What use are smartphones, a trip to Accrington and a quick tip about Amazon
What use is a smartphone?
I’ve been going on about them lately – but what’s the point of them? What are they for?
After all, everything you can do on one (apart from make phone calls and send texts) you could do on a computer or a tablet.
And I must admit, I can be a bit of a luddite – I know that’s odd for a techie but I’m often skeptical of the latest new gadget, until I can see how it’s really going to be useful to people.
But the difference is how easy they are to carry around – and that you can get into the habit of keeping them with you whenever you’re out and about, so you can always check whatever it is you want to check.
For example, the other week I had to go down to Accrington to take my car for a service (an oldish Lotus Elise S1 for car fans – and I take it to Accrington because of the specialist there).
So on the way, I used my phone as a sat-nav so I could find the place. It even checks for delays on particular roads and can send you a different way if a motorway has a huge queue.
Then I had to walk to the railway station a few minutes away to come home – so I used the phone as a sat-nav again but this time having tapped the “on foot” button so I could find the station.
Next I used my phone to double check the train times and make sure the train was running on time while I sat at the station.
On the train on the way back I listened to some music on my phone, checked some work emails and had a look at some photos my sister in Australia had put up on Facebook.
I made a note on it of something I needed to do the following day and set it to pop up to remind me – I have a terrible memory for things like this otherwise.
As I got near to home I texted Julie to say I’d be home on time as planned and I’d see her at Alastair’s gymnastics club (he’s just started it a few months ago and loves it).
Of course, not everything I used it for are things you’d want to use it for – but it’s worth understanding the things it can do for you so you can pick which might be helpful to you.
Another example is the camera – the camera in most smartphones nowadays is actually pretty good and a lot of them even have a built in flash (it used to be that the cameras would be great in bright light but poor indoors but now there’s usually a flash it’s much better). And you can easily take quick snaps. But there are other things most people don’t even know about – for example how to make it focus on the right bit of the photo, not just whatever happens to be in the middle.
For example yesterday at work in the office we suddenly noticed a woodpecker outside the window. Not something you see every day. I wouldn’t have had a normal camera with me at work, but I had my phone with me, so was ready to take a picture (of course it flew off before I could, but there you go!).
And I often take pictures of the boys when we’re out and about with my phone because I’ve always got it there. Video, too.
There’s lots more you can do, of course, from video phone calls to finding handy recipes for cooking anything you like to calling a taxi. But hopefully that’s given some idea of how varied its uses can be and why I think they can be so useful.
There are more examples of what you can do with smartphones in the full info about the books and how to order a set – why not have a read here?
A quick tip about using Amazon
Amazon is one of the biggest and most popular online shops. I use it a lot, especially this time of year for Christmas shopping.
But one thing that annoys me is when you read about something that’s available at Amazon and click a link to it, or do a Google search and find something interesting, often it’ll take you to the American site (ending in .com) instead of the UK one (ending in .co.uk)
It’s obvious it’s happened because the prices are all in dollars. But then you need to go to the UK site and search again for the thing you’d found.
At least that’s how most people do it – and how Julie was doing it last night when looking for something we’re getting Alastair and Edward for Christmas. (it’s a secret)
And it’s how I used to do it – until I found you can do this instead (this works on PCs, tablets and phones):
When you’re on the US site, look up the top of the window, in the bit where it lists the web address. Click on it where it says the amazon.com bit (there’ll be some other stuff after that – the stuff that tells it which page of Amazon’s website you’re looking at).
Make sure you don’t have the whole lot of text selected in dark blue – click until your text cursor is just on the end of .com and press delete once to delete the m. Then type in .uk and press enter. So you’ve changed it from “amazon.com/stuff that tells it which page you’re looking at” to “amazon.co.uk/stuff that tells it which page you’re looking at”
As long as the same product is actually available from the UK store, you’ll get the UK version of the same product.
I know it only saves a few seconds at best, but I find it less fiddly than having to go to Amazon’s UK store and then find the same product all over again.