The recent failure of my home computer has gotten me thinking about the way I use technology. I love computers, and would probably have more if I didn’t have a wife that hates clutter and only appreciates technology when it provides benefit that far outweighs the cost with little or no work involved.
I have a few gadgets, but I don’t use any of them effectively. The main reason is that they don’t work together, and I’ve been too lazy to do anything about it.
For example, my main PDA is a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500, which runs Linux and has a good UI and applications, even if you don’t delve down into the Linux underneath. If you choose to get into the Linux aspect of it, you can do some amazing things — I even got apache and PHP running on it recently. But I still carry around my HandSpring Visor, because I can’t easily export the passwords from an application on that device into the password safe I use on the Zaurus. I would write a program myself, but Java support on the Zaurus is outdated, and setting up a C++ development environment on my computer to support the Zaurus seems to be more trouble than it’s worth.
Then there’s the matter of synchronizing between the devices. I’ve got my contact list and calendar on the Zaurus; I’ve got the same information in Outlook on my PC (though I can’t get at it right now); I’ve got a subset of contacts in my webmail program; I’ve got some of my contacts on my mobile phone; and I’ve got a whole different calendar and set of contacts on my work PC. Some of these don’t support synchronization, and I’m sceptical of the ones that do — my experience with synchronizing data has been troublesome, often deleting or duplicating items. And achieving a combined view through synchronization (home PC – PDA – work PC) seems impossible.
To boost my productivity, I need persistent access to a centralized data store. I need to keep my data on a server that is accessible through the internet, and manage it with application(s)