Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting on board with 'Angry Birds,' Droids and apps

Tuesdays I'm up early to do my 6:20 a.m. "business expert" spot on Portland's KXL 750-AM radio, which leaves me with a couple of hours in the rainy morning darkness to contemplate the universe. This morning I found myself playing "Angry Birds" on my Droid X smart phone while listening to a classic rock station plugged in through the phone to my new Techno Hoodie that features a built-in wire hook-up in the pocket and ear-buds in the draw strings.
Yes, this was the year I embraced the newest wave of Information Age technology washing over us.
Initially resistant to a smart phone I now find that the Droid X has transformed my life in semi-retirement by allowing me to respond to e-mail while on the road, to keep track of stock market ups and downs throughout the trading day, to locate the nearest restaurant using my built-in GPS system and know at the same time what's left in my checking account: All from my Droid phone-computer that's thinner and only slightly wider than a deck of cards. Oh yeah, there's the built-in camera that gives me instant photos that can be e-mailed over the Verizon wireless system to friends and family.
Turns out that I'm not alone in upgrading to a smart phone. According to a Wall Street Journal trends report, one in five of us now have one. That adds up to 81 million people worldwide. The momentum, said the Journal, is definitely with portable devices.
For me those portable devices also includes Amazon's electronic book, the Kindle. I got one of those for Christmas. Fortified with a large cup of coffee, I also began fooling with this morning. The Kindle instructions were straight-forward and after about 20 minutes of set-up, I had downloaded my first book through my home-based wireless connection. The actual download took just a few seconds after I'd made my one-click credit card purchase at Amazon.com. The book? One in the Georges Simenon "Inspector Maigret" mysteries to which I've recently become addicted.
Having worked in print journalism for the past 30 years....most of it tied to a desk and PC with an Associated Press wire feed... I long ago became a news junkie. Even as a kid I liked knowing what was going on in the world.  The Droid X has made more knowing-what's-going-on possible for me, which I think is mostly a good thing except when I'm awake in the middle of the night surfing the Internet when I should be trying to get back to sleep. As for Angry Birds...that's a new way for me to lose sleep. Rovio Mobile, which developed this clever smart phone game that pits feisty birds against pigs that stole their eggs, has sold 12 million copies. I downloaded this first version for free.
My kids have alerted me to many more apps, those cheap, "sometimes silly" programs for smart phones that generated $6.7 billion in sales this year. I really like the app that allows you to engage your GPS system, point your smart phone toward the nighttime sky while the phone screen identifies the stars, planets and constellations that you're looking at. It's all really quite marvelous. My kids and grandson take it for granted.
Why am I mentioning this at Sixtyandsingle.com?
Because the smart phone and other portable devices such as the Kindle allow me freedom to be away from my desk in ways that were not possible when I was working in a newsroom. At the same time, I can still manage my freelance work and efficiently use my time. Those teetering on the edge of the new world of information technology, take a deep breath, jump in.
What's next? I'm going to look into an app that allows me to take pictures of all those retail store loyalty cards, then use the phone photo of the card to get the discount at the store check-out stand. It will feel so good to get those cards out of my purse. And that feels like only one step from turning my smart phone into a "digital wallet"...no money, no credit cards at all!
You can find the Techno Hoodie at Old Navy stores. They feature built-in headphones, are machine washable and work with "most MP3 players and mobile phones." On sale online for $15.
I need another cup of coffee. I didn't even talk about Facebook. That's another entire blog item.
For more on the Top 10 mobile tech trends for 2011, click here.
What's next for Angry Birds? How about a TV series? click here.

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