The value of boredom
Boredom has been defined as wanting to be able to engage in a satisfying activity and not being able to. Its sibling is downtime, both of which the smartphone–and the Angry Birds it implies–eradicates. Another way to look at boredom, Hall says, is to think of it as a creative pause where your mind can drift, which allows you to integrate your recent experiences into your present state of mind.
Sitting with boredom
So let’s get a little bit more refined in our terminology: it’s not that we should be in useless awful meetings, the kind that prompt the feeling of I’m so bored!, but rather that we resist the urge to always act on that gestural itch and give our brains a mindful break or time to daydream. Like any designer will tell you, absence has presence. Not doing is a kind of doing.
The boredom diet
In the same way that what we eat when we’re hungry has short- and long-term consequences, the actions we take when we’re bored have ongoing outcomes. So says NYU’s Gary Marcus: if you’re bored and use that energy to play an instrument and cook, you’ll be growing; if you drool before your television, you might be happy for a second, but that stimulation junk food will depress you later.
Since most of what we do on our phones is the daily dillydallying of social networks, playing games, and texting, your iPhone acts like an endless supply of Cheetos.
So before you dissolve into your screen, check your fingers for orange dust.
I am not much of a gamer but I have been playing CSR Racing on my Mac lately. It’s a simple drag racing game where you have beat “crews” to move up. To do that you need to win some races where you win cash and then you have to upgrade your car. Most cars need four levels of upgrades to win and there is a bit of skill involves in it as well.
The fun part of the game is that you can only race as long as you have gas and you can easily run out of gas. To get more gas, you can pay but I am too cheap to do that or you can wait an hour to two hours for your tank can fill. The game is free and they depend on people more impatient than cheap but for me it is great as I can play it for 10 minutes, be done and then pick it up later. It’s like gaming designed for those of us with short attention spans.
As you can see, I started the game with a Mini Cooper S, moved to a Mustang GT, then a BMW M3 Coupe, and now a Corvette ZR1 (which is underpowered compared to the other cars in the tier and getting beat a lot). And yes I seem to like the colour red.
It’s a fun game to play and it’s free to try (and keep playing). If you have a iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, you can play it on each either one of those devices.
Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for your Husband / Father / Boyfriend (all of the men in your life) | 2012 Edition
It’s Wendy again and I am pretty lucky as Jordon does all of the Christmas shopping in our family and over the years he has created some incredible Christmas gift guides for his website which have generated a loyal following. I traditionally write the Gift Guide husbands/boyfriends/fathers and here it is. Hopefully I don’t disappoint and as always if you have good ideas, leave them in the comments below. For the entire list of Christmas gift guides, click here.
I bought Jordon an iPad last Christmas and has has loved it. Now he is an Apple person (iPod, iPad, iPhone, and a MacBook) but not everyone is. The good news is that there are some amazing tablets on the market for both Android, Apple, and even Blackberry users.
When you are looking for a tablet, make sure you understand how the person is going to use it. I bought Jordon a 16gb iPad because Jordon is going to use it for some writing (using Pages, the occasional Keynote presentation) and surf the web. He had no intention on putting his music on his iPad because he uses his iPod for that task. If he was going to use it as a all-in-one machine, I would have gone out and got him a 64gb version.
Also, some have bought them with the idea that they will replace their laptop or computer. They really don’t for most of our friends (although as I was typing this, Jordon points out that he has never seen Saskatoon City Councillor Charlie Clark use anything but his iPad and his Logitech keyboard/case).
Whatever your preference, I have listed tablets from all operating systems below.
Android | Nexus 10 ($409) and Nexus 7 ($209) from Google. Both offer world class speed and design and in a lot of ways are designed and produced to set the standard for Android devices running on tablets in the same way Google designed the Nexus phone to do for smartphones.
Android | Kindle Fire 8.9 ($299) and Kindle Fire HD($199) Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire to mediocre reviews last year but has stepped up their game with the Kindle Fire 8.9 inch tablet and the Kindle Fire HD which offers retina level display on an Android device. If you surf the web a lot, the Kindle Fire has the fastest wifi of any tablet out there.
Apple | iPad ($499)) and iPad Mini ($329) | While more expensive then the Kindle Fire HD, it has the advantage of the most spectacular collection of apps out there. Also it offers fantastic integration between your iPhone and Mac. Like I said before, Jordon has an iPad 2 and loves it.
Blackberry Playbook ($194 for a 32gb model) | I include this here because I know there is still a passionate community of Blackberry users out there. It’s a good value for the price but it doesn’t have a lot of apps for it. It’s one of those things that I would get for a guy who knew what he was getting and still really wanted. When I asked Jordon, he said there are those out that that still live and die on Blackberry Messenger and it has that… kind of. Maybe you should just get any Blackberry lovers on your list, a new phone.
Depending on the person you are shopping for, they are going to have different demands on what they want out of a iPod or MP3 player. Some people want all of their music at their fingertips all of the time, some want something to work out with, and some want to be connected to all of their apps while they are listening to their music. Whatever kind of person you are shopping for, there is an iPod for them.
If the person you are shopping for isn’t an Apple fan, look at a Sony Walkman ($110). While the design and features look amazing, I am a little surprised it only comes in a 8 gb version, of which 1.25 gb is used by the software. So if you are looking for a 6.75 gb MP3 player in a great design package and a good price, here it is. It is slightly smaller than the Apple iPod Nano but has a lot of the same features. While MP3 quality is lacking, with Sony you know you are getting something that is quality made and designed.
Whatever MP3 player you get, you will want to upgrade the headphones. JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme ($17) headphones are much loved at an affordable price. The series feature a bass port for outstanding bass reproduction, a durable rubber protector for impact protection and to help withstand heavy use, and a gold-plated 3.5mm stereo plug. The Xplosive Xtreme also comes with a handy carrying case. 2.6mm-thick and robust 1.2m pure copper cable (Y-type) Special hard carrying case included S/M/L silicone ear-pieces included Gold-plated 3.5mm stereo straight plug iPod, iphone and iPad compatible.
If you aren’t sure the person you are shopping for would appreciate a MP3 player, why not pick up a Polaroid 8 gb MP3 player ($40)? It may not have the features of the iPod or Walkman but it does offer a really good value and is expandable with a SDHC card.
iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers ($45) | These are incredible speakers that provide a rich sound. They have a carrying case which means that they get taken with us everywhere, just like our iPods.
They work great with our iPods, netbooks, and our portable DVD player.
Tivoli Model One ($149) | Old school AM/FM in a timelessly sleek design. I bought Jordon one a couple of years ago and he loves it. We actually went and bought a second one for the cabin. It gets great reception in the middle of nowhere and on a hot summer day when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing, it’s a great way to listen on the deck with all of your friends. The Tivoli Model One has a rich, full sound thanks to sound pioneer Henry Kloss, and the radio has come to be a modern design must-have. This gift is perfect for a desk, in the kitchen- anywhere he can listen to the baseball game, CBC Radio One, or the oldies station. Another tabletop option worth considering is the classic Sangean WR-11 radio. Different design but same classic look.
Every guy needs a nice pen and this fountain pen is both affordable enough to give a nice gift but if high enough quality to last for decades. If you aren’t sure the person on your list would appreciate a fountain pen, you won’t go wrong with a Parker IM rollerball pen($19).
Tabletop fountain ($49) | It depends on the office environment that your husband works in. At The Lighthouse, Jordon’s office was both too hot and too dry. A tabletop fountain added some humidity into the air and cooled it down a bit. Just make sure you get him a plug in version, not one that runs on batteries. It’s one of those things that once the batteries run out, it never gets used again.
Of course he will need something to write down his profound thoughts in so why not give him a leather wrapped journal for Christmas? Chapters/Indigo has an amazing one for $45. While you are at it, check out this $15 5 inch globe.
Video and Camera
GoPro HD Hero 2 ($199) | Born from a passion to capture your love of life from your perspective, this camera is a feat of engineering. Wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197′ (60M) and boasting an immersive 170° wide-angle lens, the HD HERO2 has ushered in a new era of image capture. Professional quality 30 fps 1080p and 60 fps 720p video, combined with 11 megapixel still photo capture that has landed magazine covers. It’s a great camera and a lot of fun for the entire family. With this grab bag of mounts, you can hook it up to almost anything.
Sony Bloggie ($69) | Jordon has a Kodak Zi8 for years and has loved it. We gave Lee a Flip camera a year ago and even Mark has one. While you cell phone can record HD video, it doesn’t have the same kind of quality than a dedicated video camera gives you and it is a lot easier to deal with a SD card than trying to get a video off your iPhone. If the guy you are shopping for is one that loves to take video, make sure you check this camera out.
Fuji Fine Pix XP50 ($150) | For years we have been fans of Fuji point and shoot cameras and the XP50 is no exception. It’s waterproof to a depth of 5m and can capture both movies and still images underwater. The camera’s casing will withstand shocks or drops from a height of 1.5m, while cold environments are also no problem for this rough and ready device. The FinePix XP50 can withstand temperatures down to -10°C and dust is never a problem, with all the camera’s access points specially sealed for ultimate protection.
If the guy you are shopping for loves audio or is a podcaster, consider getting him a Blue Snowball ($60)or Yeti USB ($109) microphone. Both provide amazing clear sound and are a significant upgrade over the internal microphone in a laptop.
Black and Decker Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker ($48) | Jordon is a coffee connoisseur and while the ultimate way to make a cup of coffee is with a French Press or a Aeropress coffee maker ($25), he doesn’t always have time. For times when he needs 8 cups of coffee relatively quick and wants it to stay fresh for a while, there is this thermal coffee maker from Black and Decker. With a stylish design and durable stainless steel carafe, this 8-cup coffeemaker is perfect for home, office or practically anywhere you want hot, fresh coffee at the touch of a button. All this, plus an easy-clean control panel and dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless clean up. The advantage of the carafe is that you won’t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you don’t get it off the maker in time. The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.
Atari Flashback ($50)| Over 75 Atari 2600 games all in one console. Jordon laments the exclusion of Pac-Man but you can get Missile Command, Asteroids, and Combat all on console. Let him relive his childhood at the same time making him a subject of mockery of any child in the family.
PlayStation 3 ($269) | Yes it’s a game console but it’s also a Blu-Ray and DVD player, a Netflix player (which works way better than the Wii), and allows the family to play online. We use it all of the time to watch Netflix, movies, and also we still play a fair amount of games. While it’s not something that we would ever consider essential to our family life, it’s hard to imagine doing without.
Leatherman Skelatool ($42) or the Gerber Suspension Multitool ($26) | Both are amazing multi-tools and life is just better for men when they know they have a great multi-tool within reach. If the guy you are shopping for needs something even smaller, then check out the Cabela’s multi-tool. A great tool in a small package.
While the guys I know aren’t big on jewellery, they do appreciate a nice watch. If the guy you are shopping for loves a nice watch, check out the Timex Expedition Rugged Field Watch ($46), the Timex Expedition Digital/Analog watch ($44.96) or the rather classic Timex Atlantis 100 ($31).
Finally don’t forget probably the most wanted gift of the season, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 ($300) The Parrot AR.Drone is the first quadricopter that can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. By tilting your device, you control the direction of your AR.Drone, and by releasing it, the AR.Drone is instantly stabilized. Thanks to the AR.Drone’s autopilot feature, anyone can be an expert as the AR.Drone allows for an easy take-off and landing. It’s about as amazing and as much found as it sounds.
A couple of years ago I would periodically stumble to my right from time to time. I wouldn’t fall but I would find myself hitting a wall once in a while and that was embarrassing. It was totally random and it was more annoying than anything. I did go see my doctor who sent me to a neurologist who did a bunch of painful testing. Part of what I learned was that my nerves were either non-responsive, really slow, or misfiring in parts of my leg. As they would misfire or not respond, I would stumble a bit.
Misfiring nerves has been the story of the last eight or nine years of my life. What drove me to getting help for my diabetes was the knowledge that something was wrong because of the pain in my extremities. The pain never left but got progressively worse. Nerve pain is unlike anything else you will ever have and my polyneuropathic pain dominated my life for a couple of years. It was all encompassing and nothing helped. Anywhere I had nerve endings (feet, hands, face) was in overwhelming pain for months at a time. It was relentless. Pain medication didn’t help. Stuff like Oxycontin didn’t help and had some annoying side effects at a time in my life when the last thing I needed was annoying side effect. While nerve pain is horribly painful, it is kind of fun to reflect on. I remember being in excruciating pain and thinking, “This is a new kind of pain, it’s like I am being drilled into slowly” while other times it felt very much like being burned or being electrocuted. While the pain has become more manageable, it is still there, all of the time.
Since then it has gotten progressively worse where now walking is a conscious effort many days. What I mean by that is that it’s no longer natural and I find myself thinking about the constant lack of balance that I feel. They tell you as a kid that once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. Well apparently that’s not true because I am forgetting how to walk. It’s not noticeable for others unless I can’t see where I am walking, like carrying things down stairs or if I am walking in a residential neighbourhood which really bad sidewalks like Mayfair (the old trees lift the sidewalks). I also can’t use my iPhone and walk at the same time. Fatigue also plays a role. All I know is that I hate this with a passion.
With it getting worse, I went and had more tests done and the result is that I am losing my ability to walk. No body knows how long but it is degenerative and will continue to get worse. There are things I can do to slow it but I can’t really ever stop it. The doctor said that it may plateau and be manageable with a cane but that is a best case scenario. Worst case is that it continues to spread.
I don’t know how to feel about it. Yesterday was a day of cancer, suicides, and serious health issues for the clients I work with and I just shrug that off. It’s part of life. So too is this. It’s part of my life and I need to deal with it. It’s frustrating because it’s not something that I can tackle head on and fight. It’s my body giving up on me and I hate that. All I know is if I get a cane, I want one of those ones with the blade hidden in the handle like all of the spies had in the Len Deighton novels I read as a kid.
I have had a Gmail account since Gmail opened it’s second round of invites years ago. Users had five invites and because I was only two degrees separated from someone at Blogger, I got one. It was like gold and it was amazing. Within days I stopped using Outlook and started to rely on Gmail for all of my email. The launch of Google Calendar meant that I could move my life to the cloud and it worked perfectly for me for years. When I was at the Salvation Army Community Services, we used Google Apps to power email which meant that I never did need Outlook or anything there either. With Google Calendar integration I could have my life at a glimpse. While I was always frustrated that Google Contacts didn’t sync up Google apps and my personal address book, it worked well enough that I didn’t complain.
About six months ago a friend emailed from a major U.S. company. I had sent him an unimportant email about a year earlier and he never got it until that day. He blamed his company email system and I never thought about it. During this time I would send my column to two different email addresses at The StarPhoenix and every once in a while I would get an email close to my deadline and it would be the editor asking for my column. It kind of freaked me out but again I would think it was The StarPhoenix’s email system and I would send it again and it would be good. I was using Google’s email system after all. Now my editor just emails me back as soon as he gets it. I still get nervous when I don’t get an immediate reply but he is human and could actually be doing other things but even two weeks ago I was surprised how long it took him to reply and I wondered if the column got there or if he was busy. It isn’t just him, during that time I would email someone once in a while at The StarPhoenix and wouldn’t get a reply. Some email gets replied to, some doesn’t and I figured it didn’t get replied to.
Then my email got hacked and it was a horrifying experience. During that time I lost some email but blamed it on that. I have a new password (my old one was only six letters and one digit long) and then brought in double authentication but I was still wondering why I didn’t get replies at times. The last couple of weeks since I have had my new phone, it has been happening more and more and I was blaming the phone. Like many of you, I have 3G connection issues in parts of Saskatoon and was wondering if that was the problem. Over the last couple of days, everyone has been pissed off at me for missing emails and I realized I was also getting them out of sync. I also fired off some important email and people are telling me they never got them. That scared me because both were really tech competent people on reliable mail servers and the email was sent by my laptop via the Gmail interface. No email client, no phone, just me and the computer sending to two different reliable email services. I contacted Google and haven’t heard a thing back. I was searching my email tonight looking for emails that I knew I had not deleted and there was a massive hole from 2008 in it. I know was recently hacked but those emails were restored. No sign of it at all today.
I remember the rants that Tech Crunch used to have when Google Voice was offline and I now understand what they were so angry about. Google isn’t just providing a service, they are providing a service I rely on dearly. When the internet went down on my block, I can work around that, my primary email acct not working is horrific. My friend Nathan had a horrible experience with Twitter. It was mindboggling how stupid it was over a glitch that was completely their fault. They finally just stopped talking to him about their problem and he was locked out of his account. All of this contacts and followers were gone and there isn’t much you can do about it.
What’s even more bizarre is that when you read the Google help forums, I am not alone. Some are user error but most are just disappearing emails. The thing is that the reason I went to Gmail in the first place was because of Google’s reliability. What I found out is that it is company that really offers no customer service at all. They talk all of the time about the small % of users affected. That’s great that it is .61% until you are one of the quarter of a million users that are affected and then it is no fun at all.
The other hard part is that who do you contact at Google? You can’t call them or write a support ticket. You can leave a note in the forum. Back in the days when Blogger was small and buggy, you knew you could email Ev or Biz and get a response. Even today with Dreamhost, I can get a support ticket answered within minutes but I can’t with Google.
I use Koodo as my cell phone provider. It is horrible to use to send texts. I just was sending texts back and forth with Seabass (if you know who I am talking about, you will get it) and I had about 10 “fail to send” texts but I know that my texts are not getting through and I know that he isn’t getting them. Yet when I text’d a guy I’ll just refer to as Man-Bag yesterday, he said he never got it which is an entire other frustration. Is it Koodo or Sasktel or the fact he may not understand his new iPhone. It’s frustrating and now I am mad at Google, SaskTel, Man-Bag, and Koodo. I’ll quit while I am behind.
I’d tell you to email me with your suggestions but I won’t get it.
Friends who have accidentally left home without their iPhones tell me they feel stressed-out, cut off and somehow un-whole. That sounds a lot like separation anxiety to me. Not long ago, I headed an effort to identify the 10 most powerful, affecting sounds in the world: I found that a vibrating phone came in third, behind only the Intel chime and the sound of a baby giggling. Phantom vibration syndrome is the term I use to describe our habit of scrambling for a cellphone we feel rippling in our pocket, only to find out we are mistaken. Similar to pressing an elevator button repeatedly in the belief that the elevator will descend sooner, we check our phones for e-mails and texts countless times a day, almost as if we can will others to text, call, e-mail or Skype us.
So are our smartphones addictive, medically speaking? Some psychologists suggest that using our iPhones and BlackBerrys may tap into the same associative learning pathways in the brain that make other compulsive behaviors — like gambling — so addictive. As with addiction to drugs or cigarettes or food, the chemical driver of this process is the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine.
Earlier this year, I carried out an fMRI experiment to find out whether iPhones were really, truly addictive, no less so than alcohol, cocaine, shopping or video games. In conjunction with the San Diego-based firm MindSign Neuromarketing, I enlisted eight men and eight women between the ages of 18 and 25. Our 16 subjects were exposed separately to audio and to video of a ringing and vibrating iPhone.
In each instance, the results showed activation in both the audio and visual cortices of the subjects’ brains. In other words, when they were exposed to the video, our subjects’ brains didn’t just see the vibrating iPhone, they “heard” it, too; and when they were exposed to the audio, they also “saw” it. This powerful cross-sensory phenomenon is known as synesthesia.
But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.
In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.
It’s really not that much of a mystery of why we love our phones. In an age of being increasingly disconnected because of working hours, distance, or other reasons, our phones bring all of our connections back into focus. We don’t love our phones, we love how they bring people back into our lives.
Since launching Windows Phone 7, it’s marketshare has dropped 38% which means that by the time that Nokia introduces Windows Phone 7 devices, the OS may be about as popular as the Symbian OS it dropped in support of Windows 7.
The question is for how much longer handset makers and carriers will consider it worth supporting Windows Phone 7. Microsoft’s mobile market share has been declining at a compound rate of about 5% per month for the past six months. At that pace, its overall share may be be hovering around just 4% by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, rival Google is on track to dominate smartphones. Android devices held 40% of the market as of the end of June, according to Comscore. Apple’s share came in at 26.6%, while RIM’s share, also in decline, fell to 23.4%.
i don’t know of a single user of Windows Phone 7 now that I think about it. No one I know even talks about it.
If you can’t tell the difference between a Windows Phone and an iPhone, how do we trust you to get the important things right. Everyone asks me why I care if a news outlet spells my name right. CBC is the absolute worst for this. On camera I spell out my name. I give the reporter a business card and then when I look online or watch the news, it is spelled wrong. I don’t care that much but it’s careless and it bugs me and I immediately wonder what else they have gotten wrong.
A couple of reporters have said that I should use the report a typo form and I have and nothing has ever happened so I give up. Maybe I should legally change my name to Jordan and just give up. That and maybe I’ll pick up a Windows Phone 7 like the one to my right.
The New York Times on using the iPhone to tell a story in a war zone.
“Composing with the iPhone is more casual and less deliberate,” Mr. Winter said. “And the soldiers often take photos of each other with their phones, so they were more comfortable than if I had my regular camera.”
Mr. Winter even found himself taking a few iPhone pictures during firefights while he was shooting video with his single-lens reflex (a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, as long as we’re on the subject). The Hipstamatic app forced him to wait about 10 seconds between photos, so each one had to count.
I was reading a couple of reviews for the LG Bliss and while I was okay with my Samsung Link, I would really liked a better web browser and some more app options. Wendy went out and bought me one and I have had it for the last week. Here are the pros of the phone.
- Decent web browser. Not as good as the iPhone’s but decent. I can use Gmail’s text based or regular mobile interface as well as Google Calendar. It is exponentially faster than the Samsung Link’s browser and hey, it actually renders websites properly.
- The touch keyboard isn’t that bad. After a week of using it, I have become fonder of it and faster using it than I was at the start of the week. It is just something to get used to but is quite usable.
- 2 megapixel camera. While I won’t be printing off a bunch of photos taken with it, it is good enough to upload to Flickr.
- Virgin Mobile only charges $10/month for unlimited web surfing. That’s a great, great deal. With the speed of the browser, it’s a service that I will be using a lot more rather than reaching for my iPod Touch.
- The speaker phone is quite a bit louder than my Samsung Link. I can toss it on the passenger seat and actually drive while having a conversation which is useful when I forget to grab my Bluetooth earpiece.
- While it has a decent text messaging inbox, it doesn’t handle e-mail which I was sad about. The inbox is so well designed that pop3 or IMAP capability would be amazing.
- While Google java apps install, they won’t work because of the touch screen. Quite annoying and the phone would go from good to amazing if it worked with Google apps.
- I miss the “recently texted” list that the Samsung Link has. It’s a great way to keep those that I am in constant contact with in easy reach.
Overall, it’s not a smartphone and if I was RIM, I wouldn’t be that worried that it was going to eat away Blackberry marketshare but it’s cheap ($119 with no contract), works well as a cell phone, and pretty good as a digital media and web browsing device. If you are a Bell, Virgin Mobile, or SaskTel customer, you may want to check it out. As for the Samsung Link, it’s a great texting phone, has the Virgin Email App installed, is a great price ($69.99) but doesn’t get along that well with the web. In the end, it kind of comes down to which you care about more, the web or email but both are good phones. Wendy has a Samsung Link and I am happy with the LG Bliss… we don’t have any regrets with either purchase.
Been thinking about how e-books/Ipad exclude poorer readers. Continued…. Folks with literacy/soc. justice concerns should keep zines/broadsheet etc. in mind. If medium is message, cost of readers excludes many.
It would easy to dismiss Karen’s thoughts because of her history with paper but she has a good point. A Sony Reader ranges in price from $240 in Futureshop ($179 online) to $149 at Wal-Mart. Chapters is promoting a new reader for $149.00 which isn’t that bad except you realize that a) that is all you can do with it and b) I am buying it so I can buy new books. I am paying $199 (or $259 if I am looking for a Kindle) so I can spend even more money to use it.
Most of our gadgets are like that.
In our household right now, we have:
- 2 Sony PSPs and games are anywhere from $15 to $40
- 3 iPods and songs are $.99 to $1.29 but we can use our own CDs to rip music. Apps range from free to $4.
- 1 PS2 and games are $10 and $25
- 1 Nintendo Wii and games are from $20 to $60 (yet all have come from Lee).
So what’s the difference. Well I don’t think you can compare Backyard Football or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to books and education. My quality of life is not reduced because I don’t have a PS3 at all but my quality of life is greatly reduced by lack of access to books and news media. Low cost news media serves several important functions in our families life outside of the obvious.
While driving to the cabin a couple of weeks ago, I stopped in Watrous (at Pip’s Esso) for a snack and grabbed a copy of Popular Mechanics and tossed it the backseat for Mark to read on the way up there. It opened up his mind to several things as he poured over both the articles and the ads. How many times has all of our lives been enriched by someone doing something similar. A lot of my spring reading was done by people wandering in to my office and tossing a book on my desk and saying, “you will like this”. With publishers and their DRM restrictions, you can’t do that. Even if Wendy and I both get Sony Readers, we can’t share a book.
Everyone is touting Google Books as the answer. Even Sony has a link to Google Books on the front of their Reader Store. I have spent hours going through there looking for books to download. Most of the books you can download in ePub format for free are in the public domain and therefore really cheap to get at Indigo/Chapters/used book store in paper. Sadly even many of them are not available because of the edition they scanned it from has restrictions on use and you are left with a snippet of what is available.
So even if I do purchase it and really like it, how do I make sure Mark can read it other than giving him my reader. Even if we bought a reader for him, I can’t transfer it to him there. Everyone has been fawning over the new iPad app from Marvel and it is very cool but Cory Doctorow makes this point about the iPad but he could be talking about any ebook reader.
I mean, look at that Marvel app (just look at it). I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).
So what does Marvel do to "enhance" its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.
That’s what I am realizing that we are losing. Books, comics, and papers are part of the social ties that bind people together in communities. Around work, the Star Phoenix is a communal paper. It is read together, digested together, shared, it’s flyers are passed around and deals discussed. Also, it gets treated as exactly as what Karen is talking about.
Well, we aren’t going to turn back time and to be honest, many publishers are banking everything on the iPad to save them (anyone else find it an odd coincidence that the financially struggling New York Times is features so prominently in Apple advertising) As I was thinking seriously about buying a ebook reader this week, I took a step back from the side of the cliff and asked myself if what I am losing more than what I was getting and I had to admit it was. From a design and an engineering point of view, the iPad/Kindle is a great piece of technology and a lot of fun (and yes I know the iPad comparison isn’t fair as it isn’t really designed as a book reader but rather a tablet computer). Is it good enough to stop supporting a local bookstore (although Indigo/Chapters made those pretty rare in Canada) or lose the social element of reading and learning as an entire community.
So in the end, I continue to support print magazines. For the record, those include National Geographic, Explore Magazine, Mountain Bike Action, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic Monthly and The Walrus via subscription or purchasing one monthly at McNally Robinson. While I only read The Star Phoenix online, we do subscribe at home (where Mark reads it with me every evening) and at work.
My Blackberry loving friends love their Blackberry Messenger which allows for free real time messenging between Blackberry devices. They love to taunt use Apple users with it.
Sadly the iPhone and iPod Touch has nothing like it… until now when I found Ping!, it’s a new app available for the iPhone and is the equivalent to the much-loved Blackberry Messenger. It is made by the creator who was behind PushGmail, Ping! is a fast and free SMS like service that notifies the user of incoming messages even when his or her iPhone is inactive and it’s all for free.
If you have a iPod Touch or a iPhone, you can try out the free app. There is a paid app which is only 99 cents. I upgraded Wendy and I without even thinking about it. I have lived through a lot of cutting edge services (GeoCities, Blogger, Twitter) going down and I expect there may be some bad days ahead for Ping! but you never know and I hope for the best. Until then, let’s enjoy the service, it looks like a fun and useful one.
If you feel like giving us a Ping!, you can find me at jordoncooper and Wendy at wendycooper (we aren’t exactly creative on the usernames).