Friday, October 10, 2014

Smarter than I Phone.

I've been a user of electronic tools since the early days.  Back in the mid eighties I bought an English Amstrad (ever hear of that) desk top computer for the use of parts ordering at my Yamaha dealership in Summerside PEI.  Up until that became available, we were ordering parts by mail or telephone.  Shortly after that I bought Sharp fax machines to communicate between my original store and the newly opened location on University avenue in Charlottetown. The computer kit cost around 5 thousand (about the cost of an FJ1200) bucks and the faxes were $1750 each!

Back around 1999, after spending a bunch of time driving cross town in Calgary, which is almost the same distance as riding across Macedonia as I found out later, only to have an appointment cancelled and not getting the message until returning home, I went right out to a local mobile supplier and bought the first of several Nokia mobile phones.  It was heavy, analog and clumsy to carry but compared to previous "car" phones, was indeed mobile and very handy.

I've had many devices such as an Apple SE, IBM with 8 gigabyte of hard drive, a Thinkpad (which I still have and use btw) that was only 2.8 and today I have an Acer laptop (750G) bought several years ago, after a long line of laptops adorned my various flat surfaces.  I even have and still use regularly, a Netbook, which I wish I would have had in Europe while riding over there.  Would have saved me from mucho frustrations using internet cafes with foreign keyboards,  missing keys, and unreliable internet connections!

From there I progressed to cells that were more compact, had pull out extending antenna, to flip phones, ear buds and Bluetooth.

Although I recommend technology highly, I have always been somewhat intimidated using it.  I can see my old MC shop buddy Tom Gilbertson sniggering as he reads this, he has been my computer go to guy since we left Bow Cycle...  Somehow, he got to be a techno genius! Go figure... How such an unassuming guy with a bald head and a Harley/cheeseburger belly got to be so smart, remains one of the mysteries of the modern world... but he did.  I know Tom's patience with trying to have me understand the complexities of the whiz box, was tried early on, now he just clicks keys at Flash Gordon speeds while I make coffee.  Even though I live on the east coast now, he can manipulate my machine remotely while we talk on the phone and sip our respective brews.  Having been a Chief Instructor, employer and financial adviser, I have always felt that you need not know everything, but it was pretty handy to know people that did!

Last week I took yet another leap of faith.  Yes that's right.  I retired my long serving LG flip phone, and signed up for a Samsung S4 Mini!

It's not an I Phone, but it is a "Smarter than I Phone" without a doubt.  Every phone I have owned since that 3 pound Nokia analog, has been smarter than I in fact.  I distinctly recall hurrying into the local mobile shop just prior to closing after that escapade of time wasted, in the fall of 99 and impatiently half listening to the sales-guy telling me that the phone in my hand had a 'optional long life battery/50 storable numbers in its directory/a molded body that fit into a human palm etc when I asked him in all seriousness;

"Can I make a call with this phone?"
"Yes." was the answer.
"Can I receive calls on this phone?"
"Of course." he said puzzled.
"I'll take it.  Where do I sign?"

Every phone and computer since then is pretty much wasted on me.  I use them for the basics.  Call them, the hammer and multi screwdriver in my electronic toolbox!

I spent weeks researching the deliriously complex and no doubt, extremely profitable world of mobile phones, comparing this to that.  My Mini and plan will cost me 47/mo over the next 2 years.  After that I get a little break having paid off my phone.  The guy next to me was signing on the dotted line for 75/mo! That's a cool $1800 bucks over two years!

I was overloading my own processor with such things as processor speed, single, dual, quad core... gigabytes, expandable micro SD, pixels, Hi-Def, single or dual cameras, operating systems, battery life, accessories, size, brands, Bluetooth compatible, availability, cost, features, ruggedness, warranty, whether the case matched my eyes... and everything in between.

After I pinned down what I wanted (about three things) I then spent countless hours on plans, suppliers, who carried what and what it was going to cost me.  I now am that proud (?) but befuddled papa* of a Samsung S4 Mini.

Ultimately the decision came down to what I felt I actually was taking the small step for mankind and huge leap for me, boiling down to speed, and compactness.  The reason had better be good for giving up my, if not dinosaur LG at least Neanderthal flip phone.  I wanted to be able to access the internet so I could check my messages, pull up Google Earth if I was looking for the obscure trail that would connect me with the Senator highway in the Arizona back country and call for help if I broke my ankle up some steep and gnarly uphill!  I considered a MC ready GPS, but discarded that idea because of its limitation, likewise a compact tablet, and space always being at a premium when riding a trail bike in the desert, it had to be small, ultra light and very compact.

So, what's the verdict you ask?  Well I already hate it!  I'm not kidding, I do.  But then again, I don't like going to dentists either.  The numbers are too small even for my small fingers, it has an extremely ltd instruction booklet, you learn by doing, or if you have someone like Anna, that seems to mysteriously understand these things (must be the Aspergers/ADHD thing) and small as it is, its not nearly as compact as a good late model flip phone, and considerably more fragile.

I'll get used to it I imagine, like I did with that first Nokia and Amstrad, but will we ever be best friends?

Probably not, after all... I really don't like the thought that a piece of plastic and micro chips, is "smarter than I!"


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