Analog v. Digital

15 Aug

Those who know me know I love my technology. I have three different Macintosh computers at home with various tasks, one older iMac collecting dust, not to mention an older PowerBook in a closet and my original 128K-upgraded-to-a-Mac Plus living in the basement. I work with a Mac mini at the office. My only complaint about it is that I don’t have wireless networking like I do at home–but then again it’s not really necessary here at the office since the Mac mini is not a portable system.

I love my iPod. It’s used at least daily, if not repeatedly during the day–in the car, at home, while falling asleep. I love the Internet–email, Web sites, even the occasional instant messaging system.

While I have all this love for technology (and I’m hardly a tech geek by most measurements), I have one huge problem with it: I can’t seem to get into using the personal digital assistant. I’ve had several. I bought one of the very first Newtons. I even bought one of the last Newton PDAs a couple of years ago off of eBay because I think the technology is great stuff. I’ve had at least five different Palm organizers, plus one combination Palm/cellphone. And although I think they are cool devices, they just don’t do it for me when it comes to actually using them on a daily basis.

My current Palm organizer has my calendar (which is web-based), but I don’t synchronize it as often as I should (daily, right?). The address book is a mess, and I don’t sync it with my Mac’s address book files. About the only thing it’s really useful for, in my mind, is reading electronic books. I can pack a small library into that thing, which is nice for traveling.

As a lawyer, I live and breathe by my calendar. I started using Google’s Calendar because my staff could add appointments to it from their own computers. And I can sync it with my Palm via iCal.

But I hate my Palm calendar. I don’t want to take it with me. Yes, I know, it can do so much more than maintain my calendar and serve as a small library. I could use the notepad and to do list, but I just don’t. I can’t get into the habit of using those tools that would make the Palm organizer a more worthwhile companion. I even have Parker’s wine reviews in it, but the Palm spends more time gathering dust or sitting in my briefcase. I’ve figured out I just don’t like the way one uses the Palm–the stylus and Graffiti handwriting recognition software just seem so…soulless.

Then today I ran across this web site: DIY Planner. I love the idea of a paper planner. Putting pen to paper seems soulful to me. Even though it’s slower, I often will hand-write letters and things for my staff to type into a word processor. I think better, more clearly that way. Even when it comes to writing briefs and things myself, I enjoy using a word processor (or blogging software:-)). But there’s something great about paper.

But when it comes to using a paper calendar, the whole efficiency thing breaks down. If I take my calendar with me, then someone else can’t see what’s on it to schedule appointments. Sure, I could put stuff in both calendars, but then if one is missed by accident, wham–I can end up with conflicts or worse yet, missing something like a court hearing.

I despise this situation. The digital system just doesn’t hold any attraction for me, but the attractive analog system is not feasible.

I’ve thought about getting a dual PDA/cell phone (my phone also spends an awful lot of time unattached to me, which I kind of like), but I am really hesitant. I don’t like the idea of the silly keyboard that uses thumbs only (my thumb joints already crack enough–I don’t need to abuse them). And it doesn’t seem like it would be very quick. Of course, if I could borrow one for 30 days and try it, then I’d find out if such a device would be something I’d actually use, but that’s not an option. The money is plunked down and that’s it.

So what is a person to do? I think I need to ponder this for a while, and let my Palm organizer recharge at the same time.

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