Clever software gone stupid

Stupid is a harsh word. But a thing happened today that tells me I shouldn’t rely on software as much as I do.

Last night I was at a party with Angela and at various points we were talking with a particularly funny, fine guy. He gave Angela his card and this morning she typed up his details into Contacts on her iPhone and sent him a nice note.

Aha, says I, there’s a way to save that typing. I gets out my iPhone, open Evernote, take a photo of the man’s business card and, wallop, it’s done. Every detail off that card read and popped into an Evernote document. Name, phone number, address, email, the lot. It is brilliant.

But not quite brilliant enough.

Much as I use Evernote all day long, it is a fat lot of good having someone’s details in there and not in my Contacts address book. Can you get that data out of Evernote? Presumably yes, apparently yes, but I couldn’t.

I found a button that seemed to suggest it would send the details off to my Contacts so I tapped on that.

And instead it sent my details off to my contacts.

This man who had talked more with Angela than he had with me, who had given her his card and not me, now got an extremely terse email from Evernote listing my contact details. Nothing else. No message. Just name, number, email.

Fortunately he used the email and replied or I wouldn’t have even noticed. I was able to send him a non-terse message even as I was saying something very terse to Evernote.

Your smartphone is making you thick

Our smartphones help us find a phone number quickly, provide us with instant directions and recommend restaurants, but new research indicates that this convenience at our fingertips is making it easy for us to avoid thinking for ourselves.

The study, from researchers at the University of Waterloo and published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, suggests that smartphone users who are intuitive thinkers — more prone to relying on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions — frequently use their device’s search engine rather than their own brainpower. Smartphones allow them to be even lazier than they would otherwise be.

“They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it,” said Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study, and a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at Waterloo.

In contrast, analytical thinkers second-guess themselves and analyze a problem in a more logical sort of way. Highly intelligent people are more analytical and less intuitive when solving problems.

Reliance on smartphones linked to lazy thinking — ScienceDaily (5 March 2015)

Read the full piece on your iPhone.

Microsoft taketh away

There’s one big disadvantage to how Apple has made updating your iPhone apps automatic: sometimes you wish you’d stuck on the last one.

If you’ve switched off automatic updating and so have a choice about it, don’t update Skype. Because Microsoft has taken away a pretty core feature. The website 9to5mac, amongst many others, explains:

Skype may have recently launched a major update to its Skype for iPhone app, but one rather basic feature went missing – the ability to listen to voice messages. A subsequent update to Skype for iPhone 5.1 still hasn’t fixed the problem.

In a support thread on the Skype site, community manager Claudius provided what must qualify as one of the most unhelpful response ever to complaints by users:

“Voice message playback is not supported in Skype 5.0 for iPhone. Please use Skype on another platform to listen to your voice messages”

Why won’t Microsoft give iOS users access to their Skype voice messages? – Ben Lovejoy, (23 June 2014)

That article includes a readers’ instructions for how to undo this stupid thing and go back to an older version of Skype. But you need patience and a steady hand.