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How To Keep Up In A Rapidly Changing Technology World

Apple Products

Just owning an Apple Product makes your wallet thinner

With new product lines appearing every month, and new product categories every year, and with the continued evolution of computer technology every day, how can someone stay on top of it all? How can you keep yourself informed without spending a mint buying every new product that comes out?

Today there are certain parts of the technology spectrum that anyone up to date would know about and have their own opinion. Apple Inc., for example, would be a company nobody could miss. If someone would discover that you didn’t know anything about the iPhone, iPad, and iPod product lines, they would consider you to not be well-informed technologically, even if you do have a computer science degree and know six programming languages. Android, Google’s massively successful mobile operating system is a major player, and Samsung has a huge hardware stake in successful products today. Knowledge in these areas today makes you informed in the mobile world.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint

What about the personal computer and notebook PC world, though? Are there areas today one must have knowledge in to be considered well versed? Indeed, Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion are some names anyone should be able to rattle off, and increasingly knowledge in the area of Linux, such as Ubuntu, Mint, and Debian would be something considered a necessary point of knowledge for someone in the tech world. Some products are standing on the fence between mobile and full-scale however. The chromebook is a solid new player, and tablets running full versions of Windows 8 are prevalent as well. Do you know their upsides and downsides? The Intel vs AMD processor battle is one you should know about, and what about the imminent takeover of SSD’s and downfall of the Hard Disk Drive?

Technology is growing in a less physical sense as well. The internet is increasingly taking up a larger chunk of the work done on a computer, whether PC or mobile, and there are always things to troubleshoot. As web browsers go, Internet explorer is on a little rebound, Chrome is a leader, Firefox is slipping a bit, and Opera still wishes it would have gained traction in the first place. Social media is changing by the minute, Facebook is up but its stock is down, Pinterest is the 15th most visited website in the United States, and Twitter is #10. Reddit is up, Digg is down, and Google claims Google+ is a hit, while everyone else says it’s a flop.

Knowing what is going on in these areas are big points to know, but more specialized knowledge on specific cell phones, cameras, netbooks, etc. is big too. Knowing a good from a bad processor, what tablet has enough RAM to run the latest games, all of these are important in being a balanced tech person. But just six years ago it was totally different.

This phone was hip in 2006.

This phone was hip in 2006.

In 2006, phones were just hitting the 3 megapixel mark, Blackberry was on top and Palm had some good choices. Windows Mobile was a competing operating system, 3G networks were still being launched, and there were rumors that Apple may be putting a phone on the market soon. Resistive touchscreens were still all the rage. If you wanted something to do online you would probably be checking out your MySpace page, performing a search on Yahoo (Which was getting more visitors than Google), or Checking out the web portal at Go.com. It’s a good thing that YouTube wasn’t even two years old yet, because if you wanted to download any of their videos you would max out at 750 GB, the largest Hard drive size yet- if you were lucky. In November there was a lot of buzz at the PS3 launch- any gamer would have an opinion on that. Tablet PCs? Impractical. Phone without buttons? Flops.

You could be on top of things in 2006, but it would be like you had no knowledge at all in the 2012 world. What should you do to stay on top?

1. Investigate
So you see an ad on television for a device. That’s a good hint that this is a device that is a flagship or a big part of a company’s lineup. You see a blog post about a long line for a new device at the mall. Go ahead and read the article, but then look up the device online. Read the specs, the comparisons, the comments. Read two or three reviews. Someone who doesn’t know much about technology will be seeing the same articles. They will read them, think it is amazing, and stop there. Someone who specializes in technology won’t stop there. They will dig up enough information until they are able to form a solid opinion, and be able to rank devices and companies in their mind. The products that are advertised are the first products that people will ask you about. But more than just waiting until you see an ad or news story about a product, be proactive. Follow some tech blogs like Engadget, visit reviews websites like cnet, and keep on top of web trends.

2. Upgrade

Maybe you should look into this.

Maybe you should look into this.

Some experience can be gained through research, but some takes experience. No, you don’t have to buy every product, or even a product in every category, but making sure to get a new device of some type at least once a year is a way to force yourself to stay on top. A new tablet, phone, laptop, camera, or maybe a new device in a product category that doesn’t exist yet. Generally, wait until it is out for six months to save yourself a lot of money, but don’t let yourself go for years on a dying operating system with no knowledge of what is out there.

3. Don’t let yourself become afraid of change.
Blackberry is basically dead, yet some people stick to it because they are used to it. For most people that is absolutely fine. I am 100% for continuing to use a so-called “outdated” or “deprecated” product if it still suits your needs. Many people running a 6 core Windows 8 machine to surf Facebook would do just fine on an 8-year-old PC with windows XP. However, someone who is trying to stay on top of technology needs to continually challenge themself to learn something new. If this involves jumping from Palm to Blackberry to Windows Mobile to iOS to Android to Windows Phone, then that is what you should do. Maybe switch web browsers every year. I used Internet explorer until about 2006, then Firefox from 2007-2011, and now I use Maxthon and Firefox. I have toyed in Chrome and Opera, and my Tablet has the default browser on Android, Dolphin Browser, and Maxthon Mobile. I probably will look around in 2013 to see what is better and switch again. I have had more than 6 PalmOS devices, which I no longer use, a Windows XP laptop and desktop,1 Windows Vista laptop and one Windows 7, all of which I do not use, A windows 7 PC which I upgraded to Windows 8, and a Windows 8 Laptop, as well as an Android tablet and an Android Phone. I’ve played with iOS devices, as well as done extensive research. Most of my PCs and Laptops have run some version of Linux (Puppy, DSL, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu), and I occasionally subscribe to technology magazines. All of this is to show how not to be afraid of jumping to new systems and learning new techniques.

4. Don’t get ‘hooked’

Don't.

Don’t.

The entire world of technology today is based on getting a repeat customer. Windows 8 is a step toward getting users familiar with Windows’ new mobile layout, and thus make them want to buy the Windows phone. Apple has millions of fans who find everything seems to work good for them with an Apple iBook, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Some Linux fans have dumped Windows completely and some people are still using all the default software on their PC for everything. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t allow yourself to get a brand loyalty that makes you no longer an unbiased critic in all things technology. Always be willing to switch your preference to a product from any company or OS, should that product excel in enough areas to clearly exceed the competition.

If you follow all of this advice, you will be one step in the right direction towards staying on top of technology for the forseeable future.

(c) Joshua Lindsey 12/19/2012

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Cell Phone, Computing, Hobbies, Money

 

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Post of the day #31

The future of scanning!

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Computing, Post of The Day

 

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Stop Motion: Josh’s Art

The following is actually Josh’s art 2, Josh’s art 1 wasn’t near as good. More coming.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2010 in Computing, Hobbies

 

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I Like Statistics

If you ever were to ask me what my least favourite school subject is, you would always receive the same answer. Math. I never could enjoy math, whether it be multiplying three digit numbers or extracting square roots. However, for some reason I cannot get enough of statistics.

Just looking at this chart makes me happy.

I think it may have started with my interest in politics. During the 2008 elections I would check the latest polls on the Senators and Presidential candidates daily. Even since the daily tracking polls keep my interest. I also liked looking at charts of how global warming is a fraud. I am excited to see information from the 2010 census, now that’s entertainment.

Charts and graphs are two of my choice ways to view statistics. Since I was 10 I have filled notebook after notebook with line charts detailing the rise and fall of non-existent companies (with captivating storyline taking place in my head.) I have made a few programs that generate charts based on data entered in them. I made charts showing who won more games in Uno with my sister Amber, along with average cards left in opponents hand, and number of cards played each game.

When it comes to the internet, I have always liked looking at statistics of websites. I like checking the stats here on my blog, as well as the stats of the Times-Script website. I also like to check out the most visited websites on the internet, and the top browsers by market share.

When it came time for me to get a Christmas gift, there was one book I requested (and loved.) The top 10 of everything. Now as for what I will do with my interest in statistics, I am not sure. Careers in statistics seem to involve an awful lot of math…

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2010 in Hobbies

 

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eBay is fun!

I recently went to eBay to buy some photo paper. While I was waiting for the auction to end, I decided to do a search for everything 50 cents or less with free shipping. Then I bid on several items ending soon. I won eight of them, spending less than two dollars. For less than a quarter each, I got two USB SD card readers, A headphone extension cord, a headphone splitter, and a USB extension cord. Suddenly though, somebody outbid me on my photo paper with six minutes left. So then I bid again with 15 seconds on the clock and won.

I have done these low price bids before, and the interesting thing I have always noticed is that the items often come from Japan, Taiwan, or China. I can understand how that it may be inexpensive to make these products there, but I wonder how 19 cents gives them international shipping and a profit.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2010 in Computing, Hobbies

 

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Yes, paper quality does matter.

With my Times-Script publication being in color and also on two sides of paper, I can’t just go for the first ream that comes my way. Traditional 20lb paper is paper-thin, text printed on one side makes reading anything on the other side very difficult to read. 24lb still is not the best, though it is better.

For the high quality I need, I use 28lb paper. It is good and thick, so not only does it prevent see-through, It also is sturdier and feels better to the hand, making the publication more professional. One thing that must be made sure of, however, is don’t use laser paper!
Now some paper is laser or inkjet, but strictly laser paper does not work in inkjet printers. Either the ink will blob up on the surface and not dry, or it will absorb like paint on a napkin and spread out. Either way it is an unreadable mess.

But yes, paper quality does make a difference

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2010 in Computing

 

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The applications I use

When I first started computing, I was like a lot of people. I used the software that came with Windows, and then I would just go out and buy anything else I needed. Since then I have changed. It has been quite a while since I purchased any software, the last time being a programming environment for my Palm handhelds. Now I use freeware and open source applications. They are free to download, use, and share. I will list some of them here for you.

Mozilla Firefox
This web browser is the leading competitor to Internet Explorer, garnering around 25% of the market. It has thousands of add ons made by users to do everything from download youtube videos to notify you when you get email, to block ads. This is the only web browser I use.

Open Office Writer

Open Office Writer

OpenOffice.org
This suite of applications contains Writer, an alternative to Microsoft Word; Impress, a Powerpoint alternative, and also Excel and Outlook alternatives. This is what I use to make documents or charts, and I didn’t have to pay a penny to use it.

Scribus
When I make my weekly Times-Script publication, I use this program. At the low cost of free, It is an excellent Publishing layout program, with styles, Master Pages, and many of the other features you would find in $100+ software.

Skype
Free “phone” calls between computers for everyone who uses Skype! All you need is a headset, and you can make a free account and save money. There is no such thing as long distance, plus there is free caller ID as well.

Amarok
I use this as my sound/music player. The only time I really use a sound/music player is when I listen to James Audiobooks to help me memorize. This program is loaded with features I don’t even use, but it does everything I need done very well.

InfraRecorder
This one doesn’t actually work natively on Linux, but I use it on my parents’ Windows computer. This freeware program is great for burning music CDs (such as the sermon CDs from church), DVDs, Data CDs and more. It does it fast and efficient.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2010 in Computing

 

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