As a technologist, you would think that I would be "all about" tablets and smartphones; however, you would be wrong. Sure, I went through a brief obsession with jailbreaking and unlocking iPhones back in 2007. True, I did at one time drive around with an iPad to attached to my car dashboard with Velcro. But for the past few years I have felt an increasing desire to keep my screen-time at my desk, so I can actually be in the real world without constant interruption to bask in an AMOLED glow at regular five minute intervals.
In spite of this personal preference for keeping my free time screen-free, I must confess that I do whip out the phablet for certain situations, and that I am grateful that I have this miracle-curse on my person in these moments:
I'm looking at something that is broken and I need to fix it. Use the camera!
I snap a lot of photos during the process of repairing things: If I walk into the server room to a black screen filled with cryptic error messages in white text--I can't exactly print out the errors or take a screenshot when the system is stuck booting in runlevel 1--so I take a picture! Or when I am about to unplug a dozen cables from the back of the server: I take a photo before unplugging them all, which provides a handy reference point when it's time to plug them back in!
I'm driving down the road and I have this breakthrough idea. Voice notes!
Creative breakthroughs often come during rather bland routine activities. You can't always take time to write or type these sudden treasures. Voice recorder is a great way to capture them without much fuss. I use also use this for lyrical ideas or when I am improvising on my bass and want to remember that killer riff. Use at your (phone's) risk if you get great ideas while showering.
I'm playing a guitar that is horribly out of tune. Use gStrings!
For all the smartphone nay-saying that I do, I can't argue with the fact that it is pretty awesome to have a guitar tuner on me at all times.
I'm getting alerts that one of my servers is down: ConnectBot!
Hacking the command line while waiting in the checkout line: what a concept. I can make changes and fixes to my servers through SSH from any place where I can pick up a data connection. Pair it with Hacker's Keyboard for a truly powerful pocket administrative capability.
I'm talking with someone and we are trying to explain a spatial/visual concept: S Note and the Stylus!
My phablet has a stylus, and the S Note app from Samsung comes in handy whenever discussing concepts that are best represented visually. Sometimes scribbling a picture saves a lot of frustrating hand gestures when trying to convey spatial/visual relationships. Bonus: you can send the drawing in an email or text message to everyone involved in the conversation.
So there you have it: the situations that I value having a mobile device handy, and the apps that make it so.
Thanks, Link, for your tips! If you're interested in sharing tech tricks that you've picked up that make your life easier, please contact anyone in the PIM collaborative!