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.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.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?
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.
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’
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