Friday, September 26, 2008

in which I rave about technology

I am not really a gadget freak. In fact, I tend to be slightly suspicious of new and shiny things which supposedly make your life easier. I think I was the last person in the Pacific Northwest to actually get a cell phone and that was only after I had to pick Oscar up after his evening courses at Cornish and there was that one night of spectacular miscommunication and I wished he could just have called me to tell me where the hell he actually is instead of where I though he would be. 

So my personal cell phone causes embarrassment to just about everyone except me. It's a Nokia pay-as-you-go phone, but it works for me because no one ever calls me anyway (just about everyone contacts me via email). After we moved to Tacoma, we didn't even bother getting a landline in the house, because we never used the phone. Why pay $20 a month for a service you don't use? When I say never, I mean "never". 

I do have a Blackberry, but I got that through work (I didn't want it; I just wanted a cell phone.) Despite what Kat and Crash think, I am not addicted to it. I do find it useful because I can access my personal email on it, and there are some very fun games. I also like it because it allows me to surf the web while at work. Non-work internet use is verboten and tracked and I've already gotten into trouble for it. However, you have to be very, very dedicated to goofing off and surfing the web on my particular Blackberry because it's rather slow (Think dial-up speed) and so many sites don't render well for mobile phones (like my beloved Ravelry). 

But I did say I was going to rave about technology, didn't I? Well here's one piece of technology while I can certainly live without, I love very much and I will miss it when it's not available. 

The iPod. 

I had a first generation shuffle, which bit the dust about a year ago. Then Kat gave me a first generation Nano that she hadn't gotten rid of when she upgraded and lo, it was good. It was so good that I put it in a very secure place and couldn't find it for-freaking-ever so I ended up buying a refurbished Shuffle from apple. (Then I found the Nano stored in one of those pockets in my backpack that I never, ever use.)

They are both very useful and for different reasons. Right now, I generally listen to audiobooks and the shuffle has a weird (actually annoying) quirk of reverting to the beginning of the recording after charging. While it's mildly annoying if it's a book on CD with each CD broken into 26 "songs" (it reverts back to the beginning of the CD), it's maddening with a single audiofile from that's 8 hours long. The long audiofiles have bookmarks that the shuffle didn't recognize, and that's where the Nano is great, since it has a screen and I can scroll through the file and see where I am. 

I like that the shuffle is very small and can clip on to your shirt, belt, whatever. But it's tininess can also be a liability because it's very easy to misplace. The thing is the size of a US quarter coin, not very big! I've learned to clip it to my backpack when not using it. 

Love, love, love the iPod. 

Love it. It's a fundamental piece of my commuter care kit. Not only do I get to "read" and knit at the same time, it also drowns out the conversation of fellow commuters. Actually, train commuters tend to be a fairly quiet bunch, but there is often one person who is either having a very personal conversation at full volume on their cell phone or a group of colleagues griping about work. (Not that I blame them, I just don't want to hear it.) 

Oh, and a personal opinion about cell phone etiquette. If you would not have this certain conversation on the train if the other party were present, then don't sit on the train and have this conversation on the phone either. (To the woman who spent 30 minutes on the phone discussing the problems facing you and your daughter since you found out she was doing meth? I had real sympathy for you until you said "well, at least the meth has made her thin." Now I hate you.) 

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