What I’d like to do is layout some context as to how I use technology in my everyday life. I’ve chosen the "gadget" route/approach to technology when it comes to my daily habits. I’ve got many electronic devices to serve a multitude of purposes. My equipment is very similar to what your average "Road Warrior" would carry. I also have some niche gadgets for certain tasks. I will begin by listing the devices I use in the course of my life. How I use them will come after that.
- Acer Aspire 5672 (laptop)
- Palm Treo 700w (phone/pda)
- Apple iPod 30gb (mp3 player)
- Nikon Coolpix (4mp digital camera)
- Motorola HT820 (bluetooth stereo headphones)
- Microsoft USB GPS locator
………………………… OK. As you can see mobility is important. I don’t like being tied to one place when I’m working. Changes of scenery are appropriate for certain tasks. Having a laptop is important. I don’t really do much gaming on the computer, so a desktop computer doesn’t do me much good. Computers these days are almost "dead" machines without internet access. Sometimes you want to work where standard wireless access is not available, so having a personal backup internet system is key. I can tether my Treo 700w to my laptop (no wires through bluetooth!) and use my cell phone’s internet plan to use the Internet on my notebook. This allows me "true" mobility. I can access my data from anywhere.
Now don’t think I’m tied to my laptop all the time. I can access most of my most important data on my Treo 700w. The Treo 700w runs Windows Mobile 5.0 and there are many great applications for using the Internet to access your data. Some of the things I use my Treo for other than voice calls include: email, photo-blogging, text messaging, instant messaging (ICQ, AIM, Yahoo, MSN, gTalk, IRC, Jabber, etc…), remote desktop (to windows or linux systems), directions, maps, internet search, streaming media (audio AND video!), and read RSS feeds. Whew, thats a lot. As you can see, using the Palm device to access your information can come in handy. I don’t really do a lot of "work" on the phone itself, but I do use it to keep up with my data stream (email, news, messages, updates…) so I don’t need to be tied to the laptop.
Unfortunately my GPS is tied to my laptop. I use the GPS when I need to go out on service calls or traveling. I get lost, all the time. I also hate fumbling with paper maps while I’m driving. So having a GPS when I’m going to a new place comes in handy. Being able to save my route, calculate/track gas expenses is also great. As big a fan of gadgets as I am, I’m still not a fan of any of the smaller hand held GPS systems. I find the user interface on most of those devices to be cumbersome. I have considered getting a tiny pocket bluetooth GPS for my Treo 700w, but I can find my way when I’m on foot. To conserve battery on my notebook while I’m using the GPS system, I have a AC/DC converter box that I plug into my cigarette lighter. The laptop rides on the passenger seat. I use Microsoft Streets & Trips to navigate. It works well enough for what I do.
I love the IDEA behind the bluetooth headphones, but in practice its doesn’t quite work right ALL the time. But the concept is that I can connect the headphones to multiple devices, including the laptop and cell phone, at the same time. I work in public spaces where lots of noise can be distracting. If it gets too hard to concentrate I can listen to audio from my laptop, when a phone call comes in on my cell the headphones switch from the computer to the phone. That part works most of the time when I can get the headphones to connect to everything properly. I’m all for wireless solutions to problems (headphones, mice, internet, etc…) because it makes you more mobile. The fewer the wires, the more mobile you can be with your data.
The iPod is fun…but I never use it anymore. Now that I can stream my collection of media to almost any internet device, I dont really need the iPod. About the only time I use the iPod anymore is on long car trips or while flying. I haven’t used my iPod in quite a while.
I’ll tell ya what I’d rather have. One device no larger than a small paperback book, light weight, always ON Internet for reasonable prices, LONG battery life (we are talking more than 10 hours at full usage), Voice calls while also using high speed internet, high resolution camera / digital camcorder, modern OS (windows, osx, linux whatever), and it all works. But as usual thats asking too much. The OQO looks really nice, but doesn’t have the battery life. Maybe another 5+ years before a device like that would be a viable solution for the average consumer. Technology is moving fast, but in some cases not fast enough. Being an early adopter has its ups and downs.
I will continue to update and discuss about how I use technology in the future. Until then, Peace.