Tag Archives: Google

Digital Reminders

Are you one of those people who does Google Calendar? Or keeps a to-do list on your phone? Or sets an alarm to get you to do a regular task, like exercising or writing?

If so, then we have nothing in common. We just don’t know each other like I thought we did 🙂

I do not work well with electronic reminders of my life. I have an outlook calendar at work, which does me very little good since I only turn my e-mail on about four times a day (so I can have longer uninterrupted blocks of time to work on programming or technical writing, y’know working). Often Outlook will claim I’m two hours late to something I just came back from.

And digital reminders for Bible study don’t work that well for me either.

My old netbook was set up to open Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotions every time I booted the machine up. After a week or two this just became the way I knew the computer was ready to do some work, and would happily click the red X without a second thought.

My writing has always been very goals oriented, and maybe even regular, but not timed to a calendar. Even blocked off time like Monday’s writing session is in flux, and I need a more opportunistic approach to writing time (making the most of it when I have it).

I tried this one program called Stickies when I bought my new netbook. It lets me keep virtual sticky notes on my desktop with a list of things for me to do. My wife swears by this program, but I used it for about two weeks and now I have the same sticky note sitting in my bottom left corner unchanged and ignored (and eating a little of my RAM).

The only times I’ve been good with details are when I kept a little physical pad and paper of random notes. But this could get messy and a note kept in there too long would lose its meaning. I dropped this habit pretty much after college.

I think I’m a decently ordered person. I write regularly, keep most of my obligations, and what I miss, well… that’s why I got married 🙂

I just resist external attempts to order my world. This has always been true. I didn’t write down homework assignments, keep date books or even have big wall calendars. I just remember what I need to, and what I don’t well… someone will remind me if it was really important.

How do you keep order in your life?

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You signed the EULA!

Last week Google said Gmail users have no expectation of privacy.

Part of the justification for this is a court case from 1979 stating:

“A person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”

That’s basically all e-mail, since your average user does not manage his own mail server, and send only to other accounts who manage their own servers. So any e-mail the passes to or from Gmail can be scanned by Google for targeted advertising or anything else.

But we knew this is happening so why would we be worried about it? If it’s transmitted over the internet it’s not private. And we agreed to all of these terms when we clicked the ‘I Agree’ button on the End User License Agreement. And we all read those right?

I think what bugs me most about this issue is how conversations about the law, and what’s right for the country have changed. We each have entered into dozens of hundred page contracts by using software, browsing the internet, or even activating a computer. This is a bit of  a change from when we used to discuss the issues of the day in a bar.

The thing is, we all still think about life this way. Our bar may be Facebook or an actual bar, but we don’t think of life in terms of contracts we’ve signed without reading, we think about what’s right. We think about the constitution and the bill of rights, probably the last set of legal documents we actually understood.

We are all bound by decisions we’ve made without understanding them, and it feels like that’s something that ought to change. I think many of us didn’t have an expectation of privacy, at least not a conscious one. In fact if anything we’re a generation of over-sharers.

But the real extent of how much can be learned about a person just from their e-mail or what they post on Facebook is staggering. We understand that anything we write in a public space like Facebook or WordPress or even an internet forum needs to be for public consumption, but what about private notes to loved ones, or even just the many profoundly silly things we do?

I’m not sure what the alternatives are for e-mail. It’s not like we can all start sending letters, and I’m not sure what our expectations of privacy can be in the postal system anyway.

But we do need to think about these issues, and discuss them in the public square, without just saying ‘meh’. And we need to have a longer attention span. After all, technology is only getting more advanced and our next privacy challenge, Google Glass, is just around the corner.


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The Future of Distracted Driving

Ohio’s getting tough on texting.

While it’s only a secondary offense for adults, teens can be pulled over if they’re using almost any electronic device.

The dangers of texting are almost a cliche, with countless PSAs and texting deaths becoming plot points in shows like Go On. That being said, how many years and how many accidents had to happen before we had a ban?

I don’t think this is a “nanny state” issue. Driving is an activity that effects the people around you, not just yourself. Bans on big gulps and trans fats are a different matter than distracted driving.

The pace of technology is greater than the pace of law. Smartphones and tablets only increase the number of things we try to do while driving. And even a hands free bluetooth can be a distraction if the call is emotional or agitating.

But this is only the beginning. Google’s new Glass will introduce the general public to wearable computing, and to the new world of augmented reality. Remember those TV shows where random facts about the show and actors popped up on your screen. Now imagine that an inch from your face. You look at a nearby store and a coupon pops up. You look down the road and Google informs you of traffic snarls.

It may not be all bad, but sight and reaction time are the most important factors in driving. We’re not as good at multi-tasking as we think. Our brains may be good at switching back and forth between tasks really quickly, but not at the exact same time.

Driving with Google Glass will be dangerous and I think we need to get out ahead of its release with a ban similar to the one on texting. We need law that can keep up with new gadgets. Whether through some kind of review committee or broader law I’m not sure, but it’s a discussion we need to have.

Before the first Google related death…


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It’s on Ben Trube! Whoever you are…

I think we can agree the first piece of sanity that goes when you start a blog is the stat checking, page views, comments, likes and your place on Google (and Bing for those of who like Chandler). But on the first day I started this blog I discovered a shocking fact:

I am not the only Ben Trube.

For most people, discovering someone else with their name is a common occurrence, but Trube is not a common name (or even a common spelling of the way we pronounce it, Trubee with a double “e” sound on the end).

Obvious puns you can make with my last name:

– Trube or not Trube

– To good Trube true

– Trube do be do

And so on.

Still, given the 7 billion people that live on this planet, it’s not that surprising that someone else has my name.

And was higher on Google.

But the most damning thing of all; he’s from Michigan, who as a Buckeye are my sworn enemies. And according to Google, he’s a writer too. Okay, that’s actually pretty cool. But did he have to take my name? I’m the one who shall be rich and famous from writing, not you … you little upstart!

I guess I could go with my pen name B.R.R. Trube (Robert’s my middle name and I bet I can add another R in there somehow). But you’ve been warned Ben Trube, Urban Meyer’s gonna crush those Wolverine’s next year. And our mascot is tastier than yours (if you eat the peanut butter and chocolate treat and not the actual nut because those will kill you).

I do have some questions though:

– How does he pronounce his last name?

– Is he planning to continue writing?


Note: If the other Ben Trube ever reads this I hope it is taken as a light-hearted spoof as it was intended. But we’re still gonna kick Michigan’s butt.


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