Mobile Phones Are So Ubiquitous That Users Have Become Antisocial

If you are old enough, you can remember the days before mobile phones. If you wanted to call someone, you had to find a telephone someplace, be it in a home or other building or a phone booth. The importance of the invention was underlined by the fact that two companies—Motorola and Bell Labs–were racing to be first. The first call was by the winner Motorola’s Martin Cooper to Bell Labs’ Joel Engel. Today no one would leave home without his/her mobile phone. Unfortunately, people pay more attention to their phones than to the people around them.

Robocalls and Spam Calls

When a stranger calls you it is good to be on one’s guard. Chances are that it is either someone who wants to sell you something you don’t want or need or — worse yet — wants to cheat you out of your money.  If you are lucky the caller is only wasting your time with something totally uninteresting to you. Fortunately, in 2019 the Federal Communications Commission put into effect a new policy that gives the telephone companies the right to block the calls.

Why Does Your Car’s Battery Run Down?

Because of CoronaVirus, many people don’t drive very frequently. And AAA is answering a lot of calls from members who are faced with a car that cannot be started because the battery is dead. And experts counsel drivers to drive 20-30 miles at highway speed periodically to top up the charge. But even in normal times, there are a lot of things that could cause your battery to lose so much charge that you can’t start it.

Have You Ever Been Attacked by a Product’s Packaging?

It happens so often that it even has a name: “Wrap Rage”. But it isn’t funny. And the main culprit is plastic, which is frequently so strong that it requires a sharp knife and a lot of muscle. Sometimes the packaging is even stronger than the product inside. This situation is perfect for a visit to an emergency room, which these days likely is full of victims of the coronavirus. Frequently the culprit is clamshell packaging, which may be fine for protecting the product inside, but equally fine for injuring the purchaser.

A Car is a Personal Computer on Wheels

Computer on wheels

Depending on one’s taste and budget, a car is the fifth most expensive thing one will buy. But because electronic and computer technology continues to evolve, one will get more for one’s money. That’s because more and more of the car is really a computer. The best example is the Tesla; long-term writer/analyst Larry Magid makes the point.

The founder, CEO, and president of online retail company Amazon, Jeff Bezos has been the world’s richest person since 2017 and was named the “richest man in modern history” after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018. He may not be personally responsible for using data about third-party sellers on the Amazon platform to develop competing products. But people he has hired are responsible for such actions.

Fake Products on Amazon

We have used a Philips Norelco electric shaver that we had bought at Costco off and on for years. (When we didn’t use it, we shaved with various one/two/three/four-blade models, which gave closer shaves. But the convenience and absence of cuts of an electric razor, especially when traveling, makes it practical.) Like any cutting tool, it needs to be sharpened or have its cutting surfaces replaced. Philips Norelco recommends that the shaving heads be replaced every year at the cost of $30. If you search Amazon with a “Norelco-replacement-heads” phrase, you get a plethora of products with a wide range of prices ($14-70), many of them without packaging. The same situation exists for a wide range of products sold by Amazon. Fortunately, there are some companies that are fighting back.

Liars Damn Liars and Statisticians

We keep seeing reports these days showing that the United States has more deaths from the CoronaVirus than any other country. We wondered if this is correct. The USA does not have the largest population; both China and India have 4-6 times as many people.

And the USA prides itself on the quality of health care. One part of the answer is that the data collection—both methodology and accuracy–varies from country to country. Another part is that the predicting models differ from country to country. And, of course, there are always political issues that could affect the answers.