Last Saturday was National Day of Unplugging, in which we were urged to turn off our cell phones, PDAs, tablets and other electronic communications gadgets for 24 hours. The idea, to counteract Internet addiction, makes sense if you go into a cold sweat when you can't get to your iPhone. Don't get me wrong. I love having my iPhone in my pocket connecting me to information and people that only a few years ago would have been out of reach. But I have learned not to get frantic if I leave the device at home when I go out for dinner.
I can leave it my pocket while I am with friends and loved ones. I remind myself, everything has an off switch. The device allows anyone trying to reach me to leave a message.
On the other hand, I do like having it at the ready to, oh, say, look up an unfamiliar wine in the Wine Spectator database, or check a vintage using the WS VintageChart app. Or maybe jot a quick tweet to treat my Twitter followers to a random observation or alert them to a recent posting of a tasting note.
And that got me to wondering how others use their mobile devices to improve their wine and food lives.
Offhand, I can think of several advantages that have made it worth having the iPhone in my pocket. I have been known to surreptitiously check the Wine Spectator database when deciding among several wines on the list, especially when it involves a wine I have not actually tasted before. Reading the descriptions is more important to me than the rating, although a particularly low rating generally makes me pick something else.
I also use the mobile version of OpenTable to make reservations when I am thinking about it, rather than having to wait until I get home to do it on the computer. And when I am lost, finding the restaurant or the nearest espresso on a map app can be convenient So is using the mobile phone to call the friends we're meeting, or the restaurant, if we're late.
I bet there are many more possibilities. Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social media to suss out wines or restaurant recommendations? Do you trust Yelp! or UrbanSpoon for advice and use them on the go? How do you use your mobile device to make your wine and food life better?
[Follow Harvey Steiman on twitter at twitter.com/harveywine.]
Jim Mcclure — DFW, Texas — March 7, 2011 4:08pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — March 7, 2011 4:29pm ET
Tim Sinniger — Bend, Oregon — March 8, 2011 1:11am ET
Joseph Kane — Austin — March 8, 2011 4:38pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — March 8, 2011 8:55pm ET
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