Posts Tagged ‘computer’

Stop Ruining Your Movie Experiences

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Just before Christmas and with both of my adult daughters home for the holidays we settled into our home theater and watched “North By Northwest.”

I realize that most people don’t have private home theaters or screening rooms. But watching that movie in that special space I realized something else. If you’ve watched this movie on anything less than a nine foot screen you haven’t seen the movie at all.

And here’s the thing that bothers me the most: it doesn’t have to be that way. Almost anyone can get the BIG screen experience with a bed sheet and a borrowed projector.

You just can’t watch “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Avatar”, “The Life of Pi”, “Star Wars”, and a very long list of movies on a 33 inch TV and really see these movies. Practically all movies are greatly diminished on a small screen. If you’ve watched any movie on your phone or iPad or your tiny computer screen you really haven’t seen it.

Hitchcock’s classic movie is about big scenes, huge pictures, massive spaces. Watching it on a small TV just doesn’t show you what Hitchcock intended (for me a tiny TV is anything under 55 diagonal inches). You just can’t see what he wanted to show you on a small screen.

And don’t even get me started about sound.

Movies are an art form. They are carefully created to be shown in specific environments. We now have the technology to show them anywhere on virtually anything. I’ve taken advantage of that technology to make my own theater, designed to meet the requirements of movie makers. You might not be so obsessive. But don’t believe that you’ve seen a movie until you’ve seen it in a movie theater.

My recommendation: if you can’t see some of the really great BIG movies in a movie theater, don’t watch them until you can. If you can’t wait, put a sheet up on the wall and borrow a projector from work.

Watching movies on a small screen and listening on poor speakers spoils the movie experience. It’s that simple.

There’s something transformative about watching great movies as they were meant to be seen. I choose to not watch them diminished and broken on a mobile device or tiny TV.

Why The Heat About Wearable Computing?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

There are a lot or people generating a lot of heat about Google Glasses and “smart watches.” The rumored Apple iWatch, not a real product (yet), has a lot of people claiming it an inevitable failure.

And yet, these same people, friends of mine included, don’t seem to realized that they already have, use, and love wearable computers.

A computer in your pocket, on your belt, or in your bag, is by its very definition, wearable.

A smartphone like the iPhone is very powerful computer, far more powerful and capable than most of the computers that I’ve used in my lifetime (and far more powerful than most people realize). With it in my pocket I’m equipped to do amazing things. I can find out facts, locate places, and take amazing photos and videos. I can create, write, compose, and illustrate. I can connect.

Is there really that much difference between that and having something on my wrist, projected before my eyes, or plugged into my ear?

The future of computing interfaces is uncertain. I have a particular vision that I think would be interesting, but I’m not so arrogant that I believe that it’s the only way for us to use computers. There is one thing that I do believe, however. It’s that computing will become ubiquitous, everywhere, and completely natural for people to use. It may not need to be implanted for that to happen (and I would prefer that it not be). But for it to be everywhere and natural to use, it will PROBABLY be wearable in some form.

Wearing technology is just one prototype of the future. It may or may not work for many people But I think that it will be very interesting to try.



Simple Productivity Task Of The Day: Let Your Computer Time Out

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The very thing designed to make the knowledge worker more productive can also be the thing that decreases productivity. Staying too long at any task saps attention and energy and focus. It is far too easy to lose sight of the real tasks we’re engaging in if we’re all locked in at our computer screens.

Even a few minutes away from a screen can help to recharge and refresh us. Perhaps, like these same computers, we need an energy saver mode.

Fortunately, your computer does have one. You probably just have it set for too long before it kicks in.

Here’s my recommendation: Adjust the power settings on your computer so that your monitor and computer will shut down after 5 minutes lack of activity. If you find that your computer has shut down while your attention is somewhere else, congratulations. Let it stay off for at least 5 more minutes and search for something else to do.

If you’re computer hasn’t shut down in the last hour, get up and walk away. Stay away for at least five minutes.

These little breaks can help you save your energy, and refresh and recharge you. They can also give you the opportunity to review your tasks, progress, and gain the required perspective to know when to shift to another task.

You don’t need special technology to do this. Use what you already have. If required, when you sit down to work set the timer on your phone to alert you after 50 minutes of work. Then step away from your computer and recharge.


More Simple Productivity Tasks

Tech Buying Tip #12: Wait Six Months

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

It is so exciting when new gadgets come out. Last year’s model now looks ugly and slow. The new one is so beautiful, fast, and feature-filled. The urge to buy now can be intense.

But if you buy now, immediately upon the release of this shiny new thing, you’ll risk some clear penalties. A swift and emotional purchase decision is often followed by an equal and opposite reaction: buyer’s remorse. That can take the joy out of any new purchase.

In addition, new things frequently have problems, bugs to iron out. By purchasing early you become part of the extended beta team and will be forced to deal with frustrations and performance issues.

If you wait, wait just six months, all of these things will go away. The initial problems will be identified and corrected. When you make the purchase it won’t be an impulse. It will be planned and considered and no remorse will follow.

And at the six month mark you’ll also be able to tell yourself this: “Why buy now? In just six more months there will be a new and better model!”

If your current tech is functional, if it does what you need to do, then anything that you can tell yourself to delay a future purchase is a good idea. I can tell you from experience that you will enjoy a purchase that you make after waiting three years more than buying a new model every year.

More tips coming all this week.

Here’s the complete list of Tech Buying Tips.

Tech Buying Tip #11: Buy a 3rd Party Warranty For Mobile Devices

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

I’ve talked about extended warranties in a previous tip: What To Do About Extended Warranties.

Here’s something else to consider: the manufacturer’s warranty probably doesn’t provide the protection that you need, especially against dropping it, water damage, and other physical damage.

I’ve purchased both manufacturer’s warranties and third party warranties and on the whole I find better coverage through the 3rd party warranties. If you purchase your tech through a retail store they’ll often offer special warranties. Don’t automatically buy these, but consider them.

I’ve bought several from Squaretrade and found them reasonably priced and to offer good coverage, but we haven’t made any claims, so I can’t speak to their service. I think buying protection for any device that you carry, from laptops to tablets to phones, is a very good idea, and, if nothing else, it provides peace of mind.

You’re spending a lot of money on new gadgets. Protect your investment by spending a few more dollars so you can use them without fear.

More tips coming all this week.

Here’s the complete list of Tech Buying Tips.