A View I’ve Missed

I’m flying to MSP right now and the flight attendant gave me the “variety pack.” In reality she gave me all three choices of snack being offered. Score! As I jerked myself awake to give my order I looked out the window back toward the east. There God smiled back at me in the form on the sunrise. I tell you what, 35,000 feet above sea level is one of the best seats in the house for experiencing a sunrise. The colour is simply amazing. Some of the deepest reds, oranges, yellows and blues I’ve ever seen. It reminded me of the view I used to enjoy a lot.

I’m from the Prairies. That’s a term most familiar to Canadians so for all of you USers, the Midwest is similar. The West has the Rockies, the East has the Appalachia and the the coasts have their oceans. What do we have? A relaxed, slower paced life with sunrises and sunsets as close to a 35,000 foot view as you can get. Don’t believe me? Visit Manitoba or Saskatchewan in late June or early July and then time a flight during the perfect time and weather conditions and compare. I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

It reminded me of how much I don’t slow down and enjoy the little things in life. I just had a conversation with a father yesterday who I really enjoy and respect and we talked about how busy we are. The greater D.C. area worships busyness. Drive and productivity are important but they aren’t the reason for living and they most certainly don’t encourage us to appreciate the little and beautiful things in life. I’ll finish this post with a challenge.

Take time in the next two days to enjoy a sunrise, sunset, good book, or stillness. It’ll do your soul good.

iPad 2 mini

To ensure that none of you feel deceived, there is no iPad 2 mini.  The announcement that Apple, Inc. made yesterday (October 4, 2011) was for a new iPod line and an updated iPhone 4.  This new model was dubbed the iPhone 4S and it is identical to the iPhone 4… on the outside.  This most likely came as a huge disappointment for millions of people who wanted to see an all-new designed iPhone 5.  Admittedly, Apple’s new designs are always more welcome than a product refresh.  However I had a thought that occurred to me yesterday while driving through the suburban traffic of Washington, D.C. (ie. outside of D.C., since D.C. arguably doesn’t have a suburban area).  Yes the iPhone 4S is only a refresh however I want to offer a scenario where this is just as welcome as a redesigned iPhone 5.  I recently downsized my computing operations to a portable computer.  The only desktop I have is used for tech repair and the odd game, resulting in it not being used for over a month now.  Essentially what I’ve done is taken my desktop (quad-core power) and put it in my backpack.  This has been a huge shift in my mobile lifestyle.  I can take everything with me now and not worry about whether I can get good productivity on the go.  I also have an iPad 2.  There are a handful of apps for iOS that aren’t available on a traditional OS that make the iPad worth the investment for me (<– make sure you catch those last two words).  However, as thin & light as the iPad is, I still don’t take it absolutely everywhere I go.  It’s not convenient because I can’t fit it in my pocket.  Enter, the iPhone 4S.  It has the same internal power as the iPad 2 but is built right into a phone.  Is it as good for productivity as the iPad 2? No, not with a screen 1/3 the physical size, but it would still allow me to do everything that the iPad 2 does in regards to what I can run (platform specific apps aside).  The iPhone 4S has essentially become an iPad mini (arguably, again) or perhaps iPad Pocket would be a better name.

I for one would love to have one.  No, not because I’m a big fan of Apple products but because of what it offers me in terms of power and portability in one.  The same could be said for any technology ecosystem.  Grab yourself a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a Galaxy S II to compliment your notebook.  It works out the same.  For my heaviest lifting, my notebook; portable productivity (and entertainment), my iPad 2 (tablet); and for pocket productivity, I take my iPhone 4S (smartphone) on the go and iCloud (or to a certain extent, Google Apps) will make sure that my data, in most cases, gets synced back to my other devices.  Call me glass half full but I like the performance packed into a package I already loved rather than the (slight) risk of having to take the performance in a package I’m not a fan of.

 

UPDATE: My ecosystem is now complete as I got an iPhone 4S the other day.

Either way, the iPhone 4S should be viewed as a welcome update and as the opportunity that it truly is: pocket productivity.

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.

Where is your sting?

I began this post almost a year ago and so I have decided to start it over yet with the same topic in mind.

Since October 4, 2006 I have lost 2 mothers to cancer.  My biological mother first on that fateful day followed by my step-mother less than 4 years later.  My mother-in-law has had at least 2 bouts with cancer and is currently undergoing treatments.  Like most who have experienced, or are still experiencing, cancer it is this terrible reality that was far off until it touched our lives.  I think in some ways it can honestly be likened to the wars and conflicts of recent years (Bosnia/Serbia, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.).  We know these things exist, we know they are terrible, but without having some personal contact with the situation, we don’t truly feel the impact.  Things are different now.

Am I angry?  Yes.  Am I furious?  Sometimes, most definitely.  Do I desire justice?  All the time.  Do I long for rescue from it?  Almost more than anything.  Do I hold God responsible?  No.  I hold me responsible.

Yes that’s right, I’m the one responsible for the horrible things that have happened to my mothers.  I am responsible for what is happening to my mother-in-law.  I am part of the problem that has existed since almost the beginning.  I have sinned, and with that comes death, decay, and corruption.  It started back with Adam.  It has continued with every person since then, save One.  And thankfully, that One was the solution to the problem.  Jesus lived a perfect life, died an innocent man so that He could take on the sins of me and everyone else in history, rose again three days later victorious over sin and death, and offers me eternal life free of charge.  Eternal life free from pain, sickness, death, decay, and corruption.  Life free from cancer and all that emotional and physical damage it creates.

Death is defeated for those who believe in Jesus alone for eternal life.

When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility,
and this mortal is clothed with immortality,
then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?
Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sini is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victoryk through our Lord Jesus Christ!

I have hope in Christ that can and will see me through these tough times and the ones that may come.  Why?  Because I have the victory!

Motion

Motion. It’s something I like to see happening and by that I don’t necessarily mean physically. Motion in the sense of progress in all it’s forms. Not necessarily change, but movement in a direction. No, I’m not ADHD (thanks Becca for helping me square that one away), I’m simply tired of living a mundane life. I want more. I want to do something for the God who saved me and Who promises to keep me. So why motion? Well motion creates momentum and it is often easier to do things when you already have momentum.

That’s actually the name of this sites previous theme: Motion. I love motion in my life. Not because it can be an adrenaline rush, that’s just icing on the cake. I love it because it means I’m still being worked on, there’s still hope, I’m still running the race. I think about what promises I can hold on to, perfecting my faith, keeping me from falling, completing the good work, and I am so glad that there is motion towards that.

It also helps remind me that I have a direct effect on that motion. Am I using the motion for the right reasons/causes? Or am I using it to take a direction I know I shouldn’t? Both the sustaining of motion and the direction of the motion, for now, are in my hands. What am I doing to do about it?

Do you have motion in your life? If not, how will you create it? If you do, what are you going to do with it? Believe me, I firmly believe in the sovereignty of God. Question is though, “Are you going to steer with it or against it?”

Cheers.

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.