Seattle’s Homeless: Building Communities

Homeless in Seattle

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Over the course of the past six months I’ve watched a homeless encampment sprout and take over a strip of land along Airport Way S., on the edge of Chinatown in Seattle.

I’d been tempted to stop and check it out, but felt wary. Unlike the nearby Nickelsville encampment, which appeared to be orderly and governed, Airport Way S., looked scarier.

On my way to work one sunny day in late summer, through my open window, I heard live music coming from the camp, and decided to pull over and park.

Three visiting pastors from S. Carolina and Kenya were leading a youth group who came to minister, distribute clothes and entertain the people living in the camp.

They were happy to talk:

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Volunteers minister to homeless

After interviewing the volunteers, I wandered between tents, parked vehicles and makeshift structures, and came upon a three-sided tent where a few people were sitting around a table. I thought they might be “in charge,” but they were inhabitants. One man was coloring in a coloring book; a woman was industriously rolling cigarettes, (which she was selling to others in the camp); and a third was a young man who had been on the road for a while and found himself in Seattle with no means to live. Here’s our conversation:

terri-nakamura-jaster-of-the-cheshire-airport-way-seattle-20160910_145659JC: I’ve been here 7 days and I’m a traveler.

TN: So how did you even find this place [homeless encampment]?

JC: It’s not hard when you’ve been on the streets as long as I have. You find places like this relatively easily.

TN: So how long have you been on the streets?

JC: Since before Katrina. I left one year before Katrina and I haven’t been back since. I was supposed to be there but I came here for a friend. If I had a forge and foundry, I wouldn’t be here.

TN: So you’re a metal worker?

JC: I’m a blacksmith, yes. I generally end up making weapons, chain mail, hell, if I had a bunch of coat hangers, I could make something right now. And I can could pack that b1tch out custom. All I need to do is get their measurements.

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TN: That’s quite an operation you have there (talking to a woman making cigarettes) they look quite professional

JC: I love those little packers. I had a small one once.

[Guy comes up to buy cigarettes and talks to the woman. There are 20 in a pack. He’ll come back for two packs.]

TN:  (to the woman) So, how long have you been here?

Woman: I’ve been here three weeks.

TN: This place wasn’t here a couple of months ago.

Woman: It’s probably because people get pushed out of certain areas. And then they get pushed into another place. This is kind of what happened.  I’ve seen it before. Make a community, make a family.

TN: Someone comes along and says, “OK you guys can’t stay here anymore,” — then what happens? How do you find a new place?

JC: Day by day we look and we see little things. Like I know of about 50 sleep spots that I could  use and no one would ever see me.

TN: You’ve been in Seattle seven days and you know of 50 sleep spots? That’s pretty amazing.

JC: It’s not hard. Walking around, you see ’em. I’ve been in this life for a while.

TN: You don’t seem very old.

JC: I know I don’t. I’m actually not that old. I’m 20.

Woman: I’m 27.

TN: You guys both look young.

JC: My name is Jaster of the Cheshire. Don’t ask me how to spell Cheshire.

TN: You sound like a Game of Thrones character. 

JC: I like to make things with my hands. I like to work on my own. I don’t work well with some people who mess with the creole boy. Oh he1l, no. I’m a crazy Louisiana boy.

TN: You don’t have a southern accent.

JC: Because that’s how long I’ve been away from home. The only time my southern comes out is when I’m angry. Or drunk. I drink on someone’s birthday or when someone dies. 

That’s a good way to grieve. I want to send my friend off and i want him to know I’m smiling and enjoying myself, knowing one day I’ll join him, wherever in the he1l we’re going.

TN: Well, I wish you the best of luck.

JC: I wish you luck, too.

TN: Thank you. Everybody needs some luck.

JC: We do. It helps us through everything we do every day. Lady Luck can sometimes be a cruel mistress.

Homelessness can be the result of many causes, including drug addiction, untreated/undiagnosed mental health issues, domestic violence, and tragic life events like death of a loved one, job loss, and family disputes.

Natural disasters or the elimination of options due to financial stress are other causes. It’s possible to be living a normal life until circumstances drastically change.

A friend found himself in several of the conditions above, and became homeless. I wanted to talk with him about his journey, but during the process of searching for him, I discovered he had died. There are people all around us who, as a result of some bad luck and lack of support, find themselves in his shoes.

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A border around a 10′ x 10′ plot of dirt was being reserved for “Redd.”

Homelessness is a concern to almost everyone in this city. On a neighborhood blog, I read a thread about homeless people camping in greenbelts, and the huge amount of trash they generate and leave behind. People had concerns about health, safety and how homeless encampments can negatively impact a neighborhood.

One idea was to create an area for homeless people to stay or camp, where restrooms and facilities for washing or bathing and disposing garbage are made available. One person likened homeless people to unwanted pets that have become too burdensome to maintain, then released in the wild.

Despite studies, meetings and participation by community organizations, there has yet to be a permanent solution.

Should Seattle make itself a hostile environment for homeless people?

Are urban campgrounds the answer?

Homelessness is a vexing problem here. Our city government is spending  time and money to identify a solution, and other groups are also working toward an answer.

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Tent City Collective has an objective: To mobilize, educate and unite students and people experiencing homelessness in order to end the many inequities that perpetuate homelessness.

It’s a lofty goal. But when the warmth and sunshine of summer gives way to the cold and rain of fall and winter, the solution can’t come fast enough.

I’ve gone back to visit the Airport Way S. camp twice more. It still looks scary, but the people living there are not. They arrived for all kinds of reasons, and they are bonded by their circumstances.

Those living there hang onto the community they’ve created. And when they’re forced to move, they will start again. The cycle will repeat itself until we find an answer.

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A miserable place to exist


Domestic violence is one of the major causes of homelessness.Verizon Wireless supports Hopeline, where donated phones are then turned into valuable resources for nonprofit organizations and agencies that support domestic violence victims and survivors nationwide.

The video and photos in this post were shot using a Samsung Galaxy S7, provided by Verizon Wireless.

More about Terri:

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#140conf #LA

Eight years ago I entered a bright and shiny world called Twitter. 

In 2010, I compared Twitter to a cocktail party, and I think the comparison still stands. Lots of people weave in and out of short conversations and content, with comments sometimes ricocheting like Pokéballs. About 47 of the 313 million active users “tweet” via smart phones, so Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it doable. Chatting in 140 character tweets isn’t the easiest way to carry on an extended conversation. Still, meaningful relationships can form, and when you discover a kindred spirit, it’s great!

Today I think the average person joins Twitter and feels lost. It’s not obvious what to do once you get there. I found the game changer is engaging in conversations. Once you start chatting with people, the clouds part and the Twitterverse opens up. You can pose a question and get immediate answers, and almost always find interesting people for banter or discussions. And there is an endless bounty of content to consume 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Jeff Pulver, founder of the #140 Conference, created and produced the first #140 Brands Conference in New York City on Dec. 2, 2010. As a graphic designer who works with businesses and branding, and being a social media aficionado, I was excited to learn how brands were navigating the social media sphere. It featured dozens of speakers and panels on myriad topics

The opportunity to meet virtual friends face-to-face was fabulous! I’ll never forget the snow along the sidewalks as I walked from the subway to the venue, and the thrill of meeting for the first time, Debra Cincioni, Lori Moreno and Jessica Northey , fellow Bitrebels — Twitter #BA75 sisters.

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L-R: Jessica Northey, Debra Cincioni, me, Tommy Geraci and Sueanne Shirzay, Dec. 2010, NYC

Past #140 Conference events have featured a series of 10-15 minute presentations and 10-20 minute panels that have provided attendees with knowledge, perspective and insights into the theme of the conference. The format has been fast-paced, so if there is something you’re not too interested in, it quickly moves on to the next topic.

The SOCIAL part of social media is super special. And for first-timers, the opportunity to meet many Twitter friends in one place, in real life, is undeniably exciting.

But the educational part is equally special. The #140 Conference provides access to some of the most knowledgable people in a variety of sectors, representing a huge depth of expertise.

Fast forward to July 25 in Los Angeles 

I had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and for the first time, meet Marsha Collier, Michele Meiche, Henie Riesinger and many others. I can only describe the moments of our meetings as pure joy!

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L-R: Michele Meiche, me, Marsha Collier, Julie Spira

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L-R: Calvin Lee and me

Over the past two months, Michele and I have been chatting on Twitter about our fond feelings for the #140 conferences. We weren’t just waxing nostalgia, although being in that place at that particular time in history was very special. Twitter has evolved and now there are many more people, and the way people and brands use Twitter (and social media in general) has changed. There is always more to learn, even for long-time users, so we concluded there is definitely a need — and isn’t it time — for another #140 conference?

At the LA event, I was hoping to talk with Jeff to see if I could convince him to organize another #140 conference. I had no idea he was aware of the conversations between me and Michele. So it was a surprise when, midway through the event, Jeff made the announcement that indeed, another #140 Conference is underway and slated to occur in Los Angeles this November. I was thrilled!

Anyone interested in Twitter, and social media in general, would benefit from attending. And some of us could find ourselves falling in love with Twitter all over again. I’m looking forward to learning what’s new, and I’m especially looking forward to meeting many new as well as long-time friends.

Earlier I mentioned how great it feels when you discover a kindred spirit on Twitter. Getting to physically meet your kindred spirit and hug them in real life is THE BEST!

Jeff invites interested sponsors to participate, and extends an invitation to all to attend.

Details to come! See you there!

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A crowd gathered around Jeff Pulver as he announced the coming #140 Conference.

The quality of the photos of the #14oconfLA gathering, shot in very low light with my Verizon Samsung Galaxy S7, impressed everyone.

And trust me when I say it’s not easy to impress a group of social media mavens!

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

More about Terri:

Daze of Our Lives

Am I Living in a Seinfeld Episode?

There Will Be Light

Two days last week, I worked at Alki Surf Shop while my husband, David, zipped over to Randle, WA, to do some work on our AirBNB house.

Shortly after I opened the store, a woman I didn’t know walked in and said, “I’m not stalking you, but you left your BMW lights on.” It turned out I’d parked in front of her house. She is also an aficionado of vintage BMWs, and didn’t want me to return to find my car with a dead battery. The woman’s name was Megan, and I discovered we both own businesses on Alki Beach.

I locked up the store and walked with Megan back to my car, opened the door and started the engine without a problem. She waved goodbye, I locked up my car and headed back to the shop.

Fast forward to the end of the day…

I walk back to my car and see the lights were still ON! OMG. Earlier, when I checked and saw my battery was in good shape, I forgot to turn off the lights!

But, to my delight, the engine started right up!

Sheesh. Old people. 

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My classic 1976 BMW 2002 is now 40 years old!

Chewing the Digital Fat at Alki Surf Shop

Our visitors are both local and from around the world. Later that day, Jim and Suzanne Skerjanc from Bellingham dropped in, and somehow, we started talking about cell phone service.

Jim and Suzanne told me about their spotty AT&T service, and how they recently switched to Verizon. And yes, this was a spontaneous conversation!

Suzanne said, “We were with AT&T, and just didn’t get a signal anywhere. I mean, at my work there was like zero signal. I had to go outside and it was still sketchy. Jim’s a realtor, so he’s all over the place—and, I mean, he HAS to have a signal.”

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Jim and Suzanne Skerjanc, happy Verizon customers

Jim told me he would be driving down a main road, and bam—his calls would drop. He noticed the bars would go to zero, then a half mile down the road, they would come back. And it happened all over the county.

When they switched to Verizon, it was completely different. They now have cell phone service everywhere they go.

“We have full service now. It’s like being in the middle of Seattle,” Jim told me. “Since we switched to Verizon, we have great, reliable coverage all the time.”

Hearing about their experiences made me proud of my connection to Verizon as a brand influencer. Maybe #BetterMatters, but in their case, #BetterWins! 

AirBNB AirHEADS

By a huge percentage, the guests at our home on AirBNB are nice and responsible people. It’s interesting to see how different age groups behave almost stereotypically. “Grownups” treat our house as their own, and leave things in great shape. Millennials, on the other hand, generally seem to have a different idea of what it means to leave a place neat and tidy, or to treat our home with care.

When we first listed our house, my friend, Reg Saddler said, “Well, you know what people do with AirBNB houses, don’t you?” (And being a newbie, I said, “No!?”) He went on, “Terri, people make pornos in them!”—which kind of freaked me out!

Last year we hosted a boudoir photographer, whom we found to be a respected commercial photographer, and totally legit. Nothing too crazy has happened so far.

Generally, when we hand over the keys, we meet our guests face-to-face, and I believe the personal connection helps ensure a positive experience on both sides. That is, most of the time.

Recently we had a group of guys make a reservation for a bachelor’s weekend. The person who booked the house specifically said to me, “We will be clean and respectful.”

© terri-nakamura-airbnb-bachelor-party

Beside filling huge garbage bags with empty booze and beer bottles, and then ruining and tossing five of our plush, hotel-grade towels into the trash without a word, this group burned through all of our firewood. And they also burned a batch of stripped maple saplings that David was seasoning to make into furniture.

Long pieces of beautiful wood leaning against the wall opposite the wall of split firewood would appear different to sensible people, but they were clueless. I could only think: “Morons.”

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Not the actual doll. The real one wasn’t this nice.

And to top it off, they also deposited a blow-up sex doll in with the rest of their trash. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? EWWWWW!

If we’d known the fiancee, I would’ve been tempted to tell her, “RUN, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” 

MISSION: Litter-ally Accomplished

Some of you might remember my last new year’s eve and day were crazy. A small part of it had to do with a postcard offering a trial box of OKO cat litter from the Mud Bay Pet Store.

We regularly receive OKO postcards and I usually recycle them. But recently, one arrived, and I decided to give it another shot. So I tossed it into my briefcase in the event I was near Mud Bay in the Capitol Hill neighborhood

© terri-nakamura-rianbow-crosswalk-Capitol-Hill-Seattle

A typical cross walk on Capitol Hill, Seattle

Last Sunday I was near Mud Bay AND I had the postcard with me! So in a deja vu moment, I pulled into the gas station next door to the pet store, walked in, and bought something, then asked if I could leave my car in their lot while I shopped at Mud Bay.

And once again, Mud Bay didn’t have the trial size of OKO cat litter available.

I asked, “Do you guys EVER have the trial size of this product?”

They said, “No.”

Apparently the manufacturer makes no effort to ensure their retail outlets carry the items they’re promoting.

To put an end to my quest, I bought a large size of litter because we were running low. And to my surprise, Mud Bay offered to subtract the value of the trial size. So the box ended up costing only a few dollars

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Ice, the teddy-bear hamster, captured on a Canary home security camera.

I felt guilty spending only three dollars on a large box of litter, so I also bought an interactive cat toy and some hamster treats for our son’s and daughter-in-law’s pet teddy bear hamster.

OKO cat litter is odd. It’s made from paper and sort of tubular in shape. I liked the concept, but it’s difficult to sift. Our Maine Coon, Hunter, is going along with it, but our silver tabby, Grey, is avoiding it. It was good to be able to try it. Now I know. 

Grownup Kids are FUN!

Last week, our oldest son Andrew, and daughter-in-law Diana drove to Seattle from Monterey, CA. Since they were supposed to arrive Sunday night, our family decided to delay celebrating Father’s Day until Monday, so everyone could be here.

But on Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from Andrew saying he and Diana would arrive in Seattle in time for Father’s Day dinner!

I love our oldest son, Andrew. He’s such an amazing kid! He also has a knack for creating minor chaos 🙂

© terri-nakamura-Andrew-and-Diana-June-2016

Andrew and Diana — weary travelers

Hearing his updated ETA, I needed to make sure our youngest son, Charley and his girlfriend, Sheela, were going to be available in a few hours, then cleared it all with David. When it looked like we were all on the same page, I switched into high gear, trying to figure out how we could get a dinner reservation on such short notice. So I called Marée Bistro, a neighboring business on Alki Beach.

Remember Megan, the woman who told me I left my lights on? Well, Marée belongs to Megan and her husband, Andy. They said they’d be happy to save us a table, which was great!

After we closed Alki Surf Shop, our group walked a few blocks to Marée and enjoyed some amazing dinners.

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Frisée salad with house-cured lardon, garlic croutons and soft-cooked egg

We ordered lots of different entrees, including a Galantine de poulet (like a free range chicken roulade), wild boar (tender and delicious!), hangar steak, a savory tart, steak frites; plus some yummy sides including a frisée salad and a tasty assortment of charcuterie.

It was a fun and festive meal and wonderful on every level. After dinner, we walked out, and were greeted by an incredible crimson sunset. It was the perfect end to a great weekend.

All of which started with Megan telling me I’d left my lights on. 

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The sunset as we exited Marée Bistro, Father’s Day 2016

The hamster photo was captured by Diana Horsfall, using the Canary home security system, courtesy of Verizon. The doll photo was sourced on Pixabay. Other photos in this post were shot by me, using the fabulous camera on the Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

More about Terri:

Shooting a How-to Video

ADDING RAM TO A MACBOOK PRO

This is my first attempt to shoot a video and edit it, and also my first exploration inside of a laptop!

A month ago I installed 32 GB of RAM in my 27” iMac. It was super easy! My buddy Reg Saddler was with me, virtually, providing guidance and support.

It got me thinking about my mid-2012 Macbook Pro, and how it had just 4 GB of RAM. I decided to upgrade to its maximum — 8 GB, but wasn’t sure where to start.

I’d never opened up a laptop, and installing RAM in a laptop looked more complicated than the installation on my iMac. So I asked my friend, Greg, to help me. But instead of helping me, he actually did the installation!

It worked out well, because it gave me a chance to record the process using my new Samsung Galaxy 7 (S7), which has a pretty powerful video editor built in.

I’ve never edited a video before, and had no idea what I was doing, so imagine how surprised I was to discover it’s simple to do all of the editing and post-production on the S7.

During the RAM installation, I recorded about 14 minutes of video in four different segments . Most of it was a major snoozefest, or just chitchat that needed to go away.

So I omitted the audio by turning off the volume on all of the clips, prior to assembling everything.

At the time I was editing, I actually didn’t have the presence of mind to take screen shots, so a bunch of the following images are after the fact!

Part One — EDITING THE VIDEO

On the S7, I navigated to my camera’s roll and opened the first of four segments I’d filmed.

A - Open-Edit © terrinakamura

Once opened, at the bottom of the screen there was an option to “Edit”

B Video Editor © terrinakamura

From there I found the “Video Editor” option.

C First View © terrinakamura

Once “Video Editor” is clicked, a screen comes up, showing the video represented by linear thumbnails. The yellow line is the beginning of the playback.

2-Trim or split video © terrinakamura

Hit the play button (small round arrow button in lower left quadrant) to review. To get rid of irrelevant content, you can split or trim parts of the clip. To do that, select  “Trim” from the menu. A sub-menu pops up where you can select trim to the left, right, or split into pieces.

3-Transition button © terrinakamura

I decided to “Split” the section in two. A box then appears between the two sections. By resting the vertical playback line on top of it, a “Transition” menu will come up.

4-Choose a transition between edits

There are quite a few options for transitions between clips. I just chose a simple black dissolve (top middle on this image). To add a segment, I clicked the “+” symbol in the lower left corner.

5-Add another clip © terrinakamura

I navigated back to my camera’s files and selected the next clip, which then appears in the timeline as anew thumbnail. (Note an additional “transition box” appeared.)

6-Add title screen © terrinakamura

When I had all of my clips trimmed and assembled, just for the heck of it, I decided to add a couple of titles. To do that, I selected “Title.” A bunch of choices pop up. I chose black.

7-Enter text © terrinakamura

A box opens to type in some copy. Just try to make sure you check your spelling. Typos in videos happen here.

8-Text entered © terrinakamura

For the purposes of this sequence, I typed in “Sample Title,” but in my final video I inserted three title pages. When I was finished, I looked at the video and jotted down what I wanted to say. (NOTE: There is probably a better work flow, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, this is what happened with me!)

9-Record audio © terrinakamura

I figured out I could add narration by selecting “AUDIO.” There are several choices, and I selected “Record narration.” So while the video was playing back, I recorded my voice to go with the video. The primary reason I did this is because I decided to speed everything up 2X, which meant my voice sounded like I was talking through helium. It had to be removed!

10-Export © terrinakamura

When I was done, I played it back to see how it sounded and looked. It wasn’t perfect, but hey, you have to start somewhere! I was satisfied — quite proud of myself, in fact! So I selected “EXPORT.”

The processing took a few minutes. When it was complete, I watched it again, then shared it on to YouTube.

The S7 is a great device — much smaller than my Nexus 6P or Samsung Edge 6+ — so it fit easily into my little phone mount and desktop tripod, but more importantly, it recorded really beautiful video. So beautiful, in fact, that when I did the screen grabs, the resolutions looked very nice.

Here is the final video: [ insert anti-climactic drumroll here ]

You can click the video, above, or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsavG49e2U

The completed video, which was sped up 2X, cut it down to about 3 minutes.

Part 2: THE RAM INSTALLATION

Greg is a former graphic designer and art director, retired from Microsoft. He and I have a long history of geeking out, talking about computers, gadgets and related topics that make both of our spouses’ eyes glaze over. This was the perfect project for us!

It’s all covered in the video, above, but here are a few highlights:

1 S7 ©terrinakamura-10 inch width

First, we unscrewed the back. Three of the screws are longer, so we put them aside and marked the holes before removing the rest of the screws, which were much shorter.

2 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, we disconnected the battery using a nylon pry tool

3 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

After discharging static electricity, ease open clips holding in the RAM, and removed the two sticks.

4 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, the new RAM was inserted into the slots. They were firmly snapped into place

5 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

We closed the back of the laptop, first treating screws with an anti-vibration goop.

6 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Moment of truth: Booted it up…

7 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Happy to hear the Mac start up sound and see the Apple logo appear!

8 S7 ©terrinakamura-tn-10 inch width.

VOILA!

So, this entire process involved learning on a couple of levels. It was amazing and fun to shoot, then edit a video entirely on my S7. Second, I’m no longer afraid of opening up my laptop. SSD, here I come!


PS: A cool way to take screen shots on the S7:

Hold your hand perpendicular to the phone screen (like you’re going to give it a karate chop).

Swipe your hand quickly to the left or right. You’ll hear a “click.” BINGO! Screen shot taken!


Video and images shot by Terri Nakamura, using a Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

Thanks to my friend, Greg, for his help.

More about Terri:

A Shooting Star

Samsung Galaxy Edge 6 Plus, Part 2

Edge6plus on Alki Shirt cropped

The S6 Edge+ on the celestial backdrop of an Alki Tee

I’m among the legion of baby boomers who have chosen iPhone for its ease of use, clean design, reliability and impeccable craftsmanship. The iPhone is a symbol of prestige, too. They’re expensive. Having the latest and greatest iPhone says, “I can afford it.”

iPhone isn’t just for boomers—it appeals to everyone. The millennials in my life, all now earning solid incomes, love their iPhones. I’ve seen a group them influence a lone Android user to switch.

So, how can an Apple fangirl learn to love “Android?” 

I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge Plus (S6 Edge+) for about two months. I was able to “get on board” quickly after an initial adjustment to the user interface, and the more I use it, the more I like it.

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Edge notifications save your battery

I’m spoiled by some of the conveniences, like the notification feed on the S6 Edge+ screen (visible without opening my phone), or the bar along the top displaying icons for emails, messages or updates. With a simple wipe down from the top of the screen, it opens small summaries that I can select and open, or swipe out of the way.

And even the keyboard seems friendlier. I don’t have to toggle to access numbers, and emojis are easily accessible. Predictive text  is automatically on, and I like how the device seems to learn from my activity what I might say, or which hashtags I might use. Some people hate predictive text, but it works for me. If you don’t like it, you can easily disable this feature.

A great comparison of the Apple and Samsung devices can be found here.

The S6 Edge+ camera is amazing.

The image resolution on the S6 Edge+ is 16 megapixel (MP) and it shoots video in 4K.

What does 16 MP mean? 16 megapixels captures twice the amount of visual information compared to an iPhone 6. Why should you care about the “pixel depth,” or the amount of megapixels?  For one, it allows you to capture enough information so you can enlarge and crop a picture and still retain sharpness. It gives you more room to play around with the photos you shoot.

More MP also enables the image quality to be closer to the quality of film. More MP makes it possible to blow up an image and to turn into a large print or poster, retaining crispness.

The beautiful high definition display has 3.6 times more pixels than the iPhone 6.

Its clarity is stunning. When our youngest son stopped by few weeks ago, it was the first thing he noticed when he picked up and inspected the S6 Edge+.

And as I mentioned in my earlier post, the screen casting feature works fantastically! Screen casting means you can share what’s on your phone onto a smart TV. That means it’s large enough for everyone to enjoy. (How to mirror)

Edge6plus camera settings cropped

Menu of some of the options available

More great features for the taking

Object tracking autofocus will follow what you’re shooting and keep it in focus as it moves; and optical image stabilization will keep your image steady. Anyone with active kids or grandkids will really appreciate these two features when shooting video.

Virtual shot is cool, too. You can shoot a stationary object by circling it, and get a dimensional view of it. Wild!

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Virtual Shot captures an amazing 360 degree view

With the holidays quickly approaching, I’m sure some great deals can be found on the S6 Edge+. The regular retail price is $768 (slightly more than the iPhone 6s Plus at $749.99). But you get an awful lot of bang for your buck, including Samsung Pay.

Samsung Pay

You can leave your credit cards at home when you use Samsung Pay. it uses your fingerprint to identify you, so it’s very secure. It didn’t take me long to get into the habit of using it because it’s super easy and convenient. Samsung Pay is accepted by more merchants than Apple Pay. and works well with older retail credit card terminals.

It’s fun it is to see the raised eyebrows from merchants who totally don’t expect it to work. Two days ago I went into Walgreens, and the cashier tried to get me to hold the phone up against the NFC receiver. I simply held the phone over the credit card swipe area, and Voila! He just sighed and said technology is changing so quickly—it’s hard to keep up!

So I hope this post is helpful. Leave a shout here if you have questions about this device, and if I can’t answer them, I’ll find someone who can!

As Samsung says, it’s not a phone—it’s a galaxy.


Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use some of their products.

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Experiencing Life on the Edge

David with Edge 6 Plus cropped

I think I’ve mentioned, my husband is somewhat of a neo-Luddite. So when I handed him the new Samsung Edge 6 plus (S6 Edge+) to take with him to our Randle property on AirBNB, he offered a pained expression that said, “Oh, no. This is new. I don’t like it.”

We sat down and I recorded his fingerprint before he left Seattle. He didn’t understand WHY, but went through the drill. Well acquainted with entering a password to get into a device, he thought it was pretty cool when he found out he could unlock the phone by simply using his fingerprint!

The fingerprint sensor that works so perfectly on the iPhone is now also working perfectly on the S6 Edge+! Yay! (Though it is an outstanding device, the Galaxy Note 4 fingerprint sensor was tempermental.)

There are many cool things about the S6 Edge+, which by the way, is the first Android phone I’ve used that I actually LOVE.

First, the “edge” in the name refers to the rounded sides of its elegant front face. It’s not just pretty. It feels nice in your hand. It feels luxurious.

The device feels light, but sturdy.

The “edge” on the S6 Edge+ is beautiful industrial design, but actually offers functionality. It saves power because you can access information, notifications and important contacts without drawing energy to light the entire display. The most obvious thing: the Night Clock quietly displays the date, time and battery power left in the phone. Very convenient! Also, you can set it so the edge will silently light up when messages or notifications arrive.

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How do you read notifications along the edge? At first I didn’t think it would be practical or useful. But if you swipe your finger back and forth along the edge three times, it brings up the clock, but also offers news, comments on posts or whatever you adjust to appear in the feed—again without lighting the entire screen. Very cool!

Another great thing is the “tabs.” I set it up the “people” edge, that lists my favorite people (including family members and Reg Saddler @zaibatsu) and the “apps” edge, which currently includes Google Play Music, email, AirBNB, Instagram and my photo gallery.

People and App edge

I’ve always used iTunes for music, but at Reg’s urging a few years ago, I synced my music library with Google Play. And am I glad I did! With the Google Play “Music” app, you can set it to create a station based on a favorite song in your library. My mind was blown when it delivered a ton of great, NEW music I’d never heard before—truly stunning discoveries!

The 16MP back camera is great, and the 5MP front camera is solid. When the S6 Edge+ is asleep, simply tap the home button twice to open the camera. By clicking the arrow at the top of the screen, the in-context explanations of various features are easily understood and accessible. Tap again to collapse the information. Swipe the main screen from left to right to reveal options like pro settings, panorama mode, virtual shot, selective focus and other features, including “Live Cast.”

Similar to Meerkat or Periscope (sans social integration), Live Cast, lets you post the video to YouTube for later viewing.

Oh, and it’s easy to take a screenshot on the S6 Edge+. Just hold down the “home” and power lock keys simultaneously.

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One of the most fun features is “casting.” If you have a smart TV where the phone and TV are on the same wifi network, you can play whatever you’re watching on your phone onto the TV screen. And I’ve learned you can reverse the process—having something from the TV appear on your phone. It was really fun to be in the University Village Verizon “Smart Store Plus” in Seattle, and broadcast the time lapse video of Jimmy Kimmel’s NY set being built, onto a big screen across the room.

Taking on Apple Pay, Samsung has integrated Samsung Pay into theS6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. It allows you to load your debit or credit cards and use the magnetic credit card swiper on credit card terminals.

No, your phone doesn’t go through the swiper! But it magically communicates via uniquely created tokens for each transaction. At our store we have a new chip-and NFC-compatible card swiper, but Samsung Pay actually works with old-school credit card swipers, even if your phone is in an Otter Box case!

Once you’ve loaded Samsung Pay and connected a credit card, a translucent tab appears at the bottom of your home screen. At any time you can swipe up and instantly use your credit card by scanning your fingerprint.

UPDATE: 10/31/15—I used Samsung Pay at the veterinarian’s office today. They use Square. It worked FLAWLESSLY and the other animal owners in the reception area were amazed. The staff gushed, “We’ve never seen that before!” It was awesome! NOTE: it does “not” work with credit card swipers built into a keyboard or monitor—(does it, Elena?)

The S6 Edge+, with its 5.7″ screen, is a terrific entertainment device, but with its split-screen functionality, makes it a great business tool as well. Imagine being able to have two windows open, and do “live’ drag-and-drop from one window into the next. Very sweet!

There are myriad other great things about this phone. I’ve just scratched the surface, and continue to discover new features that are mind boggling. I can honestly say, as a 3-decade-plus Mac user, and dedicated iPhone user, this is a terrific device that I think many iPhone users could easily come to love. I know I have, and I’d say that even if Verizon hadn’t sent this product for me to experience.


Until November 15, 2015, you can receive a free wireless charging pad (value: $49.95), by loading Samsung Pay on your and connecting it to one payment source! I went through the process, and Samsung promptly sent an email to verify some information. It was a piece of cake!

Free Charging pad

Eligible devices include the Edge6, S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5, and Galaxy 6 on Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular. Connectable cards include American Express; and Visa and Mastercard issued by banks listed in the above offer.

Claim Forms must be submitted by 11:59:59 PM ET on November 15, 2015 to be valid


Photos shot with the Samsung Edge 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4. 

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First-time Kindle User Embraces Change

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I love real books. In my 20s I started to collect contemporary signed first editions and early editions of classics. Books are to graphic designers as buildings are to architects. They are among the few projects a designer can create that has a good chance of outliving them.

The tactile nature of a real book—the paper, the smell, and the graphic design—dust jackets, fonts, format, margins, page numbering system—all contribute to why real books rock!

At home and work we have tablets and computers that are great for consuming online content, but not great for reading long-narrative content. My iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (starting at $299 via Verizon), have apps that allow me to read books on them and they work pretty well. So while I’ve checked out Kindles belonging to friends and family members, I’ve never seen the value of owning one.

Until now!

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Kindle Fire HD – Kids Edition (super-durable case not shown)

Thanks to a great event, #TNTSeattle, sponsored by Techlicious and The Traveling Mom, I became the happy owner of an Amazon Kindle Fire HD!

Mine is the Kids Edition, so it comes with a super sturdy case and 1-year subscription to Freetime. Freetime features a ton of fun content to entertain kids.

There are plenty of books, episodic programs, movies and games to enjoy. The kids edition also includes the ability to restrict content and access, so it means parents can help ensure an appropriate experience for their children.

I’m using the Kindle as an e-reader and tablet, and have to say it’s really quite cool.

Charging the Kindle took about 4 hours. It was simple to set up and easy to add email accounts, my Amazon account, and download some apps.

I own a limited slipcased edition of The Goldfinch, and hadn’t yet read it because I didn’t have a “reader copy.” So I just downloaded an electronic version for the Kindle and have started to read.

So far, the experience has been great. Having recently finished reading a 925-page, hardbound edition of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, in comparison, the Kindle is as light as a feather.

A few criticisms: I wish the brightness automatically adjusted to the ambient light; and when hitting the home button, it would be great if the “carousel,” showed the recently used apps and content in a continuous loop. Also, the camera is not the greatest, but if you stop to think about it, do you really need your e-reader to take good photos?

In terms of a good reading device and mini-tablet for an adult to share with a child, the Kindle Fire HD looks to be a great choice.

I’ve noticed commercials recently promoting the Kindle Fire HD starting at $99. Pretty hard to beat that!

Photo of Alki Surf Shop wall, shot with the Kindle Fire HD

Alki Surf Shop wall, shot with the Kindle Fire HD

Alki Surf Shop wall shot with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Alki Surf Shop wall shot with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4