Tech I Have Known and Loved

This photo was only taken a few years ago, and everything here already looks (even more) ancient, except maybe the MacBook Air. Even so, they look incredibly even intimately familiar, in the way a CRAY-2 never would, immediately recognizable as portable, personal computing. It’s obvious yet still noteworthy that the laptop form factor is still largely the same as it was a couple decades ago, still a screen and keyboard+trackpad united by a hinge.


We can easily mentally update this image; we know what would sit on this desk to the right of the MacBook Air in this lineage of personal computing. We’ve got the new MacBook and MacBook Pro models and most recently the iPad Pro, and those still look much like these ancestors that came before them. Are future iterations of being productive with personal technology just going to be thinner, lighter, more powerful renditions of the laptop and tablet form factors?

Early Adopter Chronicles: the Apple Watch

I got it for focus, not fecundity of features.

All I do with it is check the time, weather, my physical (in)activity, reminders (with Clear or Fantastical; there’s no Apple reminders app—yet?). Occasionally it’ll alert me when VIP emails or messages have come in. Even more occasionally, I’ll Apple Pay for juice at Whole Foods. When I’d like some musical accompaniment for my jogs, I’ll play music from the watch through bluetooth headphones. That’s it.
Apple Watch, hot or not?
And that’s great. It has really cut down my screen time, reducing it from an average of an hour a day to just over 20 minutes per day (as measured by Moment), allowing me to dedicate more focus to tasks at hand. Were I to use my iPhone for the tasks above, all too soon, I’d be lost in the wealth of apps and possibilities that just unlocking my iPhone and launching one app exposes me to. If one of the main goals of the Apple Watch is to limit distraction, it’s working. Sure, it’s tech to deal with tech, but I love it. I’m curious to see if it continues to keep me simultaneously connected and focused with watchOS 2.

I already feel weird not wearing this thing.

Before There Was MacBook…

…there was PowerBook.
These are the earliest Apple laptops I used; though I did try them out briefly as a youngster hanging out in computer stores playing Spectre, I never owned any of the trackball versions of the PowerBook. I was also an iBook and PowerBook G4 12-inch user.
my first laptopsSo why are these still in my closet? They became obsolete before the days of Gazelle and responsible e-waste disposal. They’ve also racked up sentimental value.


Learn about happiness, learn to be happier

IMG_5370This flier for the edX course The Science of Happiness really caught my atttention recently; as a participant in this course and as someone who is interested in wellbeing, I was delighted to see this course publicized via good, old-fashioned bulletin board.

As an educator, I’m often skeptical of MOOCs; I really like the in-person discussion and hands-on learning the “traditional classroom” makes possible, but certain topics and approaches lend themselves well to an online approach (I think absolutely nails it), and edX’s The Science of Happiness is one such case where the course material works well in web-based experience.

I’ve been working on this course for a couple weeks now, and so far, it’s an informative, engaging consolidation on recent happiness (and related well-being) research presented in a straightforward way that’s even directly actionable at times. It’s what I would expect from the course instructors who work at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. The GGSC is a much need entity that collects and produces so much great material on, as they put it, “the science of a meaningful life.” I’ve been reading their articles for a few years now, and this course is the logical culmination of several enlightening, empowering thematic arcs in their work.

This edX course is self-paced, so if happiness is a topic that interests you, just jump right in!

A Fun Week Wraps Up Constructively: The Conclusion of Bored and Brilliant

6. Dream House: tasked to build an ideal abode with the contents of my wallet as the last Bored and Brilliant Challenge (this one coming from artist Nina Katchadourian), here’s what I came up with: Verdant Hills, Lakeshore Solarium (situated somewhere in Western Massachusetts or Oregon, maybe Northern California or Shikoku if it came to that…)
As you can see, I don’t keep much in my wallet, keeping it slimmed down and comfortably pocketable. No receipts, no rewards cards, no coins—I deplore metallic currency; as soon as I’ve accumulated enough change to meet the $5 minimum for getting a no-fee gift card from Coinstar, I’m at one of their machines, dumping those coins.

BoredBrillant_NTC_SquareWhat a fun week! Thanks, New Tech City! Loved all the insights from research and wonderful interviews you shared with us, along with all the great prompts to tame some of our tech behaviors! I wish this were a month of challenges, but maybe now it’s time to continue building the challenges into habits. Looking forward to upcoming episodes and hearing about how other listeners experienced Bored and Brilliant…

Eagerly Awaiting: Bored and Brilliant’s finale is tomorrow

16216863478_bf12a7db47_mIt’s been a fun week of Bored and Brilliant challenges from WNYC’s New Tech City. I’m psyched to see how this all wraps up with the final challenge tomorrow.

Here’s a rundown of how the week has gone for me…

  1. In Your Pocket: the challenge of keeping my phone in my pocket/bag while in transit was made way easy by being snowed in; I don’t use my phone as much when I’m at home, opting for a computer as my portal for all things Internet (66 minutes on my iPhone; about half of that was streaming video in the evening).
  2. Photo Free Day: I didn’t take any photos… but I did record some video; the snowy woods were just too scenic during my late afternoon walk. (77 minutes)
  3. Delete That App: Tasked to delete my most time-sinking app, I was stumped;  Continue reading

Almost Time to Get “Bored and Brilliant”

After listening to the latest Studio 360 Science and Creativity podcast featuring Manoush Zomorodi talking about smartphone addictions, boredom, creativity and the default mode network, I am psyched to take part in WNYC’s Bored and Brilliant project! The plan: for the next week, resist/avoid smartphone tendencies, get bored, work on creative daily challenges.

If that sounds like fun to you, jump on in. At least listen to the Science and Creativity or New Tech City podcast on this the topic of boredom/daydreaming and creativity; great stuff there.

Just Watched: Men, Women and Children

When I ran across this clip from the latest Jason Reitman film, I knew I had to see Men, Women and Children. In just under a minute, this bit of dialogue nicely alludes to cultural shifts related to the roles of Internet technologies in our lives, while also capturing a sense of that uniquely adolescent mixture of genuineness, irritation and sarcasm. After seeing Men, Women and Children, I now find this clip to be a deft microcosm of the film’s themes and approach to them, so much so that the full scene could have been a satisfying short film.

At times, Men, Women and Children can feel like a sprawling collage of characters and Internet-mediated interactions, but ultimately plotlines and motifs shape up to convey a compelling (though not necessarily coherent) picture of our relationships with each other and with information technology. The Verge summed it up nicely in the subtitle of their review:

a movie that gets the internet right

Though excellent as a film with relatable characters who reveal the facets of human nature that social media and the web can engender, facilitate, problematize, Continue reading