vacant. Grrrr…… But now there is a new application called Textaurant. Instead of having to carry a pager you can receive a notification on your cell phone. This allows you the freedom to do other things without the annoyance of waiting in line.

According to their web site, Texturant will offer:

You’ve already got a device that buzzes in your pocket – why do you need one from the restaurant? Restaurants that use Textaurant are not only ahead of the curve, but they also care about their patrons’ time – and health.

Right now, you have to walk into a restaurant or call them to find out the wait time and get on the list. This wastes your time, especially if there’s a long wait. With Textaurant, you can see wait times online or on your mobile device, choose a location, and get in the queue remotely – from wherever you are.

Wait where you want, do what you want, and get a free alert before your table is ready.

We will never share your information with businesses. Period.

Exclusive discounts and freebies (only if you want them).

This idea is so simple it makes one wonder why with all of the apps available, no one has done this before? Though this is specifically designed for restaurants, one could imagine it could be used by other businesses. My first thought was doctor offices. This is another thorn in my side. If I have an appointment and I am still sitting in the lobby for over an hour, I leave. But if I was able to do other chores while waiting to see the doc, I think it would be a benefit to me and to the doctors staff.

What do you think? Is this an app you would like to use? I know I would.

Comments welcome.

Source – Textaurant

Walmart To Expand Straight Talk Phone Offerings To Include AT&T

Walmart may have stumbled upon a gold mine when it first introduced Straight Talk cell phone service via the Verizon network. Straight Talk cell service has become more popular as consumers opt out of the two year contract agreements and services which most consumers never use. Walmart has added 896,000 new users to the Verizon network and now plans to expand the Straight Talk services to include cell phones from AT&T.

In a recent news article from the WSJ it also stated the following:

AT&T confirmed that phones compatible with its network will be available to Straight Talk, which is a prepaid service exclusive to Wal-Mart. Previously, phones using the service could only run on Verizon Wireless’s network. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk first reported the use of AT&T-compatible phones on Straight Talk.

I became a Straight Talk convert about a month ago. I purchased two Samsung R355C phones from Walmart which came with a $30 a month prepaid card for the Straight Talk network. For $30 a month you get 1,000 minutes of talk time, 1,000 text messages and 30MB of data service for email and surfing the Internet. If a user needs more services Straight Talk offers a $45 a month prepaid card which offers unlimited talk time, texting and Internet access.

By Walmart adding the AT&T network to the Straight Talk service, this will provide service for those who may not be able to access Verizon.

Comments welcome.

Source – WSJ

Which Cell Phone Companies Offer The Best And Worst Coverage?

You are in the market to buy a cell phone and want service from a company that offers the best coverage where you live. How do you know which company to use? The first thing you may wish to do is ask family members and friends which company they use and how the coverage is. But if you are like I am, you also want to do some checking on your own to get other folks’ opinion about the service they are receiving as well in your area.

There are two sites that you can try to find out just how good a company’s cell service is where you live. One is DeadCell Zones, which provides an interactive map à la Google to zoom in and out of locations and also offers the ability to select from the four major carriers: Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Another site to check to see if you live in a black hole is CellReception. This site offers what it describes as a database of over:

142,822 cell phone tower locations registered with the FCC, and over 55,300 cell phone carrier comments submitted voluntarily from real customers using their service all over the U.S.

I found CellReception very useful since it was easy to find which company offered the best coverage for my neighborhood. The comments from consumers were very helpful and I would highly recommend this site.

The importance of coverage for those of us who have dropped our landline and have gone completely to cell can not be over stated. I found my phone from AT&T had a very poor signal reception inside my home, whereas my Straight Talk phone, which uses Verizon, is great. I also believe that the phone model itself will dictate how good your signal will be.

Is there a site that you would recommend? Let us know.

Comments welcome.

Source – DeadCellZones

Source – CellReception

Straight Talk Cell Phone Service – Customer Service Reviewed

I had the opportunity to contact customer service at Straight Talk for two issues I was having. I had read reviews and comments from other Straight Talk users, had nothing but complaints about the service they had received. So when I dialed ST for help, I braced myself for a hard time and possible non reconciliation of my problems.

The first issue I had was with a new ST cell phone I had bought for my wife. When I activated the ST cell phone for myself, I had no issues and the phone activated immediately. But I wasn’t able to activate my wife’s phone and contacted ST. They tried a number of things, but the bottom line was that their servers were overwhelmed and it could take 24 hours to get the phone activated. No problem.

So I brought up another problem to the agent concerning my ST phone. I had signed up for auto refill and some how I lost 3 weeks of talk time. Long story short, I hit the wrong button when I signed up and accidentally added more minutes to my phone. The support person was able to credit me with a full refund and correctly signed me up for auto refill. No muss, no fuss. I was impressed.

Thus far ST has been great.  Phone calls and text messaging are received and sent without issue. Browsing though is not so hot. It is sooooo slow that to me it is useless. But at $30 a month per phone, I still believe it is a deal.

Update: This morning I activated my wife’s phone and it now works.

Comments welcome.

Straight Talk – Samsung R355C Cell Phone – Reviewed

First of all I wanted to thank everyone who provided me with information concerning Straight Talk and for their phone recommendations.

I did my homework and took the recommendation about buying a Straight Talk phone directly from Walmart. Some of you recommended using Walmart because of their liberal return policy and in the fact that some were skeptical of the customer service that Straight Talk provides.

Here is what I learned. I went to our local Walmart store and found that if I bought the Straight Talk Samsung R355C cell phone for $128.88, I had to purchase a separate $30 phone card, which brought the total cost to $158.88. The same package directly from Straight Talk was $159.99 with free shipping.

As I was viewing the Samsung phone, I looked down below the product description, and to my surprise they had both the phone and a $30 phone card for $128.88. I have linked the page below and I hope that it works for you, as it did for me. I also opted for home delivery which was free as well. The delivery was quick and took only two days via Fedex.

So here are some of my first thoughts about the phone and Straight Talk as well. This is based on only having the service and phone for four days.

The good points:

Activation was simple and uneventful. I completed everything online at the Straight Talk site. The phone is simple to use and setup, with easy to use menu’s. There is also a tutorial online at the Straight Talk site which walks you through every step you you need to complete any task. The cell screen is clear and easy to read. I also enjoy the voice command software that makes dialing a call easy by just saying the persons name you wish to call, ‘call John’ and confirm with a simple ‘yes’ command. Signal strength where I live is strong and better than the AT&T phone I replaced.

The not so good points:

The keys on the keyboard are small. Camera resolution could be better but is OK.

I’ll be using the phone for the next few weeks and report back my findings in a follow up review.

Comments welcome.

Walmart – Samsung R355C Cell Phone + $30 Phone Card

San Francisco – Retailers Must Display Radiation From Cell Phones [SAR]

San Francisco Passes Radiation Law From Cell Phones – Retail Posting Required

On Tuesday San Francisco residents passed a law that requires all retailers who sell cell phones to post the amount of radiation the phone gives off. Called SAR, the rating should not exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram according to the FCC, which regulates cell phones. Opponents claim that since there is no scientific evidence that radiation from cell phones is harmful, the law, they state, could hurt business.

A recent news article further states:

Under the law, retailers will be required to post materials — in at least 11-point type — next to phones, listing their specific absorption rate, which is the amount of radio waves absorbed into the cellphone user’s body tissue. These so-called SAR rates can vary from phone to phone, but all phones sold in the United States must have a SAR rate no greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the $190 billion wireless industry.

But John Walls, a spokesman for C.T.I.A. – The Wireless Association, a trade group, said that forcing retailers to highlight that information might actually confuse consumers into thinking “some phones are safer than others.”

“We believe there is an overwhelming consensus of scientific belief that there is no adverse health effect by using wireless devices,” Mr. Walls said, “and this kind of labeling gets away from what the F.C.C.’s standard actually represents.”

In San Francisco, officials were cautioning that the law was not meant to discourage cellphone use, or sales, rather merely to inform consumers.

There is a simple way to get around this. Buy the phone outside of San Francisco and you won’t have to bother with all of this nonsense! LOL

What do you think? Is a law like this necessary?

Comments welcome.

Source-NY Times

Is Anyone Using The Samsung R451C With A Straight Talk Plan?

My wife is considering changing over her cell service to Straight Talk. She has been looking at several of the phones that Straight Talk offers including the Samsung R451C. She likes the slide out QWERTY keyboard feature that she believes would make texting easier. Since neither of us have used Straight Talk service or this particular cell phone, I wanted to get the opinions of others before she took the plunge.

She also believes that buying the phone and Straight Talk package from Walmart is a better deal, since the package is on sale for $99.88 and includes a $30 phone card. My opinion is that if the phone is not what she wants, Walmart has a fairly liberal return policy and she would not have to deal with Straight Talk directly. From some of the forums about Straight Talk, there seems to be a lack of customer service.

This is the package that Walmart is offering for $99.88 which includes a $30 phone card.

If you have used the Samsung R451C cell phone, either with or without service from Straight Talk, I would appreciate your opinion.

Comments welcome.

Source – Walmart

Are Computers And Cell Phones Ruining Our Children?

This morning I was reading an article in which Stevie Nicks made some not so revoluntary revelations. She stated in an interview that computers and cell phones are ruining our children. No duh! When did Stevie Nicks come to this conclusion? This is something that most parents and grandparents deal with every day. But are computers and cell phones really corrupting our kids?

In one statement Stevie Nicks stated this:

“I believe that computers have taken over the world. I believe that they have in many ways ruined our children. I believe that kids used to love to go out and play,” Nicks says in her famously smoky voice.

“I believe that social graces are gone because manners are gone because all people do is sit around and text. I think it’s obnoxious.”

Nicks does own an iPod, but she prefers to listen to music — which includes her new CD, “The Soundstage Sessions” — on a boombox. (The CD also comes packaged with a DVD.)

She believes that kids used to love to go out and play. Did kids really like playing outside? Or was it for the convenience of mom and dad? Since kids don’t fit Stevie Nicks parameters of what kids are supposed to do, does that make using the computer or texting bad? Isn’t it just a fad like fads of the past that previous generations were criticized for?

Just as one example of the generation differences, wasn’t it rock-n-roll that was going to ruin the kids of the 1950’s? Are how about using a TV as a baby sitter? Did that ruin any of you as kids? Did you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because you watched TV instead of running around outside?

So what do you think?

Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.




Will We Ever Be Able To Surf The Internet Safely?

Over at the N.Y. Times there is an article about how much more vulnerable we have all become, due to the Internet and cell phone use. The article describes how some feel we are less secure today than we were 20 years ago. It seems that the thieves are able to steal data at will with little security intervention. According to the article it also states:

Beyond the billions of dollars lost in theft of money and data is another, deeper impact. Many Internet executives fear that basic trust in what has become the foundation of 21st century commerce is rapidly eroding. “There’s an increasing trend to depend on the Internet for a wide range of applications, many of them having to deal with financial institutions,” said Vinton G. Cerf, one of the original designers of the Internet, who is now Google’s “chief Internet evangelist.”

“The more we depend on these types of systems, the more vulnerable we become,” he said.

The United States government has begun to recognize the extent of the problem. In January, President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 54, establishing a national cybersecurity initiative. The plan, which may cost more than $30 billion over seven years, is directed at securing the federal government’s own computers as well as the systems that run the nation’s critical infrastructure, like oil and gas networks and electric power and water systems.

That will do little, however, to help protect businesses and consumers who use the hundreds of millions of Internet-connected personal computers and cellphones, the criminals’ newest target.

Are we all doomed? Is the sky falling?

What do you think? Share your thoughts.



As human beings, we have become addicted to our cell phones, and when we’re not talking on them, we’re probably customizing them. You may have the same phone as hundreds of thousands of other people, but by the time that you’re done customizing it, that fact probably won’t even be recognizable. One of the things that we especially like to customize on our phones is the ringtone. In fact, you probably even have a few that you switch between or use for different people. Instead of just purchasing ringtones, you can also create your own with audio files that you already have, and Audiko offers a simple way to do this online.

When you arrive at the site you can search for ringtones that have already been created by the community, and there are some great ones that you can download. Of course, you probably came here to make your own, so upload the song or enter the URL (Audiko can also extract the audio from YouTube videos), select the part of the audio that you want to use for the ringtone, and then download it. Your ringtone will automatically become available for others to download and use, and those of you that have iPhones will be glad to know that you can download the ringtones in a special format for Apple’s mobile device.

Is Wi-Fi Use As Dangerous As Smoking?

There is no doubt that the use of low frequency radio waves is increasing in our environment. Whether at home or work, we are all being exposed to these type of radio waves from high tension wires, wireless Internet connections, cell phones, cordless phones, and many other devices that we use in our daily lives. But in several articles I have recently read, these low frequency radio waves are being compared to the dangers of smoking. But is this comparison justified or does more investigation need to be done to justify such a comparison?

Let’s face it, it took decades before scientific evidence finally convinced the masses that smoking was in fact a hazard to our health. Than another few more decades before smoking was finally being banned from public places. The same will hold true with our exposure to low frequency radio waves. There needs to be more scientific study and analysis since the current data is not conclusive that these radio waves are 100% dangerous to our health and well being.

So what is the best course of action we can take until the issue of radio waves is resolved? Try to limit the amount of exposure that you expose yourself to. If you walk around with a cell phone stuck in your ear morning and night, consider putting it down for awhile. When you are not using radio wave devices such as wireless routers think about turning them off.

Comments welcome.

[tags] low frequency radio waves, cell phones, wireless, wi-fi, health, hazard, risk, [/tags]

Telemarketers Can Now Call Your Cell Phone

The FTC [Federal Trade Commission] has cleared the way for telemarketers to call us on our cell phones and to solicit any product they wish for sale. The FTC announced their plans to open solicitations to everyone, no matter which products they are selling. There will be no ‘Do Not Call Registry’ for cell phone users. 

At least this is what the email alert I receive about once a week says so it must be true. WRONG! This is 100% myth. No, you don’t need to register with the FTC because telemarketers are already prohibited from calling cell phone users.

What is true is that Hillary Clinton is sponsoring Senate Bill 6023P which will impose a 5 cents per email tax on each email that is sent to bolster the coffers of the U.S. Postal Service. WRONG! No such bill folks.

 In God We Trust is still on our coins.

 The all seeing eye on the back of our dollar bills is not part of a Free Mason conspiracy.

 Elvis is really, really dead.

 Starting January 1, 2009 households with older analog TV sets may request up to two [2] $40.00 coupons to be applied for the purchase of digital converters. TRUE! The coupons will be available either online at http://www.dtv.gov or by calling 1-888-225-5322. 

Hershey is saying Adios and moving a portion of its production facilities to Monterey, Mexico. TRUE! Hershey’s has already sent ‘candy kisses’ to some 1,500 employees here in the U.S

Comments welcome.

[tags]ftc, telemarketers, cell phones, email tax, hersheys, digital tv coupons,  [/tags].


Is The PC Dead?

Over the weekend, between watching football games, I read several articles which claim that the end is near for the PC as we now know it. Some of what was written stated that in Japan, PC sales are actually declining though the declines are minimal averaging about 3% to 4% during the past year. It seems that consumers in Japan are spending their money on Wii’s, PS3’s, cell phones, big screen TV’s and other gadgets to replace the standard PC box. Interesting.

But before we all rush out and toss our PC’s into the trash, can these new gadgets really replace the trusted PC, or are they just products that may enhance the user experience but not actually be a PC replacement? I recalled several weeks ago being stranded in an airport and my daughter had with her a Blackberry that she was using to try and find an alternate flight.  One of the limitations she mentioned was that the device sometimes did not render web pages properly and it was difficult to bring up some pages. She ended up having to call the airline to obtain flight information.

Gaming machines are great because they have the ability for us to enjoy game play on a big screen TV which enhances the user experience, something that a PC itself may not be able to do. Though these new devices also play movies in HD or Blue Ray, allow online connections and so forth, they lack the software needed in a work environment to actually be a viable tool to totally replace the PC.

Other gadgets like cell phones are great to download music, surf the internet, and enjoy a favorite movie, but I doubt any of us could use the device to type a business letter, do a blog story such as this, or other serious type of activity that normally would require the use of a standard PC.

I believe what we are seeing is a natural diversification from what a PC did say 5 years ago before these devices came into play. Back then a PC was being used for standard business applications, net surfing, game playing, music downloading, photo saving, emailing, chat doing, and so forth that turned the PC for some into a toy. With the advent of these new gadgets, the PC can now be used for its original intention. Work. :-)

Is the PC dead? I doubt it. I believe the old girl still has a few more decades of life in her.

What do you think?

[tags]pc, dead, gadgets, toys, game, machines, cell phones, blackberry, [/tags]


I’m not all that big into text messaging, although I do use it on occasion. A lot of times, the message that I want to deliver to someone is so brief and uncomplicated that I’d rather just type it out and send it to them that way instead of having to talk on the phone. With that said, sometimes the amount of time and effort that it takes to convey your message via a text message is enough to make you just want to call the person and get it over with. In my mind, there are benefits and drawbacks to this method of communication, but 3jam makes it more attractive by allowing for group messaging.

Just like when you talk on the phone, sometimes you want to text more than one person at a time and start a conversation between all of the participants. You can do this with 3jam, and the service allows everyone to reply to everyone. If you can send a text message from your phone, then you can use 3jam. While the service itself is free, standard text messaging charges may apply depending on how your service plan is setup, however, each message that you send or receive through 3jam is counted as one text message even though the message may be received by multiple people. It’s time to get your thumbs warmed up and ready to go.

[tags]3jam, Messaging, Text Messaging, Communication, Group Messaging, Cell Phones, Conversation[/tags]