Keyboard Tips

  • Tips to Get Rid of Notifications on iPhone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I got the latest iPhone and it came all set up since the store transferred everything from my old phone. But now, on the settings page there are brand new notifications to sign up for Emergency Warnings, the Apple Wallet, and Apple Care. I can’t delete any of these messages! They show…

  • Telehealth for beginners

    Telehealth for beginners

    Many doctors offices now require patients to register through an online portal. Where will it take you?!

  • Medical ID on Lock Screen

    Medical ID on Lock Screen

    My phone screen is locked. But I need to have peace of mind. How do I share my medical information and contacts in case of an emergency?

  • Do Boaters Need Smartphones?

    Do Boaters Need Smartphones?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I was having a drink at my favorite restaurant- it overlooks the Bay and we placed our order from tablets on each table. The wait staff was taking orders from a boat tied up to the dock. They called in from a built-in device that looked like a walkie-talkie on a cord.…

  • Install Chat GPT App Now?

    Install Chat GPT App Now?

    Eager to download the ChatGPT App on your phone Here are some things to keep in mind when you use it. Things are different on the phone!

  • Are Recipes Better on the Internet?

    Are Recipes Better on the Internet?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: During the pandemic I acquired a whole bookshelf of cookbooks. I guess I ordered them online and didn’t pay attention to how many!  Now I am back at work and only cook once a day in the evening, usually for myself.  I don’t know what to do with these cookbooks and am…

  • Filling Downtime without Phone

    Filling Downtime without Phone

    “I have decided to not scroll when I feel bored. Need suggestions for filling this time without a phone. I am planning a 30 day trial.”

  • Personal Health Record on the Phone?

    Personal Health Record on the Phone?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: When we went to visit our newborn granddaughter, my wife and I were stopped at the hospital’s check-in. They expected to see the TDAP vaccine record on our phones. I am up to date on both the vaccine and the phone’s operating system. But I don’t keep a personal health record on…

  • Is Calendar on Phone So Dated?

    Is Calendar on Phone So Dated?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I was embarrassed for my digital self during a meeting this week. When the group went to set the next meeting time everyone in the room, except me,  pulled out their phones. I was the only one who reached for my paper datebook (or ‘diary’, per the English). Is there something wrong…

  • Is Smartphone Entry a Target for Car Thieves?

    Is Smartphone Entry a Target for Car Thieves?

    High-end cars open doors with just a Bluetooth enabled phone connection. Does that make them easier to steal? Or does it just make you pull out your phone more often?

  • Rethinking Zoom and Digital Literacy

    Rethinking Zoom and Digital Literacy

    Zoom is now helping to create a new world of hybrid work. Can it also create a new future for hybrid grandparenting? What if you are missing that family time together?

  • Which Phone to Pick?

    Which Phone to Pick?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I’d like to get a smartphone for my nephew. He lives in Spain where I am visiting this summer. At first I was planning to get him a Samsung phone, and then I saw an article that kids these days prefer to have Apple phones if they can afford it. Now I’m…

  • ChatGPT writes Advice Column

    ChatGPT writes Advice Column

    Unless you have been living under a rock this winter, you have probably read about ChatGPT . If you are more prone to cast stones then you might have gone online to play with the beta release. It’s a highly responsive artificial intelligence (AI) program trained on natural language. When put to task, people can’t…

  • Are Wellness Apps Healthy?

    Are Wellness Apps Healthy?

    If you are looking to improve your fitness and wellness how do apps on the phone measure up?

  • Year End 2022- DearSmartphone

    Year End 2022- DearSmartphone

    The final column for December 2022 was prophetic. A high school teacher inquired about an artificial intelligence program called ChatGPT. He wondered if his students would benefit by learning about the software. The unanswered question in 2023 and beyond is whether Chat GPT (or its offspring) can be summoned to write a post on social…

  • Is there Digital Privacy?

    Is there Digital Privacy?

    The Phone, The TV, and The Fridge…all on camera all on my same IP address.

  • VOIP, Good or Bad?

    VOIP, Good or Bad?

    Is it time to replace the landline with a VOIP? Will it work in an emergency?

  • Shop for Phone Deals

    Shop for Phone Deals

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I work as a nanny for a family in the Bay Area but I plan to return to my home country (Germany) in three or four years. The family I work for got me my own iPhone and we text each other all day long. But I plan to get a second…

  • Earthquake Warnings by Phone

    Earthquake Warnings by Phone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone:  My business has drivers that travel all over the Bay Area. Those who had the Android phone got advance warning about the recent earthquake last month. I have an Apple phone that is up to date but it didn’t get the warnings.  Fortunately we were all OK! But what’s the difference in…

  • Solar Charging for Phones

    Solar Charging for Phones

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I recently got a new watch (the Garmin) that has GPS and it uses solar power to recharge itself. So, I only end up recharging it every 2 months or so. With the earthquake this past week, I was wondering why we do not have phones that can recharge with solar power…

  • Collecting  Old Phones?

    Collecting Old Phones?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I read this week that an original iPhone sold for mega-money at an auction. I am always looking for a new business and like to go to flea markets and house sales on the East Coast. So maybe it’s would be a good idea if I start to collecting older phones and…

  • Crash Detection for Smartphone

    Crash Detection for Smartphone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Over the past few weeks I have read stories where journalists total their cars to find out if the Crash Detection for smartphone feature works. Then, this week there was a story about these iPhones dialing emergency workers when riders wearing watches with that feature were upside down on roller coasters. If…

  • BeReal App Suitable for Family?

    BeReal App Suitable for Family?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone:  We recently moved here from the UK. I check-in back there with the usual social media but I prefer a newer app called BeReal. I am wondering if the BeReal app could be like a provisional license for my pre-teen, who is 10 years old. I just got him his first phone…

  • Closed Caption Phone

    Closed Caption Phone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I know there’s a lot of attention to the dynamic island on the new Apple phone but I just wanted to write and ask that you pay some love to other features. My adult sister and I have hearing loss and the new Live Captions will be a godsend. We use our…

  • I Don’t Need a New Phone

    I Don’t Need a New Phone

    …But I want one!

  • Sept. 11 Anniversary and Phones

    Sept. 11 Anniversary and Phones

    This week, on the anniversary of Sept. 11 terrorist attack, we take a Dear Smartphone “time out” to consider how emergency communications have transformed over the two decades since. The inspiration is three-fold:  in last week’s column, a reader lamented the difficulty of getting emergency services in a remote, wooded area; during the week, Apple…

  • Satellite  Phone and Home Emergencies

    Satellite Phone and Home Emergencies

    On the anniversary of 911- how to reach 911 and more….

  • Phones and Human Memory

    Phones and Human Memory

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I thought I had monkey brain because I was losing items stored on my phone like business cards,  important addresses, and receipts. It turns out that these items were kept in my messaging app and they were auto deleted every 30 days. It was just by accident that I discovered what was…

  • Mobile Ticket and Phone

    Mobile Ticket and Phone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am turning 65 next month and plan to do some bucket list travel, mostly in Europe. But my first step is getting my senior travel card (the Clipper) here in San Francisco as it gives me a 50 percent discount.  I am happy to have a mobile ticket and phone. My…

  • eGift Card: InKind

    eGift Card: InKind

    Food for thought. The InKind eGift card.

  • A Better Facebook for Family?

    A Better Facebook for Family?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I come from a large extended family and want to keep current with things back home. So I use Facebook to see what is happening. But, I also want to cut back on the time I spend on social media so that I can do my studies. I don’t check Facebook very…

  • Digital Drivers License on Phone

    Digital Drivers License on Phone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: When I was at the Sky Harbor airport (in Phoenix)  last week I saw something that surprised me. The person ahead of me in the security line showed his driver’s license through his phone. He did not have to fumble for his wallet, pull out the card, and put it away after…

  • Snapchat? Should I Subscribe?

    Snapchat? Should I Subscribe?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: My tween asked to use my credit card so she could get a Snapchat subscription. It’s only $3.99 a month but I don’t understand the need and she did not explain it to me very clearly. When I went on their web site I was even more confused since it seems like…

  • Listserv Why Still Use it?

    Listserv Why Still Use it?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am watching my parent’s condo this summer while they are gone, and that includes checking their PO box and an email account. The postal mail is tame, but the email seems to be out-of-control. My question is listserv- why still use it? There are tens of messages that come in daily…

  • Does Phone Size Matter?

    Does Phone Size Matter?

    Big Phone….Little Phone…Both Phone?

  • Roadtrip with Phone Apps

    Roadtrip with Phone Apps

    Ready for a summer road-trip? Grab your phone but read this first!

  • Two Factor Authentication a Pain

    Two Factor Authentication a Pain

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I took your class and try to be mindful about using my phone, so I often choose to work on my laptop computer. And I try to keep it secure. The problem is that many of the web sites I go to on my laptop require two-factor authentication and it’s a pain.…

  • Vintage Ipods Have Value?

    Vintage Ipods Have Value?

    This old Ipod. Is it about liking vintage or something more?

  • Emergency Alerts on Phone: Nixle

    Emergency Alerts on Phone: Nixle

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am going with my Mom next week to a local class for emergency and disaster planning. I thought I would get ahead of it by downloading some apps for our phones. She lives in a dry area of Sonoma that was badly hit in two fires. I would like to get…

  • Can’t Turn Off Bluetooth

    Can’t Turn Off Bluetooth

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I consider myself fairly informed with tech so I can’t figure out why my phone is always turning itself ‘on’ to Bluetooth. I turn the Bluetooth ‘off’. Next time I pick up the phone it is back ‘on’. It feels like the phone overrides what I want. BTW, I have an Apple…

  • Is the Role of Concierge Dead?

    Is the Role of Concierge Dead?

    Is the concierge dead…and is the smartphone the killer?

  • Travel Column Highlights and Lowlights…

    Travel Column Highlights and Lowlights…

    Is it really a vacation if you can’t leave your phone at home?

  • Should I keep landline for emergencies?

    Should I keep landline for emergencies?

    If I keep a landline phone for emergencies are robocalls part of the price I pay?

  • Are Paper Maps Obsolete?

    Are Paper Maps Obsolete?

    The paper map and the digital map are both useful visualizations- use them in concert with each other.

  • Where is the Instruction Manual?

    Where is the Instruction Manual?

    “Consumers do not generally seek relationships with black boxes that come in cardboard boxes.”

  • Metaverse for Dummies

    Metaverse for Dummies

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Can you help me make sense of what is going on with all these headlines about the metaverse, say the metaverse for Dummies? This week the company Microsoft jumped in, but I was confused before then. I am middle-aged, a fan of Twitter and Facebook, and keep up with technology on my…

  • Digital Passport on Smartphone?

    Digital Passport on Smartphone?

    Are Smartphones the New Requirement for International Travel?

  • Top Stories- Smartphones in 2021

    Top Stories- Smartphones in 2021

    A year of illumination and heat for the smartphone…

  • Toy Phones for Kids? (Bluetooth enabled)

    Toy Phones for Kids? (Bluetooth enabled)

    Is the newest Chatter Phone for Adults Only?

  • Financial Apps for Kids?

    Financial Apps for Kids?

    Newly minted… fintech accounts for young people?

  • Phones Don’t Work in Emergency

    Phones Don’t Work in Emergency

    The power went out….the phone line went down….what next?

  • Trip Planning Online?

    Trip Planning Online?

    Back on the road again…should it be on the screen?

  • Too Many Apps?

    Too Many Apps?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am going to get a new phone and am wondering whether I should transfer all the apps on it, or just keep the ones I use. My wife says I have too many apps and it’s time to houseclean. I don’t see the need. I promised her I would let you…

  • QR Codes and Kids’ Safety

    QR Codes and Kids’ Safety

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Is it wrong to wonder why there is a QR code on the back of a kid’s cereal box? My four year old and six year old insist on using my phone when they eat breakfast now because they want to follow the code, play a game, and reveal some treasure. I…

  • Why are There So Many Phone Stores?

    Why are There So Many Phone Stores?

    Downtown meets Digital. What is the future here?

  • Home Schooling and  Provisional Phones

    Home Schooling and Provisional Phones

    All parents need to home-school when it comes to smartphones and tweens!

  • Can Emojis Make Me Seem Empathetic?

    Can Emojis Make Me Seem Empathetic?

    Will an emoji improve my relationship? Or spice it up?!

  • Venmo and Bitcoin for Teen?

    Venmo and Bitcoin for Teen?

    A teen loses money on Bitcoin Cash. His parents set up the account…

  • Do Food & Phone Lack Etiquette?

    Do Food & Phone Lack Etiquette?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: My roomies and I celebrated the end of the school year by getting a reservation at a famous local restaurant. You would recognize the name. When we were seated, two of them kept their phones out and used them throughout the meal. It was not to take pictures of the food either.…

  • Learning Spanish by Phone

    Learning Spanish by Phone


  • Bad Phone Behavior or Locatable?

    Bad Phone Behavior or Locatable?

    Is Mom’s phone open 24/7 for notifications?

  • Fake Location, Real Takeout

    Fake Location, Real Takeout

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: A fake location led me to find real takeout! I just moved to a new neighborhood and decided to get takeout for dinner. A delivery app helped me pick a local barbecue and the food was delish. In fact, so good that I popped the name into my GPS. It turns out…

  • Is My App Private?

    Is My App Private?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: At my high school the principal enters her best students in an online sweepstakes. We get freebies and discounts when our name is drawn. That seems great but now I get ads on my phone from the places I visit plus emails to enlist in the military, to join climate action groups,…

  • How Much Screen Time?

    How Much Screen Time?

    When I get the notification of my weekly screen time I ignore it. Why?

  • I Don’t Get Phone Calls On Phone

    I Don’t Get Phone Calls On Phone

    Is it me or my phone? No one calls!

  • Smartphone Privacy- Tides Shifting

    Smartphone Privacy- Tides Shifting

    Does IDFA= Identity Details Facebook Acquires?

  • Email out of Control

    Email out of Control

    I am in sales so email is a lifeline…but I am sinking under it!

  • Why Use Voice Message, Not Text?

    Why Use Voice Message, Not Text?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: When I long-distance with family in Israel they like to send voice memos instead of text. Mostly they have iPhones and they use a messaging app. It works for me. Why don’t more people here use a voice message instead of text? Len, Palo Alto Dear Len: ” Paja Escribit”– that means too…

  • Online Privacy: Is The Camera On?

    Online Privacy: Is The Camera On?

    I keep masking tape over my device’s camera. Do others?

  • Is Phone Number Safe?

    Is Phone Number Safe?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Is my phone number safe anymore? The other day I downloaded a new social media app called Clubhouse, because friends recommended it. Before it would open, the app required me to enter a phone number so it could send a verification code. It was a total accident but I got distracted and…

  • Troubleshoot Email Addresses

    Troubleshoot Email Addresses

    Phone is sending me to “dead” emails . Why?

  • Phones Morphing into Cars?

    Phones Morphing into Cars?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Are phones becoming cars or vice versa? My friend took me out for a ride in his new car and whipped out a phone when he wanted to unlock the doors and move it  forward a few feet. Then I read in the news this week that Apple, the company that makes…

  • Year-End Dear Smartphone

    Year-End Dear Smartphone

    The year-end Dear Smartphone column in 2019 was about shopping online and holiday pandemonium. It was a prophetic post: “Maybe a future Christmas will put less emphasis on running between stores and accumulating presents and place more weight on taking holiday images, sharing symbols of the season, or just staying home.” Covid did for Dear Smartphone…

  • Alzheimers and Smartphones. Friends or Foe?

    Alzheimers and Smartphones. Friends or Foe?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Would a smartphone help my Aunt who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? Right now she has a landline and a flip phone but I am considering giving her my old smartphone instead of trading it in. Then I can send her pictures and images, plus plug her into more social media.…

  • Does Screen Size Matter?

    Does Screen Size Matter?

    Is it the small screen or a small attention span when it comes to a digital meeting?!

  • Can Older People be Influencers?

    Can Older People be Influencers?

    Older people are on Facebook. Are they stoked to be social media influencers too?

  • Is Handwriting Dead?

    Is Handwriting Dead?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Is Handwriting Dead? My fifth grader is doing OK with remote school and keeps up to date with classwork. He spends most of the day on the computer and then plays video games in the evening. My worry is that there is no opportunity to turn in assignments written by hand. So,…

  • Zoom App on Phone Good?

    Zoom App on Phone Good?

    Zoom Zoom is for Motorways….not for cars.

  • Reset iPhone for Mom?

    Reset iPhone for Mom?

    Mom is getting hand-me-down phone. Should she get hand-me-down apps?

  • Covid Tracking by Phone?

    Covid Tracking by Phone?

    Dear Ms Smartphone: Should I start using my phone as a Covid detective, specifically to do Covid tracking by phone? I am not in a high risk group but I attended a busy outdoor rally the other day where people got close and did not wear face masks. Now  I am sorry that I went…

  • Prepare Phones if Natural Disaster

    “We interrupt our normal column to bring you this Emergency Broadcast…..”

  • How to Find A Local Business

    How to Find A Local Business

    “Looking for out-of-town information….coming up short”

  • Should Teen Remove TikTok?

    Should Teen Remove TikTok?

    A Mom is wondering where she and her teen stand on this issue….

  • Is Video Better than a Call?

    Is Video Better than a Call?

    Why does graduate student resist a voice call?

  • Need Bluelight Glasses?

    Need Bluelight Glasses?

    Do I need blue light glasses? How do I separate fatigue from facts?

  • Invest in Stocks by Phone?

    Invest in Stocks by Phone?

    Brand new investors are using their smartphones to buy and sell stocks. What are the trade (offs).

  • Post A Snapchat Birthday?

    Post A Snapchat Birthday?

    Mom wants to be a good sport and post Happy Birthday on Snapchat.

  • Why Don’t Seniors Bank Online?

    Why Don’t Seniors Bank Online?

    The banks are all closed…and my parents want to pay for the errands

  • Uber for Flip-phone?

    Uber for Flip-phone?

    Are you able to get Uber or Lyft if you only have a flip phone?

  • Selfies for Good?

    Selfies for Good?

    The Posted Video Kept Getting Shorter….but Funnier!!

  • Zoom Fatigue: How to Overcome

    Zoom Fatigue: How to Overcome

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: After a meeting or two on Zoom, and even a catch-up with girl friends, I am zonked out. Sometimes I skip meals because I feel so fatigued and crawl into bed. It’s just the opposite for my son, who is now home from college. He goes on Zoom in the evening with…

  • Memes: Why So Popular?

    Memes: Why So Popular?

    What is it about Memes? Am I missing out?

  • Smartphones & TikTok & Quibi

    Smartphones & TikTok & Quibi

    I want to watch things on my phone…what’s wrong with that?

  • Quibi Good For Phone?

    Quibi Good For Phone?

    Would Quibi be a good thing to add to my daily phone routine?

  • How Will Teens Study From Home?

    How Will Teens Study From Home?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: For the rest of this school year my son (grade 11) will take high-school classes at home via computer. We live in an urban area, and while we don’t have the same issues as another nearby public school, we worry about the inequities. Many of my son’s friends are on teams at…

  • Zoom & Telework make me sad?

    Zoom & Telework make me sad?

    We spend the day in on-line meetings and the evenings in on-line meetups. Does that make us feel connected with each other?

  • Teletopia or Infodemic?

    Teletopia or Infodemic?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: The weekly report for my phone shows that I spent less time this week using it- about 1 hour less. Why am I using my phone less during the quarantine, and should I worry that I am not connecting enough with what is going on outside? Hugh, Woodside Dear Hugh: It’s actually…

  • Corona Virus, Smartphone Transmit ?

    Corona Virus, Smartphone Transmit ?

    Will touching an infected user’s smartphone help spread the Corona Virus?

  • Fake News and Smartphones

    Fake News and Smartphones

    A prankster creates Fake Road Traffic with a set of Smartphones…

  • Dual Phone Dual Life

    Dual Phone Dual Life

    There is a way to untangle the hot mess of home & work merging together on phones.