2015: Personal Technology Review

How did my use of technology change during 2015? The short answer is that it increased. For example, I just deposited a check using my phone, and that’s something I never did in previous years.

That phone is a Droid Maxx, made by Motorola for Verizon. My iPhone turned in to a brick earlier this year. From among the phones available from or for Verizon Wireless, the Maxx seemed to me the best deal. This may be due to the particular wireless plan I was already in. The iPhones were by comparison overpriced.

I was happy with my new phone until, after a few months, it went into spiral of frantic uselessness, in which it would do nothing but restart until it ran out of power. Staff at the Verizon store agreed that it should be replaced, and replaced it was.

My second Maxx is behaving well so far. I like multiple things about it, especially the size of the screen. I’m not missing my iPhone. But I haven’t abandoned Apple: the two iPads in the house are in frequent use by the kids and by me.

I am fairly pro-Verizon. Wireless reception is usually pretty good. My experience with the Bethesda Verizon store has been positive. It has some of the positive things I’ve come to associate with Apple stores, such as attentive and knowledgeable staff, without some of the other Apple-flavored things (such as the white color scheme, and what I perceive to be smugness). When the store associate told me that they couldn’t just give me one of the phones in stock, and that it would be a few days before the replacement phone would be delivered to my home, I was quickly able to talk with the manager, who covered the cost of next-day delivery. I still think that loaner phones would be a good idea for when a replacement is on the way.

My move toward eBooks, as opposed to paper, continues. To be specific, I use Kindle on the iPads and on the phone. I like being able to read a book on an iPad, to continue with the same book on the other iPad if one of the kids is playing Minecraft on the first one, and to read the same book on the phone while waiting for an appointment (or a kid, or…).

I haven’t abandoned paper books, though. If the paper edition is cheaper or in some way better, I go with that. For example, I currently have the paperback of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks on order; I recently read his Slade House as an ebook. Sometimes tech and tradition mix: I just finished reading Naomi Novik’s Uprooted aloud to the kids from the Kindle edition, skipping over certain passages.

My main sources of news are a newspaper and a radio station. It would be equally true to say that the web is my main source. To be specific, I read online the US edition of the UK-based newspaper The Guardian, and I often stream the DC-based radio station WAMU.

I still don’t watch much TV. The house is still TV-less, even though others watch more. What we watch, we usually stream, using either Amazon Prime or Netflix. Streaming also accounts for an increasing amount of my music-listening.

To stray briefly to work, and to teaching, I switched Learning Management Systems, and now use Canvas. Virginia Tech, where I teach, is in the process of switching over to Canvas (as I posted about earlier this year). One of my reasons for switching was that Canvas provides mobile apps, but most of my students didn’t use those apps in the fall. That may be because I teach MBAs; undergraduates might make more use of the mobile apps.

To peek into the future, or at least into the coming weeks, I intend to upgrade my laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I hope that the word upgrade proves appropriate! I also intend, as I always do at this time of year, to move this blog from WordPress.com to a host that gives me more control.

Anyway, I wish you and your devices, web services, etc., an enjoyable, productive, and secure 2016. Your comments on 2015 or on 2016 would be most welcome.