20 March 2012

Gadgets and geekery

I've always been a bit of a geek. Okay, a lot of a geek. In Grade 6, we had a geeky teacher who taught us some VERY simple computer programming. I loved it. I mean, I begged for extra assignments, kinda thing. It was BASIC on the Apple IIc, Apple IIe, and SuperPet. I was in love.

I remember daydreaming of "the future" and all the gadgets we'd have. A computer in the living room that one could use to access all sorts of information. A telephone without a cord. A fridge that would scan the barcodes that the grocery store used, that could then connect to the computer in the living room and order more milk. Video phones. Cars that didn't need gasoline. Tiny robots that could travel around the body diagnosing illnesses. Teleporters (I especially dreamed of these on the long walk to school on cold days in Regina.) Faster than light travel. (Again, it was cold.) TVs as big as the wall, with more than 100 channels. TVs you could fit in your pocket.

And now, here we are, impossibly far in the future of my 8 year old self. And we have lots of those things. And I love it. And I'm still waiting for my teleporter.

I wish I had unlimited access to gadgets, but I'm pretty frugal (read: I'm cheap as borscht, and all my money goes to shit for the kids). But I do have some toys. My favourites:

1) My BlackBerry Bold 9700. I love this thing. Got it for free from my brother who was downgrading to an iPhone. Yeah, he called it "upgrading", but he's wrong about a lot of things. :) I like being able to type with my thumbs, not having to click to another screen for punctuation (no wonder txt speech is getting worse lately), and a lot of other things. My husband has an iPhone (on the cheap from a chump who was buying the new one), and we swapped for two weeks. By the end of the first week, I wanted my BlackBerry back. However, I don't really play games on my phone. When I had the iPhone, I did find that nice.

2) BlackBerry Playbook. This one is a family toy. Pop loves it and can navigate it well. It's smaller than the iPad, which I like. But it doesn't have the apps (not its fault!). It also doesn't sync well with the smartphone. I can't figure out why there isn't a sync function when BB Bridge is on. And I don't love the speaker on it either. But I do like the interface considerably better than the iPad. And it feels sturdier. Pop has dropped it a few times with no ill-effects.

3) iPad. The Autism Funding Unit is paying for this one. (If they ever get around to it.) We bought this for Crackle, because it has an app called Proloquo 2Go which is supposedly the best thing on the planet for helping non-verbal kids communicate, and said app is not available on the Playbook. So far, Crackle hasn't figured out "tap", so it's not working for him at all. But I keep working on it with him. I like the responsiveness of the iPad better than the Playbook, and the number of available apps, especially free ones, is really impressive. But it's too big for my small hands, and I hate the multi-tasking function with the 4 fingers swipe. It never ever works for me, so I have to click the button twice. Oh, and that's another nice thing about the Playbook for Crackle. No button to distract him. He's in love with buttons, and won't concentrate on the app because he wants to press the button.

4) Primus VoIP. I love it. It's a gazillion times cheaper than those ratbastards at Telus. And I don't have to deal with those ratbastards at Telus. $29/mo, including unlimited long distance in Canada and the continental US. It's got a web interface that logs calls (so I can make a printout and show the trolls at the Autism Funding Unit that no, they did not actually call me and leave a message). The only drawback is that if there's no power, there's no phone. However, see point 1.

5) Google video chat. Works. Skype? Does not. I can't open it on my desktop. It opens and then dies of an inexplicable disease... okay, fatal error. But whatever. I can't be bothered any more. It's a piece of crap and Google video chat has better video quality, equal sound quality, and WORKS!

I'm not being paid for any of these endorsements. However, should RIM feel the desire to send me some swag, I'd not turn it down. :D