Why I Don’t “Tinker” Much Anymore

I love technology.  For as long as I can remember I was enamored with how technology worked.  I would spend hours tinkering with computers; taking them apart, desperately trying to put them back together before my dad got home (the first one was his), and learning from what went wrong (and what went right).  It was this tinkering that allowed me to get jobs as a high school student making money doing something I loved.  It also contributed to my continuing to learn about technology as I went through my time in college.  Over the past several years I’ve begun to change how I interact with technology.  I find myself less interested in how technology works and more on how technology works in the world around me.  In other words, I’ve moved from focusing primarily on the abstract to primarily on the practical.

A shift has occurred inside of me.  While I’m interested in how stuff works, I now find myself immediately asking, “How can this thing be used to better some other thing?”  If it can’t, then I log it away in the annals of what I’ve learned but I quickly move on to further discovery.  My good friend Jared might say it has to do with my personality type (if it doesn’t fit into the big picture, I’m not that interested).  This could also be evidenced in the platform shift I’ve undergone.  I’m a PC tech by trade and was an “Apple-hater” but I’m now an avid Mac and iOS user.

Apple’s ecosystem is very closed compared to most others.  This doesn’t make it inferior, it makes it different (for you commenters, to say otherwise is rather asinine).  Apple doesn’t want you tinkering with their stuff, they just want their stuff to work.  Back when I was a tinkerer, that made me really, really ticked.  I despised Apple and everything they “stood for.”  I wanted to explore how things worked, I wanted to modify those things, make them “more my own.”  This is one of many reasons I hated Apple.  Let’s fast forward to now.  Apple doesn’t want you tinkering with their stuff, and that suits me just fine.  I don’t need to tinker with their stuff as long as it does what I need it to.  For the most part it does, and in an intuitive way that has me applying the technology more than tinkering with it.

There’s nothing wrong with tinkering!  We need tinkerers in the world or discovery in certain areas would come to a crawl or stop altogether.  However, I don’t want to focus on that aspect any more.  I want to take the technology that is out there, use it practically in culture and society, and hopefully help to improve on it based on my feedback.  That’s where I’m at and I have to be honest it’s a pretty cool place to be.

Thoughts on the Kindle (3rd Generation)

It’s been about 4 weeks or so since I purchased the latest Kindle from Amazon (actually I bought it at Best Buy). I was skeptical to say the least. My main reason for this is because when compared to the iPad, the Kindle seriously lacks features. It has e-reader software, an experimental web browser, an experimental mp3 player (only MP3s), and some limited social networking integration (more on that later). One could take several articles to simply list and briefly describe the features of the iPad. Not to mention the fact that it has more storage and more processing power.

So how do I feel about my Kindle? I love it.

In an internet world full of opinions that are stated as if they have the corner on insight and truth it can be hard to see a device for what it is. Is the iPad great? I don’t have one but every time I use one I covet. So which is one is better? Both. You see just because the iPad has the ability to function as an e-reader doesn’t mean it was designed to be an e-reader. I know what people say and my wife can vouch for the fact that I know what Apple has to say. The truth is the iPad was designed to fill the void between smartphones and notebook computers, if it existed at all (watch the iPad announcement to hear this from the lips of Steve Jobs himself).

It is designed as a multi-purpose device that takes several aspects of the computing experience and makes them more personal. Email, browsing the web, viewing photos, and social networking take on more of a personality when done on an iPad. Even reading a book is more pleasant and personal in an iPad than on a laptop/desktop computer. However the iPad weighs in at almost triple the weight of the Kindle and while it’s screen is very nice the truth is your eyes do tire more quickly. I’ve read articles that state it has something to do with our eyes adjusting from ambient light sources to brighter and back again. I don’t worry about the science too much, I simply agree that it’s true.

i can go outside and read my Kindle for HOURS. Really, my Kindle has revitalized my love for reading. It allows me to tuck something small away in my pack that I can forget about until I get that urge to relax and read. Best part is that I can put thousands of books on it so I have choices. I have read more books on my Kindle in the few weeks I’ve had it than in the past 3 years combined. No joke.

Suffice to say that while I would very much like to get my hands on an iPad (or iPad 2 perhaps?), I know that the Kindle has become my reading device of choice and I doubt that would change anytime soon.

Simple is better, Part 1

I sold my iPhone 4. Yep, I did. Of course I still have that nagging data plan that I have to deal with. So what did I do? Got the cheapest data plan possible and the second cheapest (by $20) smartphone replacement I could find. Then I took the money I made off my iPhone and paid off my second last debt in Canada. So now, I’m debt free in the USA and only a student loan left in Canada. Now THAT is exciting! Some of you may be wondering, “But Mike, you’re a big tech guy. How are you faring having moved down to another smartphone from that amazing iPhone 4?” The answer? I’m doing really well actually. First off the iPhone 4 is amazing. No really, for those BB or Android fanboys out there you’re living in complete delusion to think that it isn’t. That said, amazing can have a lot of different faces. Amazing really should be about what works for the individual. After all these devices are made for a person so our individual preferences should be the final word. I didn’t use my iPhone much except when I thought to use it. Sure it has tons of apps and other neat features but I rarely use them. What do I use my smartphone for? Keep things organized and keep me connected, that’s pretty much it. I looked at Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, and just about all others and I settled on Palm. Again, you read that right. First of all it was the cheapest smartphone (part of me simplifying) but it was also my first choice.

webOS has the features (that I won’t get into) that bring all of my information together. One thing that drove me insane about iPhone was that no matter what I did the notifications would always be crazy inconsistent. I would either never get notifications from my apps or get them when I thought I had set them to not come. And while we’re on notifications I really think iOS has one of the worst ways to notify you while webOS has the best way that I’ve seen so far.

So why the change? Simple is better. It isn’t easier, it’s just less complex. My Palm Pre has helped me to take a step in simplifying my life and I’m loving it. I have clearly taken a step backwards as far as the advanced technology I use but I have taken a step forward in how I’ve simplified my life and used technology in a better way.

Ah the paradox that we call the simple life.

Arrived Early!

So I have a confession to make, I pre-ordered the new iPhone 4. This is only the 2nd product I have ever pre-ordered, the other one being a collector’s edition game. The best part was that it arrived early! It was planned to be delivered on July 24 when the stores allow them for sale.

Instead, FedEx delivered it to my door today. All I can say is W00t! Of course I wasn’t at the house when it came, but that’s ok. Why am I excited? A few reasons.

  1. It records 720p video, sweet!
  2. It has a much higher resolution display.
  3. It is thinner than the Palm Pixi (meaning also the 3GS) which is the smartphone that I thought finally got thickness right.
  4. It has 802.11n networking – which is the best wireless for streaming HD video.
  5. It looks super cool and, well, sexy. <– Yes I know this is superficial, I'm not perfect you know.
  6. It has a faster processor and twice the memory (not storage) as the 3GS.
  7. The glass front is comparable to sapphire crystal. <— Any idea how difficult it is to scratch sapphire crystal?
  8. In one word: FaceTime. Yes it requires two iPhone 4s, but video calling that actually works? Wow!

So as I finish this little blurb of a post I just wanted to say: “WooHoo, I love technology?” Not even comparable to how much I love Jesus, but it’s still very cool.