Health Risks of Cell Phones – Interview with Dr. Carrie Madej – Episode 30

human brain

Emily Binder interviewed Dr. Carrie Madej about the health risks associated with smartphone use. In Episode 28, we explored the behavioral and psychological aspects of Smartphone Addiction.

We wanted to take a deeper dive into the research, safety testing, and what we can do to limit the potentially negative physical impacts of the wireless devices and gadgets that we love.

human consciousness EMF

Carrie Madej, D.O. is an internal medicine physician who operates a private practice treating patients for a variety of medical issues.

08:55 – The two most toxic (or EMF emitting) objects we use on a daily basis: microwave ovens and heating blankets / heating pads.

09:50 – Studies on qualitative quality of life measures, infertility, depression, etc. Lack of data without longer term study lengths.

11:15 – IARC Interphone study from 1999-2004. 13 countries, 14,000 subjects. Omitted data: subjects with brain tumors, subjects who died, those who were too sick to be interviewed, children and young adults, and users of feature phones. A correlation between cell phone use and brain tumors was found nonetheless.

13:00 – Health effects of smartphones and wi-fi devices on children: developing brain tissue is more susceptible and sensitive to the impact of EMFs.

14:00 – European vs. US research on cell phone radiation.

15:10 – What to do to decrease effects of the EMFs of iPhone: keep it farther away from the body, do not use wi-fi and Bluetooth at the same time when not necessary (decrease potentiation signals next to other devices). Data is inconclusive about the true safety of our phones.

16:35 – A fertility study showed evidence that after 15 minutes of having a laptop on a male’s lap, the sperm count dropped 15%.*

19:00 – A few tips for decreasing the SAR of your phone: turn off when not in use; turn off when signal is weak (searching for signal increases EMFs).

19:30 – Emily: The Digital Dive typically focuses on technology’s impact on society, marketing, and innovation, and we thank Dr. Madej for offering her medical insight in this interview.

Tips on Tap – with Guest Tipper Kevin Griggs, Photographer

negative and positive photo from negative me app by kevin griggs1. Triggertrap – “Creative ways of triggering your camera.” Photographer Kevin Griggs of Capitol Photography shares the awesome free Triggertrap mobile app. It enables photographers to trigger their phone’s camera or an external camera by various actions such as a sound (like snapping your fingers or a bang), a timer, GPS, vibration, face recognition, and more. In Wi-Fi Slave Mode, you use another Triggertrap mobile device as a trigger, connect to the master device and wait for the other device to trigger this camera. You can purchase an optional dongle  (a wire to connect the phone to the auxiliary camera) for $30 which allows you to use the app to fire a DSLR from a mobile device. Free app available for iPhone and Android. You can do a 5-10 minute exposure by setting it to manual. The app lets you get away with much more than a traditional cable release at the fraction of the cost.

2. NegativeMe app – (currently) free for iPhone and iPad. Kevin shares this gem of an app that allows you to take a photo of a hard copy negative and the app turns it into a positive. Easy, fast conversion of negative images into positives.

3. iPhone Safari tip: How to use the “Find on page” feature in Safari for iPhone. It’s basically CTRL F for mobile. And it’s incredibly simple but not terribly obvious. Just type the phrase or word you want to see highlighted on the page into the search bar. Scroll down to the bottom of the results and then tap the phrase.

Lastly, please excuse any audio quality issues with this episode. Our expert editor Melanie Touchstone was out of town this week, but she will return for Episode 31!

1. Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation. Fertility and Sterility. January 2012. 2.

2. BREAKING: Cell Phones Could Hurt Your Sperm. Men’s Health. August 2011.

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15 Must-Know Tips on Tap: Apps, Sites & Hacks – Episode 29


So many tips, so little time in each show.

In each episode of the DDP, Emily and Melanie offer 3 of their favorite tips, sites, apps, and recommendations in a segment known as “Tips on Tap” (cue Emily’s radio announcer segment intro). A show favorite, many of you asked for more, and this week, you shall receive. The co-hosts are back this week and armed with 3x the tips.

TIPSONTAP21) Umano: News Read to You
Umano is an iPhone and Android app that picks about 50 online stories per day to be read by voice actors. The stories tend to be about technology and pop culture.

2) Happify
Happify is a brain training type of website that just launched and is claiming to “bring the latest scientific advancements in positive psychology and positive neuroscience to consumers in the form of games, activities, and exercises.”

3) Swell
Like a Pandora for podcasts, Swell Radio lets you tune into your favorites and discover new podcasts based on your interests.

4) iOS7 text timestamps tip: If you want to check the time you or someone else sent a text message, swipe from right to left on the screen to check out the hidden timestamps.

5) Price Check by Amazon: Online retail giant Amazon has its own barcode scanning app. Compare in-store pricing with the prices offered on, as well as search product descriptions and customer reviews.

6) RepairPal: Flat tires. Mystery sounds. Car trouble happens to the best of us. Use this site to search by your car’s make and model for a repair estimate and recommendation of “Top Shops” in your area.
Continue reading “15 Must-Know Tips on Tap: Apps, Sites & Hacks – Episode 29”

Smartphone Addiction: Habit, Health, Happiness – Episode 28

man snorting iPhone addiction

Just how addicted are we to smartphones? What does it mean for our physical and mental health, and how much does it really matter?  Emily and Melanie review stats on usage, psychological research on smartphone habits, health impacts, and the unclear safety of cell phones.


I. Smartphone proliferation:

  1. Global cell phone subscription soared from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7 billion in 2013.
  2. 2.7 hours per day are spent socializing on our cell phones – twice the time we spend eating.
  3. The typical smartphone user spends regarding $107 monthly for wireless access-more than the typical house pays for electricity each month. –, 10/19/13
  4. 15.7 billion texts are sent each month. That’s 363,426 per minute or 6,057 right this second. –Pong Research, 2013
  5. New moms spend more time on smartphones (their “lifelines”) than other adults. Average 37 hours per month, 20% more time than the average millennial (~31 hours). –LA Times, 10/24/13


  • Research shows that 73 percent of Americans would feel “panicked” without their smartphones
  • In a 2013 study, 30% of people admitted to snooping on someone else’s mobile phone
  • 12%  of people surveyed are concerned that smartphones are damaging their relationships
Why do we instinctively pull out our phones when we have a moment of non-occupation?

mother checking her phone baby stroller falls downChecking habits:

Because we use smartphones in so many different situations, and to accomplish so many different tasks, we develop a vast range of triggers and cues associated with pulling them out and looking at them.
-Scott Campbell, a communications professor at the University of Michigan
What concerns us here is that if your habitual response to, say, boredom, is that you pick up the phone to find interesting stimuli, you will be systematically distracted from the more important things happening around you. Habits are automatically triggered behaviors and compromise the more conscious control that some situations require…

-Antti Oulasvirta, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

Impacts on Health: Cell Phone Radiation

  • In May 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
  • Recall the hidden bit of legalese that comes in the safety manual for Apple’s iPhone 4: When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.
  • Manufacturers of multiple smartphone brands place these warnings on user manuals to cover themselves in what is still a legally unclear situation. Continue reading “Smartphone Addiction: Habit, Health, Happiness – Episode 28”

Truly Secure Messaging, Data Encryption, and Twitter Faux Pas – Episode 24


Data Security: If you're not paying for the product, you are the product. The Digital Dive Podcast

In the wake of continual major data security breaches, Edward Snowden’s NSA leak, and countless new startups in the Privacy/Security sector, all eyes have been on the growing concern of protecting information in the digital world.

This week, The Digital Dive Podcast examines data encryption. From the early days of walkie talkies to TETRA, standard public-key cryptography, and end-to-end encryption (E2EE), the promise of a secure transfer of information is often murky.
Also, did you know that the Facebook Like counter button on blogs and articles counts more than just Likes? Shares and Comments are included. (Thanks Mari Smith.)


Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde et al.’s crowdfunded, in-development app Hemlis (Swedish for “secret”) endeavors to offer a more secure communication channel than texting, email, and apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Hemlis promises to surpass these channels by using end-to-end encryption (like iMessage and Facetime) which makes the content of users’ messages unretrievable even by Hemlis employees. Coming soonish for iPhone and Android. DDP asks, “Could secure messaging apps like Hemlis change mobile industry standards for communication or become just another attempt to capitalize on growing public paranoia?”

Hemlis video referenced in the episode:

II. Thanks, But No Thanks: a Twitter PSA

Co-host Melanie Touchstone makes a plea to Twitter users to stop tweeting and DMing “Thanks for the Follow” messages. Also, again: death to auto-DMs.

Tips on Tap:

1.iPhone screenshot how to respond to incoming calls with a message or reminder (Update: this tip applies to iOS 6:) iPhone shortcut for responding to calls: If you receive a call when you’re busy, but you want to respond with a text or call back later, you can with the phone icon on the bottom right (to the right of Decline and Answer). Slide it up while the call is coming in and choose from the available options: Select Reply With Message to send a default message to the caller (adjustable in Settings). Choose Remind Me Later to set up a reminder for a certain time or place.

2. iPhone typing shortcut: (update: still works on iOS 7) Quickly switch between alphabetical and numerical keyboards. Especially useful for inserting the @ symbol in an email address or adding punctuation marks and currency symbols. While typing on the alphabetical keyboard, hold down the 123 on bottom left and drag your finger up to the character you wish to insert. Then release and the phone automatically switches you back to the alphabetical keyboard. This will save you at least two keystrokes for every character. Howcast video: How to Type Faster on Your iPhone

3. Grid app – Great new free spreadsheet app for iOS. This beautiful “spreadsheet on steroids” lets you incorporate images, graphs, to-do lists, and links. Think Pinterest + MS Excel + infographic. Grid was created by an ex-Excel developer and is highly visual.


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Tracking Clicks, Eyes, and Bodies – Episode 17

eye-trackingTechnology (read: customer or user tracking) is providing marketers with more data to effectively target ads and better plan brick and mortar store layouts. The improvements in customer tracking both online and offline can lower advertisers’ CPA and improve the shopping, browsing, or Facebook user experience. Emily and Melanie consider the accompanying privacy issues this episode.

I. Samsung Galaxy S4 and T-Mobile Update

Features a five-inch screen, 13 megapixel camera, Eraser on camera to remove photobombers, eye control, smart audio settings, instant translation tilt to scroll, and more. This might be Emily’s next phone.
T-Mobile announced that it will offer iPhone 5 beginning April 12, 2013 with no contract and an option for a monthly payment plan. This is a major contrast from other major carriers like Verizon and AT&T with two-year minimum contracts. Power to the people sort of!

II. Facebook Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences, Facebook hashtags and the new News Feed.

Recently launched Facebook Lookalike Audiences expands upon Custom Audiences. Advertisers can target ads to users similar to those in their Custom Audiences, which contains data like email addresses, phone numbers, and user IDs.

III. Facebook Exchange (FBX)

When it launched FBX in Sept 2012, Facebook was home to 25% of the Internet’s display ads.  In February, Facebook announced it was partnering with data brokers Datalogix, Acxiom, Epsilon, and BlueKai so that FBX program advertisers could get even better data about their target audiences. FBX takes users’ general Internet browsing history and uses cookies to target ads on Facebook. Here is a dizzying visual of how FBX works.
Retail customer traffic heatmap
Retail customer traffic heatmap. 3/7/13

IV. Smart Retail Customer Tracking Using Security Cameras

San Francisco startup Prism Skylabs has developed sophisticated technology that helps business owners track and analyze customer behaviors in their retail stores. Store owners can create timelines and heatmaps showing areas of the store where customers gravitate. Officially launched in late November 2012, Prism Skylabs has dozens of major retailer clients who pay $50/month per store.

Tips on Tap

  1. After changing your Facebook password: How to reestablish the permission between Instagram and Facebook on iOS so that you can post directly to Facebook from Instagram. Apple’s instructions are not clear or complete — you will think you’re stuck in an infinite reset loop.
  2. Babbel app – “Learning languages online made easy.” Available in any browser and as an app for iOS, Android, KIndle Fire, and Windows 8.
  3. System Util: an app to monitor iPhone performance and CPU: System Util

Show Notes


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Xbox Music, Microsoft Surface, and Avoiding Death-by-Cubicle – Episode 6

The Digital Dive Podcast - Melanie Touchstone - Emily Binder - Atlanta skyline

This week we dive into Pinterest’s new privacy features, Xbox Music and Windows 8, Microsoft Surface, and LinkedIn Endorsements.

I. Mobile Payments– After another Atlanta festival, we follow up on Murder Kroger and Mobile Payments (Ep. 3)– Adventures in trying to pay with mobile while ducking under a funnel cake vendor’s oil vat to reach a power strip

II. Pinterest ups their privacy settings; stalkers wince

III. Microsoft launches Xbox Music, Windows 8, and announces the Microsoft Surface tablet: game changer or another “me too gadget”?

IV. M is crushing on Spotify–but will an upgrade to a Premium account put an end to the honeymoon? (stay tuned)

V. LinkedIn Endorsements – How it works (and why we don’t like it)


Tips on Tap:Mother In Law's Tongue plant

1. Dolphin browser for mobile: A fun alternative to your smartphone or tablet’s native browser. Based heavily on gestures. An excellent free app for iOS and Android.

2. Standing desks, dimming your monitor, and other ways to not slowly kill yourself in an office environment. Ergonomics.

3. Emily tells you how to literally clear the air with your Mother-In-Law’s-Tongue…yes you read that correctly. (The best low maintenance, worker-friendly office plant that removes pollutants.)

Listen or subscribe in iTunes


Show Notes – Links

1. Pinterest Blog – Announcing Blocking & More Controls 10/17/12

2. Microsoft launches Xbox Music: What you need to know – PC World, 10/14/12

3. More Time Spent Sitting Linked to Higher Risk of Death; Risk Found to Be Independent of Physical Activity Level. Science Daily, 7/23/10

The Microsoft Logo Infographic mentioned in Ep. 6:

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The Digital Dive PodcastTM: Get the most out of technology… without ever fully giving in