The Guilt is strong with this one

I was just telling StarWarsAnonymous the other day how much I enjoy having Cortana, the Windows personal assistant, on my Lumia phone.  You may be familiar with her if you use Windows 10; she is named after the Halo video game character (and even voiced by the same actress).

Sometimes, though…let’s just say Cortana knows me all too well and makes me come face to face with my life choices.  Twice recently she’s given me major guilt trips that would make a mother proud.

For some background, I’m Catholic and often attend Mass in my hometown—the church I was confirmed and married in.  I play flute in the choir there about twice a month, often at the 11am service.

One Sunday morning, it was an “off” week for our choir, and I had nothing scheduled on my calendar, so I dragged myself out of bed around 10:30 or 11, which, to be honest, is pretty typical for me on the weekend.  If I’m lucky I don’t have to get up until noon.

I grabbed my phone and was checking email, etc., and then pulled up Cortana’s app to check the day’s headlines (she knows I like science news).  Just below the headlines, where she normally tells me my estimated commute time to work on the weekdays, there was a different notification.  It said something like:

“With traffic, it’ll take you about 15 minutes to drive to Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt Church.”

Thanks, Cortana.  Her meaning was clear.  She was telling me: I see you sitting there on the couch in your pajamas, giving no thought to your immortal soul.  Is this how your mother raised you?  You can still make it to church if you forgo showering first!

Yeah, I didn’t go to church that morning.  But boy did I feel guilty about it.  So don’t worry, Mom, Cortana’s got you covered on the church attendance guilt trips.



Yesterday evening was another fun one.  I opened her app, and she pointed out a location on a map, asking: “Come here often? You can nickname this place to get relevant suggestions and easily set reminders.”

This is a helpful feature that I’ve used to label places like my parents’ house (or probably my church…) where I (and consequently my phone) spend a lot of time.

But looking at the small thumbnail map I couldn’t tell what location she was suggesting.  I opened the map to see a bigger area.

It was Taco Bell.

I think I need to go reevaluate my life choices now.


New phone: Lumia 830

On this weekend of rampant consumerism, I thought I’d share a recent purchase of my own: a Nokia Lumia 830, which is a great Windows Phone available from AT&T.  I had my old phone, a blue Lumia 900, since it first came out in spring 2012, so it was time for an upgrade.

A few things I love about this phone:

  • The look

This phone is just beautiful in my opinion.  Slightly bigger than my 900, it shares the same aesthetics, but with a removable back plate which comes in both black and bright green (Europe gets orange, too–not fair!)  It has a nice weight to it, and the camera lens doesn’t stick out of the back like on the 1020.

Unfortunately, because Windows phones aren’t as popular, it’s hard to find pretty cases for them.  I found one that shows off the green back really nicely and has a cool design, too.

  • The specs

Of course any phone would be an upgrade from my 2.5-yr-old phone, but the 830 has some decent specs for its class/price.  I’ve had great battery life so far, and wireless charging is possible.  The rear camera is 10 megapixels (front-facing is 0.9 MP), so this will be the best camera I’ve ever owned, period.  It also has a slot for a microSD card, so you can expand the memory from 16GB up to 128GB.  And the screen is Gorilla Glass with 1280×720 HD resolution.  Does all this beat the iPhone 6? No, but it almost matches it, and for about $200 less.

  • The features

I wasn’t sold on this phone until I played with it in the store, and then I kinda got a little giddy. Some great stuff carried over from the 900.  The home screen has live tiles, which can show live info such as the weather, and you can make the tiles smaller or larger and move them around.  The phone has a dedicated camera button on the side, so no need to start an app or even wake the phone first to use the camera.

But the new stuff is fantastic.  The Word Flow function on the keyboard (like Swype) makes texting much faster, and I’ve found it very accurate for regular everyday words (obviously not technical jargon or abbreviations).  I haven’t used Cortana much, but she seems really useful (and just now was able to ID the K-pop song I was listening to).   The Lumia 830 also has something extra special that other phones like the Icon (930) don’t have: Glance.  This feature shows a tiny bit of info (like time and date, or weather) on your lock screen when you make a motion like taking the phone out of your pocket, or putting your hand over it.

  • Bonus

Right now at AT&T the Lumia 830 comes with a free FitBit!


And now for the downside.  The Window Phone has one major Achilles heel: lack of apps available.  Right now I cannot get official apps for: WordPress, Panera, Candy Crush, Google Drive, etc.  (However, there are plenty of “unofficial” apps that do the same thing).  Honestly, I hardly notice this “app gap;” my phone is great at what I use it for.  As for games, WP has some great ones: Wordament and SnapAttack are addictive.  Also, Angry Birds is free now, as well as Tiny Death Star (which you can no longer get on other platforms).  But if you are the kind of person that HAS to play the latest game with all your friends, Windows Phone may not be for you.

Happy shopping!