A Year in Technology
As technology has such an impact upon so much of our lives I thought I’d take some time to reflect upon how I have personally used it over the last twelve months. Having worked in the IT industry for twenty years my relationship with technology has constantly evolved over time. As I’ve stated before both on the blog and podcast I no longer feel compelled to be an early adopter or at thecutting edge of technological change. The hardware and apps that I use from day to day are tools and I now treat them as such, rather than as fashion accessories. Practicality and functionality are the things I look for the most in the products that I use and if there are no immediate benefits to be gained then it doesn’t get purchased and installed. It would seem the reality and personal maturity has finally trumped the “wow” factor.
First off, the only major change I made to my PC this year has been an upgrade in operating system. Like 110 million other people I opted to install Windows 10 and have been broadly pleased with the results. It corrected a lot of the issues associated with Windows 8 and even produced a performance increase from my year old computer. Beyond this all other tinkering with my computer has been very low key. In July I bought a new steel series mouse which has proven to be good choice. Then in October I changed web browsers, moving from Chrome back to Firefox. If anything 2016 was more of note for the amount of software I uninstalled from my PC. The rule of thumb has been if it’s not being actively used then it goes. As a result many games and productivity tools have been removed.
Another major technological shift for me this year has been the way I use my smartphone. As with my PC I have been very particular about what apps I’ve installed but I’ve also broadened my usage. I do an increasing amount of personal banking via my phone as both the domestic banks I use have well written and secure apps, offering a broad range of services. Whilst travelling in May, I used my phone to successfully navigate from London to Liverpool, book accommodation and find a suitable restaurant. Both my smartphone and tablet are my main communications hubs, with access to all my email and social media accounts. It would appear that there is now a distinct delineation of services between my PC and phone; the former being a tool for content creation and the latter my own personal switchboard.
With regard to blogging and podcasting 2015 has been the year I finally stopped using WordPress. Although a very flexible platform, maintaining a self-hosted site becomes increasing involved the more it grows and expands. My move to Squarespace has proven to be hassle free and a sound choice. It is also a far more financially viable option; an important factor as both blogging and podcasting are ongoing financial black holes. Zencastr has proven to be a most effective means of recording the Burton & Scrooge podcast and has helped streamline the production process. It records from Skype, using the individual sound card of all those participating in the call. It then stores them as separate but synchronised tracks via Dropbox. The only improvement left for me to carry out in 2016 is the purchase a new microphone.
2015 was also the year my DVR became redundant. My set top box still has programmes recorded from the previous Christmas which have still not been watched. I simply don’t view live TV content anymore as on demand players have eliminated the need for me to record content. Binge viewing popular shows has proven far more satisfactory than the traditional approach of one episode per week. Even my consumption of news and current affairs has moved from TV to online. Radio has also become a medium that I increasingly use, mainly through a phone or a tablet. Furthermore when radio cannot provide the entertainment I’m looking for then podcasts will often suffice. Podcast and Radio Addict is my app of choice for both these mediums.
It would appear that technological downsizing and using new mediums for traditional content have been the major themes in my use of technology over the last year. I think the defetishising of gadgets and hardware has been for me a positive step. The pace of change once again has proven to be both surprising and exhilarating. I have also noted that a healthy dose of scepticism has been beneficial. My first forays into the use of contactless payments were problematic as I expected they would be. 4G coverage is also a term I continue to be wary of. However overall I have felt that my use of technology has been positive over the last twelve months and I look forward to seeing what changes 2016 will bring.