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The Lake News Online
  • My view: Voices inside my phone

  • It should come as no surprise, but I'm a Mac addict. Have been since the late Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Macintosh in 1984. It was only a few years afater that that our Iowa newspaper bought its first boxy Mac, many of which today have been converted to fish tanks.
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  • It should come as no surprise, but I'm a Mac addict. Have been since the late Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Macintosh in 1984. It was only a few years afater that that our Iowa newspaper bought its first boxy Mac, many of which today have been converted to fish tanks.
    Oh, the creative mind.
    I've never looked back, never even considered a PC. I've converted several friends and coworkers over to "this side" of the computer platform, and they thank me today. I dabbled on the PC side once or twice to help a friend in need. Even her dog cowered in fear from my rage against the machine.
    Some computer users call us Mac ussers snobs. So be it. In the nearly 25 years that I've owned a Mac computer — or any Apple product — I've never had a virus. Never. A hard drive crashed on one of my overworked Macs in Iowa, but that has been the extent of my computer woes.
    I sit in front of a desktop iMac nearly every day of the week. It hums along perfectly, though susceptible to the whims of the Internet or a bulky wireless modem, or a pesky server. At home, I have an aging iMac that seldom feels the lifeblood of electricity. But it's at the ready.
    My stalwart is a Macbook Pro laptop. Some days, it's my best friend.
    And, of course, I own an iPhone which is as trusty and reliable as my old dog Taffy before he failed to make it home one cold, cold Iowa winter day 50 years ago. There isn't much my iPhone 5 won't do for me from a technological perspective and as long as there's a cell tower not far away.
    My iPhone 5 has Siri, the voice-activated, virtual assistant software that lets you actually have a conversation with your phone. Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychologist, warned that Siri could actually dumb down our interpersonal skills and encourages us to treat other people like machines, according to a Fox News interview. Ultimately, he said, Siri diminishes our ability to empathize with one another, because we've been chatting up a non-existent person and can get used to considering real people as essentially non-existent, too.
    Besides, it's awfully difficult to snuggle with Siri under a blanket in front of a fire on a cold winter evening.
    Siri and I attempted a relationship, but it failed. She's now all alone within the circuitry of my phone.
    Gee, maybe Dr. Ablow was right.
    If you're an iPhone user, you have your favorite apps. Lord knows, I've downloaded my fair share of apps (all free) thinking my life would be enhanced exponentially.
    Not so much. While most are whimsical and cute and alleged to be practical, the fun quickly wore off.
    Page 2 of 3 - But I do have my favorites. First, any of the weather apps.
    I use The Weather Channel and AccuWeather, and the KY3, KRCG and KOMU apps for a more localized viewpoint. The apps allow you to "bookmark" your favorite cities for an instant check of current weather and the forecast. I have Des Moines, Liberty, Mo., Cape Coral, Fla. and Cancun — the latter two on my Bucket List for vacation destinations.
    MapQuest and Google Maps are two of my favorites. I don't own a GPS system of any kind, but I find that both apps do a good job guiding me to my destination. MapQuest is especially handy since hiding someplace inside my phone with Siri is a usually polite female who tells me when to turn left or right, and upon which street to turn. She appears to get a bit testy with me when she has to recalculate the directions if I pull off the highway for a bathroom or Diet Coke break.
    I have two Internet radio apps I use, though my favorite has become Tunein Radio, which I think I've mentioned before. At any given moment I can listen to talk radio or music from just about anywhere in the world. There are a couple of comedy channels available, though one of them is not for family entertainment. The other Internet radio app is iHeart radio, which is reliable but doesn't have the range of music or locations.
    One of the more fascinating apps is Shazam. How often are you in the car or on the boat and a song comes on the radio that you've heard but can't recall the name? Or you're arguing with your significant other about an artist or song? Simply activate Shazam and let the wizards within listen to the song and then tell you what you want to know. And, you can even download the song onto your phone from iTunes. Another one worth checking out is SoundHound. It does the same thing, but I prefer Shazam.
    If you're an astrological buff, or you're curious about the heavens, then download Skyview. It shows you the various constellations relative to your location. It also shows where the moon and sun are, again relative to the time of day and your location. Another that's fun is Planets, which will give you a 3D look at the universe and Earth's relativity to the various planets in our solar system. It also tells you the best time to view the planets.
    The Barcode app in kind of fun when you're bumming around the store while your wife or girlfriend or date for the day is doing more serious shopping.
    The QRReader is equally entertaining. Realtors now us QRReaders on their advertising so prospective buyers can link directly to their website.
    Page 3 of 3 - I also have, but rarely use, the GasBuddy app, which lists the gasoline prices in range of the zip code that you want; a Flashlight app that could come in handy when the lights go out, or if your passenger drops her lip balm in the bowels of your car some night; Google Earth which gives you a startling and somewhat invasive look at your back yard from outer space; a Tornado app which activates if there's a cloud within 50 miles (not recommended, especially when you're asleep); apps for various pizza outlets and local grocery stores, which I only use if my laptop isn't handy; and, of course, the Lake of the Ozarks app which tells me much of what I already know about where to go and when to go there.
    I do have a few game apps that I've used when all else of interest fails, which isn't very often.
    Again, they're all free. Enjoy.

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