Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

1000s of Apps, the life a smartphone user

We arrived in Colorado Springs for the Family History Expo and the first thing we did after getting a car was to use my iPhone to find driving instructions to the hotel. I think my memory of the pre-smartphone world is growing awfully dim. It seems like I have always been able to use my telephone to watch movies, read books, find directions on maps, answer questions, check the stock market, read the latest trashy news, look up the status of the weather around the world, find a restaurant, check the prices in the store to see if I can get it cheaper, take a high resolution digital photo, look up a friend's phone number, compare car models, read about everything, anything and all in the palm of my hand, instantly and without fuss or bother. Oh, did I mention carrying around thirty years of genealogical research and having an instant connection to FamilySearch or Oh, and of course, the most basic use of all, finding my wife in Costco by calling her phone. And calling and talking to my children, my office, clients, friends and anyone else in the known universe whenever the fancy strikes me whether I am dangling my feet over the edge of the Grand Canyon or sitting at the top of a mountain.

Yes, it is addictive. It is almost impossible to believe what would happen to my life if I lost my phone. There is, for a fact, a new disease in that regard, nomophobia, and no I did not make that up, but I wish I had. I am certainly one one of those with a severe case.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had had access to computers, particularly smartphones and such, in my youth. I fantasize about making much higher grades in school, but likely, I would have done much worse because of the distraction of having the entire knowledge of the world at my finger tips. I can say one thing for sure, I would have a lot weirder than I was and that might have been a real problem.

The one thing that computers ala smartphones have done for me is to liberate me from the thraldom of my office and work. I can literally and without guilt, work from almost anyplace and at almost any time of the day or night. I can carry on a conversation with one of my law partners while sitting in the airport waiting for my baggage. I can do research on a case sitting by pool or while traveling as a passenger in a car. Locations become irrelevant to activities.

We are working today from Colorado, but I may as well be in Mesa or anywhere else. I still have location based activities and commitments, but the need to be in one location for all purposes has disappeared.

My most used apps are legion and they change almost daily. Because of who I am, many of the apps are Church related and genealogy related, but I use some of the same apps on my computer. The one main difference between my desktop/laptop world and my smartphone world is writing. Writing on a smartphone is still slow and relatively painful, but if that one issue were solved, I would probably substitute my smartphone for almost everything.  We have stopped using cable TV almost entirely, and will probably drop our cable subscription in favor of obtaining all our movies, news and weather through our computers. I have written a couple of articles on TechTips about using a smartphone for genealogy and now I use the phone for collecting information.

Do I recommend this way of life to anyone else? Hmm, not really. You may find that the information flow will cause you head to burst.


  1. James, I'm a very 'appy genealogist.

  2. I had a problem with my Droid, it froze and could not remove the battery to reset it. Got a "refurbished" one, that would not hold a charge. Sent for a replacement for the replacement.

    I was in the process of driving to my daughters, through the wilds of PA. I needed a phone in case of a breakdown.

    Tech guy at Verizon had to call customer support, and get approval to transfer service to my OLD, OLD phone temporarily so I would not lose my "unlimited" data plan..he explained I was going on a trip and wanted to have phone service for any emergency.

    The second replacement arrived and I got everything back in order. I really missed the Droid, I do not think I was suffering from Smart Phone withdrawal but I was concerned about breaking down with no phone.