It is best to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Archive for the tag “technology”

iPod Generation

First, there were the baby boomers, people born between 1946 – 1964 (as defined by the US Census Bureau). Then, they yielded generation X (a.k.a “gen exers”). With the baby boomers’ second marriages, they spawned generation Y. For those of you thinking, “Well what about the MTV generation?” That generation is a blend of the X and Y generations. So what’s to make of the generation formed from the Xers breeding with the Yers? How about the “iPod Generation”?

Sure Nick Bosanquet and Blair Gibbs tried to coin that phrase back in 2005, but they were mostly referring to education and socio-economic status. For them, IPOD stood for, Insecure, Pressured, Over-taxed, and Debt-ridden. Plus, they tried to tag that generation label on the MTV generation. Given that the members of that generation detest labels, the IPOD label failed to gain any steam.
The iPod generation I am referring to is for children born not with a silver spoon in their mouths, but with an iPod in their hands. Today’s new-borns have so much technology at their tiny fingertips, that they are already able to do more than in the palm of their hands than their grandparents can do with a map, calculator, telescope, and compass. Clearly, they are able to do so much because this technology is all they have ever known. Thus, they never had to “re-learn” a process or get confused from an old method.
My family is not exempt from this epidemic. When my son turned two, he received an iPod from his grandparents. We used it to play his songs while taking him out in his stroller. I eventually figured out how to hook it up to the television so that he could watch some of his favorite shows. When his grandparents visited a year and a half later, they allowed him to play with their iPhone. My son was captivated by the ease of use of the device and thoroughly enjoyed playing the game (some animal memory app game). During this time, we were still potty training him, and thus we used this tool as a reward once he became completely trained. Sure enough, we decided to buy the iPod Touch (mostly for my wife so that she can do her e-mail, facebook, etc.). Each time my son used the potty, he was permitted to play with the iPod Touch. He was fully trained in a month! Best $200 I have ever spent (for any of you that are parents, I’m sure you would gladly pay even more than that to potty train your kids within a month’s timeframe).
Thus, on a recent drive to the airport for a flight to the sunshine state, we realized that we forgot to bring the iPod Touch. We actually contemplated turning around and getting the device, but decided against it, as we despised using the device as a crutch just to keep our son occupied. Upon arriving at the airport, we proceeded to the security line. We noticed several other families in line with us. What did they all have in common? You guessed it, iPods for the kiddies.
Fortunately for us, our son did not need the device for the 2 1/2 hour flight, as he rested most of the way.
While in Florida, we visited my sister’s family. When entering their house, we knew that they were all about those little hand-held devices, as they have five of them. Each parent has an iPhone and old iPod, and the oldest daughter (age 5) as an iPhone. They even refer to her as “The Pod”.
I conducted a recent poll on a parenting website. Out of the 32 respondents, 23 have iPods. Of those 23 though, 6 have devices purchased primarily for the child.
Sure, that may be less than 20%. But this is a $200 device. Compared to generations X and Y, we were lucky to get a watch or calculator that cost more than $5 by middle school.
As much as I despise the product, it is the best device available, and Apple certainly has made a complete 180 from nearly becoming extinct from the technology industry. Plus, I recall begging for a Nintendo game system back in 1988 – using such arguments as, “It’s great for ‘hand-eye’ coordination”, and “Everyone else has one”.
Did my “hand-eye” coordination improve? Probably.

Was the gaming system a necessity? Nope.


Playing it Smart with Smartphones

Over the past few years, I have been contemplating on getting a smartphone, but have been reluctant to as I could not justify paying the $30/month data charge. I work at an office and sit behind a computer all day, so I have immediate access to the internet and worldwide information throughout the day. I’ve also got computers with broadband internet access at home, so no real worries there either.

My wife and I each have basic phones, and have become comfortable with them over the past few years. However, they were getting a bit old and the features seem to be more of a drag on our needs rather than a benefit. Thus, I began researching smartphones to see which ones would best suit our needs.

After establishing which ones we wanted – iPhone for my wife (since she is technologically challenged), and a droid (Samsung Charge) for me – I began to weigh the costs and determined how we could afford them.

On our current family plan, we share 700 minutes for $70/month, each have 250 text messages for $5/month, and my phone (Samsung Reality) has a $10/month data plan for 75 MB (which I have never exceeded 20 MB over the past 18 months since I got the phone). Thus, our total wireless bill was $90/month (not including taxes, fees, but also not including a 25% discount I get via my employer).

Recently, Verizon Wireless launched two promotions specifically targeting my ilk:
1.) Data plan made available for $20/month (up to 300MB)
2.) $100 gift card when upgrading from a basic phone to a smartphone

Both promotions expire September 30th.

The temptation suddenly became irresistible. I contacted Verizon Wireless via their online chat service a few times to see if they could answer some of my questions as I was hunting for a way to find more discounts. They seemed clueless about the promotions, and did nothing to help convince me to make the upgrade. I then noticed other sources for upgrading my phones via Wal-Mart, Target Mobile, Best Buy, etc. However, none of those places were able to help me out either. Finally, I contacted Verizon Wireless’ customer support, and was connected with a very patient and helpful representative named Anne from Wisconsin. She helped walk me through the process, and even informed me of a customer loyalty discount whereby I could lower my talk plan to 550 minutes for $60/month (my wife and I have never even exceeded 400 minutes in a month, so this was a no-brainer $10 savings). Furthermore, a colleague informed me that there are text messaging apps and Google Voice that would allow us to drop our $5/month texting plan – another $10 saved! Given that my current data plan was $10/month, increasing this to $20 would result in just a $10 monthly adjustment. My wife’s would be a $20 monthly increase – thus resulting in a $30 monthly increase in our bill. However, since we will be scaling back $20/month, we would be netting out just a $10 monthly increase overall.

My wife got her iPhone for $200, and I got my droid for $200. However, since we EACH get $100 gift cards, that will be savings of $200 off the cost of the phones. And to add a cherry on top of the deal, Anne informed me of my loyalty upgrade discount of $30 off the cost of a new phone (and waived any upgrade fees – which as we all know, is a bogus charge that the companies try to ding on the customers hoping that they would not care or notice).

So all in all, we paid $170 for two new smartphones and increased our monthly wireless bill by just $10/month. I should be able to offset that $10 monthly increase by bringing my lunch to work rather than going out and spending ~$10 a meal. Now, if I could get my wife to kick her $40/month Starbucks habit, then we’ll be golden!

The only way we could have gotten a better deal is if we took advantage of their “Buy-One-Get-One Free” offer on the Motorola Droid 3. However, I knew that my wife would not be comfortable using that device, and I did not like the touch screen on that phone either.

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