How to preserve a smartphone’s fastest-degrading component

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It’s harder to replace your phone’s lithium ion battery than it is to treat it right in the first place. Many smartphones don’t provide easy user access to their batteries. That includes all iPhones and many flagship Android phones from brands such as Samsung. Official battery replacements can be expensive or inconvenient (try getting an official battery replacement at an Apple Store this year). There are also environmental concerns. Smartphones are, frankly, an environmental disaster and extending the lifespan of your phone battery helps mitigate that.

Here are some things you can do…

My experience using the Amazon AI’s multilingual mode

Photo of Amazon Echo Dot 2, on coffee table with books
Photo of Amazon Echo Dot 2, on coffee table with books

Amazon introduced a multilingual mode to its Alexa AI in 2019, starting in three countries: Canada, India, and the United States. Since late 2019, I have been interacting with Alexa in both Canadian French and English, switching back and forth from one sentence to the next without changing any setting.

The multilingual mode is perhaps more precisely called a bilingual mode, since in every case it is two languages. One of those languages is always English. Spanish is paired with English in the States, Hindi in India, and French in Canada. …

Very nice! I am currently reading Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids. What a creative force! The book is giving me a window on... evoking a world I've not seen depicted before. Not so successfully anyway. The Chelsea Hotel in the late 60s. Max's Kansas City and the Andy Warhol crowd. Loving depictions of brilliant, damaged artists such as Jim Carroll and Janice Joplin.

“Lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia” in politics inspired cranky clear writing manifesto

Lauren Stephen, left. George Orwell, right.
Lauren Stephen, left. George Orwell, right.

The following is based on a presentation I give to students in a college writing composition course.

Photo of smartphone resting on appointment book
Photo of smartphone resting on appointment book
Photo by Jan Vašek

My work recently moved to a new online shift scheduling and calendar system. The work calendar can generate a URL linking to an .ics file — an iCalendar feed — making it possible to subscribe to my work schedule with calendar services such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Calendar, and Google. Subscribed with Google Calendar, new work shifts appear in the calendar on all my devices soon after they are published.

This article outlines how to subscribe to an iCalendar feed in Google Calendar, and solve issues that can prevent Google from updating when changes are published to the original calendar.

A standup comic, I recently had a scheduled 7-minute set extended to 15 minutes at the last minute. Fortunately, I had just found my Grade 9 Book Report on The Stranger by Albert Camus. My teacher Mr. Gravelle gave me an A+. That grade, however, hides a shameful secret which I asked the audience to guess: I never read the book! With the riddle, and some charming naivete on part of my 13-year old self, the audience seemed to find my Grade 9 book report amusing, and perhaps even edifying. Here it is.

Photo of Albert Camus
Photo of Albert Camus
Albert Camus. You can tell this guy is a philosopher.

Grade 9 Book Report on “The Stranger”…

Getting Started with Android Automation, Part 2

An easy but useful Tasker recipe that locates an Android phone by causing it to emit an audible beep when it connects or disconnects to a paired Bluetooth device. Although this article is a standalone piece, it can be read as a continuation of Getting Started with Android Automation Using Tasker.

Dark grey Samsung phone laying at the corner of a brown wood desk. Photo by John Tekeridis.
Dark grey Samsung phone laying at the corner of a brown wood desk. Photo by John Tekeridis.
Black is the best color option for many flagship Android phones, but dark phones are harder to see

The Problem

A Spigen Tough Armor case does an excellent job of protecting my Galaxy S7. The Tough Armor is advertised as U.S. military-grade drop protection. I can believe it. My four-year-old S7 is in great shape. One problem. With its muted…

Nicolas Cage is ideal choice for Lovecraft story adaptation

Film poster for Color Out of Space
Film poster for Color Out of Space
Film poster for Color Out of Space

There is an episode of the TV comedy Community where Greendale College’s resident drama professor tells his class it is impossible to say if Nicolas Cage is a good actor or a bad one. Film student Abed, who has obsessive-compulsive tendencies, nearly breaks his brain seeking a definitive answer to the impossible conundrum. “This question has no answer,” the professor warns him.

Oscar-winner Cage, of course, has delivered powerful performances in many excellent films. He has also delivered bizarre antics in some famously bad ones. He can deliver an over-the-top interpretation…

Image by Sophal Phorn and Ben Harris

I used to hate my name. Lauren Stephen. I am a man. A cis-gendered male. My parents, however, choose to give me a girl’s name. It is sometimes disorienting for people if they assume they will be meeting a woman, but then I turn out to be a man. People mix up my first and last names. My last name — Stephen — is a first name for men in English. It occasionally causes minor inconveniences in doctor’s offices or other situations if something is misfiled under Stephen Lauren. The pronunciation of my last name is also confusing. The spelling…

Davidoff Studios/Getty Images

Even before Jeffrey Epstein died from an apparent suicide, conspiracy theories were running wild about him. In an attempt to shield President Donald Trump, who had publicly praised Epstein and posed in photos with him, some Trump supporters started a conspiracy theory about pictures of Epstein and Bill Clinton being scrubbed from Google. Complete bunk of course. An obviously politically motivated conspiracy theory.

Some conspiracy theories are real, but most are not. Once a conspiracy theory is proven, of course, it ceases to be a theory and becomes a fact, an actual conspiracy. The simplest explanation is usually the correct…

Lauren Stephen

Writer, editor, college professor, software developer, stand-up comic, based in Hamilton, Canada.

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