Learning to leave technology (now and then)

Browsing on social media with the convenience of an iPad with unlimited internet is addictive. I have to keep reminding myself to get up and be a little active. Now we even have programs to remind us. Earlier this year when I had a bacterial infection of the eye, I couldn’t use much of modern day technology for reading. iPhones, iPads or the computer were used mainly for music or listening to radios. I had to make sure I rested my eyes to allow them to heal. The experience allowed me to understand how much for granted we often take our eyes. It also liberated me from the devices.

At the end of the day, before I’d go to bed, I’d often find myself zoning out in front of the screen traveling the world from my couch. I guess it was not only me that had become zombie-like that and so the new Health app (along with so many other apps) in the new ios will supposedly help and inspire us to be a little more active. The Apple Watch is extremely tempting for an apple fan like me.

Yet at the end of the day, what does it take to become a little more active? For me, I think it’s about just putting the phone or the ipad down for awhile and allowing yourself to just not worry about what is happening in the social media world or if anyone is trying to message you. Really, if it is really that urgent, you’d get a call.

I find that the more often I’m leaving my gadgets alone, the easier and easier it is becoming, and the more and more time I am finding time to enjoy my hobbies. Hobbies that really rejuvenate the soul like reading books, cooking, painting, playing with the dogs or just walking in the garden.  It really refreshes the brain.

Try it. Pick up a ‘real’ book or rekindle your hobby, whatever it may be.  Hey, apparently even Steve Jobs  and other technology experts limited the amount of time their children used technology.  Apparently they read lots of ‘real’ books and discussed them.

So this weekend, let’s resist the temptation of social media for awhile and lets look up into the sky and enjoy nature.  Me included.

Digitalized yet Feel

Christmas came and vanished in a blink of an eye.  In a couple of days it will no longer be 2011 and I am going to have to rewire my brain to write my dates with 2012 (or in the Buddhist calendar 2555).  So much has happened yet there are still so many things waiting to happen.  Who knows what the future holds? Will the year 2012 be the end of the world or will it bring with it renewed hope? I suppose we will just have to live through it to find out.   I pray though that whatever happens, it brings happiness and that at the end of it all, we can look back and appreciate the year we had.

The last few days I have finally gotten into the digital book age with the initiation of my first reading of a novel on tablet.  I never thought I would. (Thank you Alex for downloading roughly 10GB worth of novels onto my tablet!)  I had always been somewhat old fashioned in my preference for paper and having documents printed out.  I like the smell and feel of paper. I love feeling the texture of paper and ink between my fingers.   I spend hours on end lost between stacks of books in the library or at the bookstore.  I derive pleasure from observing the beauty of book covers or looking at the printed typeface on paper.  There’s something about the ink and the smell of printed books that is somewhat mesmerizing.

I grew up in an age where we wrote essays and papers by hand. First draft, second draft and final drafts were all done with ink and paper. Computers came later.  Now those days are gone and we are gradually moving into an age where printed books will be less in demand.  I am finally starting to understand why.

I wanted to buy Murakami’s newest novel, IQ84, but seeing it’s sheer size and thoughts about the lack of shelf space and the other large books I have in line waiting to be read pushed that thought aside.  Undeterred, Alex got me a digital version and I am finding opportunities to read like never before.  Waiting to see a doctor, waiting to get medicine for my sniffling cold, lazing in bed and whatever free time I have, I can now read books rather than just play around on Facebook.

All this techonology is fun. It is good, but let it not consume us.  Technology lets us enjoy and use our spare time.  However, we must also remember to raise our heads up from the iPhones, iPads, tablets, kindles and all these gadgets every now and then and smell the sweet scent of the flowers in bloom, feel the breeze in the air and listen to the person besides us.  Enjoy the cool air that is breezing through Bangkok 🙂 or if you are somewhere with snow, make a Snow Angel.  🙂

Steve Jobs: Not just any man

The past two days the hot topic on everyone’s lips has been “Steve Jobs has died.”  It’s strange that I should find out about this on my iPhone, a few  minutes after waking up.
When talking to others the first reaction is a little ‘gasp.’  Everyone knows him. Even those who are not Apple fans.  He’s dead and millions worldwide mourn his death.  Millions who have not seen nor spoken to him in person, yet we all hold a part of him in our lives.  We use his inventions to contact those dearest to us and as research even suggests, what we feel for our smart phones may not be merely addiction, but in fact ‘love.’

Yes, we have grown to ‘love’ our iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs and many things Apple related.

For me, the iPhone has become so much of life that it is the last thing I look at before I go to bed at night, and it is the first thing I wake up to in the morning.  It is my alarm clock, my organizer, my camera, my newspaper, and my source of contact to the virtual world of social networking.    I no longer have to carry around newspapers, books, notebooks, agendas, games, or other things when I travel.  It’s all in one.

Before the iPhone, a phone was a phone.  I used it to call people, answer calls and do a little bit of email here and there.  That was it.  There were no androids back then.  We had symbians and blackberry.  Functional phones.  When I was in highschool in Poland, we still used those telephones with round dials and operators to call international.  Now we use Skype and internet on our iPhones.  Amazing how fast technology has changed.

Now many lives have forever changed.  Children now play with iPads and iPhones as if it were the most natural thing on earth.  They play with it without any hesitation. It is intuitive and responsive to the human touch.  Looking back at my own childhood, I still remember playing summer and winter olympics on the Commodore 64.  Then we had Atari.  That was considered amazing.  5 inch flopping disks coupled with green and black screens. No Windows. No coloured screens. No internet. Computers were still not so approachable.  We feared it a little.  No longer.

Steve Jobs changed the technology world, but what do we mean by this?  I think what we mean is that his creativity and his visions have allowed us to experience what once could only be found in science fiction.  He let us believe that dreams can be accomplished, that anything was possible.  You just had to find it inside of you.

No longer do we have to settle for boring functional telephones and animations whose stories were targeted only for children.  Steve let you enjoy a bit of art and design in the iPhone, iPad and anything Apple.  Every curve, ever corner well considered, well thought out.  Crafted with love.

He affects us because his creations helped take the drudgery out of everyday worklife, where many seem to work without souls.  Steve worked with his soul.  Steve worked with his heart. He ‘created.’

If only we could all put our hearts and our souls into doing something we love, the world would indeed be a different place.  If only we could all find our ‘passion.’

Yes, we will all miss Steve Jobs and his visions.  The world will and has already remembered him. Good bye Steve Jobs. We’ll miss you.

Two Worlds at Once

It’s the end of August. This time last year I was in Malaysia visiting a good old friend just before Malaysia’s independence day. This year, I am in Bangkok, and am instead keeping touch with good friends through other high tech means such as Skype, Google+ and Whatsapp. It really is quite amazing all this technology. It brings people together. Yet, it can also bring people apart.

You might have noticed that since the advent of BB messaging and chat programs on iPhones, smartphones, androids, many of us (me included) sometime zone out of conversations and instead grin at our phones. We are living in two worlds at once.

One moment, I’m in conversation with the person next to me, the next, I’m in a conversation with someone else on the other side of the phone. Maybe that person is in another country. I don’t mind it at all, but sometimes I think we ought to put down our phones and enjoy the person next to us. Enjoy the conversation a little more. Enjoy what is happening around us.

I’m still working at it. I have a tendency to just pick up my phone and constantly check it for messages. It’s addictive. You hear a little “beep” and you feel a sudden urge to check it. It’s annoying. I want to get rid of this addiction. I see the iPhone lying still in front of me, and I just want to pick it up and play on one of its many applications. I like the feel of the rubbery skin I bought for it.

I suppose, sometimes we really should just turn off the phone, put it away in our bags and really enjoy the people around us, especially during lunches or dinners. Perhaps we’d get to connect a little more, really enjoy the company and learn a little about the person next to us. Connect more without the phone when we are surrounded by people. Connect with people through the phone when you are alone. Maybe that’s how we should balance out all these online chats….

What do you think?


Thinking about how technology has evolved over the years and how I’ve witnessed these changes makes me sometimes realize I’m not that young anymore.   I grew up in a world of Commodore 64 and 386 computers.  Now I live in a time of iPads, wireless internet and harddisks the size of name cards. I start to feel like a slave to technology. Everything is computerized and stored. Even my entering and leaving the office building is accounted for.

Computers back then were rare, we wrote school essays by hand.  It wasn’t until high school did computers start coming into schools, and then it was a computer lab for everyone to share.  Games were played on Atari and my Commodore 64 was then top of the line.  Monitors displayed black and green.  Color excited us, and then it only offered a nice blue screen. Printers were dot matrix.  This was already wonderful.  I loved it already then.  I had my extra joystick and information was stored on 5inch floppy disks.  I still have some of that in a box somewhere.

We listened to music on tapes and radios.  I remember going to the record store and getting my first LP.  I remember buying Pet Shop Boys “It’s a Sin.”  Now LPs are collectors’ item and only those really into music like to collect them.  The sound just sounds purer.  Then CDs came along and that was in itself amazing.  How did all that music fit into a small disk?  Now we have DVDs which hold much more.

Computers now are dual core, my Pentium III that I got in college is no longer in existence.  I
donated it awhile back.  The beautiful large 17 inch monitor which was beautiful back then is now large and clumsy.  I prefer slim flat screen monitors.  Yes, they are beautiful.  I wonder if it can get any better than this.

We sold things on newsgroups on Unix.  There was no ebay, no amazon, no online shopping store.

Now we have internet, speeds get faster but I am increasingly impatient.  I want my news, my information at a click of a mouse.  Any download time makes me feel like I am wasting time. I get upset when my internet disconnects me from the rest of the online world.   Yet I wonder how I lived before in a time of dial up internets.  Back then we connected on phones and mail.  That was a time when I still got real mail in the mail. Now all I get are invoices and advertisements.

I wonder sometimes about all this technology.  I love it, I use the entire time I’m awake. But are we all really learning how to use it properly?  We should learn to use it to help us, aid us in doing things more efficiently and faster, but we should also not become a slave to technology. We must also learn to live and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  Breathe the fresh air,  feel the breeze rustle your hair and look up
into the clouds.  When was the last time you lay on your back imagining what shapes the clouds could be?  Maybe now its time to try it a little now that it’s summer 🙂