Do Our Devices Spoil Us?

The problem with using an iPad so much is that everything becomes a touch screen. Boy oh boy am I having trouble with this lately. I keep swiping my finger across the television and poking at my MacBook screen. When nothing happens, I am momentarily confused. Then, of course, sadness sets in as I realize those particular devices don’t react to my touch the way my beloved iPad and iPhone do. Le sigh…

I believe my devices are beginning to spoil me a little too much, and I’m willing to bet you suffer from this as well. We have come to expect certain things from our gadgets. When we use one which doesn’t adhere to our new standards, we become frustrated. Often, we even decide in a geek rage that whatever it is we’re trying to use should now be considered obsolete. We then rush out to buy whatever the hottest new product offering is, even if we truly don’t need it. Is any of this sounding familiar to you?

The fact of the matter is that those slightly-older gizmos aren’t obsolete. They don’t even work THAT much differently (most of the time) than the newest “replacements” you’ll find on store shelves. Sadly, we have become so snobbish thanks to the few truly revolutionary devices that we expect nothing less of each and every piece of technology we buy. This isn’t to say that’s a completely BAD thing… we want companies to build on existing “hot” items to make things which are even better. But for us to simply expect and demand true genius to come out of each and every new item – well, that’s a bit spoiled in my mind.

Look. Your devices are fine just as they are. Your television doesn’t need touch capabilities. Your radio doesn’t have to have antennas which will tune in Tokyo. Not everything in our world has to be new and different.

If it ain’t broke…

Is the iPad Making Steve Ballmer Nervous?

Love him or hate him, Steve Ballmer is a dynamic person. When he speaks, it’s from the heart. There have been many times where I’m sure something popped out of his mouth that he later regretted. However, the passion he has for what he does is something to be admired. I’ve never quite figured out why it is that people tend to hate on him and claim he’s nothing more than a puppet. A person doesn’t stick with a company as long as he has if they don’t believe in what they’re doing. Steve-o will say whatever is on his mind at any given moment… and is honest in admitting when something hasn’t gone quite the way the Redmond company had planned.

Photo credit to Engadget.

Speaking to financial analysts today about tablet devices, Ballmer admitted that Apple has “sold certainly more than I’d like them to have sold.” How’s that for plain, cold truth, folks? It’s no secret that the team behind the other Steve (Jobs) is dancing in the aisles over there in Cupertino. The iPad has already outsold even their loftiest projections. I own one… and love it. It’s an amazing device. That doesn’t mean, however, that something better won’t come along. The iPad isn’t the be-all and end-all in the tablet device market.

Argue all you want. It’s quite possible we could see a better device come with Windows 7 on it. Perhaps the front-runner will one day run Android… or any number of other operating systems. It’s impossible to predict the future, and that my fellow Geeks is what keeps the tech world so interesting. Would you want to be in a world where the iPad was as good as it’s ever going to get? I sure as hell don’t. I want to be right here watching new and better devices hit the streets.

Look. We all know that Microsoft has a lot of work to do in order to begin to catch up. Other companies are working hard to come up with the next big thing in the gadget world. Every day, there are new advances. Every week, we see new product launches. Mark my words… one day soon, we’ll see something on the shelves that blows the iPad out of the water. In my opinion, Ballmer shouldn’t sweat so much over a few (large) numbers.

I cannot wait until that day comes. What about you?

Microsoft Kin Dead in the Water

Just a few short weeks after launch, the Microsoft Kin is reportedly being killed off. Gizmodo reports that sources at Microsoft have confirmed the death of a device we all wanted to like. Why would a device die such a speedy death? Sales. Microsoft never has confirmed – nor denied – the fact that only a mere 500 Kin units have been sold since launch.

Sadly, the pricing of the phone plan that Verizon laid out is another reason for its demise. Verizon chose to price the phone as a smartphone, despite the fact that it isn’t one. The monthly plan was so high that Verizon drastically cut the price at one point. This did nothing to lure customers to form a line such as we’ve seen with other recent device launches.

Microsoft has issued a very vague statement on this matter:

“We have made the decision to focus on our Windows Phone 7 launch and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”

That says a lot without saying anything at all. Hopefully some of the parts of Kin that were good will be seen again in Windows Phone 7. At least support is still being promised to people who actually own the device. There’s no word on software updates for it, though.

Did you purchase a Kin phone? What are your thoughts on the device, and the news of its impending demise?

Is Your Cell Phone Hurting Your Children?

Is your reliance on technology hurting your children? A new study shows that perhaps parents are too plugged in. The story cites a young mother who was ignoring her toddler in a busy shopping mall while she had her head buried in her cell phone’s screen. It goes on to discuss the negative impact that constant device usage can have on a child’s psyche and upbringing.

The study talks about the negative effects that a parent’s desire to always stay connected can have on children, yes. But it doesn’t touch on the dangers that could happen. It only takes a split second for someone to grab a child in a public place. Toddlers and babies are kidnapped in an instant while their parent or guardian looks away at an item on a store shelf. It isn’t inconceivable that the same thing could happen while mom is busy checking her Twitter stream or dad is reading the latest email from work. Children can be hit by a car, drown in a pool or run off without supervision in the blink of an eye. If a parent is engrossed in their phone for a few moments, bad things could potentially happen.

I’m not saying that you can never use your devices around your children. I’m saying that you need to stop tuning everything else out while you check up on things. I’m just as guilty as the next person of this infraction. I am quite good at tuning out the world around me whenever I feel I need to. Parents build up this ability as their children get older. It’s almost a survival instinct. You have to be able to filter out noise and distractions to get things done, right? But what if something tragic happens while you’re tuned out?

Photo credit to The Chef Alliance.

Is Your Mobile Device Making You Less Productive?

According to a newly-released study, that mobile device in your hand is likely stressing you out, and making you LESS productive! Most of us who are power users tend to think that our iPhones and Blackberry’s help us be more efficient, and get more done. Sadly, that isn’t always the case for some people.

Look at it this way: if you are one of those power people who have to constantly check your phone, how much time are you taking away from your actual work? Instead of a simple task taking twenty minutes to finish, it can take more than an hour. The gadget on your desk is pulling you – you’re constantly checking it to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Instead of actually focusing on your work and helping you get things done, the phone is instead causing your tasks to take even longer. This can stress you out, because you know you aren’t finishing things on time.

For those of you who may recognize yourself in this, you should take a step back. Turn your device off when you start that next spreadsheet or Google doc. Don’t turn it on (or even look at it!) again until you complete your task. Try setting aside specific times during the day to check for new messages, tweets and updates. Once that allotted time is up, turn the gadget back off again.

Don’t let your need to stay in the loop get in the way of getting your job done. I really don’t want to read one day that someone has gotten themselves fired for spending too much time staying connected… and not enough time actually being productive. Sadly, I have a feeling this is already happening around the world. Our jobs demand that we are always accessible… yet they get angry if they feel we spend too much time reading the latest news or emails from coworkers. How are we supposed to find balance?