Monday, February 8, 2010

Technology 1: Smart Phone

The other week I went out on a Saturday night to see a friend of mine play jazz piano in a bar. He's in his 20s and a number of his peers were there, and I noticed that quite a few of them (I don't want to say all, but it might have been all) had either Blackberrys or iPhones.

I don't have either of these. In our last renewal of our cellphone plan, DW and I both bought phones that open up to present a keyboard for texting - I had started to text a little with the old phones but with the three-letters-on-a-key thing it was too much of a pain to use much. But this phone makes it much easier, so I've been using it to Twitter as well as to text people in situations where either I didn't want to have a phone conversation or there wasn't the opportunity. I don't really have long conversations on it like teenagers do but it has been pretty useful to me.

As far as the smart phone goes, the price of the equipment has gone down quite a bit, but with them you need a mobile internet subscription, and that's upwards of $90 a month for an iPhone, I'm led to believe. And, well, I just haven't felt the need. A lot of my peers in the non-profit world have them, and if I had more people on my staff or agencies that reported to me or something I could see having one, but then of course my workplace would pay for at least part of it. As it is now, it would be a rather elective purchase, another opportunity for me to check Facebook some more, and believe me, I don't need that.

Whether the 25 year olds at the bar had so many direct reports that they needed to be in constant touch, I can't say. It seems to be one of those many pieces of technology that has become a "need" over the past few years. And it's just s a need I've managed to resist so far.

Which leads me to a word about our technology. When we got back from Israel in 1999 we bought a desktop PC which we kept until late last year, having it refurbished a couple of times until it just became too slow to be worth updating anymore. Then I bought a new computer with Windows 7 on it - basically the one Ribbit had on the shelf, I really didn't do much in the way of research on it, it has a three year warranty and that was enough for me. I also have a laptop that I bought from my previous place of employment when I left it, it's about 4 or 5 years old now and I use it when I travel or want to work in a coffee shop or something.

They're both PCs, and since I mentioned iPhones in this piece and the iPad was unveiled last week I will say that the appeal of Macs has always been rather lost on me. I have some friends who are practically religious about them, but they're significantly more expensive and the PC does everything I need it to do so why would I pay more? I understand the Microsoft-is-Goliath argument and usually I'm sympathetic to that sort of thing but as corporations go, Microsoft seems relatively harmless - I mean, they drove Netscape out of business but their business model doesn't involve making 8 year olds desire food that will kill them, for instance. So I just never got that worked up about it.

And now we've bought a new PC, which seems plenty enough for us.

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