A Summer Resolution:

Summer break either has begun or is beginning for many people, specifically students.  Many will take the time to relax, vacation, and take a break from their work.  Families too will also take the time to do some of the same.  While I intend to do some relaxation (I am still a student myself after all), I plan on doing something a little different.  You’ve heard of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m making a Summer Resolution.

I plan on not letting this summer go to waste.  I’m going to make this summer productive and do something with it.  This summer, along with my job and summer courses, I’m going to take time to learn on my own.  Here are my summer resolutions:

  1. After going through my first Java coding lesson this past summer, I resolve to learn more about Java and be more than prepared for my next Java course in the fall.
  2. I have several books that I have bought and plan to read this summer.  These books cover several topics including history, science, theology, philosophy, and language (and a few novels).  I resolve to read at least 3, if not more, by the beginning of the Fall Semester in August/September.
  3. I currently enjoy learning languages and about languages.  I particularly like East Asian languages like Japanese.  While I have been taking Japanese courses for the past year, I will be unable to continue due to other classes next semester.  I resolve, presuming I find the time between my summer work and my other resolutions, to continue my Japanese studies.

I’m sharing this for two reasons.  First, I want to be held accountable.  I’m posting this publicly so people can know what I am doing and help me follow these resolutions.  Being held accountable and having the support of others has a tremendous impact on keeping and performing resolutions.  The second reason, however, is for you.  I want to encourage everyone to do the same.

No, you don’t have to learn Java or Japanese; those are my goals.  But I encourage you to pick something, at least one thing, and do it during the summer.  If it means studying another language or learning code, then do it.  If it means getting healthier by exercise or diet, do it.  If it means studying a topic you’ve struggled with or never explored, then study it and find experts on it.  Pick something you want to learn and then do it.

If you want to join me and do the same, great, but don’t let that be all you do.  Share what you’re doing with your friends and family, blog about it and how you’re doing, or post on your social networks.  Do something to where people can know what you’re doing and not only hold you accountable for your resolutions, but also to encourage other people to do the same.

Do you like this idea?  Are you going to do the same?  Share this with your friends, or better yet, share what you’re going to do with your friends.  Comment below what you’re going to do if you are going to do the same.  Thanks!

The Other Digital Connections

Panoramic shot of mine of the Dominican mountain range.

If you haven’t been out of the country, you need to go. I especially encourage you to go somewhere that doesn’t speak your native language (but at least have some way to communicate, whether by translator or by learning the language).

I recently got back from a trip to the Dominican Republic. I stayed in a mountain region outside Jarabacoa called Piedra Blanca. Two things you need to know about the Dominican Republic.

  1. It’s beautiful; the mountains are covered in lush trees, and there’s almost alway a wonderful breeze. Even in long pants, it didn’t feel hot at all.
  2. Once you leave the main cities, you realize how much of modern society we take for granted. In the mountains, we had water, but could only bathe in it. Drinking of the tap water wasn’t safe. Electricity was not consistent either. Since it was election week in the Dominican, the power only went out once on us, but the missionary and hosts we were staying with told us that once the elections were over, power would like be go off several times a week. And while we had WiFi, it was a slow satellite connection, and was quickly bogged down or inaccessible if two people tried to pull up their email. This was nothing against the hosts at all, I actually was kind of glad to be away from the constant updates of Twitter, Facebook, and email.

This is something I realized quickly in the Dominican Republic. I didn’t feel rushed, I didn’t feel compelled to constantly check my email or Twitter, I felt relaxed. I admit I did feel a little out of the loop in terms of news, and I did check back in every couple of nights to make sure I hadn’t missed anything too important. But while the lack of things like WiFi weren’t surprising for me, two other things about technology really struck out at me.

When we talk cell phones, we talk generally about smart-phones: iPhone versus Android, the falling of BlackBerry, the underdog rise of Windows Phone 7. We talk about the latest model, the amount of RAM, and how fast the Internet is. All of this conversation is surrounding the idea that we are becoming a more mobile world, where the laptop and desktop is no longer everyone’s go to system. It’s the smart-phone in your pocket or the iPad in your bag. Mobile technology is the new thing.

That’s not necessarily the same in the Dominican Republic. While I can’t say that I saw a lot of iPhones among the Dominican population, the use of cell phones as a tool was visible. Many people, though more city dwellers than rural people, had cell phones that they used to do everything. In a place where we still saw Internet cafes, the cell phone was still a tool of choice. If we want to talk about mobile revolutions, let’s look at the D.R., where the use of a constant communication device is becoming more normal than a owning a full blown computer. In the developed world, we are so used to everyone having a some Internet connected device, whether it is a standard computer, a phone, or a tablet. Many people have some combination of the three, the majority having a desktop or laptop as their primary system. But for developing nations, I don’t see this being the same trend. I can see the developing world leap-frogging over the standard computer, and embracing the mobile world, full of tablets and smartphones. This certainly isn’t the type of thing that will happen overnight, but it is something that we’re already seeing, which brings me into my next point.

I was part of a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. One crew was a licensed medical providing free medical care for any family who needed it. I say families, because it was usually a mother with several children coming in for herself and her children. If you’ve ever been around children, however, you know that they would rather play around than sit and wait. Get enough of them in the same room, and

This was shot by one of the Dominican boys who borrowed my camera. It's really good.

you might as well have a small riot on your hands, which is not good in a medical room. Thus there was the second crew, college students whose primary job was to keep the children entertained with games, tricks, and lessons. It also involved attempting to stay on your feet while several young children were trying to throw you to the ground in various games. These children crave attention, and just enjoyed any attention would could give to them as we played. They could be rough, they could be rambunctious, and overall very silly and playful. They loved to move around as much as possible.

But their demeanor completely changed if they saw anything that resembled a camera. They wanted pictures, lots of pictures. While the younger children were happy to have their picture taken, the older children loved to pose for the camera. They wanted to look like the celebrities they adored in sports and movies. More than that, they wanted to take pictures of everything else. The lush mountains, their friends posing, the one kid hanging in a tree, or the silly American watching them use his camera. They didn’t care about lighting, color correction, or the rule of thirds; they just wanted to take pictures and show them to their friends. Sometimes the things we get passionate and technical about are the things other people just want to use, play with, and remember their lives with.

I was particularly caught by the use of the iPhone in the Dominican Republic. One girl had brought her iPhone to use as a camera, while setting the phone itself into airplane mode to not get any roaming data charges (which if you’ve never heard the stories, the rates are ridiculously high). On the very first day working, she pulled it out to take some pictures of and with two young girls. As soon as she did, of course, the children wanted to use it. What really surprised us was how easy it was for the children to use the iPhone to take pictures. Without any attempt at direction through our language barrier, the two girls were able to take a picture and then immediately view them and flip through their other pictures. Some of them did quite well. At this point, I could remark about the simplicity and ease of use of the iOS system. I can also point out that the girls might have already had some experience with an iPhone or iPod Touch, so they could have already had the knowledge to use it. But I will not bother with either. What I will remark on is how the children and my teammate were able to use such a small device, a phone nonetheless, to connect with each other, even with a linguistic barrier; how such a tool can be used to start conversations and expand each others’ worlds. How far we’ve progressed with cell phones, cameras, the Internet, and bringing it all into an easy to use package, and how we as people can so easily learn these things.

As I returned to the United States, or at least the WiFi enabled airport, my tablet came alight with Twitter updates, emails, and the other things I have come to expect. There was several stories I caught my eye and I read while in layover, but I still thought of the Dominicans. I couldn’t help but think about the pictures I had taken, the people I had met, the things that I saw, and the time that was spent just being with other people. I kind of enjoyed my time without technology, but I hadn’t entirely left it. What I saw was people who didn’t care about what version of Android or iOS they were using. They didn’t care about how many megapixels were in their cell phone’s camera. They had a life to live, and technology was just an assistant to that, if even at all. We’ve taken technology for granted, whereas for many of these people, technology is still something fresh. I say this not to demean the Dominicans, I only said it put it in perspective. We in the modern world have come to expect technology everywhere, anytime, and to always work. We get mad when it doesn’t live up to our expectations. But for many people in the world, technology hasn’t fully come to them, and neither has the spread of information. I know it’ll take time for these things to happen, but here’s my hope: that we in the modern world whether it is Asia, Europe, or the Americas, will realize the wonderful things we have been given with this technology. Whether it is an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook, Droid, whether it’s a Windows computer or Linux server, that we do not abuse it or be consumed by it. Let us remember that the goal of technology is to make the human race better, in mind, body, and spirit. So the next time you send that picture via text message or Skype someone across the country, remember to be thankful for what we have, and use it for a greater good. And don’t be afraid to let someone else take that picture.

Tell me what you thought of this blog post: did you like, do you agree? Disagree? I want to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below, or by sending me an email at easyosx@live.com You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. You can also check out my Google Plus. Thanks!

100 Posts and a Year Later

December 24, 2010: A young college student decided that he was going to begin writing about technology.  Specifically, he decided to start writing about Macs.  Macs were still fairly new to him compared to Windows, and at the time he didn’t even own a smartphone.  But he loved technology, he loved writing, and he wanted to share his knowledge with anyone who needed it, and at the same time grow in his own knowledge.  Now almost a year later, he’s learning to code, has the new iPhone 4S, a couple of jobs, and 100 posts on his tech blog (101 if you include this one).

Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe it’s already been a year since I started.  It seems like I have only just started, and I guess in the grand scheme of things I have.  Since that day I’ve branched out; iOS has taken on a growing role in my world, I have made great friends such as the guys at BetweenBytes, I’ve gotten a Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Facebook Fan page now, and several other groups that have followed and supported me.  I’d like to thank these people and groups, and likewise my family and friends that have helped me along the way (this is beginning to seem like an award speech).  They encouraged me to write and to become better at it.  I’m humbled by the whole thing, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still experimenting with this.  But I love it.  I’d say that this blog also helped me to get a job working at my college’s computer lab, and from that I’ve grown into a better techie than before.

There have been times when it’s been slow going, when I had little to write about, or maybe just as little desire.  Sometimes I just didn’t get a chance to post because of other things.  But perhaps because of this blog I’ve grown not only as a techie, but as a writer, and a person.  For that, I thank all of my friends, family, followers, and supporters.  For that, I cannot thank you enough.

I don’t exactly have much to pay you all back, beyond what I already do now (I’m still a poor college student you know).  But I will have you all know that as far as I can see, I plan to continue this blog and the attached networks that go with it.  I also can tell you that I plan to make everything I do better quality, more insightful, and better to be a part of.

With that, I am pleased to announce that work has begun on a brand new app for the site.  When completed, you will be able to check read the latest news, reviews, tips, and tricks from EasyOSX.  You’ll also be able to watch my YouTube videos, and check out the latest from my Twitter and Facebook feed (sorry, Google+ is currently not supported).  You should be able to use it on your iOS, Android, or Windows Phone 7 device.  Don’t have one of these device?  Well the app will be turned into a webpage that you can use on any mobile device with a modern mobile browser, such as Blackberry, Nokia phones, and more.  The app has yet to be released yet, but if you want to try it out, the mobile webpage is up for testing.  Just go to easyosx.mobapp.at.  From there you can bookmark it onto your phone or tablet’s home screen and use it like the app.

Be aware, this app is still being tested, so the look, pages, and other bits of the application may change over time.  Conduit is helping power the app of the moment, though as my coding knowledge expands, I may work on it independently.  In the meantime, please feel free to give me you thoughts, ideas, and anything else to contribute to this work.  And thanks again for your support.

UPDATE: Conduit is having some issue with my app, claiming third-party rights violation.  I’m working with Conduit to resolve this issue, and the testing app should be back up as soon as possible.