Tech longevity

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What do you consider to be an adequate amount of time to keep a tech product for?

It is a difficult question, but another way to put it may be to ask- when you buy a new product, in your head how long are you expecting to keep it for?

When I bought my iMac at the end of 2011, I did not expect it to still be my main computer in March 2017, but it is still going strong and does everything I need. For £999, which seemed a lot at the time, it has been a bargain in my opinion and when it does finally die I will of course buy an iMac.

Phones are different for me and I have tended to upgrade every year, mainly because I need to write about the latest features for freelance work. If, however, I did not need to do that, I suspect that 2 years would be my optimum time for each phone, but I am fairly sure that I could get 3-4 years with ease.

Tablets I would say 4 years, but only for an iPad. I simply would not expect an Android tablet to last that long and still be usable to the point that it was not incredibly slow.

Smart watches are similar in my mind to tablets. 3-4 years seems reasonable, but again Android Wear worries me in terms of longevity.

Maybe it is an Apple thing in my mind, but I do tend to expect Apple products to last longer and people I know tend to hold on to their iPhones for much longer than Android people I know. The iPhone 5s still seems common and I know a couple of people with an iPhone 4s. I do not know one person with an Android phone from the same period.

Also, it could be that my trusty iMac influences everything else and that Apple should think about their overall image when it comes to reliability. Macs are proven to work for many years and the lack of investment in them recently is a real shame. I just hope that one more really good iMac will be released so that I can run it until 2023.

So, what longevity scores would you give for the various tech products available today?

Privacy

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Ever notice that many of these “things” we lose are bit by bit and for the best reasons? The government needs to know how much you make so that you can pay taxes. Fair enough. They also want to know how you make it. Etc. No issue with that? Me neither. How about protecting us all by making sure we don’t say anything about anything remotely dangerous in the security lineup at the airport. Like a terrorist is going to talk about the plans he has once he’s on board.

And then there’s privacy, or what we call privacy. It’s being eaten away bit by bit. Now the government wants the ability or right to tap our phones. Were they doing that 30 years ago before mobile? They had to get a warrant and show cause before being allowed to wiretap, at least legally. Now they want the right to access it all, all the time. And then there’s… Well, whatever the next thing is that is all about protecting us.

Am I being paranoid? Am I taking it too far? Each incremental loss is nothing, but taken together, and taken one by one, like a row of dominoes, and what do end up with? Too far fetched? Bob

I guess the answer is to not use a phone or the internet, or a smart TV or smart Fridge or… Yes, no easy answer.

I can’t do real work on an iPad

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There seems to be a trend at the moment for some tech writers to explain why the iPad, and in particular the iPad Pro, is perfectly adequate as your main computer. It is not, at least not for me.

My needs for a computer are relatively normal, but with some niche requirements for my freelance writing. It can be broken down into the following areas-

Saving screenshots and photos as TIFF (CMYK) files

Organising the images in folders and naming them in very specific ways

Uploading the project to a freelance server

Writing on templates which always require word counts that are specific to each section i.e. 200 characters, 30 characters for title and so on

Jumping between multiple web pages and apps over and over again

As you can see, the above is not too complex, but I have tried to do freelance work on an iPad and it is painful. The fact of the matter is that it is simply not designed for work like this and lends itself to singular tasks such as creating a piece of art or a text document.

I can, in theory, do all of the above, but try doing it and then check the time differences between an iPad and a real computer. It would simply not be worth the effort.

And this is where my problem with the iPad sits. If I need a computer to do work that takes up much of my time, what would an iPad do for me that my iPhone 7 doesn’t? Besides just being a more pleasant experience for tasks such as web browsing, it feels like an expensive extravagance that sits in between the devices I really do need.

I am not saying that the iPad isn’t incredibly useful for some people, I have no doubt it is, but I am saying that real computers still completely own the space they sit in and will continue to do so for some time.

I have said it for years and I am more certain than ever that the tablet does not have the future many expected when it was the new kid on the block.

I have nothing to hide

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In response to this article

Yeah, really complex feelings on this for me.

On the one hand, “I have nothing to hide”. And in general I’m enough of an attention seeker that I have a diminished need for privacy. But a counter to that is, I’m not gay, but I still support gay rights, etc.

But a counter to that is, some of the people who have something to hide, what they have to hide is very dangerous to other people.

And then there’s the sense of, if there’s great government power, what happens when the government shifts? Certainly the last year has taught us that our governments can take a turn for the scarier.

And then, in general, any backdoors left in for the authorities create possible bridges for people with even less regard for individuals.

(And of course, then I get to the melancholy existential truth of noticing that my opinion doesn’t matter that much anyway.) Kirk

It matters Kirk, it matters.

Does it matter if a driverless car crashes?

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Does it matter if a driverless car crashes? As long as, on average, they crash less than cars with human drivers, or the crashes are less serious / cause fewer or less serious injuries, are they not still preferable? It strikes me that some expect driverless cars to be perfect when, to my mind, the appropriate standard is just “better”. Neil

Correct of course, but a driverless car is a computer. We get annoyed when computers fail and we tend to accept failings of people more graciously. We also have an over-sensitivity to vehicles that can kill us such as planes. I suspect that the next few years of driverless cars will be filled with sensationalistic reporting and hype at a level we have never seen before.

The Apple Watch in medicine

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I bought my wife a TomTom Touch recently and what a pile of garbage that turned out to be. The online reviews were mixed to say the least, but she liked the design and the TomTom name swayed me.

It will now be returned due to terrible connectivity, poor battery life and general inaccuracy. I don’t think I have ever seen a fitness tracker that manages to untick every box.

Anyway, we pondered what device would suit my wife because she has requirements that are not usual. She is a midwife and so cannot wear a watch while on duty, but she does have a requirement for a fob watch for checking heart rates etc.

In the past, she has used a FitBit which attaches to her bra to check steps etc or a Jawbone UP, but none of them were particularly great and they would tend to be forgotten about when work had finished.

So, we started to think about an Apple Watch and may have found the ideal solution for her. The fact that the straps can be so easily changed had not occurred to me in the past. It’s a novel feature which in her case serves a very useful purpose because she can use the straps backwards and attach one part of the sports strap to her uniform. This creates a fob watch that can be used to check heart rates, albeit with the need to possibly tap the screen to keep it alive, and in theory a device that will still check her movements (not heart rate of course).

When she finished her shift, she can simply attach the other side of the strap and she will be able to wear a watch again. Seems like a silly thing, but she spends most of her time not wearing a watch because she has to take it off for work, but the simple strap solution on the Apple Watch may help her get around that.

There is another benefit in that she will get notifications on her wrist which means she might actually answer her phone now and again instead of saying ‘oh, it was in my handbag’!!!

This is a bit of a nonsense article, but I am surprised that something like the Apple Watch could actually be a more practical solution for her than a dedicated fitness tracker and a fob watch.

From the 6S to the SE to the 7

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One thing I raved about when I moved to the iPhone SE was the added convenience and the extra practicality that it offered. It felt right and in many ways is the perfect size married to a stunning design. It was like going back to an old friend from the terrible iPhone 6 design and I was all set.

And then I recently moved back to the iPhone 7 and it feels fine. Bizarrely, it feels perfectly normal to use an iPhone 7 even thought it is bigger than the SE, bigger to the point that it just steps over that line where I can use it one-handed.

I am sure that if I moved back to the SE I would struggle because of my eyesight, but in other ways I would likely get used to it in a couple of days.

Maybe it means that we are able to adjust much more easily than we expect and maybe it means that we should think about the screen size we need and not the phone size. An iPhone 7 Plus would feel huge, but perhaps I would adjust to that as well.

Ultimately, there is little point to this quick article except to say that I have become ambivalent to the size of the phones I use and possibly because I don’t get emotionally involved with them anymore. I want them to do a job and I am more easily pleased than in previous years. Consequently, I am more likely to accept minor problems as a natural part of the experience.