Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

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The digital safe haven

January 4, 2011

I have spent considerable time and thought over the past few months examining┬ámy relationship with technology, media, and the Internet. This was driven in a large part by my frustration with the highly variable personal ROI I seem to get from being a “power user” all the time. Fundamentally, I have begun to seriously question just how much engagement is reasonable for someone trying to live a normal and happy life.

One of the most important insights I had (and I am not unique in this) was the need to create a “digital safe haven” for myself. There needs to be a time/place that is largely disconnected from the constant stream of news, email, social chatter, online shopping, picture sharing, blog reading (and writing), etc. This sounds easy, but really takes some effort and dedication. The desire to disconnect may be strong, but the allure of connecting is a very powerful counter-force.

My digital safe haven is my bedroom at night. Since I am currently sitting in the bedroom writing this post (much warmer here than my desk downstairs!) the “at night” modifier is important. Once the evening comes, my devices are banned from the bedroom. No phone, no laptop, no iPad. My Kindle is allowed, since that satisfies my desire to spend time reading. What I have done is stopped the endless inbound chatter from these devices that pulls my limited attention in far too many directions all day long. Once I head to bed, I also stop paying attention to the devices in the rest of the house. No more getting up to check the email at 2:00 AM or see what is happening on Facebook. No more waking up and checking my email before I even roll out of bed and stretch.

Radical? No. But, amazingly satisfying for me. I feel as if I have gained back some control of my time and my ability to focus through the creation of this safe haven. I have also determined that I am no less productive because of it (and may even be more productive).

My lovely wife respects my digital safe haven, but has decided not to follow suit. I respect that and just ignore her devices beeping and blinking on her side of the room.

I believe that there are larger implications for the creation of the digital safe haven. As we are all subject to the endless ubiquity of the digital stream, the ability to step outside and take a breather will become ever more important. What will companies do to support the desires of the individual to be “left alone” for a while? Will Facebook give me a way to specify an away period and then be able to efficiently catch-up when I return? Will my co-workers respect email responses that take longer than 15 minutes, even at 2:00 AM?

The opportunity here is two-fold. First, individuals need to have ways to regain their space and not be distracted. Second, businesses need to start thinking about ways to respect this shift and empower their customers instead of punishing them for missing the endless river of content that keeps flowing by.

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Big darn gadgets

May 24, 2007

When I bought my new Toyota Prius my wife told me that I had gotten the biggest gadget ever. She was oh so very right. The very presence of an LCD screen dead center in the console signifies the gadgety way my Prius rolls. Bluetooth? Check. Navigation? Check. CD Changer? Check. AUX audio input (Zune/iPod)? Check?

Best of all is the gas mileage and engine function display that manages to take a lot of space to say very little. I love that I am averaging 43.5 mpg. I really love watching when the gas engine is running and when the electric motor is running.

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Addicted to your shiny outsides

January 8, 2006

I have to admit that getting through the holiday season and then coming back to work to play catch up is a bit of a drag.

My employer, Microsoft, and Palm (remember them?) introduced a new smartphone this past week, the Treo 700w. This had been announced previously as the first time the good folks at Palm would ship a Treo device with something other than the Palm OS. It started shipping on Tuesday.

I had to wait until Friday to get mine.

I love my mobile devices. They are my sweet little precious crack. Now my new precious is nestled gently in my hand, emitting its silent radio waves and slowly egging on the latent cancer cells in my flesh. My precious.

The device is very cool. The Treo has long been seen as one of the top smartphone devices, in tight competition with the fine folks at RIM with their Blackberry. I was a first generation Blackberry user, long before I ever joined Microsoft, and still remember how my soul would twitch each time I felt its insistent vibration on my hip. Waves of unmodulated pleasure would flow through me as I let myself sink into the thumbwheel.

Anyway, I like my new Treo. Microsoft has upped the bar on the competition by delivering the coolest and most integrated mobile OS with a slick piece of hardware. I feel powerful. Shiny precious thing.

I currently have 5 phones. Not using them all at once, mind you. And two different carriers, Mister Smarty Pants. I have no problem. Do you?

Call me, huh? It feels nice when it rings and vibrates. My electronic collar is fur lined.

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In summary

December 29, 2005

Blogs have become the touchstone of much of the conversations I have with people. Our discourse, both online and in person, has become driven by the discourse of others.

Why isn’t there a really good solution to accessing blogs on my mobile device? Actually, why is my mobile device still trapped into feeling like a mobile device? Give me an experience that makes me feel empowered, not that makes me feel burdened.

Flat-panel TV prices are dropping fast. That leaves me with a 6 year old 40″ rear projection TV that I can’t even give away. I just keep lowering the price, but no one wants to buy it when they can buy the latest technology for not much more money. Eventually it will just go to charity if no one buys it.

I am replacing one of the TiVo boxes in my house with a DVR from Comcast. Why? TiVo can’t handle high definition TV, and that is just plain silly. So, the experiment begins with one TV and one DVR. This is a major shift for a dedicated TiVo fan like me.

Next year I want a cool new gadget. Not sure what it is, but I want it now.

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