Without form, and void


So, Gmail was (relatively)briefly off-line yesterday, causing a cascading digital freak out. The #gmailfail in turn begot the #failwhale as within minutes, hundreds — yes, hundreds — began to process their experience of the disconnect via Twitter.

Personally, I was more curious and amused than upset. I get a few personal emails a day but the bulk of my Gmail is from other software programs, like my calendar, task updates, reminders, and Twitter. Ironically, when Gmail came back up, the only mails I had at the moment were copies of tweets about the Gmail outage.

Earth-shattering or not, events like this do bring up serious issues. The wisdom of mass reliance on “the cloud,” how much backup redundancy is too much, is Google the handmaiden of Satan, etc. I’m always sobered when I’m brought face to face with just how much digital and/or gadgetry assistance I rely on to get around, so I understand completely the more crazed responses from yesterday. Gmail isn’t my major crutch, but I have others. I grow increasingly reliant on them, they become mission-critical, my attachment and connection deepens, tools become more than tools. Some become addictions.

ZDnet ranthis feature a few weeks back:

the technology that you simply can’t do without in your everyday
life, for the one gadget that no one’s going to take from you unless
it’s pried from your cold, dead fingers : Dead Finger Tech.

Which one piece of technology — gadget, peripheral or software application – doesyour life most depend upon?

These are mine:

1Password – remembers all my online passwords, so I don’t have to. I’ve been without it a few times and I was dead in the water.

Jott andToodle-do. Task keeper and voice-driven messaging service that I use in unison, and separately, to keep myself on target and GSD (get shit done). Some people ridicule this kind of thing but I’m dependent on it. I’m not a linear thinker, just not wired that way, nor would I want to be. My thought process works for me, I’ve learned to appreciate it for creative reasons, but it doesn’t lend itself to staying on task.

Google calendar sync. In my own real life, I use Google calendar. At work I have to use Outlook. I’ve learned through trial and error that keeping two separate calendars is counter productive to my ability to stay on schedule in either place. This syncs up my two worlds. When it fails, I’m lost in the ether between.

iPod Touch and myG-1. Between the two of them, carry all the above, plus music and other entertainment, my address book, maps and other vital reference data. These two are my warp core. As they go, so goes my nation.

How about you? What are you naked without?


16 thoughts on “Without form, and void

  1. Two things, both of which I’ve only gotten in the last year:
    My Kindle (though you could insert just about any e-book reader in here)–Stop. Don’t dismiss this out of hand. Yes, I use it for light and not-so-light reading, and I love it for that. But what makes it indispensable to me now is that I’ve converted all my lecture notes so I can store them on the Kindle. I can cart it around the room as I talk like I used to do with my hardcopy notes (something you can’t do easily with a laptop, let alone a desktop). I can also have an entire semesters’ worth of notes on hand, so if somebody asks me a question, I can do a quick (okay, semi-quick) search and find a relevant bit of info on the spot. It also means I’m not killing trees or my back by carting around 400 pounds of hardcopy. And I don’t have to worry about forgetting to grab the right article for tonight’s lecture. (I did that when I first got my Kindle–I read an excerpt from Livy’s passage on the rape of Lucretia, and I forgot to bring it. But I’d downloaded the Project Gutenberg Livy, and I just did a search for “Lucretia” and bam! I had my reading.)
    Second, my new car stereo. It has a line-in jack *and* a USB port. I’ve become addicted to podcasts in the last year (the folks at HowStuffWorks.com are wonderful–I do both the classic HSW and the newer Stuff You Didn’t Learn in History Class), and now I can just dump the podcasts onto my jumpdrive, and I have instant commute listening. Before, I used CD-RWs, but that was slow to set up and limited in space. I currently have about 4 gigs worth of podcasts I’m wading through–NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the Splendid Table, Science Friday, and the two from How Stuff Works. I also do audio downloads of lectures from The Teaching Company (not cheap, but loads of fun). I also have a 16 gig jumpdrive with every bit of music I own on it–no more sorting through stacks of CDs to find whatever I’m into at the moment. And the line-in jack allows me to listen to my rehearsal recordings without having to first download them–instant feedback on rehearsal night drives home. It’s freakin’ awesome.
    I’m also very proud that I successfully installed said stereo myself. It only took me four tries to get the wiring right.
    I probably could include my cell (the LG EnV) and my digital recorder (the Edirol R-1), too, but I’m not in love with them like I am the two above items.

  2. How do you like your G-1 smart phone?
    I was thinking of getting a smart phone and Google Android seemed the most appealing platform to me (more open, supported by multiple hardware makers), over the iPhone and Windows Mobile 6.1.

  3. joe, I like the G-1 a whole lot – I didn’t like my previous Tmobile phone – it was one of those Blackberry Pearl flip phones and I hated the non-Querty keybord, so I wrangled a reduced price upgrade out of T-Mob and asked for the G-1, which was a bargain at the price I paid. If I had paid full price I’d have gotten one of the newer lighter Androids, but the G-1 is more than enough for me. There’s quite a bit of redundancy between it and the Touch, but each of them have some things they do better than the other. There are some very cool apps out for the G-1, not as many as the iPhone store but still impressive. I also like the Google Voice integration.
    As long as AT&T is in the picture, I’m not getting an iPhone proper. I don’t know anyone that likes the phone service part of the platform.
    Buggy, Kindles are appealing to me, but my gadget budget for the year is gone. So maybe next year.
    I love podcasts too. I don’t have a line-in car stereo but I use a FM transmitter. Rumor has it that the next generation of iPod Touch will have a built in FM transmitter. If so, I’m so there.
    I very very much like having tons of data and much in something so small, so portable, and so connected to the web— I definitely get your jones for that.

  4. You will take away my portable music player when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. I depend on it for working out, for those long bus rides, and for keeping my mind off my body while I’m doing chores around the house. I’d basically be dead without my digital music collection in general, actually.
    And oh yeah, I am kickin’ it so old school, you will take away mylandline telephone when you pry it out of my cold dead fingers. Fuck this “convenience” shit, I wantreliability. I want six-sigma-plus uptime and sound so clear you reallycan hear that fucking pin drop. I want a phone that will work in a hurricane and a power outage, and will connect to the local 911 system without problems.
    I’ms so hardcore about this, I don’t even likecordless phones; can’t tell you how many times I’ve been annoyed by either having to put one of the ones I used to have back on the charger, or waiting while a friend changes phones because “Ooh, sorry, my phone’s dying.” ‘Course, there’s only so many times you can recharge those things, and then what do you do with them? Five gets you ten 99.99% of them do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to landfill. And don’t get me started on how unreliable cellphones are, and how (especially in the US) my friends’ cellphone providers have them over a shitty-service-high-price-zero-reliability (likelihood of a dropped call ->1) barrel…
    My 40 year old Nortel phone, one of the early touch-tone ones with the convertible faceplate, a mechanical bell, and very few solid-state parts, is still soldiering on, I might add.

  5. I run my own email/IM/web server because I like controlling my data, so I use Mozilla Weave to sync my browser passwords, web history and bookmarks. I totally depend on that, and I go nuts without a mobile way to access chicagobustracker.com.

  6. Shuttle sn68sg2 in the office, Acer Extensa 5420-5038 (the WiFi leech king) and Crackberry Curve 8330 outside. Oh, and the Garmin Nuvi 205, indispensable. Of course, I would not belost lost without them, but I’m old, I deserve them.
    Next on the list is a good chartplotter, when I win the lottery.

  7. My cell. People love to hate on cell phones, but I can’t imagine a world without them. I LIKE knowing that if I’m really, really needed, I can be gotten to no matter where I am. A few major family emergencies and work crises have been made much easier because I could be reached in a second.
    That said, I want one with a full keyboard because I’m too old to do this thumb-typing bullshit that’s all the rage with the whippersnappers today.

  8. i managed to avoid the gmail crash. and i visited mine several times yesterday.
    luddite just want internets. what? there’s more?

  9. A 3 1/2 X 5 notecard, and a mini pen. For formal occasions, a 5 X 7 drawing pad and a Rotring fountain pen.

  10. The telephone, the TV, the computer (with internet access). But, I could do without the telephone and TV if I had to.

  11. teh internetz, somehow.
    On an 8088 machine with a 900 baud modem and SLiMeR if I can’t get out any other way …
    damn. I’m old.

  12. None of that stuff does me any good at the FeralFarm (no internet, v. limited phone, no computer, no TV), so I have a different outlook on the essentials. Internet would be nice, but when push comes to shove I can do without the electronic gadgits. I gotta have the following:
    Power miter saw
    Set of basic hand tools
    Cordless Driver/Drill
    The latter two go with me just about everywhere I go.

  13. A, for what it’s worth, my LG EnV has the full keyboard, and it seems to be just about bulletproof (which is wayyyy more than I can say for Mr. BuggyQ’s LG Voyager–he’s on his fourth in less than a year. But at least they break while still on warranty…).

  14. Power miter saw
    Set of basic hand tools
    Cordless Driver/Drill
    The latter two go with me just about everywhere I go.

    Excellent choices. Compound miter chop saw is a must. Just picked up a brace (reversing ratchet) and bit set (3/8″ to 1-1/4″)(in wooden box) at a yard sale. $75 for all. Brand new condition.

Comments are closed.