Carrot Weather, Twitter and last minute gifts
Bob's Tech Talk
December 1, 2022 | View PDF
Q. The built-in weather app on my smartphone is pretty basic. When I search for a more advanced app, I’m presented with an overwhelming number of choices. Is there one you would recommend?
A. To paraphrase an old adage: Someone with one weather app knows the temperature, but someone with two weather apps is never sure. My mind reels when I think about the thousands of weather apps for sale in app stores.
There is a standout app that I enjoy for its creativity and its expansive feature set: Carrot Weather, from http://www.meetcarrot.com. There is a free version, but unlocking its full feature set spans the gamut from “pricey” to “wow you must really love weather.”
Putting aside the snark for a moment, the Carrot Weather is worth a trial run. The app’s standout features are the ability to customize views exactly the way you prefer, and its attitude slider, which goes from polite to profane.
If you like it, great. If not, you may discover a newfound love for that free app that comes on your device.
Q. Is there an alternative to Twitter?
A. The simple answer is no. The non-simple answer: In the short term, the most likely replacement is a service called Mastodon (see the link in the box).
I joined Twitter when it was less than a year old. I have been using it daily for well over a decade. Since the beginning, Twitter has been a service that struggled to define its role. It began as a chat using SMS messages on cellular phones, moved to the Web, and then went through a series of peaks and valleys.
Early outages and instability were common as it grew rapidly, but its user base never grew to match the numbers of other popular social media networks. There is no question that Twitter is now in a period of extremely rapid change.
Twitter itself is a very different service than it was a short time ago. More than half of its workforce is no longer there, advertisers are pulling back, and Twitter’s moderation practices seem to change almost daily.
About the only thing anyone can say for sure is that Twitter has changed course many times in its relatively short life. What happens next remains to be seen.
Q. Please share some good last-minute suggestions for holiday gifts.
A. Every person I know could make great use of another power adapter. Many devices no longer ship with power adapters and cables. Those that do often include minimal adapters that barely do the job.
Anker, my all-time favorite power adapter manufacturer, has a new line of adapters that will make anyone’s life easier. Anker has a retail presence in some stores, but their entire catalog is available online at http://www.anker.com.
The two product lines you should consider first are Nano 3 and GaNPrime. Nano 3 is a selection of compact chargers to support phones and most tablets. GaNPrime adapters, which are also small compared to traditional chargers, support multiple simultaneous devices, fast charging times and many laptops.
Pair the adapter with a high quality fabric-braided cable. Spare cables are very handy. Most cables are short, about three feet or less. A six-foot cable is an everyday luxury that makes life easier in many situations.
The Android users in your life will probably benefit from USB-C cables, whereas Apple people can probably use a USB to Lightning cable.
If you are not sure which cable connectors are right, Amazon allows returns and exchanges well into January, making a wrong guess simple to fix.
Power adapters and cables are not flashy, but good ones make every single day a little easier, which is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Mastodon is both a Web service and a collection of apps that features short posts, images, timelines and followers, just to name a few. One important note: Direct messages are not that private, so consider Mastadon a public space.
Glitch is reminiscent of the internet circa 2000. It tends to favor people with coding skills, but if you had your own livejournal back in the day, or want to try your hand building toys in its sandbox, check it out.
This 30-minute video is a good overview of the current state of home automation devices: The good, the bad and the ugly.
Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at email@example.com.