Editorial: Falling behind

Trent Ernst. Editor


Last week, I mentioned that I had no desire to have the latest and greatest. Or more specifically, hadn’t the budget to try and keeps up with the Jobses and Cooks of the world.

My punchline was if I get too caught up in the gadget, I might lose sight of what the gadget is for. As a tech geek, the reason I love computers and smart phones and now smart watches is because of what they can do: they allow me to communicate with friends and family, to participate in culture, to connect with the collected knowledge of mankind and have it at my fingertips.

And I mentioned that I could still do all this with a five year old iPhone 4.

But there are some things that are lost, some things that I can’t do. Some of them mean that using the older phone isn’t as convenient. Some mean the phone isn’t as powerful. None is a deal breaker.

One of the biggest issues that I face is the fact that I do my job on a Windows computer at work, on a Mac at home and on my iPad and iPhone when I’m out and about.

For the longest time, I was using Apple’s iWork programs to manage this hand-off. I can use iWork on the web at work, run it natively on my computers and using the iPad and iPhone apps when out and about. Any file that I have on the iWork server can be opened from anywhere else.

Or at least, I could until Apple updated to their latest iPhone/iPad operating system, iOS 8, at which time they decided that phones running older versions of the system software would be left out of the game.

Remember that iPhone 4? Guess what it doesn’t run? Exactly.

Fortunately, there’s other options. Google Docs, for instance, works fine with any and all my devices, too. It’s not as elegant a solution (it doesn’t believe in spell checking, for instance), but it allows me to take my iPad to council, then bring the document over to my computer so I can edit it here at work.

There’s other things that newer iPhones can do that mine can’t. For instance, I like to listen to books on my Phone while walking to work. Because it’s so old, though, if I open one or two other programs on my phone, it usually bumps what I am listening to out of memory, forcing me to have to go back to the program and re-open what I was listening to, rather than simply being able to hit play. It’s a small annoyance, but it’s there.

And sometimes when I’m out without my camera, I wind up taking pictures with my iPhone. Having a better camera as on the newer phones would be nice. And the ability to do panoramas, or stop motion, or burst mode, or ….

The new phone has more storage, a bigger screen (boy, that’d be nice with my eyes…) Siri, a finger print reader and Apple Pay.

So yes, I understand the desire to upgrade. I’m there with you. But for now, I chose not to, because all those additional benefits don’t outweigh a number of factors. One of which is the cost, yes, but one of which is the environment.

And I’m not just talking about keeping the phone out of the dump, though that’s important too, but the environment of rampant consumerism that surrounds us. The more I can make do with a (gasp) five-year-old phone, perhaps the more others can, too. I’m not arguing that everyone becomes Luddites and that everyone drive model Ts, just that maybe we take a sober second look at those things we say we need and ask if maybe, just maybe we can make do without.

Yes, it means that I’m falling behind the Joneses and am technologically behind the times, but you know what? That’s okay. Because my worth is not found in my phone or anything I own or use. These are tools. The real me is found inside.