I was an early adopter of Gmail, so I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to get my first initial/last name as my email address. Unfortunately, all the S Brownes who were late to the party — those who use sbrownesomerandomnumber, for instance — always seem to forget that they are not me, and they give out my email address for everything. EVERYTHING. I even have a dedicated label in my Gmail titled “Email For People Who Aren’t Me.” Sometimes I respond to the people writing the emails to let them know that I am not the person they think I am. But usually I ignore it or laugh at it because hey, I’m no superhero.
Through the years I have been sent:
A series of sweet notes from a seemingly elderly woman to her daughter.
A picture of a vagina.
A picture of a penis.
Participation in an office “football” pool (not real football).
Requests for advice on many varied topics, like how to effectively kill head lice.
Reviews for my hotel in Ireland.
So for Shelly, Steve, Shaniqua, Scott, Sean, Shelby, Sharon, Sam and Sarah, this flow chart is for you and all of your friends, creditors, family members, and stalkers.
I haven’t posted in a long time because, you see, a while ago I got a job. One which requires me to actually work, which is new to me. So here are my notes of the past six months of goings-on, in an unreasonable font:
Got a job. Go there every day. Sometimes crazy things happen but there is no one filming it.
Put Windows 8 on all but one computer in the house, since Rob declared “I $#^#* hate &#%* Windows 8!” He was a fan of the start button, I guess.
Graduated from grad school, in England. Sat through a very English graduation ceremony. Had nowhere to put my phone. Thought maybe I could hide it in the hood of my graduation gown but that didn’t work out. Left it on my seat. Thought about it the whole time while getting a handshake from Grand Chancellor of Whatsits. Got back to my seat. Phone was fine, but my mental health was questionable.
My dissertation got a good grade. It’s now out there for the world to see, although no one has actually read it.
Fringe ended. Wept like a baby. Wondered what to replace it with. Thought about Downton Abbey but heard there is only one universe in it.
Rob got a new car. I didn’t. He won’t let us ride in it and always uses mine on the weekends. I wonder what he’s hiding, or if the car even actually exists or is some sort of transdimensional hologram in the driveway.
Kids got addicted to the entire Legend of Zelda series. The games they don’t have they watch on Youtube. MY KIDS WATCH VIDEO GAMES ON YOUTUBE. Worst mom ever.
That’s about it for now. To make up for the boringality of it, here is a picture of my dog watching Youtube with my kid.
Today I was a bit under the weather, and so was Aidan. Earlier, I managed to help Liam make blueberry pancakes with the kind of pancake mix you just add water to. They were satisfactory.
But then later this happened: Aidan said he was hungry after not eating all day. I told him he could make a frozen pizza because I feel yucky and don’t want to get up. I gave him the precise instructions verbally, telling him the steps: ”First, you take the pizza out of the wrapper. Then you throw away the plastic. Then you put the pizza on the silver disk ON A PLATE and put it in the microwave.”
Meanwhile, Liam had taken it upon himself to make more pancakes. He started chattering about how I could potentially wrap it up and put a drink in it, and that was when I got concerned. I went into the kitchen and he said, “Awkward!”
This is what I found:
Next to it, on the counter, the mostly water pancake mix, a roll of toilet paper, and the remaining blueberries.
I asked him to explain.
Then I heard Aidan say, “Oops, I just remembered that I forgot to put the pizza on a plate.”
So I said, “Go get some paper towel and clean it up!”
Liam interjected, “But there is no paper towel!”
That explained the toilet paper, I guess.
I then realized the pancake mix was gone, and since the pancakes were 90% water, I added about three cups of flour to the bowl in an attempt to salvage them. I then proceeded to make about 30 of the flattest, most tasteless pancakes there ever were.
Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I asked Liam if he wanted blueberries on them. He turned to me and said, “I don’t like blueberries anymore.”
“But you just had blueberry pancakes like six hours ago!”
He became quite indignant and replied, “I don’t like them anymore! Can’t you just appreciate that?”
He sure told me. So then I turned to Aidan, who had just eaten an entire pizza whilst this was going on, after being sick all day, and asked him if he wanted pancakes.
“Okay!” he replied cheerfully.
I guess the lesson here is that the next time I feel sick, I should order pizza from someone that will bring it to us. Or send the kids to boarding school. Those kids at Hogwart’s never had to worry about zero-density pancakes.
I smell a conspiracy. S Voice sort-of worked when I first got my GS3 a week or so ago. Now, all it will do is open Pandora. I have the suspicion that the features have been quietly disabled due to Apple’s whining about Siri.
For example, the first day I had the GS3 I asked it what the weather was like, and it sarcastically told me it was 94 degrees and sunny. Or at least it seemed sarcastic. It didn’t exactly yell, “Why don’t you look out the window yourself?!?” but again, there was a “tone.”
Now I ask what the weather is like, it says “Network Error. Go away.” Or something like that. It just seems really pissy. It would probably make John Malkovich cry.
I thought I would have to take some screenshots of its pissy network error attitude problem to prove my point, but when I went to do that, lo and behold, it worked again. However, it answered the question only in text, without its snarky voice accompaniment. So instead I got this valuable information:
It knows exactly how old Justin Bieber is, but it is so self-loathing that it doesn’t care how old itself is, and it can’t do math:
All things considered, S Voice is pretty useless and needs a lot of work. So I will stop talking about it now.
Instead, here’s a bonus tip: to take a screenshot of your Galaxy, like those above, pretend that you are going to karate chop the phone out of frustration, but instead of obliterating it, gently swipe the edge of your hand over the screen.
I received my Verizon version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 last week, so I will now hand out free tips. You’re welcome. Today I will cover the Face Unlock feature, which is actually available on any ol’ Android phone running Ice Cream Sandwich. It goes something like this: When you want to unlock the phone, normally you would swipe your finger across the screen. But Apple decided that they own that feature, so now you must use your face. Okay, that’s not exactly accurate. You can still use the swiping motion, which by default looks like water and is sort of fun, but it’s even more fun to use your face. I mean, when isn’t it, really?
So to use the Face Unlock, follow these steps.
Step 1. Go to Face Unlock. This may seem obvious but then again, you might have no idea where to find it. Do this. Press on the menu button, then settings, then security.
Then press Screen Lock:
Then under Screen Lock , choose Face Unlock. It will warn you that it’s not really that secure, because apparently someone can just hold a picture of you up to the phone and unlock it, if they felt like it. It does seem like that would be a lot of work though, because they would have to have a picture of you available. Or maybe if you’re getting mugged and the mugger knocks you out, they could hold your head up to it and unlock it that way. Maybe that’s what it means by “low security.” Anyway…
2. Follow the prompts to set it up. Initially, it will take a picture of your face. However, as we all know, your face may look different at any given moment. We will get to that in a minute. Right now just do what the phone says, and when it’s done, also follow the prompts to set your screen unlock pattern or PIN for those moments when the Face Unlock invariably fails.
3. Now that that’s done, you need to go back to the security settings (second picture above) and click on Improve Facial Recognition. Spend the next 15 minutes walking around your house, improving your image from all different angles and lighting, with glasses, without glasses, with your nighttime acne cream, without your nighttime acne cream, wearing a ski mask, not wearing a ski mask and, most importantly, making weird faces, like so:
This way, if the phone ever catches you in the middle of a yawn, or when you just wake up, or when you’re yelling at your kids to stop looking at dodgy videos on Youtube, or when you just feel like making a weird face, it will recognize you.
One tip: Mine generally doesn’t recognize me if I am holding it down near my lap and I look at it. It tells me I have an extra chin that is not there when it sees me from a more level angle. Galaxy is judgy, did I mention that? She has a “tone” that she uses that is reminiscent of GLADoS from Portal.
Next time, I will address S Voice and what the S stands for. (Hint, it’s not Siri)
Google+ Hangouts is one of the coolest things about Google+. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have anyone to hang out with. So I decided to use it as a babysitting device while I left my children unattended.
Okay, just to clarify, I didn’t leave to go shopping or to party or anything like that. I was only at the next door neighbor’s house, and the kids were playing video games in our family room.
The first thing I did was start a Hangout on our desktop computer with an HD webcam which follows your face like a creepy Mona Lisa. Any old webcam will do though, you don’t need the Mona Lisa one. I invited only myself to the Hangout. The next thing I did was stand up my iPad at a different angle, so I had two angles of the same room, and joined the Hangout as myself. Lastly, I joined the Hangout again on my Android phone, walked next door, and talked with my neighbor whilst keeping the phone on and I could see and hear them from two different angles.
Naturally, the kids took the opportunity to ask me if they could have Doritos and if I knew where certain Pokemon cards were.
Fun fact: Webcams make you look 30% uglier than you do in real life.
So this morning I decided to take a nap. I usually don’t take naps because they never end well, and this was no exception. However, considering that I finished my dissertation last week and couldn’t face cleaning the kitchen just yet, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
It must be pointed out that thanks to Cracked.com, I watched this video yesterday:
There is not much to say about that, other than, quite obviously, it will burn a hole into your subconscious and bury itself there like one of those parasitic flukeworms. So you have been warned. Sorry if you already watched it and didn’t heed this warning, but that’s not my problem.
Anyway, I did happen to fall asleep, in my bed, only to wake up in some alternate reality where I lived in an apartment in a high rise somewhere. That wasn’t so bad, except I couldn’t find my dog. I knew my kids were on a field trip, but the dog was nowhere to be found. Then a cop knocked on the door, and said, “Would you come with me, please?” I followed him through this vertical maze-like labyrinth, and then he turned around and was a zombie, so I decided to make haste. Luckily, I could fly, so I flew back to the apartment and decided to take a nap.
Here is where it got sticky. While I was taking a nap, I was accosted by a bear. I did some kung fu moves on it and the bear turned into a bunch of bats. I decided that I needed to wake up from this dream, which was in this other dream, and I couldn’t do it. I told myself to wake up, I tried to open my eyes with my fingers, and I flailed around within the dream. To no avail.
So then I told myself, “Now you’ve gone and done it. You are in a freaking coma. Your family is probably gathered around your bedside wondering when you will ever wake up.”
I decided to just relax and wait for Leonardo DiCaprio to show up, but just then, I emerged from the dream, expecting to be in my apartment in the sky, only to find myself back in this reality, with no zombies or bears in sight. Then it took me a few seconds to place where I was exactly. Then I went back to sleep.
There is no lesson in this other than taking naps during the day may mess with your psyche. And bears in any realm are murderous killing machines with supernatural powers.
Put aside the zombie apocalypse, the rapture, and all those other dystopias we’d like to avoid. Let’s talk about the fun future – you know the one, with the flying cars and robot maids and whatnot. You know you always thought 2012 was going to be fabulous in terms of futurey stuff.
Here’s the checklist. Let’s see how we’re doing.
1. Flying Cars
Overall Grade: F (Never gonna happen)
The epitome of a futuristic society, the flying car, sadly, was probably never meant to be. It’s just too impractical. Traffic is chaotic enough without having to add another dimension to it. Imagine trying to parallel park something like that. Impossible. Plus think of how often you hit squirrels while driving a normal car, and multiply that by any number of birds.
Consolation Prize: The self-driving car may be better for humans in general, as long as it never learns to text whilst balancing a latte between its legs.
2. Robot Maids
Overall Grade: C (Still has potential)
There is, of course, the Roomba which will sort of vacuum up your mess. It will not make your bed, do your dishes, fold your laundry, or do anything more than just marginally useful. In fact, most people that have Roombas will pretty much agree that they are crap and are only good for one thing.
Then there is this Korean robot maid which is more of what we had in mind after years of watching The Jetsons. But I can’t buy one of those just yet. Strangely enough, when you search for “robot maid” on Amazon, it again comes back to cats. Always about cats on the Internet, isn’t it?
Unlike the flying car, the robot maid still has the potential to become reality. Until then, you will have to hire a cleaning lady, or if worse comes to worst, clean up yourself.
3. Giant Two-Sided Touch Screen Thingies
Overall Grade:B (Getting there)
You’ve seen them in bunches of movies, these futurey looking screenamabobbers upon which you can do futurey computery stuff. In Minority Report, for example, Tom Cruise used one to expel thetans from his eyeballs, or something (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it). It seemed inevitable that something like this would exist at some point.
And now we can say, “Yes, it does!” Of course, it’s only like two inches square at the moment, and doesn’t really look that great compared to the eyeball thetanater, but it’s all about potential. Just think in ten years or so we may have some hilarious Youtube videos of Justin Bieber walking into one of these babies. See, potential.
I don’t really even need to discuss this one, really. We all have seen them and plenty of us have one. There are other cool things that Star Trek may have predicted, but I never watched it and I really don’t care enough to start now so I will just dismissively move on to the next thing on the list.
5. Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator
Overall Grade: F
I am just going to give this one an F because although space modulation does exist, it’s actually boring compared to what Marvin wanted to achieve with his device. And not as cute, in such a menacing and destructive way. We do, however, have lasers that can remove body hair now.
6. Smart Homes
Overall Grade: B+ (Almost there)
It’s happening! We already have Internet-connected refrigerators, and soon we have wireless control of everything in our houses. I would have given this one an A if my house actually did anything fun, but it doesn’t yet, so this will remain a B+ until I can flush my toilet from my couch, which would come in handy for someone that lives with a bunch of boys who never remember to flush.
The smart home of, say, 2017, as predicted in 2012 will totally blow away that smart home of 1970 as predicted in 1965. Those people had their sights set so low. Suckers.
7. Video Phones
Overall Grade: A
It took a long time but we are totally there now. Thanks to the Internet, you can see anyone, any time, anywhere, and whether or not they are wearing a shirt. Video conferencing has been around for a while, but on-the-spot informal video calls are relatively recent with the innovation of Skype and similar apps. With Google+ Hangouts you can even host your own pseudo-party, where you don’t even have to pay for food.
There are, of course, plenty of people who still would rather be heard and not seen. You know the ones, with their corded rotary phones and doily-covered tea tables. You can still call them if you want to make them happy, and even host a Google hangout to make fun of them while doing so, because they would never know.
Overall Overall Grade: B-
Conclusion: We are indeed living in the future, but it’s slightly less cool than it could have been.
Or to quote the Boss:
Don’t worry, darlin’. No baby, don’t you fret. We’re livin’ in the future And none of this has happened yet.
The other day when I got excited about finally getting a 4G LTE signal at my house, no one else in my life seemed to share my enthusiasm.
My 7-year-old said, “Awesome! I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
My 9-year-old said, “It’s your other kid that cares about that stuff, remember?”
My parents said, “Oh.”
My husband said, “And why would you need it to be faster, exactly?”
So I dedicate this post to all the people who are confused, disinterested, or otherwise not particularly concerned about my phone service, yet are polite enough to ask about it anyway.
Question: What the heck is 4G anyway?
Answer: 4G is the non-specific term for 4th generation wireless technology. Some carriers, a couple of years back, promoted themselves as having 4G technology, but it wasn’t really all that better than the third generation, or 3G. WiMAX, for instance, was Sprint’s excuse for 4G, and it was sort of crappy and is being phased out in North America. Now, most carriers will specify their 4G is 4G LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, which is currently the fastest technology for this sort of thing. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are rolling out upgrading their towers to support 4G LTE, but as you can imagine, this will take a while.
Question: Why is 4G LTE so much better than 3G?
Answer: Remember this?
Now, 12 or 15 years ago, this is how you got onto the Internet from home. You’d walk away, and five minutes later AOL would show up on your monitor, and you felt super cool and connected to the world. You would go to Napster to download the latest Hootie and the Blowfish song and four hours later it was all ready to be burned to CD. It didn’t bother you that it took forever because that was all you knew. Then in the early 2000s you got cable or DSL Internet and voila! the difference in speed was extraordinarily noticeable.
That is the difference between 3G and 4G LTE. 4G LTE download speeds are ten times as fast as 3G download speeds.
Question: I have a iPhone 4(s). So I have 4G, right?
Answer: False. If you have an iPhone, you do not have a 4G phone. Every current model of iPhone is still 3G. However, the iPhone 5, which is rumored to be coming out this year, will be 4G LTE. Almost all current 4G LTE phones are Android, aside from a couple of Windows Phone offerings.
The confusion often comes from the strange and seemingly haphazard way Apple names their products. The iPhone 3G was named so because it was a 3G phone, although numerically it was only the second generation iPhone. So when the iPhone 4 came out, many people confusingly thought it must be a 4G phone because it was also called the 4th generation iPhone.
Confused? Just take my word for it. Your iPhone is NOT 4G.
Question: So my Motorola Razr from 2007…? That’s still cool, right?
Question: Which phones are 4G LTE?
Answer: There are currently about a dozen Android phones from Verizon that are 4G LTE. Pretty much any new Android coming out from now on will be 4G LTE, as they are phasing out the Droids of yesteryear. Here is a partial list:
Motorola Droid 4
Droid Razr Maxx
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon’s first LTE phone has already reached “end of life” but can be found on eBay)
Samsung Droid Charge
AT&T, who is considerably further behind in implementing 4G LTE, has fewer 4G phones:
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket
HTC One X
Sprint has not yet started their 4G LTE service (it’s coming this year) but it has a handful of phones:
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
HTC EVO 4G LTE (which is pretty much the same as AT&T’s HTC One X)
T-Mobile will not have 4G LTE service until next year.
Verizon, AT&T and Sprint will be getting some nice phones this summer, including the Samsung Galaxy S III which is the best-selling phone ever in terms of pre-orders in Europe. And of course the rumored iPhone 5 should be 4G LTE too.
That about sums it up. If you don’t have a 4G LTE phone, don’t sweat it because chances are that you don’t actually care. If you do already have a 4G LTE phone, you can pop open Pandora and stream your Hootie channel now.
This is one of those things I can laugh about now but would have freaked out had I been present at the time. First and foremost, my kid is okay and was uninjured. The other day, he was on a field trip in Philadelphia with the rest of the third grade. I assumed all was going well, until I got The Call about 15 minutes before school was due to get out for the day. The teacher told me what happened, but it is better told in my son’s words. I went to the school to pick him up, and watched him hobble down the hallway, amidst a crowd of children, in only one shoe. He greeted me with, “So, you heard?”
“Well, that was embarrassing.”
A stretch of silence followed as he put on the spare shoes I had brought with me. ”You want to tell me what happened?”
“Okay. So we were on the escalator. At the end, it looked really hairy, so I sort of touched it with my foot. And then my shoe came off and all the escalators stopped and they tried to get my shoe but it was stuck there.”
“Wait, back up. What do you mean by hairy?”
“You know, like there was a bunch of hair there.”
“Anyway, everyone said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s okay, it’s okay’ and I was like, yeah, I know. And then they asked me for my address and I told them and I guess when Dad made me practice my address this morning he had no idea that it would come in handy, right?”
“Were you going up or down the escalator?”
“Up. I think. No, down. Yeah, it was down.”
“The escalator took your shoe and you don’t know which was you were going?”
“It was down I said! Down! I’m just not certain.”
“And then we walked to the bus. Oh but first we had to go to the bathroom, and the floor was all wet, so Mr. B [another third grade teacher] gave me his shoe to wear so my sock wouldn’t get wet. Then I had to be on the bus with just one shoe. And that’s about it.”
“Oh and they said at least what happened to me wasn’t as bad as the last guy it happened to.”
“Who said that?”
“The security guy.”
“What happened to the last guy?”
“I think he must’ve died. Or his foot came off. Yeah, I think his foot came off.”
“And that security guy thought that was an appropriate thing to tell you?”
“It was after it happened, so it was okay.”
A pause, then, ”I also learned about Ben Franklin. It wasn’t all about my shoe, you know.”