A Convert

What is someone called who enjoys new tech? Seeks it out. Is the first to own it? I’m too lazy to look it up, but the opposite is a technophobe, someone who fears technology. So for this blog post, I’ll refer to myself as a techie.

I’ve always been fascinated with new technologies. In grade school in the 1960s, I had a transistor radio. AM only and it was about the size of a paperback book. Yes, I know, now you can get a iShuffle that holds how many gigabyte of data and it’s the size of a postage stamp. Who’s telling this story, anyway? Now sit down and shut up.

This was the beginning of miniaturization. The transistor was only 20 years old and we won’t go into the bitter details of how America focused on military uses leaving Japan to virtually create the home entertainment field with Sony leading the way with the first transistorized radio.

And I had one in grade school. Later, in high school, I was the first to have an LED watch. It had those red square numbers and glowed. Well, here’s a picture:

First LED watch

After that, I moved quickly to the LCD watch. Then I was the first to have a calculator watch, complete with this game where numbers would descend and you’d have to “shoot” them down by pushing the corresponding number on the keyboard. It even had some cool beeps.

Cascio calculator watch

OK. Enough with the watches already. I was also into music and aside from the transistor radio, later I had a handheld cassette player (sort of an early boombox) that I carried around in High School and blasted Hawkwind from. Later, when I could afford it, I started buying stereos. I had a Yamaha receiver and some of the first speakers from a start-up company called Polk Audio.

I was one of the first to have the Sony Walkman. This was 1979 and the world was never the same again. Sure, it was the same size as the transistor radio I had had back in grade school, but I could play cassettes! Through headphones! And get this, those headphones weren’t the huge Koss hardshell things that weighed 5 pounds and dented your head with continued use, these were tiny little headphones — the precursor to the earbud, believe it or not.

1979 Sony Walkman

I think we’ve established I’m a techie at this point. I had an Atari 400, one of the first game systems. I had a thermal print typewriter that had one line of text it held on a small display until it was ready to type. When I could afford it, I had one of the first 286 computers. It had a massive 20 megabyte hard drive. So big MS-DOS couldn’t support it and it had to be partitioned into two hard drives! Now, I have games on my smartphone that wouldn’t fit on that hard drive! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

In college, I learned MS-DOS and how to use programs on it. the C:/ prompt was my friend and I knew all the special codes you needed to know to get your computer to do it’s work. And here’s the point I want to make, I was learning how to desktop publish using MS-DOS and the associated programs. Becoming skilled at it. And then Apple introduced the Macintosh. You didn’t need to know computers. It had this graphical user interface and now anyone without any knowledge could do what I did. You didn’t need to learn some archaic computer language to get it to work.

I hated it. Hated Apple and it was a hatred to last the next 27 years.

Anyway, I evolved (or stagnated, take your pick) with the MS-DOS computer. Windows 1! Windows 2! Windows 3! (Truth be told there were other, better examples of GUIs those days. I had a favorite, but forget it’s name now. Faster, more versatile, and hell, more stable than Windows ever would be. But it didn’t have Microsoft’s marketing muscle. Maybe it was GEOS.) Of course, everything Microsoft tried to do was merely a pale imitation of what Macintosh was already doing.

But I still hated Macintosh. I even worked at my job with Macintosh. Shared a desk with a Macintosh. But I preferred the PC.

And technology marched on. We were the first home in our neighborhood to be wired for cable. Then comes the cellphone. Each one more advanced then the previous. I had one of the first touchscreen phones. No, not the iPhone, an LG. But yes, it was the same year the iPhone had been released. I hated Apple, remember? Well, let me tell you. That touchscreen LG sucked! I mean, it was cool at first. Look! I touch the screen and it opens my music. Opens my camera. Opens my photo gallery. Oh, look. It’s slow. It’s not very sensitive. I’m touching you, dammit! Feel me!

So then I moved on to a smartphone. The iPhone you ask? NO! Dammit! What part of hate Apple don’t you get? No. Just last year I picked up an Android phone. One of the latest. Samsung’s hot new Galaxy S. It was amazing. Apps! It was responsive. It was a wonderful device. Until it started hanging. And I’d have to pull the battery to get it to work. Then I’d have to pull the battery to make a phone call. And I’d have to pull the battery to … no, that didn’t help.

So I went to the Verizon store. What’s wrong with my Android? It’s now running slow. It hangs. Freezes. Makes me pull the battery. “Oh,” he says. “Sometimes if the Android software updates, or an app updates, for whatever reason, they become incompatible and it causes those issues.” So, we just take out that one app, right? “No. We can’t know what app it is.” How do we fix it? “We’ll have to do a factory reset. You’ll lose all your apps and have to start again.” Oh. Great. Something about that just doesn’t seem right. But now I had to factory reset it. Some app was causing problems and no one knew which one. I could either delete them one at a time or just do the refresh. I’ve refreshed it 3 or 4 times now. So now, I just keep the basic apps on it. I used to have a ton of wonderful apps. A yoga app for bad backs. Arm exercises. Leg exercises. A walk/run app. Google maps. Google sky. Moon phases app. Along with Netflix. Uverse. Facebook. Twitter. All the social media apps. A cool Captain America shield background. And games for me, for the kids. Stupid zombies. Angry birds. Angry zombies. Stupid birds. Shooters. Puzzles. Fart sounds. Chess. On and on.

But now, I just have the basics. Facebook. Twitter. Because I’m afraid to add new apps. What’s the fun in having a cool smartphone that’s too stupid to know what app is causing problems?

In the meantime my wife had a Blackberry that sucked. Returned it. Got another Blackberry. It sucked. Returned it. Got a Droid 2. It was ok. But then it sucked. So she got a new one (read: refurbished). That sucked almost immediately, but then the kicker, one day it just wouldn’t turn on any more. It was a paperweight. So she needed a new phone, but what? She was sick of Crackberry. Sick of Android. And honestly, who would want a Windows phone? Really? So I can carry the Blue Screen of Death around in my pocket? What? So she went to the dark side. She got a … a … dammit. She went and got an iPhone 4.

And you know what? It hasn’t given her any trouble at all. Everything works smoothly. It’s responsive. Apps launch immediately. And I’ve played with it. It’s addicting. And I started to research it. Why was it so much more stable than my Android?

Why? Because of everything I hated about Apple, that’s why. Instead of being open-sourced, instead of letting anyone make a clone, instead of letting anyone make an app, they kept strong control over everything. Their proprietaryness (is that a word) was their strength! Only Apple created the hardware. Only Apple created the operating system. And the apps, they were stringently tested to make sure they’d work. And since, they only had one hardware manufacturer (whereas Android has Motorola, Samsung, HTC, LG, and so on and so forth, so if an app works on Droid, it won’t necessarily work exactly the same on an HTC) they were assured of universal software/hardware happiness.

And that business model finally made sense. They were creating a smartphone, or tablet, or computer that worked predictably day in and day out, for you, for me, for everyone. No blue screen of death or red ring of death. No pulling your hair out trying to get a new printer to shake hands with the old computer. No more reading the fine print on the software box to see if it fits your memory requirements, your system requirements, your particular edition and iteration. Apple makes technology the way it should be: Easy to use. Easy to set-up. Always reliable.

And now, I’m looking to trade-up my Android for an iPhone. Because I want my technology to work. I want to have apps that are stable. I’ve grown tired of having to troubleshoot something every time I add a new program, a new accessory, or a new whatever. Technology should work first time, every time, predictably and reliably. And I can finally admit, I wasn’t getting that with Microsoft. I wasn’t getting that with my Android.

Now I no longer hate Apple. Say! I do like Apple, and I would use it in a box, and I would use it with a fox, and I would use it in a house, and I would use it with a mouse, and I would use it here or there, I would use Apple anywhere!

But I still hate Bose.

But that’s another blog post for another time.

-30-

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