The Disconnects of a Forgotten Phone

Yesterday morning I rushed out the door and left my phone at home by mistake. I didn’t realize it until I was at work. Beyond the sheer inconvenience of not having it, I became a little worried because I was supposed to meet a friend after work, and the details were not finalized.

I have darted out the door without my phone a few times in the past, but I assumed I wouldn’t be completely disconnected. I can always access the Gmail and Google Voice websites from my work computer to email or text someone if I need to.

Not so fast! For security, I had recently enabled 2-factor authentication on my Google account. I hadn’t logged in to Google on my work computer in a while, so when I went to the Google Voice website to text my friend about my lack of a phone, I was hit with the 2nd-factor verification. Somewhere at home on my pillow, my lonely phone lit up with the code I needed to authenticate the untrusted computer. Crap. My security conscious nature had locked myself out of my own account, which included my personal contacts.

No worry, I figured. I could just dial my friend from my work phone and tell them my dilemma. Nope! I have no idea what their number is…or hardly anyones number for that matter. How many phone numbers do you know from memory these days?

This experience got me thinking about how I could better prepare myself for the next time that this inevitably happens, or worse, if my phone were lost or stolen.

Perhaps it would be a wise idea to simply print out a short list of phone numbers of important contacts and stick it in my wallet. If I don’t have my phone and need to actually dial someone, this could be a lifesaver.

Alternatively, if you are confident that you will have access to a computer of some sort, I suppose you could store important contact info in the cloud using a service like Evernote. I also found out that it is possible to print out a list of 2nd-factor authentication codes for your Google account in the instance that you lose access to your second device (phone.)

Either of the above alternatives are potentially good backup plans, but for simplicity sake, I like the list of printed phone numbers as a simple old school solution.

Temple Run Rocks

A few weeks ago I discovered the mobile game Temple Run, and was hooked immediately. I was actually introduced to this game by my niece. She asked me to play it on her iPod. After playing it, I downloaded it for myself right away. I don’t know how I hadn’t been aware of this game already. It was originally released way back in August 2011. For someone who likes to play games, I can’t believe I hadn’t already been playing this.

Temple Run is a production of Imangi Studios. It is an endless running game. Gameplay begins with your character running from a temple while being chased by some type of demon creatures. From there your character runs endlessly. It’s up to you to tap, swipe, and tilt to avoid obstacles and collect coins and power-ups. As you build your stockpile of collected coins, you are soon able to use them to purchase enhancements to the game. It is the coin collecting that has made the game so addictive for me.

In-app purchases are available for users who want to purchase coins outright, but I don’t see any need to resort to that. I think that the amount of coins and cost of enhancements is paced perfectly to keep one coming back for more. You can eventually unlock everything you need by playing the game normally.

Temple Run gets my highest recommendation. It is one of the most fun mobile games I’ve ever played. It’s available on iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone. It’s ultra-addictive. Since I downloaded the game, I’ve played it hundreds of times. If you haven’t played it yet, you must. Did I mention it is FREE?

Fans of the game will be pleased to know that Temple Run 2 was released in early 2013. I have the sequel and have played it some. The graphics are more polished in the new game. It is still true to the original, but a tad more complex and sports a few different features. Both are great games, but I’m still perfecting my craft on the original, so I’m trying not to get lured in just yet by the flashy newness of Temple Run 2.

Temple Run

Whirlpool Mobile Product Registration

I finally sat down to fill out my registration form for a washer/dryer that I recently purchased. I knew better than to bother writing in all of the information and mailing in the card. That would take forever. I was going to use the Whirlpool website and register online. Still, I needed to track down my serial numbers first.

Not so fast! On the registration card is a special barcode that you can scan with your camera phone! I have a barcode scanner in my iPhone called RedLaser. I fired it up and scanned the provided barcode. My phone instantly took me to the Whirlpool mobile website where it already had my product information displayed and the individual serial numbers of my actual units! Wow! Then all I needed to do was type in my name, address, email, and select the store where the products were purchased. Boom! I was done in a flash. It said my product was registered and I immediately got an email from Whirlpool with warranty and product information. I will be notified about potential product recalls via email in the future.

To think I was going to use the website and type it all in. That behavior is now considered old school. I am very impressed. Wow! The future has arrived.

Rollover For Texts

The cost of text messaging is ridiculously high. I refuse to pay $20 per month for AT&T’s unlimited texting plan when I’m already paying for cell minutes and 3G Internet data. Texting should be free when I’m already paying for mobile service. Of course, texting would never be free because it’s too much of a cash cow for the mobile carriers.

I have to sign up for some sort of texting plan because without being enrolled in a plan, each text sent and received costs 20¢. At that rate, costs can spiral out of control very quickly. I have opted to pay $5 per month for 200 texts. It isn’t many, but I use the Google Voice app on my iPhone to bypass the carrier and do my texting for free. Not everyone understands why I have two phone numbers, so I typically only give out my Google number to my friends who are the most heavy texters.

I wish that AT&T would offer a rollover system for unused texts for everyone who has a texting plan below the unlimited plan. I don’t always use my allotted 200 texts per month, but I will occasionally go over that limit. It would be nice if I could carry over those unused texts the same way that I can with my voice minutes. More text plan options would be good too. Currently, there are only 200, 1500, and unlimited plans. How about adding a 500 or 1000 plan in there somewhere? I’m not certain what Verizon’s texting plans are, but I’m sure they’re equally expensive.

In fact, the entire text messaging industry is a complete and total rip off. A past article in TechCrunch calculated that the cost of text messaging at 20¢ a pop is equal to $1310 per megabyte of data. That is a staggering figure.

Ta-da List (Again)

My favorite to-do list manager is a website called Ta-da List by a company called 37 Signals. I’ve used this site for years, and even wrote about it on this blog four years ago! I still use the service today. The Ta-da List site is about as simplistic and barebones as a website can get. You make lists and check things off. That’s it. Whats more, this site has no ads! I use it more than any other to-do list solution.

I wanted to make this second post about the Ta-da List site primarily to mention the simplistic beauty of the mobile site, which I’ve recently started using. I’ve sampled a few iPhone apps and have tried to maintain a to-do list that way, but I’ve found that the Ta-da List mobile website is the perfect solution. In essence, I can add and check things off on the go or from my desktop, while always managing the same list. It’s all in one place, so no syncing is necessary. I use it to maintain many lists, including holiday gift ideas, hate list ideas, blogging ideas, shopping lists, and beyond.

I doubt anyone reading this has even heard of this service. Go check it out and marvel at its simplicity.