Sidekick for the Super Mom

Sherlock Holmes has Doctor Watson. The Lone Ranger has Tonto. Batman has Robin. So how about a “sidekick” to call your own?

My story begins with a non-fiction “Super Mom,” my friend Mary (not her real name), who attends to the needs of her four children while tag-team parenting with her husband. As if parenting didn’t already consume all of the hours in her day, she is a thriving freelancer in the digital world. Perhaps many of you are saying “that’s my life!”

Mary walked into our meeting last year with an entourage of a laptop and what looked like pages from an over-sized magazine. As we started discussing our next collaboration project I found out what those pages really were: it was one of those calendars that is ubiquitously handed out at the beginning of each year to residents.

Being an opinionated geek I recommended to her that she should leave the over-sized calendar on her kitchen wall and instead make her smartphone her “sidekick” while being out and about. This drew a “what is this geek talking about?” look in her face. It wasn’t that the various productivity apps on her smartphone were foreign to her; she just didn’t know how they can help any better than a paper calendar with all of her family members’ events penciled in.

My own sidekick’s Spidey senses must’ve tingled as my smartphone started to vibrate, reminding me where I had to be next. Ah, a perfect example in explaining how the Calendar app on her smartphone can help her manage and remind her of commitments.

Way before the internet arrived there was a handheld technology called "personal digital assistant” (PDA for short). Palm Pilot and Windows CE may ring a bell of nostalgia.

But don’t let a simplistic app name like Calendar fool you, as it is a supercharged version of the PDA of yesteryear. For starters the calendar app can access multiple calendars, such as one for each family member, and synchronize entries/changes made by you and/or your family in real-time (i.e. as entries/changes are made) so that all devices show the most up-to-date entries at any given time. My wife and I do this to manage our busy commitments in our personal and professional lives. But how? We do this by connecting our devices to our calendars that live in “the cloud” – aka the internet.

When Junior, for example, learns that he needs to be dropped off at the high school early next morning he enters an appointment in his calendar app on his smartphone and that entry instantly shows up on Mary’s smartphone. She knows not to schedule any of her freelance business meetings early in the morning.

Before I left for my next appointment I told her why not use your smartphone, just another “tool,” for more than talking and texting? Make it your sidekick! Needless to say the over-sized calendar stayed home the next time I saw Mary earlier this year!

Next issue's topic: "Analogy to demystify technology"

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Questions about The Digital World

After reading your articles on the impending demise of Windows XP, I wonder if Apple retires its older operating systems?

Contrary to Microsoft’s straightforward cut-off date announcement, one has to be a little inquisitive to unearth what is happening with Apple’s support status for their older operating systems. Just last week Apple brought out their security updates for their operating systems and covered OS X Lion (10.7), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) and the latest, OS X Mavericks (10.9). This probably means the versions before Lion, i.e. OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and anything earlier, is not supported anymore. Again without an official announcement we just have to deduce on our own.

Have a question for Tak about computers, software or other technology? Send it to editor@wbvobserver.com

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 20+ years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 6, Issue 6, Posted 9:20 AM, 03.18.2014