Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rootless: On Getting a Puppy

It's not really a puppy, but kind of like a puppy

No, I haven't got a real puppy. But I have aquired something like a puppy. I've got to learn its ways, train it, and be trained by it.

I've got to keep track of it, so it doesn't get lost or stolen. I can handle it playfully, but not roughly.

It's not really a phone, but it's called a phone

It's a smart phone, my first. Only to call it a smartphone is a misnomer. It is a mini computer with a phone application.

This is not just semantics. How I view my new puppy affects how I socialize it with the world.

With my soon-to-be-old "dumbphone" - let's say my pet "turtle" - I could:
  • Make and receive phone calls;
  • Laboriously write texts and check email; and
  • Make limited forays onto the internet. 
I had little concern about privacy boundaries or theft or malware because the dumbphone itself was like a turtle. A built-in shell for protection, by dint of its limited features, and thus easily monitored or caught if it meandered off, too humble to attract unwanted attention from strangers.

It's an entirely different story with my mini-computer.

Why did I get this puppy?

Being rootless, why would I want to be tied down with a puppy? Sheesh, now I've got to worry about dropping the damn thing or the glass will crack. It's cute and sweet and thereby attractive to strangers who might like to adopt it for themselves, so I've got to always have my radar on to make sure I know where it is. And it requires so much training - for the little one and me - to become true pals.

There are several reasons why I went this route: 
  1. My turtle phone was on its last legs - that reliable, albeit limited, $30 phone I've had for years, with the cute little teeth marks on the top left-hand corner.  
  2. My laptop is getting on in years and it could go belly up at any time, and I need a sophisticated, on-the-spot back-up to turn to for my work. 
  3. I'll be headed out of the country again soon and I want an unlocked mini-computer that can run by wifi or a data plan. 

An invisible fence

When I bought my little puppy, I was still thinking of it as a phone. A phone with a lot of very cool enhancements. Consequently, I was startled by the decisions I had to make right away. Such as:
  • What personal bits about myself - my data exhaust - did I want to have on this device? 
  • What apps did I want to download - and what information was I willing to share in order to get these apps? 
  • How could I enjoy all the benefits of a mini-computer without leaving a trail of personal me everywhere I went? 
  • How many ads - if any - can I tolerate in exchange for a "free" app? 
  • What data am I willing to lose if my mini-computer falls into the hands of strangers? 
  • Like a puppy, I'm not willing to let my little device sit in a hot car for hours while I'm off canoeing or swimming or doing something else that puts it at risk. So do I change my habits and just leave it at home for such activities? 

Some decisions I've made (and it might make sense here to note that I've bought an Android device): 
  1. Thank God, I have more than one email address (hehehe), so I chose one of my little-used accounts to be the email account on my device. I can put some distance between this account and me-central.
  2. Do I really need to download a free game that requires access to my contact list? Hell, no! No games for you, little puppy! 
  3. Do I need to download Kindle to my mini-computer? No, I've got a kindle e-reader, and I don't want to connect my Amazon account to my device. If I want to read, that's what my e-reader is for. Or an actual book. 
  4. Do I want to stay signed in to my Skype account on my device? No; I've only got it on there as a back-up, and I don't ever want to make another mistake call to a work-related client.Whoops. (The lil' puppy is so eager to please, it tries to anticipate what you want by going to fetch somebody else's paper. Bad boy.) 

I'm trying to find the right balance between security and maximum fun + utility.

Again, it's all about safe sex.

What'd I buy? 

Short answer: Moto G 4LTE.

Longer answer: It was all about: 
  • Excellent reviews;
  • Budget; 
  • Long battery life; 
  • Unlocked and GSM for international use; and
  • Android operating system. 


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