Monday, July 20, 2015

The Brave New World? Keeping up with the Kids

LUCY BURDETTE: When our kids travel these days, they never make a hotel or B and B reservation. They even skip places like HomeAway and VacationRentalByOwner. It’s all about Air B and B.  They have been ecstatic about the places they find and they gloat about the dirt cheap prices.

Okay, says I, last time we traveled to Venice CA for a big celebration, I’ll try it. I searched the listings in Venice near our daughter, wasted many hours reading reviews, and finally settled on a cute guest house in someone’s back yard. It wasn’t cheap, I assure you (but what is in California?)--so I assumed they’d be delighted to have us. Then I got this message back:

We would love to host you.... but could tell me a bit more about yourself, and fill out the BIO on this site...and a photo please...

Really? I need a bio to pay them money? And a photo? So I posted a few chipper lines about how I write and John has a retirement website and how we’d barely be there--our user footprint would be like nothing, and we definitely go to bed early. And then I chose the most cheerful picture of us that I could find. Nope, no ax murderers in this crowd!

Phew, we were accepted.

The other new thing I’m trying is Instagram. My daughter explained that posting on Facebook is deemed pathetic these days. So I’m trying--I get the part about choosing great pictures. But why does everyone have a weird handle? And how do the hashtags work (not like Twitter!) And is this a promotional device, or a way to share photos?

How about you reds, are you stretching yourself with tools from a younger generation?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Please tell me about Instagram. I would love to learn about it. I know, everyone's mom is on Facebook, what can I say.

I cannot watch TV on my computer, so forget that. How do you even do that?   But we have Roku and Acorn and Amazon TV, and those are great. Does that count?  (I still cannot turn the TV on, I leave that to Jonathan.)

And sorry,  my family is all about Airbnb, too. I say, and it's just me, I know:  yuck.   And Lucy, that story is only part of why. Not a chance.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm glad to know I'm not alone on the Instagram thing. Lucy, you are going to explain it to us, right? My daughter only does Facebook, no Twitter or Instagram, so I figure maybe I am not THAT out of it. And I'm with you on the Air B&B, too. I understand people wanting to know about you before they have you in their home--but I don't really want to stay in someone's else's home! Maybe I would try it for a night or two, but I wouldn't book a three week stay in London and not have any idea what I was getting into.

I do sometime watch TV on my computer. And we have had Roku for ages and watch almost everything streaming. Rick things I'm completely dorky because I still like to watch some things in real time, even though I'm recording them....

RHYS BOWEN: My son and daughter in law just returned from an air B and B stay in the village of Kais Kais in Portugal. Loved it and particularly loved being able to shop for their own fresh produce. I don't think it would be for me. I'd be uneasy about being in someone else's home. And I like Marriott style beds these days. We rented an apartment on Corfu and the beds were not good. Lots of grumpy mornings.

Instagram--I can barely manage Facebook and Twitter. And I don't see the point of pictures. I love the interaction with my fans on Facebook. I just passed the 11,000 mark and did a survey to show LIKES from every state except North Dakota and many countries around the world. So please don't ask me to learn Instagram now. But I do watch PBS and ESPN on my computer and we do have a smart TV. So not totally old fogies.  However today I got one of those calls from India purporting to be Microsoft with a message about my computer. I've tried everything with them. This time I said, "I'm sorry, honey. I'm just a little old lady and I don't know nothing about them computer things....  " Very satisfying.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I'm a different generation, but I still wouldn't do airbnb. I just wouldn't feel safe, especially if traveling alone. WHO ELSE HAS KEYS? I feel like it's a murder mystery just waiting to happen.

I agree Facebook is fading a bit, but I still love interacting with readers. Oh, and I refuse to learn to use Instagram — no more social media. No. More. Social. Media. (I take world's worst pictures anyway....) 

Twitter, though, has been growing on me. If you're on Twitter, you MUST follow fictional character, the Duchess Goldblatt. Here's her bio: "FEASTING ON THE CARCASSES OF MY ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY (Random House, '16). Inspirational author, AN AXE TO GRIND. Goldbatt Prize sponsor. Trophy ex-wife." 

Seriously. You'll thank me. Her Grace (and yes, you must address her properly) is often my reason for switching on the computer in the morning.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Susan, I follow Her Grace as well! Probably because I saw her on your Twitter feed, which is one of the things I love about Twitter. You "meet" people you would otherwise never find online. As for Facebook, yes, it may be for us olds, but everyone over the age of twenty-five is on it, and it's still the ideal platform to reach readers (professionally) and family (personally.)

The thing the kids are on? Tumblr (both my daughters have accounts,) Snapchat, What'sApp (I may be misspelling that) and if they're of a certain age, they're swiping right and left on Tinder and Grinder. None of my kids are big picture takers, so no Instagram for my family. Which is okay - I mean, how many social media platforms can you visit and interact with in a day? And still get some work done and feed the dog and cat?

As for AirBnB, I've never tried it, but I know our peripatetic friend Jenny Milchman has used the service a lot when she's not touring with her family, and she loves it. Who knows, maybe Ross and I will give it a try when we go to Bouchercon in Raleigh! 

Red readers, how do you manage the newfangled technology? Can anyone help us with Instagram?? 

If you're on Instagram, tell us how to find you! You can follow Lucy here.


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  2. Okay, confession time: I’m truly pathetic when it comes to all this sort of stuff:
    No Instagram [I mostly ignore Facebook, too, but my daughter insists on posting grandbaby pictures there, so I have to check in once in a while].
    No Air bnb . . . a biography and a picture before they will let you give them money to rent the place, Lucy? Really? And I’d feel quite uncomfortable in some stranger's house, anyway.
    I can figure out how to watch television on my computer, but the streaming video box thing is beyond me. [I do have a VCR if I really want to tape a show to watch later, but my sister says I am the only person on the planet who even knows how to do the videotape thing any more] . . . . I am so technologically challenged, it’s actually sad.

  3. Just returned from our first trip to Europe. We spent 8 weeks there and hotels for that long are outrageous. We used air B&B in Copenhagen, Assisi and Florence (this one being the longest...nearly four weeks). It was fantastic. We rented private apartments and one B&B. The place in Florence was designed to strictly be a rental, so we were not staying in someone's home. As far as the question of who has keys, we had a housekeeper walk right into our hotel room in Paris. Lots of keys floating around there too. No Facebook or Instagram. I'm not a fan of either. Instagram is owned by Facebook so once it's out there, it's out there. I'm in my mid-forties with a teenager and find social media a problem for teens especially. Other technology? I love my Roku. When we go on family vacations it allows us to stream movies any time. Hubby is a technology guy, so Internet-ready TV and another magic item that allows me to watch Tv without commercials (and watch Downton Abbey when Britain does) live here too. April

  4. Well, who wouldn't rent to that adorable couple in your picture, Lucy? I must admit to being out of the loop on airbnb. Like Rhys, I do like my Marriott beds. Although, I think I might be open to something like that on an England trip, but not London, as you point out, Debs.

    I do enjoy FB, connecting with so many of you there, and sharing life and pictures. I don't do as much with Twitter, but I'm trying to get to it more. My Goodreads reviews are linked to both FB and Twitter, and I share my book blog on both. Instagram is just not interactive enough, or I just don't really get it. I may go back and put some vacation pictures on my Instagram account, but I guess that defeats the instant feature of it. Hahaha! The young people, including teens do love Instagram.

    I have Netflix streaming, but I don't use it much, more when the grandgirls visit. My daughter is one of the three people signed up to use my Netflix streaming, and she and her family use it a lot. My husband has a sling box for attached to one of the TVs, mainly to watch Kentucky basketball via his computer in Kansas when he can't be here to watch on TV. I use my DVR quite a bit. We have a new "smart" television set, and now I must figure it out.

    For the first time, I used my phone for boarding passes. So easy! They have a little place you hold it face down, and it immediately reads it. Cool! I felt very grown-up and with-it checking in that way. Also, being connected to your airline and getting updates through texts can be important. As I had 6 gate changes and 4 time chat on my last connection Saturday night. I also had immediate access to changing my ticket, no waiting in customer service lines.

  5. Oh, and thanks, Susan, for the Duchess link on Twitter. It sounds like lots of fun.

    And, using my phone while traveling for restaurant reservations is nice, too. Open Table is a great way to reserve a table, but make sure you have the right city for the restaurant. I made, or thought I made a dinner reservation at a Key West restaurant last fall while there, but I had mistakenly made it at the Miami location. Lucy, it was for the new tapas restaurant on Petronia. That was the evening my friend and I ended up at Firefly on Petronia instead, and I had that delicious Key Lime Cake, the chef's specialty dessert. Sometimes mistakes work out for the best.

  6. Forgot to post Instagram name. It's kreelso. I was following trend to have a creative "handle." I wonder now if I can change it to my name?

  7. Lucy, I got on Instagram. Then I got off.
    I got on Twitter. Then I got off.
    I got on Pinterest. Then I got off.

    I like to connect. So far FB works well for me. And good blogs, love.

    Right now I am watching the Outlander TV series on iTunes. I love to watch TV on my computer. I used to get HBO and Showtime on apps, but now I buy films and TV series via iTunes. I also watch free HULU TV. Excellent.

  8. Oh, sigh. I'm "on" Instagram as edithmaxwell but after my initial flurry I never go there. I like Pinterest for saving pix that relate to my books, so I have a board for each book and I can direct my editor there for cover ideas when he asks (an idea I got from Lucy and Barb Ross!). I can't turn on the TV either, Hank.

    My best friend runs a delightful sparkling clean Air B&B in the Boston area and she has met some fascinating people. But, just saying - somebody should totally write a new cozy series with an Air B&B host as protagonist. Lucy, need a second contract?

  9. I just tell those guys from India that I do not have a computer. Then we have a short discussion. FB is fine but between the email and the FB time no more time left for Instagram, twitter, etc. I need to make time to read! I do use Pinterest to save recipes.

  10. My publicist suggested Instagram - and I do a lot of pictures. Last year I added Twitter but I don't really tend that garden.

    We stayed near Tulum in the Yucatan in a house we found on VRBO - it was fantastic. Room for the entire family, on the beach, with staff (a family) living on the property and security. It was not a bargain, but far cheaper than a hotel would have been for a family of 5 comprised of 4 adults and 1 toddler.

    If anyone knows a good AirBNB in Brooklyn, I'd love to know about it. (email me!) We go often enough and the choices are scant once further in than Park Slope.

  11. April, sounds like you had a terrific experience in Florence--and you are exactly right about the keys.

    And that's a good point about Open Table Kathy--but sounds like it ended well with that lime cake:)

    Reine, I think a lot of people have the same experience, on and off, on and off...I agree, for many of us, Facebook works!

    Hallie, have you looked on the AirB and B site for Brooklyn? I bet there are plenty of them...

  12. So that's what John looks like. Read his blog every morning too.

  13. I added a piece in late (8:30 this morning!) because we had a houseful of guests yesterday. Several of the early 20s to teens were watching a movie AND doing things on their phones but when our power went out during a series of rolling thunderstorms, we all lit candles and played cards!

    Which just goes to show, even the young can enjoy VERY old fashioned pleasures. Although I was mighty relieved to wake up this morning to find my dishwasher and wifi were both on again!

  14. I rented an Airb&b place in New Orleans (half a shotgun, Uptown) when my daughter was recovering from surgery. I needed a quiet place with a full kitchen and laundry facilities. Close to Whole Foods, Walgreens, and Audubon Park for my daily walk. Friendly neighborhood, would wave to the neighbors sitting on their front porches.

  15. That's John! I'll tell him he has a fan:)

    Julia, your family is so hip! We are in Maine today too--the storm was amazing. We should have come over for your card game.

    Margaret, that's a good report, sounds like what you found was ideal.

  16. Mm. Techology.

    I'm on Facebook because it's the easiest way to share pictures and news with out of town family. I like Twitter; met a lot of publishing people over there. I have a Pinterest account, but honestly have never really "clicked" with it. No Instagram. What would I take pictures of? I don't see a purpose for me. Both my kids are on it and it is the new "thing" for their generation. People are horrified that I don't follow them, but I have enough friends who are there that I'd know if they were doing anything bad. And I have access to their phones/iPods to see what they're posting, anyway.

    I've used Apple Pay on the new iPhone a couple times. Love it. Wish more places took it. So much easier to pull my phone out of my purse than my wallet. I also put as many cards as possible in Passbook so those aren't cluttering up the wallet/keychain. I have to get the Expedia app before Bouchercon so I can get my boarding pass on my phone. I've used it for concert tickets. Love, love, love. No more papers to lose!

    We have a Roku and do a ton of streaming via Netflix and Amazon (since we ponied up for Amazon Prime this year). Use our DVR all the time. The only TV we watch in "real time" these days is sports (and that's mostly my son). My husband loves to binge-watch. He and my brother-in-law watched a season and a half of Crossing Lines on one wet Wednesday.

    We want to get an iPad or other tablet so we can watch in bed. I do occasionally watch on my phone. And we've used my MacBook Air on many occasions.

  17. I'm off to follow the Duchess as well. She's going to see a nice spike in her followers today. ;)

    We have done AirBnB. I prefer when it is a place that the folks rent out and not really "their home," I have to admit. Otherwise, it can feel a bit weird. But the convenience of having a kitchen can make a vacation very affordable. Never really thought about who else had the key...thanks Susan!

    I love my Roku, Netflix and Amazon Streaming, FB and Twitter. I'm on Instagram (BOLOBooks), but I have not yet found it to be very useful in terms of gaining a following for the blog. And of all the places I find new authors, I can say that I have never discovered one via Instagram.

  18. Early in the summer my youngest daughter and I used VRBO for a two week stay in London. I was very nervous about it (wiring the money in advance) but it was great. I looked at a lot of pictures and chose the place that looked updated and clean (I am not much for charm -- dislike b-n-b's). Our neighborhood was well-located and quiet, and the experience was great.

    I got an iPhone in October and I love it, but that is about it for me. I do watch TV (Amazon Prime) on my laptop and also using an Amazon fire stick on my TV. Finally getting a look at "Mr. Selfridge" this week.

    I am tempted by Instagram. I have signed up for Linked In and for Pinterest, but I don't ever "use" them.

    It seems good for the brain to do some level of adapting.

  19. Love that more people are going to follow the Duchess Goldblatt!

    Hallie, if you and yours can cope with cats, you should stay with us!

  20. Please don't leave FB! I love following everyone. I tried Twitter for awhile until I got hacked. Maybe I'll try it again, but it felt like those call from India trying to fix my PC. It didn't even slow them down when I said I had a MAC.

    My grandkids use all that stuff I can't figure out - and not sure I want to. The granddaughter with all the adorable great-grandbabies takes pictures with Instagram - but she posts them on FB so I can still see them :-)

  21. After all the good press here, maybe I'll reconsider and check out airbNb for London.

    I hardly watch anything in real time anymore, which is a bit sad in a way. You loose the ritual aspect--for instance, for several years Sunday nights were X-Files night in our house. We made homemade pizza and our neighbors came over.

    And if you don't watch in real time you also miss the water-cooler aspect--you can't discuss with your friends the next morning.

    I'm watching three shows on PBS on Sunday nights right now (Last Tango in Halifax, Poldark, and The Crimson Field) and am behind on all of them. I need an excuse to binge-watch!

  22. Oh, and just because I'm a crime writer, how do the people on airbNb know whether someone is sending them a real photo and a real bio?

  23. Facebook, Roku (I was an early adopter, five years ago), Pandora, Netflix, books and magazines on Nook--those are my electronically powered gadgets at the moment. We stayed at an Air bnb last year in Boulder for three nights, and the entire stay--in a tiny apartment that had everything we needed, plus was whisper quiet--cost less than one night at a local hotel there. And it was half a block from my daughter's apartment and within walking distance of the Pearl Street pedestrian mall area. We loved it.

    Plus, Voxer. Same daughter has been traveling all over the world for the last year, and instead of paying exorbitant fees for texting/checking in/sending photos, we've been able to use this freebie app which costs nothing to send and receive. It's been a godsend, and since another daughter also travels internationally for work, it's useful for her, too. I get nervous when my kids are out of the country, don't you?

    Like Reine, I joined Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tsu, and even iTunes, and don't use any of them any more. And I've never understood why I would even need LinkedIn, let alone get "connected" to a jillion other people I don't even know. But I have an account and can't figure out how to jettison it.

  24. You all are killing me. My series is set in an area that would be perfect for AirBnB - very rural and touristy. So the ideas are springing up like the dandelions in my yard!

  25. I just don't get Instagram except for sharing photos. It's not the same as Facebook or even Twitter. I'll stick with those two and Pinterest, thank you very much. That's all I have time for anyway.

  26. Okay, Debs, Susan, Mary: WHAT IF? What if someone decided to let their home for Airbnb and received a request for a reservation. The photo sent with the request shows a studious, serious person (you pick: male/female, young/older)with impeccable references. But the reality is someone far different, with a link to the homeowner's past.... Imagine opening the door to see someone standing on your doorstep that you hoped to never see again--indeed, had taken steps to insure that you would never see again?

    Linked/in--I use that professionally. Facebook is for family, friends, personal stuff. Unlike Instagram, I enjoy looking back through photos posted on fb, even have albums that are of interest to those in my close circle. No tv at home, except for watching dvds, although I have used Hulu on occasion.

  27. FChurch, the owners' names of the Air bnb places are protected. It might take some tricky machinations to get to that point.

    But hmm, intriguing!

  28. Oh goody, I get to feel slightly like an expert thanks to a well-time NPR piece this morning! They were discussing another "sharing" site and mentioned that Airbnb has been a trailblazer in security screening. While they didn't explicitly say this, I was left with the sense that Airbnb uses the info submitted as a starting point, and then use some online services to cross-reference and verify that the info you sent matches other available info out there. Everyone today has been looking at it from the perspective of the renter, but this piece was from the perspective of the owner of the property -- how can they make sure they aren't inviting an axe murderer into their home, or someone who would keep copies of the keys and come in later to kill or rob them?

    I have been rather torn about social media. I enjoy Facebook and have reconnected with people I thought were lost to me. I tried Twitter and frankly, never caught onto how to make it enjoyable. I just haven't felt drawn to any of the other sites. But I have always been a fairly early adopter of new technologies and trends, and it makes me feel kind of like I'm slipping that I haven't felt more enthusiasm about them.

  29. I had forgotten that I've had VRBO recommended to me by friends who use it. I do have it on my list of travel aids/tips, and if I plan to stay somewhere for over a week, I think it would be most helpful to have the laundry and kitchen facilities.

    Also, I should have mentioned Pinterest, although my use of it is sporadic these days. I have been using it for storing information on paint colors and redecorating during my house renovations. I have some quirky boards on there that I enjoy, like Scottish Fetish for all things Scotland, Gnomes, Moon Magic, Bridging the Gap (yes, bridges), Plants I Can Manage, Crafts I Might Actually Do, Goats Galore, and Highland Coo. I have loads of book boards, and I have individual author boards, too. I was trying to make sure I had one for all the Jungle Red authors, and I will be checking on that today. Looks like I'll be having a Pinterest day today. That's why I try to only do Pinterest occasionally, because it's so addictive once you get on there.

    Could we share Pinterest addressess? Mine is

  30. I'm at - but as I said, very sporadic.

    Plants I Can Manage and Crafts I Might Actually Do - hilarious, Kathy. That would be me. =)

  31. We've tried AirBandB once. Mixed results. We go to Washington D.C. every November for a state department conference, that is my husband does. I tag along and sightsee. Hotels were booked up so I tried airbandb. Some people don't get back to you in a reasonable length of time. Eventually we got reservations in a nice neighborhood near the Capitol. It was a separate apartment on the ground floor with the owners living above in the house. Our emails were cordial and they let us know they were not going to be there while we were in residence. The apartment and the neighborhood were wonderful. However, the mattress was godawful and should have been tossed in the trash. After our visit was done I emailed them to let them know how much we enjoyed staying there except for the mattress. I also let them know the bathtub tap was dripping. Water bills are expensive, you know? I meant to do them a favor, as a friend of mine owns a b&b here in Houston and I know she would want to know any negatives. I never heard back from them so I guess I made them mad. I have used VRBO a couple of times domestically and have been very happy with them. That site is great if you're looking for a house to rent for a number of people.
    We do have a smart TV but I don't know how to use smart features. Guess I'll find out when I subscribe to netflix streaming in a few months so I can watch Longmire.
    I follow Facebook and nothing else. I have a Nook I read. I have a smartphone but don't use many apps. I'm only a semi-dinosaur!

  32. I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each one fulfills a different function. Facebook is for keeping up with friends/family. Twitter I use mostly as a news source. I like that Instagram is just photos (and video, though I don't do video). I'm a hobby photographer, so it's nice to post things and see what people say/critique, and I like looking at other photographers' work.

    I have used Airbnb only once, and it was a generally pleasant experience. I would likely use it again, although I have some issues with how the service is taking rental properties out of critical rental markets, including my own (SF). The one time I used Airbnb, I didn't have to produce a bio or photo of myself and my boyfriend. Thankfully!

    I thought about starting a Tumblr, but then realized 3 social media sites are hard enough to keep up with--along with all the other things I read daily, such as this blog!--so I haven't done it yet. I really should, though!

    One reason I keep up with new social media is so I can stay relevant in the crazy job market, which is an ongoing concern as a woman in her early 50s. It really dates a person if you don't know how to use social media thoroughly since it is so important in many jobs. (I could say that about using many other types of software/hardware, too.) At the very least knowing what's out there and what each one of them is for (talking the talk) is key. It's sad to say, but it's true! Call it continuing education!

    Anyway, luckily I am someone who loves trying new things. I'm sure in 2 years some other new app or social media thing will be all the rage, and I'll be learning that too!

  33. I don't think any of us are leaving Facebook any time soon!

    FChurch, just love love the idea of opening the door to a guest who turns out to be...someone involved in something very traumatic from the past...

  34. I had a life before Facebook.

    I do some minimal LinkedIn but I don't understand Twitter. I mean, WHY?

    And being a writer, so I think in word pictures, not photos. So, no instagram.

    As for AirBnB, I've spent my life sleeping on other people's couches/guest beds when traveling. Not about to pay for it. Besides, I like the freedom of having my own room, room service when needed, and being able to sleep on the bathroom floor if the Aztec twostep kicks in.

  35. Yes, well of course, now I want to meet The Duchess!

  36. I agree with the anonymous commenter above. I love Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, all for different roles.

    Also, I teach at a boarding school, and being able to connect with teenagers is really important. The unofficially standard faculty practice is that we accept students' FB friend requests once they have graduated, but having a public Twitter or Instagram account (where kids might follow/interact with you if they wish) is OK. I think it's good to show them models of positive and responsible social media usage rather than making it secretive; plus, it means a lot to be able to understand the "language" that the kids are speaking and have a willingness to meet them there. I still haven't managed to get beyond a VERY perfunctory use of Snapchat, though. :)

    I'm @marisawgreen, if you are interested in photos of travel, musical theatre, boarding school life, and other randomness...