My smartphone’s not too swift

I TOTE a smartphone, but it’s not the brightest bulb in the pack.

It’s the only one I’ve owned, and I’ve had it about four years. I bought it “pre-owned” on MercadoLibre for 1,000 pesos, which is about $53 U.S. today, but it was a bit more when I bought it.

It’s a Sony Xperia, and it’s so small that when I use my bank app to get a 12-digit code to use at an ATM when I don’t have my debit card, the phone cuts off the final digit of the code, making it useless. If only the screen were wider.

My phone is never connected to the internet except in my house where it uses my WiFi, and the only thing I do online is check balances at my two banks. I don’t do email or Google or anything of that sort. The primary reason is that my fingers are large, and the phone’s keyboard is small.

I use it 98 percent to send text messages to my wife and, occasionally, call someone, usually my wife. It’s a phone, fer crissakes.

I’m not averse to technology, but phones are too small for me. My child bride has a larger Samsung Galaxy, but I still find the keyboard annoying. I don’t like to be annoyed.

Some people type fast on a phone, and they do it with their thumbs, which is my biggest finger. Anyway, I don’t want to learn that because it would confuse my typing on my Hewlitt Packard All-in-One desktop machine.

I type 100 words per minute on that baby, something I learned in typing class in high school where I was the sole boy in a sea of girls.

Not only is my Sony keyboard small, the phone has limited storage. Usually, if I want to add a new app, it tells me that I first have to delete some other apps, just not enough room for a new one.

I don’t use many apps. I have the obligatory call blocker, a flashlight, a bluetooth skimmer to use around ATMs. You know about that? That pretty much sums up my phone apps. I’m a simple fellow. The Hacienda has no landline.

One might think, hey, he’s an old guy, so he cannot grasp high technology, but lots of people my age, probably most, carry high-tech phones. But not me.

Maybe one day, and I prefer “pre-owned.”

Life is change

SOME ASPECTS of life I like to change. In other aspects, I am rooted deep into the soil, loathing change. But, like a woman, I do enjoy rearranging the furniture at times.

Not actual furniture. In that I am deep into the soil. Leave the dang furniture where it is, so I won’t trip at night.

But the internet furniture is very susceptible to change at the Hacienda. Here are some changes I’ve made over the last couple of months, just for the sake of conversation.

I’m not much of a conversationalist in person, but I like to chat with my internet amigos, most of whom remain mute.

* * * *

First furniture:  I changed browsers. After years of using Google Chrome, I switched to Opera, a Norwegian company. Years back, I tried Opera for a few months, but was not entirely satisfied, so I embraced Google Chrome.

A couple of months ago, I decided to give Opera another look, and I’ve been using it since. I like it. In Belarus, it’s the No. 1 browser. In the rest of the world … not so much.

Anytime you can dump anything Google, you should. I also shun Google Search, and I rarely say I’m Googling something. I prefer to say online search. My search program is the oddly named DuckDuckGo. Its claim to fame is that, unlike Google, it does not track you. But I don’t give a flip if I get tracked.

Tracking is to fine-tune ads directed at you, but since I use an ad-blocker, I almost never see ads anyway.

* * * *

Second furniture:  I changed my email provider. The last time I did this was two years ago. I described the process in The Email Safari. I switched to Fastmail, a paid and good service that’s run by a bunch of Australians. Only $20 a year.

But the $20 plan offers just 1 GB of storage. I wanted more, so I was faced with two options. Buy a slightly pricier plan, or go elsewhere. I choose Option #2.

One of the services I tested two years ago was Zoho, a company that’s officially Californian but is mostly Indian. The gripes I had about Zoho two years ago have been resolved.

Zoho does all kind of stuff, 90 percent of which does not apply to me, but its email service is free up to 5 GB, five times what I’m getting from Fastmail for $20 a year.

I’ve used it for about month now. When I complete a year with no headaches I’ll let Fastmail go.

I still have my Gmail address, and I always will. Like my U.S. citizenship,  it’s something you don’t surrender. Both Fastmail and Zoho allow me to send virtually all email with my Gmail return address even I’m using Zoho or Fastmail.

* * * *

Third furniture:  I’m a big fan of password managers. Sure, the browser (at least Chrome and Opera do it) will save your passwords, but I just don’t trust the browsers  for that. It’s not their primary focus.

Over the years I’ve tried most of the major password managers, and I’ve found all of them buggy. The best so far is Dashlane, which is what I was using until I switched to the Opera browser and found Bitwarden by chance.

It was on Opera’s extension list.

I’d never heard of Bitwarden. It’s a relatively new company, and doesn’t try to do too much. It does not save your passport number, your driver’s license number, your bank acount numbers or the address of your crazy Aunt Mildred.

Bitwarden saves passwords, period, and it’s quick in coughing them up when you need them. It also generates safe passwords. I’m bewitched by Bitwarden.

Sometimes you have to shuffle the furniture around. The internet is fun, ¿no? I think so.

* * * *

(My internet life does not apply to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, none of that stuff. I’m strictly an H-P desktop man.)

Flying in formation

I READ THE news on my Hewlitt Packard computer every morning, and it sits on my desk just below a large window that provides a beautiful view of my Mexican world.

The mountains are out there, of course, but so are massive flocks of birds, especially just after dawn. Many fly in large formations. Bigger birds, I’ve noticed, are more inclined to fly in formation than are smaller birds.

When did you last see a large formation of house sparrows? Likely never. House sparrows are independent cusses. Or a formation of hummingbirds. They stay too pissed off at one another to fly in formation.

It would just be a brawl.

formationBut size is not the only factor. Some big birds do not fly in formation. Eagles and hawks shun formations. They are loners like me. You’ll not spot a Felipe formation in your lifetime.

Spring is near. It’s still quite cool here, but April and May will change that, the afternoons and early evenings at least. They get quite stuffy, worst time of the year.

It’s great seeing bird formations through this big window, and spectacular sunrises too. No matter the season.