True confession time: I am not a gadget junkie.
I think new gadgets are cool, sure, and I appreciate the design, features, and functionality of gadgets. But I am not one of those people who will go out and buy the latest and greatest gadget just for the sake of having one. I only buy a gadget if I've decided that I need it, and I tend to use it until it falls apart or becomes obsolete.
(should I just turn in my Geek Badge now??)
Case in point: my PDA. My PDA is ancient. Its operating system cannot be updated. It does not sync with most calendars. I cannot get it to sync with Evolution on Linux--I was able to sync with Linux for a while at first, but then something fundamental in the kernel changed and I never could get it to sync again. The only thing it syncs with is the original calendar software that came with it, which is now at least 6 years old and, at least once a day, freezes so that I have to force it to quit. The PDA itself has started to not recognize my graffiti, and its location recognition is going to hell--I'll tap somewhere on the screen, and the thing to the left of whatever I tapped will be selected instead. All of this has now gotten way past the annoying point, and I decided the other day that it was time to start shopping for a new PDA.
So, I sat down and started figuring out what I would use the PDA for, and what I want in my PDA. And I discovered...that honestly, I don't need a PDA. That I can (and do) duplicate most of the PDA's functions, like the address book and to-do list, elsewhere. That I really mostly use my PDA for playing games while I'm stuck waiting somewhere. That honestly, I could and probably should go back to a (gasp!) paper calendar. There's only one thing that I regularly rely on my PDA for--storing passwords safely--but I could either use gpg and a keychain drive to do the same thing, or find software for my cellphone that does what the PDA software does.
On the one hand, this knowledge is immensely freeing. Using my PDA never felt natural to me--perhaps because of all of the problems I had syncing it with my OS of choice. I've always felt like I was contorting myself to work with my PDA/system, rather than the other way around. (I've tried web-based and other computer-based calendars too, and have felt the same way about those.) Finally coming to terms with this is a relief. Yet, on some level, because I am a technologist, I feel like a failure and an impostor, because I was not able to make this system work for me. I preach on a daily basis the wonders of technology, the ability for it to transform our lives, etc., and yet here I am giving up on technology because, well, it doesn't work for me and my lifestyle. If I can't practice what I preach, how can I expect everyone else to?
So over the next few weeks, I will start moving the data from my PDA elsewhere. Some of it will find a home on my phone, others on one of my computers, still others on a keychain drive. And I will say goodbye once and for all to my trusty PDA, the one that came with such promise but that never quite lived up to the hype for me.