31 July 2014

Electronic gadgets

I’ve been considering the gadgets I carry around with me that have been proliferating over the years. They are all very useful, even indispensable, but they do contribute rather heavily to the weight in my bag. How many of these do you have?

Phone

Of course, I have a mobile phone, as so many of us do. That’s where it all started, I guess. I think this is the 4th one I’ve had over the years, or perhaps the 5th. The phones get smaller but I think they are probably now as small as they can be while still being usable by human fingers – there’s a lot of sliding and folding in phones these days. A mobile phone is essential these days for being picked up from the train station or meeting others in crowded places, among many other functions.

PDA

I could write a whole blog just on PDAs, for genealogy and for other things! They are little computers in their own right, and can carry your family tree around with you in a little metal box instead of a folder or 10 of reports and charts. Your calendar, address book, research notes, and even games can all be conveniently carried. Add a portable keyboard and you can type lecture notes and upload them to your PC. You can also record interviews on many of them.

Digital camera

Who would have thought that the simple change from film to digital would make such a difference! We can now take photos in libraries and archives without using a flash, and we can check them to see if they are in focus before moving on to the next one.

MP3 player

Not really necessary for genealogy, I admit, but very useful for long dull train trips. I bought one that would fit my whole music collection – classical, rock, Latin American – and I find that what I use it for most is podcasts – downloaded radio programs. There are some genealogy-related ones – the one from the The National Archives is always interesting. I often listen to Richard Fidler’s Converation Hour from ABC Sydney, and even James Valentine’s Form Guide when I want something light. I can also record interviews with it and upload them back to my laptop.

All these bits and pieces need to be recharged and synchronised with my laptop. I have a line of little cradles on my desk with cables hanging out everywhere – for the PDA and the MP3 player, and chargers for the phone and the camera. It is all getting very complicated, and quite heavy to carry them all around, so I am looking at consolidating a few of the functions performed by these separate gadgets into one. My mobile phone needs replacing and so I’m looking at so-called smartphones – a phone with bells and whistles such as an MP3 player, camera and some PDA functions.

Some of these look more like chunky PDAs with full keypads, and that’s not what I’m after. I just want one that looks like a phone, isn’t too big and heavy, and does a lot more than my current phone does. So that’s what I’m shopping for, as part of my quest to find a reasonable phone contract with a network that gives reception in the valley where my house is.

I’ll let you know how I go.

What do you think? Leave a reply here.

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