Too connected?

As those who know me can attest, well, I’m a nerd. Mind you, not a geek! What, you didn’t know there’s a difference? If not, please read this article on how to tell the difference.

As a computer nerd, it seems as though various computing devices fall into my gravitational pull like magic. (Actually, that’s not quite true. I buy them. Or my employer, in a moment of weakness, provides them to me.) The nice thing is, I always have at least one device within arm’s reach in case I need to use it. (Not exactly my best attribute, if you ask my wife.) The problem being, they all have WiFi connectivity, Web browsers, and some degree of internal and/or SD-card storage — and keeping them all in sync with each other becomes more of a hassle the more they accrete.

Not that I am trying to impress anyone here, just outlining the scope I’m dealing with. Here follows my current lineup:

  • Dell XPS 630i: my home workhorse. Got it over two and a half years ago. Original hard drive died a few months after purchase, but ever since then it has been rock solid. Barring anything unforeseen, it should last me several more years. Runs Windows 7 Professional lightning-fast.
  • HP Compaq 6510b: I don’t own it, this is a work machine. Hopefully my last one to run Windows XP. Three years old and let’s just say it is not aging gracefully. Keeping it on life support until our deskside folks get me a refresh, so it can go to the circuit board in the sky where it needs to be. Happily, since our company’s hardware support is now outsourced to Dell, I may have something to look forward to.
  • Asus Eee PC 1002HA: a capable 10-inch netbook that is about two years old and is my preferred travel PC. Its looks are snazzy, and it runs Windows 7 Pro tolerably well. Biggest issue is battery life; this model has a small, underpowered one to improve form factor. Original one was faulty, and my experience with the Eee improved greatly with getting a couple of aftermarket batteries and swapping them midday.
  • BlackBerry Bold 9650 (Verizon): another one that belongs to the company store, and my only mobile phone. Having dependable corporate e-mail and IM service is, of course, the blessing and the curse of an IT professional, and the BlackBerry 5.0 OS delivers that solidly. But I am not a fan of the OS otherwise. No wonder RIM is finding it so hard to win market share in the consumer space.
  • Apple iPod Touch (3rd generation, 32 GB): I surprised myself a bit with this buy. About the time I finally decided it made sense to get an MP3 player last year, I saw this honey refurbished at Woot! and went for it. Some have heard me say the only Apple I’d buy was round, red, and edible. But I have zero regrets. iOS 4 is the most intuitive OS I have encountered, and while it’s a given the app store could be a little less restrictive, the variety of apps available is nonetheless astounding. Interestingly, I make relatively little use of the base iPod functionality, more often connecting the Touch via WiFi to Sirius/XM, Pandora, and other Internet music sources. The iPod is great for when I’m in a dead zone, though.
  • Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor (nooted to Android 2.1): how sweet it is! I went to the color shortly after its release last December, for all the improvements B&N made over the original nook. It’s a most capable WiFi e-reader, and serves me well for that purpose. But for a nerd, that’s never quite enough. I saw an online tip sheet on how to “unlock” the underlying Android OS and enable most of its functionality on the NOOKcolor, and I am most glad I did. I now have a 7-inch Android tablet AND can still use the e-reader functionality when I want. All for a fraction of the cost of an iPad or a Galaxy Tab or a XOOM. The OS is still rough around the edges with too many force closes, though I expect that will improve along with the OS and the apps that run on it.

So, how to keep browser bookmarks, passwords, files, etc. in sync? That is my current challenge. I’ll dive into some observations in a future post, but suffice it to say that my growing use of the mobile devices (running iOS, Android, and BlackBerry OS) is dictating my approach.



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