Seduced by power and connection into something really good

I love tech. I love gadgets. I love learning about tech and gadgets and trying new things out with them.

When I go too long without getting a new gadget to play with, I go through withdrawal and rush out to buy ill-advised gadgets that may sit unused for many, many months like my netbook that I bought two years ago. Other times, when I wait patiently for the right time and the right gadget, I find I make a decision that is so right for so many reasons.

My latest acquisition is an iPad. Matt’s wanted one since they came out. I was more reserved. I wasn’t at all convinced of how wonderful they’d be since I had heard how awkward it is to type on them. For months after it came out, I heard more about games and movies on iPad than any actual productivity apps.

Then I went to the She’s Connected Conference in Toronto last October. All I had with me was that netbook I mentioned above and my iPhone. The netbook wasn’t a good option for recording anything about the conference because the battery was dead and there were no available power outlets. So, I was stuck with just my iPhone. The thing that made me change my mind about the iPad was the heckling that this woman did when all my friends on wifi kept losing their internet connection. (The heckling was all in good fun. :) Not only did she have her 3G connection all day, but she also had battery life that meant she didn’t need to plug in all day.

I won’t lie. I got seduced by Shannon’s power and connection. I wanted that for myself, though it wasn’t a high priority since I don’t exactly go to conferences every day.

Several months later, when Matt and I decided to take a trip to the Apple Store, we knew that there was a good chance we’d walk out of the mall with an iPad in our hands.

Though we bought it quickly, sort of on a whim (though it had been in the plan for this year), it took a bit of time for me to fully embrace my new iPad. About two weeks in, I started to wonder if I shouldn’t have jumped in so quickly. I wasn’t using it nearly as much as I thought I would. That was alarming, because it could easily end up being a colossal waste of money if it wasn’t being used.

I had to make more of an effort. This led me to start trying applications I’d downloaded and set up accounts for long ago for my iPhone (for example, Evernote, to name one). At first, I wasn’t convinced it was all that useful. Until I finally downloaded the desktop application, which led to me install the browser add-on and then I noticed integration with several other apps I use on a regular basis. Pretty soon I was carrying my iPad everywhere I went just so I could whip it out with my Zagg to take notes in meetings, workshops, save blog posts with valuable information, read and, of course, play Plants vs. Zombies as time allowed.

I realized something else recently, too. Since I started making a concerted effort to use my iPad more, I use paper less and less. With apps like Penultimate that allow you to write with your finger, who needs a pad of paper? That’s not even close to the only app that allows you to do such environmentally-friendly tasks. There are a whole host of apps that assist with brainstorming, note-taking, time management and so much more.

Yesterday, when a friend of mine mentioned that the “paperless” society we’ve all been expecting for the last 20 years hasn’t materialized, I started thinking about how close I’m getting to a paperless Karen. Still not there yet, but having moved all of my bills to e-bills, using a second monitor to compare two documents when necessary, taking notes (mostly) electronically rather than using paper, I’m getting there.

More and more I wish that I had the ability to do this or that electronically. One huge example is my bus pass. I want my pass on my phone so I can flash my phone at the driver and not worry that I’ve left my pass in the wrong bag. In the past 18 months that I’ve been riding the bus, I’ve forgotten my phone once. In that same period, I’ve forgotten my bus pass a couple dozen times.

I have big dreams, my friend - a world of paperless/plasticless bus passes being one of them. And iPads for all. Because they are awesome.

What gadget(s) do you love and what do you want it/them to do for you?