Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some things that enhanced my life this year

Everyone makes list this time of year, right? Here are a few pieces of technology that changed how I operate:

1. Nokia e63 Smartphone. I bought it unlocked straight from Europe via Amazon.com after calling and talking to a nice sales rep for under $200. It's not an iPhone, but those are much more expensive. It literally never leaves my side. Whether reading my Bible online at church or reading blogs while I watch NewsHour, or using it to calm my son by playing Elmo's Song on YouTube...the Smartphone is a powerful ally.
I'm the dork who walks around with a phone that isn't a phone because I don't have a sim card in it because we only use one pre-paid cell phone. Most people can't understand that. I don't understand paying for a data plan from AT&T or Verizon because wi-fi is pretty much everywhere and free. Whether I'm sitting in class or at home I can always keep up with what's happening.

Favorite uses this year:
1. Being able to see my sister-in-law tweet pictures of my son while I was walking around downtown Istanbul.

2. Being able to keep the doppler radar in my hand while waiting on a tornado bearing down on Bolivar.

Wish list: A touch-screen phone with larger keypad option and more apps (in other words iPhone or Android). Nokia still has 38% of the world market, but that will diminish quickly.

2. As a result of Google's meddling with my former beloved NewsGator FeedDemon, I needed a way to quickly share articles with students via RSS. Enter Delicious.com. Install the Delicious plug-in for your browser and you can instantly bookmark websites through them, tag them for sorting, and then publish them on your own RSS feed. Every article you want to bookmark all in one place, with the ability to add comments. You can also see how many others bookmarked the same article and easily search what others are bookmarking by tag. I put over 100 articles out for my Money & Banking class in the course of the semester, mostly from just reading the newspapers and studying blogs throughout my day.

I love Delicious so much and found it so useful for teaching that I'm conducting a faculty seminar on it in January--teaching other faculty how to use it. That will be no small task, so prayers are in order.

3. Twitter.com and Tweetdeck. Yes, I had several "why I hate twitter" posts, and I did think it was stupid. As more people got on Twitter, the less stupid it became. It's now the best way to receive breaking news--that's my primary use for it. It's also a good way to communicate with people that you might not have access to otherwise... maybe they would never be your Facebook friend. I won a hat on Twitter. It allows people to communicate short bits that would be too cumbersome with a blog platform (and too difficult to read with standard RSS reader).

A few people whose thoughts I read on Twitter:
John Piper and Rick Warren. And daily quotes from C.S. Lewis.
UK WR/RB/QB Randall Cobb, John Calipari, and a few other athletes/coaches.
Several conservative politicians, including those who represent my district.
A whole slew of journalists, particularly ones on TV since that's my odd obsession. When they tweet on the scene or between takes you feel like you're right there with them.

I've only encountered 4 students at SBU who use Twitter, and only a few faculty. College students spend 99% of their time on Facebook.

My biggest problem right now is that it's tough to do Twitter with a Smartphone. Cumbersome to click someone's link to an article and not be able to note that article for later viewing on a real computer (Delicious doesn't work with Smartphones).

This post was way longer than I anticipated. Happy New Year!

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