Dr. Strangetech Pt I - How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love New Technology

Posted by Pete Isaksson on Oct 9, 2013 8:30:00 PM

Baseball Phone

Doink! I used to hate that sound. I grew up in the time of wooden baseball bats. The sound of a ball coming off a metal bat would really make me cringe. It didn’t sound like baseball. It sounded like a toy bat.

I still love the sound of a ball coming off a major league wood bat, but now, having played some fairly competitive seasons of softball using metal bats, I have gained an appreciation for that doink. It sounds like victory when my teammates or I am sending a ball deep into the outfield, and it gives me an adrenaline bump signaling a hot grounder or liner coming my way when the other team is batting.

I know that metal bats aren’t exactly in the realm of technology as we IT folks generally think of it, but those metal bats changed the game. Now composite bats are taking the lead. Balls are hit harder and farther and faster, and anybody who thinks a softball is actually soft should really try an inning at shortstop or 3rd base. Trying to compete using wood bats is a formula for a losing season. The message here is that even low tech improvements can be game changers. High tech improvements can be life changers.

Case in point is smartphones and tablets. I’m old. I’m so old that I remember what “10-4 good buddy” meant. Back in the days of telephones with cords it was weird cool to have a CB radio. CB stands for Citizens Band and it was kind of like a pirate radio that the weird cool people could use to communicate when they were in their vehicles. It was send/receive radio for the private citizen and broke the perception of radio being a listen only device for music, news and sports. I never had one of my own. I didn’t have a car of my own at the time either but I thought CBs were for truckers and just a passing fad. In retrospect I believe the CB radio opened the door to the current love affair with mobile devices. If I’d had the foresight to see where it would lead I might be a rich man today.

OK, so we’ve established that I’m a little slow on the uptake of new gizmos. That reluctance remains one of my defining characteristics. I have an iPhone 4, which makes me about 3 years behind the techno-curve. It is my first smartphone and was already outdated when I bought it. I got it cheap. Wikipedia describes it as: The iPhone 4 is a touchscreen 3G smartphone … particularly marketed for video calling … consumption of media such as books and periodicals, movies, music, and games, and for general web and email access. Silly me, I thought it was a mobile telephone. There is nothing in their entire description that uses the word telephone.

I hated my smartphone for the first 6 weeks I owned it. For the life of me I could not efficiently do the one thing I bought it for, which was placing and answering calls. I gradually learned and along the way I found out that there are some really cool things my smartphone could do for me anywhere I went. Sports scores in real time! Google search, which is my go-to encyclopedia of every subject known to man. Weather, GPS, maps, calendar, notepad, email, not to mention texting and a video camera. I found that there is a virtual universe of apps for all kinds of inane stuff including online Scrabble. I’m not a gamer and except for a couple of geezer apps like the magnifying glass, I don’t have a smartphone full of additional apps. I don’t even download music.

I still long for my old flip phone for calling but I love the other stuff my smartphone offers me and I feel connected to the world around me when I have it with me. I hate to admit it but when I leave it behind I feel incomplete. It has changed my life in an odd sort of way. Acknowledging that makes me feel somewhat soiled because I never wanted nor expected to have that kind of a relationship with a piece of plastic and circuitry. I never wanted to be that connected.

My experiences with the business world run in a kind of crooked parallel to my personal life. I had to wear a pager during one stint and I hated being on call. You could leave the building but you couldn’t escape the possibility of having to return. Today, business people can leave the building and take their business with them when they go. Oddly, it is a liberating experience, not a ball and chain. Smartphones and tablets provide a real time connection to the business world and enable us to be productive and engaged while on the go. The dynamics of business have changed and staying informed and responsive means staying connected. I’m not suggesting that you work from the golf course but I‘m betting it has been done and is probably being done as you read this. A more practical example is the business person on the go who can take the office along. Sales people, consultants, executives, even landscapers and contractors can capitalize on opportunities without having to “get back to you later”. If a competitor is quicker and better able to respond, he will likely win. Once again the message is that technology can be a game changer. If you fail to embrace it, you will lose.

I expect that eventually I will upgrade my smartphone and/or get a tablet device. I have somehow slipped into the electronic mainstream and I expect that the peripheral capabilities of my electronic parts will continue to establish themselves in my life through some sort of symbiosis.

I have become a Cyborg and I like it.

Batter up!

Pete Isaksson

Blog Author
Pete Isaksson  -  A.K.A: Dr. Strangetech
Business Development Manager, looksoftware

P.S. Sometimes it helps seeing someone's point of view and what better than a case study on a business who learnt to love new technology.... Take a read.. 

Download the Case Study of an IBM i customer embracing mobile

Topics: Mobile, Application Modernization