Can’t Put Your Phone Down During Dinner? Try Picking Up The Check.


Can't put down your smartphone during dinner? Try picking up the check.

Many people, young and old, complain about how technology is doing this or that to their lives. Writers bemoan the loss of real connections, or whatever they think people did before phones/the Internet/computers ruined everything.

Last weekend, for example, the New York Times ran three separate articles on getting away from the plague of always-on communications, as Atlantic contributor Nathan Jurgenson noted.

“In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time,” Pico Iyer wrote. “The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug.”

no mobile phone signFor the past couple of days, a great example of this kind of thinking has been making its way around the Tumblr ecosystem. A San Francisco dancer named Brian ‘Lil B’ Perez and his friends came up with a game to constrain their cellphone use when they’re out having dinner.

Here are the simple rules:

Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends

The first person to crack and look at their phone picks up the check. Our (initial) purpose of the game was to get everyone off the phones free from Twitter/Facebook/texting and to encourage conversations.

Rules of the Game:

  1. The game starts after everyone has ordered.
  2. Everybody places their phone on the table face down.
  3. The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.
  4. Loser of the game pays for the bill.
  5. If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.


That seems like about the right level of social conditioning necessary to make people think about their technology use. Not soulful wailing, but collective ribbing.

SOPA / PIPA News: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sends robo-reply to my NO ON SOPA/PIPA letter



This morning, I received what looks like a robo-response email from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in response to a letter I sent two days ago urging her to vote NO on SOPA and NO on PIPA.

I appreciate the prompt reply from her staff (and the robot responder in her office), but unfortunately it appears from her email that BOTH senators from my state, Minnesota, are still using language that supports the interests behind both bills.

We made ourselves known to the world and Congress…
I guess we need to turn the volume up even higher.

Here’s the text of the letter
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR sent me this morning:

January 20, 2012

Dear Jonathan:

Thank you for contacting me about the Protect IP Act. I appreciate hearing from you and especially appreciate hearing the concerns you have raised.

On January 20th, 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced an indefinite postponement of the scheduled Senate vote on the Protect IP Act.  As Congress continues to consider this issue, please know that I will work to make sure your concerns are addressed.

The internet has dramatically altered the manner in which we communicate, conduct business, seek entertainment and find information.  It is vital to ensure that online innovation and openness are preserved so the American people can continue to freely to express themselves and pursue personal and economic endeavors over the internet.

It is also important that foreign criminals not be allowed to steal the property of others without consequence.  The pirating of intellectual property is not a victimless crime.  Rather, it threatens the jobs and livelihoods of millions of middle class American workers and businesses.  However, we must seek ways to protect people from online piracy, particularly foreign piracy, without limiting web-based innovation or a free exchange of ideas.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  One of the most important parts of my job is listening to what the people of Minnesota have to say to me.  I am here in our nation’s capital to do the public’s business and to serve the people of our state.  I hope you will contact me again about matters of concern to you.


Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator




Getting Your Google+ Profile and WordPress blogs linked and +1’d


This is a solution I came up with for WordPress bloggers who are looking to improve their page rank in Google search results, integrate their Google Plus profiles with their WordPress blogs and improve visitor traffic from their blog to their Google+ posts and from Google+ back to their their WordPress blogs.

This solution does three things:

  1. It registers you as publisher of your blog for Google+. This means that any visitors who ‘+1’ or share your blog, posts or comments using the Google+ button anywhere on the web will be ‘credited’ to you. This in turn will improve the page rank of your blog in Google’s search results;
  2. It adds a ‘+1’ button to your blog. This is in addition to the +1 feature provided by WordPress in the Tools>Sharing section of your Administration area. Having this also improves your Google+ publisher compliance, which in turn gives you an edge in Google search result page ranking;
  3. It provides a ‘badge’ to connect your blog back to your Google+ profile.This not only fortifies the connection between your blog and your Google+ presence (and completes your G+ publisher compliance), but also provides visitors with a single-click means to get to your posts and content on Google+. Since you’ll have a built-in audience on G+ and a significant amount of posted content available there, the opportunities for cross-traffic are obvious.

The code I wrote below has been implemented on my blogs and is WP-compliant. You can see it in action at in the upper-right column of the page.


In the WordPress Administration area of the blog you want to connect with your Google+ profile:

  1. Create a WordPress Text Widget and past the code below into the text area (without the CODE tags).
  2. In a new browser window, go to your Google+ profile page. The URL will look like this:
  3. From the URL, copy the long string of numbers. That’s your Google+ profile ID.
  4. Return to your Text Widget; in the code you previously pasted, look for the string of numbers similar to those you just copied. Delete the old numbers and paste the string from your Google+ profile.
  5. In the code text below, the name ‘Jonathan Bates‘ (my name) appears. Delete and replace with your name.
  6. Save the widget and close.
  7. Open your blog and confirm that you see a Google ‘+1’ button and beneath it, {your name} on {google+ image}.
  8. That’s it. You’re done.

Note: The Google ‘+1’ button may take a moment to appear, and may not show up until the rest of your blog has already rendered. That’s normal.

Click for the code for the WordPress Text Widget.

jonathan bateson

Google, SolarCity in $280 million deal to fund solar homes


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Google and rooftop solar power company SolarCity announced a $280 million investment deal Tuesday, the largest such deal for home-based solar power systems in the United States.

The investment will give San Mateo, Calif-based SolarCity the funding to build and lease solar power systems to a 7,000 to 9,000 homeowners in the 10 states where it operates.

Founded five years ago, SolarCity has 15,000 solar projects around the nation completed or under way. Customers who wish to have the company’s solar system installed at their home can pay for it outright, but most choose instead to let SolarCity retain ownership of the equipment and rent back the use of it through monthly solar lease payments.

Read the full article at CNN Money…

Finding android apps just got a lot easier


Android Logo
For all the improvements the Android Market has made recently, it’s still been a pain to find new and interesting apps—increasingly so, now that Google’s app storefront has grown to 200,000 programs strong. Not anymore.

As part of the second day of Google’s I/O conference, the company introduced some much-needed discovery tools to Android Market:

  • Top App charts, to show you what’s popular;
  • Editor’s Choice, to show you what’s curated;
  • Top Developers, to hook you up with the (150+) cool kid devs;
  • Related Apps, based on what you’ve bought before;
  • and Trending Apps, which helps you keep up with what’s popular at that.very.second.

All of those changes are effective right now, so happy hunting. As for future treats:

Soon the Android Market will support apps up to 4GB in size, and starting in June developers will be able to exclude devices to avoid any compatibility issues.

Which, uh, might be sad news for those of us who thought Android fragmentation was dead and/or dying.

Read the full article at Gizmodo…