Month: June 2015

My Workflow, or why shopping for technology is pissing me off.

Right now, I’m using a two year-old phone, a seven year-old e-reader, and a desktop that’s almost to the decade point. It came with Windows Vista, when that was new. And my tablet, that’s been retired due to a broken micro USB port. It’s also three years old, and

Obviously, this is unacceptable, and I realize this, and I’m trying to find suitable replacements.

The desktop computer part, that’s easy. Plenty of configuration sites and then amazon or newegg and I’m set. An afternoon with lego’s autistic cousin and I’ll have something perfect.

But everything else, that’s where I’m getting pissed off. And it’s all the portable stuff, too.

I went through this not quite a year ago with music, when it became glaringly obvious that smartphones are pretty much useless at high end audio, due to restricted storage space and shitty audio processing hardware. After briefly using a Sansa Clip, the glorious, amazing, wonderous, superlative Fiio X1 came out. I’ll be reviewing that in the context of how I run my music collection at some point, but needless to say, music audio is firmly covered, and that task is irrelevant to my decision making process from here on out.

Rather than looking at what device is getting replaced, I’m more concerned with how I can best accomplish a set of tasks. I’m less tied to a specific device than I am the workflow I use as a whole.

For me, most of my working time is spent using Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, because that’s what it means to be in web content. Like this, right now, what I’m doing, is not all that different than what I did at work and was actually assigned in a recent class. I actually don’t use the stock Facebook app, or any Facebook app, because every single one of them is unusable, especially the “official” one. For that, I need a web browser. A good one.

Reddit, on Android, is easy. Reddit News Relay for Reddit is simply the best one out there. Reddit Now is a close second for when Relay isn’t working (like on my phone, for fucks sake), but they’re both great and do what they need to do easily. Same with Twitter, plenty of great options.

I actually don’t use wordpress much on portable stuff except my laptop, and again, just needs a web browser (and a non-shitty keyboard).

But herein lies the dilemma:

The things I do on my tablet, laptop, and phone have a LOT of overlap. The only exclusives are Waze on the phone, ebooks (sometimes) on the tablet, and Netflix on the laptop. So now, I’m wondering if one of these three devices gets booted off the island.

This is accomplished by taking the tablet functions and splitting them across laptop and phone. This also means I’m looking for a touchscreen-enabled laptop-slash-Surface-device and getting a massive brick of a bitch of a phone.

I like small smartphones. It’s easier to use, typically more power-efficient (since screens are a massive battery suck), and comfortable in the hand.

Yet, the phone I’m considering to solve this problem is the Droid Turbo. That bastard is a whopping 41% bigger than my current phone. And it’s going to complicate the pocket situation. Normally, I carry my phone, a pen, a notebook, and my wallet. This thing is going to crowd out all non-phone objects to one pocket, which is annoying, but potentially manageable.

I want to test it out, and see if I hate it as much as I expect I might, but I only get 14 days thanks to the draconian policies of cell phone carriers.

Oh, and I know I’m sticking with Android. I’ve tried an iPhone, and it’s good at being a podcast player in the car and nothing else. And Windows Phone, yeah nope. The only parts of the software I’m at all familiar with are elements I disable and replace on my desktop. Android is literally the only rational choice for me.

So, say I get the big phone. I’m probably sacrificing the tablet’s ebook-reading abilities, cause reading on a phone, no matter the size, is awful, plain and simple. That means I’m looking at ereaders, too (we’ll get to that).

Phone potentially solved. Onto the laptop situation.

My laptop is my portable workbench. I write, research, take notes, and even record podcast audio on there. This is also the device most likely to find itself near my bed for whatever internet-based content I’m applying to my retinas. I’ve seen the Surface Pro’s latest whatever they’re calling it, and I gotta say, I’m pretty convinced. I like that I can still have the touchscreen tablet feel for browsing the internet, while also having a not-crippled-incapable-of-productive-work device. The keyboard case looks nice, but it’s actually awful for typing, but again, most laptops especially suck at that. I might be able to manage with it, since the new revision is backlit and better engineered. And touchscreens are SO MUCH INFINITELY BETTER than track pads ever could hope to be. Key example of this: the MacBook line. Annoying keyboard, annoying massive trackpad.

ANYWAY.

This is the alternative to my normal practice of just buying the most discounted new Toshiba Satellite model I can find. And I’ve seen what Toshiba is offering, and I’m not super impressed. Not a good year for laptops, in my opinion, but whatever. I’m stubbornly brand  loyal, but mainly due to my experience with ripping the things apart to repair the inevitable issues. The devil you know, etc.

So, at this point, my arsenal looks like this:

  • Droid Turbo
  • New desktop
  • Surface Pro 3

Now onto the thing pissing me off the most. Ebooks.

I like to read. I take my nook all over. It’s lovely. The interface is very simple, loads quickly, decent battery life (while new, mine isn’t), and most importantly, a physical button one presses to turn a page.

This may sound simple, and that’s because it really is. It’s the most important action while reading, the page turn, so it should obviously be the most logical, convenient process.

Instead, on all the current Nooks, Kobos, Kindles, everything, you have a fucking touchscreen. WHY.

Touchscreens are nice, and when they’re good they’re excellent. But everything does not need one! Hell, that’s half the reason I bought the Fiio is because it had mechanical buttons.

I want just a few things from an ereader: E-ink screen, good format support, a microUSB port for sync and charging, a light of some sort, and a button to turn the fucking page.

Instead, they all decide, weeeeeeeeell, we’ll just get rid of the nice control system and oh yeah, fuck the expandable memory, and we don’t really like all those formats, so they’re out too. What you’re left with is something incredibly frustrating and clumsy. And so many people around the tech world agree. This was not a change made in ANYONE’s best interest. And before you defend the companies saying maybe they’ll save money or some shit, the hatred of the new devices will cause more damage to their bottom line than a couple of fucking tact switches.

And it’s not like this hypothetical device exists somewhere at some ludicrous price point. It simply no longer exists. No one makes such a thing.

Goddamn.