Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Posted by Todd Allcock in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 11:00 AM
I read a tweet today complaining there isn't any good Bible software for Windows Phone 7 yet, and the (admittedly bizarre) first thought that came to my mind was "I guess you'll just have to switch to a supported religion..."
I guess that above is what, in the publishing biz, we call a "hook," but I'm new to all this, and I admit a little bit giddy about it in a hero-worship sort of way. I'm honored to have been asked by Jason Dunn to write the occasional musing here at Windows Phone Thoughts. I'm currently a Microsoft Windows Phone MVP, and I've been using Windows-based handhelds since the turn of the century (I love using that phrase- it makes me sound like my grandfather.) I go back to the ancient days of non-wireless PDAs that we'd sync to our PCs once or twice a day, and browse offline web pages copied from our PCs with software called AvantGo, a sort of precursor to the modern RSS feed.
One of those "channels" AvantGo offered, was a technology news site called "Pocket PC Thoughts" and I was sure to read it every day to keep up with the goings-on in the wonderful world of Windows-based handhelds, and I've followed it ever since. Being asked to contribute to it after reading it for all these years is sort of like going to a Who concert and having Pete Townshend grab you and ask if you'd like to sit in and jam on a song or two. (I'm showing my age now, aren't I?).
But I digress - there actually was a point to that opening paragraph, and how it applies to me personally (that, dear readers, is what we call a segue, and, in this case, a pretty darn clumsy one!). Obviously the idea of changing religions for a phone was silly, but it made me think about "ecosystems" and how far we modify our work and even life patterns to fit the technology we use. I often joke I came into Windows-based mobile devices backwards. Microsoft originally envisioned these devices as peripherals for your PC that would allow you to take your Outlook data and Office documents with you wherever you go.
When I bought my first device, a Casio Palm-sized PC, I had never used Outlook; the "Outlook Express" client bundled with Windows was good enough, and Microsoft Works did everything I needed, so a $500 Office Suite seemed extravagant and unnecessary. I was just after a mobile computer - something far smaller than a laptop, with better battery life, and that took up very little room in my bag when traveling either on business or pleasure, and Pocket PCs were just that: PCs that fit in your pocket! Well, a big pocket anyway... those Casios were pretty brick-ish!
Only after I wanted to expand the functionality of my little gem did I switch to Outlook, and eventually moved to Office. I didn't get my PDA to view my desktop's data while on the go, I'd made my PC compatible with my PDA! The cart, as they say, was driving the horse! After that, everything computer-related in my life had to be compatible with my mobile devices or I wasn't interested. Desktop map software? Had to be Streets and Trips - most of the competitors would export maps to Palm, but not Pocket PCs. Yes kids, before Google Maps and Bing we actually had to install map software on our computers. And we walked six miles to school in the snow, too.
When I needed to replace a dying all-in-one printer, I bought one with WiFi. I didn't need WiFi on a printer for any reason other than it allowed me to print to it directly from my Windows Mobile phones. I've thrown away wireless routers that my mobile devices couldn't connect to consistently, bought mobile infrared and Bluetooth printers with Windows Mobile compatibility, and special-ordered cradles and cables that would let me interface my PDAs with analog cell phones (ahh, 2400 baud...) If it wasn't compatible, I'd find something else that was.
Come to think of it, maybe I actually would choose a religion solely based on its compatibility with my smartphone. Anyone know if there's a good Quran or Tibetian Book of the Dead in the Marketplace?
Todd Allcock is a small business owner (small business, that is! At 6' 3" and 300 lbs., I hardly qualify as "small") who has been using Windows-based PDAs and mobile phones since the days they were powered by steam. These tiny, powerful devices have allowed me to get out from behind the desk, operate a business on the go, and spend more time with family.