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Raising Tech-Wise Kids

Raising Tech-Wise Kids

I have been wanting to write on the topic of raising tech-wise kids in this technology age we live in for a while but have struggled to gather my thoughts so I can bring it all together into something that would even make sense. I have said it before, but for me, writing helps me make sense of my thoughts and also helps me convert those thoughts into ideas.

Those of you who know me know that I am fully emersed in technology. I have two smartphones, a smartwatch, a tablet, a laptop, computer, Kindle reader, cameras, gaming consoles, and more within reach every single day of my life. I have made a side business out of getting to spend time with technology with my YouTube channels State of Tech and Ditch Auto. I also have three young children ages 8, 6, and 4 who take notice of the endless tech options I have around me. So what am I doing to raise my kids to be wise consumers of technology? This is a question I have to continuously ask myself almost every day.

You are not going to like this, but raising tech-wise kids starts with your own behavior in regards to technology. I am approaching the ripe age of 40 and am realizing more and more each day the habits I gleaned from my parents when I was a child. Our kids will learn many of their behaviors from us and carry them into adulthood. I am in no way qualified to speak as though I have achieved some perfect balance of technology in my home but I am hyper-aware of what is going on and am doing my best to stay on top of it.

Before we can parent a child we have to be able to parent ourselves. We no longer have parents telling us to turn off the game and go to bed or to stop scrolling Instagram. It is our turn to be that person for our children but if we can not be that person for ourselves, we will simply become the thing we hated most about our own parents which was when they told us to do as they say, not as they are doing.

Children Learn Patterns

Around the age of 3-4 years old, our children start to notice patterns and are able to guess what the next item will be. Remember those pattern worksheets from your childhood? Square, circle, square, what comes next? Our children will mirror our behaviors. If we can’t spend an idle minute without checking our phones, our kids are not going to be able to sit still either. We have to give our children healthy behaviors as patterns for them to follow. The little brains of our children are being wired using the patterns and behaviors we model for them.

Remember when you used to be creative? Some of my best memories as a child was building with Legos. I never bought the Lego sets that came with instructions. I wanted to build something from nothing and even though my Lego creations were not perfect replications of things in the real world they took creativity to make. These days we reach to our phone for inspiration rather than trying to make something on our own. No need to come up with an idea for our child’s birthday lets just scroll Pinterest for “5-Year-Old Boy Birthday Party Ideas.” We’re teaching our kids that kind of behavior people!

We also need to keep control over the compulsions we find ourselves often giving into. What I mean is that there are things we compulsively do. Some of these things are healthy, some are addiction-driven. We have lost the ability to be idle because we grab our device in hopes for a small kick of dopamine. We have become so conditioned to receive that little jolt in the pleasure center of our brains that we can’t handle being disconnected. Our brains learn that Disconnection = Being Alone and that Being Alone = Sadness.

Lately, I am trying to be mindful of how everything affects my heart and how things affect the hearts of my children. I recently removed a lot of influences from my social media accounts. Some of it was affecting my heart in a negative way. Removing it felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. If I can’t see how the things of the world affect my heart, how can I guide my child’s heart?

Technology Is Not A Replacement For Creativity

Yes, you can be very creative using technology. I have built a business on it, so I know this very well. I also recognize that technology has limited my creativity. When I use technology to find inspiration for creativity I often end up taking shortcuts that take away from what could have been a good idea. There is nothing wrong with using technology to vet your ideas, but often the best way to be creative is to disconnect and sit down with a notepad. A pen and paper, not the notepad app on your PC! This means that you might fail, and boy do we hate that. Finding the ideas and the ten steps to make it happen on Pinterest sure make it easier, but what do we learn when we do that to ourselves.

When I was in high school, I was in charge of our senior class float. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do but none of us really knew how to pull it off. We did it ourselves, no help from parents and it sure looked like it. Guys, our class float was horrible. The freshman beat us. It was sad, but it taught me some lessons I wouldn’t have learned if we had let our parents do the work for us.

Technology Is A Stimulant

I spoke to this above, technology is a stimulant because of how we use it. We use it to connect to information and information feels good. Information is not inherently bad, but we can become addicted to it. Over stimulation + Isolation leads to addiction. When we constantly allow ourselves to be stimulated by the pretty pictures and information of the internet we start to feel isolated. We are constantly reminded about what we don’t have or what we haven’t achieved. As an entrepreneur, I see others in my industry achieving more than me and it can make me feel like I am a failure somehow.

People turn to their technology to connect to whatever makes them feel something. It used to be tabloids and magazines, now it’s Instagram and Pinterest. We are surrounded by it. Though it often makes us feel insufficient, we are drawn to it like a moth is to light. We scroll Facebook or Instagram for hours hoping for a connection to something. Those apps are designed to make sure we receive some sort of reward from time to time for using them.

Technology Can Isolate Us

If we allow our technology to over stimulate us we crave more and will find ways to consume more of it. This leads to us deciding to spend time on our devices rather than with others who edify and build us up. When we are over stimulated and isolated, addiction takes hold. We need to make sure we recognize this before it becomes a problem because we are not only isolating ourselves from our peers but also from our spouse and children.

How To Raise Tech-Wise Kids

I often get asked by other parents about healthy limitations. How should I limit the time my children spend with technology they ask. To be honest, I am no sure I like the idea of limitations. Setting limitations mean focusing on lack rather than abundance. I believe that what we need to do is make sure that there are enough healthy and edifying things in the lives of our children that technology is just one of the many things that makes up their lives.

I find that when I get lazy and don’t make my children my main focus in our home, they want technology. When I am constantly checking my phone and busy on my laptop, my kids want to be busy playing games on theirs. It is not fair to them to see me constantly on my phone and not allow them to do the same. I knew I had a problem when my oldest told me that he can’t wait until he turns 18 and moves out so he can surround himself with all of the technology that I have. That hit me like a brick to the face. How can I teach my kids about being “tech-wise” when I don’t appear to be tech-wise myself?

This has led to me making some other changes in my life. I am currently working to free up the clutter in my life so I have more mental bandwidth to assure I don’t get blindsided again.

Healthy Boundaries vs Limitations

We don’t let our kids take technology into their rooms. Their rooms are for sleep and play. This is an area I need to work on myself. I go to bed with devices next to me and I need to create some separation. This is going to become more important as I transition back to working from home. Our kids need these same healthy boundaries in place. There is a time for technology and there is a time for it to be put away.

Most devices these days have the option to set limitations which shut them down after a certain amount of time. While this is a nice safety feature, I want my kids to be able to moderate their own use of technology without having to rely on the device to disable itself. What happens when they are old enough for their own device? They will just turn that limitation off and let freedom ring!

We should be starting the day and ending the day technology free. When we are with other people, we should be interacting with them rather than burying our faces in a game or an app. I think virtual reality is neat, but I fear what it will do to the family if that is the future of consuming content in the home. We all slip on our headsets and forget about each other. That freaks me out!

But They’re Bored!

When attempting to moderate my kids use of technology I will offer up suggestions on how they can spend their time. Are you really a parent if your child hasn’t told you, “That’s Boring!?” I get it. Playing Legos just can’t hang with the latest updates to Fortnite. What my kids will choose every time is uninterrupted time with me. When I chose to play with them, they don’t care about the games and the apps. They want to spend time with me.

“But your kids are still young,” you say. Yes, they are, which means I still have time. This is why I am making major changes in my work life right now to allow for more time with my kids. When they get older, they will choose technology over me if I spent their childhood doing the same to them. Your kids will never get bored of you engaging with them in fun activities they can take part it. It’s when you trade out that time for other distractions that it becomes hard to win them back later on. They will fight you when you try to separate them from their devices because those devices have been their comfort. I never said this would be easy.

Becoming Tech-Wise

Intention is going to be the biggest tool you have in your arsenal. If you make a device the top priority in your own life, your kids will as well. It is also important that your kids’ friends parents know your stance on technology use as well. One of my favorite things about my kids still being young is their accidental spilling of information. They know they are not allowed to play games endlessly at home and that goes for when they are at their friends’ houses as well.

We need to set healthy boundaries between us and our technology. I recently moved my phone across the bedroom. I have kept my phone on my nightstand for as long as I can remember. My first business used to get broken into occasionally so I had this fear that I would get a call in the middle of the night from the alarm company and police and that is when the habit of having my phone next to me while I sleep started. Now, I simply wear my smartwatch to bed and put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode. If someone from my contacts calls me, my watch will notify me of a call, otherwise, it will not disturb me. I have slept like a baby and grabbing my phone when I wake up before even putting my feet on the floor has changed my attitude in the morning. These are healthy boundaries I want to pass on to my kids and that can’t happen if I am not practicing them myself.

Avoiding Technology Addiction

As I eluded to before, technology provides us with a stimulant we use to feel something. When we start to isolate so we can spend more time in an app or game, that leads to addiction. We need to recognize what that looks like in our own lives. Are we addicted already, or on our way?

What does video game addiction and recovery from that look like?

ESports and The Professional Gamer Movement

There is a new category of sports if you haven’t already heard and that is the sport of Electronic Gaming. There are gaming competitions and events where professional gamers go head to head just like in the world of physical sports. It’s fun to watch, especially if you enjoy the game they are playing. Gamers stream live each day so others can watch them play and be entertained by their commentary. This is a huge emerging market where gamers are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and getting major sponsorships just for playing games on their computer.

Kids watch these streamers and are envious of their skill and the lifestyle they get to lead because of their skill at the game. It would be easy for our kids to become addicted to video games because there is an online community that enjoys the same thing they do. However, online gaming communities are nothing more than a community around that game. Outside of that, it is rare that any real connection or personal growth will come out of those communities.

We not only have to guide our children toward healthy technology use but we have to guard them against the false realities that exist out there. Just like we enjoy following people on Instagram and Pinterest who are amazing at certain things, kids want to follow those who are pros at their favorite games. We have to make sure our children understand what being a professional gamer means and how that differs from spending too much time playing games as a child.

As adults, we can fall into the same traps by getting too caught up in the lives of celebrities. Our kids are getting caught up in the lives of gaming celebrities and it is much easier for them to fall into the addiction of gaming than it is for an adult to carry out a shopping addiction. We have to look at our own lives and make sure that we are not projecting addictive behavior onto our children. If we are addicted people, our kids are going to become addicted.

Check out this short review of a book called “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.”

External vs Internal Triggers

As you now know, we live in a world of external triggers. These are the things that are marketed to us that look great and promise to make us feel better. Technology companies have perfected the trigger. Look at how Apple has triggered millions of people into purchasing new phones each year that only contain small updates.

If our children are not strong enough, they are going to give in to those external triggers when they have their own internal negative triggers. We all have negative triggers such as feeling down or lonely. If we do not model for our children how to create healthy boundaries between us and our technology, our kids are going to have the behavior patterns that lead to turning to those external triggers that are the first step to creating a technology addiction.

Technology Fasting

It’s impossible to avoid technology altogether and if we do not allow our kids to explore technology, they will likely be left behind. We now live in a connected world, but our minds have not adapted to that kind of existence. We are community driven and need to connect with others.

This summer I took my family camping and decided to go completely off the grid. That is a hard thing to do as a business owner but I told my clients that I would be unreachable for 8 days. During those 8 days, I did not touch my phone at all. The first four days were torture. When I didn’t have something to do I felt the desire to go grab my phone. Even without a connection to the internet, I was sure something needed my attention. Thankfully I resisted and spent that time reading instead. It was a nice break and part of me wished I didn’t have to reconnect.

To drive home the point about setting healthy boundaries we need to make sure we are building planned separation from technology. This means taking a technology fast. In the book, “The Tech-Wise Family, author Andy Crouch shares that in his family they take an hour a day, one day a week, and one week each year completely free from technology. Here is what that might look like:

One Hour Dialy- Dinner time no technology. Dinner lasts an hour. Instead, we take our time to enjoy our food and each other through conversation.

One Day/Week – Sunday, no technology. We go to church, maybe go to the park to play, and then do some yard work. It’s not that hard to fill a day with activity.

One Week/Year – Camping or disconnected vacation. We like to go camping so we go camping up in the mountains away from Wifi and cellular connection. For me, I need to be completely disconnected. That means no signal at all!

Be a Leader to Your Children and to Others

I could go on forever on this topic. Each paragraph I write I think of something to add to a previous paragraph. Writing helps me think and I learn through the process of converting my thoughts into written word. I want to encourage you to look inward and consider the behaviors you are displaying to your children. They are going to grow up with those patterns gleaned from you ready to be put into practice when they encounter situations. This goes for so much more than just technology.

We need to be the leaders our children need. Only by understanding ourselves will we be able to equip our children with the patterns and behaviors they will need to navigate the world they are growing up in.

Here is a list of books that have added insight into my own life and thus resulted in me being able to recognize my own behaviors so that I can build upon or correct to better equip myself to raise tech-wise children.

Books:

Podcasts:

There is no one book or podcast that will give you all of the answers to life. I have read hundreds of books and recognize that each book introduces me to a key nugget of information or a concept that I had not considered. All of these books are available in an audio form which is how I consumed them.

You’ve Got This!

You’ve got this Mom or Dad. I know you came here hoping for a 5-step plan to raising tech-wise kids, but that just isn’t a thing and if it was, it would be rendered useless almost immediately when the next pleasure centered device hits the market. The key is to be the example you want for your children. They are going to grow up to be just like you whether they want to or not. You have the power to set a baseline for healthy behaviors in their lives and it goes so much deeper than just technology use.

Obviously, I am pretty passionate about this topic and plan to write more on it. If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comment section below. I would love to hear your opinion. We all learn from each other. If you want updates from me, please consider sharing your email address in the “Get Updates” box on the right column or bottom of this website.

Thanks for taking the time to read my long post. I appreciate your time and your desire to invest in the lives of your children.

Vlog

Parenting In A World Of Technology

Parenting in a World of Technology Fortnite Gaming

I decided to make this video for a couple of reasons. The first of course was prompted by another video that I saw on the subject of flat-out forbidding your kids from experiencing certain things in this world without giving them valid reasoning.

The second reason is that this is long overdue. For years I have wanted to film some videos and perhaps even to a podcast on the subject of parenting and Technology. My kids are still relatively young but they are getting to that age where kids at school are introducing them to things. The big eye-opener for me was when my son and I started having a conversation about the game Fortnite. I thought I was being the cool dad by talking to him about this game that I’m sure he had heard of only to find out that he had already played it at a friend’s house. As parents, I think that we all eventually have one of those awakening moments when we realize that we should have talked to our kids about certain things earlier. It’s never going to be easy but if I don’t do the hard work I’ve trying to understand my kids and the things that they are interested in, I am failing them.

In this video, I talk about how I feel about certain Technologies and how I plan to introduce them to my kids. I don’t plan to expose my kids to everything. I want to be remembered by them as a person in their life that took the time to explain things to them whether they were allowed to experience them or not.

If you have the time, watch the video and let me know what you think in the comments section below. I am also interested in knowing about topics that you would like to know more about in regards to technology in parenting. As in life, parenting is a Non-Stop learning experience which at times is like drinking from a firehose.

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Does Technology Enable or Disable Us?

Does Technology Enable or Disable Us?

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like without all of the technological advancements of the last 40 years. I was born in 1980 and grew up with a computer in my home. Technology has definitely made a huge impact on my life, but at times I feel like it can disable us rather than enable us. Though I am a very early adopter of many technologies, I am very careful not to introduce too much technology into my home. I want my kids to grow up using technology as a way to enable their lives, not as an escape from real life. In this vlog, I talk about my thoughts on this topic.

Blog

After 18 Years I’m Taking A Break From Apple

Why I'm Taking A Break From Apple

My first computer was an Apple II. Prior to that, we had a PC in the house running DOS, but I was pretty much just played Load Runner on it. I remember toward the end of that computers life I dialed into a couple of BBS boards to post some questions. It was not long after that when I got an Apple IIGS for Christmas. That computer was awesome. It was color, had a CD-Rom, and an internal model. It was the future.  I used that computer for several years and upgraded it along the way. I was 8 years old when I upgraded the RAM on my own. (Watch my video and continue reading below.)

Fast forward several years, I purchased a PC computer from Dell with college savings money. I wanted more power than my IIGS had to offer and it was getting hard to code from a severely outdated Mac. Windows is where it was at. Windows 98 had just dropped and Apple was struggling to find it’s footing. For the next four years, I was a PC user. I upgraded to Windows XP, built a powerhouse of a computer as I had recently started editing video. In early 2001, I started hearing about how much better it was to do creative work on a Mac. Final Cut Pro had come out and I wanted it. I purchased a small Mac laptop called a Powerbook G4. It was a pretty powerful little laptop. My plan was to use it to edit video and keep my PC for my important work. Within a week, I had found software to write code in and my PC was shelved. From that moment forward, I was an Apple user.

Over the last few years, I have grown frustrated with the way many companies develop and deploy their products. Apple has not really innovated much in the last several years, yet they continue to release new variations of their products each year and charge a premium. Apple is not the only company to do this, it’s simply the state of the technology industry. We are in a valley right now where tech companies don’t have to release anything good. They had their major advancements several years ago and now they simply have to slowly release small updates and call them fancy names like “Retina” or “Edge.” I used to upgrade my Macbook Pro laptop almost every year because there would be a decent increase in performance due to a new type of hard drive or something like that. I would justify purchasing the latest iPhone each year because I ran a tech website and wanted to have the latest features from Apple. I have always been an early adopter of new features.

This last year especially, I have felt a lot of apathy toward technology in general. I spent so many years chasing and implementing new technologies into my life that when innovation kind of stopped, I felt empty. Apple has not done anything interesting in several years. People can say the Apple Watch was an innovation, but smartwatches are kind of a novelty. I think that the SmartWatch is simply something else for us to buy while companies try to leak more money out of us while they battle to figure out what will be next. I have had a dozen different smartwatches and all they are is an additional distraction. None of them work that well and do much more than notify us of things.

Apple is not the only one at fault. Samsung and other smartphone companies are not doing much innovation outside of adding gimmicky features that most of us don’t really need. I have used the word gimmick to explain smartwatches quite a bit.

I felt that Google was very close with Google GLASS, however, it was a little futuristic for people to accept and it never went anywhere. I still feel that our notifications will be displayed to us in some form of a heads-up display (HUD) in the near future through something like a smart contact lens. Technology just isn’t quite there yet and in my opinion, the tech companies know they have not squeezed every dollar out of us that they can with the current technology available.

My battle with technology has been quite public. In late January of this year, I announced that I was back on the iPhone after having taken almost an entire year off of the platform using nothing but Android devices. If you look through my Instagram or Twitter feed, you can see additional evidence of this ongoing battle. In late 2014, I purchased my first Sony camera because I was tired waiting for Canon to innovate again. What I am going through now with smartphones and computers is what I was going through toward the end of my time as a Canon Photographer. What really burned me with Canon was having spent almost $6,000 on a Cinema Camera only to have them cut the price almost in half and upgrade the camera in under a year after it’s original launch. Canon obviously did not care about their customer’s investments in their products. Sony does update most of their cameras every year, but at least you know what to expect from them.

Up until late last week, I had been using the same Macbook Pro for a little over two years. That is a long time for me as I usually upgrade my laptop every year. I had been contemplating the purchase of an upgraded iMac. I needed more power than my laptop was offering but I didn’t want to buy a new laptop because not much had changed in the past two years. I was not willing to give Apple another $3,500 just to get a small bump in performance. The upgraded iMac that I actual had on order was going to cost me just over $3,500. I was not that thrilled with what I was getting for the money because it still was not that much better than what my laptop currently offered me. That is when I started considering switching to PC.

Switching to Windows had been an ongoing joke at Hill Media Group. We joked around calling Windows 10 the superior platform. In all honesty, I kind of liked Windows 10. I had it running in Parallels on my Mac so I could test websites and code in Microsoft Edge browser. Microsoft seemed to have found a nice mix of what they were trying to do with Windows 8 and what was great about Windows 7. Though Windows 10 is still very much Windows, it is so much better than it has been for many years. The last good version of Windows, in my opinion, was Windows XP. That was a pretty solid OS, even though not a day went by without a new exploit having been discovered. It was solid, and you could trust it.

Up until now, I didn’t even consider Windows as a solid option because I had so much invested in Apple products. I felt that I was much more productive on a Mac than I could ever been on a PC. That was very true up until Window 10. I probably could have gotten by on Windows 7, but would have been devastated once Windows 8 came out. Some could argue, but the Mac is what has worked for me.

We all come to a crossroad where we have to decide if we can justify making decisions the same way as we have in the past. When it comes to my technology choices, I have been more open to change lately. That change is mostly connected to cost and features. There really has not been much as far as innovation from both sides of the computing fence in the past few years. Microsoft has tried with it’s updates to Windows, but hardware has not seen anything revolutionary. Apple has not done much either. So that leaves me with the question, “why continue buying expensive hardware?” I find myself spending the majority of my time in specific applications like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and code editors. These applications are exactly the same between both platforms. There are small useful features Apple’s OS X has such as AirDrop, Messages, and simplified system settings. The problem is that most of those features are only useful if all of your devices run Apple software. While using Android phones and tablets, I have found solutions that allow me to use some of these services. I also realized that I have completely neutralized my devices by using services that work on both platforms. On both iPhone and Android I use Google Photos, Google Drive, Slack, Trello, and a variety of other apps that are cross-platform. Whether I use an iPhone or an Android phone, it’s a similar experience, just on different devices.

Last week I switched back to Android because I realized I had too much technology that I was not using and that was not optimized to fit my current needs. I have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, an iPad Pro, an iPad Mini, an iPod Touch, and an Apple Watch. I found various reasons for justifying each purchase but what it really came down to is that I realized that Apple has built multiple technologies with just enough additional features to get people like me to buy each of them. I bought the iPad Mini because we needed an iPad at the office and it’s perfect to use with my camera drones. I bought the iPad Pro because it’s an excellent replacement for a laptop when I don’t need all of the features of a larger laptop. In fewer words, it’s more mobile. More mobile than a thin laptop? Come on! Obviously, I have been in a technology spiral for a while now.

The other day, I placed my first order from Dell since 1998. It was for a Dell XPS 15″ laptop, which is basically Dell’s version of a Macbook Pro. It has decent technology packed into a sleek looking package. It has a touch screen and I can put enough RAM in it to handle Adobe Lightroom a bit better. I get all of that, and it’s a few hundred dollars less than a new Macbook Pro. It doesn’t sound like much more, and it’s not. It’s just different and it’s a step in a direction away from premium priced hardware.

Please don’t take this as a dis on Apple. They are a company that is here to make money. They didn’t make it to the most profitable company in the Unites States on accident. Profit comes from placing as much space between cost to create and retail price as possible. Apple has become the leader in this practice and there is no way to achieve extreme profitability while at the same time releasing next level technology. Other companies have been trying to replicate their practice. It’s just the way it is.

So I am surrendering and going in a different direction. I have sold some of my Apple gear and plan to get rid of the rest. I don’t know how long that will last but I don’t see myself returning to Apple for a while. We will continue to have a few of them in our home as we have invested a lot of money in movie and tv show purchases. I need hardware that can keep up with the software I use without costing a fortune. The platform doesn’t really matter that much anymore. The gap has closed and all that is left is deciding what kind of hardware you are going to use. Some may try and argue with me over that fact but that is ok. It’s a matter of opinion.

Apple has produced some pretty amazing gadgets over the years, but for the time being, I need to take a break from the mediocrity of their current offerings.

I am definitely not losing out or sacrificing by switching to Android and Windows 10. I am currently using the Samsung GTalaxy S7 Edge as my phone. The screen on this phone is much more vibrant and clear than the iPhone screen. The camera is fantastic as well. The Edge features are a big gimmicky, but I have found using Edge for the quick launching of apps to be nice. It allows me to keep apps off of the home screen of the phone so I can see my background photo. I am currently using a Lenovo Yoga 900 series laptop. It is underpowered, but it has some cool features. While I wait for my Dell XPS 15 to get here, I am getting used to Windows 10 and finding that it is more customizable than Apple’s OS X operating system.

Yesterday I had a client call who was experiencing some major issues with their website. Though I had yet to do any developing on Windows 10, I did have a few applications installed I knew I would need. There were two short instances where I had to remember a few Windows-specific functions, but I was editing code in no time and I felt comfortable.

It will take some time to tell whether I will regret my decision to move away from Apple. I still have some learning to do in regards to Windows 10, but I am enjoying it so far. I still like Apple and their products, I just can’t continue on a path of spending so much money on them. If their products were truly providing value that I could not get anywhere else, like they used to, then I could justify the expense. However, these days Apple products do not provide any additional value. They may be good looking products, but they are also the more expensive choice.

What are your thoughts on this? I know that people can get very emotional when it comes to their technology products. Over the years, people have called me an Apple Fanboy among other things as I have always been fairly pro-Apple. I am still a fan of Apple, I just hope they can once again find their Steve Jobs roots and start innovating products that change the world again.

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Amazing Use of 3D Projection Technology

Cleveland Cavaliers PreGame 3D Court Projection

This is just fantastic. The video is titled, “Cleveland Cavaliers PreGame 3D Court Projection.” It features a pregame projection onto the basketball court before the game started basically turning that court into a 94 feet by 50 ft screen for the audience. What a cool experience that must have been to see live for the first time.

Blog

Why I Currently Choose Android

Android-logoI have been an Android user since Android first launched, however I have never been able to use Android as more than a toy to tinker with until recently. I have also been an iPhone and iPad user since both devices launched. Android devices were always lacking in some area that frustrated me and sent me running back to my iPhone. For years I would carry an iPhone and Android phone with me and often times I would just leave my Android phone at home.

There are a couple of things that Android and the manufactures of Android devices have not been able to compete with until recently. Android devices have been able to catch up to Apple because Apple has not really released any new and innovating features in a while. Apple seems to know what people want and will use. Android device manufactures seem take a different approach which seems more like a hit or miss approach to creating features people will use.

The first Android device to come to the market that I was truly able to switch to and use without needing the safety and familiarity of my iPhone was the HTC One. One of the main issues I had with Android devices was the horrible cameras they came outfitted with. I am a Professional Photographer and even when I am taking smartphone photos, they need to look like they came from someone who knows what they are doing. Every Android camera before the HTC One was less than desirable. Sure it might take a 1/2 decent (only 1/2 decent) photo outdoors on a bright day, but I need something that does a good job all around. The iPhone has always delivered on my expectations.

The customizations that most manufacturers make to Android has also frustrated me. The iPhone has always been simple and for the most part, kept out of your way. I feel like stock Android does this well, but Samsung, HTC, LG and the other manufactures out there add in so much on top of the Android Experience that it makes it hard to use. The powerhouse phones that they create end up running slow because of all of the features. Because of that, I have found favor in the Google Edition Smartphones that are available directly from Google. These Google Edition phones are from manufactures such as HTC and Samsung but only run stock Android, which means you get the nice hardware these manufactures provide and the clean software that Google provides in Android. The only manufacture whose devices I like with their default software installed is Motorola, which is owned by Google anyway.

I would like to outline some of the Android specific features that keep me from switching back to the iPhone:

Sharing: Sharing content to pretty much anywhere is easier on the Android. If I come across a website I want to save, send or post to a social network, I can do this on Android. On the iPhone, you are stuck to Facebook and Twitter in most cases. There are not a lot of options for sharing on iPhone unless you copy what you want to share and then post it directly through that app. On Android, I can share from one app to another. This allows me to share more content and spend less time doing it. When I use my iPhone, I find myself sharing less. I can take a photo in one app, edit it in another, then share it using the social network of my choice all without ever having to save the image multiple times throughout the process.

Photography: At times I feel that the iPhone still has the advantage when it comes to photography. Though I like the camera in the HTC One and don’t mind the camera in the Google Nexus 5 (my current phone), there are more apps for photo editing available on the iPhone. With that said, I am trying to process my images less. If I do anything, I adjust exposure and that is about it. I don’t like to throw filters over my images and make them look dirty. I go for color and clarity.

Multitasking: Android has always been better at multitasking. Even though the iPhone now has an easier way of switching between apps, it is still limited compared to Android. I switch around between apps often and being able to do that quickly is huge for me. I also dislike when I leave an app to do a Google search and then come back to the app to find what I was doing gone. This rarely, if ever, happens on Android.

Google Now: I have never found Siri very useful on the iPhone or iPad. This is mainly due to the fact that I don’t always want to speak my commands. On the iPhone, you have to activate Siri for commands to be heard whereas with Google Now, you simply have to have the screen on. With the Moto X from Motorola, you don’t even have to have the screen on. The phone is always listening for the command “Ok Google Now.” As I mentioned before, I want devices that get out of my way and let me get tasks done quickly.

Charging: I currently use the Google Nexus 5 which allows for wireless charging. I simply plop my phone down on the small charging pad and it begins to charge. It’s amazing and simple. When I need my phone, I pick it up and walk away. No cords to unplug or worry about snagging. I have wireless charging docks on my desk, nightstand and in my truck.

Phone & SMS: There are some need features built into the latest version of Android that make it much easier to search for businesses to call. On the iPhone, you have to do some sort of external search and then launch a call. On the Nexus 5, I can simply start typing a name of a business and it comes up. One tap and I am calling that business. I can also have Google Now launch a call for me, however I have had mixed results with this. I have not done much testing with Siri to see how well it does at launching calls to places that are not in the address book.

With SMS, Apple has iMessages, which is really nice for texting with others who are on Apple devices. I currently use the Hangouts app for Android which is the stock messaging app on the Nexus 5. It does a great job and soon will be a bit better and more open than iMessages. What I truly want, is a SMS service that works regardless of the device and apps you have installed. Google Voice was almost this, but you can’t send photo or video text messages currently on the AT&T network. If this changes, I can use Google Voice with the Hangouts app. Then I can switch between my iPhone and Android devices without having to switch SIM cards or anything. I just choose which phone I want to carry and point my number at that device.

Quicker Technology Advances

I know that Apple has some cool stuff up their sleeves that nobody has even thought of yet, but I get bored quick. Apple has the iPhone but Android has many options. There is just about something for everybody with Android. Apple has enough of a following that they can ride the wave for a while and save leading edge advancements for later releases. It’s all strategy and Apple is definitely good at what they do.

I will most likely at one point switch back to iPhone and iPad because I am confident that Apple will drop some amazing features on us that will once again take other manufactures a few years to catch up to. To be honest, I am not even 100% sure that the new features in the iPhone will be Apple’s next big thing.

As other smart device manufacturers scramble to come up with technology that will trump the iPhone, I will continue to enjoy some of the advancements. Not everything that comes out is needed. I think that over 60% of what Samsung puts into their devices is worthless and companies like LG seem to even be copying some of these useless features. In the end it seems to be all about marketing and what they can make look neat. I don’t need a phone I can waive my hand over to scroll a web page. That sounds idiotic to me.

Wearable Technology

I truly believe that smartphones are living on borrowed time. Companies like Google are messing around with wearable tech and the future is near. Why do we all have to carry about devices that cause us to focus on something other than humanity? I hate how my phone disconnects me with my environment. I am not convinced that Google Glass is the answer to that, but it is a huge step closer. I have tried Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch and I think it is stupid. If I am going to spend money on yet another device, it needs to make it possible for me to use my smartphone less. Google Glass has done this. I can do a lot of what I would normally do on average with my smartphone with Google Glass. It can’t yet however replace a smartphone.

Going All Data

I think we are getting closer to a day where we will no longer need a minutes plan. Most of my communication with people is through email and text message. For the most part, you can do all of this through a data connection. The carriers already know that they can’t make money charging for text messages or minutes anymore. It’s all about the data charges. You could even get away with using an iPod Touch as your phone so long as you had a consistent data connection. I have a couple of friends that did this. In the near future, I don’t think we will need a cellular phone plan and I can even see phone numbers going away as well. If you could buy a smartphone and only connect a data plan to it, I would. However, this is not yet an option. Tablets can have data only connections, but not smartphones. The carriers will hold onto it as long as they can.

Why Care At All?

I am always posting about the devices I am using and I am sure it makes most people’s heads spin. Why can’t I just stick with one device and be happy? The truth is that I feel that technology should help us do our lives better and I will move in the direction of whatever technology adds to my experiences while at the same time getting out of my way. This is why I like Google Glass. Even though most of the world things it’s ridiculous, wearable technology is coming and will take over quicker than the mobile phone did. Remember when people used to say, “I don’t want people to be able to reach me at all times.” Now it is weird for someone to say that they don’t have some sort of a cell phone.

It’s also the future. Technology has driven the economy for the last decade and will continue to in the future. As we become more connected, more services and technologies will come up to assist in that. I find it empowering and very interesting. Each time I purchase a new piece of technology I see it as an investment in my future because I am on trying my best to stay on the forefront of the way all of this integrates with out lives. Modern technology was and is still a hard transition for our parents and grandparents because they were not raised with it. I don’t want to allow technology to outrun me. Though it is impossible to stay on top of it all, I will do my best.

I know that this post turned into a post about technology more than it did about why I use Android but I think it’s important to talk about. Mobile technology is part of our lives and these are the companies producing products for us to use and integrate with the world around us.

Right now, Android is better integrated with my life and lifestyle, so that is the platform I am using for both Smartphone and Tablet. We will see where Google, Apple and other manufactures take us as they continue to innovate and try to find the next thing.

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Parents, Did You Get An iPod Touch For Your Kid This Year?

If you got an iPod Touch for one of your kids this year, you might want to do more than just turn it on and hand it over to your child. There are important parental controls you will want to set so you can protect your child from the dark side of the internet. You may think that kid apps are harmless but when ads get tapped on and the internet browser opens up, who knows where your kids can end up. Even if by accident, you don’t want them landing on a website they should not have seen.

Here is a tutorial we made over at StateofTech on how to setup an iPod Touch for your child.

For more videos, make sure to visit StateofTech.Net or the StateofTech YouTube Channel.