Saturday, September 19, 2015

Gadget Goodies 33 -- Use What for What?

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by Flickr user Maurizio Pesce
I've been having fun, in a lot of directions.  As a result, I never noticed that 8 months have gone by since our last Gadget Goodies post. At that point, I was going to sell the Nexus 7 and stick with my Z Ultra. I've done that.  I also got into the whole smart watch thing, decided the Pebble didn't cut it, and discovered that AndroidWear was too distracting at all the wrong times.  I had returned the Pebble and was going to sell the LG watch.  That hasn't happened, yet.

Things have gotten interesting since then.  And that's where this becomes a combination of tech and the practical.  We'll explain the illustration shortly.

If you recall, there was a Samsung flip phone in the mix.  On the mobile side, we alternated between the flip phone with the Z Ultra as a tablet and just using the Z Ultra as an all purpose device.  I still had my netbook with Win10 for the more serious stuff.  I pretty much relied on the Z Ultra as my all purpose device.  And my laptop and netbook for the "heavy lifting".  Which brings us to an interesting tech insight.

There's been a lot of talk about smartphones and tablets replacing the PC.  And PC sales have declined.  It's very likely that will continue.  Much of today's tech savvy population is used to smart devices with Andoid, iOS, and WindowsPhone operating systems.  Each has its own set of shortcomings.  Those limitations are a trade-off for very real portability.  Smartphones and tablets are lightweight, have great displays, and actually do quite a bit.  The Apple Mac line of laptops have done an awesome job of being lightweight, full powered computers, but the prices aren't that cheap.

You might say, "Why worry about computers when mobile devices do so much?  Do we need more?".  There are several things that mobile devices don't yet handle as well.
  1. Local storage.  We're, more and more, getting used to cloud storage.  But that has two downsides.  With all the hacking going on, it's not likely that we want our more private or important stuff in a place that might be hacked and contents stolen.  And what happens if there's no internet connection?  It only takes a storm or an accident taking out some of the lines making that connection.  Or we may be in a more rural location, without a connection.  And, if there's something that's needed stored in the cloud, then there's no access.
  2. Local storage.  Mobile devices use solid state storage.  God bless those SD cards, etc.  But they still have a shorter lifespan, smaller storage, and higher cost than normal PC hard drives.
  3. Limited capabilities.  The computer operating systems are still ahead of mobile OSes for both multitasking and handling more complex programs.  That has two aspects.  There are things that, either because of the complexity or the limitations of the programmer end up on PC or Mac, but not any of the mobile OSes.  If we look at the software that is cross platform, we see a similar issue.  While some do all the things the computer version does, it's in a less satisfying, less intuitive way.
All of that says we still need both the computer and mobile platforms.  Will that change?  I'd bet on it.  In a very short time, we've seen mobile storage greatly increase and its lifespan grow longer. Computers get smaller, there are already ways to connect keyboards, mice, and larger displays to mobile devices.  And, yes, mobile apps are becoming more capable.  But full convergence is sometime in the future.

At the moment, I have the Alcatel Idol 3 pictured in our illustration, my Z Ultra acting as a tablet and a backup for the smartphone.  I have my laptop for writing, blogging, social media, and for connecting to work to find out what I'm assigned.  And there's my netbook for more portable computing.  I've also been testing Windows 10 and various flavors of Linux.  So, there's an apparent need for all of that.

On a recent trip for a short conference, I took the netbook for note taking portability.  And I wasn't wearing anything that made hauling around the Z Ultra easy.  Sometimes, bigger isn't a blessing.  So, I took the flip phone.  Which is where I discovered that great ideas that work well around home and work don't necessarily translate to great ideas when travelling.  It didn't take me long to figure out that I wasn't overjoyed to have most of my avenues of communication only when I had the netbook on.  And no signal in the baggage claim area of an airport loaded with cell antennas was unacceptable.  So, no more flip phone.  Yes, I still have my smartwatch, but that will be up for sale by the time you read this.  And probably some other things, as well.

We started out by saying this would be a post that dealt with some tech and practical things.  And it has.  But it's the spiritual aspects of my life that led to a practical determination that downsizing has benefits.  Those who are uncomfortable with spirituality will suggest that some or all forms of it are impractical.  In truth, the stronger one's spirituality, the greater practicality becomes a necessity. We'll discuss that Monday on our other blog, Bill's Musings.  There's a link at the top of the page.

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