What Does Your Home Screen Reveal About You?

by Francine on November 19, 2014

IMG_3614It’s time for the latest round of speculations on whether the web is dying (because of apps), or whether apps are dying because of  new interfaces. I’ll just add my uneducated view: apps are just beginning to come to the everyday world. Although everyone’s fond of saying “there’s an app for that,” the number of people using apps is relatively few compared to the number of apps developed. And they won’t die until they cease to be the main interface between the phone and the world of atoms. Or a good way for marketers to collect data.

Many people I know — let’s call them “normal” people — have no apps on their phones, or very few. If they do have apps, likely they have Facebook and a few free things for the kids to distract them. They don’t have their credit cards on file with the Apple store, and they don’t subscribe to podcasts that tell them about new apps, nor do they have friends who develop apps. But every phone comes with a bunch of built-in apps, like the crapware that used to come bundled with your new PC, and those apps are the defaults. So you have to distinguish between third-party apps and the ones that come with the phone.

I have dozens of third-party apps, and I’d be embarrassed to admit how much I’ve spent on them, especially the ones I don’t use anymore, like Diagnosaurus. I clear out the ones I don’t use rather regularly, so I can fit them all on my home screen. But that requires folders. Until I discovered folders, I had five screens of apps. All I’ve done is aggregate them. Here’s what the folders on my home screen look like:

Bottom tray: Inbox, Phone, Camera, Messages

Loose apps I use all the time: Audible, Stitcher, Facetime, Starbucks, Skype, WhatsApp, Safari, Messenger and…photocopies of my dogs’ Canine Good Citizen certification in case we are stopped. These can’t be in folders, because I’d never find them.

Productivity (a euphemism) -Dropbox, Evernote, Talkio, VoiceMemos, Humin, SignNow, Reminders

Finance: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Mint, Amex, Schwab, Stocks

Utilities: Settings, Find iPhone, Clock, SwiftKey, Calculator, Fuse (goes with a car sensor), Reliance (phone service to india), Compass

Travel: Maps, Weather, HopStop, Uber, Lyft, Waze, Tripit, Southwest, Yelp, Southwest, USAir/American, BA

Social: Facebook,, Twitter, NextDoor, Foursquare, Swarm, Rooms, Groups, Secret, Buffer,

Buy: Passbook, Fandango, Amazon, Eventbrite, Apple Store, Target, Macy’s

Google: G+, Google, Google Maps, Drive, Chrome, Calendar, Gmail

Music: iTunes, Sonos, Spotify, Music

Photos: Flickr, Instagram

Video: UStream, TWIT, YouTube, TuneinRadio, Videos

News: Podcasts, CSpan, YahooNewsDigest, Digg, GoogleNews, Circa, NoAgendaStream

Health: Health, Misfit, Walgreens, ZenFriend, MyFitnessPal, Pebble, Yummly, ForksOverKnives

Apple: All the stuff I never use but cannot delete from the phone, such as GarageBand, Contacts, iMovie, Keynote, Newsstand, iBooks, Contacts

As you can see, my filing system is totally proprietary, follows no rigorous logic, and sometimes I can’t remember which folder an app belongs in. Tune-In Radio, for example. I’ve got that in TV, but that’s because I don’t have any other radio apps. Maybe it should be in music?

If you are a geek, these questions can occupy most of your days. If you’re not, you probably had no idea what most of these were, and lost your curiosity long ago. If you are a marketer, you probably have an incredibly good fix on what ads you should serve me.



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Mindful Mothering

by Francine on November 16, 2014

Mindfulness. It’s easy to be mindful when you’re sitting on a yoga mat focusing on the breath, But how do you bring this to every day life? I can meditate up a storm in the right circumstances, but it has always been extremely difficult for me to take it off the mat.

One morning last week, my former foster daughter dropped off her two babies (6 months and 18 months) with me so I could watch them while she looked for a job. For some reason I decided I would attack this task, for which I had volunteered, with mindfulness instead of trying to off it to my housekeeper. That, of course, had been my original plan: “bring them on Thursday when Olivia’s here.”

This daughter spends every single day with  two toddlers and her older boy who is six. Her family is barely on the edge of the middle class, and she has been largely unable to contribute economically for the past two years because she’s been pregnant or having babies. That has been an economic challenge, to say the least, Now she’s finished adding to her family, and she is very anxious to get her independence back through a job of her own.

On the other hand, I have worked all my life at professions that meant I could afford child care. And now I have  to admit that I’ve matured into the kind of grandma who writes checks and loves a visit on Sunday, but not the kind you dump your kids on for babysitting. All my children know this. When my own kids were growing up, I found them the best day care I could, and outsourced their care while I worked as a professor. Their favorite saying of mine from their childhood? “Don’t hang on me.”

However, because of our 20-year history of foster parenting and now friendship, Amanda’s independence is very important to me.  I decided to treat my babysitting gig as a mindfulness meditation and perform the task myself.

Here’s what that meant.

Instead of trying to put the kids into receptacles around the house (walkers, trikes, jumpers) and gifting them with my continuous partial attention, I loaded them up into the double stroller Amanda calls “the limo” and walked to my neighborhood park.( I actually left the housekeeper home to clean the house.) On the way, I didn’t listen to a book on Audible, as I do when taking this walk alone, but talked Hudson and Jax. I  noticed the curb cuts, the traffic, and everything else that could harm them. Only when I am with a child do I  become  aware of my surroundings.

In London last summer, I took my grandson Dashie to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I remember operating on that occasion with the same hyper-attention to detail that I saw taking Hudson and Jax to the park.

When we got there, I have to admit I was a little scared of watching a toddler and hanging with a baby, so I was happy when another family arrived — three women who might have been mother, daughter, and sister, and two children about the ages of my charges. The other women were much better prepared: they had a big bag of toys.

So I sat down in the sand and watched the children play. I didn’t Facebook, I didn’t read email, I didn’t text. I put the toddler on the slide and I played in the sand. I was mindful, and I was joyful. At the end of the morning, I loaded everybody back in the limo and marched them back to the house, where their mom announced that she had indeed gotten a job.

She left, and I was forced to contemplate how much of my life I have spent without being present. In fact, just being fully present for three hours was like a transformative experience for me.  Amanda, on the other hand, is present to her children, and they know it.

Go ahead and laugh. I know I’ve been in the past and the future, rather than in the present, for a great deal of my life and now I’m patting myself on the back for being present for three hours. But it’s the truth, Ruth; we spend too much of our lives absent from our own experiences.







Ad Week Was Scary for Agencies

October 6, 2014

Last week was Advertising Week in New York, the historic home of advertising and media. But while always a cause for parties and drinking,  the annual citywide meeting of agencies, publishers and brands has  evolved into a cause for hand-wringing as well. Some of the event titles gave away the uncertainty that afflicts the ecosystem […]

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Startup STEM School Learns Founders’ Lessons

October 1, 2014

SySTEM Schools, the non-profit charter STEM school in downtown Phoenix whose board I am on, has been open for a little over a month, and it is behaving as all startups do; the co-founders are riding the roller coaster of ups and downs that always accompanies running a startup. My purpose seems to be to […]

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Needs v. Wants

September 1, 2014

Have we come to a point in society where we are focussed on filling our wants rather than merely our needs? And does this place us higher on Maslow’s hierarchy than people who are only meeting their needs?  Will the iWatch and the IPhone 6 lead us closer to the self-actualization Maslow says is at […]

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Surgery Monday: A Sister’s Tale

August 19, 2014

“Surgery Monday” said the caption on the selfie my brother sent.  There he was, laying in a hospital bed, my younger (69) brother who hadn’t even retired yet. The selfie came as a text message addressed to me and a bunch of other phone numbers I didn’t recognize. What??? What happened? My heart jumped and […]

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The Knick: Has Health Care Gotten Better or Worse?

August 10, 2014

Sometimes it is necessary to revisit the past in order to see whether mankind has actually progressed. Lost in the day-to-day struggles, we lose sight of the long view. Especially with regard to American health care, which I view with more than a modicum of cynicism these days because as a Medicare patient I am the […]

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Is “Right” Always the Letter of the Law?

July 25, 2014

On paper, I am an elderly person in danger of deteriorating mentally and dying early because I live alone. In actuality, I live with three dogs, and have, until recently, enjoyed the company of other people every morning. But my community is gradually being taken away from me. The off-leash law for dogs is the […]

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Sonru Explores Africa, Finds Enormous Opportunity

July 3, 2014

Africa will be the next big land of opportunity. I have heard this more than once, especially from my friend J’Lein Liese of the Foundation for Global Leadership, and this year have been told by some Brits to take a look at Nigeria, a country of enormous energy that has become the continent’s new technology hub. In […]

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Ad Execs Take Out Their Insecurity on…a Woman

June 25, 2014

Everyone knows that the advertising agency business is in disarray, even though advertising itself is having a banner year. Brands are taking their ad buys in house and going to programmatic, and agencies who ditched their  focus on creative for “metrics” are struggling to find their places in the new world. What do they offer? […]

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