Rotting my brain, one pixel at a time.

Benq laptop

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Check out this article in the online version of the NY Times: Hooked on gadgets, and paying a mental price.  

It’s totally true.  I mean, it’s an extreme case of one guy’s complete and utter obsession, a direct result of his reliance on IT to work and entertain himself… but it’s relevant to all of us.  Look at iPhone users (and yes, even Android people too, lol).  How often have you seen two people sitting across from each other, enjoying some hot beverage, and staring at their phones?
Every once in a while someone pipes up and starts with the whole “computers are turning us into antisocial drones” or “our ability to interact socially is being destroyed by technology.”  It’s unfortunately true.  I know plenty of people who are incapable of the most basic levels of successful social interaction simply because they’re spending way too much time sitting in front of a glowing screen… yet they’re super active on Facebook.  Nice.
Keyboard cowboys are familiar to anyone who spends any time on a forum.  People who are ‘brave’ and will say nearly anything, express opinions, and just be social while logged in, but at the end of the day – when confronted – will always balk.  It’s a sad (though sometimes entertaining) phenomenon.  
It even happens to me, and I go out of my way to make sure I interact, to make absolutely sure that I’m attempting to expose myself as much as possible to social stimuli that goes beyond staring at a screen.  I get upset when I’m too disconnected – when I don’t even have my phone to keep my dopamine squirts going.  There’s nothing we can do.  We’ve made this bed, perpetuated this reliance on technology for our stimuli.  Now we gotta lie in it.  Although there is something to going full lo-fi and disappearing into the woods.
An interesting point that this article brings up is the whole angle on multi-tasking and how it’s actually not a good thing.  After years and years (heck, maybe even decades) of having people pound the concept of multi-tasking being a good thing, this is just a breath of fresh air and a reflection on what I’ve been saying for the last 8 years – basically since I started managing teams and really reflecting on the effectiveness of my teams.  Task-switching is the biggest killer of time, right up there with micro-managing pricks.  Multi-tasking is, in essence, its own worst enemy, and it is a concept fully capable of rendering any team completely immobilized by its own ability to handle multiple projects.  
It’s a concept that requires some reflection to really absorb, and should also require some experience (either on the line or more importantly managing the line) in order to really appreciate.  Minimal research into the matter (a la Google) will give you no shortage of interesting information for you to assimilate, and just thinking about it will be, I think, beneficial.  

New Jersey teen untethers iPhone from AT&T network

Thank God that someone finally unlocked the iPhone from AT&T.  It’s about damn time. 

While there’s been a lot of speculation as to why Apple would make such a bonehead move as tie themselves to AT&T, I can kind of see how it works for them.  For one, I’m sure that AT&T paid ridiculous dollars to become The Provider of Choice.  Second, I’m sure that Apple was happy to have a carrier that would offer the whole supercool voicemail thing, which is one of the ‘big’ features of the iPhone.  Third, why not?  AT&T’s wrangling of the Cingular network (which is actually the other way around – Cingular grabbed up the ATT mobile division and is using it to rebrand their unbelievably tarnished brand identity and reputation) makes it one of the largest (if not the largest) networks around. 

So you alienate the poor jerks who are fighting the overpriced, bloated, horrible customer service companies and use T-Mobile (like me.)  No big deal, we’re a minority anyway.  Locking the iPhone down to AT&T seems like a low blow though.  Offering it primarily through AT&T, that’s one thing.  Locking it down?  Low.

And everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Apple and all things Apple.  Their product line, their philosophies (most of them, anyway), and their general Way has been something I’ve been preaching for years.  This latest move doesn’t impress me (and I know it hasn’t impressed many others.)  Unfortunately (and Apple knows this) the phone rocks.  It’s really impressive.  I don’t do first runs, I always wait for revisions, and I was sorely tempted to score one an iPhone.  I hate AT&T/Cingular, and I was sorely tempted to get an iPhone.  This lockdown crap had me up in arms, yet I was sorely tempted to nab one of these puppies. 

So yeah, they’re doing their thing, dancing with the devil, whatever.  Their products still rule.  Even though the process of unlocking the sucker requires 2 hours of skilled soldering and software manipulation (i.e. hacking this shit out of it), I’m glad it was accomplished.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before there’s a simpler, more easily accomplished solution or, like was mentioned in the article, the cottage industry of unlocking iPhones will spring up to provide the rest of us with phones.  I think a lot of whether this cottage industry will thrive will depend entirely on how much more expensive the iPhone will get after the unlocking process.  We’ll see.

What’d be great would be to see Apple actually offering to unlock iPhones.  Or heck, why not just sell unlocked iPhones to begin with?