Cutting the Laptop Cord – Reviewing my iPad Pro 12.7

For the past two weeks, I’ve been pretty happily existing without a desktop or laptop computer. Maybe it’s been longer than that but I had to use the laptop for a few things that I haven’t learned to do yet on my tablet – so let’s just call it two weeks. Not too long ago, … Continue reading “Cutting the Laptop Cord – Reviewing my iPad Pro 12.7”

For the past two weeks, I’ve been pretty happily existing without a desktop or laptop computer. Maybe it’s been longer than that but I had to use the laptop for a few things that I haven’t learned to do yet on my tablet – so let’s just call it two weeks. Not too long ago, I made the decision to do it and I purchased a 12.7 inch iPad Pro with a keyboard and Apple Pencil. It does nearly everything that the laptop did and far more than the last desktop I owned which was long long ago in the dark ages of the internet. I’ve managed to make printing, document creation, anything internet related, and more even easier than they were with my laptop. The tablet is big by tablet standards but perfect by every standard except not fitting in my pocket and I’m fine with it. I needed to use my old laptop to download files and upload files via FTP when I was transferring a site to a new host – I’m sure there was a way to do it with the tablet, but rather than learn the new trick of this, I just pulled my old laptop out of a box and fired it up. Easy peasy eggs and cheesy. One complaint – no USB access to my external hard drive with all of my photos and other documents, videos, and files on it. I thought I’d found a way around this with a camera adaptor, but it didn’t work – it seems getting a Bluetooth external hard drive is the only way to do this. I probably will do that at some point, but don’t particularly want to transfer all of my files right now. And that’s it. Other than that, everything else has been an improvement or a seamless, not noticeable transition, or and improvement. We cut the cable tv cord quite a long time ago and have found Amazon Prime to be a great substitute. I’ve experimented with apps through Prime like CBS but only found PBS Kids to be really worth it and glitch free and the big problem was that it eliminated the need for a passcode so my daughter figured out quickly she could just watch as much as she wanted by going to PBS kids…And of course, the home telephone cord was cut even longer ago. We have smartphones with us all the time, a home phone is only good if you don’t want to have access to phone calls sometimes and in that case you can always leave your phone at home. Interestingly, my iPad is a cellular model, so I could conceivably use it as a phone and ditch the cellphone if I really wanted to – and at some point I may. I don’t think I would go the other way because I like the big screen on it. Apple has just announced a 10 inch model which is probably a nice compromise, but I haven’t regretted getting the 12.7 inch model even a single time since getting it. It’s literally like having a spiral notebook in terms of size and weight and that is a size I can deal with. Battery time is great. Upgrading to the thicker cord and higher rate charger made charging time very reasonable. The Apple keyboard and Apple Pencil are simply marvelous. I love both and already cannot conceive of not having either of them. For a printer, I use a compact Canon all in one with AirPrint and Google Print installed so I don’t need a printer cable and can print from my phone or tablet. Back in October of last year, I funded a kickstarter for something called the Superbook – it was supposed to ship in December but now will supposedly reach me by the end of this month (June) six months late. It uses an android phone as the processor and hard drive so that you essentially upgrade the Superbook when you upgrade your phone. It was supposed to be my next computer – but instead, it was very late and finally I ordered this iPad. I don’t think I will ever regret it, but if the Superbook ever does arrive, I’ll give it a fair try. I don’t think it’s really possible for it to be anywhere as enjoyable or good as my iPad Pro – but maybe we’ll get to give it a try. For what I do on the computer, the iPad Pro is a laptop killer.

Reality TV and Social Media

I think it’s too bad that reality TV came before social media. Before there were social media stars, there were reality TV stars and unfortunately, they were mostly assholes who became stars because of their bad behavior – and I think they may have shaped the way social media stars went about getting the spotlight.

Imagine if social media had been an opportunity for kindness and altruism to be rewarded instead of just more assholes grubbing away for attention.

But maybe that’s just a fantasy. About a decade ago I started a website called NiceHuman – the idea was that people could submit stories about nice humans – they could nominate friends, family, community members, or just point out a story where a human was nice.

At the same time, I had a website called TerrorSuspect – guess which one got all the traffic? The nice human site got so much hatred spewn in the comments section and so little traffic (not to mention people taking the time to say that someone was a nice human) that eventually, I shut it down.

We play life these days like it’s a game of Survivor or like we are all in the Big Brother House. It makes sense in a way, we are on camera most of our lives now in one way or another and our society seems to reward bad behavior while at the same time decrying the bad behavior and rewarding more.

We’ve all become selfish assholes. Or maybe the camera has just cleared away the illusion that we weren’t always selfish assholes. Either way, you are on your own. I’ll see you at tribal council.

How Technology Wastes Time – Real World Example of An Hour Destroyed

I woke up an hour and a half ago ready to write a review of a book I just finished reading. I came downstairs, made a pot of coffee, and turned on my computer. It came on just a bit slower than usual, but finally, there was my writing screen. I clicked on it and began to type and the window came up that said ‘program is not responding’ and gave me the choice of waiting or cancelling. I chose to wait – I tried to be patient – 10 minutes later – I realized nothing was going to happen. So, I began to close other windows and shut down other processes on my computer. These also were not responding well. Everything that I had open was finally closed or forced shut and I managed to get back to the writing screen – twenty five minutes had gone by – I started to type – and the screen went gray while another message came up about slow loading – I’d had enough, so I restarted my computer – ten minutes later, it still had not completed the shut-down process so I force restarted it – ten minutes after that I was back on the computer but then it was updating apple products and steam and my antivirus definitions and still moving slugglishly – finally nearly an hour after I woke up energized and ready to write a book review – here I am – and the old problem with this laptop arises – spontaneously selecting and deleting entire blocks of text which on this particular program control z replaces – but not on every program – so sometimes I am not only interrupted but lose entire paragraphs and if I am not paying attention – I don’t notice until I revise and words that do not go together are jammed together. And so – one hour and forty minutes after I awoke – I am annoyed, bothered, and still have not written a word of what I intended but instead am writing this because in fifteen minutes it will be time to wake my daughter for school and my wife is up now and the uninterrupted hour I thought I had to write a decent review of an economic text has been swallowed by the beast of technology and shit design. Time saving my ass. Bill Gates and Al Gore can both go to hell this morning.

Before-Digital and Post-Digital Ages

I’m fairly certain that at some point in the future, the dividing line between ages will be BD and PD- much like the dividing line we use for BC or AD (Before Christ or After Death was what I learned in school – which was wrong but sticks in my mind anyway). So yes, we will have the years where not much is known – the years when there was no digital photographic or audio recording technology and the years where everything was captured. A good example of that rose to my attention last night – in the 1960s the teleplay Man of LaMancha aired on TV. There are no recordings of it because at the time there were not video recorders (which were linear but close enough to the digital tech age that much of what was captured on linear data devices has been translated to digital and saved). There is a gray area where this linear tech exists – roughly from 1960-1990 – when things like records, audio tapes, video tapes, photographs, and even hand written or typewriter written documents were still the norm but were transferrred to digital technology with the aid of scanners, digital recorders, DAT, etc. Not all of these captured moments have been digitized, but enough that there will always be a clear picture of the transition from non-digital society to digital society. By and large, we can say that the generation that grew up from 1960-1990, my generation, Gen-X, was the last non-digital generation and the first digital generation. The way of life that existed during our childhood and adolescence will never be foggy, like that of the generations that came before us, but it will never be crystal clear like those who follow. I’ve already noticed that Hollywood is mining this treasure trove of light mystique and that trend will only continue.

It’s funny to think of how difficult these changes have been – we are still going through them. Our world is as different from the world of 1989 as the world of 1989 was from the world of 1589. Yes, we’ve gone through 300 years of change in just 30 years. The age of flight was nothing as compared to the age of digitalization. A man from 1589 could have been normalized to the world of 1989 – yes, there were planes but Davinci had proposed flight and French balloonists were flying close to his time of 1589. A car might have been shocking, but ultimately it is a carriage run by a combination of mechanical processes that could be easily understood with explanation – even in 1589. But a digital camera? A cell phone? The internet? A smart phone with a camera, a virtual assistant, the internet, phone capability, digital music, and Google Earth – try explaining that to someone alive today – let alone to someone from 300 years ago. It would be a stretch to explain that to an adult from 1959. But, you probably could explain it to someone who came of age in the 1970s or 1980s – at any time.

I feel fortunate to have been alive at this time. To have borne witness to this change of epochs. To be clear, I think my generation got the worst of both worlds – we got the shaft because we will not get the full benefits of the mature technology that will emerge in 10-20 years and we did not get the 300 year security that our parents were born into. The magnitude of this shift won’t be clear for a long time – at present – most people aren’t aware of it at all.

What should I do?

It’s not an existential question (not this time) – it’s a question I’m increasingly asking myself these days and it is great. It’s been close to a month since I deleted my Facebook, Linkedin, and even my old Myspace accounts – they are deleted, gone, not recoverable (but probably stored somewhere for government intelligence agencies – along with every other piece of data that has ever been on the internet). The amount of time I spend looking at my phone has been reduced dramatically – I would guess it was at least cut in half. The amount of time I can spend mindlessly staring at my computer screen has been cut even further. And it’s amazing to me that almost daily, I find myself looking at my computer screen and saying “What should I do?” and without the mindless voyeurism of Facebook as an option – my answer is usually to close the computer and do something in the real world. It’s astounding – this happens every day – and when Facebook was there – it didn’t happen. And, get this, I’m pretty sure that it happened before there was Facebook too – and (and I have no evidence to back this up, but it makes sense) I’m sure that it is not just me that Facebook changed that way. Here’s the thing – I never noticed that shift in behavior. I wasn’t aware of it. When I opted to delete my Facebook account, I had a vague idea about it- but I didn’t expect this change.

So, without Facebook as a go-to, What should I do? The answer is usually much more satisfying than anything I ever did on Facebook – reading a book, taking a walk, playing my ukulele, spending time with my family, learning something, cooking a meal, going to the gym – and of course, I still have my online time sucks but they take up no time in comparison to what Facebook was eating – I play a couple of turn based games that take up about 15 minutes each day if I want them to – I check email, look at craigslist, and look at the news. All told, an hour is usually plenty of time to do all of that. On my phone, I have to admit to a minor addiction that I am surprisingly ashamed of – Pokemon Go. I started playing it with my 5-year-old and we still play together, but after I walk her to school, on the walk home, I’m the only one throwing pokeballs – and yeah, this confession feels a little bit like coming out of the closet. It’s a strange addiction that I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to give up – but not until I evolve all my pocket monsters and catch em all….ugh, this problem may be worse than I thought. Anyway, that’s it. I’m finding more time to write, more time to read, more time to do other things – and that is very good because time was something I was feeling very short of while I was logged onto Facebook.

I don’t miss Facebook – and because I know how Facebook works when you are on it – I am pretty certain that my friends who I was connected with on that platform don’t have the time to miss me. I hope to see them in the real world again someday.

Being On Hold

I’m on hold today. The recording told me that call volume is larger than usual and waits may be extraordinarily long. So, I have my phone on speaker and am carrying it around with me. I don’t have work today, so it’s not a big deal. It’s good the phone is portable, I can just take it with me in the bathroom while I shave and take a dump, I can have it on the counter in the kitchen while I make eggs and toast, it is next to me as I type this. It’s like I have my own little hatchimal that I need to carry around and take care of – at the moment it is recharging from having been on for the past two hours, while I still hold. At one point, the music stopped, the phone rang and I thought it was going to be a person, but it quickly became a busy signal and I had to hang up and call back again. That was one hour and twenty two minutes into the wait…it’s not that big a deal, it’s interesting to feel how it affects my day…mostly, it’s awful that this is the soundtrack to my day and I can’t really do anything else on my phone – but like I said, it’s interesting to see how this affects my internal being. It’s interesting to learn that I don’t have to let it.