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Rodney's Ramblings: Mobility - The Modern Curate's Egg

"Personal, handheld smart phones are ubiquitous and their popularity is growing exponentially worldwide. But those that have them, must have noticed by now, how the costs of trying to do everything, wherever you are, at any time using the internet and social networking options, can consume enormous time and resources,'' writes columnist Rodney Gascoyne.

Computing mobility is undergoing a paradigm shift but it is not all good for the sensible user. You need to look at what works best for you, and where there is true value in the new abilities. Also beware, youngsters, as usual, will want it all but, inevitably, also want you to pay for it on their behalf.

Personal computers are not yet obsolete, as they are still needed to do sensible, full function tasks either for work or even the family and home. Mobile hardware does not offer full functioning software, and using Cloud, read ‘internet hosted’, creation or storage options could be costly, let alone risky, likely insecure, and possibly unreliable. I suggest most of us are still better off and safer when doing all our own in-house storage and accessing of past materials. For businesses, it is essential.

Personal, handheld smart phones are ubiquitous and their popularity is growing exponentially worldwide. But those that have them, must have noticed by now, how the costs of trying to do everything, wherever you are, at any time using the internet and social networking options, can consume enormous time and resources.

This is the big con when it comes to mobility, and you continuously hear tales of gullible people having spent a fortune, unwittingly, being unaware of the terms and conditions from their carrier, let alone locking into those adverse terms with almost no means of escape, once you have signed on the dotted line. This pressure will grow even more in the future, as slick promotions suggest you need to watch TV and live events, let alone streamed films, while stuck on the train going to work, or similar scenarios, consuming even more bandwidth and streaming costs, to maintain this false ‘modern’ image and immediate need to not wait for anything, but do it all now, wherever you are.

Do you know what your average monthly costs for this are, and even worse, perhaps, can you control those of your family members? Is there real, true value to you personally, in all this expensive activity?

Basic mobile phones can do almost everything you really need and free you up from the old, overpriced landline bills. But what really is the need to get and use endless ‘smart’ add-ons, other than roaming phone call freedom that does have utility, and connectivity?

The main new offering, and again a possible pitfall, is the rise to fame of the Tablet. When you travel much or want to take personal resources with you, even to school or work, they are a really essential addition to your jacket pocket, handbag or backpack. They are perfect for storing and accessing multiple, standard formats of materials we all collect and want to share, no matter what our age. This can include music, photos, videos, documents, spreadsheets, saved web pages, notes or recorded messages, books, podcasts, a great camera, or even your email archive and basic utilities.

The one big question to ask yourself when buying one, is what size and storage capacity you need (not easy or cheap to change this later), rather than get caught up with advertizing blitzes or seemingly bandwagon popularity of certain models.
Next you need to know, as for smart phones, what is your need for constant, cell like access to the internet, and the huge accompanying costs of such a choice. The reasons are the same as above and really come down to what you really need and what is the true value to you for those services.

Tablets also come with Wi-Fi ability and this could be all you need, if you can manage your needs in a sensible manner. Most of us have PC based internet access at the office or at home by cable or fast connection, at reasonable rates, that provides a controllable, worthwhile and cost effective access to the internet and ability to copy or download what we need. All that material can then be simply downloaded by a cable to your tablet for no additional cost. Even better, either at home, work or even the coffer shop, we can get free Wi-Fi connections to get at emails or direct internet access in a simple manner. If this can cover most of your timely needs, maybe you don’t really also require cell like constant access ability at vast expense. Do your browsing at home or with free services rather than by G3 or G4, billed by the second.

We are being constantly blitzed by the apparent NEED to do everything instantly and you are somehow out of touch, unconnected or sidelined is you can’t do everything immediately. If you are taken up in this message and can afford and accept the associated costs, so be it. If you are capable of independent thought and know something of the value of what you need, not just want, do your own thing and do some homework before being swallowed up in the tsunami.

My own choice is an app-less, non smart cell phone, a 7” tablet with Wi-Fi and 16 gigs storage, and so far this meets all my needs on the road.

In the case of Canada, it is said we have the most expensive and poorest service for cell phone systems anywhere in the world and so why the above affordability exercise is even more essential here than it is for some other countries, but I am sure providers everywhere will be dreaming up new ways to make us all pay more. The geographical accessibility here is also not great and this was recently brought home to me obviously when travelling in Asia, where their entire populations do seem to have been drinking the ‘cool aid’. I believe their use of the latest cell like connection options are the highest anywhere.

But this could also be linked to the ubiquitous service they receive. Even when travelling in remote hilly areas on small roads, they seemed to get constant access to make and receive calls, such that they were in contact with friends and family whenever required. Their basic cell charges, not the smart type, were so reasonable, everyone seemed to find it cheap to stay in touch. I envy them such reliable, reasonable service, everywhere locally.

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