Friday, July 03, 2009

Technology Musing: Devices that Have Changed My Adult Life

This week, me and my wife went on a cruise. As an experiment, I decided that while I was on this cruise, I wouldn’t use any technical gadgets. I didn’t bring my laptop, turned off my cell phone, and only used my iPod when I went to the gym. So while I had this opportunity to get away from technology, I had the opportunity to reflect on the gadgets that have made the biggest impact on my recent life. By no means is this a reflection of my life as a whole, because things like the original NES aren’t on here, just a relfection of devices from the last 10 years or that have changed my outlook on technology or my life in some significant way.

About 5 years ago I was a PC fan boy. I had that mentality for years, dating back to the early 90’s. It was so rabid in fact that I laughed when Apple announced the launch of the iPod. I laughed that this feeble device was Apples attempt to stay relevant. I wasn’t sold on Macs. I thought the iMac was a “cute” little device, and I did like the Adobe suite of software, but I wouldn’t even consider it on anything except a PC.

At the time of its arrival, there were other MP3 players out on the market. In fact, I had a cute little 256M player that I worked out with up until 2003, with the thought of an iPod so distant, that it was laughable. All that changed in 2006, when I broke down and bought my first iPod Video. Ever since, this little device has changed my life.

When I first bought it, I was able to load up every single MP3 I owned, with room to spare for tons of movies which I used to work out. Previously I had a PC I configured to “hide” on a network to provide music for everyone at work. All that fit on a 30 Gig hard drive. My new iPod fit all of this, plus movies. It was awesome.

So how had this device changed my life. Quite simply, since that first iPod video, I bought a iPod Nano for my workouts, and when that died two weeks ago, I broke down and bought an iPod touch. Now the Touch has all my flashcards for studying various subjects, podcasts, movies and videos (especially my P90X videos for working out, Kenpo 5.0 videos, and Royler Gracies takedown DVD’s), not to mention my music collection. I still have the iPod video sitting in a video unit. I store my contacts and calendar for casual use on it.

Out of everything, I think the iPod has been by far the single most life changing device I own. I’ve learned a second language because of my iPod. I no longer listen to commercial radio because of my iPod. I use Nike+ as a motivation to run everyday. In fact, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds over the past 3 years, mostly due to listening to music while running with my iPod.

The iPod changed my perspective so much, that I convinced my wife to buy a Macbook, and I will probably end up buying one of my own. Now consider that, 5 years ago, I wouldn’t touch a Mac, 5 years later I’ve bought 5 Apple products (3 iPods, 1 iPod for my wife, and her Macbook). I’d have to say, that’s a pretty big change.

HTC Touch.

Before I bought a smart phone a few years ago, I relied on some very bare bones PC’s. It wasn’t until I started to hack my Razr that I started to think about getting a phone that did “just a little bit more”. I had played around with Pocket PC’s for years, but I just didn’t get that into them because it was just a big bother to carry around multiple devices. All that changed when I bought my XV6900.

Now, this device has become the digital center of my life, more so than my laptop. I’ve become one of those obnoxious people who are constantly texting, checking emails, and can’t seem to pry myself away from it.

I use it when I’m in airports and need Internet access. I use it for business and personal calls. I keep track of my daily schedule, upcoming events, and contacts with it. I play chess on it. And its always attached to my hip. I don’t even have a land line now because of this device.


Another one of those 5 years ago changes. 5 years ago I was anchored to a desk by a big old PC. Since I turned consultant, I couldn’t imagine going back to a PC. I like the freedom of being able to work anywhere, and staying connected to all my devices with a handful of cables. I like that option of being able to dock at my home office, and having a dual monitor setup off of a single laptop, then being able to pick up, go to my living room, and plop in front of the TV and work at the same time. This was freedom that wasn’t afforded with the desk anchor, and I think my productivity suffered as a result of being stuck in one place. Now, whenever I have an idea, I can just open my laptop and work on it.

George Foreman Grill:

Yeah, I’m serious. This is definitely a gadget that changed my life. Used to be I was a real fast food kind of guy. The George Foreman Grill actually changed that. Now, I prefer to cook at home since it takes only about 10 minutes to grill a steak, without a lot of the fat. With the combination of the Reveo Marivac Food Tumbler, I eat better, healthier than I ever did before. I keep track of recipes, marinades, and wines that go good with them. Plus, its seems to REALLY impress my wifes friends that I can cook, so keep that in mind, chicks dig guys who can cook.

Xbox 360:

When I was a kid, I was a video game junky. I mean, I was really into video games, which is in part why I had such a horrible physique into young adulthood. I turned away from video games for several years, but was re-introduced with the Xbox and the PS2. So, up until that point, I was just a solo player. Since the 360’s release, I couldn’t imagine a game that didn’t have multiplayer capabilities. The 360 has become the media center for the whole house, with its Netflix movie hookup, ability to play DVD’s, music, hook up to the MP3 server in our house, movie rentals from the 360 video service, and so forth. In fact, the only thing my PS3 does is play blue ray, for some reason it just hasn’t caught on as a gaming device in my house hold. A huge change in moving the media device from the PC to the living room for me.

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