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From Elated to Deflated

I’ve been on a technological roller coaster over the last few months. It started when some of the technology I relied on for day-to-day life — my laptop and my cell phone — both failed within days of each other. That experience was both frustrating and eye-opening. I never realized how much I used my smartphone, not just for texts, calls, and checking email — but for more mundane tasks like checking the time and acting as my alarm clock in the morning.

Being without a phone and a laptop at the same time also gave me a chance to ponder my options moving forward. And since I was already planning to add a tablet to my tech family, I began to consider two sets of options: Go with Apple (Macbook Pro / Iphone / Ipad) or go with HP (Envy / Pre / Touchpad). An Android family of options didn’t even make my list — my secondary cellphone is an Evo, a “top of the line” Android contender for its time, but it failed to impress me.

In the end, I went with my heart and my wallet. The biggest ticket item in this purchase trio by far was the laptop, and the bottom line was that I could get much more computing power for the same price if I went the PC route. And I had fallen in love with WebOS. It was so easy to use and intuitive for me.

In retrospect, I guess I should have realized that all was not well with HP when I attempted to buy a laptop from them. The Envy model that I wanted had been discontinued, and that same set of features was no longer available in any laptop system from HP. It struck me as odd… and seemed like a bad customer service / marketing move… but didn’t raise any major red flags at the time. In the end, my laptop business went to Dell.

I was also a little disappointed that the much-hyped Pre3, HP’s latest and greatest WebOS phone, was nowhere to be seen by midsummer. But as an original Pre owner, the year-old Pre2 was still an upgrade for me and I was excited to have it.

The 32-GB HP Touchpad rounded out my happy new tech family, and I was elated! WebOS doesn’t have the same number of apps available as Android or Apple, but I could do everything I wanted / needed to do with existing apps or “homebrew” offerings from other WebOS enthusiasts. It seemed like everything had fallen into place for me and I was looking forward to putting my new tech toys to the test with the start of the fall semester.

But while I was busy snapping pictures of hundreds of students during registration this past Thursday, HP was holding a company meeting to announce, among other things, the end of WebOS. (Really, the end of HP, as we’ve known it…)

And I was stunned. And deflated. I know it’s just technology, just something inanimate, just a tool… but it stung. And not just because I had made a financial investment in hardware that was now being liquidated for a fraction of what I had paid. I had also made an emotional investment — and I felt a little betrayed. I wasn’t just buying a tablet, I was buying HP’s commitment to future development of a platform I loved. HP did say that it wasn’t walking away from WebOS, but those words ring a bit hollow.

So now what?

Well, it’s not like I’ve been left with absolutely nothing. For better or for worse, I am the owner of two WebOS devices that, at the present time at least, work very well for me. I’ve been robbed of most of the joy of ownership… but I figure I have at least a year of usable life in these devices. That’s about a year to resign myself to the inevitable and save up for the transition to Apple.

Am I bitter? Well, that new printer I need to purchase? The new server I’ll be needing soon? They’re not gonna be from HP…

My Tech Addiction

It’s been rough couple of weeks to be a piece of technology in my house. I’ve had issues with my computer and my cell phone — which is my primary phone, since I haven’t had a landline in years.

My laptop is on life support. Literally. It’s sitting on a cooling pad — an external heat sink platform with some build in fans to help with ventilation. Without it, if I run photoshop or even try to play angry birds, the laptop overheats and shuts off. So basically… my laptop is on a ventilator. I’m treating it like a sick family member: giving it plenty of time to rest and trying not to get it too excited or stressed out. Ironic… here’s technology that was supposed to make my life easier, and now I’m going out of my way to make its life easier. *shrug*

But I was already well aware of the extent of my laptop addiction. I spend more time with my laptop than I do with anyone or anything else. Period. If I’m not showering, driving, or eating out somewhere with friends… my laptop is rarely out of reach. I’m one of those intensely connected people who will check email if I happen to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

But my phone? I didn’t consider myself to be as much of a phone addict. First of all, I don’t like talking on the phone and I’m not the kind of person to spend hours on end in phone conversations. (On occasion, I have… but it’s not the norm for me.) I’ve had a cell phone in some form since I was just out of high school… but I was not an early adopter when smartphones hit the market. In fact, I resisted smartphones entirely until June of 2009 when the Palm Pre was released… mostly because my pastor was so excited about this new phone with its amazing new operating system, WebOS. But once I got a taste… I was hooked! I started using it to check emails, keep up with my calendar, send text messages more efficiently, play games, even get GPS-style directions. But even so, I didn’t consider myself addicted. I had friends who were far more attached to their devices than I was. Compared to them, I was a relatively casual user.

Or that’s what I thought until yesterday morning… when my Pre finally died before church. I knew that being without my smartphone would be an inconvenience, but I never realized just how much it had become a part of my routine until it wasn’t there anymore.

I don’t wear a watch. It isn’t that I’m opposed to them; it’s just that my wrists have always been watch killers, so I’ve just stopped trying. Now, in the age of smart phones that auto-sync the time and even update your time zone as you travel… I use my phone to check the time A LOT. And I’ve been lost without it!

My phone had also become a replacement for my point-n-shoot camera. I would have loved to take some pictures of a special presentation at our church yesterday morning… but without my phone, and my much larger and more complex DSLR at home, I couldn’t.

I’m on the worship team & many Sundays, I’ll play a song at the end of the service. Sometimes I think of one that would be perfect during the message and look it up on my phone to refresh my memory for chords & words. Couldn’t do that either.

Couldn’t tweet or post a facebook update.

Couldn’t text the tech team during service to let them know when something wasn’t showing up right.

Couldn’t check emails.

At lunch, couldn’t check in with my friends using a location service.

Couldn’t check the weekend hours of a store I needed to visit while I was driving there.

At home, couldn’t call my mom from a phone number that she’d recognize as mine.

Couldn’t text a quick question to a friend.

Couldn’t set my alarm for the morning.

And since my Pre displays the time while it is on its touchstone charger… I also lost my night table clock!

No wonder I’m feeling a little depressed! No wonder I’m going into tech withdrawals!

For a brief moment last night, while I was lamenting my situation, in a flash of either clarity or insanity… I wondered if maybe it might be a good idea to stay disconnected for a while…

Nah. Not gonna happen!