LXer Feature: 10-Nov-2011
I never knew I needed a tablet the same way I did not know I needed a cell phone. Once that first cell phone landed in my pocket, I never looked back. The transition was purely natural. It increased my productivity by allowing me access to hundreds of previously physically-based things. My phone now scans my receipts (no paper, no saving and stashing), tracks my tasks (no To Do lists floating around), takes photos (no extra camera), and a hundred other backpack-lightening life upgrades.
*But before I had a cell phone I did not realize that I needed one. *
As of one week ago, I did not realize that I needed a tablet either but I can sense that it might be a similar experience. The benefits I can see so far are:
Increased physical health, better posture: I have carried an extra six to seven pounds in my backpack, along with power cords and backup batteries for long trips. When I carry a backpack, the vertebrae at the base of my neck, nearly between my shoulders, often pulls out of line. A rollercoaster of back pain ensues. I can usually yoga my way back to proper spine alignment, but the struggle is a waste of my energy. If I carry a messenger bag or other one-sided carrying device, I get muscle strain that divides my left and right sides until I feel split. I enjoy feeling "bien dans ma peu" (good in my skin, as the French say) and would prefer it if my most beloved electronic device, my laptop, would not be the thing that pulls at me in bad ways.
Speed of thought: I predict that in the next five to eight years we will see scientific studies proving that the speed of your devices are directly correlated with your speed of thought. Several years ago we met a researcher who spoke very slowly. Conversations with Mike were interesting due to his area of research, but were remarkably slow. Several months ago, he asked us, "My laptop is finally dead. It took eight years, but I really need to get a new one.
Could I buy a refurbished one from you?" We got him an old laptop that fit the budget of a PhD researcher. The next week when we spoke with him his speech had doubled in speed. It continues to increase gradually and now nearly matches a typical speech tempo. This is an extreme example, but try it yourself: take note of what type of computer someone uses and see if it correlates to the way they speak and interact.
At the very least, a computer that has regular, long processing "pauses" is training your brain to go on standby. Perhaps old, slow computers may prove to be a detrimental device to our mental health eventually? Thankfully I am far too impatient to deal with old computers and for the most part have avoided the train-your-brain-to-pause effect. In sharp contrast the tablet we have in R&D trains a person to stay focused as there is virtually no start up or shut down time.
Continuity of your day: Perhaps you have easy, relaxing days as the norm, but my days can easily turn into hair-raising chaos. I need to pack my bags in the morning and have as few glitches as possible. I need, not just want, but *need*, my laptop or other processing device to have a day-long battery.
I already have it planned out. As soon as I can pry a tablet out of the grasp of our R&D team, I will tuck it in my MobilIT backpack and move my beloved laptop, my Strata Pro 13, to my Caribbean Joe carry-on suitcase. I am almost fully location independent, traveling most of the time. My backpack carries everything I need for daily living plus three to four days' worth of clothes. The carry-on suitcase carries my gear for week-long trips.
The full-sized suitcase carries enough gear for > week trips. And that's about all I own now: backpack, carry-on, suitcase. For my computer, I need something tight, slim, sturdy, reliable, and delightful. I want to wake up in the morning and flip it on with the first early glimmer of a smile. I want it to feel good in my hands (and the reason I can't get it from the R&D team is because it feels good to them too). I want to never worry about electrical outlets during the day.
This last week alone took me to the Northern California beaches, the Redwood forests, San Francisco, the East Bay, Silicon Valley, high-end, low-end and everything in between. There have been many long days and even longer nights. I need a machine that can outlast me. I am hoping the new ZaReason tablet, code name Roro, can do just that. The code name comes from the Maori (the islanders who originally settled New Zealand) word for computer: Rorohiko. Roro = brain. Hiko = electronic. This is exactly what I need -- an external brain that effortlessly weaves its way into my life as an assistant I could never afford to pay hour by hour, year by year.
I suspect that many readers face dilemmas similar to mine – I devour and process more content in a day than my brain could possibly hold. I must have tools and devices that assist as information flows over and through me, thus allowing me the luxury of being the creative person I want to be. If I can stand on the shoulders of these lightweight battery powered giants that were built by my dear FOSS friends, I can do just that.
Once I was asked a question by several exceptionally tall Slovakian start-up founders who came to the US to sync up with their investors. Instead of answering them directly, I tested whether or not these brilliant techies were up to speed with concepts common in the Getting Things Done world. I said, "I do not store that information in my mind. I hold vital information here (patting my gold flash drive necklace) and I process information here (patting my ZaReason Strata Pro 13) so that this (hand on temple) is free for creative thought." I wish you, dear reader, could have seen the look on their faces, as if a new way of living had opened up.
Sometimes we know what we need to get the job done, and sometimes someone comes along and puts a cell phone in your pocket, or tablet in your hands.
--Cathy Malmrose, CEO of ZaReason, Inc. runs a computer shop in Berkeley, California building and shipping FOSS computers to people who love and adore them. Her dream is to have thousands of small high-end ZaReason shops internationally.