I did some light reading on time-use recently and came across some insightful observations from researcher John Robinson. He’s spent the last four decades reviewing thousands of “time journals” from people around the world.
Contrary to what you might think, Robinson argues we have more free time today than when he started keeping records in the ’60s, something The Atlantic corroborates. Only now we choose to fill that free time with overwork or busy-ness instead of proper leisure (e.g. relaxation, hobbies, or adventures) because that’s how many of us validate our existence.
A few highlights from Robinson’s research: People in Spain spend the most time walking (good for them!), Italians and Slovenians spend the most time relaxing (nice!), and Bulgarians (not Americans!) spend the most time watching TV (tsk, tsk). In the United States, people spend more time on computers than any other country, they volunteer more, and they spend the most time taking care of children and the elderly.
I suspect the increase in childcare is partially due to the rise of helicopter parenting. But those are mostly noble uses of American’s time, I believe. That is, of course, if we’re using computers to work smarter, work less, and facilitate really cool offline adventures.—Blake Snow
The story first published to blakesnow.com in 2014
My wife and I (and even some of our young children) watched Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos recently. It’s a slick documentary that raises some important questions and concerns about the increasingly monopolistic company that keeps prices low (instead of raising them like past monopolies).
The movie wasn’t enough to make me ditch my Amazon Prime or Alexa accounts, especially given how much time and money Amazon has saved my family over the last two decades. That could change, but for now I’ll say: so far, so good. In fact, I’d rather convert to Android and stay with Amazon than stay with Apple and ditch Amazon—I like them that much.
For its slick production and warranted scrutiny, I award it ★★★★☆.
Fun fact: Walmart made twice as much money as Amazon did last year ($512 billion versus $233 billion).
Twentieth Century Fox
When I was nine years old, I saw Big starring Tom Hanks. It’s a movie about a boy doing young-at-heart things in a grown-up’s body. That and being employed to have an opinion on (i.e. review) toys.
At the time, I thought it was the coolest movie ever made. I still think it’s pretty darn cool.
In reality, my work as a writer over the last decade is not unlike protagonist Josh Baskin’s. I get paid to have an opinion and ask a bunch of questions. I tinker with ideas, learn from those who are smarter than me, and slay the dragon of misinformation with research as my shield and a keyboard as my sword. Continue reading…
My millennial brother-in-law chided me recently for using only a single monitor. “Get with the times,” he joked. “Two screens will boost your productivity.”
I’m normally confident about my technology use, but his remark surprised me since no one had questioned the size of my desktop display before. Keep in mind, I’ve worked from home for over a decade, so I don’t get to see how the Jones’ use computers at work. I don’t see their workspaces—only their faces over Skype calls or in conference rooms or voices over phones or words over email.
Self consciously, I began asking family and friends if they used dual monitors at work. “All the time,” said one. “Have for years,” said another. “Will never go back!” exclaimed a third. With exception to one, all my inquires said “yes.” Even my dad and father-in-law use dual screens at work. BABY BOOMERS MORE WIRED THAN ME??!! Continue reading…
My latest for Fox News: Why the death of the PC is a myth
I fell behind in updating my published works section this year (there’s always Google right?). In any case, here are a couple of recent stories I’m proud to have written:
Assuming his biography well represents him, Steve Jobs was a jerk for much of his life. A work-a-holic with eating disorders, incredibly bratty, ruthless.
I’m sure a lot of devout followers will excuse his actions with “no one is perfect.” I prefer that justification, however, for people who are at least trying to improve their social skills with age, instead of sticking to their anti-social guns as Jobs did for much of his life.
Because that’s what you get when you buy a Samsung Wi-Fi Chromebook.
Admittedly, it’s not a perfect analogy. The Macbook Air is skinnier in the front and capable of 1080p playback, whereas the Samsung Chromebook can only render 720p HD. The former is also made of industrial titanium, whereas the latter uses high-end Macbook-like plastic. And in terms of startup and resume times, the Chromebook is faster—near instantaneous. Continue reading…
A lot of good ideas here—dare I say more than OSX Lion. Would like to see how it behaves with a mouse and keyboard, however.
The video could use a little editing, but it does an effective job in selling Google’s version of cloud computing. So much, in fact, I predict these “computer-like objects” will be a lot more relevant than tablets, but only if they come down in price. The reported $350-500 launch models, available June 15, are too much.
See also: My Chromebook is a fast tablet with a faster keyboard
This is neat and all, and the inventor created a great little game called Lost Winds that I enjoyed. But it seems useless without ethernet and/or wireless networking. Furthermore, if you can afford a monitor with HDMI-out, I’m guessing you can afford a computer. Am I wrong?
Long live the mouse and keyboard… at least until a better replacement comes along (which it hasn’t).
I’ve been using Google’s new Chromebook for over a month now. I use it a lot, often times reaching for it over my Macbook.
Why? It starts and stops faster. In a single second even. It connects to the internet faster. In seconds, mind you. The thing is quick and lightweight. Much like a tablet computer or iPad.
Better still, the Chromebook has a full-size but no-nonsense keyboard, making it the faster and better input device when compared to tablets. And it has a lot more “apps” than closed-system tablets.
Admittedly, the trackpad is finicky. But overall, I’m very impressed with the Chromebook, especially as it’s replaced some of the functions I used to prefer on either my desktop or laptop. It might be the best living-room laptop ever made. And it’s a great travel option as well.
If manufacturers price this thing under $300, I think it will make significant waves in the computing world upon release this summer.
I watched the Google Chrome OS demo today and came away impressed. The product won’t meet the need of power-users, producers, and mult-media creators. But for everyone else, including power-users when they don’t need extra power, Chrome OS is the first legitimate consumer rival for both Macintosh and Windows I’ve ever seen. Much more so than Linux ever was (at least in a consumer sense).
Some highlights about Chrome OS, which has a planned release of “mid-2011” in select Acer and Samsung laptops:
- “Nothing but the Web.”
- Chrome OS features a fast and simple setup process, remarkably fast boot times and an instant resume feature to minimize wait time when the OS wakes from sleep.
- Unified experience across Chrome on netbooks, desktops and more.
- Multiple user support and guest mode — everything a user does in guest mode is private and history is deleted instantly when a session is ended.
- Verizon Wireless cellular data connectivity (international options are available as well) in every Chrome OS notebook/netbook — no contracts, no activation fees and monthly plans starting at $9.99.
- Updates are seamless — no user operations are required to update the OS or apps.
- Most secure OS in the world — security is a major focus of Chrome OS; all Chrome OS data is encrypted by default.
- Verified boot — core OS components are in firmware that cannot be modified.
- Enterprise options — Google is working closely with partners like Citrix to ensure the enterprise market is addressed.
- Google’s Chrome OS PCs get faster over time, not slower like other PCs.
- Initial manufacturing partners include Acer, Samsung and Intel.
Will Chrome OS overtake the world? No. But I could see it becoming as ubiquitous as Google’s own Gmail, if not bigger. Which is huge.
In other words, watch this space. Desktop computing is about to change. If only in how we store an access many of our files.
See also: Will Google Chrome OS change computers?
I can’t for the life of me understand why so many people despise checking email. For me, it’s like getting little packages in the mail several times a day. Of course, that’s not the case if you fail to follow a few sanity rules. Mine are as follows:
Only check your inbox from 9-5pm, M-F. Since quitting my data plan, I only check my inbox during work hours—never at night or on weekends. Since I’m batch processing email now, chances are I’ll come across exciting, fun, or otherwise encouraging emails a lot more than I would fielding menial messages one at a time, 24 hours a day. Admittedly, I’ve had to check email under work emergencies a few times this year. But I never clean my inbox during those times. I only target the time-sensitive message I’m looking for, so it’s not a problem.
Use Gmail. No other email client can rival the auto spam protection of Gmail, which is constantly updated. Additionally, I’ve setup more than 30 custom filters to keep my inbox clean from no-response required emails. If you’re using the right tools and are judicious when giving out your email, spam shouldn’t be a problem.
Use it as a sales tool. After “thank you” and “I love you,” “you’ve got a deal,” is the best expression in the English language. To hear it though, you always have to be trying to cut deals with prospect buyers, partners, and shareholders. Much of this should be done in person or over the phone. But when it makes sense, a lot of it can be done via email. Once you start doing that, you’ll quickly learn to love your inbox, as it’ll become an income generator, a money-maker.
Do you love your inbox?
PCs have the dreaded blue screen of death. Macs have the dreaded beach ball of death. While I despise both, the latter is more common and often more frustrating. It just stares at you, seemingly taunting you because you can move it but it won’t let you click anything. A friend and avid Mac user said of the beach ball, “It’s like it’s sticking its tongue at you.” You know: “kneener, kneener, kneener.”
On a PC, your system will freeze, but Windows will actually let you click on stuff, making you feel partially in control. You’ll pay for it later. Once the system catches up, a boat load of windows will pop up. But I’ll take a clickable pointer over a spinning beach ball of death any day.
Take note, Apple. We hate your stupid beach ball.
Newsweek has the story:
Apple is looking like what Microsoft was 10 years ago—a Bigfoot that squeezes smaller competitors. A former lieutenant of Steve Jobs’s once told me something surprising about his ex-boss. “Steve is a monopolist at heart,” he said. “He’s just like Bill Gates. He just hasn’t been as successful.”
Gone are the days where Apple was the hip underdog. Now they’re becoming the cool monopoly, and I’m fine with it so long as their products stay fresh and the prices remain competive.
Behold, this is what Redmond is using to combat the effective and clever “I’m a Mac” ads. It’s bland, forgettable, and awkward — outside of the Spanish subtitles and quick shower scene.
I really like Seinfeld, and I’m a Windows XP user, but this is more Bee Movie and Office Paperclip style than anything else. Too bad.
Though I widely disagree with DeadBolt’s Top 10 picks (Beowulf? You cannot be serious), the movie portal makes a strong case for most of their selections, with Pixar rightfully sweeping the top five slots. As for me, Ratatouille is easily the greatest computer animated film ever made, and one of the best feature films of all time — animated or otherwise.
My business partner’s computer kicked the bucket recently. Rather than trashing it, we played baseball with it. I’m pitching the laptop and my partner Robert is swinging for the fences. Photo taken on a beautiful Utah afternoon in his backyard.