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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Convergence and the Art of Degadgetification

A few years back I lamented the continuing accumulation of gadgets on my Bat Utility Belt. And since technology had not yet caught up to my needs, I succumbed and added the PDA to my growing armamentarium. Since that time I have begun to come to the realization that many of my musculo-skeletal maladies are directly related to the number of devices vying for the opportunity to topple me over in one direction or another. It has become an art with me to attempt to balance the belt-gadgets in such a way that I remain more or less upright, so much so that the simple act of removing one of them, say answering the cell phone, may disrupt this precarious equilibrium and send me reeling in an unpredictable direction. Of course, it is rare that I actually do fall, because my muscles (such as they are) are constantly contracting to counteract these gravimetric forces and keep me in check. And it is precisely these continuous minute muscular actuations that are making my lower back kvetch like an old man trying to get me out of his seat in shul.

On top of this, I have become more convinced than ever that it was a dire mistake to move my wallet from my front left pocket to my rear left pocket, as the thickness of that wallet is entirely variable and related to a complicated interaction between loose change, when I last went to the candy machine, Walgreen’s receipts, how many guitar picks I've lost, and the coming and going of assorted business cards. The net effect of which is that now I sit or drive cockeyed.

All this is making me one very uncomfortable Psychotoddler. But what to do, what to do? I need all this stuff. I do.

I need my wallet (and some of what’s in it). I need my pager. I need my cell phone. I need my keys, my PDA, and my iPod. Most of all my iPod. Oh, to think there was once a time when I was brash enough to say that I didn’t need one. What a fool I was! If I could lose them all, and keep my iPod…dayenu!

But I need to do something. Which brings me to the title of this post. Convergence! We’ve been talking about it for years! Well, I’ve been talking about it for years. At least thinking about it. Er…contemplating thinking about it. You know what I mean.

Can’t I squeeze all these moderately sized gadgets into one good gadget? In an age of cell phones that can take movies, download music and play games, why do I need all of these devices?

A wise person once said, “the older I get, the smarter my phone gets.” Actually I think it was my wife. Anyway, I’m thinking about smart phones again. A smart phone won’t get rid of my keys. Or my pager (not yet, anyway). Or my wallet. But maybe it can combine my phone with my PDA and my iPod.

Well, naturally, since the iPod is my favoritest of my childr—er, I mean, gadgets, I should start there. Apple has its iPhone. Sleek….SexySomething else that starts with S… This is a very attractive option for me, as it would let me replace my iPod, PDA, and phone, and allow me to charge it and listen in the car at the same time (through the excellent Griffin Tuneflex--assuming it's supported). Unfortunately, 16 gigabytes is a serious step-down from my current iPod, which means I'd have to hack and slash at my library. Also I'm not really clear on how functional this is as a PDA. Currently, I do medical education on my PDA. Will the iPhone support the same apps? How is it with Outlook? And how well with the upcoming 3G version work? Questions for the Mac-O-philes out there.

The other possibilities in more "traditional" smart-phones are:

A Windows Mobile based “tilt phone”—the major advantage being that it will directly replace my PDA, interface and sync smoothly with Microsoft Outlook and import all of my contacts, email and appointments, and run all of the games medical software that I’ve already bought. The screen is smaller than my current PDA, but hey, that’s why Gd invented reading glasses. Otherwise it’s a pretty direct replacement. Battery life may be an issue, though. It’s also very expensive.

Palm Treo—my friend Doctor Bean swears by his, and now they run Windows Mobile (although 5.0 instead of 6.0 like the tilt phone), but the screen is smaller and square so that’s a little annoying.

Blackberry—people seem to like these things, but I can’t really figure them out. They have their own operating system and applications? How well would this integrate with my Outlook? Also it has the smaller screen which I don’t care for, and I don’t know if it will run my medical apps and games. And I don’t need satellite radio (but there are other models which are cheaper).

So as usual, I open this up to what remains of my loyal readership to try to sway me one way or the other.


REReader said...

If you're at all considering the iPhone (and how could you not?!), wait a few months. The new iPhone is not only cheaper, but they are opening up the platform to outside apps, so I'd give it a little while to see if the apps you need become available.

Kiwi the Geek said...

I have a similar problem with my purse and a bad back. Even though I don't have gadgets and my purse is pretty light, my back is pretty bad.

Try taking some things out of your wallet and putting them elsewhere. Business cards could go in a business card holder in a different pocket. (Or can you enter the info in your PDA and toss the card?) Change could be in a little change purse or just in your pocket. How often do you spend it anyway, when the snack machine often charges a whole dollar these days.

Some cell phones can also receive pages, so that'd be worth investigating. Keys are pretty heavy. I went through mine and realized that some are only needed at home, like the mailbox key and the basement key. So I took them off and my keychain is lighter. You could probably leave any work keys (besides the front door) in your desk.

Do you have a briefcase? You could put your baggage in there, since you probably don't need everything on your person at all times.

Good luck reducing your load!

Critically Observant Jew said...

Recently got a motorola Q9h from AT&T - refurbished (came in looking new - with plastic protective covers all over). Couldn't be happier with it. Great voice quality, great keyboard, can put a microSD card of any size for tunes, lectures, movies etc. Sizewise - it's big, but thin.

Doctor Bean said...

FWIW, here's the stuff I carry with me, and where.

Treo -- shirt pocket
keys -- right front pocket
Treo bluetooth headset (when I'm not using it in my ear, obviously) -- left front pocket
business card holder -- left front pocket

Here's the key for grown ups. You can't sit on your wallet like you did when you were in high school. My wallet stays in my briefcase. I never carry it. Do you need it on your person? Occasionally, if I'm walking somewhere without my bag I'll put it in a front pocket.

Doctor Bean said...

Oh, and re what Kiwi said: yeah, I bet you could get rid of your pager. My guess is your answering service or your office phone system can be reprogrammed to call your cell phone.

Perel said...

ho man! i fergat to sit on my wulit in hiy skuwl!

i guess i'll have to start all over again...

wanderer said...

iPhone works with tuneflex:


Treo is a big fat brick (sorry Bean - it must really weigh down your front pocket!)

Blackberry requires some extra support from your IT department to get it to work with corporate email.

Windows Mobile devices and the iPhone integrate best with Outlook.

As far as medical software, it remains to be seen if iPhone will have a nice variety of apps available. If your hospital is anything like mine though, it looks like there's quite a market out there...

Yoni said...

so get a purse, or if you prefer, a book bag.

(and if you're very insecure, get a traditional doctor's black leather bag.)

PsychoToddler said...

Rereader: The new iphone is looking better to me, with the price drop and all. I’m trying to reconcile myself to a smaller music collection, though.

Kiwi: Welcome back to blogville! It’s usually my business cards taking up the space, that and all the different credit/id/insurance cards. For the foreseeable future, I will be stuck with a pager. The cell phone coverage in this town is still a little spotty and unreliable. Plus, I like the ability to call back when I’m not in a compromising position or driving, or both.

COJ: I’d have to look that over and see if its offered.

Doc Bean: Which pocket do you put your briefcase in?

Perel: The funny thing is I never put my wallet in my back pocket in HS. First, I had no money and no wallet. Second I was always paranoid about pickpockets. I figured anyone who was going to reach into my front pocket would have to know me pretty well. I didn’t switch pockets until I got the PDA. That’s when all my problems started 

Wanderer: I’ll have to make sure it will work on the new 3G models. I would want it to charge and also play the music through the connector on the bottom, like my current iPod. The guy on the forum there probably needs a ground loop isolator in the circuit.

Yoni: You mean a European Carryall?

Eees said...

It just occurred to me why Batman needed that utility belt...no proper pockets in the bat-suit! (And, even if there were, would you actually be able to get your hands in them, much less a wallet?!)

Jack said...

I had a Treo for two years. About every six months it stopped working because of one issue or another.

I have had a BlackBerry for around 6 months. It is easy to use, reliable, synchs with my computer and is much more fun than the Treo was.

Baila said...

A man-purse would be just the thing. They very popular here in Israel. I'd get my husband one for his birthday, but he'd probably divorce me :)

Alternatively, get rid of everything except the ipod. All the other stuff is just people bothering you anyway.

PsychoToddler said...

Alternatively, get rid of everything except the ipod. All the other stuff is just people bothering you anyway.

I like how you think.

tnspr569 said...

You could always try paring down the contents of your wallet to the bare essentials, and then switching to a slim wallet like this one:


Normally it's available in black or brown, for a bit more.

Get the iPhone...then your life will be complete

aoc gold said...


Rain is falling all around,

It falls on field and tree,

It rains on the umbrella here,
And on the ships at sea. 。

-------- by aoc powerlevewling